You can see the complete Missoula City Council Agenda for April 27 here.
I arrived at 7:03 and they were just getting started and just taking public comments. I have a feeling the same woman gets up every week and talks about the threats of communism that we had in 1939.
There were 9 City Councilors present at the meeting tonight, and the mayor was not there…he was sick. The City Attorney, Jim Nugent, was there. On the agenda tonight were the following items:
- Approving $653,892.68 in claims;
- Approving $238,503.19 for water lawsuit fees;
Before the City Council got to that I decided to give a few public comments tonight, but as usual, they did little if any good. Like the woman that went before me, my comments were accepted, heard, and we quickly moved on.
What I said was that we needed to think about what we’re doing with our money. I decided to highlight a Missoulian article that I just saw before going to the meeting, one that was about a guy cooking up meth in a storage unit in Missoula.
Now, busting people for cooking up meth in a storage unit is a good idea. We got this guy, found him down in Florida. We also got the woman that allowed him to use her Missoula storage unit, someone named Risa Hill. This woman has been in the Missoula County jail since April 28, which will be four months tomorrow. I’m not sure what the cost is on a woman like that for the county, but we know from last year that a woman in the Montana State Prison system costs $104 a day.
Assuming the cost for that is the same, that means we’re paying $3,120 a month for this woman, or $12,480 since she’s been in jail. Let’s not even get into the lost rent her landlord may be feeling – which would be $2,660 in my house – or the lost income she may have been contributing to the community in lieu of her dealer.
So I told that to the Missoula City Council about that and then I went into our rising property taxes. I brought up the $42 million we’ve spent on parks recently, and how this really angered a lot of voters. I discussed the talk of trees last week, and how we’ll soon be asking voters for a lot more money. Don’t forget that we had a bond for open space to the tune of $10 million, and of course the dumping of money to the sharks continues with the water lawsuit.
I made sure to bring up that a lot of people here in Missoula are on fixed incomes and that a lot of people are getting their money from the federal government. This means we’re just spending our kids’ future, that’s what it means. So I told that to them and I encouraged them to think about using our recourse in a better fashion.
Most people have no problems paying for trees, but how many trees could we get for the $258,503.19 we approved for the water lawsuit? According to my math, based on the cost of $1,200 a tree we could get 21,542 trees. Wow, if we didn’t piss so much money away on a crooked lawsuit, we’d have our urban forest!
We then proclaimed the month of May “Historic Preservation Month.” A city worker got up and spoke in support of this and accepted some kind of award or certificate. I guess this is one of the ways that the city shuffles money around, mainly in an attempt to drive-up current consumer spending.
Wow, that stuff is great, but it sure sounds like a boatload of make-work, and I really don’t want to have to tell some long-standing Missoula resident that they’ve got to move away because they’re taxes are too high, because gosh darn, we needed to have more feel-good stuff for city workers to do!
Now, maybe some of these city workers would indeed disappear, and some money would be taken out of the economy, should we just cut off the spigot to this stuff. That’s a strong possibility, but…can’t that person do anything else? And if they can’t, if that Missoula city worker can’t fill a productive role in society without tax dollars to prop them up, then that’s very sad. It’s more than that, however, it’s a huge problem. It means we’re not producing enough in this country, not creating enough ‘real’ jobs for people to actually ‘do’ something in society.
It’s more than that, however, it’s about feeling important and relevant and like you did a good day’s work. I’m sure highlighting historic events for Historic Preservation Month is one way to do that, but again, we’re asking people with real jobs to foot the bill. Yes, taxpayers – people that do include government workers, but also workers that make money without government support – have to pay for this.
For government workers it’s a double-whammy, from a tax-perspective, but for the ‘real’ workers, it gets to be insulting. You and your family are struggling while the government workers are getting healthcare and other benefits, plus set hours. You’re not, because your business or your boss’s business has to operate in the real world where money really does matter.
That’s a shady little secret I don’t think we really talk about. How many businesses in Missoula are being propped-up by all the grant money the city needs to keep raking in? They have full-time positions just to wrangle more money from the feds. Again, there’s no plan to pay off that massive $18 trillion federal debt we have, and that means it’s just a house of cards waiting to take down you and your family. Still keeping your money in banks, what with the bail-ins?
One woman got up and talked about financial literacy and how a huge segment of our population isn’t getting any support, how these people get kicked out of their houses, and how teen mothers are losing their homes too. The goal is to stop the cycle of poverty and reduce the people’s dependency on social service programs.
I have to say, reducing their need for these programs is a super good idea, as there won’t be any money around soon, the way the city and the feds keep spending money! Several of the City Councilors actually brought up their concerns with the reduced amount of funding they had to move around. Duh – people are broke and so are the feds, have been for some time!
More and more people are having problems staying in their home, and these people are in their 50s and 60s. They’ve spent down their retirement, and taken equity out of their homes. So these are old, retirees or people that have given up on the labor force or can’t work any longer. They have no way to make more money, and what are we going to do, kick them out of their home? That’s why we don’t waste money on the water lawsuit, so we can actually fund things like keeping old people in their homes. Oh, and these people aren’t that old – hell, 50s is a decade younger than my parents.
The Missoula Housing Authority wants $150,000 for affordable housing for seniors. Another group was WORD, Women’s Organization for Resource and Development. Here we’re talking about some of those CDBG grants that we talked about at the Franklin to the Fort Missoula Neighborhood Meeting a few months back. Again, this is federal money that we’re spending here…which is fine, but when do you stop? Do you stop at $19 trillion or do you stop at $25 trillion? We know that Chinese stopped funding our debt quite awhile ago, so now we’re like one of those junkies that’s just going around to whoever they can, begging money like a freak.
You can’t just blame Missoula or the Missoula City Council for these problems. The real blame lies with NAFTA and Bill Clinton and the bankers that pushed him into pushing that program. Wall Street benefited, but we didn’t see a lot of benefit for American workers. I saw firsthand the benefits to Chinese workers – it built a middle class!
The cost, of course, was the American middle class, and you saw the fallout from that tonight. One after another people got up to thank the Missoula City Council for bringing home the bacon, getting the grant money from the feds to help these people that are spending so much on rent. We talked about renters spending 35% on their housing, and how that’s the ideal.
Unfortunately, the city keeps building up housing, which takes housing off the market and drives up the cost for regular renters, people that can’t get those government handouts. That’s why one-bedroom rents are going up and up and I’m not sure our shortfall of students due to the rape scandal is really going to help with that.
After that the Council discussed a few additional items and then that was it, adjourned at 7:52…just about an hour after starting. Boy, it’s nice when you don’t even have to put in full hour to get paid, huh?