Does Missoula Need An MRA Reeducation Camp?

by Travis Mateer

Short answer: yes, Missoula clearly needs something more potent than new graphics propagandizing the benefit of MRA’s gentrification engine, because Council members like Daniel Carlino and Kristen Jordan JUST DON’T SEEM TO BE GETTING IT.

That second link takes you to another iteration of Martin “Gomer” Kidston’s coercion campaign against Carlino and company for continuing to issue pesky NO votes on MRA related items before Council. This time, it’s the reappointment of a “community volunteer”, Ruth Reineking.

Here’s where Gomer starts in on the detractors (after praising Rieneking):

But four council members opposed Reineking’s reappointment, largely due to their opposition to MRA in general. Ward 3 council member Daniel Carlino suggested Reineking was part of an agency that gives “millions for redevelopment for corporate hotels, big banks and market rate housing.”

Carlino later took his attacks on MRA to his Twitter. However, he has blocked the Missoula Current from viewing his social media platforms. His comments are also misleading, advocates have said, citing state statute.

I had to laugh when I read the part about Carlino blocking Gomer on Twitter. That’s fucking hilarious, and forces Gomer to report on shit he can’t even read, relying instead on “advocates” telling him the comments he can’t read are misleading.

Great reporting, Gomer.

Further along in the article we get the sense that not only are these opponents not getting it, they’re getting MOUTHY about it. That’s why it’s nice to have a Gomer put them in their place, ensuring his audience understands Mirtha Becerra is telling the CORRECT story about the GLORY of MRA, as we’ll soon find out:

“When I think of MRA and tax increment financing, affordable housing comes to mind – parks, sidewalks and sewer connections,” said council member Mirtha Becerra. “(Reineking) has carried the goals of affordability and affordable housing with a lot of passion and dedication.”

Council member Kristen Jordan countered Becerra’s comments by saying “corporate welfare comes to mind.” But public comment called out such misstatements.

“I’d like to encourage the newer board members to actually look into what MRA does and do a little more research before making their opinions,” said Diane Stensland-Bickers. “MRA does some good work and they need to do some more research because their opinions are wrong.”

Who is this person telling Council members to do more research because their opinions are wrong? I’m not sure why Diane Stensland-Bickers gets the last word in Gomer’s article, but she does, so I dug around to find out what other topics Diane is trying to influence, and I found this about masking kids in schools:

I also dug around for more context on Ruth Reineking and found her glowing support of the pedestrian bridge scam that extended the life of the Urban Renewal District after the project took on massive debt.

Here’s Ruth from another Gomer article:

Ruth Reineking, a member of MRA’s Board of Directors, said that while the agency has long partnered with public and private entities to help improve economic vitality, create jobs and encourage investment, the new bridge represents a milestone in public infrastructure.

“Through MRA, the city has constructed all pedestrian bridges in Missoula,” said Reineking. “This bridge, though, is by far the most high-tech, beautiful and exciting bridge project we’ve completed.”

Ruth can say how high-tech and beautiful this bridge is because the Gomer article is from 2017, before the problems with the bridge got so obvious and dangerous this absurd fix was required (emphasis mine):

The South Reserve Street pedestrian bridge in Missoula has an issue — it gets too icy in the winter for people to walk safely across it.

From September to May the bridge is subjected to frost, and the deck’s current heating and sensor system can’t keep up when temperatures dip below 20 degrees.

On Wednesday, Missoula’s Parks and Recreation Department approved fixing the bridge’s defrosting system.

It will cost the city $30,000 but is expected to help lower the electric cost to run the system and will not need as much maintenance from staff.

See Ruth, I DO do my research before forming my opinion that you are just another rubber-stamper for the Engen cabal.

Though we may not always agree on methods and tactics and the degree of cynicism required to navigate this beautiful cesspool (we’re gonna need to talk about the 420 party downtown, Missoula), I’d be happy to share a bunk with Danny at the MRA reeducation camp.

I’ve got a great Gomer song I think he’d appreciate.

Thanks for reading. And tomorrow, the poem…

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
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Does Missoula Need An MRA Reeducation Camp?

  1. I’VE BEEN WAITING for your reaction to this, and you didn’t disappoint. (I told you that Daniel Carlino would positively surprise you; he gets what’s happening with the exploitation of the housing crisis). Kristen Jordan clearly gets it, also. Two Lefties who refuse to drink the neoliberal kool-aid and who are not married to duplicitous Msla. Co. Democrats on this matter. Have you seen MT Democratic U.S. House primary candidate Cora Neuman’s TV ads? She is making this problem of enticing immigration from other states of uber rich, subsidized construction of high-end and market-rate housing, mass acquisition of housing stock by speculators, and establishment of a plutocracy/kleptocracy in Montana, the TOP ISSUE in her campaign.

    THE CITY IS ON A MISSION TO QUELL PUBLIC DISAPPROVAL, and has recently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (again) on a firm for ptoduiction of pro-TIF propaganda, has announced meetings to take public input on how TIF should be spent, and many other gestures designed to lull the ppublic onto complacency. SPace does not permit discussioj of all of these techniques, BUT LET’S EXAMINE THE BLITZKRIEG OF LOCAL GOV’T TIF PROPAGANDA AND NARRATIVE-CONSTRUCTION THAT HAS FLOODED MISSOULA IN RECENT WEEKS:

    HAVE YOU SEEN THE PROPAGANDA LITERATURE THE CITY HAS DISTRUBUTED TO MEDICAL OFFICE WAITING ROOMS AND OTHER PLACES? I’m emailing you images, in case you haven’t seen it. “Propaganda” refers to communications which present one side of a controversy, promote one position on an issue, vilify and demonize adversaries, extoll the virtues of one candidate or party, etc. In common usage, it refers to such material that omits information contradicting or refuting the thesis of those propagating the material, and/or that makes false claims. Here’s a thumbnail review of the ~13″ x 24″ multicolor, tri-folded, ~ 60# paper propaganda sheet (greatly abbreviated due to space limitation) that “explains” Tax Incerement Financing on one side, and provides examples of how we are so much better off thanks to MRA and TIFm on the other. Side 1 depicts the Clark Fork as a revenue stream of propety taxes that flows past seven TIF projects and resulting benefits waypoints, to-wit:

    1. “WHERE DO PROPERTY TAXES GO?” We’re told that “about 30% of property taxes go to the city” out of the total divided among city, county & state gov’t.

    OMITTED: The percentage of property taxes going to the City is its preferred manner of stating this, as it does not detail the dollar amounts and further is used to support the false claim that Missoula’s TIF does not increase property taxes. When a TIF project creates increment, it also raises the assessed values of other properties near the project, tyherebvy increasding tyhjose other properties’ assessments and accordingly the property taxes paid on it. Several longtime, fanily-owned and other small businesses downtown are at risk of going out of busiuness because iof the TRIPLING of property taces on thos epropertues that happened when nearby TIF projects were undertaken. Thise increased property taxes are mostly passed onto the business tenants, nearly tripling their rents in one year. Some will now fail, and the building owners will have troublekeeping new tenants. Big, empty, historic buildings tend to accrue broken windows, graffiti etc, are not generating revenue for capitalists, and are soon declared “blight,” targeting them for demolition and replacement by chain big-box stores and the like, fueling gentrification. The fund ‘gets smaller and smaller” also, as service needs increase with the development of the property, but the increment collected as property tax on the increased value of the property being developed does not fund those newly needed services, instead going “back into the district” (i.e, back to MRA) to fund future projects in the district.

    2. “BLIGHTED AREAS NEED HELP.” Some parts of Missoula suffer from a lack of housing, commercial development, and basic infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks, utilities, parks, sidewalks, utilities and trails. Without help, an area would suffer, resulting in lower proprety values. This would cause the fund for essential City services to getr smaller and smaller.”

    OMITTED: The fund ‘gets smaller and smaller” also, as service needs increase with the development of the property, but the increment collected as property tax on the increased value of the property being developed does not fund those newly needed services, instead going “back into the district” (i.e, back to MRA) to fund future projects in the district.

    3. “FUNDING COMMUNITY NEEDS. MRA staff works with the community to makje aplan that reflects the needs and ideas of residents, landowners and businesses. City Council creates a district to help a struggling area recover and grow.”

    OMITTED: Moreover, much of Missoula’s TIF is not used for “blight” remediation but rather to rain money on multistate construction consortiums and their local oligarch partners, for demolition of historic and affordable, primarily rental, housing units, subsidized construction of massive condo,apartment and house developments appealing to the 1%, tossing in a handful of “affordable units” that well over half of our residents cannot afford, and projects having nothing to do with blight, such as new gov’t bldgs (which generate ZERO property taxes!!) and pet projects of gov’t officials.

    4. “TWO REVENUE STREAMS. Once a district is formed, the City, County, and the School Districts continue to receive the same revenue stream from property taxes (from the day the district was created until the district ends), The life of a district is determined by state law. When new development happens in the district property and a property is improved, taxes on the property go up. The difference between the old tax amount and the new tax amount is called the tax increment and it creates a new revenue stream. Thus money is placed in a fund for further development in the district.”

    OMITTED: MRA and the Council get around the state statutory TIF district lifetime limits by approving additonal projects in these very large districts; new TIF investment in a district automatically extends the life of the district for (as I recall) fourteen years. Also, as noted in my “omitted” facts re #2 above, the original revenue stream becomes smaller relative to the increased city services required by the new development, which may or may not even generate propety taxes depending upon its nature and purpose, and in any event diverts all increased property taxes on the property into the MRA slush fund for the LIFE OF THE DISTRICT. See, #5 below.

    5. “PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS MAKE THE FUND GROW. Early in a district’s life, the MRA encourages new private projects in the district by investing in parts of projects that benefit the community. These investments include things like sidewalks, street lighting for safety, community infrastructure like water and sewer lines, environmental remediation, historic preservation, and deconstruction that keeps materials out of our landfill. Investing in public/private partnerships is necessary to build the revenue to fund public projects later in the life of the district.”

    OMITTED: None of Missoula’s outrageous abuses of TIF are mentioned, of course. Neither are the gentrifying and carpetbagging mentioned that are faciliated by those abuses .

    ON SIDE TWO, we’re provided a photo tour of six TIF projects. Included among them, undet rthe caption PUBLIC BUILDINGS, is the new public library, that received $500,000 in taxpayer MRA TIF funds but which will generatre ZERO in property taxes — neither a frozen base property tax, nor tax revenue from increment, because PUBLIC BUILDINGS ARE NOT PROPERTY TAXED! But property taxes on nearby properties, including property taxes of older, small single-family houses, leading to their demolition and replacement by higher-cost housing and by franchise businesses, huge high-end housing developments, etc.

    — JKH

  2. Daniel Carlino says:

    Thanks for covering this Kidston TIF propaganda. Now another major TIF project is coming up for the events center, hotel & housing on riverfront triangle..I wonder how this will play out again with the new council

Leave a Reply