Branson's Road Issues

City Responds to Traffic Jam Stereotype

BRANSON, Mo., Aug. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Community leaders today announced
the launching of an awareness campaign to dispel the perception that Branson,
Missouri has insufficient roads to handle its estimated 7 million annual
visitors. Spurred by a recent study released by AAA and several other agencies
that listed Branson as a top ten summer traffic "bottleneck" destination, the
Branson Chamber has developed the campaign to inform the public about
$240 million worth of new and improved roadways in and around Branson.
While acknowledging the hustle and bustle of Branson's famed Highway 76
(referred to in the study as the major traffic bottleneck) Mike Right, vice
president of AAA Missouri, said the study did not reflect everything that
Branson and the state of Missouri have done to build new roads that have
greatly improved traffic flow. "We had a major conference down there last
year and the ability to get around on some of the new alternate roads was
In the last decade, the City of Branson alone has spent over $40 million
dollars on more than 17 miles of alternate roads. The State of Missouri
Department of Transportation (MoDOT), with the assistance of local agencies,
has invested over $200 million in the construction of the scenic 18-mile Ozark
Mountain Highroad (Highway 465) and the widening to four lanes of 45 miles of
major north-south access corridor Highway 65 from Springfield, Missouri all
the way to the Arkansas state line.
Bob Edwards, public information manager for the MoDOT district office in
Springfield, said his agency has been working closely with local governments
since 1990 to address the increased traffic volume resulting from Branson's
popularity and continuing growth as a tourist destination. "Now, if you know
where you're going, you can get to and around the area very easily," Edwards
Therein lies the challenge. "We realize that while millions of dollars
have been spent on new roads, many visitors don't yet know about them," said
Ross Summers, president and CEO of the Branson Chamber.
To make sure visitors know about their driving options, the new community
awareness campaign includes the standardization of area maps and the
distribution of an updated Time-Saver map to hotels, restaurants and on the
Branson website ( ). Production is underway on a
video to be shown in Branson's live theatres, touting the red, blue and yellow
traffic relief routes designated by the City of Branson, as is the development
of a program to encourage area service employees to inform visitors about the
time-saving routes.
Many of the town's popular music theaters are located on The Strip, along
with dozens of attractions, retail stores, lodging properties and eateries,
making traffic congestion unavoidable at peak times.
"It's like having a restaurant with a waiting list," Summers said. "It's a
good problem to have because it means everybody wants to eat there."
"The Strip is the epicenter of Branson entertainment and a must-see during
any trip to the area," said Branson Mayor Lou Schaefer, "But it's certainly
not the only route across town."
That was not always the case. In fact, prior to the $240 million in
improvements, Branson gained a world-wide reputation not only for its live
shows, but also for its traffic.
In the early 1990s, Branson experienced tremendous increases in visitor
numbers, from around 2 million in 1990 to more than 5 million in 1994. "At
that time, traffic congestion was a big problem and that image of Branson
still plagues us," Summers said.
"I was down there during the congestion era, and today it's not like that
at all," AAA's Right said. "Branson has taken great strides in improving
traffic flow and everybody needs to be aware of what's happening." AAA has
agreed to distribute the Time-Saver map at all 29 of its offices throughout
the region, he added.
Today, driving on Hwy. 76 is a choice -- one many visitors actually
prefer. "I wouldn't dream of coming to Branson and not driving down The
Strip," said Linda Kesterson of Houston, Texas. "You've got to experience the
excitement, see the marquee lights at least once, and then you can take the
other streets if you're in a hurry."
Branson offers over 100 live shows, the award-winning Silver Dollar City
theme park, over 200 outlet shops, three pristine lakes and a wealth of
outdoor activities, all set in the breathtaking Ozark Mountains.

Daddy Hood - Family Law and Potty Training

Potty Training Boot Camp

This may not be the most exciting thing in the world today, however, it encompasses my world so completely that I feel compelled to write about it.

My daughter and I have been re-united. It's been a roller coaster that would make any parent's sotmach churn.

Daily, across the newswire I read reports regarding state issues with family law. As you dig deep into this topic and you have but half a heart, you may find it broken. Case law, no state excluded, contains the most tragic stories of our time.

These are stories of terroism, suicide, children having children and parentlessness. These are stories of poverty - scandle and fraud.

These are not the stories of happily ever after, of kindness, of virtue of love.

These are not the stories of a child's best interests.

These are not the stories of Disneyland Deadbets, as an industry would have you to believe.

These are the stories that brought me to tears and prayer on oh so many occasions. As I read these stories - the stories of children and the family law system, as I was forced to develop a strategy to become a father to my own child.

Fraud is so rampant in family law I can hardly blame those that choose this path. It is often reccomended by Attorney's. Sadly, in the courts of family law - the children always lose.

Success in court relies on precedents on the extremes, far away from the normal parent child relationships. An attorney's ability to cite or miscite case law relies on the clients ability to emulate these extremes. In my investigation of Taney County Attorneys I came to understand how this was achieved. Succesful court stragies often leave the child that walked in with two parents to walk out with one.

I rememver being on the stand, the judge tells me I have one my case. Actually, this wasn't really true - not in the terms he was stating.

My victory was different.

My victory was never reporting anything about my child's mother of ill report. My victory is that I can teach my child to honor her father without dishonoring her mother.

Psycologist report teenage pregnancy, drug use and suicide to have direct correlation to the presence of a biological father. Though there are many great step parents out there, the bilogical father's presence in the child's life is a key indicator in a child's success in life.

As fathers, we can contribute to our children's well being. All we really have to do is be there. And when we are - statistically we contribute more. When we're around our children are healthier and so are we.

My daughter is down for a nap and when she wakes up it's time for potty training boot camp. This excercise involved kool-aid, The Lion King, the elmo potty doll and patience. Yes, the most exciting thing I have to report today is that I can make a two year old "go pee in the potty".

Oh yes - I can bring home the bacon and I can cook it up too.

GIS Mapping Public - Must be released

GIS (Global Information Systems) is not protected data. The city of Branson has invested 100's of thousands of dollars to create electronic data.

City must release electronic GIS mapping data


Publicly releasing electronically formatted government maps has not been shown to pose a public safety risk or violate a trade secret, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

June 16, 2005 · Electronically formatted maps, which allow journalists to plot geographically referenced statistical data in studying the adequacy of government programs and performance, must be released in electronic form to open records requesters in Connecticut, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday.

The maps, created from Geographic Information System data and showing city landmarks, including the location of "security-sensitive'' sites such as schools, public utilities, and bridges, must be open because officials in Greenwich, Conn., did not show that their release will violate a trade secret or threaten public safety, the high court ruled.

Greenwich citizen Stephen Whitaker requested electronic access to the city's GIS maps in December 2001 under the state open records law.

The town refused to give Whitaker electronic access to its GIS system, arguing that the records qualified for public safety and trade secret exemptions to the state's public records law. Whitaker sued and obtained rulings in favor of release from the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission in 2002 and the Connecticut Superior Court in 2004. Greenwich appealed to the Connecticut Appellate Court, but the Supreme Court stepped in and transferred the case onto its own docket before the intermediate appellate court could rule.

Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, writing for the court, rejected the argument that the trade secret exemption could apply to the electronic GIS maps. All of the information contained in the maps is available piecemeal from other town departments, so there is nothing secret about them, she wrote.

Vertefeuille found the town's asserted public safety exemption equally unconvincing. Although witnesses -- among them the Greenwich police chief -- had testified that public safety would be jeopardized if the GIS data were released, little concrete evidence of that was presented. "Generalized claims of a possible safety risk" are not enough to satisfy the government's burden of proof on an exemption claim, Vertefeuille wrote.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, joined by the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in November urging the high court to order the GIS data's release. In addition to its legal arguments, the brief highlighted the issue's relevance to the news media by compiling stories that would not have been written without electronic mapping.

Greenwich has 10 days to ask all seven supreme court justices to reconsider the decision, which was decided by a five-member panel.

(Director, Dep't of Information Technology of the Town of Greenwich v. Freedom of Information Comm'n; Access Counsel: Clifton A. Leonhardt, Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission; Hartford, Conn.) -- RL

Related stories:


Greenwich man wins first battle for access to town's mapping database (10/30/2002)

What is Branson?

It’s been said that Branson is a place entertainers go to die. Others that it’s a place for second chances. Perhaps it’s a place for people to be born again – socially, financially and spiritually.

Politically, Branson is the Republican destination of choice. A look into Branson’s political donations reveals little room for another political perspective. A closer look reveals a deep Libertarian vain. Many of our residents believe that “alcohol, tobacco and firearms should be a convenience store”. Missouri law affirms this notion and is one of the few states that permit concealed weapons. Outside of Branson, the conservative press treats us well while and the liberal press with distaste.

People are friendly here, relatively laid back. This Chicago Tribune awarded Branson the title “The Way America Should Be”, and was echoed across the front pages of American’s newspapers.

Life is relatively simple here and there’s little reason for most folks to be in too big of a hurry. “I’m not in a hurry and neither are you”, is a good description of the mindset. This is especially true when the fishing is good.

As Jim Stafford put it Branson is “families entertaining families”, and this is very much the truth. Branson has over 100 live theatrical presentations boasting more seats then Broadway. Most of these shows are filled with patrons attending a performance named after the family putting on the show. The tradition of Family entertainment is deep rooted in the history of our city - a ruminant of the old American family -1980’s old, maybe even 1880’s old .

Though\our demographic profile from the US Census states not one Arab can be found in the area, Branson is actually quite diverse. Entertaining 7 million visitors each year requires a lot of manpower and though our official population is 5,000, thousands more come here to work during the tourist season. The demand for labor during this time is so high that special permits are issued to meet industry needs. It’s not uncommon to find Russian, Eastern European and Jamaican residents during the summer months. Many of our theaters showcase talent from across the globe.

Swing, Folk, Bluegrass, Americana and blues can be heard regularly through daily shows starting early in the morning until 10 in the evening. Life after 10 is more abundant then the average tourist might realize. The marketing energy from Theatrical productions and Attractions overshadow a nightlife scene which provides a channel for creative energy the general “theme” of Branson’ marketing efforts. Theater competitiveness is apparent as one drives down Highway 65 and views the dozens of billboards littered beside spacious rolling hills many miles from Branson city limits.

Audience demand for fresh entertainment has pulled a massive pool of instrumental and local talent. Late in the evening is a time many of them can let loose and play a wider diversity of music then the town is known for. Officially, our Mayor is against Rock and Roll and had some harsh statements after a few eighties hair bands headlined in one of our major theatres. Still, Rock and Roll thrives in Branson most prevalently in the bourgeoning midtown district and new development projects promise to reinforce its presence.

The main strip, Highway 76 looks eerily like a G- Rated Vegas with bold neon signs advertising. family friendly, patriotic and religious entertainment. The majority of shows retain all three themes – in fact it’s proven to be a necessity of longevity. To date, venues that have strayed from this formula have been rewarded with only moderate success.

Conflicts of church and state, God and Mammon, will continue to determine it’s evolution. I’m not sure how unusual this is from your part of the country but our city council meetings are opened with prayer. A common story line among the natives is that the Theatres and Resorts are wired and ready for gambling. A nearby town with high levels of poverty enlisted a major developer to create a casino, leading to a state vote that denied the right to open such establishments on the waterway formerly known as the White river.

The most visible opposition to the gambling bill was the Hershiend family. The entrepreneurial family owns the largest private Theme Park in the country. A million dollar campaign was initiated to thwart the efforts “contradicting” family values. It’s rumoured that major plays from competing casino’s and “inside” developers have a multi year rollout plan for gamling on on the Taneycomo waterfront. Churches lined the streets to demonstrate and educate the local public on the “evils of gambling”, before the measure was defeated. The eventual defeat of the bill is also credited to other urban areas in Missouri that use gambling as a pull for tourist traffic.

The town that initiated the Gambling proposal vocalized animosity towards the Herchined family begging the question “A million dollars against us – what have you done for us?”. Support from a religious group and the Herchieds have pledged to build a massive skate park in the city. The project has yet to prove how it will end the epidemic of poverty the once thriving town of Rockaway Beach endures.

Timeshare, known as “Branson’s New Religion”, is another hot topic on the geo-political landscape. In contrast to the “family values” the time share/travel club industry has experienced a high volume of consumer complaints charged with fraud, disingenuous marketing efforts and increasing scrutiny from the Attorney General.

Proponents of time-share boast job growth, rising real estate valuation and injection of capital during the shoulder months when tourist traffic is scarce, the acceptance and growth of the time-share industry and positive economic growth.

Opponents of time-share speak of pressure on theatres to unreasonably lower ticket prices, deceitful business practices and a permanent black eye to the cities citizen.

The missionaries of “Time Share/Travel Clubs” are found throughout the city preaching the gospel to encourage 90 minute sells presentations that often end in complaints to a variety of agencies and rarely end in 90 minutes.

This industry has proved to be an irresistible force as high margins prove too lucrative for a large percentage of local vendors to avoid. A shop owner who solicits tours acknowledges a small booth resembling anversized cardboard box produces more income then his 1,600 sq ft of retail space.

Though bankruptcies, criminal charges and litigation have plagued the industry it continues to grow. The recent trend is to diversify time-share company offerings into other sectors including publishing, restaurants, retail and even theaters. One manager of a wholly owned subsidiary stated “It’s a necessary evil”, others beg to differ.

The incestial relationship of the time-share industry and city organizations make honest assessments hard to come by. Intertwined public and private development projects blur the line even further leaving regulation to the sole hands of the state legislature; which has yet to rule on travel issues relating to the Internet.

In contrast to the young families often seen in the spring and summer, the fall is a Mecca for a much older crowd. Fall is a time when Tour busses from around the country invade the city. Performers such as Andy Williams provide entertainment many senior citizens haven’t seen since their youth. For the blue hairs, Branson provides a rare chance to view America’s yesteryear.

From New Years to late March the town is relatively empty. Attempts to extend the season year round have been met with minimal success. Creative approaches have paid off well. Of note is Grand Country. Several years ago they built a large indoor water park and have managed to capture swelling crowds in the darkest months of winter.

Branson’s growth has created an imbalance in the counties economy. Taney County, both verbally and contractually depend on Branson’s successful growth. Infrastructure is needed to lure business and create wealth. TIFF funds have been distributed by the city at record rates to boost utility access Broadening the bulge in the bubble is the reclassification of Taney as a Class 1 county., which raises the building requirements and inspection demand. Up until this year no permits were required to build on Taney County land. New regulations promise to be an enforcement challenge. The surrounding counties have the lowest average incomes in Missouri. .

Three lakes surround Branson, world class fishing for a wide variety of species. A dam and fishery dividing Lake Taneycomo and Tablerock produce both electricity and record sized trophy trout. Wave running, Jet skiing and wakeboarding are the extreme sports of choice, though killer mountain biking trails are a lure to many outsiders.

A fascinating feature of the landscape are the unusual water tables that make way for many of Missouri’s 5,000 known caves. The highest grossing attraction, Silver Dollar City, was established to occupy crowds waiting to enter Marvel Cave. The caves entry room is large enough to fit the statue of liberty inside. Other commercial caves and endless miles of wild caving provide endless adventure for the explorer.

Branson is a community, performing well without the organization of the neighborhood watch. Crime is minimal and the educational system is second to none. It’s a great place to raise a family.

Branson’s rapid evolution will give birth to a new city, and the decisions made now as to what kind of community we want to live in will determine how the city is born again.

Snoop Dog - Starts Foolball League in the Suburbs

Snoop Dogg starts football team in Diamond Bar California.

Sponsors of Snoop's new league include a new cell phone company called Amp'd Mobile. A former youth football teammate of the rapper, pro linebacker Willie McGinest, has donated money and helped coach in Snoop's Long Beach chapter. He's sanguine about the inter-league controversy.

"This is a chance for us to save our community and to get our kids back," McGinest said.

One ten year old cried “I'm mad at Coach Snoop,"... He was so cool; he told me to play my heart out and to play everything I've got. But now I just want to ask him, why did he take all our players?"

From the Editor:
Listen kid, Snoop has to represent his hood. He lives in Diamond Bar and probably doesn't want his son to be humiliated. It's a tough lesson - I know. Though futile, like those of us before, you must play your heart out. Remember, no matter how bad it hurts - the pain probably won't last forever.

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Win the Lottery - Go to Jail

This is my favorite bait and switch scheme. No, I'm not talking about a free vacation to Branson. What I'm talking about is the prisoner roundup. In Cape Girardeau, the birthplace of Rush Limbaugh, a sting operation led the the succesful arrest of 22 people. Letters were sent to people with warrants saying they were entitled to a check worth up to $3,000 dollars in a settlement.
50 out of 150 contacted the hotline and were sent to a fictional government agency. The
agency "Missouri Division of Consumer Services" arrested 22 people that went to the office to claim a prize.

The Man Who Punched Saddam Hussein in the Mouth

The River Front Times in ST. Louis printed one of the most fascinating stories of the year. Apparently, an Iraqi native and St. Louis resident Omar (last name excluded) helped capture Saddam Hussein and taught him a lesson of his own

The Man Who Punched Saddam

Missouri River - Special Agenda

Lawmakers urge Missouri River to be added to special session


Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Some lawmakers are urging Gov. Matt Blunt to add the future of the Missouri River to the agenda for a September special session.

Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, said Tuesday that he worries the Army Corps of Engineers' plan to create a spring rise in the Missouri River next year could cause flooding to Missouri farms and communities.

The corps has been required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enact a spring rise - under which water is released from upstream reservoirs into the river to provide a spawning place for the endangered pallid sturgeon. The fish's population has decreased since the corps dammed and straightened the river about 50 years ago.

Stouffer is calling for passage of a resolution that would encourage the governor and attorney general to try to block the action in federal court, and ask Missouri's congressional delegation to remember Fish and Wildlife's position when considering its budget.

Senate President pro tem Michael Gibbons said the special session should be limited to topics that urgently need to be dealt with, but that Stouffer persuaded him the Missouri River issue is pressing.

"It is urgent in the sense that whatever litigation may ensue, as well as appropriation questions, all that has to be under way way before March if it is to make a difference," said Gibbons, R-Kirkwood.

Gov. Matt Blunt has not issued the official call for the special session, but legislators expect it to begin Sept. 6. The annual veto session, during which lawmakers can attempt to override governors' vetoes, begins Sept. 14, though it is expected to be uneventful.

During the special session, lawmakers are expected to consider anti-abortion legislation; the repeal of a new law that bars government agencies from posting elected officials' addresses online; and technical fixes to drunken-driving laws and the state's workers' compensation system.

Stouffer said an intentional spring rise on the Missouri River could wreak havoc on Missouri farms, communities and roads if it occurs at the same time as heavy rains swell the river. He also said he has seen no proof that it will even help the fish it's trying to save.

"The river is risky enough on its own without having a man-made disaster," he said.

Springfield's Urban Habitat Hackers

Caving is deep rooted in the tradition of our area. Without them, there would be no Silver Dollar City - No shows - nada - zip. It's what started this place. The city formed around it. There would be no Shepard of the Hills without the secret Marvel Cave hid. By the way, if you're ever on the tour of Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City, ask if the house at the end has anything to do with the book. Oh yeah, expect fuzzy answers.

Dig. A group in Springfield has dedicated themselves to urban exploration. Missile sites, underground caverns, abandoned theme park - you name it. They've even managed to hack College of the Ozarks underground tunnels. Pictures and editorial are posted here ...Underground Ozarks

Emminent Domain - Missouri Wants Citizen Opinions

Witnesses are asked to provide a written copy of their testimony at the time they testify. Depending on the number of people who want to testify, oral presentations may be limited to five or ten minutes per person to allow task force members the opportunity to hear from all parties represented. In addition, written testimony may be submitted at any time to Terry Jarrett, task force chair, in care of the governor's office.

Blunt formed the task force in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London that deals with eminent domain and the government's right to use eminent domain to acquire private property for public use. Blunt's executive order asks the group to:

Study the use of eminent domain, especially when the proposed public use of the property being acquired by eminent domain is not directly owned or primarily used by the general public.
Analyze current state and federal laws governing eminent domain and recommending any changes that would enhance the effectiveness of these laws.
Develop a definition of "public use" that allows state and local governments to use eminent domain when there is a clear and direct public purpose while at the same time ensuring that individual property rights are preserved.
Develop criteria to be applied by state and local governments when the use of eminent domain is being proposed.
Recommend specific eminent domain legislation for possible consideration by the Missouri General Assembly.

During their first meeting, the task force reviewed eminent domain law and procedure in Missouri, divided into four subgroups (urban, rural/suburban, legislative and procedure) and defined major areas for review (the definition of "blight"; the definition of "public use"; just compensation; and judicial review and procedures). The next task force meeting is Thursday, Aug. 18, at 10 a.m., in House Hearing Room 7, at the Capitol.

Eminent Domain Task Force Launches Website - Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Task Force on Eminent Domain today announced the launch of their new informational website.

"The website gives the public first hand information about task force activities," Terry Jarrett, Task Force Chairman, said. "It is just another example of how we are carrying out the Governor's call to ensure programs are accessible and responsive to the people they might impact."

The website,, has been created to allow individuals statewide to be involved with the Missouri Task Force on Eminent Domain. The new site allows for individuals to electronically submit testimony, provide recommendations and suggestions, and stay up to date on task force activities. The website also includes details about upcoming meetings.

At the next meeting of the Missouri Task Force on Eminent Domain, task force members will hear public testimony. The meeting is scheduled Thursday, August 18, in House Hearing Room 7 at 10 a.m.

The Missouri Task Force on Eminent Domain is tasked by Gov. Matt Blunt with evaluating the state's eminent domain laws and making initial recommendations regarding suggested changes and improvements. The nine-member task force will evaluate and make initial recommendations to the governor by October 1, 2005. Task force members receive no compensation for their service

The Millionth Monkey

It's been said that if a million monkeys were banging on typewriters eventually they would produce the entire works of shakespeare. Thanks to the Internet we now know this isn't true.
By Someone Somewhere

What the world really cares about.

What? What kind of answer were you looking for? An interactive study is being conducted on world media coverage. A color code is given to regions based on how often they're discussed in the world media.

Hilton in Branson - Management Announced

Hilton just released the name of the new manager over the wire...

Hilton >Press Release for Branson Mangagement

Technology and Freedom - Reflections on Work

My love of freedom brought me to this field. While in college, I worked at Los Angeles's first Interactive cafe. The endeavor was funded by four of the brightest engineers I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Back in 1995 high speed access was rare. A 28.8 modem was fast. Venice Beach sits near the Internet backbone on Mae-West. Cyberjava in Venice was the first high-speed public access point in Los Angeles. Early adapters saw great promise in the emerging technology. The Cyberjava Manifesto reads, " order for the vision of a digital democracy to be realized everyone needs to have access..." As the Internet began to experience double digit user growth Cyberjava was a hotbed for Media Companies, technocrats and visionaries. We were going to change the world -we knew it.

It was at Cyberjava that I met I landed my first job in high tech. The job was to conduct “Strategic Planning” for Packard Bell. I worked night and day. It was not uncommon for me to spend a 14 hour day at work. Eventually, I became frustrated. Being young, I found long term planning unfulfilling. It was hard for me to watch multi-million dollar opportunities fall by the wayside. Eventually, I created methods to pull outside funding to finance my projects. I was dumb enough to think there was no such thing as “can’t be done”. This philosophy led to many achievements I’m very proud of. More than anything, I’m proud of the people that worked with me – and what they brought with them after leaving my business units.

Being an idealist, I found advertising somewhat disappointing. The burgeoning field had new players with old ideas. They came from the “traditional” media companies where bribes are somewhat institutionalized. It was hard to watch. I refrained from engaging many contracts after being offered bribes – new cars – free trips – you name it. I figured “If you can afford to give me that, you’re not giving my company the best deal”. Maybe that’s the way of the world, but it’s one I don’t really want to participate in.

Today, I live in the Ozarks. Because of the type of work I do , I’m able to stay home and spend time with my child while her mother is at work. In this respect, the digital revolution has brought me the greatest of freedoms.

Who Comes to Branson?

This winter I dedicated most my time to putting together a publication. I saw and still see many gaps the press leaves behind. A new publication to fill that gap was conceived.

This is a tourist town. Our projected image to the outside world has a definitive impact on our local economy. To understand this you have to look at our target audience -who comes to Branson. I ask and test this everyday as I work in an Internet Marketing capacity for Branson's only Time-Share free travel service. We’ve generated over 8 million dollars in reservations for tourists coming to Branson. Though I look at a detailed breakdown of this market everyday - I could just as easily sum it up as highly religious - highly conservative.

It will be a long time before this will become a "bilateral" destination. In contrast our neighbor to the south Eureka Springs is a hotbed for progressive liberalism. I'm stating this for the benefit of those who may be offended by gratuitous patriotism and religiosity.

Personally, I enjoy both. The affirmative expressions and perspective of these cities is a reflection of the joys of living in these hills. In the Ozarks there is a place for everyone.

Area 417 Plight For Armour Echoed by NY TIMES

New Your Times (This Aritcle will be printed in 7 hours)

August 14, 2005 <---->
U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Improved Armor
For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.

The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. .... tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.

Matt Drudge - Liberty Roundtable - Inspiration

This famous interview was origanially posted on:

Anyone With A Modem Can Report On The World

Address Before the National Press Club
by Matt Drudge, June 2, 1998

Moderator: Doug Harbrecht

MR. HARBRECHT: Good afternoon and welcome to the National Press Club. This is our 90th anniversary year. My name is Doug Harbrecht. I'm president of the National Press Club and Washington news editor of Business Week magazine, a McGraw-Hill Companies publication.

I'd like to welcome Club members and their guests in the audience today, as well as those of you watching on C-SPAN or listening to this program on National Public Radio.

I must confess, my first reaction to having our speaker today at the National Press Club was the same as a lot of other members - was the same as what a lot of other members of the Club have had: Why do we want to give a forum to that guy?

Matt Drudge is the 31-year-old chronicler of The Drudge Report, an Internet site packed daily with gossip, tidbits and information on everything from the latest scandal in Washington to the latest Neilsen ratings. He scooped the national news media on Bob Dole's selection of Jack Kemp as his running mate and Connie Chung's ouster at CBS.

But Drudge's methods are suspect in the eyes of most journalists. He moves with the speed of cyberspace, and critics charge he has no time to know his sources or check his facts. Like a channel catfish, he mucks through the hoaxes, conspiracies and half-truths posted on-line in pursuit of fodder for his website. That can have unpleasant consequences.

Recently he was hit with a $30 million libel suit, after reporting allegations about a White House aide, Sidney Blumenthal, that appear to have no basis in fact and won't be repeated here. [Laughter] Drudge apologized and claimed the tip on Blumenthal was given him by politically motivated GOP operatives. The lawsuit is still pending.

So why is Matt Drudge here? He's on the cutting edge of a revolution in our business and everyone in our business knows it. And like it or not, he's a newsmaker.

Drudge claims to get up to 1 million hits a day on his website sometimes. That is phenomenal; if you've involved in online journalism that's pretty amazing. He culls his report from 35 daily newspapers, wire services and more than 1,000 daily E-mail tips. My children, ages 20 and 17, know who Matt Drudge is. But they don't know who David Broder and Helen Thomas are [laughter] two of Washington's legendary journalists.

And while many of his colleagues are loathe to admit it, The Drudge Report has become a tip sheet for journalists, too. He came under fire in January when he posted an item on his website that Newsweek was holding a story about President Clinton's purported affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The rest is history.

A Tacoma Park - right up here - right outside of Washington - Tacoma Park native, skipped college and moved to Los Angeles, where he managed the CBS gift shop for seven years before starting his report in 1995. He's a voracious reader and watcher of news. But he has no training or education in journalism. He likes to draw parallels to himself and Walter Winchell, the hard-bitten gossip columnist of the 1930s and 1940s. He attributes his popularity to being at the right place at the right time.

But his critics say he embodies the most dangerous aspects of online, where a wacky conspiracy theory can move the stock market and people with impure hearts and hidden agendas can injure reputations and spread lies at will.

So, Matt, know this: You may be, as the New York Times recently dubbed you, the nation's reigning mischief-maker; you may get it first sometimes, you may even get it right sometimes, your story of success is certainly compelling. But there aren't many in this hollowed room who consider you a journalist. Real journalists live, pride themselves on getting it first AND right; they get to the bottom of the story, they bend over backwards to get the other side. Journalism means being painstakingly thorough, even-handed, and fair. Now, in the interests of good journalism, let's hear Matt Drudge's side of the story. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Drudge. [Applause]

MR. DRUDGE: Applause for Matt Drudge in Washington at the Press Club, now there's a scandal. [Laughter] The kind of thing I'd have a headline for.

I'd like to thank the president of the Press Club, Doug Harbrecht, thank you very much, for extending the invitation to address you today, and to Kerry Gildae, the brave member of the Speakers Committee, for suggesting it. Thank you very much.

You know, last time I was in town - and this is my hometown, Washington, I grew up here - I arrived to a headline in the local paper, "I was baby-sat by Matt Drudge - Exclusive!" [Laughter]

They quoted one of my elementary-school chums: "Even at age 12, Drudge already liked to tell stories. He'd take all the kids down to a creek behind my house when it was dark and tell us those elaborate stories. We'd be terrified."

Well, the one thing that has changed is my shoe size. [Laughter]

You know, and what a place, Washington, DC, to grow up in. I used to walk these streets as an aimless teen, young adult, walk by ABC News over on DeSales, daydream; stare up at the Washington Post newsroom over on 15th Street, look up longingly, knowing I'd never get in - didn't go to the right schools, never enjoyed any school, as a matter of fact, didn't come from a well-known family - nor was I even remotely connected to a powerful publishing dynasty.

Burning[?] I may have been, but I was sophisticated enough to know I would never be granted any access, obtain any credentials, get that meeting with Vernon Jordan or work with Newsweek magazine. There wasn't a likelihood for upward mobility in my swing-shift position at 7-11. [Laughter] That was my last job in Washington.

So, in the famous words of another newsman, Horace Greeley, I, still a young man, went West, out to Hollywood. And I do mean Hollywood, not Beverly Hills, not the Palisades, no 90210 for this kid. It was the part of Hollywood they always promised to clean up and they never do, a part of Hollywood you see on Cops. [Laughter] Where you twinkle and then wrinkle and people forget about you. That's where I'm from.

I swung into another clerk job, this time at CBS. I folded T-shirts in the gift shop, dusted off 60 Minutes mugs. Occasionally after hours I had conversations with the ghost of Bill Paley. It was during one of these wee-hour chats that he reminded me the first step in good reporting is good snooping.

Inspired, I went out of my way to service the executive suites. I remember I delivered sweatshirts to Jeff Sagansky, at the time president of CBS.

Overhearing, listening to careful conversations, intercepting the occasional memo, I would volunteer in the mail room from time to time. I hit pay dirt when I discovered that the trash cans in the Xerox room at Television City were stuffed each morning with overnight Neilsen ratings, information gold. I don't know what I did with it; I guess we, me and my friends knew Dallas had got a 35-share over Falcon Crest, but we thought we were plugged in.

I was on the move - at least I thought so. But my father worried I was in a giant stall. And in a parental panic he overcame his fear of flying and dropped in for a visit. At the end of his stay, during the drive to the airport, sensing some action was called for, he dragged me into a blown-out strip on Sunset Boulevard and found a Circuit City store. 'Come on,' he said desperately, 'I'm getting you a computer.' "Oh, yeah, and what am I doing to do with that?" I laughed.

And as they say at CBS studies: Cut, two months later. Having found a way to post things on the Internet - it was a quick learn - Internet news groups were very good to me early on - I moved on to scoops from the sound stages I had heard, Jerry Seinfeld asking for a million dollars an episode, to scoop after scoop of political things I had heard from some friends back here.

I collected a few E-mail addresses of interest. People had suggested I start a mailing list, so I collected the E-mails and set up a list called The Drudge Report. One reader turned into five, then turned into 100. And faster than you could say 'I never had sex with that woman' it was 1,000 [laughter] 5,000, 100,000 people. The ensuing website practically launched itself.

Last month I had 6 million visitors, and I currently have a daily average larger than the weekly newsstand sales of Time magazine. Thank you, Sidney Blumenthal. [Laughter]

What's going on here? Well, clearly there is a hunger for unedited information, absent corporate considerations. As the first guy who has made a name for himself on the Internet, I've been invited to more and more high-toned gatherings such as this, the last being a conference on Internet and society and some word I couldn't pronounce, up at Harvard a week ago.

And I mention this not just to blow my own horn, but to make a point. Exalted minds - the panelists' and the audience's average IQ exceeds the Dow Jones - didn't appear to have a clue what this Internet's going to do; what we're going to make of it, what we're going to - what this is all going to turn into. But I have glimpses. And sometimes deep in the middle of the night I tell them to Bill Paley.

We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices. Every citizen can be a reporter, can take on the powers that be. The difference between the Internet, television and radio, magazines, newspapers is the two-way communication. The Net gives as much voice to a 13-year-old computer geek like me as to a CEO or speaker of the House. We all become equal.

And you would be amazed what the ordinary guy knows.

From a little corner in my Hollywood apartment, in the company of nothing more than my 486 computer and my six-toed cat, I have consistently been able to break big stories, thanks to this network of ordinary guys. The Drudge Report, first to the name the vice-presidential nominee on the Republican ticket last election; first to announce to an American audience that Princess Diana had tragically died; first to tell the sad, sad story of Kathleen Willey, first every weekend with box-office results that even studio executives, some of them, admit they get from me. A new cable network is forming. I was first to announce the unholy alliance between Microsoft and NBC.

I've written thousands of stories, started hundreds of news cycles. My readers can follow earthquakes, weather patterns, read Frank Rich on Saturday, Maureen Dowd on Sunday, from my site link to Bob Novak on Monday; dozens of other media spectrums, from Molly Ivins; track the world's news wires minute to minute.

And this is something new. This marks the first time that an individual has access to the news wires outside of the newsroom. You get to read all the news from the Associated Press, UPI, Reuters, to the more arcane [?] Agence France Presse and the Chenoix [?]. I'm a personal fan of the Chenoix Press.

And time was only newsrooms had access to the full pictures of the day's events, but now any citizen does. We get to see the kinds of cuts that are made for all kinds of reasons; endless layers of editors with endless agendas changing bits and pieces, so by the time the newspaper hits your welcome mat, it had no meaning.

Now, with a modem, anyone can follow the world and report on the world - no middle man, no big brother. And I guess this changes everything. It certainly changed on the night of January 17th, when Newsweek spiked, at the 11th hour, a well-researched, responsibly documented piece about the president of the United States and an obscure White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. After checking with multiple sources, I ran a story about the killing of the story. According to the Los Angeles Times, people familiar with the matter said Clinton was informed Saturday night or Sunday morning The Drudge Report had posted that Lewinsky was about to erupt. For four days I had the story exclusively, and I took a lot of heat. Everyone was afraid of it until the water broke over at the Washington Post that Wednesday, and then everyone jumped on it.

Now they love it too much, and I'm still taking the heat. "He's one man out of control," a caller warned on talk radio in Los Angeles. "There is such a built-in level of irresponsibility in everything he does," cried First Amendment protector Floyd Abrams in a page one Wall Street Journal piece. "The notion of a Matt Drudge cyber gossip sitting next to William Safire on Meet the Press would have been unthinkable," smacked Watergate's Carl Bernstein in an op-ed.

I was here last night looking over the Press Club, and I noticed a room dedicated to one of - someone I can relate to, John Peter Zenger. And there's a plaque outside the room. And I think he could relate to some of the heat I've been getting. To honor members of the newspaper industry, this room commemorates the achievements of John Peter Zenger 250 years ago, whose courage in publishing political criticism helped establish the precedent of press freedom in colonial America.

He was born in Germany. Zenger was a publisher in 1734 when he was imprisoned on charges of criminal libel for articles in his newspaper criticizing the royal governor. Risking his business and possible life, Zenger stood fast and was acquitted in a jury trial after a brilliant defense of press liberty by his lawyer, at that time Andrew Hamilton.

It got me thinking that really what we're looking at here is history repeating. When radio lost out to television, there was anxiety. The people in the radio industry were absolutely anxious and demanded government stop the upcoming television wave. Television was very nervous about other mediums coming forward; cable. The movies didn't want sitcoms to be taped at movie studios for fear it would take away from the movies.

No, television saved the movies. The Internet is going to save the news business. I envision a future where there'll be 300 million reporters, where anyone from anywhere can report for any reason. It's freedom of participation absolutely realized.

The first lady of the United States recently addressed concerns about Internet during a cyberspatial Millennium Project press conference just weeks after Lewinsky broke. She said, "We're all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet. As exciting as these new developments are, there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function." I wonder who she was referring to.

Mrs. Clinton continued, "Any time an individual leaps so far ahead of that balance and throws the system, whatever it might be - political, economic, technological - out of balance, you've got a problem. It can lead to all kinds of bad outcomes which we have seen historically."

Would she have said the same thing about Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison or Henry Ford or Einstein? They all leapt so far ahead out that they shook the balance. No, I say to these people, faster, not slower. Create. Let your mind flow. Let the imagination take over. And if technology has finally caught up with individual liberty, why would anyone who loves freedom want to rethink that?

And that's why I'm addressing you today. It got me in the door, this new technology. You walk into the Press Club, you see a plaque dedicated to Joseph Pulitzer - someone, again, I love. Our republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. The power to mold the future of the republic will be in the hands of the journalists of the future generations. And if Pulitzer were alive today in this time, he would add using future media.

I was walking the streets of Washington, the streets I grew up in, last night. I found myself in front of the Washington Post building again, looking up, this time not longingly. This time I laughed. Let the future begin. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: Well, Matt, for our first question, let me ask you, how does it advance the cause of democracy and of social good to report unfounded allegations about individuals and the Neilsen ratings?

MR. DRUDGE: Well, that's a good question. I mean, I don't know specifically what you're referring to. You know, I have some�there's different levels of journalism; I'll concede that. One of my competitors is Salon Magazine Online, who I understand is the president's favorite website. And there's a reporter there, Jonathan Broder. He was fired for plagiarism from the Chicago Tribune. And I read that in the Weekly Standard.

But do I believe it? Because as much as I love the Weekly Standard, they have had to settle a big one with Deepak Chopra, if I recall. I heard that from CNN. But hold on. Didn't CNN didn't have the little problem with Richard Jewell? I think Tom Brokaw told me that, and then I think Tom Brokaw also had to settle with Richard Jewell.

I read that in the Wall Street Journal. But didn't the Wall Street Journal just lose a huge libel case down in Texas, a record libel, $200-million worth of jury? I tell you, it's creative enough for an in-depth piece in The New Republic. But I fear people would think it was made up. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: Well, Matt, I wonder if you would define the difference between gossip and news, then, please.

MR. DRUDGE: Well, all truths begin as hearsay, as far as I'm concerned. And some of the best news stories start in gossip. Monica Lewinsky certainly was gossip in the beginning. I had heard it months before I printed it. I didn't really check it out. I knocked on Lewinsky's door. She wouldn't answer the door.

At what point does it become news? This is the undefinable thing in this current atmosphere, where every reporter will be operating out of their home with websites for free, as I do. I don't charge. It's a question I'm not prepared to answer, because a lot of the legitimate news cycles - the Associated Press, for example, will issue news alerts, a recent one being an anthrax scare in the Nevada desert, where a group was targeting the New York subways. AP news alert. Berserk. It went all the way to Janet Reno commenting. It turns out it wasn't true. I think that was some gossip.

MR. HARBRECHT: Let's talk a little bit about the Monica Lewinsky episode for a moment. I guess one could say you did "out" that story by reporting that Newsweek had reservations about reporting it. The story came out. The American people made a judgment, and Bill Clinton's approval ratings in the polls have gone up 20 points. People consistently tell pollsters they don't want to know this kind of information. They don't want to know this kind of stuff. And they blame the news media and they hate us even more. Would you comment on that?

MR. DRUDGE: Well, I disagree with the question. Ask Geraldo or Chris Matthews if the American people dislike it. Their ratings are doing quite well. I think they just expanded Matthews to two hours. I disagree with that. This is a story that's developing, that's serious. When I broke the story, I had it for four days to myself exclusively where I was reporting details, quite frankly, Newsweek didn't have at that point.

So I did some original reporting with that. I barricaded myself in the apartment. I was terrified, because from my Hollywood apartment a story of this magnitude was being born. I remember I teared up when I hit the "Enter" button on that one that might, because I said, "My life won't be the same after this." And it turned out to be right.

I think it's - as the front page of all the newspapers say, this thing is yet to be determined. I hope the American people will not let someone who has lied potentially in office stay in office. But that's our call. You know, we've been here before and we've made these decisions before. We're letting the court do it.

If you've noticed, the tapes have not been played in public, the portions of the tapes I have heard. And the people who are in possession of these tapes, I believe, are letting the courts take care of it. Some of the tapes are quite graphic in details I have heard that I ensure you will take up several news cycles once aired. So I would - I'm not convinced this thing is DOA or the American people have dismissed it as private life.

MR. HARBRECHT: Do you see your methods and your medium as controversial in and of themselves, or are they contributing to the degradation of serious or hard traditional journalism?

MR. DRUDGE: Well, you know, the editor of Civilization magazine, Adam Goodheart, wrote a great op-ed in the New York Times talking about "Is this really something new, this type of fast reporting, this competitive, very competitive" - I'm part of the headline generation. He maintains it was a going back to our foundations when the press was found in quite a different atmosphere, when the press would report that the president's mother was a common prostitute brought over by the British army. Imagine if someone did that now.

We have a great tradition of freedom of the press in this country, unpopular press. If the first lady is concerned about this Internet cycle, what would she have done during the heyday when there was 12, 13 editions of a paper in one day? What would she have done with that news cycle? That's the foundation. That's what makes this club great is the tradition. And I think we have a tradition of provocative press. And I maintain that I'm the new face on that. I'll take that for a season.

But a lot of the stuff I do is serious stuff. I was first to report that the encryption was missing from a Loral satellite, for example, a couple of weeks ago. I didn't see the main press reporting that one. So not everything I do is gossip or bedroom. To the contrary, I think that's just an easy label to dismiss me and to dismiss the new medium. But I'm excited about the launch of this Internet medium. And again, freedom of the press belongs to anyone who owns one. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: How much do you embroider or make up in your online items? [Laughter]

MR. DRUDGE: Now, which person here asked that question? [Laughter] Well, no one's raising their hands.

None. Everything I print from my apartment, everything I publish I believe to be true and accurate. I put my name on every single thing I write. No "Periscope" here. No "Washington Whispers" here. [Laughter] I put my name it; I'll answer to anything I write. I'll make mistakes. I'll retract them if I have to; apologizes for it; try to make it right. But as I've pointed out, the main organizations in this country have let us down every once in a while and end up in trouble with editors. So I don't maintain that an editor is salvation.

There won't be editors in the future with the Internet world, with citizen reporting just by the nature of it. That doesn't scare me. There's a notion that sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will kill me. I don't believe it. I get maligned every day on the news groups. I'm still standing. I still have a smile on my face.

It's just the nature of this new thing. I mean, if I get defamed from Egypt, what do I do? Do I go to the World Trade Organization and ask for relief? This is the world we're going to be facing shortly, and I don't know exactly what the courts are going to do with this dynamic. I'm not too anxious about it however.

MR. HARBRECHT: Aren't you coarsening the public discourse? [Laughter]

MR. DRUDGE: I hope not. You know, these questions are pretty tough, and I think if you directed this type of tough questioning to the White House, there'd be no need for someone like me, quite frankly. [Laughter/applause]

I have fun with what I do. A lot of it's smiles. A lot of it's "Look, Ma, I can dance." A lot of it's preempting other newspapers. I cover politicians the way the - I cover media people the way they cover politicians. I'm reporting Jeff Gerth may be breaking something in a couple of weeks, for example. That's fun stuff. That's a new paradigm. It's where the media is unchecked. It's where they're not the only game in town, where the media now is a guy with a 486 out in Hollywood.

How did a story like Monica Lewinsky break out of a Hollywood apartment? What does that say about the Washington press corps? It just baffles me. I haven't come up with answers on that. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: I think Monica Lewinsky was from Hollywood, wasn't she? [Laughter] How many sources do you require before posting an item?

MR. DRUDGE: Well, a little more than Bob Woodward's "Deep Throat" from time to time. [Laughter, scattered applause] Sometimes I'll go with one person. The Loral worker who came forward and told me the encryption was missing from the satellite - the biggest nightmare scenario for defense types - I went with that one. I thought that was pretty solid. The guy seemed sincere.

What I do is a formula where I follow my conscience - and this is upsetting to some people - but I maintain the conscience is going to be the only thing between us and the communication in the future, now. And I'm very happy with my conscience.

If we're - if you're looking at me and thinking about the Blumenthal case, I retracted that story within 24 hours. Even though he was demanding sources, I apologized for it in the pages of the Washington Post. He called the apology "drivel" - this from the White House adviser.

And you know, I woke up to a very strange headline - "Clinton-Gore approved of filing libel suit." It's the first time in American history that a sitting president of the United States has approved a civil action against a reporter - in our history. Well, I guess they locked some people up before we were founded. There's a room down the hall dedicated in that spirit.

But this is - athis is something new. And as we go, I think I'll prove White House resources have been used to fight this litigation. Joe Lockhart, the deputy press secretary, admitted he called USA Today from the White House Press Office to complain about an op-ed that was favorable to me. Tax dollars at work. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: How many leaked stories do you get from mainstream journalists, and would you speculate on their motivation?

MR. DRUDGE: That's a good question, because what I've been doing lately is breaking news that's about to be broken, coverage of the coverage of the coverage. But that's where we are, since the media is so powerful. The media is comparable to government - probably passes government in raw power.

A lot of the stories are internal. They leak it to me wanting to get attention, wanting to get that headline. More times than not, I will not give it to them. It has to get - has to raise my whiskers. It has to be a good headline. I'm a sucker for a good story. I go where the stink is. I'm a partisan for news. If you got a story, I'll be listening outside when we're done. [Soft laughter]

MR. HARBRECHT: All right, you've got your hat on, and you seem to emulate in your dress and advocate in your presentation the good old days of the tabloids of the '20s and '30s. But does populism equal consistently good journalism?

MR. DRUDGE: I'll have to ask Tom Brokaw that. I don't necessarily think a populist means you're out defaming people left and right. A populist press is a press that cares about the country. Most of my sources are concerned citizens, in and out of government, who don't like the direction of the White House Press Office, for example. Or quite frankly, a lot of the people on the Hill aren't quite forthcoming answering questions.

I reported a great story about a website that had been set up, had been registered "Friends of Al Gore PAC." The billing address they used for this PAC was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Someone had registered a political action committee from the White House, using it as a billing address. This is a huge story. I had it exclusively. I guess mainstream press don't know how to work the Internet and get the information. This is an example of a populist press. It's very concerning. That, to me, was violating quite a few laws. They said someone in the office had set it up, and they were told to bring it down, and it wasn't - bring it down. They changed the address eventually. I looked up the address. It was a graveyard in Denver. That's a populist press to me.

MR. HARBRECHT: Matt, what types of stories would fall into the category that you would not publish?

MR. DRUDGE: Hmm. There's quite a few stories I don't publish that come my way. For instance, specific descriptions on these Lewinsky tapes of the presidential anatomy, I'm not reporting. I've had it, I've held it back. This, to me, composed quite an interesting dilemma on a world stage, quite frankly. That is an example that I don't think furthers the story.

That Phil Hartman may have met his wife through a prostitute doesn't necessarily interest me. I'm an advocate. I love public policy. Those are the type of stories that get me - get me typing. I also like to have fun. I like to do ratings and box office, just to show that it's not really about the product. It's more fun to talk about Godzilla than to watch it, for example. [Laughter]

So I don't have one straight category of things I rule out. I tend not to do drugs, I tend not to do serious stuff that would upset people in private lives. That's probably my criterion of drawing the line, which I get a lot of it. I simply hit the "delete" and keep moving. I get 10,000 e-mails a day. There's - odds are there's another morsel at the next - the next [inaudible].

MR. HARBRECHT: Where does your money come from? Explain the economics of The Drudge Report. How do you make a living from a free website? [Scattered laughter]

MR. DRUDGE: Richard Mellon Scaife is not my benefactor, if that's the question. [Scattered laughter] I haven't made a penny off The Drudge Report. It's been free. For the four years I've been doing it now, the website is free. There's not advertising on it. It was a labor of love, it continues to be.

I sell the column, I have sold the column, first to Wired magazine up in South Park, San Francisco, and now to - [audio interference] - and I've just been hired to do a TV show, made some money that way. But I didn't get into this for money. And in the early days of newspapers, no one made any money, or radio, either. If that's the motivation, I just sit back and laugh when, for instance, a Slate starts charging. I'm not sure where their - [audio interference] - but that's how I make my money. Not much. I'm - still wear the same beat-up shoes I've had since the day I started this, still walk the same streets.

So, that's - I think this is not a cash medium yet. There's probably quite a few people making money on the hype of it, but the actual application of it? Don't quite see it yet.

MR. HARBRECHT: I just have to call this to attention, because it's something that used to drive people crazy about Richard Nixon [?], and you just did it, which is you threw out a sort of a juicy little tidbit about Phil Hartman here, saying, "but I don't really - I don't really have any interest in that kind of thing," when in fact that's exactly what is on your website all the time. And I call attention to it, because that's exactly the kind of thing that I think infuriates journalists about what you do. I wonder if you could comment.

MR. DRUDGE: Would you care to give me another example? I did not report the Phil Hartman thing on my website. Another example could help me.

MR. HARBRECHT: Well, you just threw out, as you throw out things on your website all the time. And it was - it was just put out there with no corroboration. Who - who reported that?

MR. DRUDGE: I think one of the syndicated magazines just reported that. But my question is, again, what headline on my website would you call in that category?

MR. HARBRECHT: Okay. Fair enough. [Applause] Could you - could you succeed as a journalist, if you worked for an organization which required an accuracy rate of 100 percent, instead of 70 or 80 percent?

MR. DRUDGE: I don't know what organization that would be. [Scattered laughter; Applause] I once gave a quote - you know, I do a lot of predictions. I have The Truman Show making $300 million. I once gave a quote that "Oh, I guess I'm 80 percent accurate, the body of my work." Newsweek magazine, and then Karen Breslau, who I happened to see in the courtroom - in the courthouse hallways - she's on the pay phone, she says, "Oh, Matt Drudge, my name's Karen Breslau." "Oh, I know you. You're the one who made up a quote on me."

She - she reported Drudge is going to have trouble with his lawsuit, because his - he claims his sources are, quote, "Eighty percent reliable." I've never talked about the reliability of my sources. I said "Karen, you made that up!" She shrugged her shoulders: "Whatever."

This is - this is mainstream press, this is - these are the - the - that bothers me. Recently, after the White House Correspondents' Dinner, I was walking down Connecticut Avenue with the top editor at one of these national magazines. And he was trying to get one of my pals to give him more information on some story that the pal has some information on.

And the pal said, "No, no. You haven't been very good on conservative things," to the editor of the magazine. "I don't think I'm going to help you. You know, you - you just take - you take, you know, stories and print them, and they hurt conservatives." The editor of this magazine, which I won't name, says, "We just take what they give us."

Now, if this is the standard - if this is the skyscraper up on Sixth Avenue that I want to dream about, I'd rather stay in my dirty Hollywood apartment. I just don't take what people give me. I tend to at least try to frame it with an angle that would consider both sides - provocative stuff.

MR. HARBRECHT: Why then don't you always call both sides when you report something?

MR. DRUDGE: I make it a point to call both sides. Unfortunately Mike McCurry is not taking my calls anymore. [Laughter] It's just absolutely amazing that he - the White House has now refused all comment on anything I'm reporting, whether it be Betty Currie on vacation, so I have been told, on some of the days Lewinsky was checking in to see her. No comment. "We won't comment, it's based on that dirty source." They did this with the Kathleen Willey story - no comment. Anything I do. Al Gore is setting up a PAC - someone for Al Gore is setting up a PAC with a White House - no comment. Where is that coming from? George Stephanopoulos: "We've seen how discredited The Drudge Report is." That kind of stuff just rubs me the wrong way - and at their own peril - no comment.

MR. HARBRECHT: For someone who has been attacked by the mainstream press, your website provides easy links to all the establishment media. Why do you do that?

MR. DRUDGE: Well, because it's - to me it's - I started it with a place where readers could keep up - links to the various columnists. The links I have on my website I declare to be the most interesting people working in the business - all up and down - left, right and middle - I love to feature them. It's just a click away. You don't have to go through the front page - you go right to the column. A click away, you go to the AP Washington File - up to the minute.

I started it as a lark. It built itself after I started collecting these names on the website. And it certainly has changed the way things are done - for the pedestrian anyway. And I've been told quite a few people are reading it - from the top level in government down - for access - for quick access, unfiltered access - a click to Helen Thomas's latest column, reintroducing a whole new generation to wire services and columnists - I love them all. So I don't consider myself an enemy of the press whatsoever, but I do consider myself to be an untrained D student who happened to get lucky, but who happens to know a few things, and he has now has the ability to shout down the street, "Extra, Extra, This Just In."

MR. HARBRECHT: What advice would you give to others, such as Jennycam, who claim - who are out to find fame through the Internet?

MR. DRUDGE: Well, you know, fame for fame's sake is - you know, always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And you have to give them something they haven't heard. There has to be a reason they'll come to your website. If it's just made-up fantasies, why bother? You know, if I'm so bad and if I'm so useless and I'm just a gossip hound, why was Sidney Blumenthal reading me the night before his first day at the White House? I don't quite understand that. It seems to me I'd spend my time over at the New York Times, who gets everything right. Advice is to follow your heart and to do what you love. And I certainly am doing what I love. Again, I wrote The Drudge Report for one reader for a while - a couple of readers - 5, 10, 15 readers. I had a thousand - the first couple of months I thought, oh, that peaked that out. Again, I'm up to these millions I never thought I'd see. And with the advent of Web TV and cable modems, I don't know where this is going. Sixty million readers? What is civilization going to do with the ability of one citizen - without advertisers, without an editor - to broadcast to that wide group of people? The first lady says we need to rethink it. I say we need to embrace it. And it will take care of itself - it always has. It will get evened out.

MR. HARBRECHT: Here's a question that just came up. With all due respect, in the past half hour you have been inaccurate 8 to 10 times - about history, government, the media. You said there were no suits approved by a president, no profits in early newspaper and radio. Do you think journalists should have any minimum educational requirements?

MR. DRUDGE: Hmm, I've done - I guess I'm going to the wrong libraries, because I can't find any lawsuit - civil lawsuit approved by the president of the United States against a reporter. I can't find it. I'd like to have that information for my litigation - put it in the court papers.

Again, I don't maintain that I am licensed or have credentials. I created my own. I don't know what the problem is with that. It seems to me the more freedoms we have the better off we are. And you know I don't have a problem with chaos and new invention and confusion. I'm sure in the early days of electricity it was absolutely chaotic. The early days of cars the horse farmers probably said, "What are those things?" It's not where I come from. I come from a much more of an optimistic knowing liberty and freedom is the right way to go, knowing a new invention is afoot that is going to realize things beyond anything we dreamed of. I'm not that scared of it. But then again I'm not in elected office. You know, the president, the Congress, take this personally. They're just the first to come through this Internet era. The person that sits in the Oval Office next will get my undivided attention.

MR. HARBRECHT: Are journalists obsolete who fail to include their e-mail addresses in their columns?

MR. DRUDGE: Well, you know, I'm getting so - that's a hit or miss. I mean, I would advise interaction, simply because you'll never know what you'll learn by offering an e-mail address. As I said in the speech, you'd be surprised what the average guy knows. Some of my best sources have turned out to be people who happened to be in the room that shouldn't have been in the room but who have come forward. I would provide as much contact with the public as you can. Again, I'm getting so much e-mail now I can't possibly read it. So it's a mixed blessing. But I would try to be as open as you can and offer an e-mail address - most of them do. I have correspondence with the top newspaper reporters in the business through e-mail, and it's a fun relationship - it's better than the phone. You could be doing other things at the same time.

MR. HARBRECHT: There were two recent episodes in our business where stories in the reporting of the Monica Lewinsky case, where newspapers put out pre-published stories online that turned out to be half-baked, frankly. Do you foresee a separation of media practices where future journalists accept more your style and methods, or accept the methods of appropriate journalism?

MR. DRUDGE: Appropriate? I guess you're referring to the Dallas Morning News story and the Wall Street Journal story. Mistakes are made. Mistakes are made all the time. I am not that alarmed by these mistakes. I think they tend to correct themselves. Just because they're on the Internet doesn't mean they're less powerful, say, than if they are broadcast on CBS. I don't distinguish it. I don't think the rush to publish is any different than the rush to get it ready for the evening news. It's the same kind of rush. It's our history. Think about the Philadelphia newspaper that had 12 editions a day. What was that rush like? Probably a lot of sloppy stuff. But this is the kind of tradition we have. It's kind of sloppy. And, again, I don't advocate being sloppy, but that is our roots.

I have been doing some research on a book I'm writing - I hope to write - on populist journalism, and incredible history of reporting - quickly, fast, going up down the streets, screaming, "Extra, extra."

The problem I'm seeing immediately is if other Drudge Reports pop up - and they will - it is romantic to have one person running down the street screaming "Extra, extra," but if you have a thousand it could start looking like an insane asylum. So if indeed we start having tens of thousands of people all reporting news, hundreds of channels reporting news, all the different cable channels - click, click, click - I think people will grow disinterested. But again, they'll rally around something else. So I leave this to the free marketplace. Every reader I have comes to me. I've never placed an ad. They read me because they want to. The vice president will log on, hit my website because he wants to, et cetera.

MR. HARBRECHT: Since when is the rationalization "We've always been sloppy" a justification for tarnishing a great institution? Does the right of every citizen to shout, "Extra, extra, this just in," outweigh maintaining a professional ethic of journalism?

MR. DRUDGE: Professional. You see, the thing is you are throwing these words at me that I can't defend, because I'm not a professional journalist. I am not paid by anyone. So you are shutting the door in my face again, and I don't quite understand what that's about, because that is not the facts. I can print something without an editor. This is where we are now. I don't know exactly why that's so scary. I again put my name on everything I write, unlike a few other columnists in this room.

If I am here to defend what I am writing, why isn't that enough? Why isn't that enough as a freedom of press, the freedom of speech, to carry water? I think it is. I just don't throw out reckless stuff at all. I do great pains. There's been plenty of stories I have killed with problems attached to them. So I just don't buy that argument. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: One more time: Where do you receive your funding? I wonder if you could address that one more time please.

MR. DRUDGE: It's not Richard Mellon Scaife. [Applause] I had some money saved up from my gift shop days at CBS - a late bloomer. I have a small apartment, $600 a month rent. I drive a Metro Geo. I take the A Train sometimes when I'm coming out of New York to the airport. I don't need much money to do a start-up business like this. Anyone for any reason can launch a website - little or no money - Internet connection, local phone. The modem lets you cover the world. The modem lets you read what's happening if there is an earthquake in Alaska seconds after it happens. I think that's fun and dramatic - for free - by a medium that was built by taxpayer money. So perfectly realized. And, again, let the future begin. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: Matt, thank you for coming into the lion's den today. [Applause] I have a certificate of appreciation for you speaking at the National Press Club; "Reliable Sources," which is our 90th anniversary history of the National Press Club [laughter] till the end, till the end; and our chalice, the National Press Club mug.

MR. DRUDGE: Thank you.

MR. HARBRECHT: For our final question today, what is the biggest mistake you have made so far?

MR. DRUDGE: That's a really good question. I've made a few mistakes. Ever doubting my ability was my biggest mistake, because in the beginning I didn't think much that I had the right to report things. But I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

Whenever I tend to think, you know, "Oh, I probably shouldn't be reporting on the president of the United States, respect the office." I respect the office so much I want to cover it. And you know I maintain who is telling more truth this summer, me or the president of the United States? [Applause] So I don't have many regrets. I don't have many regrets. I don't have many regrets in that area, except for doubting that this was my God-given right and as an American citizen, and embracing it, and saying liberty is just wonderful, thanks to the people who have come before me who have stood up for it. And thank you. [Applause]

MR. HARBRECHT: I'd like to thank you for coming today, Mr. Drudge.


MR. HARBRECHT: I'd also like to thank National Press Club staff members Kate Goggin, Joanne Booze, Pat Nelson, Melanie Abdow-Dermott and Howard Rothman for organizing today's lunch. I hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you very much for coming. [Sounds gavel]

Matt Drudge - "The New Press" - Drudge Manifesto

The Drudge Report will forever be known as a great contributer to democracy. As an early adapter I was working on large interactive media buys when this excerpt was origianlly published. He's one of my favorite Americans.

By Matt Drudge and Julia Phillips
December 23, 1999
Hollywood, CA


This is the most exciting moment in the history of News.

Anyone from anywhere can cover anything.

And send it out to everyone.

Reports on last hour's 8.7-mag. quake in The Kodiak Islands of Alaska, tomorrow's firing of ConnieChung from THECBSEVENINGNEWS, or next week's NEWSWEEK’s spiking of a piece on past Presidential predilection for penile pumping by plump, politically-placed, post-pubescent White House Pretties can be dispatched faster than an incoming inter-continential blistered nuke. Fired from Pakistan, compliments of U.S. tech stolen by China, sold to Iran, transferred from Russia on Taiwanese hardware processed by Israeli software.

Hey, it’s The Zeroes.
Just hit the ENTER button.
I have. And lived to sell the tale.

If I'm not interesting, the world's not interesting.

If the DRUDGE REPORT is boring, the world is boring.

It’s Zero, Babies.
And if I’m boring, you’re boring.

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a 12-month year, 10 years a decade, 10 decades a century and 10 centuries a millennium, as far as a chip can see, wire services from all over the world move raw data…all over the world!

I can access, edit, headline and…link to it all!

Throw it up on a website and wait for you to come.

I’ve reported when, how, and what I’ve wanted.
My only limitations have been those I’ve created.
There’s been no editor, no lawyer, no judge, no president to tell me I can’t.
And there never will be.

Technology has finally caught up with individual liberty.

On the boulevards, we call it “freedom of the brain”.

In this post-satellite dish era - when individuals can broadcast their wetdreams with neither a license nor a handbook of regulations issued by Government - The Elites, fearing loss of power, see chaos and anarchy.

I see only sunshine.

The world is interesting, I’m interesting, you’re interesting.

It all starts with the wires. It all ends with the wires.

Information being power and all.

A random Associated Press NewsAlert© begets CNNBreakingNews© begets Reuters© begets Rush Limbaugh©. If the Alert™ becomes A Story after 157 minutes, it’ll beget 20/20DatelineEntertainmentTonight60Minutes®. If it lasts 3¼ days, it’ll run above the fold in TheNewYorkTimes® and below in TheNationalEnquirer™. Give it two weeks and someone at the New Yorker© will pound out a re-write, win a Pulitzer©. A month, and ScottRudinSherryLansingHarveyWeinstein(sm) options it for PaltrowDamonMingella® or P.T. Anderson©, thinking Oscar© just as David E. Kelley©, demanding Emmy, races a secret script for a series starring SomeoneSuperSkinny[PatentPending]. Still bouncing in six months? Billboard© pronounces SonyMottolaLaurynHill’s© rap will wrap up Grammy®. A year in, PrNewswire© reports DonDeLillo’s© handed in his first 1000 pages on a National Book Award Winner® that began…with the stray AP NewsAlert© a thousand cycles ago.

Welcome to the Zeroes, pal.

You’ll get it where you want it.

The buffet’s bigger than at WynnBellagio©.

I like to start the meal with the XINHUA wire from China mixed with KYODO from Japan.

A soupcon of AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE stirred with ITAR-TASS from Moscow.

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC wire for curry and the JERUSELUM POST for matzo.


UK’s PRESSASSOCIATION when it’s wet.

AdAgeDeadlineE!ChannelBskyBBBCFoxNews if I’m lonely.

DeutschePresse-AgenturMSNBCHollywoodReporter when I’m blue.

It’s always waiting for you.

Anywhere you want it. You can get it.

For the first time in the history of communication, you don’t have to live in a corporate “newsroom” for access to instant information. With a modem, a phone jack, and an inexpensive computer, your newsroom can be your living room, your bedroom… your bathroom, if you’re so inclined.

You can take on the Big Boys between flushes.

You can beat CNN to the announcement of Princess Diana’s death by eight minutes, as I once did, thanks to an e-tip from a reporter on the scene.

As They debate, edit, re-write, fix ‘n’ figure what the real slant is, you’ve reported it and graduated it.

Dished it, dismissed it, moved it.

And proved it.


Miss you like crazy, Julia.

January 03, 2002
Miami Beach

WSSI Web Side Story - Branson

Being a high tech man in a low tech town is can be difficult. In January I did some coopetitive analysis of the local market. Branson, Missouri may not seem like a big market, but, take a little closer look. 7 million tourists in a town of 5,000 is a feat to be reckoned with.

Deep in the heart of Branson beats an entrepreneurial heart and the benefits of the Internet are on the top of the list for those with an eye on the money. Some are in it for the quick cash - a few for the long play.

I set out to start a magazine early in the year. I figured the town wasn't ready for an online boom - we do after all, make a hefty profit off our image as a "back to your 18th century values kind of town". I still see a boom; I believe, it will peak in about two years.

I figured that was about the time frame for a few things to happen. Here's a few predictions preceding my scheduled 2007 Sabbatical:

1. More national players come to Branson
2. East-West Land Grab
3. Overhaul of state law from Attorney General on Time Share/Travel Clubs
4. Real Estate Developers/Time Shares cut deeper into the market with proprietary shows
5. Real Estate Market Peak 2007

I'm Still working on the magazine but needed to make a play that would help pave a good future and provide some much needed scrilla.

In six months of searching I've only came across one company in town that doesn't sell time share. Based on the premises listed above and their use of state of the art technology I decided to sign with Reserve Direct.

The catalyst - the main reason I knew these guys were serious is that they serious is because they used the best commerce tracking system on the planet. If you haven't heard - you better ask somebody. Ask NASDAQ - WSSI Web Side Story took a 10% jump today and analysts project higher then projected earnings.

My answer - Of course! Web Side Story is an "Ambassador of Qwon". Remember Jerry McGuire? This is the show me state and Web Side Story shows me the money. When companies choose good technology - good tools I believe it to be a good gauge of how they'll pan out in a toughening market.

Reserve Branson is well geared for the future. Think about it. While the travel industry gets more and more competitive - as shows have to negotiate rates barely floating above production costs, as resorts expand into new markets, as Branson grows - Reserve Branson has a model for the future. A company like Web Side Story can help make that happen. The thing I like out Reserve Branson is that they allow the industry to set it's own flexible pricing structure. A significant investment in technology puts the theatres in control and ultimately their own fate. We can help them - we can give them tips on how to increase their revenue - We can provide the best GeoDemographics with the greatest level of accuracy.

It's already started to pay off. Several million in direct online commerce without booking one timeshare tour. I have a strong message for the Theatres - use the tools we give you. Take advantage of a product designed to help you take the drivers seat. See the future and take a stake in it. When it comes to partners - think long term. That's why we do business with Web Side Story. Long term relationship success requires integrity. When it comes integrity of data Web Side Story is a winner. When it comes to integrity; Reserve Branson is unmatched.

Legalizing DDT and the Consitution

Reading the constitution posted in a local paper I noticed a modification. The Branson newspaper modified freedom of speech with "reasonable". I think it's important to note that one of the writers wrote a lenghty article last month detailing why DDT should be re-legalized.

Phyllis often brings good points up in her argument and has proved to be a powerful voice for conservatives. She often brings fresh perspective, more so, a gauge of the party line.

The question I have is "Who is to determine what is reasonable?"

Live Bait Machine

Live Bait Machine Actually Exists
BE News Branson

If you want to catch fish call Dave’s fishing guide service. If you’re hungry go to Electric Park in Forsyth. All you can eat (6 is the limit with a trout tag) brown trout.

After Gas prices rose to 1.59 a gallon (remember when you thought that was expensive) I decided it was time to hijack Dom Haygood’s moped. Soon after, I became hungry and decided it was time to head to Forsyth for some tasty trout. Unable to juggle two fishing poles a cooler and tackle box underneath a bungee cord, I decided the tackle box had to go.

I was so distracted by the .25 cents it cost in gas to drive across town , I thought it was 35, that I almost failed to notice the live bait machine in front of the Prime Time gas station. (See picture above). After confirming from the tall unamused man behind the counter three times, I was almost convinced that this innovation to improve the hillbilly arts was actually true. A few quarters later I learned the joy only a 25-cent gas bill could match

If the Military had a bake sale...

Local conservative columnist and suthor of Area 417 has joined a campaign to "suppport your local sniper". The campaign is aimed at getting snipers in Iraq the proper gear they need to effectively do their job. The argument is that the military cannot afford the proper gear needed to protect these soldiers in the field. Donations are accepted to provide snipers in the field with state of the art equipment.

Jerry Garcia - 10 Years Gone

I remember the days - the madness - the circus in every city that that Greatful Dead arrived in. Crowds of busses and body odor covered with pachuli oil (the smell still reminds me of it today. The Greatful Dead and the memories left are bitter sweet. When traveling across the country I otten meet up with people I've only known during my times with the Dead. There were some great memories and great tragedies the life of Jerry Garcia makes me ponder.

Grand Crowne - Blue Green

Several lawsuits have been filed this week against Grand Crowne and Blue Green. Violations of Consumer Fraud protection Act were made against the companies. Over the next week this issue will be covered in more detail.

Peter Jennings - True American

Peter Jennings died this morning of Lung Cancer. Most of you are sophistated enough to have recieved this story before you've arrived here.
You probably know he was born Canadian and enjoyed dual citizenship. Here's something you probably didn't know.
Peter Jennings always carried a copy of the US Constitution in his pocket. His story is one of preserverence which led to the first American reporting beureau in the Middle East.
Decades of delivering the news to generations of Americans led him into the living rooms of most every household. He's been someone I've always admired.
Our country is founded on a free press. Sacred documents such as (one of my personal favorites) Common Sense were neccesary for us to gain freedom. Just as our forefather's saw the press as a neccesity for freedom to prosper a free press ensures our freedom for generations to come.
Thank you Peter. May God keep you. You may have been born Canadian - To me you're a true American.

Rivers of Coke - Pills of Pot - International

One of the most interesting stories of the week was the Italian governments analysis of cocaine use through analyzing the sewage in a local river to measure local consumption.

It's also been reported that the Canadian government has accepted Bayer's application to deal pot to Canadian pharmacies in pill form. Numerous reports reveal "terminally ill" patients seeking prescriptions from Canadia pharmacies. One mother reported that her 11 year old son has prescriptions to narcotics but has found marijuana to be the best relief.

Though many states have passed Medical Marijuana bills, the Federal government has maintained a firm position and no-tolerance policy with or without a doctor's prescription.

***Edtitors Note:This is a highly unusual post for this blog. It was posted to a news blog before Matt Drugde or Wired got a hold of it. Posted for boasting rights only

SAHD - Another Man's Job

You know - Glenn might be on to something here. Glen Sacks is a Stay At Home Dad.

Top of Christian Charts - Local Band - Calls From Home

Calls from Home has a really catchy sound. When I was first given a copy of the band's self titled EP I didn't really think twice about it - "I figured id hear it whenever I got around to it". Later in the week I found myself looking for "that song" on my CD player. Their sound, approach and demeaner is similiar to that of the Christian Rock bann "Switchfoot".

I don't really understand the whole Christian Rock genre. I don't hear counter clerks identifying themselves as "Christian Counter Clerks" or "Christian Garbage Men".

In this case it doesn't really matter. However you want to classify these guyes - they just Rock.

Hold On - Radio Version *Click Here to Listen*

Haygood's - Hey These Guys Work Hard

I expect some good things out of the Haygood's this year. I took some no nonsense time with Dom Haygood the other night. These guys are working really hard to bring their show and careers to the next level. It's not uncommon for them to stay hours after each show to continue the creative process they work so hard on during the day.

Sometimes, I think it's hard to be an artist in this town. Branson's market forces artists to stay inside of a box. When you're young, talented and have a vision for the future - that's a hard box to stay inside.

Missouri to get millions for new roads

In a recent discussion with the Missouri's Economic Development department; infrastructre was defined as the largest barrier to economic growth.

New Roads Branson Daily News/AP
Techorati To
Branson Mo
Branson Missouri

Taxes on Timeshare - Hawaii

Several suggestions have been made regarding Time-Share and tax issues. A recent move in Hawaii addressed this issue.

Sticking the Tax to Timeshare Owners
By Lowell L. Kalapa, 8/1/2005 12:17:51 AM
Last year, Maui county government officials slapped the timeshare industry with a much higher real property tax rate by creating a brand new category called timeshares, and now it seems the City & County of Honolulu is following suit.

The reasoning behind this move, it seems, is the Transient Accommodations Tax, or TAT, is determined on the basis of the "fair market value," which for time share units is defined as "an amount equal to one-half the gross daily maintenance fees that are paid by the owner."

This was the best approximation lawmakers could come up with when they passed the amendment to the TAT law that levies the tax on time share units. Advocates of the separate category for timeshare units argue that as a result of basing the TAT on maintenance charges, substantially less in TAT revenue is produced than the tax would if applied to a regular rental of a hotel room.

Thus, timeshare units are perceived as not paying their "fair share" of the cost of the impact they make on the county’s facilities and services.

However, imposing a higher real property tax rate on this particular type of transient accommodation has some hidden problems that are not readily perceptible at the out set.

For example, if the timeshare is rented out as a hotel room, the TAT is calculated on the gross income of the rental and not on the maintenance fees charged to the owner.

Because the room is categorized as a time share for real property assessment purposes, the higher rate is levied regardless of the fact that for some of the weeks some of the time share units may actually be rented out as regular hotel rentals.

Segregating timeshare units into a separate category from other transient accommodations raises another problem and that is where there is a mix of regular hotel rooms for rent and timeshare units within the same facility. Will the property be placed in the hotel/resort category or will it be placed in the timeshare category?

What this new category does do is to set a precedent by segregating types of transient accommodations into distinct sub categories. While timeshares have been around for a long time, there are other types of transient accommodations beginning to make an appearance on the landscape. What the county councils will do when these various taxes become major forces in the visitor industry.

For example, in Honolulu the debut of condo-hotel rooms is beginning to grab the attention of buyers across the state and across the nation. This is where former hotel rooms are being sold to investors to be used either for long-term occupancy or to be rented through a pool of rentals as a hotel room. Will the county councils create yet another category for this new type of transient accommodation?

The efforts of the county councils to squeeze more revenues out of these types of accommodations are misdirected. Think about timeshares -- they are an accommodation purchased for use by the owner for a short period of time. However, that new owner of the timeshare no longer has to be convinced to come to Hawaii for a vacation. Thus, there is no need to market Hawaii to the time share owner as he or she has bought a stake in Hawaii and plans to return time and again.

Part of the TAT collections goes for the marketing and promotion of Hawaii as a visitor destination, so there is no need to use the TAT paid by that timeshare owner to market Hawaii to him. Based on that rationale, then it could be argued that all of the TAT collected from a timeshare should go directly to the counties to off set the cost of maintaining public facilities used by that time share owner.

And since time share units can be identified by county, tax collectors, as well as managers of time share units, know exactly how much is collected on time share units in that county. Thus, allocations of the TAT collected on timeshares can be accurately allocated to a particular county.

More importantly, county officials should think carefully about the implications of singling out this one type of transient accommodation for a much higher tax rate because the higher rate discourages the growth of this particular segment of the industry, and so Hawaii may be losing a stabilizing force in the visitor industry.

Given that a timeshare owner has made a commitment to return again and again to the Islands, it insures the continued prosperity of the state economy.

Instead of hoping and wishing every year that visitors travel to Hawaii, Hawaii is guaranteed that either the owner or another timeshare owner will fill that unit.

Lowell L. Kalapa is the president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a private, non-profit educational organization. For more information, please call 536-4587 or log on to reports the real news, and prints all editorials submitted, even if they do not represent the viewpoint of the editors, as long as they are written clearly. Send editorials to