The Sunshine Tribune, puppies, condemnation

Let me tell you about my lovely visit to the Humane Society of Western Montana.

I met a puppy named Bean. Michael Gallacher took his photo. Click here for roly-poly smushy-puppy goodness.

On Twitter, @TheAlexMetcalf made note of the cheerful story:
TheAlexMetcalf6:25am via Twitter for iPhone

I’ve got you this time @KeilaSzpaller – puppies in the paper!! Start of the#sunshinetimes?


That’s sunny news, but the Sunshine Times also could refer to reporters trying to shine a light on the work of government. This week, an honorary flashlight goes to reporter @KathrynHaake, who has been trying to dislodge the report on a fatal shooting by a Missoula Police Department officer from the County Attorney’s Office.

Here’s a series of tweets she sent yesterday:

KathrynHaakeJan 21, 3:08pm via Twitter Web Client

Missoula County Attorney’s office says says details re: Dec. 31 officer-involved fatal shooting will be released during coroner’s inquest.


Jan 21, 3:10pm via Twitter Web Client

They won’t confirm or deny what the mother of the deceased told the Missoulian yesterday: sheriff found the cop justified in fatal shooting.


Jan 21, 3:12pm via Twitter Web Client

“I understand the urgency of public airing of the facts & I will get that done as soon as I can.” – Marks, Chief Deputy County Attorney

The shooting took place Dec. 31.

Other news?

For a laugh, here’s the Gallop Poll from Mother Jones, a list of politicians falling off their horses. Yep, Rehberg is named.

For a serious topic, Councilors Bryan Von Lossberg and Adam Hertz debated condemnation last week. Story here.

Mountain Water Co. President John Kappes did an interview with KGVO here. It was a while ago, but the topic remains relevant.

All for now.

– Keila Szpaller

Koalas! Copple. Condemnation. Missoula government.


Do you know how to sew? Even a little bit?

If so, there’s a koala bear out there who needs your help with a pair of mittens. Apparently, they’re not hard to make.

This from the Washington Post’s Speaking of Science blog:

Over the past week, a series of bushfires in Australia has left koalas badly burnt or even killed. It’s summer down there, and the hot, dry weather makes some areas prone to wildfire.

And in local news? Hmm.

Councilwoman Caitlin Copple is resigning. She did a lot more in three years than some council members do in a full term. Stay tuned for the application deadline to be considered for the post.

The South Avenue property rights lawsuits cost the city $671,000, according to the chief administrative officer.

The Carlyle Group’s lawyer was in Missoula County District Court on Thursday arguing to dismiss the global equity firm from the case. The exchange between lawyer Bill Mercer and Judge Karen Townsend was interesting.

That’s it for now. Please click on the Post’s blog so you can see a photo of an actual koala with mittens.

– Keila Szpaller

Photo: Thinkstock


Good news for puppies! Happy 2015

Perry Backus has this story and the above photo about the puppies rescued from a Sanders County breeding mill.

The last of 15 Labrador puppies rescued in December by the Thompson River Animal Care Shelter from an alleged puppy mill operation in Plains will be in their new homes by the weekend.

In other great news, yesterday, I thought I had spotted Hannah, the dog that Animal Control had saved – twice. She had been at the shelter for maybe more than a year.

Yes, they told me, Hannah indeed had been adopted, and the family loves her, and she loves them. They told Animal Control they aren’t keen on a story, but I’m sharing the brief good news here anyway.

When I took another look at Hannah’s picture, I realized the dog I saw wasn’t her after all, ’cause that pup had a white star on her nose. But the similarity prompted the call, and now we all have good news.

Happy Wednesday.

– Keila Szpaller


Happy almost 2015 in Missoula!

My colleague Kim Briggeman has this story about the top news in 2014.

I’d forgotten about Jordan Graham, the woman who pleaded guilty to shoving her husband off a cliff – and to his death – in Glacier National Park.

If you have story ideas for 2015, please let me know. Feel free to do so here or at Here’s one:

@JohnVelkEsq 11:24am via Twitter Web Client

@KeilaSzpaller As a taxpayer in Missoula, I would love to know how much the city spent on outside legal counsel on just the cases they lost.

Also, don’t miss the dorkiest story I wrote in 2014. Yep, it’s related to the city of Missoula’s eminent domain case against Mountain Water Co.

And read reporter Dillon Kato’s update on the needs of the Missoula Food Bank.

Thinking about resolutions for 2015? I’m pasting a Tweet I sent earlier with some awesome ones from kids:

@KeilaSzpaller 10:39am via Hootsuite

“Be less annoying.” “Help a platypus.” (They’re endangered.) “Treat my baby Chihuahua politely.”

The picture above comes from Addie Kinczel, grade 3, of Florence-Carlton. Her goals? “Get good grades in school and read more often.”

– Keila Szpaller

Missoula councilman discusses imaginary tiger

Really. It’s a great speech, too.

Councilman Bryan Von Lossberg talks about the role of imagination in education, and the way the PEAS Farm cultivates it.

Photographer Tom Bauer and I went back up to the farm yesterday after the Missoula County Public Schools board approved a lease of 40 years with the city of Missoula.

I say we went “back” to the farm because we spent quite a bit of time up there this year. If you missed the series about the Youth Harvest Project, here’s a link.

Also, the Poverello Center holds tours tomorrow of its new digs on West Broadway. We’ll be there.

More? I sat through an interesting presentation yesterday by Morgan Valliant, the city of Missoula’s conservation lands manager. Story here.

– Keila Szpaller

Happy Veterans Day, and a huckleberry nomination

Happy Veterans Day, Dick Haines, to you and other vets – and to Diane Sands on the left whether you’re a veteran or not (I don’t know).

That’s me on the other side. The photo is from the fairgrounds last night, where the Missoula County Elections Office was counting accepted provisional ballots.

Sands came out ahead in that district, SD-49, but Haines can still call for a recount if he puts up the money. He was thinking on it last night.

I bet his people will push him to do a recount, but the outcome won’t change if he does. I hope he decides soon, one way or the other.

As you can see, Democrat Sands and Republican Haines ran a friendly race. I wish federal races could take a lesson from these guys and leave out the nasty TV commercials.

Yesterday, I learned a few things as we waited for the final count. Here they are, in no particular order:

– Missoula County wants a huckleberry. Just one little huckleberry! Here’s why: On Election Day, the elections center registered 785 people to vote and served more than 1,000. Hooray! Anne Hughes, PIO, told me no one waited for more than 35 minutes.

That’s a big improvement from 2012, when some people waited more than 3 1/2 hours. The best part this year? A food vendor was on site. You won’t wait to register if you’re hungry, right? I promised I’d submit a nomination. On Fridays, our editorial board doles out huckleberries and chokecherries, if you’re wondering what this huckleberry request is about. I’m also posting a recipe for huckleberry crumble cake pictured above. Yum! (Photo credit: Kurt Wilson.)

– Ann Mary Dussault, Sands’ S.O., will spend some time in Mexico while Sands is in Helena, assuming she keeps the win. Dussault has seen manta rays fly out of the sea and whales calving.

– If Haines calls for a recount and ends up ahead, his sweetheart, Bunny Haines, would go with him to Helena. She said it’s the wives who hold it all together there. I asked if she would include husbands of legislators, too, but she said not so much.

– Democrat Kimberly Dudik won, and Independent Gary Marbut was not at the fairgrounds. The race for HD-94 was tight, but it wasn’t ever listed as a possible recount, so maybe that’s why Marbut wasn’t present. I couldn’t help but imagine him busy at the shooting range, though he probably has other skills we don’t even know about, like growing award winning tomatoes.

All for now.

– Keila Szpaller

Zingers from Zinke’s fellow GOP’ers headed to the U.S. House

Story here of the new and “diverse” makeup of the incoming GOP members of the U.S. House.

  • In Wisconsin, a longtime and low-key Republican, Tom Petri, is being replaced by firebrand state lawmaker Glenn Grothman, who referred to protesters at the state Capitol in Madison as “a bunch of slobs” and has opposed equal-pay legislation because “you could argue that money is more important for men.” (Pictured here in AP photo by Doug Raflik.)
  • In Georgia, Jody Hice, a Baptist minister and conservative talk show host, has said that being gay is a lifestyle that “enslaves” people and that he doesn’t have a problem with a woman being in politics as long as she’s “within the authority of her husband.”
  • Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL elected in Montana, has gotten attention for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton “the antichrist.” “Do I really believe that she is the antichrist? That answer would be ‘no,'” Zinke said in an interview. “But I do get a little emotional about Benghazi, and I like the rest of America want answers.”

George Ochenski responds to the GOP sweep in this column about Montana candidates – and he calls for cleaning house in the Democratic Party:

The Demos sold out their base, their base stayed home, and Republicans swept the elections in a red tide nationwide.

On the local front, the Missoula County Elections Office is counting the accepted provisional ballots starting at 3 p.m. today. Elections administrator Rebecca Connors estimates it will take 30 to 60 minutes.

Then, we should have a good idea of whether we’ll have any recounts in legislative races, pending the canvass.

– Keila Szpaller

GOP makes a dent, even in Missoula; Otter, pandas


Here’s my story about the way the surge of support for the GOP affected even races in Missoula. Said Bowen Greenwood, head of the Montana Republican Party:

“I think there’s no question that the Republican message of more jobs and less government resonated with the voters last night.”


Also, this week, the public urged Mayor John Engen and the Missoula City Council to continue the fight to control Mountain Water Co. The call took place at a council meeting, and it was one of those refreshing hearings where you hear from a lot of everyday people.

Also, city editor Justin Grigg passed this story my way about homelessness. It says that Medicine Hat, Alberta, is on track to end chronic homelessness by 2015.

Also this: Baby otter; pandas. Now you can’t say I haven’t ever done anything for you.

– Keila Szpaller



Stories about water, eminent domain in Missoula, Carlyle


I’m linking to some stories related to the city of Missoula’s eminent domain case against Mountain Water Co. and The Carlyle Group.

1. Apple Valley Ranchos, part of Western Water Holdings along with Mountain Water Co. and Park Water Co., got word it can afford its own water.

2. The city of Missoula can bond up to $102.63 million for a water company, according to Barclays. Mayor John Engen said he isn’t interested in paying that much. The city offered $65 million for Mountain Water.

3. Mooresville, Indiana, drops its quest to condemn the local water company because it can’t afford the price set by a jury.

4. Carlyle dips in the third quarter of 2014 compared to 2013. Some mind boggling numbers here.

All for now. Monday, the Missoula City Council holds a public hearing on an ordinance that gives the administration authority to spend money in acquiring Mountain Water. The council had approved a similar ordinance a year ago, but before the city went to court.

– Keila Szpaller