Well, I should have been able to report a pretty uneventful week. We enjoyed the holiday weekend with family and I had errands to run on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thursday morning we met with Jake and Royce from Congressman Long’s office for an update on what was going on in Washington that may affect us here. We also got a chance to visit with them about constituent issues and they were most helpful. We went from there to the yearly legislative update from Empire District Electric. As you can well imagine, Empire, as well as every other producer of electricity in the Midwest is concerned about the future of their coal fired plants. The EPA has banned the building of any new coal facilities and even though we have the cleanest coal burning facilities in the world, we are sending our fuel to China and India where they have NO scrubbers on their plants. How this is going to clean up the world’s atmosphere is way above my pay grade to figure out! They showed us data on their wind farms and they are meeting and exceeding requirements for the amounts of renewable energy they are able to incorporate in their production. They addressed the need for technology to store energy produced by wind, and Eagle Picher is of course at the forefront of battery development. The problem they face at present is, it would take a battery that would cover several acres and stands 20 stories high to store enough energy to supply the four state area for a few days with no wind. Rest assured, there are a lot of very smart people trying to solve this problem.
Friday morning I was at Noel for an update from MoDOT on the Route 59 walkway. The meeting was well attended and there were several issues brought before the MoDOT concerning the erosion to the highway embankment and the dangers that crossing the bridge on foot bring to bear. The decision was made to do a couple of engineering studies to determine how deep the layer of bedrock is and also to see what the Corps of Engineers will allow us to do in the river bed. The most important thing was to share ideas and find out what is feasible and what isn’t. The first concern, of course should be pedestrian safety and if we can accomplish that and enhance tourist attraction with a nature walkway, it is a win win for Noel.
Jane and I were on our way to Southwest City to the Culture Center when I got a phone call that informed me that an 85 mile an hour straight wind took off half my feed store roof. People are beginning to wonder if I’m a bad weather magnet. If I can learn how to control this stuff, I might have a new future as a rainmaker? Nah, that’s already been tried.
Page 2 of 3 - Now that the primary elections are behind us and we are facing a couple of months of intensive campaigning, both state and federal, I’d like to comment on something that I’ve never been able to figure out. If you or I in our daily lives choose to say something about someone that is an out and out lie, we are held responsible for slander. We can be sued or at least we have to admit that we told an “untruth” and retractions are printed. Not so in politics. Did you know that in the political arena a candidate can’t be sued for slander? A person can say anything about an opponent, or “an unnamed source” can be quoted (even though they don’t exist) and many people believe what they have heard or read. The real sticky truth is, we tend to believe what we see or hear and seldom change our minds when a retraction is made. This is precisely why candidates claim to be things they are not and claim to have done things that they have not done. It has been proven time and again to work!
The candidate who stretches the truth or leaves out important facts about themselves is seldom penalized by the voter for this unscrupulous behavior. Campaign finance reform is a hot subject every election cycle, especially by whichever party has the least finances. I’m all for campaign finance, but how about “truth in campaigning?” Wouldn’t it be refreshing to know that someone isn’t lying through their teeth just to get your vote? If a candidate can't get enough votes to get elected by running on their past accomplishments and having a good plan for what they intend to do for their constituents without smearing their opponent, do you really want that person representing you? The advent of social media has made it particularly easy to conduct an unscrupulous campaign by making misleading statements and encouraging others to help "spread the news.” We have seen this done on every level of politics from the presidential races on down. We have opened this door and there is really no good way to close it. The best way to make a decision about whom to vote for is the same as it has always been. It's not hard to find out the true facts about a candidate. Don't believe what you see and hear others say. Go to forums for local candidates and meet them in person. Do a little background searching and find out who they really are. For incumbents, voting records are readily available and their past performance is a real guide for voters. In this age of information, we can find out about the pasts of our national candidates in a variety of ways. Probably the worst way is TV news, as everyone has their own agenda. One channel talks about how great a person is and another tells us he is a no good! Spend a little time at the library or on the Internet researching past accomplishments and you will be amazed at what you are able to find out.
Page 3 of 3 - Oh well, that's about enough pontificating for this week. We have veto session on the 11th and 12th and I should have some good stuff for next report. Speaker Pro Tem, Shane Schoeller, named the Committee for Child Abuse and Neglect and we should begin to meet soon. I'll report any progress as soon as it happens! Until next week, I am, and remain, in your service.
Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at email@example.com.