My wife has a question she can’t get out of her head: “Why is there a stand selling fireworks under a billboard reminding Missoulians that fireworks are not allowed within the city?” Well, my dear, it’s really quite simple.

“There were only two locations for that billboard, and one of them happened to be near the Pink Grizzly,” says City Communications Officer Linda Hegg. “The Grizzly has [the city’s only] legal fire stand that was grandfathered in.”

But with the Pink Grizzly and vendors outside the city trying to sell as many Black Cats as possible before their season ends, the city is doing all it can to promote safe, smart, legal use of said Black Cats. As one carefully worded press release from the city explained, not only are fireworks dangerous, but they are nuisances “that often scare pets, annoy neighbors and disrupt sleep.” Most of us intuitively know this, but teenagers, being teenagers, insist on finding out for themselves. Just like bags of flaming crap on door steps on New Year’s Eve and tp-ing homes on Halloween, shooting bottle rockets at squirrels on the Fourth is holiday tradition. But just because kids are dumb, dangerous menaces to society doesn’t mean that their parents have to follow suit.

“If you see your kids stockpiling sparklers, you can bet that they aren’t going to use them in the traditional manner,” says Hegg.

•••

In response to the release of Greenpeace and the National Forest Protection Alliance’s (NFPA) “Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms” report, which lists Montana’s Bitterroot and Kootenai forests as two of the nation’s top ten most endangered, the U.S. Forest Service is ratcheting up its monologue on the subject of environmentalists. In an e-mail leaked to the Independent, George Lennon, director of the Forest Service’s Office of Communications in Washington, D.C., instructs employees on “talking points” to bring up when discussing the environmentalists’ report with the press and public. Among the talking points is a particularly aggressive soundbite: “There is a confederacy of militant environmental groups in this country that can’t let go of the past.” To their credit, when interviewed about the recent environmental action camp in the Bitterroots (see “Teach-in, camp-out” by Mike Keefe-Feldman, June 26), Bitterroot Forest Supervisor Dave Bull and District Ranger for the West Fork District Dave Campbell used their own words.

Upon learning of the talking points, Matthew Koehler of the NFPA responded, “These carefully chosen words on the part of Bush administration officials serve as a stark reminder of to what lengths this administration will go to discredit citizens and public interest organizations who dare question their policies.”

And so the dialogue continues…

•••

File this one under “recidivist idiocy.” In addressing the Republican Party convention in Missoula last weekend, Gov. Judy Martz fired a shot across the bow of Democrat Brian Schweitzer’s gubernatorial candidacy, taking him to task for telling a University of Montana film crew that he has, on occasion, cracked a beer for the short ride home after a day of haying in the hot sun.

This early volley was meant, of course, to paint Martz as the very model of restraint and common sense. But there’s a teensy problem here. You can overlook Martz’ failure to take into account the context of the Schweitzer quote, which was for a documentary on Montana’s drinking culture, and you can even disregard the fact that Schweitzer has gone on the record in support of an open container ban, which would seem to render Judy’s barb toothless.

No, the teensy problem we’re talking about is the sheer lunacy of Martz opening up a smear campaign on anybody. Does the phrase “can of worms” mean anything to you, Judy? How about “tallboy can of writhing, slimy, lapdog-of-industry, sweetheart-land-deal, environmental-terrorist-hysteria, launder-and-cover-up-a-chickenshit-drunk worms”? Not ringing any bells? Well, here’s hoping that Schweitzer, or some as yet unnamed candidate of lesser tact, is busy preparing a reminder.

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