- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Jefferson City News-Tribune, Jan. 18

Greitens embarrasses state, but resignation calls premature

Gov. Eric Greitens has embarrassed our state.

His admission of an extramarital affair made national news, fueled by allegations that he bound and photographed his partially undressed mistress in an attempt to blackmail her into silence.

The ordeal has disrupted the 2018 legislative session right at the start.

However, so far, we believe calls for his resignation are premature.

To be clear, we’ve been deeply troubled with some things we’ve seen from Greitens over the past year, before the story of the affair broke. While we generally agree with his conservative agenda, we’ve disagreed with his lack of transparancy and some of the tactics he’s used, including his acceptance of “dark money.” To Greitens, it seems, the means justifies the end.

His affair alone is disappointing, and we should expect more of our leaders. While it shows a lack of character and moral standards from someone who billed himself as a family man, it isn’t illegal.

The only thing we know for sure is the governor cheated on his wife. He and his wife have acknowledged that, and said they have worked through the three-year-old issue. He has denied the blackmail allegations.

At this point, they are just that: allegations. They are based on a confession from Greitens‘ mistress to her husband, who secretly recorded their conversation.

A St. Louis prosecutor is investigating the claims. The prosecutor and the FBI have been given the recording of that conversation, as well as other recorded conversations between the husband and wife, who since have divorced. The FBI isn’t saying whether they’re investigating.

We welcome the investigations, and ask all parties involved, including the governor, to be forthright and transparent in answering questions.

One of the growing number of lawmakers in Greitens‘ own party who is calling for the governor’s resignation is Sen. Rob Schaaf, of St. Joseph.

“When you ran for office, you promised that you would be a governor known for ethics and transparency,” Schaaf said, directing his comments as if Greitens was there listening. “Instead, you have defined yourself through scandal and covering things up.”

While we agree with his assessment, we don’t agree with his conclusion that he should necessarily resign.

At this point, Greitens has denied criminal wrongdoing, and at least one investigation has been initiated. The governor should be allowed to keep his job while that takes place.

_____

The St. Joseph News-Press, Jan. 22

Look for savings, find it

A recent focus on cost-savings in vehicle fleets managed by the state of Missouri should be a lesson for government at every level.

Millions of tax dollars will be saved or repurposed annually thanks to this effort that required little more than direction from the top, a focus on efficiencies and a realistic assessment of what expenses truly could be justified.

The Office of Administration announced earlier this month more than $520,000 in potential savings through a reduction of 30 vehicles from 170 in a consolidated pool for Jefferson City-based workers.

The University of Missouri System then said it would update policies and implement cost-cutting measures for its vehicle fleet which could generate savings of $1.5 million to $2 million.

A few days later, officials said they had achieved another $2.2 million in savings by reducing the vehicle fleet for the Department of Natural Resources for fiscal year 2018. Officials said the cut amounted to 86 government vehicles, or about 14 percent of the department’s fleet.

Importantly, officials contend all of the proposed savings can be achieved without sacrificing service levels in the affected employee groups. In some cases, the cuts were as simple as determining how many vehicles were needed on any given day.

What prompted this success? A year ago, Gov. Eric Greitens appointed Drew Erdmann to become the state’s first chief operating officer to focus on eliminating unneeded regulations and seeking cost efficiencies. Erdmann then convened a task force on management of the vehicle fleets to look at costs, safety and other possible improvements.

The task force included both state officials and industry experts from entities including Ameren, AT&T;, Enterprise Holdings, Ford Motor Co., Hogan Transportation, Kansas City Power & Light, McKinsey & Company and GPS Insight. All the experts volunteered their time.

Many of those involved praised the joint effort and the willingness of participants to adopt best practices from private industry where appropriate.

We are encouraged by what this means for the state and taxpayers, but also recognize much more work remains to be done. The state spends “approximately $98 million each year to transport state employees for official business,” the task force reported, and is expected to continue to seek ways to drive down these costs.

Meanwhile, government at every other level has similar costs worth similar close examination.

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The Joplin Globe, Jan. 19

Greitens keeps us in dark

Missouri needs sunshine, but our governor is keeping us in the dark.

Recently, The Kansas City Star reported that a sworn statement by a Missouri Board of Education member appears to show violations of the Sunshine Law during two of the closed meetings in Gov. Eric Greiten’s drive to oust Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven.

Laurie Sullivan, appointed by Greitens, is asking a court to overturn the firing of Vandeven over the allegation that the meetings violated the law. Sullivan’s allegations appear to be supported by statements in a sworn deposition given by fellow board member Eddy Justice.

While the lawsuit may come to nothing, the juggling of the board in the effort to push Vandeven out and the maneuvering behind closed doors sadly amounts to business as usual for this administration. Greitens promised to distinguish himself from “corrupt” politicians but has managed only to distinguish himself in the level of his machinations.

Greitens promised unparalleled transparency during his campaign. But any attempt to shine a light on his administration finds Greitens throwing nothing but shade.

A year into his term, Greitens is facing calls for his resignation over a 2015 lurid, adulterous relationship with his hairdresser. While the allegations of blackmail in connection with this are disturbing and deserve investigation, his affair is less perturbing than his handling of the affairs of the state.

Greitens has faced and dodged questions on many fronts. His campaign staffers set up a nonprofit in support of Greitens‘ agenda that doesn’t disclose its donors and has even attacked senators from his own party. The man who said “The most important thing is that there is transparency around the money,” in a St. Louis Public Radio interview during the campaign has drawn a veil over the sources of funding supporting his campaign, the source of a donor list used by the campaign (for which he was eventually fined), the cost of his inaugural celebration. Greitens required his transition team members to sign nondisclosure agreements. This administration even drags its feet over providing scheduling information and has required open records requests in order to receive that information. And his administration is notably slow to respond to open records requests and denies many.

Greitens has clearly broken his campaign promises. He has, by his own admission, broken his wedding vows. He has thrown a veil of darkness over the office of governor and the operation of his administration. Even if there is good intent behind Greitens‘ skulduggery, his approach casts a pall over the government of our state.

It is time to demand that Greitens step out of the shadows. It is time for this governor to live up to his promise of transparency or to step aside.

He has kept us in the dark too long.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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