Did Missoula County “Carlyle” The Sheriff’s Office Over An Access Road And Parking Lot?

by Travis Mateer

Two stories I’ve written about are starting to look a little more interesting with Jean Curtiss throwing shade and the Missoulian throwing ink on ’em, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The title of this post is a reference to the alleged ploy by the Carlyle Group to dangle a disingenuous Water Company offer to our Mayor, only to flip at the last minute, temporarily thwarting his Water Company ownership dreams.

Since our Mayor was drinking at the time, and nothing was put into writing about this supposed offer, it’s hard to say what actually happened, which is why this part of the VERY costly lawsuit alleges a “deceitful scheme” (emphasis mine):

In 2015, a district court judge found the City of Missoula had the right to use its power of eminent domain to buy the utility, and three water commissioners set the price tag at $88.6 million for the system, now Missoula Water. All told, the city calculated it paid $99 million for the utility, lawyers and related development agreements in the condemnation case.

But the City of Missoula believed the Carlyle Group plotted a “deceitful scheme” by promising to sell the system but then declining offers prior to condemnation. In a separate lawsuit, the city alleged Carlyle Infrastructure Partners reneged on a deal to sell the utility to the city, and its representatives breached their “duty to deal fairly and in good faith with the city,” forcing the city to “incur significantly higher costs” in acquiring the water system. So Missoula asked the court to make Carlyle pay.

The Jean Curtis shade comes in the form of an op-ed at the Missoula Current where a similar reneging is being described. According to Curtis, the Missoula County land gift to build the Trinity Apartment complex was supposedly on the condition of TWO requests from outgoing Sheriff, T.J. McDermott, and now those requests are being rebuffed:

Sheriff McDermott was asked what he needed to protect the detention center and his officers. He had two, very clear, requests. He needed a new, dedicated access to the back side of the detention center as the project would cut off his current access. His second request was for a secure, fenced parking lot for the officers in that same area.

The City and HomeWord agreed to those reasonable requests. But apparently, nothing was put in writing with the transfer of the land.

Now, HomeWord and Blue Line have backed out of those promises saying they do not have enough money to meet those promises because the cost of the project went up. If you google Trinity Project Missoula MT, the website clearly states there will be no local tax dollars used to fund this project.

Not true. Earlier this year, the county commission agreed to use $460,00 of general fund money to build this access road and fence a parking area. Those are local tax dollars. The bid just came in for the project at $830,000.

Jean Curtiss, for those who don’t know, used to be a County Commissioner. Now it appears she’s taken a new position as cheerleader for our pathetic Sheriff’s Office under the political doughboy himself, T.J. McDermott.

The op-ed by Curtiss about the road and parking lot (which I wrote about here) is making me reassess the MILLIONS of dollars Missoula taxpayers will be shelling out to the Sheriff’s Office because of a pay-parity scheme going back YEARS. If Jean Curtiss didn’t know about this ticking fiscal time-bomb, then she’s an idiot (I don’t think she’s an idiot).

Here’s the Missoulian writing about the SECOND lawsuit I told you about last week. From the first link:

The alleged pay discrepancies began in 2018 when the county started paying elected officials additional salaries under the umbrella of “parity adjustment.” By 2019, the adjustment totaled $6 per hour. County officials, through their compensation committee, voted to raise all elected officials’ parity adjustments by $8.04 per hour. But the sheriff’s salary, and therefore detention officers’ pay, wasn’t included in this.

“A sum which statutorily should have been included in the sheriff’s salary … was withheld from Sheriff (T.J.) McDermott in violation of the statutory uniformity requirement,” the filing reads.

“Both the parity adjustment and the county longevity payments were part of an ongoing and interconnected continuing scheme to give elected officials salary increases while depriving detention officers of the corresponding salary increases,” it continues.

Because of the county’s alleged failures to accurately calculate wages, the attorneys are asking it to remedy the situation and award plaintiffs back wages from adjustments created by the longevity pay, parity adjustment and overtime.

Here’s a question I’m now asking myself: is T.J. McDermott so pissed about his road and parking lot that he’s using this parity scheme to blow up the County budget?

The situation with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is even MORE interesting when you factor in the power play made in February of 2021, a move that wrestled control of the jail from the courts. If you didn’t think this was even possible, here’s the quote I used to emphasize this power shift in my post from 2021 (emphasis still mine):

Jenks tells us it’s gutted the ability to function as a court, and she’s concerned it will stick around longer than expected.

“I think that back in March that made sense in an emergency situation, but we are in this for the long haul now, and its causing a lot of issues, and I think it’s putting the community at risk in a lot of ways,” said Jenks.

Slotnick says he doesn’t think the resolution is putting the community at risk.

Jenks says people are only showing up for their hearings 30% of the time, because they know no one will come get them if they don’t.

She adds control now rests with the Sheriff’s Office, not the courts.

If you’re wondering if this is still in effect, the political race for Justice of the Peace between Alex Beal and the hilarious candidacy of former SHERIFF CAPTAIN, Bill Burt, offers this reminder from Beal about what the Sheriff’s Office is doing to keep control of the jail AWAY from judges.

Here’s a screenshot from the KGVO article where Beal blames the Sheriff’s Office for taking control away from judges:

Wow! And, in my opinion, quite accurate, as the situation with the homeless sex offender assault on TWO Department of Transportation staff clearly showed.

Readers will recall those TWO assaults resulted in only ONE misdemeanor assault charge, because arithmetic under McDermott’s leadership means 1 + 1 = 1. Maybe our local media could give the ONLY Sheriff candidate, Jeremiah Petersen, a little heat on this issue? I won’t hold my breath.

Don’t worry, Zoom Chron readers, I don’t plan on acting like the gelded media in this Zoom Town. For example, let’s take a look at Mr. Sheriff Candidate and his use of STATISTICS on his candidate issues page. The emphasis will definitely be mine:

There was a decline in reported Rapes, which showed 72 reports in 2018, an increase to 80 reports in 2019 and then a decrease to 60 reports in 2020. Robbery followed a similar trend, 2018 there were 67 reported Robbery’s which declined to 44 reported Robbery’s in 2019, and then there was a very slight increase in reported Robbery’s in 2020 with a year ending total of 48.

Why is the word I highlighted important? Because I have a theory, and it goes something like this: the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office is SO FUCKING TERRIBLE at handling rape cases that victims of rape and sexual assault, thanks to word of mouth (this is still a relatively small town), have simply stopped reporting.

How could this be, you might be thinking? Didn’t Missoula have an intensive investigation into our community’s handling of sexual assault cases?

For the PDF report of that investigation, click here. Here’s a screenshot of the institutions involved. Notice anyone missing?

That’s right, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office was NEVER investigated during the DOJ investigation over a decade ago. Maybe that needs to change?

If there isn’t awareness of the rot emanating from the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) then the cancer will undoubtedly spread. When one takes into account the expanding influence of the LifeGuard Group (headed by MCSO Chaplain, Lowell Hochhalter) across the state, thanks to the financial and political support coming from the Governor’s office, and other political moves by MCSO-connected people, the picture coming into focus is quite alarming.

Two political candidates in this election cycle have MCSO connections, and that’s the failed candidacy of Michael Burks and the HOPEFULLY failed candidacy of Bill Burt, mentioned above.

As for our outgoing Sheriff, T.J. McDermott, I’m glad he has strong women to help him out, women like Jean Curtiss and his mom, who one source has told me played underhanded political games to help get her son elected.

I’m glad because T.J. McDermott is going to need all the help he can get if he wants to put his big boy pants on to run for Mayor.

If you’d like to support my exposure of local shit-heels who think badges allow them to euthanize victims of homeless violence in private hospitals, shoot another homeless black man in the back, and other questionable actions, like helping the County next door keep the lid from popping off, then consider making a donation at my about page.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more to come!

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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2 Responses to Did Missoula County “Carlyle” The Sheriff’s Office Over An Access Road And Parking Lot?

  1. John Kevin Hunt says:

    Bill Burt — the man convicted of drunkenly entering a building through a broken window he broke further, one night, while was a peace officer, in order to show something interestimg to a friend — blames Beal for not keeping accused misdemeanants in jail pending trial. Beal, in turn, blames the Sheriff. Both politicize the issue and unfairly scapegoat others for the problem.

    While one may disagree with specfic examples of arrestees released pretrial, the fact is that the Sheriff is an independent elected offcial responsible for maintaining jail conditions that comport with state and federal constitutional requirements. This means that:

    1. The jail cannot be so overcrowded that it creates conditions constituting cruel and unusual punishment for convicted persons sentenced to jail.

    2. The jail cannot be so overcrowded that its conditions constitute punishment of pretrial detainees.

    3. The jail cannot confine persons with mental illnesses requiring treatment, without providing such treatment; sanne for medical needs.

    If the Sheriff is going to release prisoners and pretrial detainees to deal with tbese constitutional issues arising from overcrowding, the Sheriff needs to promulgate an objectively-based algorithm, matrix or similar means of doing so, that tajes into consideration such factors as prior history of appearing for court, seriousness of pending charge or charge of conviction stability and ties to the community,.hohwing situation, special.medical needs, etc., etc.

    Does McDermott have such a methodology in place? That’s something that should be the subject of a public records request.

    If the community wants more people locked up pending trial, then folks need to ooen their wallets and fund more jail space. In practice, it’s typical that all available jail apace gets filled regardless of how many beds are provided.

    Supervised/electronically monitored pretrial release programs contribute to greater compliance with defendants’ obligation to appear for court, and contribute to lower recidivism rates.

    • You should check out this article: https://missoulacurrent.com/lawsuit-missoula-county/

      Here’s an excerpt:

      Last April, Missoula County filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections claiming it had breached its contract by not covering the full cost of housing state inmates at the local detention center.

      The county’s complaint also included an unjust enrichment claim against DOC, along with breach of good faith and fair dealing.

      “Missoula County attempted to resolve the situation in which the Department of Corrections is underpaying us for the inmates we house, both on the pre-trial side as well as the correctional facility we have with DOC,” Conley said. “We’re the only county I’m aware of that has filed suit on these particular actions. But there are other counties that are negatively impacted.”

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