Indy Tease

by lizard

Hands clasped before him, head bowed, this penitent figure gracing the cover of Missoula’s “Independent” in the last week of May is embattled UM president, Royce Engstrom.

When I saw the cover, I actually skipped Ochenski and went straight for the Indy’s take on what I assumed would be a substantive look at the suddenly vilified UM Honcho.

I should have looked at the cover more closely, because that week’s feature wasn’t just about Engstrom. Instead, it was a collage of jobs “you probably don’t want”, of which Engstrom’s was one of five. Here is how Engstrom’s section opens:

The past two years have been anything but kind to the University of Montana’s administration. If it isn’t homeowners renewing concerns about moving the College of Technology to the UM golf course, it’s environmentalists highlighting problems with the university’s biomass boiler proposal…

Then, of course, there’s the rape investigation thing. So that sucks.

I think that’s a very charitable depiction of three separate issues that seem to share the common theme of a public institution demonstrating its arrogant disregard for the public it serves.

The first issue is developing the golf course, which has been in the crosshairs for years. Opposition was stirred against moves to develop the golf course back in 2007. According to the article, it wasn’t the first time Missoulians had to register their strong opposition to developing prime real estate:

It’s not the first time the women have gone the distance to halt development on the nine-hole course. In 2005, golfers were the chief push in a petition drive to stop UM’s real estate venture to build and sell houses and condominiums on the course.

Back then, UM administrators argued it was a creative solution to bring in additional revenue for the cash-strapped institution. But the outcry from thousands of petition signers was so loud regents held a special meeting in Missoula to discuss the matter.

The second issue mentioned in the Indy’s woe-is-me profile of Engstrom’s handsomely paid position as UM president is the aborted biomass heating plant.

Remember, during that scandal, those who opposed this plan were depicted as eco-terrorists:

Several members of the public used the opportunity to voice their opposition of the project and some resented a university official’s recent comment that equated the appellants to low-level eco-terrorists.

“I have belonged to the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club, but I’m not an eco-terrorist,” said Harold Hoen, a Missoula resident who attended some of the university’s earlier public forums. “I wasn’t happy with the way those were conducted. And that was the (Environmental Assessment) process.”

But despite that, the opposition won, and the plan was scrapped (after UM blew a half million dollars for “research”).

A small victory for all those eco-terrorists who didn’t want a glorified 16 million dollar incinerator spewing pollution in our inversion-prone valley.

The third issue—rape—is eloquently described as “sucking”, while regurgitating the basic facts everyone already knows. Speaks for itself, really.

  1. Steve W

    That’s some pretty good media criticism, Liz. Blumberg would be smiling I think. You should get on “On the Media” and discuss this. It is important.

  2. lizard19

    thanks Steve.

    I could have written more, but it got too late last night.

    one of the things that seems to be a perpetual claim by UM officials is this notion of being “cash-strapped”.

    that claim is used to justify all kinds of things. in 2005, it was to peddle condos. in 2012, it’s hikes in health insurance.

    this from a recent Montana Public Radio piece:

    Health Insurance prices for Montana University students are rising next semester. State universities and colleges require students have health insurance coverage. The majority of students stay on their parents’ plans or have insurance from an employer. But for the rest, the schools themselves have an insurance option for students that is supposed to save money over buying insurance on the open market. It’s that school insurance that’s rising and it’s rising a lot for older students.

    Let’s do the numbers first.

    If you are one of the 7,500 students that take the Montana University System health insurance and you’re less than 40 years old—your insurance costs will rise about 10 percent. It averages out to about $100 a semester. If you’re over 40 though, it goes up about 110 percent. That’s an increase of more than $900 a semester.

    cost goes up—seemingly on everything—but are wages going up? for top level administrators? yes, always. for the plebes? yeah right.

  3. lizard19

    wow, just checked out the Missoulian, and it appears UM’s administrative incompetence is screwing over veterans now:

    here’s the opening of the article:

    Nineteen University of Montana veterans enrolled in summer school learned a week into classes that the university, through the Yellow Ribbon Program, wouldn’t cover their tuition as previously promised.

    The students had two choices: drop out of summer school, or find a way to cover their tuition come spring semester 2013 when their veteran’s benefits under the Yellow Ribbon Program run out.

    “I’m a 26-year-old with two kids,” said Nicholas Fry, a junior studying resource conservation. “I just want to get out of here, graduate and move on with my life.”

    UM recently discovered it exceeded its $300,000 budget for the Yellow Ribbon Program by $225,000 and now is working to scale back the program. By doing so, that means veterans attempting to accelerate graduation by enrolling in summer classes and who were promised a free education won’t receive one. Not if they want to attend school year-round.

    Engstrom’s response is quickly becoming his trademark:

    President Royce Engstrom sees the problem as a good one.

    The fact that UM overextended its budget for the program means that more veterans wanted to attend the university than anyone anticipated, Engstrom said.

    “We put more money into the program than we had budgeted,” he said. “From a financial point of view, that causes challenges, but from a standpoint of helping veterans, it’s a good thing.”

    isn’t that amazing? just like the Saudi student fleeing after two alleged sexual assaults was a good thing for the Missoula community.

    UM administrators are absolutely shameless.

    • Where is the general outrage this shit should be causing? The good old boy network shields rapists and harasses the victims, because they are one of a kind with the rapists. Keep up the good work, Lizard, because the local media is becoming less relevant on all these important issues.

      • lizard19

        while I appreciate the kudos, I would like to acknowledge that there are a dwindling amount of modestly paid professionals working within our current media institutions who don’t deserve to be dragged in to the macro problems of information flow and legally protected intellectual content.

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