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Opinion: McCaskill, Emerson, Bond:Examples of good government

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I received a letter this week about the relief one local resident felt that the former federal building in Cape Girardeau would not be turned into a homeless shelter targeting a 22-county area. Among her comments, "I prefer you don't include my note in the paper because I'm active at church and with local missions. Some may think I'm 'talking out of both sides of my mouth.'"

Such is the conflict that the Rev. Larry Rice sows. Good-hearted individuals, who are working and volunteering daily, are intimidated by Rice's tactics of impugning the honor of those who oppose his plans. On Thursday, he charged opposition as showing "a spiritual depravity that has grieved me as a minister."

For this particular woman, being called un-Christian would be the worst she could be called. But Rice's faulty plan -- rejected by the Department of Health and Human Services on four of five criteria -- was simply a bad one. It was the wrong building at the wrong size in the wrong place with the wrong plan managed by the wrong organization.

Still, Larry Rice and his destructive rhetoric have had an impact. Here is what Deborah Young, president of the local NAACP, who invited Rice to speak to her group on Thursday, had to say:

"It seems like personal attacks and people telling me where we belong, where black people belong, where poor whites belong, where veterans belong, and they are telling us we don't belong in the federal building, and I don't agree with that."

Actually, that's not what Health and Human Services decided. What it decided is that Rice's proposal for the old federal building was, simply, unqualified and inappropriate for the space. A rejection of that plan -- no matter how much Rice might try to spin it -- is not a rejection of any group of Americans. Of course, we can probably expect more of this type of rhetoric from Rice and those who drink his Kool-Aid, which is a shame. Cape Girardeau would be greatly benefited by a vibrant and positive NAACP. Adopting his mode of attention-getting is not only counterproductive, it is destructive.

It is also seductive -- and, for those wielding it, oftentimes effective in the short term (albeit at the expense of the American community). Politicians, for example, often fear it, which is why U.S. senators Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson deserve high praise for the steps they took in urging federal agencies to closely examine Rice's proposal.

In an earlier column, I asked: "Just what kind of government do we have?" These three affirmed the best of it, and we owe them a debt of gratitude, if not for the decision itself, which was made by Health and Human Services, then for their strong encouragement that federal agencies look at the details of the proposal, which did not align with the need or the place.

Mayor Jay Knudtson and the leaders of local service agencies also deserve the highest praise. Because of their efforts, our federal representatives took notice and had the information they needed. I hope this episode will launch even greater partnerships between city and civic groups in the future.


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-- Posted by SpankTheTank on Sun, Jun 7, 2009, at 8:28 AM

Politicians rarely lead by doing the right thing.

What politicians almost always do, and our representatives are no different, is the popular thing.

This is one of those rare cases where the correct decision was also popular.

I can't help but wonder, given the unusually fast decision from HHS regarding Rev. Rice's application, exactly what kind of favors will be doled out to that agency through our representatives.

-- Posted by Lumpy on Sun, Jun 7, 2009, at 10:43 AM

Isn't it odd that so often those in disagreement with anything as controversial as Rice's proposed shelter are labelled with (sometimes by innuendo) names such as bigot, selfish, uncharitable, racist, unchristian, etc., by some?

Could be mistaken, but think I read in one of the articles that decisions on homeless applications for federal buildings had to be made within 25 days?

-- Posted by gurusmom on Sun, Jun 7, 2009, at 1:42 PM

Emerson a good example of being good government? Pfft! Like when she VOTED for the first bailout?

-- Posted by Megalomania on Sun, Jun 7, 2009, at 11:59 PM

We wouldn't have had this problem if Bond and Emerson hadn't saddled our grandkids with $66,000,000 in debt for an unnecessary building in the first place.

-- Posted by nolimitsonthought on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 8:44 AM

Well, by golly, I like Jo Ann Emerson! I also like Deborah Young, but I am happy that Rice did not get his way. We might need a place for the homeless, but Rice should NOT be allowed to run things. I do not believe that it is a black or white thing. If God wants it to be than it will be..... in God's time.

-- Posted by Hookie98 on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 10:15 AM


So what is the motive here? What does the SEMissourian [or the Rust Family] want from Uncle Sam? Nobody kisses the government's a$$ for nothing.

-- Posted by ynot on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 11:54 AM

Three quick comments:

1) Gurusmom is correct that there was a time frame that HHS was required to make a decision, so there should be nothing sinister read into the quick decision made.

2) By "examples of good government", which was in the headline of my column...my focus at this time was on the steps each of these legislators took in questioning the proposal by Rice. Since I had earlier questioned "what kind of government we have," it was fair to point out that these three (and others) displayed important leadership on this issue. That's good government from my perspective. They listened, they researched and they acted. The fact that McCaskill is a Democrat and Bond and Emerson are Republicans protects them a bit from wild charges of racism, etc. But they didn't have to take the actions they did. This column was, in part, to indicate that some of us appreciate what they did.

3) Regarding prudentdriver's question, the world is a better place if people say thanks, especially when people do good things (even if it's their job). I thought McCaskill, Emerson and Bond deserved thanks for what they did. It's that simple. Same goes to Mayor Knudtson...and to all who wrote letters.

As a final note, thanks also to many of you writing commentary on the semissourian.com web site. Interesting stuff. Many good discussions and questions.

-- Posted by Jon_K_Rust_PUBLISHER on Mon, Jun 8, 2009, at 12:45 PM

I have always been told that if you want a response from your representative, that you need to write them an old fashioned snail mail letter.

I have written Rep. Emerson on several occasions. The last time I asked her to give me the reasons for her refusal to co-sponser HR 1207 - the "Audit The Federal Reserve" bill. This was back in March when the bill was first introduced by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

There are now over 190 co-sponsers, several from each party, of HR 1207. Yet Emerson still refuses to co-sponser the bill, and has not given a reason why.

I believe that the Federal Reserve is one of the major reasons for the recession. This is not a tin-foil hat, black helicopter, grassy knoll conspiracy theory.

While I may disagree with the vast majority of Rep. Emerson's legislation, she is still MY representative.

Her smug, arrogant attitude towards those constituents that may disagree with her is proof that she views her position as an entitlement.

It is past time to remind Jo Ann Emerson who her boss really is.

-- Posted by Lumpy on Tue, Jun 9, 2009, at 6:46 PM

The last two mornings while walking my normal route in downtown Cape (for apprx 6 years), for the first time EVER I noticed two scruffy looking guys CLEARLY out of place, looks like Larry Rice's busing campaign may have started already.... Each had several packs of smokes next to them like they were camping there for the day, this is such an insult to those of us that live in and know area. And an unbelievable low tactic from an even lower person.

-- Posted by Concerned-N-Cape on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 7:05 AM

Emerson, an example of good government?

Tarp Bailout, Cash for Clunkers, repeal of Glass/Stegell leading to the bank meltdown, CAFTA and other free trade job destroying bills, pay raises, raising the debt limit, taxypayer funded embryo killing research, voted for Real ID, and on and on. If this is good Government, I would hate to see ''bad'' Government.

Latest in the list, HB 3936 to bailout the Union Pension funds with 165 Billion in Taxpayer money. Oh yeah, she said is was a ''back stop''...BS for short.

enough is enough.

Bob Parker

-- Posted by electbobparker.com on Fri, Jun 11, 2010, at 9:40 AM

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Jon K. Rust
Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications. He serves on the board of directors for the Associated Press. A native of Cape Girardeau, he has lived and worked in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Moscow, Russia.