by Travis Mateer
What is the cost of this image? That’s a question I would REALLY like to have an answer to, but first I need to explain what you are looking at, then I’ll explain what I’m planning to do about it.
This image was taken around 11:30am on Thursday, March 23rd, beneath the Russel Street bridge, which spans the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula. The illegal encampment being removed included three active sites, with one inhabited by Todd Spence, the sex offender who assaulted TWO Department of Transportation staff last September during another camp cleanup near the Reserve Street bridge.
To begin thinking about cost, just start counting how many people you see. The two people in orange are Homeless Outreach workers and they get paid by the Poverello Center. The yellowjackets, I believe, are Parks and Rec, and I see at least five, maybe six. Then there’s two police officers to the left of the Pov staff.
To continue assessing the cost of this image, we would need to know the pay-scale of everyone involved in this cleanup, and how long they spent removing the significant amount of trash these three sites generated. But that is NOT the whole story when it comes to the financial impact of these illegal encampments.
There is plenty of time and other uses of local resources that happen BEFORE an encampment like this is finally cleaned up. One example is the police response to a 911 call I made earlier in the week after two campers made threats toward me for just visually assessing this mess from the pathway. The other example is the LONG email thread I scanned, which involved all kinds of people–some of whom get paid to listen and respond to community complaints from members of the public, and some who don’t.
So, what am I going to do about it? Well, that’s where Travis’ Impact Fund comes in. Unlike the failed Crisis Mill Levy, my financial ask is a reasonable $5,000 dollars instead of the $5 MILLION our local leaders said they needed in perpetuity to address the consequences of “houselessness” in Missoula. With your help, I’d like to make their failure MY success.
I have already secured an anonymous $500 dollar donation, and announced the existence of Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) at Thursday’s Community Forum. Here is what this forum entails:
My plan is to fully account for this initial $500 dollar seed money as I assess different encampment sites, coordinate responses, and document my work. What can one person with $500 bucks accomplish? You’re going to find out.
Another email thread about another problematic location (West Broadway Island) is already being generated. Here are some images:
It’s important to note these areas are becoming active BEFORE the scheduled closure of the Johnson Street Shelter on April 10th. Why is it important? Because the narrative controllers would like to correlate the emergence of this seasonal problem with the POLITICAL problem they have with community anger and distrust, which was clearly articulated last November when voters said NO to the crisis mill levy.
But correlation is NOT causation, so before that logical fallacy can be formed into another shame-bludgeon to hammer the public with, I’m going to get out there and show you what is REALLY going on with homeless encampments in Zoom Town.
When it comes to the other TIF that readers of Zoom Chron are hopefully familiar with (Tax Increment Financing), there is some VERY interesting news developing on that front that might have me eating some of my words of frustration that state Republicans have been ignoring this critical issue during Montana’s 2023 Legislative session. They have NOT, and I got my first indication last week of a legislative effort to restrain the MRA madness.
Thanks for all the support so far, and stay tuned for the Week in Review this Sunday.
Enjoy the weekend!