Dear Mr. Morris:
Thank you for your response (pasted below) to my open letter to Louis Magdits). I appreciate very much the time you have taken from your busy schedule to respond to my letter; and thank you for this opportunity to respond to the questions that you have raised.
The body of this letter is divided into four parts. The first three mirror your letter and discuss respectively, bullying, Buehler Park, and the Iraq War. The fourth part contains a few brief comments about the "Rolla West" project which you also mention in your letter.
You write, "Your comments that Mr. Magdits and Mr. Spadoni are 'bullying' Ms Hawley is laughable."
Thefreedictionary.com defines: "bul·ly ... v.tr. 1. To treat in an overbearing or intimidating manner." Mr. Magdits in his letter to Ms. Hawley states: "You do not fully understand finances, especially the city finances." and "When you prove to me that you have done something constructive for this community and you have done it better than the people on this distribution, than and only than will I accept your criticism that this group has in your words, failed miserably." Mr. Magdits offers no examples of these alleged misunderstandings of finance on the part of Ms. Hawley, much less statements of "correct understanding." Nor is there any reason I can see why a private citizen must "have done it better" in order to earn the right to criticize her elected representatives.
Mr. Magdits' letter is clearly overbearing. It is just as clearly meant to intimidate. Fortunately, Ms. Hawley is not so easily intimidated, and continues to question the wisdom of City Council (as I do also), and has now taken her place on the Council as an elected representative of the people.
Mr. Spadoni writes a one-sentence letter in support of Mr. Magdits, referring to Ms. Hawley's "inaccurate comments," without referencing a single comment much less stating what is inaccurate about it. To borrow a football metaphor, this is "piling on" and should cost his team 15 yards and an automatic first down.
Mr. Magdits and Mr. Spadoni's letters are also posted at www.tomsager.org/open_letter_magdits.html, below my open letter to Mr. Magdits.
Mr. Morris, it is far from laughable when elected representatives of the people disrespect the people they are supposed to be serving. As one who yearns for good government, I would appreciate if Council members would cease and desist from these kinds of actions.
You also write, "Why is it that when you, Ms Hawley or anyone else take rigid stands on issues it is called perseverance, but when they are questioned back; they are Bullying?"
Far from "bullying", I and other private citizens begged the Council on numerous occasions not to try to sell Buehler Park. We offered many reasons including, but not limited to:  It would be illegal.  It would be divisive to the community.  It would be disrespectful to those who gave Buehler Park to the City "for Park purposes only and none other ... FOREVER" and to Rolla's "First Citizen," Chief Henry A. Buehler, whose many accomplishments include bringing Fort Leonard Wood to this area. Seeking relief through the Courts was a last resort, after all reason and discourse had failed, and can hardly be characterized as "bullying." Indeed, we put up tens of thousands of dollars of our own money to fight this battle, while (to my knowledge) none of you spent a single penny personally.
And you write, "Why is it that we haven't heard anymore rumbling from you all about the Union Busting Drug Testing?"
As you know, I favor drug testing, particularly in cases where it might be detrimental to the public safety, if one were not completely in control of one's physical and mental capacities. I wrote to the Council on this issue of drug testing, suggesting mandatory drug testing for those bringing firearms to Council meetings. I received no response. I wrote Council concerning unions too, suggesting that if you want Rolla to grow into a city (as you apparently do), you should accept the need for unions and high-paying jobs. Again, I received no response. Having nothing further of importance to add on these issues, I did not write again. If you wish, I would be happy to share some further thoughts on unions and drug testing with you.
On the subject of Buehler Park, you write, "[I] think that your efforts to save Beuhler Park have had devastating financial effects on our City".
You are either refusing to accept the fact that the City of Rolla has never had free and clear title to sell Buehler Park (anymore than I have title to sell Mr. Magdits that bridge over the Mississippi River) or else you believe there is nothing wrong with breaking the law if you can avoid getting caught. In the former case, it was the refusal of Council to accept reality that has devastated the City's financial position; in the latter, I would question your suitability to hold public office.
The City could have settled this issue quickly and fairly. The City could have asked the Attorney General's office for an opinion on the Buehler dedication - a free service to government entities. It didn't. I suspect some knew what the Attorney General might say. The City could have asked the Courts to rule on the validity of the dedication 11 years ago. Instead it chose to disrespect its citizens by arguing that, legal or illegal, the citizens had no standing in Court to question the wisdom of their elected representatives. This delayed the Buehler decision ten years, caused considerable expense to both the City and its citizens, and created divisions and animosities that Rolla is yet to recover from.
When the City finally had to argue the merits of the Buehler warranty deed, the best City Counselor, John Beger, could muster was the inane argument that "park purposes only and none other" included paving over the park and storing park equipment there. The Court, in ruling for the citizens, deemed the City's arguments, "hyper-technical and hollow." Have you read the decision? It's available by link from our website, www.buehlerpark.org.
Did Mr. Beger ever brief the Council concerning the advisability of asking for a quick decision on the dedication? Did Mr. Beger ever brief the Council on the probability of losing the case? Did Mr. Beger ever point out to the Council how ridiculous his tactics could make the City appear?
Has Mr. Butz ever briefed you about the importance of municipalities obeying State and Federal Law? Did Mr. Butz ever caution you against budgeting money based on the supposition that the Courts will allow you to break the law?
If not, what are you paying these officials for?
With the Court battle over, I suggested to Mayor Jenks and Mr. Butz that we all work together to improve Buehler Park. The mayor's response was that he would welcome a donation from the citizens group to replace the bathrooms that the City had torn down. Mr. Butz's response was to propose turning Buehler into a "doggie park." The City's financial response was to offer its employees a measly one percent salary raise, while spreading rumors that it was due to the loss of the Buehler Park sale and that I was to blame. My suggestion that installing a safety fence along the Kingshighway border of the Park should be the top priority, received no response.
The Iraq War
You write, "What really hit the nerve for me is your flippant comment about what you describe as 'Military Adventurism in Iraq and Other places'".
My entire sentence was, "Have you considered what will happen to Rolla West when the Federal Government cuts military spending, as it will eventually have to do, given the expense and failure of its policy of military adventurism in Iraq and elsewhere?"; and I can assure you there is nothing flippant about this sentence.
First note the subject of the clause that "really hit the nerve" is "the Federal Government." At no point do I even imply that soldiers go to Iraq for adventure. In fact, if the handful of Iraq veterans I have talked with are representative of the entire group, the vast majority are there simply because they have been ordered to go.
Soldiers are not responsible for federal policy. They simply carry out military policy set by civilians; and indeed former top military advisors to George Bush Sr. such as Brent Scowcroft and Anthony Zinni advised strongly and publicly against the policy of making war against Iraq.
For decision-makers such as George W. Bush, who was AWOL from the National Guard while others his age were dying in Vietnam; and Dick Cheney, who has stated that he had other priorities besides serving in the military, Iraq is indeed a war of adventure.
They claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that threatened the United States. They lied. They invaded and could find nothing that could threaten us.
They claimed Al-Qaeda was operating in Iraq. They lied. It wasn't. (It is now, thanks to the chaos, animosities, and resentment they have created.)
They claimed Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. They lied. Not even a tenuous connection has been discovered.
They claimed authority under International Law to invade Iraq. They lied. War is legal under International Law only in cases of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council. The invasion of Iraq was neither.
They claimed authority under US law to make war. They lied. Our Constitution gives Congress sole power to declare war; and gives Congress no authority to delegate that power. This was argued in Congress by Sen. Robert Byrd who chided his pro-war colleagues saying their constituents had a better understanding of the Constitution than they did; and by Rep. Ron Paul who introduced a Declaration of War against Iraq saying that he would vote against it, but if his colleagues wanted to go to war, they should do it in the manner provided for in the Constitution.
Their adventurism can also be seen in their claim that Iraqi oil would pay for the war and reconstruction. They were wrong. It hasn't. According to most estimates, Iraqi oil production still lies below pre-invasion levels.
They claimed that Iraqis would welcome US troops with open arms. Again, they were wrong. The Iraqis continue to fight against the occupation.
They claimed Iraqis would be better off under US occupation. They were wrong. Out of a population of perhaps 28 million, an estimated one million Iraqis have died due to the violence engendered by the invasion and occupation; another two million have had their homes destroyed or were forced to flee from their homes; and a further two million are now refugees in foreign lands.
Also consider George W. Bush's "great adventure," dropping onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln almost 5 years ago in front of the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner, while declaring an end to major combat operations. Consider the use of mercenary contractors who get rich on pay that is an order of magnitude greater than that of a soldier. Consider the sweetheart no-bid contracts given to well connected firms such as Halliburton, Blackwater, Dynacorp, and Bechtel.
You write that we are in Iraq "to stop the fourth spike of Islam."
I have been Muslim for almost six years and have never heard of the "fourth spike of Islam." Apparently neither has anyone else as the Google search engine finds no references to the "fourth spike of Islam" or any other "spike of Islam."
In point of fact, we are not in Iraq to stop the anything of Islam. We are there to steal Iraqi oil and we are fighting against Iraqis who resent the invasion and occupation of their country by a foreign nation and seek to expel the invaders.
You talk of soldiers protecting our way of life; but I will tell you that everyone who speaks out against injustice and abuse of power protects our way of life. The best example is Dr. Martin Luther King, who throughout his life preached non-violence as the true road to peace and justice. He was not afraid to speak truth to power or to risk imprisonment or his own life to fight injustice. Now, he is the only individual American to whom we devote a Federal Holiday.
In his famous "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" speech at Riverside Church, http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html, a year before he was assassinated in front of the watchful eyes of the FBI, Dr. King demanded justice for the Vietnamese people, an end to the Vietnam War, and proclaimed that, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." His words are just as true today as they were 41 years ago. Indeed, Dr. King did more than any other American, soldier or civilian, to protect our way of life and extend it to those to whom it was denied.
Now let's return to the point of that sentence that "really hit the nerve," "Have you considered what will happen to Rolla West when the Federal Government cuts military spending, as it will eventually have to do, given the expense and failure of its policy of military adventurism in Iraq and elsewhere?"
There is little doubt about the failure of the Iraq War. Today, we are farther from pacifying Iraq than we were five years ago. We have spent well over $1/2 trillion already, and even if we were to leave tomorrow, the final cost would be measured in trillions. If you think this profligate military spending has nothing to do with the economic downturn or the spike in oil prices; well, there is another bridge next to the one I offered to sell Mr. Magdits that I can sell to you at bargain prices.
Simply put, we cannot continue this level of military spending much longer without turning the United States into a "banana republic." The dollar has already fallen almost 50% against the Euro. Our national debt continues to soar into the stratosphere. We will be paying for this war for a long time to come. People will neither have the money to spend that they once had, nor the gasoline to drive the distances they used to drive. Prudence should dictate against a policy of expansion at a time like this, particularly for an entity such as the City of Rolla which has experienced so many failures, even during times of relative economic well-being.
Because of the length of this letter, the discussion of the "Rolla West" project is necessarily brief. I hope to share with you more of my thoughts on this project at some future date.
Again, let me thank you for your response to my open letter to Mr. Magdits. I would be happy to discuss these points further with you and other members of the Rolla City Council.
From: "Richard Morris" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Tom Sager" <email@example.com>, "Louis Magdits" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CC: "City Council" <email@example.com>, "John Butz" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Bill Jenks" <email@example.com>, "Bill Jenks c/o Millie Street" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Donald Barklage" <email@example.com>, "Susan Eudaly" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Gary Hicks" <email@example.com>, "Judy Jepson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Monty Jordan" <email@example.com>, "Terry Ruck" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Richard Sibley" <email@example.com>, "Stan Spadoni" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Don Morris" <email@example.com>, "JD Williams" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Richard Morris" <email@example.com>, "Mark Walburg" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Donna Hawley" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: An open letter to Rolla City Councilperson Louis Magdits from Tom Sager
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 08:12:55 -0500
I was not going to respond to your open letter to Mr. Magdits...but I must.
"Your comments that Mr. Magdits and Mr. Spadoni are "bullying" Ms Hawley is laughable. Why is it that when you, Ms Hawley or anyone else take rigid stands on issues it is called perseverance, but when they are questioned back; they are Bullying? Come on, you cannot have it both ways. Why is it that we haven't heard anymore rumbling from you all about the Union Busting Drug Testing? Is it because the credible lead was credible? Were you concerned at all with the positive test? Or did the City and Mr. Hargis handle this issue swiftly and show a clear example of zero tolerance for drug use in the City?
Your stand on Beuhler Park absolutely continues to amaze me. I am a citizen and a leader that is a park advocate. I however, think that your efforts to save Beuhler Park have had devastating financial effects on our City and causes folks from around the state to watch your teams efforts disrupt progress. We could debate this for years, but your efforts, in my opinion, have caused a set back to our City and definitely the rest of the park system. You say that the City of Rolla is in Dire Financial Straits. I disagree. I think that if you look around town, you will see a City that is in pretty good shape. I agree with Councilman Barklage, that this may be a slower time, but it isn't Dire Straits. It could be if we don't band together as a community and trust our Elected Officials and talented, able City Employees to conduct the daily business of the City without blows to the kneecaps every time they make a decision. I agree that Gas prices are high. they are higher than I would like to pay, but the fact is, we as a city, cannot do anything about it...we surely cannot sit back and quit. Let's move forward with Rolla West. Look at the Walgreens development: Despite efforts and attempts by some to derail the project, this is a success story.
What really hit the nerve for me is your flippant comment about what you describe as "Military Adventurism in Iraq and Other places". Let me tell you first hand that I never went on "adventure" Deployments to these Countries. As a Task Force Command Sergeant Major responsible for 1300 Soldiers who Volunteered to Serve our great Country and our Army, I can tell you we didn't go these places for adventurism...we are there to stop the fourth spike of Islam. Every Country I have served in, I have been thanked by the Host nation Soldiers, Police and Citizens. Nobody wants peace more than a Soldier, but what we are doing is very critical to their future and ours. If we ignored their attacks from September 11, 2001 how fast would that cancer grow? in this nasty world today, Wars must be fought and terrorists must be killed. I know our views on Military Defense are two different ends of the spectrum, but please don't call what we are accomplishing Adventurism. You do have the right to fire away emails and stand at parks and protest and come to City Council meetings with your RMU hate shirt because of the sacrifices and dedication of generations of Soldiers who have protected our way of life.
My personal observations and two cents...from the Beautiful City of Rolla, Missouri, USA. Land of the Free!