Ken Midkiff of the Sierra Club has run out of patience with the way the AG’s office is coddling the Shannon County Commissioners for the way they raped Big Creek, a tributary of the Current River. In his letter to Jack McManus, notice that Midkiff didn’t even start with “Dear Jack.”

Jack,

The federal law called the Clean Water Act has been violated by the Shannon County Commission.  The Missouri Clean Water Law has also been violated. The AGO has done nothing to cause these scofflaws to change their ways and to make them accountable to the people of the US and the State of MO. Apparently, it is okay in Missouri for elected officials to break federal and state laws.

I realize that you are non-assertive, but DO YOUR JOB or resign from the AGO and go to work defending polluters.   Maybe you’ll be better at helping  folks avoid laws than you are at enforcing them.

A little over the top, you think? Not if you take a look at the provocation. A year ago, I summarized the way the Shannon County Commissioners had knowingly, stupidly broken the law and desecrated Big Creek:

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So. Let’s tally up the stupidity. The Commissioners broke federal law in order to damage a beautiful waterway. After they defiled that, they built a road on private property without permission when they already had an offer to build a flood-free road at no expense to themselves. The road they rebuilt will flood again, probably sooner than it would have if they’d left the lovely creek undamaged.

After seeing the devastation that the Shannon County Commissioners had wreaked on that beautiful stream, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources mandated that the County repair the damage. The Commissioners ignored the MDNA. Finally, that the agency was forced to turn the matter over to the AG’s office. Where nothing happened.

In February of this year, Midkiff told me how frustrated he was:

When I last spoke with Jack McManus (lead attorney for the AG), he relayed that they were “working with” the Shannon County Commission – because the AG treats elected officials with kid gloves (my interpretation of his words).   I pointed out that these people had violated federal and state laws and regs, that they were nothing more than criminals, and that I couldn’t understand why the AGO was “working with” criminals.

Midkiff’s outrage was justified by the damage done:

Meanwhile, that creek they straightened has flooded worse than ever. It was no longer beautiful last year, but at least it wasn’t ripping up trees by the roots.

Trees, though, are comparatively light and easy to move. You know that creek is mad when it starts moving boulders. Normally, a wing dam juts out from one bank, forcing the water toward the center of the stream. When several wing dams forced too much water to the center, it got so powerful that in flood season, it moved the boulders of the wing dams–one of them right out into the center of the channel. In fact, the water was so angry about being confined in that narrow channel that it created an extra channel for itself behind the wing dam.

And that meant that the newly rebuilt road, which was only a few feet from the stream, got flooded. Notice how the grader has had to come through and push gravel to the side of the flooded road. Of course, the stooges could have had a new road. On higher ground. For free.

And doing it that way would have prevented several extra tons of Missouri roaring downriver toward the Gulf of Mexico every year.

But what the hell. Why do it that way when you can break the law, get your congressminion [Jo Ann Emerson] to order the Park Service to ignore said lawbreaking, and thumb your nose at state agencies who want you to mitigate the screaming, godawful, screwed up mess you made. Who would want to do it the sensible, easy, cheap way?

Only the people who don’t need to be watered twice a day.