Whitefish: No Place for the American Dream?

By Beacon Staff

I sit at my desk and ponder, “What could have been?” I look at the concert venue I built in a small town and I am proud. I came to Whitefish with the same hope and aspirations as others: to find a place to call home, build a business, start a family and become part of the community. To live the American Dream. I felt that after three years I was close. I still feel Montana offers the American Dream, even though as you read this my bar/ restaurant/music club sits empty, shut down, and forced to close by authorities. The music long shut off, the friends and laughter now slowly fading in my memory. A fitting end to a great run. I would be happy to have left with the stories, and a sense of accomplishment.

Unfortunately others do not want to take the high road. I recently read statements in the Flathead Beacon from city and county officials that are so telling and outrageous, I feel compelled to respond.

“City Attorney John Phelps welcomed the clubs demise, calling it, ‘a positive thing for the city that (Jim Flanagan) is going out of business.’”

More statements, such as, “we had a pretty contentious relationship with Jim Flanagan,” Assistant Police Chief Mike Ferda said. Lastly small asides, an example being, “Little things like that wouldn’t necessarily go in a report,” Travis Bruyer of the Flathead Drug Task Force informed us.

What is the Whitefish city attorney saying? Is it positive to have a downtown corner building that is a nationally recognized, nationally accredited concert venue closed and shuttered? John, do you believe this fosters downtown growth? By John’s statement I am led to believe it is positive to end the food drives and charity benefits that Flanagan’s supplied to the community? Finally, the public is supposed to swallow that it is positive to cut off the economy and capital that Flanagan’s provided: 10-15 full time employees, taxes to the city, income to vendors in the hundreds of thousands, and a service that the town wants and every major ski resort has. These benefits being shut down, are they positive to John?

I would like John to explain. So we know where our city officials’ interests lie. The public has a right to know! What are we led to believe in Ferda’s statements, “We did not have it out for Jim Flanagan” Freda said. In the same paragraph, “it was just the totality of everything that was having the police department focus on Flanagan’s.” Mike, your logic does not add up! I can only say, in my personal opinion, you are a terrible city servant to represent this town. The public should wake up. Mike, your own words implicate your actions and agenda for my business. Does that make sense to anyone else?

Finally, Detective Travis Bruyer of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department stated he does not put every “little thing” in his reports. Is this regular police policy Detective? Lastly, Bruyer stated, “…citing three individuals. Bruyer went to the manager on duty and found him drunk.” Flanagan’s never had a male manager at this time; this seems to be another error in your reporting. I, Jim Flanagan, am the only male manager and you sure as heck never spoke to me the night in question.

Ah, it makes no difference. I hate crying over spilled milk. They won. I lost. I learned valuable lessons about small town politics. I guess if you work hard, try your best, trust in your staff and mankind, it is not enough for some in Whitefish. I came to Whitefish to live the American Dream; good luck to others looking to find the same.

Jim Flanagan is the owner of Flanagan’s Central Station in Whitefish