Gadfly and the Sunshine gang

It was a refreshing discussion at Evangel University Nov. 15 when the Gadfly joined members of the Springfield media and James Klahr, from the AG’s office, to discuss the practical applications of the Sunshine Law. David Burton with the University of Missouri Extension Office and the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists deserve praise for providing the opportunity to learn about the law, discuss its importance and to air frustrations over its flaws.

Klahr gave an overview of the state’s open records law that is often misunderstood, under utilized and sometimes plainly and purposefully ignored. Tony Messenger, editorial page editor for the Springfield News-Leader, expounded on his e-mail odyssey with the governor’s office that will surely set straight any misconceptions that e-mail communications among government officials are off limits to the public. And Ron Davis, senior producer with KSPR,  shared his many, many years of experience in digging for and reporting on news in southwest Missouri. He drove home the point that journalists must turn the page to find the story.

The three local panelists are glaring examples of what’s needed to hold government accountable and what is all too often missing. While Christian County resident (Gadfly) Ernie O’Gaffney takes hit after hit by the status quo in this county, he is evidence that one person can make a difference. The public is better served when people like him take a stand.
But his experience is also evidence that the Sunshine Law is not easily enforced and when the public, which includes the media, run up against cranky public officials, often the only recourse is to sue. His litigation languishes still—since March—with the AG’s office. That makes it easy for officials to break the law and watch while nothing ever happens.

But what was more important about last night’s seminar is that the room was full of student journalists who may have heard for the first time how important it is to hold government accountable. Davis made it clear that journalists cannot expected to be liked by the folks they cover and that it isn’t in anyone’s interest to sidle up and drink at the trough of government gruel—PR.

Without oversight, which is the main job of the press, even the best of intentions can go haywire.
Secondly, there were a number of local residents there who are struggling to hold their officials accountable and needed the pep talk to assure them they’re on the right side of tracks.

Three important points came from the discussion:
• The Sunshine Law is for everyone, not just the media
• The Sunshine Law needs teeth to discourage noncompliance
• And, as Davis put it, public officials are people like you and me. Most want to do a good job and are willing to comply with that and all the other laws; they should be respected for their public service. Scrutiny simply helps them attain that nobility.

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25 Comments on “Gadfly and the Sunshine gang”

  1. turkey Says:

    Other than campaigning for another office, what does the AG office do? Nothing.

  2. Buzzword Says:

    I think this community has had enough of our prejudiced newspaper editor and her band of idiots–Matthews 1 & 2, Brown, Cleek, Barnett, O’Gaffney. This group continues their sick crusade of power when they should JUST DO THE JOBS THEY WERE HIRED FOR. Their ultimate goal is to get two of the commissioners out of office so they can gain complete control of the county–much like Hitler & Nazi Germany. The employees of the courthouse and the citizens of the county are sick and tired of their antics. Their actions are an embarrassement to the county, as people are not stupid and can see and hear what is going on. You put a newspaper editor who evidently skipped the college course on staying impartial in journalism and reporting facts into this mix and you get continual front page stories trying to paint O’Gaffney as a hero. Sorry, it doesn’t work. He still comes across as uneducated and an idiot. I join many others in asking these people to GROW UP and quit acting like a high school clique full of bullies. You insult our intelligence.

  3. hack687 Says:

    I am not from Christian Cty. I attended the SS law presentation on Nov 15 at Evangel. I went there to meet the modern day heroes who are standing up for Christian Cty citizens.
    Numerous other counties are watching and learning from these people. The simple truth is that many counties have the same types of people in office as Christian Cty in that they cannot read a statute, if they read it they don’t understand it, and if the read and understand they don’t follow it. It’s a sad day for our county gov’ts. The only thing sadder is people who know it’s happening and do nothing.
    Plato said….
    “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs, is to be ruled by evil men.”

  4. CC Cit Says:

    The sick crusade by Karen Matthews and Ron Cleek continues. They need to do the jobs they were hired to do.

  5. Sick of it Says:

    How long is this paper going to follow the county treasurer around and aid with her agenda? Maybe someone should ask the western commissioner if he went over his budget last year wiht this same company? Seems strange to me this county paper didn’t write an article when this happened to him. It’s time you quit picking on Tom Huff!

    I see Karen & Roy Matthews written all over this. That’s what I hear others saying as well. I guess she thought this would make her look good (smart?), but it appears this backfired. The citizens of the county see right through this and are sick and tired of these games.

    I’m surprised Ron Cleek wasn’t asked to investigate…. Or was he? My guess is he would say this was a crime…. (Anyone with a brain knows that a budget it just that…. a budget.)

  6. Gut full Says:

    Did anyone hear the famous Ernest O’Gaffney and his fearless attorney on the radio Sat. Funny to me his only guest was a fresh democrat legislator.

    Great show…. Now where was Ann from Ozark (Judy M.)?

  7. Please report the facts Says:

    Question – Why didn’t the county paper report last year when Bill Barnett went over his road budget and made installment payments?

  8. Truth teller Says:

    What is the expectation of the CC Coalition telling the truth? Just wondering if the people of the county are going to hold this small group accountable for telling the truth.

    It would be my expectation that they would not lie to the media which they did yesterday. I would hope they would be more credible than that.

    I also heard Ms. Matthews did not know what she signed when she signed the minutes of the salary commission giving herself a raise. Why would Ms. Matthews (county treasurer of all people) sign something she did not understand. That doesn’t sound like good business to me.

  9. Buzzard bait Says:

    Dear Truth Teller Says,

    It is easy to shoot your mout off, now to the facts. Exactly what did the members of the coaliion say that was a lie?

    We have the facts and the documents if you wish o see them.

    So tell us, what was a lie? And you prove it with documents!

    Or just continue to shoot ff your mouth.

  10. Ex Employee Says:

    I agree with Truth Seeker! Go back and listen to your tapes and you just find this information. I would have thought you would have been paying more attention. There were more taxpayers at the hearing other than the 6 coalition members.

    Just curious why you didn’t respond to the county treasurer’s comments at the hearing. I don’t see a comment about the county treasurer saying she signed something she didn’t know what she was signing. Now that’s oversight if I ever saw it. Do you think we can really trust her with our money? We better think about that one over the summer. I know me and my buddies are.

  11. Interested Taxpayer Says:

    Why would Bill Barnett not vote for the proposed budget? He signed off on every line as it was discussed and explained to him by our county auditor. He made some ludicrious statement about the numbers… but the numbers are never there before the budget is layed down for the public to view and he knows that. (Or should… he’s been signing off on the county budget for over 12 years!) Does he not get the concept and how this works?????? Where has he been for 12 years? Is he lost w/o Tom C. not by his side.

    ….Now Karen Matthews has a hold on him. Bill…. be your own man and use your own brain and stop jumping every time Karen Matthews tells you. The western commissioner needs to trust the county counselor and the county auditor. How stupid not to.

    My guess is he was told by the county treasurer and her loving husband (and Tom C. of course… can’t forget that Tom C. is coaching Mr. Barnett) NOT TO SIGN IT! They talk almost daily you know.


  12. Buzzard bait Says:

    I am still waiting for Truth Teller to define the lie or lies.

    All this jibber jabber is entertaining but, I wonder how our county auditor who is not the presiding commissioner, but is the deciding commissioner and John Grubaugh will respond to a petition for an audit of the county?

    They will probably attack the messenger to deflect all their ills. But the outcome will tell the truth and all the blogs and blowhards will remain mute after the state auditor delivers her report.

  13. Citizen of Christian County Mo Says:

    I am sure the county auditor would not care if the county is audited. The sad part is the time and money it would take away from doing what is really best for the county.

    What a waste of our tax dollars. The county is already audited annually.

  14. Truth teller Says:

    Listen to your tapes. If you are as intelligent as you think you are, you should find it in no time at all. It’s really not that hard.

  15. Confused Says:

    I can not figure out why the county treasurer would sign a document she did not understand. Still waiting for an answer to the other bloggers question.

  16. Buzzard bait Says:

    Truth Teller;

    The batteries in my hearing aides are out.

    Why don’t you just print on this blog the lies you are refering to, or is it you can’t or won’t? I bet it is a little bit of both. GOTCHYA! Prove me wrong if you can??

  17. 33 Reporting Says:

    Great job reporting the 5:30 news. They got it right on camera. “You are a nut!” How right.

  18. Truth Teller Says:

    I refuse to do your work for you. I know you are wrong. I do not have to prove anything.

  19. Today's Spectator Says:

    Glad to see Ann (from Ozark) with her knitting today.

    Roy, Ernie, Nadine, Karen, Judy… great showing. If you count noses, I think your coalition was outnumbered today.

    Ernie it is time you stop shooting your mouth off. How ignorant. Life must be pretty boring for you.

  20. Spy Says:

    Channel 33 got it right….

    They reported on the air that O’Gaffney from Clever is a NUT!!!!

  21. Truth Says:

    How can a person call in to a radio station on more than one occasion and lie (giving them a name that does not belong to them – Ann from Ozark) and then go to church and act so holy?

    Judy… do you not think we cannot recognize your voice?????????????????????

    I’d be ashamed.

  22. Reader Says:

    Re: Ernie’s at it again – in the headlines as promised by the editor.

    Why would the county paper want to mess up a good story with facts? They did it again. Would a story giving both sides be a new experience for all of us readers?

  23. EAGLE Says:



  24. gadflly Says:

    Now Jay’s at it. Not bad company.

    Now, I will buy dinner for anybody who wants to bet that John & Tom won’t look to the taxpayers to pay for their defense on the Attorney Generals charges, to defend them for all their wrong doing and violations of the law. Wake up people!!!

    The County Prosecutor can’t be wrong, the highway patrol can’t be wrong and Judge Waters can’t be wrong and of course the Attorney General can’t be wrong!

    OH, they are all wrong and John & Tom are totally innocent. The coffee is on, try to smell it!!!!.

  25. gadflly Says:

    Now comes the facts, not opinion, just the facts.

    John Grubaugh and Tom Huff have violated the law more times than you can count.

    Go to the county clerks and look at the record of every Commission meeting since November. Be sure to ask for the raw minutes, not the minutes that John has changed or redacted to suit him self.

    If you read the minutes and take time to participate in your own government you will see why the Attorney General has filed against the commission.

    You can attack the messenger but facing up to the message is another story. THE FACTS ARE THE FACTS!!

    Civil and criminal wrong doing is not the way to govern. Free open and transparent government is the way to govern.

    I again challenge Tom Huff and John Grubaugh to a public debate on the factual issues, but wait they will find an excuse not to debate me in public. A cowardly act but yet a truism.

    I think that Donna Osborne would be a great moderator or if John and Tom don’t like her how about Tony Messenger or Ron Davis of KSPR TV?

    We need to focus on the wrong doing and stop trying to attack the massager and address the message.

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