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Montana Standard editor frames parking commission incorrectly

by Jim Larson (ButteNews.Net) Jan. 9, 2014

In an editorial riddled with inaccuracies, the editor of the Montana Standard recently attacked Butte-Silver Bow’s parking commission.

In a piece that criticizes others for pointing fingers, the daily’s new editor Matt Christensen points one of the city’s largest digits directly at Butte’s unpaid citizen-staffed parking commission. He quotes Chief Executive Matt Vincent, who called the commission “dysfunctional”, and then Christensen rubs salt into the wound, saying that Vincent’s description is an understatement. This is mere name-calling, simple   puffery.

Matt 1 and Matt 2 also argue that the commission is $100,000 in the hole and that it loses $1,500 per month. If the parking commission is losing money, it isn’t happening in a vacuum. Butte’s regulation of parking is a creature of Butte’s government, a government led by the chief executive’s office, an office that traditionally doesn’t give the commission what it needs to get the job done, and it is a tradition that stretches back beyond the current administration.

After briefly mentioning the commissioner’s protests that their cries for help have gone unheeded, Christensen then gives the Chief Executive credit for moving things forward. The editor writes, “Vincent wants a new parking czar, has called for an audit, and is giving the commission one year to turn things around.” Nothing in that line is true.

At the last parking commission meeting, Vincent simply said that he wants to replace former parking supervisor Sally Perino as quickly as possible. He also discussed some of the changes that he would like to make to that position’s job description. The parking supervisor reports to the commission, hardly a station that could be labeled “Czar.”

Vincent did not say that he was giving the commission a year to turn things around. He merely said that he wanted to hire a new supervisor for a one-year stint to see if they could bring things around. After a discussion, the chief executive and the commissioners concluded that they could legally make a new supervisor’s probation period be one year.

And Vincent did not call for an audit. While Vincent was gone from the meeting, the commission passed Commissioner Robert Dwyer’s motion that the commission ask for a systems and financial audit. Vincent did agree to their request when he returned, but only after noting that the entire county government is audited every year, implying that a separate audit would be redundant.  Dwyer’s motion was a response to the chief executive’s criticism of the commission’s finances, not one of the administration’s initiatives.

Read more: Montana Standard editor frames parking commission incorrectly

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