Poll: Should Mayor Kelly Remove His Name From The “Refugees” Letter?

To recap a wild week here in River City, Mayor Bob Kelly took significant heat for unilaterally inviting refugees to Great Falls. (He has since apologized.)

While some of the comments on E-City Beat and elsewhere have not been particularly receptive to the mayor’s mea culpa, I think it’s possible that some of us have been too hard on Kelly — though I say that with a caveat.

I agree with those who say that the mayor’s apology runs on the “virtuous” side. For me, though, that doesn’t change the fact that Kelly sincerely deserves credit for issuing a clear apology:

“While I stand by this support of the group in Missoula, I must at the same time apologize to those in Great Falls who felt that I was making a commitment to house refugees in Great Falls without consulting the community. Refugee resettlement is a complex and apparently divisive issue that each community must consider in its own way. It requires community input and consideration. I now realize that by using my title of Mayor alongside my signature , I implied a larger sense of community support than I had intended.”

He continued:

“By implying your inclusion in my concern, I misrepresented you. For that, I am sorry. As Mayor of our wonderful community, I try very hard to navigate only toward local issues or state issues that affect local communities. The national issues that currently divide us deserve little, if any, role in our decision-making process at the local level.”

I couldn’t agree more. Kelly did misrepresent us, which brings me back to the aforementioned caveat.

Kelly misappropriated community support for his pet project, acknowledged that he did so, but the letter he signed still bears his signature and title as Mayor of Great Falls. Apologies are great, but they must be followed up with action.

If Kelly is truly sorry, he should contact his leftist friends in Missoula and see to it that his name and title are removed from the WelcomingRefugees2020.org letter. Then, we should all accept the mayor’s apology.

What do you think?

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Poll: Slaughter City?

At this point, most everyone knows: Canadian company Friesen Foods wants to bring the largest meat processing plant to Montana — just outside of Great Falls.

Are you in favor of this project or not?

Better yet, tell us why in the comments!

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Poll: Do You Support A State Tax Increase On Gas And Diesel?

Local government officials from throughout Montana, including ours here in Great Falls, are pushing the Legislature to pass an 8-cent tax increase on gasoline, as well as a 7.25-cent increase (both figures per gallon) to the state’s diesel tax. The bill at issue, HB 473, sponsored by Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell, was introduced in the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

The Tribune’s very good Capitol reporter, Phil Drake, cited testimony from Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly, City Manager Greg Doyon, and Austin Walker of the GFDA, who all support the tax increase:

Mayor Bob Kelly said the Electric City is a river town and though roads and bridges over the river are not the city’s responsibility, ‘our citizens drive them every day.’

He pointed to the Great Falls Public Schools’ recently passed $100 million bond of an example of a community supporting infrastructure projects and encouraged lawmakers to have the courage to move the bill forward.

City Manager Greg Doyon said communities need the flexibility the bill provides to fund projects.

Austin Walker of the Great Falls Development Authority also endorsed the infrastructure proposal and ‘everything the bill will do in this state.’

We have to admit, we’re a little torn on this one. While we generally oppose net tax increases, the revenue generated from HB 473 would go towards infrastructure projects and the Montana Highway Patrol. With infrastructure comes the adage, “Pay now, or pay more later.” HB 473 would also act as an effective tool to capture revenue from tourists. On the other hand, we’re concerned about the regressive nature of increasing the fuel tax. Montana ranks 49th in the nation in wages, and Great Falls — with over half of its public school students eligible for free and reduced lunch (p. 7) — is, on balance, a low-income community.

This graphic from the Tax Foundation shows where Montana stands in relation to other states’ fuel tax rates:


Credit: The Tax Foundation

What do you think? Do you support paying more at the pump? Vote in our poll, and tell us why in the Comments…

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Poll: GFPD Vs. The Great Falls Tribune

On Friday, the Great Falls Police Department issued a media release responding to a Tribune story about the Great Falls Rescue Mission. You can read the Tribune’s response to the GFPD release here.

Can anyone recall the GFPD ever scolding local media like this? The fact that our (excellent) police department felt compelled to make any kind of statement says a lot, frankly.

But what do you think? Do you agree with the GFPD, or did the Tribune get it right? Vote in our poll, and tell us why in the Comments…


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Poll: Economic Development Mill Levy

As we reported a couple of days ago, and as the Tribune reported yesterday, the GFDA is recommending that:

…Cascade County commissioners place a three-mill economic development levy before county voters this spring during a special election to generate $450,000 a year that can be used to create more jobs.

It won’t be a large one:

A three-mill levy would add about $6 to the tax bill of a county resident owning a home valued at $150,000, Cascade County Budget Officer Mary Embleton said.

So, we thought we’d ask, will you support this levy?

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Poll: Anyone Up For Another School Levy?

It’s a little early, but since the Tribune reported that GFPS is exploring the possibility of another school levy this year, we thought we’d ask:

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Proponents will point to belt-tightening at the Legislature…

This is our opportunity to share where we stand and let them see what we see through our crystal ball, so to speak,” said Brian Patrick, GFPS director of business operations. “It’s a little harder with this legislative year coming up. There probably won’t be any new money for schools.

…while opponents will surely object to another school tax just months after voters approved nearly $100 million in school bond levies.

What say you?