Tour of Missouri-gate: Over 3500 have contacted Gov Nixon, will he hold talks with us?

KBIA radio is reporting the following--see our notes & comments following:

Cyclists Furious With Nixon

 (2010-05-24)

 (KBIA) - Several state bicycle organizations have singled out Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for failing to fund the Tour of Missouri bicycle race. Governor Jay Nixon put the Tour's future in the hands of the Division of Tourism, which voted to cut funding for the race. Democratic State Representative Gina Walsh sits on the division of tourism and says if you can't cut a bicycle race, what can you cut?'

"You know, how do you warrant that when you're cutting Parents as Teachers', its not that it is not a good event, it's a wonderful event. This is just an event that we can't afford to fund right now, it's the bottom line."

 Cycling advocates are livid with the decision saying that the race is a premier event, which generates many times more revenue than the one million dollars it costs to host. © Copyright 2010,KBIA

Here are the facts:

  • The Tourism Commission did not vote to cut funding for the race and, according to our recent email correspondence from a Commission member, cc-ed to all other Commission members and Tour of Missouri officials, has no intention of voting on the "specific appropriation" for the Tour of Missouri that passed both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.

    Instead, the Tourism Commission is simply making a "non-decision decision" to withhold funding for the event.

  • At least here at MoBikeFed, we are not "livid" or "furious" with any well considered and fully informed decision that might be made about the Tour of Missouri.  

    We might be disappointed, at most, that Missouri's premier bicycling event--one that could continue to bring millions of dollars of economic impact, tax revenue, and positive global attention to the state with ever-decreasing amounts of state support--will not continue.

  • We are particularly disappointed because we have seen the power of the Tour of Missouri to inspire Missourians to become interested in bicycling and fitness, and to inspire cities across the state to improve their cities for bicycling.

    Missourians bicycle and walk about half the national average and (no coincidence!) we among the highest states for both adult and childhood obesity.  The direct medical cost of obesity to Missourians is currently $1.9 billion annually and that is set to increase to over $8 billion annually within ten years--unless we do something about it.

    The Tour is one of those somethings--and frankly that $8 billion we are staring in the face makes the $1 million spent on the Tour look like peanuts--particularly when the the plan we would like to present to Governor Nixon will reduce the state's support of the Tour by 1/3 to 1/2 in each future year.

  • What we are chuckling--and frankly, tut-tutting a little--about is:

    • The lengths that different state officials will go to avoid meeting with us to find out full information about the event before cancelling it

    • The lengths officials will go to avoid entering into any kind of discussions or negotiations that could lead to continuing the event this year and in the future

    • The lengths they will go to avoid accountability for making the decision to end the Tour

    • The feeble excuses Governor Nixon and other officials are providing for yanking funding for the Tour--when it has already been approved by the General Assembly has part of the Division of Tourism's budget

      (Note, for example, the "Parents as Teachers" canard above.  The discussion currently with Governor Nixon's administration is whether or not to spend funding on the Tour of Missouri from the Division of Tourism's budget.  If the money isn't spent on the Tour it will be spent to promote Silver Dollar City and other tourist attractions across Missouri--worthy uses of Tourism funding, for certain, but not exactly education or Parents as Teachers.)

We're asking for a meeting--is that so hard?

What we are asking of Governor Nixon--or his appointed staff member with decision making power--is meet with us and see if there is a deal that can be struck to continue the Tour of Missouri this year and beyond.

If a deal can be struck, then great.  If it can't, then so be it.

But so far, no one has been willing to even meet with us or hold a serious discussion.

Governor Nixon's office has received over 3500 constituent emails, phone calls, and letters about the Tour of Missouri.

With that kind of interest about the Tour, Governor Nixon could allow one of his senior staff members to spend 30 minutes on a meeting about the event.

Is that really too much to ask?