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In a speech in Arrow Rock Saturday night, Jay Nixon said a whole slew of things that a Democrat in this state ought to be saying.  He criticized the Department of Natural Resources for failing to protect state parks, according to their mandate.  The DNR is going out of its way to license CAFOs (contained animal feeding operations) next to our state parks.  Nixon also got on the DNR’s case for failing to side with the state in preserving a bridge that is part of the Katy Trail.  Then he criticized the Corps of Engineers for dumping tons of soil into the Missouri River without questioning what effects that might have on wildlife.

“My vision for our state and our state government demands that we return the Department of Natural Resources to its original duty of protecting our state resources,” he said, adding that DNR has taken the side of business at the expense of protecting the environment on key issues.

Right on!

The Columbia Tribune summarized the bridge controversy:

Nixon spoke at length about the Boonville lift bridge, a 408-foot span over the Missouri River that Union Pacific Railroad says it owns and wants to disassemble for use elsewhere. Nixon and others believe the structure is part of the Katy Trail and should be preserved.

A judge ruled in 2006 that the state does not own the bridge. Nixon is appealing that ruling.

“Why in the world would the state offer to give this up?” Nixon asked. “Why is DNR opposing me on this issue and arguing the railroad’s side of this case?”

Powerless to argue with the rectitude of Nixon’s remarks, the Republican spokesman accused him of making a political speech on the public dime.

“Jay Nixon consistently blurs the line between political campaigning and public office, and it’s awfully hypocritical,” Sloca said, noting that Nixon aide Scott Holste distributed a news release about the speech. “It’s unfortunate for the taxpayers who pay Scott Holste’s salary and pay Jay Nixon’s salary that they are paying for what is certainly a political campaign.”

Look over here!  Sloca was saying.  Look over here!  He’s just a politician.  Don’t pay any attention to the substance of his remarks.  (How dare Nixon make well founded accusations on topics that the Attorney General is bound by law to deal with!)

The accusation about pretending to make a policy speech while really making a political one is, truth be told, a charge that both camps trade on an almost daily basis.  Note the latest fundraising e-mail I received from the Nixon campaign:

Matt Blunt recently scheduled the first of several official events through the governor’s office to highlight “the positive impact of the governor’s and his administration’s initiatives in the community.” As the Kansas City Star commented on Friday, “Does this strike anyone as anything other than an early campaign appearance at taxpayer expense?”

In a hotly contested election, with both candidates in office, of course they will use their bully pulpits to get their message out.  The question is whether the political speeches are based on sound public policy.  And anytime Jay Nixon goes after CAFO’s next to our state parks, protects the KATY trail, and calls the Corps of Engineers on the carpet for dumping–without concern for the consequences–tons of soil into the Missouri river, that’s a political speech that ought to be made.

Keep up the good work, Jay.  The public dime is being spent as it ought to be.

photo courtesy of the Columbia Tribune