Hot mess in Ravalli County

I want to be sure you are following the hot mess in Ravalli County.

The latest in the Missoulian is this letter to the editor, which puts the blame for the “fiasco,” “disaster,” “bombshell,” squarely on the shoulders of Tea Party commissioners. Writes Van Keele of Hamilton:

Our county’s the laughing stock of Montana, all because three tea extremist commissioners – Suzy Foss, Ron Stoltz and Jeff Burrows – voted to appoint a clearly unqualified political ally to a crucial county position which handles millions. That’s fiscal incompetence, not smart fiscal conservatism.

Reporters Perry Backus and Dave Erickson are on the story like white on rice, and here’s the latest from them. The bar to the right of the story has links to earlier reports.

In the meantime, embattled treasurer Valerie Stamey is on administrative leave. She’s on paid leave, drawing on a $49,827 salary.

In a prepared statement posted here, Stamey throws blame on others for the financial meltdown her office has caused in the county: “My office is a crime scene of past illegal activity.”

– Keila Szpaller

Big Sky celebrates Martin Luther King


If you have been here before, you probably already knew what I was going to post: THE DOG GALLERY! This one is by photo editor Kurt Wilson.

It’s awesome. You can find the cat one on your own.

Did you see that Councilman Mike O’Herron might resign? He got a promotion, and he is going to do a look in three months to see if he’s handling both jobs well.

I suspect you don’t say that publicly unless you already have plans to resign. If he does, I think the council appoints someone to complete the term.

Other stuff?

The old downtown parking meters still aren’t working. Missoula Parking Commission director Anne Guest said a new system will be in place this year, hopefully by summer. (Yes, you have heard that before.)

What else? Mount Jumbo might open up to a foot race, the Mount Jumbo Elk Ramble! Love the name.

All for now.

— Keila Szpaller


Goodbye, Danskos, hello, JLos

SHOESphoto Trevorphoto

High heels in winter? They’re no problem for Trevor Parr, who was having coffee this morning at Le Petit Outre while working on a tattoo design for a client.

Three cheers for people like Parr who are willing to paddle upstream when it comes to fashion in Dansko- and Carhartt-friendly Missoula. AND be a person named Trevor in stilettos. (Well, they look like stilettos to me.) The design is by Jennifer Lopez, said Parr.

In other news, I was surprised Wednesday to arrive early to a 1 p.m. meeting and see 11 council people in an off-the-mic meeting with Rob Scheben, crime prevention officer with the Missoula Police Department.

The meeting wasn’t noticed, and when I arrived, the council people were talking about what to do in case of emergency in Council Chambers. When it ended, I asked Council President Marilyn Marler why the event wasn’t noticed.

Marler said she didn’t know, but she said it was part of the training for new councilors. I wanted to know how often so many councilors met together in unnoticed sessions.

“This is the only one,” Marler said. “It’s a pretty special situation.”

If you want to know what council people are up to in their Wednesday committee meetings, go to “Most Recent Committee Schedule” here.

The Montana Constitution protects people’s rights to know what elected officials are up to, to observe them in the sausage making, and to give their two cents. In order to participate, people need a heads up and an agenda.

City Clerk Marty Rehbein posts council’s agendas for its Monday night meetings a couple days before the meeting. You can find those in the same place as committee agendas.

I don’t believe council people were making any decisions when they met this week for the training, but I do believe we should know in advance when so many elected leaders are in the same room — and the nature of their business.

Oh, one more thing. It looks like the council is going to grant the Hotel Fox group a one-year extension on its reservation on the old Fox Theater site. I really, really, really would like to be able to tell you something juicy about the project, like, the developers revealed plans for a terraced herb garden and outdoor bar, a rooftop deck, a Ferris wheel operated by friendly llamas, but no such luck.

I can tell you not everyone is pleased with the imminent extension: From Twitter:

Reaction: MT @jhwygirl: If Fox Grp can’t meet original expectations, why in hell is council affirming them? Again?

For the record, I deleted an F-bomb. The project has grown even bigger, and sometime between now and June, the Hotel Fox people are going to solicit public input. I’m won’t mind if you share my Ferris wheel idea.

Happy Friday, by the way. And unless you’re practiced, leave the stilettos for springtime, alright?

— Keila Szpaller


Urban trees should benefit wildlife

dogHere’s a neat story about urban centers and trees. In Missoula, the city is paying more attention to its urban forest, although some council members have said they want more planting versus pruning and removal.

The story, from e360 of Yale University, notes that urban centers are growing in leaps and bounds, but bird species are in precipitous decline:

Those kinds of stark numbers, repeated around the world, have made it disturbingly evident that it’s not enough for cities to plant a million trees, preach the gospel of backyard gardens, or build green roofs and smart streets. The trees, shrubs, and flowers in that ostensibly green infrastructure also need to benefit birds, butterflies, and other animals.


The photo of Scott above isn’t related. He’s a pet, not wildlife, but I saw him sitting outside Le Petit Outre bakery this morning and found him adorable.

So long, for the time being.

— Keila Szpaller


Missoula leaders take oaths of office