Eyebrows have been raised on the fact that Persinger is charged with helping keep the city solvent though he himself declared personal bankruptcy shortly after being elected to the council in 2005.
Persinger attributed his bankruptcy to he going through a “rather lousy, rocky” divorce, which left him with a substantial amount of debts. He said he held off as long as could, but in the end was left with no other alternative.
“But as far as it making any type of an impact on anything to do with the city or me as a councilman — absolutely not,” Persinger stated. “My bankruptcy had nothing to do with my ability to manage money. I’ve managed money all my life virtually, and never had an issue. Bankruptcy is not something I’m proud of, but it’s one of those things that had to happen. And my ability to manage money because of it has in no way affected the cut and dry spending of the city.”
Why did it take so long for the Neosho Daily News to address the bankruptcy, which was detailed in the March 7 Turner Report? The issue was first raised Sept. 7, 2007, in Neosho Forums. Neosho Daily News staff members are regular readers of the Forums and occasionally comment on issues involving Daily News coverage.
And while bankruptcy should not be considered a scarlet letter that would keep someone from public service, Persinger was already a councilman with responsibilities for voting on how city money was spent at the time his bankruptcy was declared. It was information the public deserved to know in 2005 when the filing took place. That responsibility belongs to Persinger.
Once the issue became public, thanks to Neosho Forums, the responsibility shifted to the Neosho Daily News. For the city's newspaper of record to ignore this kind of story was an abdication of responsibility...and though I am inclined to give the Daily the benefit of the doubt on this one...it also leaves the newspaper open to charges of keeping the story under wraps because Persinger's wife works for the Daily.
Worse, once that decision was made, it became more difficult for the Daily to address another significant issue...the DUI Persinger's opponent, Heather Bowers, received in 2005, which has been followed with charges of driving while suspended and driving while revoked. That issue, too, is addressed in today's Daily:
A recent incident has worked out for the good, Bowers said.
In December 2005, Bowers received a DUI.
“The same year, I ended up in court with my baby’s father,” she said. “When it comes to choosing paying the lawyers for one thing or another, or paying to get your license reinstated, I chose paying the attorney for that.”
In October 2006, Bowers was again cited for driving while revoked, this time in Springfield, Mo. Charges were filed in Greene County in April 2007. She has since been placed on two years unsupervised probation and paid $1,000 in fines, according to court records filed in Greene County.
“I went up going to Springfield with a friend of mine and actually went through another roadblock and didn’t have my license again,” she said. “And I was already eligible for reinstatement and everything and that became another issue.”
On March 19, Bowers was charged with driving while suspended, a Class A misdemeanor. Her license was suspended because of an accumulation of points. She said she was driving home from work, doing 15 miles an hour in a 25 mile an hour zone, when a Neosho police officer did a U-turn on seeing her vehicle and pulled her over in a friend’s driveway on suspicion of driving while revoked. Bowers said the check was not done through a license check, because her SUV is actually registered to her parents.
“I’m not a troublemaker or anything. I’d say it was situational,” she said. “You know what? I can walk to the square. It’s slowed me down a bit, but my campaign’s still going. I haven’t skipped a beat or a day’s work. Politically, it didn’t change much, because it’s not going to change the truth about the sediment in the water.”
Had the Persinger bankruptcy been written about immediately after the Daily discovered its existence, it would have been much easier to write about Ms. Bowers' problems with the law.
It should be mentioned that story also was first noted in the Neosho Forums on March 25...by Persinger's wife. It took 12 days after that for the candidate's problems to find a spot in the Daily.
Instead of dealing with these situations as they came up, the Daily has put itself in a position of essentially springing these issues on many voters who were unaware of them just two days before the election. Perhaps since both candidates have negative information about them in today's Daily, they will offset each other and it will make no difference at all.
Hopefully, all of this will serve as a lesson to the editors at the Daily. When you have information that the public has every right to know to make a fully informed decision, print it. It is easy to come up with compelling reasons not to publish a story, and you may momentarily anger some readers by doing so, but you will have no problems maintaining your credibility.