by William Skink
How corrupt is Missoula? And how entitled are government functionaries with our tax dollars?
There have been a few interesting stories coming from local media, like NBC Montana’s examination of Missoula officials credit card expenditures. While nothing outlandish was uncovered, the optics of thousands of dollars in lunch meetings and other questionable purchases, like expensive sports sandals, aren’t good.
Slightly more concerning is the recent disclosure that Missoula’s Sheriff, TJ McDermott, is a silent partner in his undersheriff’s purchase of Montana Electronics, a company that does thousands of dollars of business with Missoula County.
Here is the money quote from McDermott:
“I really don’t think you have a story here,” McDermott said Friday. “I am entitled to make any venture I want.”
With painful budget cuts coming, elected leaders, like Sheriff McDermott, should understand that the concern over conflicts of interest absolutely makes his “silent” partnership in a business that DOES business with the County a story local media should be telling.
And, with painful budget cuts coming, any city official with a credit card better figure out that most taxpayers don’t get to charge a couple hundred dollars on the company credit card for a lunch meeting, so maybe show a little more sensitivity to the taxpayers you are suckling off of.
For local media, there’s blood in the water. I expect more stories to come out because I bet they are getting views and clicks on these stories.
And for any prospective political opponent, the opportunity should be clear: if you say read my lips, no new bonds, you could probably become the next Mayor of Missoula.