Written by Mike Martin
Get your story straight -- or so the saying goes
COLUMBIA, 2/1/13 (Beat Byte) --
Regarding a controversy that has senior city administrators interfering with the 4th Ward City Council campaign of former city employee Bill Weitkemper
, city manager Mike Matthes
and city clerk Sheela Amin
can't seem to get their stories straight.
The controversy involves a so-called "information sharing practice" that looks to some like a dirty trick out of Richard Nixon's playbook.
"Turns out, the practice is new
," reported the Columbia Daily Tribune
Jan. 28, drawing from an interview with Amin, who called the practice "a change" that was "a product of conversations between city administrators
The practice is so new, in fact, that Council members have yet to discuss it, the Trib also reported. Councilman Daryl Dudley "said the new practice
might be discussed during the pre-council meeting."
BUT WAIT!! The practice is not new, Matthes said in a January 25 email to Weitkemper he cc'd to this publication, Amin, the City Council, and the Columbia Missourian. Matthes did not cc his email to any Trib reporters.
"Finally, this practice is not unique to Ward 4 or new," Matthes wrote. "We have communicated in this way for the current 5th Ward election and in the previous election as well."
So the Trib, relying on Amin, reports the practice is new. But Matthes just three days earlier says it's not new.
Whom to believe? This level of senior city staffer involvement in a Council campaign does seem unprecedented, i.e. new.
Without Weitkemper's prior knowledge or consent, Amin shared key parts of his campaign research with his two opponents, incumbent Daryl Dudley and challenger Ian Thomas. Neither Dudley nor Thomas had asked for the information and neither man knew anything about Weitkemper's platform until receiving it.
Amin's office started handling the information at Matthes' direction, taking it away from other city employees with whom Weitkemper had been working.
Weitkemper believes his many complaints about shady utility billing that shifts the financial burden from large institutional and commercial customers to small businesses and residential consumers has his former bosses worried about the prospect of his election.