Staffing Shortages Everywhere, But You’re Probably Still Clueless Why

by Travis Mateer

Since I’m stuck in the Seattle airport wondering when I’ll get to my destination on the east coast, I decided to write a quick post about why my flight is now in limbo, and it’s the same reason I had to wait until 6:30pm yesterday to get the birthday meal I ordered at 5pm: staffing shortages.

My problems actually started in Spokane, where I waited and waited for a shuttle that wasn’t coming. If it wasn’t for a nice employee of the airport telling me that the shuttles didn’t start running until 3:30am, I would have continued waiting in the dark cold. Thanks Edgar!

As I followed Edgar to the terminal, we chatted about the staffing issues that kept functioning shuttles parked in the garage: there’s no one to drive them. Ever since Covid, Edgar said, it’s been difficult to keep employees around. The shuttle service used to be 24 hours, but no longer.

My Alaska Airlines problem started off as a “drain” issue. Planes have drains? Yes, I guess they do, and THIS plane had to have its drain cleared of debris, which caused a delay, which then caused the crew of the plane to NOT be able to continue because, I think, they had reached their maximum hours and therefore couldn’t keep working, by law, so another crew had to be found.

That’s what I’m currently waiting for, for another crew to show up to operate the plane so that myself and the rest of the pissed-off Alaska Airlines customers can continue with the travel plans we spent good money on. And if I don’t get to my destination tonight, I’ll be out the money I spent to book my hotel room.

Since my travel plans are out of my control, the best I can do is keep my cool and wait, then wait some more. It helps that I’m NOT in Missoula, where the entire town is basically one big trigger for me.

Speaking of triggers, our elected leaders decided to NOT pull the trigger on the fire levy because their favorite scapegoat, the state of Montana, won’t be mailing out tax bills until AFTER the November election, so THAT is the excuse being used for taking an action that will (they hope) diffuse some of that taxpayer rage at the games being played by ALL our jurisdictions. From the link:

At Monday night’s meeting, Hess said Missoula’s current and uncertain tax climate isn’t conducive to bringing a new major funding measure to voters.

“The state Legislature has created an absolutely untenable situation from a property tax standpoint and has created a massive tax shift to residences,” Hess said.

“The concern I have, and the concern the department leadership has, and the reason we’re bringing this before you today, is that tax bills won’t even be mailed out until after ballots are out,” the mayor continued. “So people will be voting on this measure without knowing what their own tax bills will be.”

This trepidation about property tax obligations for the perpetually squeezed taxpayer is rich coming from leaders of a ZOOM town that still shovels out Tax Increment Finance money like it’s candy while positioning the city to buy a fucking mountain.

So, how much will that mountain cost us?

Public acquisition of the 480 acres comprising much of the former ski hill has been inching forward over the past year, checking off the steps required to legally expend funding from the bond. The city and county will render a decision on spending $1 million each at a joint meeting slated for Oct. 4 at the Missoula Public Library.

“That hearing, the decision is solely related to funding to support acquisition,” said Kali Becher, the county’s open lands program manager. “The larger decision on whether the county will take on the long-term ownership, management and operations, with support from the city, will happen at a hearing in November.”

Becher said the land acquisition stands at roughly $2.2 million, along with $600,000 for immediate improvements to the property. The effort already has secured a number of grants, including a $600,000 community forest grant and a separate $40,000 grant from the Conservation Alliance.

The answer is NOT in this article because our leaders still don’t know what purchasing Marshall Mountain will cost, but that isn’t stopping them from moving forward.

If this mountain is acquired it will take STAFFING to maintain it, and right now I doubt Parks and Rec is a very desirable job opportunity, with homeless camp cleanups taking up so much time and financial resources.

On my birthday I put in an order for sushi at 5pm and was told it would be ready at 6:00pm, but at 6:30pm all I was being told is SO SORRY, SO SORRY…STAFFING! I finally got my food, sped to where my kids were waiting, and we had a nice meal, then I drove to Spokane so I could start this hellish day of traveling at 3am.

Ok, it sounds like I might finally be able to board my plane again for my destination, so I’m going to wrap this up now. Tomorrow’s post is already scheduled, and it will be posing another provocative questions in regards to the death of Sean Stevenson, so stay tuned.

And, as always, 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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