Keeping A Close Eye On Local Government

by Travis Mateer

When a former County Commissioner calls local government corrupt, I suggest you pay attention. Why did Stacy Rye call Missoula County corrupt? Well, just check out her tweets:

The Missoulian article that inspired this honest outburst from Rye discusses how THIS installment of the Sheriff’s Office litigation strategy–developed by the cop-shop law firm, Reep, Bell & Jasper–has moved from paying off Sheriff Deputies to now paying off Detention Officers. From the link (emphasis mine):

The lawsuit seeks three years’ back pay for alleged wage discrepancies and to update wages and benefits accordingly. 

It alleges the county failed to raise the salary of former Sheriff T.J. McDermott to accompany other Missoula County elected officials’ wage increases following a “parity adjustment” by the county’s Compensation Committee. It alleges further that detention officers’ wages are tethered to the sheriff’s and should have increased along with his. 

According to the suit, the county then illegally withheld payment from Sheriff McDermott and consequently detention officers, too. 

“This was done as a scheme by the elected officials sitting on the county’s Compensation Committee to give the elected officials a raise without passing it along to Sheriff McDermott and the Detention Officers,” the lawsuit states.

Even for someone like me, who is TRYING to keep a close eye on local government, it’s been difficult to understand what is going on here. Here are some past attempts, for context:

What Kind Of Bell Have I Rung Now? (July 31st, 2022)

Missoula, Do You Hear That General Obligation Bond-Bell Ringing For Reep Bell & Jasper? (August 4th, 2022)

Does Outgoing Sheriff, T.J. McDermott, Eat Settlement Levys For Breakfast? (October 20th, 2022)

Did Missoula County “Carlylye” The Sheriff’s Office Over An Access Road And Parking Lot? (October 23rd, 2022)

This issue blowing up the Missoula County budget is VERY important to keep in mind as we continue to hear about financial impotence from our pantheon of “leaders” to deal with critical stuff, like the drug crisis and resulting proliferation of “urban” campers.

How ARE those members of our community feeling about Missoula right now?

Isn’t this nice? I took this picture as I walked over the Orange Street bridge. If I had panned to the left, you would see the future location of whatever the NEW development group now assessing the Fox Theater site is going to propose.

If you read this story and are a little confused, don’t worry, so was I. All that CERTAINTY from the last development group, which was reported so diligently by Martin “Gomer” Kidston, appears to have been for nothing. It’s a good thing the shittiest reporter in Zoom Town is such a resilient cheerleader for development! (emphasis mine):

A new team of developers has taken interest in the Riverfront Triangle in downtown Missoula, and city leaders are cautiously optimistic that long-held plans for the site will come to fruition this time around.

The property includes a collection of private parcels and one city-owned property on roughly seven acres in downtown Missoula. The interested team is currently conducting due diligence and hasn’t been identified at this point in the process.

“There’s a developer that’s been in conversation with the owners of those private parcels. They’re doing their due-dilegence on figuring out if they’ll purchase that. They’ve also been in conversation with the Missoula Redevelopment Agency,” Missoula Mayor Jordan Hess told the Missoula Current.

Do you see what’s going on here? It appears our pretend Mayor (Hess) is referencing conversations happening with the REAL Mayor of Zoom Town (Buchanan). Take note, citizens, this is how Zoom Town REALLY operates.

I’ll conclude this Thursday bonus post with one more article and one more warning about a skilled bureaucrat who could make a dildo wrapped in sandpaper sound like a date with Aquaman if she wanted to (I hope our Development Czar understands that’s a compliment).

Now, on to the question posed by the Missoulian article about changing “code wording” from “character” to “form”. If this sound innocuous, trust me, it is NOT. After using Spokane as an example, we get this (emphasis mine):

Spokane’s is a model other cities have been slow to emulate, but the Missoula zoning code reform process will take questions of neighborhood character into account, according to Eran Pehan, director of Community Planning, Development and Innovation at the city of Missoula.

Echoing housing expert Herriges, Pehan said Missoula aims to incorporate more specific, less squishy language in the next version of its zoning code. Instead of relying on “neighborhood character” designations, Pehan said the Missoula team is looking at codifying “community form.”

The new phrase refers to “how development is designed and built,” keeping in mind pieces like architectural design, scale and height.

“Neighborhood character is much less specific and hard to define,” said Pehan. It can also carry unwieldy connotations, she said, and give members of the public an impression that the city can legislate issues outside of its jurisdiction.

In the next couple of months, Pehan said, the city will come out with a community form report that better nails down the exact features that should be considered in development discussions.

To emphasize how the public is going to be depicted, take notice of the language deployed beneath this image of painted rocks:

Do you see that? Public commenters are CLUTCHING onto the “vague” notion of “neighborhood character”. Nice. This lays the foundation for how our “leaders” will use the media to SHAME public commenters as they continue to CLUTCH to a world our intelligent designers are actively destroying in order to BUILD BACK BETTER a new world with new words, phrases and definitions to control your perceptions with.

How should I eloquently state my opposition to this? It’s tempting to just say FUCK NO, but that won’t work. No, it’s not enough to accurately warn the public about what’s coming, we need people smart enough to imagine and offer up alternatives, and they must have the fortitude to withstand the asymmetrical retaliation that occurs when anyone has temerity to counter these long-planned schemes.

I’d like to consider myself one of those people, and you can help by supporting Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), or making a donation 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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