On Outsider Jabs And Hometown Claims

by Travis Mateer

The Mayor of Zoom Town is not a stupid man. In fact, as a former newspaper man, our FOUR term Mayor understands how to frame a story, and this go around it’s going to be I’M RUNNING FOR MAYOR OF MY HOMETOWN!

That link takes you to the Mayor’s canned speech where the framing couldn’t be clearer after this concluding jab:

We’ve seen too clearly the havoc that’s the product of inexperienced, arrogant, “outsider” leadership. I stand ready to be of service for the next four years as mayor of the place we love but know can get better.

The outsider/insider dynamic is a familiar point of tension in backyard politics, and it’s one Engen will try to use to his advantage, despite championing that NEW URBAN Development Director from Florida and bringing in a new Police Chief from California.

Another HOMETOWN Missoula candidate for office, J. Kevin Hunt, is having to fight for every first-impression-making word being strung together by the Missoulian’s Jordan Hansen. Below I am reprinting, with permission, Mr. Hunt’s email detailing his problems with how his hometown status is being tarnished.


Dear Jordan:

I respectfully must insist that a correction be published to your second updated April 22 article about municipal election filings.

You emailed me at 3:20 pm April 22, requesting a statement of why I was running, and the story then ran stating that I did not respond by deadline, which must have been imminent when you emailed me.

I responded a couple hours later upon checking my email, with a statement of who I am and why I am running for the Ward 1 Missoula City Council seat from which Brian von Lossberg is retiring. That statement began by stating that I am a graduate of Rattlesnake Grade School, Hellgate High School, and the University of Montana, all of which I presume you know are here in Missoula.

I asked that this information be included in story updates.

Ten minutes later, the story was updated without including the requested information. That was understandable, so I emailed you again asking that you include the information you requested of me, in subsequent updates.

I just read the latest update, in which you wrote that I “practiced law for 30 years in Oregon before moving to Missoula” and then simply repeated that I did not respond by deadline. As the story was twice updated over the next 24 hours, it was no longer accurate to say I did not respond by deadline, and I likewise do not understand why you cherry-picked one fact and did not even present that one fact in a manner that was not highly misleading, by virtue of your omission of all other information I supplied to you.

I GREW UP IN MISSOULA. I ran for Missoula City Council twice before attending law school. I live in the house in which I grew up. I have lost both parents in the last two years. My ties to Missoula are very strong. I am engaged to someone who attended Hellgate at the same time as me. While in law school, I frequently returned here for weeks at a time, kept abreast of things and The Missoulian even published two op-eds by me while I resided in Oregon City, one about the passing of artist and friend Rudy Autio.

Given that my campaign highlights, among other things, the effects of city policies that promote out-of-state rich speculators and very wealthy transplants moving here in droves and buying up numerous houses, it holds me in a very false light to print that I “practiced law in Oregon for 30 years before moving to Missoula,” omitting entirely my first sentence in which I said I was a graduate of a Missoula elementary school, a Missoula secondary school, and Missoula-based University of Montana.

I fail to comprehend this. I responded to an email you sent me at 3:20 pm. I then sent a followup. It seems that you either did not check your email for my response before your subsequent two deadlines, or did read my information and chose to write the story as you did.

Either way, I’m sure you agree that this is unfair in the context of the opening day of campaigns. You have branded me as merely a recent transplant when, in fact, this is my home town.

Accordingly, I request that you publish an update including the statement I provided to you. The statements by several other candidates were quite verbose, so I expect that mine can be printed without any qualms. I have subjoined it to this message.

It’s my desire to be always transparent in my public dealings, and to be courteous and responsive to the press. The people of Missoula deserve accurate and robust reporting on these important races that will decide Missoula’s future.


/s/ J. Kevin Hunt
Candidate for Ward 1

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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1 Response to On Outsider Jabs And Hometown Claims

  1. J. Kevin Hunt says:

    I’ll be reminding Engen’s audience that I was Hellgate High student body President years before he held that post. 🙂 Looking around, I don’t see anyone else to whom Mayor Engen could be referring when he disses “arrogant” “out-of-town” leadership, but perhaps that’s vanity on my part. Yep, Engen worked upstairs at The Missoulian, years after I worked nights in its basement while attending Hellgate High, and his Establishment-coddling former colleagues aren’t about to report salient facts, such as my home town pedigree, or that Ward 4 candidate (and Berkshire-Hathaway Vice President) Mike Nugent is son of entrenched City Attorney Jim Nugent (against whom I defended myself in a jury trial for an improper backing ticket IN 1977). Jim Nugent is the one who drafted the infamous “contract” with The Carlyle Group as Engen refused to challenge Carlyle Group’s acquisition of Mountain Water Co. From Oregon, I wrote City Atty Nugent telling him the “agreement” with Carlyle Group was worthless, which would have been obvious to a first-year law student. So, Engen announced that he didn’t want to be rude to Carlyle – the mega-huge private equity group represented by James Baker III of the Bush/Cheney Administrations & former Sec’y of State, who took up.the cause of Saudi Arabia against 9/11 victims’ families suing for damages in federal court. Engen assured Missoulians that Missoula would have first dibs when Carlyle dumped Mountain Water. Sure enough, when the time came, Engen made an offer and Carlyle told Missoula to stick it. As a consequence, millions were spent on lawyer’s fees and court costs fighting to condemn Mountain Water, which ultimately succeeded. For a mere pittance by comparison, Engen might have accomplished the objective years sooner by mounting a case against Carlyle’s acquisition of the water system before the Public Service Commission. As I warned them at the time, Carlyle could not be trusted, had been bilking taxpayers for years, and would not refrain from screwing Missoula just because Engen kissed Carlyle’s ass. So, the city penned a silly “agreement” merely obligating Carlyle to “consider” an offer from Missoula first, in exchange for Engen waiving Missoula’s right to contest the Carlyle takeover that was against the public interest. That is an example of Engen and Nugents’ competence, and now they hope to add Nugent’s Berkshire-Hathaway Vice Prez son to their regime. That should really help the 20,000+ Missoulians unable or barely able to afford rent, huh?

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