Senator Jack Goodman (R) 29 Endorses Gibson for Attorney General at Lincoln Days in Branson

Missouri Senator Jack Goodman is running unchallenged in both the primaries and the general election for Missouri's 29th Senate seat. Incumbent Goodman stated, "He's tried both ways and likes running this way much better." Last week, Kathy Hilliard who is challenging Maynard Wallace as the Democratic candidate for Missouri House 143rd \ cited Goodman's potential to beat any potential democratic challenger in a "fundrace" as the reason Democrats are handing the seat to the Republicans.

Missing in action was Republican Attorney General candidate Mike Gibbons who announced his intentions on running for the office in Branson at last years Lincoln Days. Gibbons is currently recovering from treatment for prostate cancer and has remained quiet as Democratic candidates take swipes at each other during a tight race for the Attorney General spot currently held by Democrat Jay Nixon.

Missouri Rep. Jeff Harris and Missouri Sen. Chris Koster's campaigns have shown media prowess regularly delivering attacks that have received press statewide. Koster switched from the Democratic to Republican party last year before launching his campaign, a fact Harris uses in campaign messages on a regular basis.

Goodman took his podium time at Lincoln days to endorse Gibbons who is running on a five point platform promising to:

1. Work with local law enforcement and local prosecutors to capture and convict criminals

2. Work to reduce "big government spending" so increased funds can be allocated towards local law enforcement

3, Enforce Illegal Immigration Laws

4. Fight for consumer rights

5. Eliminating conflicts of interest by refusing to accept campaign contributions from anyone the office is investigation or prosecuting.

Missouri's Republican Gubernatorial Primaries Playout in Branson

After Governor Matt Blunt declined to run for another term as Governor, three candidates emerged hoping to gain Missouri's Gubernatorial nomination. The two remaining candidates addressed Taney County Republicans this weekend to gain support.

Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman and 9th District Rep. Kenny Hulshof stumped for support of Branson area Republicans at Taney County's annual Lincoln Days.

Though Democratic numbers are rising, Taney County is generally viewed as the conservative heart of the bellwether state. Both candidates praised Southwest Missouri for tilting the scares and launching a conservative revolution in Jefferson City marked with a Republican Governor and State Legislature - a trend Republicans hope will continue.

Steelman spoke to the social conservative base preaching conservative values and focusing on three wedge issues, monitoring financial contributions to unfriendly nations, abortion and traditional marriage.
Steelman gained national recognition last year for her revaltion that funds from Missouri's citizenry were going to companies supporting the "Axis of Evil". Her platform for monitoring terrorist funding was adopted by several other states. Steelman claimed her candidacy was about principle quoting a statement her son made regarding his baseball team,
"Some of my team members are more interesting in scoring than winning the game"


Hulsof preached party unity echoing Steelman's statements regarding the conservative stronghold Southwest Missouri is known for. Hulshof's monologue focused on party unity closing with a statement from Republican Icon Ronald Reagan (video to follow)
The congressman said,
"I hope the next Governor of Missouri is in this room."

Hulshof appealed to the local base verbally honoring 38th Circuit Judge Mark Orr who Hulshof worked with as a prosecuting attorney.

Missouri's Democratic nominee Jay Nixon has a considerable war chest and promises a well funded, contentious and difficult battle for his Republican challenger. Hulshof is generally viewed as the likely candidate with longstanding political ties and a proven ability to raise funds. Steelman is strengthened by her intimacy with the states finance skills, professed values that coincide with the conservative base and the fact she's a woman during a time when the social climate is focused heavily on identity politics.

With a contender as strong as Nixon, Republicans will have to weigh whether a hard fought primary could wane the possibility of a victory in November.

Downtown Branson Main Street Association Welcomes New Director

 

 

 

 
The Downtown Branson Main Street Association's new director Dawn Erickson met board members, local politicians and community members for a meet and greet yesterday at the organization's headquarters.
The merchants in downtown Branson seperated themselves from the organization last year launching a $25,000 local advertising campaign to stimulate business in the downtown area.
Erickson's experience and political connections could be an asset to the DMBA which switched from a democratic membership organization to a self-perpetuating board. Merchants in the downtown area recieved Erickson positively when she made the rounds during her first week but remain skeptical.
The competing organization, the Historic Downtown Branson Business Owners (HDBBO), believes the DBMA is administrative heavy and wants to see the plan Erickson hopes to institute.
Board Members were positive yesterday and expressed hope in bringing the community together for the common goal of promoting downtown.
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Branson Alderman Hopeful Marc Williams Speaks to Taney County Democrats

The video clip above is of Marc Williams, candidate for Branson Ward III Alderman. Williams is the "W" in HCW, the development company that won the Branson Landing and Branson Hills TIF's.
These archives are often clipped to extract audio files.
Branson Ward III incumbent Dick Gass finished six years of service last Monday and will be replaced by either Williams or Rick Davis.
Williams focused on the economy but said he wouldn't vote to extend the height requirement to the 150 feet requested by his partners to build a new high-rise hotel.

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Standing before a politically charged crowd can be nerve racking. It's a difficult but important process. The debate process makes politics a game where nobody has to lose.

Assertions are carried and tested in the marketplace of ideas. The political process demands attention and politicos can push ideas forward that are carried on to create positive change if a campaign is executed correctly.


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TIFs NID's AND CID's

You could have come to a variety of conclusions last week at the Tax Increment Financing presentation sponsored by the Branson School District last week. Once thing is for sure, our regionall neighbors, - Joplin, Springfield, Ozark and Nixa are increasing TIF Districts.
A cold war between those who endorsed and those who have spoken against TIF's. Branson's former Economic Development Director said, "We use to have a toolbox, job training - lots of options, now - TIF's are the only thing left." Ward II Alderman Sandra Williams queried guest speaker Terry Wood from Dooin Ward Consulting LLC in Kansas City. Wood appeared willing to pitch a research project for a couple hundred thousand dollars (He could teach you - but he'd have to Charge")

Love Inc,


Branson - Love Inc., an organization of faith based organizations committed to service. The organization serves as a superministry focusing of the combined power of faith based groups.
The organization met yesterday at the founder and primary contributer Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), Showboat Branson Belle. Regional churches were invited to send clergy for the collaborative effort of tending to the most needy.
The charge was supported last year through the economic development session allowing churches to participate in grants allocated for economic development. Essentially, faith based groups were allowed to particpate under the same rules and regulations as for-profit-enterprise
This collaborative effort of faith bases groups in the Branson area fed hundreds during the winter with an effort called "loaves and fishes".

Branson Chamber of Commerce Issues 4th Quarter Report to City of Branson

Branson Alderman were presented with the City of Branson's 4th Quarter report Monday night at City Hall. Click on the arrows above to view the presentation.
Interesting Notes
Noted Trends
* In Branson’s case, these trends contributed to significant increases in visitation from core and primary markets, while outer markets grew only modestly (i.e., maintaining the record number of visitors seen in 2006).


* This strong local and regional visitation increased our percentage of families and lowered our average age, but also decreased our percentage of first-time visitors.
Gas Prices
Rising gas prices are a major concern for the city of Branson. The city's bonds cite gasoline prices as a major factor in determining the city's financial viability. The Chamber believes the increase won't cause families to cancel vacations while acknowledging the hardship affects our target market significantly.

Good News - once people visit Branson they're likely to come back.
Bad News - Marketing efforts haven't been successful in bringing new visitors to the area.

Senator Jeff Harris Blasts Missouri Ethics Commission

Missouri Senator and Attorney General hopeful Jeff Harris criticized the Missouri Ethics Commission over their hardship ruling on Friday. Harris fired out a press release in response to the "hardship" ruling allowing candidates to keep donations over campaign donation limits. In a press release Harris said:

"Once again, we've seen Missourians' interest in public integrity take a back seat to political gamesmanship and the special interests. The Ethics Commission was set up to serve as a public watchdog, but time and time again, it has stood by and watched as politicians and deep-pocketed special interests exploit and skirt campaign finance laws to their advantage. It's time for this to change. Voters have an absolute right to know where the money in our political system comes from – who is giving to who, and what they expect in return.

"As Missouri's next Attorney General, I will work with the Ethics Commission to help them tighten the reins on inappropriate activity, but I will also press the commission to do more. I will assign attorneys from the Attorney General's Office to monitor complaints, to provide input and insight, and to file charges wherever they apply. I also will not hesitate to use my bully pulpit as Attorney General to criticize inaction and wrongheaded decisions by the commission.

"I want to be clear that I am not criticizing the many fine people who work at the Ethics Commission and work hard every day. But Missourians need a strong watchdog who is not afraid to bark or even bite when politicians and special interests violate the public trust. If the Ethics Commission won't act on its own, then, as Attorney General, I will."

Branson Profile: Curtis Copeland

Curtis Copeland

Branson Alderman Hopefulls Politic For Democrats

A modest crowd of Democrats gathered in Branson last night to hear non-partisan local candidates Branson Style Retail Politik ©

Ward II Alderman contender Cris Bohinc ponied up support for workforce housing early in the night followed by second on the issue by Ward III Alderman hopeful Marc Williams.

Williams endorsement of subsidized housing was followed with a chant to Jefferson City who he believes gives little attention to middle and lower income families in Southwest Missouri in lieu of Kansas City and St. Louis.

Last year, Missouri Senator Harry Kennedy (D) St. Louis, toured with Jack Goodman through Joplin and Branson on a bipartisan Blue Ribbon panel on affordable housing.
Story by Branson Edge Chief Typist Darin Codon for KRZK
Williams boasted developing workforce housing projects in Branson with HCW.

Williams was put to task on two hot issues: 1. Potential Conflict of Interest with business endeavors and the reduction In Branson Missouri's Bond Rating. On the question of Branson's Bond rating moving from AAA to B, Williams stated that Branson was in good financial health, citing other others aren't so lucky and able to lend as easily as Branson during the nations current economic state. Challenged with the possibility of a ratings increase during his term, Williams wasn't willing to commit to a ratings increase during one term.
On the issue of a possible conflict of interest, Williams said he wasn't currently in negotiations with the city (see background below)

Williams competitor for Branson Ward III, Dr. Rick Davis moved the chessboard up to Branson's Highway 76, Center Strip. Davis lobbied for pedestrians promoting improved sidewalk infrastructure.

Backgaround : During a planning session last week Mayor Roanne Presley openly negotiated for 11.4 acres of Branson Hills property adjacent to the Branson Rec Plex Complex. The HCW developed Branson Hills property was previously slated by HCW for a Senior Housing Complex and offered to the City of Branson for approx: One million dollars with 60 days for the city of Branson to consider purchase. Branson Alderman stalled. Branson Alderman set aside $750,000 this year's budget in reserve to negotiate the purchase.
The City of Branson stalled on the 60 day option and after assessment of the property of approx: $2,000,000 which Huffman extended to the city at assessed value during a second round of discussions the price doubled. Presley said the city could dolly-up the $1,000,000 previously offered but was convinced HCW wouldn't bite. Property in Branson Hills for $500,000 an acre have been reported.

Steve Willoughby will be running a series of debates which will air live. All Branson Alderman have agreed to debate.

Tri-Lakes Board of Realtors granted $320 to local politicos after they were invited to address the trade group. Williams and Alderman Ward II Incumbent Jack Purvis also received Tri-Lakes Realtors endorsement.

Branson's City Council Meeting began in parallel at 7:00 P.M. but Alderman's campaign flyer was passed out by Democrat's MC Kathy Hilliard who is challenging Maynard Wallace for the Missouri House 143rd District.

Branson Fire Department Releases Annual Report

The City of Branson issued a press release today regarding Branson Fire Department's annual report.

Branson Police Department Reports Kidnapping


The Branson Police reported an abduction occurred midnight last night at the Branson IHOP on Hwy 76.

The two victims were released unharmed hours after the event occured. Full Report from Branson PD

Jay Nixon fundraiser in Branson cancelled

Jay Nixon canceled the Lake Taneycomo $1,000 a plate fundraiser, Kathy Hilliard of the Taney County Democrats said the cancellation was due to work related to the flood dameage that killed 5 in Southwest Missouri last week.

Jay Nixon will be returning to Branson early April and it is anticipated that he'll be meeting with supporters. Even though the event was cancelled 30 of 60 Democratic donors made the 1,000 dollar plunge generating $30,000 by Branson area residents for Nixon's gubernatorial bid.

Branson Missouri Is Political Hotbed

In observation of the holiday, Sunshine Week will be extended for three days.

Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R - MO). Skipped District 8 lines to meet with a regional legislative partnership in Hollister MO. Taney County Commissioners joined Emerson and toher area civic leaders and discussed the Taneycomo Bridge Connecting Branson and Hollister. Forsyth, Missouri, Taney County's seat, sits at the western edge of Missouri's district 8.

Branson sits at the edge of District 7whose Representative, Roy Blunt, will make an appearance for Lincoln Days, Next Friday - Update this week.

Democrats step it up. Take a tour on the Landing Princess with Attorney General - if you can spare a G-Note for the luxury of a trip on the Gage's Political Love Boat. The thousand dollar bill luncheon adventure on Lake Taneycomo was arranged by Katie Danner.
Nixon is running unchallenged in the Democratic Primary to become Missouri's next governor.

This week fun with maps:..... CID's, NID's, and TIF's.

Branson Chamber of Commerce facing Geo-Political Complexites

Raising taxes is the least popular action politicos can take and getting voters to agree even the most difficult task.

Last year voters approved a Tourism Tax which spans eastward from Branson to Stone County. Hollister opted out of the initiative claiming the city wasn't a tourist town but rather a bedroom community supporting the regional tourism economy.

Hollister proved to be a sleeping giant bypassing the press and initiating a multi-million dollar TIF district and becoming a tourism destination strategically located between the Branson Airport being constructed (the Branson Area's new Transportation Development District TDD).

The airport effort is being subsidized with a dollar per customer payout by the city of Branson and contrary to reports - a tax subsidy in TIF like form (more on this later).

Re-formulation of the state's Direct Marketing Association (DMA) financial distribution format added to the struggle a few months ago requiring each Missouri County to designate one marketing entity to funnel and redistribute state marketing funds.

Both Hollister and Branson have established city taxes to promote tourism and the taxing districts extend differently from county political lines.

The question of representation without taxation and equity to taxpayers that pay into the pot and those that benefit from the tax will provide complications and a headache the Branson Chamber of Commerce and Convention Visitor's Bureau will have to painfully endure.

Missouri Governor Wants Half a Million For E-mail Archives (Cartoon)

The cartoon above was created by Branson Area Political Cartoonist John Logan.

The battle over e-mail is a two way fight between Governor Matt Blunt and Attorney General Jay Nixon. Both claim the other is violating the Sunshine Law in regards to e-mail retention policies.

Local Corruption - Sunshine Law Cartoon (Local Vs Federal)

 
Legislation trickles down. While ample press forces the federal government to endure significant scrutiny local governments and politicos often evade the democratic process.
Changes in the newspaper industry are emphasizing local coverage to differentiate and provide citizens with information that isn't available any other way.
The news cycle is changing. Sheer rapidity of information release requires a high level of expertise. The amount of information coming out of government offices is astounding and dominates the press through self reporting from agencies. Unfortunately, many of these reports are highly charged and politically motivated.
Last year, we setup Branson Agent as a distribution medium for public entities and public relation agencies. The site recieves massive traffic and is easier to maintain than a site where unique content and photos are generated. At peak, the site hosts 50 new pages daily and commonly beats other regional media outlets - the information age is here - we all get the news at the same time.
After some practice of watching the wire, it becomes obvious what the next edition of traditional media will report. Often, no credit is given to the original source or government agency. During times of controversy or election cycles the wires become flooded with partisan press releases. For instance, the Missouri Governor's office had days this year where a dozen press releases hit the wire in a four hour period.
Investigative reporting is expensive and the art is for the most part dead and the traditional media as many of us knew in our youth died with it.
The Federal Government has the most attention and accountability whereas many local government entities aren't covered at all. The expansion of psuedo-government entities makes it difficult for any beat reporter. Several of these meetings attended this month have no members of the press present.
Regional publications are trending towards cutting off national and international reporters and depending on a smaller group of journalists focusing human resources towards places, people and events outside newswire reach.
The latest effort of corporate news organizations is to find new ways to engage local citizens and experts with specific skills. Contrary to popular belief, the newspaper isn't dead - but the demand for national press - when it's so easily accesible has forced the industry to evolve.
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Sunshine Law Cartoon (Galileo)

 
In a democracy open government allows citizens to participate. The government is "for the people by the people" not for the few with deep pockets. The Sunshine Law doesn't ensure we'll remain free and self-governed but it does allow us the opportunity if we continue to choose the path our nation's framers intended.
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Sunshine Law Cartoon (Secret Meeting in Public)

 
The illustration depicts the processes government officials use to evade the Sunshine Law. The reality and practice isn't as funny as the cartoon.
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Sunshine Law Cartoon (Evading the Sunshine Law Technologically)

 
As society progresses, the central meeting place has disappeared. With new communication mediums the complexity of keeping up with open government policy has become more of an issue.
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Sunshine Week Cartoon (Public Records Hard to Reach)

 
Preparing for Sunshine Week 2008 I took photos (post later today) of where legal notification is filed. Government entities are required to publically file notice in designated areas. Sometimes, it's like a shell game. The complication comes with Psuedo-Government entities. Within a hundred yards from my home at least half a dozen of these entities meet with different methods of posting notice. Because in Branson, the press doesn't actively hold these entities accountable many evade the law. How about your hometown?
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Sunshine Law Cartoon (Hiding the Money)

 
The money flows like water we're reminded by quote last month in the Columbia Tribune.
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Sunshine Week Cartoon (Lobbyists in Basement)

 
Branson recently hired a lobbyist whose basic data we'll be posting at the end of the week. Some Branson Alderman were against hiring a lobbyist since there aren't any pressing issues on the city's agenda.
The rules regarding legislative lobbyists are strict and published on the states website. The leading advocate opposing the practice is Randy Turner editor of the Turner Report.
Branson Alderman were convinced a lobbyist for the city was important after hearing from Silver Dollar City lobbyist Chip Mason. According to Alderman present, Mason explained the halls were flooded with influence peddlers during a proposed change to the Missouri Constitution to extend gambling in the state two years ago.
Though the reporting standards for lobbying activity are strict, the practice and growth of the lobbying industry has grown substantially.
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Sunshine Week Cartoon (Police and the Sunshine Law Cartoon)

 
Under the auspices of the Sunshine Law police chiefs and Sheriffs are governmental entities with the same information release responsibilities as any other political body.
Last year, we began requesting digital documents asking police agencies to release digital information. Shortly after the request was made in front of the Board of Alderman another publication (Branson Daily News) began requesting the same information.
The Sunshine Law is designed for citizens not the press. Constitutionally, freedom of the press - means citizens of the United States have the right to press. The corporate press came much later in our history.
Our nations forefathers used print materials to create political dialogue that swayed the people to begin a movement to create a nation independent from the British Empire. These texts pondered freedom, the nature of man - his relationship with the creator and freedom. They were the driving force behind the creation of our nation.
On Branson Agent the Federal Bureau of Investigation delivers weekly stories from the field. It's uncommon for these not to include abuse of power by local police authorities, lobbyists and politicians.
The Newspaper Association states the importance of arrest data is to ensure citizens aren't locked up without notice where family members and friends can't find them. The Sunshine Law also forces police organizations to release video information upon request.
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Branson's Starlite Theater Purchased

The Springfield Business Journal's Dee Dee Jacobs released details about the purchase of the Starlite Theater in Branson...here's the scoop:

Killian Construction Co. CEO Bill Killian, PFI Western Store President Randy Little and Branson lakes developer Justin Gage, along with estate planner Scott Rassler out of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on March 5 purchased the Starlite Theatre, 3115 W. State Highway 76, from previous owner Ron Layher.

Joe Sullivan has been hired to manage the theater, according to Little.

The five-story Starlite will be the new home of the Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute band that previously played at Branson’s Caravelle Theater. Other regular performers at Starlite will be The Platters in the morning and Moe Bandy in the afternoon.

Downtown Branson Merchants Get Green Light for Farmers Market

Late in the planning session yesterday, on behalf of the Historic Downtown Branson merchants David King addressed the Board of Alderman regarding permits for a weekly farmers market planned for launch this summer.

The plans proposed by the Historic Downtown Branson Merchants Association failed to fit the usual criteria for special use permits due to the fact the farmer's market is scheduled throughout the summer and fall.

Branson Ward II Alderman Jack Purvis suggested the group file for the first 10 Saturdays and submit a second request to planning and zoning for proceeding market days. The mayor and present alderman all voiced support for the merchants effort and commended King for his presentation.

King shared Branson's move into Agri-Tourism was received positively by state agencies who've offered support if merchants follow appropriate guidelines.

Missouri Governor's Race - Treasurer Sarah Steelman & Rep. Kenny Hulshof

Rep. Kenny Hulshof and Treasurer Sarah Steelman prepare for debates this July.

“Open debates are a fundamental tool in our political system. They provide one of the best ways for voters to gain an understanding of each candidate’s values and priorities,” Hulshof said in a statement. “I look forward to debating the issues that matter most to Missourians.”

Jason Rosenbaum of the Columbia Tribune broke the story earlier this afternoon.

Branson Alderman Not So Keen on Democratic Process

In typical fashion, some of Branson politicians reneged on their commitment to open government yesterday by refusing to address Branson citizens in an open debate slated Thursday in downtown Branson.

Apparently, some Branson Politicians prefer smoky back rooms - (smoke free here) - which is how the current campaigns are being caucused - away from places accountability and integrity are required.

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The candidates invited to the forum were from Branson Ward II- the district I happen to vote in. Platforms, issues and stances on the future of Branson have evaded the campaigns to date in place of cult of personality endorsements.

Taney County Commissioner Chuck Pennel Responds to Nepotism Charges

Taney County Commissioner Chuck Pennel responded to nepotism charges in a prepared statement yesterday at the Taney County Commissioners Meeting.

The charges were prepared brought to the public forum through efforts by Bob Shanz and Ron Houseman. They accused Pennel of allowing his wife to use a county vehicle.

The case is being investigated by the Missouri Attorney General's office. Pennel stated he welcomed and hoped the investigation is thorough.

Pennel denies the allegations. (See Branson Agent for Details)

Missouri Sunshine Law - Local Government Matrix (Cartoon)


The cartoon above accurately depicts the difficulty some citizens find when trying to access documents by governments who are legally required to supply documents upon request to citizens.
In Branson, Missouri many of our local journalists have converted from Government Watchdogs to Government Lapdogs.
The sad state of affairs has led some local politicians to bow out of open, honest discussion and revert to backrooms during this campaign season. A local area newspaper editor stated last week, "It's citizens job to be informed". The statement was interesting being that it came from an organization supposedly dedicated to informing citizens about their local government. This would of course require an open and honest press adamant about producing accurate information and helping citizen efforts to become informed. The editor is right. It is citizens responsibility to be informed but the ability to acquire information isn't as easy as many would like.
Often, due to an issue that directly affects a member of the community, a citizen will approach city hall to request records.
Generally helpful, the City Clerk (In Branson it's upstairs on the second floor next to the courthouse)will require you to fill out a form. The form has a space for a maximum dollar amount. The dollar amount caps research and document printing fees. In general, the office is reasonable and the cost for documents minuscule.
Unfortunately, citizens often become irritated when trying to find information due to scope parameters of the request.
It's best to keep these requests simple and dig deeper if necessary. For instance, if you want to find out who voted for Branson's last TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district you'd have to submit a request for a list of the TIF board. In the event the document is filled requesting all information relating to the TIF; the city clerk is obliged to provide all the information about the TIF. In the case of the Branson Landing TIF, you could be looking at a dozen bible sized pages of material. The Clerk would come back with a substantial fee far from the range most would be willing to spend.
Rule #1 - Be specific, concise and clear about the information you're requesting

Sunshine Week Intro 2008

Welcome to Sunshine Week at the Branson Edge

This week we'll be following up on our decade long quest for open honest government. We'll explore the geo-political borders and psuedo-government entities within the Branson, Missouri area. We'll be inviting local politicos to share their ideas for the future of Branson and thoughts on open government. We'll be taking politicians to task and explore the dynamics of Missouri's most prosperous tourist destination.

City Government is the cornerstone of democracy. The word politics comes from the word "Polis" Greek for "City-State" the political unit the United States political boundaries emulated. Scholars estimate the first noted democracy, Athens, at a population between 100,000 to 200,000 citizens.

As the United States expanded from 13 Colonies Westward across the plains grids were hacked out and plotted in 36 mile squared chunks and marked Townships and Range.Legal property descriptions are described according to these grids.

Public education was the only consideration and a square mile for every grid was established for school district funding. Translated today, the property tax levy of 3% is within close proximity of property tax which public education is funded by.

An interesting fact regarding the establishment of political boundaries in Taney County Missouri was the state of inebriation of one of our early map makers. As a result, much of Taney County was marked within Arkansas for decades.

This week we'll be illustrating the Sunshine Law and its application to the "city-state" and how to combat the festering plagues that appear when Governing officials take a stand against open government.

For months, we've laid out the income for the city of Branson in hopes corporate news outlets will pick up on an often misunderstood and evaded element of our community - facts:

The front page of the Branson Edge has the 12 month rolling income statistics for the city of Branson. Stop by and take a look before the document is moved to another location.

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Let's open this week up with a verse from the hand of King Solomon. Personally, I prefer the poetics of the King James but the Living text frames the dialogue in a clearer fashion:

Proverbs 17:8
Living Bible
A bribe works like magic. Whoever uses it will prosper.

King James 17:8
A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth it prospereth.

Branson Pirates Get New Soccer Coach

Southwest Missouri's Soccer Guru announces Dave Brenner will be the Branson Pirates new coach.

Pointe Royal Hires Terry Dody


After heavy fire during an interview with the Board of Directors Terry Dody reemerged last week as interim director for the gated community to the east of Branson known for multi-million dollar estates, golf course and most recently a policy forbidding registered sex offenders from living or staying overnight.

Branson Downtown Merchants Association Reorganizes With New Board and New Director

 
The Branson Downtown Merchants Association met last week with a new board and new rules of governance.
The Board made a transition earlier this year from a membership to a self perpetuating board, as a result - elections are no longer needed to sustain the psuedo-government entities board appointments.
The move from a membership to a self=perpetuating body came in the wake of controversy incited by Downtown Branson merchants who felt a division between the organization and economic needs of the historic district.
No members of the media, except for the Branson Edge were presend at last Tuesday's meeting where finances and an appointment announced today was discussed.
In a press release, the DBMA board announced Dawn Erickson will fill the DBMA's top paid position starting Monday in a press release an hour ago.

(The photo posted above is of the current DBMA board. In typical fashion, no members of the press were present - Except for the Branson Edge.

Branson Missouri Security Upgrades - (City Hall Security Presentation)

Branson Alderman asked Police Chief Carroll McCullough for a brief on security at city hall in response to the recent shooting in Kirkwood Missouri City Hall.
McCullough briefed city Alderman and proposed upgrades to the security system at Branson City Hall including the installation of additional cameras and panic buttons in case emergency assistance is needed.

Branson Alderman Deny E-mail Correspondence

Branson - A Sunshine Law request issued by the Branson Edge to the city of Branson revealed only four e-mail correspondence from the Branson Board of Alderman to a majority of Board members within a years time. All four e-mails were sent a year ago (last April) and all were from Branson Alderman Stephen Marshall.

Alderman Bob McDowell said he didn't want e-mails being passed which is why he addresses the board in open meetings. Alderman Marshall stated he asked Terry Dody to set up a filing system for tracking digital correspondence (which is how the four e-mails were recovered)

Even on the Federal level, certain types of correspondence aren't considered open records. The Republican National Committee (RNC) issues e-mail addresses for candidates for campaign correspondence - which came into question last week during hearings at the White House (Live Session Broadcast on C-SPAN)

Tony Messenger reports a lawsuit in Texas forced officials to release every e-mail to the public from a private e-mail account that was used part time to conduct official business. Last Monday, Messenger stated the law in Missouri regarding e-mail remains untested by the courts.

The ease of digital correspondence promises to yield interesting headlines this year as forums for open government continue to move out of the physical and into the digital.

Yesterday, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt issued a Sunshine Request and asked Attorney General Jay Nixon's office to conduct an e-mail retention violation upon itself.

One Democratic Candidate suggested we create a Sunshine Law Police Force within the Missouri Attorney Generals office. Some fear the unit could easily become a partisan hit squad and believe the proposed Sunshine Law Police should be moved to a less politically charged office.

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Official correspondence falls under the auspices of the Sunshine Law, however, politicians have found away to evade open government policies by utilizing private e-mail accounts to conduct government business.
E-mail is an efficient, and environmentally sound way of transmitting data. Government officials, such as those in Branson should be commended for making use of technology that enables a better democracy and increased communication with citizenry. Still, it's important that our officials use it in an open and responsible manner.

Branson Home Show - Politcal Ad (Photo)

 

 

 
Thousands traveled to see the home show at the Branson Convention Center last weekend.
One area politician took the opportunity to campaign. The photos above show Jeff Justus, who is running to represent Eastern Stone and Taney County at the statehouse, with an advertisement on a toy train.
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Missouri House of Representatives Pass Anti-Illegal Alien Education Bill

The Missouri House Passes Bill to keep Illegal Aliens out of College...(Press Release)

Branson Citizen Survey Questionaires Sent

An initiative by Branson Alderman Bob McDowell to survey the citizens of Branson is being sent out. A consulting company was hired to conduct the study and selected individuals were selected to review the questionnaire. Two sets of surveys, one for businesses and one for residents is being sent this weekend and was proposed to get a feel of citizen and business owner perspectives outside of activists who participate in civic life.

Full Press Release Below:

Citizens Surveys sent out

About 1,200 randomly selected residents and 400 businesses will be receiving the Branson Citizens Survey in the mail this weekend and early next week.

The six-page survey for residents and the four-page survey for businesses were sent out Wednesday evening by ETC Institute of Olathe, Kansas, with whom the city contracted to create the survey and report on its results. ETC is a market research firm specializing in community survey research.

The survey, which will take about 20 minutes to complete, is the first ever conducted by the city.

According to Mayor Raeanne Presley, the purpose of the survey is to objectively assess satisfaction with Branson city services and identify what residents and businesses feel are priorities in the community. She said the responses will assist city leaders in identifying and addressing the opportunities and challenges facing Branson.

Some of the topics assessed on the survey are public safety, parks and recreation, streets and infrastructure, community planning and customer service. Of the total 1,600 surveys mailed, the city and ETC hope to have at least 400 returned. The surveys are to be mailed back by March 31. ETC will publicly present results of the survey to Aldermen around June 1.

Mayor Presley says those residents and businesses who do not receive a survey are welcome to still participate as surveys are available at Branson City Hall and at the Branson RecPlex on Branson Hills Parkway. Also, the surveys will be on the city’s website, www.cityofbranson.org , for printing, completing and returning to ETC.

Any questions about the survey can be directed to Branson Public Information Director Jerry Adams at 337-8526.

Tony Messenger assigned to Missouri Legislature by St. Louis Dispatch

 
Tuesday night in Springfield was bittersweet, but it's hard to be sad. He'll be closer to Jefferson City, living in Columbia, where he worked as a columnist before moving to Southwest Missouri. For him, it's going home but his contribution to Missouri politics is unmatched. We're lucky to have him stationed in the halls in Jefferson City.
Most recently, his contribution to digital democracy is unmatched. His work on Missouri's Executive regarding digital document retention was handled the results rippled to Washinton D.C.
While at Gannet's News-Leader in Springfield, Messenger acted fearlessly, engaging tough assignments regardless of the heat he had to take for it. Once such storyline spawned a threatened Sunshine Law strike by the Greene County Sherif. Civil rights in relation to jail conditions isn't exactly a popular topic - it took incredible courage for Messenger to take the topic on - several other regional media outlets won't.
The Columbia Tribune still has some of Messenger's first posts before arriving to Missouri fresh from the Colorado Rockies. He moved the Springfield Bloggers meetings from monthly to bi-monthly - politics - beer - live blogging elections.
While watching political propaganda flow through party mouthpieces many of his ideas have been integrated into campaign platforms. Moving to the St. Louis Dispatch covering the state legislature will undoubtedly raise him to the most visible political writer in Missouri.
Missourians will be better off for it. Best off, back here in Southern Missouri we won't have to miss him.

Assignments:
Busplunge: I can't read the date on the Christian County Headliner. Are you sure this car is from the 1950's? The photo above is a larger view of theChristian County Headliner.

Two Books you should donate to the Branson Edge: Good News Bad News, The Turner Report, Benjamin Franklin's Biography.

Fun Tadbits from: Chatterbot Ron Davis: When he published the first issue of 417 Magazine the cover story was about overmedicating children diagnosed with depression. Messenger predicts Governor Matt Blunt could possibly take military job. Branson High School taking Soccer Coach from Nixa- Two-time Sports Blogging Champ El Soccer Guru - Steve Olson will release an interview later this week on SGF Soccer

Andy Cline predicts media anarchy in 10 years time. (I thought media anarchy began in 1982 with Donahue and predict Oprahism becomes world's second largest religion in the year 2916).

Black Jesus of Branson

The interview posted above is of artist and vocalist James Loveless who plays Jesus in the musical "Isle of Dreams" at the Hot Hits Theater in downtown Branson.
The play was written by African American playwright/composer Michael O'Hara which according to O'Hara is as much a ministry as a business endeavor. In fact, members of the cast view their contribution of time to the production as a tithe and refer to the venture as a ministry.
During the interview, Loveless talks about his participation in the ministry, how he was cast as Jesus in the play, the effort to find a white Jesus and a tour of his artwork.

Taney County Commissioner Hot Topic in Springfield

A brief follow up on the report delivered by Mayor Raeanne Presley that the city purchased land near the Branson Covention Center from Presiding Taney County Commissioner Chuck Pennel.

On Monday night, Presley couldn't confirm the amount of a previous offer but said she believed the city had previously offered $800,000 for Pennel's property in Branson.

Mayor Presley actively campaigned for Pennel in a heated five way race for the county's top leadership position last year.

Correction: Presley stated she supported Pennel's opponent Ron Houseman during the County Commissioner's race last year.

Two other distinctly different stories graced the pages of area publications regarding the Taney County Commissioner in relation to Monday's meeting in Forsyth. Cliff Sain, formerly of the Branson Daily News, published dialogue in the Springfield News-Leader Tuesday regarding accusations of nepotism. The accusation was delivered by Bob Shanz who accused Pennel's wife of using a county vehicle - an accusation Pennel denies.

The original release of information came from a sunshine request issued by the Springfield News-Leader according to Editorial Columnist Tony Messenger.

Messenger noted the brief in the Springfield News-Leader lacked details considering the importance of the story. (Follow up later this week)

In other news, a proposal to limit solicitation at the Taney County Courthouse was rejected by the Commissioners. The policy was initiated by Pennel and rejected after some discussion. Last friday, during an interview, Pennel said the proposal was in response to the recent shooting killing five at Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb, city hall.

The rejected ordinance would have given the Sheriff more leverage to remove public speakers from city hall. Citizen reports confirm the commission meeting was packed with citizens concerned freedom of speech would be limited during public meetings if the ordinance was passed.

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We've been putting pressure on regional news publications to focus more energy and resources towards the Branson market. Three local editors have confirmed the lack of coverage in Branson has been noted and promise to consider covering the region more thoroughly.
The Springfield market fields an excellent pool of talent which could greatly benefit the citizens of the Branson area. We commend the efforts and hope more focus on Branson ensues.

Missouri Expands Virtual Education Offerings

Missouri's Department of Education issued a press release yesterday regarding the expansion of the state's virtual education offerings.

The program which began last year has expanded to Middle School Students. The release links to the current classes being offered by the state.

Branson Missouri Timeshare Fraud Pursued by Attorney General

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon seeks restitution for consumers from Branson seller of timeshares
(Released from Jay Nixon's Office)
Forsyth, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon is seeking restitution for consumers from a southwest Missouri business that allegedly used deception, fraud and misrepresentation in the sale and advertisement of timeshare memberships, plans, property and resale brokerage services. Nixon filed a lawsuit in Taney County Circuit Court today against Branson Log Homes, which does business as Executive Timbers Resort and Golf Course, seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties, as well as the restitution.

Consumers who contacted Nixon’s office complained that Branson Log Homes:

* Failed to provide required notice to consumers of their right to cancel contracts, and failed to allow consumers to cancel those contracts within five days after they purchased the timeshare membership or property;
* Billed consumers for maintenance or upkeep fees on property they were trading in, after neglecting to inform consumers that they would be required to pay such fees;
* Didn’t reimburse consumers for maintenance fees after telling them those fees would be reimbursed;
* Promised that consumers who purchased a timeshare membership, plan or property from the defendant would receive specified benefits or other merchandise, such as membership in a travel club, but then didn’t make good on those promises; and
* Didn’t tell consumers that the defendant was more than $30,000 in debt to the travel club it counted on to provide travel club memberships to consumers.

“A number of consumers spent thousands of dollars and attempted to trade in their existing timeshares as part of an agreement to purchase a new timeshare from Branson Log Homes,” Nixon said. “Many were promised travel club memberships that were never delivered. Others are still paying out of their own pockets for maintenance on timeshares because the defendant omitted essential information about the timeshare trade process and implied that the consumer would no longer have to pay.”

Nixon’s investigation revealed that many consumers have lost between approximately $7,000 and $17,000 in dealing with Branson Log Homes, although some consumers may have lost more.

Today’s lawsuit is requesting that the court order the defendant to stop violating state consumer protection laws. In addition, Nixon is asking the court to order Branson Log Homes to pay restitution to all consumers who suffered a loss due to the defendant’s unlawful conduct, appropriate civil penalties and all costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of the case.

Branson buys Taney County Commissioner's Property

Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley announced at the Branson Board of Alderman Meeting last night that Taney County Presiding Commissioner Chuck Pennel's Land south of the Landing was purchased by the City for $900,000

Historic Downtown Branson

 
Merchants in Downtown Branson formed an organization last year to combat a sluggish economy and to return the thriving economy Downtown merchants once experienced.

In a sense, Downtown Branson is the anchor tenant of Branson. Times change and with it the Branson landscape changes. New additions to Branson sway the focus of marketing groups and organizations towards the new to bring in new customers.

This summer, the Downtown Branson Merchants are bringing new outdoor events including a farmer's market. To help with the launch, a new site for Downtown Branson is in development. Later this week, a press release will be generated to launch the developing Downtown Branson website. The site is being designed to let visitors know what the Historic District in Downtown Branson has to offer.
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Springfield Bloggers Vote Branson Missouri Best News Blog

Thank you Springfield Bloggers for awarding Branson Missouri Co-Winner of Best News blog.

The award is an affirmation of what users really want to see from the Branson Edge - News. The awards were invented by Larry Little of Simple Thoughts of a Complex mind. While in Springfield last week, I notice Little published a piece in the Springfield Free-Press. He's also regularly writing for the Springfield News-Leader as a conservative voice.

The other winner was KY3's David Catonese whose political coverage is unmatched. Thank you Dave for insightful coverage and helping us gain a clearer understanding of our government.

Other deserving nominees deserve a mention as well. The Life of Jason has inspired me to remember the value of kindness and compassion with his award winning post, "If I had a retard for a kid" - which details an interaction and gives us a peak at what it's like fathering a child with a disability. In addition, his coverage of Springfield City Hall has been innovative in a time the Springfield Press has turned their focus towards the core urban center of our region. We often complain about the fact Branson has been moved down on the totem pole in terms of coverage, but innovation in methods and approach to coverage help all of us with our goal of keeping citizens informed about the officials we've elected to serve us.

Jim Lee's Bus Plunge won the most improved blog, Lee continues to push the envelope with liberal sprinklings to public debate. Thank you Jim for challenging our prejudices and adding humor controversial topics.

Over the last couple months we've generated several other websites and formats have been generated for more contextual content. These sights will be streamed together for comprehensive coverage of the region and will be rolled out this year.

It's been interesting watching the corporate press utilize ideas and stories generated from this website. It's not unusual for me to attend a meeting or event where no press is present. Filling in the coverage gaps has been a big part of our format and expansion.

Last year, through the Branson Edge over 2,000 stories were generated for public consumption. The corporate press commonly asks me such questions as, "what is journalism" and is blogging journalism as they fight to become "Internet superstars". My path to technology wasn't driven by journalism but by technology that enables a better democracy. This was the focus of the early days of the World Wide Web and as an early netizen I'm proud to have been a part of the revolution. We dreamed a world with more freedom - that open dialogue and access could crush oppression - and it many ways it has

Hopefully, we're all fighting for the same cause, "truth - justice - the American way" (right?). A high ranking religious leader once said, a life not worth writing about is one not worth living - we should strive to make our lives of good report.

On the home front I want to thank the community of Branson for sharing their experiences and aspirations.

Three people who've reached out to me this year are heavy on my mind and serve as inspiration for me today. Jory Rolf, who has taken a lot of time to share perspective on what's important. Chris Meyer did the same by taking time out of a busy schedule to do the same by showing me. Leon Combs epitomized empathy and compassion opening dialogue and sharing a broad range of resources and ideas after a politically heated debate which we were on opposite sides of. All three of these individuals are better men than me - thank you for your example.

Thank you readers for keeping me from being a lone voice in the wilderness. I'm always encouraged by the e-mails I receive - most are of thanks, many are cries for help some are heated challenges. It's good to know that people care.

(Due to time restraints this piece will be posted before editing - generally a bad idea and will be altered this afternoon)

Missouri's Parental Kidnapping Statute

Missouri Revised Statutes
Chapter 565

Parental kidnapping--penalty.

565.153. 1. In the absence of a court order determining rights of custody or visitation to a child, a person having a right of custody of the child commits the crime of parental kidnapping if he removes, takes, detains, conceals, or entices away that child within or without the state, with the intent to deprive the custody right of another person or a public agency also having a custody right to that child.

2. Parental kidnapping is a class D felony.

3. A subsequently obtained court order for custody or visitation shall not affect the application of this section.

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Enforcement of this statue varies from county to county and provides a challenge for parents and law enforcement agencies.
Though the law is not gender specific application may vary. Tender years doctrine is ingrained into the minds of state leadership and provides a barrier to fathers wishing to provide the emotional and spiritual responsibilities of parenthood.
In a sense, the radical gay agenda (yes, there is one - the fight for gender neutral laws) promises to resolve sexist laws and enforcement practices. In Missouri the constitution once allowed women to refuse the civic responsibility to serve on juries.
If you're male, chances are you'll have to provide evidence to enforce the statute, if you're female, by default, you'll have substantial opportunities to move law enforcement into aiding the crime of parental kidnapping.
By Missouri dictate chilvary is dead, still, it's human nature to practice it. Father's are most likely to be alienated from their children regardless of law or court dictate. Statistically, the result is higher chances of drug use, suicide rates, teenage pregnancy and a variety of other disorders the alienated child will experience. The stats remain unchanged when a parent remarries. That is, the absence of a biological father presents poor odds for the health of the child.
A couple weeks ago, the city of Branson hosted a representative from the "Department of Violence Against Women" (yes, there is such a department). The speaker pointed out that over 95% of reported incidents of abuse involved a man abusing a woman.
Having five sisters, I'm well aware that women tend to initiate emotional violence and hire other to commit crimes of violence instead to directing a battle they physically cant win. In my life, I've never witnessed as cruel treatment of two human beings as when two women have an all out battle. In addition, violence initiated by women is far less likely to be reported- it's an embarrassment to male victims.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, "The opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy - it's egalitarianism.
It's illegal to practice discrimination in the workplace and its illegal to practice discrimination in the court system - but its practiced everyday and its killing our children.

Pete Hershend Vs. Senator Coleman

Gubernatorial appointments generally flow gently through Missouri's legislative session. Not always.

Pete Herschend was reappointed as Missouri Education Czar last month. The appointment however, was not without protest from the Missouri Senator from District 5 (covers St. Louis). Maida Coleman(D), had harsh words for Matt Blunt's reappointment of Herschend, the longevity of his position and his actions regarding the St. Louis School District.

Last year, the school board in St. Louis was taken over by a transitional board - which amounts to a hostile takeover of a school district by the state. The elected officials are trumped by state experts when district performance is sub-standard.

Coleman introduced legislation on Feb 12th, 2008 regarding transitional school districts. The eight page document, Missouri Senate Bill 1129 (Links to PDF), contains provisions for the treatment of a desegregation order, TIF's, County City and Self Perpetuating Geopolitical entities and how they relate to managing school districts.

Hat Tip: Pub Def

How to be on TV if you're a blogger

The title of this post should be "How not to be on TV" and if it was - I starred in it last week.

The television show stared me last week. The amount of hate mail I've received regarding my appearance with Rob Evans is astounding. He has either a huge fan base or I have a lot of ex-girlfriends reading this week.

Here's some rules:

1. Listen to your host and enjoy yourself. TV spots are short. The time restraints for television stations is small. It takes a team of highly skilled managers and technical talent to execute a television program. Each member has to execute routines in very short intervals for a successful program.
In relation to news, The text of one Broadsheet Page (like the Wall Street Journal) has more text than the transcript of an hour long television show.
A completed television news package could last from 15 seconds to 3 minutes.

2. On the camera side, photogs and graphic designers have to change shots every 2 - 5 seconds.

3. The weatherman's job is harder than you think. Having to effectively navigate the green screen takes coordination and choreography.

4. The television news director's job is more similiar to radio than a newspaper newsroom. The networks syndicate a majority of packages which are pre-ordained. Radios and Scanners going off in the background. Sound is everywhere and in the newsroom as KSFX/KOLR which produces the website Ozarks First, there is a lot of multi-tasking. I can't imagine there is ever a dull day.

5. When you're on the air: Listen to the host and have a good time. The Broadcaster giving you an interview wants to deliver news in an entertaining way. Listen to him. He's trying to have a conversation not an interview. Think topical, brief but not short and curt. It's his audience and his show and he wants the production to be good. There is a sideshow and multiple questions he's having to follow.
You don't want to know the stress he's under when you're live-on-the-air. It's a sure way to choke. Belive me, I'm living proof. (Lastly, if the cameraman is doing jumping jacks - that isn't a good thing)

6. Never drive to the television station with an ex unless you want to learn the inefficiencies of public transportation and publically respond to tremendous pressure. Particularly if doesn't put you in a good mood beforehand.

7. Help other people. A network is only as strong as the weakest link. The strongest networks have no central point of failure.

8. Become a resource and helping the press, a community of interest and those wishing to generate it. Provide content and news they can use. As you make it easier for news directors to acquire information, you're adding value.

9. Publish frequently and keep it real.

10. Don't wear a cap with a beer logo on it. You might lose a ten dollar bet, but isn't your dignity worth more?

Spring is here

Branson is awakening. The Sun made an appearance this weekend and merchants throughout downtown Branson were hustling in preparation for the tourist season.

A fresh crop of Eastern European laborers aside a handful of Jamaicans will help satisfy the needs of labor hungry local business owners.

Residents will begin waking from hibernation.

Branson Candy

 

 

 

 
These shots are from a client in Branson interested in producing a candy wrapper museum. Customers returning to downtown Branson often bring new artifacts that are placed on the wall.

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I recently read a book about the history of sugar. The book theorizes that sugar is the common element during the downfall of empires. The shop has sugar-free candy which tastes good though I understand it can be deabilitating if eaten in large quantities.
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Retro 1960's Christian County Headliner Car Ad

 
The thing I miss the most about working in a newsroom is access to the newspaper archives.

News editors tend to keep these becuase news is cyclical and content can be generated nearly on autopilot by focusing on the plotlines of the past. The photo above was shot at Christian County Headliner Headquarters in Ozark, in the heart of the Christian County Seat.

Work, reading and research materials of late has been focused towards History rather than News. Beating the commercial press to stories has led me to believe in the "law of unintended consequences" as the universal constant in the media industry. During political season this is especially tricky.

Pushing for open access to Branson City Council digital audio transcripts led the local radio station to quit broadcasting the meetings. For the last few months I've been lobbying the Taney County Government to do the same. The wheels are in motion and online broadcasts of Taney County Commissioner Meetings will be posted on line starting this week.

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A decade of tech publishing for me, started with a belief in a digital democracy converted to commercial ventures to which I've been a part of as an architect. We, a bunch of geeks, believed we could change the world.

This is my seventh and sabbatical year in Missouri touring the land once owned by my ancestors. I hope to shed my websites of pious posts to avoid any illusion of an unselfish agenda.
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