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.
It’s all very exciting, and you can be a part of this excitement by financially assisting me with a general donation, or a more targeted contribution to Travis’ Impact Fund.
Thanks for all the support so far, and stay tuned for the Week in Review this Sunday.
Enjoy the weekend!
The Community Forum is something we need to talk about. You’ll find some correspondence about it, the City’s neighborhood office, etc. very interesting, I’m sure. Think “Manufacturing Consent.”
Monday is going to be REALLY interesting as an allied group of lefties and righties takes on the corrupt TIF oligarchy at a hearing in Helena on SB 323. See you there?
I’m not sure I understand what your goals actually are (stopping camps, more emergency shelters, something else), but the data collection sounds fantastic.
I hope you build a Google Map with locations marked, and when you click on it, brings up details, pictures, etc. Also, a submit tip link with the ability to send you GPS coordinates would be nice. You could use different colors to indicate status: green = active site, yellow = visible but not active, red = not active. Then over time, you could create heat maps showing the highest density areas.
As a pedestrian and bicycler, I notice many of these camps that seem oblivious to automobile constrained people. Some of these camps are literally right behind an obstruction, that obscures the view from the road. Perhaps maps, similar to the sexual and violent offender maps the state of Montana produces, will actually help.
On a completely unrelated subject: I contacted the Missoula Elections office a couple days before Andrea Davis announced her intent to run for Mayor of Missoula. I specifically asked where to file and where to find a list of already filed candidates. I was told where to look for the former, but told that the filing doesn’t start until 4/20, so the list of candidates isn’t published yet.
After the Davis announcement, I sent another email asking if there was some kind of hidden way of filing that they hadn’t informed me about, and linked to the multiple local news article announcing Davis’s intent to run. They basically ignored the question, repeating what they said before about filing hasn’t opened and the spreadsheet isn’t updated yet. Then I got another reply saying to go to the Commissioner of Political Practices web site at Politicalpractices.mt.gov.
This seems like blatant 2 tier political gerrymandering: a fast lane for the pre-approved candidates, and a slow or in this case the non-existent lane for the hoi polloi. I’m contacting the Commissioner of Political Practices next to file a complaint.
One of my goals is to GET PAID for the work I’m doing because I’m doing a tremendous amount of work to produce content to inform the public in this town, and what do I have to show for it in terms of financial compensation? I have debt, that’s what I have, because I’ve self-financed this content creation for over two years. Have YOU made use of my donation button?
Your not the only one who is hurting for money. Attacking people for not paying you, is counterproductive, especially when you don’t know a thing about my financial situation. If I have to pay some fee to be a part of the conversation, then you are no better than the censoring corporate media.
Of course I have no idea who you are, you comment under a pseudonym. I did that too because I was weary of retaliation. Well, I decided to stop that fearful bullshit and take it directly at them under my real name, regardless of what I knew would come at me. And it has.
I don’t bellyache about the consequences for no reason. I say this because I can’t do what I’m doing without more people in this community stepping up and supporting independent journalism. The blog and podcast will stay free. The donation button is voluntary. The other platforms I’m moving into, like Patreon, is all by choice. You’re welcome.
I’d like to thank the former member of law enforcement who donated to my TIF. When I speak tomorrow in front of legislators, my kick-ass statement will include the detrimental impact of MRA’s TIF schemes on local law enforcement. Yes, it’s possible to support institutions while remaining critical of the individuals within them. Thanks Bill!