Tour of Missouri-gate: Governor Nixon's spokesman denies receiving meeting request--lying, confused, incompetent, or ?

After the disrespectful comments made by Governor Nixon towards the Tour of Missouri and Missouri's bicycling community last week, you wouldn't think it could get any worse.

But it just did:

Mike Weiss, Chair of the Tour of Missouri and I, as Vice Chair of the Tour, have repeatedly requested, verbally and in writing, meetings with Governor Nixon (or his staff) and also with the Tourism Commission to discuss the Tour of Missouri funding, as specifically appropriated by the General Assembly in this year's legislative session.

Sam Murphey, Governor Nixon's spokesman, just told the Riverfront Times that he is "unaware of any such requests from Weiss".

You fill in the blank--is Murphey lying, misleading, confused, or just incompetent?  Or is there another word?

Because it is hard to believe he would answer a question like that without--at minimum--checking with Katie Steele Danner, Director of Tourism, or Marci Bennett, Chair of the Tourism Commission.

And those two, as well as members of Governor Nixon's staff, have received repeated requests from both Mike and me for meetings to resolve the Tour of Missouri situation.

In fact, Murphey didn't even have to reach for the phone to find the answer to this question, because (as you can see below), copies of a recent meeting request went to his boss, Jack Cardetti, and his co-worker, Scott Holste.

And that request for a meeting was signed by no one else than--Mike Weiss.

We'll make sure Murphey receives a personal copy of any future meeting requests so that he won't have the opportunity to be confused about it again.

Documentation of past meeting request to Governor Nixon's Office and the Division of Tourism

Below are screen captures (page 1 & page 2) of the email message Mike and I sent to Danner, Bennett, all members of the Tourism Commission, several members of Governor Nixon's staff (including two in Murphey's own office of Communications), several key General Assembly members, and a number of media representatives on May 13th.

This is but one of several such requests Mike and I have made for meetings about the Tour, verbally and in writing.  Just for example, a quick check of my email box shows requests directly to high-level staff in Governor Nixon's office on March 18th, March 29th, May 10th, and May 14th, in addition to the message below.  Each of these requests were cc-ed to staff in the Governor's office of communications, precisely because we wanted to keep Governor Nixon's communications staff in the loop about these meeting requests and the overall situation.

Mike Weiss recently made a number of phone calls to different staff members in Governor Nixon's office, finally receiving the answer that no one in Governor Nixon's office would meet with us--he should instead request a meeting with the Tourism Commission.  The result of this conversation with Governor Nixon's staff was the meeting request sent May 13th and shown below.

Previous to that, a lengthy negotiation had taken place with Rex Burlison, the Director of Governor Nixon's St. Louis office, to set up a meeting between top staff in the Governor Nixon's office and Tour of Missouri representatives, including Mike and me.  Those negotiations were finally shut down by one of Burlison's superiors.

Tour of Missouri-gate?

With numerous meeting requests made over a period of time, publicly and to different staff members in the Nixon administration, ongoing attention to the Tour of Missouri in numerous media outlets, many thousands of phone calls and email messages in support of the Tour to legislators, Governor Nixon's office, and the Division of Tourism, it is hard to know how to categorize this lack of knowledge about the issue by an official administration spokesman speaking on the record.

Is it simply stonewalling, an incompetent attempt to handle a sensitive issue--or are we into scandal territory already?

Tour of Missouri-gate, anyone?

A pattern of disrespect

This episode is a small one, but is typical of the way the Division of Tourism and Governor Nixon's office have tried to evade responsibility for making a decision about the Tour of Missouri.

Here is a rundown of where we are now:

Our request to the Governor--just sit down and meet

The Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation is a non-partisan organization that does not support or oppose candidates or officials.  We do not favor any party or candidate over another.

We work continually for the greater good of Missouri's bicycle & pedestrian community. We work cooperatively with officials at all levels of government and all parties--and with those who disagree with us as well as those who agree.

But never before have we met with such a display of disinformation, spin, stonewalling, and disrespect--from any official in any position or in any party.

Missouri's bicyclists deserve better--and we ask for better.

We'll make the request now, and publicly:

Governor Nixon, please meet with representatives of the Tour of Missouri to find out the full and true facts about the event, and about Missouri's bicycling community, so that you can make a truly informed decision about the Tour.

And please meet with representatives of Missouri's bicycle, pedestrian, and trails community to talk about how we can repair relations between our community and your office.

Two million Missourians bicycle.  Missouri's bicycle industry generates $1.2 billion in economic impact for Missouri annually.

Bicycling, walking, running, and trails represent the simple, inexpensive, common-sense solutions to severe problems facing Missouri--including a health and obesity crisis, risign childhood obesity, rising energy costs, environmental problems and greenhouse gas emissions, and serious economic problems.

We have simple, inexpensive solutions to all those problems.

But can't implement any of them unless you'll talk to us.

[Article updated 7:17am, May 20th, 2010]