Frosty the Coalman

More Coal Please

I love Great Falls and I love coal. My family and I are embracing the new coal plant. We really enjoyed the SME ad in the paper today featuring Frosty the Coalman mascot. The kids can’t wait to dress up for Halloween this year as little Oliver Twists and I will of course be at the door giving out lumps of coal to the little people. SME even donated money to our elementary school for the ‘Coal is Cool’ campaign. They are organizing a coal festival and also coming up with a new Great Falls moniker. Instead of ‘The Windy City’ it may be something like ‘Coal Plant Town’ or my favorite, ‘Coal Hole’. My wife and I are planning on attending the lecture at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. An expert will be examining a new controversial theory – ‘Did Sacagawea sell her cooperation to Lewis and Clark for 30 pieces of coal (I mean silver).

I see scary similarities between City management of the L & C festival and the proposed coal plant. There is a pattern of dissociation from reality. Most people still recall the financial boondoggle that the City created with the L & C event. For a year prior to the expedition’s bicentennial the Tribune was reporting that literally millions of people would be tracing the path of the explorers and hundreds of thousands of people would be winding their way through our great city. I remember many people I spoke with at the time laughed about these projections because the numbers were so wildly out of touch. None of us had any friends or relatives from out of state traveling anywhere near the route nor did our friends or family really know of anyone coming and frankly we weren’t even sure we were going to make it to the festival ourselves. The mismanaged and over planned event, that very few actually attended, cost taxpayers a couple hundred thousand dollars.

This loss is miniscule compared to our risks with the coal plant. Tell me when you sense the true psychosis of this decision. The coal plant is a 500 million dollar deal. Our city administration has difficulty managing the golf course and municipal pools. Even basic accounting 101 principles were not being followed at the golf course. There is no one on the City management team that would really qualify as an energy expert. The environmental impact statement says there will be a mild to moderate impact on air quality. The city administration and the Tribune act like this is acceptable. What will a moderate impact on air quality do to kids with asthma or adults with pulmonary disease? This is a city that outlawed indoor smoking even in places you could just walk away from but finds it acceptable to allow the air we breathe continuously to suffer in quality for the next 30 years. Citizens did not petition to have a coal plant placed in GF and did not get to vote on this critical issue. I have discussed this issue with many people and have yet to actually meet someone I would call a strong coal plant supporter. Our city administration is flat out incapable of managing or making decisions at this level and should never have made it this far without getting the approval of this community. Unreal. Bring on the initiative Geeguy.


WolfPack said...

I am a coal plant supporter and a Lawton detractor. I wholly agree with all the things you pointed out about the city’s historical incompetence in managing things. I also agree with the Trib that the EIS results are acceptable but I liked (very funny) your comment about the city outlawing air pollution you could walk away from while supporting air pollution you can’t walk away from. I am greatly troubled by the fact that I am on the same side as Lawton and the Tribune on this issue. I wish the commissioners would hire a competent manager so that issues like the coal plant could be argued on their merits instead of worrying about how much exposure we have if it’s mismanaged like the projects before it. It’s a terrible spot to be in where we pragmatically scrub good projects because we don’t trust out city management.

Hawkeye said...

Unfortunately we have to play the ball as it lies. I don't think city government should be micromanaged. However, is it really too much to ask that the people of Cascade county get to vote on a huge decision like a coal plant instead of just a few people? If you were a commissioner wouldn't you want the support of the populace on something this huge and controversial?

WolfPack said...

I disagree. We don't have to play the ball as it lies. The Lawton style management can be changed by changing the manager. Our mayor ran on this idea and could possibly be embarrassed into moving forward on it. This is the true purpose behind Geeguy’s rants, I believe. Many of us are afraid of the city doing anything significant with the current amateur hour methodologies. I would love to debate the coal plant issue by issue but I must agree, what’s the point if we can’t get past the “The city will screw it up” position.