Ward 1 Councilman John Engen announced in Friday’s Missoulian that he plans to run for mayor, getting a substantial head start on a race that can’t even officially be filed for until May 2. In the meantime, Council still has plenty of work to do, and on the Monday night following Engen’s gun-jumping, the body attacked its lengthy agenda with unusual zest and vigor. A $75,000 purse earmarked for Missoula Aging Services as a loan was instead approved as a grant—even self-professed fiscal conservative Clayton Floyd of Ward 6 supported the handout, touting the organization’s ability to stretch a dollar. Ward 5’s Bob Lovegrove, also considering a bid for mayor, supported the grant, too: “I’ve never seen anybody pinch a penny harder than [MAS executive director Susan Kohler],” Lovegrove said with a magnanimous smile. Floyd, on his best behavior, later apologized for his aggressive attitude in questioning a HomeWORD representative, and Ward 3’s Lou Ann Crowley not only lauded the Give Kids A Smile program, she took the time to read every participating dentist’s name into the record. Talk about getting right with the public. With this kind of attitude, you’d think everyone on Council was running for mayor. The suspense is already killing us.

•••

There are fewer five-syllable words flying around our office these days. Fewer descriptions of eighteenth-century catapults. Fewer print-outs of unicycles. Fewer fire-starting contraptions. Fewer Lewis & Clark dioramas. Fewer months-old lunch plates growing multi-syllabic bacteria. That’s because after five years of filling these pages with idiosyncracies and insights, arts editor, resident language god and nickel-knowledge king Andy Smetanka has moved on to bigger and better things.

You might think you already know everything about Andy because, well, he wrote plenty about himself during his tenure here. But what those of us who’ve shared late nights and early mornings with him know best is how many hours, words, interviews, new CDs, old popcorn, ancient library books, one-of-a-kind brainpower and, okay, video games Andy has packed into his remarkably small cubicle. And, like Andy’s vocabulary—like his appetite for the unknown, the grotesque and the fascinating—this world is huge. The scary thing is, given enough time, Andy just might fill it up. And while he wouldn’t want us making a big foofaraw about his exit (foofaraw, incidentally, being the only word with which we ever stumped him; it means, essentially, “a fuss”), we thought it our responsibility to let you know that in Andy’s new world, there are no more word counts hemming him in. So don’t say we didn’t warn you: Smetanka is out there, and we all know what he can do with a couple hours and a keyboard.

Good luck, Andy, and pace yourself.

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