While I Track TIF (SB 523), Those LifeGuards Track The Traffick (HB 112)

by Travis Mateer

While I ramp up my reporting efforts to keep up with all the action in Zoom Town (Missoula) AND in Helena, I’m wondering why the social media presence of the LifeGuard Group has been so sparse lately? I mean, aren’t there plenty of missing persons to pretend to look for?

The first post of April for the LifeGuard Group finally appeared after just four or five posts in March. Here it is:

What about HB 112 has Lowell Hochhalter celebrating? And, is the celebration a family affair, since the LifeGuard Group employs the majority of Lowell’s immediate family?

I clicked on the link to read the opinion piece promoting this bill to see what’s being claimed about the benefits of passing it. From the link (emphasis mine):

As the state’s foremost police organization representing nearly 800 municipal officers from 25 different agencies, we are proud to support Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Representative Jodee Echert’s legislation that strengthens our state’s human trafficking laws and increases penalties for those who participate in human trafficking.

House Bill 112 will clarify the crime and make it easier for law enforcement, prosecutors, victims, and potential jurors to understand by simplifying the current statute into four clear, straight-forward categories. It will also increase punishments for offenders who encourage or compel a victim to engage in commercial sexual activity and those who patronize the system. Not only will the overall sentence be increased, but mandatory minimums will be put in place for the worst-of-the-worst offenders.

Sounds good to me. But where is the opportunity for this guy?

The opportunity I see in the opinion piece is the DESPERATION being communicated. Why is there desperation? Because there just aren’t enough resource, gosh darn it. So money, money, money (emphasis mine):

We are also in desperate need of more human trafficking agents on the streets to help our local agencies find these criminals and hold them accountable. Right now, the Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation only has two agents to assist the entire state in human trafficking investigations – that’s just not enough. In the last seven years, the number of cases they track has skyrocketed from seven to 106, an increase of 1,400 percent.

We also support the attorney general and governor’s proposal to increase the investment in public safety which would add four human trafficking agents to DCI’s current team that would be available to help us fight human trafficking in our communities and provide comprehensive coverage of the state. To help prosecute the increased caseload, the proposal would also fund an additional prosecutor.

What kind of additional resources will these state hires bring to our geographically immense state? And how will they integrate with the BEER TRUCK ARMY I wrote about last September? I will be curious to seek answers to these questions.

Moving from the desperate STATE of affairs combatting trafficking across Montana to some local issues, it seems our growing government is having some trouble staffing buses and opening gates. From the link:

Two key Missoula routes for Mountain Line are temporarily losing service as the public transit agency deals with another shortage of drivers.

Mountain Line announced Tuesday that, “due to an ongoing staffing shortage”, it is scaling back service on Routes 8 and 12, running buses hourly, instead of every 30 minutes. Those routes serve the University of Montana, 5th-6th, Community Medical Center, Southgate Mall as well as Downtown Missoula and the South Hills.

I guess this will be a problem until Mountain Line finds more trained bus drivers, or the robots get good enough to drive buses.

What about opening gates?

Why are the gates to the West Broadway island closed at 11:30am on a sunny Thursday morning? Ask Donna Gaukler, I was just trying to go for a bike ride while ignoring things like discarded chicken left to rot unopened in its plastic wrap.

I really don’t like stupid waste and burdensome infrastructure that can’t be properly managed by the bureaucrats who get decent paychecks while the world burns. And I’m not being rhetorical about that, it really is, and in some places that inferno is being directed at the proper targets.

Meanwhile, my former employer has this to say about the encampments popping up around Missoula:

During Thursday’s meeting, the Homeless Outreach Team noted they’re already seeing an uptick in outdoor camping in the city, adding so far people are keeping their camping areas clean.

Why do they utter this provably false bullshit about CLEAN camps? Because local media will publish it. Well, I publish things as well, and you can help by supporting Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), or making a donation at my about page. Here’s a video to conclude today’s post. Thanks for all the support!

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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