Managing Editor / Investigative Journalist
Lee's Summit Tribune
Well, it’s election time for local governments in Missouri, and once again truth and forthright discourse are as hard to find as the heavy winter we were supposed to have. Lacking a legitimate public forum, politicos and wanna-bes have taken refuge in social media to add their “spin” on the truth.
They know their audiences well. Rarely does anyone remember what actually happened at the end of a nasty political fight. It’s the trip that gets all the play.
Not sure about you folks, but I’m getting tired of sitting politicians playing dumb and getting selective memories. If they are that forgetful and disorganized, they shouldn’t be holding office.
Having a City Manager and a Council member “not recall” that they helped produce a folder on “Ethics” for incoming elected officials, and their faulty memory is why they failed to use good moral and ethical judgement, just doesn’t pass muster any more. Or, at least it shouldn’t.
How many of you working folks out there get to negatively affect the business you are in, develop poor or ill-conceived work plans, or not tell their boss the truth and still collect a check? When it comes to politicos and their hangers-on, you the people are the boss. Not them. They serve at your pleasure.
In social media, The Tribune has been accused and defamed by persons advocating against a particular Councilman (that is up for recall) and in favor of those that have been exposed in The Tribune through the judicious use of Sunshine Law requests.
Public records and emails are the truth, folks. Someone’s “spin” on the selective rereading of those documents isn’t worth a thing. A person that has to parse the offered record, probably with the advice and consent of their attorney, is a person that is afraid to speak plainly.
To those that claim to be associated with the Journal, formerly of Lee’s Summit and now safely back inside Kansas City Star offices, “defamation” is when you hurt someone’s reputation: when you write it down, it’s called “libel;” when spoken it is called “slander.”
After asking the members of the Lee’s Summit Tribune staff, not one person allowed that they had received any pressure, compensation, or had any other type of bias against anyone on the City Council or in any local government branch or department.
Without exception, the mantra of this paper remains “follow the story” and use public sources and Missouri state law to obtain necessary proofs. (I will consider starting a sister website to post our Sunshine Law requests and the responses from government entities.)
With regard to the councilman under threat of recall, those behind the recall were given space on the pages of the paper to assert their position. I am now determining how The Tribune should react to the defamation of the only local paper in Lee’s Summit.
The only paper that doesn’t offer a bully pulpit to the cronyism that infects government at all levels.
One final note to the posters on social media. We do have freedom of speech in this country, protected by our Constitution and its amendments. Like a citizen, this paper is allowed freedom of speech as well. They are labeled as such and are referred to as editorials and public comments.
When you use social media as your only outlet, you are most likely going to only get people of similar viewpoints, the online version of “yes men.” To truly learn, you need to enter into polite and reasoned discourse with others holding different viewpoints.