Florence doing its part
The Florence Civic Club agrees that the medians both north and south of Florence are unsightly. The Florence Civic Club lobbied MDOT to install the medians to slow traffic through town. The Florence north median was one of the first MDOT ever designed. One problem that came to light was that the trees and shrubs were planted with cages intact, and died, not in the first year when they would have been replaced, but in subsequent years. The maintenance, watering, and cleaning of the medians and the trail was left to volunteers from the Florence Civic Club.
When MDOT started the section of highway south of Florence they did not want a non-profit involved and Ravalli County signed on as the responsible party for the maintenance. The Ravalli County Attorney’s office determined that the Florence Park District would be the responsible party as the trail & medians were located in their park district. However, the Stevensville area and Corvallis area of the trail are not located in a park district.
The volunteers from the Florence Civic Club have continued to clean the trail a couple of times each year. We no longer attempt to clean the medians as our insurance company declines to insure the volunteers when working on the medians. The Ravalli County Weed Dept. is to spray for weeds on the medians and Ravalli County needs to assume responsibility for the trails and medians.
The Florence Civic Club volunteers continue to work on the trail, with the next work day being Sept. 24th at 9:00 am. We encourage concerned citizens to join us in this ongoing service project. We also encourage businesses situated next to the trail and highway to partner with the volunteers in the maintenance of their portion of the trail.
Enough is enough
Even after her resounding defeat in the 2010 election, former county commissioner Carlotta Grandstaff still doesn’t get the message delivered by Ravalli County voters. The majority had enough of Carlotta and her ‘Progressive-Socialist’ agenda. As recently as August 30th of this year, long after she left office, she addressed county employees, urging them to attend a scheduled meeting in order to unionize. She told them it was their only way to avoid layoff in the current budget crunch. She obviously cares little about Ravalli County’s necessity to balance its budget. Grandstaff employed traditional union organizing scare tactics, leaving us with no doubt where her loyalties lie.
California represents a tragic example of a state dominated by public employee unions. Vital private business fled to other states, and California’s economy plummeted under the burden of excessive regulation and employee entitlements. By inserting itself between the workers and the State, the union enriched itself with union dues and thus bought more political clout. The funds it siphoned off from the economy accomplished nothing but enrich union coffers. In turn, that money was spent to elect more union-sympathizing candidates to state and national office. As a result, California can boast retread Governor Jerry Brown and US congressional leftwing luminaries Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Maxine Waters and Dianne Feinstein. Without a miracle, the state will inevitably face bankruptcy.
We’re all going down
I figured our Ravalli County Commissioners could do a better job of discrediting themselves than I could, so I’ve been watching silently as they act out their tragic agenda. Hand ‘em the mic; give ‘em enough rope to hang themselves I thought, but enough is too much; they are taking us all down with them.
Fiscal responsibility is a mantra of Ravalli County’s tea party county commissioners even while they require yet another expensive airport EA, agree to a settlement worth well over $150,000 to a former Deputy County Attorney and spend our tax money on consultants espousing a fringe anti-American ‘county supremacy’ philosophy. The commissioners practice cronyism by hiring unqualified friends. They propose to vindictively lay off county employees who work on community services the commissioners do not agree with such as planning, environmental health and weed control. Community services that took root over decades, even generations of consensus support by local voters, churches, civic groups and other community minded organizations are summarily abandoned by the commissioners while they wallow in blatant conflicts of interest and shamelessly pursue their own self-interests. Politics of blind ideology, personal pique and greed rule today’s county commission. Before they are done Ravalli County will be mired in taxpayer funded litigation expenses, our community cohesiveness, such as it is, will be shredded and democratic process will be a dim memory.
Our Ravalli County Commissioners’ self-serving web of deception is not transparency in government, but it is transparency in personal motives and values. Our emperors stand naked; a tea bag is not a fig leaf.
It’s time to dump the tea baggers and take back democracy for the people.
Well, well – two single engine planes used in firefighting taking off from the county airport had to dump some of their fire retardant in order to get airborne. In the last 20 years of my residency here I can’t recall any similar occurrences, even during the fires of 2000. Is it a coincidence that our Board of County Commissioners with its strong ties to the real estate industry desperately wants a much longer runway for the potential buyers of upscale property whose planes are a tad larger than a Piper Cub?
Actually, rather than supporting a trumped up need for a longer runway, one would think that these two incidents should result in the pilots being investigated by aviation authorities for failing to know the capabilities of their aircraft (before they land in someone’s living room). Don’t you think?
Airport critics misinformed
I think that a simple explanation is in order to put to rest the incessant complaints directed against our Ravalli County Commissioners for their prudent efforts to preserve the Ravalli County Airport.
The airport cannot remain as it is because it does not meet FAA safety standards. If not upgraded to applicable standards, it would eventually be closed. The former county commissioners adopted a county-funded plan that they knew full well is unaffordable. It would have resulted in eventual airport closure, without making it obvious that they were deliberately responsible. In keeping with their environmental extremist agenda, they apparently wanted the airport eliminated.
Our new commissioners will hopefully adopt an alternate plan, one that qualifies for government funding to cover its cost. Contrary to irresponsible allegations, it does not invite use by larger aircraft. The runway’s weight bearing ability determines the size of aircraft permitted to use it, not its extended length. A longer runway merely provides a greater margin of safety.
The county previously funded a mandatory ‘environmental assessment’ (EA) under the formerly adopted improvement plan. Under the new plan, the EA must be repeated in order to qualify for federal funding. Ultimately, the $75,000 cost of the new EA will be refunded to the county.
Modernization of the airport benefits the county and its citizens. Already the US Forest Service disclosed plans to enlarge its firefighting facilities on airport property. That will provide the Bitterroot with faster-response wildfire protection, and will generate new revenue for the county. Firefighting aircraft will no longer be required to endure the time-wasting shuttle between Hamilton and Missoula for fuel and fire retardant.
Airport benefits are numerous. Light manufacturing businesses near airport property will bolster tax rolls and provide badly needed jobs for Ravalli County citizens.
Last Thursday, in a rare and surprising display of transparency, the Ravalli County Commissioners voted unanimously, to accept a $35,000 bribe from the Ravalli County Aviation Safety Foundation. This is the amount remaining after getting the FAA to pony up $40,000 for still another Environmental Assessment to justify a different choice of runway length. The longer runway will better accommodate corporate jets and wealthy airplane owners currently inconvenienced by having to fly in and out of Missoula.
Last year, the previous commission, after an 18-month public comment period and a full EA, signed off on an airport improvement plan that, had it been accepted by the current commission, would have resulted in plenty of good-paying local jobs as early as February 2012. That is, jobs NOW!
When Ron Stoltz, Matt Kanenwisher and Suzy Foss ran for election last year they repeatedly pledged that they would not seek any federal grants for Ravalli County because the United States was broke, or, as Kanenwisher stated so persistently, “There’s no money! There’s just no money!”
After they were elected, they soon found themselves faced with political paybacks to their cronies and financial backers.
First on the agenda was a vote to repeal a resolution approved by the county commissioners in 2001 that gave the public the right to vote on lengthening the runway.
At about the same time, the Ravalli Aviation Safety Foundation began putting up “campaign signs” around the county urging people to “support the airport” because it was all about “jobs and “safety.” Never mind that the commissioners have now stalled “jobs and safety” for many years with their decision to throw out an agreement painstakingly worked out between the citizens and their elected representatives last year. And though the signs gave the appearance of support for a ballot issue, there will be no vote because the commissioners took that right away, too.
Now, despite having had an agreement in place that was acceptable to most citizens and the FAA (i.e., jobs and safety now), the commissioners and their wealthy backers have put this most contentious issue back in play, unnecessarily throwing the community into turmoil and delaying “jobs and safety” for the foreseeable future.
And who, precisely, is the Aviation Safety Foundation? Would Stock Farm developers be members? Will this be another misleading political campaign such as Dallas Erickson’s Wal-Mart-financed crusade to overturn the big box ordinance?
As they say in journalism: follow the money. And if it turns out that the Aviation Safety Foundation is, indeed, made up of a handful of wealthy pilots and/or developers with a heavily vested interest in a long, jet-accommodating runway, then we should ask ourselves how the commissioners can make an honest decision on a document partially bought and paid for with private money.
Or, to put it another way, consider how the community would react if the Bitterroot National Forest proposed a massive clear-cut logging operation with an environmental analysis funded by Weyerhauser paper company. Or Friends of the Bitterroot. There would be an outcry the likes of which have never been seen in this valley.
Why is this situation any different? It’s not. It’s bribery. Call your commissioners and tell them you may not have the right to vote on this issue, but you sure as hell won’t be bribed.