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Petition aims to challenge council airport decision

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Posted: Monday, July 30, 2012 6:30 am

A push is taking shape for a voter referendum on the Kalispell City Council’s decision to move forward with a project to upgrade the city airport to B-II design standards through the federal Airport Improvement Program.

Petition language is being fine-tuned among the city and county attorneys and county election department.

When that’s finalized, referendum supporters can start trying to get signatures from 1,759 registered Kalispell voters — 15 percent of the electorate — needed to put the issue on the ballot in November 2013.

The push for a referendum is being spearheaded by Chad Graham.

Graham, chairman of the city’s advisory Planning Board, said he’s not trying to “club” city council members who supported the proposed airport upgrade this July.

But he does want to see the long-running airport issue and the proposed upgrade go forward with more clarity and closure than the council’s most recent 5-4 vote.

“I can’t stress how important I think having closure on this issue is,” Graham said about the proposed project, expected to take at least eight years to complete. “The voters are the only ones who can put this issue to bed once and for all, whether they vote yes or no.”

Graham said he is pursuing the referendum independently of Scott Davis and other members of the Quiet Skies organization, though they may join the effort to get the required signatures.

The referendum would focus on voters either upholding or repealing the City Council’s decision to move forward with the B-II upgrade, the course of action recommended by Stelling Engineers in an airport planning study.

“Just a simple up or down,” Kalispell City Attorney Charlie Harball said of petition language taking shape.

Pointing to the Montana statute on rights of initiative and referendum, Harball said he expects people will have 60 days from July 16 to gather the signatures needed to get the referendum on the ballot. That’s when the resolution was approved and went into effect.

The 5-4 decision to move forward with the upgrade was the latest of several airport votes a split Kalispell City Council has taken on the issue this summer.

It was opposed by Mayor Tammi Fisher, Phil Guiffrida III, Tim Kluesner and Bob Hafferman, who continued to push to either “leave the airport as it is” and maintain it with up to $2 million from an airport tax increment finance district that sunsets in 2020 or else put that option and the proposed B-II upgrade on the ballot for voters to choose between.

Council members Jim Atkinson, Randy Kenyon, Jeff Zauner, Wayne Saverud and Kari Gabriel voted in favor of the proposed B-II upgrade, which would bring the airport up to federal design standards. They argue that’s the best path forward for Kalispell’s public-use general aviation airport financially and in terms of noise reduction, safety improvements and economic benefit.

Guiffrida said a majority of the council has ruled on the airport issue and called the referendum attempt another “Hail Mary” to try and stop the proposed upgrade.

“They’ll either get the signatures or they won’t,” Guiffrida said of the petition. “I won’t campaign for it, I won’t gather signatures. All I can do is sign it and I’m willing to do that.”

MEANWHILE, city officials are working on a request for qualifications to select an engineering firm to do an environmental assessment for the proposed B-II upgrade.

The Federal Aviation Administration would pay for 90 percent of the study’s estimated $47,000 cost. But the city missed this year’s federal grant cycle, meaning the study likely will be on hold until at least October or November.

If the referendum drive proves successful, the study likely would be put on hold until the outcome of the November 2013 election, Harball said.

The assessment would look at possible environmental impacts and impacts on neighboring property owners. Findings then would be submitted to the FAA, which must issue a “finding of no significant impact” or ways to mitigate any significant impacts before the proposed upgrade can proceed.

Reporter Tom Lotshaw may be reached at 758-4483 or by email at tlotshaw@dailyinterlake.com.

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          Welcome to the discussion.


          • Mommy Dearest posted at 8:08 am on Sat, Aug 4, 2012.

            Mommy Dearest Posts: 845

            I love the way you scream "ITS MY RIGHT" because you "heard" or "somebody told you"?

            You FLUNKED 9th graded civics class, obviously, because you have no idea how government works really.

            Nothing should be sent to the voters from council business failings. The council should stop being divisive and pull up their panties and do the job they were elected to do.

            Now they have engaged throngs of emotionally driven malcontents to a petition drive for which nothing will be decided except a ballot issue on funding the airport.

            The biggest questions still are on the table for the city council once the funding is decided:

            1. Who is going to manage the airport?
            2. Who is going to correct the "cronyism" charges levied by detractors?
            3. Where is the city portion of the money coming from for the airport?
            4. Who is going to act as the local aviation safety authority who will decide the correct measures to implement?
            5. Who is going to "police" the doctrine handed down from the council?
            6. What will the penalties be for airport violations?

            The council has to decide all these and more, WITHOUT going back to the voters to approve or even instigate any of these actions. In that respect, the voter are shills in the current lack of solidarity of the council with this unorthodox behavior to try and reverse a majority vote.

            Imagine if the 5-4 decisions of the Supreme Court were subject to descenting members of the minority opinion rallying the citizens to petition to try and overturn the majority opinions' vote! What a way to fractionalize society!

            Kalispell's City Council minority opinion has done just this.... turned ONE phase of a huge responsibility into a side show for the emotional and uninformed, misinformed or just plain stupid folks, who like have proved in the opinion pages of the news papers that they have flunked civics class and rely solely on writing on the bathroom wall for supposed fact gathering.

            This circus will continue now, and watch Kalispell citizens fist fight the issue right back to the council.

            No wonder they love the new round-a-bouts..... the exemplify them.

          • maxwell posted at 3:22 pm on Fri, Aug 3, 2012.

            maxwell Posts: 55

            Good point, the people of Kalispell should have been allow to vote on them city things. I hear the New City hall went way over budget and is costing the tax payer lost of money now. And as for the water park area, there is so many structural problems and over budget costs that it's going to cost the tax payers a load of money, and I think I heard we shut down one of them fire stations because there is no money to fund it. My point is, Yes all these things all should have been sent to the voters, just like this airport issue. That's why I'm for this referendum, if the people say yes or say no, that's it. They should have that right. Especially when the City Council is so divided.

          • Mommy Dearest posted at 9:47 am on Fri, Aug 3, 2012.

            Mommy Dearest Posts: 845

            Mr Davis didn't do anything except polarize town with his silliness and lack of direction based on reality.

            Mr Graham put together the petition language with the City Attorney so the opposing council's view gets represented correctly. Remember they voted once to present the voters with the choice:

            1) Do you want FAA improvement funding per the Stelling study or

            2. Do want the City to leave the airport as it is and figure out a way to fund the operation with city funding methods.

            Now the petition goes out for you to sign so you can vote on your choice of the two.

            Maxwell, did you get to vote for the new Fire Hall, the Skateboard and water park, the police swat van and motorcycles, or moving City Hall to it's new location? If you answered "no" to any of those.... your source saying "all issues with city property have allways been put to the vote of the residents" in incorrect, would you agree?

          • maxwell posted at 9:12 am on Fri, Aug 3, 2012.

            maxwell Posts: 55

            I think Mr. Graham and Mr. Davis should be applauded for their efforts in protecting and informing the residents of Kalispell. People should have the right to vote. I’m going to sign the petition. This matter needs to be made right. It was pointed out to me that all issues with city property have allways been put to the vote of the residents, as it should be.

          • Mommy Dearest posted at 2:00 pm on Thu, Aug 2, 2012.

            Mommy Dearest Posts: 845

            Smack.. you and the other twits blowing noise about rights is nonsense,

            You DON'T have the right to vote on council decisions..... ever.

            You DO have the right to petition issues to placed on the ballot for a vote.... but thats not the same as the council deciding one day to put something up for a vote.... and the next day deciding not to.... there NEVER was a RIGHT handed to you by the council changing their minds. So quit acting like a beat puppy!

            And Orange and Right of Center.... you dim bulbs are arguing the "majority" against a handful of pilots. You haver to RIGHT to claim majority, so pipe down.

          • smackya posted at 12:53 pm on Thu, Aug 2, 2012.

            smackya Posts: 950

            There you go again Mad Dog, still not understanding what's going on.. We are going to get our rights to vote back. Five members of the council made a big mistake, ya vole. People are very upset that they first gave them the right to vote on this issue, then they took it away and adding insult to the tax payers and home owners and voters by saying they don't know how to vote on this matter. Come ON!!!! This petition is all about getting our right to vote on this matter back. It's even for you, don't you want the right to vote on this matter? I know pilots that are going to sign this petition because they are Americans first, and half them of them fought for this country and for our right s to vote. Where do you stand? Are you saying the people do not have a right to vote?

          • Mommy Dearest posted at 12:33 pm on Thu, Aug 2, 2012.

            Mommy Dearest Posts: 845

            I wondered if you fell off Lone Pine, Smack.... glad you are ok and have your cap loc keys stuck in the 'frenzy" position!

            I am not following your logic, however. You are going to vote to NOT use FAA money, right?

            So if that wins, the only other method is to spend YOUR tax money!

            Are you going to start a petition drive every time the airport board makes an operational decision you don't like ?

            Baby doll, how is your "RIGHT" going to be implemented with you voting on either of the two funding methods going on the ballot?

            Or Smacky, are you going to be a scout and go do your own petition putting you in charge of managing the airport 24 x 7 x 365?

          • smackya posted at 7:40 pm on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

            smackya Posts: 950


          • RIGHTOFCENTER posted at 6:46 am on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

            RIGHTOFCENTER Posts: 181

            I would expect big government, far left wingnuts like micheal to think IllogicalOne is logical. I would also expect michael to expect other people's money to pay for these greedy little pilot's scam of having the City of Kalispell tax payers pay for their fun and business activities.

            The biggest thing that is bringing this country down fiscally is people like michael and IllogicalOne, who think they are enttitled to other people's hard earned money. I will say it again, it used to be that someone would be ashamed to even ask someone else to pay for their desires. I guess in the minds of michael and IllogicalOne, there is no shame. All I can say to michael and IllogicalOne is SHAME! SMAME! SMAME!

          • orange dog posted at 12:00 am on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

            orange dog Posts: 104

            just becuase 9 out of 9 councilors want to keep it means that they agree that it has the economic benefit that is being floated out there. some agree that closing it would be to costly due to unratified lease agreements with the airports tennants.

            1. the mayor and three others wnat to bring the airport up to contractual standards and increase safety...some of the money is already there for the safety aspect. the estimates taht you have seen are extremely high and inflated to drive a outcome. ie. expansion

            2. you are forgetting that the 10% from taxpayers is on a sliding scale due to cost over runs of probably around 30% based on other projects in the area done by local governemt. you are also forgetting that on top of that, the radio towers will then need to be tore down, a lease bought out, and the fbo tore down moved and reconstructed. all at the expense of the kalispell taxpayer. so now you are at, probably 5 million kalispell tax payer...oh wait, we need seed money for land purchase, how much.....mmmmm dont know, we will let you know later, after you approve. annual maintenance money only quarateed for 4 years, after that who knows? this expanded airport is in the red even with the faa money for maintenance.

            p.s. you can spend 100 million on this airport, it wont make it any safer for those under the planes. unless, this faa money comes with money to spend fixing and maintaining planes so they never crash. all you are doing is dropping them into someone elses backyard by realigning it.

          • flathead79 posted at 11:30 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            flathead79 Posts: 152

            I find it sad that the some people of Kalispell don't not see the value of the City Airport. The economic impact of small airports is well documented.

            the Council sees it......9 of 9 on the Council agree on 1 fact: Keep the Airport.

            The only question is how to pay for it.
            1. The Mayor and 3 others want to do the minimum maintenance with no safety improvements and have City Taxpayers foot the complete bill. I've seen estimates from $4.8-$7.8 million

            2. 5 Councilmen want to upgrade the airport to Federal standards, utilizing FAA AIP funding. A $16-$20 million dollar cost of which 90% will come from pilots and other aviation users. Yes it will still cost dollars from City Taxpayers. (Some of which will be reimbursed) Cost to taxpayers, I've seen estimates of $1.5-$3million. oh and there is the annual maintenance money from the same fund of $150K.

            so what do you want? a City taxpayer funded deteriorating city asset with no safety improvements like the last few decades. OR a improved and safety enhanced airport, 90% funded by pilots and less city taxpayers cost.

          • orange dog posted at 11:22 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            orange dog Posts: 104

            it amazes me to what lengths some of the airport proponents will go to impune the integrity and intelligence of the common kalispell voter.

          • michael posted at 10:11 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            michael Posts: 537

            and reading some of these letters it is quite obvious why there will be no vote. The mentality, or lack thereof is astounding. God help us all if some of you were left to make any decisions. Good job, by the way, Logical One. Yes, you are about the only..... logical one.

          • RIGHTOFCENTER posted at 8:53 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            RIGHTOFCENTER Posts: 181

            I never called anyone any names, look in the mirror if you want to see name calling IllogicalOne; "dupes, egghead, etc., etc.". The fact of the matter is that I couldn't care less who it is that I'm subsidizing, even if it's was your beloved Jim Dupont, who is now deceased. I shouldn't have to subsidize anyones fun or business. They should pay for those things themselves.

            If we could get beyond IllogicalOnes name calling maybe, you could get one logical thought in IllogicalOnes head. That thought is; "What ever happened to paying your own way? If you want that little cash cow of an airport for your recreation or business, then you should pay for it!!!! That does not seem like such a novel concept, does it? I was taught by my parents and grandparents to pay my own way for my things I want or desire and not expect others to pay my way.

            A few years ago, people would be ashamed of asking others to pay for their entertainment or business. I guess in our entitlement society, there is no longer any shame in expecting other people's hard earned money to pay for your entertainment or subsidizing your business. All I know is that my parents and grandparents would be ashamed of me if I thought that way.

          • LogicalOne posted at 8:29 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            LogicalOne Posts: 173

            You dopes didn’t write the petition….. the city did. And only does one thing!

            Same thing the council voted for is what you get to vote for:

            Keep the airport or keep the airport….. HAHAHA!

            What are you so proud of winning?

            You lost…. the airport stays. I just wanted you to use the FAA funds so you don’t end up
            paying for the entire safety improvements in the next few years out of City funds…
            especially when the City gets sued for negligence in the operation of a sub standard airport
            that they could of fixed for next to nothing.

            Not my problem now… I am moving to Bozeman.

          • LogicalOne posted at 8:17 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            LogicalOne Posts: 173

            My contempt for you is beyond words. There is no conversation to have with you.

            You are the illogical one for insisting that an AIRPORT should benefit LOCAL 19,000 taxpayers directly and that non local pilots are greedy leeches sucking your green money dry. You are a **ick,

            You use "scam", "greedy", "spoiled" and other non flattering terms to describe AIRPORT users who may WORK in Kalispell but live outside it's limits.

            You just have called the likes of the late Jim Dupont those names, you rube. KMAROC

            Do you have a business in town? What is it? Let's make sure only the 19,000 tax payers are your only customers.... of those who agree with your crap.

          • RIGHTOFCENTER posted at 7:49 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            RIGHTOFCENTER Posts: 181

            So far you've named six that benefit from the little Airport that is funded by Kalispell City tax payers. It is obvious that even some of your six do not live in the City of Kalispell, so I have to subsidize their fun or their businesses. When you can name how the other 19,000 or so citizens of Kalispell benefit from this little airport scam of yours then maybe we can have a "logical" conversation about that cash cow of a little airport.

          • LogicalOne posted at 7:31 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            LogicalOne Posts: 173

            RIGHT OFF CENTER....

            Sorry egghead, you're cracked... the yokes on you.

            Greedy pilots? Which ones do you hate the most?

            Pilot A : Invested 10 million into Kalispell, employs over 60. Gives $100 grand to local causes regularly.
            Pilot B: Works in Law Enforcement, bases personal plane at airport, uses personal plane at own expense to save lives. And this pilot has saved thousands of lives.
            Pilot C: Works in heath care, flies to remote areas and does free clinics.
            Pilot D: Comes from Missoula to fly injured specific breed dogs free to rescue homes.
            Pilot E: Retired from working in the woods since he graduated from FHS. Saved $25,000 to buy a 1962 Cessna to fly to the Bob to take his grand kids fishing. Oh yeah, lost a hand pulling a co-worker out from under a skidder.
            Pilot F: Ex county commissioner, ex sheriff, ex Great Chief, ex best thing that ever happened to our community.

            Just because you don't use it does not make it supremely useful and those who do greedy.

            WHich one of these guys are you railing about GREEDY... you twit?

          • RIGHTOFCENTER posted at 7:07 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            RIGHTOFCENTER Posts: 181

            It sure will be nice when we get that "ball and chain" of paying for IllogicalOne's and PiperPilot's recreational activities and businesses. May god set us free from the shackles that have been put onto the citizens and tax payers of Kalispell with this little money cow of an airport that only benefits a few greedy pilots that don't even live in the City of Kalispell.

          • LogicalOne posted at 7:00 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            LogicalOne Posts: 173

            Are you kidding? You elongate everything to the Obsurd... thats short for Obama and turkey poop. [beam]

            In your mind, 20 million from the FAA to FAA standardize the airport equals all that other water under the bridge and coffee shop retiree rhetoric.

            People beget people. Laws beget laws. Progress is not destroying what we have built to try and stay the same.

            Go to Eureka or Polson or fricking CIRCLE and check out the nice airports they used almost all FAA funds to improve. Same funds the FAA is offering us. Whats wrong with the those people, Orange?

            Tell me that abortions, czars and smothering children has to do with the safety features there and not here in Kalispell at the busiest GA airport in the state, will ya?

          • orange dog posted at 6:10 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            orange dog Posts: 104

            i will appreciate that you not put words into my mouth illogical one. and i believe that i said that no one is proposing to spend nothing. Most people realize that there is work to be done in its current footprint. you do realize that just becuase we have elected people working for us, they dont always do the heavy lifting. there are issues that go to the vote of the people because a precident has been set in the past with other votes.

            so....what exactly are you progressing to? Higher taxes? more and later term abortions, i mean, in progressive europe it has been talked about smothering children as being "loving". progressive obama czar jon holdren has talked about allowing abortions up to the time of socialization .... more laws and regulations as time slips by. when was the last time you ever heard of a law or regulation being done away with? even when a law is flawed, they dont get rid of it, they pass more law to fix it....so what are you progressing to? and please dont tell me you are progressing to a world full of peace and love where everything is free for the picking and we all snuggle up in fields of daisies and stare at the stars.

          • LogicalOne posted at 5:37 pm on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            LogicalOne Posts: 173

            Whoever is going to end up eating crow.... does not make your bulb any brighter, Maria.

            According to Orange, the folks not wanting the airport would be anti-social, demagogues, who will vote to spend nothing to trash 100 years of progress even if the people you elected voted to do the opposite.

            You are right Orange YOU are NOT Progressive at all. You should vote or vote better next time.

            Cocktails with the crow, anyone?

          • Plumber posted at 10:39 am on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            Plumber Posts: 82

            My, my, how the bloated gas bags have fallen. Poor Piper. Poor Mommy Dearest. Poor Logical One. It would appear the average citizen has peed on your parade and is more organized than you ever dreamed.

            Can't wait to sign the petition!

          • Maria C posted at 10:34 am on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            Maria C Posts: 48

            Well, well, well. Tell me Mommy Dearest and Logical One, how's that plate of crow tasting? The size of the portion alone should take you the rest of the day to digest!

            Seems the public you declared "too stupid to vote" to have gotten this together in short order. Don't you just hate it when you're proven NOT to be the smartest people in the room? That must suck for you.

          • Bonnie S posted at 10:29 am on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            Bonnie S Posts: 43

            I don't know Mr. Graham very well, but I do know that he has the ability to organize. This will be on the ballot and the people will decide what to do with the property they own.

          • Rebel Rouser posted at 8:49 am on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            Rebel Rouser Posts: 1564

            "and all the other pages of studies and engineering done at huge cost"

            Yes, at a "huge cost" to have Stelling produce a document that shows a predetermined outcome. The backroom cronies have already decided the outcome, and are now in the process of shoving it down the throats of the people who will pay for it, and suffer through the airports increased noise and traffic. Follow the money, anytime they can get money from the feds, they take it with open arms no matter the consequences.

            "Fred lestiko is the one closest to this upgrade"

            Hahaha! Are you crazy? Fred is the dolt who spearheaded this boondoggle in the first place without due diligence. He is the one who duped the council into spending the first two (plus) million dollars, beginning the upgrade process, which basically committed the council (and Fred's cronies) into the B-ll upgrade using money from the feds. If he would have done the research from the beginning, and would have been honest and upfront with the council, we wouldn't be in this trap, go Fred, go!

            It's all about the money.

          • orange dog posted at 7:02 am on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            orange dog Posts: 104

            mom....the kalisepell airport cannot be moved simply to the cost of the project, it would be the equivalent of both shutting it down and expanding and then some.

            logical one...i find it funny that voters are able to vote on other complicated issues without trouble, perhaps we shouldnt even have a city council and staff could just make all the decisions? Fred lestiko is the one closest to this upgrade, maybe he should be the one making he call. the one question that should have been asked first isnt even being asked of the owners of the property....do you even want the upgrade.

            by the way, i like how you have people in " ". really classy logical. yes it was a bullet point, it was an option that as studied and then thrown out.

            its a 100 word ballot blurb, plus the voting language

            any tech businesses or other businesses will locate to kalispell just the way they have over the last 10 years. do you really think that the airport is the driver for large and small business to locate to kalispell? its on one of there vetting process. or is a financially stable, in the black, well managed, city government more of a issue.

            i have news for you buddy, costco, brings in FAR more tourism and economy in a week than your airport does in a year

            progressive communities = liberalism=overspending like the past=stripping the right to vote=trashing your electorate, and on the larger scene, socialized medicine (a real job creator)....no wonder you think this airport is great for business

          • LogicalOne posted at 5:37 am on Tue, Jul 31, 2012.

            LogicalOne Posts: 173

            So now Chad Graham has a petition going to either approve the FAA funding of the safety
            improvements at the airport, or repeal it. YARMUT!

            We are all waiting for Scott Davis’s carefully worded petition to further polarize the
            community by class warfare.

            Poster Mom below shows exactly why letting the "people" vote on what are council responsibilities is not wise. She says she thought it was up for being moved ! That never was a bullet point! If the average citizen like MOM can't sort out the real issues being discussed and voted on, how will a petition explain all the contracts, all the funding done, all that funding which will be lost or recaptured and all the other pages of studies and engineering done at huge cost ever be understood to the "up or down" voter? It can't on a 90 word ballot blurb.

            Kalispell has done untold damage to it’s reputation. Why would any high tech business
            invest here if it can’t run an airport and it’s citizens feel people with aircraft are spoiled and not welcome.

            New chances for new employers will fly by and go to more stable and progressive
            communities. Kalispell looses.

          • DJJackson posted at 11:20 pm on Mon, Jul 30, 2012.

            DJJackson Posts: 737

            With the turn of events Mom, no longer an option, it is going to stay at it present location, one way or another...

          • mom posted at 11:00 pm on Mon, Jul 30, 2012.

            mom Posts: 629

            whatever become of my favorite option, which was to move the airport out into a more rural setting, and then doing something fun with the present location?


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