Smart Comments

"Why do Mr. Lawton and Ms. Stebbins and other Commissioners have excessive contempt for facts presented? Why do they not value taxpayer opinions?" These are questions raised by an astute commenter.

Why is it, when controversial issues come up, that none of the 5 commissioners seem to ever pick up on the questions or comments from the public? Heck, I cannot think of a Commission meeting I have observed where no citizens raised any points that I thought were valid.

I have decided that John Lawton has constructed an invisible force field between the speaker's podium and the Commissioners. All of the Commissioners have been instructed to wear blank looks or smiles, and nod their heads knowingly and occasionally whenever a citizen speaks.

Each Commissioner has been fitted with a tiny device that fits in their ear. John Lawton has a tiny computer keyboard and, when a citizen asks a question, John Lawton types the answer into his keyboard. It is then read into the earpiece of the appropriate Commissioner, who repeats exactly what he or she has heard.

In the event of an error, the Cable Channel 7 camera operator, who is secretly a City employee, simply edits the videotaped record.


Anonymous said...

It's kinda like Fiddler on the Roof, only not tradition, but DECORUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM! (and civility. gotta have civility.) And drool. These people on the council are SO dumb that I can't believe that they don't drool on themselves! I mean, my GOD! Where is the friggin' PASSION?!! Look, politics ain't NUTHIN' if not passionate. And jonny lotten (rhymes with rotten) has made zombies outta the council. These people would rather TAKE A BEATING than dare to question anything jonny and primadonna say. It's yoogly. It's scary. But it AIN'T democracy! There's NO demos in the current democracy. There's NO freakin' passion involved! Chief dorky and his thugs will see to that. ("THAT'S A FELONY"!!! parenthetical note: chief dorky thinks that EVERYTING is a felony, incuding passing gas without a permit!) I dunno. Call me crazy, but I think that when one deranged, arrogant, soon-to-be "retired" moron is callin' all the shots while proposin' to POISON everyone downwind and bankrupting the city at the same time, the situation calls for a leetle passion. Then again, after observing the meeting tonight, and primadonna looking EVERY bit nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, I can't help but feel someone's gonna come and give me the shock treatment real soon to make me normal again! Seriously, folks. Tell me truthfully. Does or does not primadonna remind you of nurse Ratchet when she demands that everyone simply be good and follow the rules??!!! (she's a spittin' image! rent the movie and check it out!) Oh, and dorky. Don't forget Chief Dorky. He reminds me of the guys in white ready to POUNCE on anyone who violates the "rules" at primadonna's order! GOD HELP US ALL! I think that we're ALL living in the Cuckoo's nest with this crew! But the good news is that come next election, we can give ol' nurse Rathet the ol' frontal lobotomy! I can't wait!


Anonymous said...

p.s. My bad. It should be "nurse Ratched", not nurse Ratchet. My apologies to one of my heros, Ken Kessey. But seriously, folks, google the good nurse and see for yourselves if ol' primadonna doesn't look a helluva lot like nurse Ratched! And for you young folks out there, the book AND the movie are fantastic! Check them out.


Anonymous said...

Passion can often be misplaced, misguided and misdirected. Like a pendulum swings in two directions political passions can swing toward anarchy or dictatorship.

The problems, as I see them, with Ms. Stebbins and the others stem from Neighborhood Councils, councils reminiscent between The French Revolution & the Reign of Terror.

The problem with the current form of city government could be due to a lack of separation of power.

GeeGuy posted some information that deserves serious consideration.

Perhaps it is time to disband, then change the current form of city government to something where powers can be better checked and balanced.

Anonymous said...

"Civility" is the fairly new buzz word. It's bandied about with disregard to equality of use. It's primarily trundled out when one group wants another to not ask hard, concise questions demanding an answer. Most notably elected bodies to citizens. It is a 'gag order'. It is rude or crazy of citizens to ask our Commissioners and City Manager why they are not responding to our questions, behaving pompously, giving every indication of unethical, self-promoting, stupid, irresponsible and, possibly, illegal behavior which is detrimental to the city and people.
However, "civility" is not required of, nor extend by, any of the city officials. In this manner can they go about their business undeterred.
This group will not respond as they can say nothing at this point which will not disclose them as stupid, criminal, liars or underhanded. They've run uncontested for quite a while and have no game plan in place to rebuff resistance. They fall back upon two forms of defense; silence and physical retribution. Those Commissioners who won't speak are cowards and the remaining group, along with Lawton, are are giving every indication that they're in league together for a piece of their private pie - at our expense. RN

Anonymous said...

I disagree: "Civility" is the fairly new buzz word.

I do agree there are some using "civility" with disregard to equality of use.


Anonymous said...

Oh ferchrissakes! "passion can be misplaced"??? Look, if you're not passionate about SOMETHING, you're not freakin' alive! You're mistaking passion for irrational behavior. Am I passionate? HELL yes! I'm passionate for GOOD GOVERNMENT! I'm passionate for a CLEAN ENVIRONMENT! And I get DAMN PASSIONATE when someone attempts to poison my kids and grandkids! Now, if you DON'T get passionate about these things, then buddy do I have a job for you!......ON THE CITY COMMISSION! All you gotta do is sit there, look awake, and drool now and then! (but not on camera). Look, I've said it before but I'll say it one more time. THE NEGATIVE HEALTH EFFECTS OF A PLANT OF THIS TYPE ARE VERIFIABLE! In other words, THEY'RE REAL! Regardless of what jonny no vote and SME say about it being "one of the cleanest in the country", people downwind (sometimes we here in GF), will be breathing in toxins and particulate matter, including mercury, one of the nastiest! Now, if you can sit dispassionately on the sidelines while jonny no vote and nurse ratched poison your grandkids in a "civil" manner, well by God I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU!, cause you're already brain dead! (in which case you could be the next city manager!)


Anonymous said...

Would you agree that passion can canker the soul? Might you agree the selfish individual has a passion for the vertical pronoun I?

One can mistake irrational behavior for passion as easily as one mistakes suppressing passion and bridling pride to reach some level of tolerance or sincere appreciation for feelings held by others.

Just because one chooses civility does not mean one is dispassionate. It merely means one can, without a running hissy-fit, make a point.

Anonymous said...

" . . . verticle I." So well stated, thank you.

Didn't vote for Donna, but after reading the many childish rantings of LK, am starting to feel sorry for her.

Anonymous said...

Well, for me, it's hard to feel real sorry for incompetence or duplicity! You see, primadonna RAN on a platform of opposing the coal plant, AND putting people back into the process. She did the EXACT opposite when she got in. So, apparently she lied! Now, how can one "feel sorry" for an individual like that? I don't. You see, in OUR democracy, you rule with the consent of the governed. If you attempt to rule WITHOUT the consent of the governed, you will rule with the contempt of the governed! And this is where donna's at now. She should IMMEDIATELY demand a vote on the proposed highwood plant. And why the hell not?! For you see, if it were to pass a vote of the people, the opponents would not have much of a leg to stand on. But tell me, WHY are you fellas SO against democracy?? And WHY is favoring democracy descrided as having a "hissy fit"? I don't get it. Does jonny no vote REALLY do your thinking for you?? Do you share his brain?? Are you even CAPABLE of an independent thought? All good questions deserving of an answer.


Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for loss souls like our present city government but that's just the Christian thing to do.

Would I continue to let them run my city out of compassion? No!

GeeGuy said...

Larry, I am not sure sure about your suggestion that Mayor Stebbins ran on a platform of opposing the coal plant. Please post a link, or something.

Anonymous said...

Didn't vote for Donna but the LK rants don't induce me to feel sorry for her either. LK's unkindness in lashing out seems to be excessive frustrations in thinking no one else understands the abuse of power going on in city government.

Also, I should have put this in quotes because someone else said it and I happened to remember it : "the selfish individual has a passion for the vertical pronoun I."

Just where is the "I" when it comes to being selfishly responsible for the bad business decisions being made by the commission?

It might be things been designed so the commission as a whole take the blame for "doing the very best" it can?

Anonymous said...

Search using Zoominfo.com

3. Great Falls Tribune - www.greatfallstribune.com - Great Falls, MT
www.gftribune.com/apps/pbcs.dl - [Cached]

Published on: 11/6/2005

Stebbins also hopes to rescue Great Falls residents from what she sees as a closed club at city hall.
"The commission and the mayor pretty much rubber-stamp everything he wants to do," Stebbins contends.

Stebbins has both positive and negative things to say about two hot city topics - the city's participation in a group seeking to purchase NorthWestern Energy, and its investment in one-fourth of the proposed coal-fired Highwood Generating Station.

Anonymous said...


You said You see, in OUR democracy, you rule with the consent of the governed.

Apparently WE are being ruled on by the consent of the governed.

How do you justify the contempt of the governed?

What are your thoughts on on a new form of city government?


Anonymous said...

Well, Geeguy,

There you go: Stebbins is merely rubberstamping for the Mayor and she is in his power.

"The commission and the mayor pretty much rubber-stamp everything he wants to do," Stebbins contends.

Anonymous said...

"The commission and the mayor pretty much rubber-stamp everything he wants to do," Stebbins contends.

This was Stebbins' comment before being elected mayor during her campaign - however once elected she filled the role of Lead Rubber Stamper with a vengeance.

Anonymous said...

PL, good questions. I'll get back to you when I get a chance.


Anonymous said...

It was meant as another "crackpot" reference ...somewhat ecsoteric...

Anonymous said...

LK... look forward to hearing what you have to say.


Anonymous said...

Just because one chooses civility does not mean one is dispassionate. It merely means one can, without a running hissy-fit, make a point.
please read this post again. I say please because I try to be civil, not because I am dispasionate.
Your johnny this and Corky that are wearing thin. It is childish.
You are preaching to some choir I would not care to have a beer with. You might get people to think seriously about your points - if you acted like an adult. It is a free country but I suspect you are not in any way promoting your cause in a profitable way.

Anonymous said...

Hummmm, I wonder what pets names the mayor and city manger have for us?

Besides the obvious ones like suckers, heals, peons, etc.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

To anon, I assure you that as SOON as the GFPD starts treating the citizens of GF with respect, by GOD I'll do the same. But they don't. The stories of them being bullies and thugs abound. Let me offer up just one example. Their use of the term "felony" to intimidate people. Look, the arresting copper can no more make the determination that a crime is a felony than the man in the moon! So, why is the first word out of a cop's mouth commonly "felony"? Only one reason and ONE reason alone. Intimidation. Oh sure, I see that other PD's do it also. But it ain't right. The cop on the street does NOT make that determination. He's NOT the prosecutor! It's ONLY for intimidation! And intimidation has NO part in dealing with people in a professional manner. THIS is why I have no respect for Dorky and his boys. Thuggish tactics earn no one respect. Now, as far as what I write, I'll give you a clue. I HAVE NO CAUSE! I write what I write because it's the truth, and someone has to say it. If you don't like that, tough. If you think I am hurting "my cause", tough. Don't read what I write. It's that simple. But I wonder why you think I should write to please another! That's kinda strange to me.


Anonymous said...

But you who seek to give and merit fame,
And justly bear a critic's noble name,
Be sure yourself and your own reach to know
How far your genius taste and learning go.
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet
And mark that point where sense and dullness meet.



Anonymous said...

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”

- H.L. Mencken

Anonymous said...

Anon, do you REALLY think that I'm attempting to "merit fame"?? Wow. Look, pal, as I've already mentioned, if not for the coal plant, I would probably be like everyone else and pretty much ignore the city council completely. But my GOD what are you supposed to do when cockroaches shine the light on THEMSELVES?! I get outraged and I write. But understand one thing clearly. It is NOT to impress you or anyone else. I'm NOT the issue here. The issues are the issue. If you have a comment on my arguments, that would be preferable to attacking me. I don't remember attacking you!


Anonymous said...

Civility has its place and one should make an effort, at the onset of NEW discourse, to be civil and expect the same in return. However, when civility has been shown to be a sham and is used to suppress one side and to mask the other side's deceptions, deceits, illegality, reivers, prevarications, and those who feed on their fellow man and reap rich rewards, than civility is to be discarded and the immane threat met on an evened playing field. RN

Anonymous said...

LK -

I believe your concern is real and meant no disrespect.

Like you said, the issues are the issue.

Discussion on the issues are preferable to personal attacks degrading people.

In fairness, everyone has the responsibility, a major obligation not to mistake slogans for solutions.

Your passionate concern might be better appreciated if you take the opportunity to promote solutions in this forum.

Trying to bridle my pride

Anonymous said...

RE: a sham and is used to suppress one side and to mask the other side's deceptions....

Sophistry seems to best describe your analysis of miscreant behaviors.

Tragically, it appears the city commissioners are experiencing a moral and ethical disaster.

Still, I believe goodness and civility will win in the end.

edmcknight said...

Can I qualify some of my HGS thoughts here as possibly a "smart comment"

The only action I will take on speculation is trying to determine if the speculation is in any way accurate. I've spent many years troubleshooting and problem solving both as an electronics systems analyst and as a landlord. One thing I've learned though, a product of the imagination when tested in reality, is more often than not, wrong. So what, isn't it a human trait to be fallible? Don't we have a perception of reality that we accept as absolute reality? Don't we, if not respect, at least tolerate and forgive people who acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them and apply the lessons to future endeavors.

With that in mind, What is HGS to me? Most people see it as a problem or a solution. I see it as a symptom of a problem. The real problem and the solution is at city hall. HGS never had a chance from day one because of blind arrogance and the utterly disingenuous sales pitch. So far (with speculation and a lot of details omitted) this is the way I understand it

1) Tim G. and co. get the idea (right or wrong) the best thing they can do is use government corporate welfare to put a CFB plant on a nice flat spot next to a river with city services available.

2) sell the idea as a crisis no option situation requiring immediate action and coincidently has no risk and is the cleanest coal plant in the world!

3) At the last possible moment, Inform the National Park Service that you are going to desecrate their landmark, but it's ok because you've thrown some chump change around (paraphrasing for dramatic effect) and that makes it ok, so don't bother.

So why couldn't city hall see the handwriting on the wall? Were they so mesmerized by the Tim and John show that the ka-ching of $$ in their eyes blinded and deafened them?

So why not? It's perfect, theres no risk financially because its other peoples money. Computer models show all the pollution will be contained to the local area so theres no health risk. The only thing to deal with is a few wacky alarmists but thats expected, It's perfect!

So after all the plans and prep work and signed contracts, someone thinks due diligence is in order and spends $100,000+whatever asking a question - Is it physically possible to build a mature technology plant on a perfectly located geographic point and sell the product?

Well, we've only been doing that for about a hundred years. Did we need to spend $100,000+ asking that question?

Wouldn't it have been a little more wise to ask – How are the people who are paid to protect the national landmark going to react when you so vulgarly insult them? Or maybe this – How easily can a highly educated spectrum of mature and worldly people, see through your shenanigans?

To me it's just sad. The music man came to town and defiled the place that I call home. City hall, with whatever intentions, were in it way over their heads. John knows whats going on and wisely is abandoning ship. The rest seem like a mother still comforting her dead child, refusing to accept the reality of the situation.

Because of the lack of information we are left to speculate as to whats going on. If you are going to speculate, then you should consider all the possibilities. All but one of the possibilities, for each person involved, has to be wrong. But that doesn't mean we cant get it right, eventually.

Please let's deal with it, get over it, and move on.

Anonymous said...


A perfect example of a pointed and passionate presentation.

Civility indeed. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

The key word is "Civility." I too thank you.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said BUT NO SOLUTION to the problem.

IF the only solution is to vote them out of office and remove their bureaucratic friends THEN can it really be done in one election cycle?

Can something be done NOW to bring peace of mind to those of us so distraught over this mess?

Anonymous said...

Sophistry regarding their miscreant behavior was NOT my intent, getting the subject defined and discussed was. The administration is NOT civil to its citizens was my point. In fact a low-level Chicago wanna-be comes to mind.
My suggestion is when the new mayor and commissioners are voted in that we, the people, demand the retirement or recall of the remaining commissioners and police chief in order to begin again with a clean slate. Change the structure so that the City Manager cannot wield solitary power.
Don't attempt to explain away all the problems that are arising as caused by ONLY Gregori and the coal plant. Each and every person in the administration clearly had a personal hand and stake in what's currently happening in this city and it cuts a broad swath across many issues.
This entire group - mayor, police chief, commissioners, city manager - have been caught in lies, behind-the-scenes machinations, fiscal irresponsibility and more. They cry "civility" and extend none while they continue playing dirty and go on their way behaving in a despotic manner.
They espouse public participation and don't listen and drag people out of meetings or respond with disdain to their concerns.
If it's due to stupidity, then they aren't fit to run the show.
If it's due to repetitive errors, then they aren't fit to run the show.
They aren't operating as a representative body and they aren't fit to run the show.
Why is it that no one wants to truly discover what they're up to and what they are getting from all this? Because it's not "civil" to call a group of inept, lying, stealing, arrogant SOBs what they are?
They, like any thief when caught, have frozen in the light and are not responding. Error on their part? Maybe (for getting caught), but don't think they're not hoping we'll talk ourselves to death eschewing action while they find an escape opportunity.
If this is not to be repeated, then we need to send a clear message to all that we do not condone what is happening and will not tolerate or retain in office those that participate in these kinds of actions against the public.
SME, the HGS, tax hikes, unanimous voting, inability to maintain basic services within the city, repression of public participation in government, assault on a citizen, "hostile" take-over of a non-profit organization, financially stripping the city of assets in order to shore up a shady entity which will do nothing but harm us in a myriad of ways and we don't even know what else.
Error? The only error is that we allow this administration, or any following, to continue doing business at our cost. RN

Anonymous said...

RN, I like your style. Amazing how much good commentary appears on this site.


Anonymous said...

LK writes,"Don't read what I write. It's that simple."

It would be easier to not read your simple comments if you would alert us by placing your initials, LK at the top of the posting.
Is that too much to ask? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

RN -

Here's a Rant. (And if it is not smart it is my desire to sound somewhat civilly restrained).

You are grossly mistaken to think "Why is it that no one wants to truly discover what they're up to."

Some of us have dealt with the culture of closed government entities for years!

The problem in Great Falls is the alleged culture of politically incestuous relationships within the current form of city government.

"They" DENIED OUR RIGHT to vote on the power plant.

Want to know what "they" are up to? Want hassle-free government?

Change the freakin' law so "they" have less power.

Here's a solution: REDEFINE THE ARGUMENT.


Anonymous said...

What you're saying is NOT a rant. But, if it's been "dealt" with for years and still continuing, then it's not been effectively dealt with at all. What you're upset about is only a PART of the problem. Get the voting rights back where they belong, but make certain that this doesn't repeat. If we only look at the surface (loss of vote) than the sub-strata, incestuous, good-ole-boy, who-the-hell-does-the-public-think-it-is
political double-dealings will reassert themselves after the next election as the "back story and players" haven't been exposed. But, to stop THAT we must really dig in the dirt of each involved person, and the group as a whole, and discover just what it is this administration is getting away with. It will make it that much harder, maybe even impossible, for the current and future politicians to use these ploys again.
So, stop offering civility to these crooks. Start naming names, not emulating "Harry Potter = He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named", stop bemoaning the stone walling and actually DO SOMETHING.
There are attorneys that read this site. Let's begin by asking one or more step forward to help begin the legal procedures of an investigation into the locked file cabinets, the buried folders, the loss of voting rights, ALL OF IT, and support their efforts Each person reading this - think of a just ONE THING YOU CAN DO to start the ball rolling, not just blog. Do it outside of the controlled city group. I have. I will see what comes of my effort. I'm sure you can think of something, too. RN

GeeGuy said...

RN, please email me.

Anonymous said...

RN -

To make certain that this doesn't repeat itself means one, maybe even you, should keep remember plank two.

Good luck on your effort. Your help may finally add to work many of us have been doing for years.


Anonymous said...


You said "but make certain that this doesn't repeat"

If it is a cultural problem then what is your solution?


Anonymous said...

PL - We MUST stop complicating simple problems. This is not cultural. Do you think anyone in California gives a damn or believes this will effect them? Do you think anyone in Missoula worries about if this will change how they do things or think? For that matter, do think most of the people of the county believe that what GF does has much effect on them? Not unless it impacts their county taxes or services specifically.
This is about GF, GF citizens and a group (and its individuals) that is evidencing peronsal and political shady and shoddy practices, and can do so with impunity as they believe themselves to be big fish/little pond deities.
We, as individual & collective citizens, are responsible. We cannot sit back and cry. I refuse to listen to, "Oh, they'll make it hard for you", "they won't like it." Too bad. If this is cultural at all, it's the underhanded bully culture the city administration is TRYING to get us all to accept - and bullies are cowards and cowards fold when someone stands up to them, especially in cases where they are skating on thin ice of many different kinds.
What I see here are a lot of GF people who don't like what they see, what they've experienced and what is happening. So???? Stand up publicly, by voting and speaking your mind at meetings, and privately, by thinking up something to put a stop to this and following through with it (even if it's a call to 60 Minutes as suggested elsewhere-enough calls and they'll check it out) and make it stop. Jolley did, she's still living. Overfield did, she's still living.
Others have and I don't see mass graves. A bunch of ticked-off fishwives began the French Revolution, it's not THAT hard.
Don't believe when "they", in this case Stebbins, Grove, Lawton and the rest who stay behind the scenes, tell you that you "can't" or they "won't let you" or "you'll get in big trouble". Of course they'll say that, they want to do what they want to do the easiest way possible - with no resistance.
If there's anything cultural here, it's the pride, foundation built upon and belief held by Montanans of being independent, hard working, honest and overcoming obstacles. THAT'S the culture we live in, should live by and embrace - not the small-town bully politician(s) who's out to get his at our expense.
I'll even offer to pitch in the first $100 to begin a collection to pay moving expenses for all the city administrators we've talked about here so they can go live someplace that actually condones and rewards the basest political, personal and professional behaviors and misbehaviors we seen this current group exhibit. Consider it the Great Falls Beautification Fund. RN

Anonymous said...

PL asked a great question.

Here is some baseline information from my professional perspective.

Organizations have a culture.Companies pay thousands of dollars to research and redesign organizational behaviors detrimental and problematice to a business.

Problems could include a need to improve dealing with morale or work ethic or desolving a segment of the company to rebuild, renew, and reenergize business.

The GF City Commission is but part of the problem in the culture of City Bureaucracy.

That the new mayor isn't doing anything different than the old mayor is a red flag, suggests cultural problems.


Anonymous said...

Here's the other link accidently ommitted in my post.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm... read both links, TB....

Here's a shout-out to Mary Jolley (full disclosure: my friend) with a background in "economics" as a CFP and a degree in anthropology.

She is my pick for a sound commission candidate.


Anonymous said...

Culture - modern snake-oil salesmen need to continue selling the idea of different cultures in order to excuse their heinous behavior and actions. Accept it if you wish, but I don't.

Drug Culture
Bureaucratic Culture
Consumer Culture
Military Culture
Do you know what these, and others, have in common?

Two things, A) they are comprised of all kinds of people - good/bad, honest/dishonest, and B) the word culture is used to make excuses for the behavior of people.

It doesn't wash. People are responsible for the choices they make.

When individual citizens within ANY culture make a choice that is wrong, harmful, illegal or for which the outcome is damaging to others that INDIVIDUAL is forced, expected and, by the general culture (us), subjected to a penalty for their choice.

Should the "Bureaucratic Culture" of GF, and individuals within it, be exempt or held above the general cultural norms? We can't hold the city laws above the state, so logically, there is no excuse for the detrimental CHOICES made by individual bureaucrats alone or collectively.

I will not buy into this. It is a non-issue. Stebbins, Grove, James, Lawton and more are individuals who have made choices. They are wrong choices based on the cultural collective expectations of what we define as representative behavior.

They wish to hide behind the shield of "Bureaucratic Culture". I won't accept that. They don't pay for my choices. I certainly won't pay for theirs. I am held personally responsible for my choices. I expect them to be held personally responsible for theirs.

To put this plainly: Bollocks! They lied, cheated, stole, harmed citizens and plan activities that are detrimental to our community. Their choices. They didn't ask us for our opinion, so they shoulder, individually and as a group, the responsibility for the actions. RN

Interesting reading:
do a google for

"Etymology of Excuses;.."

Anonymous said...

RN -

This was interesting (emphasis added):

"Innovative organizations need individuals who are prepared to challenge the status quo — be it groupthink or bureaucracy, and also need procedures to implement new ideas effectively.

What is your plan to implement your ideas effectively?

Anonymous said...

8:58 a.m. Anon:

Adhocracy, in a possibly slightly limited form, holds appeal. But, then so do margaritas...and a raise, an all-expense paid trip - oh, that would be business-as-normal politics.

If people are looking for a one-size-fits-all, never-have-another -problem government style, I'm sure it will never happen.

Each problem, however, has a basis for solution.

I might be able to respond better if you would please narrow down which "plans" you're referring to. RN

Anonymous said...

Since you are smarter than the rest of us pick your own platform or back up your accusations with documentation and the law.

Anonymous said...

Many people would rather have a king because democracy is just to hard and scary.

Hard to understand how we got so far off course.

Anonymous said...

Snide...and anonymous. That will certainly go a long way to improving things. It's much like speaking with the City Commission.

However, since you demanded -

One Plan:
Residents will create and join a city wide citizen council to write and pass those laws to preserve and stop GF's disintegration.

Place a reform agenda on the Nov. ballot, let the citizens vote

It can include such things as restoring credibility by

* drafting an anti-nepotism law to discourage familial favoritism for & from gov't hiring, policy or operations

It can engage and enable neighborhood by

*establishing a "one call city hall" number (111/211/311 etc.) for receiving & tracking citizen complaints. These shall be made public via internet/media for public review sans names, phone #s, etc) so citizens may review how its interactions are addressed & how the City enforces reported violations of law & code
*the City should make public (see above) neighborhood-based agency performance data, park/rec-based data, school-based performance data so citizens can be informed about the results of the work of its gov't and make available means by citizens to provide feedback on quality of services which will be made public.

It can fight for fiscal responsibility by

* starting w/a public priority-setting process to use meaningful public input to establish governmental priorities.
*city budget will be prepared in a manner as to show costs by programmatic are to BEST illustrate the TRUE cost of city spending, accompanied by docs listing goals that programmatic spending strives to achieve. ALL new legislation & new City programs will be accompanied by fiscal-impact statements to show the value added in terms of the results that new spending will create so citizens can judge whether new programs achieve their goals.

One can go on, but I'm sure many of you see the benefits. RN

Anonymous said...

Pop! Pop! That was the chamagne! Gee Guy broke fifty on a thread! Crikey! Good job! You are now an official pundit! I bestow that honor on you! (and who says that no one is interested in city issues) Your site is going to make a difference.


Anonymous said...

RN -

Finally. Thank you. I accept your snide remark with honor, returning to you a YOU can't expect me to do what you want to do - with no resistance.

Your general commentary denies us specifics on implementation.

You say: a public priority-setting process to use meaningful public input

But you are WEAK on discussing and defining what meaningful is.

If you define meaningful public input we might better understand your visionary platform to establish governmental priorities.

Resistance is not Futile.

Anonymous said...

RN -

Breaking things down for easier reading:

RN says: demand the retirement or recall of the remaining commissioners and police chief

DEMAND all you want but demanding ain't gettin'.

This seems to be more reasonable:

Change the structure so that the City Manager cannot wield solitary power.

Again, weak on implementation - how will you make it so?

How will you inspire us all to DEMAND structural changes?

Resistance is not Futile.

Anonymous said...

RINF, this is great, discussion, ideas, a push for specific action - it certainly beats complaining.

First, please let me state I did NOT make the comment to restrict the City Mgr's power, but it is a good idea as we are all aware of the old adage, 'absolute power..etc'

Second, by establishing a city-wide citizens council, they can begin to construct a recall for the current seated commissioners with remaining time, as well as the police chief.
Any interested person can run for a seat, put all the names in a hat and draw out who will sit on it. Heck, put odd numbers, beginning with 9 in the hat, draw those out and it will define how MANY sit on the council. Have a drop-off point where citizens can put their names on a card to have a chance in the hat.
Submit all the names to Voc Ed school computer dept. and have a computer randomly pull names. Send it out of state to have it done, because I can hear people screaming about fairness. Which is ironic considering how unfair it is what we face. (But, I have to tell you, I think the people of GF would think it done fairly if simply pulled from a hat).

To enable the people of GF to submit ideas & participate, it needs only a log on web area. Individuals can submit reform agenda items/ideas. The ideas that carry the most number of submissions, generally should show the consensus of the citizens. The council can clean up the wording, re-post the item and get the feed-back quickly as to how well they've reflected the wishes of all of us. The draft can have a 'vote' area for each revision, just as the Trib offers daily. This will still allow individuals to participate if they can not think of a way to phrase their concerns.

Since this can be viewed publically, printed, and kept as a record, it will begin the process of open, transparent gov't which is sorely missing at present. It's evolution can be followed openly.

I cannot MAKE you demand anything of your gov't. But, if you see wrong in how current important citizen-impacting issues are being handled and YOU don't DEMAND, then
the complaining and blogging here is pyrrhic.

The ball is now in play. Build on this idea, improve it, or get off the court. Anything less is just a vapid exercise in linguistic philosophy. RN

Anonymous said...

RN -

1. You were the one complaining without offering adequate solutions.

2. This plan is yours to build and defend in attempt to get you to stop and link your thoughts to what others have already pointed out.

3. Good luck with your cheerleading, vocabulary building exercises and may your $100 dollars go to some lawyer or honorable campaign...maybe even your own.

No harm, no foul.

Resistance is not Futile

edmcknight said...

In terms of solutions to problems, or even correctly identifying the problems, one theme that is occurring regularly is the abuse of power, it seems to be the outright violation of the rules by one, or the refusal to enforce the rules by others. How well the rules are written seem to be part of the problem.


Article VII - Citizen Involvement in Government

Section 2 - Open Government
All records of the City of Great Falls, including the City Commission and all boards,councils, committees, shall be open to the public as provided by Montana law. All meetings of such bodies shall be publicly announced in advance and shall be open to the public as provided by Montana law.

Article II - City Commission

Section 3 - Administrative Review
On a majority vote of the whole number of the City Commission, the City Commission may review, inquire, and investigate any operation, management decision, administrative function or other affairs of the City. The City Commission may compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books and records by issuance of a subpoena.

Except for the purpose of inquiry, or investigation, the City commission shall be involved with administrative and management operations solely through the City

Depending on how you read this, all records of the city will be open, but if you want to look at the records you might need three commissioners to issue a subpoena?

Official City Code
of the City of Great Falls Montana
Title 2
Chapter 52
2.52.050 Ethical standards
Officers and employees of the City of Great Falls shall comply with the following provisions:
I. No elected officer shall be prohibited from making an inquiry for information on behalf of a constituent if in return, no fee, reward or other thing of value is directly or indirectly promised to or accepted by the officer or a member of his or her immediate family;

J. No officer or employee, elected or appointed in the City, shall without receiving formal written authorization from the appropriate person or body, disclose any confidential information concerning any other officer or employee or any other person or any property or governmental affairs of the City;

O. All officers or employees shall be sensitive and responsive to the concerns and questions of the public.

Does this mean a commissioner can not prohibit him/her self from making an inquiry for information if requested by a constituent?

And since the charter says

Except for the purpose of inquiry, or investigation, the City Commission shall be involved with administrative and management operations solely through the City

A commissioner can go straight to any city employee for information?

If a commissioner fails to make an inquiry after requested to do so, would that be an abuse of power?

What about little details?
Official City Code
of the City of Great Falls Montana
Title 2
Chapter 16
2.16.050 Public Works Department
A Public Works Department is hereby created. The City Manager shall appoint a Director to administer the Public Works Department. The Department shall administer capital improvements, maintenance, operations, and utilities and perform such other duties by direction of the City Manager or as required by law. (Ord. 2652, 1993; Ord. 2479 2(part), 1987).

So by law the public works department shall administer utilities?


But tidal 5 is

Am I spinning my wheels here? I'm not a lawyer this seems a little strange to me.

I think the charter needs to be examined to bring a little more balance of power. We don't need commissioners screwing with the daily operations of the city but when something gets a little stinky, what can one person do?
I know lawyers are looking at the legal technicalities, accountants are looking at the money, engineers are looking at the engineering. Watchdogs are keeping an eye on ethics. All I did was scratch the surface and I'm puzzled.
I'm still trying to identify problems we can mostly agree on before proposing solutions. I'm considering a separate blog to consolidate possible and identified problems and proposed solutions and perhaps some sort of wiki way for the public to author their own ordinances and take polls.
I don't really care which of you is civil or radical or whatever, as long as you know your own limitations. An individual has much more leeway in their speech than an elected representative. I think we are all on the train of change here but we can ride in separate cars to the station. Instead of arguing over our differences, how about embracing diversity and accepting the strength/weaknesses of individual approaches and the others stand by to pick up with other strengths when the original individual comes up short. If you want to be radical thats fine but remember that by definition you will be a minority. Many times a radical voice is an early warning sign to the rest. When your message falls on deaf ears because you are being judged by how you sound rather than what you are saying then someone with a different style can step in and keep the momentum going.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I leave town for a few days, return and find loads of blogs. On this portion I'm particularly interested in the last three.

RN: Puts something on the table in the way of specific ideas. I thought, having followed the posts, that RN was saying, by suggesting we pull from the hat, that the people currently involved in town politics are the same ones that have fingers in several areas and to solve that we must open the door of participant possibilities wider. I think that's a valid and good point. I think that most of the concrete ideas to involve the public were workable. Many of us sit at computers, why not make that time constructive by being able to review what the city does or doesn't do on a site where we can monitor the city? RN never said the ideas promoted were final or unalterable, just ideas.

Resistance: That final blog in response to RN is exactly how the City Commission has been treating anyone who voices concerns, ideas or dislikes. It sounded childish, jealous, angry and didn't add a jot of improvement, just tried to belittle the writer. In fact, it sounded like it was trying to stop ideas from going forward.

McKnight: Focused well on the Charter, showed its weaknesses and how they can cause problems, but even with that, we still have the ego and good old boy, incestuous (all terms used by other people but identifying the same problem) cliques that will continue if we don't make it clear that we won't accept it. After all, it must be at least 50% of the problem. He also talks of a site (blog) that he's been considering, so the idea is not too far out of line. His comment on radicals can be viewed in two ways; they are nearing the edge of the end of reason OR they are the early warning bell that to continue doing things the same old way will lead us farther along a bad path. Radicals are often the bee-sting which gets us up off our butts and moving when we've sat too long in one place.

Posters complain of name calling and vocabulary in individual blogs. Now we have complaints of a person with vocabulary, who doesn't call names. Complaints of no solid ideas. Now, complaints about ideas.

Change is needed. Change must come. Change will NOT happen by shutting out ideas and shutting down people, that is our complaint against the city powers. I suggest we take RNs final comment, "The ball is now in play. Build on this idea, improve it, or get off the court" and run with it. Let's get change into the real world and working. - Janet

Anonymous said...


You might be right and if so I sincerely accept your correction.

But you might consider this first:

Imagine what would happen if RN stopped throwing out generalities or feigned some effort to incorporate other people's ideas in to her posts? Inclusion of ideas is her mantra isn't it?

Not listening, not considering other people's ideas is the problem with the current Stebbins commission. How is RN different?

If character, or lack of it, is the problem in city government then how will changing the current law matter?

If Commissioners have blatantly ignored the law then why is it not enforced?

If city relationships are so incestuous, if core principles are such that turning a blind eye to wrong doing is the accepted city cultural norm, then how does one change an entire culture of bureaucrats in one election cycle?

Look at politics Washington DC as an example.

RN should embrace a balanced approach when throwing out ideas for change. Pointed discussion with thoughtful deliberation is the cultural standard at ECW.

Suggested Reading: Planks)

Anonymous said...

Anon: I don't see that RN (female or male, I can't tell) is NOT including other's ideas. I do see RN clearly pointing out what many may not want to state openly. I have read posts where the Commissioners are called liars, and not by RN, but no ideas on making them stop, just complaining.

I haven't read RN say change a current law, I've read other posts that say that, though what's wrong with changing a law that doesn't work?. I've read where RN says work within what's here to get rid of people who ignore laws, what we expect from them as our governing body and add laws that give more self-governing ability back to the people. Recall and ballot initiatives are not new to GF and Montana.

As for Commissioners "blatantly ignoring the law then why is it not enforced?", I guess I must say that it's because we have not put a stop to it and said no.

Changing the city relationships may not happen in one cycle. But, it won't happen AT ALL if we don't put our foot down at some point. DC is not local. Local is something within our grasp and ability to work on.

And I guess this is where I, too, get a little radical. Balance is a word I hear used a lot when people don't want to upset the status quo.
But, we are already way out of balance and all these posts show people know it. They seem to be saying we are OUT of balance.

I read the planks, but I'm not certain the people who most need to did. And, having this kind of back and forth on the subject of a PERSON who threw out some ideas is kind of a waste of time in my book.
Let's talk about the ideas themselves, keep what looks like it can work, brainstorm and improve on it if we can, then make it real.

GeeGuy has started expanding the discussion of RNs idea with the first post of the day by saying we need people with money and power to stand against the current group. I don't think it's the money and power so much as the bravery to stand against the current group that's needed. J

Anonymous said...

J -

"I read the planks" - good.

"but I'm not certain the people who most need to did." -irrelevant

"having this kind of back and forth on the subject of a PERSON who threw out some ideas is kind of a waste of time in my book." - then stop and follow your own suggestion:

"talk about the ideas themselves, keep what looks like it can work" -

You might consider questions about implementation a valid part of that process.

"Then make it real..." - Agreed - Make it real through discussions of implementation.

Resistance is not Futile

Anonymous said...

resistance, in your own words -DEMAND all you want but demanding ain't gettin'.

Change the structure so that the City Manager cannot wield solitary power.

Again, weak on implementation - how will you make it so?

then you send us to a blog which sends us to annotated code stating the votes can make the change.

RN is throwing out suggestions as to how to reach those voters for change.

again, your words - You might consider questions about implementation a valid part of that process.

"Then make it real..." - Agreed - Make it real through discussions of implementation.

you put up resistance to ideas. first we get the ideas then we work on how to put them into action.

you spend a lot of time working on how to stop ideas and actions. why don't you tell us how you think we need to implement ideas and which ideas we need to accept. you can be the honorary blog mayor

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said..."you can be the honorary blog mayor"


Why the resistence to enlightening us on your or RN's governmental thought process?

If you are saying you are not smarter than someone who has a solid constitutional or governmental background therefore you are unable to back your positions, that's cool. But please, just say so.

If I ask questions it's because I know I am not smarter than you or RN. If I ask about implementation and you or RN can't answer, then you are not smarter than me for asking the question.

Resistance is not Futile -

Anonymous said...

Get a grip you guys.

I don't think any of you think you're smarter than the next person. You just want to see some action toward fixing the problems and there are enough to go around.

Someone throws out an idea, gets challenged and throws out ideas about how to "implement" it.

If they are not quite on target for implementing, but the idea has merit, help 'em out with better ways to "implement" the thing.

It's gonna take all of us to overcome and fix the stupid acts of the mayor, commission, city manager and anyone else that's creating this pile of sh**. If an idea of how to clean the barn is offered, but you can see an easier or better way to do it, great!

There's only one "enemy" and that's the group running the city and causing all the problems.

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate - throwing out ideas vs implementation of ideas

Watching Fox News with Chris Wallace this evening, Newt Gingrich said something that I think explains the frustration Resistance has with ideas vs. implementation. (I have taken the liberty to exchange our fair city for America.)

"I think the great dilemma of [Great Falls] today — and if we don't solve it, it will become a tragedy — is that the Republicans don't recognize the scale of the performance failure of government as a system, and the Democrats are living in a fantasy land in terms of their policy proposals."

Going to his website and doing a little research Newt Gingrich notes:

"America’s unique civilization must be protected by insisting that our children and new Americans have a thorough understanding of American history, the Founding Fathers, and the core values and principles of American civilization."

It is only normal for someone to ask questions when he/she doesn't understand the political process, especially when ideas bantered about seem no different than current law that is allegedly being ignored.

I must admit that all the talk of changing laws is curious when, according to the sacred City Charter, a majority is needed to do so.

Anyone remember the craziness with the old COUNTY commission trio? And Peggy Beltrone is still there building her career as a professional bureaucrat.

It seems the first order of business, to reinvigorate public participation might be to establish the core values that are critical in a candidate worthy of support.

Perhaps one of the values for consideration is to choose someone who has not served politically or in a neighborhood council with ties to the current commission members.

My suggestion is to move this discussion to current law and then find a candidate(s) who understands the law with the will to obey it.

When there are enough worthy candidates who pass the core values test the natural consequences will be public interest, then public support.


Anonymous said...

Ed ....

I think you are on the right track discussing the law and rule making powers and how obeying the current law and rules are important.

RN -

Just curious... did you read this section?


Anonymous said...

I think we're stuck at ideas vs implementation at the moment and not due to lack of intelligence or willingness to consider other's ideas But, how can you define how to implement that which is not settled on? It's as if one is arguing HOW to build a house when the form it will take is not chosen. There may be generalities which MUST be covered and CAN be discussed, but details cannot be offered without the form having been agreed upon.

However, the core idea, much the same as citizen's council, to look outward to the public for a person who's not part of the "group", and one with character, stated in other posts elsewhere on ECW, has value.

OK, then we have IDEA #1. Find a person or persons to run with moral fiber. Is it one of the people currently running for mayor? I'm discussing a short-term option here as there is a finite time frame within which to work at the moment in order to get the unacceptable out and replace them so we can begin to rebuild.

IDEA #2: Make sure they understand the current law(s) & will obey it. I would think a person with character would do that automatically, yet it would be a good backup to have citizens watching so that undue pressure from other sources would not try to negate any actions of value the candidate/official might try to offer.

I think too often, too late, does the public become aware of the fact that the city isn't doing what it promised or stated. The citizen's council or web site might be the venue that helps keep things public and that, too, will keep things on track. The council and reform idea has been used successfully in other cities facing the same kinds of problems with their officials.

Perhaps we should vet the current crop of candidates closely in order to best support/promote/identify (chose the term as semantics seems to set off diatribes) which will best open the doors of city hall to the public.

Yes, I did read that link, thanks

Have you read this?

(sorry, don't know how to hyperlink in a blog)


Anonymous said...

TB -

1) Yes... you get it!

It took a lot of work and effort to oust Stelling & Morris and it is still unbelievable that people kept voting them back into office with alleged commission scandals going on. Remember the "2 old guys" that would challenge stupid county decisions?

We have two "new" commissioners whose "who pass the core values test." And look at how much work it takes them to deal with bureaucrats and legal counsel that should be giving them competent information. At least the new guys want to work to try to set things right once they get correct information.

2) This is how I would rephrase that quote:

"Some people don't recognize the scale of the performance failure of government as a system, and others are living in a fantasy land in terms of their policy proposals."

You said: establish the core values that are critical in a candidate worthy of support.

YES! THAT MAKES SENSE TO ME. That is what it took to reface the county commission. It makes sense that is a good starting point to get a decent Mayor and other Commissioners elected.

Resistance is not Futile - but willing to move "this discussion to current law and then find a candidate(s) who understands the law with the will to obey it.

Anonymous said...

RN -

IDEA #1. Find a person or persons to run with moral fiber. Is it one of the people currently running for mayor?

We won't know until we start looking into their biographies.

Maybe GeeGuy can invite them to submit their resume's and then he can link them for viewing.

Then, we can verify, (not digging up dirt) their information with the 2 sources rule, sources must be documented going on the record.

Of course, more than two people can verify...that might be the way to help candidates garner support and funding through blog of mouth.

Resistance is not Futile

Anonymous said...

RN -

IDEA #2: Make sure they understand the current law(s) & will obey it. ... the public become aware of the fact that the city isn't doing what it promised or stated.....vet the current crop of candidates closely in order to best support/promote/identify which will best open the doors of city hall to the public.

The public, usually, gets involved when something affects them personally. Otherwise complacency is the norm. Sorry but historically true.

A great place to start is discussing your ideas with candidates. They will be the ones who can make it so if they can sway the majority to vote on it.

At least you can always refresh their memories about your chatting with them every 3 minute chance they'll give you.

Resistance is not Futile -

Anonymous said...

I agree, invite them on. Invite them to "disclose" publicly at every opportunity. Here, I agree, we can ask for docs which are verifiable.

Everyone has "dirt" according to another who doesn't want them, but there's dirt and then DIRT.

I'm not going to blame a candidate if they answer "I don't know" at this point as they, just like us, may have been locked out of all the info. I'd rather an "I don't know" on an issue, than a white-wash job as in the past. Political rhetoric gets us in trouble.

The biggest law needing change, in my opinion, is the City Manager-cum-dictator. Perhaps a ballot initiative for law change there. That, also, might help the new mayor and commissioners achieve a better working outcome and public involvement. This might be something a council can begin working on.

Citizen's Council can then sit-in on work sessions, etc., not necessarily with an eye to instant change during the session, but a fair, non-Trib reporting style that allows the public info and can be armed w/public thoughts, needs and opinions on various issues that may be voiced at moment of need. I'm pretty sure we have people of moral rectitude in the city who'd sit a council of this type. Info posted on a citizen's site then becomes a focal point for what's in the works and quick, recorded feedback on "in-house" issues. If, as per the current mayor/commissioners, the will of the public is ignored, rudely overrun or dismissed as non-important, it would certainly be publicized much earlier and accurately than is presently being done. That, in itself, will be a watchdog.

Refine or more? RN

Anonymous said...


Your linked: Culture Complex

Resistance is not Futile

Anonymous said...

Comment on the phrases:

Someone who will obey the law
Someone with The WILL to obey the law

In my mind both are "core values" but WILL TO seems to imply greater personal strength in desire to do.

Someone who will obey even if they are compelled to requires more oversight than one who has the will to obey when no one is looking.

Semantics perhaps but maybe good to define on the BEST OF desirable character traits or "core values" list?


Anonymous said...

PL - very good point, thank you. The WILL TO is very important. Perhaps through investigation of past practices and references we shall be able to discern which, or how many, of the candidates has it. I have met Susan Kahn, I believe she does & will not need external forces to maintain it. I have not yet met the other two people

RINF - thanks for the link, you'll have to explain how you did that when time allows. RN

Anonymous said...

How to create a link:
Example HTML Link Code

Anon -

Anonymous said...

Ed -

If you hadn't noticed I repeated The Law post you started because you brought up valid points and this thread is sooooo loooong.

Resistance -