by William Skink
As a mountain town like Missoula gentrifies–prioritizing the public financing of out-of-state developers like Lord Checota over the economically disenfranchised–the political party that is supposed to care about this is the Democratic party.
If you stop laughing, I’ll continue.
Once upon a time Democrats gave more than vacuous rhetorical support for the poor and working classes. This was before the great neoliberal sellout exemplified by the Clinton dynasty.
A political potpourri post about Missoula from Democrat apologist, Pete Talbot, shows what a Democrat like Talbot pays attention to, and what he ignores.
Talbot laments the predictable outcome of the idiotic gun control ordinance and mentions Tax Increment Financing, but only because a conservative PAC mailer criticized the use of TIF money.
I guess Talbot doesn’t care about gentrification and its negative impacts on the economically disenfranchised, which includes older adults on fixed income. In a Missoula Current article about the winter shelter plan, here is a bit about what a working group formed last spring learned:
“We learned that a significant number of shelter guests were over the age of 65 and experienced mobility issues that made it nearly impossible for them to get on and off the floor to sleep on a sleeping mat.”
No one plans for their retirement years to be spent sleeping on a mat on the floor of an overcrowded homeless shelter, but here in our liberal utopia, that is increasingly what’s happening. And it’s being exacerbated by a Mayor that uses TIF money like his own personal slush fund.
There is a reason why Jesse Ramos and Team Liberty are getting political traction in Missoula. The reign of Engen and his rotating stable of rubber-stampers has seen the cost of housing explode while enrollment at UM has imploded. As the economic situation for many Missoulians stagnates or worsens, a building boom has enriched developers and bestowed upon Lord Checota a music venue monopoly he is exploiting for maximum financial gain.
None of this apparently interests a Democratic apologist like Pete Talbot.
I think both you and Pete are missing the larger story.
The majority of Americans believe that we are two-thirds of the way to being on the edge of civil war. That to me is a very pessimistic place,” said Mo Elleithee, the executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service.
And worse, he said in announcing the results of the Institute’s Battleground Poll civility survey, the political division is likely to make the upcoming 2020 presidential race the nastiest in modern history.
Maybe the MT Supreme Court sees the bigger picture.
by pushing this notion that Americans are ready to start killing each other you are playing into the divide and conquer strategy of the .01%
(Copied from The Montana Post, where you left a series of questions for me concerning my most recent column.)
I’ll start with your last question. You and I have always been crosswise on guns. You believe gun control isn’t an important issue. I believe gun violence is a scourge on society. It appears the statistics on gun-related deaths in America would bear this out. On this, we’ll probably never agree.
As for the mailer, it was a skanky attempt to sway an election with misinformation, and paid for by some of your well-off business leaders in Missoula. I’ll call out this sort of tactic every time, no matter what side of the aisle it comes from.
And finally, we may not be in total disagreement on the TIF and gentrification issues. At least in Checota’s case, it isn’t a subsidy going to some giant corporate interest like the Marriot chain or some banking conglomerate. Checota’s feet need to be held to the fire, though, that construction is performed by union workers, that living wage jobs are provided after construction, and somewhere within this project, an affordable housing component is included.
Some history: My wife was a small business owner downtown in the early 80’s. Southgate Mall had just been completed and the Missoula economy was only so-so. Downtown was turning into a ghost town. That’s when the MRA came into existence and it helped save the downtown. For that I am grateful. I sometimes think that now the MRA is overreaching — subsidizing corporate interests that should be self-funding and declaring every part of town that isn’t shiny and new a blighted area. Those “blighted” areas are usually the final resting place for affordable housing, light industry and small businesses that can’t afford the rents downtown or in new developments. Gentrification is a problem in Missoula. So are high property taxes. I wouldn’t mind some of the TIF money going into the general fund to reduce property taxes and perhaps funding more affordable housing projects. One of the reasons property taxes in urban Montana are so high, though, is because the state has consistently chipped away at its funding responsibilities, leaving the cities to make up the difference.
As I’ve said, I’m thankful to the MRA for its work in the past on parks, trails, downtown infrastructure, some of its other redevelopment projects… It’s just time to slow down. Now that Missoula has become so tragically hip, is there really a need to push growth just for the sake of growth?
how much money did the city pay the lawyers to fail at the state Supreme Court? I think that money could have been spent in more productive ways.
as for Checota, I’ll be continuing to take a critical look at where he is coming from, considering no local media is going to do it. check out this link: https://journaltimes.com/news/checota-firms-scrutinized-in-federal-investigations/article_3d4f8246-8177-5d88-8973-8b345ec758ba.html
I never thought of Pete as an apologist, and there are recent examples that he really is not.
If you go back to the Schweitzer wing of the Dem party setting up ad hoc central committees to rig a nomination for Rob Quist, or the same Dem party selling out to Hillary, he never apologized, or would even discuss the issues. I’ve never heard of a silent apologist 🙂