Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Neighborhood Councils - Week of June 28, 2010

No meetings are scheduled this week.

West Bank Park Meeting

When: Wednesday, June 30 at 6:00pm-9:00pm
Where: Missouri Room at the Civic Center - Please enter through the northeast entrance.

Plan to attend the Town Hall Meeting to give your input on the future of West Bank Park.

The City of Great Falls Parks and Recreation Department is in the process of creating a Master Plan for the future of West Bank Park. West Bank Park is located on the West Bank of the Missouri, across from downtown, north of the Central Avenue Bridge, and the new Federal Courthouse.

The goal of the Master Plan process is to solicit input from the public and create a roadmap for redevelopment of the park. This is an exciting time for West Bank Park, and the City hopes to capitalize upon both public and private investment in the area in order to build on many of the existing assets present in the park, making it a premier community park. The city has hired CTA Architects Engineers Planners as professional consultants to lead the project. The anticipated planning and design process is expected to take approximately five (5) months to complete.

As part of the planning process, the City Parks and Recreation Department wants your input, and therefore will be holding a Town Hall Meeting Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in the Missouri Room at the Civic Center, 2 Park Drive South, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Please enter through the northeast entrance.

The meeting will be an open format, and you are welcome to come and go as your schedule allows. Refreshments will be served. City staff and the consultants will be available to answer questions and take comments on what you want for West Bank Park.

If you have any questions, please contact Marty Basta, Parks and Recreation Director, 406-771-1265, mbasta@greatfallsmt.net.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SME Is Sued By The Billings Gazette

Hat tip: Travis

The Billings Gazette has sued SME after one of its journalists was denied access to SME's board meeting last Friday.

Let's hope the City of Great Falls gets involved as Travis has suggested.

Monday, June 21, 2010

SME's 990s from 2004-2009

Here is a link to SME's 990 reports from 2004-2009. Interesting reading. Enjoy.

The Ongoing Quest For Open Meetings

The following email correspondences represent an ongoing struggle citizens have had to gain admittance to SME board meetings. It is truly a pathetic situation when citizens have to work so hard and put up with so much in their quest to uphold their constitutional rights. The beginning of the exchange begins at the end of this posting.

Dear Mr. Brooks,

I thank you for your timely and professional response on this matter and for advising the police accordingly. My regrets the fax wasn't available for your office as I thought I had successfully transmitted from Fort Carson, CO, but I think we're all up on the issue now. We shall now see how Southern will deal with our constitutional rights, open government and citizens who insist on transparency, accountability and oversight.

Very Respectfully,

Richard D. Liebert

----- Original Message -----
From: "Brooks, Brent"
Date: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 12:54
Subject: FW: police enforcement of co-op's closed meeting

Colonel Liebert:

I am forwarding to you as promised the recent email I sent to Arleen Boyd which also contains an additional email as an attachment. That attachment is another email sent to an attorney for SME advising what I mentioned to you a few minutes ago-that I have recommended to the Billings Police Chief Rich St John that the police respond to reports that a crime is imminent or actually in progress concerning SME meetings in Billings. I do not know if SME will have private security in the future and that is a matter for its decision.

I am also attaching the May 5, 2010, letter I sent to Mr. Frank Willett, husband of Arleen Boyd which is self explanatory and contains specific statutes that authorize a challenge to an open meetings violation.

If you have any questions on any of these items I am forwarding to you feel free to email or call me as needed.


Brent Brooks
Billings City Attorney
P.O. Box 1178
Billings, MT 59103
(406) 657-8205 (work)
(406) 672-8316 (cell)

From: Brooks, Brent
Sent: Monday, June 07, 2010 10:28 AM
To: 'Arleen Boyd'
Subject: RE: police enforcement of co-op's closed meeting

Mrs. Boyd:
Attached is a brief email I sent last Friday to Mary Jaraczeski, one of the attorneys representing the SME Board. Billings Police Chief St John, Assistant City attorney bonnie Sutherland and I have previously met and discussed the issues on these meetings and the attach email is the result of that meeting, several phone calls from me to attorneys John Crist, Jim Santoro and Mary Jaraczeski so I could learn more facts.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions on this and I will attempt to help as much as possible. I encourage you to work with anyone within SME or within one or more of the member cooperatives to resolve the open meetings issue.


Brent Brooks
Billings City Attorney
P.O. Box 1178
Billings, MT 59103
(406) 657-8205 (work)
(406) 672-8316 (cell)

From: Arleen Boyd
Sent: Monday, May 24, 2010 8:08 AM
To: Brooks, Brent
Subject: police enforcement of co-op's closed meeting
Importance: High

Dear Mr. Brooks,

I am preparing my complaint regarding the closing of the May 20, 2010, Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. board meeting. As we have discussed, the meeting should have been open to the public, yet General Manager Tim Gregori declared it closed. I am attaching, again, Great Falls City Attorney James Santoro's memorandum stating the legal case for declaring Southern's meetings open.

The Billings police enforced this order of closure by parking a Billings police vehicle directly in front of the door of the building, 3521 Gabel Road, and stationing Officer Peterson at the site to remove any "uninvited" persons from the property. Officer Peterson confronted me, several other Beartooth Electric Cooperative members, and Great Falls resident Aart Dolman in the parking lot and told us that we could not even approach the door of the building. He said that we had to stay on the sidewalk.

Following are a few facts regarding this May 20 event:

* Officer Peterson was at the site at 8:20 when I arrived and the police car was parked parallel to the building, directly in front of the door.
* The officer drove the car around the parking lot after I arrived and was talking with Mr. Dolman who had arrived earlier. The officer then parked it, again, in front of the door.
* The officer told us, in the parking lot, to leave or go to the sidewalk.
* I told him that the meeting was an open meeting.
* The officer told me that the meeting was a closed meeting.
* When I pointed out that my car was in the parking lot and that I needed to be on the property to enter it he said that it was unlikely that it would be towed away but that could legally happen.
* Aart Dolman asked for a police report to be filed so that he would have a record of exactly what had transpired and what legal action was taking place to remove us from the property.
* Officer Peterson called Sergeant Berry, his superior officer, to come and discuss a report.
* Sergeant Berry gave us a report number and explained, exactly as Officer Peterson had, that the meeting was closed by the board, that the building owner had secured police support to enforce the closure, and that we would have to leave. The officers were polite. I believe they were put in a very bad position by someone in charge of police activity. They were enforcing an illegal closure of a public meeting. I have many questions about this police action including:

* Who told them the meeting was legally closed?
* Why did they accept and repeat the contention that it was closed?
* Is it a Billings Police policy to enforce "closed meetings" on private property?
* How much does it cost to station a Billings Police officer in a parking lot for three or four hours?How much does it cost to police to use a police vehicle for three or four hours as a signal that the police support the closure?

When we tried to attend the Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative's annual meeting, March 19, 2010, we were met by a police officer in the lobby of the building and threatened with arrest if we did not answer all of his questions and immediately leave the property. He was not as polite as the officers who met us on May 20. He repeated several times that we were subject to arrest if we did not cooperate with a police officer's instructions. What legal right did he have to give me and several other polite and orderly people who were making no disturbance whatsoever instructions?

I will call you this morning to ask about this complaint which relates to actions taken by Tim Gregori on behalf of the Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. board and by the Billings Police Department. We did record the May 20 morning's activity with a video camera and I have pictures of the police officers talking with us.

Yours truly,
Arleen Boyd (328-6645)

Citizens Barred Once Again

Citizens were once again barred from the SME board meeting this past Friday, June 18.

Commissioner Jolley was allowed into the meeting even though she is not the city's representative.

Proposed City Budget

Here is the link to the 2011 proposed city budget.

Neighborhood Councils - Week of June 21, 2010

Only one council is meeting this week:

When: Thursday, June 24 at 6:30pm
Where: Heritage Baptist Church, 900 52nd Street North

City's new permitting process - Terre Gift
Committee reports
Problem properties
Neighborhood concerns

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flood Advisory

Flood Advisory

The National Weather Service in Great Falls has issued a small stream flood advisory for north central and southwest Montana until 0930 Saturday.

Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause elevated levels on small creeks and streams....and ponding of water on country roads and farmland along the banks of creeks and streams. The Missouri River is running high between Craig and Cascade.

The Weather Service expects that by this evening the area will start to dry out slowly over the next 24 hours.

As we approach the weekend please keep the following information in mind:

* Listen for and respond to watches and warning.
A Flood Watch means a flood is possible in your area
A Flood Warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur in your area very soon.
* If advised to evacuate or if you think you are in danger, leave immediately.
* Prepare your home if you have time.

If you have any questions or concerns you can call the National Weather Service Operations Section at 453-2081.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SME Board Minutes

Here are the SME board minutes from April 2008 through April 2010.

Balzarini Resigns

UPDATE: Here is Coleen's resignation letter.

I did not attend the ECP power board meeting last night, but according to this article, she resigned her position as executive director.

It's about time.

The ECP board, which is the City Commission, will appoint her replacement.

I certainly do not favor appointing someone within the Fiscal Service Department or any member of the City Commission. It's more than time to get an unbiased third party involved, whose main concern will be the interests of the City of Great Falls and its residents, not those of SME.

June 15 Work Session

When: Tuesday, June 15 at 5:45pm
Where: Gibson Room, Civic Center

Manager’s Budget Presentation

Monday, June 14, 2010

Neighborhood Councils - Week of June 14, 2010

Two councils are meeting this week:

When: Monday, June 14 at 7:00pm
Where: NeighborWorks - 509 1st Avenue South

Downtown traffic flow
Parking problems
Urban chickens
Results of a traffic study recommending the speed limit near Whittier School be 25 mph
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

When: Thursday, June 17 at 6:00pm
Where: Great Falls Prerelease Center, Women's annex

Cascade County Commission candidate Johnny Walker
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Neighborhood Councils - Week of June 7, 2010

Three councils are meeting this week:

When: Tuesday, June 8 at 7:00pm
Where: Bethel Lutheran Church, 1009 18th Avenue S.W.

Update on urban chickens
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

When: Wednesday, June 9 at 7:00pm
Where: Knights of Columbus Hall, 906 Central Ave. West

Update on the planning process for West Bank Park
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

When: Thursday, June 10 at 7:00pm
Where: Camp Fire Office, 1925 2nd Avenue South

Update on community development from building official Terre Gift
Committee reports
Neighborhood concerns

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Medical Marijuana Banned

By a vote of 3-2, the City Commission voted tonight to ban medical marijuana within the city limits. Commissioners Jolley and Burow voted against the ban.