Monday, April 4, 2011

SILLY SEASON: Iffy rumors nip First Ward front runners

COLUMBIA, 4/3/11  (Beat Byte) -- A pair of oddball, unsubstantiated rumors have been nipping at First Ward Columbia City Council candidates Fred Schmidt (below) and Mitch Richards (left).

Richards' supporter Mark Flakne expressed concerns about the first rumor, laid out in what Flakne said was "an endorsement email for Fred Schmidt sent this morning by Paul Sturtz to a Fred Schmidt/'Progressive' email list serve."  

Sturtz is Columbia's current First Ward Council representative

“I'm going to guess this is a neck-and-neck race with Mitch Richards," the email stated.  "I've met Mitch a few times and he impresses me as a bright person with a passion for civil liberties, which I really appreciate.  But as a self-proclaimed Libertarian, he believes that City government has no role in limiting or regulating development. As you can imagine, that's attracted some money and help from developer types. They've paid for his yard signs, advertised his fundraiser, delivered supporters, and raised the stakes in his campaign.  They likewise persuaded Almeta to endorse Mitch."

Recent Missouri Ethics Commission filings, however, dispelled the rumor that Richards took big bucks from developers.   Compared to past and present Council races, Richards has run a modestly-funded campaign, with his largest donations an interesting mix:  Libertarian leader John Schultz has given $100; PS Gallery, $375; former Mayoral candidate Sid Sullivan and wife Joan, $200; attorney Jennifer Bukowsky, $100; local businessman Larry Grossman, $100.   

"A very optimistic estimate would put us still coming in well under $3000 for our entire campaign when it is all said and done," Flakne said.  "We have been snubbed by the development community and most of the establishment business community."    
The second rumor involves one of those "politics makes strange bedfellows" twists:  that 3rd Ward Columbia City Councilman Gary Kespohl has been campaigning door-to-door for First Ward candidate Fred Schmidt.  

The twist:  Kespohl's political nemesis, former 3rd Ward Councilman Karl Skala, recently endorsed Schmidt. 

"Just checked in w/ Fred's campaign - completely untrue," Tracy Greever-Rice -- a former 4th Ward Council candidate -- wrote on Facebook, where the rumor attracted over a dozen comments.

"Needless to say, I am not particularly fond of Gary, nor of what he stands for, but he is entitled to support whomever he chooses," Skala wrote.  "Frankly, spreading rumors (without proving them) is reminiscent of the 2010 campaign.  Regardless, in no way does that diminish my support of Fred Schmidt.  In my opinion, he is unquestionably the best candidate for the 1st Ward." 

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