by William Skink
The painful consequences of the budget crisis are starting to be felt. Over 200 clients who get case management support from the Western Montana Mental Health Center are losing that support. Case Managers got their notices last week and now the scramble is on to transition clients to some other agency for support—that is, if other agencies are able to take on more clients. Then there’s the cut to dental services which will greatly impact the health of elderly Montanans who can’t fork out thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for dentures. I guess they can just puree their food and suck meatloaf through a straw.
What is the response of the political leadership in Missoula? Last night, at the weekly City Council meeting, the focus wasn’t on how budget cuts are impacting the poor and vulnerable in our community. Instead the focus was on strengthening ordinances on “urban camping” because apparently 1% of people who live in RVs are so maddeningly non-compliant a stronger law is needed. I am still unclear how this change is supposed to help law enforcement deal with a few trouble makers, but City Council was unanimously convinced it’s needed.
Checking the Missoulian there has been no reporting yet on the cuts and the resulting protest that occurred Monday. Montana Public Radio has been, as far as I can tell, the only traditional media outlet so far reporting on this. In the blogosphere, the Montana Post has brought some attention, but only to bash Montana Republicans. What the Montana Post won’t talk about is how the main focus for Montana Dems will be getting Tester reelected. Winning State Legislative seats will not be a priority. The money is for Jon to keep his Senate seat.
While Democrats act on their priorities, desperate people will also be acting on theirs, as reported by MTPR:
Saying the layoffs could devastate some of western Montana’s most vulnerable people, about 20 mental health care workers, their supporters and even a few clients picketed the Missoula-based Western Montana Mental Health Center early Monday morning.
Rehab aide, Lisa Leon, predicts the layoffs will lead to more mentally ill people winding up on the streets, in hospitals, or in jail. Since Thursday’s announced layoffs, Leon says one client tried to commit suicide.
“Thankfully he wasn’t successful. I’m sorry, but if any of them are successful, the blood is on Western Montana’s hands and Governor Bullock and the Legislature. They were messing around with people’s lives. I don’t think they understand how many people they’re affecting with these cuts,” Leon says.
I couldn’t agree more.
One of the only ways to help the people currently being hurt by these cuts is for Democrats to take back the State Legislature, but that is not going to happen any time soon. Re-electing Jon Tester will be the main priority next year, not recruiting, cultivating and financially supporting Democrats to win State seats.
But what about the Blue Bench Project, you ask? Isn’t that a grassroots effort to get more people involved at the State level? That’s what they say, but Logicosity isn’t buying it and neither am I.
The pain people are experiencing will be used by Democrats for fundraising, but where will that money go? Ad-buys to bash Republicans? Out-of-state strategists? Payroll? The past is probably a good indicator of how Democrats will continue to operate because no one has really been held accountable for their continued electoral failure. So if the same people are still running the show, why should we expect anything different?
Cutting case managers and dental services is just the beginning. More cuts will come. And at a time when we need a viable opposition party what do we get? Bullshit schemes and partisan finger pointing.