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Columbia Missourian FRIDAY & SATURDAY, February 19-20, 2010 — Page 5A

Write.
Reflect.
Respond.

TODAY’S QUESTION
Did prosecutors make the right decision in offering
Sanders a plea deal? Is 19 years a fair sentence for
the case?
In 2008, Daniel Sanders was pulled over by police for driving errati-
cally. A shovel and his mother’s body were in the trunk.
On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and felony evidence
tampering for drowning her and attempting to hide the body.
Prosecutors said they lacked the evidence to convict the 20-year-old
of murder, so they offered him a deal, which he accepted.
Assistant Boone County Prosecutor Andrew Scholz was worried
that the prosecution didn’t have answers to some questions that could
be asked during the trial, especially about the drowning of Sanders’
mother. Investigators still suspect a family connection in the drown-
ing, and the initial indictment said that Sanders didn’t act alone.
In January, Sanders’ lawyer, Christopher Slusher, filed a motion that
said Sanders asked for an attorney when he was pulled over, making
the vehicle search unconstitutional and the discovery of the body inad-
missible.
The agreement was made before Boone County Circuit Judge Gary
Oxenhandler was able to decide on the motion.
A 15-year sentence and a four-year sentence were recommended by
the prosecution and will be served consecutively. Scholz said he pre-
ferred to give Sanders a 19-year sentence than risk a trial.
— Kourtney Geers
Tell us what you think
E-mail your comments to letters@ColumbiaMissourian.com
Or mail them to: Idea of the Day, P.O. Box 917, Columbia, MO 65205

Guest commentary

Editorial climate at Tribune


detrimental to campaign
Controversial editor an
I
support the principle of a shine Law/Freedom of Information

asset to the community


newspaper editor interview- Act e-mails revealed Mr. Waters’
ing candidates. Generally, it is role as “Hank the Butterfly” in a
a worthy, important and vital plan to take private land using “emi-
contribution to our democratic form nent domain” for the State Histori-
of government. cal Society. The plan included care-

M
But under certain circumstances, fully orchestrated editorials and
the interview process can become was only uncovered when a member
injurious to the electoral process. of the City Council discovered the ayoral candidate most important issues of the day. He
With that in mind, I have politely “eminent domain” resolution on the Sid Sullivan did usually makes an argument that’s
something highly clear enough to be either persuasive
declined a private interview with
Columbia Daily Tribune publisher
City Council’s consent agenda.
n Mr. Waters is unrepentant about unusual last week. GEORGE or repulsive.
Hank Waters. Several concerns
— many of them based on my per-
his often-manipulative, “behind the
scenes” activities. When taken to
He declined an
invitation to an
KENNEDY Maybe the most important of
Hank’s contributions is his sheer
sonal experience with past Tribune task for his “conflicts of interest” by interview with Columbia Daily Tri- longevity. He was opinionating when
interviews — motivated my deci- Missourian editorial writer George bune Editor and Publisher Hank I came to town in 1974 and now,
Waters.
sion, which I consider important to Kennedy, Mr. Waters said he pre-
You may have learned about that,
Hank Waters usually makes pushing 80, he’s still at it. I stand
explain to the people of Columbia. ferred the term “confluence of in awe of that body of work. And
n Previous Tribune endorsements interests” and generally dismissed as I did, on the Columbia Heart an argument that’s either like the product or not, you have to
have favored per- Kennedy’s concerns. Beat, Mike Martin’s feisty online
Sid sonal friends of Mr. publication, which he describes as persuasive or repulsive. admit he does work at it. Candidates
I would be pleased to see Mr. may not — probably often don’t
Waters or reflected our “alternative news source.” In should put him down for a “no com-
Sullivan a total disregard
Waters at public forums, and at
some point, I would welcome a more this case, as in others, the news ment.” He does intend to publish
— agree with his evaluations, but he
does meet with them face to face,
of challengers and complete discussion of my positions seems to have struck a nerve with Sid’s letter, he said. And he did con- hears them out and even argues
their positions. with him. Mike’s progressive/liberal/activist firm that it’s rare for a serious can- with them.
n In his editorial endorsements, readership. didate to refuse to meet with him.)
However, my campaign is about As a journalist, I find that admi-
Mr. Waters often selects part of a opening the political process to all Sid’s letter of refusal, which Mike I’ve competed with Hank, much
reproduced, says that he submitted rable. As a citizen, I find it valu-
candidate’s platform to develop and takers, not just the few. It would as a flea competes with an elephant,
to interviews in both his previous able. That’s why, some years ago, I
attack a “straw man” argument that serve neither my interests nor the for many of the past 35 years. From
has little or nothing to do with the runs for office. He thought that nominated Hank for the Journalism
public interest, under the current time to time, I’ve taken him to task
candidate’s platform and as such, Hank’s evaluations after those con- School’s Honor Medal. He won it
editorial climate at the Columbia in print. The most recent of those
misrepresents the candidate’s posi- versations were “positively injurious and deserved it.
Daily Tribune, to sit for an endorse- times was last year, after Mike and
tions. to the electoral process” because Traci Wilson-Kleekamp revealed One of Columbia’s delights is that,
ment interview at this time, and it is
n Mr. Waters is a “civic opera- they misrepresented his positions the behind-the-scenes role Hank loud and persistent as Hank’s voice
with great sadness that I am declin-
tive,” so to speak, who prefers to and ignored his stands on key issues was playing in what turned out to be is, it’s not alone. The Missourian, I
ing the invitation.
lobby the city administration rather The refusal found a sympathetic an abortive attempt to use the city’s modestly assert, offers a broader
than the elected City Council. In so Editor’s note: Upon receipt of this guest audience in Mike himself and in a range of opinion than does the Tri-
column, the Missourian contacted eminent domain powers to locate a
doing, he undermines their author- Columbia Daily Tribune publisher Hank number of readers, who launched a new State Historical Society muse- bune. The Columbia Business Times
ity and the will of the people who Waters to offer him equal space for a full-throated attack on the grand old um downtown. has some provocative essayists. And
elected them. For instance, the Sun- rebuttal. He has declined that offer. man of Columbia journalism. I thought then, and I think now, Mike Martin provides both an alter-
One reader wrote, “Someone that when a publisher acts as a native news source and an alterna-
finally stands up to the bully of our power broker he owes the public tive ongoing argument.
local press during elections in par- more disclosure than Hank deemed I have no idea whether Sid Sul-
Guidelines for election letters ticular…. Sid has my vote!”
Another responded, “Thank you
necessary.
On other occasions, I’ve even sug-
livan’s refusal will affect his elec-
tion prospects. In any case, he has
The Missourian will publish letters and for verification purposes. We will not for having the courage to tell the gested that a pretty useful voting performed a valuable public service
publish your address or phone number, aging ‘emperor’ he has no clothes guide is to take Hank’s endorse- by giving us citizens an excuse to
guest columns about the April 6 elec-
on.” ments and go the other way. debate the role of journalism in our
tions for City Council, the Columbia but we will publish a general descrip- But I would argue that, overall,
Somewhat reluctantly, I rise in little corner of the democracy.
School Board and city ballot measures tion of where each writer resides. Hank’s defense. (I’m on my own Hank the editorialist has made a
George Kennedy is a former managing
at no charge. Letters generally run around 400-500 here, because Hank declines to major contribution to Columbia’s editor at the Missourian and professor
words. Longer pieces will be consid- engage. I called him, and once he public conversation and thus to the emeritus at the Missouri School of
Letters must be received by April 1. public weal. He writes about the
ered for guest columns. figured out my purpose, he said I Journalism.
The last day for letters to appear in
print is April 4. The last day for letters Questions? Contact opinion editor
to appear at ColumbiaMissourian.com Jake Sherlock at 573-882-9951 or
is April 5. sherlockj@missouri.edu
All letters will run online at Columbi- MAIL: Letter to Editor, P.O. Box 917,
aMissourian.com. Every effort will be Columbia, MO 65205 DOONESBURY by GaRry Trudeau
made to publish them in the print Mis- E-MAIL: letters@ColumbiaMissourian.
sourian by April 4. com
Anonymous letters will not be accept- FAX: 882-5702
ed. Please include a daytime telephone DROP OFF: 221 S. Eighth Street,
number and address with your letter 2nd floor newsroom

General Manager Executive Editor Managing Editor Opinion Editor


Daniel S. Potter Tom Warhover Jeanne Abbott Jake Sherlock
potterds@ warhovert@ abbottjm@ sherlockj@
missouri.edu missouri.edu missouri.edu missouri.edu

“I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected
with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for
the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is DAVID ROSMAN: The world of “newsertainment” has taken over legitimate news.
a betrayal of this trust. I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, COMING See: Joe the Plumber and the Tea Party movement.
accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.” SUNDAY Read it now in the opinion section of ColumbiaMissourian.com
Walter Williams, founding dean,
missouri school of journalism
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