I know it takes money to fix roads, and I know we’d rather spend that money on other things. But gosh darn, why can’t we even fix something as simple as a manhole cover in the middle of the road?
I really do wonder if those in power in Missoula have any sense. Here’s this thing that countless drivers drive over each day in Missoula, and we could fix it in a couple of days.
Hey, I’m willing to bet that we, as Americans, could fix this manhole cover in the middle of the street in just one day if we wanted to.
Gosh, some Irishmen and Chinamen built 10 miles of railroad track in one day in 1869 and you’re telling me we can’t fix a fucking hole in the road?
This is what we’re dealing with here in Missoula, and this is why I’ve said again and again on this site that recalling Mayor John Engen would be such a good idea.
Right here is the reason why. All you need to do is go to every public appearance the mayor makes and hold up a picture of this hole in the road (there wouldn’t be many). It doesn’t get more black and white than that when it comes to incompetence in Missoula.
Oh, we could have fixed that – I’m not arguing that. It’s just that we’d rather continue paying out-of-state lawyers and consultants to tell us how to steal a water company. We’d rather buy a park for $42 million so rich kids can play once a week. We’d rather climb up a house of cards than simply abide with what we need and can afford.
I’m no road expert, so I don’t know what it’d cost to fix something like this huge pothole in the middle of the road in Missoula. Maybe it’d be $10,000…but I just don’t think so. But I’ll tell you what, I bet a lot of people in Missoula would say yes, let’s fix that damn thing that I hit each day, or at least do my best to swerve around (I find swerving to the left works best).
So here’s hoping those in Missoula that run things can figure out how to fix this problem. But you know what, I’m not counting on it. Nope, I’m willing to be I’ll be hitting this bump in the road for a long time to come.
Ever ride your bike along the Bitterroot Branch Trail that runs along the railroad tracks in Missoula? I’m sure you have – it’s the major artery in Missoula for bike traffic.
It stretches all the way across town and I’ve used that trail for years. You can get from one end of town to the other in 10 to 15 minutes, and in the future when we’ve gotten over our dependence on cars, it’ll be utilized more.
The railroad tracks aren’t utilized at all, perhaps just a few times a year and then mainly for engines and maintenance crews. In fact, they’re more a hindrance to cars, and therefore not worth anything.
But they do make a nice spot to store junk, and the City of Missoula has one of the largest junk storage areas I’ve seen, and right in prime real estate along that major transportation corridor.
Now, perhaps this could be a prime spot for an urban renewal area. But then you have to figure urban renewal areas are only used when the city wants to built more strip malls. Since this is in the middle of town, that probably wouldn’t work.
So we’ll just let it sit there collecting junk:
Now, maybe that area’s used for something. Maybe the electric company uses is – there sure are a lot of power poles and other stuff like that around there:
I don’t know what all that stuff is for, but it’s on one side of the tracks and trail and over by those new apartments they built by Russell and behind that Missoula Federal Credit Union Branch:
Over there to the left under Mount Jumbo you can see the general area where they’re doing those Mount and Russell apartments here in Missoula:
There sure are a lot of those tan buildings too, huh? What are they, who owns them? That’s sure a lot of land and property there – prime real estate – and I’d hate to think the city is just sitting on it when it could be collecting tax revenue. Remember, that’s a source of tax revenue other than your back pocket.
And don’t forget there’s one stretch of that trail that just doesn’t even exist, forcing bicyclists to enter traffic, break laws, and give drivers headaches. Current and past city administrations have been perfectly fine with this.
Overall, this is a huge area of negative space. From an efficiency standpoint, we’re getting maybe 50% out of that land, if even that.
You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve ridden by it – what will you do? Just continue to ignore it? That’s what our city officials have done for years. What a waste!
This area could be cleaned up. There are grants and TIFFs and TEDs and all kinds of other fancy-pants acronyms that allow things like this to be developed for the good of the community at no cost to you. And remember, if we weren’t pissing away money on out-of-state lawyers, consultants, and those conducting surveys, we’d have money for things we need.
Maybe the idea is just to keep the fence up, however, and keep this area wasting away.
Beginning on Wednesday, November 5, I’ll start going around Missoula’s Ward 6 knocking on doors collecting signatures. I’m doing this because Missoula’s mayor John Engen needs to be removed from office before he does anymore damage to the working class families that live here.
The reason I’ve decided to do this is because of an article in the Missoulian today that declares Missoula will in effect by paying $102 million now for Mountain Water.
Remember, the city originally thought $50 million would do the job and then that $65 million would get it done. Now $102 million has been bandied about, this time by mega-bank Barclays.
It’s clear to me that I mean nothing in this town, that my family and I have zero importance. Your family is much the same way, and I think you know that.
Well, you could be one of the rich fat cats living in the South Hills, some bigshot downtown businessmen, or a university flunky, all depending on corruption in this town. I’m not, and I’d like to wipe the table of you folks and your unbalanced policies that have made my life difficult.
See, the only jobs we get here anymore are crappy service industry jobs and restaurant gigs. Why does Mayor John Engen have such a low opinion of the people of his hometown?
Maybe he’s sold out. Maybe that fat’s gone to his brain. Maybe he just isn’t very intelligent.
Voters are, and I’ll begin collecting the number of signatures I need to get rid of his ass. So how many are needed?
In the 2013 Missoula mayoral race, 17,159 people voted. There were 48,525 people registered to vote that year, and just 21,149 people did. As I said in July, Missoula’s low voter turnout favors me.
You need signatures from 15% of the people that voted in the last election.
See, I’m not real sure, and I’ll probably have to call Missoula City Attorney Jim Nugent tomorrow to find out. But we’ve made calls before, and we think the number of signature we need to gather will be closer to 20,000…although don’t ask me why.
So I’ll start soon, and with one signature – my own.
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We’ve got several political races coming up in under two weeks, so let’s figure out who the candidates in Missoula are, and which Missoula candidates you should vote for.
Supreme Court #1
Jim Rice vs. W. David Herbert is a race that’s been ignored to death.
So what do we know? Jim Rice got onto the Montana Supreme Court in 2001 when Republican governor Judy Martz appointed him. Prior to that he was born in Canada, got his BA in Political Science from MSU in 1979, then headed off to Missoula to be City Attorney for a time, moved to Helena to do similar, then got into the legislature, becoming Majority Whip in 1993.
You have to realize that Democrats controlled the Montana Legislature from 1993 to 2001, so he’s a Democrat, yet the conservative-leaning kind, i.e. someone who can win in a statewide race.
He did so in 2002, winning election outright to the bench with 85% of the vote and then again in 2006 with 84%. So who’s other guy running? I hear he’s from California, and that’s about all I need to.
Vote For: Jim Rice
Supreme Court #2
Mike Wheat vs. Lawrence VanDyke is a race that will be damn close, I just know it…or at least it would have been until the sketchy mailings went out today.
I’ve written about Mike Wheat a lot and I’m not going to waste your time doing so again right now. Nor am I going to waste time talking about ways to trip-up VanDkye or his sketchy corporate backers. I just hope the outfit running Wheat’s campaign can pull it off.
Vote For: Mike Wheat
Senate District 48
Cynthia Wolken vs. Kevin Blackler is a race I really don’t know a whole lot about, but I think Cynthia Wolken is the way to go.
In 2011 she ran for the Missoula City Council, Ward 2, and won…something that was rather easy since she was the incumbent. Oh, but remember, she was appointed to that position in 2010 when Roy Houseman resigned his seat, so that might have something to do with her getting 92% of the vote.
So how’d she do in the next election? Well, Missoula City Council members serve for 4-year terms, so she’s not up again until 2015, although if she wins this race someone will have to be appointed to fill that Ward 2 spot.
In Missoula there are two City Council members for each ward, and right now conservative Adam Hertz is in her ward, which says to me that the ward is tilting right (it’s in that area of town where this is possible).
That doesn’t really matter to me – I live in Ward 6 and will have to contend with Ed Childers if I decide to run. He’s been serving on the City Council longer than anyone and I think it’s time for him to go.
Four terms is long enough (16 damns years, really?) and he already served as City Treasurer before that. Plus, he only garnered 58% of the vote in a 3-way race. He’s not secure, far from it.
But I digress. In the 2014 primary Wolken got 1,452 votes to Blackler’s 810…but both ran unopposed. It could be a bit closer in November, but I still feel the Democrats will take this seat.
Vote For: Cynthia Wolken
Senate District 49
Diane Sands vs. Dick Haines is a race that shouldn’t even be close. I’ve written about Diane Sands quite a bit and you can see some of her flyers on that old article.
The primary vote was 1,599 for the two GOP candidates and 2,392 for the two Democrats, and I’m expecting those numbers to remain about the same, percentage-wise.
Vote For: Diane Sands
Senate District 50
Tom Facey vs…no one.
I hate races when no one else is running – it’s un-American. Oftentimes I just don’t vote in those races at all.
But in this race, there was going to be an opponent, at least until about three days before the primary. According to the March 11 Missoulian, Dick Haines was going to run against Facey but then dropped out so he could run against Diane Sands.
The reason for this? He thought he’d have a better chance against Diane Sands.
Shit, I don’t know Tom Facey very well, but I have met Diane Sands and she can tear you apart if she wants to. Tom Facey must be able to kill with a look. I guess he’ll be able to get things done in Helena, huh? Or else Haines made one helluva blunder.
Vote For: Tom Facey
House District 14
Terry Caldwell vs. Nick Schwaderer is an outside the city limits of Missoula and is in Superior. So, this race is one that doesn’t really affect me. I will say that Nick Schwaderer is a younger Republican – he was born in 1988 – and I see him on Twitter quite a bit. I also know he wrote the minority opinion against the renaming of the state auditor position.
I’m sure we’ll see more of him later, but in this case it might not matter – there’s talk his opponent is a Republican as well. I think voting for the Democrat Caldwell would be better, but is Terry Caldwell a Democrat? I don’t know. Maybe Nick Schwaderer would be better here…for me, since he’s young and might be able to identify with me more.
Boy, I’m glad I’m not voting in this one.
Vote For: ???
House District 89
Nate McConnell vs. No One
I was a lot more interested in this race when it was Sam Thompson and Lewie Schneller running in the primary. There were some allegations in this race, mainly about yard signs being pulled down or removed or what not.
Still, that might have just been post-election animosity. I did see Sam Thompson down at the UM Homecoming parade, so there’s that.
So now it’s just the one candidate. Remember, I don’t like this. And honestly, I don’t know much about Nate McConnell other than that he’s yet another lawyer running to represent our interests.
I’m getting damn sick of lawyers running this town…into the ground in my opinion. Will Nate McConnell be different? I think so. He has McConnell Law, a smaller private practice or firm. Looking at his site, it seems he’s trying to help out the little guy with medical, family, and DUI issues.
Nate McConnell seems like one of the good guys – which in my mind means he’s not tied up with those tax-hungry Democrats allied with Mayor John Engen. Those folks need to go, and the faster the better. The problem’s figuring out which Missoula Democrats are still in bed with him, and which aren’t. But that’s for future races, with opponents.
Vote For: Nate McConnell
House District 90
Ellie Hill vs. No One
Here’s another race where there’s one candidate, although in this case I’m not surprised. Ellie Hill has been named one of the main people to watch in Montana, she ran unopposed in the primary, and she’s an incumbent.
But will she always be so lucky? Her desire to overturn the Castle Doctrine is a good one, but there will be stiff backlash, and it could cost her.
If she doesn’t have an opponent in the general election in 2016 I’ll be damn surprised. Of course, she could try for the Montana Senate at that point too.
Vote For: Ellie Hill
House District 91
Bryce Bennett vs. No One
Ah, our third race in a row with no opponent. This was the case in the primary as well, and like Ellie Hill, Bryce Bennett is also an incumbent. But he’s also the minority whip in the House, meaning he’s one of the top dogs.
Bryce Bennett will have a long political future in Montana, if he continues to run in Missoula races or moves to administrative positions in Helena. A statewide race? I’m not sure that’d be successful.
But he’s competent and knows the issues and could do the job. Montana’s just not that accepting in many places. But that’s for another day
Vote For: Bryce Bennett
House District 92
Dave Strohmaier vs. David “Doc” Moore.
This is one of the key Missoula races, and it’s important that Dave Strohmaier get that seat. Moore beat out Chuck Erickson for the seat in 2012, and it was a squeaker – 50.5% to 49.5%, or just 45 votes.
In the primary this year Moore got 538 votes on the Republican side while Strohmair got 921 running unopposed. In total, the GOP picked up 861 votes in that primary race between their two candidates, so it looks like this one will be tight.
Strohmaier is from Oregon, got a BA from Yale in Religion and then a Masters from UM in Environmental Studies. He became the chief historian for the Historical Research Associates of Missoula. And unlike the University of Montana, which doesn’t require their Montana historians to have books written about Montana (I’m talking to you Jeff Wiltse), Strohmaier has two, Drift Smoke and The Seasons of Fire.
Regardless, Strohmaier got into politics and managed to get elected to the Missoula City Council in 2006, served for a time, then jumped into the 2012 Democratic primary race for U.S. Representative, where he came in third.
I hope he beats Moore in November, and with your vote he might.
Vote For: Dave Strohmaier
House District 94
Kimberly Dudik vs. Gary Marbut is another race I’ve written recently about, particularly when it came to those HD94 flyers and walking cards that were causing such a fuss.
I won’t go back into it here, but I will say that Gary Marbut is probably not someone that is going to be able to work with a lot of people to get things done in the legislature. Well, not things we want to get done.
Vote For: Kimberly Dudik
House District 95
Nancy Wilson vs. No One.
I know next to nothing about this race or Nancy Wilson. When I first saw this race I thought we had a member of Heart running. Well, that’s not the case, but we do have another unopposed race, so there’s not a whole lot to say here…or is there?
See, there was some weird shit going on back in March, right before the filing deadlines. Nancy Wilson had to retire from her HD95 seat, which she was elected to back in 2012, so she could get her retirement benefits from UM. Yeah, you can’t be a ‘state employee’ for six months after retiring, and since she’s technically still an employee – unpaid, mind you – she had to resign the seat.
The Missoulian called it a snafu, Todd Mowbray filled the seat for her, and then didn’t challenge her in the primary. I think voters in this district know what’s up.
Vote For: Nancy Wilson
House District 96
Andrew Person vs. Lyn Hellegaard will be the closest race in Missoula, I’ll put my money on it.
I bet this will be a race where fewer than 100 votes decides the winner, and I sure hope it’s Andrew Person.
In the primary Person picked up 730 votes to Hellegaard’s 603. But things have heated up and there’s been money spent and things could happen. I’ll probably write more on this one later.
Vote For: Andrew Person
House District 97
Bill Geer vs. Brad Tschida is a race that shouldn’t even be a contest – Bill Geer has worked tirelessly to get this position and he’s spoken to me about it many times.
In the primary it was Geer taking 969 votes to Tschida’s 785. Let’s hope it stays that wide, around 200 votes. I think it will.
Vote For: Bill Geer
House District 98
Willis Curdy vs. Roger Seewald is a race that I know because I was running for this seat in the primary, but I got my ass handed to me.
I have no idea what happened to Jennifer Cahoon, but I sure would like to see the 535 votes she got go to Curtis so we can have another Democrat in Helena.
I wrote a letter to the Missoulian a couple weeks ago saying as much to the 118 people that voted for me, so hopefully this race shouldn’t even be a contest.
Vote For: Willis Curdy
House District 99
Tom Steenberg vs. No One.
Here’s another unopposed race, and one I don’t know a whole lot about. I don’t know a whole lot about the candidate, either, other than he was born in Japan but has lived in Missoula for 34 years and was a firefighter for 25 years.
There’s more information on the Missoulian and he seemed like a pretty nice guy when I met him back in January. I’m sure he’ll do well in Helena.
Vote For: Tom Steenberg
House District 100
Andrea Olsen vs. No One
I would have liked to see Chuck Erickson take this contest in the primary, but that guy just has bad luck, and the deck against him. In this case it was Carolyn Squires dropping from the race back in March just before the filing deadline, allowing Olsen to get in.
I don’t know much about Andrea Olsen, other than she had a shit-ton of campaign signs. She’s a lawyer, but I’m not sure where (hopefully not at Datsopoulos).
Vote For: Andrea Olsen
Missoula County Commissioner District 1
Nicole “Cola” Rowley vs. Vicky Gordon.
I will tell you right now that I’m not voting for Vicky Gordon, but I sure the hell hope I’m not voting for another like we’ve had on the County Commission here in Missoula before.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about county taxes going up, proposals put forth that only benefit those living in close proximity to the City of Missoula, and really just an attitude that voters don’t matter.
That’s what I get from the two women we have on the Commission now. I don’t know much about Bill Carey, but it seems he’s kept his feet out of the shit for the most part, although I think we all know he’s done after this term.
So you really have a great opportunity to remake this County Commission into one that can begin to help the people again instead of hurting them. Jean Curtiss will be up for reelection in 2018 and Carey can run again in 2016, but he won’t. Rowley won’t be up for reelection until 2020, so she’ll become the dominant force for a time.
Smart Democrats will begin to look at this race down the road and figure out how they can take apart Carey’s record and the record of the Commission over the past decade to sail into office. Smart Democrats.
Vote For: Cola Rowley
Missoula County Clerk and Recorder/Treasurer
Vickie M. Zeier vs. No One.
I don’t really know or care about this race one iota, and I have a feeling most people feel the exact same way. I do know Zeier has had this position for some time, so it’s probably best not to change horses in midstream, which we can’t do anyways.
Vote For: Vickie M. Zeier
Missoula County Sheriff
T.J. McDermott vs. Josh Clark is a race I’ve written on before, both before and after the primary.
Of all the races in Missoula, this is about the only one I don’t know how I’ll vote on until I get into the ballot box and have the pen in my hand.
I think I’m like a lot of Missoulians, and I’m unsure on what to do for this race. I may just leave the circle blank and not vote for anyone. Maybe I’ll vote for Bill Parcell – he was shot in the line of duty, after all, while Clark and McDermott just seem to be throwing shots at each other.
Still, this race really gets down more than any other to the base problems we have in Missoula, and that’s corruption. Right now we’ve got a mayor running amok, a city council more timid than a mouse when it comes to challenging him, and a county commission that too often falls lock-step behind him.
I’ve made it plain I think this is bad, so I try to figure out which officials and candidates in Missoula are good and won’t screw working people, and those that are bad and want to do so all the time.
It’s hard, damn so. My gut tells me Josh Clark is the one to stand up to the County Commission and the Mayor, but I also feel he’s Republican…or have I just been suckered-in by the Democrats’ propaganda?
Like I said, I often think about leaving this one blank.
Vote For: ???
Missoula County Justice of the Peace
Matthew Lowy vs. Marie Andersen is a big race.
This is another race that’s been in the news a lot, mainly for all the wrong reasons. First there were allegations against Lowy, mainly about getting support from someone that was already working in the office. That was a conflict of interest, and a freshman mistake, if you ask me.
Far more serious, in my opinion, are the allegations against Andersen. After being investigated by the Commissioner of Political Practices, Andersen was charged with knowingly hiding $8,000 worth of campaign mailings.
That’s a big deal, considering the primary race that had five candidates. The top two advanced, with Lowy getting 31.7% of the vote and Andersen getting 34.1%. Or is it? I mean, Beverly Smith got just 15.6% of the vote, so I’m not sure one massive mailing before the absentee ballots went out would have allowed Andersen to get that much of a leg-up on Lowy.
Or would it? Sometimes the only piece of information I got on a candidate in my district before the election was a mailer that went out before the primary. I got one from Diane Sands and I know a good 300 or so people got one from me. In fact, I’m confident a good percentage of my 118 votes can be traced to that mailing.
It’s awfully hard to prove that, however, and I sure did some door knocking too. But my race was way low-scale compared to these two races that were doing fundraisers and such. Could that mailer have been enough to bump Smith’s 2,746 votes higher, getting closer to the 5,985 Andersen got? That’s a difference of 3,239 votes…can that really matter?
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl ruled it could be serious enough to have her removed from office. He’s referred the matter to the Lewis and Clark County Attorney, although it’ll most likely result in a fine, or a slap on the wrist, which is less than she’s received before, although her getting fired is pretty questionable to me…mainly because I’m like many and have no idea what happened.
It’s this race – coupled with the sheriff’s race – that has me wondering who to vote for. The sheriff’s race is a bit more complicated because they claim one candidate is a Republican. There’s none of that doubt here – these are both Democrats.
But it’s this law firm called Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind that’s perhaps the most dangerous, and needs the most reporting upon…although that’ll have to wait until after the election.
In my opinion the Datsopoulos MacDonald & Lind firm needs to have their license to practice taken away, or at least their business charter or license.
Why? Well, they’re corrupt, and have engaged in corrupt political practices in many of Missoula’s races this year, specifically the sheriff’s race and the justice of the peace race. I’m sure they’d done so in the past as well, but I probably shouldn’t say that or they’d sue my ass – remember, they fight for the rich, not the poor.
Hell, even the editors at the Missoulian hint at their corruption. And for Datsopoulos, it’s a classic Catch-22 – they're either corrupt or they're so incompetent they can’t do their job correctly. Either way, do you want them representing you?
Motl said they’ll probably have to register as a political committee if they support candidates in the future. They seem shady to me, and I know I’m not the only one.
So I’ll vote for Lowy in this race, as I did in June.
Vote For: Matthew Lowy
I hope you enjoyed this 3,400 word analysis of the Missoula Democrats and Missoula political races in 2014.
Maybe you even liked my analysis of where the Democrats are headed, or where they need to head if that political machine – controlled by the Democrats and which stifles Democracy in this town – is to be broken.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you can share this with some of your friends…and tell them to vote on November 4.
I honestly thought I was done writing about the Missoula County sheriff’s race back in June when the primary was over. T.J. McDermott won it handily, and both Josh Clark and Bob Parcell were defeated.
But while Parcell has gone the way of most primary losers – into obscurity – Josh Clark has refused to do so. Why is that?
I wrote about Josh Clark’s re-entry into the Missoula County sheriff’s race just last week. Since then things have gone a bit downhill, and in a few ways:
Let’s take a look at these points today to see if we can get to the bottom of this soap dish without getting a lot of shit on ourselves.
Where is the reporting on this new sheriff’s race? All I see is one article in the Missoulian, and so that’s about all I can use today.
I went to Google and looked at what else there was, and it didn’t look like a single blog or newspaper felt this story important.
I find that odd – mainly because there seems to be so much bullshit going on in the comments.
And I also worry that the Missoulian is doing nothing more than protecting T.J. McDermott from some harsh criticism…whatever that may be. KGVO sure has a lot of reporting on this race on their morning talk show, and McDermott was on the show on Monday and Clark showed up on Tuesday.
But other than that? Not a whole lot. That worries me because indifference and lack of knowledge are two of the biggest problems for candidates. Already the County Commission jumped the gun this year and offered an endorsement before the primary.
I can’t help but think this might be tied into their desire for more funding and taxes while people like Clark think we should be more conservative economically, and perhaps he won’t let them control his agency.
Well, that’s what a lot of the idea is that I’m hearing and starting to think, but it’s also one you’ll find in the online comments.
Supporters of Clark and McDermott
If you want to see some mudslinging and some shit-throwing as well, check out the Missoulian comments. Actually, why don’t I just go ahead and put a few of them up right here so you can see for yourself.
That was a big one from Tillman, one of the leading characters in this drama…at least online. Let’s try to distill this overly-long message, shall we?
Overall, he’s saying that nothing is being done in the current sheriff’s office, that many workers are feeling bad working there and not getting what they need, and that Clark is nothing more than a puppet for Ibsen.
Don’t think this is overblown fluff, folks – the Missoula Independent reported as much on September 4, saying the sheriff’s office was “marred by internal departmental strife.”
Alright, let’s see what others have to say to that:
Here we get a typical reply to those allegations…we’ll beat you in the primary. Really it pretty much just sounds to me like there are only two important people in the Missoula Sheriff’s Office, and those are Clark and McDermott, and maybe Ibsen.
What does the Sheriff do? Not a whole lot – most of the time is spent collecting delinquent tax payments from citizens that are having problems paying. This is the number one things they spend time on, and I read it in the damn paper!
Folks, if you had to do that shit all day, you’d find excuses to sit around the office and complain about your job too.
“It’s a long process,” Captain Brad Giffin of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department told the Missoulian on September 16, in a story related to evicting poor people from mobile homes.
“It’s ungodly the number of tax notices we have to post. We have two guys who work civil full time. That’s what they do – they serve civil papers. Then when tax notices come out it requires them and everybody on patrol, when they’re not doing calls they’re doing tax notices.”
You also have to realize, however, that for many residents in Missoula, this isn't important, politics is, and the primary was just bogus:
When they’re not blaming the fact that they had to vote Democratic in the primary, Clark supporters often try to blame the Democratic machine in Missoula:
We’re really starting to go downhill here, and as always, people get really excited and have to write about 350 words in one huge block with no regard for formatting. That’s how you know they’re passionate about an issue. Oh, and let’s not forget to drag law firms into it, the one’s that are really screwing everyone and their pooch.
After that we see some returning characters some back, and then you’re really getting into B-movie territory and that shit they put on the TV around the time the bars close and even the colored-bar screen has been taken down.
Once again after that we get back to the County Commissioners and their supposed control over this race.
Is anyone still reading this article I wonder? I feel as though I’m just wasting my time writing this at this point, but maybe that’s how many feel about this race.
So I came in and asked a question:
And this kind of gets back to the reason why I voted for Josh Clark in the primary (well, that was mainly over freedom of speech issues) and mentioned him on Montana Cowgirl in April and took a helluva lot of flak over that, mainly from someone named Charlie Brown (it’s alright if you’re as confused by the names as I am).
Anyways, head over there to see more fun soap opera shit from this race before the primary. There’s some bad blood here, folks, and it’s really getting to what this last comment is hinting at – the Democratic Party in Missoula moving too far to the left.
I never thought I’d say that, it sounds so silly, but it’s happening and the long-term consequences of that are dire.
There are about 4 more comments on this article of the Missoulian having to deal with shouting at the Josh Clark Parade float and then that’s it – it was taken off the front page of the website and relegated to the same room where Indiana Jones’ box is located.
Yep, don’t expect much reporting on this sheriff’s race in Missoula. I think we decided who the winner was before the primary, did some voting to make that look good, then damn near squeaked away with the win.
Fucking Clark had to show up and put his foot in the gears, however, and now there’s a damn good chance he’ll win, mainly because Republicans can vote for him while still voting for Daines.
Fuck, huh? That’s a bit of a problem now, isn't it? That might account for the lack of reporting – don’t let ‘em know he’s running – and it might also account for the reporting you could see – shit, we’ve got to stop him!
I’m a little disappointed today, in two things:
The article’s really a blueprint for running for mayor, in case you haven’t noticed, but then I don’t really expect you to notice a whole lot. I mean, you’re probably much like Jessica – full of underestimation and lack of long-term vision.
That’s fine, I like it that way. So let’s get into it, and maybe it’ll make sense as we go along.
#1 Muck About
The most recent story in the Missoulian about the Mountain Water lawsuit has paid “experts” traipsing about the hills to the tune of $50,000. I’d take my crappy camera, get on my bike, and ride up to those dams. I’d take some photos and come home and make a PowerPoint, which I’d then use to show to the City Council.
It might not be that high-tech, but damn it, it’ll do the job and save a lot of money. So what would I do with that $50,000 saved? Why not start a fund up, kind of like a piggy-bank, to save up for the eventual water company purchase, maybe in a decade.
Folks, that water company was sold to Park Water in California, and at that point we offered $16 million for it. If we start saving now then in 5 to 10 years we’ll have enough money to not raise taxes and we can buy that thing.
Mayor John Engen is fat, and this rubs many Missoulians the wrong way. We’ve got a 5-K race here damn near every week! All you have to do is show you’re in shape, can ride a bike, and actually hike up to the M...you'll get elected.
#3: Cut Salary
Already John Engen is making $75,000 a year or so…a lot more than he made at the Missoulian as a reporter. You have to figure that this is the best John will do – he’s got to take as much as he can and shove it under the mattress. I mean, what else is he going to do?
That’s why he just gave himself a raise even though he said he wouldn’t. I’d cut my pay, that’s one of the first things I’d do. I don’t need that money and it sends a message – we’re not fucking around anymore.
#4: Pay Residents
It’s been several years since the Missoula courts have ruled the city was unjustified in taking land from those living on South Avenue, and that’s why it ruled they had to pay.
Engen has not paid the money these people are owed and I can’t wait until the Missoulian runs that picture of someone on their doorsteps handing them that check.
#5: Fix Roads
You can listen to every single Montana podcast I have about Missoula and Mayor Engen and I’ll always be complaining about the roads. If I were mayor those roads would be fixed and we’d stay on top of them all year.
How? Simple, we’ll have the money because we won’t be giving it to lawyers and consultants located in New York, Spokane, and California.
#6: Store Evidence
For months and months our police force has been forced to use what amounts to a closet for the roomful of evidence they have.
I’ve written and talked about this before, but imagine if some big case happens, one that hinges on some DNA evidence. Well, it was stored in that crappy evidence “room” and some gunk leaked down on it from the hole in the roof and now that case is ruined. Oh, and that was a national case with the media hounds and now everyone’s calling us stupid.
#7: The Fire Ladder
I guess the fire department needs money – what else is new? – and that means John Engen has the green light to give more money to his out of state lawyer friends.
Well, that’s what it sure seems like. I mean, if there’s equipment we need in this town, shouldn’t’ we buy it first and then pay for what we want second? That’s what any common sense person would do, but we don’t have that in Missoula. And that means we have to raise taxes when we should have had this money.
#8: The Smell
What the hell is that smell on the North Side? I have no idea, the health department has no idea, and the mayor has no idea. Mainly, though, just don’t ask.
See, asking about that might require us to actually get up off our ass and get a camera and some tools and head outside to do a day’s work.
You might have to go around neighborhoods, poke around some alleys, maybe even overturn a sewer grate or, God forbid, talk to some actual residents that may actually vote!
When you put it like that I’m not surprised there’s been a smell on the North Side of Missoula for so long, and I’m not expecting it to go away anytime soon either.
I think it’s pretty simple on this one – don’t raise taxes. Already this year Missoula County and the City of Missoula are asking for around $250 million in extra taxes from residents. Yes, that’s a quarter of a billion dollars.
There’s a city in America called Detroit and they have no industry, they have no jobs and they have no tax revenue. They can’t pay their workers.
In Montana in the 1920s all the eastern counties got into trouble after county splitting and had huge deficits. So did the residents, and the county seized the property, ensuring there’d never by any future tax base.
Missoulians are smart and they’re right to think we’ve been taxed too much. Whether it’s parks for rich out-of-towners or this lawsuit to benefit out-of-state lawyers, Mayor Engen keeps raising taxes to benefit himself and his cronies, all while using the excuse that it’s for the betterment of the community’s future.
Sorry, but I don’t buy that load of BS
#10: Be Honest
I think the most important thing you could do if you want to replace Mayor Engen is be honest. I don’t think he’s capable of this anymore.
I’m a little bit disappointed that Jessica Mayer of the Missoula Independent didn’t mention me in her story today, but then I’ve come to expect many in Missoula are rather short-sighted. None more so than our mayor.
I’m not talking about getting drunk, although after hearing of the problems we’re facing here in Montana and across the nation, you might feel like it.
In this Montana Podcast we’ll cover:
Infrastructure in Missoula
Minimum Wage in Montana? (5:40)
Ebola in America (9:00)
National Day in China (12:25)
Daines Running Scared (13:40)
Just Pure Idiocy
What a great day in Missoula today!
First, it didn’t rain. Next, there were tons of people lining the roads for the parade. Finally, lots of people were happy to see Missoula and Montana Democrats.
Let’s just get right into it with some photos and thoughts.
Here’s where it all started, around downtown near Al’s and Vic’s bar. We had a big trailer with lots of hay bails and tons of campaign signs, even an old 2012 Tester sign.
Not all the Democrats in Missoula were there, at least I didn’t see everyone that had a sign. I didn’t make any election signs when I ran for HD 98, and I won’t make that mistake again.
Willis Curdy made some signs, and here’s one right here that’s he’s holding. I wasn’t really trying to take a picture of him – I was trying to get that Republican tracker that hounds the Curtis and/or Lewis campaigns everywhere. If you have any info on this guy, send it my way and I’ll write a post on him.
There sure were a lot of good Democrats I hope to see in the Montana House of Representatives in January. Here’s Bill Geer, running for HD97. I’ve talked to Bill many times during the primary, and he’s a great guy. He’s been campaigning for more than 9 months now, out on the doors nearly every night. I hope he wins.
Here’s a picture of Andrew Person, someone that has the strength needed to defeat Lyn Hellegaard in November. In the primary Andrew got 730 votes to Lyn’s 603…a difference of just 127 votes.
This will be a tight race and I sure hope Andrew Person wins. He grew up in Helena, joined the Army at 17, and then saw action in both Iraq and Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Andrew was telling me a good story of how Hellegaard really ticked off a vet during the Missoula fair this past summer, and hopefully we’ll have a post up on that soon.
Here’s a picture of Chuck Erickson driving the tractor for the float. I really don’t think they get much more blue-collar Democrat than Chuck. He was a union plumber for 40 years and has been active for years in Bonner and with Milltown. He was bested in the primary like me, but hopefully he’ll be back (lots of term limits coming up in the next go-around).
Here’s a shot of Dave Strohmaier talking with Bill Geer before the parade started. He’s even faster getting home and getting things online than me, and here’s a better shot from his website. He probably got that work ethic from his grandparents, early Montana homesteaders.
Here are some asses (the Republicans can be seen in the background)
Here’s a shot of Ellie Hill taking photos of people. She was pretty busy running around doing that a lot, but I did manage to get one of her later:
Here’s Josh Clark’s float, with some of those dusted-off signs from the primary. Perhaps you heard that Josh Clark will be challenging T.J. McDermott in the general, as a write-in candidate. I wrote about it last night shortly after the news broke.
Clark was about a block down the street from the Democrats, and maybe two blocks away from the Republican float. I don’t know, I wish him luck, but honestly, it just leaves me with one of those awkward feelings.
Speaking of awkward, here are the Republicans, all coordinated and wearing their Steve Daines shirts. I find this odd, mainly because it’s homecoming and you should be wearing some Griz stuff.
But then you have to remember that Steve Daines wasn’t there – he's an MSU graduate, so there’s that. Also, no Zinke today (must be in California (if you have any info on how many frequent flyer miles Zinke’s racked-up, let me know)).
Here’s another shot of the Republicans. Now, when we were going through the parade and I was putting candy into the kids’ bags, I noticed a lot of Steve Daines stickers in there. I could tell that it was the Daines logo, and I mentioned this to my wife later, and she said it was “clever.”
I guess that’s one thing to call it, but gosh, I dunno…anyone else kinda feel a little dirty? I guess when it comes to Republican get out the vote efforts, they encourage those that are too young to vote while ignoring those that are able to.
Alright, let’s get this show on the road, huh? Here’s some Democrats walking through the parade, just about to turn onto Higgins Avenue near the X’s. They’ve got that big ‘Bullock’ sign there, showing everyone which Party has the governor’s office, and also who’s looking out for them.
I think that’s County Commissioner Bill Carey there in the white jacket, Tom Steenberg there to his right in the green jacket…and between them in Griz maroon is Bryce Bennett. I’m not sure who’s carrying the Bullock sign…well, that’s Dick Barrett there in the red coat, and...that’s about it – I don’t know everyone.
I do know this is Amanda Curtis, who arrived as the parade started. I kinda figure she wanted to stay away from that Republican tracker for as long as she could. I didn’t have a chance to talk to her today as I got pretty busy handing out candy when the parade started. I’ve met her before, though, so it doesn’t really matter.
Let me tell you a few things I noticed.
John Lewis was at the parade as well. Here’s about the only decent shot I got of him during the parade – he showed up early and greeted everyone before it started. I’d never met John before and I noticed two things – he’s tall and has a firm handshake. Oh, and I liked him.
Sometimes you just like people that you talk to for a moment because they seem nice and interesting and whatnot. Maybe that’s because they’re in the news all the time. Maybe its charisma…I don’t know. Anyways, I sure hope he wins (can anyone really be serious about voting for CA Zinke?).
Here’s a shot of the float nearing the end of the Higgins Avenue Bridge.
Here we are getting up into the university district pretty far.
Here’s a picture of my wife Jenny walking next to the float. On the float there are Ellie Hill’s two boys and my son Paul.
This is where we finished and below are a few pictures of people trying to get organized for a large group photo, which I’ll try to put up later tonight.
And here’s a picture of my son Paul, and that was about it – we walked back downtown and saw some more of the parade – yes, it was still going about 20 minutes after we finished.
In case you haven’t heard the news, the Missoulian reported early this evening that Josh Clark has announced he’s a write-in candidate for Sheriff.
Some of you probably remember that Josh Clark ran against T.J. McDermott and Bob Parcell in June and he lost. McDermott got 52%, Clark got 30% and Parcell got 18%.
I always figured when you lose an election that’s that…you wait until the next one. I’m just not sure what Josh Clark is doing here.
Maybe he’s thinking of his old boss, Sheriff Carl Ibsen, who ran as an Independent and won. Many were claiming, quite vociferously I might add, that Clark wasn’t really a Democrat at all and was really a Republican. Now he’s challenging the winner of the Democratic primary…I guess as a Democrat, since…well, is that what he still is?
I wrote on Thursday that sheriff-elect McDermott would be at the Homecoming gathering of Missoula Democrats on Saturday. Will Josh Clark be there too?
I really don’t know what to think, folks. This kind of came out of left field – even with that lawsuit a short time ago – so I’m probably as shocked by this as you.
One of Clark’s main arguments is that McDermott has “bent rules” before, mainly with some questionable problems he ran into with taxes as well as this latest election scuffle involving the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl.
It’s just not good for Missoula Democrats. We’ve got enough problems in this town as it is, and now this just gives Republicans more fodder. Also, I just don’t see how Clark is going to win as a write-in candidate – do you? He lost overwhelmingly in the primary – McDermott got 7,139 votes to Clark’s 4,153 votes.
It seems silly, like something you’d expect from a wounded child that didn’t get the toy they wanted at the store and now’s devised a plan to destroy a toy at home so you’ll have to buy them another.
I lost to Willis Curdy in the primary and Jennifer Cahoon mopped the floor with me too. Imagine if I went downtown and put my name out there as an Independent for you to write-in if you wanted to.
Maybe that last’s not such a bad thing. I’m convinced there’s a split in the Democratic Party in Missoula, maybe has been for some time, but lately it’s been widening as dissension forms in the ranks over Engen’s failed policies.
Perhaps I’m doing a fair share to widen that rift with this blog, huh? I don’t know, I just call it being a responsible Democrat myself, but I’m not sure others see it that way…not at all.
What can you do? I guess all you really can do is shake your head and somehow try to get through these next 5 weeks. Could McDermott as sheriff really be that bad?
Bonus: Let's take a look at some social media aspects today. Here you'll see the main social share icons, located near the top of the Missoulian article.
Facebook and Twitter are the social media kings in Montana. Facebook does very, very well here in Missoula and western Montana, and trust me folks, its not all young people. Go check out the "You Know You've Lived in Missoula" group and see how many older people are commenting. Oh, and if something hot goes up that they like, they can respond pretty darn quick, as I found out firsthand yesterday.
Twitter really packs a punch, however...or does it? I look at some of the more established #mtpol users, and they do have a lot of followers, but how many are engaged? What is the click-through rate on those retweets? Are you just pissing in the wind a lot of time?
It's always hard to tell, but social media often goes against the age-old axiom that 'doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity.' On social, that actually might be the only way to succeed.
So what are these new apartments going up at Mount and Russell here in Missoula?
Back on October 14, 2013, the Missoulian ran a story called “New housing developments on Russell Street could reduce rental rates.” Since then there’s been no reporting on the new apartments, a fact I’ve found strange, especially since many drivers are going by each morning, afternoon, and evening wondering what’s going on.
What’s more, I’ve heard KGVO News Talk mention the lack of information out there on this while driving by those same apartments in the morning!
Something tells me something funny is going on, mainly because it seems so hush-hush. So who’s profiting? Certainly not renters – the Missoulian article makes it clear that the going rate for these new apartments will be $840 a month.
Well, hold on, that’s not quite true – I’m sure those apartments will be going for a lot more than that. No, $840 is the “fair market value for a two-bedroom unit in Missoula.” (In Billings last year it was $725)
I guess in that case I should just shut the hell up and get in my place, huh? I pay $665 for a two-bedroom apartment, and even though its tough getting by on two poverty-level incomes, we manage. And it might be more in-line with actual market averages in Missoula.
I can’t imagine what a person making minimum wage ($7.90) must be going through in Missoula if they want a two-bedroom apartment…and that’s why I made some charts:
Really though, I should just smack myself upside the head for being so stupid – I’m looking at the wrong numbers completely, and that after doing all of that work. What an idiot I am!
I should be looking at the $3.5 million the project is worth…to investors, Missoula top dogs, and of course as the contractors working on the site.
Those guys are getting a lot of money, paying a lot of workers and driving our economy. This is big business, as we’ll get to below.
How Many Apartments Are In Missoula?
You know what, I just was never good at math, and honestly, I still think I’m looking at the wrong numbers here.
See, there’s two more building projects taking place along Russell Street and they have a combined value of $19.5 million. Throw in these new digs on the corner with Mount and the whole kit and caboodle comes in at a cool $25 million.
Those 3 projects will hold 344 apartment units, which – if going at the fair market value of $840/month – would bring in $288,960 a month, or $3.4 million a year. In 20 years you’ve got $69.3 million – a helluva lot more than it cost to build those places.
In 2013 there were 33,491 apartments in Missoula and according to a Missoulian article this past April, there were more than 9,600 two-bedroom apartments.
Let’s do some more math. If you’ve got 9,600 units at $840 a month you’re pulling in $8 million a month, $96.7 million a year, and $1.93 billion over 20 years. Folks, this is a big industry.
See, after a certain amount of time that all becomes profit. Sure, there’s some maintenance and upkeep hassles, but that’s so miniscule that it’s not worth complaining about. I mean, really, does it make you forgo that Hawaiian vacation each winter?
Now we’re getting into the realm of the landlords, many of whom are not happy in Missoula. Another 344 units means that they might feel pressure to lower their current rates closer to that fair market value, or perhaps – God forbid! – under it.
Oh, and hear them gnash their teeth and howl when the idea of subsidized housing comes into it – as if you wouldn’t need a subsidy to be paying some of these rents in the first place.
What About Vacancy Rates?
Now, none of the Summit View Square apartments are going to be low-income or any of that other BS-Obama-driven nonsense. No, those poor people can stay over on the other side of town in HUD housing where they belong. None of the cut from these apartments is going to the government.
It’s that vacancy rate that they’re really worried about, something that was pegged at 4.3% last September, meaning that there’s that many available apartments in Missoula at any given time. If that doubled then the idea is that the rents would go down, but anyone in Missoula knows that’s rubbish. We have to sign one-year leases – no rents are going down. It might mean once a year when tenants change the landlords will have to get up and do some work, but that’s about it.
The Building Associations
In 2013 there were nearly 300 multifamily building permits issued in Missoula, “up from 132 the year before,” the Missoulian noted this past April. Builders are coming in to develop that, and in 2012 Collin Bangs of Prudential Missoula Real Estate said that “the vast majority of lots sold were owned by banks and not showing true market value.”
That’s troubling, that banks can just come in and scoop that up. I think a lot of it leads back to the Montana Building Industry Association and what pull they may have in Helena with the governor and the legislature. I’m pretty sure they’re not concerned about hardworking and struggling two-bedroom renters in Missoula, that’s for sure.
They have a local branch here in Missoula, the Missoula Building Industry Association. Now, you remember those financial numbers from above, right? How much you wanna bet this is a powerful group of people in Missoula that gets their way and probably can pull the strings of local government officials? I bet most stay in power longer than the officials. (Membership is only $495 a year)
Fair Market Value in Missoula
Everyone agrees that more units is a good thing, but it still doesn’t help anyone living with Missoula’s poverty-level wages, which I guess are fair market value. Unfortunately, that market is so screwed up with Mayor Engen’s tax grabs and property seizures that it’s not really fair. And unlike Engen, I can’t sue anyone because something I want to rent/buy isn’t going at fair market value.
That’s what’s so silly – if you’re a city fat cat in Missoula like Engen and his cronies, then that means you can sue people instead of just having a hissy-fit on the street like you or I would be forced to do. Engen can waste money to get his way, but if I point out that $840 a month is in no way fair with my wages – and hell in a handbag, there’s no HUD housing! – then what recourse to the law do I have?
Maybe $300 an hour down there at Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe, but I’m not expecting a whole lot else. In other words, if you’re poor in Missoula, you should be used to getting screwed by now and the idea that you’d even speak up about it is such idiocy on your part that you should probably be taken to the City Detention Center, or what we used to call a jail.
Don’t ever forget that Anaconda Company in 1917-18 forced the legislature to pass the Alien Sedition laws in Montana – the first in the nation during WWI – to stamp out what it considered ‘unwanted talk’ concerning its operations. There’s strong precedence for the stamping-out of those that want to speak, and when the city has but one newspaper – the Missoulian, controlled by corporations and pretty much in bed with the city administration – haven’t they done so already?
When there’s no reporting on the issues that you drive by each day, what are you to think, who are you to turn to, where will the answers to your questions come from?
Maybe they’re not supposed to come, simple as that. I can’t help but think that’s the case when I drive by those new apartments on Russell and Mount in Missoula.
After the overwhelming number of comments about this project on Facebook (see the link in the comments) I decided to go to Google Maps and get images of what this area looked like before the construction.
Here's what the new Mount and Russell apartment-area used to look like:
2014 Montana Election Blog
In the 2014 elections I ran for the Montana Legislature as a Democrat in Missoula's House District 98.
My Montana History Books