by Travis Mateer
This is what I was afraid of when I first heard that the “hard date” of January 25th was selected by Bob Vosen at the Montana Department of Transportation as the LEAVE OR ELSE date for evicting residents like “A” from his sprawling encampment under the Reserve Street bridge.
If Bob Vosen was less of a soccer ball being kicked around by people with more influence than him, maybe he could have put together a plan to back up this date with a compassionate but firm relocation effort, but instead we get this:
I took this picture on February 3rd, over a week after the notice of enforcement went up. After taking this picture I approached the encampment, but had to pause due to a verbal argument between a woman and someone else (not “A”) developing in a tent.
I decided to give the couple some space with their domestic dispute and checked in with the pawn shop instead. The owner was at the counter, so we had a nice discussion about the murky, shifting strategies being cooked up between Soccer Ball Bob and his private security solution, Rogers International.
When I last spoke with Bob, he gave me the impression that some kind of clean-up was being planned for March. For those following the local reporting on this, here’s how the Mayor was discussing the possible approach to controlling and maintaining this area at the end of last year (typos NOT mine, that’s all Gomer):
Engen said the city may look to contract out the cleanup work, and the county has expressed interest in possibly partnering in the effort. Ideally, Engen said, the contractor would be on call for other cleanups as well, including those related to crime scenes.
The Missoula Police Department has expressed interest as well, Engen said.
“Victims can be doubly victimized by the fact that their house is now a mess, a crime scene, and a source of continuing trauma,” Engen said. “We want to find a way to establish a cleanup fund and have someone all call for those incidents. That might be a cause for the sheriff’s department as well.”
Engen is doing what he’s good at here: using words to convey a concept that requires the establishment of a “fund”.
And I’m doing what I’m good at here: reporting on my on-the-ground efforts to visit “A” in person in order to explain that, one day soon, the dumb soccer ball is going to bring a wrecking ball down on the illusion these inept bureaucrats (and the public/private bullies who kick them around) have created for this mentally ill man.
For that, shame on them. All of ’em.