by Travis Mateer
I don’t make the claim that Martin Kidston’s online news rag, the Missoula Current, is a propaganda mouth-piece for the political establishment in Missoula as some outsider-critic. When I claim Martin Kidston’s work is a PR extension of Missoula political establishment I am making that claim as a former insider of the Mayor’s Downtown Advisory Commission.
To show you how kick-ass I was back then (making all the right people happy) here is a link showing I was nominated for the Downtowner of the Year award in 2014:
Anne Guest, director of the Missoula Parking Commission, was presented with the 2014 Downtowner of the Year Award at the Missoula Downtown Association’s annual Awards Banquet last week at the Doubletree Hotel.
Guest was one of 21 award nominees for the MDA’s six prestigious awards that recognize individuals and businesses who make Downtown a great place.
Others nominated for the Downtowner of the Year award were Travis Mateer of the Poverello Center and Greg Oliver of Oliver Consulting.
The Downtowner of the Year award is the most prestigious award with 25 community leaders earning that award since 1989.
I have an anecdotal story about Martin Kidston from back then that I think exemplifies his approach to “news” reporting. It was during a meeting of the Mayor’s downtown commission where we had planned on discussing the challenges of chronic homelessness and public daytime intoxication threatening commerce. These meetings are open to the public, but no one ever showed up, so we could talk freely as stakeholders about the issues.
One day Martin showed up. He was a Missoulian reporter back then, and he was there to report on what we were discussing, but it was obvious that his presence was not well-received by those of us in attendance and that his presence was going to keep us from talking as openly as we normally would have.
Lucky for us, Martin was a good boy and chose to leave. He seemed to intuitively understand, without words being spoken, that this was not the way to curry favor with the illuminated braintrust as they (including me) were working out their schemes.
Now, fast forward to the “reporting” efforts of Martin’s online news rag today, and see how two recent articles show how that past intuitiveness has evolved into overt bootlicking.
The first piece is total shit, in my not so humble opinion. The stink immediately begins wafting from the title: Practice what they preach? Helen lawmakers increasingly meddle in local affairs. The entire setup for this political hit piece is that Republicans who don’t like Federal overreach are hypocrites when they “meddle” in dens of victimhood like Missoula. One of my favorite excerpts is this rot:
But increasingly, the legislators sent to Helena from other counties have taken a keen interest in Missoula politics and have worked to head off ordinances they dislike. From gun regulations to vaping, the examples aren’t hard to find.
“I would hope that Legislators keep in mind that pendulums swing and efforts to negate the will of local voters and the authority of local officials can be a two-way street,” Engen said. “I’d ask that lawmakers put themselves in the shoes of locals and think about how they’d feel about Missoula imposing its will on Scobey.”
This article, and the divisive setup pitting Republicans in Helena against Democrats in Missoula, is a dynamic I believe Martin Kidston is very invested in maintaining, to the point of selectively reporting on what a Missoula Democrat recently said to his fellow state legislators in Helena.
Now, let’s take a look at that SECOND Missoula Current article, starting with the benign title: Missoula legislator’s bill adds duplexes, triplexes to single-family zones. Here’s an excerpt:
On Tuesday at the Montana Legislature, a coalition of proponents from differing backgrounds lined up to support a bill they say would increase housing supply to meet out-of-control demand, thus reducing prices.
House Bill 134, sponsored by Rep. Danny Tenenbaum, D-Missoula, would force cities with more than 5,000 residents to allow developers to build duplexes in single-family zones. The bill would require cities with more than 50,000 residents to allow triplexes and quadplexes in the same neighborhoods.
“If we continue down the path that we’re on, we’re effectively evicting Montanans from Montana,” Tenenbaum told the House Local Government Committee.
There is a glaring omission here, but you wouldn’t know it if you ONLY read Martin’s PR rag. If you read other news sources, like the Montana Free Press, you will discover WHY Rep. Danny Tenebaum, a Missoula Democrat, is asking his fellow state legislators to meddle in Missoula’s affairs. From an actual news source:
“We can no longer be members of the communities we grew up in. We’re being evicted from our own state,” Tenenbaum said. “I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s the reality for an increasing number of Montanans.”
Tenenbaum also argued the Legislature should take control of municipal zoning because local politics have prevented mayors and city commissions from effectively addressing their housing problems. He requested the bill, he said, after coming away frustrated from meetings with Missoula Mayor John Engen and City Council members about reining in zoning requirements there.
“They said they want to do this, but they can’t because a few loud voices appear at local planning boards and City Council meetings and say, ‘Absolutely not. We cannot do this — it would ruin our neighborhood character,’” Tenenbaum said. “And that scares city councils, it scares elected officials, and I think it really gets at the root of the problem, why we’re not seeing sufficient supply in certain parts of the state.”
This MUCH MORE informative news reporting totally undermines Kidston’s bullshit PR crap he tries passing off as news in the first link, and makes the drivel from our Mayor stand out as the fecal pile it is:
“I’ve long argued that local elected officials are highly accountable to the residents they serve and live with the consequences of their actions as residents themselves,” Engen said. “And while there are circumstances in which central, consistent rules makes sense for states and the federal government, there’s considerable room for local jurisdictions to make the values of their communities manifest through laws and policies.”
You will not be a well-informed Missoula citizen if all you consume is PR from sources like the Missoula Current. If this post doesn’t make that obvious, well, enjoy your NEW MISSOULA.