As I read the commentary on the Joplin Globe's followup to Ron Davis' scoop on Gary Nodler receiving free movie tickets, including on the day when he had his meltdown with the caregiver for some developmentally disabled adults, I am amazed at some people's lack of understanding about why those free tickets are so important to this story.
Some of the readers said the Globe was making too big of a deal about Nodler getting to see the movie for free as a senatorial perk. These are the same people who thought the seemingly small amount of gifts that our state senators and representatives receive from lobbyists was not worth mentioning in another recent Globe article.
It's the mindset of our legislators that makes this story newsworthy.
Gary Nodler, Steve Hunter, and some of our other elected officials have come to expect these things, which they only receive because they were elected to represent us. These people can afford movie tickets. They can afford to buy their own meals and their own beverages. But once they start getting used to the idea that they are entitled to these things they lose contact with the people who sent them to Jefferson City or to Washington. They aren't meeting every day with people who struggle to have money to get from one paycheck to the next, or pray that they will not get sick because they cannot afford to pay the high premiums for medical insurance.
The people our elected legislators are meeting with are the well-to-do lobbyists representing well-to-do people in businesses and organizations. Those are the ones who have access to the people we elect every single day. We can't afford to take our senator or our Congressmen out to dinner and buy them drinks or take them on an all-expense paid fun trip to a casino or to a ballgame.
And then for Nodler to lose his temper with a 20-year-old caregiver, a college student, and attempt to wield his considerable state power to cause her problems, is an indictment of his character.
He is a public official and public officials cannot throw tantrums in public, especially when it concerns a personal issue. If Gary Nodler had a public argument with someone who was trying to steal money from the taxpayers, or if he lost his temper with someone who moved his factory from Missouri to Asia, there is not a single one of us that wouldn't be standing right behind him.
Unfortunately, this case is not about our senator losing his composure as he fights for southwest Missourians. It's all about Gary Nodler putting Gary Nodler first.
That is why this story is so important.