by Travis Mateer
Right before the pandemic, a lot of shit was going down in Missoula, like felony charges for Brandon Bryant for verbally threatening City Council members while a drug dealer, Josh Paniagua, faced ZERO consequences for stabbing Ben Mousso to death in “self defense” over a drug deal gone bad.
Because of the pandemic, Bryant’s trial was postponed until this month. I had no idea it was even going on until it was essentially over. The trial took three days, only three council members testified to being scared, and Bryant was then acquitted of the felony charge of intimidation. Here’s a look at who the scaredy cats are:
Missoula Mayor John Engen told a jury he wasn’t afraid of a man accused of threatening public officials.
Veteran Brandon Bryant landed in jail shortly after he brought a Japanese training sword to a council meeting and criticized a special property tax called TIF.
Prosecutors used that and an edited video of Bryant to charge him with a felony.
We’re told three council members, Bryan von Lossberg, Gwen Jones and Julie Merritt testified they all feared him. But defense attorneys picked at events in their lives that may have triggered their fear.
I wonder what “events” Bryant’s defense attorney found in the lives of our city officials that cast doubt on their fear factor claims?
If I had known about this trial, then I would have attended and reported on what transpired. Was public participation over this use of prosecutorial power denied the public because of the political sensitivities involved?
Luckily for those in power, Missoula citizens don’t seem overly concerned with how their local officials use and abuse their power. I can only assume the degradation of our local media landscape, combined with the ideological blinders that give liberal politicians massive political cover, has rendered our community incapable of seeing the stark contrast between charging a man with a felony for using words while a killer gets no trial for using a knife to kill another human being.
If you think our criminal injustice system is working just fine in Missoula, then, by all means, keep Mayor Engen around for a fifth term.
Or, if you want to send a message to our craven political establishment, please consider voting for ABE (anyone but Engen) in the upcoming September primary.
And remember to tune in to Zoom Town, a podcast I launched back in January to examine the rapid changes occurring in our gentrified valley. There will be A LOT to discuss in this week’s episode, which I’ll be recording with my co-host, Tim Adams, tomorrow.
So stay tuned…
Old Julie Merritt should fear me too. The commie she is.
I laugh out loud each time I hear allusions to Julie Merritt or other similarly-aligned alderpersons, or the mayor, being “left-leaning,” “socialist,” “communist,” “very liberal” or “an extreme progressive.” Their policies are about as far from that orientation as one can imagine. What is instead happening is that economic cleansing is underway. It’s demonstrable and beyond reasonable dispute (given that Missoula is #33 of all U.S. cities in terms of income inequality) that, like other cities across the U.S.,ours is being exploited for the immense profits of already extraordinarily wealthy people and artificial persons; and the working classes, along with retirees, small local businesses, and most of our renters (who are nearly half our population and have a median annual income of $31,00/year or less; 1/3 of our residents struggle on less than $25,000/yr.). Multistate development consortiums, multimillionaires, real estate speculators, banks, big annuity and pension fund conglomerates, property management corporations and major landlords make out like bandits as regular folks are driven out or into a camp. All paid for with public funds. Retirees, disabled, infirm, unemployed, full-time workers at median wages, all at risk. Forty percent-plus of Missoulians now derive 100% of their income passively from rent collections and dividends. These primarily aren’t locals.
That’s not a “left-leaning” program. It’s predatory economic cleansing of our community. The maintenance of a “right-vs.-left” narrative prevents people from thinking of matters as they really are: Missoula is nearly past the tipping point of rapidly becoming a haven for the very rich, only, forever losing its character as a place for all to work, raise children, study, create and recreate.
edit: “…less than $25,000 per year) are cost-burdened. …”
Here we had three purportedly “very liberal” Alderpersons — Von Lossberg, Merritt and Jones — who, according to the prosecutor’s closing agrument, were in tears when they testified. I, too, am curious about the cross examination and hope an unofficial transcript is forthcoming. That was some great defense investigation. I’m wondering who the defense lawyer used as investigator.
On the ‘right’ side, were Councilman Jesse Ramos and his two “Team Liberty” Council allies Sandra Vasecka and John Contos, and purported “lefty” Alderwoman Heather Harp. Much respect for those four.
I wish like Hell I could have watched the trial. I was among a small number of residents who gathered at the Courthouse to greet and wish good luck to Brandon, his attorney and his mother.
You never would have been let in; over defense objections, Judge Vanatta limited public attendance to six.