Mayor Dictator And His Ornamental City Council

by William Skink

Some elected leaders see authoritarian opportunity with this pandemic. In Hungary Victor Orban has transformed himself into a dictator and now rules by decree.

In Missoula our little dictator, Herr Engen, took his new authority out for a spin when he signed the purchase agreement to use a million dollars in TIF money to buy the Sleepy Inn 3 days BEFORE City Council met to vote on this proposed sale.

I guess the people elected to govern Missoula are now merely ornamental. From the link:

Missoula Mayor John Engen signed an agreement for the city of Missoula to purchase a motel on West Broadway three days before the City Council approved the deal. The agreement was contingent on the Council’s approval.

NBC Montana is waiting to hear from the city as to why documents were signed before the council approved the deal.

The Missoula City Council meets Monday to discuss the topic.

So what are you going to do about this Bryan von Lossberg? What are you going to do about this Gwen Jones? Are there spines in those self-isolating meat sacks yours?

City Council voted to give Engen expanded powers last month and, as far as I can tell, Engen still retains those powers despite the fact City Council is using technology in order to continue doing the business of governing. From the link:

With a vote of caution, the Missoula City Council on Monday unanimously agreed to grant the mayor wider powers to authorize contracts and agreements above a certain dollar amount, so long as they were previously budgeted.

The move saw no dissent among council members, who are working to expedite city business but limit exposure as the COVID-19 pandemic brings other functions to a standstill.

City Council voted unanimously (including Team Liberty) to give Engen the ability to be even more unilaterally sneaky, so my question is this: what did they expect? Engen is behaving exactly the way I would expect a deceitful politician to behave.

How about this, ornamental Council members, you have a choice: either vote to rescind those expanded powers, since technology allows you to govern while hiding in your homes, or just put your tail between your legs and shut up.

Mayor Engen, through this unilateral action, has loudly declared that the council members Missoulians elected no longer matter when it comes to deciding how public money will be spent.

Is Missoula a one-man fiefdom now? If so, the taxpayers facing an economic depression would like to know. If Council members don’t want to do their jobs anymore, I’m sure there are plenty of available, out-of-work citizens who wouldn’t mind getting paid to pretend to govern via Zoom.

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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9 Responses to Mayor Dictator And His Ornamental City Council

  1. olbossy says:

    Eagan’s a front for Lord Nick. Your on it. What scheme is next?

  2. TC says:

    Missoulian provided cover for this scheme with editorial this AM. Expect Missoula Current to continue to normalize in tomorrow’s edition.
    Also, comments on KECI’s FB about this included an email regarding the true state of the hotel. Let the TIF money roll!

    • JC says:

      TC, the whole motel if not fully remodeled before being repurposed will have to be decontaminated for meth. Pretty much the whole place, probably every room over the last few years, has been used for shooting meth, distribution, and some manufacturing. This I know, in ways I don’t want to talk about.

  3. Here’s the letter from the Health Department’s Michael Dorshorst, dated March 26:

    Here are some glaring issues that our own government raised about this property:

    Yellow water runs from faucets for several minutes after they’ve been turned on;

    Several rooms have a “severe biological odor emanating from inside them…it may be sewer, mold, decaying pests, other…”;

    “Guest laundry had live bedbugs, other insects, and rodent feces”;

    “Flooring in all the rooms is not in compliance”;

    There’s a lot more I’m not listing, and the compliance check only looked at unoccupied rooms. A smart owner, perhaps knowing this inspection was coming, might have moved tenants into the worst of the rooms so the inspectors would miss the most glaring problems.

    Let’s also look at that date of March 26. At that time, our state had only been shut down for 11 days. Congress had just passed the stimulus bill the day before. Based on the timing and the letter and the work to even get the compliance check started by March 26…well, you can tell they were thinking about this for at least a week before that, probably longer.

    I don’t think this was ever about the homeless, that just provided a good cover story to take over this property and hand it to friendly developers. Don’t forget the whole project now falls under ‘Trump’s Opportunity Zone’ rules that were passed with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Grant Keir and his MEP have been all over that, trying to find out-of-state investors to remodel that area into something ‘special.’

    I can’t wait to hear more about this story, and I think most homebound Missoulians are also eager for more news on it. Tomorrows ‘virtual’ City Council meeting should be a doozy!

  4. JC says:

    The more I think about it, and look at the maps for location, it becomes apparent that this property is just another highly sought after piece of the gentrification puzzle on W.Broadway. It is at the intersection of Russell and Broadway, with immediate access to river front trails and parks, other amenities, and future direct access to I-90. Developer’s paradise. It may be able to fulfill a temporary role in the shelter in place and quarantine directives if it can be made habitable in time.

    But my take is that they won’t be able to move anybody in there in time to be relevant for its stated purpose (quarantining homeless individuals). I’ll bet the whole place is torn down and handed over to developers to create another mixed-use facility with street level businesses, and condos/apartments catering to a variety of work force needs, with enough of a sprinkling of low income units available to qualify it for tax breaks and grants. And of course, another round of TIF to tear it down and prepare infrastructure for the new development.

    What is certain is that the Health Department won’t let the County (who’s going to manage it I guess) open it up until all health concerns are dealt with. And that will take many months. And will the City want to expend funds to remodel and bring it into compliance, or deflect those funds to redevelopment. Stay tuned!

  5. Djinn&Tonic says:

    There’s Micro, then there’s Macro…

  6. Djinn&Tonic says:

    Speaking of Our Lord Nick, is he taking advantage of hard times by buying pennies on the dollars from desperate small business?

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