by Travis Mateer
I’m not that good on the numbers side of what things are worth, though I can tell you the relative cost of driving to a remote hot springs resort outside of Butte and spending the night just to be present and fully caffeinated for the Governor’s appearance at the crime prevention conference put on by the Montana Board of Crime Control: more than other media were willing to spend, if they even knew this was happening in the first place.
Seven months ago our Governor was just starting off on a series of public roundtable events. The use of the word “public” turned out to be a little strange, considering how NOT public the roundtable in Missoula turned out to be. It would take too much time for the purposes of this post to describe how I ended up finding this “public” roundtable being secretly held on the University of Montana campus.
A secretive Governor doesn’t have to be AS secretive when a crime prevention conference is being held in a far-flung part of the state where no struggling media entity is going to foot the cost of sending a reporter. And why would they? It’s not like local media has any substantial context to our Governor’s FAVORITE non-profit in Missoula, the LifeGuard Group. No, not like I do.
If there was any question in readers minds at this point regarding the connections between the LifeGuard Group and the Governor’s office, those questions were put to rest by the Governor himself, considering his brief chat highlighted the training of beer truck drivers, the “education” provided by the LifeGuard Group, and the support Gianforte has PERSONALLY given this Missoula non-profit.
After the morning chat, our Governor was whisked away for some fentanyl PR in Butte. This part of the Governor’s Tuesday WAS reported on.
Here’s my favorite part of the article, the part where the Governor promises media access and an ongoing conversation:
“Our door is open,” Gianforte said to NBC Montana after the meeting. “We’ve made some connections today between our policy staff and local leaders. I’ll continue to do public safety roundtables. I held one here in Butte-Silver Bow a month ago. So, our door is open, and as we find things that work, we look forward to acting on them.”
If you’re wondering what the Governor thinks will work, I’ll tell you. At the fireside chat Gianforte talked about his Angel Initiative, a program that supposedly allows addicts to walk into their nearest Sheriff’s Office or police station to start getting help with drug addiction. How this works is beyond me, but supposedly 22 counties in Montana are already participating.
If you think I’m being unnecessarily vague, let’s take a look at how the actual language from the DPHHS website describes this program (emphasis NOT mine):
The goal of the Montana Angel Initiative is to improve the access and entry point into substance abuse treatment, and ultimately get more people into treatment.
The initiative allows someone who is struggling with addiction to come into any participating law enforcement office and receive assistance in locating and being connected with treatment, without consequences or questions (subject to certain limitations). With support from Governor Greg Gianforte, the initiative is a collaboration with DPHHS, treatment providers and participating law enforcement offices.
When you go further down the page, you will discover, like I did, that only THREE counties are actually participating, according to the website:
Leaving the question aside of how many counties are actually doing the work for now, the larger strategy Gianforte is promoting is the most unoriginal and overused strategy of them all: the public/private partnership (PPP).
Am I being overly critical by seeing the function of the PPP like I see the Confidential Criminal Justice Information statute? For the PPP, we are told collaboration between the public and private sector will bring efficiencies that government isn’t capable of doing on its own. And with CCJI, we are told it’s to protect individuals who didn’t have enough evidence (collected?) against them to warrant charges from a prosecuting agency.
In theory, PPP and CCJI are supposed to be protections against government waste and violations of privacy, but in practice they seem to actually PROTECT POWER. Is that by design?
To wrap this post up (it’s getting long) the end of the fentanyl article indicates we are gonna try insanity as a policy. What do I mean? Well, how did the Montana Meth project do as an advertising campaign to reduce meth use in Montana? Do you see the success all around our Big Sky State?
No, you don’t, so it’s disappointing to read this (emphasis mine):
One local effort that will begin by mid-Nov. is described as a “shock” advertising campaign to warn residents, especially teenagers and young adults, about the dangers of fentanyl. The initial funding is coming from a $100,000 charitable grant from Town Pump, and ads will be seen on social media and on billboards.
“What we’re going to be doing is a strong social media presence,” said Bill McGladdery, Town Pump Director of Corporate Communications. “We’re going to be using Device ID, Youtube — both six second and 15 second non-skippable spots — Spotify, Snapchat, and Hoola … We’re going to be developing a website for a landing page to direct people to, we’ll be developing a Facebook page that will be more geared towards the secondary audience. We need to reach parents, we need to reach grandparents, we need to reach aunts and uncles.”
Oh look, the lovely PRIVATE part of this particular PPP, Town Pump, is at it again, this time helping with substance abuse like they were helping with trafficking–I mean, ANTI-trafficking–back at the beginning of the year.
I’ll leave it there, for now. But stay tuned for more on our Governor and the Partner’s he’s PP’ing with. Thanks for reading!