Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Round 4, Motion To Enforce

In light of the City's refusal to turn over certain documents, MEIC has filed a "Motion To Enforce June 12, 2008 Order".


Thanks to Gregg for the PDF file


If your just now joining the party, click here, here and here.

Corrections To The KFBB Report

Update:
One more mistake I missed earlier: "Some of our members were contacted last Friday evening by SME attorneys and threatened with legal action unless we turned over those documents. We have turned those documents over to our attorneys,” said SME member Jerry Taylor".

Jerry Taylor is a member of CCE, thank you.

****************************
I thought something was wrong:

"...Also, when examining the papers, SME found a signed letter, which stated that a city employee destroyed documents about Highwood last December. They say that destroying public documents is a crime and plan on taking that information to the City manager".


It just didn't sound right that SME would be complaining to the city manager about city employees destroying documents and calling it a crime. Not only that, their report claims that other documents were shredded in December 2007, which is not the date of the letter posted by Gregg.

According to Jerry Taylor of CCE, they (CCE) are the ones who found the letter and the date should have been reported as April, not December.

Ya gotta love mainstream media!!

Shredded Documents Update

Visit Gregg for a listing of the documents that were shredded by April 2007.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Round 3, Missing And Shredded Documents

(Rounds 1 and 2 can be found here and here).

Today, members of CCE, MEIC and the public were allowed to view documents they were told they could review; however, it seems that some have been removed since last Friday and they found out that others were shredded in December 2007.

See KRTV

See KFBB

See Tribune

"Historic Water Rights May Go Downstream"

Taken from the CCE website: (click on "breaking news")

Press Release (7/27/08)

Great Falls Historic Water Rights May Go Downstream

• Why is it that the City is willing to litigate to prevent it’s citizens from seeing public documents but refuses to even consider using legal means to protect it’s historic water rights?

• Billings is planning on defending 400,000 acre-ft per year of water rights. The City of Great Falls is embarrassed to defend an 1889 53,000 acre-ft/yr water right. Billings is defending a water right over seven times as large as Great Falls, but its population is only twice as large.

• City documents show Great Falls pumped between 48 million and 55 million gallons of water per day in the sixties. This fact along with the incremental growth of water use in Great Falls is very important data the Water Court could review to determine if Great Falls can keep it’s historical water right of 53,000 acre-ft/yr (about 59 million gallons/day).

• The City’s consultant recommended the City reduce it’s water rights from 53,000 acre-ft/yr to 20,000 acre-ft/yr, a 62% reduction of our historic 1889 water rights, and then offered to help the City purchase other water rights for about $7.5 million dollars over the next ten years . . . Does this make any sense for the taxpayers of Great Falls?

• This past week members of CCE/MEIC have been given access to certain public documents and records. That has lead to the finding of other record trails that may support keeping our water rights at the historic volume. We just need more time to follow the evidence through to a supportive conclusion. Is that too much to ask, a simple letter from city hall could possibly save future citizens millions of dollars and grief over water issues!

• Grab a pencil. Please ask the Mayor, City Manager and City Commissioners tomorrow to apply for a 90-day extension of the August 4th water rights deadline. This extension will protect our historic water rights and give time for additional research to prove up the rights. This may be the LAST CHANCE we have!

Mayor Stebbins phone number is 761-4108.
City Manager, Greg Doyon can be reached at 455-8450 or leave a message there for the Commissioners.

Ms. Willey's Contributions To The ECP Board

Late last week we learned that Ms. Willey is resigning from the ECP board.

On Fri, 25 Jul 2008 09:57:31 -0600 - "Willey, Dawn"

I can make the 11th and most other dates after that. Just as an FYI, I will be submitting my resignation to the board and city commission effective Sept 1. This is not my preference, but I have obviously become a target and it is impacting my effectiveness on the board as well as with my employer. It continues to surprise me how nasty individuals and groups can get if they don't agree with your position on an issue. Unfortunately some in our community have made this an issue about attendance, rather than a debate about the issues.

Well, in light of her comments, I thought it would be interesting to learn just what her position has been and how effective she has been on the board as well, so I reviewed all of the ECP board minutes from the time of inception through June 2008. (The July 2008 minutes are not posted).

Here is the summary of what I found with regard to comments made or questions asked by Ms. Willey:

2006 - Missed the May and November meetings. I did not find any reference to any comments made or questions asked.

2007 - Missed June, July, August and October meetings. She made the following comments:

January - Made a motion to amend the December 2006 minutes
April - Asked who had prepared the Development Draft agreement between the City and SME
September - Asked a question pertaining to ECP Customer Contracts

2008 - Through June, missed the February and April meetings. She made the following comments:

March - Asked Coleen Balzarini a question about preparing graphs of ECP individual customers; responded to a comment made by Aart Dolman

June - Indicated that the ECP bylaws needed to be looked at with regard to a designated representative on the SME board

Ms. Willey stated how she continues to be surprised at how "nasty" folks can become when they don't agree with one's position on an issue.

What exactly is her position? She never did give any board member report or state an opinion that found its way into the minutes. As an employee of one of ECP's largest customers, Benefis, I would have thought she would have had plenty to say. Not according to the minutes.

And as far as her comments about folks being "nasty", it's so juvenile that it does not warrant a response.

Ms. Willey also made reference to this being "an issue about attendance, rather than a debate about the issues".

Well, I am not too sure Ms. Willey could debate the issues even if she wanted to. Again, the minutes don't reflect that she ever made a substantial response to questions and comments posed from the public. And believe me, after reviewing the minutes, she had plenty of opportune times to do so.

And as far the attendance issue goes, she didn't indicate her absences were due to medical reasons, so therefore, she is in violation of the city charter and should resign.


Thank you Ms. Willey for doing the right thing.

Neighborhood Councils - Week of July 28, 2008

No meetings are scheduled this week.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This Explains It

Thanks to Jerry at CCE:
This priceless and certainly fits the current situation. Perhaps ALL our city commissioners need to read this........Jerry :^)

On Jul 25, 2008, at 10:04 PM, Charles Bocock wrote:

Attention CCE and MEIC members.... This is why you may be treated to a threatening phone call or letter for being able to read..

Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected,because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction normally taking less than a second, to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2-6 years. It does not decay, but undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes, not to mention multiple oxymorons.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. That hypothetical quantity might normally be called "critical mass" but, in this unique case it is known as "critical mess".

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (Am), another just-discovered element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Round 2, Cease And Desist, Or Else

Update: This is an e-mail sent from Jerry Taylor of CCE to Lisa Kuntz, the city clerk:

Hi Lisa,
Very puzzled as I was under the distinct impression from the city manager and the city attorney on last Tuesday morning, as documented by the media, that we (MEIC/CCE & Public) now had access to these beginning documents provided and laid out for our inspection by the city in the Rainbow Room? We made and confirmed certain appointments, one of which is this coming Monday morning, to again continue to review these documents at great sacrifice to our own personal time.

If SME and the city keeps changing the rules, on a whim, where does that leave the public and a supposedly now open city government? I had hoped that we were in a new era here and had a good cooperative process going, alas that appear to not be the case.

Please know that we understand that this improper decision is not your making and has no reflection on yourself!

I am informing the media to be involved in this question come Monday morning. Given these new circumstances we will be releasing some pertinent information garnered to this point. We had hoped to approach this on more amicable grounds, but alas it appears that SME has once again called the shots for our local government. When will that end?

Please pass this to the city manager and city attorney as they are the ones whom will have to provide answers to the media and the public Monday morning.

Jerry Taylor
http://www.cce-mt.org/coal plants have filters-"they are called lungs"

ps: I have just contacted ALL the media and they will be there at 10:00 AM


Continued from here: As before, the beginning of the dialogue starts at the bottom of the post.

From: Jerry Taylor
Subject: Re: Cease and Desist Demand

Aart,
This is hard to believe that an SME lawyer would threaten you over a process SPECIFICALLY set up and condoned by the city and its attorney and city commission as was well documented by the media last Tuesday morning when we were all invited to view the documents. We were all told that any and all material on the table was public records that we had rights to observe and request copies of same. If SME has a roblem with that process they darn well better see the city attorney whom opened the door to the public and made that statement. Or they need to pay a visit to the judge whom ordered the city to make these documents available. When SME and the city formed their partnership everything in that regard is public information. If SME has some proprietary information, they should have made sure it stayed within their domain and not transferred to city hall.

I am not familiar with the document she is talking about.

Jerry Taylor http://www.cce-mt.org/ coal plants have filters-"they are called lungs"

On Jul 25, 2008, at 8:28 PM, AART DOLMAN wrote:

Dear Ms. Jaraczeski thank you for informing me a few minutes ago, appro. 7:55 pm. today, that you have sent this email this afternoon. You also stated that you had tried to call me earlier in the
afternoon or evening. It is not my habit to stay glued to the computer all day or sit near a phone waiting for your calls. As a matter of routine, I only check my emails twice a day.

In addition, I was offended that you very strongly demanded that I turn the two documents of the Urquhart purchase agreement immediately. You also stated that they were part of a package of documents I had received earlier. Thus,I informed you that I cannot do this for I am a CCE and MEIC member and they seem to be in pocession of these two organizations. In addition, you told me that I was not to distribute these docements to anyone, and I reminded you that you would have to contact the MEIC legal staff to obtain these documents.

I also informed you that our CCE organization works as a team and that I do not control the behavior of other members.

I was offended by the tone of the phone conversation and do not need a lecture and even more so I do not take kindly to implied threats in relationship to accessibility of public documents.

In the future, I strongly advise you not to contact any CCE and MEIC member here in Great Falls doing research in public files. The proper procedure would be simply to contact the MEIC legal staff if you have any questions or concerns. And I appreciate it very much if you refrain from calling me or members of our CCE organization.

On Fri, 25 Jul 2008 15:41:29 -0600 "Mary Jaraczeski" wrote:

Mr. Dolman:
It has come to my attention that on around July 22, 2008, the City of Great Falls inadvertently provided you copies of two documents which contain highly proprietary and confidential protected trade secret business information belonging to Southern Montana Electric. The information contained in the documents is further protected from disclosure because it is highly private and confidential personal information belonging to Duane and Mary Urquhart and Scott and Linda Urquhart. The two documents are the 2004 option agreements with Duane and Mary Urquhart and Scott Urquhart. They are found at Exhibits G1 and G2 to the "Application to Change a Water Right." Due to the proprietary and confidential nature of these documents, and the associated legal protections provided, I hereby demand, as legal counsel for SME, that you immediately return to me, at the address below, the copies provided to you by the City; all copies of the same you have made; all notes, summaries, and any other writings derived from the documents; and that you provide me with a list of anyone you have given the documents to and anyone with whom you have discussed their contents. I further demand that you cease and desist from any further distribution of, or communication of any sort regarding, these documents and their contents. Failure to do so may cause SME to take legal action against you.

Please confirm receipt of this communication, and your agreement to abide by its terms, by reply e-mail to me ()by close of business (5:00pm.) today. Mary K. Jaraczeski

The information contained in this e-mail message may be privileged and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you have received this communication in error please notify us immediately and delete. Thank you.

Round 1 - It's Heating Up

E-mail correspondence between CCE members and the city clerk. The beginning of the dialogue starts at the end of this post.

From: Jerry Taylor
Subject: Re: Records Requests

I was under the distinct impression from the city manager and the city attorney on last Tuesday morning, as documented by the media, that we (MEIC/CCE & Public) now had access to these provided documents laid out by the city? If SME and the city keeps changing the rules, on a whim, where does that leave the public and a supposedly now open city government?

We were first to make these appointments for Monday and will be there to follow through as promised us. When will SME be done running this city?

I have informed ALL the media to be involved in this question come Monday morning. Given these new circumstance we will then release pertinent materials to the media. We had hoped to operate under more amicable circumstances, but to our great disappointment that is not now the case.

Please give this to the city manager and city attorney as they are the ones whom will have to provide answers to the media Monday morning.....
Jerry Taylor
coal plants have filters-"they are called lungs"

ps: Lisa we know this is not of you're doing. This is directly the doing of the city manager, city attorney and or possibly certain commission members cow kowtowing SME and they will have to answer to the courts and public opinion.........

On Jul 25, 2008, at 5:47 PM, AART DOLMAN wrote:

Dear Lisa, thank you for the email. Can you remind your supervisors that the public and our organization has a court order to view the public files during office hours. So I am going to be at the previous agreed upon place, at 10:00am on Monday, July 28, 2008, to view the files; however if a SME representative wishes to be there at the same time that is their prerogative but our group will view the files as planned.

On a personal note, since I do not know the administrative decision making proces can you inform your supervisors that I am offended that they are preventing the public accessibility to their records in defiance of a court order. Sincerely Aart.

On Fri, 25 Jul 2008 16:51:40 -0600 "Lisa C. Kunz" wrote:

Hi Aart, as you seem to be the spokeman for the group, could you please advise everyone that the records currently in the Ryan Room will be reviewed on Monday, July 28, by SME Attorney Mary Jaraczeski and, therefore, will not be available for your review as previously anticipated. Thank you for your understanding.
Lisa Kunz,
City Clerk
City of Great Falls
P.O. Box 5021
Great Falls, MT 59403

From: AART DOLMAN Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 3:53 PM

To: Lisa C. Kunz
Subject: Re: Records Requests

Thanks Lisa for letting me know; and also I will bring a check for the copying charges tomorrow morning. Is this convenient? Aart

On Thu, 24 Jul 2008 14:41:36 -0600 "Lisa C. Kunz" wrote:

Hi Aart - the records will be available for review in the Ryan Room Friday, July 25, all day, and Monday, July 28, from 8 - noon. The Rainbow Room was already booked.
Lisa Kunz, City Clerk
City of Great Falls
P.O. Box 5021
Great Falls, MT 59403

Open Government Is Causing Problems

Maybe some of you saw this coming.

It seems the judge's ruling in favor of open government has caused at least one person at City Hall to bemoan the effort it's taking to comply with the order.

The first e-mail is from Coleen Balzarini to the ECP board, various City staff, including Mr. Doyon, and to the Commissioners.

In response, the next e-mail is from our vindictive mayor and the last one is from Commissioner Jolley, who chimes in with a dose of reality. Welcome back, Mary. We missed you.




Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Chilling Effect"

That's a warning from City attorney, Dave Gliko, on the public's right to know about the goings on concerning city of Great Falls government. He went on to say this ruling will put the City in a "fish bowl".

It's about time.

But, I guess we are now supposed to be scared that businesses will not come here, because their dealings with the City will be exposed. Shame on us for wanting (frankly, it's our right) openness and transparency in our government. Now it will be our fault when businesses shun Great Falls.

City Manager Greg Doyon indicated this ruling was a "good first step". Obviously, the city attorney disagrees. But then again, maybe it's because he's stinging from this comment from the judge: "This court finds it a much too difficult stretch to conclude Defendant acted in good faith by relying on a statute explicitly related to retention of documents for posterity; disingenuous would be a more accurate description".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The City Won't Appeal!

The City Commission voted 4-0 today to NOT appeal the judge's ruling allowing citizens the right to review previously denied documents.

Click here and scroll down to "Breaking News" to hear the audio of the meeting.

Many thanks to Jerry and everyone at CCE and MEIC for their successful efforts in bringing back local government to its citizens!

Hi All,
Here is the sound file from my recording of the meeting. It is Mr. Gliko who starts off the meeting with his position/scenario on the judgement. Both he and Bronson did a lot of posturing knocking the decision, but arrived, at the inevitable conclusion that it would be a waste of money, time, and effort to appeal because the city would probably loose again. The entire board voted to not appeal the decision. The meeting lasted an hour and one half approximately. We will have our digital DVD of the proceeding ready tomorrow.

A Long Time In Coming

Click here to see a video of CCE and MEIC members reviewing city documents.

Hat tip: Rich Liebert

"A Good First Step"

That comment was from City Manager Greg Doyon when members of CCE and MEIC were allowed yesterday to look at previously denied city documents.

Jerry Taylor, who is a member of CCE and MEIC, said that nothing appeared startling and some were "very, very interesting". I hope Mr. Taylor provides us with details.

Although this is great news, there are still e-mails between SME and the City that have to be reviewed by attorneys before they will be released. According to Mr. Doyon, "SME has filed affidavits with the city specifying information that cannot be released because it contains trade secrets".

We don't even know if this "trade secret" excuse is even legitimate. To my knowledge, nobody at the City has ever confirmed this, but then again, nobody at the City is anywhere close to having any expertise in this area. They go strictly by what Tim Gregori tells them. And as we know, the majority of the Commissioners think he walks on water.

So, just who will be the attorneys looking at these e-mails to determine how confidential they really are?

I have a feeling they won't be working for the City.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"City Hall Lifts The Veil Of Secrecy"

From Citizens For Clean Energy: (scroll down the right side of page and click on "breaking news")

Tuesday July 22, 2008:

The secrecy over public documents was broken and our citizen constitutional rights finally bore fruit today. The Citizens for Clean Energy (CCE, inc.) and MEIC were given access to most of the previously requested documents. Today was a day of celebration for open government and citizen rights.

Good news!

I wonder what will be the outcome of tomorrow's meeting?

Core Services Should Come First

Thanks to those of you who voted in my poll about whether or not the City should subsidize certain entertainment/recreational events. 18 of you said no, 12 of you said yes and 2 were not sure.

I'm a firm believer that necessities, or in the case of the city, core services come first, then if there is money left over, take a responsible look at sponsoring or subsidizing an event.

Unfortunately, the City has been fiscally mismanaged for several years and two of the current commissioners have been part of that mismanagement for quite some time. (Rosenbaum and Beecher have both sat on the Commission for at least 10 years).

In today's Viewpoint in the Tribune, one of those commissioners, Bill Beecher, is quoted as saying, "We just can't continue to provide some of the services we have in the past".

The only reason he said that was because city manager, Greg Doyon, told the commissioners that if they wanted a certain service retained, then another one would have to be cut.

Fiscal responsibility. Gosh, what a concept.

Thank you, Mr. Doyon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Harvest Thunder Triathlon

According to Neighborhood Council #7 chair, Aaron Weissman, a large portion of the profits from the Harvest Thunder Triathlon will be earmarked towards providing lighting for Gibson Park. Good deal!

All;
For your information. This should be a fun race!
Aaron Weissman

Press Release
Register Now for Harvest Thunder Triathlon

The second annual Harvest Thunder Triathlon is scheduled for Sunday, August 10. The event will begin at the Electric City Water Park. The Sprint Race Division will include a 500 meter swim, 12.4 mile bike and a 3 mile run. Registration is limited to 300 and each participant will receive a bike jersey.

There is also a Youth Race Division making it a great event for the entire family. The Youth Triathlon will include a 50 meter swim (one pool length) for 7-10 year olds or 100 meter swim (2 pool lengths) for 11-14 year olds; a 2 mile bike; and a 1 mile run, with prizes offered to the top 3 in each category. Registration is limited to 150 youth, each participant will receive a t-shirt.

Early registration fees include: Youth, $10; Youth Team, $25; Adult, $40; Adult Team, $90. Early registration ends July 21, add an additional $10 after July 21. The last day to register is July 29 (if openings are still available). On line registration is available until August 6 on the City web site or visit http://www.allsportcentral.com/. Participants are encouraged to register on line.

Each participant will receive a “goody bag” (including a swim cap) and refreshments will be provided immediately following the event adjacent to the Electric City Water Park in the south west corner.

If you are interested in volunteering to work the Triathlon on August 10, or would like to be an event sponsor, please contact the Park & Recreation Office, 771-1265. Sponsors include City of Great Falls, Joseph Eve & Company, Gold’s Gym, Foot & Ankle Clinic, Hutchinson Electric, Swim, Bike and Run Montana, Steel, Etc., Scheel’s, Missouri River Healthcare, Maxwell Construction, Allegra Print and Imaging, Olson Properties LLC, Outsulation, The Sting and National General Supply.

For more information, contact the Park & Recreation Office at 406-771-1265 or visit the City of Great Fall web site at http://www.greatfallsmt./.

Special City Commission Meeting

When: Wednesday, 7/23 at 3:00pm

Where: City Commission Chambers at the Civic Center

Agenda
:
The city's options in wake of a court ruling that the city must release draft documents.

I am unable to attend, but if any readers do and you would like to share what happened, please e-mail me with the details and I will post your comments. You may remain anonymous if you wish.

Neighborhood Councils - The Week Of July 21, 2008

Only Council 4 is scheduled to meet this week.

When: Thursday, July 24 at 6:30pm
Where: Heritage Baptist Church at 900 52nd Street North (just west of the Siebel Soccer Park)

Agenda:

Problem properties
10th Avenue North traffic study
Fire Department fire districts and budget cuts
Police Department budget cuts - update: to be rescheduled
Neighborhood concerns

Note: The agenda in today's paper is only partially accurate, according to Sandra Guynn, NC#4 chair. The Disorderly Premise Ordinance will NOT be discussed. That was a part of last month's meeting.

A Singing Ventriloquist

Update: According to the City calendar, this fellow, Terry Fator, is scheduled to appear at the Mansfield Center on Sept. 4 at 7:30pm. I bet it'll be a good show.

Not only did this fellow win $1 million, but he signed a contract to headline at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas worth $100,000 million. Like Emma said, "I made it!"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Judge Was Right"

That's part of the headline of today's Tribune's editorial concerning the recent ruling against the City.

If I recall correctly, the Tribune has never reported on the City making a habit of not honoring certain FOIA requests. Gregg has been requesting documents since before this suit was filed as well as afterward. Citizens have complained at City Commission meetings about the problem, to no avail.

But now the Editorial Board "applaud his [the judge's] decision".

In the interest of full disclosure, we learn that Jim Strauss, the publisher of the Tribune, sits on the Montana Newspaper Association's board, which joined the lawsuit in November. Mr. Strauss supported joining the suit.

Would the Tribune have supported this decision or even reported on it if the publisher hadn't been a board member of MNA? Given their past reporting history on the matter, I think it's questionable.

If the City decides to stonewall again, will the Tribune be ready to defend? They better, after making this statement:

"The city of Great Falls regularly accommodates requests from Tribune staff members for everything from police records to contract documents.

However, Montana's open-records laws don't — and shouldn't — apply exclusively to media requests. It gives anyone the right to ask for any public document for any reason.

Throwing up obstacles when those requests are made does nothing more than create suspicion about government dealings, founded or not".
No kidding.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Opportunities To Get Involved

David at GreaterFalls posted information concerning several city boards in need of volunteers. Aaron Weissman is encouraging folks in NC#7 to think about getting involved:

Friends;
FYI. I suggest to you that these boards need voices from the lower North and South sides. You can apply at the Civic Center.

Business Improvement District: The District oversees the functions, operations, management and administration as necessary to carry out the purposes and objectives of the District.

Electric City Power: Board members act in an advisory capacity to the City Commission on matters related to the operation of the City’s electric utility, Electric City Power, Inc.

Parking Advisory Commission: The Commission advises the City Commission, City Manager, and Community Development staff on matters related to parking issues within the Parking Districts.

Applications are available at the City Manager’s Office, Civic Center, Room 201, by calling 455-8450, or by using the online, fill-out, print, and mail/fax Board Opening Application which is available in PDF format.

Also needing applicants are the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee and the Housing Authority Board.

Application deadline is Thursday, July 24, 2008, by 5:00 p.m.

Score One For The Citizens, Finally

Yesterday, Gregg let us know that The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) won their public records case against the City and today, the Tribune has an article about it.

Finally. The City has been taken to task for their refusal to practice open government.

On page 3 of the order: "On November 6, 2007, The Montana Newspaper Association filed a Motion For Leave To File Amicus Curiae Brief .

On page 8, " Amicus also emphasizes that trade secret protection is not available to non-individuals".

Does this ruling also mean that SME can no longer hold the City hostage by claiming that City staff cannot disclose what is discussed at the SME board meetings?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

City Firework Show Is Back

For those of you upset by the budget cut to the City fireworks display, you're in luck-it's back.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Looong Meeting

The City Commission meeting lasted until 11:00pm and although there were many repeat comments about the various issues, the meeting wasn't without its moments.

Highlights of the evening:
Ed McKnight putting Commissioner Beecher in his place:

Commissioner Beecher cannot handle confrontation or anybody disagreeing with or questioning something he approves of.

During the budget public hearing, Ed was just getting started when Beecher tried to shut him up. Ed quoted from Montana Code Annotated the rules of budget hearings and that was the end of that. Beecher turned bright red and had nothing more to say.

Ed McKnight putting the Mayor in her place:

For a couple of months now, Ed has been told by the Mayor he would receive a written reply to a question he posed in May. He's still waiting. He asked her when he would receive his response. He also indicated he has a bet going that she would not remember the question. Well, guess what? He won the bet. Mayor Stebbins said he would have to repeat the question, because since he "blathers on" so much, she couldn't remember it. Ed didn't bother to repeat it, but did say, "point made".

Ed has been to the podium enough times that you would think the commissioners would know by now that he comes prepared. Their getting caught with their pants down is uncomfortable to witness, but they asked for it, they got it.

Mr. Doyon telling his bosses to do their jobs:

During Mr. Doyon's portion of the meeting, he told the Commissioners to give him what amendments they wanted to see to the Disorderly Premise Ordinance (it was tabled) or if they want him to dispatch it. There was silence and then Mayor Stebbins said he would have her comments this morning. Nobody else said anything.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again; it's a breath of fresh air to finally see a city manager doing his job by telling the Commissioners to do theirs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Time For A Poll

Update:
The budget as amended was approved Tuesday night, 7/15, by a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Jolley dissented only because she wanted it tabled to allow for more discussion, not because she disapproved of it.

Keep your comments and votes coming. If you have ideas about how some of these events/activities can be funded, please comment.

As most of you know, the City is recommending cutting subsidies to entertainment/recreation activities such as RiverFest, Fireworks, Ice Breaker and Civic Center events.

Commissioner Jolley does not think the City should act as the community's "entertainment director".

What do you think? Feel free to leave comments, but don't forget to vote on the poll found on the right side of the page. As always, your identity is unknown.

Please, Don't Exaggerate

I think it safe to say that Patty Reardon, Deputy Director of Park and Rec., wants to save the RiverFest subsidy from the chopping block.

On the 5:30 KRTV news tonight, she said that between 11,000-12,000 people attended RiverFest.

There is no way. I was there from 10:30am until 5:30pm and probably saw no more than 2,000-3,000 people, if that. (Somebody else heard on the radio this morning that the count was around 5,000).

Believe me, I would love to say that about 20% of the city's population attended, but if they did, I have no idea where they were.

I don't begrudge her trying to keep $25,000 for this event, but don't exaggerate to make a point. It can hurt one's credibility.

Police Chief In Attendance

Neighborhood Council 7's meeting tonight:

Friends;

FYI. I expect that we will have a very interesting conversation this evening regarding the city's planned budget cuts. I look forward to hearing [y]our input; please forward this along as appropriate.
Aaron Weissman

Hi All!

I just received confirmation from Chief Grove that he will be attend the meeting.

Patty Cadwell
Community Capacity Development Coordinator
City of Great Falls
406-455-8496
406-868-2852

Is The ECP Board Even Legal?

Here's where we currently stand with the ECP board:

1. George Golie - chair
-Member (business manager) of the union hoping to get most of the jobs at HGS. Was heard to say at the 7/07/08 ECP board meeting words to the effect that HGS will "give my guys jobs"

-Member of the pilot program

2. Dawn Willey, Vice-chair
- Works for one of ECP's largest customers, Benefis
- Has missed three meetings in 2008 and four in 2007

3. William Ryan
- Member of the pilot program

4. Robert Pancich, former chair


Other than for Mr. Pancich, the others have glaring conflict of interest issues.

If I'm reading this correctly and it applies in this situation, at least three members have to recuse themselves from voting, which would only leave one member, two when the fifth position is filled, to conduct business (vote). There has to be at least three people, a quorum, to conduct business, which no matter who is appointed to Randy Gray's position, cannot be attained with the current members.

If I'm correct in my assessment, the ECP board has never been able to conduct business.

ECP Board Conflicts Of Interest

This was an e-mail sent by Coleen Balzarini to ECP Board Members, the City Commission and the City Manager's office on Thursday, July 10:

Dear ECP Board Members,

Fyi, following Randy's resignation notice, the announcement for Randy's position on the ECP Board has been sent to the Tribune.

I have not received any feedback from the ECP Board on Dawn's offer to resign if her attendance is an issue of concern to the Board. As I noted previously, it is awkward for me as the Executive Director, acting at the direction of the Board, to make a recommendation in this matter. As an alternative I have presented three options for your consideration. Your comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. The City Manager is also available to each of you if you have questions for him on this matter.

There are three options as I see it.

1. The ECP Board can request Dawn remain on the Board. Benefis is a large customer of ECP, and it would be reasonable to have continued representation on the Board. The City Commission could consider this request and grant a variance to the Ordinance.

2. The City Ordinance outlines the criteria and process for the City Commission to follow to remove Board members due to attendance. This includes an appeal process and formal Commission action to initiate the removal.

3. Dawn could submit her resignation to the City Commission and ECP as Randy has done. Then a notice would go out seeking a new Board member.

Regards,
Coleen
Here is the response from George Golie, Chair of ECP:

I think Dawn should stay on the board. As I recall, part of her absence was because of medical reasons. She has made every effort to attend all of the meetings, but sometimes with work and family it doesn't work out. She represents a large customer unlike the rest of the board, so that is important. Let the naysayers start the action for her removal and we will see how far they get.

George

Here is Mary Jolley's comment to George:

Nay nay nay nay nay.
Mary Jolley

Comments received from the Mayor and Randy Gray:

I understand that Dawn has had health issues, and that most of her absences were due to those issues. I would be fine with letting her continue on the board, if she feels comfortable doing so. Dona

My 2 cents: Benefis as a mega customer should have a rep on the Board. Dawn has some conflicts due to her schedule and level of activity, but as their facility head should the Benefis rep. A variance is in order, if requested by Benefis.
Randy
On Friday, July 11 one of our public officials (among others) received an e-mail from a concerned citizen:

From Sep 07 city commission minutes: (link added)

25I. George Golie, 316 20th Avenue South, stated that he is the business manager for the Local 400 of the Operating Engineers Union. Mr. Golie said that membership supports the Highwood Generating Station. He thanked the Commissioners for supporting the ordinance change.

?How can he sit on a board that's obviously biased to building HGS with resulting union contracts? It 'smells' and we'll see if Ms. Willey is still in her seat next month? We'll have to see who has been 'hand picked' even before citizens get vacancy announcement and of course we'll challenge.

So, any brave souls out there, apply for Randy's vacancy if indeed he's officially resigned and as of when? It seems like he's still 'on the fence'?

Neighborhood Councils - Week of July 14, 2008

Only one council is meeting this week and it looks like NC#7 is holding a very informative meeting tonight.

When: Monday, July 14 at 7:00pm
Where: Community Rec Center at 801 2nd Avenue North
Friends;

Please find attached the agenda for our July NC7 meeting. The meeting will be this coming Monday at the Community Rec Center, 7 p.m. Please forward this along to anyone you think would be interested.

Please be advised that we will likely take a few items out of order as we expect to have guests from the city manager's office and police department to discuss the city's planned Police Department budget cuts.

I hope to see you there!
Aaron
--
AGENDA
NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL DISTRICT 7
Monday, July 14, 2008, Community Rec Center, 801 2nd Ave. North
7:00 p.m.

Please note: This agenda format allows citizens to speak on each issue prior to Council discussion. We encourage your participation. In the interest that all parties can be heard, please limit your comments.

CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL
OLD BUSINESS
Approval of June minutes
Status of Gibson Park lighting project
Thank you to city for Left Turn Lane at 6th Avenue South and 9th Street
Discussion of Problem Properties
526 6th Avenue North
521 6th Avenue North
612 6th Street North
Alley between 5th Ave N and 6th Ave N at 5th Street
805 and 807 4th Ave S (code violations)
114 12th Street North (drug activity)
Others?

Weed and Seed project/Downtown Grocery Store
Disorderly Premises Draft Ordinance
Other Old Business
NEW BUSINESS
Discussion of the extent and ramifications on City Budget Cuts
Presentation by Jerome Patton, new owner of Clark Apartments (212-214-1/2 4th Ave N)
Neighborhood Concerns

REPORTS
Weed and Seed
Downtown Task Force
Police Advisory Board
ACTION Team
Other Reports

OTHER BUSINESS
ADJOURN

Next meeting August 11, 2008—Community Rec Center, 801 2nd Ave North

Water Rights Review

At the Commission meeting Tuesday night, the Commissioners will decide to object, file an extension or accept its previously filed amended 1889 water right. (If I remember correctly, August 4 is the deadline for action, so tabling this is not an option since the next Commission meeting is August 5).

Guess who's coming to the work session to discuss this before the vote?

That's right. Water Right Solutions (they have a conflict of interest) and an attorney from Luxon and Murfitt (SME is also their client). Hmm. Nobody invited to speak who might be considered a "critic".

Same old baloney. They keep listening to the folks who tell them what they want to hear.

City Commission Meeting - July 15, 2008

One of the agenda items at this meeting will be a public hearing on the proposed budget.

If you have concerns, please come to the meeting and voice them. This is a public hearing so there is not a time limit placed on your comments.

Based upon opinions heard, the Commission could decide to postpone action on the budget until the August 5 meeting.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thanks, Ron!

I'm sure some of you have been having the same problem we've been having for the last couple of days: Not being able to access Cataract City and other Blogger sites.

Bresnan is our home computer Internet provider and was working, but wasn't connecting to Blogger.

We e-mailed our computer guru, Ron Grimshaw, about the problem and he couldn't connect to Cataract City either, so he called Bresnan Sunday afternoon.

According to Bresnan, they were aware of there being a problem, but blamed Google.

Kind of funny though. It wasn't too long after his call that things started working.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cable 7

Cable 7 is a private, non-profit corporate entity, a 501 (c) 3.

Following is my opinion based upon what I currently know or think I know of this company:

I definitely think the city should be responsible to see to it that city public meetings are covered and pay for that service, but I don't think the city should be responsible for other non-related programming. (Perhaps Gregg will find out something different if/when he receives a copy of the city's franchise agreement with Bresnan Communications).

The current board needs to take responsibility in getting the remaining positions filled, begin meeting again and start work on a business plan and budget. (I've been told that because it is a private, non-profit entity, the City Commission does not appoint the members).

I received the following information today. On pages 3 and 4, I believe "personal services" should be "personnel services".






If you have questions or find some of this confusing, you're not alone. Perhaps at the budget hearings more explanation and detail will be forthcoming.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank You Folks!

Thanks to all of you, I have now reached over 10,000 visits on this site. I started this blog on December 6, 2007 after posting for awhile at GeeGuy's place.

As special thanks to GeeGuy and David at GreaterFalls (I don't think his archives are accessible) for helping to launch my blogging career.

Keep on reading!

He's Not Making Excuses?

In today's Tribune, Brett Doney talked about budget cuts, belt tightening and yes, the GFDA's website not being updated.

Here, he says the budget doesn't include funding to complete the website. In today's article, we learn that as his staff was downsized, he decided to take on the task of developing the site himself. He acknowledges that was probably not realistic.

"We had so much prospective activity, and clients will always be our top priority", he said. "That's not an excuse, but it is the way it is".

Well, I disagree. He is making excuses. Mr. Doney was offered FREE help and did not take advantage of the offer. (Currently, he doesn't have a marketing person and according to the article, he didn't offer any resolution to his website problems other then to say it will be completed "as soon as possible").

He claims they had all of this prospective activity. Since it's past tense, I'm assuming these potential clients fell through.

Now I'm wondering - just who were all of this prospective clients that kept him from working on the website?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Computer SOS

Who among us doesn't need computer repair help now and again?

When you do, I highly recommend Ron Grimshaw. He has more than 25 years of computer experience and is CompTIA A+ Certified. He's very professional and conscientious.

To contact Ron, scroll down the right side of this page and click on the computer "help" button.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Abuzz About "The Buzz"

So, did the Tribune print the ignoramus statement from "CB" to generate "conversation" or did they actually believe what this very ill-informed individual said?

The question posed on Sunday, July 6:

Do candidates military service influence your vote?

The answer from CB:

"No, with no military experience, the extremely young John F Kennedy got us to the moon".

Today's editorial section was abuzz with the details of JFK's military experience and heroism. It was also pointed out that JFK issued the challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

The editor had this to say in today's Tribune:

"Of course, Kennedy was a WWII hero as a PT boat skipper, and he was assassinated almost six years before the moon landing (though he did issue the challenge to the nation to put a man on the moon). Below are a sampling of the letters to the editor excoriating C.B.'s comment and our choice to print it in the paper".

I never did read why the Tribune chose to print this in the paper, which makes me think somebody at the Tribune is as screwed up as CB and it's CYA time.

Pathetic.

Monday, July 7, 2008

2008-2009 Budget

I have not yet had a chance to review this material. The last four pages are the in-depth budget for Electric City Power (ECP).









Broken Glass At The 5th Street Diner

Here is a heads up from Aaron Weissman, chair of Neighborhood Council 7, of their meeting next week. We certainly hope this incident was an accident and not intentional.

Friends;

At our council meeting next week, we will be discussing community public safety issues including the proposed cutbacks to the police department. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you this disturbing news, reported yesterday afternoon on greaterfalls.com.

Sincerely,
Aaron

RiverFest

For those of you planning to attend RiverFest on Saturday, July 12, you're extended a special invitation to visit the Neighborhood Council booth.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the councils and what a very important role they play in local government.

Commissioner Mary Jolley will be there as well.

Looking forward to meeting you and answering your questions!

Neighborhood Councils - Week of July 7, 2008

Two councils are scheduled to meet this week:

When: Wednesday, 7:00pm
Where: Westgate Mall conference room

Agenda
:
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns
When: Thursday, 7:00pm
Where: Camp Fire Office at 1925 2nd Avenue South

Agenda:
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

Friday, July 4, 2008

Could You Become A US Citizen?

Take this quiz to find out. And NO cheating!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Declaration Of Independence

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

For an interpretation of the Declaration, click here.

GFDA Recommended Budget Cuts

This was an e-mail sent to among others, our public officials:

The City’s proposed budget does not include an increase in funding for GFDA. The City Manager has asked that we submit a formal request for increased funding and debt forgiveness which I will prepare for Bob’s signature.

I have reviewed our budget for FY 2009 and recommend the following cuts to balance our cashflow based on the assumption that the City will not increase funding this year. These changes assume the forgiveness of the City’s debt. If the debt is not forgiven, we will need to cut another $65,300 from our budget. The only way to do this would be to cut another staff position and further cut marketing expenses. We have already cut 30% of staff positions and marketing expenses by over 50%.

The budget does not include funding to complete our new web site that we carried over from our fiscal year just ended or to buy much needed new computer equipment to replace or at least upgrade 6 year old computers, particularly our server. I believe we can cover these expenses through increased fundraising. We should discuss the proposed changes at next week’s Executive Committee meeting.

Additional Cuts
Personnel-$10,000-additional cut
Interest-$13,000-assumes City’s debt forgiveness
Professional Training-$10,000-additional cut
Professional Marketing Services-$1,000-additional cut, wiping out this line item (100% total cuts from last year)
Conference & Trade Show Fees- $2,000- additional cut (20% total cuts from last year)
Marketing Memberships-$5,000-additional cut (56% total cuts from last year)
Publications (market research)-$1,000-50% cut
Repairs & Maintenance-$1,000-20% cut
Marketing Travel-$10,000-additional cut (55% total cuts from last year)
Contingency-$10,000-100% cut (contingency for working with prospects)

I propose cutting the following marketing trips for the first half of FY 2009:

Next Gen Data Center w/ Northern CA prospecting
Association of Defense Communities
Washington, DC Prospecting w/ Congressional visits
Data Center World and prospecting
PowerGen

Due to cuts in personnel, I propose cutting the following from our FY 2009 Action Plan:

Workforce Recruitment
Downtown Revitalization
West Bank Redevelopment
10th Avenue South Corridor
MedTech District

I also recommend we put the Chinook Wind Energy Coalition on hold until we raise private funds to support the effort.

If we execute our plan to develop new sources of revenue, we should be in better shape next fiscal year. However, as it stands now our efforts have been significantly reduced from what we promised our investors and that greatly concerns me. I am open to your suggestions. I would very much appreciate the full engagement of our Board in securing additional private investment commitments to reach our Forward Great Falls goal.

I recommend that we propose to the City taking over management of the Port Authority, opening the opportunity to develop this as a revenue source. Management would be at a loss to begin with because the Centene deal did not structure in any fees for management, but future deals could be structured to build in small ongoing fees.

I do not recommend “staying the course” by pushing debt obligations off to future years. This is what has been done in the past, resulting in our current financial hole. Nor do I recommend further staff cuts. We are still cleaning up from mistakes made in the past from understaffing some functions and/or allocating tasks to staff that did not have the skills and experience necessary to accomplish them. You run a significant risk managing millions of dollars in state and federal money if you do not have the staff and systems in place to insure compliance with contractual and regulatory requirements, and in lending millions of dollars each year without having experienced and highly skilled lending staff.

The gloom and doom being said, I am confident that we can operate with a reduced budget and still produce substantial tangible results for our public and private investors. We have already announced $295 million in projects in 2009. I believe we will double this by the end of the calendar year. I also have great hopes for the MATL line and accompanying wind farms, the industrial park, and growth in our lending impact. We have the best staff team I have ever had the pleasure of working with and several excellent partners. We will also be conducting the OEA Diversification project this fiscal year which will generate great market research information and engage many investors and potential investors throughout the region.

Please feel free to contact me at any time with your thoughts and ideas.
Thanks!
Brett

Brett Doney
President
Great Falls Development Authority
One of the things Mr. Doney indicated was that this budget "does not include funding to complete our new web site that we carried over from our fiscal year just ended..."

What am I missing here? It does not have to take thousands of dollars to develop a website, and in this case, it's not a site that once completed would need somebody tethered to it 24-7. Why not set it up as a blog? Those can be FREE.

Web exposure is just too important in this day and age to ignore, especially when you're trying to recruit out of town businesses to the area.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Coal Plants Have Filters - They Are Called Lungs"

This story was printed in the Tribune yesterday, but here is the press release from Citizens for Clean Energy (CCE):

It's filed! Our case number is DDV-08-820 and the case is assigned to Judge Sandefur.

Lawsuit filed: Montana State “DEQ” violated federal and state law air pollution laws in issuing Air Quality Permit No. 3423-00 for the Highwood Generating Station. Petitioners Montana Environmental Information Center (“MEIC”) and Citizens for Clean Energy (“CCE”), and respectfully request that this Court: (1) declare that the Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) violated federal and state law air pollution laws in issuing Air Quality Permit No. 3423-00 for the Highwood Generating Station; (2) invalidate Air Quality Permit No. 3423-00 for the Highwood Generating Station; and (3) enjoin DEQ from approving construction of the Highwood Generating Station until DEQ has issued a valid air quality permit.

To read the entire petition, click here, scroll down the right to "Breaking News".

Hat tip: CCE

Another Example Of Unresponsiveness

At last night's City Commission meeting, Ed McKnight indicated that he is still waiting for information he requested nearly two months ago. Here's the timeline taken from the approved minutes of the Commission meetings:

May 6 -
Ed McKnight -
voiced his concerns about the financials of Electric City Power since its first year of operation. Mr. McKnight directed several questions to the Commissioners regarding Electric City Power and indicated he wanted each Commissioner’s answer immediately this evening.

Mayor Stebbins stated he would receive a written response.

Commissioner Jolley asked if the question was multiple choice or could she answer yes or no.
McKnight stated to the question of honest accounting? Commissioner Jolley stated yes.

Commissioner Beecher stated that in response to Mr. McKnight’s questions, he would make a request back to McKnight that since the City does do audited financial statements yearly--that are unqualified passing audits--if he would submit his findings that he has told us in a verbal form in written form documented with wherever those figures are from, we would be happy to check those against the audited statements or have our auditors sit down with him and provide the answers to those questions.

Mayor Stebbins concurred with Commissioner Beecher. She would like to see Mr. McKnight’s findings in writing as well and have them compared to the audit statement.

May 20 -
Ed McKnight - read a list of information he requested two weeks ago regarding the cost of power. Mr. McKnight stated that he doesn’t like being adversarial. He wants to provide the City Commission with an alternative suggestion but needs factual numbers.

Commissioner Beecher requested staff follow up with Mr. McKnight’s request for information.

July 1 -
Ed indicated he had presented his findings. Commissioner Beecher told him that budget hearings took precedence over his requests.

And the mayor? Well, she didn't say anything.

So much for serving the citizens.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So Much For Traditional Media

In Sunday's Tribune, Eric Newhouse did a front page piece on the demise of NORAD, which occurred twenty five years ago.

A safe, already-happened story.

I'm not saying the article shouldn't have been written, but we CURRENTLY have this huge mess involving SME and the Trib. evidently doesn't think it enough of an issue to warrant an investigative story, in the here and now.

If nothing else about this boondoggle sparks their concern, you would think they would have at least jumped all over the issue of SME holding city leaders/employees to secrecy. Not a word from the editorial board.

Maybe in twenty five years. Oops, maybe not.

SME has the city of Great Falls held hostage for 40 years.

Maybe in the year 2050 we'll finally get the front page story, except, how many of us will be around to say, "we told you so."