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Our Town 2005
•  Mid-Missouri's Community Guide

City should listen to critics rather than demonize them

Published Thursday, August 18, 2005

Editor, the Tribune: Kooks, cranks, nuts. Outsiders, insiders. Columbiaís 10 most powerful people.

Iíve been reading a lot lately about our cityís power structure and those pushing for change who are raising eyebrows and hackles - as usual.

"I was branded an outsider long ago," Tony Messenger recently announced.

As such, Messenger didnít "deserve to walk the streets," said a reader calling to protest his Boone County Fire Protection District critiques.

That same narrow-minded view has pushed some of our townís most caring and informed residents to the sidelines of our body politic.

In an earlier column, Columbiaís intrepid Messenger made that exact observation, naming people he thought our cityís power elite had prematurely and unfairly marginalized.

"Traci Wilson-Kleekamp is a nut," Messenger quipped. "So is John Clark. ... And donít forget Karl Skala. The whole bunch is nuttier than a fruitcake."

Add Henry Lane. And Urban Wussler, who fought for years to overturn a deposit ordinance grown ornery with age.

We might not always like what our critics say, but itís downright un-American to tar and feather those who donít "think in sync."

At David Rogersí funeral, I told a family member Rogers was "one of few people who, while part of the system, was never afraid to criticize it."

I wonder what Rogers would say about all this?

Perhaps heíd put it like F. Scott Fitzgerald famously declared: "There are no second acts in American lives."

Likewise, there are no outsiders in American towns. Just new voices, who speak because they care.

Mike Martin

206 S. Glenwood Ave.





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