Supportive huckleberries to the five members of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency who voted unanimously last month to allow YWCA Missoula to use nearly $145,000 in Tax Increment Financing toward the construction of a new shelter for families in crisis. It’s a small but important piece of the planned $10.9 million facility’s funding, and will go in part toward covering the costs of installing sidewalks and curbs around the shelter property on South Third Street West. It also represents the best possible use of TIF money — leveraging property tax increases to boost redevelopment projects that provide a clear community benefit. When the shelter is completed, it will welcome up to 31 homeless families, including children, and offer 13 rooms for families seeking to escape domestic violence.
Contrite chokecherries to Gov. Steve Bullock for his poor handling of a former staffer’s history of sexual harassment. Bullock has conceded that he didn’t do enough to stop Kevin O’Brien from moving on to a new job after Bullock fired him for sexual harassment during his time with the Democratic Governors Association. Bullock also admitted that he should have told O’Brien’s new employer — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — about the substantiated allegation against O’Brien before two more women accused him of sexual harassment and he was forced out of City Hall. While Bullock’s candor is appreciated now, it comes too late to help these two women.
A portrait of huckleberries in a gilded frame to the Missoula Art Museum, which raked in a new record from last Saturday’s Benefit Art Auction, with proceeds totaling about $215,000. The auction included nearly 80 individual pieces of art and earned a challenge grant from the Drollinger Family Foundation, which raised the amount it would match from $50,000 to $60,000 during the benefit, spurring the audience of about 430 people to pledge a whopping $64,075 in donations. They money will help keep the local art museum free to the public and able to continue welcoming world-class exhibits.
A dark corner filled with chokecherries to the legislative leaders in Montana who only this month disclosed that there was a claim of sexual harassment involving two legislators — but refuse to name them or to provide any other information about the allegation to the public. On the bright side, the incident did apparently help persuade some lawmakers to finally support a sexual harassment policy for legislators. Hopefully, the new policy will prevent similar incidents from being covered up in the future.
Huckleberry healing balm to the first Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office director to be located in Montana. This week, the VA Veterans Benefits Administration appointed Michael Crouse to serve as the director of the VA Regional Office out of Fort Harrison; previous managers have been located in Salt Lake City. Montana’s VA Regional Office includes some 100 employees serving nearly 93,000 veterans in the state.