Town Hall Meeting-Update

I was fortunate to be able to attend part of the Town Hall Meeting this evening. I had to leave due to family commitments (Apparently I am not alone in that; two other candidates bowed out for family commitments).

I hope to post more details later, but I was disappointed in this Meeting mostly for who was not there. Neither incumbent attended, Ms. Jovick-Kuntz for family commitments, and the Mayor for reasons unspecified due to her lack of a response to the invitation. Elna Hensley and Bill Bronson were both absent, due to prior commitments, one of them "family commitments" although I don't remember which one was family and which one was just prior.

I didn't see any media there, print, television or radio. Considering the Tribune publicized it, I think it's too bad they didn't attend.

I think it is fair to say that this was the anti-establishment debate. The two incumbents skipped it. Bill Bronson, while a good hand, is on the City's Planning Board. And, it was suggested tonight that Elna Hensley either works, or recently worked, with Coleen Balzarini at the City's Fiscal Services Department.

Nevertheless, it was interesting. I'll post more when I can.


Anonymous said...

Good job Ric and Susan. The fact that the The Tribune & KRTV call themselves media is laughable. What a joke. We all know you are insignificant and a waste of time.

The ECW is our only media source in Great Falls that does not take their marching orders from the City Hacks & Hags.

You non-incumbents should all pass on the Tribune Thursday night love fest. State you have some prior commitments, you know line. Then the Tribune can have their cake and eat it too.

Anonymous said...

I also attended, and it was wonderful. Just a bunch of citizens coming together to ask questions of their candidates. No time limits. No rules. No 3x5 cards for questions. And especilly, NO COPS! It was pure democracy, Native American style, where the elders sit in a circle and reason things out together. And hey, what's so wrong with that? Nothing I'd say. Follow up questions where allowed and even encouraged if your candidate decided to go mealy on you. And sometimes that happened. And just plain comments were allowed, no question necessary. And most of all, no cute little TV weather girls or sports reporters from the Hiline to ask the questions, because let's face it, MOST of the time the questions at the Fibune debate are so uninformed and pathetic that the candidates can easily sidestep and respond with a simple faint and pre-planned sound bite. End of line of questioning! But with the townhall style format, that can't happen. There is no saftey net. If you go mealy, expect to keep getting questioned until you at least say something relevant. It happened once last night when a questioner grilled Larry Steele on his views of the coal plant location. I felt kinda sorry for Mr. Steele who apparently didn't seem to understand what the word "mitigate" meant. But hey, if you want to run for office, you simply GOTTA put your intelligence, or lack there of on display. That's just the way it is. If you don't know what the word mitigate means, well then, maybe some people might judge you for that. Just like I judged the candidates regarding my question. I was very, very disappointed in their answers. I asked why we even need cops at city council meetings. Ed McKnight said that even though he didn't "fear the public", he thought it was a good idea because some people felt LESS fearful having cops there. Bad answer! I could only wonder where Ed spent the sixties! Ed seems TOTALLY unaware of the historical abuses of police power in this country which have continued right up until today. Why? Why is Ed not aware of these? Sumthin' wrong there. And just WHEN did the police become the enforcement arm of the city council? And why?So, on most things Ed and I agree. But his answer on that question was way wrong. Ed seems NOT to understand that when the cops DRAG PEOPLE FROM THE ROOM, the precedence is set, and it doesn't make people "less fearful", it INTIMIDATES people from speaking! And that is that last thing we need in democracy! Ed's been to the meetings. He's seem primadonna remove people she disagrees with. Why can't he understand that in order for the city government to restore confidence, it must remove the copps completely? (they're just across the street anyway, Ed, if you really, really need to make someone feel "less fearful") The others were equally mealy. Mary Jolly, who I like a lot, seemed to think that there was nothing wrong with cops there too, although she felt they shouldn't do the bidding of the mayor, only enforce the laws. Mary too should know better. Bad answer, Mar. But let's be real here for a moment, shall we. One of the most absolutely DANGEROUS jobs in this state is working in an all-night convience store! They get popped all the time. I actually KNEW a man that was killed in Billings in a store. And guess what. These people do this job willingly, WITHOUT a cop at their side! I expect our city leaders to have at LEAST as much courage as a convience store clerk for God's sake! I expect leaders to LEAD without fear of their constituents! Will these same leaders wet their drawers and run away if accosted on the street by an angry citizen with a complaint? And I find it to be a terrible character flaw in any candidate who does NOT appreciate the incestuous relationship between the P.D. and the city. This simply sends the message that the GFPD is above reproach! It's not. And anyone who feels that the PD, or ANY city dept., is above reproach does NOT understand the oversight role of a city government. Their job is to represent the PEOPLE wherever that leads, even to abuses by the PD. (see what Billings is currently going through. think carl sagan, millions and millions of dollars, right, elizabeth? b.) So, yes, I was extremely disappointed in that answer. Being a rubber stamp for chief dorky and the PD is NOT my idea of leadership. Hence, we get Jonny Lotten's handpicked man to lead the PD without a dissenting voice from council. And therefore, a triumvirate (jonny, primadonna, dorky) that immediately demands the resignation of the Humane Society board. The candidates must fully understand and appreciate that the smell emanating from city hall comes from many sources, NOT just the mayor's and Lotten's office. I want them to stand up there, mano a mano, unafraid to conduct business WITHOUT bodyguards. It's all about restoring confidence in the process. The more barriers you place between the people and their elected leaders simply erodes that confidence. We all go to work with dorky's goons, why can't they? It's about time that our elected leaders showed a wee bit more deference to their bosses, the people, than those entrenched in City Hall! Am I right or what?


Anonymous said...

oopsie! That should be "without" dorky's goons at our side.


Anonymous said...

Ed McKnight said its good to have the police there..... to prosecute them! What??? No trial by jury Ed?

That is right out of the primadonna how to run a city meeting play book.

It was a great meeting. No cops required.

Anonymous said...

"He's still young. That's his fault. He's so much yet to go through", if I may quote the Cat...........but Mary should know better. I laughed at Mr. Steele, who said that years ago someone through manure on mark ratco at a public meeting. Actually, it was buffalo guts or some such, but I like manure better. And that person simply dumped in on the table at which marky was sitting. But seriously, mr. steel, are you in fact such a mental lightweight that THAT is the best reason you an come up with? Hell, Schweitzer refused police protection because he said he had a dog and a .22. And people LOVED him for it! (to Racicot's credit, he NEVER had a police escort of any kind. I walked right up to Marc on many occassions and we just chatted. HE was not afraid of the people of Montana. And I admire him for that.


Anonymous said...

I think if there is to an investigation of city hall that should include the police chief too and his involvement with all this craziness! Good town hall meeting even without the so called local media present. We need that sort of thing more often to hopefully awaken the citizens of this fair community.......

Anonymous said...

Surprised primadonna & lawton-lawless did not send in the fuzz to break-up and arrest the entire group for holding a town meeting without their permission. Watch for a new law on that one real soon, huh dona?

Bad enough they had the streets torn up all around the GFU area to discourage people from attending. By God, they would have had a snow and ice storm if it was within their power, to prevent democracy.

This was only a start. A loud whisper. You villains are on notice.

Thanks to the businesses around town that displayed Town Hall Meeting posters, be sure to give them your business and tell then why. Those that refused, just pass on buy. Ditto the Tribune. If you subscribe, cancel it and tell them your reason. TV news? No such thing in this town. Witsoe is the closest thing we have to video media!

I for one do not plan to attend the Tribunes poor excuse of a debate. Public there or not, the spin to the ill-informed voters will be printed favoring the administration and their lap dog Elna. The Tribune needs to be clearly shown they do not matter in this town.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 8:19 AM, October 21, 2007

Why run for office if one cannot deal with the Trib?

Who cares if it is a love fest? Do you think Great Falls voters are too stupid to see through it all?

Why would you discourage anyone from taking on the so-called Goliaths of the city?

Anonymous said...

It is obvious many of you posters feel law enforcement officers should not be at the City meetings. You have a right to your opinion. I respect that.

Many of you have expressed your thoughts on why the police attend. (Dona removing citizens if they disagree with her, doubletalk, etc.) I'm curious, however, have you ever contacted any of the Commissioners/Mayor, ever spoken to them and asked what is their reasoning in having police at the meetings?

If you have, I'd be interested in reading their response.

Anonymous said...

The mayor and commission members all walk out to their cars after meetings without police in tow. No motorcades getting them home either

Could it simply be they have the police at meetings to stifle free speech and intimidate? Not a security concern based on above.

You thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:59a.m.

Good point. They do walk to their cars without security. I guess maybe I didn't pose the question properly.

It just seems to me there is a great deal of speculation (stifle speech, remove citizens if they disagree with Dona, etc.) as to why the police are there, and I was curious as whether anyone has personally asked the Commissioners/Mayor why.

Personally, if the police are there, I am in no way intimidated to make comments. If they are not there, I feel the same.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you still are asking the wrong question - ...

Why don't you go ask them and then let us know what they tell you or see if you can get them to post the information here.

Good Luck! We're all waiting you brave one, you!

GFgirl said...

I have been attending city commission meetings since the first part of the year and personally, I do not have a problem with the police being present. (Please LK, no lectures about why you think this is so wrong. We've gotten more than an earful on your thoughts about this issue). I am curious though. Does anybody know when their presence at the meetings became madatory? Did it start with Mayor Stebbins?

Anonymous said...

LK -

You said: Mary Jolly, who I like a lot, seemed to think that there was nothing wrong with cops there too, although she felt they shouldn't do the bidding of the mayor, only enforce the laws. Mary too should know better. Bad answer, Mar.

Why is that a bad answer?

1) Police officers should enforce the law.
2) Police officers should not do the bidding of the mayor, they should enforce the law.

Are you saying police should not enforce the law?

Anon -

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:41 p.m.

My original question was if any of the posters have personally asked the Commissioners/Mayor their reasoning in having the police at the meetings. I was curious if anyone had personally asked them the question.

By the response requesting me to ask them, it sounds like you haven't asked the question of the M/Comm. It doesn't bother me having the police attend the meetings. However, if I do call the Mayor and let's say, two commissioners, indeed, I'll let you know.

"Brave One"

Anonymous said...

Brave One -

Yeah, let us know so "we" can compare answers. "We" want to know if their message is consistent or if it has changed since the "public" discussion on the subject.

[PDF] untitled

..., the City Commission adopted Resolution 9634 establishing a three minute time limit for the public comment (petitions and communications) period and prohibiting vulgar, profane...
... and, WHEREAS, it is deemed necessary to allow a longer public comment time limit, i.e., five minutes; and to also prohibit racist, discriminatory...

Commission Minutes July 3, 2007

Minutes of the July 3, 2007 Great Falls City Commission Meeting

... Beecher also gave a brief comparison to other communities that have time limits on public comment.

OCCCGF Title 17 Chapter 16

This page contains Title 17 Chapter 16 of the Official City Codes

... clock for making a decision. Public comment Time limitations on public comment. The presiding officer may impose time limits on each individual...

*** Commission Minutes January 16, 2007

Minutes of the January 16, 2007 Great Falls City Commission Meeting

... Res. 9634, Establishing a three minute time limit for persons addressing the City Commission during the public comment period. Adopted. 7. ...
... public participation by: establishing a three minute time limit for each person speaking during the "Public Comment" (Petitions and Communications) period;...

Commission Minutes February 6, 2007

Minutes of the February 6, 2007 Great Falls City Commission Meeting
... Speakers time limit.
Aart Doleman and Richard Liebert(289 Watson Coulee Road) spoke in opposition to the 3-minute rule for public comments at...

[PDF] untitled


...: (1) establishing a reasonable time limit of three minutes for all persons speaking during the "Public Comment" (Petitions and Communications) period...

[PDF] untitled

...: (1) establishing a three minute time limit for each person speaking during the "Public Comment" (Petitions and Communications) period;...

[PDF] untitled

... continuance stops the time clock for making a decision. Public comment A. Time limitations on public comment. The presiding officer may impose time limits...


Resolutions acted upon by the Great Falls City Commission since April of 2001


Anonymous said...

Anon 7:37 p.m.

What does your post have to do with my question?

"Brave One" (not really)

Anonymous said...

Brave One-not really asks if any of the posters have personally asked the Commissioners/Mayor their reasoning in having the police at the meetings.

Why do you assume the question hasn't been asked?

Whether in a public forum or a private moment the answer should be the same, right?

Seems to me if you've read the Commission Minutes you might find your answer.

Anonymous said...

Brave One... IF you are new to the forum start here and then you might understand how the police are used in commission meetings and an alleged need to have them present.

But then, it might be for some other reason we don't know or understand.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:36

"But then, it might be for some other reason we don't know or understand."

Thank you. I think this will be my last post. Our Mayor and Commissioners are educated people (some more educated than others). They are intelligent individuals. I've disagreed and agreed with some of their decisions.

I am, hoever, having a hard time believing these individuals want the police attending the meetings because these individuals in this body of government collectively want to stifle speech, throw people out of the meeting for not following their frame of thinking, 3 and 5 minute, and on and on.

My knickers are not in a knot over the law enforcement attending the meetings. I was just curious if those who are against law enforcement attending the meetings, instead of making speculations why, did they ever personally inquire. It was a yes or no question.

Anon 11:16 Thank you. I did read the minutes.

Anonymous said...

When someone is holding a knife over your head, you don't ask they why.

Anonymous said...

I attended the Town Hall Meeting. There were some determinedly pointed questions by people who expected answers. Some even pushed repeatedly to get those answers. But not one person was removed, was rude, was cut off, was not listened to, on either the citizen's or the candidate's side.

This resulted in a calm, interesting, dare I say it, enjoyable evening. I learned how the candidates thought on their feet and how much information they actually knew as they weren't prepped with an idea of the topics.

I decided that since Stebbins, Jovic-Kuntz, Hensley, and Bronson couldn't be there, they will not receive my vote. I made the assumption that they determined if the format wasn't controlled, they wouldn't attend as it opened them up to problems in many areas.

I know Ms. Overfield made public their excuses for not attending at the onset, with the exception of Stebbins who didn't reply at all, but I felt they were simply excuses not to face the people in this type of format.

There was not ONE cop in attendance, nor were they needed. The citizens proved that if their questions were truly listened and responded to they do not get frustrated, angry and are polite, though firm, in expecting answers.

I can come to only one conclusion and that is the current officials, and candidates that hold the same political opinions, have some reason for resisting questioning. That resistance is an unwillingness to reveal all that they are doing, will do and have done while in office. The same holds true of the candidates who reflect the same mindset.

It was refreshing to return to the type of democratic process I grew up with. A fair, open, thought- provoking (as you listened to general questions it sparked more questions of your own), give-and-take with our candidates.

I hope this format continues and grows. It would be a welcome change and I, for one, would encourage more people to attend regularly.