It’s boycott headlines day!

Who needs ’em?

I just read a couple stories in the Missoula Independent.

Read this one by Jessica Mayrer about a Virginia company that booted an old woman from her home for failing to pay her property taxes. The company said it’s going to give her the money from the sale. (Oh, the directions you could go with that one.) I heard the company is busy on a few other properties here, but I’m not sure if that’s the case.

Also, today is Watson Children’s Center day. I wrote about it here. Matthew Frank’s story in the Independent noted referrals from Child and Family Services are dropping in the western region. Interesting. I’d just looked at referrals to Watson’s. From the Indy:

CFS statistics show that in the western region, which includes Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders counties, the number of referrals dropped by about a third between the fall of 2009 and last month. The same trend is occurring across the state.

Sounds like it’s because the state was pulling kids out their homes when it didn’t need to be doing so, and the feds found out. Oops.

Onto something new: Complaints to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices! Yay! Just kidding. Good grief. They’re racking up like $2 parking tickets. Here’s Councilor Renee Mitchell’s against Caitlin Copple, and Councilor Lyn Hellegaard’s, also against Copple.

As you know, Mitchell and Hellegaard are running for re-election; Copple is challenging Hellegaard.

I hope this new state commissioner decides things faster and not, you know, well after elections and anyone gives a hoot.

One allegation against Copple involves the use of FaceBook, and I wonder how Montana’s laws regarding campaign practices intersect with the world of social media. What’s public? What’s private? What’s campaigning? What’s venting?

What’s next? Well, I’m going to keep on wondering for a while. Time for another story.

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula County Democrats: Hogwash!

The local Democrats did indeed correct an error in an email sent to rally door-knockers for their Ward 4 and Ward 5 candidates.

The September email is the subject of a complaint the Missoula County Republicans filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.

While the Democrats corrected the mistake, they also denounced the complaint as “frivolous.”

“With high unemployment, a stalled economy, and people in need of support, the Missoula GOP has chosen to take political shots than work on solutions,” reads the news release from Missoula County Democrats chairman Dustin Hankinson.

The complaint was filed Oct. 4. The corrected email went out Oct. 12.

It relates to Councilwomen Lyn Hellegaard’s and Renee Mitchell’s voting records; the councilors are being challenged by candidates Caitlin Copple and Mike O’Herron. Here’s the correction from the Democrats:

In the email for the September canvass, we erroneously stated that Hellegaard voted against the final draft of the ordinance; she did vote against moving it forward at critical stages of the legislative process.

Here’s the formal response from the Dems to the Commissioner of Political Practices. Here as promised for your reading pleasure.

— Keila Szpaller

MCAT interviews Council candidates

Did you see that MCAT has interviewed candidates for the Missoula City Council?

A couple weeks ago, I talked with MCAT general manager Joel Baird about the interviews. Like me, he had trouble reaching a couple candidates.

“It’s almost like they filed, and then they’re irritated people are taking an interest. Why are you calling me?”

Baird joked a couple folks might be members of the “want-to-be-left-alone party” with a platform promising “never to go to any council meetings.”

Seriously, though. He’s got 14 clips posted, including two from a Missoula Organization of Realtors forum. And he sees that folks on the ballot have heart.

“I am impressed with the lineup,” Baird said in an earlier interview. “I have four to go, but I think everyone really is articulate. They’re pretty darn passionate.”

So take a look, and heed MCAT’s note nudging everyone to vote:

The City Council elections are coming up and MCAT would like to encourage everyone to vote. Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters at their home addresses this year. The ballots will be mailed by October 19 24, 2011. If you don’t receive a ballot and would like to participate, call the Missoula County Election Office at 258-4751.

Important note if you don’t have cable: You can watch these from your computer. If you watch those and read this post and have rants or raves, please share.

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula GOP charges campaign violations

Here’s a link to the complaint on the docket of the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. (Thank you, Will Deschamps.)

The Missoula County Republican Central Committee filed it against the Missoula County Democratic Central Committee. One goof the complaint points out? The Dems got Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard’s vote wrong on the zoning rewrite. Like, 100 percent wrong.

After losing a lawsuit on the rewrite, Hellegaard voted in favor of the project. At the time, she said she supported the lawsuit to ensure the rewrite was legally bullet proof. (I think that phrase needs a hyphen but I’m not in the mood for one right now.) Folks who worked on the zoning code update back then lauded Hellegaard’s support as indication the project had bipartisan backing.

The email attached to the complaint uses the incorrect information about her vote to tout her opponent in Ward 4, Caitlin Copple. It’s an odd way to pump up a candidate, but perhaps the Missoula County Democrats sent out a correction. If so, I’ll post any corrections or responses that come this way, too.

The investigation is marked as “pending” on the state website. The Commissioner will determine whether it and the other allegations are actual violations, but when is another story.

I’ve passed on the complaint and printouts of the related statutes to my editor ’cause I’m working on another couple things. So I’m as eager to read the story as you are.

— Keila Szpaller

A Monday ramble, and hooray for cheesy puffs

Here are the things I’m thinking about:

1. Our web person asked me for suggestions about an election website, ideas for this time and 2012. I’m going to send her some notes today. If you have any, holler.

2. I really like that Judge Louden treated people like people and not criminals when they came in with traffic tickets. I hope the next judge has a similar attitude for folks who were just speeding or didn’t renew their insurance.

3. We’ve been running council candidate profiles. It’s odd to me, but I just can’t seem to reach Sean Ives. So we’ll run his Q&A and biographical information, but no story.

4. I interviewed Alex Prud’homme, who wrote “The Ripple Effect.” Guess what? He’s fished in Missoula.

That’s it. Well, other than the fact that I ate a LOT of cheesy puffs yesterday with a dear friend, and if you had just half the puffs and half the fun that I had, you had a fantastic weekend.

— Keila Szpaller