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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Candidates stump in Neosho

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  • Eliminating governmental fraud and waste and using common sense to solve problems were touted in speeches at this year's Republican watermelon feed.
    About 100 party faithful attended the event, held in Neosho's Big Spring Park.
    Speakers included Tom Schweich, Missouri state auditor, and Seventh District U.S. Congressman Billy Long. Both are up for reelection in 2014.
    Schweich, a financial author, former U.S. ambassador and former U.S. coordinator for counternarcotics and justice reform in Afghanistan, talked about his legal and law enforcement background and told stories of how that experience relates to the office of state auditor.
    The auditor told of one audit of a school that was leading the state in attendance records. What the principal was doing, he said, was making teachers take manual attendance, then coercing her secretary into falsifying computer records, saying students were at school when they were absent.
    Two-thirds of the attendance records were destroyed by the time auditors arrived, Schweich said, but a third were not and led to a successful prosecution.
    "This person was doing that to advance her career, but not only that, if you can claim that you've got more students, you get more money. So it was also a financial problem to the taxpayers of this state."
    Schweich also mentioned a rapid response audit in Pineville in 2012. The auditor investigated the theft of nearly $20,000 from the municipal court between June 2010 and May 2012.
    Schweich also related a case in northern Missouri in which a county collector took more than $500,000 by accepting cash payments for taxes, then pocketing those payments and listing the taxpayers as delinquent.
    "A lot of the farmers up there pay their property taxes in cash," the auditor related. "She would mark them as delinquent and then take the delinquent book and put it in the safe. So we went in there, and all the numbers added up. But we know in a typical county, the delinquent rate is only like 10 percent."
    Once caught, Schweich said, the collector had a startling question.
    "She said 'Can we keep this quiet so I can get another job?' " he said. "And I said 'Yeah, your next job is making license plates at the state penitentiary."
    Long told of a U.S. Postal Service meeting in Springfield, in which post office reps were to hear from citizens about the possibility of closing small, rural post offices and moving mail sorting service from Springfield to Kansas City. The congressman said the room the post office had rented for that meeting was so tiny, people could not get in to voice their concerns.
    "There were people violently kicking on the door, trying to get into the postal meeting to see what was going on," Long said. "They rented a teeny, tiny little room, they sent a couple of folks in who had no intention of listening to the public. They knew what they were going to do, they knew where they were going to close places and they weren't going to listen to anybody."
    Page 2 of 2 - Long said at another meeting on Table Rock Lake, he related that story after governmental officials, who had discussed ceasing mowing within 50 feet of the shoreline and letting the beach return to a wild state, arranged officeholders to have an unhindered view of the shoreline.
    After the meeting, Long said, he and other office holders set out in a boat to talk with five constituents who had had problems with the Corps of Engineers. By the end of the day, four of the five concerns had been resolved and "the jury is still out on the other one," the congressman said.

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