Last Thursday was a particularly newsy day in Missoula, and the Missoulian’s front page on Friday reflected it.
Ben Allan Smith's photo of Tanya Gersh, a Whitefish woman targeted by a neo-Nazi "troll storm," predominated. That’s because Gersh finally got to tell a federal court judge about the terror inflicted upon her and her family by Andrew Anglin and his Daily Stormer (the name echoes a Nazi-era publication) website. Death threats. Anti-Semitic rants. Messages so frightening the Gershes kept their bags packed in case they had to flee in the middle of the night. The man who lit the fire has gone underground and did not appear in court to answer for his actions.
That story by Seaborn Larson made for compelling reading, as did one by David Erickson, which detailed a different type of concern: The fact that the median housing price is Missoula is now a record-setting $305,000—something only likely to exacerbate the problem of affordable housing in a town where wages have not begun to keep pace.
Eve Byron’s persistent digging led to another story, one about a draft lawsuit by county Public Works employees accusing the county of illegally recording their private conversations via devices in their work trucks, which essentially function as mobile offices. She’d heard about the suit, but the county wouldn’t tell her which agency was involved, or give her a copy of the demand later. Byron pointed out — correctly — that such information about a taxpayer-funded agency is a matter of public record and, after a day to redact names, the county supplied it.
As all the best front pages do, Friday’s also supplied some good news. An $8 million fundraising campaign for a new family housing center and domestic violence shelter, a joint project of YWCA Missoula and the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative, kicked off with a $1.1 million jump-start from a single donor. Byron also brought you that story, with her interview with donor Kathy Veazey, who said: “My philosophy is I’ve had a very good life, an interesting life, and Missoula is an amazing place. I decided that’s where I want to put my support.”
All in all, it was a pretty impressive effort by a pretty impressive staff, who do their best to bring you that sort of value every day. Enjoy the read, and thank you for supporting local journalism.