Cuts across the board
This is terrible ("Western Montana Mental Health Center braces for big cuts," Aug. 3). Many programs are facing cuts. I work for Opportunity Resources Inc. and our agency, along with the Developmental Disabilities Program, are facing cuts. Everyone needs to push back and push back hard. If people are not receiving services, many will end up homeless, in the ER, in jail. That all costs money.
Rebecca Loren Merfeld
Drumpf Tower? Really?
Disagreeing with the author of the article here ("Looking a TIF horse in the mouth: Is the MRA getting our money's worth at the Marriott?" July 20).
I see no real downside to the now-demolished Merc property ending up as a vacant lot. That $3.6 million of taxpayer money could do a lot of interesting things there. A park, a market, a community garden, a rentable/leasable venue, a food cart farm, etc. Missoula sure doesn't need another Drumpf Tower.
More fake news
So here you are again, Siebert! My god, with the Kaimin not staffed over the summer, I've been languishing without essays to write. But here is a little ray of sunshine in my otherwise less-than-typeful days.
Now first of all, Siebert, you should have linked to the video to which you are referring so your audience can see and hear for themselves what your account is referring to ("A reporter runs afoul of the Red Pill brigade," Aug. 3). This is supposed to be "news" after all.
Your argumentation sounds eerily similar to your colleague Derek Brouwer, claiming that you are not "inaccurate" while excusing your piece's grievous bias and clear manipulation as simply caused by word-limit. I've written plenty of letters to the editor constrained to 300 words, Siebert, and that is plenty of room to be balanced if you so wish. We both know that you are being deceptive to the wider audience, who believes "being accurate" means "being relevant and true to the overall picture."
"Fake News" is not the accusation merely that some unethical journalists make up falsehoods and call them facts. That can be part of it, but since that is easily provable and exposes their companies to libel suits it is generally cautioned against. No, Fake News refers to the deceptive practices: Gatekeeping, wherein you admit or omit factual details in a way that bolsters your overarching bias; Definition Play, where you use a specially defined word in journalism like "accuracy" that has a common connotation of "truth" to mislead readers into thinking your claim is something other than it is; Framing, where your report has an overarching narrative that denotes judgment on the subject ... The list goes on. These are all deceptive, manipulative practices designed not to inform readers but to guide them into your pre-constructed conclusion.
You call this "news"? Bullshit. You call the video a bunch of "conspiratorial musings," which I am sure carries no such context of dis-credibility in your journalistic definitions of "accurate," right? Save that kind of bias for the opinion sections. And yet lo and behold, what is this article labeled? And the last one? "News." This is Fake News, Siebert.
Just read By the Numbers in the July 6 Independent. According to the City Bicycle Facilities Master Plan, Missoulians bike 19 million miles a year. Really? Let's do some simple math: 19 million divided by Missoula's population, 72,364, would mean every man, woman and child bikes 263 miles per year or 22 miles per month, actually more like 44 miles a month since the town isn't bikeable for half of the year.
In addition to that fantastical claim, the Bicycle Master Plan tells us more than 50 percent of Missoulians, or 36,182 people, have ridden a bike in the last 30 days.
So where are they hiding all the bikes—about one for every vehicle in town? There must be a huge parking lot somewhere filled with bikes as far as the eye can see, just not ours. What these numbers really add up to is a justification to narrow city streets and arterials to build yet more bike lanes, even in Linda Vista, where they want to give half the road to phantom bikes.
Does anyone ever question this stuff? Does the City Council own a calculator? The city does better when it deals in vague generalities than when it gets mixed up with numbers. It's like the fabled $400,000 that Mayor Engen projected for legal fees on the water acquisition battle. That, in fact, turned into $7.7 million.
As a general rule, it always becomes a problem when our city government starts dealing in millions. Five million dollars for the bike bridge over Reserve, a $3 million incentive for an outside corporation to build a new downtown hotel, $5 million for the "blighted" Southgate Mall to build an additional exit onto Reserve Street, and $30 million for the new library.
The millions spent annually by the city divide into uncomfortably large amounts for members of an ever-shrinking tax base. And then there are those smaller amounts which find their way into the annual budget, just two of which include more money for Missoula parks right after they spent the largest figure ever on Missoula Parks: $39 million for the soccer park and $3 million for other city parks, and a 5 percent annual increase for city salaries. Sounds reasonable until you find out the Social Security cost-of-living annual increase for many Missoula taxpayers last year was just .03 percent.
I have a suggestion: How about the Mayor and his crony City Council manage business and get out of social engineering? And how about they roll back the budget to pre-Engen times and use it to pay for the retrograde utopia they dream about and imagine for us?