Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Just as I did for Thanksgiving and Christmas, here is a history lesson about New Years, which by the way, used to be in March.

Making Excuses For Bad Manners

In today's Tribune (I couldn't find it on the online edition, but you can find it here), on the back of the sports page, is an article about the generational differences between the "baby boomers" and the "millennials", those that are in their teens and twenties. It seems the millennials don't have very good manners when it comes to customer service and the boomers are getting ticked off, as well as we should be.

Instead of blaming culture and technology for behavior that is nothing short of rudeness, these kids who are working in customer service or any other field for that matter, need to be trained. Having good manners is a learned behavior. We don't just pop out of the womb knowing how to be socially competent. And if these kids are not learning good manners at home, then its up to their teachers and employers, but that means they have to have manners themselves, which may or may not be the case.

"There's a tremendous culture and value gap" said William Withers, a communications professor at Wartburg College in Iowa. So his response to all of this: Boomers need to adjust their expectations down. That's right. We boomers are expecting too much to think that we should be waited on without the service person text messaging their friends, talking on their cell phones or just plain not paying attention to us. And if we're not willing to do this? Be prepared to "pay more to shop and dine at establishments that have the time, interest and money to train their employees".

We're in more trouble than we think.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Please Start Doing Your Homework

There is a letter to the editor in today's paper from a lady in Olive, Montana. Olive is located 10 miles north of Broadus. She claims that more than 120,000 Montanans need the power plant and that 40% of the geographical area of Montana plus a portion of the Great Falls area will be serviced by this plant.

Let's take a look at what SME's website says:

* 65,000 Montanans are serviced by SME.

* Great Falls has a population of 57,000. The service area includes the city limits of Great Falls.

* Service area encompasses 22 counties in the states of Montana and Wyoming, nearly 58,000 square miles or 40% of the total land area of Montana.

I'm making the assumption the letter writer used this information to try to convince us why this plant is so sorely needed, but there are a couple of problems:

1. The writer claims that more than 120,000 Montanans will depend on this power. SME says 65,000, but when you add the population of Great Falls to the mix, 57,000, the total comes to 122,000. This is not the first time the folks down south have assumed, or been led to believe?, all of Great Falls will benefit from this boondoggle.

2. The letter writer claims 40% of the total land area of Montana will be serviced. I may have misinterpreted SME's wording, but I take their statement to mean that the land mass includes Wyoming as well, which when combined with Montana, equates to roughly 58,000 square miles or 40% of the land mass of Montana. (I find it hard to believe that 65,000 Montana SME customers live in 40% of the state).

It's obvious SME does a great job of spin and the gullible folks down south have not done their homework to get the real facts.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Alan Reavley Denied Parole

In a unanimous decision, the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole denied Alan Reavley parole. He will not be eligible for another parole hearing for five years.

In this case, it seems justice has prevailed.

At Least The Mayor Is Awake

The mayor of Bozeman will not be signing that city's resolution to end the war in Iraq. It seems not only does he think US troops are making a positive difference, but more importantly, he doesn't think the city should be discussing federal issues. What a refreshing thought; tending to the business at hand and not delving into unrelated city activities.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Check Your Drawers

It's that time of the year when a lot of us have received gift cards. What you may not know though, is that since 2005, Montana law has stated that most gift cards or certificates do not have an expiration date, regardless of what is printed on them. And, if you have a card or certificate that was originally more than $5.00, but has less than $5.00 remaining on it, it can be redeemed for cash.

Your welcome!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

For many, many centuries the birth of Jesus has always been held during the winter solstice. But scholars have believed that Jesus' birth was likely to have occurred in the spring; shepherds were not likely to be tending their flocks in the middle of winter. So why did Pope Julius I choose December 25 as Jesus' birthday? Click here to learn the answer as well as the evolution of Christmas to modern times.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Animal Shelter Fiasco

There was an article in today's (Friday, 12/21) paper about the ongoing problems at the shelter. Mayor Stebbins sure didn't put her best foot forward:

"Frankly, it sounds like a disgruntled employee and ex-employee working with the HSCC and other disaffected members of the animal community in an orchestrated attempt to embarrass the city. In fact, I am a little surprised that the media fell for it.."

If you would like to read an in-depth explanation of what one local blogger thinks, click here. (We may have found out the identity of Holy Hal of the Tribune forums).
* * *
I just don't get it. I never thought in my wildest dreams that the operation of an animal shelter could cause such controversy. Everything I've heard has pointed to all parties wanting what is best for the animals, but the opposite seems to be happening. And no matter what the investigation finds, there will still be controversy. I'm very interested to see just how the city handles this matter given that they are investigating themselves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Do We Have $84,000 Or Not?

At last night's meeting, the commissioners voted 5-0 to approve an $84,000 funding pledge to the McLaughlin Center. After Ms. Patton presented the report, John Lawton explained that the city may not have the pledge funding right at the moment, but could find it somewhere. He said that if need be, a percentage of the pledge could be paid with 2006-2007 funding and the rest could be budgeted for in 2007-2008. (This pledge doesn't need to be paid right away).

While nobody spoke in opposition to this pledge, a member of the public brought to everybody's attention that the agenda report did not agree with Mr. Lawton's statement. According to the report, "staff has also identified $84,000 that could be pledged to contribute to this important community project".

Staff says the city has the money, but the city manager says maybe not. Gee, nothing like having an $84,000 communication breakdown.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Judge Got It Right

It's a very sad day when supporters of a 14-year-old, who pled true to sexually assaulting a 4-year-old, claim he is making amends by volunteering, getting good grades and receiving counseling. How in the world can volunteering and getting good grades make up for what he did and in any way help the victim and his/her family? What a fantastic example of minimizing the seriousness of the crime.

It comes as no surprise then, that the 14-year-old's family is portraying the offender as the victim, because the whole town of Conrad knows what he did. And since the whole town knows, why should he still have to register as a sex offender? According to his attorney, the kid has "already paid a heavy price". Welcome to the real world.

I also found it unsettling that none of his supporters testified that he has shown any remorse or that he understands what he did was wrong. One would think that if that were the case, it would have been brought up. But, then again, maybe it doesn't matter. After all, he's getting good grades and is doing volunteer work.


Monday, December 17, 2007

The Democrats and Their Setbacks

There was a good article on the front page of today's Tribune about the Democrats and their failure to capitalize on Bush's embattled presidency. I could not locate the article on the online version, but you can find it here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"The Greatest Movie Line Ever"

You decide.

City Commission Agendas

In the right column under Blogroll I have added a City Commission Agenda category. I will try to post the link to the agenda as soon as it becomes available for the next scheduled City Commission meeting. Normally, the Commission meets the first and third Tuesday evenings at 7:00pm of every month.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

City-County Planning Board

With this talk about annexation, it jogged my memory on a related issue.

Stuart Lewin, a loosing city commissioner candidate, and others have mentioned at more than one city council meeting about the dissolution of the City-County Planning Board. (In April 2005 the County Commissioners dissolved this board - see page 7 of the report). Of course, the city points the finger at the county as being to blame for this dissolution. I'm not saying the city is right or wrong, but I am a firm believer there are two sides to every story. If Joe Briggs or another official would like to share the county's side of the story, please feel free to do so.

Joe Briggs on Annexation

Back on Dec. 4th I posted about Annexation and invited Joe Briggs to respond. I'm very glad he did. (Click on the above link and scroll down to find his response). He gives a very informative answer about the process, how it works and some of the problems it has caused. Thanks very much for replying Joe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Health Insurance - A Personal Story

I would like to share a good experience I had today that I hope may help some of you, a family member or friend. Neither my mother nor myself benefits in any way by sharing this information with you.

My mother is on Medicare, and today, she opted to change her supplemental coverage. She has been with Sterling with an option that paid everything. For the next year, her premium would have been about $1,740.00 in addition to the approximately $1,120.00 she would pay Medicare through Social Security. We learned about another Sterling option that is ideal for folks who do not require alot of doctoring. The premium is only $180.00/annually plus the amount taken out of Social Security. So for next year, her health insurance premiums will be about $1,300.00 instead of about $2,860.00. A big savings, especially for those on fixed incomes.

Within the next year, if her medical needs change or she would prefer to be back on her old plan or another option, she can change at any time without any questions being asked. After the year is fulfilled, she could still change back or take out another option, but would have to wait for the enrollment period, which is November-December.

The lady we spoke with was very knowledgeable and helpful. She said most folks don't understand or know these options are available through Sterling, since the plans are only a few years old.

Pet Licensing Problems

Back on November 16th at GeeGuy's place, I published a post on Pet Licenses. According to my brother's vet, they were no longer issuing licenses because the city didn't seem to have any way to track them and duplicate numbers were being issued. On top of that, there were questions about where the money was going.

In today's Tribune article about few owners buying pet licenses, Mary Jolley and former Humane Society Board member, Pam Hendrickson, indicate that it has been their experience that few vets bring up the licensing issue unless their customers do. According to the article, licenses can only be purchased from the animal shelter or participating vets.

As an outsider looking in (we don't have pets), it doesn't appear to me the vets would have anything to gain or loose by issuing the licenses. So if that's the case, and somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, wouldn't you think that Mr. Ecke of the Tribune would have tried to contact area vets to see why there is a reluctance, for at least some of them anyway, to sell licenses?

Oops, I forgot. That might mean doing some investigative reporting!

How True

I agree wholeheartedly with Rod Dreher's editorial about consumerism evading the true meaning of Christmas. This editorial appeared in today's print version of the GF Tribune, but I could not find it on the online version.

I Don't Mean to Sound Like a Broken Record, But...

PacifiCorp, which operates as Rocky Mountain Power in Wyoming has again (see post below) announced plans to scrap construction of two coal-based power projects in southwestern Wyoming. The uncertain political climate regarding greenhouse gasses was given as the reason

The company said it "has pulled all coal-based power generation from its plan to meet increasing load demand within the six Western states it serves".

According to company spokesman, Dave Eskelsen, "Coal projects are no longer viable".

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Three More Bite the Dust

PacifiCorp in Oregon will not be adding coal-fired units to three of their power stations in Utah. They are afraid Congress is going to start raising carbon emission regulations and increase the cost of coal generation.

The spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power said the utility's plan for coal power were "met with a resounding thud" in Utah and Oregon.

This is just another example of a company much bigger and more experienced than SME seeing the handwriting on the wall:
Although this question has been asked many times, in one form or another, it warrants asking until we receive a straight answer:

Why doesn't the Great Falls City Commission want to hear the "resounding thud" here and quit hitching Great Falls' wagon to a falling star?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today is the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Where would we be today if that attack had not occurred?

WIC Funding

Golly Gee, WIC is now going to have to stop doling out organic foods to its recipients. What a shame.

Here is the quote from Montana's WIC director, Joan Bowsher:

Well, a lot of clients want to buy the best possible food that they can and we support that but at this point we would rather provide a full food package for all of the clients than have to make some other kind of cuts.

Excuse me, but when you're getting something for free, when did it become acceptable to "tell" the giver what you want?

It's no wonder many of these people aren't anxious to get off government assistance.

The director also says that WIC is reducing the amount of milk clients can receive and tailoring food packages to each individual's needs to reduce waste. (emphasis added)

The problems with this program have less to do with inflation and more to do with gross mismanagement.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Dave at Greater Falls informed us today that Redneck Hippie, aka Larry Kralj, has been placed in a 30 day timeout over at the Tribune Forums. I wasn't going to comment on what I consider acceptable behavior at this blog, for at least a little while anyway, but since the issue has presented itself, I will tell you what I expect.

Everyone is welcome at Cataract City. You do not need a college degree nor do you need to be an intellectual Einstein to comment, BUT, you do need to be civil and respectful. Courtesy must prevail. (-:

Thanks very much for your cooperation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Welcome to Cataract City!

Some of you know me as GFGirl. GeeGuy at Electric City Weblog was gracious enough to allow me to post at his site for the past several months. Thank you for the opportunity GeeGuy!

This site will focus on Great Falls politics and other areas of interest.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from you.


In today's Tribune is an article about Lance Olson not running for re-election to the county commission. A statement was made that has me wondering:
Although the county's tax base has grown modestly in recent years, Olson noted every time the city of Great Falls annexes property, that cuts into Cascade County's rural mill value.
Does the county not have any input into what the city annexes? The impression I get is that if the city wants it, they get it.

Perhaps Joe Briggs or somebody else knowledgeable with the process can explain.