When I Say Montana Is An Embarrassment This Is What I’m Talking About

by Travis Mateer

My travels have taken me all over this country, and I can safely say that most of the people I talk to seem genuinely shocked after just a few minutes of talking to me because I tell them stuff that’s happening and NOT happening in Montana.

There are basic things that ANY entity hiring and firing people must do when it comes to the role of Human Resources (HR), things like maintaining personnel files where employee reviews and complaints are kept.

Yeah, Montana doesn’t do that kind of shit. And a recent audit of JUST ONE state agency shows how problematic that could be if a state employee decides to litigate. From the link (emphasis mine):

Among the other problems within the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, auditors found next to nothing in the human resource files, which would include information on hiring, employee discipline and employee reviews. Auditors noted that the missing paperwork could potentially become a liability for the state.

“In trying to review the details of events that led to several members of enforcement management being placed on administrative leave, we learned HR claimed to have lost their performance reviews or they were never completed at all by enforcement and the director’s office,” the audit said.

State policy requires the FWP have a hiring plan for every time the department wants to add staff. Those plans include guidance for minimum qualifications, ranking qualified candidates and interviews.

“After hearing accusations of unfair hiring practices aired by multiple wardens, (auditors) requested to review all hiring documents for sergeants and captains for the last five years. HR staff indicated they could not locate those documents,” the report read.

See what I mean? The basic job that HR does is NOT BEING DONE in state agencies like Fish, Wildlife and Parks. And that’s a BIG problem.

When I read the Missoulian article about FWP my first thought was, geez, this sounds a lot like Mineral County, and if you read the excerpt above, you’ll see that having an inept FWP agency means that County Sheriff Offices will have MORE power when it comes to investigating or NOT investigating something.

The parts of the Writ of Mandamus hearing I attended in Mineral County (west of Missoula) showed me how inept BOTH the County Attorney’s Office AND the Sheriff’s Office were with HR basics, like maintaining personnel files. What is a Writ of Mandamus? It’s a way to force incompetent entities to do what they are legally REQUIRED to do, like following the fucking Constitution. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

Mandamus (/mænˈdeɪməs/; lit. ”we command”) is a judicial remedy in the form of an order from a court[1] to any government, subordinate court, corporation, or public authority, to do (or forbear from doing) some specific act which that body is obliged under law to do (or refrain from doing), and which is in the nature of public duty, and in certain cases one of a statutory duty. It cannot be issued to compel an authority to do something against statutory provision. For example, it cannot be used to force a lower court to take a specific action on applications that have been made, but if the court refuses to rule one way or the other then a mandamus can be used to order the court to rule on the applications.

Mandamus may be a command to do an administrative action or not to take a particular action, and it is supplemented by legal rights. In the American legal system it must be a judicially enforceable and legally protected right before one suffering a grievance can ask for a mandamus. A person can be said to be aggrieved only when they are denied a legal right by someone who has a legal duty to do something and abstains from doing it.

Are you beginning to see how bad shit stinks in Montana? Is that why some people, like the Sheriff of Mineral County, can’t call back someone like me who has information on the death of Joey Thompson? Yeah, this all smells VERY bad, Sheriff Funke.

In my conversations with people around America, after I tell them how the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office can euthanize and execute black people, I tell them NOT to visit our state. I would also NOT send my kids to any institution of higher learning here because it’s not safe.

Sometimes I get cynical responses about corruption being everywhere. Ok, well, my kids aren’t growing up everywhere, they’re growing up in Montana, and if something bad happens, then I want competent people doing actual investigations. Is that too much to ask?

I may be sitting in a hotel room on the other side of the country right now, but that doesn’t I won’t call in a public comment today to the Public Safety Committee to tell them how UNSAFE citizens are in Montana, especially after I took a peek at the agenda.

Ah, yes, in Missoula we hire shitty private security to supplement the strained responses of law enforcement while directing advertising money to a shitty media corporation with CIA connections. Do you see the problems here?

Dealing with problems can be hard. I know, because I ignored problems in my own marriage until they became too big to resolve, and now I’m divorced sitting in this hotel room on the exact day 20 years ago I said I DO at Holland Lake, where the sewer is currently failing.

While Montana pretends like it shit don’t stink, I’m wrapping up the eastern portion of my trip and thinking about what comes next.

If you appreciate the work I’m doing, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to support me, while making a donation at my about page is another.

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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2 Responses to When I Say Montana Is An Embarrassment This Is What I’m Talking About

  1. Jay Putman says:

    In unrelated news, Destination Missoula is still soliciting residents to take a survey on what Missoula tourism will look like in ten years: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MissoulaResidentSurvey.

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