Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 257
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for September 16, 2004

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Warrensburg certainly received some high-level attention last week. First, President Bush swept through town between campaign stops, then a special committee of the state legislature gathered here. Finally, the local steering committee for the year-long 2005 Warrensburg Sesquicentennial celebration met.

The hopes raised for a Presidential stop in downtown Warrensburg were probably unrealistic. Security is always the primary concern of the Secret Service, and the uncontrolled crowd gathered downtown was anything but secure. One can hardly blame the Secret Service if they'd seen some of the more virulent anti-Bush bumper stickers around town; they just don't take chances with the President. Actually, the trip through downtown may have been a mistake politically, considering the people who were disappointed as well as the cost to city and county as well as local businesses.

Rep. Pearce brought the "Joint Interim Committee on State Supported Passenger Rail Service and Multimodal Transportation" here, focussing substantially on AMTRAK service. AMTRAK has constantly demanded more and more state funding to continue its service; the original $300,000 annual subsidy has grown 20-fold to over $6 million. While I've always liked train travel, I wonder if the economic benefits provided by twice-a-day service justify a subsidy that equals over 1/3 of total State spending on the Division of Tourism, including staff, grants and advertising.

Speaking of state tourism money, the 2005 Warrensburg Sesquicentennial is including in its budget over $15,000 in cooperative marketing program money, part of it already approved. It seems to me that only one of the official events, the Freedom Festival on the July 4th weekend, has significant tourism potential, and that event competes with many other festivals such as Clinton's Olde Glory Days. Since the celebration's steering committee is appointed by the city, I'd presume its meetings and records are subject to the Sunshine Law; cooperative marketing files certainly are.

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