Soup kitchens notwithstanding, the most allegorically significant debate in Missoula politics is sidewalk funding. It’s boring on the surface, but once you peel back the layers you find several fundamental questions about this town’s identity, along with some guy’s sprinkler system. My column in the Indy today is about Robert Hubble and his federal lawsuit, in which he alleges that by using its “police powers” to force him to repair his sidewalk, the city of Missoula has violated his constitutional rights. He’s maybe saying that for rhetorical effect, but he raises an important issue: how much do we want to live as a community, and how much do we want to live as people who leave one another alone? In theory I am 100% in favor of both, which produces no end of problems in practice. Give it a read and shake your head at the sad truth that the social contract is not a binary mechanism. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.