The Multi-Modal Mayor Of Zoom Town: It’s Worse Than You Think!

by Travis Mateer

As I write this post, a benefit concert for the Poverello Center is going on beneath me, which is perfect because the plight of the homeless is definitely on my mind. Earlier in the day I spotted Tracy M. at the hardware store. After ducking out of sight and purchasing my items, I spoke briefly with a guy who was clearly watching her. After explaining my previous work at the Poverello Center, he told me so far things were just fine. The hatchet she had picked up was no longer in her shopping cart. Hooray!

I can’t keep up with how much money is being shoveled at my former employer and the homeless industrial complex in general, but I’m trying! I’m also trying to put violence into context, like how it can strategically proceed gentrification. Just a week after writing that post, an incident at the Johnson Street Shelter occurred (the area I was writing about) and the incident reportedly involved a gun, which temporarily put a local school on lockdown. From the link (emphasis mine):

On December 15, 2022, shortly after 11:00 a.m., Missoula Police Department Officers responded to a violent offense at 1919 North Avenue West, which is the location of the Emergency Winter Shelter.

According to Police Public Information Officer Lydia Arnold, the suspects involved in the incident fled the scene and officers pursued them.

While the suspects were on the loose, Arnold said MPD advised some nearby schools to go into lockdown as a precaution.

“Due to the nature of the violent offense and threat to the public, both suspects were taken into custody,” Arnold said. “There will be a continued investigation into the reported offense.”

KGVO has learned that a gun was involved in this incident. We will provide more information about this incident when it becomes available.

While I’ve been keeping the scope of development coming to Midtown in mind, a fellow researcher who assists this blog behind the scenes (and who is actually FROM Missoula, meaning born here) has come across a fascinating “long range transportation plan” from 2008, with the title ENVISION MISSOULA (PDF).

Before getting to what she uncovered, I want to highlight some public commentary about the Beartracks Bridge lane reduction scheme. I know I just wrote about this scheme in yesterday’s post, but today’s Missoulian article has some additional context worth considering, specifically some interesting damage control. From the second link:

Weeks after opening the Beartracks Bridge to four-lane traffic at the conclusion of three years of construction work, Missoula city staff unveiled a new plan on Wednesday to reduce bridge travel down to two lanes.

Though the proposal appears to be “polarizing” Missoula residents, Infrastructure & Mobility Planning Manager Aaron Wilson stressed the changes are only in the early stages of contemplation.

We’re really just working at a conceptual level here,” Wilson told the Missoula City Council.

When Wilson says they are just working at the “conceptual level” I think he’s being more than a little disingenuous. Full of shit is actually the phrase that comes to mind. Why? Because of the long-term ambitions of our MULTI-MODAL Mayor, who waddled into Zoom Town as a little political duckling at ASUM as a student, then Director of ASUM Transportation.

I’m not sure how big Mayor Hess will be smiling when he realizes the blowback against this “conceptual” plan is so wide-ranging, it even encompasses people like Geoff Badenoch, the former director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. Badenoch has gotten more vocal in recent years as the agency he once directed goes berserker with public money, so the criticism isn’t all that surprising, but it is SCATHING. From the article:

Wow. Next up, Bill Schwanke has ANOTHER scathing comment. Bill is also a well known Missoulian, not a conspiracy theorist, but his theory is this was probably the plan all along. Is he right? From the article:

Wow again. I’m beginning to understand why our City and County administrative-level staff want to move into a STURDY Federal building they’re hilariously calling “free” (more on that for another day).

The bunker building, if fully acquired and actually occupied one day, will be a nice headquarters to watch the flickering flames of torches and the glint of hand-crafted pitchforks made with locally-sourced steel. To fuel the flames of the figurative torches, here is the perspective from FOURTEEN YEARS AGO! While reading think of local headlines, like pedestrian crashes and Ellen Buchanan midtown light rail transit excitation, then recall how Aaron Wilson is claiming they are only at the EARLY STAGES of contemplation.

From the PDF version of the 2008 plan, ENVISION MISSOULA:

I think it is well understood that the scope of this particular VISION for Missoula, if fully articulated to the public, would be strenuously resisted by those who understand what the COST would be, and we’re not just talking about dollars.

So how does this vision ultimately get sold to the public if the public isn’t buying? Maybe just increase the cost of NOT giving these people what they want, and, again, we’re not just talking about dollars here. A lot is at stake in this valley, and the many places our revitalized train tracks and transit lines will lead to.

I’ll leave it there for now, this is already a hefty post for a Friday as Christmas closes in. If your advent calendar calls for supporting independent journalism, you can make a donation at my about page.

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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