by Travis Mateer
It seems like just yesterday (because it was) that I mocked County shelter project whatever, Casey Gannon, for being ignorant or a liar when he claimed the Reserve Street bridge area was being successfully managed until just recently, when people started RETURNING to live and generate TONS of trash again.
I’m writing about this topic again, a day later, because the MOST AMAZING article just showed up at NBC Montana that I think warrants all the ‘I TOLD YOU SOs’ greeting readers at the top of this post.
Instead of the false success Gannon tried spinning for the media, it seems reality has set in, reality like this:
Nearly three months after the Montana Department of Transportation locked the gates to keep people from camping under Missoula’s Reserve Street Bridge, the chains are now cut and six to 10 people are camping in the area again.
District Administrator Bob Vosen says it may only get worse.
As readers may recall, I’ve determined Bob Vosen’s role in this charade is to be a soccer ball. But with all the money that’s been uselessly directed at this blackhole of idiocy, I may have to go with pinball–the kind that hits things and racks up points for the player feeding the machine the coins.
For a reminder on the coinage the fencing cost, here’s the price tag from last year:
The Montana Department of Transportation is contracting Idaho Fence for construction.
District administrator Bob Vosen tells NBC Montana the fence will be 3,133 feet with seven gates.
The estimated cost of the fence is $163,686.
Once upon a time this amount of money could buy a fucking house. Now it’s chump change (thanks taxpayer!) going to a failed strategy I told PINBALL Bob, in more than one phone conversation, would end up this way.
Listen to the DINGS this pinball is singing now about the COMBINED failure of the private security firm, Rogers International, and the idiotic fence an Idaho fence company installed (partially) last summer.
MDT hired Rogers International security to patrol and try to keep people from under the bridge, but a Ninth Circuit Court decision limits what enforcement actions they can take. The decision says cities can’t criminalize homelessness through citations or other means.
In response, MDT is putting their efforts on hold.
“We do have some holdouts that are still down there who have moved back or have been extremely resistant to relocating,” said Vosen. “So rather than keep throwing resources at it without a strong legal backing, we’ve decided to suspend things until we have that strong legal backing we need.”
That means Rogers International won’t be patrolling the area until they can legally enforce no trespassing. They won’t replace chains and locks that have been cut either.
“It’s just an effort of futility until we have something we can go forward and process with,” said Vosen.
Do you see all this failure? I want to add emphasis, but then would be tempted to just bold the whole thing.
And I haven’t even included yet the intentional failure of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department, who join the chorus in shouting NINTH CIRCUIT COURT DECISION like a “wounded” Vet with an eyepatch shouting PTSD to avoid accountability.
Here’s why no one can do anything:
Vosen says MDT, in conjunction with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, wants a court order that they have the authority to remove people from the area when they’re trespassing.
We called the sheriff’s office and spoke with PIO Jeannette Smith to confirm. She said that would be an MDT initiative and the sheriff’s office did not have plans to pursue a court order.
“We’re working toward that now,” said Vosen. “We definitely aren’t turning a blind eye, we’re doing everything we can.”
Sure, PinBob, I’m sure a court order will happen some day. Of course, to be ever malleable to the other forces that moves Bob’s balls, there’s “no timeline” for this new last final great hope of a court order. Just a feeble claim of “right direction”.
Vosen says there isn’t a timeline for when they may have that backing, but they’re moving in the right direction, calling it a long, slow, challenging process.
While PinBob does his thing, volunteers like me will be rolling up our sleeves next Friday to accomplish more in one day, in terms of trash removal, than the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars have done over the years.
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!