“Darn Seagull, isn’t the involvement of a state senator in a ‘scandal’ a little harsh for a Sunday morning piece?” “Perhaps so, but what else can you call what’s happening?” In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, using whatever definition of “involved” one wants to, Senator Don Phillips’ submission of what the Ole Seagull believes is a deceptive application to the Missouri Attorney General for an opinion on the Tourism Community Enhancement District’s (TCED) scandalous diversion of millions of marketing dollars to pay on Branson TIFs certainly involves Phillips in the board’s consistent policy of doing whatever is necessary to avoid litigation and drag things out to keep paying the Branson TIFs as long as possible.
“But Seagull, what was ‘deceitful’ about the application?” “Ok, you asked first, but what do you call something that is only a half-truth; especially if you know the whole truth?” Some might ask, “What if Senator Phillips received the information he relied on from the TCED and had not been told the whole truth?” It still doesn’t change the deceitfulness in the application itself, just the source of the deceitfulness.
“What’s the half-truth?” “In simple terms, ignoring conditions relating to ‘Eligibility’ while presenting the results as if they were Eligible.” Ever since the TCED sought its first interpretation in 2007, in an Ole Seagull’s opinion, honed by recent events, there has been an effort to avoid litigation by seeking to get legal opinions based on carefully crafted questions that discussed the results of the 1995 Missouri Supreme Court case COUNTY OF JEFFERSON v. QUIKTRIP CORPORATION while ignoring the eligibility requirements.
Before getting to the “results” the Supreme Court first had to determine “Eligibility,” which of two conflicting statutes took precedence. In making that determination the Court said that when two statutes, laws, have conflicting provisions, that the later statute, “even without a specific repealing clause, operates to the extent of the repugnancy to repeal the first.” In that case, the TIF statute was enacted later with the results that followed, but first they established the TIF Statute was the “later statute.” Although TCED’s legal opinions and Phillips’ application to the attorney general are rift with the results of the Quick Trip case, there is nary a mention of the courts basis for issuing the results and the fact that the TCED’s statute was enacted after the TIF statute. Is it unreasonable to assume that such a consistent pattern of the omission of such material information is either intentional or extremely negligent?
Indeed, the initial letter from the TCED’s Attorney to “King Hershey Attorneys at Law,” dated February 23, 2007 appears to have established the very pattern that the board has used since to avoid litigating the issue and has cost our area over $525 million dollars in economic and marketing benefits. After asking their questions the board said, “It is not the Board’s desire that these issues/questions be exhaustively researched, but the Board’s desire is to be assured with a reasonable degree of certainty without challenging the monies taken from the TCED’s 1% tax by the TIF district through litigation, that they are upholding their fiduciary responsibilities. (Underline added.)
“OK Seagull, but what’s the “scandal?” “How about, what the Ole Seagull believes to be a consistent pattern of the TCED doing everything possible to avoid litigation based on the wrong half of a half-truth, while diverting over $7 million of actual marketing dollars and the $525 million in marketing and economic benefit that those marketing dollars represent to our community’s shows, attractions, hotels and retail businesses to pay Branson’s TIFs instead?” If that doesn’t describe “a circumstance or action that offends propriety” what does?
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