On Monday, the City Club of Missoula hosted a debate on the ongoing effort to purchase Mountain Water. For those of you who live out of town for some reason, Mountain Water is the local water utility, owned by the Carlyle Group. After Carlyle rebuffed its offer to buy, the city began pursuing condemnation by eminent domain, but it turns out the global asset management term has some tricky lawyers—possibly even trickier than those hired by the sleepy mountain town. We’ve already blown through our original $400,000 in estimated legal costs, and we’re not close to the end. The mounting costs of condemnation raise a question: how much can we spend to buy Mountain Water and still get a good deal? Surprisingly, neither city councilman present at Monday’s debate had an answer. They didn’t even have rough estimates. In this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, I humbly suggest that might be a problem. A plan to buy something at any cost is not a plan to get a good deal. Give it a read, and then right a series of comments about what an Obama I am. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!