Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - KGVO recently received a request from a listener and reader of our KGVO Mobile App asking us to look into the funding of the JEDI program in Missoula.

This individual, who asked to remain anonymous, was concerned about the sheer amount of time and money taken up by JEDI-related meetings.

City Councilor Responds to Concerns about JEDI Funding

JEDI, which stands for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, first appeared in Missoula in 2021 according to the City of Missoula website.

‘The first major action taken by the National League of Cities cohort is to adopt a JEDI resolution, one at the City of Missoula and a parallel resolution at Missoula County. The Board of County Commissioners considered the resolution on July 22, 2021. The City of Missoula City Council Committee of the Whole considered the JEDI Resolution on July 28, 2021.’

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KGVO reached out to Missoula Ward 6 City Councilor Sandra Vasecka for her take on the JEDI program.

“It just came out of the woodwork one day, and all of a sudden everything was about JEDI, which is justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion,” began Vasecka. It involved us as a city needing to do everything through the lens of JEDI, so in all of our decisions, we needed to keep justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in mind. So we need to look at everything through that lens.”

Councilor Vasecka said the City is already Inclusive, Aside from JEDI

Vasecka was critical of the heavy emphasis on JEDI, as from her perspective, the city was already deeply involved in equal access and opportunity, especially for women.

“In all of my endeavors so far, I've noticed that women especially have been taking over,” she said. “The majority of people on the council are women and the majority of people in workplaces that I've noticed are women. So I don't think at least in that aspect that we have any problem at all with gender and being equal. I think that we have that in the bag. And, men you need to step up.”

Regarding the funding for JEDI, Vasecka told KGVO News that she asked Donna Gauckler, Director of Missoula Parks and Recreation at the Committee of the Whole meeting in Wednesday about the amount of funding and where it originated. Vasecka was critical of the JEDI concept.

The JEDI Budget for 2023 is $194,000

“I don't think that we need to spend $194,000 of taxpayer money to go to making sure that we are being diverse,” she said. “I asked Donna Gauckler about it Wednesday during the Committee of the Whole meeting about the total amount of JEDI-related funds that have been spent so far and she said that the total budget for 2023 is $194,000.”

Vasecka also asked about the source of the JEDI funding and if any was from local Missoula tax money.

“It’s not coming out of taxpayer money,” Vasecka said. “(Donna Gauckler said) It's coming out of ARPA funds, which I find that phrasing a little silly because ARPA means the American Rescue Plan Act. Those funds come from the federal government and who funds the federal government? You, me, the neighbor down the street, everybody. Those are still taxpayer dollars and we still have to be a good steward of those dollars.”

Click here to view the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, January 11.

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