by William Skink
Indy publisher Matt Gibson now lords over three media fiefdoms after his deal to sell out the Indy to Lee, and we here at RD congratulate Matt Gibson.
I’m sure the latest feature piece about flowers, and where they are grown, is just a small glimpse of the good things to come.
Hopefully this continued melding of once oppositional media will only enhance and embolden the investigative capacity of the Indy. If this lowly blogger may be so bold, I would like to suggest three possible topics of interest to pursue.
1. Glacier Hope Homes. There are people who want to talk and various complaints already filed with the state.
2. Lolo Peak Fire. Was there an opportunity to put this thing out before it blew up? If that opportunity was turned down, who made that decision, and why?
3. Refugee relocation. Are there families struggling? What happens if they haven’t found work and they are at the end of their financial assistance?
Oh, and more critical coverage of development in Missoula, especially the TIF schemes being spun by MRA. I found this piece worth reading. Here’s a peak:
The problem as LeRoy sees it is that politicians behave the way politicians often do, falling all over themselves trying to attract new business into their city or county. The TIF tool essentially became a giveaway to business. Cabela’s—a large outdoor sports big box retailer—won’t locate in an area unless they get generous subsidies, often using TIF. This use ends up creating land-uses that eat up open space, farmland, or habitat to set up a giant retail boxes surrounded by seas of parking and roads paid for using TIF. Not exactly the most sustainable outcome.
In LeRoy’s estimation, such wide authority is far too tempting for local government to abuse, resulting in huge windfalls for private developers and bad planning. As I mentioned before, TIF is essentially fiscal policy at the local level, allowing local governments to use their debt capacity to generate economic activity. It’s not exactly printing money, but TIF can provide the local economy a huge shot of economic activity and dollars. Faced with competition with other counties, states, or cities, local elected officials can use TIF far too often. And when multiple jurisdictions have access to TIF, there can be a race to the bottom as they extend themselves further and further trying to entice businesses to locate in a proposed TIF area. Tax dollars get diverted away from other important things like schools, and projects can end up being auto-oriented single uses rather than compact mixed-use development.
Lots of stories out there to chase. What I’ll be watching for are the stories that aren’t being told.