Fridley page 59

[no source, March 18, 1941]

R. Newton McDowell Says Justice Dept. Wants To Settle For 50 Per Cent Of Assessment
Contends Gov’t. Taking It Out On Missouri Farmers Ignore Sales In the Other States

            KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 18.—R. Newton McDowell, Kansas City contractor who acquired the land for the TNT plant at Weldon Spring, Mo., for the government, telegraphed Senator Bennett C. Clark tonight that he has been informed by a Department of Justice representative the government intends to pay 50 per cent above the assessed valuation on the land it has failed to take over.
            The War Department has canceled options on 140 tracts of land in the area because of the “excessive prices” stipulated in contracts signed by McDowell, who is to get a 5 per cent commission.
            McDowell’s wire to Senator Clark follows:
            “This sop which you quote from the Undersecretary of War about liberal appraisals for the land owners in the Weldon Spring area is a joke, for the Undersecretary will have nothing to do with condemnation proceedings, as this will be handled by Justice Department and the latter’s representative told me they proposed to pay into court 50 per cent more than the assessed valuation.
            “They couldn’t pay liberal appraisals and be consistent with the charges against me. In Iowa and Indiana, where the agents took a cut in commissions, the government paid in full all the officially accepted options. What about the $2,000,000 purchase at Laporte, Ind., the [?] purchase in Will County, [?] and the seven other munitions [?] under investigation?
Flimsy Charges
            “Missouri is the only place they are taking it out on the farmers because the agent who handled the acquisition for the War Department had a sound legal contract and knew he had done an honest, conscientious job and would not be badgered into taking a cut in commissions to the self-aggrandizement of some Justice Department attorneys.
            “Their flimsy charges of excess values was based on appraisals made of 10 of the most expensive tracts in the area, made by three appraisers, one a filling station operator in St. Charles, one a farm machinery salesman at Old Orchard and the third a farmer from Matson, and in some cases they had to use their imagination as the buildings had been demolished.
            “This whole thing is a rank repudiation by the government and smells to high heaven and with all of Missouri’s bright lights in Washington they seem powerless to help these farmers.”