Stocking stuffer idea: Earplugs for all

Those ASUM buses get noisy for university neighbors, according to this story by reporter Chelsi Moy.

So Mayor John Engen asked if the buses could run along Higgins Avenue instead of Arthur Avenue. But no dice.

UM folks, especially advocates for folks with disabilities, didn’t like the inconvenience. But a solution is at hand, per the story:

As a compromise, the ASUM Office of Transportation promised to only operate its newer buses on the late-night routes, even though all of the buses have recently had their mufflers replaced to cut down on noise.

I can guarantee the trains in the Montana Rail Link yard are louder than those buses. I don’t think the noise is a huge problem, but I know some folks do. Here’s @ChelsiMoy’s response in a Tweet:

maybe they could take a different route? Mmm…or maybe not 🙂

Earplugs, anyone? I steal mine from the press room to drown out newsroom chatter.

— Keila Szpaller

Soup, nuts, and Texas

I’ve done a pretty horrible job lately of putting information up here. Sorry.

Can you believe the Missoula City Council isn’t meeting for TWO weeks in a ROW? Fifth Monday, then Labor Day. There’ll probably be a lot on the agenda when they finally meet again.

First, here’s one thing from this Monday. Councilwoman Renee Mitchell expressed concerns about elections systems being hacked into. She recommended people watch a video called “Hacking Democracy.”

As you know, Patty Lovaas, a Missoula accountant, has alleged fraud in the most recent schools election. The Missoula County Elections Office points to an oddball programming error to explain a weird spreadsheet. (And a Secretary of State spokeswoman has promised a fix.)

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is investigating and will either bring in a computer forensics expert or determine the explanations for the discrepancies Lovaas mentioned are reasonable.

On another note, Councilwoman Cynthia Wolken sure hit a nerve with that ballot measure urging a Constitutional amendment to ban corporate personhood. Quite a few people sat through the entire Monday night meeting to comment, and at least when I was there, most folks were quite in favor of it. It’s not binding, but even the idea of a symbolic referendum jazzed people. One woman said she was “energized.”

Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard took an approach that I think is uncommon. She voted to put the matter on the ballot because she wants voters to have their say. But she also urged people to proceed with caution because of unintended consequences.

I’m kind of glad for the excuse to re-read the U.S. Supreme Court opinions on Citizens United. Justice Stevens really gave the majority a lashing in his dissent, a partial dissent, but it usually takes me a couple reads to wrap my head around court decisions.

Anyway, I’m off to Texas for a couple days, out of the smoking pan, into the roasting pan. But one last thing: If you didn’t read reporter Jenna Cederberg’s story about a new and politically conservative blog called Treasure State Politics, here’s a link to the story. These folks are definitely giving liberal Missoula a voice of a different bent.

— Keila Szpaller

Something sweet, and a lot of money

Black-eyed Susans What a beautiful field of black-eyed Susans photographer and artist Michael Gallacher shot. Here’s the story reporter Chelsi Moy wrote about the man who went above and beyond in caring for the space on Mount Avenue.

Also, I forgot to post another thing the other day when the Missoula City Council talked about the possible ballot referendum.

On the same day council folks discussed moneyed influence in elections, this report came out on FollowTheMoney. It shows that campaign spending in Colorado more than tripled after Citizens United. And some groups spending the most money are the hardest to identify, according to the report.

— Keila Szpaller

Referendum for the ballot and Mountain Water

Here’s a couple things:

First, reporter Jenna Cederberg’s story about the Missoula Public Works Committee’s discussion on the city of Missoula wanting to buy Mountain Water.

Here’s the letter referenced in the story.

Here’s a story about Councilwoman Cynthia Wolken’s referendum with a link to the draft. And here’s Treasurer State Politics on her idea.

The TSP post notes that some things, such as “laxatives and sleeping pills,” just don’t go well together, and neither do Democrats and corporate business.

In committee Wednesday, Wolken said the referendum isn’t about opposing corporations. Rather, she said corporations have a role in driving the economy and job growth, but they shouldn’t drive elections and campaigns.

I hadn’t seen this blog before. It doesn’t list authors on each post as far as I can tell, but I like that it identifies the folks who are running the site in its “about” page. They bash, but you know who is bashing.

Happy summer while it lasts.

— Keila Szpaller

It’s fair week in Missoula: Llamas! Fried Snickers! A braying pony!

FairpicBut not a fair week. It’s a spectacular week.

First of all, I’m just back from a few days in Glacier National Park. Secondly, this week, I’m hanging out at the Western Montana Fair with the Midway Dispatch team.

They’re three awesome young reporters and Hellgate High School students. Pictured here are Ania Chaney, left, and Marielle Gallagher. Iris Olson, former member of a Missoulian advisory board, also is on the team.

If you have stories you want to read about the fair, just say so in a comment. We may indulge you. We’re all about fair food (tomorrow from Gallagher: fried Snickers!), fair rides, fair animals (tomorrow from Olson: llamas! And one screeching pony) , fair fundraising (tomorrow from Chaney: good causes!), and, in a nut, fair everything.

As for city government, here’s reporter Rob Chaney’s story about the public hearing Monday on the city and the stadium. It sounds like the audience was full of folks who want the deal to go through, but they couldn’t convince those who oppose it.

(Oh, you noticed the double Chaneys in this post? For some reason, Rob Chaney’s daughter, Ania Chaney, wants to be a writer.)

More on the stadium? Here are comments from Ross Best, who was unable to attend the Monday hearing.

Also, I’ll paste below a synopsis from city attorney Jim Nugent of civic stadium litigation. Continue reading