Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) While most members of City Council on Monday night used their platform to remember the lives lost on 9-11, one council member decried the local media's coverage of her initiative to place homeless camps in city parks and on city property in all six voting wards.

Monday night marked a solemn occasion, being the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Most members of City Council used their time at the end of the meeting to express their thoughts and sorrow marking the date.

“Continuing to remember the folks around our country who were impacted by the tragedy on 9-11, the victims of that day, and continue to have appreciation every day, but particularly today for first responders for all the work they do,” said Mayor Jordan Hess.

Other council members expressed similar thoughts, including Mike Nugent, who said he remembered where he was when jetliners loaded with passengers hit New York, crashed into a Pennsylvania field and into the Pentagon.

It was “important to keep that front and center, especially for today,” Nugent said. Council member Sandra Vasecka had similar thoughts.

“I remember exactly where I was. I remember the carpet I was sitting on watching the TV, and the roll-out TV at school,” Vasecka said. “I bawl my eyes out every year about this. I think it's very important to remember the tragedies in our life so we're not bound to repeat it.”

Other council members brought a different perspective to the national tragedy. Council member Mirtha Becerra, one of the most tenured members of City Council who hales from Chile, said she remembered the day clearly.

“It's a date of remembrance for this county and around the world. Unfortunately, it's not the only Sept. 11 that I remember,” she said. “Sept 11, 1973, marked the beginning of a brutal dictatorship in my county of Chile. We still have people who have been disappeared. To me, it's a reminder that democracy can be very fragile, but the resiliency of a nation is incredible.”

While most thoughts were focused on the solemn holiday, Council member Kristen Jordan used her platform at the end of Monday night's City Council meeting to decry the local media's coverage of her proposal to rotate two homeless camps through each city ward.

Two weeks ago, Jordan was pressed by fellow council member Stacie Anderson to admit that her proposal included city parks – a point Jordan has since tried to deny. But on Aug. 30, she stated on the public record that “I'd like us to review all of the city's property, whether it's a vacant lot or a park that's not used as much.”

As proposed, two camps would be placed in each neighborhood and rotate every few months. Several camps would operate at single time. Jordan also said the camps would not include security for surrounding residents.

Jordan on Monday criticized the media for its coverage of her proposal, saying she has endured backlash from Ward 6, which she represents. Residents of the ward have opposed the Johnson Street shelter, which Jordan abstained from voting on.

The city also held an open house at the Johnson Street shelter last week and invited residents to ask questions. Fellow City Council ward representative Sandra Vasecka attended but Jordan did not. She told the Missoula Current when asked why she didn't attend, “I was working.”

On Monday night, she said she's had a “stressful week” answering concerns from her constituents who didn't like her proposal.

“It super sucks when a journalist writes a 'misleading' story about the work you're trying to do and you spend hours and hours of your time that's very precious trying to overturn the misleading story journalists write,” Jordan said on Monday. “It's been a very stressful week-and-a-half, and it's taken a lot of my time to overturn the 'misleading' comments.”

The city will hold a hearing on Wednesday regarding Jordan's proposal to place homeless camps in city parks, on city property, and on private property in all six of the city's voting wards.

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