Opinion: Slanted presentation points out pitfalls of considering unsolicited information

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

A presentation about the dangers of a federal land grab seemed legit enough. Angel Cushing, a woman from the small town of Allen in Lyon County, Kan., presented a packet of information to the commissioners about the dangers of working with Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, an organization based in Lawrence.

However, as she continued to disparage that organization during her presentation, it became clear that something was amiss. As she claimed the boundaries of the national heritage area were boundaries that could eventually be used by the U.S. Department of the Interior to take over more land from private owners, it became more evident that this was a Facebook-worthy conspiracy theory that had jumped from the screen into the commission's chamber.

After saying that many Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts had no ending dates and could thus be some design on taking private property, she requested that Linn County opt out of the National Heritage Area. She also asked commissioners to pass a resolution condemning President Joe Biden's call to preserve 30 percent of U.S. land by the year 2030 – the so-called 30 x 30 plan.

Much of what she said was untrue or simply an attempt to see conspiracies that aren't there. Certainly her statements about the Freedom's Frontier NHA wasn't true.

Linn County historical organizations gave input and direction in creating Freedom's Foundation 15 years ago. The NHA is a tool that helps drive tourist dollars to Linn County.

Forty-one counties in eastern Kansas and western Missouri are included in the area covered by Freedom's Frontier NHA, which focuses solely on promoting the historical sites in the area, including Linn County.

As a public governing body, the Linn County Commission often hears presentations by county residents as well as those who live outside the county. It has maintained a public comment time on its weekly agenda to hear concerns, gripes and – occasionally – praise.

That is how local governments should gather citizen input. It's just that sometimes presentations can include incomplete or simply wrong information to advance an unclear agenda.

Fortunately, the commission didn't take the bait this time, unlike the commissioners in Allen County. Clearly, before the commission takes actions on requests like Cushing's, more information and research is needed.

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