by Travis Mateer
While city officials utilize acronyms to refer to anything from policy (JEDI) to homeless camps (ACS), other municipal operators, like city police, sometimes use more colorful terminology to describe the locations they frequent, like THE THUNDERDOME!
For those unfamiliar with the Mad Max movie franchise, here’s a description of the Thunderdome from a fan site:
Now that I’ve firmly established the cultural context of what is meant by the term THUNDERDOME, let’s see how the plan from Mayoral candidate, Shawn Knopp, fits with this idea.
From the link (emphasis mine):
“With the Boise lawsuit from the Ninth District Court, we can’t make houselessness illegal and that makes it very hard to enforce. So, you know, my plan would be to find one place to make it legal to camp,” began Knopp. We get them all in one area and then it’ll be easier to police and then the ones that don’t follow the rules, we have avenues to take legally.”
This is NOT, unfortunately, a viable plan. Even worse, this plan has already been rendered moot after the emergency declared by Mayor Hess late last week, which activates two emergency mills in order to generate enough taxpayer money to re-open the Johnson Street shelter. With more shelter beds available, the limitations imposed by the Ninth District Court decision can be loosened, and “urban campers” can be prevented from creating health and safety situations along the river and in parks.
Shawn Knopp is making the same mistake all the other Mayoral candidates are making, and that mistake is NOT hiring me as a paid consultant to leverage my expertise on this complicated subject. Would it help to communicate that my work availability is wide open, since the book store I applied to turned me down?
If Knopp is dedicated to the Thunderdome model, then my suggestion would be to make it into a reality tv show. I’m pretty sure the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office has developed an important skill set when it comes to acting for the cameras, so turning homeless misery into opportunity shouldn’t be too difficult.
I don’t mean to rag on Knopp for a substandard plan because it’s really not his fault, nor should it be his responsibility alone to address. Especially considering how many people are currently being PAID to find housing solutions for those without conventional places to live.
Later in the article, Knopp does articulate a more accurate understanding regarding WHY our current approach isn’t working.
To have a system that can function with all the complicated sub-populations moving through it like fucked up branches through a storm drain, a daunting amount of infrastructure and policies must be developed. We need more treatment options for addiction, and more nursing homes for difficult people, and mental health facilities, and, yes, probably more jail capacity.
Instead we’re going to get MORE taxes that will be gobbled up by inflation, or diverted to MRA for more bullshit incentivizing of development that will just put MORE economic pressure on those who aren’t getting the raises to keep up with the cost of living.
And while all this is happening, our newspaper industry is dying, leaving Missoula locals less informed than ever before about what’s happening in their own community.
From the link (emphasis mine):
When Western Montana wanted to know about the end of World War 2, find out about “JFK” being assassinated, or learn what had been destroyed in the devastating “Big Blow Up” fires of 1910, they eagerly turned to the pages of the Missoulian.
But now, after surviving the turmoil, and economic challenges since the city’s earliest days in 1870, the storied newspaper has become another victim of changing news tastes and rising costs. The Missoulian announced over the weekend it will cease to be a “daily” printed newspaper, only producing a print edition three times a week.
No matter how you look at this, it’s a sad state of affairs, one that offers two possible responses: accept it, or do something about it.
Thanks for reading!