Breaking Their Narrative Control, RV Edition

by Travis Mateer

When the Mayor’s communication guru, Ginny Merriam, tackles a challenging issue in the press, like the reality of RV living in Zoom Town, I know I’m getting high-grade narrative management that in no way corresponds to the actual reality of what’s happening on the ground.

Here’s what the Mayor’s mouthpiece WANTS you to think they are doing within the confines of the court ruling that ties their hands:

“We’re mindful of the 9th Circuit Court ruling that told municipalities in the whole Ninth Circuit district we’re not to criminalize homelessness,” explained city communications manager, Ginny Merriam. “So, writing tickets for camping or throwing people in jail for camping is not a best practice and that is not something that we are doing.

“But we’re attempting to balance taking care of people as best we can with respecting their rights and respecting public safety as well.”

And here’s the reality:

I’m not sure telling a woman to SHUT THE FUCK UP after rousing her from sleep is all that respectful, but maybe Ginny Merriam is operating on a different understanding of what respect means.

The stories in the media about the visibility of the less fortunate are happening right now because the Johnson Street shelter will be closing in exactly one week, so it’s important for Ginny and the gang to say 9TH CIRCUIT COURT really loud. Repeat it enough and it might work like a magical spell to make the reporters disappear–at least until a tragedy happens, or the snow starts to fall again.

It can be a little jarring how our community can so quickly shift from CELEBRATING all the innovative options for homelessness creatively funded over the years when it’s convenient, then turn around and LAMENT the lack of options when one component of the triage isn’t available.

Here’s the current look at capacity, according to the reporting of NBC Montana:

“We do not have in Missoula enough indoor beds for all the people who need shelter,” said Ginny Merriam, the communications director for the city of Missoula.

Merriam says the 78 beds at the Poverello Center, the 20 tents at the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space and the 40 tent sites at the Authorized Camping Site are all either full or almost full.

With such sparse offerings, it’s a good thing someone has developed a plan.

No, not another 10 year plan to END homelessness. This is a more targeted plan, called an INCIDENT ACTION PLAN.

So many great plans for a great town that does SO MANY great things.

When are those Ukrainians set to arrive again?

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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2 Responses to Breaking Their Narrative Control, RV Edition

  1. Greg Strandberg says:

    Don’t forget the CDC’s role in perpetuating homelessness in America. For over two years now, the Pov has been unable to house their full capacity of nearly 200, instead putting up just 78. This is per the CDC guidelines, which haven’t been updated since February 10. At the time, the 7-day average of covid cases was over 700 in Missoula. For the past month it’s been hovering around 25. Nationally, it went from 172,000 to around 30,000 for the past month.

    So…why isn’t the CDC changing its policy? When are they going to? And why isn’t anyone in the local media talking about this? After all, over 100 people in Missoula wouldn’t have to sleep outside if the feds would just change this. They could do so overnight, changing hundreds of thousands of lives instantly.

    Why don’t they?

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