Happy 2013 from Moze!

moze1-300x275moze2-300x209moze3-300x300Awww, isn’t Moze a sweetheart? He came from one of the local shelters.

Here’s a note from his person, Jonas Dickinson, who adopted Moze two years ago.

He is such a lover but can be a little rascal just like all cats. I am glad I adopted him … He’s a great pet.

I got him a little Santa hat, but I can’t get him to wear it.

Alright, now back to business. The Missoula City Council doesn’t meet again until Jan. 7. Do you miss them? Are you curious about how their new seating arrangement will work?

I’m wondering if they’ll really have new seats when they meet then. Let’s see, I’m going to tell you how it’ll look if they actually do sit in alphabetical order by last name from left to right from the perspective of the audience.

Ed Childers
Caitlin Copple
Dick Haines
Adam Hertz
Bob Jaffe
Marilyn Marler
Cat Moze
Mike O’Herron
Dave Strohmaier
Alex Taft
Jason Wiener
Jon Wilkins
Cynthia Wolken

Haha! Moze won’t be there, but it’s always a good time when pets do show up in Council Chambers.

As I’m sure you know, councilors also could sit alphabetically by first name, or they could sit right to left, or, well, they could choose a lot of other arrangements.

I’m curious to see how it shakes out. All for now.

– Keila Szpaller

Vote for Alex! And Natalie! And Miles!

Oh, wait. You can’t vote for Miles until next year.

But guess what? This is a very exciting post.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the “California Littles,” and someone recommended I ask Councilwoman Marilyn Marler about her new dog, Miles. Miles Sr., if I am not mistaken, from the Western Montana Humane Society.

I hadn’t gotten around to asking, but yesterday, Marler sent along a note about the annual “Cat of the Year” contest she and her sweetie, David Schmetterling, post on their blog, Montana Wildlife Gardener.

Guess what’s on it? A picture of Miles. (I just asked Marler for permission to use this photo, but I’m thinking it’s fine ’cause she sent the link, so I’m going to pull the trigger and publish.)

miles-227x300Isn’t Miles a handsome little fellow? Thank you, California, for the wonderful things you bring to Montana. (Haters, check your stockings for coal.)

Last time around in this contest, I think I voted for Junebug because she was the under-cat, but she went to the great cat playhouse in heaven this year.

So I’m going to vote for Natalie. Do you know why? Because she’s “not a team player.” Good for her, ’cause does being a team player really get you far? In the surly estimation of someone I know, the answer is not really. Also, Natalie doesn’t like vets, and who can’t relate to feeling a certain suspicion about doctors? Maybe she needs to see a nurse practitioner instead.

Oh, she was disemboweled by a dog, too, and that’s horrible. My cat, Billie Jean, was torn up by a raccoon, so this is also a vote for survivors. (Billie Jean also is from the Humane Society, and Allen the dog is from Animal Control and is perfect.)

I wouldn’t blame you if you vote for Alex, though. How can you note love a cat that meets visitors at the door? Alex also beat up a dog, and then, he made amends. All that’s superfantastic, to use my dad’s favorite word.

The last couple years, I’ve done pet posts for the holidays, or coworker posts. I guess this is the first pet post, but I’m not sure if I’ll have more. Feel free to send me a pet picture if you want (no snakes) or anything else that’s festive. I’m Keila.Szpaller@missoulian.com or @keilaszpaller.

– Keila Szpaller

Missoula County, Confederated tribes

This week, the Missoula City Council took a step toward setting up a formal relationship with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Missoula County already has had an agreement with the tribes, and for quite a while. Here’s Pat O’Herren on the subject:

Missoula County entered into an agreement on land use issues with the Confederated Tribes in 1988 and that relationship continues today.  The agreement has been updated through the years.  In sum, the Tribal Council and the Commissioners meet at least annually and both entities agree, through their respective staff, to formally consult on subdivisions, cultural resources, land use, conservation of natural resources, land acquisitions and other issues of mutual concern, which can include economic growth.

The Tribes and Commissioners also exchange gifts annually as an indication of the significant and ongoing respect the two government agencies have for each other.  The Commissioners and Tribes host the gathering in alternate years in Missoula and Pablo.

Missoula County also has a separate agreement with the Tribes on law enforcement.

The gift exchange sounds like a neat tradition. Missoula County spokeswoman Anne Hughes said a beautiful blanket from the tribes is on display in a county conference room. Here’s more from Hughes on this year’s gift to the tribes:

… The gift the Commissioners presented to the Confederated Tribes at their last meeting on October 3rd was a cradle board. Its interesting history … (below) … was provided by Diane Sands from the Fort Missoula Historical Museum. The tribes sent a letter to the Commissioners after the meeting thanking them for the gift and letting them know the cradle board would be displayed at the People’s Center in Pablo. That’s where they’ll meet again next spring.

Here’s the history from Sands:

This cradle board was a gift ‘from the Indians of Montana to Gov. Joseph M. Dixon on his inauguration in 1920.’

When Gov. Dixon died in 1934, his widow, Mrs. Caroline Worden Dixon, daughter of Frances Lyman Worden, Missoula founder and prominent merchant, loaned the cradle board to the Missoula Public Library for display. Upon Mrs. Dixon’s death in 1946, her daughters presented it to the library for permanent display.

In 1994, the cradle board was given to Missoula County’s Historical Museum at Fort Missoula as part of their permanent collection.

In 2012, the Missoula County Board of County Commissioners is honored to return this lovely historic cradle board to the people who first created it, the Salish and Kootenai Tribe, for preservation at The People’s Center where future generations will be able to enjoy it and appreciate the long journey it has traveled for almost a hundred years.

What a neat trip for that cradle board to take.

Now, the city is on its way to setting up its own agreement with the Salish and Kootenai with a resolution from Councilman Dave Strohmaier. This week in committee, councilors approved the resolution, and the full council will take it up this coming Monday.

– Keila Szpaller

Congratulate, don’t criticize, Vickie Zeier

In a letter to the editor today, Myra Shults tells people congratulations are in order for Vickie Zeier, elections administrator for Missoula County.

Zeier is one of the best and most conscientious election administrators in Montana and works extremely hard to assure that the process is correct, as evidenced by her training of election workers. One only has to watch her during her long days before and during the election. Same-day registration is in its infancy and each election reveals how it can be improved. I know she will do what she can to improve the process.

In this guest column, Missoula County Commissioners respond to Denver Henderson’s earlier assertions about elections, including one saying Zeier doesn’t care about encouraging people to vote.

In fact, Zeier created a new position in her elections department that is specifically assigned to creating a public awareness campaign encouraging people to register to vote and vote early to reduce wait times at polling places and the Elections Center where same-day voter registration occurs. The campaign included bus ads on University of Montana buses and Mountain Line buses, press releases, public service announcements, print advertisements in the Kaimin, the Missoulian and the Independent, three billboards, a new Facebook page, an overhaul of the elections website, an interview on Missoula Community Access Television and a guest column in the Missoulian. The budget for this outreach totaled more than $9,500.

The point commissioners don’t address directly is the wait time for registering and voting on Election Day. Earlier, Commissioner Bill Carey agreed three hours is too long, but here, commissioners seem satisfied with the status quo:

There is a delicate balance between providing the best public service possible and seeing to the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars. We believe Zeier strikes that balance well.

Does that mean we should just get used to the three, four hour waits if we don’t register until Election Day? If so, it’d be a good thing to hear loudly and clearly.

That way, the folks who think same-day registration should be easier and quicker can put their energies elsewhere. They can pipe down altogether on the topic, offer to sit on Zeier’s Election Advisory Committee, as commissioners suggest, or even help elect candidates who think differently into office.

– Keila Szpaller

Elections in Missoula need work – and a bullhorn

Here’s another guest column about elections, this from Forward Montana.

In it, Chief Executive Officer Andrea Marcoccio said she appreciates the hard work of the Missoula County Elections Office and Vickie Zeier, but she said same-day voter registration needs work to be effective.

At one point, Forward Montana had to lend our bullhorn to the county so they could wrangle the masses who were sent to stand for hours with no further communication. Being forced to wait outside in a line for hours may be a fitting punishment for wanting to see Justin Bieber, but it has no place in our democracy.

Let’s fix it.

But is there anything for elections folks to fix? Not according to elections officials.

In an earlier interview, Zeier said voters need to get themselves registered before the last day if they don’t want to wait in long lines.

I really think that the citizens have to take some initiative and start getting there a little earlier.

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch noted waits were anywhere from one and half to four hours.  And she sees the bright side: People were taking the opportunity to register and vote on Election Day.

I think our election administrators from all the 56 counties were heroic in their efforts to give good service to Election Day registrants.

The elected official who has said he thinks three hours is too long is County Commissioner Bill Carey. He had high praise for Zeier, but also said he was looking forward to a briefing about how it all went.

She is very good at what she does. So is her staff. But sometimes, things get a little off course. And when we finally do get a proper, in-depth briefing, we’ll see what we need to do to fix whatever is broken.

I have to wonder if Carey took some heat for saying “things get a little off course.” Anyway, the briefing hasn’t taken place yet, and it’s likely to happen after the Missoula County Elections Office finishes this elections season.

– Keila Szpaller