Will Local Media In Missoula Keep Protecting The Mayor And Downplaying Criticism Of Lord Checota’s DRIFT?

by William Skink

Missoulian reporter Matt Neuman does some incredible work for the Mayor’s office, providing cover for Engen’s shady move to plonk the City Council Riverfront Triangle vote on a Wednesday afternoon.

In a cutesy-fun piece titled Urban Scrawl: Iffy infill, the Checota-dome, and Missoula’s new flag Neuman buries this lame explanation for Engen’s move:

Because the deal involves quite a bit of overlap with the city, it all had to pass through the Missoula City Council. The news of a “special city council meeting,” on a Wednesday afternoon, not only caught reporters and the interested public off guard, but city council members as well.

A peek at the council’s public email page shows a scramble of council members rearranging plans, saying they had already rented a moving van, had travel plans, were caring for sick family members etc., showing it wasn’t just the public in the dark as Nick Checota worked with Engen on the project’s development. In the end, most were able to make it in last week, and they had a quorum.

However, the meeting was also limited to 50 minutes, as it was bookended by other meetings to be held in the council chambers. This greatly limited the amount of time for public comment, and even cut short the city councilors who were trying to do their duty of questioning the financing and city’s liability. Not ideal.

I talked to Engen on Friday about it, and he said time is money, especially on Checota’s expedited timeline. He added that considering the agreement had minimal changes from the one the council had already approved with the previous developers, he didn’t think it warranted a ton of time for additional scrutiny.

Also, he said he won’t be at Monday’s council meeting, and didn’t want to miss out on the action.

What a bunch of bullshit.

That last comment from Engen about not wanting to miss out on the action is a bit ironic considering there was action at last night’s Council meeting regarding the civic-center/hotel/condo project. Not only did Engen miss the action, anyone watching live on MCAT missed it as well after the live feed went down after 15 minutes.

In that time I did see two young men who brought explicit criticism against the city for using public money to help finance another venue that will be controlled by Checota, giving him near monopoly control on the music scene in Missoula.

So far this morning I see no mention in any local media about the public criticism against the project Checota has already named The Drift, although Neuman did spill some ink to explore whether it’s “the drift” or if it’s just DRIFT. Hard hitting reporting, that.

A more paranoid person might start thinking there is some kind of intentional effort by local media to ignore/suppress/downplay any criticism against Herr Engen and Lord Checota.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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