Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hearing held for Jane Cunningham plan to destroy KC public schools, open door for vouchers in Missouri

Make no mistake about it, Jane Cunningham is making a power play to aid ALEC's plan to destroy public education in Missouri and the United States.

McCaskill: Permanent end to earmarks needed

Billy Long accepts $10,000 from politician who wanted no tornado relief for Joplin without spending cuts

Seventh District Congressman Billy Long never distanced himself from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's controversial comments that Joplin tornado victims shouldn't receive any federal money unless it was offset by spending cuts.

Now it appears there are 10,000 reasons why Long didn't stand up to his House colleague.

Long's quarterly report, filed today with the FEC, indicates he received a maximum $5,000 contribution from Cantor's Every Republican is Crucial PAC. It was the second time in less than a year that the PAC has given the first-term Congressman $5,000. PACs are allowed to contribute $5,000 for the primary election and $5,000 for the general election.

Long also picked up a $5,000 contribution from House Speaker John Boehner's "Freedom Project" PAC.

Long reported $120,660.43 in contributions during the last three months of 2011 and spent $45,257.94, leaving him with $325,725.50 in the bank.

Long received $56,500 in PAC money, including the following:

Boeing $1,000
Edward Jones $500
American Society of Anesthesiologists $5,000
Dairy Farmers of America $2,000
Express Scripts $1,000
American Hospital Association $1,000
Association for Advanced Life Underwriters $2,000
Commerce Bancs $500
American Bankers Association $1,000
Dealers Election Action Committee $2,500
Majority Committee PAC $2,500
HEAL PAC $1,000
Rocktenn PAC $1,000
Home Depot $2,000
Enterprise Holdings $2,500
AT&T $1,500
National Beer Wholesalers $5,000
UPS $1,500
General Dynamics $2,000
Nucor Corporation $1,000
Wendy's/Arby's $1,000
Trucking PAC $1,000
BNSF Railway $1,000
National Air Traffic Controllers $1,000
Realtors PAC $3,000
Altria $1,000
Metlife $1,000

Spence advertising to begin today

Republican gubernatorial candidate David Spence will launch an advertising campaign today, according to a news release issued by his campaign:

The new campaign commercials will focus on Spence’s career in the private sector as a proven job creator and will air in media markets all across Missouri.

“The Spence campaign has made a substantial statewide advertising buy to start introducing Dave to Missourians and contrast his 27 years of creating jobs with Jay Nixon's abysmal jobs record,” said Jared Craighead, Campaign Manager. “Voters are just finding out that Dave Spence is a proven job creator who will get Missourians back to work. Jay Nixon is a 25-year career politician with a record of putting out press releases not creating jobs. One release Nixon didn't put out is that Missouri was 50th in change in employment since the economic downturn. It's time Missourians realize they have a choice this fall--- re-elect Nixon and save one politician’s job or elect Dave Spence and save everyone else’s job.”

Monday, January 30, 2012

Attorney general cracks down on Joplin contractor for failing to provide service to tornado victims

(From Attorney General Chris Koster)

Attorney General Chris Koster said today that he has reached an agreement with Charles W. Eminger, owner of Superior Construction in Joplin, for failing to provide Joplin tornado victims services for which they paid.

Under the settlement, Koster said, Eminger will pay a fine and is prohibited from receiving up-front payments from customers unless the payment is for supplies or materials; is required to execute a written contract with all future customers; is required to fully refund pre-paid moneys to any customer for which he fails to complete work; and is prohibited from doing business until he has obtained all state and local licenses required by law.

“Many Joplin residents rebuilding their homes are finding honest, properly licensed contractors with good reputations,” Koster said. “Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy. I want to assure consumers that this office will go after everyone who engages in this illegal behavior.”

In addition to not providing the services for which tornado victims paid, the settlement addresses allegations that Eminger operated Superior Construction without the proper licenses and without registering the business name with the Missouri Secretary of State.

Mercy Hospital video of St. John's demolition, groundbreaking ceremonies

Updates on building projects, demolition featured at Jan. 23 Joplin Board of Education meeting

Blunt: Not doing Keystone Pipeline is bad policy

Joe White, Kanakuk ask for later trial date in sex abuse case

In documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, attorneys for Kanakuk Kamps and CEO Joe White asked for a delay in the trial of the sexual abuse civil suit against them, saying that the current June 2013 setting would cause a hardship for operation of Kanakuk Kamps.

The motion asks that the court date be set back to August 12, 2013.

A June 3,2013, trial date would create a significant conflict for and cause hardship to the Kanakuk Defendants and the operation of Kanakuk Kamps. Kanakuk Kamps' primary camp season lasts from June until the first week of August. Kanakuk Kamps has few full-time employees and the majority of these full-time employees are directors or assistant directors of the various summer camps.

Many of these camp directors, including Joe White, are expected to be called as witnesses in this case. It would be almost impossible for Kanakuk to operate its summer camps without these directors present. A trial date of August 12,2013, would allow for Kanakuk to complete its summer camp operations as well as allow for Kanakuk employees to be available to testify at a trial if called.

The Kanakuk Defendants are aware that John Doe I (the sexual abuse victim of former Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Newman) is a high school student and that a summer trial setting is the most convenient time for him.

For that reason, the Kanakuk Defendants request that the Court order a definitive trial date instead of placing this case on the four week rolling docket. Setting the case for a preferential trial beginning August 12, 2013, should allow for the trial to be completed before John Doe I begins the school year and will also allow for Kanakuk and its employees to complete the 2013 summer camps without the interruption of a trial. Last, one of the counsel for Kanakuk Defendants' will be on vacation the second week of June 2013 and a four week rolling docket would force him to cancel that vacation.

The lawsuit was filed by the high school student's parents. The following information about it is taken from an earlier Turner Report post:

When their son was sent to the camp, the lawsuit said, Pete Newman, the camp director, sexually molested him, "appearing nude with an erection in a hot tub for Bible studies with (the boy) as Newman masturbated himself, he masturbated (the boy) and had the boy masturbate him."
The abuse also included games of naked truth or dare, and having the boy spend the night in Newman's living quarters, where he was sexually abused.

"At other times, Defendant Newman's inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse of (the boy) occurred in the presence of other Kanakuk Kamp personnel." The child was in the camp during the summers of 2005-2007. The lawsuit also names Kanakuk Ministries, Kanakuk Kamp, and every other name by which Kanakuk has been called as defendants.

"Newman used his position at Kanakuk Kamps as a means to abuse children such as John Doe I (as the boy is referred to throughout the petition) by developing the children's trust and friendship. This, coupled with Newman's mantle of authority as a dircctor of Kanakuk Kamps, allowed Newman to sexually abuse and molest multiple boys through masturbation, oral sex, and sodomy."

Raw video of St. John's demolition

5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado is available now at Amazon.com

MSSU basketball team rises above tornado tragedy

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Video: Hundreds gather for St. John's demolition, groundbreaking ceremonies

Video: Demolition begins at St. John's


Joplin's Humphreys family gives half million to embattled Wisconsin governor

St. Louis Beacon reports that $500,000 of the money Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has received to fight his upcoming recall vote has come from two members of Joplin's Humphreys family, owners of TAMKO.

The article indicates that both David Humphreys and his sister, Susan Atkins, contributed $250,000 to Walker, who has been in the headlines for the past year for his attempts to break unions in Wisconsin, including teacher unions.

An additional $250,000 came from Stanley Herzog of Herzog Contracting, St. Joseph. Since Walker has raised approximately $2.4 million, that means approximately 30 percent of his financial support is coming from the Show-Me State.

And since the Humphreys family and Herzog haven't been shy about pouring their money into Missouri politics, is it any wonder that we have so many anti-union bills presented each year?

CNN coverage after tornado hit St. John's, Joplin


Read first-hand stories from the May 22 Joplin Tornado at St. John's and Freeman hospitals in Joplin and McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage, as well as first-person survivor stories in 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado.

Weather Channel's Mike Bettes to be in Joplin for St. John's demolition

Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel, who was in Joplin on May 22 when the tornado hit, will return to the city today for the demolition of St. John's and the groundbreaking for the new hospital:

Most viewers probably remember the destruction done to St. Johns Regional Medical Center, with nearly every window blown out. Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes had been chasing the storm that day, and was one of the first to arrive outside the hospital, delivering an emotional live report.

The hospital — now known as Mercy Joplin Hospital — is being rebuilt. And the hospital has asked Bettes to take part in the groundbreaking later today.

Cross to lead the way when St. John's is demolished today

The damaged building that has loomed over the tornado-damaged landscape of Joplin will be demolished today.

St. John's Hospital is scheduled to face the wrecking ball today and groundbreaking ceremonies will be held at the facility's new location. From CNN coverage:

When the roaring stopped, when the debris stopped whirling and the glass stopped breaking, the 4-foot wooden cross remained on the wall.

It was a fixture in the emergency department waiting room of St. John's Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, a symbol of the hospital's Catholic roots and, perhaps, a comfort to the sick and injured who sought help there.

And after St. John's took a direct hit from a catastrophic tornado May 22, it became a symbol of something else: Joplin's resilience, the strength and compassion of its people and their determination to rebuild.

On Sunday, the cross will be loaded onto a truck bed and will lead the way from the old hospital to the site of a new facility during a dual demolition-groundbreaking ceremony. Demolition of the old hospital building -- a reminder of the tragedy -- will begin, and ground will be broken for a new building as Joplin moves forward.

Read first-hand stories from the May 22 Joplin Tornado at St. John's and Freeman hospitals in Joplin and McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage, as well as first-person survivor stories in 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado.

Samaritan's Purse, Forest Park Baptist Church rebuilding six Joplin homes

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newman: Photo Voter ID law is designed to prevent a problem that does not exist

In her latest report, Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, notes that Voter ID, which will keep thousands of Missourians from voting, is being pushed as a necessity to stop voter fraud...even though the last documented instance of voter fraud in the state occurred in 1936.)

Tuesday at 7:30 am bright and early my House Elections committee heard HB1104, the recycled photo ID bill that has been filed every year since 2006. The sponsor, Rep. Schoeller (R-Springfield), admitted that Missouri “most folks” have a drivers license – which would be required for all voters to provide if this bill becomes law.

I pointed out in questioning him for almost an hour that the Missouri State Constitution applies to ALL folks in our state, not just “most”. The MO Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that voter ID requirements were “unconstitutional”.

Many of the voters, elderly, disabled, working poor and more, who would be disenfranchised under HB1104 have been long time active voters. The 2012 fiscal note of HB1104 estimates over 300,000 current voters could be affected.

Rep. Schoeller also said anyone born prior to 1941 or having a religious objection would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. I pointed out that via statute, provisional ballots are only available in elections with federal and statewide candidates, eliminating all local, municipal and special elections.

And---most provisional ballots are not counted. In the 2008 general election, nearly 7,000 provisional ballots were cast in Missouri but only 1700 were counted.

I asked Rep. Schoeller when the last time any voter impersonation fraud was documented and prosecuted in Missouri. The answer? 1936.

Yes you read that correctly – 76 years ago during the Pendergast era when gangsters controlled public offices in Kansas City and Jefferson City through voter intimidation and corruption of the ballot box.

Is suspecting hypothetical voter fraud in MO justified in disenfranchising 10,000 Missourians? 100,000 Missourians? Is hypothetical voter fraud justified in telling Joy Lieberman, an 80 year old grandmother, University City school board member for 26 years and a voter since 1952 that she can no longer vote under voter ID proposals? I say most emphatically, no.

HB1104 passed out of committee Tuesday by a partisan vote of 7-3 and goes to the House Rules Committee for approval prior to being placed on the House floor calendar. The Rules Committee is chaired by Rep. John Diehl, the previous voter ID bill sponsor.

I thank those who passionately testified against HB1104 including Ron Berry, MO Secretary of State’s office; Denise Lieberman, senior attorney with the national Advancement Project; Jeremy LaFaver, ACLU of Eastern Missouri; Farilyn Hale of the STL chapter of National Council of Jewish Women and Norma Collins of Missouri AARP. No one testified in favor of voter ID.

Dr. Huff's letter on Rebuilding Joplin Schools

(The following letter from Dr. C. J. Huff, Joplin Schools superintendent, was posted this week on the school district's website.)

Never in the history of our district has there been a more critical period of time than right now. Over the next few weeks and months, we will be sharing information with you regarding the complex issues surrounding the funding of our rebuild efforts. Without question, we will need some level of community support to bring us back to a pre-storm condition and to fulfill our promise that we will rebuild better than before. I cannot put into words the complex nature of our rebuild process related to state and federal aid that is available to support our efforts. We are wading through the rules and regulations and are working diligently to fulfill our promise to rebuild our schools.

I know there are many questions related to our rebuilding efforts. Based on the feedback I've received over the last several weeks, I will address the most common questions and concerns below. You can also find answers to several questions on our Frequently Asked Questions page. This page will be updated regularly as we receive new information.

1. Donations
There is a perception that we have received all the money we need to rebuild our schools through donations. We have been our own worst enemy in creating this perception by doing the right thing – publicly thanking our donors. The majority of the funds we have received to date (about $4.3 million total) are earmarked by donors for programs to directly help our children, families, and/or staff to take care of basic needs and to provide additional financial support to the uninsured or underinsured members of our school family. In short, we made the decision early on to take care of people before buildings. We have done and continue to do everything we can to support every member of our school family who was impacted by the storm.

Second, a significant amount of funding was secured to support teachers and students in the classroom through the Adopt-a-Classroom and Adopt-an-Eagle projects. Third, the United Arab Emirates donated $1 million that was matched by another $500,000 for the implementation of the 1:1 laptop initiative at JHS. So, to put it into perspective, of the $4.3 million we have received, around $780,000 has been donated for reconstruction of new facilities. Further, to honor every donor, we thank them in various ways...one of the most popular being press releases that attract local media coverage including print, radio, TV, and social media. We highlight the donors in a positive way, which is the right thing to do, but it creates the perception that we have generated 10's of millions of dollars in donations. We will continue to honor our donors appropriately regardless of this perception.

2. Insurance
This is where it starts to get complicated. We had OUTSTANDING insurance coverage on our buildings. We had a $5,000 deductible for the entire loss, and I feel very good about our settlement. This should be finalized within the next few weeks with the exception of the contents side of the loss. Obviously when you are negotiating the number of paperclips vs. the value of a building, it becomes a little more tedious, but we are getting close.

I'm going to give an example in the next section that combines the intricacy of insurance with the FEMA/SEMA funding that will illustrate the complexity as it relates to East Middle School and the rebuild. But first, let’s focus on insurance. What you need to know is that insurance will pay to build back what we had previously. JHS was a 226,000 sq. ft. facility that was much too small to serve the 2,200 students housed in that building. The rooms were small and the hallways narrow. I'm sure our JHS staff can give you a clear picture of the space challenges. To serve our current student population at JHS, we must rebuild bigger. We are combining JHS/FTC and constructing a modern 450,000 sq. ft. facility to accommodate current enrollment and future growth. It is going to be a wonderful facility when it is complete. The estimated cost of construction will be roughly $200 per sq/ft., which is very much in line with the local construction market related to high school construction. It will look great, but it will not have gold-plated doorknobs. Again, insurance will pay to build back what we had...a 226,000 sq. ft., 1957-model building with consideration to the additions, mechanical systems, etc. This is far short of what we need in the way of a 21st Century school, so the difference will have to be made up somewhere. In addition, insurance does not cover the remediation of the 65 acres of grounds, fields, and outbuildings district-wide that were ravaged by the tornado. This is, in part, where the bond issue will come into play. We need to do this right the first time and we need to do it now.

3. FEMA/SEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency and State Emergency Management Agency)
There are disaster funds available to help with rebuilding. It’s complicated, so bear with me. I am going to weave a little insurance into this to help illustrate the challenge that can be applied, to a degree, at each site. I'm going to use the rebuild of East Middle School as an example.

East Middle School took a direct hit...two-year-old building that cost $18.5 million to build. Is East repairable...yes. It was 70% destroyed and our insurance settlement on the facility was around $15.5 million. That is what insurance will pay. That is the easy part. Now for FEMA. FEMA looks at the building and says it was over 50% destroyed. And because it meets their 50% rule, in their eyes, it is totaled. Therefore FEMA gives us the opportunity to partner with them for a complete reconstruction. This partnership is basically a 75/25 percent cost share for the DIFFERENCE between what the insurance company paid ($15.5 million) and what FEMA estimates it will cost to rebuild with FEMA picking up 75% of that part of the bill and the Joplin Schools picking up 25%. When reviewing the two options, it made more sense to rebuild the facility with the help of FEMA funding than to repair it. If you have an opportunity to drive by East, take a look at the brick repair work that had been started. You can clearly see where the old and new building come together even though we used the same brick and brick layer used for the original building. We are going to be out some local funds to rebuild. Additionally, we are taking advantage of available SEMA funds to construct a community safe room on that site...again a 75/25 percent cost share. So again, the district will need to come up with the 25% match, but we gain sq. footage and the state picks up 75% of the cost. In fact, we are planning on building community safe rooms at multiple sites across the district using this 75/25 percent cost arrangement. These community safe rooms will be incorporated into usable space in the building.

Lastly, the Joplin Schools did its due diligence to get a sense of community support for a possible bond issue. A scientific phone survey with a + or - 5% standard of error was conducted to get a sense of where our community stood on various projects. Keeping in mind that you can't get 100% of people to agree the sky is blue, the response was overwhelming supportive of our efforts....when asked about a worst-case scenario tax increase, we had 66% approval (apply the + or - 5% and that puts us between 61% and 71%), which is OUTSTANDING. I am very proud of the work our staff has done to garner that kind of support from our community.

If there are three key pieces people need to know it would be these...

1. Insurance will pay to build back what we had but not what we NEED. East and JHS are good examples of this.

2. The district is currently seeking additional funding sources through donations, FEMA/SEMA, zero interest bonds (QZAB), CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding, Economic Development Administration and others to complete the projects, offset costs, and minimize taxpayer burden.

And the most important point that I sometimes fear people forget....

3. We currently have hundreds of staff members and more than 3,200 kids in temporary facilities, and we are paying annual leases in excess of $2 million to provide the temporary facilities we need for our kids and staff.

Let us not forget...
• Our East kids and staff are in an industrial park.
• Half of our JHS kids and staff are in a mall and the other half are in an old middle school. The voters already said they
wanted our middle school kids out of that school in the election of April 2007.
• Our Irving kids and staff are in a elementary school that was "moth balled" and was being considered for demolition.
• We have children and staff in trailers everywhere.
...just to name a few.

Right now my leadership team and Board of Education are sorting through the complexities of the various funding streams that are available. We know we need some support, we just don't know how much. The $62 million being reported in the media was a worst-case scenario we developed for school board and community consumption back in December. We have several questions posed to various agencies and are awaiting answers that will clarify what we can and cannot do.

Hopefully this information brings some clarity to the challenges and opportunities we face. At the end of the day, I intend to fulfill my promise to our staff and students and this community that we will rebuild better than we were before.


Dr. C.J. Huff

Hartzler: All problems will be solved if government gets ouf of the way

(In her weekly newsletter, Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler extolls the virtues of getting government out of the way to solve all problems and criticizes President Barack Obama's State of the Union message.

This was a great week fighting for the common sense ideas and Heartland values embraced by citizens of Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District.

One of the highlights was passage of a bill I sponsored on behalf of farmers, small business owners, and manufacturers in our district. I was pleased that H.R. 3336, “The Small Business Credit Availability Act,” passed unanimously out of the House Agriculture Committee. I introduced the legislation to ensure small and rural businesses would continue to be able to obtain loans, create jobs, and access credit in our local communities rather than having to depend upon a few national banks. The bill ensures that the onerous regulations of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act are no longer an impediment to the success of local financial institutions, farm credit agencies, and credit unions. It also contains a provision to help rural electric cooperatives continue to keep the lights on at affordable rates. I received widespread support for our efforts and look forward to bringing this bill to the House floor later this year.

It was wonderful, this week, also, to meet with the hundreds of citizens from the Fourth District and elsewhere throughout Missouri who traveled to Washington with the Missouri Life Caravan to take part in the 39th annual March for Life marking the infamous Roe v. Wade court decision making abortion the law of the land. I was honored to speak to these brave and dedicated champions for life. They weathered the rain and 36 degree temperatures to take a stand for the value of life and to continue to keep alive the hope that all human life in America will someday be valued. I commend and applaud them for their tireless efforts and was proud to join them in this noble cause.

This week also provided us with an opportunity to hear President Obama deliver his State of the Union Address and his vision for America’s economy. I was disappointed to hear a good deal of rhetoric but little in the way of job-creation initiatives that would spur the private sector to get the economy energized and going strong again. The sad reality is there are almost two-million more Americans out of work today than there were when President Obama took office – with more than one in seven Americans on food stamps. Clearly, we need a change of direction that doesn’t involve spending money we don’t have or dividing Americans.

America is the greatest nation on earth with the greatest potential for growth and prosperity. We just need government to get out of the way and let American businesses, manufacturers, and hardworking Americans thrive and grow. We need less regulation, less taxation, and less involvement in our daily lives. There are ideas that will be successful in the effort to get Americans back to work, based on the common sense of the hardworking people of this country. The House has passed more than 30 job-creation bills, but they are stalled in the Senate. The President needs to tell the Senate to take up the bills and pass them now. He also needs to revise his ill-advised decision and approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project. That change of course, alone, would create 20,000 construction jobs and 118,000 jobs in related industries, plus reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Rest assured, I will continue to work to create jobs and to rein in runaway government spending in a responsible way to get America back on the right economic track. Our children’s future depends on it.

Crowell job plan offers warmed-over GOP talking points

In his weekly column. Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, offers his jobs plan, but there seems to be little new in it- just warmed over right wing talking points and much praising of right-to-work.

The horrible job numbers recently reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the Obama/Nixon economic plan is not working. During December of 2011, Missouri lost a net of 11,800 jobs leaving 245,200 unemployed. With an eight percent unemployment rate, where the labor force is growing and the number of jobs is declining, it is time to change how Missouri approaches job creation. I was told growing up, “if you always do what you always did, then you will always get what you always got.” And that is unacceptable! Missouri deserves better; you deserve better.

While many people talk about how to improve Missouri’s economy, very few have a plan to create real jobs and provide accountability to taxpayers. This means in Missouri, we must reform our current regulations that impose heavy costs on employers and prevent new jobs. We must also stop wasting your hard earned tax dollars and start investing in our future that will help make Missouri competitive for jobs. When Missouri acts on real ways to create jobs, provide transparency in how taxpayers’ dollars are spent, and ensure Missouri’s vital state services obligations are fully funded, then we are truly putting “Missouri First.”

Missouri First Plan

Create jobs in Missouri by removing the restrictions current law has on companies: Becoming a Right to Work state will make Missouri competitive with the bordering states of Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, all of which are Right to Work states. Current regulations in Missouri impose heavy costs on employers and cause companies to move away or avoid moving to Missouri when creating new business locations. If Missouri is going to be serious about job creation, it is time for politicians to stop protecting unions and start working for Missouri jobs.

As of October 2011, Right to Work states had positive private sector growth while Forced Union states were losing jobs. U.S. Department of Labor numbers show jobs in Right to Work states grew at 9.1%, or at 2.5 times faster than the rate of jobs in non-right to work states from 2003 to 2008. And since the beginning of 2007, all of Missouri’s surrounding Right to Work states have a higher percent change in personal income than Missouri

Guarantee Missouri’s minimum wage does not exceed the national minimum wage: The current minimum wage is tied to the Consumer Price Index and can increase each year. With Missouri’s current minimum wage, there is uncertainty for companies of the cost to employ workers. By making labor costs tied to a uniform national standard, companies will be more willing to stay or move to Missouri, adding real jobs. For employers to hire or move to Missouri, the state can no longer have an adjustable minimum wage.

Reform Missouri’s tax credit system: It is time to rein in the abundance of bailouts for big businesses through tax credits and tax diversions – none of which have done anything to add real jobs or help small businesses, the economic engine of Missouri.

When the state picks winners and losers through tax credits based on campaign contributions and promised virtual jobs, you, as a taxpayer, lose. Over the last 13 years the state’s jobs plan has been to increase tax credits, which it has done by 430.8 percent, equaling $545 million in 2011 and projected to reach $639 million in 2012. Yet, the promised jobs have not come.

Tax credits should be treated like every other state expenditure in order to weigh the benefit of a tax dollar spent on a tax credit against Missouri’s other state services. Reforming the way Missouri issues tax credits provides greater accountability and oversight to how the state spends taxpayer money.

The greatest economic development plan is to invest in a student’s education; therefore, fully funding education in Missouri should be the state’s top priority. Instead tax credits were and because of it, to balance the budget, Governor Nixon cut from our children’s education. Over the last 3 years, Missouri did not fully fund the foundation formula for K-12 education by $23 million in 2009, another $74 million in 2011, and another $177 million in 2012. In total, K-12 education has not received $274 million it should have, according to the state foundation formula. At the same time, over $60 million in cuts were made to transportation funding and $9 million to Parents As Teachers. Furthermore, Missouri’s funding for higher education is also being cut. In 2011, funding decreased by 10% followed by another 7% in 2012, totaling $186.5 million. This means Missouri’s universities and community colleges will have to find ways, most likely through tuition and fee increases, to cover an overall reduction in higher education funding of $306.8 million from the high-water mark of 2010.

And now after 3 years of massive cuts, in order to budget for the $685 million in projected tax credits, the Governor has proposed even larger cuts for 2013. There he plans to fail to fully fund the foundation formula by whopping $466 million, cut school transportation, eliminate career ladder, and cut parents as teacher. On top of that, he is cutting higher education by another $89 million and more cut in higher education scholarships.

Now is the time to invest in our children’s educational opportunities, not cut them. If tax credits are not changed from the current redistribution of wealth that continues to create real jobs, our children’s education will continue to suffer and so will Missouri’s workforce.

Place a moratorium on Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Historic Preservation: Two of the politicians’ favorite tax credits are Low Income Housing tax credits and Historic Preservation tax credits and it is time to stop these over market payments made to wealthy developers. In state fiscal year 2009, Missouri was first in the nation in historic preservation tax credits spending $186 million dollars and second for the amount of low-income housing tax credits spending $106 million dollars. Yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Missouri was 45th in per capita funding ($194) of higher education and 32nd in per capita funding ($9,216 per pupil) for K-12.

As you consider how poor we fund education, look at how these tax credits are being spent:

· Schultz School Senior Housing project in Cape Girardeau used state Low Income Housing tax credits to rehabilitate 45 housing units. Cost = $372,997 PER UNIT.

· Bethel Ridge Estates in Columbia received $320,476 PER UNIT for 42 units and then was awarded another $339,588 PER UNIT for 42 units for Bethel Ridge Estates II.

· Sycamore Village Apartments in Perryville received $207,500 PER UNIT for 36 units.

· Cape Riverview Apartments 2 in Cape Girardeau received $196,047 PER UNIT for 43 units

· Breezeway Estates in Perryville received $253,333 PER UNIT for 15 units

· West Court Manor in Cape Girardeau received $205,917 PER UNIT for 48 units

· Eagles Landing in East Prairie received $116,000 PER UNIT for 30 units.

· And on and on and on and on…

It is unacceptable that as we spend this amount of your money on tax credits, that according to the Department of Economic Development, you receive only 21 cents for every dollar spent on Historic Preservation tax credits and 11 cents for every dollar spent on Low- Income Housing tax credits. It is clear, these tax credits are not about job creation; they are nothing more than a sleazy political trade for campaign contributions and lobbyist gifts.

After a failed special session last fall that called for new tax credits and tax diversions, it is time that Missouri’s leaders are held accountable for their deplorable spending of hard earned taxpayer dollars and be forced to look at solutions that will create jobs. This plan I offer contains real solutions that create jobs and ensure Missouri is able to meet its obligations education.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cleaver: On Gabby Giffords and the moments that bring us together

(In his EC from DC column this week, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-MO, writes about his former colleague Gabby Giffords of Arizona who resigned last week, one year after being critically wounded by a shooter in a Tucson supermarket parking lot.)

From tragedy and unspeakable pain often comes the realization that courage and sheer determination can finally force their way through the chaos. That is what I have witnessed in the wake of the shooting of my colleague, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

There were those initial moments of panic and fear that the assailant had succeeded in his mission to take her life. The joy that she had made it through those first hours was accompanied with the haunting uncertainty of what the injuries would mean for her future. This woman, my friend, a public servant, what would she be able to know, learn and accomplish in the future? But over the months she has proven herself to be a fighter of epic proportions. I have watched her struggle toward recovery with the same kind of focus I often saw as she fought for her constituents.

Something else has gripped me, too. In the moments following the shooting and in the year that has followed, I have watched, on a macroscopic level, our nation pull together to support her in her personal battle. Differences in political beliefs were quickly suspended as our country, with one voice, said, “We are with you.”

I saw it happen, too, this week, in the smaller world of Congress. Instead of focusing on differences, spin and negativity, Republicans and Democrats alike joined together on the House floor to honor Gabby and to say goodbye in the wake of her resignation. To say thank you to a person, and a politician, we admire and respect. I saw my Democratic colleagues crying. I saw my Republican colleagues crying. And in a moment I will never forget, I heard one Representative ask another if he was okay and if there was anything he needed. I have never heard these two men speak kindly to or of each other. But there they were, in the wake of tragedy, putting political dislikes aside to be kind, caring…and human.

I immediately flashed back to two other pivotal times in my life when I saw this happen.

I was asleep in the pre-dawn hours of November 29, 1988 when I heard a noise so loud it literally jolted me out of bed. I thought I was experiencing some sort of weather event. But soon my telephone rang and it was an officer. I was Mayor Pro Tem of Kansas City at the time and the Mayor was out of town. I was soon escorted from my home and briefed on what had happened. There had been a horrific explosion at a construction site. Six Kansas City firefighters had died. I was taken to the excavation site near 87th Street, which would later become the Bruce R. Watkins Drive to see the damage. I then went with law enforcement officers to the homes of the firefighters to tell family members someone they dearly loved had died in the line of duty. Immediately within the city and throughout surrounding areas, the outpouring of love and unity was overwhelming. This was at a time when there were differences and disagreements over issues surrounding work agreements, contracts and the like. But none of that mattered. We pulled together. We recognized there was something much bigger happening.

Many years later, the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, Carl Peterson, asked me to deliver the pre-game prayer at Arrowhead Stadium on the weekend following the World Trade Center attacks. NFL Commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, had postponed and rescheduled more than a dozen games after 9/11. That following weekend the Chiefs faced the New York Giants. If you are not familiar with Chiefs fans, and I think we all are, their enthusiasm, zeal and dedication to the team are virtually unmatched. Not often and not with many fans, but sometimes, that fervor turns into a display of bad sportsmanship between visiting fans, especially when a rival team comes to town. But at this game my eyes were glued to the stands during the game and the parking lots following the game. I watched as total strangers gave each other hugs, helped visitors find their cars, and stood together, both physically and in spirit, with fellow human beings who were hurting.

As I stood on the House Floor this week and watched the ceremony for Gabby and thought of these two other events in my lifetime, I couldn’t help but wonder why we only seem to find our better selves in the face of disaster. No doubt there are those who exhibit this type of kindness all of the time. But as a collective body, a group, and a nation, often we seem to get sidetracked, stalled and stereotyped by our differences in politics, race and religion. But on this day, Republicans and Democrats, men and women, all cried together. I can’t help but wonder what kind of a world we would live in if we set negativity aside … and reached for triumph each day, instead of waiting for tragedy.

Joplin unemployment at lowest rate since tornado

Payless Shoes workers emotional at reopening of store

Video: Shopping spree at Academy reopening

Academy Outdoors, destroyed by tornado, reopens in Joplin

MO House week in review: Photo voter ID legislation tops list

Kansas governor wants teacher evaluations available online

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's 138-page education plan includes a requirement that teacher evaluations be put online. Of course, these evaluations would be based on student scores on standardized tests.

Tim Jones: House is taking on issues that need to be addressed

Missouri lawmakers concerned after threats made against six legislators

FEMA administrator blog post: I was impressed with Joplin

(From the FEMA blog)

Posted by: Bill Carwile, Associate Administrator, Response and Recovery

Last week I was able to pay a second visit to our Joint Field Office in Joplin, Missouri. My first trip to Joplin was back in July, about five weeks after the devastating EF-5 tornado struck the city. I spent much of my youth south of Joplin in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so I am no stranger to the effects of tornadoes. Despite this experience, I was struck by the destruction Joplin suffered from the May tornado. Fatalities numbered 161, hundreds were injured, and more than 7,500 structures were damaged and another 4,000 completely destroyed. About one-third of the city of 45,000 was totally flattened.

During my first visit I was extremely impressed with the partnerships and professionalism that were driving the first weeks of the recovery. The leadership of city officials and the high levels of engagement by dozens of volunteer agencies and the private sector were impressive. I was struck by the Expedited Debris Removal Program and how the many hours of back-breaking work by volunteers allowed for debris to be cleared facilitating the re-building of homes and businesses in the impacted areas. In addition to the obvious physical signs of the early recovery, there was a feeling of optimism and resilience in everyone I met, from the City Manager, to the wait staff in restaurants, and people on the streets, I got the feeling that “here is a community that will come back better and more resilient than ever…”.

On my recent visit, I was deeply impressed by the progress that has been made in the six months since I was in Joplin. The more I thought about how so much had been done to recover, the concepts of the whole community approach to responding to and recovering from disasters that we have been espousing in presentations around the country jumped out at me. The folks of Joplin, working with volunteer agencies, and individual volunteers, the private sector, supported by state and federal government, were making the “new normal” for their city a reality.

Debris (1.2 million cubic yards) had been cleared within 75 days to facilitate rebuilding (over 3,600 building permits issued), over $17 million had been made in donations to support debris removal not eligible for government reimbursement, 117,000 volunteers from around the country had come to assist in rebuilding homes and providing a wide range of assistance. Mark Rohr, the City Manager, has stated that, “recent numbers released by the Building Department have indicated that approximately 50% of the homes destroyed by the tornado are already under permit for repairs or reconstruction. In my mind, this is a surprisingly positive and bodes well for Joplin’s future”.

Joplin, Mo., August 2, 2011 -- Damage sustained inside of St. John's Regional Medical Center after the May 22 EF-5 tornado that struck the city. FEMA is working to provide assistance to disaster survivors.

The major hospital that had been totally destroyed, but its capabilities to serve the community had been replaced by a temporary hospital and a 102 bed interim hospital is under construction. The promise of city officials to have facilities ready for children to return to classes in August had been met through Herculean efforts by government and the private sector. Five schools had been destroyed and six damaged. To assist, our Agency provided 167 temporary classrooms and 67 temporary safe rooms. While these contributed to building classroom capacity, former big box stores were re-configured into temporary schools, private companies provided classroom supplies and the United Arab Emirates contributed computer systems. Thousands of families had lost their homes. When I visited in July there were no available hotel rooms. Now, rental units have been found for families, and almost 600 temporary housing units were provided by our team. In July I walked on open fields owned by the city, there are now over 337 families living in communities created on those sites. There are also some empty spaces in which the units occupied by 74 families are no longer needed as they have permanent housing solutions.

Economic recovery is key to long term efforts to achieve a “new normal”. It was heartening to see that, while the tornado destroyed more than 500 businesses, 90% have now reopened or are opening in the near future. Home Depot, and other major employers have quickly rebuilt stores that were totally destroyed and have re-hired hundreds of folks. A Citizens’ Advisory Recovery Team (CART) was established to represent the whole community. This body, along with the Joplin City Council, the School Board, the Board of Aldermen, Chamber of Commerce, and the CART Executive Committee, supported by FEMA Long Term Community Recovery folks have developed and presented implementation plans for the recovery. Jane Cage, a business owner who stepped up to lead the Council has indicated, “Recovery is broad. It has to touch on almost every aspect of life in Joplin for us to succeed. We only really get one chance to do this right….”.

Ms. Cage exemplifies the nature of the recovery in Joplin. It is an effort in which the entire community is engaged. While we in the federal interagency family are in support of these efforts, it is clear that the impressive progress, and a shared vision for the future is being lead by the people of Joplin. They truly represent the best of the “Heartland of America”.

Four indicted for Jasper County heroin trafficking connected to death of Alan Cockrell's son

A federal grand jury has indicted four people on heroin trafficking charges. The indictment was unsealed Thursday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Those indicted were Lavar D. Beard, 33, Ashley Henson, 24; Jason E. Hirshey, 31; and Brian D. Ferguson, 26.

The indictment indicates that Beard "did knowingly and intentionally distribute heroin, and as a result of the use of this heroin, Ryan Cockrell died."

Cockrell's death is not mentioned on the charges against the other three. Cockrell is the son of former major league outfielder, longtime coach, and former Joplin Parkwood all-state quarterback Alan Cockrell.

Cockrell, an employee of Commercial Gasket Company, Joplin, died August 19, 2011, at Freeman Hospital.

VIdeo tribute to Joplin Tornado victim Wendy Istas

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NOAA information director reflects on Joplin Tornado

Senate Education Chairman discusses funding, charter schools

In the latest Missouri School Boards Association Capitol Watch, Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, discusses funding, charter schools,

$150,000 donation presented for Will Norton Memorial Miracle Field

Joplin Tire Center reopens

Academy reopens doors; kids receive shopping spree

Joplin Tornado photos find their way home

Randles, Huff to speak at Alaska Homeland Security Spring Preparedness Conference

Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles, Joplin Schools Superintendent C. J. Huff and Luther Harrison of Samaritan's Purse will address the topic "Lessons Learned from the Joplin Tornado" at Alaska Homeland Security's Spring Preparedness Conference April 10-12.

From the advertising for the event:

Joplin schools opened August 17, 2011 - 87 days after a massive EF5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri on May 22. The Joplin area schools lost seven students and one staff member. Six schools were destroyed, with three others damaged. On May 24, Dr. C.J. Huff, Joplin Schools Superintendent, reassured families and staff that school would begin on August 17, as scheduled. Reconstruction began May 26, with temporary locations for every building by June 9. Dr. Huff will discuss the importance of school preparedness, partnerships, and perseverance in meeting the challenges of a catastrophic event.

Joplin (population: 50,000) and surrounding Jasper County have a robust history of planning, training, and exercising together, yet they had never exercised a scenario that included a trail of destruction ¾ mile wide, 6.5 miles long, with structures that were destroyed or severely damaged, including 7,500 homes, 500 businesses; two fire stations; a large regional level 2 trauma center; and five schools, with over 160 fatalities. Chief Randles discusses how preparedness, relationships and other critical factors support response hindered by power outages, loss of cell phone towers, and massive amounts of obstructive debris.

A team of five Samaritan’s Purse staff members landed in Kansas City for the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) Conference two hours before the Joplin tornado struck. They immediately drove down and identified a church as their base of operations and later toured Joplin’s devastation with Governor Parnell. They remain partners in Joplin for the next two years as they continue to rebuild. Luther Harrison discusses the importance of building partnerships in advance of rebuilding efforts.

Luther Harrison is the Vice President of North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse, where he began his career 15 years ago. He has been involved in the Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief program since 1998.

Steelman, Akin to debate Jan. 30 in Branson, Brunner skips another one

(From the Sarah Steelman for Senate campaign)

United States Senate Candidate Sarah Steelman will be participating in a Senatorial debate on Monday January 30, in Branson, MO. She will be joined by Congressman Todd Akin. John Brunner, the third candidate in the race, has once again refused to participate in the debate. This is the second debate in a row in which he has refused to participate, depriving voters of the opportunity to hear where he stands on the important issues of today.

The debate will be held at the Branson High School Auditorium starting at 7:00 p.m. The debate will be moderated by radio talk show host Monte Schisler, and is being hosted and broadcast live by 100.1 FM KOMC and streamed live to www.HometownDailyNews.com. The auditorium seats approximately 700 and will be free and open to the public.

"I look forward to this debate with Congressman Akin. This is a great opportunity to hear direct feedback from the voters I want to represent, and to share some of my ideas on how to get this country heading in the right direction." said Steelman.

Businessman John Brunner, who is also running for Senate, has once again declined the invitation to debate. This is the second scheduled debate the other two candidates will be attending without Mr. Brunner. Mr. Brunner has expressed his desire to "control the process" as a reason for not accepting his invitation.

"I again urge Mr. Brunner to reconsider his invitation to this debate. As Jo Mannies pointed out in our last debate, this process is about informing the voters. The voters of Missouri deserve to hear from the candidates running for office about their philosophies and positions on the key issues facing our country. Claire McCaskill is going to be a tough opponent and Missourians deserve to know they have a strong candidate who can take Claire head on."

Jo Mannies is a political reporter for the St. Louis Beacon and she co-moderated the KTRS debate held between Congressman Akin and Ms. Steelman on January 10th.

Judge tosses out city councilman's lawsuit against Springfield School District

A federal judge has tossed out Springfield City Councilman Doug Burlison's lawsuit against the Springfield School District.

In his opinion,the judge said Burlison (pictured) had no case against Springfield school officials, whom Burlison said violated his son's constitutional rights by searching a backpack that had been left in a classroom during a visit by a drug dog and violated his daughter's rights by not allowing her into the school building while the drug dog was being used.

The judge indicated that Burlison could not prove that anyone had opened his son's backpack and could not prove that his or his family's rights had been violated by any of the defendants in the case.

This description of the lawsuit was given in the September 27, 2010, Turner Report:

The action, filed by Springfield City Councilman Doug Burlison, his wife Melony and his stepson and stepdaughter, both Central High School students, alleges students were told to leave their third hour classroom and ordered ot leave all their belongings in their classrooms. While they were out of the rooms, the lawsuit says, officers and drug dogs went through the belongings.

Defendants in the lawsuit, in addition to Springfield Public Schools, include Superintendent Norm Ritter, Central High School Principal Ron Snodgrass, and Greene County Sheriff James Arnott.

Following is the description of the drill from the lawsuit:

On or about Thursday April 22, 2010, C.M., (Burlison's stepson) then a freshman at Central High School, was in his third period classroom when an announcement was made over the school’s public address system by Defendant Snodgrass.

Defendant Snodgrass announced that the school was going into “lockdown” and that students may not leave their classrooms.

At that time, deputies of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office were present at Central High School along with dogs.

On information and belief, the deputies of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office were present at Central High School with the knowledge, consent and invitation of Defendants SPS, Snodgrass and Ridder, and the activities and conduct of the deputies of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office were engaged in at the request of and with the knowledge of Defendants SPS, Snodgrass and Ridder.

About fifteen minutes after Defendant Snodgrass’s announcement, deputies of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, with their dogs, entered C.M.’s classroom. The deputies ordered students and teachers to leave the room. Students were told not to take any possessions or effects, such as backpacks, notebooks and purses, with them but to leave them in the classroom.

C.M. did as instructed, leaving his possessions in the classroom and going out into the adjoining hallway to wait. C.M. could not see into the classroom.

After approximately ten minutes, the law enforcement officers left the classroom and C.M. and his classmates returned to the room.

The condition of the effects C.M. observed when he reentered the classroom made it clear to him that the students’ effects had been searched by the law enforcement officials. Backpacks and other student belongings had been moved around, zippers had been unzipped and saliva on the effects indicated that the dogs had come in contact with the students’ belongings and effects.

In particular, C.M. observed that although all the zippers on his backpack were shut when he left the room, when he returned the zippers on his backpack were open and items within the backpack had been moved. At least three other students in his third period class also pointed out that their effects, i.e., purses and backpacks, had been moved and the students observed signs indicating that police had rummaged through their belongings.

C.M. observed that the law enforcement officers and their dogs then moved on to another classroom. Plaintiffs allege, on information and belief, that the law enforcement officers engaged in the same activities in most, if not all, of the other classrooms at the school.

Defendant Snodgrass extended the time for third period that day so that the deputies of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office could complete searches of the student effects and classrooms at Central High School.

At about 11:00 a.m., Defendant Snodgrass announced to students that they should move to their fourth period class.

Plaintiffs allege, on information and a belief, that in conjunction with the search of students’ effects in classrooms, law enforcement officers guided dogs through the hallways of Central High School, allowing the dogs to examine lockers and students throughout the school. If a dog alerted on a student, police seized the student and conducted a full search of the student’s person and effects.

Burlison's stepdaughter arrived at the school during third hour, but was not allowed to enter the building, until fourth hour, the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, Ridder indicated the search was not prompted by any incident, but was standard procedure at Central and other Springfield schools.

After Burlison spoke at a school board meeting and board members did not offer any response, he brought his action, which charges the school officials and the sheriff with violating the students' Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure, as well as Missouri state statutes.

The Burlisons are represented by Springfield attorney Jason Umbarger, whom court documents indicate is working with the conservative Rutherford Institute.

Billy Long: Obama can't cover up bad policies with fancy speeches

(News release from Seventh District Congressman Billy Long following Tuesday's State of the Union message)

“President Obama can’t cover up his bad policies with more fancy speeches. Over 1.7 million people have lost their jobs since the President came into office three years ago and the deficit has gone up $4.6 trillion dollars. It would be hard to do a worse job if you tried.

The President tried to pass the buck and claim that Republicans are to blame for the mess we’re in. He forgets that Republicans opposed spending another $4.6 trillion dollars in debt on boondoggles like cash for clunkers, stimulus, bailouts, and all the rest. We need policies that will get small businesses back on their feet, not more stimulus programs that only stimulate the debt. After all of his spending and stimulus programs that didn’t work, he’s got more guts than an Army mule to compare his philosophy to Lincolns.

If you had his record you wouldn’t want to run on it either so of course he is blaming Congress. The President continued campaigning tonight against a do-nothing Congress much as Harry Truman did. The difference is our economy was in much better shape in 1948.”


“Most jobs in America are created by small businesses. The President’s bailouts for unions and other cronies didn’t do anything to create jobs for hard working Americans. He said he’s for an all-of-the-above energy policy but when the President had a chance to create 20,000 jobs and increase our energy security with the Keystone XL Pipeline he caved in and killed the project. Not to mention gas was $1.84 a gallon when he was sworn in”


“Today marks the 1,000th day without the Senate passing a budget and the President didn’t mention that. As a small businessman I know how important it is to have a budget and how tough it can be to make that budget balance. We should expect no less from our government than a balanced budget.”

Federal Spending:

“It took over $4 trillion dollars of borrowed money, but President Obama has succeeded in proving that government spending does not stimulate the economy. I just wish that he had listened to some of us that knew that without bankrupting our children to find out. Now the federal debt is over $15 trillion, which is greater than our entire national income. If everyone in America gave 100% of their paycheck to the government we would still be in debt. Our government needs to balance its budget just like the families and businesses in Southwest Missouri.”


“Bipartisanship isn’t about meeting a bad idea halfway and smiling to the cameras about it. The problems that face America are not Republican or Democrat problems, they are American problems. The House has worked hard during this last year to provide American solutions. We have passed nearly 30 bills to create jobs by doing common sense things like increasing energy production, eliminating anti-business regulations, and reducing the cost of government.”

Obama State of the Union message on outsourcing a positive note for public schools

(The following is my latest Huffington Post blog.)

The 22 years I spent as a reporter before entering the teaching field left me with a healthy skepticism for any words escaping the lips of politicians.

That being said, I was encouraged by President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

My optimism had nothing to do with the president's kind words about teachers and his statement that we should not be "teaching to the test."

As long as Arne Duncan is his secretary of education and Race to the Top is his blueprint for improving American schools, I will have a hard time believing those words.

It was the sizable portion of the speech dedicated to improving the lot of America's middle class that provided the most hopeful words for teachers, students, and parents. Especially the following passage:

First, if you're a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn't get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here.

Third, if you're an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you're a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.

My message is simple. It's time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I'll sign them right away.

For years, our system has been stacked against the middle class and the public educational system that has been the heart of that segment of our nation.

Jobs are shipped overseas, and we are told that schools are failing because we are not preparing the displaced workers for the new and different jobs.

Meanwhile, as the number of those without jobs increases, the poverty level skyrockets, and as everyone except the so-called "educational reformers" understands -- poverty, not "bad teachers" has been the number one problem in our failing inner-city schools.

By targeting teachers, those who have made millions by outsourcing jobs have effectively turned the conversation away from their own role in America's current economic situation, including their sizable impact on public education.

With this has come a push to send students to college who, quite frankly, have no business going to college and would never have needed higher education in the past. College and university officials complain about students who come to their institutions lacking basic knowledge and those who bash public education use that as evidence that our schools are failing.

It seems far more likely that we are sending students to our college campuses who in past years would have made a comfortable living doing decent-paying work in our plants and factories.

Higher education should be available for everyone, but it should not be an absolute requirement to live a successful life in this country.

At the same time that more students are being pushed into higher education, the shell game continues. Many of the white collar jobs that we have been told repeatedly would be available are being outsourced and as more and more Americans are sinking tens of thousands of dollars into higher education, their reward could well be a lifetime of debt and either long-term unemployment or richly rewarding work greeting Wal-Mart customers or handling drive-through orders at McDonald's -- useful jobs that should be available to the young who are getting their start in the workplace, not to those who have diplomas that don't mean a thing in our diminished workforce.

As the people at the very top of the totem pole become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, those of us who choose to criticize their selfishness and lack of patriotism are castigated and accused of practicing "class warfare."

Public education is, and always has been, a reflection of society. We teach the value of hard work and instill in the children who come into our classrooms every day the idea that with that hard work they will be able to accomplish success.

With each day that we hear national, state, and local candidates preach the gospel that we must cut taxes on job providers who never seem to provide any jobs and eliminate services for the people whose jobs have been cut out from under them, it becomes harder for teachers and students to buy into those traditional American values.

What President Obama promised Tuesday night in his State of the Union message was a return to an America where the hard work and patriotism are prized and where those who contribute the most to the American dream, not those who consider it just another commodity to be exported, are those who will reap its rewards.

Hartzler: Defense cuts dangerous, put our national security in jeopardy

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

“President Obama’s budget-cutting plan, outlined by Defense Secretary Panetta, is dangerous and could put our national security in jeopardy. I am concerned that today’s proposals will weaken our defenses by slashing the Army and Marines as well as mothballing our ships and aircraft. Additionally, it is with a great deal of dismay that I see the call for two new rounds of military base closures to realize $487 billion in cuts to meet the initial spending caps in the Budget Control Act – which I voted against. With U.S. forces involved in military operations in Afghanistan, and our country facing threats from terrorists and rogue nations, cutting our defense capabilities is ill-advised. I have teamed up with House Armed Services Committee Chairman ‘Buck’ McKeon as a co-sponsor of legislation to stop defense cuts stemming from the Budget Control Act. I will continue to fully fund our military and fight any attempts to weaken our security or put our country at risk.”

Akin: I'm deeply concerned about defense budget cuts

(From Congressman and U. S. Senate candidate Todd Akin)

Congressman Todd Akin, Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, today released the following statement in response to the defense budget cuts announced by the Secretary of Defense:

“I am deeply concerned by the cuts announced by the Secretary of Defense this afternoon. Only a few weeks ago, the President announced a “pivot” to Asia, with a focus on Navy and Air Force power. However, today the Secretary announced that he is cutting at least 12 new Navy ships over the next five years and retiring at least 9 ships earlier than planned. It is stunning that the President would announce a strategy and then cut the Navy who will be called on to execute this strategy.

“I am also concerned by the announced delays to the Ohio-class replacement program. Our nuclear missile submarines are a vital piece of our nuclear deterrence, and I am concerned that this delay will put our ability to deter at risk.

“Lastly, I am deeply concerned about the 100,000 soldiers and Marines who will be losing their jobs. With a tough economy, many of these brave men and women will end up on the unemployment line. For every soldier or Marine getting fired, there had better be a government bureaucrat getting fired. The President made a special trip to the Pentagon recently to announce cuts to the Defense Department. When will the President make a special trip to announce cuts to any other federal bureaucracy? When will the President get serious about reforming mandatory spending programs, which are the real problems facing our national budget? Taken in whole, these cuts will create a more dangerous world for America and her allies.”

Rita Hunter trial postponed until at least November

The fraud and theft trial of former Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter, originally scheduled for next month, will not be held until at least November.

U. S. District Court Judge James C. England granted a continuance today to Mrs. Hunter. Her public defenders asked for the delay to give them time to review discovery from all of the people who allegedly were bilked by Mrs. Hunter. The trial has been placed on the November 26 docket.

Mrs. Hunter pleaded not guilty January 5 in Springfield. The grand jury indictment against her can be found at this link.

Cynthia Davis talks about the Fair Tax, chapstick, and eliminating the IRS

In her latest column, former Rep. Cynthia Davis, a candidate for lieutenant governor on the Constitution Party ticket, addresses the Fair Tax, eliminating the IRS, and also manages to get in a few words about chapstick.

We love the idea of a fair tax---especially since very few people think our current methodology of taxation is fair! The Declaration of Independence was written and a war was waged in part because of concerns over the fairness of how we were being taxed. Our method of taxing ourselves is a core issue that affects all of us.

The old expression goes, "If you want less of it, tax it. If you want more of it, subsidize it." At the beginning of our country, the Constitution prohibited direct taxation of anyone's income. In 1913, the Constitution was amended to legalize income taxes. "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

When government taxes income, it discourages people from generating income. Our income quantifies our economic prosperity. Income tax thwarts progress by causing conflicting interests and punishing productivity. Additionally, the money the government generates is being used on programs that we may not otherwise support. Some have called it "legal plunder". Here is a video that explains the wrongness of redistributing wealth.

If legislators were serious about creating jobs, they would be working on payroll tax reductions. With less governmental intrusion, businesses could afford to hire more people. Workers would have greater paychecks. It would be the equivalent to pay increases for everyone. Real estate and personal property taxes are also unfair because they punish people for upgrading their property and create the impression we are "renting" our possessions from the government.

The Fair Tax is designed to replace our current taxes with a sales tax. I agree that a sales tax is more fair than income tax. That is why I was a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax proposal in Missouri for two years. It is good public policy to reward thrift and stop punishing people for merely earning a living. One provision I like about the Fair Tax is that it calls for eliminating the Internal Revenue Service. Obama wants to use the IRS to be the enforcement vehicle for his national medical plan. Using the IRS to regulate the income of our citizens has expanded to manipulate behavior in other areas of our lives. If the IRS were dissolved, our citizens would be spared the loss of freedom through being forced to buy insurance or be punished on their income tax return. There would be a considerable savings just by the elimination of a huge bureaucratic entity as well as all the mandated paperwork. (Sorry if you are employed by the IRS.) The Fair Tax proposal is allowing these issues to be brought up for public debate.

However, one of the biggest problems our nation faces is that our legislators are spending us into oblivion. Without containing the spending problem, the sales tax will have to increase to accommodate all the extra revenue needed for government to continue at its accelerating pace. It's the spending that is driving the train off the tracks.

A simple illustration might be like going to a doctor for a check up. The doctor says you are obese and need to cut the fat out of your diet. Instead of getting rid of the fat, you start thinking about whether you want chocolate or vanilla ice cream in your next banana split. For those of you who love ice cream, like me, you might think it is a logical question. However, we are still asking the wrong question. The proponents of the Fair Tax are asking, "How shall we tax ourselves?" The primary issue needs to be, "How can we cut out the fat?" Unless we cut out the fat, we are doomed for an economic heart attack. The behavior in Washington D.C. appears to be focused on spending reductions by eating only one banana split instead of two. When our legislators get serious about putting our country on a fiscally sound diet, we will be on our way back to economic health. Until then, I will push to be a conscience for all governments pointing out why the income tax system is flawed and should be eliminated.

I have a tube of chapstick that reads, "Wouldn't it be nice if April 15th were just another day on the calendar?" I wholeheartedly agree. When I was presenting a taxpayer relief bill in the Missouri House I applied it to my lips and it feels good to know others share the same feelings about governmental oppression.

KSN anchor Jim Jackson to announce run for Newton County Commission

(News release)

Veteran local broadcaster Jim Jackson is set to announce his candidacy for Newton County Commissioner, Second District, during a press conference Friday, February 3, 11 a.m., at the Big Springs Best Western Inn, Neosho.

Jackson began his broadcast career in 1977 at KCTE Radio in Southwest City. He joined KTVJ TV-16 in 1980. KTVJ became KSNF in 1982. Jackson has served as the station’s main 6 and 10 pm news anchor for more than 30 years.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished as a news broadcaster, and I’m looking forward to this new challenge that will allow me to make an even bigger contribution to the community.”

A graduate of Missouri Southern State University, Jackson is honored in the Media Hall of Fame. Jackson served as an adjunct instructor of communications for 11 years at Crowder College.

House Ag Committee approves Hartzler legislation

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

The House Agriculture Committee has unanimously approved H.R. 3336, the Small Business Credit Availability Act, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s bill to help small and rural businesses obtain loans and create jobs. The legislation revises the Dodd-Frank Financial Act to ensure small banks, credit unions and farm credit banks can continue to offer fixed-rate financing to small businesses.

“This revision of Dodd-Frank is essential to farmers, manufacturers, and small and rural businesses wanting to expand and create new jobs,” said Hartzler. “This is good news for these businesses which are often overlooked by large national banks and might not have access to competitive loans.”

“It is important that rural America be able to access credit in local communities without having to turn to national banks,” continued Hartzler. “This legislation is crafted in such a way that smaller lenders can keep lines of credit open so as to help businesses expand. It also contains a provision to help rural electric cooperatives continue to keep the lights on at affordable rates. It is imperative that Washington not stifle Heartland America.”

“Congress did not intend to burden farm credit and community banks, but these lenders face onerous red tape and substantial new costs under Dodd-Frank,” added Hartzler. “These small lenders will be exempted from many of the provisions of Dodd-Frank that could put small banks, credit unions, and farm credit institutions out of business.”

Having cleared the House Agriculture Committee, Hartzler’s bill is expected to move to the full House in the coming weeks.

Schoeller introduces educational voucher legislation

Rep. Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, on the same day his photo voter ID law was approved by the House Elections Committee, announced legislation which would bring educational vouchers to Missouri.

Of course, the words "educational vouchers" were never mentioned. The bill was posed by Schoeller as being an exercise in religious freedom. What it amounts to is another effort to weaken public schools by putting taxpayer dollars into private schools. The news release is printed below:

House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, filed a proposed constitutional amendment this week to repeal what is commonly referred to as the Blaine Amendment. In 1870, Missouri adopted the language to prohibit tax dollars from going to schools controlled by religious organizations. Schoeller said his legislation would give Missouri voters the opportunity to repeal this antiquated language and allow parents to explore the option of sending their children to private schools that have a proven track record of success.

"As we focus on real education reform we need to ensure that we are giving parents the ability to decide what is best for their children and give them real ownership in their decision-making process for their children's education," said Schoeller. "The constitutional changes we are seeking will do just that and help ensure parents continue to guide their children's education for the best possible outcome upon graduation."

Schoeller said the Blaine Amendment language in the Missouri Constitution has been used by Missouri courts to prevent options to parents and their children's education. He said it's time for that to change cited a ruling by the United States Supreme Court stating that state support to private school children does not violate the First Amendment Establishment Clause.

Schoeller's proposed constitutional amendment is HJR 70. It currently awaits assignment to committee for discussion.

House Committee approves Voter ID legislation

Blunt response to State of the Union: Obama's economic policies have failed

Nixon honors Freeman Hospital physicians for work during Joplin Tornado

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Video provided for Republican response to State of the Union

ALEC ranks Missouri schools 47th in quality

This report from Columbia KOMU shows the dangers of reporting on issues that you do not understand. The report notes that Missouri finished 47th on the American Legislative Exchange Council's ranking of the nation's schools.

It makes no effort whatsoever to explain what ALEC is and the basis for its ranking- if you don't follow reform the way ALEC wants it, with more charter schools, no tenure for teachers, and vouchers giving public money to private schools then your ranking is low.