Mayor Engen’s Enablers Sought Narrative Control Until His Bitter End…Why?

by Travis Mateer

With today’s news of Missoula Mayor, John Engen, having passed away from pancreatic cancer, the title of today’s post might seem insensitive. I’ll risk that accusation in order to ask WHY the Missoula Current, just 17 days ago, had this headline with one of Engen’s main enablers looking on:

From the link:

City officials on Friday said Missoula Mayor John Engen continues to monitor the workings of Missoula city government while continuing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

Communications director Ginny Merriam said that while the regiment has been difficult at times, Engen continues to look forward.

Maybe it’s just me, but if I was facing the inevitable reality of a lethal cancer diagnosis, my looking forward would be bucket-list oriented, not pretending like there was a chance in hell I was going to make it my full term.

It’s possible that concealing reality has just become second nature to people like Ginny Merriam, people who knew for years that John’s drinking was a problem. When did intervention happen? When it got so bad that it couldn’t be concealed anymore.

I’m going to take some time to process this before saying more about Engen’s enablers. I will mention that I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Eran Pehan is suddenly being quoted in the Missoulian about homeless camp sweeps by masked revolutionaries.

January 3rd is the day John Engen first assumed office in 2006. January 3rd is also the day, in 2020, that Sean Stevenson was assaulted at the Poverello Center AND the day I put in my notice to leave Missoula Aging Services and the Non-Profit sector.

Since that day I’ve felt the three of us–Sean, John, and myself–have an interesting connection, and now this is how I see it: three alcoholics who didn’t see something important to us make it 20 years.

For Sean, he didn’t get to see his daughter turn 20 because his time utilizing homeless services in Missoula killed him.

For John, he didn’t see 20 years in office because his role as a puppet for power killed him.

And for me, I won’t see 20 years of marriage because finding meaning in the sea of trauma I swam in for a decade, without the emotional skills to handle all the pressures, made me a shitty partner.

I’m not sure what period of time is appropriate to mourn John Engen’s passing, but once summer is done and the kids are back in school, I think it’s fair game to look at the vacant leadership and ask hard questions about the reality of a 12% tax increase, and a $19 million dollar general obligation bond for fairground bullshit, and a $4.4 million dollar payout to Sheriff Deputies, and a $5 million dollar mill levy for homeless services, and increases in energy, cost of living, etc, etc, etc.

Summer is almost over. Life is finite. And it’s also a gift, so do something meaningful in the limited time you have.

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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7 Responses to Mayor Engen’s Enablers Sought Narrative Control Until His Bitter End…Why?

  1. Dee Saale says:

    Hi Travis,
    Well I didn’t wait..I said in comes Gestapo Gwen to take over..A few scuffles on Missoulians FB page and I was booted off and got 6 days in the FB “Huscow “ much for free speech in Missoula..Yes taxes are skyrocketing. I asked the question to the liberals that didn’t think I was “caring”..Do you think he was caring, when he raised taxes so high that lifelong seniors could no longer afford to stay in the homes they loved??? They throw the seniors in these communal apts with no yards, no pets etc..He didn’t give 2 thoughts about them as they died alone and penniless. And I am one of the citizens that broke the story of his “hidden DUI” I bartended back then, yup a drunk. Well anyway. Keep fighting the fight

    • I see nothing unfeeling or insensitive in Travis’ column. But Dee, you and I simply have different sensibilities. I would have focused on the bad policies that continue, and not kicked the Mayor’s corpse as you have. I see no benefit to the People in doing that. I can’t place him in the same cauldron of eternal damnation in which I keep the remains of Samoza, Pinochet, Ceaucescu, Pol Pot, and in due time, Trump.

      Onward, through the fog.

      • Dee Saale says:

        I beg to differ. For years we have kept quiet while the left has raged..Time for me to rage because as a hard working, honest, productive american I can’t take the policies anymore. I have had dealings with Gestapo Gwen, she is nothing but evil. Engen had corrupted the system to suit his needs. One that stands out is he added bariactric surgery to the cities health plan so that he could get it free of charge..Another is his DUI that they thought they so cleverly hid. Many more. SO he was nothing but a selfish tax and spend liberal..I call it as I see it and these are Engens facts, not mine.

  2. Nothing inappropriate in your column.

  3. Mahlon Manson says:

    What about the $20,000,000.00 That both the city and county want to remodel the old post off they are trying to acquire?

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