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Out of the Morgue
Voting and the fourth estate in 1955
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Following the successful ballot measure to repeal the city manager, the following cartoon by political cartoonist Duke Rush ran in the April 9, 1955 edition of the Great Bend Herald-Press indicating the city was taking a step back into the past rather than the future. - photo by Tribune file image

This week in 1955,  US Customs seized copies of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” as obscene.  A year later, it was judged to be not obscene.  The song, “Ballad of Davy Crockett” became the top record in the US, and “On the Waterfront,” starring Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly won at the 27th Academy Awards.

Getting out the vote
In Great Bend, spring election season was heating up with a ballot measure to eliminate the position of City Manager, going back to the Mayor-City Council form of government.  A petition containing 902 signatures was brought to Great Bend’s City Clerk Kenneth Hoar at 4:30 p.m. the week before, just hours before the filing deadline.  And, while the petition neglected to “pray for the city clerk to place the matter on the ballot as is set up by law,” the city attorney, Barton Carothers, would advise the city council to go ahead and put it on the ballot.  
Voters were urged through full-paged ads by those opposed to the measure to vote “no, and retain the efficient form of government Great Bend how has.”  
At the April 5 election, however, the yes vote won, and the Herald-Press editorial on the following Thursday had this to say...
“The vote is official, the people have been heard and Great Bend is soon to be without a city manager form of government.
“We live in a democracy where the majority rules and 119 more persons expressed themselves as being against the city manager form as against those who favored this type of government, so that is that.It is our hope that those on both sides...will close ranks and work for one end--the continued growth of Great Bend.  
“The city council will have a big task in converting our city government from the council-manager form to the mayor-council type.
“Mayor Joe McMullen will assume a large load on his shoulders as he becomes the administrator for a growing community....”
April 7, the voters will once again have an opportunity to vote their conscience and while there are not any ballot measures to decide this time around, the very fact there is a spring election this year is an issue being debated in the state.   Here is a quiz for our readers.  At some point between 1955 and the present day, the voters decided to transform to a city administrator-mayor-council form of government.  What year did this happen?  Check back next week for the answer.  

Fourth Estate
An incident at a library board meeting prompted an editorial pointing out the duty of the press to inform taxpayers.  The subject was the mill levy the board imposed, and the use of the funds.
“We can get up to $40,000 in tax money and spend it the way we see fit.  We can gold plate the roof of the library and throw a beer bust in city park with the money and the people don’t have a right to attend our meeting because we’re an appointive board.”
The above is the gist of a conversation preceding an invitation for a member of the press to take his presence elsewhere when he tried to cover a special meeting of the library board last week.
We’ve got news for the august ladies and gentlemen who sit on the library board.  That $40,000 which you can request, and under law receive from a two mill tax, comes from the pockets of the Great Bend Taxpayer, who is entitled to know how you spend every dime of his hard earned cash.
We member of the fourth estate do not particularly care to attend your sometimes dull meetings, but it is our duty to find out what you are doing and report it to the people who ponie up the money with which you work.”
The editorial goes on to point out the board has done an excellent job with the library so far, but not to suppose it is beyond the scrutiny of the press.
Recently, the Great Bend library board made news again, but this time there was no attempt to bar the press.  Board members instead communicated with the press in order to ensure the public was aware of the events leading up to a situation in which the city had little choice to make a loan to the board to complete renovations to the library building.