Perhaps it’ll be a Jack on the Missoula City Council after all

lightsDid you see PF’s post about Harlan Wells? The local government reporter was intrigued by Wells, who isn’t running for mayor after all – and also wondering if a new county commissioner will shake things up.

I was wondering if Jack Rowan, who ran against Wells, planned to toss his hat in the ring.

Today, Rowan told me he’d considered it, but he’s opting out in order to complete his chaplain studies. Good for you, Jack, and hurry back to Missoula.

In a short FB conversaion, though, Rowan also said he’s going to throw his support behind Jack Metcalf, if Metcalf does opt into the running. Do you remember Metcalf from the Justice of the Peace race?

Jack Rowan also said something funny about his endorsement, of sorts, of Jack Metcalf:

There is kinda’ weird satisfaction inherent in having another Jack claim the seat, if that is the way it all plays out. Plus, I really like Jack and agree with his approach.

Did you celebrate Christmas? Are you celebrating Hanukkah? Well, you’d best ring in 2017.

I was in Boise, Idaho, for Christmas, and am grateful for snow plow drivers. The picture is from a botanical garden in Boise that gets all lit up for the holidays … like some of us, perhaps.

  • Keila Szpaller

Two dogs for you, one in Missoula!

cooper-in-congress

The big news on the local government beat is Harlan Wells is leaving his Missoula City Council seat. Who will take over?

Reporter Peter Friesen has an interesting story about how the city is going about planning its budget this year. I haven’t seen them do this type of work in years past.

One question people were asked is this: “What gets you most excited about the City of Missoula’s future?”

A popular answer? “The mayor.”

Wells was going to challenge Mayor John Engen in 2017, but since he’s moving to Helena for his new job, the most vocal mayor-hopeful is out of the game. (*Correction! Apparently, Wells is only moving to Helena part time. Maybe he’ll work in Helena AND run for Missoula mayor.) A colleague told me a realtor in Missoula was fired up about finding an opponent. We’ll see who turns up.

In holiday cheer mode, here’s Alex Taft’s dog, Cassie, being very busy: alexs-dog. Taft was a council member, but now he’s gallivanting, camping at Holland Lake, doing other fun things.

Here’s Cooper, former crime reporter and always fearless Kate Haake’s pooch. Guess where Cooper is? CONGRESS!

Obviously, Cooper is busy as well. Miss you both, Kate and Cooper.

Photo credit: Haake.

All for now.

  • Keila Szpaller

 

Trump (maybe) picks Zinke. Goat pic south of Missoula. Silver and maroon.

goat

President-elect Donald Trump apparently wants Ryan Zinke. That story here.

A fellow reporter at another outlet said it makes perfect sense to choose a Navy SEAL to oversee Montana wetlands. That’s a very bad joke.

Regardless, we all get to vote again, and that’s cool.

What I’m reading today? How U.S. journalists normalized the rise of Hitler and Mussolini.

In news related to the University of Montana, the consultants hired to recruit a new president and Commissioner of Higher Education held listening sessions yesterday.

Deputy commissioner of communications Kevin McRae provided the contract with AGB Search, and I’m posting it here: agb-search. It is costing $72,500 for the recruitment.

McRae said that’s the only contract signed or sought to date related to transition at UM. In January, the Montana Board of Regents will take up a contract for the interim president, he said.

agb-tie

See the pic? It’s dark, but that’s AGB’s Jim McCormick on the right. I asked him about his silver and maroon tie.

“Are these the right colors?” McCormick joked.

He said his colleague, Janice Fitzgerald, made sure he was sporting the right look for Tuesday’s meetings. I was curious if he was actually an alum. Nope, but when AGB recruits, he said, they take the personalities of campuses seriously, and he pointed to a Grizzlies ball cap he had with his gear, too.

The goat has nothing to do with anything except we are in Montana, and you guys like dogs, and this animal sort of resembles a dog. Please feel free to send your pup pics, cat snaps, anything but snakes, and I’ll make them famous by posting them here.

– Keila Szpaller

P.S. Guys, I’ve got to make an admission. I’m a little worried reporter Peter Friesen won’t be able to manage posting here, that he might go rogue or something. Please let me know if anything goes awry with him.

Happy Friday; happy snacks; happy reading in … Missoula

chips

  1. Happy Friday. We have some digital news people now, a team around Montana, and we received an excellent non-digital tip from the person in charge. Jake Ellison said if you mix normal potato chips with barbecue flavored ones, it’s a dynamite combo. I tried it yesterday, and he’s right. There’s your Friday sodium consumption recommendation from the newsroom, complete with visual aid. And apropos of health-free food and my weekend, here’s a recipe for Martha Stewart’s perfect mac and cheese.
  2. Reporter Peter Friesen gets into the nitty-gritty here on buying Mountain Water Co.
  3. The Indy looks at how the University of Montana is doing an about-face on program prioritization.
  4. The Commissioner of Higher Education takes questions from the Faculty Senate. I wondered what the tenor of the meeting might be, and it was mostly a civil plea to keep faculty in the loop and give real consideration to faculty and student perspectives.

Back on the love-and-hate beat today. Here we go.

  • Keila Szpaller

 

 

Promise pup pics, deliver pups; SEO means I should say Missoula here

bataille

Animal rights activists aren’t keen on the University of Montana doing research on pigs. That story here. Kevin Boileau’s dog, Bataille, is pictured here. Bataille came by for the interview.

UM is going to be recruiting just as high school graduate levels stagnate and drop, according to this report released Tuesday. It’s called “Knocking at the College Door” and published by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

Angela McLean said this on Twitter about recruiting:
@KeilaSzpaller In addition to seeking HS grads, we need to attract the thousands of Montanans who have some credits but no degree. #mtedu

Reporter Peter Friesen gets the phrase “fungal funk” in a story here.

But reporter Chelsea Davis writes about sex ed in the schools, so there.

It was freezing this morning. As I waited for the bus, a big pickup truck pulled up to me, and the driver dangled something out the window. “Just got off my shift.” He handed over a pair of toasty hand warmers. They worked well for the rest of my wait, and I’m sitting on them right now. Thank you, working man.

handwarmers

– Keila Szpaller

Harlan Wells wants to be Missoula’s next mayor

harlan-wellsHarlan Wells, a Missoula City Council member, talked last week with the Five Valleys Pachyderm Club, and reporter Dillon Kato had this story about the event.

Wells wants to run for mayor in 2017 against incumbent Mayor John Engen. I think Engen is closing in on 132 months in office as head of Missoula, the longest serving mayor in the history of the city. (He first took the office in January 2006; 11 years x 12 mos = 132. Right?)

Here’s the list of Missoula mayors. In 1970, John Patterson was acting mayor for one week. That might be fun. I wonder if Council President Marilyn Marler will be on the list since she stepped in for Engen recently for a few weeks.

Anyway, back to Wells, if he wants to be mayor, I hope his participation on council has improved. Earlier this year, he wasn’t as involved as you might think a mayoral hopeful would be.

I hope we see another name in the race, too, though I can’t think of who that might be. (I also hope it isn’t someone who wags her finger in my face and swears at me after getting drunk, as happened a while back. ‘Member … ?!) I’d like to ask local government reporter Peter Friesen what he’s heard about other possible candidates but he’s deep in conversation right now, so I’ll bug him later.

Oh, speaking of candidates, did you see Denise Juneau might apply to be University of Montana president? Interesing news. Juneau might turn out to be the best person for the job, but let’s hope they don’t play politics with the hire.

A fun aside: I tracked down Juneau in person, without warning, and she was kind. I’d tried calling her about people pushing her to apply for the job, and I didn’t get through. Soon after, news editor Ashley Scully saw Juneau at a nearby coffee shop and let me know. I hopped across the street, reintroduced myself to Juneau, apologized for interrupting, and posed the question. She answered, and she and the person she was meeting with were obliging.

In other news, Kato also had this story today about what happens in Missoula County Justice Court when the parties disagree on what was said in court.

The Montana Legislature in 2003 gave counties the power to require their justice courts, which handle state misdemeanor crimes, to record their proceedings, making them “courts of record.” Few did so, and Missoula County has not.

Happy Monday.

  • Keila Szpaller

A dog on a bus, a spouse in a UM car, and “granola” people

dog-on-bus

When news editor Ashley Scully heard Red Tape was maaaaybe going to revive, at least for the next few weeks, she asked for dog pics. Well, here’s “Dog on a Bus” because I ride Mountain Line a lot in the wintertime.

Also, this week I requested and received a copy of the University of Montana president’s offer letter and some other docs. The offer letter has a couple interesting tidbits in it.

“You will be provided memberships at one or more Missoula-area country clubs.” President Royce Engstrom strikes me as a person who prefers a library or lab over a country club, but he probably has to hobnob some as head of UM.

Are any memberships current? Question is in. But back to transportation, the offer letter also has “spouse perquisites.”

“The right to ride with the president in the provided vehicle.”

Gotta wonder how that provision came about.

If you’re following the possible new Costco development, here’s word from Carolyn Diddel, a coffee shop owner out there:

“Missoula gets a little granola,” she said. “You’re going to find, at least in this neighborhood, they’re anti-everything.”

Well, they might be against coffee shop owners who don’t like them.

All for now.

  • Keila Szpaller

Mayor is direct about absence; Engstrom, OCHE, comment on UM

Good for Mayor John Engen. Last month, the mayor temporarily handed over the City Hall reins to Marilyn Marler, Missoula City Council president.

Engen is back at work today, with an explanation that he’d checked into treatment for alcohol addiction.

I always appreciate the insight of Jim Lopach, retired political science professor from the University Montana, on city and county matters. Lopach offered local government reporter Peter Friesen his take on the mayor’s letter to the public.

“It’s important for him (Engen) – it’s important for his political future – that he appears to have acted quickly and forthrightly,” Lopach said.

City editor Gwen Florio said she missed Missoula Red Tape, and frankly, there’s been quite a bit of fodder lately, so here we are. We’ll give it another go.

On the University of Montana front, you might have seen this story about UM with comments from the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

President Royce Engstrom had this to say in response to the story in a Thanksgiving memo to the campus:

I am compelled to address an article that appeared in this morning’s Missoulian. The University of Montana submitted a budget to the Regents this year based on the hard and painful work we did last year to adjust our personnel base. Our tuition revenue is running significantly ahead of that budget projection and the implication that jobs are threatened is some immediate sense is simply wrong. As does every institution of higher education, we will continue to align our personnel base in accordance with our enrollment and we will continue to reallocate our precious resources in the most educationally sound and cost-effective manner. We will, of course, do this through all appropriate legal and ethical channels.

Commissioner Clayton Christian had comments as well.

From: “Commissioner Clayton T. Christian” hePresident@umontana.edu<mailto:ThePresident@umontana.edu

Date: November 25, 2016 at 9:04:49 AM MST

To: CampusCommunications@umontana.edu<mailto:CampusCommunications@umontana.edu

Subject: Message from Commissioner Christian

TO:  UM Campus Community

FROM:  Clayton T. Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education

 

A news story in the November 23 issue of the Missoulian understandably generated a lot of concern among UM faculty, staff, professional, and administrative employees. The article addressed a number of issues, including the university’s budget, staffing levels, and program prioritization efforts.

 

Included in the article were statements by a member of my staff in which he offered opinions about faculty and staffing levels at UM. It is understandable for people to be concerned about what they read.

 

Neither the Board of Regents nor its Commissioner have mandated any staffing reductions. Staffing is a university-level decision to be included in the annual operating budgets that the Board of Regents reviews to ensure revenues and expenditures are in line. The faculty, staff, professional and administrative team at UM have worked hard through past budget alignments to place the university on strong forward footing. At the same time, the collaborative program prioritization efforts and improved student recruiting methods are key to maintaining strong sustainability into the future.

 

The Board of Regents does not micromanage to the level of particular numbers of employees. The Board does monitor big-picture elements, or so-called “dashboard” indicators, such as institutional student to faculty or staff ratios. The Board relies upon university-level collaboration to develop and propose program-level ratios, address necessary nuances, and manage the resources and impacts to meet the needs of students.

 

Despite comments reported in the article, I assure you there is no intent to lay blame on faculty, the Missoulian, or any stakeholders in the University of Montana for the challenges ahead. We will rely on the expertise of participating faculty, staff, administrators and an informed public in transparently making this great university even stronger.

 

Thank you.

I’m probably rusty, so thanks for bearing with Red Tape.

  • Keila Szpaller

Harlan Wells, Jack Rowan finalists in Ward 2

Harlan Wells and Jack Rowan are the finalists in Ward 2.

They have different visions, so that’s good for voters in the general election. Here’s Wells, pictured above, on his win in reporter Martin Kidston’s story:

A lot of people had a lot of hope that the fiscal conservative message would appeal to the voters, and it did.

Councilman Adam Hertz isn’t seeking re-election.

Wells received 752 votes, the most. Rowan got 347, candidate Anita Green, took in 211, and candidate Aylinn Inmon won 169.

Green has already has pledged to back Rowan. Inmon is asking more questions before giving either finalist support.

If they both back Rowan, it looks like it might be a good race. But the primary turnout wasn’t inspiring, according to numbers in my colleague’s story:

Roughly 4,810 ballots were issued in the Ward 2 primary and 1,487 were returned.

All for now.

– Keila Szpaller

Warning sign? Or hate speech? Sign raises alarm at UM.

prey

I saw this sign posted Thursday on a kiosk outside Main Hall at the University of Montana.

It definitely caught my eye, and I sent a picture out on Twitter.

Soon after, vice president of integrated communications Peggy Kuhr called and said the sign had been removed because it could fall into the category of hate speech.

She also said the Title IX office had been alerted and campus police would be as well.

Kuhr said she did not want the sign posted on Twitter: “The key here is that we take special care not to disseminate hateful speech.”

She also said UM was going to look for similar signs on campus and take any others down.

“It’s distressing, and it’s taken seriously,” Kuhr said.

I don’t know if it’s hate speech, or of it’s a campaign warning women. I hypothesized that a woman who had been attacked in the past posted the sign, but I don’t know the source.

UM had, in the past, a rape problem. Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio brought the problem to light several years ago, Jon Krakauer wrote a book about it this year, and he said the problem was prevalent on campuses across the country.

By many accounts, UM has gone to great lengths to raise awareness about sexual violence and even take measures to create a culture that protects women.

I think the sign shows the issue is still fresh for some people on campus. Regardless, it was an interesting thing to run across, and so I shared it.

I’ve shared pictures of farmers market veggies on campus, and the tasty lunch from the taco truck at the oval, and no doubt, I’ll be sending out some pictures that are maddening to officials.

I hope it all gives people a window into the Missoula campus. It’s a cool place, sign or no sign.

– Keila Szpaller