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Saturday, August 26, 2023

Your right to know centers on Marion County Kansas case.

If you, dear reader, only knew how many pressures come onto publishers of news, you would wonder why we do it.

Yes, the First Amendment of our United States Constitution is under constant attack, both by Governmental Sources and by private individuals and businesses.   But none so blatant and illegal as the incident in the tiny hamlet of Marion, Kansas.

The tiny community of just over 1900 in a county (Marion county) of 11,000 is the center of governmental overreach in suppression of the First Amendment.  It is a convoluted story that requires some understanding.

It appears to be a case of good old boys trying to protect friends.

A reporter for the Record was trespassed from a public forum with local politicians held at Kari’s Kitchen, owned by 46 year old Kari Newell.  The local businesswoman accused the Marion County Record of getting information on her 2008 DUI case illegally (which is public information) which would prevent her from getting a liquor license.  The paper had investigated the DUI, but did not publish a story.  

Newell’s demands managed to get a search warrant, which not only disrupted the operations of the newspaper, but the raid on the home of 98 year old co-owner Joan Meyer was so stressful that she passed away the next day.  The raid, headed by Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody, is also tainted by the revelation that the chief was being investigated by the paper on charges of Sexual Misconduct.  Cody had been with the Kansas City Police Department but left following allegations of Sexual Misconduct.  He was hired as Chief of the Marion County Police Department in late April. Marion City Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel also had her home raided as a part of this sham warrant and her 88 year old disabled husband, who suffers from dementia, was likewise traumatized by the raid.  

This is America?

This is the making of a mini-series, but it shows people the extremes of suppression that newsrooms and publishers face every day.

Former editor of the Ely Times Kent Harper and I discussed how people would contact us threatening us to not report stories of their family members being involved in criminal activity.  Sheriff Scott Henriod has told me of people demanding their family members not be published in the Sheriff’s Blotter Report.  People trying to suppress public information.  

Business owners take out their frustration against publishers by using the power of the purse strings and refusing to advertise.  That is their right.  But it hurts our efforts to bring you the news and information you need.  Unlike Social Media, we vet and investigate stories, not just reporting rumors.  I’ve held off on reporting stories for days until I could get complete verification and the ENTIRE story, just not rumors.  

Local media is the heart of a community.  It is under attack by people and businesses who disagree with the news - the truth - reported by local media.  Without the truth, corruption grows unchecked, and communities are subject to the “Golden Rule” - they who have the gold, make the rules.

Only by electing responsible people to office can we continue to hold on to our rights.  All politics are local.  Unless we insist our elected officials operate under our laws, we will see our country erode from the inside. It is a price our Republic cannot stand. 

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