SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – J. Michael Hasty; United States Army war veteran and former City Council candidate in 2021 has drummed up a helpful non-profit organization to help the citizens of Springfield get a clearer lens into their local government.
When Hasty lost his race, he began to evaluate the interactions that he had with the public during his campaign. During that time, Hasty learned a lot of details about the city – details of which most common people did not have knowledge of or access to until he formed The Queen City Watchdog.
The Queen City Watchdog is a non-profit organization that actively lets the Springfield city government know that they are being watched closely. The group often writes letters to the city and the school board via Sunshine request, which gives them access to any public record that they choose.
“We have all financial transactions between the Chamber of Commerce and the city of Springfield,” said Hasty. “That’s public information, but they don’t release it. The Watchdog is here to disseminate information of what goes on in the city to the people and get people to engage. We’re here to be a voice for people who feel like they don’t have one if they are being outshouted and beat down by those with louder voices.”
Recently, the Queen City Watchdog brought a major Springfield Public School controversy to light in the form of ‘Critical Race Theory’. The group has sent Sunshine requests to SPS regarding CRT, which they say that the school system has tried to “disguise” in the name of “diversion equity that includes inclusion and equality training”.
The SPS teachers were given an oppression matrix. On this plan, it stated that white individuals are the oppressors and people of color are the oppressed.
“We filed a Sunshine request, but when the school board wants to charge me hundreds of thousands of dollars for information that should be made public, that tells me everything that we need to know,” Hasty said. “You are hiding something and trying to make it almost unobtainable. The cheapest thing that they were going to give me on the Sunshine request was $5,000.”
The Queen City Watchdog feels that if the schools are not trying to hide anything from the parents or students, then there should not be an issue turning over records of information on the subject.
“If any of this is truly about teaching true history, that information should be furnished with no problem saying, ‘Look this is what we’re doing’, but nothing is being provided and that’s my problem as a parent,” Hast said.
“That’s an issue that I have with the school board, being a father of four who raises their children to not see the color of someone’s skin.”
In the Watchdog’s recent findings, they discovered that last year’s school board voted unanimously to give special emergency power to the superintendent. The school board did not vote for the mask mandates that will be implemented into SPS schools this school year, it was the superintendent’s sole decision.
“We need to take the power back from the school just being one person and give it back to the board,” Hasty said. “We need that conversation. I feel people need to get out and vote because these people are influencing our children’s future.”
Only thirteen and a half percent of Springfield’s citizens came out to vote for the 2021 city council election. Queen City Watchdog is calling for more citizens to get out and vote in the next election and encouraging people to get involved more and engage with the city.
As for the Queen City Watch Dog’s website, while they do have merchandise such as t-shirts and stickers, the money goes towards projects like Sunshine Law requests, upcoming town halls, and reservations for group meeting spots.
“It’s very easy to find out who your [representative] is,” Hasty said of the Watchdog’s website. “How to contact them and when they are up for re-election. Before we Sunshine requested the information at the school board’s website, they did not give the e-mails to all of the school board members.
“On our website, you can email each school board member directly. It’s a matter of public record. We have a link to the Springfield, Missouri charter on our page with the information about the managers, the deputy managers, the clerk, the public information officer, the police, and the fire chief. There are also links to click where you can find your zone rep. It will take you directly to that part of the city’s page rather than having to dig through the city’s non-user-friendly page. We made it a little more user-friendly.”
Individuals can find school board and city council meeting times on the website as well. Queen City Watchdog encourages all citizens of Missouri to be more concerned about what their local government is engaging in and to look deeper than the top layer. For Missourians in the Springfield area, the group encourages citizens to visit their website at www.queencitywatchdog.com for more information on the city government.