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Taking the Task Force to Task

Yesterday I covered the first meeting of the Missouri Auto Jobs Task force in Jefferson City. I came into the station with a few weak ideas, my main one about the potential closing of “Lover’s Leap” at the Lake of the Ozarks. But, since the weather was so bizarre yesterday, Stacey and I agreed it would be tough to do that story without being able to see the view that makes this “Lover’s Leap” so popular. With all the other reporters out on flood/accident/fire coverage stemming from the weather, I took that assignment. It sounded interesting anyway – I’m a car geek and I figured it would be intriguing to hear what the Task Force was up to. I got to the meeting, held in the Governor Office Building (not his house, or the Capitol – this building is on Madison St.) a few minutes after it began. It was a much smaller meeting than I expected. There were about 8 or 9 government/industry/representative people in the room with one other reporter. I didn’t use the lav mic at all and just relied on the boom mic. It picked up audio fairly well even with no speakers and a somewhat loud ventilation system, and I used several bites from the meeting where I just happened to be filming when people said interesting things. For instance, the Ford Motor Company representative spoke about centralized manufacturing plants, and I happened to be recording when he mentioned that. Same for the GM rep – right when I hit record, he was talking about how the company plans to start making a small, fuel-efficient car in the U.S. in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Tennessee. Otherwise, it was pretty standard BOPSA video, but I knew that would be something to work around.

I hit the road over to Mike Kehoe’s Ford dealership in Jefferson City since much of the meeting dealt with Ford’s interaction with state and local governments. I figured it would be good to get someone from the dealership to talk to, and get some of their cars on camera. I shot some video of the cars currently made in Ford’s Kansas City plant, and then some video of the ones made outside of Missouri – i.e. the small, fuel efficient cars that could be made in MO if “plant retooling” occurs with help from the state. I shot a standup in front of those – the Focuses and Fusions – and later spoke with Mike Kehoe himself on camera about the Task Force ideas. He was surprisingly friendly to me and understandably so since he is a relatively public figure in Jefferson City and in transportation politics of Missouri. I figured I had enough to make a good package – for me, this topic was really interesting, so even if it wasn’t humanized as much as it could have been (i.e. by finding a Mid-Mo parts supplier who might be affected by some of the Task Force’s ideas) I was still happy with what I had. It felt much more NEWS and TODAY than some of the stories I’ve done, so I didn’t mind the lack of humanization in the story. Throw in the economic impact, and I think it sort of makes up for the abundance of talking heads in the story.

I enjoyed a pretty easy Monday, preparing just a package for the 6 and a vo/sot/vo for the 10. Both aired in the A blocks.
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Interesting sidenote to my experience at the Kehoe dealership… When I first got there, it was raining very heavily. So, I did my best to finagle a plastic bag and umbrella out of the showroom so I could shoot some video outside without destroying the camera. As I was walking around, an old Pontiac coupe drove into the parking lot with some guy in the passenger seat and a woman driving. The man waved at me as they went past, and me being the “polite TV man” I waved back. I saw the man get out of the car and it was obvious he had some disability as he was using a walker to get around, yet didn’t appear too old.

By this time, the rain was torrential and I stood underneath the back door of the KOMU Scion to stay under cover. The woman who drove him walked him up to the door into the dealership holding an umbrella over his head while she got soaked. I was very confused. The rain subsided a bit and I went inside. I overheard conversation between a saleswoman and the man, apparently he wanted to test drive a Lincoln Town Car. I didn’t think much of it and kept doing my thing – shooting video and being a good reporter. I went back outside as the weather cleared up suddenly, and shot a standup. I saw the man get into the Town Car with his woman, and I saw them drive off, again, didn’t think much of it.

I shot my standup, and when I went back inside the dealership, I heard one of the managers answer his phone inside his office, listen for a moment, shout a few commands and say “I’LL BE RIGHT OVER”, and hang up. He came out of his office, visibly angry, looking for the saleswoman who let the semi-disabled man man test drive a $46,000+ car. He said quite loudly, “That man you let out in the Lincoln? Just got broadsided by the Papa Johns!” The rest of what they said was inconsequential, but I was just surprised that stuff like that actually happens – someone going out for a test drive in an expensive luxury vehicle and getting into an accident. I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the way the man behaved walking into the dealership (by that I mean his body language, conversation, physical appearance, etc) he did NOT seem fit to drive. On the other hand, he had a valid drivers’ license and insurance, so he was perfectly within his rights to take the car out for a drive. I guess it goes as one salesman said to me yesterday after the incident, “It’s tough, but we gotta let em drive.” And I’d imagine dealerships have a ton of insurance for this very purpose. Plus, I believe your insurance is liable if the accident is your fault when using a car like that.

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