It seems the hot issue in Taney County, Hollister, and Branson, Missouri over the last couple of weeks, and particularly this coming week, is the rush for Taney County to put the financing for the East West Corridor (EWC) and an Events Center (EC) on the ballot for the April election. Mother Theresa is quoted to have said, “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches …” On the other hand there is a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln saying, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
Almost everyone has an idea how things can be done better and there’s never a lack of advice to the government agencies having the responsibility for a particular function. In the case of the transportation and finance issues presented by the EWC it would seem that the major players would be Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), Taney County, and the cities of Hollister and Branson.
Have any public meetings been held between these entities to discuss the EWC and the imposition of a sales tax to pay for it? Have there been any studies done by MoDOT factoring in the increased “levels of service” for traffic that will take place on Highway 76 as the result of the building of the new Lake Taneycomo Bridge and its potential impact on the need for the EWC? Has there been any study done by any government agency establishing a need for the EWC?
If the EWC is so critical, why is MoDOT not taking the lead on the project or at least “partnering up” as they have in other projects? On a priority need basis, rather than a want basis, is the greatest transportation priority, for all the people in the Taney County, right now and into the foreseeable future, the EWC or are there other priorities? What recommendation has the Taney County Road and Bridge Administrator made regarding the need and priority for the EWC?
The $35 million dollar Event Center (EC), to be financed by Taney County, has its own set of questions, but the one that that is foremost in an Ole Seagull’s mind is, “Are you people nuts?” Well maybe not. If the statement that the EC would be run by a third party, with a guaranteed-no-loss contract and no threat to the County’s finances, from an operational standpoint, for 15 years, is true this could actually be the perfect illustration of “Build it and we will guarantee it.”
As a matter of fact it evidently seemed like such a good idea that Presiding Taney County Commissioner, Chuck Pennell is reported to have asked to see a copy of such a contract. When they get the contract and verify that it can hold them harmless from operational losses incurred at the EC maybe they should consider sending a copy over to the city of Branson. The Ole Seagull would bet they’d like to look into a deal like that for the operation of their convention center when their current management contract expires.
The last time the Taney County Commission rushed an issue to the ballot without having the answers to pertinent questions it failed. Will history repeat itself? Not if they have all the facts they need to believe it’s worth the expense of an election to submit the proposition or propositions to the voters.
One of the many reasons an Ole Seagull would never make a successful politician is that he honestly couldn’t vote to spend the money on an election to submit an issue to the voters that he did not think he fully understood and believed in. To him, in the vast majority of cases, it would be a cop out to say he was not voting to support or not support an issue being placed on the ballot and that his role was limited to saying whether or not the issue should be placed on the ballot. The issues of the EWC and EC are clearly within “the vast majority of cases.”