Friday, September 29

Now is the Time to Prepare Yourself for the Fast

As those of you that will be fasting are already well aware, Yom Kippur starts on Sunday evening. I will, hopefully, have something relevant to post before Kol Nidre.

Until then, I strongly recommend this guide on how to prepare your body for the fast, from a Dr. Segal in Boston.

Thursday, September 28

Strep Throat in Great Falls Public Schools

I thought someone should say it. The reason I know is that I have been flat on my back for two days with a 103ยบ F fever. At least at Whittier, a number of kids are out with it. At least there are anti-biotics ..

Strep is nothing to play around with. Parents, if you kid is sick, have him or her stay home from school and get them to a doctor.

BUMP TO TOP: Multiple Strep cases at Whittier have been confirmed by a conversation with school administration. In addition, they have seen cases of Scarlet Fever. As David said, the first weeks of school always bring the crud.

Wednesday, September 27

Fundraising Season is Ridiculous

OK, I understand that kid's groups need to raise money. I also understand that the only real way for them to do so is to sell crap.

Why, however, do all the groups in the city need to take the same four week period for their sales?

Right now, the boy and the girl are selling crap out of a catalog for the PTA. The girl is selling crap out of another catalog for her baton twirling group. The boy is selling popcorn for the Boy Scouts.

Now, realize that this is all very nice crap. However, people don't buy any of this stuff because they need it (with the possible exception of BSA popcorn, which is better than the stuff in the store). They do so to "support" the organization.

By scheduling all these fundraisers for the same time, these groups are causing these wells of support to dry up.

Tuesday, September 26

The Exodus from the Downtown Continues

The Courthouse is going across the river. The clinic moved their Immediate Care facilities out by the hospital. Now, the Social Security Administration is moving out by the hospital, as well.

Literally hundreds of downtown jobs are vacating the area for new office spaces on the periphery of town. What are our downtown boosting organizations doing about it? Apparently nothing. There will be no executive director of the BID, just a secretary/receptionist.

Block parties in the summer are not the answer.

Monday, September 25

What are the current emissions?

Central to the arguments of most of the opponents to the building of the Highwood Generating Station is that this new plant will significantly pollute our virgin environment here in Cascade County.

This argument leads me to ask for some firm data about the state of the current environment in that area.

We already process fossil fuels here. In addition to the tens of thousands of cars and trucks driving around Great Falls, there is already a coal-burning plant on Malmstrom AFB and a fuel refinery along the river. What are the environmental impacts of these factors? How much of a difference will the Highwood Generating Station make to our environment, after factoring in those inputs?

When I was a kid, the signature feature of our fair city was the Anaconda Smokestack. One of the tallest structures in the world, you could see it when driving to Great Falls from at least 75 miles away. This plant was the foundation of our economy and one of the main reasons for our city to be built.

That copper smelting plant was much dirtier than any coal plant would ever be. I am not saying that we should build anything, environment to be damned; but I am saying that we need to build.

Let's cut to the chase; the Highwood Generating Station finally begins to rebuild that economy. This is about people and jobs. I am convinced that the technology being used to build that plant is just about as clean as is possible with the burning of coal. We should not be hasty about denying our community this opportunity for real and sustainable growth.

Friday, September 22

May Your New Year be Sweet

Tonight is Erev Rosh Hashanah, the first day of of the New Jewish Year. Tomorrow begins the year 5767.

Unlike the secular New Year, this holy day does not mark the beginning of raucous celebrations. It begins, or rather continues, a period of intense personal reflection that will conclude in ten days with the end of Yom Kippur. It is during this period when Jews believe that Hashem inscribes our fate for the coming year. It is a time of t'shuvah and tzedekah (repentance and charity).

At the conclusion of services on Sunday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, (not tomorrow, as it will be shabbos), we hear the shofar. Midrash tells us that the sound we hear will, at least symbolically, be blown through the horn of the same ram that was sacrificed in place of Yitzhak on Mount Moriah. Interestingly enough, the torah portion we read tomorrow will be the Akeidah, or the Binding of Yitzhak; one of the most challenging sections of any theology.

In this parasha we learn of Hashem's instruction to Abraham to sacrifice his son, only to have that command belayed at the last possible moment; just as the knife was speeding to Yitzhak's throat. This loyalty to Hashem was rewarded by our people being bound to Hashem.

I have always had a great deal of difficulty reconciling the Abraham we read about in this parasha with the patriarch we read about earlier in Breishit. The Abraham who argues and debates with Hashem over the lives of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gemorrah only pages later is willing to sacrifice his own flesh and blood with neither argument nor comment? What lessons can we take from this seemingly blind loyalty?

I offer no answers here, just questions. Maybe I will have more thoughts after yontif.

L'Shana Tova Tiketavu!

Monday, September 18

Stepped into some Controversy, Hunh?

Surprise, surprise. This idea proves to be unpopular.

I am neither surprised nor am I discouraged by the idea that further regulation of alcohol purchases is not popular.

However, to my critics I would note that there is no such thing as free trade in alcohol in Cascade County. If you don't believe me, start trying to sell alcohol without a license!

The sale of alcohol already requires both restrictive licenses and burdensome regulations. Licensees have already agreed to be bound by restrictions that are subject to change. These regulations already severely limit the ability to sell alcohol except under a strict range of circumstances. Alcohol may not be sold to minors. It may not be sold between 2 a.m. - 6 a.m. Etcetera.

Let me also be clear; I support the general idea behind this ordinance. I do not support it because I know from personal experience that the idea will work. I support it because beat cops patrolling downtown Great Falls have told me that such a regulation will solve a great deal of the problems they face.

In the final analysis the officers protecting our City believe this idea will work. I submit to you that these officers spend more time examining this problem than anyone else in our town. I rely upon their experience, and believe it to be more persuasive than the arguments put forward by my critics thus far.

However, I thank you all for the continued debate. I look forward to your next argument.

Tuesday, September 12

OK, I guess the hiatus is (mostly) over

I guess after four posts in two days, I can call my blog vacation over. I had a very nice August, and can honestly say that I didn't once think seriously about writing anything here.

During the vacation, the family and I went to Seattle and Calgary, and refreshed our batteries. School has now started and the kids are doing homework most nights. I guess summer is over ...

I will start thinking about posting again. No promises about frequency, and especially no promises about quality.

Come Help your Neighbors on Good Neighbor Day

Sunday, September 24 is National Good Neighbor Day and the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

If you are not in shul, I ask you to help out with a project jointly cosponsored by Neighborhood Council 7 and Neighborhood Housing Service of Great Falls. For the day, NHS has identified a neighborhood house in need of repair. The owner suffers from a debilitating disease, and is unable to do this work herself.

On that Sunday, volunteers will paint the exterior front of the house, do some basic lawn work, repair some steps leading into the house and do some interior work. To me, this seems like a great way to be a "good neighbor," which I think is the real spirit behind National Good Neighbor Day.

If you can help, please email Sheila Rice at to volunteer your time.

Support Effort to Eliminate Single Beer Can Sales in Great Falls

The lower North or South sides of town have problems with both vagrancy and public drunkenness. In addition to harassment, random vandalism, petty thievery, physical assaults, this vagrancy consumes a great deal of our police officer's time and attention.

I submit to you that we can find more creative ways to combat this problem than committing our police officers to locking away drunks and fining the destitute. One such solution is eliminating single can beer sales.

There are a number of obvious problems that are created by single can beer sales. These include;

  • Public drunkenness. Single can beer sales are simply designed to allow someone to crack the top of the can as soon as they walk out of the store.
  • Promotion of panhandle. A single can of beer has a small enough cost that a person can panhandle for a very short time and raise the dollar or so that the M&H, Albertson's or the Loaf and Jug charge for a can.
  • Ease of evading police. A single can of beer can easily be hidden in a coat or shirt if the police drive by. A six-pack is much harder to hide.

I know, I know. This may seem like a flagrant over-reach by the city against our rights. However, I suggest to you that this is not the case.

Open containers are not legal in vehicles in the State of Montana, or on the streets of Great Falls. Why, then, can an individual purchase a single can of beer at a convenience store? To me, it seems that selling a single can is just an inducement toward violating a city ordinance or State law.

However you view it, opening and drinking a container of alcohol outside in the city (or worse, in your vehicle) is illegal.

We can easily stop it. An ordinance is pending before the city commission that will outlaw single can beer sales in Great Falls. This ordinance will also;

  • Require alcohol to be locked up between the hours of 2 a.m. - 6 a.m. (when it is illegal to sell it anyway); and
  • Outlaw floor displays of alcohol within a certain distance from the entrance to an establishment.

This ordinance is worthy of your attention. I also submit that it is worthy of your support.

Monday, September 11

Council 7 meeting tonight

Neighborhood Council 7 will be meeting tonight at the Heisey at 6:30 p.m., in a combined meeting with the Northside neighborhood watch.

Agenda for the meeting is posted below.





Monday, September 11, 2006

Heisey Memorial, 313 7th Street North

6:30 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 meeting

Community Policing Officer—Jesse Slaughter


Approval of August minutes

Fireworks discussion


National Good Neighbor Day activities—Sheila Rice and Council members

Weed and Seed north side application—Jayci Kolar

Whittier School teacher parking

Neighborhood Concerns


Police Advisory Board

City Commission

Council of Councils


Next Meeting – October 9, 2006 – Gibson Room, Civic Center, 6:30 p.m.