Putting Non-Profit And Political Enablers On Notice: Think It’s Hot Now? Just You Wait…

by Travis Mateer

I was going to give the Director of the YWCA, Cindy Weese, a pass for not calling me back.

Sure, she spoke with me months ago about my concerns regarding the Lifeguard Group, and though she seemed to cautiously sympathize with those concerns, my recent calls have gone unanswered.

I assumed it was because she announced her retirement, so I backed off. That is, until reading this “viewpoint” co-signed by Weese, Jim Hicks of the Hope Rescue Mission, and Shannon Flanagan of Flanagan Motors.

Cindy Weese initially took my call because 7 years at the homeless shelter, including several years where we were direct neighbors after the Pov relocated to West Broadway, must have earned me at least a brief audience, but now the official language from Weese and Co. is this:

Missoula County has a history of meeting challenges with innovative, compassionate solutions. We know that if we don’t do anything, the problems will get worse, not better. 

Like many communities across our state and nation, Missoula is facing significant challenges in terms of housing, homelessness and people in our community who struggle with addiction and mental health issues. Ignoring these problems won’t keep our community healthy and safe. Instead, we need to connect those in need with services proven to help folks get back on their feet.

I don’t know if these three co-signers consumed psychedelic drugs before penning this bullshit, but MY experience with Missoula County doesn’t bring to mind words like “innovative” or “compassionate”. Maybe if I was still pounding Bota Box wine you could convince me that evidence of those words existed in this County, but once I sobered up I’d look around with my not-drunk eyeballs and know better.

Why does Cindy Weese not know better? Does she want to protect her legacy? Does she want to run for political office?

I don’t know, but now that she’s leaving her Director job at the YWCA, she no longer appears interested in what I may know about the LifeGuard group potentially putting survivors of human trafficking at GREATER risk with their pretenses of “helping” them.

Another person I reached out to around the same time I spoke with Weese is Penny Ronning. That was BEFORE I realized she was running for Congress. The reason I reached out is because of her involvement in an anti-trafficking task force. This is from her campaign site:

As a tenacious advocate for victims of human trafficking, I cofounded the Yellowstone County Area Human Trafficking Task Force, the largest such task force in Montana.  I have secured funding from the Montana Legislature for additional state agents to investigate human trafficking crimes, co-authored bills to strengthen laws on human trafficking, participated in national committees developing policy on crimes of human trafficking and child sexual abuse material, often referred to as child pornography, and, in 2020, I was the lone Montanan invited to attend the White House Summit on Human Trafficking. 

Does this part of Penny Ronning’s pedigree sound impressive? Too bad the Montana Human Trafficking Hotline in this state is such a joke. And people like Penny Ronning know it’s a joke, but because of politics, they are too fucking gutless to say anything about it.

How can they NOT know the hotline is a joke when numbers like this are being seriously reported:

These statistics would be kind of funny if the subject wasn’t so serious. Just like my post about WELCOMING traffickers would be hyperbolic if it wasn’t so damn true.

Getting back to the “viewpoint” of the 3 Amigos, here’s some of their touted solutions they want our community to keep enabling:

Initiatives such as the Emergency Winter Shelter, Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, and Authorized Camping Site prevent people from dying on our streets during extreme temperatures and from living in dangerous and dirty makeshift riverside camps. This past winter, 567 people received shelter and survived the cold Missoula winter. And, of the people served to date in the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, nearly half of them have moved into permanent housing.

While I’d like to comment on this excerpt, it’s the following service I’d like to question, because I’ve become all too familiar with what victims are dealing with in this caring, liberal community (emphasis mine):

The Crime Victims Advocate Program, meanwhile, helps victims of intimate partner violence achieve safe housing and personal power. Crime Victim Advocates save lives. The risk for domestic violence homicide increases when victims do not or cannot access early intervention. 

I would REALLY like to know how helping victims achieve safe housing and personal power is possible if the Crooked Tree Ranch is as shady as it appears to be.

There’s also that little matter of Lowell Hochhalter (Missoula County Sheriff Chaplain, LifeGuard Group CEO) wearing all those hats while begging God to end the lives of those who make his life hard. Is this what the 3 Amigos mean when they talk about INNOVATION and COMPASSION? If it is, well, don’t be surprised if victims of trafficking have to flee this entire state for safety.

I wonder what our Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, thinks about this? Can’t make waves with a “non-profit” if your boss’ foundation is a half million in so Lowell Hochhalter can watch victims of trafficking garden somewhere in the Bitterroot valley, right?

And I wonder what our Lieutenant Governor, Kristen Juras, thinks? Is it sad that someone she knows might be impacted by this shit show? And speaking of Kristens, let’s not forget Missoula’s infamous Kristen Pabst and all she’s done to “protect” victims of intimate partner violence.

Speaking of Pabst, she’s in Denver talking up some program that is, I’m sure, quite innovative. She ALSO has time to talk about how female prosecutors have had it hard during the pandemic.

The Missoula County Attorney Office works to retain its prosecutors through market-range salaries, trauma and resiliency skills courses and flexible work schedules, she explained. 

Prosecutors’ offices around the country have lost lawyers during the pandemic, Pabst said. Recent research Pabst has read says women, and women of color in particular, are disproportionately affected. 

“As leaders, we need to acknowledge the changing vocational landscape and take steps to reverse this concerning trend,” she said.

Pabst is going to want a cold can of her namesake when the heat turns up, just like a lot of pretenders who get paid to keep the lid on tight.

Keep an eye on the forecast, stay tuned, and, as always…

Thanks for reading!

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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