Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week 26: Nixon's Grade


While the weekend break may have helped cool tensions, Gov. Nixon's flirtation with a potential race-canceling cut to the Tour of Missouri left tourism advocates reeling, cycling enthusiasts angry and political observers shaking their heads. The economic impact of the race is widely disputed, but as evident by his snide "Belgian bikers" comment back in September, Nixon doesn't think much of the event championed by rival Republican Lieutenant Gov. Peter Kinder. The real problem is, the Governor has yet to articulate where he stands on the Tour, or if he thinks it's a justifiable use of taxpayer money -- now or ever. If he doesn't, he should make the case why. Instead, he's sending ambiguous signals and handing his opponents an easy attempt at charging him with making a last-minute move based on politics. When Nixon says he's not looking in the proverbial "rear-view mirror," it's a cop-out. Despite what politicians tell you about the future, much of politics is about the past decisions that brought us to the present. This has all also provided a political win-win for rival Kinder: Fight for the tour and lose, and you can blame the Governor; Fight and "convince" the Governor to keep the race, you're the savior. The stench of power play politics also lingers over Nixon's recent appointment of former state Democratic Party chair John Temporiti to the embattled Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC). At a time when it faces an FBI investigation and a stinging audit by Democrat Susan Montee with suggestions of political favoritism, Nixon tapped a top political ally to sit on a board widely viewed as overridden by politics. One also has to wonder why Temporiti wasn't confirmed to the Missouri Development Finance Board during the legislative session. Temporiti spent the last election cycle raising boatloads of money for the Democratic Party from some who will undoubtedly have interests in front of the MHDC. The contracts of the license fee offices have been getting the press, but the MHDC wields more power and controls bigger sums of state money. How can his appointment be viewed as a step towards reform? How can the Governor explain the selection other than a pick of raw politics?

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