Friday, October 9, 2009


A candidate forum was held last night where the Mayoral candidates were given the opportunity to respond to some loaded questions from the Havre Daily News and also to some random written questions from the audience. While my writing format may make my former English teachers cringe I am going to present the questions and candidate answers in a rather loose grammatical form. I will leave out all personal comment until the comment section with the hope that our readers will provide us with some opinions

The first question presented to the candidates related to making an ordinance regarding eyesore properties. Rice stated that the problem was with section 8 rental assistance to landlords and is currently looking into proposing a new ordinance requiring landlords to be licensed and also requiring that the City take on the task of inspecting rental properties before the privately owned properties are rented to tenants to make sure they are safe. Rice went on to claim that he has personally went to some of the problem properties with city crews to do clean up. Tim Solomon responded that the City shouldn’t be doing the cleanup and he would take a look at some other solutions.

The next question dealt with the controversial issue of RV’s being parked on the city streets. Solomon said we should just work to enforce existing laws without making any new ordinances. Mayor Rice said that while they try to do just that it is very difficult as the current ordinance allows the offender to move the RV a couple of feet per week and still be in compliance.

How will you attack the age old problem of needed street repairs? Rice stated that the City has recently purchased a patching machine for $40,000 and it is out there every day getting it done. Solomon said residents should just call Public Works if there is a problem area that is getting missed so they are aware of the problem. He also agreed with Rice that the investment in the patching machine was a move forward.

Solomon stated that he thinks the key to increasing economic development is to push actively for the expansion of highway 2 to 4 lanes and continuing to work towards expansion of the Wild Horse port hours to around the clock. Bob said the expanded port hours would help and he works diligently towards that goal and claimed he was instrumental in getting the few expanded hours we did just recently get. He also said we need to make sure the town is clean and inviting to potential businesses. Rice went on to say that Quantum 5 had just called that day and offered to give the city 20 acres for a community center.

When asked if the City should look at raising taxes to improve service both Rice and Solomon agreed that people couldn’t afford more taxes. Rice also stated that he is looking into more stimulus dollars and that Bear Paw Development was doing a wonderful job of finding funds for the city.

When asked what they thought were the best opportunities for Havre, Solomon said as Mayor he would work towards stopping the loss of qualified city employees and would maintain and support the current department heads. He promised not to meddle in the day to day operations of the city departments. Rice responded that our opportunity is our way of life and he will continue to cultivate good relationships.

A person in the audience wanted to know how the candidates would include the disenfranchised people. Rice claimed that he currently does that by giving them 3 minutes at the council meeting to air their concerns and he also send personal postcard invitations to people that he thinks may have a personal interest in subjects that are on the council agenda. Solomon stated that he thinks people need more input to the council before the vote instead of at the end of the council meeting.

$15,000 was just allotted to the Transit System. Will you work for future allocations to support the buses? Solomon said we should see how it goes and in the future the System should get to the point of supporting itself but he does support looking at future funding. Rice said that the vote to give them the money was a good decision and possible the extra money they will get from annexation will help the city in future allocations.

What is your plan to reduce the excessive police turnover? Rice stated he has done just that and it is no longer a problem. The new chief has fixed everything and they are back on track. Solomon said he would support the Chief by staying out of the way and letting the Chief run the department.

A question was raised about supporting a dog park like the one in Great Falls. Rice said yes, he didn’t exactly know what a dog park was but if Great Falls can do it then we could too. Solomon made a quip about it being on the Quantium 5 property way out east of town but then said he would be willing to look into anything to improve Havre.

With the annexing of additional business there is a probability that the City Court will see a substantial increase in its case load. Would you support hiring another court clerk to help the City Judge? Solomon said he would wait and see what develops but would look into it and Rice state that yes; they could hire another clerk but maybe part-time at first.

How will you handle the current pool lawsuit and related pool funding problems? Rice said they have exhausted all venues and it should just go to court for a decision, but in the meantime he is looking into solar panels and related grants to help with the energy bills. Solomon’s approach would be to take another look at negotiating with the County.

When asked about what they thought were their differences Rice said that the buck ultimately stops with me and if you don’t get results I just do it myself. Solomon said he would focus on taking care of the Department heads and put the “buck” back where it belongs.

In their concluding remarks Solomon stressed that he has the experience and can get things done. He wants to take a look at again combining the dispatch services with the County and look at other areas where we can join forces to save money. Rice again stated that he just gets things done and then finished up by waving a couple property tax notices and inviting anyone to come up and take a look to see that he does in fact pay property taxes contrary to what defeated candidate Glock said about him in the primary.

Now lets have some comments to let our City candidates know the feeling of the voters.

1 comment:

  1. Solomon offered a lot of "wait and see" answers. We need someone with a plan who is actually willing to get his hands dirty. Although I support term limits, I am a big fan of Mayor Bob and his "get 'er done" philosophy. We had a boat parked in front of our house right next to the fire hydrant. We called the police dept 3 times and while they came and looked at it and agreed it was too close to the hydrant they did nothing. We called Mayor Bob and he came with a pick-up truck and hauled the boat away. So maybe he stepped on someone's toes...the police dept?? the rube who owned the boat and parked it in front of my house, illegally next to the hydrant??? Do I care??? Not at all. He did "get it done" for me.

    As for the dog park...goofy idea to spend money. There are several parks where you can take your dogs to walk already...up behind the care center they even offer little baggies to clean up after your dog. I have had my dogs in parks where there are signs that say "No Dogs Allowed" and as long as they are leashed and I am picking up the dog poop have never been asked to leave them. The city fixed the sidewalks all over town and if you are out and about between 5:30 and 7 a.m. you will notice many people out walking their dogs on city sidewalks. But one of my pet peeves about dogs is that you pay for a license for the animal at the city but they do not share this information with the city police dept. If your dog winds up lost after the city offices are closed, the police dept does not have access to the license information to return a pet to its owner. Couldn't someone walk the list across the covered walkway and hand it over to the cops so if they find a dog they can notify the owner. And shouldn't the dog catcher also have a list with him so if a lost dog turns up at the pound he can notify the owner. What does that license money go for and why aren't the license rules enforced. Too many dogs running around without being licensed and don't even get me started on all the stray cats in the neighborhood...left behind by renters who've moved on. And Kitty Keepers is full so they won't take them even if you can capture one.

    And Mayor Bob was right about the enforcement of the RV problem. There are several boats and vehicles that are parked on the street for weeks on end and if they are ticketed they just move them a couple feet. We need better rules for people who won't rent space to store these things. Many times, especially the RV's and boats create a visibility hazard at intersections...a pontoon boat parked on tenth street near an alley where several residents park their vehicles and must try to see around to get out comes to mind. The same people with the pontoon boat also park big pick-up trucks with trailers and grain trucks on tenth street over night making it almost impossible to see oncoming traffic if you are pulling out. Since they aren't parked there for over 24 hours (usually) there is nothing the police dept can or will do about this. And what about those cars parked in backwards...facing out of an angle space on 3rd Ave and 3rd St since the Atrium paving job??? Can that be legal?? Since it is a private parking lot they have had the same junk vehicles parked in that lot for a long time so one good thing about the paving job was that it forced them to remove some of those junk vehicles.

    And last but not least, the comment about keeping good employees was rich. County and city employees are better paid with benefits that those who work in the service industry and for most small businesses in this area do not get. They get holidays off and weekends off and better pay and benefits than many of the other workers-including hospital and railroad personnel do not! So if they don't want to stay, there are plenty of others looking for work who would be glad to have one of those cushy jobs. Let them move on! Oh, wait, they probably moved up!!