Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Live rally in West Virginia- How will Trump respond to Cohen plea, Manafort verdict?




Michael Cohen pleads guilty to 8 counts, including working with Trump to pay off women to affect 2016 election

It may be a rigged witch hunt, but it was President Donald Trump's own Department of Justice that worked the case that led to a guilty plea today in federal court by Trump's former personal attorney and self-proclaimed fixer Michael Cohen on eight felony counts.

The guilty pleas came on the same day that a federal jury found former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort guilty on eight felony counts involving bank fraud and income tax fraud.

The following news release, which details the crimes Cohen committed was released a few moments ago by the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Counts seven and eight detail a plan worked out by Trump, who is not named as is the U. S. Attorney's custom when a person has not been indicted, but who is clearly the candidate who conspired with Cohen to pay $130,000 and $150,000 to silence two women about alleged affairs:


Robert Khuzami, Attorney for the United States, Acting Under Authority Conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 515, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James D. Robnett, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), announced today the guilty plea of MICHAEL COHEN to charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a federally-insured bank, and campaign finance violations. 

The plea was entered followed the filing of an eight-count criminal information, which alleged that COHEN concealed more than $4 million in personal income from the IRS, made false statements to a federally-insured financial institution in connection with a $500,000 home equity loan, and, in 2016, caused $280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election.  COHEN pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III.
Attorney for the United States Robert Khuzami said:  “Michael Cohen is a lawyer who, rather than setting an example of respect for the law, instead chose to break the law, repeatedly over many years and in a variety of ways.  His day of reckoning serves as a reminder that we are a nation of laws, with one set of rules that applies equally to everyone.”   
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “This investigation uncovered crimes of fraud, deception and evasion, conducted through a string of financial transactions that were carefully constructed and concealed to protect a variety of interests.  But as we all know, the truth can only remain hidden for so long before the FBI brings it to light.  We are all expected to follow the

State audit shows Department of Revenue inefficiencies affecting citizens at license offices

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of the state's sales and use tax collection processes, which are administered through the Department of Revenue. The report found inefficiencies affecting citizens at license offices throughout the state, especially in rural counties.

"Taxpayers should not have to provide the same documentation time and time again just to ensure they are not overcharged on tax for a new vehicle," Auditor Galloway said. "Taxpayers deserve an efficient and effective system regardless of where they live."

After a vehicle is purchased, the taxpayer is required to title and pay state and local sales tax. The Department of Revenue relies on a computerized mapping system to assign the appropriate local tax rate. However, in 15 counties that include rural communities, the system is often inaccurate, requiring taxpayers to produce additional proof of their residency in order to pay the correct rate. Even after the information is provided, the address location is frequently not corrected in the system. This means the potential of repeatedly having the same errors, requiring taxpayers to once again produce additional documentation on future transactions.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of the state's sales and use tax collection processes, which are administered through the Department of Revenue. The report found inefficiencies affecting citizens at license offices throughout the state, especially in rural counties. "Taxpayers should not have to provide the same documentation time and time again just to ensure they are not overcharged on tax for a new vehicle," Auditor Galloway said. "Taxpayers deserve an efficient and effective system regardless of where they live." After a vehicle is purchased, the taxpayer is required to title and pay state and local sales tax. The Department of Revenue relies on a computerized mapping system to assign the appropriate local tax rate. However, in 15 counties that include rural communities, the system is often inaccurate, requiring taxpayers to produce additional proof of their residency in order to pay the correct rate. Even after the information is provided, the address location is frequently not corrected in the system. This means the potential of repeatedly having the same errors, requiring taxpayers to once again produce additional documentation on future transactions.

The report also recommended changes to state law after a repeat finding regarding refunds on sales tax overpayments. This audit covered the 2015 through 2017 fiscal years, and lists the overall performance rating as "good."

Auditor Galloway's previous audit of the state's sales and use tax collection processes was released in 2015 and identified approximately $20 million in cash bonds being held by the department, which should have been refunded to Missouri businesses. The Department of Revenue has since addressed the issue and improved procedures to ensure businesses are refunded the money they are owed.

"Just a few years ago, our audit work identified a flawed process that resulted in millions of dollars not being returned to businesses," Auditor Galloway said. "Audits get results. Today, there are processes in place to make sure this money is returned and can be invested in Missouri's economy."

Auditor Galloway has focused on ensuring tax processes are efficient and designed to directly support services to taxpayers. Last fall, she released a report on the state's tax incentives and exemptions that highlighted concerns with timely sales and use tax discounts. These discounts are among some of the most generous in the nation and result in the state giving away millions to corporations for simply doing what the law requires. The 2017 report also found that the state does not monitor the effect of sales tax exemptions, making it difficult to know the actual fiscal impact.

The complete report on sales and use tax is available here.



Governor announces launch of Missouri Way management training program

(From Gov. Mike Parson)

Today, Governor Mike Parson announced the launch of The Missouri Way management training program. Throughout the program, leaders from the State of Missouri’s 16 executive departments will develop their management skills to better lead change and improve service for the citizens of Missouri. The State of Missouri has never before had such a statewide cross-department leadership development program.

“The citizens of Missouri expect their government to perform well for them every day. They expect us to deliver results on the most important issues facing our state, like workforce development and infrastructure,” said Gov. Parson. “We know we need to get better. That means making sure our state leaders have the skills they need to best serve our citizens. I am proud that we are starting The Missouri Way program to do just that.”

Gov. Parson welcomed participants of the first The Missouri Way training at its kick-off this morning. The first training will continue Wednesday and conclude Thursday evening.



“Our back-to-basics management agenda is all about improving our government for our citizens. No organization can improve without strong, skilled leaders,” said Drew Erdmann, Chief Operating Officer of the State of Missouri and leader of The Missouri Way program. “The Missouri Way program is designed to help equip our leaders with the management skills they need to drive deep, sustained change. The State has never before had such a cross-department program. It’s time.”

The Missouri Way is an intensive three-day training program designed to introduce senior leaders, managers, supervisor, and other emerging leaders the tools and approaches of solving basic management challenges and improving their teams’ performance.

The Missouri Way’s approach is practical and based upon proven principles from high-performing businesses and other government organizations. The curriculum will provide common approaches, tools, and vocabulary in areas ranging from how to manage change within an organization and redesigning business processes to customer experience and project management. The sessions involve a mix of classroom instruction with individual and group exercises.

“We are transforming the Department of Corrections,” said Anne Precythe, Director of the Department of Corrections. “The Missouri Way program will help my leadership team expand their skills and tools and take these changes to the next level.”

“Our citizens expect us to be as responsive and reliable as any other organization they deal with,” said Carol Comer, Director of the Department of Natural Resources. “Our leadership team is doing the program together to help us accelerate improvements in the Department of Natural Resources.”

The Missouri Way program is an important component of the state’s management transformation. The State of Missouri will hold the program approximately every 90 days, and it will be a regular part of leadership development in state government. Participants are identified by department leaders. The program’s first classes will include each department’s top leadership ranks. The State’s goal is to train 1,000 managers in The Missouri Way by the end of 2019.

Approximately 130 supervisors, managers, and leaders from across the 16 executive departments participated in The Missouri Way training program this week. Future training sessions are expected to bring together about 150 participants each.

“The Missouri Way program is yet another tangible example of how we are investing in our people as never before,” said Sarah Steelman, Commissioner of the Office of Administration.

Find more information about The Missouri Way program on its website: https://missouriway.mo.gov.


State treasurer announces of launch of website that will offer information about Missouri finances

(From State Treasurer Eric Schmitt)

Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt today announced the launch of new transparency website where citizens can access information about government finances. The website, ShowMeCheckbook.mo.gov, is powered by over 20 million individual data points, making it one of the most comprehensive state government financial data portals in the country.

“Unfortunately in the past the state has not provided adequate tools for accessing information about state finances,” Schmitt said. “Show-Me Checkbook gives greater access to state finances by creating a one-stop-shop for information on state spending, revenue, payroll, debt and cash flow. Missourians have a right to see how their money is being spent and managed in Jefferson City and Show-Me Checkbook lets them do just that.”



Prior to the launch of the new website, state financial data was often difficult to find and analyze. As a result, Missouri received a D+ grade for financial transparency from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in April of this year. Advocates see Show-Me Checkbook as an important step toward increasing transparency.

The Missouri Press Association released a statement today praising the launch of the new website: “Before the launch of Show-Me Checkbook, financial transparency tools across state government in Missouri were complicated, outdated and disconnected. This new website gives Missourians easier access to crucial information about how their government operates, which is a step in the right direction toward greater transparency.”

Sheila Weinberg, founder and CEO of government watchdog group Truth in Accounting, also sees the creation of a comprehensive data portal for Missouri finances as step forward.

“Truth in Accounting is pleased to see Treasurer Schmitt's efforts to create the Show-Me Checkbook, which provides citizens with a transparent and easy-to-understand website to obtain information about their state's finances," Weinberg said in a statement.

Show-Me Checkbook was designed to be user-friendly while maintaining the unprecedented depth of data exploration available through its interface. Government accounting experts and data analysts contributed to the review of the portal to ensure an accurate reflection of accounting standards.

“As financial professionals, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants knows how important it is for the government to give citizens access to information about how taxpayer dollars are being spent and managed,” said Jim O'Hallaron, President and CEO of the Missouri Society of CPAs. “We wholeheartedly support efforts to increase the transparency of state finances, including Treasurer Schmitt’s launch of Show-Me Checkbook.”

According to PIRG, websites like Show-Me Checkbook can result in significant cost-savings for states that launch them. Texas saved an estimated $163 million as a result of a similar project, and North Carolina credits their website with leading to a comprehensive reform of their state purchasing laws.

Show-Me Checkbook draws data from the State of Missouri’s accounting system along with state agency reports. Treasurer Schmitt is encouraging citizen watchdogs who find interesting or concerning data trends through Show-Me Checkbook to contact his office through the submission link that appears on the bottom of each page of the website.


Special interest group: Minimum wage increase in Missouri would benefit workers, small businesses

(From the National Employment Law Project)

Washington, D.C.—A new report by the National Employment Law Project highlights the positive impact that raising Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 an hour would have on both small businesses and workers.

Missouri’s minimum wage is currently $7.85 per hour, which amounts to $16,328 for year-round, full-time workers. Raising the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour would not only mean a much-needed raise for thousands of Missouri workers, it would also boost sales for small businesses by increasing consumer spending, as low-wage workers are, out of necessity, most likely to spend any additional money they make.

A higher state minimum wage could also significantly reduce expensive turnover costs for small businesses by improving worker retention—and extensive research shows that improving pay can increase productivity and improve performance. The new report also highlights key studies from the more than 25 years of economic research finding that states can raise their minimum wage without reducing employment.

“Polls of small business owners around the country show that small businesses support raising the minimum wage,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. “Small business owners understand what economic research has shown: Raising the minimum wage means better business by boosting consumer spending, by reducing expensive turnover costs that plague low-wage industries, and by improving productivity and customer service.”

This month, Missouri’s Secretary of State officially certified Raise Up Missouri’s proposed ballot initiative to gradually raise Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023 statewide. Missouri voters will now have the opportunity to vote yes this November on Proposition B to bring a much-needed wage increase to 677,000 Missouri workers.

Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a growing group of over 375 Missouri businesses supporting an increase in the minimum wage, has expressed their support for the measure “because it’s good for business, customers and our local economy.” (https://www.businessforafairminimumwage.org/Missouri-Sign-On-Statement).

Missouri stands to join a growing number of jurisdictions that have taken steps to raise wages. Faced with state and federal inaction, rising living costs, and declining paychecks, more and more states and cities are taking action to raise the minimum wage at the state and local level.

Southwest Missouri Democrats: Call McCaskill and tell her to vote against Trump Supreme Court nominee

Southwest Missouri Democrats issued a call to action today, asking members to let Claire McCaskill know they want her to vote against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

McCaskill is scheduled to meet with Kavanaugh today.

The organization sent the following message:

Senator McCaskill is meeting with Kavanaugh today. Please call her offices and make sure she knows her constituents want her to vote NO on Kavanaugh. It is urgent that we block his nomination to the Supreme Court and will affect generations to come. If you have already called both Senator McCaskill and Senator Blunt following our previous Speak Out emails we thank you and ask you to take the time to call again today. When you have completed your call to Claire's offices please call Senator Blunt and ask him to also vote NO on the confirmation of Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice.

Senator Claire McCaskill
Springfield
Phone: (417) 868-8745

DC
(314) 582-3810

Senator Roy Blunt

Springfield
Phone: (417) 877-7814




Neosho Daily News will no longer be printed in Neosho; Daily, Carthage Press to be printed in Columbia

Neosho sources confirmed to the Turner Report Monday night that the printing press at the Neosho Daily News will soon make its last run.

After Labor Day, the Neosho Daily News, the Carthage Press, the Aurora Advertiser, the Pittsburg Morning Sun, the Miami News-Record and the Grove Sun will be printed in Columbia, following a practice that began when the owner of those newspapers, GateHouse Media, began sending the weekly shopper the Big Nickel there several months ago.

The move has reportedly been in the offing since GateHouse purchased the Columbia Tribune and continues the company's practice of centralizing services, eliminating jobs and removing connections to the local communities where it has newspapers.

Moving the printing to Columbia is just the latest of a number of changes that have rocked the Daily in recent years.

The biggest was the change in publishing frequency. At one time, the Daily was published six times a week. Since April 2017, it is published twice weekly.

At the time the change was made, the Daily received criticism for maintaining "Daily" in its name, despite it no longer being printed on a daily basis. The name was maintained, the publisher at the time Jamey Honeycutt said to better serve the readers.

"We had to determine what we do better than anyone and that was cover local news," Honeycutt said in a top-of-page-one story in the Daily. "When your print edition comes on Tuesday and the weekend, it will be a thick edition, focused exclusively on local news, sports, and advertising."

The article continued, "No other news agency in the area focuses on Neosho and Newton County like the Daily News and the Daily News takes it's (sic) responsibility seriously."


The move to two days a week was made at the same time GateHouse Media made the Carthage Press, which at one time published six days a week, into a weekly, trimmed the formerly five-day-a-week Miami News-Record to a twice-weekly and reduced the Pittsburg Morning Sun from six to five days a week.

The company has trimmed costs in other ways.

The Aurora Advertiser reportedly no longer maintains a business office, forcing customers to conduct their business with the newspaper by e-mail or mail.

How long can GateHouse Media claim these are "local" newspapers?

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For a publication that takes a nostalgic look at Neosho and Newton County in a time when the daily newspaper was an essential and when the Neosho square was a Friday and Saturday night destination for teenagers from the Neosho, Seneca and East Newton school districts, my new book Newton County Memories is available locally at Granby Auto Supply and Hardware, Changing Hands Booke Shoppe and Always Buying Books in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage.

It can also be purchased at Amazon in paperback and e-book formats at the links below.

Missouri Ethics Commission closes Greitens investigation

The Missouri Ethics Commission announced Monday it has concluded its investigation into whether former Gov. Eric Greitens improperly used the donor list of the charity he started, The Mission Continues, to help in his campaign for governor.

The results of the investigation will be forwarded to the Cole County Prosecuting Attorney's office for possible criminal charges.

The accompanying video is from KSN.




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Monday, August 20, 2018

Hawley, McCaskill offer views on Trump Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Claire McCaskill will meet Tuesday with President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which as the Kansas City Star pointed out today is one more than her fellow Missouri senator Roy Blunt did with President Barack Obama's 2016 nominee Merrick Garland.

In the accompanying video from 41 Action News in Kansas City, McCaskill tells what she hopes to find out during her meeting with Kavanaugh, while her Republican opponent, Attorney General Josh Hawley explains why he supports Kavanaugh.