TEA Partiers Vote to Keep Seniors in Barn Rather than Use Federal Funds for Senior Center

by Cowgirl

TEA Party GOP  County Commissioners have voted against grant money for a home for the local senior center–even after they previously committed to apply for the funds.  Their actions will force the seniors to gather in a rented barn with numerous safety hazards–and pay rent for that privilege to key campaign supporters of the Republican commissioners’ campaigns.

The ultra-conservative Flathead Daily Inter Lake‘s editorial page explains the problem–and-excoriates Pam Holmquist and Gary Krueger soundly for their “shameful” actions and for “failing to lead” and “turning [their] backs on grandma and grandpa.”

Here’s what happened.

Ten years ago, Flathead County needed a new senior center–the area is home to a large and growing senior population and their old space was terrible. This is a place where low income seniors who live alone can come for a hot meal and some company.  The county moved the senior center to a rented barn.  The building had multiple safety hazards, but warehousing the seniors in a barn was supposed to be a temporary thing.

Ten years later, the county has saved up almost enough money to relocate the seniors.  The money comes not from local taxes.  Rather, it comes from payments the federal government makes to local government entities with lots of federal land nearby (e.g. Glacier) which can’t be used as source of local tax revenue.

To make up the difference in cost between moving to a new location  and the federal funds the county had in the bank, locals started looking at community development block grants.  On February 21, 2013,  commissioners officially voted to proceed with the grant.A local non-profit and the City of Kalispell had both planned to apply. However, when the county voted officially that it would apply, both entities stepped aside to give the county the spot in line for the money.

But at the last meeting county commission meeting, Pam Holmquist and Gary Krueger reneged and voted against the grant.  Cal Scott opposed the other two Republicans, voting instead to uphold the commission’s previous promises.

Here’s the kicker.  Because the county waited until the last minute to apply for the grant, its now too late for the city or local non-profits to apply.  Whether this was part of a TEA Party plot to screw seniors or sheer incompetence is not known.   What is known is that the senior center will remain in the barn–and paying rent to the commissioners’ campaign supporters.

This isn’t the first scandal to plague the Flathead County Commission.  In the United States of America today, it is illegal to allow only wealthy property owners to vote.  So in 2011 the Republican Flathead County Commissioners did the next best thing.

They sent out a survey to the ‘doughnut’ residents (people who live in a ring around the outer edge of the city of Whitefish) asking who they prefer to manage planning and zoning, the county or city of Whitefish.  Instead of mailing surveys to the registered voters in the area in question, they sent the surveys only to corporations and property owners. If you resided in the area, but didn’t make enough to own property, well, you weren’t allowed to voice your opinion.

In 2012, Flathead County officials told citizens who wanted to see the public documents related to Dennis Rehberg’s boat crash that in order get an email with the documents they must pay a fee of $82.50 per email for “photocopying.”




11 Comments on "TEA Partiers Vote to Keep Seniors in Barn Rather than Use Federal Funds for Senior Center"

  1. This is a really good summary! All true, alarmingly so. You forgot to mention the part where a county commissioner was part of an attempt to intervene in a law suit that said he wouldn’t have voted for the doughnut if he’d been commissioner, and once he was commissioner, would not budge from his decision to “take” the doughnut from the city on the committee that got to decide this. Unwaivering bias? Yes. disclosed? no, “I won’t talk about that” when asked to do so in the public sessions that were held. Abuse of power? Likely. Statesmanship? no. Doing the will of the people? only a handful, the rest are not allowed in the back room. It is wild to see it being played out. And the most alarming thing is that alot of the players don’t even know what’s unethical about their actions, and that they are bound by our state ethics laws per their vows. “The appearance of impropriety” does not seem to matter one bit either. Luckily we also have wonderful, impartial, reasonable leaders in the Flathead too. That gives me hope that we will improve in our governance to be more like the rest of the nation, and hopefully the state. “Doing the will of the people” is the only reason that any of our leaders are there. But actually listening to those people, integrating their opinions and concerns into public policy, and reflecting back why an unpopular vote was made in the best interests of the public? Not sure that is consistently happening yet on the county level. And sometimes not in the city that I live in either.

  2. Grandma Jeannie | April 30, 2013 9:23 AM at 9:23 AM |

    Perhaps they can make the cat food to fee these seniors from the road kill now made legal as food by the Montana legislature — just another savings opportunity.

  3. Flathead commissioners always seem to be in the news for something embarrassing. I wonder why they are so much worse than the rest of the states county governments? We’re they elected with TEA party billionnaire Ray Thompson’s money? Rick Blake and the realtors? ATP?

    • I’m not aware of ATP donating to County candidates, not to say it hasn’t happened. My guess is it was the work of Ray Thompson for the most part.

  4. No surpirise here. The GOP and ‘baggers’ are all pro-life UNTIL the fetus is delivered, then you’re on your own kid…as Scrooge was mocked in ‘Chistmas Carol’…’are they no workhouses? Are there no poor houses? No surprise that VOTING seniors treated like this and why do seniors put up with this abuse?

  5. Lisa Sheppard, the Flathead Agency on Aging’s director, reached the end of her probationary employment period today. Commissioner Gary Krueger moved to fire her. No seconds. He then moved to extend her probation three months. No seconds. She’s now a regular employee of the county, albeit one with a bullseye on her back as long as Krueger is on the commission. It’s increasingly clear that Krueger wants to privatize Meals on Wheels, and I expect post something on that on Flathead Memo later this week.

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