Resident responds to Senator Cunningham
To the editor:
Surely Senator Cunningham’s article in The Marshfield Mail did not intentionally trivialize the reality that, prior to the passage of the Clean Missouri Initiative (Amendment I), many Missouri legislators were routinely accepting meals and sports tickets from groups buying access to lawmakers.
It is true that Senator Cunningham deserves praise for accepting very few, if any, lobbyist gifts. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of everyone. A young Republican representative (in the 135th) was elected in 2010, and by 2014 he had accepted 615 gifts totaling $17,271 from lobbyists.
Several Democrats in the state raked in equally outrageous gift totals as well. So, yes … YES! The voters had their say … and please do not expect them to apologize to the caterers and restaurant owners in Jefferson City any time soon. Meanwhile, our legislators can still dine out with lobbyists ... however, now they must pay $300 for Cardinals tickets themselves and hope the lobbyist will buy them a hotdog at the ballgame. Would $5 do that?
Where were the ethics reforms being proposed by legislators prior to the issue being placed on the November ballot? Nowhere. Only inaction. So citizens took the matter into their own hands with an initiative process … the very initiative process that current Republicans in Jefferson City are working diligently to place limits on. They are trying to make it much more costly and difficult for average citizens to get anything placed on a ballot in the future. They’re striving to weaken Amendment I under the guise of passing “much stronger” ethics reform.
So what is the underlying purpose for bringing up this “so-called” Clean Missouri Initiative again? Gutting it. The Senator implies that “many” voters were duped because of not reading the “fine print.” He suggests that something is inherently wrong in a redistricting process aimed at combating rampant gerrymandering. “Fair representation” … who could possibly be in favor of that? Weirdly shaped districts? (If you want to look at a weirdly shaped district, look no further than the Fourth Congressional. It literally snakes its way from Harrisonville all the way down to Marshfield.) Senator Cunningham claims that the priorities spelled out in the redistricting plan are “unworkable.” After all, we don’t want a non- partisan demographer to make sure everyone is represented fairly … because those “bipartisan appointees” by past governors have worked out so well! Why change this winning formula? Translation: We don’t want the “other” party to have any chance at representation where they live … because that is also where we live.
No bipartisanship allowed in anyone’s backyard … nor front yard … nor in Jefferson City. It’s all about control, folks. So maybe the real fear is that finally, in some areas of Missouri, this new redistricting plan will work just a little too well. It might give the chance to get a slice of representation for the many people who felt, under the old map drawing process, they quite literally had none.