BEAT BYTE: City Hall do-overs plague Columbia
- THE COLUMBIA HEART BEAT -- 4/1/131) TRIB TERMINATION: Did conflict of interest complaints cost columnist his job?2) TIME FOR ANOTHER DO-OVER? New faces -- or City Council incumbents forced to re-do project after project3) VOTE YES FOR 911 TAX: Former 911 director urges4) DUDLEY MAILER: Councilman criticizes opponent; touts long list of unusual achievements5) HEAR YE! HEAR YE! A big hit last year, TED conference returns to CoMo this Saturday
"That's exactly the way an engaged democracy is supposed to work."Mayor Bob McDavid, on all the recent City Council "do overs"
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TRIB TERMINATION: Did conflict of interest complaints cost columnist his job?
The left hand runs REDI and the Chamber; the right hand runs the Columbia Daily TribuneBy Ken MidkiffCOLUMBIA, 3/31/13 (Op Ed) -- [Ed. Note: Columbia Daily Tribune publisher Hank Waters has urged a NO vote Tuesday on a landmark City Charter amendment that would significantly restrict Blight and eminent domain in Columbia.Is this another conflict of interest, another undisclosed bias? The Tribune terminated longtime columnist Ken Midkiff for publicly complaining about that very issue, he explains below.]
In 1993, I began writing a regular column for the Columbia Daily Tribune. In December 2012, Tribune managing editor Jim Robertson emailed that my column would no longer be published.I asked if I could write a "farewell" piece and his reply was a single word: "NO."
After 19 years of faithful opining, I was terminated without so much as a "thank you" or the simple opportunity to tell my readers "goodbye."
What happened? Though I came out against REDI's Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) and the blight designation it required, even sparking a debate with Tribune owner and editor in chief Hank Waters III, I upset the apple cart when I asserted the Tribune was consistently wrong on the issue.I made this charge on the Columbia Citizens Yahoo Listserv, in response to a Tribune article about REDI asking the Columbia City Council to repeal EEZ after nearly a year of public uproar.I referred to Mayor McDavid, Councilman Dudley, and Councilman Kespohl as "Dancing Monkeys" who twirled to REDI’s tune. After all, they passed REDI's EEZ Blight Decree without so much as a single community consultation, and they did it illegally, via Resolution rather than Ordinance, as required by city law.
My statement was viewed as an insult that apparently struck a nerve at the Tribune. I was told I was "reckless."
If I was "reckless" with the truth, it was in stating the Tribune got it "consistently wrong." Upon review of Tribune EEZ coverage, I now state the Tribune got it DELIBERATELY wrong.In one editorial, Hank castigated EEZ opponents as "a persistent band of conspiracy theorists."In another editorial, Hank lamented REDI’s request to repeal the EEZ and Blight Decree over the public uproar.
But never, as far as I can tell, did the Tribune reveal Hank is married to Vicki Russell, Tribune publisher and now chairperson of the REDI Board of Directors. (Russell is also past chairperson of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and was vice-chair of REDI during the blight debate).Likewise, the Tribune did NOT disclose it benefited from an earlier blight declaration that led to the condemnation of Sharp End – a predominately black business area. The Tribune Building and Waters Publishing Company are located on condemned Sharp End land.
These undisclosed conflicts of interest may also have affected news coverage. For instance, the Tribune reported in separate stories that "114 communities" and "120 communities" had EEZs. This is simply untrue. The Missouri Department of Economic Development does not report the number of communities with EEZs. It reports the total number of EEZs, now 124.What's the difference? If 20 communities have six EEZ's each, that's 120 total EEZs -- not 120 communities with an EEZ. The Tribune's erroneous reporting made it appear as though a staggering number of Missouri cities and towns had EEZs. It also made it appear Columbia was woefully alone in opposing EEZ.But with revelations that Rolla, St. James, Phelps County, Callaway County, and Fulton also opposed EEZ -- something the Tribune has not reported -- Columbia is hardly alone.And neither are her citizens, who fought blight -- and won -- against overwhelming odds that included the newspaper publishing partnership of Hank Waters and Vicki Russell.
TIME FOR ANOTHER DO-OVER? New faces -- or City Council incumbents forced to re-do project after projectBlight, Ward Gerrymandering, Odlesaurus zoning, the Providence Rd. fiasco -- and an exhausted electorateCOLUMBIA, 3/31/13 (Op Ed) -- Blight it! No -- un-Blight it. Gerrymander it! No -- don't gerrymander it! Tear historic houses down to widen Providence Road! No -- better not. City Hall failed to engage stakeholders. People don't like the idea.Commercial zoning downtown that encourages gargantuan student apartments? Better change that -- people are up in arms.My head is spinning from all these Columbia City Council "do overs." Brought to you by the McDavid administration, this new phenomena -- the 180 degree turn on issue after issue -- has left an exhausted electorate shaking with angst over the next shoe to drop from City Hall.It's also left voters wondering if another do-over is necessary: Boot three incumbents who've put CoMo through the wringer in favor of new faces on Tuesday.Based on what this writer has observed at several candidate forums, policymaking in Columbia will be considerably more thoughtful should Ian Thomas or Bill Weitkemper succeed Daryl Dudley; should Karl Skala succeed Gary Kespohl; should Sid Sullivan succeed Bob McDavid.These Council Do-Overs start like this: A few guys (as few as two or three) with a lot of power get together and hatch a dumb plan to make someone a lot of money.Mike Brooks + Dave Griggs = EEZ Blight.Robbie Price + John Ott + John Glascock = The Providence Road Improvement project.Daryl Dudley + Rob Monsees = Ward Gerrymandering.Bruce, Jon, and Nathan Odle + Craig van Matre = Odlesaurus giganticus apartmentus 1, 2, 3, and 4 (plus another baby Garagezilla at the College and Walnut apartments. Ain't she a beauty?)With no other warning than the Council agenda posted Friday before the Monday meeting, these bad ideas get writ in stone and all too often, approved with virtually no public involvement.That is, until the public rises up and revolts. Until all the stakeholders left in the dark -- the neighborhoods, the citizen commissions, John and Jane Q Public -- stand up and say, "We were never consulted about this. No one told us you were fixin' to blight 60% of the city."That's just the way democracy and engaged citizens work, Mayor McDavid said with his trademark smile at Thursday's Keep Columbia Free/MoCLA candidate forum.But I've got news for our retired physician Mayor: He may have the time and money to jump into all these political hurricanes, but most of us do not.Many folks wonder just how much democracy we have here in CoMo, when 2 or 3 guys can turn a dumb idea into a law. That sounds more like a shadow government. What power these chosen few must have, to force thousands of us to rise up for months at a time just to be heard -- often for the first time.
VOTE YES FOR 911 TAX: Former 911 director urges"Because our loved ones are on the line"
By Zim SchwartzeCOLUMBIA, 3/31/13 (Op Ed) -- As the former Director of Columbia/Boone County 911 and Office of Emergency Management, I urge you to vote Yes on 1 for 911 on April 2nd.READ ALL ABOUT IT!DUDLEY MAILER: Councilman criticizes opponent; touts long list of unusual achievementsStanding alone -- no matter whatCOLUMBIA, 4/1/13 (Beet Bite) -- Touting what some might call a "dubious" political record, 4th Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley has come out swinging against April 2 opponent Ian Thomas.
A powerfully-worded new mailer highlights Dudley's votes for jobs, patriotism, and his decisive handling of controversial issues like the Garagezilla flagpole, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Ward Reapportionment.Under "Philosophy of Ian Thomas" Dudley's mailer reads: "Ian Thomas prefers trails over streets." Then it leaves voters to ponder a question: "So why does Ian Thomas ride his bike on the street?"READ ALL ABOUT IT!HEAR YE! HEAR YE! A big hit last year, TED conference returns to CoMo this Saturday
TEDxCoMo RETURNS! To inspire, inform, and innovate.Thought provoking talks, "wow" inducing videos, and the best collection of speakers you'll find in Columbia will return on April 6 at the historic Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.TEDxCoMo debuted in October 2012. This year, we’re pushing our speakers to give the talks of their lives in 18 minutes or less. We're pushing our attendees, YOU, to be immersed in the experience.Your 2013 ticket includes the full-day TEDxCoMo conference with 18 thought-provoking national, regional and local speakers and performers.Come prepared to be amazed by the program, as well as the people you'll meet in your own town.Saturday, April 6th, 2013
10:00am - 5:00 pm
Doors open at 9:30 amThe Historic Missouri Theatre for the Arts
203 S 9th St
Columbia, MO 65201