Handful of huckleberries
Saaster

Huckleberries to the nine applicants who applied for a seat representing Ward 2 on Missoula’s City Council. The high degree of interest is a testament to strong civic involvement in Missoula, and each of the applicants deserves applause for volunteering their time and energy in service to their neighborhood. The position they hope to fill is currently held by Ruth Ann Swaney, who was herself appointed and who is now planning to move out of state. Hopefully the person selected to replace her will remain committed to serving for at least a couple of years, because the seat isn’t up for election until 2019. The eight applicants who are being interviewed this week and next week are: Ron Barker, Mirtha Becerra, Jason Krumbeck, Jack Metcalf, Jim Polk, Jay Raines, Madison Schroeder and Mark Storud, and their applications are publicly available on the city of Missoula’s website at ci.missoula.mt.us/1850/Ward-2-City-Council-Appointment.

Chokecherry mufflers to Karen Marshall and others who continue to make statements in support of violence against journalists. Marshall, who resigned as vice president of programs for the Gallatin County Republican Women this week, recently said during a phone call to a radio show that she “would have shot" reporter Ben Jacobs, who was assaulted by now-Congressman Greg Gianforte the day before the special election. Unfortunately, it is apparent that Marshall isn’t the only one who thinks that physically attacking reporters who are just doing their jobs is somehow justified – in spite all legal and moral evidence to the contrary.

A reasonably limited helping of huckleberries to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding Montana’s limits on contributions to political campaigns. Lair v. Motl, defended by Montana Attorney General’s Office, concerned the limits approved by Montana voters by citizen initiative in 1994 in response to rising concerns about the undue influence of big money in Montana elections. The limits were challenged by a group called American Tradition Partnership and others in 2011, and in May 2016, a district court judge ruled that they were too low and Montana could not enforce them. Although it’s likely to be appealed, the new ruling means the lower limits are back in effect – for now.

Chokecherries to Montana’s poor showing in the 2017 Race for Results report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and especially to the lack of equal opportunity and healthy development for American Indian youth in the state. The report ranked Montana in 31st place overall and in last place out of 26 states with statistically significant populations of Native Americans. A major factor in Montana’s low scores is persistent poverty among families with children; another area where the state scored low numbers is access to quality early education, which studies have shown has a significant ripple effect across the lifetime of at-risk youth.

Horns full of huckleberries to the many avid supporters of the Grizzly Marching Band who helped a GoFundMe effort exceed its fundraising hopes in just one week, ensuring the band will make it to the big Brawl of the Wild matchup in Bozeman on Nov. 18. Earlier this month, it looked as though the band wouldn’t be able to attend due to budget cuts in the University of Montana’s athletic department. Then, former marching band member Bridget Stepan set up online page to solicit community sponsorship for the trip instead. At last count, 241 individuals had pledged a total of $14,228, well exceeding the original goal of $10,000 and raising more than enough to pay for transportation and game tickets for the 125-member band.

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