Great Falls, You Have Cancer

 

________________________________________________________________________

There have been two disturbing stories in the last 10 days about Great Falls which have raised a lot of discussion and a lot of eyebrows around town.

First is the article which corroborates an unpleasant reality about our town, a reality that many folks have been concerned about and sounding the alarm on for some time now: poverty and extreme poverty is skyrocketing in the Electric City.

Second is the continuing depressing news about the raging, unprecedented problems of child abuse and neglect in Cascade County/Great Falls.

So, what should our reaction be as citizens living in the midst of these maladies?

When my wife Phyllis was diagnosed with cancer almost 11 years ago we didn’t pretend like it wasn’t really all that bad. We didn’t look around for people who were even sicker so we could say, “See, we’re lucky, at least Phyllis isn’t as sick as those other folks .”

We didn’t focus on how well she could walk, see, or function in the physical areas unimpeded by the cancer. We knew that “thinking positively” and repeating positive affirmations wasn’t going to fix the problem.

We called it what it was: CANCER.

We focused on a serious effort and applied proven solutions in order to eradicate the problem and restore her to 100% health.

Almost 11 years later Phyllis is cancer free. She came in 2nd place for her age group in the 3 mile run in the Ice Breaker race back in April. None of that would have happened had we ignored the problem or refused to call it what it was.

In all likelihood if we had stuck our heads in the sand and pretended like the cancer didn’t exist, my wife of 35 years would be dead.

Great Falls, you have cancer. So, what are we doing about it and where will our beloved city be in 11 years?

Great Falls, you have cancer. So, what are we doing about it and where will our beloved city be in 11 years?

How do we change Great Falls and where do we start? For those who haven’t been part of the conversation or who haven’t been paying attention to what I and many others have been saying the past few years let’s review a few of the steps that I consider to be necessary to get us back to health:

  • First and most importantly we need leaders with passion, vision, and a plan. We can no longer afford the luxury of a city commission which is either not interested in or is incapable of doing what’s necessary. We have to get beyond the old ways of voting for local leaders based on name recognition, how much money they have or thinking it’s “their turn”, and we must start looking hard at their specific vision and ideas, not slogans.
  • Next we need to expose and neuter the local good ol’ boys and gals club. There is no longer an argument as to whether excessive cronyism has influenced public policy to a damaging degree in Great Falls. That argument was put to rest once and for all with the HUD letter detailing the cronyism and conflicts of interest going on for years here in the distribution of taxpayer CDBG funds.
  • Expose and destroy the prevalent poverty industry mentality and city/county policy direction which has made Great Falls the low-income, nonprofit, welfare, government dependent capital city of Montana, if not the whole region.
  • Do a thorough review of all city/county code and revise it to reflect a pro-business, pro-development posture. Make the motto of Great Falls “We are open for business, how can we help you?” – not “You can’t do that here”.
  • Develop media outlets (like E-City Beat) that hold local public officials accountable, from the school board to the county commission, city commission and local state legislators. We should all demand complete transparency and honesty from all of our local public officials.
  • Demand local government stop treating local taxpayers like an ATM machine. Raising local taxes should be the last resort, not the first instinct. We need innovative, new thinking and solutions. We are starting to learn the hard lesson that our local government is running out of other people’s money because Great Falls is not growing or expanding our tax base.

Do a thorough review of all city/county code and revise it to reflect a pro-business, pro-development posture. Make the motto of Great Falls “We are open for business, how can we help you?” – not “You can’t do that here”.

All of this would be a good start. But the most important thing is that citizens must pay attention and give a hoot about what kind of community we’re going to have. We can’t afford to ignore the cancer any longer.

That means you.

________________________________________________________________________

 

Rick Tryon
Rick Tryonhttp://www.ricktryon.com
Rick Tryon is an entrepreneur, a singer-songwriter, and is currently serving a four year term as a Great Falls City Commissioner. Helping Montana become an even greater place to live, play and work is Tryon's passion.

2 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

ARCHIVES