Sunday, April 10, 2005

Elected officials are asking Missouri taxpayers to take the hit from budget cuts, but they are exempting themselves according to an article in this morning's Columbia Missourian.
Under the proposed budget, elected officeholders will receive an additional $43 million, according to the article. Governor Matt Blunt has left the governor's budget unchanged, while state agencies, including those designed to help the poor, are taking cuts across the board.
"It is the height of arrogance that the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, auditor, attorney general and General Assembly took no cuts," Rep. Frank Lembke, R-St. Louis County, told the Missourian. Lembke's subcommittee had recommended numerous cuts to the budgets of elected officials, none of which were carried out.
Budget Committee Chairman Brad Lager, R-Maryville, told the newspaper his committee had decided it was best to allow the elected officials to set their own budgets. One elected official, Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat, actually asked for more money for this year's budget, the article said.
On the other side of the coin, only one elected official, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, also a Democrat, asked for a reduction, the article said.
Blunt came under strong criticism for his refusal to cut the governor's budget. Ranking Minority member Rep. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring, told the Missourian he thought the governor should have made cuts. "It's disappointing to see the governor's office doesn't recognize what the rest of state government is going through. I would like to see the governor buck up to the cuts he's asking social services to take."
Eric Rudolph, who will plead guilty to the Centennial Park bombing, which happened during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and several other bombings this week, has a strong connection to southwest Missouri, according to published reports.
Rudolph and his widowed mother spent time at the Church of Israel compound five miles from Schell City. Rudolph quickly picked up the group's racist doctrine, according to the reports, and even dated leader Daniel Gayman's teenaged daughter. Understandably, Gayman has attempted to distance himself from Rudolph in published interviews.
An anonymous former member of Gayman's church spoke about Gayman's philosophy in 2003 to "Dan has been preaching a message of hatred for over 30 years," the man wrote. "And his 'Two Seeds of Genesis 3:15' is famous amongst Identity circles. He taught us that salvation is only for white people of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Scandinavian racial background and that the Jews, far from being 'God's chosen people,' were instead 'The Seed of Satan.' "
Rudolph is safely behind bars, but a lot of people with the same beliefs are still out there...and a few of them aren't too far from here.
The man who was once in charge of Catholic churches in this area will play a role in the selection of a new pope...and a sizable segment of Catholics is not happy about it.
Media reports indicate Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly head of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Archdiocese, will be the target of protesters during the next few days.
The problem is that Cardinal Law covered up sexual abuse of children by priests, according to published reports. After his resignation as Archbishop of Boston, he was rewarded with a cushy job in the Vatican. He has been tabbed to lead one of nine memorial masses for the Pope.
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors' Network for Those Abused by Priests, is quoted on the BBC website as saying, "It's an unbelievably insensitive move that simply rubs salt into the very deep wounds of thousands of abuse victims and American Catholics."
Important stories were all over page one of The Lamar Democrat's Wednesday edition. R-1 voters approved a much-needed tax levy increase. As mentioned earlier in The Turner Report, the R-1 School District is one of the few in this area which has come dangerously close to not having the three percent balance required by the state of Missouri. This is welcome news for the district.
Another big story was the change in the makeup of the Lamar R-1 Board of Education, including the election of new board members George Haag and Michelle Crockett and the turning out of long-time Board President Bryan Robertson/
Perhaps the biggest story in the paper, written by Richard Cooper, detailed a plan being pushed by Barton County officials to bring federal prisoners into the heart of the city of Lamar.
This issue of the Democrat was filled with big news...unfortunately, not one of the above-mentioned articles was featured on the top half of page one.
In fact, probably because of deadline pressures, the election information was limited to a quick listing of the results, with no accompanying articles, no interviews with winning and losing candidates, no interview with R-1 Superintendent Mike Resa to explain the impact of the positive vote on the levy issue.
Election information was featured above the fold (the part of the newspaper that is visible in news racks), but not the important Lamar school races. Maybe this was so people couldn't just look at the newspaper in the rack, read the results, then move on without buying a newspaper. That would assume that Democrat readers have never heard of something called television, which revealed the winners Tuesday night.
It could be that the Democrat editor just doesn't think the Lamar R-1 board election and levy issue were any more important than anything else on the ballot and thus should not be moved to the top of the page.
No matter what thought process went into that news judgment, relegating Cooper's article on the jail proposal to the bottom of page one does not make sense. This was a big story. I am sure there are many residents of that area of Lamar (and the rest of the city for that matter) who do not want to see federal prisoners, even minimum-security types, housed near them. The story did receive page-one treatment, true, but it deserved a spot at the top of the page.
What was at the top of the page? What articles did the Democrat editor consider to be more important? On the left-hand side of the paper were the election results. The right-hand side was filled with Editor Rayma Bekebrock Davis' feature article on a Liberal High School student who is participating in some kind of national theater workshop. It was a story that definitely belonged in the newspaper, but it was not one that belonged on the top right-hand side of page one, a spot normally reserved for a newspaper's top story.
The placement of stories on page one of a newspaper, and the stories that are placed on page one, is the newspaper's way of telling readers what it considers to be important.
I wonder if the placement of the jail story and the story about the Liberal high schooler would have been reversed if had been Ms. Bekebrock-Davis who wrote the jail story and Cooper who wrote the feature. I guess we will never know.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Morgan Stanley investment firm is already preparing its appeal in the lawsuit brought against it by former Coleman CEO Ronald Perelman, who lost millions when he sold his shares in Coleman to Sunbeam for shares in the company. Shortly after the deal went through, Sunbeam, which has a plant in Neosho, declared bankruptcy.
That strategy appears to be based on the judge's decision that she will instruct the jury to consider Morgan Stanley to have played a role in the fraud against Perelman.

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