It seemed surreal, almost as if the Ole Seagull wasn’t actually in the crowded room in Branson filled with some of Branson’s biggest power brokers and a sprinkling of others. Although, it was as if they didn’t even notice him, he was surprised he was there because lowly Seagulls are not normally invited to the meetings where the “Condors roost” unless they want something from them.As he became aware of what they were talking about, it became even more apparent why an Ole Seagull wouldn’t be invited to such a meeting. It appeared to him that they were in the process of discussing a plan to “corrupt” the Taney County electoral process by bringing in a preselected “Carpetbagger,” who is not currently a resident of Taney County, to run for the Western County Commissioner seat that will be vacated by Jim Strafuss as he campaigns to be the State Senator for the 29th District.
“Whoa now Seagull, the perception of ‘corrupt’ and ‘Carpetbagger’ could create a negative perception in the minds of some people. Do you really mean to use those words?” “Absolutely!”
“Corruption” can be defined in many ways. Two of them, and the way it is used in this piece, are “an impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle” and “a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct.” Although the term “Carpetbagger” has many definitions it would seem the following would be especially appropriate to the attempted “Carpetbaggery” that was being discussed; “A politician who seeks public office in a locality where he has no real connections” or “a nonresident or new resident who seeks private gain from an area often by meddling in its business or politics.”
“But Seagull, how can someone who is not a resident of Taney Country even run for the County Commission?” “Legally, it’s not too hard.”
In terms of the residency requirements for county commissioners, Section 49.020 of the Missouri Revised Statues (RSMo), entitled “Election–term of office-residence” simply states, “Each commissioner shall be a resident of the county and each commissioner elected from a district shall be a resident of the district from which such commissioner was elected.” There is no specific time limit of such residency, just that they be a resident. “Does that mean that a candidate for county commissioner could declare residency the day before they sign up to run?” “It would seem that is legally correct, at least as compared to the residency requirements of Section 21.070 RSMo for State Senator which says, ‘…shall have been a voter of the state for three years and a resident of the district which he is chosen to represent for one year…’”
“Well if it’s ‘legal,’ how can it be ‘corrupt?’” “Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it isn’t an ‘impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle.’” An Ole Seagull would just have to ask, “When is the last time someone participated in an election for Taney County Commissioner who was not a resident of Taney County for at least 60 days prior to registering to run for the position?” If someone did that, even without the involvement of Branson’s Power Brokers, is it not at least “a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct?”
“But Seagull it is legally correct.” “That is true, but so was the commercial laundry in the Branson Convention Center; the original Pay for Performance Agreement with the Branson Airport and its subsequent ratification by the current city administration; gerrymandering of the city of Branson’s Tourism Tax Funds to pay Branson Airport indebtedness and using Tourism Community Enhancement District Sales Tax funds outside of the District. Does the fact that they are “legal” make them any less an “impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle?” Interestingly, in each one of those cases the tax payers of Branson are footing the bill every time they buy a cup of coffee, a meal or tires for their car etc.
Just about the time the Ole Seagull was going to answer the rhetorical question, “Would you call what was going on at the meeting ‘Carpetbaggery’ and the Branson Power Group doing its thing?” an ad came on the TV and woke him up from his short nap in his recliner. Wow, was he relieved to find out it was all a dream. Besides who could imagine something like that actually happening in Branson?