The Ugly Sausage Making That Gave Missoula A Mayoral Hess

by Travis Mateer

*trigger warning: this post utilizes crude language, metaphors and references that some could find triggering.

I think I can claim one of the most unpopular public comments made during the process of selecting Missoula’s placeholder Mayor on Monday night because that’s what happens when you see the flecks of lips and assholes getting shoved into a thin-skinned sausage casing in real time.

My comment essentially pointed out that Mayor Engen didn’t have to hold on to office until the bitter end, since his diagnosis was made public all the way back in March of this year, but he did, and then predictably died in office, leading to a selection process from our 12 sitting City Council members that EVERYONE agreed, before the sausage making got going, was a terribly uncomfortable and undemocratic process to be engaging in.

So how did Daniel Carlino and a few other unnamed problem makers get called out for making a mockery of the process by the guy who chose to give up his candidacy for Mayor to the technocratic Hessinator?

To answer that question it might be helpful to read some of my older articles, like this one, titled Does Missoula Need An MRA Reeducation Camp?

I’m not just being self-referential for the hell of it, I think my reporting on the dynamics of City Council has exposed the narrative warfare being waged by “reporters” like Martin “Gomer” Kidston against Daniel Carlino and his sometimes ideological voting partner, Kristen Jordan. That treatment was on FULL display Monday night, and is now being carried over, predictably, on Tuesday by Gomer in this piece of establishment propaganda.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

On good terms, Nugent and Hess settled the race after the City Council couldn’t. Hess said he would carry out the office with “purpose, thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion.”

“I want to call on Mike Nugent who, not just tonight, has always been the most selfless, kind and generous person I know. He is dedicated to the community in a way that’s incredibly rare,” Hess said.

Of all the applicants who applied, six were nominated for interviews but only two emerged as realistic candidates. Yet Ward 3 council member Daniel Carlino voted on a third losing candidate during every voting round.

What this framing of Daniel Carlino omits is the MANY public comments made in support of Fred Rice, one of the losing candidates Carlino provided a lone vote for. Also, if you are assuming it was just youthful agitators supporting a non-Hess, non-Nugent candidate, one of the people supporting the candidacy of Fred Rice was a former City Council member by the name of Bob Lucino. Bob even made public comment earlier in the evening about the negative impacts of the Yellowstone production here in town, which I was elated to hear.

Another part of my unpopular comment focused on the nervousness investors feel when things aren’t smooth and predictable. Is that why Grant Kier got up and made some comments?

Some other deep pockets were present inside chambers to watch the sausage making, like Ed and Leslie Wetherbee. For context on their contribution to hyper-development in Missoula, here’s Gomer from an article in 2014, when he worked at the Missoulian, about the Wetherbee’s plans for the Sawmill District.

With the moneyed interests in mind, let’s return to Gomer’s current propaganda at the Missoula Current for his skewed recap of Monday’s night selection fiasco. This is the alleged result of Daniel Carlino voting for candidates without the last name Hess or Nugent:

As a result, he protracted the selection and pinned the rest of the council into a corner. His lack of support for either Hess or Nugent also prompted former mayoral candidate Jacob Elder, who received no support, to call in and challenge the council on its inability to render a decision.

“This is just not okay,” Elder said. “You had a diversity candidate.”

Am I reading this bullshit right? Is Gomer actually trying to blame Daniel Carlino for Jacob Elder’s sad contribution to the public conversation? I’ll make note that Martin “Gomer” Kidston wasn’t physically present inside chambers, so I can’t speculate what kind of refreshments he may have been enjoying while he watched online, but I definitely think he drinks KoolAid.

Instead of reading Gomer’s take on what happened, let’s hear from the man himself, via social media:

The screenshots represent the real time impressions of the guy everyone wants to blame for an embarrassingly structured process that ultimately is no individual Councilors fault.

That said, Daniel Carlino was NOT the one who called to suspend the rules, and he was NOT in control of the meeting. That accountability goes to Gwen Jones, who called the last 15 minute recess, then allowed the dark alley negotiation to stretch for over 70 minutes while the public sat and waited, online, and in person.

For an on-the-ground report, here’s my morning-after clip standing (on wheels) where the magic happened:

The negative framing of Carlino’s choice of who to vote for, which he had every right to make as the voting rounds progressed, continues in Gomer’s hit piece with this:

Carlino, who represents the University District, continuously voted for a number of candidates who had no support from any other council member. At one point, Carlino went so far as to nominate Bob Giordano, the executive director of Free Cycles Missoula. He didn’t apply for the job and wasn’t interviewed.

But Carlino was eventually backed into a corner due to his back-and-forth votes for losing candidates. He soon blamed the other council members for not joining his side. Even his constituents grew frustrated with his antics.

“We asked him to nominate Jordan Hess,” one Ward 3 resident called in to say. “It’s frustrating this conversation is going on.”

While Gomer’s glee over this comment from a Carlino supporter breaking ranks wasn’t audible, since Gomer didn’t show in person to cover the night’s action, it’s certainly not surprising to see it included AFTER Gomer omitted any reference to Fred Rice’s many supporters. This is how the Gomer propaganda engine operates.

Another omission Gomer makes before wrapping up his hit piece is the way in which Gwen Jones SHUT DOWN Daniel Carlino from commenting before the final vote took place. That didn’t happen to Mike Nugent, who was given a seemingly privileged position over Carlino’s desire to comment in order to make his concession speech. Though it wasn’t clear if the rules of the process allowed for this, it didn’t seem to matter, at this point, to Gwen Jones. Maybe those rules were still in suspension?

The final platform in the Gomer hit piece goes to Mike Nugent, who had this to say about his CHOICE to give in and vote Hess:

Nugent also grew emotional after conceding the race to Hess to resolve a stalemate that could have gone on for hours. While he praised most council members – even those who didn’t vote for him – he did call out the games played during the process.

“I think some people tonight have made a mockery out of council, what Missoula could be, and a mockery of this process, under the guise of being beholden to other people,” Nugent said. “Sometimes you have to recognize for the betterment of the community when we move forward. We need to have a mayor. And part of that is saying, ‘Now is maybe not my time.’”

Again, why was the expectation placed on Daniel Carlino to acquiesce to the pressure to vote Hess? I assume ANY of the five consistent Nugent voters could have made a similar move, including Gwen Jones, to end the stalemate.

After this ugly sausage making that Mike Nugent’s dad, Jim, may have to muster a legal rationale to defend in court (thanks to dark alleyways and private conversations by public servants) a similar process will now begin to select Jordan Hess’ replacement on City Council.

My suggestion? Keep it public. Bad shit happens in dark alleyways in this town. I think Monday night is proof of that.

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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4 Responses to The Ugly Sausage Making That Gave Missoula A Mayoral Hess

  1. SPOT ON! And what would Gomer, et al have said if Carlino had unwaveringly voted for Nugent every round? The result would have been EXACTLY THE SAME! That Engen didn’t annoint a successor actuslly was a GIFT that I implored the Council not to squander by selecting one of their own who had never served with any mayor other than Engen anf who vowed immediate accelerstion of Engen policies that have never been subjjected to evixencd-based review. a revuew Ricd promidrd slong vowing not to run in 2025.. Carlino nominee Rice had more accomplishments than Hess which we sll now take for granted, attsined during far less progressive times, working with FIVE mayors. He vowed to foster a renewal of the Council’s plenary suthority it’s given under the Charter, that the Coumcil abdicated to Engen over 17 years resulting n its inability to conduct a simple meeting absent the script it would receive in its agenda package in the Engen epoch, as last night proved.

  2. webdoodle says:

    Has anyone filed a complaint with Knudsen’s office about the clear violations of Montana’s open meeting laws? It seems like there is ample evidence and multiple witnesses to this crime. It only takes one person to file the complaint…

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