Wednesday, April 25

Summer Borscht

Several months ago, I complained about the hot beet soup served by a local resident. I have since been corrected by those more knowledgeable than I, but it is my experience that winter borscht, served hot, is a beef and cabbage soup.

Now that it is a bit warmer and I have unpacked by short-sleeved shirts, I am getting ready for summer borscht, a refreshing cold beet soup that is perfect on a hot day.

Summer borscht, in my experience, is a cold, dairy soup. I fry the veggies in butter and it's best with a dollop of sour cream, so I make it with no meat.

Try out this recipe; you might just find you like it!


NACL and pepper
Miripoix, diced
Green pepper, diced
Tomatoes, diced
Tomato sauce
Vegetable stock
Potatoes, 3 quartered and 1/4 cup diced
Cabbage, shredded


Boil the beets in H2O with salt, carrots, some of the bell pepper, celery and quartered potatoes until tender in stockpot.

In separate skillet, fry the miripoix and the green pepper in the butter until tender. Add tomatoes and stir to deglaze. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add in some cabbage and continue simmering for five more minutes.

Remove potatoes and beet from pot and mash with butter and vegetable stock until smooth.

Add contents of skillet to stockpot, stir in diced potatoes and simmer until tender. Increase heat to low boil and add tomato sauce, more cabbage and mashed potato/beet mixture. Reduce heat to simmer, and stir in a bit more bell pepper.

In the soup bowl, add black pepper and a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy. Suggestion: don't wear a white shirt!

Tsar Vlad

I don't know much about Russia. However, I remain very interested in the land my family called home until the beginning of the 20th Century.

All this week, I have been reading eulogies and obits about former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. I am struck by the credit that these writers give him for opening Russia to democracy and pluralism.

I find these platitudes to be disingenuous. Yeltsin did try to open Russia, but his personal failings doomed the effort.

He handpicked Vladimir Putin to be his successor; if for no other reason than a promise that Putin gave Yeltsin to keep him out of the gulag. Putin quickly undid Yeltsin's reforms and began cementing in yet another Russian totalitarian regime.

Russia may not now resemble the former Soviet Union. However, every year that Putin remains in power it reminds me more and more of the czarist monarchy. Perhaps Russia is not ready for democracy. However, giving credit to a corrupt drunkard who sold his country's future in order to get away with his crimes seems inappropriate.

Monday, April 23

Guest Post: Lewin Calls for Consolidation of City, County

This weekend, I received an email from former City commission candidate Stuart Lewin. Stuart is a smart guy, and he has some wisdom. Although he and I disagree about a great many things, I have a great deal of respect for his viewpoints and judgements.

Stuart has asked me to post this idea on my blog. I am very glad to do so.

These are my ideas for a new and better government. What do you think? Do
you have any suggestions for improvement?

“Greater Cascade” (Great Falls/Cascade County) a idea revisited whose time
has now come:

1. Combine city/county like Butte/Silverbow and call the new government
entity “Greater Cascade” and give it home rule powers.

2. Give Current County areas (as set forth herein) at least one extra
commissioner so that county residents know that their voices will be heard
and their interests protected.

3. Have commissioners elected by wards they represent. Commissioners would
be non partisan. Commissioners to be elected for 6 year terms (after first
election all commissioners would draw straws for length of first term 2, 4
or 6 years – thereafter approximately 1/3 of commissioners would be elected
every 2 years)

4. Every two years the commissioners would select one of their number to be
their spokesperson and the official representative of the government at
events/ official functions etc. The spokespersons can be chosen for
additional two year terms. Because of the additional time required as
official representative of the government. The spokesperson shall receive a
salary of one and 1/2 times the regular commissioner’s salary

5. suggested wards (could be more or less): 1. Riverview/Blackeagle/westside
(to 10th Avenue South); 2. Northside; 3. south side; 4. river road (south of
10th Ave S)/Palised heights/Wilson Butte road; 5. FoxFarm/Floodroad; 6.
Cascade/Ulm (east to current city limits); 7. Sunriver/Fairfield Bench; 8.
Vaughn/east to current city limits; 9. North from Sky-line Drive (and west
of Ft Benton hwy) to county Boarder; 10. Belt/Highwood west to current city
limits; 11. Monarch/Neihart/Sand Colley/Centerville west to current city

6. Pay all commissioners a reasonable part-time salary. The initial salary
of commissioners shall be determined by taking the current salaries of city
and county commissioners and the mayor adding them together and dividing by
the number of new commissioners.

7. Hire one professional manager for new government,
combine planning staffs; manager to hire new planning director and staff and
other government workers.

8. develop a new all-over growth policy plan for our new government and new
zoning and other regulations in line with the all-over plan to provide for
enforceable county-wide: ‘smart growth’; ‘economic development’; protection
and balancing of ‘private property rights’ with the public’s right and
obligation to provide ‘a clean and healthful environment’ as provided for in
the Montana State Constitution; designating and protecting open space,
farm/ranch land, natural areas, historic and cultural areas, rivers, streams
and their natural corridors.

1.Reduce costs (by efficiency, reduction of duplication, hire good
professional staff)

2.Make government more responsive to local concerns (each commissioner would
be account able to his neighbors from his ward for their cotes and not by a
county-wide vote which allows certain groups to control all positions).

3.Provide for smart planning to accommodate anticipated growth (to avoid
mistakes of other Counties - egg Gallatin County)

4. Develop countywide policies which will avoid uncertainties for developers
and land owners

5.Move forward countywide with Missouri/sun River Corridor plan

6. Provide for public power and conservation plans

7. Provide an inventive for our best people to get involved in government at
all levels because they will feel part of a winning team where their ideas
and efforts can make a difference

8. Stop the duplication and bickering between city and county government.
One notable example when the County approve the Urquhart zoning change,
Commissioner Briggs said: “the city has an industrial park, we want one

Disadvantages (raised by others):

1. Change is often disconcerting most often for those in power – ANSWER:
tough its time for a change

2. Ward bosses may develop and corruption follow - ANSWER: we will need to
fight this locally and be vigilant.

3. As we grow in numbers and increase regulations to provide for consensus
in how we manage our lives, we may wish to return to simpler days and equate
our new lives with loss of freedom. ANSWER: In actual fact we are probably
more free in a different sense.

4. We studied this 10 years ago and rejected it because unlike Silverbow
county which has only one town (Butte), we have many towns. ANSWER: Butte
always had Anaconda and poor planning in Gallatin County has allowed
Belgrade to be overwhelmed.


I have always suspected that we duplicate many efforts between the city and the county; specifically in areas of public safety and transportation. I voted for the city/county consolidation referendum when it was on the ballot 10 (or was it 12) years ago, and still think it a good idea.

I don't know that we need a ward system, as Stuart suggests. However, if consolidation were to happen, we need to make sure the the interests of, say, Neihart, are represented as are those of the various neighborhoods of Great Falls.

SoulTrain Israel Fair to Make Stop in Missoula

(Great Falls, April 22) – Can’t you just smell the frying falafel? A taste of Israel is coming to Missoula!

The Montana Association of Jewish Communities; Missoula’s Congregation Har Shalom and the University of Montana Hillel House have arranged for the Soultrain Israel Fair to make a stop in Missoula. The Fair, which will highlight Israeli culture through food, music, dance and crafts, will take place at Har Shalom’s new synagogue at 3035 S. Russell on Thursday, May 3 from 3 to 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The Fair will bring a small part of Israel to Montana. Programming for the event is directed to adults, children and teenagers throughout the State. Participants will get to know Israeli culture, get information about Israel, taste Jewish and Israeli food, dance Israeli dances, listen to Israeli music. In addition to a mini Israeli bazaar, with vendors stocking Israeli products, there will be arts and crafts projects, fun games and Israeli films for both the young and old.

SoulTrain is an Israeli outreach group that began in the Pacific Northwest in 1999. They have since expanded their activities across the United State, Europe and Africa, dedicated to bring Jewish and Israeli culture to small communities throughout the world. The organization has brought many Israeli cultural figures to Montana over the years. It’s mission is to connect to smaller Jewish communities in order to offer them a direct connection to Israel. Come learn about Israeli culture at this fun-filled family event!

For more information, call Congregation Har Shalom at 406-549-9595.

Monday, April 16

Apparently, I am Going to be Judged More Harshly ...

And I am OK with that.

Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. To commemorate those that perished and those that fought back, I helped to organize a service at the YWCA of Great Falls. I especially want to thank community leaders like Commissioner Beltrone, Mayor Stebbins and Chaplain McCain for taking part in the service.

The service was well attended and, I think, a very nice event. We certainly were able to both commemorate the fallen and raise awareness of current genocides, most specifically the crimes now happening daily in Darfur.

While we were setting up, a protester came by. A real-life protester at a HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL SERVICE. This guy, whom I will name Schmuckity McSchmuck henceforth on these pages, had a 15 foot pole on which he had a 3' square sign with "REPENT SINNERS" on one side and "ACCEPT JESUS" on the other. He spend about an hour standing in front of the Y reading out loud from the New Testament.

At one point, I went out to talk to Schmuckity. I invited him into the service, since we were talking about peace and I thought that the guy he was talking about also had something to say about peace. Schmuckity wasn't too interested in peace, apparently. He told me that us Jews were going to be judged more harshly for forsaking his savior.

Bizarre, no?

Anyway, despite Schmuckity, the service went very well. I especially want to thank the mayor for her gestures of support.

Thursday, April 12

Great Job GFECSC Webmaster!

For the third year, I am coaching my son's Minibolt (soccer) team. My first practice with the new team (they voted on the name "Seahawks" -- I guess a few of them like the American Football) was this everning.

Anyway, I am not a soccer guru. For six year old soccer, my main focus is to make sure that a parent brings a team treat after each game.

For that reason, my kids have fun -- but the drilling of the soccer fundamentals might be a bit behind schedule.

This year, I was looking through the new website for the Electric City Soccer Club. Low and behold; lesson plans! Simple games/drills for the kids; and they actually learn something about the game.

Anyway, many thanks to the club and the the clubs webmaster for putting such useful information online. The boys had (and kicked) a ball!

Wednesday, April 11

Lower North Side Mapril Cleanup

Neighborhood Council 7 and the Northside Neighborhood Watch are getting together to organize the annual MAPRIL CLEAN UP for our neighborhood on April 28, 2007.

Please volunteer to help disadvantaged Northside neighbors and to clean streets, avenues and alleys between Central Avenue and 8th Avenue North from River Drive to 9th Street.

To participate, show up at the community rec center (800 2nd Avenue North) at 8 a.m. on April 28.

Coffee, donuts and a picnic lunch will be provided.

Tuesday, April 10

Do you like the Lower-Side One Way Streets?

Three posts in two days may spell the end of my hiatus, but only time will really tell.

Another lower North and South side issue has arisen about which I need input. A group of downtown business owners are advocating for Fifth and Sixth Streets (North of Tenth Avenue South) be reset as two-way, instead of one-way throughfares.

They say that their current configuration makes visiting downtown businesses more difficult. In addition, the existence of these one-way streets increases the speed of traffic through residential neighborhoods. I suspect that this is all true.

In addition, conversations with city staff confirm that these Streets just do not see the traffic that might justify their existence as one-way. They were reset as one way streets many years ago with the idea of relieving traffic off Ninth Street. That idea has not worked.

HOWEVER, resetting these streets as two-way would certainly increase traffic on Ninth. I remain very concerned about all the traffic on Ninth -- it remains a dangerous and poorly planned North-South throughfare. This idea might make the problem all the worse.

So, what do you think? Is it a good idea to reset 5th and 6th? Or is the idea all wet?

Monday, April 9

How About a Mural?

First, let me be clear. I am not off hiatus. When I have the urge to blog, I will be posting more regularly.

However, I am taking a break in my hiatus to make a proposal for our local concussion generator (the Skate Park). As any recent visitor knows, the graffiti there has gotten much worse. Some of it is offensive, obscene and racist.

My six year old son has decided that he wants to learn to skate, especially now that ski season is over. Therefore, I am spending much more time there. To be honest, a great deal of that graffiti raises questions I don't really want my son asking yet. One of which is whether it is OK to "color" on city property.

It appears that our city commission has decided that it isn't worth their time to police the graffiti regs at the skate park. To be honest, I can understand their reasoning. However, there has to be a middle ground.

We are an extremely artistic community. Why don't we make the entire skate park into not just a place for kids to congregate, but also into urban art?

The city should invite local artists to cover every last inch of concrete with art. It could even be made into an event (with a juried competition). Whaddya think?

Neighborhood Council 7 Meeting Agenda

Monday, April 9, 2007
Gibson Room, Civic Center
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.


Approval of March minutes

Council Boundary changes—Peggy Bourne
Mapril planning
Neighborhood Concerns

City Commission
Council of Councils
Police Advisory Board


Next Meeting – May 14, 2007 – Heisey Center, 6:30 p.m.