Champs & Chumps – Spring 2008

Every day, one stalwart citizen does the right thing while another acts like a blithering bonehead. Here's a recap of admirable acts and embarrassing blunders for the the past season.

Sparse Miller, owner of Sun Runner, a Subaru repair shop and used car dealership in Belgrade, for being an all-around good guy. He came up with the basic idea for the Suby Tales contest and was our first headline sponsor. When we decided to ramp things up and thus needed more high-profile sponsors (like Montana Import Group), he happily backed off, even though some of those sponsors are his direct competitors. “Do what you gotta do,” he said, simply. Thanks Sparse, you da man. 

The City of Bozeman, for hanging tough in the struggle to protect the wetlands behind the Village Downtown off East Main. Like baiting a hook, Village co-owner Mike Delaney offered to accept half of the $1.3-million price tag in “park credits,” which would exempt him or other developers (park credits can be sold) from building parks in future developments. But the city wisely deferred—eliminating precious park land in new subdivisions is no deal for Bozeman citizens, no matter what they may get in the short term. Instead, the City officially endorsed the Gallatin Valley Land Trust’s bid to secure outside funding to purchase the wetlands.

Montana Import Group, for hijacking our Suby Tales contest. One day, they were our headline sponsor; the next, they were running their own contest with a nearly identical name—without so much as a phone call to discuss it! Runner-up chump: the Bozeman Chronicle, for supporting MIG’s shameless behavior with multiple articles about “their” contest and how cool it was. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case, it’s also the surest sign of schmuckery.

Developer Mike Delaney, for trying to ransom the bird-rich wetlands behind his Village Downtown development. The City of Bozeman wants to make it a public recreation area, but can’t afford his $1.3-million asking price. Delaney claims he wants to see the area preserved, but says he’ll likely use a legal loophole to drain the wetlands for development if he can’t get full market value from the city. Let’s see, you just spent $2 million remodeling your 6,000-sf S. Willson home—think you could maybe knock a few hundred grand off the wetland price? Or would that mean you can’t buy that new Bentley you’ve had your eye on…