Branson Flood 2011 Photojournal

Branson Landing Flood 2011 Photo by Darin Codon. Click photo to enlarge image to full screen. The photo was shot from Mt. Branson on the east side of Lake Taneycomo (Table Rock Lake Tailwater

Coverdell VS Branson Landing - Southern District Court of Appeals to Hear Arguments this Morning (Pre-Trial Editorial)

John Locke proposed that every man had the right to "Life, Liberty and Land". The assumption of land came from the belief that we are all descendents of a common ancestor - Adam.

Knowing this resource was finite and the integrity of a new nation could not guarantee this asset for everyone, our constitutional forefather Thomas Jefferson replaced "land" with the "pursuit of happiness". There is wisdom in understanding men's souls are guided in different directions and while one individual may pursue the aquisition of land another may find peace praying to the almighty - or fishing. In a free nation we have this choice.

The judicial system, if pure, enables the pursuit of happiness and consequently the transfer of land as the owners see fit. While one entity may choose to build an Empire on the Lake Taneycomo lakefront, others may seek to preserve a fishing hole.

The tradition of judges in the Judeo Christian tradition is outlined in the Old Testament/Torah - Book of Leviticus. Priests were assigned to the task as such power necessitated the up-most of integrity and the consequences of a compromise would be devastional to society.

The recent dissertation of Missouri Supreme Court Justice William Ray Price Jr. to the Missouri Legislature addresses the cause of judicial integrity as a cornerstone of America's economic greatness:

"Goods and services can be bought and sold, money can be exchanged, people can plan for the future, but only because they can trust in a fair and impartial judiciary to protect their property and their rights."

In many cases justice is compromised by the sheer fact we have not priests but rather attorney to proxy our interests before a judge. And many a sin against men is left unpunished because the victim has little financial recourse to properly fight a goliath.

After penning details of a jury trial in which Doug Coverdell's ownership of a large portion of the Branson Landing citizens have complained of similar land disputes where Empire District Electric claims to own property along Lake Taneycomo's shore against the belief of the presumed owner. After notifying a claim to a landowner - generally for docks - an offer by Empire allows the owner to lease his dock for a relatively small amount. The price is a small fraction of what it would cost to fight the behemouth and thus some choose to pay.

In the case of Doug Coverdell Vs. Empire District Electric another route was chosen. Empire chose to file a quiet title suit and the nightmare that ensued continued until a jury trial confirmed Coverdell as the rightful owner. Between the initial challenge by Empire and Coverdell's victory, the Branson Landing lakefront project was built. Much less than the average charge for a  "dock fee" an annual rate of $1.00 is being charged for lease from Empire District Electric to the City of Branson - in this case on land a jury ruled Empire does not own.

Common sense would dictate a quick settlement involving compensation and transfer of title; however, an apparently sinister plot would guide a different path. The total cost to fight Coverdell is unknown, but the city of Branson allocated $750,000 in legal expenses this year. Tax dollars are being used to fight a citizen who at one time begged for minimal consideration.

The shenanigans pulled along the way are awe inducing. From court documents missing from the record, to parallel titles being filed the reek of foul play taints. Though lawful, the five years of court proceedings would bankrupt most businessmen, perhaps most businesses. It appears that Empire attempted to perpetually lock the land in litigation as when the court pushed the case to trial (not accepting any more delays) the case was immediately dropped. The fact Coverdell filed a countersuit must have been overlooked. Instead of Empire District Electric filing another quiet title suit locking Coverdell out for many more years the countersuit was quickly heard at the Taney County Courthouse.

Having followed and read court filings for two years I was a leg up. I patiently waited for my peers in the press to inform the public an estimated $50,000,000 chunk of land ownership was in contrast to hundreds of stories iterating Empire/Branson ownership was confirmed untrue by the most respected form of justice in the American system - the jury.

Rea;zing local media outlets weren't going to run the story without prompting it was published on the Branson Missouri site. Reporters from around southwest Missouri grappled for coverage, but as their main asset in the case was an unsuccessful aggressor whose prose are reiterated and pawned to the public as news, the trial results were editorialized. The losers had the press locked down which they used to belittle the findings, taunt the land owner and deliver speculation favorable to their cause to the public.

A reporter for the Springfield News-Leader called several times but was unwilling to make a trip to the Taney County Courthouse to grab the file. KSPR, instead of reporting the jury findings speculated about a trial no reporter was present at. The Branson Daily News reporter used only the losing attorney's wishful statement to stain the front page and the Branson Daily Independent used their front page to show the shortcomings of the Branson Daily News report highlighting the false statements methodology allowed their competitor to pen.

While the City of Branson was all to happy to use their power full force to soothe the public and fight bad press with speculative statements to belittle the jury findings they failed to file an appeal within the 30 day window.

Slowing the wheels of justice further they took what could in the end exceed one million in tax payer funds to undo the jury findings. A year later both Empire and Branson will have a few minutes to convince the three member Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals that a red herring is large enough to command a re-trial.

In secret places there is fear. The fear is that the system of justice could be compromised with favor or bribe rather than strict compliance with the rule of law. There is no reason to believe the corruption Branson has a reputation for is powerful enough to dwarf justice at this level. But the behavior of the City of Branson and Empire District Electric demands answers.

And it should be known while millions are being put on the table, while tax dollars are squandered to feed the most talented attorneys from a county with epidemic poverty at no point did Branson's Mayor Presley nor the Branson Board of Alderman sit humbly at the table with Coverdell to ask how the dispute could be settled.

We should hope and pray that the courts have more honor than what has been displayed by the city and more common sense than the average politician who believe not in a common God but rather one biased to a few individuals who squander public funds to promote their biases.

A Quick Guide to Eastern Taney County Girls

The Eastern Taney County Girl is a species like no other. Perhaps, women are  bred  similarly in other parts of rural North America, however;  I haven't spent enough time outside of Urban and Suburban America to offer a solid conclusion about the matter.

What  makes an Eastern Taney County Girl  unique is her affection towards what I term the Hillbilly Arts. These include hunting, fishing, caving and mudding (aka offroad path-finding)

Vehicle  - First Date
While the Los Angelean variety (which I'm most accustomed to ) tends to gravitate towards gentlemen sporting Porsche and Mercedes; The Eastern Taney County Girl is likely to find most comfort in a vehicle equipped with off-road capacity. On a whim, she can be easily entertained by a bumpy ride through the Ozarkian hills known as knobs which stretch a good 60 miles continually in most every direction from the Taney County Seat. .

More than the  style, year, make or model is the  importance of the drivers capacity to navigate puddles, small streams and rocky steep terrain. In fact, a successful excursion off road is likely to enable the driver to accrue a second date.

Fishing - Second Date
If you listen carefully, the Taney County Girl will divulge a wide array of fishing secrets should you succeed at gaining her affections with your master navigation through the outer hills. Her knowledge of fishing techniques is gleaned from the wider culture around her. If your first date lacked conversation about fishing (which would be a big mistake) you can successfully recover from finding a rural gas station with a small cafe. Generally, every Eastern Taney County municipality has at least one.

Taney County Council of Elders
Within the confines of the gas station, without exception, will reside a council of elders. The council of elders is a group of elderly retired men, generally wearing overalls or worn in dungarees, who play a game called "first liar loses". When one of the elderly men submits a statement about an achievement or accomplishment each one in the group will one-up with statement with a more outrageous claim to his manliness or blessing. For instance, if the first spotted a six-point deer in a field across from the gas-station, the second will have seen an 8 point deer. Should three men in the council of elders be present a 10 point deer is something he undoubtedly spotted before any other of the men in the group. Thus, the first exaggeration is put to shame however trivial the statement might be. The game will continue throughout the afternoon until the establishment shuts down or their wives have finished preparing a proper supper.

A successful interaction with the council of elders can be profitable indeed; particularly if your ambition is to successfully court an Eastern Taney County Girl. When it comes to local knowledge, especially pertaining to the Hillybilly Arts, their brain's index is greater than google, contains more phone numbers than the local yellow pages and more precise than the springtime clockwork bloom of the redbud tree. The key is to have the council of elders compete to provide the best fishing spots, hunting grounds and cave locations. Ask the council correctly and you will yield a massive repository of who, where, when and how to traverse locations not ordinarily available to outsiders.

Second Date
After the proper knowledge is obtained you are ready to re-engage and Eastern Taney County Belle. Politeness must be balanced with a rugged appreciation for boundry. Creature comforts are appreciated and your vehicle should be properly armed with blankets, ignition device (lighter, flint/steel or match), snacks (marshmallows are a bonus) fishing gear, flashlight, firearm, can of gasoline and emergency preparedness kit.
The Eastern Taney County Girl is most comfortable near a freshly struck fire and will likely partake in consuming freshly caught fish. Beverages are must since you'll likely come to a point in the evening where you are far from civilization. .

If your excursion involves hunting or fishing it's important to set the Eastern Taney County Girl up correctly by ensuring she makes a slay. She will never forget the man who she was with when she killed a deer, turkey or large fish and her affections will be earned forevermore. A new cave is equally memorable as is a bonfire should your skills in the Hillbilly arts be limited.

A small subset should be approached with caution and at all costs should be avoided. Though I have yet to coin a proper term for this dangerous group of Eastern Taney County females, if there was a Barbie Doll for the subset, she would be overly tattooed, come with a trailer, meth lab,  ex-boyfriend prison Ken who could be traded in for welfare Ken in three to five years.