SB 523 Is Not The TIF Apocalypse They Want You To Think It Is

by Travis Mateer

Does it look like this guy has INTESTINAL FORTITUDE? No, it certainly doesn’t, and maybe that’s because SB 523 has a chance at becoming law, thus limiting what people like Brent Campbell can get done with YOUR public money.

Before getting to the legislative action, here is Campbell during better days when stimulus money helped his company buy the building where they currently reside at 1111 E. Broadway. From the link (emphasis mine):

In a $2.8 million deal spurred by stimulus dollars and “intestinal fortitude,” planning firm WGM Group opens next Monday in a new location, and one of its very own.

“It’s a big testament to our faith in the community and belief that Missoula is going to continue to prosper,” said president and chief executive officer Brent Campbell.

He sees the move to 1111 E. Broadway as a glimmer of good news for a community beset with announcements of the closures at the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. pulp mill and Macy’s downtown department store.

Yes, these were MUCH BETTER days for Campbell’s company because Mayor Engen was alive back then and taking as much money from business men like Brent Campbell as he could. Is that part of the equation for having INTESTINAL FORTITUDE?

Kindrick said the deal is one of 11 the corporation has helped close under the act, and First Interstate Bank was its partner in the WGM project. The main objective of the loan program is to create jobs, and she said WGM was a good fit because the firm was looking to buy its own building.

“They’re just a great business,” Kindrick said. “They’ve got a wonderful reputation throughout the state. This new building fits with what they’re trying to do with their business.”

The program offered a small down payment and a fixed low-interest rate. Stimulus money paid for $25,000 in fees. Even though the move wouldn’t have been possible without the help, Campbell said sealing the deal required “intestinal fortitude.”

Is the APOCALYPSE going to arrive if Tax Increment Financing is rewound by legislators to the original intent, which was to address blight? I don’t think so, but Brent Campbell’s face definitely told a different story.

I’m not sure why the legislative process has Brent Campbell so agitated, since his side presents as the professionals with the confidence that the world will keep bending to their will.

And it does! For example, a supporter of SB 523 was lightly reprimanded for using PROPER NOUNS (of specific banks), which apparently is a rule when speaking “on the floor” of the house. Unfortunately the room where this committee was meeting is not technically considered “the floor” of the house, which was pointed out to the chair by another member of the committee. Whoops!

Another sketchy process maneuver was attempted when a member of the committee asked that supporters identify WHICH CITY they were coming from, since many of us simply identified as Montana residents. This was a clear effort to identify the Missoula people who made the trip to Helena to provide comment. Since this has NEVER BEEN REQUIRED of commenters before, the chairman let us know the specificity of WHERE in Montana we lived was not required.

The Missoulian article covering yesterday’s action helps opponents who want to depict this issue as just a Missoula problem and therefore not something for state legislators to address. From the link (emphasis mine):

Because so many Missoula-based business owners and elected officials spoke both for and against the bill, one committee member called the hearing “the Missoula show.”

The committee chair, Rep. Paul Fielder (R-Thompson Falls), jokingly congratulated Hertz on “bringing people together” and said the 82 public commenters might be a record. The committee took no action on the bill, and Hertz said he would “fine tune” the bill with some amendments.

Going to Helena and being in these spaces, in person, is incredibly important because there are sensory aspects that just can’t be picked up remotely, like the snickering, guffaws and other less than professional noises coming from the PROFESSIONAL class.

I’ll be writing more as SB 523 continues its legislative journey this week. One of the things I suspect might happen is a last minute move by opponents to suddenly support something different, like a STUDY BILL, in order to kick the can down the road to the next legislative session, which won’t be for another TWO YEARS. Plenty of time to work behind the scenes to get what they want.

Is working behind the scenes the reason Ellen Buchanan came to Helena? I ask because Ellen Buchanan, the director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, decided NOT to speak to the committee, which I found kinda odd. I also found it odd that Buchanan stayed at the same hotel as all us supporters, which I realized when she ate breakfast alone while several enthusiastic supporters prepared to deliver their commentary to legislators.

Here’s a quick video recap of the trip to Helena. Remember, I have a competing TIF called Travis’ Impact Fund that is just waiting for your financial support. Or you can use the donation button at my about page. Thanks for 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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