Month: May 2021

MVP Curry birdies Augusta’s first, won’t reveal score

MVP Curry birdies Augusta’s first, won’t reveal score

first_imgMIAMI – Steph Curry makes 3’s everywhere – even at Augusta National. Calling it an experience he won’t forget, Curry was part of a group of Golden State Warriors who got to play the course Tuesday, and the NBA’s 3-point leader and reigning MVP even made a 10-footer for birdie on his opening hole. As for his score, Curry is keeping that one quiet. He plays to about a 2 handicap. “I’d never been there before, so it was a real treat,” Curry said Wednesday in Miami, after Golden State’s shootaround practice to prepare for facing the Heat. “I’m not going to tell you what I shot, but that was a bucket-list kind of day. I’m a golf fanatic, so to say I played at Augusta is pretty cool.” The round was a championship reward from Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who promised Curry and Andre Iguodala that if Golden State won the title, he would use his connections and get them on the storied course. During the on-court celebration in Cleveland after Golden State wrapped up the championship, Iguodala screamed at Curry, “We’re going to Augusta!” “One of my best friends is a member at Augusta and he’s taken me there a couple times,” Kerr said. “Steph and Andre are such avid golfers, so I told them – obviously, I asked my friend first, and he said `Yeah, let’s do it’ – that if we win the whole thing, you go to Augusta.” So when the Warriors made their lone appearance of the season in nearby Atlanta on Monday, the timing was right for Augusta to happen. Curry, Iguodala, team executive Jerry West and Warriors owner Joe Lacob stayed behind to play the course that hosts the Masters while the rest of the team’s travel party flew Monday night to Miami. A few other people with Warriors ties were involved as well, and Curry’s father, Dell, the former NBA player who introduced his son to golf, also got to play. “They had a great time,” Kerr said. Stephen Curry remembers playing his first round of golf around when he was 8 or 9, was part of his high school’s golf team and is a past participant at the American Century Championship – a celebrity tournament held in Nevada each summer. He even got to play a round with President Barack Obama last summer, shooting 76 and doing so while Obama drove the golf cart. He made a 10-footer for his birdie to open his round Tuesday, and then said that any amateur golfer can probably surmise what happened next. “You birdie the first hole, it can only go downhill from there,” Curry said. “That’s exactly what happened.”last_img
McGirt tops Curran in Memorial playoff for first win

McGirt tops Curran in Memorial playoff for first win

first_imgDUBLIN, Ohio – William McGirt thought he hit it big when he won the Cabarrus Classic and pocketed $16,000, the second-largest prize on the Tar Heel Tour. That was in 2007, and it felt like a lifetime ago compared with the perks from winning the Memorial on Sunday. The victory was worth $1.53 million and a three-year exemption for a guy who once dreamed of simply having a PGA Tour card. Waiting to congratulate him was tournament host Jack Nicklaus, who raved about the bunker shot on the 18th hole that kept McGirt in the playoff at Muirfield Village, and the flop shot from behind the 18th green that led to a 6-foot putt and his first PGA Tour victory in his 165th try. U.S. Open qualifying? Take the day off. McGirt moves up to No. 43 in the world and was assured a spot in his first national championship. ”It will all sink in at some point,” McGirt said. This was a long time coming. McGirt couldn’t count all the mini-tours he played and the self-doubts he ignored, including a four-month stretch in which he saw his wife for only four days. But on Sunday against the strongest field of the year for a regular PGA Tour event, McGirt made his first victory one to remember. Memorial Tournament: Articles, photos and videos He played the final 22 holes at Muirfield Village without a bogey. His final par in regulation was the most important, a two-putt from 65 feet for a 1-under 71 that allowed him to join Jon Curran (70) in a playoff at 15-under 273. McGirt won the way Nicklaus said he captured so many of his 73 times on the PGA Tour. ”I won half of my golf tournaments watching everyone else self-destruct,” Nicklaus said. ”And that’s the way you win. I saw him coming down the stretch. I saw Jon coming down the stretch. The two of them played great. I felt that either one of them could have won.” Dustin Johnson dropped three shots in four holes to start the back nine, and a fourth bogey on the 16th ended it for him. Matt Kuchar was tied for the lead when he returned from a 90-minute rain delay and promptly hit the lip of a fairway bunker and made double bogey. He never recovered. Emiliano Grillo had a share of the lead until starting the back nine with four straight bogeys. Gary Woodland couldn’t get up and down behind the 17th green and made bogey. Curran, who knows Nicklaus from being a member at his Bear’s Club in South Florida, looked like a winner when he hit 7-iron out of a fairway bunker on the 17th hole to 7 feet for birdie to join McGirt at 15 under. McGirt was battling his swing and trying to hang on. He saved par from a bunker on the 17th. He had the long two-putt for par on the 18th hole. And he was in trouble on the 18th in a playoff, facing a deep bunker shot to a back pin. He expertly used the slope behind the hole and watched his shot roll back to a few feet to stay alive. ”That was a long bunker shot,” Nicklaus said. ”I don’t want to hit it again,” McGirt replied. Playing the 18th for the third time, Curran misjudged the strong wind at his back and went into the gallery above the green, and his pitch ran down the slope well past the hole, leading to bogey. McGirt also went long and played a perfect flop shot to 6 feet for the winner. ”Surprisingly, I felt no nerves standing over that putt and poured it right in the middle,” McGirt said. Johnson finished alone in third – his fifth finish in the top 5 this season – while Rory McIlroy (68) tied for fourth with Kuchar (73), Woodland (73) and J.B. Holmes (69). Jason Day, a Muirfield Village member and No. 1 in the world, got to within two shots of the lead until he tumbled to a 74 and tied for 27th, matching his best result at the Memorial. Jordan Spieth shot 73 and finished 12 shots behind in a tie for 57th. McGirt became the third straight Memorial champion to become a first-time PGA Tour winner, and it was the third straight playoff at Muirfield Village. In his 12 years as a pro, he has played only one major, the 2012 PGA Championship. That was meaningful, even though he missed the cut, because he was coming off a close call at the Canadian Open in which he didn’t look at the leaderboard the final round. He ran into Tiger Woods, told him what he did, and he said Woods told him he was foolish for not looking. McGirt didn’t make that mistake twice. And when it was over, his name was at the top. The U.S. Open is now on his schedule. So is the PGA Championship at the end of July, and the Masters next April. ”I wondered for years if I would ever get to the PGA Tour,” McGirt said. ”And then once you get out here, OK, you’ve played 160 events. Are you ever going to win? But I think you have to get your nose bloodied some to learn how to handle it, and I definitely had my nose bloodied a few times.”last_img read more

Ryan, Sughrue reach U.S. Senior Amateur final

Ryan, Sughrue reach U.S. Senior Amateur final

first_imgST. LOUIS – Dave Ryan and Matthew Sughrue each won two matches Wednesday at Old Warson to reach the U.S. Senior Amateur final. The 62-year-old Ryan, from Taylorsville, Ill., beat Michael Dunsmore of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., 5 and 3 in the quarterfinals and topped Tim Jackson of Germantown, Tenn., 1 up in the semifinals. The 57-year-old Sughrue, from Arlington, Va., edged Doug Hanzel of Savannah, Ga., 1 up in the quarterfinals and rallied to beat Kevin Cahill of Waukesha, Wisc., in 19 holes in the semifinals. Against Jackson, Ryan won the 14th to take a 2-up lead, lost the 15th with a bogey and matched Jackson with a par-birdie-par finish to close out the match. On Tuesday in the round of 16, Ryan had the third known hole-in-one on a par 4 in USGA history. Against Cahill, Sughrue lost 15 and 16 to fall 1 down, won the 18th with a par and won the match on the 19th with another par. Sughrue also rallied against Hanzel, winning 15 and 16 to take the lead and matching Hanzel with pars on the last two holes. Sughrue left the insurance business after 25 years to go to graduate school at Virginia Tech and become a psychotherapist.last_img read more

Nicklaus says Tiger ‘the biggest puzzle to me’

Nicklaus says Tiger ‘the biggest puzzle to me’

first_imgPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jack Nicklaus says he was ”painting a picture” when he suggested after a practice round with Tiger Woods at the 1996 Masters that Woods had the game to win at least 10 green jackets. He referred to Woods as a ”puzzle” on Sunday at the Honda Classic. In an interview before making an appearance in the NBC Sports broadcast booth, Nicklaus was raving about the growing number of young players who can win major championships. He said they learned to win because Woods no longer was dominant as he recovered from a litany of injuries. ”And now, I don’t know about Tiger,” Nicklaus said. ”That is the biggest puzzle to me that I know. I just don’t know where he is and where his mind is. I don’t know.” Woods missed the cut at Torrey Pines in his 2017 debut, then flew halfway around the world to Dubai and withdrew after a 77 with back spasms. Woods withdrew from the Genesis Open at Riviera, hosted by his foundation, and this week’s Honda Classic. He canceled an interview at Riviera, with his agent saying doctors had advised that Woods limit all activities. Nicklaus referenced a quote from Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, that a press conference would yield no answers to his health. ”I think he’s absolutely right,” Nicklaus said. ”You’re going to ask him the same exact questions, it’ll be the same exact answers that he had before. And I think from his standpoint, he’d be tired of answering them.” Nicklaus and Woods long have been linked, from the time Woods posted a chart in his room showing a timeline of Nicklaus achieving various mileposts in golf, mostly as an amateur. As a professional, Woods was on pace to break Nicklaus’ record 18 majors until his fourth knee surgery in 2008 following the U.S. Open, his 14th and final major. A scandal in his personal life unfolded a year later, followed by more leg injuries and then three back surgeries. Woods has played in only 24 majors since the 2008 U.S. Open. Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer played a practice round with Woods when he was a 20-year-old amateur in 1996. After the round, Nicklaus said Woods was ”absolutely the most fundamentally sound golfer that I’ve seen at almost any age.” ”Both Arnold and I agree that you could take my Masters and his Masters and add them together and this kid should win more than that,” Nicklaus said that day. Reminded of that comment Sunday, Nicklaus said, ”People have quoted that. And I was obviously being a little exaggerating in what I was saying. I was painting a picture that he could win a lot of Masters.”last_img read more

Wu Ashun (66) builds 3-shot lead at KLM Open

Wu Ashun (66) builds 3-shot lead at KLM Open

first_imgTHE HAGUE, Netherlands – Wu Ashun of China birdied his first two holes Friday to set up a 5-under 66 and take a three-shot lead into the weekend at the KLM Open. Ashun’s round followed a bogey-free 64 on Thursday and put him ahead of Englishman Jonathan Thomson, who had 10 birdies and three bogeys on his way to a 36-hole total of 133 at The Dutch in Spijk. Thomson reeled off seven birdies as he started on the back nine to match the lowest nine-hole score of the European Tour season, level with the 28 shot by Suttijet Kooratanapisan’s at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. David Drysdale of Scotland and Ashun’s countryman Haotong Li were tied for third on 8-under, one shot behind Thomson.last_img

Cheng, Jefferson tied at Asia-Pacific Amateur

Cheng, Jefferson tied at Asia-Pacific Amateur

first_imgSINGAPORE – Jin Cheng and Lloyd Jefferson Go each shot a 3-under 67 on Friday and shared the lead going into the weekend at the Asia-Pacific Amateur. Jin and Go were at 8-under 132 at Sentosa Golf Club, one shot ahead of Ha Jin-Bo and Bai Zheng Kai, who also had 67s. Another shot back was Sadom Kaewkanjana, who at No. 10 is the highest-ranked Asian in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Sadom had a 66 to get within two shots. Jin won the Asia-Pacific Amateur in 2015 and knows what’s at stake. The winner is invited to play in the Masters at Augusta National in April, and now gets into the British Open. ”The chance to get back to the Masters motivates me to play better,” Jin said. ”But I am trying not to think of that in between the shots. I don’t want to do anything fancy over the next two days and just try and stick to my process.” Jin won a team silver and an individual bronze in the recently completed Asian Games. Go made five birdies to overcome his bogeys on the eighth and 13th holes. No Filipino has ever finished among the top 5 in the 10 years of the Asia-Pacific Amateur.last_img read more

Otaegui (62) uses 10 birdies to take Scottish lead

Otaegui (62) uses 10 birdies to take Scottish lead

first_imgFIFE, Scotland — Adrian Otaegui started his round with three straight birdies and then just kept going, shooting a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a three-shot lead after the first round of the Scottish Championship. The Spaniard finished with 10 birdies in a flawless round at the inaugural event, which was added to the European Tour as part of a reshaped 2020 international schedule that had been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. “I started with three birdies and actually there were two birdie holes that I didn’t birdie — the fourth and sixth — but then obviously I made some very good birdies on some other holes, said Otaegui, a two-time European Tour winner. “I putted really well, I also played very well from tee to green and felt confident and relaxed.” Highlights: Otaegui leads after first round in St. Andrews Full-field scores from the Scottish Championship England’s Matt Wallace, who had an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole, was tied for second with Bryce Easton of South Africa. Easton had an up-and-down round that included one eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys. Scottish Open champion Aaron Rai settled for a 66 to share fourth place with fellow Englishman Garrick Porteous and Irishman Padraig Harrington. Lee Westwood was tied for eighth after a 67 that included eight birdies but a double bogey on the 17th hole.last_img read more

Jordan Peterson — Do the Stitches Hold?

Jordan Peterson — Do the Stitches Hold?

first_img Denyse O’LearyDenyse O’Leary is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she has published two books on the topic: [email protected] and By Design or by Chance? She has written for publications such as The Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, and Canadian Living. She is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’€™s Case for the Existence of the Soul. She received her degree in honors English language and literature.Follow DenyseTwitter Share Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Faith & Science Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Evolution Free Speech Jordan Peterson — Do the Stitches Hold?Denyse O’LearyFebruary 15, 2018, 2:27 PM Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Sharecenter_img A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Recently, David Klinghoffer drew attention to modern heretic Jordan B. Peterson, a once-obscure Canadian clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University Toronto (formerly of Harvard), who has achieved worldwide infamy for saying, as an academic, nothing more than what most people believe. Klinghoffer suggests that those in sympathy with intelligent design can learn from him: “unfailingly polite, unruffled, but razor sharp, deftly resisting manipulation and intimidation at every single step.” Indeed they can, and some background may be helpful.Peterson is a lightning rod, with a half-million YouTube followers, 300,000 Twitter followers, and a bestselling book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. He violates political correctness in the most serious way: He has said that he will not use politically correct pronouns, now mandated under Canadian law. Worse, he made a British social justice warrior look ridiculous on television, elevating her persistent hectoring — “So what you’re saying is…” — to a commentariat classic in the art of dumbing down someone else’s argument so that it is easily rebutted.In the post-modern social sciences academy, honestly acquired fact bases (for example, the fact base about biological differences between the sexes) must surrender to intense feelings. As David Solway notes, “influential postmodern leaders such as Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty and Jean Baudrillard are on record denying that objective or universal truth exists.” Peterson’s refusal to stop talking about data contrasts with the surrender of so many academics to intellectual suicide in exchange for tenure and peace. No wonder some of them would be happy if an old-fashioned data-driven practitioner like Peterson no longer had tenure at the University of Toronto.Not surprisingly, he became a beacon for many outside the academy who seek to ground their lives in observed facts rather than approved opinions. Which brings us to his new book, currently ranked at #1 on Amazon’s “Most Sold” list. Any misgivings addressed below are offered alongside sincere admiration for a man who has, almost alone, stood up to a vast and angry academic herd.I was surprised by the extent to which Peterson understands that the post-modern aversion to objectivity, which is killing the social sciences, is seeping into the harder sciences as well, offering the same promise: Social peace in exchange for intellectual suicide.He identifies Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) as the key figure in destroying the idea that there are facts, apart from interpretations (“deconstruction”): “It is almost impossible to over-estimate the nihilistic and destructive nature of this philosophy. It puts the act of categorization itself in doubt. It negates the idea that distinctions might be drawn between things for any reasons other than that of raw power” and makes both logic and the techniques of science “merely part of the oppressive patriarchal system.”Indeed. Some current controversies in cosmology over string theory and the multiverse are only comprehensible if we grasp the intense post-modern desire to have done with reason, logic, and evidence, and proclaim the cosmos that feels right to the cosmologists.Observers often suppose that lack of evidence will doom post-modern cosmologies. They are mistaken. Left to themselves, post-modern cosmologies will doom evidence in theoretical physics in the same way that post-modern anthropologies have doomed evidence in some biology-dependent areas of social science.Peterson is the type of prophet who tells us what is wrong; he doesn’t succeed in articulating a way forward. As a post-Christian, he “looks to the Bible, to evolution, to the behaviour of wild animals, to Freud and Jung and other great thinkers,” as the Daily Express puts it, and stitches them together into a self-help psychology.The stitches do not hold. For example, it is not at all clear that Peterson believes in God, as commonly understood. Still, he offers: “But, metaphorically speaking, there is also this: you have a spark of the divine in you, which belongs not to you, but to God. We are, after all — according to Genesis — made in His image. We have the semi-divine capacity for consciousness.” So is there a God or not? Don’t we need to know that before we take Genesis seriously? Similarly, he writes, “Christ’s archetypal death exists as an example of how to accept finitude, betrayal and tyranny heroically — how to walk with God despite the tragedy of self-conscious knowledge — and not as a directive to victimize ourselves in the service of others.” To a Catholic Christian like myself, that sounds like a tin pan dropped on a ceramic floor. One would hope to interject that Christ suffered a cross only he could bear, and it was not to deal with the sort of problems that can be addressed by self-help psychology.Trying to meld the Bible with evolutionary psychology fares no better. One grieves while reading about Jane Goodall’s horrifying discovery that chimpanzees are unthinkingly cruel. But, if we are not wedded to Darwinian doctrines, what does chimpanzee behavior demonstrate that need matter to our human quest for a true way today?Suppose we consider only the serious classical traditions Peterson draws from: Some Eastern traditions pursue the Way of Being, irrespective of the question of God. But the major Western traditions cannot avoid that question. The very fact that his well-meaning syncretism of the two is so seldom called out as impossible shows how poorly many people are educated today. Derrida has won. Categories of thought are now, for many, the enemy.Peterson has an odd affection for Nietzsche, whose philosophy became infamous as a claimed impetus behind the Third Reich. But he uses the philosopher’s wide-ranging critiques in small doses. Nietzsche can be helpful in identifying what we now call virtue signaling, as opposed to virtuous actions. Still, one rather wishes that self-help writers would choose another source.About the style of the book, Peter Hitchens, brother of the late Christopher Hitchens, comments: “Most of it is written in a conversational style intended to be friendly and accessible. But for anyone educated before the cultural revolution, used to the orderly architecture of argument, it slides about on the page like mental porridge.” Peterson’s approach probably works better on YouTube where, as Hitchens implicitly concedes, Peterson’s large following has never received any training from current educational institutions in the “orderly architecture of argument.”Hitchens also predicts that Peterson’s brave stance won’t change anything: “Almost everything that was once derided as the work of the ‘loony left’ or ‘political correctness gone mad’ is observed daily in grand, expensive private schools and is the official policy of the Conservative and Unionist party, or soon will be.” Yes, the uproar is now principally around the fact that Peterson wants certain matters even discussed whereas others concede and grow quiet. They have lost the capacity to say, “No, let’s stop and talk about this.”As a Canadian, I am troubled by the descent of historic national media into the gutter, denouncing Peterson without besmirching themselves by an effort to understand what he is saying (perhaps because they cannot?). Recent items warn readers against following the discussion seriously. Maclean’s asks, “Is Jordan Peterson the stupid man’s smart person?” while The Walrus calls him “The Professor of Piffle” and the Globe and Mail sniffs at his “faintly flickering intellect.”The now-fading traditional media put one in mind of H.L. Mencken. He first alerted the world to a fact that shocked him: Many doubted the Darwinian account of human origins, as demonstrated by the 1925 Scopes Trial. “Neanderthal man is organizing in these forlorn backwaters of the land, led by a fanatic, rid of sense and devoid of conscience.” Mencken was a clever writer but also a narrow and vicious snob who got the future trajectory of anti-intellectualism quite wrong. The war on the life of the mind was not an invasion from the hills of flyover country; it was seeping, and later gushing, from grad seminars, journalism schools, and political internships.One could almost say, Academy man is organizing in these parts, led by intellectual freedom opponents, rid of mathematics and devoid of science.Those of us who think design in nature is worthy of study can learn something from the academy’s reaction to Peterson. One often suspects that most of the people who are enraged by the idea of design don’t actually know a well-thought-out reason for thinking it wrong. But they don’t feel they need to know one either. Like  Peterson’s foes, they have fixed their target, frozen, framed, and polarized it. Doing so is the only intellectual achievement they respect.Even if Peterson himself fades from view in a year or two, the war on intellectual freedom that his story highlights requires a response: Either we recommit to the values that created the modern university or we look elsewhere for intellectual guidance, leaving those storied halls to crumble, each in its own miserably angry way.And if we do nothing? If, for example, Christianity and Judaism are fading from the Western world, it will be ruled not by gentle humanists but by the likes of Peterson’s persecutors: people at war with humanity, nature, and reality, seemingly determined to make the rest of us pay for their apparently unfathomable unhappiness.Photo: Jordan Peterson, via YouTube. Recommended “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Tags12 Rules for LifeBibleChristopher HitchensDavid KlinghofferDavid Solwaydeconstructionevolutionary psychologyFriedrich NietzscheGlobe and MailH.L. MenckenJacques DerridaJane GoodallJean BaudrillardJean-Francois LyotardJordan PetersonMaclean’sMichel FoucaultPeter Hitchenspost-modernismpsychologyRichard RortyScopes Trialsocial scienceThird ReichTwitterUniversity of Toronto,Trendinglast_img read more

Hiker Falls 120 Feet, Escapes with Minor Injuries

Hiker Falls 120 Feet, Escapes with Minor Injuries

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. A hiker had to be rescued by helicopter after falling about 120 feet on Kakashe Mountain near Mission Falls.Evan Kreps of Lakeside tumbled over rocks in 15-foot increments before a final fall estimated at 40 feet on Saturday afternoon.Kalispell resident Tyler Schaefer says he heard ghastly screams ahead of him, and then saw his friend fall. The 22-year-old Schaefer stabilized his friend, called Kreps’ parents and then 911.It took more than seven hours for rescuers to find them. Schaefer started a fire and lit Roman candles to help guide them.The rescuers set up a camp for the night, then cleared trees Sunday morning so that a helicopter could take the 21-year-old Kreps to a Ronan hospital.He was released after being treated for gashes in his leg, head and forearm. Emaillast_img read more

Long Odds for Reappraisal Relief Bills

Long Odds for Reappraisal Relief Bills

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email During the campaign for the 2011 Legislature, many of the Flathead’s candidates said amending Montana’s property value reappraisal process would be one of their top priorities. Now, with over half of the session completed, it is unclear whether a major reappraisal overhaul will survive the session.And while there are still several active bills that could change certain aspects of the reappraisal process – including a possible Constitutional amendment – a group of landowners is not convinced lawmakers’ efforts go far enough to alleviate the tax increases brought on by the 2008 reappraisal and intend to sue the state.Reappraisal is a constitutionally mandated process that takes place every six years. By law, reappraisal must be a revenue-neutral endeavor for the state.The 2008 reassessment brought little change for most state residents due to a mitigation law passed by the 2009 Legislature. On average, property values increased by 55 percent. In Flathead County, however, property values increased by 73 percent. Waterfront property owners in recreational areas such as Whitefish and Flathead lakes saw major jumps in their market values, which meant spikes in property taxes. The new valuations also came as the economy tanked and property values dipped. Lawmakers held several town hall meetings in the interim, during which property owners offered suggestions on how to help with the drastic tax increases.One of those suggestions was to sue the state for lack of equal protection by placing a large tax burden on a small portion of the population. This is an angle the Montana Residents for Fair Property Taxation intends to pursue, according to Whitefish member Dud Mahler. The group’s biggest concern is for landowners who have lived on their properties for years and are now facing property value increases of 400 percent or more. Many cannot afford the accompanying tax increase, Mahler said. “The people on the lake, the old-timers, they have to pay up or move,” he said. Mahler said his organization will wait to see the final results from lawmakers before filing suit, but none of the bills still alive in Helena address the 2008 revaluation numbers. “None of them are real tax reforms, they’re Band-Aids,” Mahler said. “The problem is that the tax increases due to reappraisal are just so high for us that we don’t have any alternatives.”Rep. Mark Blasdel, R-Somers, said Flathead lawmakers have made some progress dealing with the complicated reappraisal process, but it has been a tough road for many of the bills.One of the biggest hurdles the legislation faces is the size of the hardest-hit population, he said. “One of the issues is, first, that there’s such a small sector of the Legislature that had this issue happen to them,” Blasdel said. “Even if you take a look in the Flathead, there’s certain areas that weren’t really affected, but the recreation areas were – drastically.”“Major changes in the Legislature are very difficult, especially when you’re discussing such a minor segment (of the population),” he added.Blasdel said the state Department of Revenue has also come out against most of the bills attempting to adjust the reappraisal process.One of the major measures, House Bill 308, would present Montana voters with the option of changing the state’s Constitution to make reappraisals based on acquisition value instead of market value. This change, sponsored by Rep. Pat Ingraham, R-Thompson Falls, would also limit valuation increases to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.HB 308 is still in the House Taxation Committee, which Blasdel chairs. He said the committee is working on giving the bill wider appeal to lawmakers, since two-thirds of the Legislature must approve it before it could appear before voters.Another of the live bills, House Bill 463, would force the Revenue Department to prove that its market value reassessment is correct. Currently, if property owners believe their reappraisal was incorrect it is up to them to prove the state is wrong, Rep. Scott Reichner, R-Bigfork, said. HB 463 made it out of the taxation committee and passed second reading in the House, but was then sent back to committee.Reichner also sponsors House Bill 333, which would force the Revenue Department to take foreclosure sales into account while assessing residential market values in an area if such sales constitute more than 5 percent of that area’s market.The House gave final approval to HB 333 with a 71-27 vote, transferring it to the Senate. Blasdel noted that HB 333 has a $300,000 price tag attached to it, which could make it a tough sell during a budget-cutting session. Another reappraisal bill, Senate Bill 295, sponsored by Sen. Bob Lake, R-Hamilton, would allow annual informal reviews of classification and appraisals. It received unanimous support from the Senate Taxation Committee. Both Reichner and Blasdel said the reappraisal bills have also taken an uncharacteristically partisan turn this session. Reappraisal tends to pit lawmakers from eastern and western Montana against each other, Blasdel said, since the revaluation process usually has little negative affect on the east side. But that seems to have changed this year, Blasdel said. “What has happened is actually the east was affected but they were affected through the agricultural end,” he said. “They have some of the same issues just in a whole different realm.”Reichner’s House Bill 567, however, received bipartisan support with a unanimous vote of approval in the taxation committee. The bill would allow extended assessment reviews for reappraised properties. Montana Residents for Fair Property Taxation helped draft a bill that would have removed the six-year phase-in process, which Mahler contends is unconstitutional, and capped taxable value increases at around 2 percent. The bill died in the drafting process. “We decided that we didn’t have any alternative but to sue because we’ve got to have that tax reform,” Mahler said. Blasdel said he had hoped the group would file suit before the legislative session began so lawmakers would understand the gravity of the situation these property owners face. “I have to point out that there’s nothing equitable when people are losing their homes,” he said. Reichner said lawmakers would continue to work to get the remaining bills through, despite the tough road so far. “Overall, we’re working hard for our people and trying to make some changes,” Reichner said. last_img read more