by William Skink
What is the state of our community? Not without challenges, reads the headline of this piece from Missoula Current. Here is how Mayor Engen prioritizes the challenges Missoula is facing:
“Are we being intentional in the way we engage in taking care of our community?” Engen said. “Are we planning appropriately for the future? As we move forward, we have to be intentional about all sorts of things.”
Engen painted a picture of the city’s pressing initiatives through the lens of intentional steps. In the past, they have included overcoming issues surrounding sexual assault, purchasing open space to protect the city’s view sheds, and taking steps to own Missoula’s drinking water system.
As the city looks forward, Engen said it must continue to welcome refugees, keep Mountain Line’s zero fare service in place, and reduce the cost of college education, possibly making tuition free at Missoula College.
Missoula must also get intentional about ending hunger and providing housing for all.
Intentional, got it. Gotta be intentional. But do we really understand how intentional things are going to get?
The intention is development and storefront feel good solidarity issues, like welcoming refugees. And yet, despite all the development expanding the tax base, no amount of growth seems to satisfy the appetite for the next must-pass bond. Go figure.
While free school and free bus gets Mayoral attention, another anchor institution in Missoula is in crisis–St Pats:
In the face of what one longtime physician described as “decapitated leadership,” the medical staff at Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula took a unanimous vote of “no confidence” in the hospital’s administrative structure at a three-hour emergency meeting last week.
The Missoulian obtained an audio recording of the unprecedented meeting at St. Pat’s Broadway building on March 7, but is not publishing comments from anyone who attended but did not give explicit permission to use their remarks.
Physicians at the meeting and in later interviews with the Missoulian said they were concerned about:
• The lack of local decision-making within the corporate structure of Providence Health and Services.
• The forced departure last year of St. Patrick’s CEO Jeff Fee and the elimination of the CEO role, lessening Missoula’s autonomy to make decisions critical to its future and giving more power to out-of-state regional administrators.
• The departure of several longtime and well-respected physicians.
• The shuttering last year, with no physician input, of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility, which they considered an essential component of the hospital.
• The perception that their voices are not being heard.
With the University in free-fall, the detention facility at capacity, crumbling infrastructure, public defenders and child protective services staff stretched thin–all while cruel cuts from the budget butchers in Helena looms large–the news of this no-confidence vote is really not good.
But hey, we got a new art park coming, and lots of new alcohol peddlers and casinos being built, so I think everything is going to be just fine.