Thursday, July 16, 2009

Department of Natural Resources: "It's all about the Benjamins"

A volunteer group has been testing bacteria levels at the Lake of the Ozarks every month for the past two years.  Their findings are reported to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which is supposed to disseminate them to the public.  Why?  Presumably to keep people from getting sick by swimming, skiing, or otherwise recreating in the Lake.  Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

But not to Governor Jay Nixon's cronies at the DNR.  Nope.  In May, when the level of E. coli was found to be "unsafe," Nixon pal (since promoted) Joe Bindbeutel, apparently ordered that the report be withheld and the public kept in the dark.  Why?  According to an official with the group that did the testing, Bindbeutel said, "The Lake of the Ozarks brings in a lot of dollars to Missouri."  DNR spokesperson Susanne Medley apparently concurs stating that her department withheld the report rather than "panic the people."

To the governor's credit, he's admitting that the DNR was wrong.  But wow, what's going on in a department that knows that public health is at risk and hides the information?

(Link to Tony Messenger's story from the Post-Dispatch here.)

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