Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shocker: Globe editorial criticizes vouchers

It's not often I agree with the Joplin Globe Editorial Board, but it is right on the money when it comes to its criticism of educational vouchers.
In an editorial that was just posted to the newspaper's website, the Globe takes a firm stance against the rich man's shell game:

Our communities are anchored to public schools. That’s certainly the case in Joplin — voters supported a $57.3 million plan to build new middle schools in spread-out, neighborhood locations, not central ones.

Business leaders argue that the quality of a school district benefits economic development and improves the community. Around Southwest Missouri, we see that those business leaders are correct: Houses and commercial development grow, as well as property values, soon after a school building takes root.

So why would we want to take money away from community-owned public schools — held accountable by the No Child Left Behind Act — and give it to private entities that don’t have to accept every student who applies?

Joplin’s private schools offer outstanding alternatives to parents who decide to shoulder that extra expense for the benefit of their children. But we shouldn’t expect taxpayers to finance that extra burden.

Hopefully, the editorial board will stick to its gun when some of Joplin's prominent pro-voucher contingent starts to heap on the criticism.

House Republican Campaign Committees makes million dollar donation to Missouri Republican Party

A 48-hour report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission indicates the House Republican Campaign Committee made a million-dollar contribution to the Missouri Republican Party.

Hulshof back in the big bucks

It is a sign of the times when you have raised more than $2 million in a race for governor and your opponent is still leaving you in the dust.

That was the way things were for Republican candidate Kenny Hulshof...until today.

A $400,000 infusion from the Republican Governors Association, which kicked in with $600,000 earlier, plus an additional $50,000 worth of $10,000 donations, lifted Hulshof to $2,452,081 in oversized contributions, still behind Democrat Jay Nixon's $3,044,650.

Hulshof's $10,000 contributions came from Freeman Physicians Group, Joplin; Robert Herman Sr., Ladue; Benny Lee, Top Innovations, Inc., Kansas City; Missouri Society of Anesthesiiologists PAC, Jefferson City; and Anesthesia Associates of Kansas City.

October 2009 trial date set for lawsuit against Missouri Department of Revenue

An Oct. 13, 2009, trial date has been set for a lawsuit in which the Missouri Department of Revenue is accused of selling personal information about Missourians to internet databases.

The lawsuit, filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, was filed on behalf of Emily Roberts, Jefferson City, and Sarah Smith, El Dorado Springs, and others whose privacy may have been violated. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are The Source for Public Data LP, doing business as publicdata.com, Dallas, Texas; Shadowsoft.com, Dallas, Texas; Omar Davis, director, Missouri Department of Revenue; and "Does 1 through 10. The "Does" are described in the petition as employees of the Department of Revenue who went along with these alleged actions.

The lawsuit says Public Data and Shadowsoft bought the personal information from the DOR and sold it over the internet:

Prior to February 20, 2008, co-defendant Shadowsoft acquired a large database of
information from Mo. DOR on the pretense that the information would be used only for the legitimate business purpose of verifying the accuracy of information of individuals doing business with Shadowsoft.

The information database acquired by Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR contained “highly restricted personal information”, including social security numbers, belonging to hundreds of thousands of licensed drivers in the State of Missouri.

Upon information and belief, co-defendant Shadowsoft transferred the database
in totum to co-defendant PublicData.

PublicData then made the highly restricted personal information belonging to those individuals, unlawfully acquired from Mo. DOR, available for search and sale on its website, www.publicdata.com. In many instances, the information acquired by
Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR and subsequently sold by PublicData on www.publicdata.com, included social security numbers.

According to the petition, the action is being filed on behalf of all Missourians whose driver's license information was sold to the companies, and asks the judge to certify the lawsuit as a class action.

The plaintiffs are asking for damages, costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees.

Third price-fixing lawsuit filed against Moark

A third class action lawsuit alleging price fixing has been filed against Moark and other egg producers.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 26 in federal court in Pannsylvania is the second to be filed in the keystone state. The other lawsuit was filed in Minnesota.

The latest action was brought by Somerset Industries, Inc., Spring House, Pa.

Secretary of State looks into Nathan Cooper company that performed controversial study of Soil and Water Conservation Department

A Nathan Cooper company that performed a controversial study for the Soil and Water Conservation Department has come under the scrutiny of the Missouri Secretary of State's office.

In the Aug. 12 Turner Report, I noted that Business Improvement Solutions, the company that apparently was hired by Department Director Bill Foster and DNR Director Doyle Childers to grease the path for the state to push out local soil and water conservation districts and give the state control over the lucrative tax money that currently is sent directly to the local districts. The state paid Business Improvement Solutions $24,575, slightly less than the $25,000 that would have required bids.

Less than two weeks after that post, the secretary of state's office sent a letter to Nathan Cooper, Business Improvement Solutions' registered agent, noting that the companay's address, the address of Cooper's former law office, "might be an incorrect address."

The letter was sent five weeks ago and thus far has not received a response. The corporation has until Oct. 26 to file the corrections, according to the letter, or it will be dissolved.

Koster passes $800,000 in oversized contributions

Oversized contributions continued to pour into Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster's campaign Monday.

A 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission showed Koster picking up $26,000 in oversized contributions, including $10,000 from Stone, Leyton & Gershman, St. Louis; $6,000 from Shaffer Lombardo Shurn, Kansas City; and $5,000 apiece from White, Allinder, Graham, Buckley & Carr, Independence; and Reagan Auto Group, Inc., Jefferson City.

Since contribution limits were repealed Aug. 28, Koster has received $808,500, while his Republican opponent Michael Gibbons has pulled in $287,650, and has not reported receiving any $5,000+ contributions in the last 12 days.

TV stocks plunge, but not Nexstar, Saga

Most TV companies' stock prices fell along with the rest of the major stocks Monday, but not those of companies owning stations in the Joplin market.

Nexstar Broadcasting, which owns KSNF and manages KODE, had a second straight positive finish, with its price increasing 36 cents per share to $2.84.

Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX, was up 55 cents to $5.60 per share.

Monday, September 29, 2008

New York lawyers contribute $45,000 to Koster campaign

New York lawyers contributed $45,000 to Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster's campaign, according to a 48-hour report filed Sunday with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Labaton, Sucharow LLP, New York, contributed $40,000, while Nadeem Faruqi of the firm of Faruqi & Faruqi gave the other $5,000.
Koster has pulled far ahead of his Republican opponent, Michael Gibbons, in oversized contributions. Since contribution limits were repealed Aug. 28, Koster has received $782,500, while Gibbons has pulled in $287,650, and has not received any $5,000+ contributions in the last 11 days.

Hulshof cracks $2 million barrier, falls further behind Nixon in oversized contributions

Two $12,500 contributions Friday including one from Silver Dollar City owner Peter Herschend lifted Congressman Kenny Hulshof past the $2 million barrier in oversized contributions, but it was not enough to keep him from falling further behind his opponent in the governor's race, Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Hulshof's $25,000 gave him $2,002,081 in $5,000+ contributions since limits were repealed Aug. 28, but Nixon pulled in $30,000 Friday, according to a 48-hour report filed Sunday with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Signature Health Services, Inc., St. Louis gave Nixon $10,000, while he received $20,000 from Wright, Green & Baughman, Lee's Summit. Nixon has raked in $3,044,650 in oversized contributions.

Of course, both candidates are receiving money in lesser amounts from other sources, so we will not know until their quarterly reports, due Oct. 15, are filed, who has the fundraising lead.

Post-Dispatch cuts 20 more jobs

Following last month's elimination of 18 jobs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch cut 20 more jobs Friday:

"These are unprecedented times, caused by the national economic slump, that require us to reduce costs," said Kevin Mowbray, the newspaper's publisher. "However, even with these reductions, we will give our customers the best print and online news products in the St. Louis metropolitan area."

Newspapers including the Post-Dispatch, which employed 1,029 as of Friday, are trying to cope with declining advertising revenue and increasing newsprint costs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

C-SPAN adds debate hub

C-SPAN, which as always was a breath of fresh air during the recent political conventions, has added a new Debate Hub designed to monitor and link to blog coverage of the ongoing political debates. This should be a boon to political junkies.

An explanation of the Hub can be found at this You Tube link.

Northpark Mall owner to release third quarter results in November

CBL & Associates, the Chattanooga, Tenn. firm that owns Joplin's Northpark Mall, will reveal its third quarter earning results in November, according to a company news release:

CBL plans to issue its earnings release for the third quarter after the market closes on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, and will host a conference call on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at 11:00 a.m. ET. The number to call for this interactive teleconference is (303) 262-2130. A replay of the conference call will be available through Wednesday, November 12, by dialing (303) 590-3000 and entering the confirmation number, 11111001#.

The live broadcast of CBL's quarterly conference call will be available online at cblproperties.com, as well as www.streetevents.com and www.earnings.com on Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at 11:00 a.m. ET. The online replay will follow shortly after the call and continue until Wednesday, November 12, 2008.

Nexstar Broadcasting stock snaps losing streak

Nexstar Broadcasting, which followed a recent streak of stock price increases with a three-day swan dive last week, emerged with a six-cent increase on Friday.

The stock closed at $2.48 per share.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

GateHouse stock price unchanged

GateHouse Media stock closed at 45 cents per share Friday, the same as the closing price on Thursday. The stock stayed right around that mark all day, never dipping below 37 cents or getting above 49 cents.

The price is still far below the $1.10 per share GateHouse Media has to show on a consistent basis in order to prevent delisting.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press and Neosho Daily News.

KC Star owner renegotiates bank loans

McClatchy Newspapers, owner of the Kansas City Star, has some added flexibility in paying back its loans, but that news still indicates hard times are going to continue for the company. From an article in McClatchy's Sacramento Bee:

But the agreement comes at a price. The Bee's owner will have to pay a higher interest rate. Its line of credit has been scaled back. And it could be prohibited from paying any shareholder dividends under certain circumstances, although that ban wouldn't take effect until next spring.

The deal is in response to a significant slide in revenue and profit, a trend that's humbling newspaper publishers everywhere. Sacramento-based McClatchy carries the added burden of about $2 billion in debt remaining from its 2006 takeover of Knight Ridder Inc. The debt includes $1.175 billion in bank loans and available lines of credit.

Editorial takes a closer look at Proposition A

An editorial in today's Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian urges voters to examine Proposition A carefully, but takes the easy way out by urging voters to make up their own minds.

That is exactly what the voters will do. Editorial writers, however, are supposed to make a convincing case one way or the other. The editorial begins with this assertion:

Proponents of Proposition A are focusing mainly on what they say will be additional funding for public schools if the measure passes — a part of the proposal that will likely attract widespread support. But there are a lot of unknowns in the plan that are being touted as givens.

For example, Proposition A backers say increasing the casino tax to 21 percent — 1 percentage point — will generate more than $100 million of new funding for education. But that would occur only if Missouri's casinos experience a nearly $500 million increase in gambling proceeds. The supporters say that's a fair assumption that would result from eliminating the loss limits and limiting gambling to existing casinos.

It might help if the Southeast Missourian had added that these "proponents of Proposition A" are almost exclusively the major casinos, primarily Ameristar Casinos and Pinnacle Entertainment, which have poured millions of dollars into this effort to limit their competition and increase their revenues by removing loss limits.

Those in education, while they would certainly be happy to see the amount of money promised from this proposition, are not jumping on the bandwagon for A because they are fully aware that the increases are not likely to be anywhere near that much, and legislators will likely move to reduce general fund spending on education because of the new revenues, leaving it a wash and making education dependent on the success of the gambling industry.

The tone of the editorial indicates the Southeast Missourian does not like the measure. If that is the case, a strong stance against it would have been a much better approach than "Missourians can make up their own minds."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Video posted of vintage Natural Disaster performance

Not there has been any clamor for it, but while I am awaiting some videos of more recent performances of our group Natural Disaster, I have posted an extremely grainy, poor quality video of one of our June 2005 performances.

It was the first time we played at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Webb City, an all-night activity, and our portion of it began at about 1:30 a.m. The video features Richard Taylor and me singing the Everly Brothers classic, "All I Have to Do Is Dream," with John Scott on drums, Tracy Minear on bass, and Mark McClintock on lead guitar.

Turnpike killer charged with domestic assault

Turnpike killer Benji Trammel, 30, Bartlesville, is free on $2,000 bond, after being arrested Aug. 21 on a domestic assault charge.
Washington County, Okla. court records indicate a condition of Trammel's bond is that he have no contact with the alleged victim.

Trammel was one of two Quapaw teens responsible for the January 1994 murder of Sheila Mayfield, 25, Jasper. The two threw a rock from an overpass through the windshield of Mrs. Mayfield's car as it traveled on the Will Rogers Turnpike. Mrs. Mayfield, the mother of two children, was killed instantly.

Trammel, who was 15 at the time, pleaded guilty and was placed into a juvenile detention facility. When he was released at age 18, the record of his conviction was expunged.

The other killer, Paul Wesley Murray, who was 16 at the time, eventually pleaded guilty to second degree murder, spent four months in prison and was released on probation. Murray continued having run-ins with the law, and eventually had his probation revoked and spent approximately four years in prison. He is on probation through 2013.

Second class action lawsuit filed against Moark for price fixing

Two class action lawsuits alleging price fixing were filed in a two-day period against Moark Egg Products, Neosho, and other egg producers.

The first lawsuit,filed in federal court in Minnesota, was detailed in the Sept. 26 Turner Report.

The newest lawsuit, filed in federal court in Pennsylvania, claims the United Egg Producers Association, one of the defendants, and the egg producers have been fixing prices for the past eight years:

The aim of defendants' conspiracy was to conduct a supply control campaign designed to reduce output and artificially fix and inflate the price of eggs.

The lawsuit lists several methods through which the egg producers, including Moark, limited production to drive prices to record highs.

The lawsuit was brought by T. K. Ribbings Family Restaurants, a New York corporation.

The price fixing allegations are the subject of a Department of Justice investigation.

247 Wall Street editor: GateHouse Media likely to auction off properties

Facing delisting by the Stock Exchange, GateHouse Media, owner of The Carthage Press and Neosho Daily News, will likely auction off its properties, a top analyst wrote today. Douglas McIntyre, editor at 247wallstreet.com writes:

Within the past years, several public newspaper companies have been pushed to the cliff of insolvency. They have taken on too much debt and the downturn in advertising has put them in a position where they cannot cover interest payments.

Journal Register was knocked off The New York Stock Exchange and is in the process of liquidation. The value of its properties has dropped so low that its common shareholders will get nothing and creditors will not recover the amount of their loans. Gatehouse Media (NYSE: GHS) has traded under $1 for weeks and also face delisting. Odds are that its properties will have to be auctioned off.

Globe offers one-sided article on voucher issue

The Joplin Globe continued its long-running slam against public education with an article posted today that purports to be a study of the presidential candidates' views on education.

Globe reporter Melissa Dunson opens her article with a vignette about a Columbus, Kan. mother who favors educational vouchers to send her gifted children to private schools because she is afraid her children will get lost in public education:

For Amanda Schmelzer, mother of Lauren, 7, and Lindy, 5, vouchers are an important election issue.

Schmelzer drives her daughters 30 minutes every day from their home in Columbus, Kan., to Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin because she is afraid her gifted children would be lost in a public-education system that has a responsibility to teach every child regardless of his or her learning curve.

“I was concerned with them not being given the ability to reach their potential,” Schmelzer said.

But she also said that she and husband, Eric, struggle to pay for it.

Because of that, Schmelzer is in favor of vouchers, which would give her the option to take tax money to whatever school, public or private, she wants.

On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this lead. It localizes a national story, which good newspapers and good reporters do all the time. Unfortunately, is is the only local flavor Ms. Dunson added. She apparently had no trouble finding someone who agrees with John McCain's views on education. Ms. Dunson allowed this slam against public education gifted programs to go without a rejoinder, and believe me, gifted students are not neglected by public education, and there are many parents who would have been happy to have told her so...if they had been asked.

From all outward appearances, the Globe's Roladex seems to be filled with the names of people connected with private schools. For educational writing on its opinion pages in recent years, The Globe has looked to the private schools, with Leonard Kupersmith, former headmaster at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School.

The Globe has also sensationalized its coverage of the Joplin public schools, including its recent leveling of South Middle School, the school where I teach, for its purportedly poor grades on the annual MAP tests. Though the Globe is aware that South's scores were actually up in numerous areas, that was never mentioned in the original story and since. No mention has ever been made of the fact that South's eighth grade science scores were above state average.

Apparently, the Globe would prefer to pour its coverage of educational issues into negative areas on the public side of education and fluff pieces on Thomas Jefferson and College Heights on the private.

I have no problem with private schools receiving positive coverage in the Globe or anywhere else, but it would be nice if the Globe would either at least make a reasonable effort to balance its coverage, or be honest enough to admit its bias.

Casino money flows to SW Missouri political committee

The Quapaw Tribe, which recently opened Downstream Casino, is spreading its money around politically.
According to a 48-hour report filed Sept. 18 with the Missouri Ethics Commission, the tribe contributed $5,000 to the Southwest Missouri Leadership PAC, the committee which was formerly known as the Nodler Leadership PAC.

The treasurer of the PAC, Joplin CPA Nick Myers, is also treasurer for the campaign committee of Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

Nixon blasts through $3 million barrier in oversized contributions

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Nixon became the first candidate to break the $3 million barrier in oversized contributions today. No other candidate has raised $2 million.

A 48-hour report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows Nixon receiving $83,500 in oversized contributions, giving him $3,014,650 since Aug. 28 when contribution limits were repealed.

Nixon's opponent, Congressman Kenny Hulshof, has received $1,977,081 in $5,000+ donations during that same period.

Going solely by the jumbo contributions, Nixon leads Hulshof by $1,037,569. Of course, those figures do not include any contributions below $5,000, so we will have to wait until the Oct. 15 report date to get a clear picture of which campaign is doing the best job at bringing home the bacon.

Nixon's $83,500 came from the following sources:

UA Political Action Fund, Washington. D. C., $25,000; Simmons Cooper LLC, East Alton, Ill., $25,000; Enterprise Rent-A-Car PAC, St. Louis, $10,000; Pipefitters Voluntary Political Fund, St. Louis, $10,000; Nancy Grove, attorney, St. Louis, $7,500; Gallup, Johnson & Newman, Clayton, $6,000

GateHouse Media does new online product on the cheap

It does not appear that GateHouse Media has learned anything from its failed Joplin Daily experiment.

Recently, I posted an item about the newspaper company's decision to launch an online-only product in Batavia, N. Y. More details about the project are included in an article posted Friday on the Newspapers & Technology website and it appears that GateHouse is living up to its reputation of doing journalism on the cheap:

The Web site wasn�t built for glamour but for posting stories as quickly as possible in a blog-style format.

The lo-fi approach is based on open source Drupal content management software. GateHouse also uses Zope Corp.�s Zope4Media content management software across all of its paper�s sites. The app lets each publication coordinate and share resources with each other (see Newspapers & Technology, June 2008.)

The Batavian�s staff consists of an editor and sports editor who blogs, monitors the site and handles traditional reporting � which is written blog style. The editors also shoot and edit videos.

�I also do some blogging for the site, handle �publisher� stuff like spending one day a week in Batavia and once in a while attending special events,� Owens said.

Registered users are allowed and encouraged to post news stories, comments, photos and videos to the site.

Parts of the idea have some merit. The blogging concept cuts down on the cost of maintaining the website. Theoretically, that should enable the online publication to put more money into gathering news. As you might expect, that is now what GateHouse officials plan. It appears that two editor/reporters will handle all of the staff-generated copy, and the rest of it will be provided by readers. While I am all in favor of reader-generated content, it is as an adjunct to the product, not as the mainstay.

It would be a great thing if the company would actually try hiring a few reporters and trying this, but that would be contrary to GateHouse Media's operating style. We will have to wait for someone else to try an online-only product that makes a legitimate effort to cover the news.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nixon cracks $2.9 million in oversized contributions

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Nixon has a $900,000+ lead over his opponent, Congressman Kenny Hulshof, when it comes to oversized contributions.

Forty-eight hour reports filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission show Nixon picking up $85,000, including $75,000 from Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, and $10,000 from Vinograd Winery, Sugar Creek.

Hulshof's latest large contribution report shows $20,000, consisting of $10,000 contributions from Missouri Physicians Services Corp., St. Louis; and John C. Tlapek, owner, Summit Equity Group, Clayton.

Nixon now has $2,931,150 in $5,000+ contributions since limits were removed Aug. 28, according to Ethics Commission records. Hulshof has picked up $1,977,081 in oversized contributions.

Glaus sacrifice fly lifts St. Louis over Reds

No postseason for the St. Louis Cardinals this year, but if memory serves correctly, Tony LaRussa's team has now won more regular season games than the 2006 team which won the Cardinals' first world championship since 1982.

Third baseman Troy Glaus, now four short of 100 RBI, knocked in the winning run in the Cards' 7-6 victory over Cincinnati. It was the fourth straight win for St. Louis. Felipe Lopez started the game-winning rally in the bottom of the ninth with a single to left, followed by an Albert Pujols walk. Former Cardinal reliever Mike Lincoln hit Ryan Ludwick to load the bases, setting the stage for Glaus' game-winner.

The Cardinals play Cincinnati again Saturday and Sunday to conclude the season.

McCain communications director: McCain won debate

No big surprise here.

John McCain's campaign communications director, Jill Hazelbaker, naturally claims her candidate won tonight's debate. She just released the following statement:

"There was one man who was presidential tonight, that man was John McCain. There was another who was political, that was Barack Obama. John McCain won this debate and controlled the dialogue throughout, whether it was the economy, taxes, spending, Iraq or Iran. There was a leadership gap, a judgment gap, and a boldness gap on display tonight, a fact Barack Obama acknowledged when he said John McCain was right at least five times. Tonight's debate showed John McCain in command of the issues and presenting a clear agenda for America’s future.

Nixon responds to Hulshof "left" ads

Jay Nixon has finally responded to Kenny Hulshof's ad which depicts him as a typical left-leaning liberal:

McCain campaign already has ad based on tonight's debate

It did not take long.

The John McCain campaign has already released an ad based on tonight's presidential debate with Barack Obama:

No big winners in first presidential debate

Neither of the presidential candidates dominated the first debate, which actually means a victory for Barack Obama, since McCain failed to show that Obama was a dangerous, inexperienced leader, something McCain has to do in order to be elected president.

While McCain made no major gaffes and made his case to the American paople, he fell short and was somewhat irriating every time he tried to chide Obama about his alleged naivete.

The debate format wasn't perfect, but it still was better than many we have seen over the past several months.

Zweifel named outstanding legislator

Democratic state treasurer candidate Clint Zweifel has been named Outstanding Legislator by Pro Vote. The award will be presented Saturday. The Zweifel campaign issued the following news release:

The Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition will honor State Representative Clint Zweifel with the Outstanding Legislator Award at Pro-Vote's 13th Annual Progressive Awards Dinner this Saturday, September 27 at St. Louis' America's Center. The dinner is a gathering of the progressive community to honor outstanding organizations and individuals.

"I am grateful for Pro-Vote's recognition," Zweifel said. "I look forward to working with them as state treasurer to fix our broken economy, make college more affordable and protect homeowners and investors from unscrupulous lenders and brokers."

"Clint has been a true champion for hard-working Missouri families on the issues that matter to all of us," said Ben Murray, Organizing Director for Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition. "We are proud to recognize the great work and accomplishments of Representative Zweifel."

Zweifel is being honored for his leadership on fiscal policy and for standing up for working families. Zweifel has an MBA in finance and serves as the ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, the Joint Committee on Tax Policy and the Special Committee on Tax Reform. Since being elected in 2002, Zweifel has received a 100% rating on Pro-Vote's annual Legislative Scorecard every year.

Missouri lobbyist rips into Barack Obama

Leave it to the Missouri Republican Party to have a lobbyist launch an attack against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The following news release was issued earlier today by the Missouri GOP:

Jefferson City_ In an unbelievably unpatriotic act, Senator Obama has asked Missouri law enforcement officials, taxpayer paid county sheriffs and prosecutors to threaten to censor the speech of Missouri citizens.

“It is troubling to see that Barack Obama would ask law enforcement to protect his own personal interests at the expense of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Jared Craighead, executive director of Missouri Republican Party. “The actions of Senator Obama and these taxpayer paid law enforcement officials can only serve to intimidate citizens. This is obviously no surprise, and it just fits the mold of Barack Obama putting himself and his campaign in front of what is best for America and the rights of its citizens, moving from the Show-Me State to a Police State is not the change we need.”

In troubled times, we need a leader of decisive action capable of reaching across the aisle, not a partisan using political power for personal gain. Throughout his career in the Senate, John McCain has consistently shown himself to be a leader who puts principle and people above partisan interests and politics. Barack Obama has not.

Below is the text of a letter that was sent to several public officials that appear to have crossed the line by implying they would use their offices for political purposes.

Dear Ms. Joyce and Mr. McCulloch:

I write to you on behalf of our client the Missouri Republican Party regarding interview excerpts and statements being attributed to you by KMOV television in St. Louis, Missouri. KMOV reports that you and other law enforcement officials are part of an “Obama Truth Squad” and will “respond immediately to any ads and statements that might violate Missouri ethics laws.”

A video excerpt shows an individual identified as “Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis Circuit Attorney” stating: “We want to keep this campaign focused on issues. We don’t want people to get distracted, Missourians don’t want to be distracted by these divisive character attacks. So, we’re here to respond to any character attacks to set the record straight.”

Another video excerpt shows an individual identified as “Bob McCulloch, St. Louis Co. Prosecutor” stating: “Whether it is directly attributable to the campaign or to one of the soft money operations, if they’re not going to tell the truth, then somebody has got to step up and say wait a minute, that’s not true, this is the truth.”

The direct and overt intervention of law enforcement – expressly identified as such – in partisan campaign efforts on behalf of candidates for public office violates state and federal law. More importantly, the specter of law enforcement officials using their official authority to bolster one candidate’s message and intimidate or chill the political expression of other groups of society violates the most basic tenet of our constitutional compact – that government officials may not abridge citizens’ freedom of speech. The news report being aired on KMOV has and will continue to chill the First Amendment liberties of Missouri citizens. Does this mean that citizens, grass roots groups, bloggers, the media and the entire community of concerned Americans must first seek permission from your offices to avoid possible prosecution or complaint for freely expressing their political opinions?

This election should be decided by the people of our country free from intimidation by government officials. No citizen should fear that his or her government will prosecute him for speaking his mind or giving voice to his political opinions. Please immediately cease your participation in any effort to take this election out of the hands of our country’s citizens. Further, you should immediately contact KMOV and all other Missouri media outlets and state that you are immediately ceasing the use of your office in the service of any political group and disavowing any future efforts to do so.


Harvey M. Tettlebaum


Harvey Tettlebaum, it should be noted, is a registered lobbyist for the Missouri Health Care Association and the Republican State Committee.

Richard receives first oversized contribution

Speaker-in-waiting Ron Richard, R-Joplin, who faces no opposition in the November general election, received his first $5,000+ contribution Thursday, according to a 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The Southwest Missouri Leadership PAC, Joplin, put $25,000 into Richard's account. The Leadership PAC and Richard's campaign share the same treasurer, Joplin CPA Nick Myers.

Koster adds $87,500 to A. G. campaign

Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster continues to be a magnet for oversized campaign contributions.

Koster received another $87,500 in $5,000+ checks Thursday, bringing his total to $737,500 since contribution limits were deep-sixed Aug. 28.

According to two 48-hour reports filed Thursday with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Koster received $50,000 from Simmons Cooper LLC, East Alton, Ill.; $12,500 from Eastern Missouri Laborers' Educational and Benevolent Fund, Bridgeton; and $5,000 contributions from Thomas Antoniou, St. Louis; Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis; Missouri Physicians Service Corp., St. Louis; Christine Kaplan, St. Louis; and The Accurso Law Firm, Kansas City.

Koster's opponent, Republican Michael Gibbons, has raised $287,650 in $5,000+ contributions, according to Ethics Commission documents.

Nixon moving steadily toward $3 million mark

Chalk up another $50,000 for Attorney General Jay Nixon's campaign for governor.

That was the amount of the check Frontenac Ambulatory Surgery and Spine wrote out for Nixon, according to a 48-hour report filed Thursday with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Nixon now has $2,846,150 in $5,000+ contributions since limits were removed Aug. 28, according to Ethics Commission records. His opponent, Congressman Kenny Hulshof, has picked up $1,957,081 in oversized contributions.

Settlement nearing in lawsuits between Nexstar Broadcasting, former COO Lammers

The divorce between Nexstar Broadcasting and former top official Duane Lammers was getting increasingly ugly, but the problems may be nearing an end. Documents filed Monday in federal court in Texas indicate the two sides may have reached an agreement.

Nexstar Broadcasting sued Lammers for violating a non-compete agreement and sharing trade secrets with his new employer, Silver Point, which owns Granite Broadcasting and Communications Corporation of America, Nexstar competitors.

The lawsuit, filed in May, says Lammers is privy to all of Nexstar Broadcasting's information about potential acquisition of television stations, as well as the details and methods used in the successful negotiation of retransmission deals with various cable and satellite companies. Lammers countersued Nexstar Broadcasting.

The lawsuit says Lammers sent Nexstar CEO Perry Sook a letter on April 25 saying he was resigning his position as chief operating officer effective May 27. After that, he immediately entered into employment with Silver Point.

On June 27, the court ordered Lammers not to consult on any matters involving five areas in which Nexstar and his new employer are competing.

Department of Justice investigating price fixing allegations against Moark

The Department of Justice is investigating price fixing allegations against Moark, one of Neosho's top employers, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The allegations have led to a class action lawsuit filed Wednesday in U. S. District Court in Minnesota against Moark, Golden Oval Eggs, and Michael Foods, Inc. Golden Oval bought the liquid egg portion of Moark's business in 2006.

The federal investigation was noted In the quarterly report filed by Land O'Lakes Aug. 18:

On March 31, 2008, MoArk, LLC received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice through the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to provide certain documents for the period of January 1, 2002 to March 27, 2008, related to the pricing, marketing and sales activities within its former egg products business. Moark divested its northeastern liquid and egg products business in 2004, and the remainder of its liquid and egg products business in 2006. Moark has furnished documents required by the subpoena and is cooperating with the government’s request. We cannot predict what, if any, impact this inquiry and any results from such inquiry could have on our future results of operations.

The class action lawsuit, brought by Zaza, Inc., alleges "from at least as early as January 1, 2002, through May 31, 2008 the Defendants conspired to fix, raise, maintain and/or stabilize the prices of Processed Egg Products. Because of Defendants’ unlawful conduct, Plaintiff and other class members paid artificially inflated prices for Processed Egg Products and, as a result, have suffered antitrust injury to their business or property."

The lawsuit notes that Moark, Golden Oval, and Michael Foods all referred to the Department of Justice investigation in SEC filings. Zaza, a Florida firm, is asking for three times the amount of damages sustained, and is requesting a jury trial.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bolander improves KODE morning program

This is not the first time I have written this, but it is just as true today as the first time I typed the words- "Good Morning Four States" is always better when reporter Gretchen Bolander subs.

It does not matter if Ms. Bolander is substituting for Alan Matthews or Shannon Bruffett, the program always improves. Even today, when the show opened with a two-minute discussion between Ms. Bruffett and Ms. Bolander that probably mystified anyone who was not a regular viewer, it was still far easier to watch than the typical "Good Morning Four States."

KODE's problem with the morning program has been finding someone to match with Matthews. The last partner to mesh with Matthews was Malorie Maddox, who moved on to KODE's evening news anchor position and now hosts a morning program in Omaha, Neb., with her former KODE co-anchor Jimmy Siedlecki.

While Ms. Bruffett has been the best regular morning co-host since Ms. Maddox (the rest were regrettably forgettable), it is still not easy to watch the two of them since both are loud at a time when I would appreciate a bit more calm from the people who are providing the background as I get ready to go to work.

Ms. Bolander adds that touch and is also a better interviewer of the live guests than either Ms. Bruffett or Matthews. Anytime she is on "Good Morning Four States," the show is better.

The lack of chemistry between co-hosts has also been a continuing problem at KODE's Nexstar Broadcasting sister station KSNF, which has serious problems with its Hometown Today duo of newcomer Stefan Chase and veteran Jeremiah Cook. While nearly all talk between co-hosts or co-anchors of any news program is somewhat forced, the conversations between Ms. Chase and Cook are painfully hard to watch. While both seem to be likable and capable, their forced jocularity and unnecessary comments after news segments makes me hit the remote nearly every time. Particularly galling was the commentary following a story on Wednesday's program about a blind football player. While the package itself was absorbing, listening to the two co-hosts gush about the player and hearing Cook talk about how he was sure this young man would reach his dream of becoming the first blind professional football player was embarrassing. Let the story stand for itself. If you want to say it was inspirational, that is fine, but I have a feeling most viewers already thought that without any commentary.

Each day is a painful reminder of how lucky Hometown Today viewers were to have Toni Valliere working with Lucas McDonald and then Cook for more than two years.


KOAM, meanwhile, continues to have the top-rated morning show, and perhaps it is the low-key presentation that helps. KOAM is not overloaded with unnecessary remote broadcasts, and underrated Dave Pylant provides a soothing, professional weather presentation each morning, and pleasant, and thankfully limited interaction with his co-hosts.

Pylant has meshed well with a series of co-hosts who have gone on to better things, but he has helped maintain a continuity of the program. It is never too exciting, but sometimes in the morning, that is better.

His co-host, Tawyna Bach, follows the same road map as her predecessors, delivering the news with a minimum of nonsense. It's not must-see TV by any means, but it has been a successful program for KOAM

News-Leader: Obama raising more money in Missouri than McCain

A Springfield News-Leader examination of campaign contributions shows Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has raised $1 million more in Missouri than his opponent, John McCain:

Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for Obama's Missouri campaign, said the fundraising figures are "just another testament to how much people love us."

"This has always been a grassroots-focused campaign," Hamilton said. "The majority of our support comes from people who are giving $100 or less."

Nexstar Broadcasting back below $3 per share

After several days of an upward trend, things have changed for Nexstar Broadcasting stock over the past two days.

After a 45 cent per share drop Tuesday, the company's stock fell another 11 cents to $2.90 per share Wednesday.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ameristar Casino pours $20,000 into state Democratic Committee

Ameristar Casinos contributed $20,000 to the Missouri Democratic Party today, according to a 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The report shows $10,000 came from Ameristar Casinos Kansas City, with the other $10,000 coming from Ameristar Casinos St. Charles.

The $20,000 was among $90,220 the committee received today. The remainder came from Democratic candidate committees.

Nixon nears $2.8 million in oversized contributions; Hulshof approaches $2 million mark

Attorney General Jay Nixon added another $80,000 in oversized contributions to his campaign coffers today, according to a 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The contributions bring his total in $5,000+ contributions to $2,796,150 since contribution limits bit the dust on Aug. 28.

Nixon's Republican opponent, Congressman Kenny Hulshof, inched closer to the $2 million mark, reporting $30,000 in oversized contributions, lifting his total to $1,957,081.

Nixon's contributions included $25,000 apiece from United Food and Commercial Workers ABC, Washington D. C., and Schriffrin, Barroway, Topaz & Kessler, Radnor, Pa., as well as $20,000 from COG Leasing, Columbia; and $10,000 from The Kroenke Group, Columbia.

Hulshof picked up $20,000 from Thompson Coburn LLC, St. Louis; and $10,000 from Smurfit Stone, Creve Coeur.

Transcript provided for Bush economic address

Good evening. This is an extraordinary period for America's economy.

Over the past few weeks, many Americans have felt anxiety about their finances and their future. I understand their worry and their frustration.

We've seen triple-digit swings in the stock market. Major financial institutions have teetered on the edge of collapse, and some have failed. As uncertainty has grown, many banks have restricted lending, credit markets have frozen, and families and businesses have found it harder to borrow money.

We're in the midst of a serious financial crisis, and the federal government is responding with decisive action.

We boosted confidence in money market mutual funds and acted to prevent major investors from intentionally driving down stocks for their own personal gain.

Most importantly, my administration is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets.

Financial assets related to home mortgages have lost value during the house decline, and the banks holding these assets have restricted credit. As a result, our entire economy is in danger.

So I propose that the federal government reduce the risk posed by these troubled assets and supply urgently needed money so banks and other financial institutions can avoid collapse and resume lending.

This rescue effort is not aimed at preserving any individual company or industry. It is aimed at preserving America's overall economy.

It will help American consumers and businesses get credit to meet their daily needs and create jobs. And it will help send a signal to markets around the world that America's financial system is back on track.

I know many Americans have questions tonight: How did we reach this point in our economy? How will the solution I propose work? And what does this mean for your financial future?

These are good questions, and they deserve clear answers.

First, how did our economy reach this point? Well, most economists agree that the problems we're witnessing today developed over a long period of time. For more than a decade, a massive amount of money flowed into the United States from investors abroad because our country is an attractive and secure place to do business.

This large influx of money to U.S. banks and financial institutions, along with low interest rates, made it easier for Americans to get credit. These developments allowed more families to borrow money for cars, and homes, and college tuition, some for the first time. They allowed more entrepreneurs to get loans to start new businesses and create jobs.

Unfortunately, there were also some serious negative consequences, particularly in the housing market. Easy credit, combined with the faulty assumption that home values would continue to rise, led to excesses and bad decisions.

Many mortgage lenders approved loans for borrowers without carefully examining their ability to pay. Many borrowers took out loans larger than they could afford, assuming that they could sell or refinance their homes at a higher price later on.

Optimism about housing values also led to a boom in home construction. Eventually, the number of new houses exceeded the number of people willing to buy them. And with supply exceeding demand, housing prices fell, and this created a problem.

BUSH: Borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages, who had been planning to sell or refinance their homes at a higher price, were stuck with homes worth less than expected, along with mortgage payments they could not afford.

As a result, many mortgage-holders began to default. These widespread defaults had effects far beyond the housing market.

See, in today's mortgage industry, home loans are often packaged together and converted into financial products called mortgage-backed securities. These securities were sold to investors around the world.

Many investors assumed these securities were trustworthy and asked few questions about their actual value. Two of the leading purchasers of mortgage-backed securities were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.

The decline in the housing market set off a domino effect across our economy. When home values declined, borrowers defaulted on their mortgages, and investors holding mortgage-backed securities began to incur serious losses.

Before long, these securities became so unreliable that they were not being bought or sold. Investment banks, such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, found themselves saddled with large amounts of assets they could not sell. They ran out of money needed to meet their immediate obligations, and they faced imminent collapse.

Other banks found themselves in severe financial trouble. These banks began holding on to their money, and lending dried up, and the gears of the American financial system began grinding to a halt.

With the situation becoming more precarious by the day, I faced a choice, to step in with dramatic government action or to stand back and allow the irresponsible actions of some to undermine the financial security of all.

I'm a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention. I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business. Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course. But these are not normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly. There has been a widespread loss of confidence, and major sectors of America's financial system are at risk of shutting down.

The government's top economic experts warn that, without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold.

More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically.

And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs.

Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And, ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession.

Fellow citizens, we must not let this happen. I appreciate the work of leaders from both parties in both houses of Congress to address this problem and to make improvements to the proposal my administration sent to them.

There is a spirit of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans and between Congress and this administration. In that spirit, I've invited Senators McCain and Obama to join congressional leaders of both parties at the White House tomorrow to help speed our discussions toward a bipartisan bill.

I know that an economic rescue package will present a tough vote for many members of Congress. It is difficult to pass a bill that commits so much of the taxpayers' hard-earned money.

I also understand the frustration of responsible Americans who pay their mortgages on time, file their tax returns every April 15th, and are reluctant to pay the cost of excesses on Wall Street.

But given the situation we are facing, not passing a bill now would cost these Americans much more later.

Many Americans are asking, how would a rescue plan work? After much discussion, there's now widespread agreement on the principles such a plan would include.

It would remove the risk posed by the troubled assets, including mortgage-backed securities, now clogging the financial system. This would free banks to resume the flow of credit to American families and businesses.

Any rescue plan should also be designed to ensure that taxpayers are protected. It should welcome the participation of financial institutions, large and small. It should make certain that failed executives do not receive a windfall from your tax dollars.

BUSH: It should establish a bipartisan board to oversee the plan's implementation, and it should be enacted as soon as possible.

In close consultation with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and SEC Chairman Chris Cox, I announced a plan on Friday.

First, the plan is big enough to solve a serious problem. Under our proposal, the federal government would put up to $700 billion taxpayer dollars on the line to purchase troubled assets that are clogging the financial system.

In the short term, this will free up banks to resume the flow of credit to American families and businesses, and this will help our economy grow.

Second, as markets have lost confidence in mortgage-backed securities, their prices have dropped sharply, yet the value of many of these assets will likely be higher than their current price, because the vast majority of Americans will ultimately pay off their mortgages.

The government is the one institution with the patience and resources to buy these assets at their current low prices and hold them until markets return to normal.

And when that happens, money will flow back to the Treasury as these assets are sold, and we expect that much, if not all, of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back.

The final question is, what does this mean for your economic future? Well, the primary steps -- purpose of the steps I've outlined tonight is to safeguard the financial security of American workers, and families, and small businesses. The federal government also continues to enforce laws and regulations protecting your money.

The Treasury Department recently offered government insurance for money market mutual funds. And through the FDIC, every savings account, checking account, and certificate of deposit is insured by the federal government for up to $100,000.

The FDIC has been in existence for 75 years, and no one has ever lost a penny on an insured deposit, and this will not change.

Once this crisis is resolved, there will be time to update our financial regulatory structures. Our 21st-century global economy remains regulated largely by outdated 20th-century laws.

Recently, we've seen how one company can grow so large that its failure jeopardizes the entire financial system.

Earlier this year, Secretary Paulson proposed a blueprint that would modernize our financial regulations. For example, the Federal Reserve would be authorized to take a closer look at the operations of companies across the financial spectrum and ensure that their practices do not threaten overall financial stability.

There are other good ideas, and members of Congress should consider them. As they do, they must ensure that efforts to regulate Wall Street do not end up hampering our economy's ability to grow.

In the long run, Americans have good reason to be confident in our economic strength. Despite corrections in the marketplace and instances of abuse, democratic capitalism is the best system ever devised.

It has unleashed the talents and the productivity and entrepreneurial spirit of our citizens. It has made this country the best place in the world to invest and do business. And it gives our economy the flexibility and resilience to absorb shocks, adjust, and bounce back.

Our economy is facing a moment of great challenge, but we've overcome tough challenges before, and we will overcome this one.

I know that Americans sometimes get discouraged by the tone in Washington and the seemingly endless partisan struggles, yet history has shown that, in times of real trial, elected officials rise to the occasion.

And together we will show the world once again what kind of country America is: a nation that tackles problems head on, where leaders come together to meet great tests, and where people of every background can work hard, develop their talents, and realize their dreams.

Thank you for listening. May God bless you.

Marshfield Mail's $1,000 fine upheld

Missouri newspapers need to be careful with political advertising.

In a decision handed down Aug. 7, the state's Administrative Hearing Commission upheld the Missouri Ethics Commission's decision to fine the Marshfield Mail $1,000 for leaving out information on who paid for two political ads for school board races.

GateHouse Media seeking editor for four-state region

Question for the Turner Report readership- What GateHouse Media newspaper in the four-state area is looking for an editor to run a four-person news staff? This is for a newspaper in a town of 12,000. The following ad was placed about a month ago with the Missouri Press Association and ran in the recent Missouri Press Bulletin:

Energetic. Versatile. Responsible. Community-oriented. If these traits describe you, then GateHouse Media Inc., has an opportunity you can't pass up. GateHouse Media Inc., is seeking an editor to run a four-person newsroom at a daily newspaper in the four-state region of Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma. The newspaper publishes in a growing community of 12,000. The person we are looking for needs to bring an energy to the newsroom, and be willing to be a hands-on leader. This person will have reporting duties, as well as page layout responsibilities. Photo skills are also required, and desire to improve the newspaper's Web site content is a must. We are looking for someone to be willing to become a part of the community as a representative of the newspaper. GateHouse Media Inc., operates 98 daily newspapers, 292 weeklies and 133 Shoppers.
Pay scale will be determined at time of hire. Medical, dental and 401k benefits available. Send resume and cover letter to Gloria Fletcher, vice-president of GateHouse Media South/Central Division, at gfletcher@gatehousemedia.com, or mail to Gloria Fletcher, 602 Split Rail Drive, Joplin, MO 64801. GateHouse Media is an equal opportunity employer,

Anyone with more information, please e-mail it to me privately at rturner229@hotmail.com or leave information in the comment area.

Trial Attorneys label Hulshof court plan a blank check for corporate interests

In a news release issued today, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA) labeled Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof's court plan a blank check for corporate interests. The news release reads:

Job-friendly. Attractive for business. Improved job climate.

Overwhelmingly positive buzzwords on their face, yet when combined with gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof’s continuing tirade against Missouri’s trial attorneys as he calls for destruction of the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan and attacks our right to a trial by jury, these otherwise upbeat phrases become a disguise for leaving wrongdoers accountable to no one.

“Justice, or lack thereof in this instance, should not be an economic development tool,” said Lynn Henry, President of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (MATA). “Education, tax policy, infrastructure and other economic development tools should be used for economic development. If a business is tempted to locate here because we have laws on the books that allow them to get away with harming our consumers and workers, how does that benefit any of us?”

In fact, Henry says the tactics employed by Congressman Hulshof mirror those continually trotted out by U.S. Chamber and its “Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)” to demonize trial attorneys and the civil justice system. By urging the public to buy into the plans for false reforms with slogans like “stop lawsuit abuse,” politicians pandering to large corporate interests are actually asking Missourians to give up their rights to hold wrongdoers accountable.

“These folks advocating radical change are waving around a study claiming Missouri’s legal system is one of the nation’s worst, but what they don’t tell you is that the study is a national sample of in-house general counsel or other senior corporate litigators,” said Henry. “The U.S. Chamber and ILR which do this study haven’t polled victims or judges or other attorneys or juries, so their perception might be more than a little skewed.”

Congressman Hulshof’s plan for legislative changes to the justice system and gutting the Missouri Plan seems merely to be an extension of Gov. Matt Blunt’s bad policies. These proposals remove accountability for those who would do harm to Missouri’s families and workers, said Sara Schuett, Executive Director of the MATA.

In regard to the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, Congressman Hulshof calls for increasing the number of nominees from three to five and allowing a sitting governor two full-panel vetoes before ultimately allowing that governor to choose whomever he wants, pending senate approval. The plan he would change is a model for dozens of other states and provides for the least amount of politics in the process.

“Just last session the Missouri House - in a bipartisan effort - rejected making harmful changes similar to those proposed by Congressman Hulshof to the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan,” said Schuett. “It wasn’t a good idea then and it’s not a good idea now.”

"It's just a technical violation"

The Missouri Ethics Commission is unlikely to take any action against The National Republican Governors Association for making a $600,000 contribution to Congressman Kenny Hulshof's gubernatorial campaign two days before contribution limits were repealed, according to an Associated Press article:

A report by the Republican Governors Association Missouri 2008 Political Action Committee shows it made the contribution to Hulshof on Aug. 26, two days before Missouri's contribution limits were repealed.

A Hulshof spokesman says the check arrived by mail on Aug. 28.

Missouri's old limits applied both to those who made contributions and those who received them.

The Missouri Ethics Commission's campaign finance director says a committee that made a large contribution right before Aug. 28 may have technically violated the law. But Joe Carroll says the commission isn't likely to take action against such groups.

Lieutenant governor candidate to be in Joplin Saturday

Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Dr. Sam Page is coming to Joplin, according to a news release from his campaign:

Dr. Sam Page, Democratic Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, will be in Joplin on Saturday morning to discuss his priorities as lieutenant governor and talk about honesty in campaigning. Page will be speaking at the Jack Lawton Webb Convention Center in Joplin at 9 a.m.

Last week, the Joplin Globe reported that Page's opponent mislead Joplin residents into believing the opponent was endorsed by Missouri Right to Life, a group that has said it will not endorse him. Page said he is committed to being honest with voters, even if he knows some may disagree with him.

Page is a three term state representative. He has served on the Missouri Senior RX Board since its inception seven years ago. He also sits on the Missouri Consolidated Healthcare Board.

Page has been a practicing medical doctor for nearly 20 years, helping seniors get the healthcare they need. He said he will be able to help more Missouri seniors gain access to affordable healthcare as lieutenant governor. Page lives in Creve Coeur, Mo., with his wife, Jenny and three children.

The Newton County Democratic Club and Jasper County Democrats are serving as hosts for the pancake feed.

Watchdog groups ask Congress to reject bailout plan

Two national citizen watchdog groups are asking Congress to slow down its debate on the proposed financial bailout and examine it more carefully. The following news release was issued:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two nationally recognized citizen groups called on Congress Wednesday to slow down, proceed carefully and incorporate consumer safeguards in any financial bailout plan, including a cap on credit card and mortgage interest rates, public equity in firms receiving bailout funds, and rules that would prevent lobbyists and firms from cashing in on the massive taxpayer handout.

Public Citizen and Consumer Watchdog released a set of recommendations for Congress to consider as it debates a bailout plan worth $700 billion, a hastily reached, arbitrary amount since it is unknown how much the assets of the failing financial institutions are actually worth. Never before has Congress considered such a large expenditure with such little discussion or specifics.

The groups’ recommendations call for increased regulation of financial institutions and strict accountability for the firms that receive bailout money. The recommendations include:

* Ignore Wall Street’s effort to panic Congress into hasty passage of bailout legislation. To protect America, Congress must do its job and carefully consider legislation that will not only restore the economy but prevent a future debacle. Congress should not rush a plan through so that members can adjourn to their election campaigns.
* Cap interest rates on credit cards and mortgage rates at a level based about 3 percentage points above the Federal Reserve’s Discount Window, which is presently 2.25 percent. Taxpayers shouldn’t be charged exorbitant interest rates to borrow their own money.
* Ensure government ownership stake in bailed out firms in proportion to the amount of taxpayer risk. This should include a seat on the boards of directors of companies that take bailout money.
* Prevent bailout recipients from receiving government contracts to manage the government’s newly held assets. The companies that receive taxpayer assistance must also agree to a ban on lobbying Congress or bank regulators until taxpayers have been repaid. Additionally, there should be strict salary and bonus caps for executives of any companies receiving a bailout and tight limits on payments to management companies.
* Require Strict government accountability and greater transparency. All Treasury actions must be subject to ordinary judicial review and any new program or authority must be subject to open-government laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Sunshine Act.

“Rushing through a $700 billion package will blow open the doors of the Treasury for unprecedented graft and corruption,” Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook said. “Congress must put their constituents’ interest ahead of their own political agendas.”

Harvey Rosenfield, the founder of Consumer Watchdog who led the California voter revolt at the ballot box that resulted in stringent regulation of insurance rates, said: “Americans who play by the rules and work hard to provide a decent life for their families are now being asked to pay for the mistakes of those who bent or broke the rules in pursuit of riches. If our money is going to be used to save the economy, we deserve real relief, like a rollback in interest rates, not face-saving gestures intended to allow public officials who did nothing to stop this catastrophe to race home to campaign for re-election claiming they protected taxpayers.”

David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, said accountability is paramount.

“This crisis is rooted in a lack of regulation and oversight,” Arkush said. “This bailout bill must be covered by the Freedom of Information Act and have regular reporting to Congress of all expenditures.”

Zwiefel asks for independent probe of MOHELA

In a news release issued today, Democratic state treasurer candidate Clint Zweifel asked for an independent examination of MOHELA. The news release reads:

State Rep. Clint Zweifel, candidate for Missouri State Treasurer, joined former Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority board chairman John Greer and State Rep. Rachel Storch on a press call this afternoon discussing the financial crisis facing MOHELA. Rep. Zweifel called for an independent financial analysis of MOHELA.

"There are clear signs of severe financial distress at MOHELA," Zweifel said. "The agency cannot meet payments to the state for capital projects, it ended the last fiscal year with a $2.2 million operating loss - the first in agency history - and it has eliminated borrower benefit programs."

"It is critical that MOHELA's financial health be reviewed by an outside firm," Zweifel said. "The entire sale of assets to this point had been fraught with cronyism. An independent analysis is the only way Missouri can determine if the continued sell of MOHELA's assets is in the best interest of Missouri students."

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority was established to provide students access to low-interest loans to help them afford college. MOHELA's ability to fulfill its purpose was severely damaged by Governor Blunt's plan to sell off its assets for capital improvements. MOHELA now faces one of the toughest credit markets in financial history and its first financial loss in a 28-year history.

Zweifel's commitment to making college affordable for Missouri families is in stark contrast to his opponent State Senator Brad Lager. Lager supported the sell of MOHELA's assets and continues to embrace the failed economic policies of the Blunt Administration.

Clint's Plan to Make College More Affordable:

* The state treasurer should be a member of the MOHELA board to provide transparency and a voice for citizens.
* Return the MOHELA board to focusing on its original purpose of providing low-interest loans to Missouri students.
* Enact Missouri Promise and provide eligible community college graduates with two years of paid tuition, general fees and book costs at a Missouri public four-year college.
* Work to make it easier for families to understand the costs of each MOST investment option. MOST plan materials should state clearly the administrative costs of each program and state the true earnings of each option after costs.
* Ensure MOST chooses plan administrators and investments that offer families a low-fee, competitive investment option when it is rebid in two years.

Clint's college affordability plan can be read here: http://www.clintfortreasurer.com/issues/MakingCollegeAffordable.pdf

Koster up to $675,000 in oversized contributions

Since campaign contribution limits were lifted Aug. 28, most of the money has gone into the governor's race, but the attorney general battle is also attracting some big spenders.

In the last 26 days, Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster has raised $675,000 in oversized contributions, according to documents on file with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

That figure includes another $37,500 listed in a 48-hour report filed Tuesday. The top contribution in the new batch was $10,000 from St. Louis lawyer Martin Green. Koster's top contribution so far has been $200,000 from The Democratic Attorneys General Association.

Koster's opponent, Republican Michael Gibbons, has raised $287,650 in $5,000+ contributions, according to the Ethics Commission documents.

45 cent drop for Nexstar Broadcasting

After several days of upward mobility, Nexstar Broadcasting stock came down to earth a bit Tuesday, dropping 45 cents to $3.01 per share.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield, and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nexstar Broadcasting stock continues upward trend

The stock price of Nexstar Broadcasting, which owns/operates KODE and KSNF in Joplin and KSFX and KOLR in Springfield, continued its recent upward trend today, closing at $3.46 per share, up nine cents from Friday.

Saga Communications, which owns KOAM and KFJX in the Joplin/Pittsburg market closed at $5.91 per share, down 25 cents from Friday.

GateHouse Media stock drops five cents

It looked for a while as if this might be a good day for GateHouse Media as its stock price climbed as high as 63 cents per share, but by the time of the closing bell, it had fallen to 39 cents per share, five cents below Friday's closing number.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, and more than 300 publications across the U. S.

Big screwup on this one

Note: As the four, and maybe more by this time, comments noted this morning while checking out the blog, the DAGA referred to in my blog was not the internet firm, but the Democratic Attorney Generals Association. While it would be nice if no one used acronyms on these forms, the mistake was totally mine and the post is being changed.

The Democratic Attorney Generals Association (DAGA) contributed $200,000 to Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster Friday, according to a 48-hour report filed Sunday with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another $465,000 added to Nixon coffers

Attorney General Jay Nixon flew past the $2.7 million mark in oversized contributions today, thanks to a $400,000 contribution from the Democratic Governors Association.

Nixon also received $10,000 from Express Scripts, Maryland Heights; $20,000 from RightChoice Managed Care, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio; $10,000 from C. H. Parsons, attorney, Dexter; and $25,000 from Samuel Gill, Samuel L. Gill Appraisal Services, Dexter.

The $465,000 brings Nixon's total to $2,716,150 in $5,000+ contributions, with $1 million of that coming from the Democratic Governors Association. Nixon's opponent in the gubernatorial race, Congressman Kanny Hulshof has reported $1,927,081.

Bus crash victims testify for safety bill

Victims of the August bus crash that killed 17 people headed for the annual Marian Days observance in Carthage testifed this week in Washington D. C. for a bill that would imcrease bus safety:

Hurricane Ike flooded her Houston home and caved in its ceiling. But Yen-Chi Le left one disaster and flew to the nation's capital to lobby for a law to prevent another tragedy: a bus crash like the one that killed her mother and 16 others in North Texas last month.

Le on Thursday joined seven other members of Houston's Vietnamese community to attend a Senate hearing on legislation intended to strengthen bus safety regulations. The proposal included requirements for seat belts, fire extinguishers, stronger roofs and more driver training.

"It is time now to act," said Le, a doctoral fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

New felony charge filed against Neosho pastor

A felony forgery charge has been filed against Randall Danny Russell, 40, pastor of Acts II Church in Neosho.
The charge, which was filed Thursday, alleges he committed forgery May 16.

Russell is scheduled to be in Newton County Circuit Court Monday for a pre-trial conference on six counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

Links removed from Turner Report

A few moments ago, I removed seven links from The Turner Report, most of them because they appear to no longer be updating. If anyone hears of new activity on any of these blogs, please let me know, and they will be restored to the list.

Blue Girl, Red State has stopped posting on that blog and has been posting on other blogs, while the News 2K and Missouri Political News Blog have both announced they will no longer have new posts.

The Snarling Marmot blog appears to have been discontinued, at least at the address I had. If that blog is still in existence, I would appreciate it if someone would tell me, so I can restore it to the list.

Victim of Reality has not been updated since March and Mark Kinsley's blot at KZRG has not been updated for quite a while, but when it is, it can still be accessed through the radio station's link.

FBI raids religious compound of Joplin native Tony Alamo

FBI agents raided the church compound of Joplin native Tony Alamo, 73, Saturday, as part of a child pornography investigation. An arrest warrant for Alamo is expected to be issued later this week:

Social workers interviewed children who live at the complex, which critics call a cult. A two-year investigation involves a law that prohibits the transportation of children across state lines for criminal activity, said Tom Browne, who runs the FBI office in Little Rock.

In a phone call to The Associated Press from a friend's house in the Los Angeles area, Alamo _ who was also once accused of child abuse _ denied involvement in pornography.

"We don't go into pornography; nobody in the church is into that," said Alamo, 73. "Where do these allegations stem from? The anti-Christ government. The Catholics don't like me because I have cut their congregation in half. They hate true Christianity."

Driving force behind Barton County Historical Society museum dead at 90

Bob Douglas, who revitalized the Barton County Historical Society Museum in the courthouse basement, died Thursday at age 90. I remember all of the help Bob gave me when I wrote the original Truman Pageant in 1984, and how much of his time he was willing to offer when I was researching Lamar history for numerous articles I wrote over the years.

His obituary ran this morning in the Joplin Globe.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Page picks up $25,000 in oversized contributions

Democratic lieutenant governor Sam Page picked up $25,000 in $5,000+ contributions Friday, according to a 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The top contribution was $10,000 from Comprehensive Anesthesia Care, St. Louis, with $5,000 donations coming from Operating Engineers Local 101 PAC, Kansas City; Thomas R. Green, St. Louis; and AFSCME, Jefferson City.

Governor's race continues to attract big bucks

In 48-hour reports filed Friday and today, Democratic candidate for governor Jay Nixon reported another $63,000 in large contributions, including $20,000 from the Padberg & Corrigan Law Firm, and $10,000 contributions from Newman, Bronson & Wallis, St. Louis; Strategic Investment Prospects, Jefferson City; and Home Building Industry PAC, St. Louis, and $13,000 from Gerald F. Beckerle, Hawthorne Suite Management/Real Estate Management, St. Louis.

Congressman Kenny Hulshof added $35,000 to his campaign account, with $20,000 from Empire District Electric Company, Joplin; $10,000 from Sanford McDonnell, St. Louis; and $5,000 from Mark Susz, Kansas City.

Since campaign contribution limits were lifted Aug. 28, Nixon has received $2,251,150 in oversized contributions, while Hulshof has picked up $1,927,081.

Republican Governors Association contributes $375,000 to state party

The Missouri Republican Party reported a $427,675 cash infusion today, including $375,000 from the Republican Governors Association Missouri 2008 PAC, Washington, D. C.

The remainder of the money came from the following donors:

Ameren UE PAC, Jefferson City, $5,000; Chrysler Service Contracts, Inc. Political Support Committee, $10,000; Empire District Electric Company, Joplin, $7,675; Leggett & Platt, Carthage, $25,000; St. Louis Region Republican Picnic Committee, St. Charles, $5,000

July 2009 trial set for accused Micronesian church killer

Jury selection for the capital murder trial of Eiken Elam Saimon will begin July 13, 2009, according to information filed Friday in Newton County Circuit Court.

Saimon, 54, Neosho, is charged with three counts of first degree murder, four counts of assault, and single counts of felonious restraint and armed criminal action in connection with the Aug. 12, 2007, shootings during a Micronesian congregation's services at the First Congregational Church of Neosho.

The murder victims were three church leaders, including pastor Kernal Rehobson.

Oct. 2 preliminary hearing set for former East Newton coach

A 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, preliminary hearing is scheduled for former East Newton girls basketball coach Joshua Long, who is charged with three counts of statutory rape.

Long, who had only recently been hired by East Newton, resigned his position after the charges against him became public. He has previously taught and coached in the McDonald County and Carl Junction school districts.

Long is being defended by Dee Wampler, Springfield.

Muschany asks for jury to be brought in from another county

Former Rep. Scott Muschany, R-Frontenac, does not want a Cole County jury to decide his fate when he goes to trial on felony sex charges.

According to Cole County Circuit Court records, Muschany's attorney, James Deutsch, filed a motion Friday asking for a jury to be brought in from another county.

The next court date for Muschany, who is charged with the felony deviate sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, is Oct. 27, when a trial date will be set. Muschany resigned his House seat on Sept. 9, the same day he pleaded not guilty during his arraignment.

Friday, September 19, 2008

GateHouse Media stock has mild comeback

GateHouse Media stock was up four cents Thursday, closing at 37 cents per share, one day after the stock hit an all-time low of 30 cents before closing at 33.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, and more than 300 publications across the United States.

Oct. 9 hearing set for former Jasper County deputy

A 9:05 a.m. Oct. 9 hearing has been scheduled for former Jasper County Deputy Milton Ganz, who is charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and unlawful use of a weapon.

Ganz was arrested Aug. 15 following a confrontation with Joplin police officers at his home. Ganz' wife called police saying her husband had a gun and was talking about committing suicide. When the police arrived, Ganz aimed the weapon at them before being shot.

More money coming into attorney general race

More large contributions have been reported by attorney general candidates Michael Gibbons and Chris Koster.
Forty-eight hour reports filed Thursday and Friday with the Missouri Ethics Commission show both candidates attracting support.

Republican candidate Gibbons received $47,150, topped by $28,650 from Emerson Electric, St. Louis. Gibbons also picked up $13,500 from the Seventh District Congressional Committee, and $5,000 from Sanford O'Donnell, St. Louis.

In a document filed today, Democratic candidate Koster reported receiving $5,000 from Thomas Green, a St. Louis lawyer. A 48-hour report filed Thursday showed $30,000 in contributions- $25,000 from Simon Passanante PC, St. Louis, and $5,000 from Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP, St. Louis.

Page: Kinder is conservative in Joplin and liberal in St. Louis

Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Sam Page criticized his opponent, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder Thursday for changing his views depending on the area of the state in which he is campaigning. According to a news release:

Sam Page, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said his opponent is full of double-talk when it comes to conservative issues.

Former presidential candidate Fred Thompson in Joplin yesterday praised Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's conservatism. However, Lt. Gov. Kinder has not received the endorsement of Missouri Right to Life because of his intermittent support for stem cell research in certain areas of the state.

"Lt. Gov. Kinder hasn't a conservative ideology, but he has a conservative geography," Page said. "He is a conservative in Joplin and then pops up a liberal in St. Louis. It is time he let Missourians in every county know his position on the important issue of stem cell research."

Page has said he supports the research and looks forward to advances that make umbilical cord blood easier to collect and use for experimentation to avoid the controversy surrounding stem cell research.

"My stand is a principled one," Page said. "I can't oppose research that gives hope to children with diabetes, young people who injure their spines, nor the families with parents and grandparents suffering from Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. I am not taking that hope away from them.

"And that's my position, wherever I am."

Nexstar Broadcasting, Saga stocks bounce back

After two days of deep drops, stock prices for Nexstar Broadcasting and Saga Communications, which own all of the major commercial television stations in the Joplin market, bounced back Thursday.

Nexstar Broadcasting closed at $3.05, up 44 cents per share from Wednesday. Nexstar owns/operates KSNF and KODE.

Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX, was up 80 cents to $6.05 per share.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Will Joplin city manager apply for California position?

Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr was a finalist for the city manager position in Chula Vista, Calif., last year, and that position is open once again following the firing of City Manager David Garcia Tuesday night.

Joplin city officials have shown no hesitancy to apply for positions anywhere and everywhere over the past few years, so it would not be surprising to see Rohr show up on the short list at Chula Vista.

Moodys take over lobbying duties for Springfield firms

Veteran lobbyists James Moody and Chris Moody have signed on as lobbyists for Gardner Capital, Inc., and Gardner Development LLC, Springfield, according to filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The Moodys have a long list of clients, including Carlson Gardner, which they have represented since 2004.

Political FIx: Much about schools, little about gambling

A post on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Political Fix blog echoes what I have been writing all along- the gambling interests operating in Missouri are looking to vastly improve their bottom lines, all the while claiming that it's being done for Missouri's children.

Tbe Post-Dispatch noted the money Ameristar Casinos and Pinnacle Entertainment poured into the Yes On A Coalition earlier this month, something originally written about in the Sept. 10 Turner Report.

Here is the take of the Post-Dispatch's Jake Wagman:

The Nov. 4 ballot item would erase all betting limits at Missouri casinos. It would also provide an incremental increase to the percentage of gambling revenue dedicated to education — which is why when the casinos flood state airwaves in the coming weeks with commercials supporting the push, you’ll hear plenty about helping schools and little if anything about gambling.

The concept of paying for education through gambling is a flawed one, but it is even more so when a ballot issue would eliminate Missouri's innovative loss-limit requirements and when it would serve as a barrier to any competition to the state's firmly-entrenched gambling operations.

Roe: Spivak took KC Star buyout

In the middle of a number of shots at Kansas City Star reporters, The Source blogger Jeff Roe says that political columnist Jeffrey Spivak accepted a buyout and is no longer with the newspaper:

Here is a case in point. The Source has heard that Star reporter Jeffrey Spivak has accepted a buyout on his contract and has left. Despite many differences with his political views, The Source thinks Spivak may have been one of the best pure writers at the Star. We know that his fellow writers thought highly of him. Management showed no interest in keeping him, and now the Star has one less quality writer.

Former Sun-Times city editor: Fears of bankruptcy surround GateHouse, media companies

In the latest post on his blog, Reflections of a Newsosaur, former Chicago Sun-Times City Editor Alan D. Mutter expresses concerns that bankruptcy may be in the offing for some media companies, including GateHouse Media, owner of The Carthage Press and Neosho Daily News:

Bankruptcy court may be the next stop for some of the most precariously financed newspaper publishers.

As awful as the prospect sounds, it actually could be a good thing for the newspapers, because a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing enables a struggling company to restructure its debt, streamline its business and potentially put itself on a sounder footing for the future.

Not all Chapter 11 filings are successful. In some cases they lead to the eventual liquidation of the business through Chapter 7 or some other means.

And any bankruptcy action almost certainly would wipe out the equity of such investors as the owners of Philadelphia Media Holdings, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Sam Zell and his fellow employees at Tribune Co. Fears of imminent bankruptcy already have driven public companies like GateHouse to 33 cents a share and Journal Register Co. to 1 cent, so neither has much further to go.

KOAM parent falls 53 cents per share

Publicly traded media companies with properties in the Joplin area continued Wednesday to suffer through the same problems facing all of Wall Street.

GateHouse Media, as noted in an earlier post, closed at 33 cents per share, after dipping to an all-time low of 30 cents earlier in the day.

Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX in the Joplin/Pittsburg market, stood at $6.17 per share two days ago, but closed Wednesday at $5.21, a 43-cent drop from Tuesday.

Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield, and de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield, was at $3.11 per share Monday, but closed at $2.61 Wednesday, down 14 cents per share from Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Skillicorn attorney asks U. S. Supreme Court to hear appeal

With time running out on his client, attorney Joseph W. Luby has asked the U. S. Supreme Court to hear the appeal of Missouri death row inmate Dennis Skillicorn.

Skillicorn was scheduled to be the first Missouri inmate executed since 2005, but his Aug. 27 execution date was delayed when the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Skillicorn's lawyer had not been given the opportunity to conduct the necessary interviews for his clemency appeal.

Skillicorn's case was placed on the U. S. Supreme Court docket Monday. A response is due by Oct. 15.

Background on the Skillicorn case can be found in the Aug. 13 Turner Report.

Deal in the works for Brad Robinson?

St. Louis County Circuit Court records indicate a deal may be in the works for Rep. Bradley Robinson, D-Bonne Terre, who is charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident.

The records indicate a "settlement conference" is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 17.

Robinson, 42, was allegedly driving his pickup on Jan. 1 when he struck a man, severely injuring him. Surveillance video purportedly shows Robinson and his wife changing places to make it appear that Robinson's wife Tara was driving, and then leaving the scene. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, five passengers in the pickup have been granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against the Robinsons.

Robinson is represented by one of St. Louis' most powerful defense lawyers, Travis Noble, a former policeman and drug agent, who has earned a reputation for winning DWI cases (the Robinson cases involves no DWI allegations).

Tara Robinson's trial is scheduled for Nov. 6 in St. Francois County.

Robinson is not seeking re-election.

Money continues to flow into governor's race- $164,000 for Nixon, $65,000 for Hulshof

Another $229,000 flowed into the most expensive governor's race in Missouri history today, with most of going into Democratic candidate Jay Nixon's campaign.

Forty-eight hour reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission show Nixon receiving $164,000 in large contributions, while Congressman Kenny Hulshof pulled in $65,000.

Nixon's biggest contributor at $50,000 was Industry Advancement Fund, Kansas City, followed by $25,000 contributions from Operating Engineers Local 101, Kansas City; and Simon Passanante, PC, St. Louis.

Other contributors to the Nixon campaign were:

Taxpayers Unlimited, $10,000; Holcim, Inc., Bloomsdale, $7,500; Pipefitters Local 533, Kansas City, $10,000; Greater Kansas City Building and Construction Trades, Independence, $10,000; Our Children's Future, Independence, $10,000; Joan Bray for Missouri Senate, St. Louis, $6,500; and Missouri Values Committee, Kansas City, $10,000

Hulshof's top contributor was Emerson Electric, St. Louis, with $30,000. Pettis County Republican Committee gave $25,000, and AGC MO PAC chipped in with $10,000.

Since campaign contribution limits were lifted Aug. 28, Nixon has received $2,188,150 in $5,000+ contributions, while Hulshof has raked in $1,892,081.

KC Star to lay off 30 more

The Kansas City Star will lay off 30 more employees as part of an 1,150 position cut by owner McClatchy Co.:

The Kansas City Star will lay off about 30 employees in addition to roughly that many who have accepted the newspaper’s most recent early-buyout offer, Publisher Mark Zieman told employees in an internal e-mail Wednesday. The Star also is eliminating several additional open positions through attrition.

GateHouse Media hits another all-time low

For the second straight day, GateHouse Media hit an all-time low, falling to as low as 30 cents per share, before rebounding slightly to 33 cents. The stock closed at 39 cents per share Tuesday.

Today's high for GateHouse Media was 50 cents per share.

GateHouse owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, and more than 300 publications across the United States.

Powerful Alaska lobbyist gives $5,000 to Koster

On documents filed Tuesday with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Mitchell Gravo, who contributed $5,000 to Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster, is listed as "self-employed," and indeed, he is.

For years, Gravo, an attorney, has been one of the most powerful self-employed lobbyists. According to the state of Alaska's list of registered lobbyists, the Anchorage lawyer represents the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, CQI and Technologies Unlimited, Inc., Municipality of Anchorage, Oxley & Associates, Inc., Q Tires, Inc.; UST Public Affairs, Inc.; and probably most importantly as far as Koster is concerned, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547.