by Travis Mateer
A fresh letter to the editor in the Missoulian is making me wonder if ANYONE actually supports the Crisis Mill Levy.
Here’s Peg Shea and Marianne Moon teaming up to ask our coercive local leadership to hit the pause button on this levy (emphasis mine)
The components of the proposed Missoula County Crisis Levy have not been fully explained to voters. As it currently exists, the proposed Levy will fund 11 programs: two, that are losing current “COVID” funds (Safe Outdoor Space and Mobile Support Team); seven that are currently funded by a combination of federal grants, state and local funds (including the existing Mental Health Levy and the Community Assistance Fund), and third-party reimbursement funding (e.g. Medicaid etc.); as well as two new programs. All are critical so fiscal partners such as the State of Montana, private foundations, United Way and hospitals will continue to be needed to provide all necessary funding. It appears it is easier for the county to levy taxes than it is to work with partners, write and manage grants, and braid private and public funds for continuation and enhancement of services. Before citizens can vote responsibly we need to understand what current funds the levy will replace, what funding will remain and be shown a budget for the 11 services. Now is not the time to increase taxes without more clarity, and discussion, and a concrete plan and budget.
At the Missoula Current a viewpoint from Valerie Hedquist makes Kumbaya claims I’m definitely skeptical about, like this one (emphasis mine):
Missoula’s Crisis Intervention Levy will continue to provide these services. A coalition of law enforcement officers, medical care professionals, and members of community religious denominations has already united to support Missoula’s current care intervention strategies. (https://www.savinglivesandmoney.org/)
Ok, so there’s a COALITION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS. Where are they? That fancy website in the quote should have evidence of this coalition, right?
I found a page where the endorsers are named, but where is our Sheriff, T.J. McDermott? Or our NEW Sheriff, Jeremiah Petersen? I don’t even see Missoula’s Chief of Police, Jaeson White. Why not?
On the endorsers page there is some content that highlights how this money will, in part, help alleviate the stress in jail. Since our jail is run by the Sheriff’s Office, you would think the LEAST they could do is endorse the levy. Here’s the quote with my emphasis:
These programs have successfully changed, and saved, lives. At the same time, they have
helped keep our community safe and reduced stress on our busy ERs and jails. Unless we invest in the health and safety of our community, these support teams and other services will stop operating in Missoula and we will lose the progress we have made in recent years.
Yes, the lack of support from the Sheriff’s Office for the mill levy is rather conspicuous, but it’s not a mystery why. Obviously they are VERY BUSY litigating Missoula County into a multi-million dollar budget crisis that is being scantly reported on, considering the ramifications. From the link:
Missoula County could owe millions to the Missoula County Sheriff and detention officers as the local government enters litigation in a lawsuit stemming from pay discrepancies.
Reep, Bell & Jasper P.C., the law firm that represents the sheriff and detention officers in the suit, estimates the county owes $2 million to $3 million in unpaid wages, plus potential wage penalties that could total an additional $2.2 million to $3.3 million. Should the county lose the suit in litigation, wage laws also require a losing employer to pay the employees’ attorneys’ fees and costs.
The suit, filed in Missoula County District Court on Oct. 14, alleges the county owes back wages for three years’ worth of work to the sheriff and between 80 and 90 detention officers.
What’s going on here? Let me offer an analogy: you’re getting mauled by a bear and from the corner of your eye you see the glint of a badge in the late fall sun. Is help on the way? Sure, if help is taking a grenade, pulling the pin, then hiding behind a tree as the carnage ensues, help is absolutely on the way with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office!
Who else is helping out this crisis levy? The new guy who owns Wordens, a nice place to get your gut-rot alcohol and cigarettes, of course!
Who else is giving their testimonial? How about a guy with a nice beard who makes sure the crazies get plenty of psych meds from BIG PHARMA!
Yes, these guys support you having $5 million taken every year in perpetuity for things that COULD be assisted by that money, but this guy, for some reason, is sitting on the side lines.
This image is taken from a 2014 candidate forum, a distant time when our outgoing Sheriff identified as a jack-ass. It’s shocking how much can change in 8 years.
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