by Travis Mateer
I was asked recently how I left my job at the Poverello Center. I got what was being asked immediately: is this guy just playing out some personal gripe because he got fired or something?
It’s a fair question and asked by someone who has become familiar with how our community influencers REALLY act behind the smiles and nice words.
It was my choice to my leave my job as the Homeless Outreach Coordinator and I have been very upfront that it was the result of getting burned out doing the difficult work I was doing. I recognized that and groomed my replacement to take over, introducing him around to all the community contacts I made over the years.
The anger (which I try to minimize, but don’t always succeed) comes, in part, from how the community influences I once risked my personal safety for continue to manipulate the good will of this community to benefit themselves and, too often, their families.
I’m having lots of good conversations with people who get negatively depicted in all sorts of inaccurate and unfair ways, and I’m learning lots of interesting things.
Like how the President and CEO of Blue Line Development, Nathan Richmond, thinks the fact the land under the new TEMPORARY SAFTE OUTDOOR SPACE is in his wife’s name is enough to ward off scrutiny.
Or how the Socialist, Josh Decker (who just happened to provide Susan Hay Patrick with the opportunity to launch into her housing mantra on that damage control Zoom meeting) just happens to have a wife, Grace Decker, who WORKS at United Way running the Zero to Five program, a Pre-K program that just happens to align with one of our former Governor’s signature political issues.
Since the Montana legislature is gearing up next month, and since the legalization of weed will continue to be a contentious issue, fueled mostly by the persistent zealotry of Steve Zabawa, I wonder how prepared the pro-Cannabis side will be to fend off the coming attacks.
And here’s where the problem of money and conflicts of interest come into play for the pro-Cannabis side of this fight.
Before rejoining the legislative shit-show as a Representative for District 45, Ellie Hill and her husband, Tyler Smith, were caught up in claims of accessing privileged state information and getting an unfair business advantage as a result.
This February 2019 piece from freelance writer, Hunter Pauli, details the legal dustup. It’s kind of hard to follow, but seems to center on a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services about third party contracts (that no one has seen, but everyone knows about), and a claim that the Hill/Smith team was told that third party contracts were legal, while the rest of the industry was told the opposite.
While the legal stuff is a bit hard to follow, near the end of the article, Hill’s negotiations with DPHHS are described as follows:
After the permits for Lionheart and Big Sky were rejected in August, Hill said, she began negotiating with the health department and reached an agreement to grant the permits. Hill, who is also an attorney, said when process dragged on, the plaintiffs decided to sue.
The parties agreed to a stipulated preliminary injunction in December that granted permits for Lionheart and Big Sky in exchange for a commitment for the providers to follow tracking regulations via Metrc when using Willow Bark’s lab. Another stipulation was that Hill divest from Willow Bark, as the health department did not want a conflict of interest if marijuana products produced at Willow Bark were tested at White Buffalo, the marijuana testing lab owned by her husband.
Since the preliminary injunction, three more providers — Green Tree, Urban Farmer, and Spark1 — have signed on to the lawsuit, prompting a hearing in Missoula on Feb. 1 during which Hill hopes Judge Deschamps will extend the department’s agreement with Lionheart and Big Sky to additional providers.
“The law is on our side, the department is on our side, and it’s just a matter of time,” Hill said.
Yes, says LAWmaker/LAWyer/business-owner Ellie Hill, the LAW IS ON OUR SIDE!