Thursday, September 27

Debate Format is Brilliant

Want a chance to make up your own mind in our upcoming election for Mayor and City Commission?

David over at and GeeGuy at the Electric City Weblog have put their money in place of their mouths (or in this case, keyboards) to sponsor a candidates debate on October 17, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. at the Northwest Center (lcoated at 2201 Northwest Bypass).

David and Gregg have taken some flak from a few locals over their choice of debate format here. The controversy? Instead of opening the doors, they are charging $15 admission. $5 of the admission price goes to rental of the hall (with any overage donated to the CMR Debate Team, which will facilitate the event) and $10 goes into a pot, which will be distributed to the debate winner, chosen via polling the audience after the debate.

I am impressed with this methodology. I think it is unique, and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air from the standard town hall or talking head format debates that offer no clear winner except for a room full of spin doctors. Charging admission should also serve as a disincentive for campaigns to pack the hall with their supporters; there is more chance of a real independent audience.

Now, I recognize that this might not entirely be the case. A savvy campaign could bankroll a plethora of supporters to stack the ending poll in their favor. However, unless the debate is very well attended, it would be very expensive for a campaign to do so, as they only stand to gain 2/3 of their investment plus the 2/3 of the other attendees.

Further, such an effort might well reflect well on the candidate that does the stacking. If nothing else, pulling off such a feat will prove that the candidate possesses organizational skills that should prove useful if that individual is seated as our mayor or commissioner.

Several commenters have also decried that such a format makes the debate nothing but a popularity contest. Now, I suggest that this complaint rings hollow. What is an election but a popularity contest? When we all vote for someone to hold office, the most 'popular' wins due to the rules of the game.

Again, kudos to David and GeeGuy. I am looking forward to attending. I will also be sending you several questions.

Friday, September 21

An easy fast ...

For my fellow MOT, I wish you an easy fast. May you and yours be signed and sealed in the book of life for a happy, healthy and sweet new year.


Well, what would have been unthinkable even five years ago has now happened. The Canadian dollar is now roughly equal to the US Dollar. As of this writing, the Loonie is equal to .99730 dollars, but was trading higher than the US dollar yesterday.

Why did this happen. Well, right now, everyone is pointing to the Fed rate cut this week. That might have been the impetus for this particular decline, but it isn't the real answer.

Part of the answer is that Canada has what we all want; oil. Another part of the reason is the fact that collectively, the US market has been buying goods on credit for far too long. We buy more than we sell, and as a result, our creditors (primarily China) are banking huge reserves of US Dollars.

Since about 2003, our Administration has been pushing a weaker dollar as part of the answer. Ideally, it should be strengthening our exports and putting the cold water on imports.

In any case, hopefully we will see more Alberta plates in front of our shopping establishments.

Wednesday, September 12

L'Shana Tova Tiketavu

May your new year be as sweet as apples and honey.


Monday, September 10

Recipes on the Spoon!

Long time readers of these pages will know that I occasionally post a recipe or two. I enjoy cooking; it is often my best and most favorite relaxation technique.

Anyway, the inestimable Dave Budge has created a new MT foodie blog called "The Spoon." It is going to be hosted up at

Anyway, I have a few recipies posted up on the site. Go enjoy, and happy cooking!

Saturday, September 8

MAJCO statement at the Installation of ELCA Bishop Jessica Crist

This morning, I had the honor of representing the Montana Association of Jewish Communities at the installation of Bishop Jessica Crist. Bishop Crist has been a friend to the Montana Jewish communities for many years. I was honored to give the following remarks:

Twelve years ago, the Montana Association of Jewish Communities and the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America entered into a unique and I think historic compact. For the first time since Martin Luther, representatives of our faiths set aside hundreds of years of ethnic and religious animosity and misunderstanding, and committed ourselves to mutual concord and cooperation. This compact would not have existed were it not for the vision, coordination and hard work of the Reverend Jessica Crist.

I am honored today to represent the Montana Association of Jewish Communities, and witness the occasion of the Reverend’s installation as a Bishop within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The Jewish communities in our State send their welcome and and congratulations to the Reverend Crist and the Montana Synod.

Our faiths have a shared heritage dating back to Abraham. Unfortunately, that shared heritage has been marred by too many people and too many ideologies that were were more interested in fostering division than in dialogue.

However, since the the ELCA’s 1994 “Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to the Jewish Community,” Lutheran-Jewish dialogue has continued to grow and prosper. Indeed, today our synagogue in Great Falls shares space with an ELCA church. We welcome this dialogue, and continue to thank the Reverend Crist for all her efforts over the years to work toward understanding between our faiths.

While much has been accomplished, much work remains to be done. Centuries are not overcome in moments. However, we have built a strong foundation. With that foundation, I and Jews throughout our great State look forward to continuing to work with Bishop Crist to celebrate our diversity and to deepen our shared appreciation of our traditions and our cultures.

Mazel Tov, Bishop Crist!

Friday, September 7

Downtown One Way Streets and Avenues

Lately, there has been a fair amount of talk about the most logical configuration of the one-way streets and avenues in our Downtown. Local business leaders have complained that the current status of 5th and 6th Street, and 1st and 2nd Ave S, make it difficult for shoppers to park near their businesses. They want those streets reset as two-way roads.

I blogged about this once before, last April, here. Since that time, the problems I brought up about 9th Street have not changed. I think it is not debatable that making 5th and 6th Street two way will increase traffic on 9th.

When this issue came up in the Tribune last week, local businessman Phil Kiser expressed his opinion that he believed 9th Street should be widened to four lanes.

Pardon, what was that? Four lanes? This is his answer to the neighborhoods question about pedestrian safety on a road that must be crossed by elementary school children to get to their schools? Talk about unhelpful ...

The next issue is the Avenues. What would be the affects of resetting these East-West roads to two-way?

While I think that the affect of this change would not be as severe as that of the North-South proposal, I have been approached by the Great Falls Transit District, wondering how they would navigate city buses into the bus depot if these roads are reset. These questions deserve analysis.

Unfortunately, the city planning department doesn't seem to be asking many questions at all. Last week, I read their "analysis" of the proposal to reset the one-way streets and avenues. In a 50 page paper, there was mention of neither repercussions on 9th Street and nor bus issues.

I understand the concerns of downtown businesses. I agree that we need to take any logical step to increase business opportunities in our downtown. However, we have to be very careful before we take action that has negative impacts.

We will be discussing this issue at our Neighborhood Council meeting on Monday evening. Please either come to the meeting or let me know any concerns you would like to see raised.

Too long since I have posted, mea culpa

I know, I know. These pages have been filled with anything but fresh posts for much too long.

I would try to make excuses, but they would be lame. We all have lives, kids, jobs and volunteer activities that keep us busy. The truth is that I haven't posted because, well, I haven't felt like posting.

I hope, however, that the old writer's block is lifting and that you will see the resumption of more regular posts here very soon.

NC7 Agenda for September

Monday, September 10, 2007
Civic Center, Rainbow Room
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 August minutes
  • Downtown One-Way Reconfiguration—Andrew Finch, etal; Business Improvement District
  • Problem Properties
  • GFPD pedestrian safety presentation at Whittier School
  • Skate Park grafitti
  • Northside Neighborhood Watch—shall we continue meeting with them?


  • Community Policing—Sgt. Stinar
  • Neighborhood Concerns
  • Absent Council member—do we replace?
  • November meeting—Nov. 12—City Holiday
  • National Good Neighbor Day—September 23, 2007


  • Police Advisory Board
  • Downtown Task Force


Next Meeting – October 8, 2007, Gibson Room, Civic Center