by Travis Mateer
Missoula’s 16 year mayoral incumbent, John Engen, was on KGVO yesterday discussing his hopes and dreams for Missoula, like how, if it was up to him, we’d be in full-blown medical apartheid by now, with only the vaccinated who show their papers allowed to participate in society.
One caller asked Engen if, in a perfect world, he had the power to mandate a vaccination card before being allowed to receive services at a local business, Engen responded.
“Thank you Alan,” he said. “It turns out that my job is to be on the spot and to make decisions. I try to make those decisions with lots of information and not in a vacuum. But I but I think the idea of having proof of vaccination to get service in public places is a good idea.”
While I DO NOT agree with creating a two-tiered society based on vaccination status, the idea of PROVING something does have some appeal to me. Let me explain.
Since John Engen is a self-admitted drunk who disappeared during his mayoral tenure to get treatment, and since his communication director, Ginny Merriam, is also personally tied to another dangerous drunk, maybe it would be a good idea to have John Engen PROVE his sobriety with daily breathalyzer tests. I suggest one test before the work day starts, and one at the end of the day to ensure no liquid lunches were imbibed.
During the KGVO interview, a caller brought up the alcohol question, and Engen had this to say about his addiction:
Wrapping up the conversation, one caller asked the Mayor about his personal journey through his treatment for alcoholism, and he did not shy away from answering.
“I will celebrate five years of sobriety on the 25th of this month, which is two days shy of my 57th birthday,” he said. “It’s tough, but there are so many folks who are affected by addiction. But I quickly discovered I was and that I’m not alone.”
No, Engen, you are not ALONE in being a drunk. But NO ONE ELSE in the past 16 years can claim to be a DRUNK MAYOR like you were.
Five years ago I wrote about our drunk-ass Mayor and included a quote from the Missoula Independent. This was before the Independent was bought and shuttered by Lee Enterprises. Very convenient for a Mayor with LOTS to hide.
Here’s the Indy excerpt I preserved for posterity:
Engen’s drinking habits were far from a mystery. At least one Indy staffer has stood in line behind an obviously intoxicated Engen, and stories of the overindulged mayor out on the town aren’t hard to find. And yet local media—the Indy included—has looked the other way. Which says something about our respect for Engen’s privacy, our discomfort with wagging a hypocritical finger and, just perhaps, the community’s complicity in enabling the mayor’s self-destructive behavior.
As uncomfortable as that suggestion is, awkward questions remain. Did the mayor’s drinking problem affect city business? Was there a precipitating event—as is so often the case with substance abuse—that convinced the mayor of the need to seek help? City officials say Engen won’t discuss the matter further.
This speculation about what Engen may have done, while drunk, to impact city business, is no longer a big concern for local media, despite the fact Missoula taxpayers may STILL BE PAYING for Engen’s drunkenness.
What do I mean by that?
I would like to know how drunk our Mayor was before, during, and after dragging the city into the water company litigation that we were told was going to be about $800,000 dollars. Remember that?
At first, both the city and Carlyle said the city would pick up the tab for all parties, and the city estimated a worst-case scenario would be $800,000 total. Later, when the legal bills grew, the city argued it might not be responsible for all the defense costs.
According to statute, the city will pay the “necessary expenses of litigation” the court awards to defendants, and the city believes some of the legal activity by the defense is far from “necessary.”
Either way, the city will pay its own bill, some $1.9 million as of last week. A recent estimate of the total for all parties hit $5 million.
That quote is from a Montana Standard article published March 14th, 2015. Now, here’s an excerpt from a November, 2020, NBC Montana article about the costs of this litigation:
Since 2017, the city of Missoula refused our numerous requests for a detailed accounting of more than $9 million in attorneys’ fees and other costs spent to take over Missoula’s privately owned water utility.
But even after our fight gained access to some of the information we wanted, critics say what happened is still far from transparent.
Missoula now owns its water system. You probably don’t think of that when you turn on the tap. But if you are a Missoula Water customer, you’re paying off a $91 million purchase of a private company called Mountain Water. That’s just for the company. By the time you total bills for improvements, add in some of the other side’s legal fees and financing charges, the total price is $112.6 million paid by Missoula Water customers.
It’s impossible to quantify the impact of our Mayor’s alcoholism on city business during his long tenure because our most critical voice of investigative journalism, the Missoula Independent, explicitly admitted ignoring what they knew about Engen.
What else do people know about Engen that is being kept from the public?
What does Ginny Merriam know? What does Ellie Boldman know? What does Susan Hay Patrick know? What does Eran Pehan know? What does Mike Brady know? What does T.J. McDermott know? What does Jim Strauss know? What does Martin Kidston know?
If YOU know something and would like to share it, hit me up at willskink at yahoo dot com.
And thanks for reading!