Meanwhile, Back In Missoula, City Council Has Bigger Problems Than Technology

by Travis Mateer

To make sure I’m not at risk of feeling homesick, I tuned in to City Council as a preventative measure and wasn’t disappointed by the observation of a technology delay. It seems there’s almost ALWAYS some glitch that needs to be worked out, which can be a real problem for someone like me relying on technology because in-person attendance has been taken off the table.

Since I’m in Denver overlooking a swimming pool on the 14th floor a hotel that just got done checking out the furry convention that had been going on all weekend (I’m not kidding), physical attendance wouldn’t be a possibility anyway, even IF I was allowed.

The first THREE comments–from David, Bob and Matts–were NOT friendly to Tax Increment Financing. Does that make me smile? Yes, it makes me smile. Bob talking about “sidewalk blight” around his house was especially entertaining.

The image at the top of this post is an example of a local business that got public money to…end blight? No, we are so far away from the original intention of Tax Increment Financing, it’s not even funny. Though I am hearing Matts chuckling a lot as he references shit like the train study that TIF funded.

Here’s a quote from a post I wrote at the time (emphasis mine):

On Thursday, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s board authorized the agency to provide up to $26,300 in Tax Increment Financing to fund a Railroad Quiet Zone Analysis and Traffic Study. The area affected would be generally near the lower Rattlesnake.

Tod Gass, a project manager with the MRA, said Missoula Mayor John Engen, City Council President Bryan von Lossberg and many concerned citizens have brought the issue forward recently.

The fourth comment came from a guy who works at Opportunity Resources and he likes to walk around expressing his love for Jesus. Cool. Then he brought up morality and shamed City Council for their policies.

Oh, did I mention he purposefully lived on the streets in Eugene as a spiritual thing? Cool. Yeah, life is hard out there, so let’s throw more money at shit without acknowledging the true extent of what’s going on out there.

Next up is Clayton, a regular “houseless” person who is upset that he’s wet and had to move his camp again. Is moving people along “sweeps” or are they NOT “sweeps”? That’s one question Clayton brought up.

I’ve talked to Clayton a handful of times, but I think there is a growing sense of empathy fatigue that more and more people in Missoula are experiencing. I know it’s hard for ME to hear from people that we, as a community, aren’t doing enough for them when the cost of living for EVERYONE is skyrocketing.

Clayton was the first person to be called out for going over the time limit. And this is BEFORE the budget conversation.

Getting on to other business, like the consent agenda, I’m glad to hear Council person, Sandra Vasecka, speak to a sort of jurisdictional nether world commonly known as “sidewalks”. Vasecka’s point is that she will NOT be supporting the snow removal program (and some hazardous vegetation thing) because neither homeowner, nor city, technically “owns” the sidewalk, so having a homeowner fined for NOT removing snow of said sidewalk is problematic, according Vasecka.

I agree! And you know how much I love me some sidewalk policy! It’s almost as exciting as bridges and that cold, hard space between buildings.

To lull the audience into a hypnotic trance, Hess first deploys Bickell to monotone-budget-talk, then deploys slides of pie graphs. BRUTAL! I am tempted to return to my binge-watching of Yellowjackets, which will comprise the rest of my evening.

The next slide/graph makes Mayor Hess ANGRY! This graph is how Hess hopes to scapegoat the state for the budget pain everyone is experiencing. Here it is:

I wanted to capture a screenshot of Hess complaining, but all I had on my screen was slide data, so I had to find an image to give readers who didn’t tune in to budget bullshit from a hotel room like I did.

Here is what Hess sounded like to me in the Mile High city:

There were more slides, and more scapegoats, like inflation, but, like I said, Yellowjackets is calling.

Wait! Mayor Hess just said he’s going to defend TIF! With a pie graph!

There were more TIF-defending slides, but Hess just passed the mic back to Bickell, and I’ve had enough Bickell. Back to Lord of the Flies with a high school soccer team! If I miss some exciting public comments about the budget, so be it!

If you appreciate my continued dedication to watching boring Council meetings, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to say thank you, and the donation button at my about page is another. I even have graphs of my own at the 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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1 Response to Meanwhile, Back In Missoula, City Council Has Bigger Problems Than Technology

  1. John Kevin Hunt says:

    You might want to actually listen to Clayton’s message. Last night was a Community Meeting at Franklin School for the Ward 6 neighborhood near the soon-to-open-24/7 Johnson Street shelter. Interim Mayor Hess, Police Chief Mike (“Hollywood”) Collier, the Pov Exec Director, and Black Knight Security commandante, et al were there to “have a converstion” with the neighbors. Though announced a few times over the past 3 weeks on the city web site and in our fave propaganda outlets The Missoulian and the Current, the slick 8.5 x 11 color glossy mailed notice to the neighborhood didn’t hit maoloxes until the day before.

    As one might have predicted, most of the “questions” from attendees were acually lenghty tirades, rants and diatribes, attacking Interim Mayor Hess and the City Council. There was much cat-calling and heckling. A very well-justified grievane was the lack of inclusioon of the neighhborhood and the Wad’s Councilpersonls in the Iterim Mayor’s planning processes.

    After about an hour of this, Gwen NIcholson walked from the end of the gymnasium/auditorium, got the roving mic from it handler, but instesd of speaking herself, then handed it to Clayton.

    Clayton was great. He told how he became unhoused, got a job, and ended up unhoused again; why he chose to remain that way in order to transform the nature of urban camping and to reform the homeless industrial complex. He said that he had stayed at the Johnson Street shelter and that he would choose the outdoors over it because it’s DANGEROUS. He went on about how there are no wrap-around services there, there is little in the way of rules enforcement, etc. He related being kicked out of that shelter by someone who said that as a private entity, the shelter wasn’t bound by the same laws as the City, and that accordingly was 86’d for wearing a bra on the outside of his shirt.

    A particularly unruly section of the bleachers to my right (beyond where your tormentor had taken a seat) began heckling Clayton, insulting him, making sound effects, and drowning him out. Being as I’m an old man and don’t give a fuck what happens to me, but hoping not to ignite general bedlam, I stood up, glared at the “anti-bum” hecklers with my most menacing Harrison Ford face/Clint Eastwood squiint, and yelled very loudly (paraphrased from memory) “LET HIM SPEAK! YOU DON’T HAVE A VOICE BUT NEITHER DOES HE! IT’S HIS LIFE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT! LET HIM SPEAK, GODDAMMIT!”

    The nice thing about being a geezer is that people don’t expect this from you, and they generally let you get away with it whether they are on your side or not. Once it was clear that they would keep quiet, I gestured to Clay and he resumed where he left off.

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