Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Guess What's Good For The Goose...

isn't good for the gander.

City Manager Calls For Audit

According to this story by KRTV, city manager Greg Doyon has asked for an audit of ECP.

This should be good news, but I'm not optimistic, yet. He didn't say who would be conducting it.

An audit of this fund needs an independent review, not the same kind of dog and pony show we went through with the documents.

If this is going to be an inside job, then Mr. Doyon is definitely right when he says the critics won't be silenced.

Monday, September 29, 2008

House Fails To Pass Bailout

The US House of Representatives failed to pass the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street by a vote of 228-205.

Neighborhood Councils - Week of Sept. 29, 2008

Two councils are meeting this week:

When: Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7:00pm
Where: Sunnyside School music room

Great Falls Pre Release Board - possible sex offender program at Pre Release
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns
When: Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7:00pm
Where: Westgate Mall conference room

Great Falls Pre Release Board - possible sex offender program at Pre Release
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

NC#7, NC#8 and NC#9 are each looking for an additional member. You must be a registered voter and live in that council's neighborhood. If you are interested, contact the Neighborhood Council coordinator, Patty Cadwell, at 455-8496.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How Much Did The City Know And When?

In today's Tribune, we find an article informing us that a Texas utility is going to sue the federal government's suspension of loans to coal-fired power plants. If you remember, in February SME found out that RUS (Rural Utilities Service) said no to anymore new loans for coal plants.

In March, the vice-president of the SME board, John Prinkle said, "I think we have a very solid project and we're on very solid ground."

In today's story, Mr. Prinkle is quoted as saying, "it cost us (SME) millions and millions of dollars because of that delay".

I have a few questions:

1. How much of the city's money went down the tubes over this loss?

2. Did SME report this "millions and millions dollars of loss" to its members, which includes the city? If so, when did they divulge it?

3. And if this loss was reported, did the executive director of ECP, Coleen Balzarini, report it to the ECP board? Oops, that's right. She wouldn't have, because I'm sure SME classified this as being confidential information. And we certainly have learned who controls the flow of information.

It comes as no surprise that Gregori's rhetoric continues. In today's article, he says "that SME is close to securing financing for the first phase of Highwood Generating Station and we continue to make good progress on total project financing".

Of course, he wouldn't say who is dumb enough to back such a loss cause. That's confidential, don't ya know.

Friday, September 26, 2008

US Supreme Court Blog

If you're interested in the goings on of the United States Supreme Court, visit their blog. The archives for this site go back to February 2005.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

South Arterial Meeting Tonight

Tonight is the final public meeting on the corridor alignment. I am not able to attend, but if any of you do and want to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave your comments here.

When: 7:00pm tonight
Where: Missouri room at the Civic Center

Quick facts about the Arterial (taken from the GF Tribune):

The South Arterial is expected to feature:

* A four-lane road with limited access, including turn lanes at key intersections. East of 13th Street South, the road might narrow to two lanes.

* At-grade intersections at Fox Farm Road, Upper River Road, 13th Street South, and 26th Street South.

* Use of Gibson Flats Road alignment east of 13th Street South.

* A new Interstate 15 interchange south of the airport exit on its west end.

* A connection to 57th Street South on the east end.

* A phased implementation, with an initial segment from Fox Farm Road to 13th Street South that is estimated to cost more than $80 million in 2017.

Celebrate The New Downtown Grocery!


Isn't it great having a grocery store in our neighborhood again? Please join Neighborhood Council 7 and Neighborhood Council 8 in welcoming Everday IGA to our downtown at a rally in their parking lot on Saturday, October 4 at 2 p.m. We will be cooking hot dogs -- provided by Rich Chadwick and Everyday IGA -- in the parking lot. I look forward to seeing you there!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crime Prevention Day Reminder

This is a free event, but you must have a ticket to attend. Seating is limited.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Logs Are Here

Well. the logs are now available and ready for public viewing:

According to CCE, MEIC is going to challenge the process and the holding of these retained materials from the public.

Fall Is In The Air

Autumn is my most favorite time of the year. I'm not a hot weather person so I really enjoy the coolness and colors of the season. I just wish the fall phenomen would last longer.

To Autumn
by: John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Neighborhood Councils - Week of Sept. 22, 2008

NC#4 is the only council meeting this week:

When: Thursday, Sept. 25 at 6:30pm
Where: Heritage Baptist Church, 900 52nd Street North (west of the Siebel Soccer Park)

Great Falls Gang Presentation by the GF Police Dept.
Annexation of 10th Avenue North
Committee Reports
Problem Properties
Neighborhood Concerns

The chair of Council 4, Sandra Guynn, extends a special invitation to everyone to hear the presentation about gangs in Great Falls. The program will be the first item of business.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parking Meter Rates

I didn't attend the City Commission's work session meeting on Tuesday night, but one of the agenda items pertained to increasing the downtown parking fees. A public hearing on this issue is scheduled for October 6.

According to this article in the Tribune, the city will still lose money ($19,500) even if the fees are increased. Here are the numbers:

Meter rates:
Currently - .25/hour (since 1981)
Proposed increase - .50/hour

Fiscal impact: An additional $168,000 which would go into the city parking program

Parking fines:
Currently: $3.00 (since 1987)
Proposed increase: $5.00

Fiscal impact: An additional $40,300 which would go into the city's general fund to help cover core costs, such as police, fire and public works.

A big concern is the effect this could have on downtown.

What do think? Will increasing the fees be a detriment to downtown? Share your ideas/thoughts and vote in my very unofficial poll.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Go Grocery Shopping Downtown!

This just in from Aaron; he's already been grocery shopping!
I just bought a bag of groceries at Everyday IGA (7th street and 1st Ave. North). The store is clean and well stocked, and everyone there is friendly. Please go show your support and shop there today!


ECP Board Review?

After Commissioner Bronson recommended the new members at last night's meeting, Commissioner Jolley suggested that the Commission disband the ECP board.

She said that according to one current member of the board and at least one city staffer, the board was initially established to help the city in its endeavors to fund its 25% share of the coal plant. She indicated that the board has never discussed what is best for Great Falls and is sorry the city ever got involved with [Tim] Gregori.

She reminded everyone that the ECP board is advisory only and that it is up to the Commission to set electric rates.

While the other commissioners didn't go so far as to agree with disbandment, they did say there should be a review of the board's structure, sometime in the future, with input from the current as well as just seated members.

Maybe progress is at hand?

ECP Board Appointments

At last night's City Commission meeting, Commissioner Bronson recommended that Lee Ebeling (engineer) and John Gilbert (accountant) be appointed to fill the vacancies left by the resignations of Randy Gray and Donna Willey. The vote was 4-0 in favor. (Commissioner Beecher was absent).

What I found interesting was that of the three recommendations given by the ECP board, only one was considered by the commission, that of John Gilbert.

Am I being too optimistic to think that maybe this means the Commission is starting to break out of the "rubber stamp" mode they have been in for years?

Constitution Day

On this day in 1787, 42 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution.

No matter how much we argue about the details of its meaning today, in the opinion of many, the Constitution signed in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 represents the greatest expression of statesmanship and compromise ever written. In just four hand-written pages, the Constitution gives us no less than the owners' manual to the greatest form of government the world has ever known.

To learn more about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, visit here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

City Wildlife Issues

NC#7 had a discussion at their September meeting pertaining to wildlife in their area, especially raccoons.

Thanks to Aaron Weissman, chair of NC#7 for sharing this information:


Please find attached a memorandum from our City Manager and from FWP regarding nuisance animals in the city limits. The position of the city and FWP is clear; neither will assist Great Falls residents in dealing with small nuisance animals, both predatory and non-predatory. However, FWP will assist in removing large predatory animals such as lion and bear.


Monday, September 15, 2008

City Commission Work Session, Sept. 16, 2008

When: Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 5:30pm
Where: Gibson Room, Civic Center

Proposed parking rate increases, presented by Mike Rattray
Dog Park update, presented by Marty Basta

Neighborhood Councils, Week of Sept. 15, 2008

NC#5, which usually meets the third Monday of the month (tonight), has cancelled their September meeting, but two other council meetings are scheduled:

Council of Councils Meeting
This is a meeting comprised of delegates from each of the Neighborhood Councils, the mayor and one city commissioner.

When: Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 7:00pm
Where: Commission chambers at the Civic Center

See here.

When: Thursday, Sept. 18 at 6:30pm
Where: Women's Annex of the Pre Release Center, 1019 15th Street North

Committee Reports
Reports and information regarding the proposed zone change at 38th Street and River Drive North. (This item is scheduled for a public hearing at the City Commission meeting on 9/16).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ECP Board Replacements

At Tuesday night's (9/16) City Commission meeting, the commissioners will appoint two members to the ECP board. The applicants who applied are:

Lee Ebeling (application received too late)
John R. Gilbert
Mark Joshu
Stuart Lewin
Keith Thomas Melhus
Gale E. Rand
Olaf M. Stimac, Jr.
Michael M. Witsoe

The ECP board recommends:
John Gilbert
Keith Melhus
Ole Stimac

Friday, September 12, 2008

Council Of Councils Meeting, Sept. 17, 2008

These meetings are open to the public.

Council of Councils Meeting

When: Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Where: Commission Chambers—Civic Center—7:00 p.m.

Please note: The Great Falls Citizens Council 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—Chairperson Phyllis Hemstad—Neighborhood Council #2

1. Approval of minutes from the last meeting
2. Park letter to Commissioners
3. Vehicle/RV/Trailer parking on city streets

1. Public Safety presentations—Fire Chief McCamley & Police Chief Grove
2. Other

1. Council information sharing
2. Other


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quick And Dirty Update

According to a CCE supporter present at last night's meeting, here is a quick and dirty (no pun intended) update:

- SME and the four remaining co-ops bought the Urquhart property, but according to SME, without city monies. (Yellowstone Valley wasn't a buyer either). Our informer wonders if that is why the city manager and Commissioner Jolley have been "locked out" of that information.

- Names were discussed for the City Commission to consider for the ECP board replacements.

- CCE will apparently not get their information request on the Highwood cost spreadsheet. They call it 'coal', but SME calls it wind/gas estimates.

- Tribune reporter, Karl Puckett, didn't stay for the entire meeting so CCE will fill in the gaps. (They have taped it).

According to an article in today's Tribune, SME is planning to break ground this fall. They purchased the property in late August and according to Tim Gregori, "you can't build on property you don't own. We own the site, and we intend to build on that site."

The article also points out that SME has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that was filed against the county for what landowners and MEIC claims is illegal "spot zoning" of land that is primarily agricultural to heavy industrial. The motion is scheduled to be heard Oct. 2.

What I enjoyed reading was Tim Gregori's acknowledgement that Highwood faces "significant challenges". Unless my memory has failed me or I missed some articles, I don't ever remember Gregori admitting this project has been anything but a done deal.

Monday, September 8, 2008

ECP Board Meeting - Sept. 8, 2008

Thanks to David for forwarding this info. to me.

If anyone is going to attend this meeting, feel free to e-mail me with the details to post.
1. Electric City Power board meeting moved to new location to better facilitate the public being able to hear the business of the board and be in compliance with the American disabilities act.

2. Board will discuss new REPLACEMENT board members that city commission must appoint and the public MAY examine their credentials

Electric City Power, Incorporated. Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors September 8, 2008, 5:30 p.m. Commission Chambers - Great Falls Civic Center

Call to Order 5:30 PM
Roll Call
Scheduling conflict with ECP/City Commission October meetings
Preliminary Financials June FY2008; July FY2009
PSC Docket No. 2007.12.147 Update
HGS Project Status Update


Accept Board Meeting Minutes from August 11, 2008
Accept June FY 2008 Preliminary Financials
Accept July FY 2009 Preliminary Financials Board Applications

Public Comment



October 13, 2008

Neighborhood Councils - Week of Sept. 8, 2008

Five of the nine Councils are meeting this week:

When: Monday, Sept. 8, at 7:00pm
Where: Longfellow School library

Agenda: Click here for complete agenda

When: Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 7:00pm
Where: Meadow Lark School library

Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

When: Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 7:00pm
Where: West Elementary school cafeteria

Summer updates
Neighborhood concerns

When: Thursday, Sept. 11, at 7:00pm
Where: GF High School's south campus, room 105

Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

When: Thursday, Sept. 11, at 7:00pm
Where: Westgate Mall conference room

Committee reports
Old business
Neighborhood concerns

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Neighborhood Council #7, September Agenda

Monday, September 8, 2008
Longfellow School library
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.


Northside Neighborhood Watch

Approval of August minutes
Downtown Grocery Store
Gibson Park Lighting
Weed and Seed Project
2nd Avenue North construction update
Problem Properties
Other Old Business
Disorderly Premise Ordiance

Wild Animal Control
Neighborhood Concerns

Police Advisory Board
Other Reports



Council of Councils meeting—Wednesday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Commission Chambers

Next meeting October 13, 2008—Community Rec Center, 801 2nd Avenue North

Friday, September 5, 2008

It Just Never Ends

Just when we think we've seen and heard it all.

Gregg has good posts here and here about the latest stunt pulled by certain folks at the city to try to get out of doing their jobs and denying citizens their rights.

The city's risk manager has written a letter to the Montana Municipal Insurance Authority asking for "guidance and suggestions" on how to handle the requests for public information.

File uploaded by Gregg Smith

The letter mentions that instead of the issues of ECP and SME dying down, they are turning into an "inferno". You've got to be kidding. There's no way they can honestly be surprised by this.

Given the ongoing attitude of the city, I'm not surprised that someone thought a letter of this magnitude was necessary. My real concern is if the city manager was aware of this letter before it was sent (assuming it was), and if so, did he approve it. The letter is dated August 19, 2008 and according to the date stamp, his office received it on that date.

I'm trying real hard to hope for the best.

Crime Prevention Day

I understand the tickets are free.

The first annual Crime Prevention Day is scheduled for October 4th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Family Living Center located in the Montana ExpoPark (Fairgrounds).

Informational booths will also be available. Seating is limited so guarantee your seat by calling Mac at 454-6987 to get your advance ticket.

Here is the agenda:
9:30 a.m. Registration (check-in)
10 a.m. Gang Brief from GFPD
NOON - Lunch of sloppy joes and other fixings
1 p.m. Drug Awareness Brief from GFPD

Don "Mac" McGiboney
Citizen Corps Volunteer Coordinator
PO Box 2486
Great Falls, MT 59403-2486
Phone 406-454-6987
Email http://us.mc462.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=rsvphdvc@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 4, 2008

PUD Minutes

As I mentioned before, here are the August 25 Grant County PUD minutes. Not much was recorded about the "Highwood Project" other than the commission had decided to not participate.

Thanks to RL for sending this link, which gives a more in depth view of what happened.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Animal Shelter Update

Rich Ecke did a good job of reporting what transpired at the City Commission work session last night with regard to the Animal Foundation report and the virtual animal shelter tour the city manager gave.

But he did leave out an important decision the commissioners made.

They decided to rescind the Animal Shelter Committee ordinance.

To recap, this committee was to be comprised of two members recommended by the Animal Foundation, two recommended by the Humane Society and three from sitting Neighborhood Council members. On June 6, Commissioner Bronson was very much in favor of getting this committee up and running:

"My concern is that if we wait too long to get the Committee up and running, we may lose some time in getting the entire animal control/enforcement/shelter operations issues resolved".

Well, it didn't happen. In fact, for two months we heard nothing. It wasn't until about August 8 that a concerned citizen brought it up again.

Now, a month later, we have the Animal Foundation, albeit in a nice way (there was humor in their presentation), putting the city in the hot seat. According to conversations they had with former city manager, John Lawton, the city was always going to be in partnership with them with regard to the shelter. (No monies were set aside in the 2008-2009 budget for this, simply because there is no $1.5 million, which evidently is the amount the Foundation was told it would receive from the city). They indicated last night that partial funding is not an option, because expenses keep increasing.

Commissioner Rosenbaum suggested a "construction" committee be appointed to get going on this deal. He just kind of appointed himself and a few others who were mentioned in the Trib's article. (I guess these types of decisions don't require a vote, because none was taken. In fact, I don't recall that he asked for anybody else's opinion about who should sit on this committee). He also "predicted the committee could finish its work in less than a month".


They couldn't get a committee comprised of residents off the ground in two months, but they can get a construction committee comprised of themselves organized in less than five minutes and get the job done in less than a month.

I can hardly wait.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Work Session, Sept. 2, 2008

At tomorrow's night work session meeting, beginning at 5:30pm, the topic will be animals.

Bob James of the Animal Foundation will be giving an update on that organization and City Manger, Greg Doyon, will be giving a virtual tour of the animal shelters in Bozeman, Billings and Missoula.

I wonder if we'll hear more about what the future will be for the Animal Shelter Committee?

Neighborhood Councils - Week of Sept. 1, 2008

Two councils meet this week:

When: Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 7:00pm
Where: Sunnyside School music room

Whether the Great Falls Pre-Release Center should accept sex offenders
Possible improvements to Warden Park
City's disorderly premise ordinance

When: Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7:00pm
Where: Westgate Mall conference room

Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns