The nerve of some citizens. I mean, really. Thinking they can attend a public meeting (that we want kept private), assuming they can question us for barring them from such meetings, presuming they have … like… rights. And this Sierra Club jerk, Midkiff, did more than question us. He told us how it was going to be. But I guess we showed him.
What a poor sport, though. When Tony Messenger of the Springfield News-Leader asked Midkiff to write an Op-Ed piece about what’s been going on, he agreed to do it. Well screw him, and lotsa luck getting anybody to pay attention. We’re the pooh-bahs and that’s how it’s going to stay.
Here’s a pirated copy of what Midkiff plans to publish:
Public monies, public meetings
At the last meeting of the Missouri Air Conservation Committee (MACC), under “Meeting Schedule” on the agenda was a notation that a tour was scheduled at Premium Standard Farms, Inc. on March 26.
The MACC is the body – created by statute – that oversees the Air Pollution Control Program (APCP) of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. APCP personnel serve as staff for the MACC. MACC also establishes policies, positions, and adopts regulations about air quality. Members are nominated by the Governor and approved by the state senate. Members serve without compensation, but expenses (meals, lodging, travel) are paid for with public monies.
All of this makes the MACC a public body, subject to the Open Meetings and Records Act. The act is a state law – Chapter 610 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri – and is known commonly as the Sunshine Act in that the intent is to shine the sun on actions of public bodies and elected officials.
But, in a rather blatant attempt to avoid complying with this law, a reporter from the Post-Dispatch was told that this was NOT a meeting that the public could attend, but was a tour of a private operation. I sent an email to Jim Kavanaugh, Director of the APCP, informing him that I, reporters, attorneys, and other citizens intended to attend. He forwarded my email to David Gilmore, Public Relations guy for the MACC. Mr. Gilmore referred to my “request” and stated that I needed to submit this to Robert Brundage, attorney with the law firm of Newman, Conley, and Ruth and legal counsel for the Missouri Agriculture Industry organization.
Mr. Gilmore was then informed that my email in no way was a request, but rather was a simple notice of intent to attend a public meeting, so that arrangements could be made. I further noted that it was not at all understood why it was necessary to seek approval from an attorney with a private law firm in order to attend a public meeting and asked for an explanation of this.
Mr. Kavanaugh then sent an email stating that Mr. Gilmore was not at work due to an illness, and that the “tour” might not take place due to scheduling conflicts.
That’s where it now stands.
It should be noted that the MACC is currently considering regulations to impose odor controls on most factory hog operations. It should also be noted that a representative of Premium Standard Farms is on record as adamantly opposing such controls. The concern is that employees of the hog operations would have members of MACC all to themselves during this private “tour” and would lobby the members to adopt the positions of Premium Standard Farms.
Whatever. This is apparently yet another attempt by a public entity, operating with public funds, to avoid complying with state law – and provides yet another example why we need a Sunshine Act.
Ken Midkiff is pictured above.