Roger Studdard is an Army specialist currently serving his second tour in Iraq. While there, he told my KMOX colleague Jon Grayson about a problem he had run into with the office of the Governor of Missouri, Matt Blunt. Roger wanted a little something that would remind him of home, so on February 6th, he wrote to a staff member in the Governor’s office:
I am sending this letter in regards to my home state of Missouri, in which I hold a substantial amount of pride in being from. The point of this letter is that I am requesting a full sized Missouri flag. I think that this is a modest request from someone in my situation. It is well known that I am proudly serving the United States of America, and I want to also show that I am proud to be from and serving the great state of Missouri as well. I hope you will grant this request for a combat tanker and fellow Missourian.
Roger was stunned when he received this reply on official letterhead from the Office Of The Governor, dated February 10th:
Thank you for your correspondence dated February 6, 2006.
We appreciate your request for a free Missouri state flag. Unfortunately due to the current state budget restrictions, we are unable to grant your request. I recommend you contact one of the merchants listed on the enclosed document for further assistance.
Again, thank you for contacting our office. If we may be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Constituent Services Liaison
Attached to the letter was a list of companies that sell the flags.
When Jon told me this story on the air yesterday, I was shocked and outraged. I told him that I could open up the KMOX phone lines and within one minute get a listener who would be willing to get a flag and send it to Roger.
All of the lines lit up immediately. Adam Piel, a listener and a Missouri taxpayer, was on the first line I picked up. He agreed to buy a Missouri state flag and send it to Roger as soon as I could get his mailing address.
Problem solved, just that quickly.
To make it even better, several minutes later I got a phone call on the air from Mary Kay, who works in the office of State Rep. Neal St. Onge. She, too, was surprised at the response from Mr. Taylor in the Governor’s office, particularly since Governor Blunt is still an officer in the Naval Reserves.
Mary Kay told me that she would be more than happy to make sure that Roger not only gets a Missouri state flag, but one that has flown atop the statehouse in Jefferson City, along with a certificate of authenticity.
Sure, that’s a political PR move, but it’s a good one — in the office of every other politico in the area, they must have been banging their head and wondering, “Why weren’t we smart enough to call Paul and get this good-guy publicity injection from KMOX?” And I’d rather the flag go off to one of our men with boots on the ground in Iraq than to some lobbyist with a comfy office here.
The bottom line is that, since Joseph Taylor blew this one, I’m coordinating with both Mary Kay and Adam to have them each send a Missouri flag to Roger. He can hang one in his quarters and give the second to another Missourian he comes upon — call it the “Constituent Services Field Office.”
Update 3/16/06: The flags are in the mail for Army Specialist Roger Studdard in Iraq, and Governor Blunt’s office admits that they blew it.
After the segment of my KMOX show yesterday about the soldier and the flag, I heard from Carrie in Rep. St. Onge’s office the next day:
Just wanted to let you know that Spc. Studdard’s flag was flown over the Missouri State Capitol this morning and we’re in the process of mailing it to him this afternoon.
Adam Piel, one of my listeners who volunteered to help out, also called me that afternoon to say he’d just returned from the post office, where he had mailed Spc. Studdard a Missouri flag he had just purchased.
I also heard from Spence Jackson, Governor Blunt’s communications director:
Heard about yesterday’s show. This was a mistake on our part. We should have referred the soldier to the Missouri House of Representatives which has a program in place to get Missouri Flags for people who request them.
I pointed out to Spence that instead of “referring” Spc. Studdard to the House, the Governor’s office should have just taken care of it themselves.
I asked if Joseph Taylor, the Constituent Services Liaison who had initially denied Spc. Studdard’s request, had been fired. Jackson said no, but Taylor’s supervisor has made sure that he and everyone else in the office knows what to do the next time they get a request like this.
Now we’re waiting to hear from Spc. Studdard when he receives the flags, and then I’ll be able to report that this matter is closed.