Editorial: Chairman Bob

By Jon A. Brake

Riley County Commission Chairman Bob Newsome refused to allow the Manhattan Free Press to ask questions at Monday's Commission meeting.

It is normal for a board or commission to ask citizens and press representatives if they have questions. At Monday's meeting Chairman Bob overlooked the Free Press. When asked "Bob may ask a question, Chairman Bob said, "I'm Chairman and I will decide who can ask questions," and changed the subject of the meeting.

Later at a break in the meeting, Chairman Bob was asked if the Free Press would be allowed to ask questions at Commission meetings. Chairman Bob said the Free Press called him a "Liar and I will not allow anyone like that to ask questions."

Chairman Bob had taken an Editorial in the June 20, 2002 issue of the Manhattan Free Press called "The Selling Of Snake Oil" very personally.

In the June 20th Editorial the Free Press told how the Commissioners were putting on meetings to sell a half-cent sales tax to fix roads and bridges and said: "What they (Commissioners) will not tell the citizens is that taxpayers have already paid to have Roads and Bridges repaired. Each year the Commissioners set the Capital Improvement Program (list of all major items that need to be fixed) and then set the Budget to get the money from the taxpayers.

What they also will not tell is that each year the Commission votes to spend that money ear-marked for Roads and Brides on software, computers, buildings and other things."

The Free Press has countered the Commissions selling of the half cent sales tax meetings with editorials and stories on how the Commission has spent Road & Bridge money on other items. All the information has been taken from County records.

Chairman Bob Newsome has served the citizens of Manhattan and Riley County for many years as a School Board member and now as County Commissioner, but he is wrong in not allowing questions by the Free Press or any citizen that he dislikes.