Wednesday, September 30, 2009

E.Coligate Evolves

"It's Like Jaws" Minus Sharks
The latest development in E.Coligate has the Governor angry, a top official sidelined, the opposition salivating, the tourism industry fearing fallout and the public increasingly skeptical.
ALSO: LISTEN to the audio of Nixon's conference call included in this story at

Back in May, water at Public Beach 1 tested positive for E.Coli levels five times higher than allowable. State officials did not let the public know. Documents showed the beach was closed, but it never was. And it's still unclear who in Governor Nixon's administration was aware of it all.
"I'm going 'Oh My Gosh', it's Jaws. It's not sharks but it's a cover up because they don't want tourism not to come to the lake," said Bonnie Wiltrout, a Kansas City resident visiting Public Beach 1 (pictured above) at Lake of the Ozarks Wednesday. "There's got to be a reason for concern anytime you find out there's been a cover-up," she added.
Tourism officials stress there's been no locally reported cases of water born E-Coli illnesses all year, but worry about fallout from the ongoing controversy.
"In the public's mind, they're still looking at Lake of the Ozarks as being unsafe, unhealthy waterway. And it just rehashes the point. And the Lake of the Ozarks, the water quality is good here at the lake," said Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Trish Creach.

"Because of this, the reporting procedures have been changed significantly as the outcome. And as you did see in July, August and September and then again in October -- you'll see those results in a timely fashion," said Creach.
"If we had issues to the extend that they're discussing, then we would certainly have people standing in line in the emergency room at Lake Regional Hospital. And they have not reported one water born E.Coli case in the last two years, according to their records," said Jim Divincen of the Lake Area Lodging Association. "Nor have our health departments -- in the three counties, Camden, Miller and Morgan counties didn't have any reports of water born E.Coli."
"On six separate occasions I have requested meetings with Gov. Nixon to voice my concerns and frustrations with these roadblocks. Unfortunately, those meetings have never occurred nor have I been given a response to my requests," said Sen. Brad Lager, who chairs the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and Environment Committee. "I am grateful that the governor has finally decided to join the committee’s efforts in getting to the truth surrounding this willful disregard for public safety, which placed countless Missourians at risk. I am hopeful that the governor will direct every DNR employee to work in conjunction with the committee, in an open and honest manner, as we continue our thorough review of this unfortunate situation."

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