Author Archives: david

Malcontent Malarkey

Rick Tryon has taken some direct shots at me and at KRTV (and the Tribune), so here is my (personal) response.

Ever since he lost to Tracy Houck in the 2015 City Commission election, he has attempted to blame KRTV and the Tribune (he hasn’t mentioned KFBB, as far as I know). But every few weeks, he posts on Facebook that KRTV and the Trib failed to properly report on Houck’s campaign violations, which I guess he thinks caused him to lose to Houck in a very, very, very close election.

In the last few days, a rumor began circulating that the Children’s Museum of Montana was being “evicted” from its location, and Tryon and some like-minded people are spouting vague conspiracy theories and near-accusations of corruption over at E-City Beat.

Houck’s name got dragged into the conversation on the E-City Beat Facebook page, and Tryon wrote the following:

There’s so much to say about this but I’ll just begin with this: The notion that Tracy Houck has her hands in setting, directing or coordinating city policy in any area whatsoever should be troubling to every citizen in Great Falls. Houck has demonstrated that she is more than willing to lie, cheat and commit fraud in order to benefit her own agenda at the expense of the public good… Houcks extremely shady and dishonest behavior will continue to impact every citizen in Great Falls because, aided by her little pals at the Great Falls Tribune and KRTV Great Falls, she has never been held to account or taken ANY personal responsibility.

I posted a comment in response – a simple “WTF?” over the “little pals” reference.

Here is one of Tryon’s responses:

You guys gave her a total pass, Dave. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. Screenshots and facts are pesky things. You also personally supported her during the campaign by “liking” her campaign page and posts.

Um, “giving her a total pass” implies that KRTV didn’t report on the accusations, the investigation by the Commissioner of Political Practices, or the findings by the COPP. In fact, all of those things were reported by KRTV (and the Trib, don’t know about KFBB). The KRTV articles included verbatim info from the investigation by the COPP, and a link to the complete COPP report.

So this is what getting a pass looks like (in addition to broadcast and newspaper coverage), according to Tryon:

KRTV: Houck pays fine to settle campaign violation
KRTV: Houck responds to ruling about violation of campaign practice laws
KRTV: Official Complaint filed with Office of Political Practices (PDF)
KRTV: Recount deems Houck the winner in Great Falls City Commission race
KRTV: Tryon files for recount of votes for Great Falls City Commission seat

Tribune: CPP finds Houck violated campaign practice laws
Tribune: Houck pays $1,200 settlement in election violation
Tribune: Commissioner-elect Houck’s campaign paperwork mess

As for “liking” or following a Facebook page or post by a political candidate — sorry, Rick, that does not qualify as “personally supporting” a candidate. That is how many people – including reporters – keep tabs on candidates and political discussions for reference.

He then followed up with this:

Sorry I don’t share your amusement at lying, cheating, blatantly unethical public officials like Houck who get a pass from so-called news organizations like yours because she’s your buddy. How much advertising on KRTV did Houck authorize for PSG? How about her campaign finance manager Alison Fried for Dragonfly Dry Goods? You and your “news” organization didn’t even ask the simplest Journo 101 questions of Houck, y’all just swallowed her bullshit lies without a second thought. You call yourself a reporter? I’ll be happy to refresh your memory with screenshots and documents any time you like, in public. Your “coverage” was a joke.

OK, let’s take this step by step.

1. I am not a “pal” of Houck. I have met her just once, when she walked by my office as she prepared to do a candidate interview (as other candidates, including you, did). We were introduced, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and that’s it. We have never hung out together, or met for drinks after work with buddies, and don’t run around in the same social circles, etc. I have literally never seen her outside of that one meeting.

2. How much advertising did Houck authorize for Paris Gibson Square? And how much did Alison spend on advertising for Dragonfly? I have no idea. I honestly don’t even know if either of them advertise on KRTV. The truth is – and I’m so sorry that I have to break it to Tryon – the advertising people at KRTV and the news staff at KRTV rarely interact.

People like Tryon like to imagine that a sales person came running into the newsroom and and said something like, “Hey! Tracy Houck just bought $5,000 worth of advertising on KRTV, and Alison signed up for $5,000 of ads for Dragonfly! So you better not report ANYTHING negative about Houck’s campaign!”

Sorry to break it you, Rick. When it comes to sales staff and news staff — we pass each other in the hallway, cruise by each other’s desks to grab a donut, exchange jovial greetings in the morning, and sit next to each other at “all staff” meetings (safety briefings, baby showers, etc). The sales people do their job, and the news staff does its job. I have never, in my 8+ years at KRTV, ever seen a sales person directly or indirectly try to influence news coverage. I can’t speak for the policy at the Tribune or KFBB, but I suspect it’s basically the same.

As for his assertion that “y’all just swallowed her bullshit lies without a second thought” – when an elected or appointed official gets caught doing something wrong, it is extremely common for that person to issue a press release to address the matter. Questions (either in person, by phone, or email) from reporters in such cases often go unanswered, or otherwise simply replied to with the text of the press release. Done by politicians at all levels – municipal, county, state, federal.

Tryon seems to think that KRTV and/or the Trib don’t try to get additional information or responses, and that reporters should be pounding on Houck’s door in the middle of the night demanding the truth, with microphones pushed in her face, etc. DUDE – if a person does not want to comment on a matter beyond a press release, we (media) can’t simply force them to talk, as much as you would like to believe otherwise.

Could Houck have decided to go on camera and do an interview? Sure. But she didn’t, and no one can force her to.

Ultimately, she left her fate in the election up to the voters and public opinion, in terms of news outlets reporting the allegations of campaign violations, the investigation by COPP, the findings of the investigation, and her payment of a fine. ALL of those things were reported by KRTV and the Trib, broadcast on TV and in the newspaper, published on news websites, posted to social media, and widely shared.

On Sunday, Carrie Galvez defended Houck (in terms of the Children’s Museum rumor) and wrote: “Tracy and I don’t share politics, rather run on opposing ends of the spectrum. However, I don’t see her as one to try to sabotage the Children’s Museum. It’s almost funny that would be suggested. Tracy has a huge heart for children.”

But even that is too much for Tryon to abide – his response: “She may have pulled the wool over your eyes and David Shermans, Carrie Smale Galvez, but not mine nor a great many other folks here. Since you guys are such wonderful pals with Houck, who tried to palm off fraudulent documents on state officials, maybe you could convince her to develop “a huge heart” for honesty and accountability.”

tryoncarrie

DUDE. Who on earth said that Tracy and I, or Tracy and Carrie, are “wonderful pals?” Why do you believe that Houck “pulled the wool” over our eyes? I know that Houck violated campaign laws – and got caught – and paid a fine. That doesn’t mean that I believe she is the “most unethical and dishonest local public official I can recall in my hometown,” as you do.

Angus Bar in Cascade

It’s been far too long since my lovely bride and I made the beautiful drive down to Cascade, so today we did.

We waved to all of the animals we saw along the way — many cows, half-dozen deer, a few sheep — and a small gathering of antelope on the way home :-) We also saw what initially appeared to be a small fox roaming in the parking lot of the Cascade school, but it turned out to only be a large, fluffy cat.

A few years ago, we ate at the Badger Cafe, which is no more, sadly. A few months after that, we ate at the Driftwood Bar, but it didn’t appear to be open today, so we had lunch at the Angus Bar – our first visit.

Bacon cheeseburgers for both of us, and I got the fries and my wife got the tots.

Verdict: burgers were fair, tots were OK, and the fries were DELICIOUS. Fresh-cut, not greasy, perfect.

Angus Bar in Cascade

Angus Bar in Cascade

Burger was OK, fries were AMAZING

Burger was OK, fries were AMAZING

Cute cow on a little shelf!

Cute cow on a little shelf!

“Living Big Sky” in Great Falls

There is a show on HGTV called “Living Big Sky.” Each episode features a married couple (and their kids, in some cases) who are moving to Montana. The show hooks them up with a realtor, and they are presented with three houses, and at the end of the episode they announce which of the three they have chosen.

"Living Big Sky"

“Living Big Sky”

In between each visit to a potential new home, the couple is introduced to something “Montana-ey” — skiing, skijoring, snow-cycling, ice-climbing — to show how amazing the Treasure State is.

Up until a few weeks ago, every episode that we have seen featured a couple moving to one of the areas that are generally considered to be “trendier” than Great Falls: often Kalispell/Whitefish or Bozeman, some Missoula or Bitterroot, and even I think a few in Billings and Helena. One episode even focused on the Red Lodge area.

My wife and I often wondered if there would EVER be a Great Falls episode. I mean…you know that I think Great Falls is truly the best place in the world, but to the “outside” TV-viewing public, well…

When I say “Bozeman” or “Missoula,” that’s a very rough approximation. In many cases, the realtor shows the couple homes that are quite a distance from the “hub” town — and lo and behold, that was taken to the extreme on the episode that (finally!) featured Great Falls.

Here is the intro to the show:

Kelsey Conrow, a native Californian, is roping in her long-time beau, Kodi Groves, and heading for ‘The Treasure State,’ aka Big Sky Country. Having recently accepted a position as a registered dietician in Montana, Kelsey is excited to bring Kodi, a native of Wyoming, back to his country roots. Kelsey and Kodi are looking for a house that hits up both of their wish lists; a feat for sure! While Kelsey wants to looks at more luxurious, updated cabins, Kodi wants a remote cabin with tons of land, which also means a long commute for Kelsey. Will they find some middle ground in the hunt for their Montana dream home?

As we clicked to watch the episode, my wife and I half-jokingly wondered how far away from Great Falls the realtor would take this couple. Cascade? Belt area? Fort Benton?

For the slice-of-life, of course, the show featured the (to me) legendary Sip-N-Dip, and also showed the couple strolling around the Farmers Market downtown. Nice touches.

But back to “finding a house in or near Great Falls.” The realtor took this couple even farther away from Great Falls than my wife and I even jokingly imagined: one of the three houses they were shown was near WOLF CREEK – about 55 miles south of town, and actually closer to Helena.

Another was in Valier. VALIER, seriously. Lovely community, for sure, but it’s even farther away from Great Falls – about 85 miles.

I can’t recall specifically where the third one was — somewhere south of Cascade, if memory serves.

And just for fun, the realtor also showed them one of the condos downtown – the ones above Crooked Tree – which the couple quickly rejected (too small).

Ultimately, the couple decided on the Valier house – it was indeed a beautiful home.

Well, at least Great Falls was featured, even if just for a couple of minutes of on-air time.

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Eye On Great Falls!

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Here’s a look at some of the changes happening in Great Falls, including new businesses, construction in progress, and other tidbits.

Let me also note: I appreciate changes like this. Sometimes they are sad – such as when Goodes’s Q & Bayou Grill closed. Sometimes they are good – such as the news of Big Bang Pizza (below). But these changes are always fascinating, and are part of what makes our community vibrant and diverse.

The Prime Cut restaurant closed last week. After more than 37 years of working at and then owning the restaurant, the owner said that it’s time for him to try something new. Best wishes to him!

Construction has begun on the new City Brew facility on the corner of 3rd Street NW and Smelter Avenue, on the lot that once housed Burger Master. I’m pretty excited about this — I am super-super-super-loyal to Starbucks, but I am looking forward to trying a new place. More choices = good.

Big Bang Pizza opened for business this week in the Columbus Center building. I’ve already had it twice – and was VERY impressed both times! Some more info here.

The New Peking Restaurant on 3rd Street NW is closed – but only for remodeling. No word yet on how long it will be closed for renovations.

Dimitri’s Restaurant on 3rd Street NW closed several weeks ago. The Greek-themed eatery posted note on the door says the restaurant lost its lease and they are being forced out. Very sad – it was a pretty neat restaurant, run by two wonderful people – I hope they bring it back in another location. Here’s a brief review from when it first opened.

A new egg-processing facility is being built along 38th Street North near 10th Avenue. Click here for more information.

Construction continues along 10th Avenue South between 14th Street and 15th Street for a new Town Pump convenience store and casino. The site was formerly home to the Townhouse Inn hotel. Click here to read more.

Hobby Lobby apparently plans to open a store in Great Falls. I’ve heard rumors that it will be located inside the former Sears store in Holiday Village Mall. I’m not a “hobbyist,” so it’s not a big deal for me – but this news sure did make a lot of people happy (and some people not happy, due to political differences), based on Facebook reactions. Click here for more information.

Construction on the new Walmart and East-End Retail Center along 10th Avenue South near 57th Street is going strong. Click here for details.

And as some of you have surely heard, there are rumors that Ulta and Harbor Freight will be coming to Great Falls — but as far as I know, they are only rumors at this point.

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