UPDATE: 9:30 A.M., March 4 — A call to the Missourinet newsroom moments ago from Congresswoman Hartzler’s spokesman told our Jessica Machetta the decision had been made to hold this meeting as an open meeting after all. No explanation was given because there was no time to give it. As this update is written, Jessica is hurrying to the capitol to listen, we hope, to the stakeholders speak forthrightly.
The material below was posted about three and a half hours before the call telling us the decision to close the meeting was changed.
Congresswoman Vicki Hartzler is holding a meeting with some politicians in Jefferson City today to talk about a suggested new round of Base Realignment and Closing studies. She had called it a “BRAC roundtable… to bring together stakeholders, including members of Congress, to share their ideas regarding a possible BRAC and how Missouri can strengthen its voice for national defense.” She and her office wanted to make sure we knew about the meeting, the time, the place, and so forth. But now we have been told that she has decided to close the meeting to the press (and we assume to the general public) because they were afraid the politicians taking part would “feel uncomfortable and not be as forthright in their opinions” if members of the press are there to report them. Apparently the general public is not a stakeholder after all. All the general public does is pay the taxes that finance our national defense. All the general public does is provide the men and women who ARE the national defense. Too bad, though, politicians taking part might feel uncomfortable if people were there who would tell the general public what is said.
Journalists have, and should have, a pretty short fuse when our political figures come up with that kind of nonsense to explain why they want to meet in secret. Speaking forthrightly in our opinion this is:
Hartzler, of course, doesn’t want any of this talk of closing bases or realigning the duties of them because her new district still includes our two major bases — Whiteman and Fort Wood, both of which were greatly assisted in their expansion by the man she defeated two years ago, Ike Skelton. And in all of her public pronouncements so far she has strongly opposed “further cuts to military facilities across the country,” as she put it in a recent news release. “Now is not the time to subject our commanders and our country to a lengthy BRAC process,” she said.
Well of course this isn’t the time. It’s an election year. There are a lot of votes at Fort Wood and at Whiteman. What politician in her right mind would say, “Well, the Pentagon has to cut billions of dollars under the efforts to balance the federal budget and if the two bases in my district lose some programs, that’s a sacrifice we all have to make.” Not on your halftrack would she say that.
Senator Blunt, a fellow Republican who is not running this year, says another BRAC commission is a good idea. He’s been pretty forthright in his opinion.
So the good Congresswoman has decided the public and the media need not know what is discussed around this table when participants talk about a major segment of Missouri’s economy and our nation’s defense. But there will be a media availability afterward. It’s probably going to be one of those things where one person does most of the speaking and the other participants dutifully line up behind her and nod approvingly when the agreed-upon message for public consumption is revealed—after the candor is expended in secret.
Thanks a lot.
You can’t attend the ballgame. But we’ll let you watch the postgame interview.
We’ll have Jessica Machetta at the post-game interview for whatever that might be worth.
Too bad the public won’t know what these politicians had to say when they felt free enough to be honest about what they think.
Aren’t these people who like to call themselves “public servants?”