"Dogs are pooping in the park. City officials want you to keep dogs on a leash."
This is the story about Branson Gannet's Springfield News-Leader ran today.
The new News-Leader appears to have a policy of - Government Press Releases only
As I've stated before, since the Springfield News-Leader closed it's Branson bureau, journalism in our fair city has faced a lingering death. Due to the lack of coverage, corruption at Branson City Hall remains unabated with millions in depleted reserves unaccounted for.
Missouri State University professor Andrew Cline has repeatedly professed his interest in the topic, "How to Kill Journalism". Sir, Rhetoric to the side, we have a great case study for you- Branson.
Let's take Andrew Cline's Rhetorical anti and raise another question, "How do you kill democracy?" I could refer to the recent media takeover by a third third-world dictator but will refrain from facts on the matter in order to keep the dialogue civil.
The easiest and most efficient means of killing both journalism and democracy in one fatal Chuck Norris style roundhouse kick is to evade open government laws. Our morally challenged mayor has done an exceptional job at this.
One recent example relates to a former board member of a competing airport i.e. Branson Mayor Presley's attempt to dishonor the Branson Airport Contract. In a public meeting we learned that Presley spent $50,000 obtaining outside legal counsel that was never reported by city council. During a debate, citizens present learned that the funds had been approved by vote months earlier.
There are many examples of how the "death of journalism" in Branson has created a cancer that has eaten away at a once healthy democracy.
People are so afraid of the effectiveness of corruption by Branson's current Board of Alderman that they're too terrorized to even run for office. Elections in Branson have been canceled (no one wants to challenge three Presley appointments to the Board of Alderman) - citizens being rightfully terrorized to attempt to challenge any of the offices. Perhaps we should name next weeks election, "spit on a veteran's day" - since we have a North Korea style ballot (no options or semi-fiscally minded alderman running for office).
The mafia-style control of public funds, restraints on free-market business through new regulation and failure to adhere to Missouri's Sunshine law has enabled the most perverse governmental practices by removing the vital checks and balances that allow us to govern ourselves.
Branson is known as the liberal center of Taney County. I'm sure most of the nation would laugh knowing this fact ws true; however, the extent of Branson's current city government's movement to a fiscally far-left and green focused political agenda is not without cost. Even the virtues of liberalism (social freedom) have been removed from current business policy.
Presley walked into public office with the slogan "Change". It wasn't until recently that I've understood this meant change from an honest, open, business encouraging eniornment to one that promotes politicians personal finances.
For Presley it's great. She's been able to open a new media company with the assistance of KY3 and KSPR, launder money in blocks to sitting politicians for legislation for a private enterprise, paid a cool million for land owned by a sitting Taney County Commissioner and depleted - check this:
7 of 13 Million Dollars of Branson's Reserve Funds - During Branson's 3 Highest Revenue Generating Years
Because our press isn't functioning correctly and lack of adherence to open-government laws are unchallenged, Branson citizen's don't even know it. It's not because they're dumb. it's because closed government suits the interests of corruption.
The most well-known case of corruption in American History is President Nixon's Watergate. In fact, Missouri's open government laws, and the careers of many 40 and 50 something journalists were birthed by the virtues of a free-press. They believed an open decmocracy could keep us free - and they are correct. Unfortunately, as demonstrated in Branson, not allowing foul play.
In fact, Our very nation was constructed on the backs of patriot journalists with the courage to pen truth regardless of the consequences.
American forefather-founding-philosopher-journalist Thomas Paine's famous pamphlet "Common Sense" withheld "God doesn't like oppressive government" (he used the Hebrews plight from oppressive governrnment aka Exodus to prove the point ). Paine also made an opening point that leaders of nations and the populace are often two distinctly different entities.
Our local press has made the government the sole voice of government information. Sadly, and I say this with true sorrow, the Spingfield News-Leader's method of reporting Branson news falls in-line with China's Recent Demands to Google as reported by the Washington Post.:
Communist China's Press Rules For Reporting on Conflict with Google
1. Only use Central Government main media (website) content; do not use content from other sources.
2. Reposting must not change title.
3. News recommendations should refer to Central government main media websites.
4. Do not produce relevant topic pages; do not set discussion sessions; do not conduct related investigative reporting.
5. Online programs with experts and scholars on this matter must apply for permission ahead of time. This type of self-initiated program production is strictly forbidden.
6. Carefully manage the commentary posts under news items.
The local radio station in Branson - KRZK - which use to be the pinnacle of great journalism in Branson has withdrawn from meeting attendance.
When someone dies or a major advertiser asks, the other media agencies lug gear and report on Branson Missouri.
My dear friends in the press - I get it. You're both rightfully terrified and justifiably hesitant to do comprehensive reporting! There's no money in it!
I've really enjoyed reading Branson Daily News reporter Mindy Honey's Sunday church profiles. Great stuff. But when it comes to politics why should she do investigative research when the local authorities will give the copy to her? And though 90% of BDN's copy is reprint of government approved text, she's currently providing the most broad coverage of our current administration's activity.
Since lately, the local government has decided to harass anyone that challenges their actions; it's far - a far easier road to take. You can get a smile and advertising cash for your media company instead of painful retort politically, personally and professionally.
Who wants to put their neck out to expose corruption and have to take the heat?
Last month, a major Branson business summoned me to their board room. The multi-million dollar enterprise said, "You're so talented and we want to hire you, but we're afraid of what Raeanne Presley will do to our business." You have the account but have to keep our relationship secret until we get thht B---- out of office. " And I don't blame him - not even slightly mad, because I understand what havoc ensues when government isn't restrained by law. A media company familiar with my work offered a similar deal last year. I took neither position.
For three years, behind closed doors, Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley has been working with other tax entities to create a charter that will solidify a democracy killing agenda ensuring new taxes to subsidize her private business.
I reported the process three years ago.
But, Branson officials finally came forward with their intent to create a new charter last week. I wonder how much money has been spent, outside of government mandates, to ensure the legacy of corruption continues.
I suppose our mayor can take another Presley steamer on the Constitution she swore to uphold while the regional newspapers print the command of "keep your dogs on a leash" which I think is code to the Springfield Newsleader for - thanks for letting me wag the dog.