by William Skink
News coming out of Helena is grim. Cuts to budgets are going to have very real impacts on vulnerable populations. For example, of the 4.5 million in proposed cuts to the judicial branch, child advocates will be on the cutting block–a cruel move that will also be fiscally compounded by the resulting loss of federal funding that will be triggered if this happens.
So, mean and stupid.
Luckily not all of Montana is being threatened by the machete of austerity. Here in Bubble Town (Missoula) Convention Center plans are being pushed through, labor is being told to fuck off, and development is happening all over the valley, despite any and all objections from the plebes for consideration.
I guess it’s the anticipation of all this development and coming tax dollars that helps city officials justify spending over $150,000 to make sure the visual atrocity of the Verizon store on Broadway never happens again.
I’m not kidding. From neon Verizon outrage came the “Design Excellence Workshop” which will now gobble up tens of thousands of dollars:
That Design Excellence Workshop was born in part from complaints surrounding the new Cellular Plus retail store on East Broadway. The bright neon lights, corporate architecture and single use of a downtown property prompted something of a public outcry, and it set the city on a course to write new rules guiding the design of commercial buildings.
City staff and members of the council have since interviewed and selected a consulting firm to craft “character management tools.” If adopted next year, the tools would guide the design of new construction in Missoula.
“We hope to get a contract approved and moving forward this month,” said Laval Means, planning services manager with Development Services. “It would be a 16-month-long project, at the most.”
The selection team chose Winter & Co. to lead the planning process, and it set a budget of roughly $159,000. Of that, MRA would contribute $25,000 while the city commits $75,000. Development Services would provide the remainder.
Isn’t that fantastic? One ugly store gets built, and so many (of the right) people get outraged that the city finds over a hundred thousand dollars to create a whole new set of design regulations to micro-manage development so the visual offense of the Verizon store won’t be repeated.
In summary, while kids are losing their court advocates and dying from an under-funded CPS system that can’t protect them, Missoula is bankrolling signage Nazis to impose their sense of decorum on the future look of Missoula.
Way to go, Missoula
Maybe the signage nazis and unionistas can collaborate to keep the giant phallus (most likely to be built with scab labor) out of Engen’s new convention center. Actually, the Fox Phallus is the appropriate symbol for John Engen’s “fuck you missoula” approach to development. Probably makes him feel more virile to see it in the conceptual designs.
Meanwhile, no budget for snow removal, but the city can buy half a new parking garage to cater to wealthy hotel patrons and conference attendees.
And speaking of hotels and parking lots, the street barriers have gone up as the Merc awaits demolition, and the erection of a new transnational hotel chain phallus, complete with MRA financed enhancements and city funded parking structure down the block… and still we have snow berms and ice jams for parking on-street.
It’s obvious that the city’s priorities are to cater to multinational development groups to the detriment of local social needs. More austerity to enable the funneling of local tax and services revenue to transnational corporate coffers and their stockholders… and the city can’t even honor the lip service it gave to local union workers to allow them to unionize conference center service workers…
Banana (Republic?) Montana.
City sells land for $2.3 million, builds parking garage and conference center for $15 million. $13 million giveaway to a private developer and City claims it has no leverage. I see. Self-described Missoula Liberals in municipal govt are crony capitalists.
Folks shouldn’t forget the $2,000,000 the city already invested in site cleanup. Of course, I’m sure that unless reminded, the city will sweep that amount out the door; water under the bridge.