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KRTV 10pm Top Stories-Thu Nov 20

Same sex marriages begin: On Wednesday, Montana became the 34th state to legalize same sex marriage. Thursday same sex couples lined up at county courthouses across the state to get their licenses.   Click here to read more.

Obama immigration speech: President Obama addressed the nation and announced he is bypassing Congress to fix the immigration system in America but Republicans say he is abusing his authority.

Florida State shooting: Two Florida State students were hospitalized after an early Thursday morning shooting outside the campus library.

Ferguson preparations: Residents in protest zones in Ferguson, Missouri, are bracing for the public's response to the impending grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case.

Kaarma venue change denied: For the third time, a Missoula District judge has denied Markus Kaarma's request to move his upcoming murder trial out of Missoula County.

 



Fairfield's Jill Barta adjusting to life as a redshirt at Gonzaga

SPOKANE --"There's people everywhere," said Gonzaga redshirt freshman Jill Barta.

Fairfield, Montana population: 721. Spokane, Washington population: 210,721.

"I'm used to knowing everyone," said the former Montana Gatorade Player of the Year. "Just going to a different town I know everyone, they know me. Here I know a little bit, people here and there but it's definitely different."

Different might be an understatement describing the former Fairfield star's current situation, but that doesn't mean she's not enjoying it.

"It's so much more fun," Barta said. "I've always loved the game of basketball, but coming here you love it even more. You learn to appreciate the things you can do on the court. Everyone gets along just like a family, just like we were in Fairfield."

However, unlike Fairfield, for maybe the first time in her life Barta isn't the star. Thankfully, Gonzaga's head basketball coach Lisa Fortier has overseen many players making this transition.

"It's hard for everybody" Fortier said. "I think everyone that comes into our program has been the best player on their team. Some of them the best player in their state which was her case. She never lost a game. She's a winner."

"I think it's always a transition as a freshman to come in and get fewer minutes and start over again as far as working your way into the lineup and that sort of thing, but she's been great. From day one, she wanted to get here and get in the gym."

Something that Barta is doing to ease her transition is redshirting, and she has a very interesting perspective on it.

"Montana kinda has a bad vibe of redshirting," Barta said. "You redshirt you're kind of the lower end, you don't give 100%. Redshirting here is totally different. You make goals. You want to achieve them. You work everyday
twice as hard as the players on the court and you're going to get better when next year comes around."

She may be sitting on the bench this year. But the freshman already has something from her past on her side according to Fortier, and it could pay dividends in the future.

"I think Montana kids are tough," Fortier said. "They have a different passion for it. They're not prima donnas. They're willing to work and get dirty and put in the time."

 



Great Falls author documents complete history of the Cat-Griz rivalry

GREAT FALLS -- One hundred and thirteen times, Montana and Montana State have met on the gridiron. But did you know that since the first rivalry game in 1897, both teams have combined for 516 touchdowns, 316 point after conversions, 89 field goals, and 11 safteties?

Did you know that the Cats and Griz weren't always the Cats and Griz but were once known as the Bruins and the Aggies?

Have you ever wondered which team scored the first touchdown in series history (Griz scored the first rushing TD, Cats notched the first passing TD).

Enter Great Falls native Tom Donovan. He began writing books as a passion project after retiring from the Navy and a career managing grocery stores, and his latest tome "Montana's Greatest Rivalry - A College Football Classic" is the result of 15 years of research. And it documents every score, every venue, every rule change, every rule change and just about every detail of the oldest rivalry in the west.

"Well, number one I've always just loved the sport," Donovan said. "Then when I saw my first Cat-Griz game on Mount Sentinel, I couldn't justify paying the 1-dollar admission in 1962. I've always been interested."

The book clocks in at a fact filled 846 pages, and Donovan has certainly done his homework. Through his research he learned that touchdowns weren't always worth six points.

"That's one thing that shocked me," Donovan said. "The very first game, touchdowns were worth 4-points. What we called the extra point at the time was worth two points. And then the first field goals were worth 5 points."

End zones were not added to the field until 1912, and the first passing touchdown wasn't thrown until 1914. Meaning this year's game could feature one important milestone.

"1914 was the first time a touchdown was made with a direct pass," said Donovan. "So if either Montana or Montana State throws a ball into the end zone on Saturday it will be the 100 year anniversary of the score."

Donovan says the history of the rivalry has always been tipped in the Grizzlies favor, and it wasn't until a facility upgrade in the 60's and 70's that the playing field was leveled.

"I think it was about the time that Reno H. Sales stadium came in," said Donovan. "I think at one point the Bobcats stadium was the darling of the area."

And though Donovan is now the foremost authority on the Cat-Griz rivalry, he'll be just like the rest of us... a fan looking forward to a great football game.

"Really good offensive line for the Bobcats, you got a real strong defense for the Grizzlies. It just seems like it could go either way."

 



Helena same-sex couples get marriage licenses

HELENA -- For some Montana couples, Wednesday's federal court order legalizing same-sex marriage in the state meant a Thursday visit to the county courthouse.

Linda Gryczan and Constance Enzweiler were the first gay couple legally married in Lewis & Clark County.

Retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson officiated, concluding with, "By the power vested in me. I now pronounce you spouses and that you are joined legally in marriage. You may kiss."

Gryczan said, "It's been a very long time coming. We've been married in our hearts for 31 years."

Jaime Fortune and Mary Blair also made history Thursday, being the first gay couple to get a marriage license in Lewis & Clark County.

Fortune said, "I think it was a long time coming. I think it was a waste of time to not have it in the first place. So I think it's a big win for Montana today."

Nelson called Montana's now-overturned gay marriage ban "a stain on the Constitution."

Nelson said, "The Constitution, in that case the federal Constitution but ours as well, protects everybody equally, all people are people. All people are entitled to the benefit of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and really this is a most joyous occasion and a wonderful day for Linda and Constance. It's a great, I mean a great day for the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Montana."

Nelson also wrote the 1997 Montana Supreme Court opinion that threw out as an unconstitutional breach of privacy the state law criminalizing gay sexual relations -- a case brought by Gryczan against the state.

Nelson says, "It's kind of the capstone of a long fight for me. It's not to say the fight is over, but we've won a tremendous, tremendous victory."

Gryzcan said, "Well, we're legal citizens. We weren't 31 years ago, we were felons, and gradually, the culture has changed and Montana's for all of us now. All of us."

 



First avalanche of the season reported in Bridger Range

BOZEMAN -- The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center reports that the first avalanche of the season happened on Wednesday, November 19, in the northern Bridger Range north of Fairy Lake.

The avalanche was triggered by two skiers who were hiking up a slope in the area.

One of the skiers was caught in the avalanche and carried about 30 feet before "self-arresting" in the bed surface.

The other skier was 15 feet to the side of the slide and was not caught.

A dog was also caught in the slide, but managed to escape the avalanche before it ran into exposed rocks.

GNFAC's Mark Staples says that, while this was not a big slide, it is a reminder to be prepared. Staples writes that when recreating outdoors this time of year it's important to "go one at a time and carry rescue gear."

For more information on avalanche preparedness and current snowpack conditions, visit the GNFAC website.

 



Same-sex couples get marriage licenses in Great Falls

GREAT FALLS -- Some same-sex couples wasted no time applying for marriage licenses in Great Falls on Thursday morning, one day after a federal judge struck down Montana's ban on same-sex marriages.

U.S. District Court judge Brian Morris in Great Falls ruled on Wednesday in favor of four Montana same-sex couples suing for the right to marry.

Morris ruled that the state's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Cascade County Courthouse opened at 8 a.m. and two couples were waiting to get their papers; same-sex couples were also first in line at County Courthouses in other Montana cities, including Missoula, Bozeman, and Billings.

One of the couples at the Cascade County Courthouse was Angie and Tonya Rolando, who were two of the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They said that they are planning an April wedding in Great Falls.

Also in line were Caylie Thompson-Gumenberg and Jamie Gumenberg, who planned to get married later in the day.

"Today is legit. It's our day," said Caylie. "Montana is my home. Regardless of other people's thoughts. I was born and raised here."

Jamie added, "It doesn't matter, guy or girl. You love who you love. You fall in love with the person. Not the gender or race. It's the person."

Angie noted, "I have a lot of gratitude to be sitting here today when it's something we never thought we would see. Certainly not in my lifetime. Seeing the shift in Montana and seeing the shift in our community - I'd say it's right on time."

She explained, "It's remarkable because I don't think our relationship has ever had justice. To call someone your partner, your girlfriend, your fiancé for years, is not the same thing as being, 'This is my spouse,' and 'This is my wife.'"

Tonya said, "We could leave Montana, get married and come back. Just like the other plaintiffs in the suit, they were still trying to get their marriage recognized. So even if we left and came back, we'd be in the same position. And this is our home, so we shouldn't have to leave our home to be able to be accepted and to have what we deserve."

As of 2 p.m. on Thursday, six same-sex couples had applied for marriage licenses at the Cascade County courthouse.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has said he will defend Montana's definition of marriage, noting that one federal appeals court has upheld such laws, and the matter could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.



Billings woman named one of "50 Inspiring Women of the Year" by Glamour magazine

BILLINGS -- Sheri Boelter, the director of the Tumbleweed shelter in Billings, is being hailed as a community hero and getting recognition on a national level.

Tumbleweed is a community organization for runaway and homeless youth and families in crisis, and for her work as the executive director of the organization, Boelter was recently named one of Glamour Magazine's " 50 Inspiring Women of the Year."

The article highlights one woman from every state, and Boelter was chosen for Montana. The article explains its decision to honor Boelter:

In the three years since she became executive director of Tumbleweed, a nonprofit for homeless and at-risk teens, Sheri Boelter, 42, has helped more than 3,568 homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth. On one particular night last year when the temperature hit 26 degrees below zero, 68 teens showed up at the organization's drop-in center, where they knew they would find food, shelter from the cold, and one other life essential-hope. Recently the organization opened two transitional living shelters and has plans to create even more shelter space. "All kids want to be seen, heard, and loved," says Boelter. "What a privilege that I get to do that (for them) every day."

Boelter told MTN News on Thursday that she is humbled to be recognized, and hopes this will continue to bring public awareness to the plight of homelessness teens.

"That's the part that just makes me the most choked up and proud, to think how here we are in Montana doing all we can to help, and then to have it in Glamour magazine," said Boelter. "Homelessness is not so glamorous, but to have a little piece that talks about how important they are."

Click here to visit the Tumbleweed site.

 



Conner sentenced on rape charge in Helena

HELENA -- Andrew D. Conner, of Townsend, has been sentenced for rape.

Conner, 22, will serve four years in prison after being sentenced in Lewis & Clark County District Court on Thursday.

Conner pleaded guilty in September to a charge of sexual intercourse without consent.

In the agreement, Conner admitted to raping a highly intoxicated female victim in December 2013 after the two left a party.

Conner reportedly dropped the victim off at St. Peter's Hospital, where she reported the rape to medical staff.

Conner initially denied the charge, but DNA evidence connected him to the crime.

Judge James Reynolds sentenced Conner to 20 years in the state prison with 16 years suspended.

Conner will also serve a revoked sentence out of Granite County for felony theft.


(September 25, 2014) Andrew D. Conner of Townsend pleaded guilty in a rape case Thursday.

Conner was arrested in July, charged with sexual intercourse without consent.

Court documents say Conner drove the victim to Saint Peter's hospital on December 31, saying she was highly intoxicated after attending a party.

The victim, who drifted in and out of consciousness, told St. Peter's staff that she'd been raped.

The 22-year-old denied the allegations when questioned by investigators; however, DNA testing linked Conner to the victim.

Testing also indicated the victim had a blood alcohol level of three-times the legal limit.

Sentencing in the case has been set for November 6.

Conner faces two years to life in prison.

 



Montana prep football championship games will be live-streamed

GREAT FALLS -- The Montana High School Association will live-stream all six prep football championship games via the National Federation of State High School Associations' (NFHS) network.

Here is the schedule:

Class AA - 7:00 p.m. Friday, November 21: CMR at Glacier

Class A - 1:00 p.m. Saturday, November 22: Dillon at Butte Central

Class B - 1:00 p.m. Saturday, November 22: Townsend at Huntley Project

Class C-8 - 1:00 p.m. Saturday, November 22: Chinook at Wibaux

Class C-6 - 1:00 p.m. Saturday, November 22: Westby-Grenora at Geraldine-Highwood

The games will stream online on the MHSA website.

In order to cover the costs of live-streaming the games, viewers must pay in order  to watch; a subscription must be purchased, and the company offers a day pass, which lasts for 24 hours and is $9.95.



City of Great Falls announces Thanksgiving week closures

GREAT FALLS -- City offices including the Great Falls Public Library, Community Recreation Center, Natatorium, and the Great Falls Animal Shelter will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Shelter will also be closed on Saturday (11/29).

There will be no sanitation collection on Thursday (11/27) and garbage collection will be one day later than the regular schedule for customers on Thursday and Friday.

Great Falls Municipal Court will be open during regular business hours on Friday, November 28. The cashier window will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed from 12-1 p.m. for lunch. People using court services are asked to enter the Civic Center through the south entrance as all other entrances will be locked.

People who need to conduct City business should visit City offices before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26.

The City's online services, including online utility bill pay, are always available online and can be accessed at the city website.



2014 Predictions

As promised here are my 2014 mid-term election predictions. Just a reminder, I was 100% in 2012 predicting Obama’s re-election, Tester beating Rehberg, the GOP not gaining U.S. Senate control, Bullock winning the governorship and Daines winning the House seat. So without further adieu or a-don’t:

THE GOP WILL WIN THE U.S. SENATE taking at least 6 seats away from the Dems; Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa and Arkansas. The GOP could flip as many as 10 states adding Alaska, Louisiana, Colorado and New Hampshire to the mix. Oregon, Michigan and Minnesota are in play according to some but I doubt those will go red.

STATUS QUO IN THE HOUSE. No significant change in the U.S. House unless the GOP wins 8-12 Senate seats, then it’s a wave similar to 2010 and they’ll pick up an additional 10 or so House seats.

Daines will easily beat Curtis for the open Montana Senate seat by 10-20 percentage points or more. The Zinke-Lewis House race will be much tighter, though I think Zinke pulls it out by 3-5 points due to the big Republican voter enthusiasm advantage. The Dems have the President to thank for that.

The GOP will maintain it’s big majority in the Montana House and a slimmer majority in the state Senate, though it’s hard to predict due to this being the first election with new state legislative districts. The entrance of Amanda Curtis into the Senate race is likely to hurt down-ticket Democratic candidates statewide unless she crafts and communicates a much more middle-of-the-road, positive message. So far she is not inspiring independents and is angering conservatives who will take it out on Dems at the ballot box. The only constituency she is currently energizing is the far, far left who would turn out and vote anyway.

It looks like a very good year for the GOP statewide and nationally but things could change pretty quickly. There’s only about 9 weeks until Election Day and actually in MT folks will begin to vote in about 5 weeks. Not a lot of time to change the positive GOP trajectory but here are a few wild cards that could change things either way:

1.) Obama could take executive action on immigration that would anger and energize a bigger conservative turnout OR energize a bigger Dem turnout. I’m sure the White House is calculating and polling on that as we speak.

2.) When the GOP led House comes back next week they could form the circular firing squad they’re so famous for and decide to “shut down the government” in response to an Obama action like the one mentioned above. If they do that then they will not retake the Senate and will LOSE House seats.

3.) It’s possible that Louisiana will have a run-off election in December to determine which party will control the U.S. Senate. They have a weird set of procedures down there and if a candidate doesn’t get at least 50% in the general then it goes to a run-off. I don’t think this scenario is likely to determine Senate control but you never know…

4.) International problems could get very ugly and much, much worse in the coming days and weeks. If so, it will most likely make things much worse for Dems, but could benefit them if the President shows some exceptional leadership and courage.

There you have it friends, and delivered before Labor Day. Have a great holiday weekend!

Bloof Witzer & Walsh in a Sityourbuttdown Room interview

Recently Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People John Walsh, Democrat from Montana, sat down with CNN’s Bloof Witzer on his show “The Sityourbuttdown Room” to discuss revelations that Walsh plagiarized a research paper required for his masters degree.

Bloof: Thank you for coming on the show Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People Walsh.

Walsh: I want to thank you for letting me be myself again.

Bloof: Sure. Tell us a little about yourself.

Walsh: My home’s in Montana I wear a bandana my spurs are of silver my pony is gray While riding the ranges my luck never changes.

Bloof: Well, your luck may have changed a little here recently, but before we get into that please tell our viewers a little about your political beliefs.

Walsh: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Bloof: Okay. Tell us a little about your philosophy on life and how it is that you have become a successful Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People.

Walsh: Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day. Oh, and he that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.

Bloof: A recent New York Times piece has revealed that you apparently plagiarized a large portion of a research paper required to get your masters degree. What do you say to those who criticize you for doing that?

Walsh: To err is human, to forgive divine and God helps them that help themselves. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.

Bloof: But some say that plagiarism is a dis-qualifier for a Senate candidate, what say you?

Walsh: It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

Bloof: Okay, let’s talk about a few issues. Ukraine; what are your views concerning the rebel separatists there and their attempt to break from Ukraine.

Walsh: When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Bloof: How about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel?

Walsh: Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.

Bloof: Wait a minute, are you saying that Palestine is actually the ancient homeland of the Jews and is their possession by birthright?

Walsh: It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

Bloof: Hmmm…well, let’s talk about the crisis on our southern border, what would you do to solve the problems down there?

Walsh: You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas. God bless Texas. Ay carumba and uhm, er…out in the west Texas town of El Paso I fell in love with a Mexican girl.

Bloof: What? Okay, ahhh..what are your own personal thoughts about allegations that the President has overreached and is violating the Constitution through executive fiat?

Walsh: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Bloof: Seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before. Oh well, wrapping things up now, how do you intend to handle these latest revelations that you plagiarized to earn a degree and what do you say to allegations coming from some that it proves that you’re either too dumb, lazy, dishonest or all three to be a U.S. Senator?

Walsh: Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead! I have not yet begun to fight! Give me liberty or give me death! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! If you like pina coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain! Hey macarena!

Bloof: Wow, sounds like you have some real deeply held convictions here, straight from the heart. Care to leave our viewers with a final word?

Walsh: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time…er oops, I mean NO COMMENT.

Bloof: Thank you for joining us today on “The Sityourbuttdown Room” Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People Walsh.

Walsh: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal….

Bloof: Cut his microphone, cut it…

Fair questions about fairgrounds

Good observations and questions about Expo Park here in Cascade County from a listener to the radio show:

“The financial situation at the Fairgrounds is very concerning. It seems the most fundamental  accounting procedures to ensure employee accountability and prevent theft have not traditionally been in place. Since the Fairgrounds is a public entity, this is very surprising. Along with proper daily procedures of cash handling, an annual audit is the rule.

I applaud whoever “blew the horn” on the situation and brought these unfortunate circumstances to light. I can only hope that as we move forward, the County continues to remain transparent, and inform and reassure the public that the correct procedures are in place.

Will we see an annual audit from a private accounting firm, and will the audit be publicly noticed and available to voters? And has anyone estimated the total amount of loss to taxpayers from this situation?”

Worse than Nixon? Wow!

Obama is the worst President since WWII.
Worse than Bush.
Worse than Nixon.
According to FOX News? No, according to 1446 registered voters in a new Quinnipiac poll. And the numbers get worse and worse as you look further into the poll. It’s devastating for the President and his party.

The President could turn it around though if he would stop behaving like a third grader with the taunting, mocking, “so sue me” cocky attitude and start behaving like the adult in the room.

Democrats will start jumping ship pretty quickly now because the Presidents antics and woeful lack of anything remotely resembling leadership will not yield the intended results of sufficiently firing up the base for November. Captain Obama is steering the Titanic directly at the iceberg and will sink his party and this country if not checked. Apparently he’s too arrogant and confident in his golden lifeboat waiting in 2016 to give a rip.

Wednesday radio show featuring former GOP state senator Jerry Black

This Wednesday, June 25th live in the studio will be former GOP state senator and longtime north central Montana broadcaster Jerry Black. Topics will include state and local politics and issues, political polarization and the state of the Montana Republican Party.
As always the show features listener call-ins and emails. The call-in number is 452-1073 and the email is ricktryon@msn.com.

Two good reasons for war no more

We should all hope and pray that our great country is not sucked into another foreign war for two reasons:

First, we should have all learned the lesson that nation building and trying to solve ancient feuds when the people directly involved don’t want us to is impossible and not worth even one drop of American blood or one penny of American treasure. Thanks to the blindness and ignorance of neo-cons like Cheney and the inept prosecution of the war by the then CINC G.W. Bush that lesson was learned at the expense of our brave young soldiers and an economic debt we may never pay off.

Second, the notion of engaging in another war under the “leadership” of Obama should frighten the crap out of all of us. The weakness, indecision and incompetence of the current CINC would make W look like a military genius by comparison. Just imagine a war-time president like Obama who thinks global warming or climate change or whatever they’re calling it this week is the greatest threat facing us and who can’t even manage a web site…or his own State Department. Imagine a CINC who has no idea whats going on in the world, or his own administration for that matter, until he learns about it from the newspaper after it’s too late.

Yikes!

Let’s bake a bigger pie

It’s distressing to see this community being divided once again over a school levy vote. Political vendettas, personal attacks, name calling and disrespect on all sides. Folks who oppose the levy have legitimate reasons and aren’t trying to hurt the community and those who support the levy do so for noble reasons as well and aren’t trying to rip off taxpayers.

Instead of squabbling over how to divide up the crumbs and thin slices of a shrinking pie we should be WORKING TOGETHER TO GROW THE PIE. I want to hear the sound of hammer and saw building new homes, businesses and infrastructure. I want to see a thriving economy where lot’s of people have good full time jobs, where shops and restaurants are so busy they can barely keep up.

We can have a growing community where we don’t even think twice about paying a little more for public schools because we’re prosperous and student enrollment is expanding because people want to move here and live here and raise their kids here.

We CAN be that. Why not here? Let’s get to work!

GFPS levy issue: BOTH sides need to compromise

When it comes to funding our schools at the local district level we need to find common ground and make arguments based on facts rather than casting aspersions on those we disagree with. We have to come to some kind of a consensus on funding education so we can build and maintain a prosperous economy and attract and keep good jobs here. It’s not rocket science; unless we show we are able to agree and make a commitment to excellence in public education we have little chance of growing and developing a thriving economy in Cascade County. Unfortunately many levy proponents always make the same silly mistake: they just can’t seem to stop themselves from referring to levy opponents as “haters” and “gripers” etc. This kind of name-calling really hurts the pro-levy cause. I’m not sure why those who favor a levy don’t seem to understand that most of those who oppose a levy have good reasons for doing so and are not “against kids” or “cheapskates” or “selfish” or “vandals” or “naysayers” – all terms I’ve heard and read recently referring to the “anti-levy crowd” which recently has been the majority “crowd”. Instead of characterizing opponents negatively try understanding their point of view. Instead of putting all of the responsibility on local taxpayers to buck up and just “hand over the money because it’s for the kids”, why not suggest, no DEMAND, that administrators and teachers also make some sacrifices. Most levy opponents I’ve spoken with are FOR more transparency, FOR more accountability, FOR more frugality, FOR more shared responsibility between taxpayers and district employees.

The district is asking for about $500,000 of this levy request to pay for the increase in health insurance premiums for district employees which is largely due to ObamaCare mandates. A 2% raise was just approved for teachers. The GFPS Athletic Director makes $96,569 per year. Where are the sacrifices being made by district employees? Where is the compromise and attempt to find common ground? We’re still waiting for information on how much of our property and money was stolen from OUR school district by a district employee. How can we be expected to give more money to an administration that doesn’t do everything possible to account for the money we have already given?

I want to make sure we provide a world class education to our kids, my own daughters got that education here and I am proud of our community and school system. That’s why I am urging the pro-levy voices, along with their advocacy for good public education, to ask for some accountability, responsibility and shared sacrifice by the GFPS and employees. I believe this is the key. If we want to see the levy pass there has to be a GENUINE attempt by the school board, the administration and the teachers union to compromise, find solutions and work together, otherwise everyone will suffer the consequences. I stand ready to help in the effort in any way I can.

 

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