For a bird’s-eye view of the type of shenanigans that add unnecessary vitriol to our political process, let’s take a stroll down to Jefferson City.
There, the right honorables are at it again, determined to toss sand in the gears of the already challenging process of passing legislation to improve the lives of all Missourians.
Example one: the silly attempt by Republicans to strip the former governor’s moniker off the state’s newest park — Jay Nixon State Park in southeast Missouri.
Example two: the equally goofy effort by Democrats to undermine the early work of Missouri’s new attorney general, Josh Hawley, by questioning whether his place of residence complies with an ancient state law.
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It’s as if lawmakers are determined to maintain their sorry reputations with voters of all stripes.
Let’s begin with what for all the world appears to be a cheap shot and a highly partisan maneuver to strip Nixon’s name off the new 1,230-acre park in Reynolds County.
Two Republicans from down that way, Sen. Gary Romine and Rep. Paul Fitzwater, have filed bills to rename the park after a family that pioneered the area. Both are fuming over how the state spent proceeds during Nixon’s tenure from a lead smelting lawsuit settlement that was intended for land remediation.
One of Romine’s contentions is that the settlement money was supposed to go to land restoration in areas affected by the lead mining. He says the park isn’t included.
Parks officials say that simply isn’t true.
Romine is also convinced that Nixon is being selfish in having a park named after him. He said his constituents are upset that millions were spent in settlement money to transform land into a park.
But that, too, is said to be an acceptable use of the money, officials said. Still, that hasn’t stopped Romine.
“This is tantamount to a slap in the face of my constituents,” the lawmaker told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
C’mon, senator. Republicans were unhappy with Nixon for a whole host of issues, but no one can question his love of the outdoors and his stewardship of state parks. In fact, he ended his administration by creating three parks totaling 8,100 acres. Other additions during his years in office added another 8,000 acres.
Nixon reversed a 10-year slide in attendance and was a long-time advocate of the Katy Trail. He has been called Missouri’s Teddy Roosevelt.
Let the record show that Nixon didn’t shy away from having a park bear his name. But the record also shows that the former governor was deserving, and this attempt to reverse that looks petty.
The issue with Hawley centers on whether the attorney general must reside, as state law insists, “at the seat of government.” Hawley and his family live in Columbia, about 17 minutes from his office in Jefferson City.
But Democrats pounced and shamed Hawley into renting an apartment in the capital city. He, in turn, charged that Democrats had concocted a “sideshow issue” to distract from other matters.
Yes, the state’s top law enforcement officer should follow the law. But this is plain nonsense. If anything, legislators should rethink the need for an antiquated residency requirement and then turn their attention to more pressing issues.