Sharing My Weekly Public Comment Preparation Plan So You Can To!

by Travis Mateer

April is going to be a BIG month for local and state-wide policy conversations, so in anticipation of a busy month I’m sharing my approach to preparing for the upcoming week with today’s Sunday bonus post. Hopefully this educational post will empower YOU to become more active in these critical policy conversations.

The first step is going to the city webpage for meeting video, agenda and minutes. After clicking the link you’ll need to click ANOTHER link, which says “click here”. This is what it looks like:

When you click the link you’ll see a calendar where further clicks will need to be made depending on what committee you might be interested in. Remember, if the Wednesday schedule is packed, you’ll need to extend the viewing window to see ALL the action happening on that particular day. Here is what the calendar looks like:

When I look at the weekly schedule I’m looking for relevant opportunities, and I found one with the Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday. After clicking on Public Safety bar on the calendar, I get to see the agenda and any additional links. That’s how I discovered the “Community Justice Department” will be giving an update.

What is the Community Justice Department, you ask? I wasn’t sure myself, so I looked it up and found that several key programs are housed under this department. Here they are:

So, what might be relevant for me to share with this Public Safety Committee? Maybe I can give them a description of the process for reporting false or misleading information in sponsored content put out by Lee Enterprises.

For example, in last month’s post about the danger of the Christian Savior Complex, I highlighted an article sponsored by Town Pump that falsely claimed the “safe” house, operated by the LifeGuard Group, has actually served a victim of human trafficking when, by their own admission, just two months later, this “non-profit” acknowledged THEY HAVE NOT yet served a victim of human trafficking.

After my initial complaint was filed with Lee Enterprises, I got a follow up phone call where the assessment done by the person at the other end of the line indicated my complaint should be “escalated”, which meant giving Town Pump a chance to address my claim before further action is taken. That is currently where it stands.

One of the entities under the umbrella of the Community Justice Department is already quite aware of my concerns regarding the LifeGuard Group because I told them, explicitly, what they were, kind of like my conversations with people at legitimate non-profits in Missoula, not to mention the University of Montana’s Social Work program.

Providing public comment to the Public Safety Committee will also give me the opportunity to let more people know about Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF). Unlike the LifeGuard Group, which has done hardly anything with their million dollar property secured with money from our Governor, Greg Gianforte, I am ALREADY off and running with TWO reports at a cost of less than a hundred bucks to my fund.

Here are the reports, labeled AA#1 and AA#2 (for Assess and Address), combining both qualitative and quantitative data for my donors to see. I have more to show in ONE WEEK with a hundred bucks than the LifeGuard Group has produced in TWO YEARS with a $500,000 dollar donation from the Gianforte Foundation.

Here are the springtime plans, as reported in 2022, about this alleged “safe” house:

The LifeGuard Group in Missoula works to combat human trafficking efforts around the state, and last weekend the group unveiled a new shelter for survivors. The property is officially called the LifeHouse at Crooked Tree Ranch and features a 9,000-square-foot residence on an expansive 40-acre parcel of outdoor land.

Founded by Lowell and Tami Hochhalter, LifeGuard Group is registered as a nonprofit in Missoula.

The group’s LifeHouse project has been in development for about a year, Tami said. It plans to open its door come springtime. 

The building hosts six rooms for survivors, which families, businesses and church groups have “adopted,” Tami explained. They donate time and money to remodel the rooms and get them ready for their guests. 

“From the very beginning, we knew that a safe house was something that had to happen and that we wanted to happen,” Tami said at last weekend’s event. “We had no idea how quickly that dream would become a reality.”

Quickly? That would be funny if the subject wasn’t human trafficking, something Montana has been FUCKING TERRIBLE at addressing. Maybe one reason for that is THIS group and their ability to fleece donors with NO discernible results, or consequences.

Here’s more from the link:

Security will also be a component of the house, and the group is in contact with local law enforcement for coordination, Tami said.

The property cost just over $1,000,000, Tami said, half of which was paid for via a donation from the Gianforte Family Foundation. She also mentioned the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation along with the Gallagher Foundation and Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association as donors.

How embarrassing to be so thoroughly shown up and exposed by a lowly blogger who can do more with $100 bucks than these grifters can do with a million dollar property. Maybe someday someone in a position to do something about this will, you know, ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING about this.

Until then I suggest helping MY efforts, which can be done by supporting my TIF, or providing a general donation with the donation button 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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