Swingle's books to stay on county website

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cape Girardeau County Commissioners have voted 2 to 1 to allow the county prosecutor to continue posting images of his novels and their descriptions on the county website.

After the vote, Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle approached 2nd District Commissioner Jay Purcell, who had raised the issue for a second time in less than a year.

"No hard feelings," Swingle said.

"There never were any hard feelings," Purcell responded as the two men shook hands. They ended the meeting using the same cordial tones of voices as when Swingle arrived and they exchanged pleasantries.

Swingle made a 52-minute presentation on his website, detailing its history since being conceived in 1982. He cited other tax-supported websites, including a reference on www.whitehouse.gov to President Obama's two best-selling books. Books, he said, are part of the author's identity and he was proud of the ones he'd written.

He said he'd removed the links from the novels' images to a retail site, www.amazon.com, on March 6 after someone pointed out the links were inappropriate.

While Purcell praised Swingle for updating the site Friday, he continued to object to the novels' covers still being on the site.

"The very fact that you changed that, I find reassuring. I'm very glad you were willing to go that extra step. I just don't think you're going far enough," he said. He said he was certain visitors to the county site had gone on to buy Swingle's novels.

"That is advertising and advertising has value," he said. "I would be very surprised if Mr. Jones, who owns the Cashbook Journal, or the Rust family, who owns the [Southeast] Missourian, would say there's no value in putting a picture of a product on a written page where people can see it. That is advertising."

Purcell went on to make a motion asking that Swingle remove the novels from the site and reimburse the county for book sales resulting from county site visitors.

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones, reminding everyone present his three college degrees included a history major focused on the Civil War, said the books reflected an accurate portrayal of events in Cape Girardeau's history.

First District Commissioner Paul Koeper limited his remarks to a written statement. He said the book issue took time away from his work as the county official responsible for road and bridge issues.

"I see nothing wrong or unethical regarding the publications and books Mr. Swingle has placed on the prosecuting attorney's website," he said. Jones and Koeper voted to keep the books on the site. Purcell dissented, but said immediately afterward he would no longer pursue the issue.

The commissioners also unanimously agreed to spend $1,456 for a laptop and portable printer for Purcell, who said he would be able to use it at off-site meetings, such as those conducted in Jefferson City, Mo.



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