Thursday, July 31, 2008

Steelman: I'm the one with the best chance of beating Jay Nixon

In an e-mail to supporters, Sarah Steelman says she would support Kenny Hulshof if he wins, but that she is the one who has the best chance of beating Jay Nixon in November:

I am often asked if I would support my opponent if he should win the primary. The answer I always give is that I don’t want Jay Nixon to be Governor. I know that on this, we agree. But I also know that the best way to keep Jay Nixon out of the Governor’s Mansion is for me to be his opponent come November. He can’t attack me for bad votes in Washington. He can’t tie me to poor congressional approval ratings. He can’t say I am out of touch with Missourians. It will be hard for him to attack me at all.

Idiocracy post: Is Jasper County Republican Party endorsing Rita Hunter?

David Hoover on the Idiocracy Now blog questions whether the Jasper County Republican Party has endorsed incumbent Public Administrator Rita Hunter in her three-way battle with Angie Casavecchia Ashens and Monty Morgan.

Hoover cites a letter from Jasper County Republican Party Chairman John Putnam which says allegations against Rita Hunter are unfounded and may have come from her opponents. From Putnam's letter:

While we do not endorse candidates, I do believe it is appropriate to say that I have investigated some of the accusations against Rita Hunter and found them to be unfounded and likely motivated by people seeking her office. Rita is one of the most compassionate and sacrificial people I know on behalf of the needy

How long will Carthage Press have a Monday newspaper?

With more than 60 percent of its daily circulation vanishing over the past decade, how long will it be before The Carthage Press stops being a six-day a week newspaper and trims down to five or even less?

GateHouse Media has already eliminated Monday editions at two of its Illinois properties, according a story posted today on the Editor & Publisher website:

Eliminating Monday is becoming something of a trend, especially among smaller-size papers like the 10,200-circulation Dispatch.

Two small GateHouse Media Inc. dailies in Illinois last month stopped publishing Monday. Newsprint costs that are up 45% from last year plus rising gasoline costs convinced the 3,100-circulation Daily Review Atlas in Monmouth, Ill., to make the move, General Manager Tony Scott said in a note to readers. The nearby Kewanee (Ill.) Star Courier also dropped Mondays.

"Give 'Em Hell" Express to arrive in Joplin Sunday

Democratic attorney general candidate Jeff Harris' "Give 'Em Hell Harris" campaign tour will be in Joplin Sunday night, according to a news release from the Harris campaign:

Representative Jeff Harris today announced his plans for an ambitious 72-hour campaign tour that will take him to every corner of the state in the campaign's final days. Dubbed the Give 'Em Hell Harris Tour, the non-stop campaign swing kicks off with a send-off event at Harris' campaign headquarters in Columbia, before officially beginning the 72-hour countdown to Election Day in Moberly.

Jeff Harris has run an aggressive campaign in the Democratic race for Attorney General, and he said that his tour in the closing days will be no exception. He also pointed to the major swing in momentum toward his campaign as evidenced by major endorsements, a lead the in polls, and a dramatic upsurge in fundraising.

"We have campaigned hard for every vote in every corner of the state, and we're going to finish this race working for the support of everyday Missourians in small towns and big cities alike," said Harris. "Missourians want an Attorney General who will be their voice and who they can count on to stand up to the special interests. This tour is one more example we can offer the voters of just how hard I am willing to fight for them."

To promote the Give 'Em Hell Harris Tour, the campaign also unveiled a new website -, which features an interactive map with the schedule and live updates that Harris will post via the social networking site Additionally, Harris' campaign invites supporters to caravan with the candidate as he travels the state.

Harris will be at the Golden Corral, 2415 S. Rangeline, Joplin, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, and in Springfield for a rally at IBEW Local, 2901 E. Division, from 9 to 10 p.m.

Rita Hunter: Globe is running a smear campaign against me

Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter says the Joplin Globe is trying to ruin her reputation. That is why she plans to file a lawsuit against the Globe sometime after next Tuesday's election, according to an article by Buzz Ball in today's Carthage Press:

“I believe there is an actual smear campaign here,” said Rita Hunter. “They (The Globe) have absolute power to ruin anyone in local government with their unethical reporting. What is the personal vendetta this paper has against me to allow this type of reporting?

A copy of the letter, Mrs. Hunter's attorney, Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, sent to Joplin Globe Publisher Dan Chiodo announcing the intention to file the lawsuit can be found in the July 30 Turner Report.

Another $30,600 for Steelman campaign

Sarah Steelman's campaign for the Republican nomination for governor received a $30,600 shot in the arm, according to a 24-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
The report indicates $26,900 of that came from the 21st Republican Senatorial District Commitee.

Casino lobbyist, Harrah's contribute $1,675 to Donnelly campaign

Democratic attorney general candidate Margaret Donnelly's latest 24-hour report, filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows $3,000 in contributions.

Among those contributing were Harrah's Entertainment, which chipped in with $325, and Harrah's lobbyist Mark Rhoads, who contributed the $1,350. Rhoads also represents numerous other clients, a list of which can be found at this link.

Harris reports $3,200 in contributions

Democratic attorney general candidate Jeff Harris' latest 24-hour report filed today shows $3,200 in contributions and $6,568.62 in expenditures.

The largest contribution, $1,000, came from Operating Engineers Local 148, St. Louis.

Committees continue to fuel Koster candidacy

The latest 24-hour report from Chris Koster's campaign for attorney general shows the Republican-turned-Democrat reported receiving $35,500 on July 30, including maximum $13,450 contributions from the Saline County and Bates County Democratic Central Committees.

Of course, Koster has come under much criticism for laundering money, some say illegally, through county committees.

GateHouse Media stock drops 12 cents

GateHouse Media stock fell another 12 cents today, closing at 63 cents per share. The stock dropped to as low as 55 cents. Its peak today was 81 cents.

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

Senator accused of corruption contributed more than $50,000 to Missouri Republicans

Sen. Ted Stevens, who pleaded not guilty today in federal court to corruption charges, has contributed at least $41,000 to Missouri Republican campaigns during the past decade, according to FEC documents.

Twenty thousand dollars from Stevens' Northern Lights PAC, $20,000 went to former Sen. Jim Talent, $10,000 in 2002 and $10,000 in 2006, when Talent lost to Claire McCaskill.

Sen. Kit Bond received $19,996, $10,000 in 2004 and $9,996, according to the documents. Former Sen. John Ashcroft, in his losing battle against the late Mel Carnahan in 2000, received $10,000.

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt received $1,000 in 2006, one of only five representatives to receive contributions from the Northern Lights PAC.

Aull trial postponed to Aug. 21

The trial of Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall, for providing his identification to Sen. Jeff Smith, D-Columbia so he could gamble at the Isle of Capri casino in Boonville has been postponed until Aug. 21, according to Pettis County Circuit Court records.

The incident occurred one year ago today when Aull at the behest of Isle of Capri lobbyist Lynne Schlosser, gave Smith the identification. The two legislators were part of a lobbyist-financed junket to the casino. Aull's trial is being held in Pettis County on a change of venue from Cooper County. Smith and Ms. Schlosser's trials are scheduled for later this year in Cooper County.

Video provided of Steelman appearance on Glenn Beck Show

Sarah Steelman discussed her refusal to issue a check to cover a settlement in the sexual harassment complaint against former Missouri Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell and her stance on ethanal during her appearance Wednesday night on CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck Show:

Outstate newspapers endorse Harris for attorney general

With endorsements from two more newspapers, the Monroe County Appeal and the Webster County Citizen, Democratic attorney general candidate Jeff Harris notes in a news release issued this afternoon that he is the only one of the three major candidates to receive support from outside St. Louis. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed St. Louis representative Margaret Donnelly.

According to the Harris news release:

The Monroe County Appeal hailed Harris' leadership and likened him to the legendary Democratic figure U.S. Representative Jerry Litton:

"He has been active as Minority leader in increasing Democratic House seats and in opposition to health care cuts by the present administration. He also focuses on education and Sunshine Law issues. If there ever was a Democrat to keep an eye on for future potential, kind of a young Jerry Litton, it is Jeff Harris."

The Webster County Citizen praises Harris, saying, "It's hard not to like him":

"[I] f there's a living example of a 'Mr. Smith' in Missouri's legislature, it's Harris, who, despite his boyish looks, has championed a variety of quality causes during his current tenure as a state representative. ... Koster speaks of what he'll do if elected. Harris speaks of what he's done."

Last week, Harris won the endorsement of the Kansas City Star, and he had previously received the endorsement from his hometown newspaper, the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Democrats: Hulshof, Steelman too busy attacking, not providing any ideas

Using excerpts from public appearances by Republican gubernatorial candidates Kenny Hulshof and Sarah Steelman, the Missouri Democratic Party has created what it calls a "video documentary" that has some fun with both candidates, indicating they are spending their time attacking each other and not offering specifics on any issues:

Steelman sends out last call for contributions

Looking to make last-minute television buys, State Treasurer Sarah Steelman made a last e-mail pitch for campaign contributions this morning:

I can’t believe there are only four days left. When I announced my candidacy for Governor in January, I knew there would be months of hard work ahead. Now, it all boils down to just four days.

In the next four days our campaign needs to reach hundreds of thousands of Republican voters. Voters in Kansas City,Columbia and St. Louis are still deciding who is the best candidate to beat Jay Nixon in November. Voters in Springfield,St. Joseph and Hannibal are deciding whose vision for Missouri they can support. Voters in Cape Girardeau,Joplin and Jefferson City are deciding which candidate best represents their views. All of these voters, and all of these questions, are important.

To reach them all we will need to be on radio and television as much as possible. We have already made substantial buys, and we would like to make more. Whether it is radio in Jefferson City or television in Springfield, each dollar we spend will sway more voters.

Video provided for Obama town hall meeting in Springfield

The Barack Obama campaign has posted a video of the entire town hall meeting held Wednesday at Glendale High School in Springfield:

GateHouse Media to announce second quarter earnings Aug. 8

GateHouse Media, owner of The Carthage Press and Neosho Daily News, will announce its second quarter earnings Friday, Aug. 8. The company issued the following news release:

GateHouse Media, Inc. (NYSE: GHS) announced today that it plans to release its second quarter 2008 financial results before the market opens on Friday, August 8, 2008. The Company has scheduled a conference call to discuss the financial results on Friday, August 8, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The conference call can be accessed by dialing (877) 545-1409 (from within the U.S.) or (719) 325-4910 (from outside of the U.S.) ten minutes prior to the scheduled start and referencing the "GateHouse Media Second Quarter Earnings Call."

A webcast of the conference call will be available to the public on a listen-only basis at Please allow extra time prior to the call to visit the site and download the necessary software required to listen to the internet broadcast. A replay of the webcast will be available for three months following the call.

Blunt: Underage drinking is bad, decision on beating puppies awaited

One of the joys of the last year of Gov. Matt Blunt's administration is seeing how many irrelevant news releases his office will send out.

Today, the governor, taking the risk of offending a large portion of his constituents, has come out against underage drinking. Rumors are Matt Blunt has other weighty issues on his plate during the next few months, and will come out in favor of motherhood and against beating puppies.

Here is the latest news release:

Gov. Matt Blunt today announced his support of the Federal Trade Commission’s We Don’t Serve Teens 2008 campaign.
"It is important that we provide information to the public about the importance of deterring underage drinking," Gov. Blunt said. "I encourage all Missourians to make it a safe summer for our teens and remind Missourians not to serve alcohol to minors."
We Don’t Serve Teens (WDST) is a national campaign to reduce underage drinking. It focuses on the social sources that may provide teens with access to alcohol. Over the past two years, the program has received tremendous support from its public and private partners, including federal, state, and local governments, alcohol and advertising industry members, and consumer groups.
Gov. Blunt encourages Missourians to understand that underage drinking is not inevitable. Fighting underage drinking is a group effort and parents, relatives, friends, communities, schools and retailers can join forces in the effort against underage drinking, especially during the summer months which sometimes means reduced supervision from adults.
Last year, Gov. Blunt signed legislation strengthening Missouri’s law against underage drinking by changing penalties to address both the possession and consumption of alcohol by minors. In Missouri a minor can be found guilty of a "minor in possession" if he or she is visibly intoxicated or has a blood alcohol level of .02. The legislation also prohibits adults from allowing minors to drink on their private property unless they are minor’s legal guardian, and requires school districts to create a policy detailing the consequences if a student is found to either possess or drink alcohol on school property or at school events.
Earlier this month, Gov. Blunt signed legislation requiring repeat drunk driving offenders to modify their vehicles with ignition interlock devices to ensure they cannot endanger other Missourians by drinking and driving. The governor also signed legislation to promote safer boating on Missouri waters by lowering the legal intoxication limit from .1 of one percent to .08 of one percent, ensuring consistency with the legal limits for operating a vehicle.
For more information on stopping teens’ easy access to alcohol, practical tips on talking to kids about alcohol and alcohol advertising, and what to say to friends and neighbors about serving alcohol to teens, visit
Or for a resource for information related to underage drinking, visit the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse website at

Underage drinking is a serious problem, but seeking out activities that other organizations are doing, so a paragraph extolling the governor's skill at signing bills into law can be tacked on, seems to be a waste of taxpayer money.

McCaskill, Blunt offer thoughts on Obama's chances in southwest Missouri

In an article in today's Washington Post, Sen. Claire McCaskill and Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt offer their thoughts on how Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will do in southwest Missouri. Ms. McCaskill, of course, can cite experience since her success in defeating Jim Talent was largely due to her to garnering more votes than expected in this region of the state:

"It's the difference between winning and losing," said McCaskill, who squeaked past Republican Jim Talent with 49.6 percent of the vote in 2006. "People all over the state need to have a sense that a candidate cares about them, and if you don't bother to show up in rural Missouri, if you don't bother to ask for people's votes all over the state, then you're not going to win statewide in Missouri."

Blunt offers a different take:

"Southwest Missourians are much more focused on substance at the end of the day than style," said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), whose district hosted Obama all day Wednesday. "No question he has style. He gives a great speech. But there's a reason Missouri has been called for years the Show-Me State."

Obama to spend more time in southwest Missouri

During his first visit to southwest Missouri Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged it would not be his last:

"Historically, if you do well in southwest Missouri, as a Democrat, then you're going to do well in Missouri as a whole," Obama said, noting he'll be back to the Ozarks between now and Election Day on Nov. 4. "We're going to be spending time here."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Globe: Aug. 8 hearing scheduled on Memorial Middle School shooter's competency to stand trial

A 9 a.m. Aug. 8 competency hearing has been scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court to determine the fate of Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White, according to an article posted on the Joplin Globe website:

Brett Meeker, one of two public defenders appointed to represent White, said the results of a court-ordered competency evaluation state that her client is not competent enough to stand trial. She said Judge David Mouton still has to issue a ruling whether to remand her client to the Department of Mental Health or continue with court proceedings.

“It still has to go before the judge,” Meeker said. “Typically at this point, the judge commits the defendant to the Department of Mental Health for six months to see if they can restore competency.”

New ad: McCain compares Obama to Britney Spears, Paris Hilton

If you can't say anything that can help your campaign, you're better off saying nothing at all.

That message didn't get through to John McCain's campaign managers who released an advertisement today trying to blunt Obama's successful world tour by comparing him with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Study after study has shown negative advertising can work. Negative advertising in which Obama's winning moments are relived are not going to help McCain a bit.

Donnelly puts $100,000 of her own money into attorney general campaign

Preparing for a last-minute push for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, Rep. Margaret Donnelly has added $105,150 into her campaign coffers...with $100,000 coming from her own bankbook, according to a filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Twenty-four hour reports from Democratic candidate Jeff Harris show he receievd $6,000 Tuesday, $1,250 Monday, and $1,650 Friday.

The Ethics Commission document indicate Harris bought $40,000 worth of media time Monday.

The third major Democratic candidate, Chris Koster, filed a 24-hour notice today, but it has not been scanned onto the Ethics Commission website at this writing.

St. Charles-based committees pour $53,800 into Steelman campaign

Four legislative district committees, all with the same St. Charles address made maximum $13,450 contributions to State Treasurer Sarah Steelman's campaign Tuesday, according to documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Legislative District Committees each contributed $13,450 for a total of $53,800. The committee addresses are listed as "P. O. Box 1742, St. Charles, MO 63302."

GateHouse stock up three cents

GateHouse Media stock, though it hit an all-time low of 51 cents per share today, bounced back to 75 cents at the close of trading, improving for the second straight day. It closed at 72 cents Tuesday.

The news might not be that good for the company, which owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, and more than 300 other publications. After hours trading found the stock trading at 65 cents per share.

Bond: All Obama is promising is four years of hot air

The Republican Party has been quick to respond to Sen. Barack Obama's visit to Springfield and other stops in Missouri today. The following news release was issued this afternoon:

U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond pounced on Sen. Barrack Obama's remarks Wednesday when he said at a campaign stop in Springfield that Americans could save energy by getting their automobiles regular tune-ups and making sure that tires are inflated properly.

"Rural Missouri is suffering a gas price crisis and the best thing Senator Obama can come up with is more hot air, this time for your tires, " Bond, a Republican, said in a statement.

Obama, D-Ill., the likely Democratic presidential nominee, also emphasized the need for more alternative fuels in a speech at a town hall forum at Glendale High School.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive GOP nominee, and congressional Republicans are supporting more drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a way to lower gas prices.

Memorial Middle School shooter will not stand trial

Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White, 15, will not stand trial.

White's mother told KOAM that the court had ruled that her son was not competent to stand trial. He had been scheduled to go to trial in December. An interview with Mrs. White is scheduled for KOAM's 6 p.m. news.

White was 13 and a seventh grader at Memorial Middle School when he took an assault rifle into the school, fired a shot into the ceiling and aimed the weapon at Principal Steve Gilbreth. Authorities testified he atempted to pull the trigger but the weapon jammed.

White had been charged with two counts of assault, and single counts of unlawful use of a weapon, armed criminal action, and attempted escape. He has been in jail, in solitary confinement, since the October 2006 incident.

The case file was closed to the public last week.

Class action lawsuit calls for Rita Hunter to be removed as conservator for 450 to 500 wards

A class action lawsuit filed today in Jasper County Circuit Court claims Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter has failed to properly maintain the money and property of her wards.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Lynn Myers of Springfield, said the lawsuit was not filed this week to coincide with next Tuesday's election in which Mrs. Hunter is opposed by Angie Casavecchia Ashens and Monty Morgan.

Myers said work on processing the lawsuit has been ongoing since January while he was dealing with the case of 95-year-old Emma France, whose daughter was charged with kidnapping her mother after the mother was placed against her will in a Kansas facility. "I know it's close to the election, but I have been working on the facts for quite some time."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mrs. France, Guy Sesler, and Treba Benson. Named as defendants are Mrs. Hunter and Charlene Kelly, deputy public administrator. The petition indicates that the class includes 450 to 500 wards of Mrs. Hunter. Myers said his research through the wards' files indicates that in at least five instances property was reported missing, two of those cases involving weapons, though in one of those two instances, the weapons were reportedly sold for $4,000.

From the lawsuit:

-That defendant Rita Hunter has testified that as public administrator her job is to take care of every aspect of her ward's life.

-That as conservator, defendant Rita Hunter and her deputies are to manage and care for all the assets of the ward and use them for the benefit of the ward.

-That as conservator, defendant Rita Hunter and her deputies owe a fiduciary duty to the ward to manage and care for all the assets of the ward and use them for the benefit of the ward.

-That Jasper County is a first class county in the state of Missouri.

-That defendant Rita Hunter and her deputies are paid salaries for their work as the public administrator for Jasper County, Missouri.

-That defendant Rita Hunter and her deputy Charlene Kelly have failed in their fiduciary duties to the wards as a class in that:

A. Defendant Rita Hunter has charged and received from the wards' estates more than the reasonable compensation allowed under the law for personal representatives.

B. That defendant Rita Hunter charged her wards' estates between 300 percent and 1,000 percent of the county's cost for salaries.

C. That the State of Missouri has set the reasonable compensation for defendant Rita Hunter at approximately $59,000.

D. That the defendant Rita Hunter has charged the wards' estates not based upon the actual time spent, but an arbitrary time amount.

E. That the defendant Rita Hunter and her deputies have failed to take and maintain inventories of personal property of the wards.

F. That the defendant Rita Hunter and her deputies have failed to pay the cost of care for her wards even at a time when there were monies in their name.

G. That the defendant Rita Hunter has failed to maintain, rent, or sell the real property of her wards, and has allowed some of the real property to be taken by the lenders.

H. That the defendant Rita Hunter has paid her deputy Charlene Kelly directly from the wards' estates to prepare tax returns for the wards, a service for which defendant Charlene Kelly is already paid a salary for and which is already the duty of the public administrator acting as conservator for the wards.

-That the acts of the defendants Rita Hunter and Charlene Kelly were outrageous in that they disregarded the rights of the plaintiffs and the wards making up the class in this action.

In the demand for relief, the lawsuit says:

That because of the defendants' breach of their fiduciary duty toward the plaintiffs and the wards making up the class in this action, the plaintiffs and the wards making up the class in this action have suffered monetary damages in that monies have been taken from their estates improperly and not used for their benefit, and personal and real property has been lost, damaged and not used for the benefits of the ward, all to their damage.

Because of this, the lawsuit asks "for the court to remove the defendant Rita Hunter as conservator in all the estates, or enjoin her from the above conduct in the future.

The lawsuit calls for Mrs. Hunter to be removed as conservator, taking care of the wards' money, but not as their guardian, Myers said.

(The video that accompanies this post has technical difficulties due to the roar of the air conditioning unit outside of the Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage.)

Text provided for Obama Springfield speech

Following is the text for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech this morning at Glendale High School in Springfield:

"I’ve often said that this election represents a defining moment in our history. On major issues like the war in Iraq or the warming of our planet, the decisions we make in November and over the next few years will shape a generation, if not a century.

That is especially true when it comes to our economy.

Most of you probably know this – not just because whenever you open the paper or turn on the TV, you see reports of more job losses, more foreclosures, and prices rising at the pump, but because you feel the effects of all this every single day. You’re working harder than ever to pay bills that are bigger than ever. You’re driving less and saving less. You’re struggling to balance work and family. You’re worried about the value of your home and whether you’ll be able to afford college for your kids and still retire at a decent age.

For millions of families, these anxieties seem to be growing worse with each passing day, causing many people to lose faith in that fundamental promise of America – that no matter where you come from, or what you look like, or who your parents are, this is a country where you can make it if you try.

Now, part of the reason people are struggling is due to fundamental changes in our economy. Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology and communication have made it so that corporations can send good jobs wherever there’s an internet connection. Children here in Missouri aren’t just growing up competing for good jobs with children in California or Indiana, but with children in China and India as well.

But what we also have to remember is that it wasn’t simply globalization or a normal part of the business cycle that got us where we are today. It was irresponsible decisions that were made on Wall Street and in Washington. In the past few years, we have relearned the essential truth that in the long run, we cannot have a thriving Wall Street and a struggling Main Street. When wages are flat, prices are rising and more and more Americans are mired in debt, the economy as a whole suffers. When a reckless few game the system, as we’ve seen in this housing crisis, millions suffer and we’re all impacted. When special interests put their thumb too heavily on the scale, and distort the free market, those who compete by the rules come in last. And when government fails to meet its obligation – to provide sensible oversight and stand on the side of working people and invest in their future – America pays a heavy price.

So we have a choice to make in this election. We can either choose a new direction for our economy, or we can keep doing what we’ve been doing. My opponent believes we’re on the right course. He’s said our economy has made great progress these past eight years. He’s embraced the Bush economic policies and promises to continue them. Our country and the working families of Missouri cannot afford that.

These policies haven’t worked for the past eight years and they won’t work now. We need to leave these policies in the past where they belong. It’s time for something new. It’s time to restore balance and fairness to our economy so it works for all Americans, recognizing that we must grow together, Wall Street and Main Street, profits and wages.

That starts with giving immediate relief to families who are one illness or foreclosure or pink slip away from disaster. To help folks who are having trouble filling up their gas tank, I’ll provide an energy rebate. To help hardworking Americans meet rising costs, I’ll put a $1,000 tax cut in the pockets of 95% of workers and their families, including 3 million folks here in Missouri. To help end this housing crisis, I’ll provide relief to struggling homeowners. And to protect retirement security, I’ll eliminate taxes for seniors making under $50,000 a year.

If Senator McCain wants a debate about taxes in this campaign, that’s a debate I’m happy to have. Because while we’re both proposing tax cuts, the difference is who we’re cutting taxes for. Senator McCain would cut taxes for those making over $3 million. I’ll cut taxes for middle class families by three times as much as my opponent. Let me be clear: if you’re a family making less than $250,000, my plan will not raise your taxes – not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes. And unlike my opponent, I’ll pay for my plan – by cutting wasteful spending, shutting corporate loopholes and tax havens, and rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

But in this election, we can do something more than just provide short-term relief. We can secure our long-term prosperity and strengthen America’s competitiveness in the 21st century. It won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I refuse to accept that we cannot meet the challenges of our global economy. I’m running for President because I believe we can choose our own economic destiny.

We can choose to go another four years with the same reckless fiscal policies that have busted our budget, wreaked havoc in our economy, and mortgaged our children’s future on a mountain of debt; or we can restore fiscal responsibility in Washington.

We can go another four years with a broken health care system that’s leaving millions uninsured, driving millions more to financial ruin, and making it harder for manufactures to compete; or we can finally solve our health care crisis once and for all. We can guarantee health care for anyone who wants it, make it affordable for anyone who needs it, and cut costs for businesses and their workers by picking up the tab for some of the most expensive illnesses and conditions.

We can choose to do nothing about disappearing jobs and shuttered factories for another four years, or we can encourage job creation in the United States of America. We can end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas and give them to companies that create jobs here in this country. We can make sure that our trade agreements work for both Wall Street and Main Street. And we can create nearly two million jobs by investing in our crumbling infrastructure and building new schools, roads, and bridges.

And if anybody tells you we can’t afford to make these investments, you just tell them that if we can spend $10 billion a month in Iraq, we can invest some of that money right here in the United States of America. That’s what we can do in this election. The choice is ours.

We can go another four years without truly solving our energy crisis; we can choose my opponent’s plan to give $4 billion in tax breaks to oil companies at a time when they’re making record profits, or we can finally make America energy independent so that we’re less vulnerable to oil price shocks and $4 a gallon gas. We can invest in renewable energies like wind power, solar power, and the next generation biofuels. And we can create up to five million new, green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. That’s what we can choose to do in this election.

We can choose to stay mired in the same education debate that’s consumed Washington for decades, or we can provide every child with a world-class education so they have the skills to compete and succeed in our global economy. We can invest in early childhood education, recruit an army of qualified teachers with better pay and more support, and finally make college affordable by offering an annual $4,000 tax credit in exchange for community or national service.

These are the choices we face in November. We can choose to remain on the path that’s gotten our economy into so much trouble, or we can reclaim the idea that in this country, opportunity is open to anyone who’s willing to work for it.

In the end, that’s all most Americans are asking for. It’s not a lot. The people I’ve met during this campaign in town halls and living rooms; on farms and front porches – they know that government can’t solve all their problems, and they don’t expect it to. They’re willing to do their part – to work harder and study more and replace the remote controls and video games with books and homework. They believe in personal responsibility and self-reliance. They don’t like seeing their tax dollars wasted.

But they also believe in an America where jobs are there for the willing; where hard work is rewarded with a decent living; and where you can actually build a better life for your children and grandchildren. That’s the promise of this country, and I believe we can keep it if we choose a new direction for our economy, a different course for our country, and get to work in the months and years ahead. Thank you."

(Photo by KSPR)

Obama addresses economy during Springfield speech

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama addresses the economy during this video clip from his town hall meeting this morning at Glendale High School in Springfield:

New Donnelly ad targets Koster

An ad launched today by Democratic attorney general candidate Margaret Donnelly attacks opponent Chris Koster for money laundering, possible illegal fund raising activities and for helping Gov. Matt Blunt to cut healthcare to Missourians:

In addition to that ad, Ms. Donnelly has posted another ad which tells where she stands on issues and touts praise that was given to her by current Attorney General Jay Nixon:

Crowell: Lawsuit reform has worked

In his latest Capital Connection column, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, says lawsuit reform in Missouri has worked:

Prior to 2005, personal injury attorneys filing junk lawsuits were driving up medical costs in our state and causing doctors to leave Missouri. We took action against this by passing Tort Reform legislation during the 2005 Legislative session. I am pleased to announce that our actions are having a positive impact. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform recently published their 2008 State Liability Systems Ranking Study. Missouri has jumped from 41st for best legal climate in the country in 2004 to 31st in 2008. Missouri’s ten spot jump is a result of the comprehensive litigation reform we enacted.

Before the passage of comprehensive lawsuit reform, healthcare providers in Missouri were being hit hard by junk lawsuits. These suits were chasing doctors out of the state at the expense of patients in need of care. The reforms we adopted in 2005 level the playing field in Missouri courtrooms for doctors and small business owners.

Before the reforms, a defendant who was just 1 percent liable could have been forced to pay almost an entire settlement through joint and several liability—a theory of recovery that permits a plaintiff to recover damages from multiple defendants collectively or from each defendant individually. The new law we enacted made it so joint and several liability only applies to defendants 51 percent or more at fault, in all cases. Also, Missouri law now provides that actions may only be brought in the county where the action occurred or in the county where the plaintiff was injured. This prevents lawyers from “shopping” for a jurisdiction that might have more favorable results or a larger damage award.

I am pleased to share with you that according to the 2007 Medical Malpractice Report released by the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions, and Professional Registration, we have seen a significant decrease in suits filed. In 2007, 1,099 lawsuits were reported. Compare this number to 2005, when the number of lawsuits reported was close to 2,900.

Lawsuit reform is one of many significant accomplishments we have achieved over the past four years. The law we crafted in 2005 is improving healthcare in our state and making sure that our courts are fair to all involved.

Attorney: Rita Hunter will file libel suit against Joplin Globe

My understanding was this story was broken a few days ago by KZRG, but today's Mornin' Mail features a copy of a letter written by attorney Rob Mayer to Jopin Globe Publisher Dan Chiodo saying Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter plans to file a libel suit against Globe:

The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Chiodo:

I have been retained by Steve and Rita Hunter to file a lawsuit against the Joplin Globe for defaming Ms. Rita Hunter who is presently the public administrator in Jasper County. The Hunters have sent numerous articles published by the Joplin Globe and written by reporter Susan Redden that mention Ms. Hunter in her capacity as public administrator. After reading these articles and reviewing evidence provided by the Hunters, I believe that your paper has published certain stories that grossly misrepresent Ms. Hunter’s role in the process of a guardianship/conservatorship for Mrs. France being ordered by the Jasper County Probate Court.

Furthermore, after reviewing copies of the Court transcripts, I believe the stories were written with actual malice towards Ms. Hunter and that your reporter and newspaper had knowledge of their falsity.

Additionally, Ms. Hunter has related to me that several quotes she gave to your reporter were changed and certain words not included. These material changes have a negative effect on the reader in contrast to what the true and accurate statements would have produced.

I am pursuing further evidence and witnesses with the intentions of filing a lawsuit against your newspaper for the defamation of Ms. Rita Hunter in her capacity as Jasper County Public Administrator.

Sincerely yours,

Robert N. Mayer

Mayer, it should be noted,in addition to being an attorney, is a state senator from Dexter. Mayer and Mrs. Hunter's husband, Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, entered the Missouri House of Representatives at the same time in 2001. Mayer is also a contributor at Mrs. Hunter's campaign.

Voucher supporters pour late money into Democrats' campaigns

The most powerful nationwide supporter of educational vouchers, All Children Matter, reported spending $33,682.42 Monday for advertising supporting Rep. Rodney Hubbard, D-St. Louis, in his State Senate race. This is not a direct contribution to Hubbard, but the group is paying for advertising to support the candidate.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents also indicate All Children Matter paid smaller amounts Monday for other races, including:

Rep. Curt Dougherty, D-Independence, $$2,835
Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, D-St. Louis, $2,466.36
Rep. Ted Hoskins, D-St. Louis, $2,752.47
63rd District State Representative candidate Tishaura Jones, D- St. Louis

KSPR streaming Obama meeting live

KSPR is streaming Obama's visit to Glendale High School in Springfield live.

KY3 posting video of Obama town hall meeting

KY3 is posting video of Barack Obama's town hall meeting in Springfield at this link.

KYTV: Obama works out at Downtown YMCA

A political campaign can be an exhausting experience and you have to be in shape to do it.

KY3 reports Sen. Barack Obama worked out this morning at the Downtown YMCA in Springfield prior to his speech at Glendale High School.

A report and video can be found at this link.

GateHouse media down seven cents as trading opens

GateHouse Media, owner of the Neosho Daily News, lost its momentum from the end of closing Tuesday and a strong opening today, falling to 65 cents per share, down from 72 cents.

Things looked good when trading opened, with the price at 95 cents per share, but have fallen to as low as 62 cents.

Livengood live-blogging Obama visit to Springfield

Springfield News-Leader political writer Chad Livengood is at Glendale High School in Springfield, live-blogging the visit of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to Springfield.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A bad apple for the teacher

(The following is my column for this week's Newton County News.)

Teachers gone wild…we’ve all heard the stories.

If it’s not the seemingly interchangeable stories about female teachers and their teenage lovers (or male teachers and theirs), it’s teachers arrested for drug usage, or teachers accused of helping their students cheat on standardized tests.
The latest bad news about the teaching profession came last week in Newton County with the arrest of a Neosho kindergarten teacher on six counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

The following passage was included in the Joplin Globe’s article about the incident:

“(Debra Scott) is accused of driving six female juveniles to a home in Diamond at 12:45 a.m. on July 16 so the group could dump a toilet, two dead armadillos and several bags of trash onto the front yard, according to the complaint filed in Associate Division of Newton County Circuit Court.

“ ‘Debra stated that they were not there for a long time due to being chased off by large dogs,’ a Newton County sheriff’s deputy wrote in the probable cause affidavit accompanying the complaint.”

If these allegations are true, then Ms. Scott has created a problem that is as big for the Neosho R-5 School District as the teacher who foolishly sent nude photos of herself over the Internet a few years back.

What in the world ever happened to common sense?

When you sign a teaching contract, you obligate yourself to act as a role model for young people. You don’t e-mail nude pictures of yourself, you don’t act inappropriately around students or adults, and you definitely don’t act as a chauffeur, apparently giving tacit approval to six teenage vandals.

Immediately after the news of Ms. Scott’s arrest became public, the comments began flowing on the Neosho Daily News and Joplin Globe websites. Most were directly critical of Ms. Scott’s alleged behavior, but some used the arrest as an indictment of all teachers.

Has anyone bothered to check how many teachers in the Neosho R-5 School District have been arrested in the past few years? Only one, if memory serves correctly. Ms. Scott.

Unfortunately, the talk about the Neosho school district now is all about Debra Scott. And that is a shame. The district’s classrooms are filled with teachers who do their jobs day after day, preparing the next generation for success, teachers who would never dream of bringing disgrace on their school or their profession as Ms. Scott is accused of doing.

The reason these horrific incidents with teachers stand out in our minds is because these things are extremely unusual. We all can think of a teacher or two who should never have entered a classroom. But for every one of those teachers, there are thousands who would never dream of crossing the line and doing something that would not only embarrass the profession, but even worse, damage the lives of the young people whose education is their responsibility.

I have been fortunate in my schooling at Triway and East Newton, and during the last 10 years teaching, first at Diamond Middle School, and then at South Middle School in Joplin to come across hundreds of teachers, nearly all of whom have taken seriously their status as role models to impressionable young people, many of whom do not have such role models outside of school.

Those are the teachers who should be receiving the publicity. It is a shame when the good work done on a daily basis by hundreds of thousands of teachers all across the United States can be undone in the public eye by a few bad apples.

Four States Home Page has Steelman, Hulshof interviews

KSNF interviews with Republican gubernatorial candidates Sarah Steelman and Kenny Hulshof are featured on the Four States Home Page politics section.

Joplin man's rape conviction tossed by appeals court, new trial ordered

A former Joplin resident who was sent to prison for 20 years for forcible rape last year will receive a new trial.
The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals tossed out the conviction of Michael C. Courtney Jr., 34, saying Judge David Dally erred by allowing hearsay testimony to be used against Courtney, who was accused of raping a Missouri Southern State University student.

New Nixon ad emphasizes record as attorney general, promises action on health care, jobs

The newest ad by Jay Nixon, the top candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, emphasizes his record as attorney general and promises that if elected governor he will take action to improve health care for Missourians and bring in jobs.

GateHouse Media stock rising

After hitting an all-time low of 56 cents per share this morning, GateHouse Media stock bounced back to close at 72 cents, up six cents from Monday, and has even risen to $1.02 in extended hours trading.

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

Class action lawsuit filed against Rita Hunter

Details on a class action lawsuit being filed against Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter will be presented during a 3 p.m. Wednesday news conference on the east side steps of the Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage.

According to a news release, Springfield attorney R. Lynn Myers is filing the suit against Mrs. Hunter and Charlene Kelly "in their professional and individual capacities for breach of fiduciary duty as Conservator of the Jasper County wards served by that office. Specific allegations will be discussed at the press conference."

Aull trial scheduled for Thursday

Barring postponement, the first trial in the Isle of Capri case is scheduled for Thursday in Pettis County Circuit Court.

Rep. Joseph Aull, D-Marshall, is charged with providing Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis with identification to enable Smith to gamble at the Isle of Capri casino in Boonville. The trial is scheduled to begin on the one-year anniversary of the arrest of Aull, Smith, and former Isle of Capri lobbyist Lynne Schlosser, who allegedly suggested to Aull that he give Smith his identification.

Aull, whose case is being heard in Pettis County on a change of venue, is being tried separately from Smith and Ms. Schlosser, whose trials are scheduled for late fall in Cooper County Circuit Court.

More information about the case can be found in the Sept. 1, 2007, Turner Report.

Feltner arraignment postponed until Aug. 11

The arraignment of Eric Feltner, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed until 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 11, according to Cole County Circuit Court records.

Feltner, 40, the former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, is charged with two counts of attempting to furnish pornographic material to a minor.

Jasper County assessor candidates speak at Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates

One of the areas I left out in my coverage of last night's Jasper County Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates at the Carthage Senior High School Auditorium was the assessor's race.

Susan Redden covers that in her article in today's Globe, and I am sure John Hacker will also have it thorougly covered later today in The Carthage Press.

Moody's downgrades GateHouse Media

The near certainty that GateHouse Media will default on its credit agreement and "concerns over near term liquidity" were cited by Moody's Investor Service in its decision to downgrade the company's stock Monday.

Moody's (nyse: MCO - news - people ) also said it cut the United States-based publisher's probability of default rating to 'Caa2' from 'B3' and other debt ratings to 'Caa1' from 'B2'.

The negative outlook reflects GateHouse's tight liquidity profile, reliance on proposed asset sales, probability of softening of sales further and that current market valuations may prove insufficient to provide full recovery to lenders in a distress scenario.

The negative outlook also incorporates concern that GateHouse's management will continue its pace of acquisition activity in the face of recessionary-like market conditions, Moody's added.

GateHouse Media racks up another all-time low

The start of trading today was not positive for GateHouse Media, which quickly dropped nine cents to 56 cents per share before rebounding to 65 cents.

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

Nodler criticizes Nixon budget plan

Lt. Governor candidate Sam Page defends Jay Nixon's budget plan and Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, criticizes it during this video by Jason Rosenbaum, the Columbia Tribune's political reporter:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wilson raises $1,450 in July

Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, has raised $1,450 since July 1, according to his eight-day report, filed Monday with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Wilson received maximum $325 contributions from Missouri Medical PAC, Jefferson City; and HCA Missouri Good Government Fund, Jefferson City; $300 from Motor Carriers Public Affairs, Jefferson City; and $250 from the Missouri Optometric PAC, Jefferson City.

Candidate event held in Neosho

Carthage wasn't the only place where Missouri candidates appeared Monday night. Both Republican candidates for governor showed up at a Republican watermelon feed at Big Spring Park in Neosho.

State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, though stiffing Carthage for the second time in eight days, spoke, as did Congressman Kenny Hulshof, who later attended the Jasper County Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates Night, as did Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, who was also in Neosho.

More information about the Neosho event can be found in Debbie Robinson's article which has been posted on the Joplin Globe website.

Jasper County public administrator candidates speak at Farm Bureau event

It normally has not been the most publicized of county races, but this year's race for Jasper County Public Administrator has been in the news from the outset.

The incumbent, Rita Hunter, and challengers Angie Casavechhia Ashens and Monty Morgan presented their cases to potential voters tonight at the Jasper County Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates. Their speeches will be posted on The Turner Report later tonight.

Candidates for Jasper County Eastern District commissioner speak

Incumbent Jasper County Eastern District Commissioner Jim Honey and challengers Craig Putnam and Blane Mitchell made their cases at the Jasper County Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates tonight in the Carthage Senior High School Auditorium.

Videos of their speeches will be posted later tonight.

Stevenson speaks loudly and carries a big gun

128th District Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, without as much as a breath, made it clear to those attending tonight's Jasper County Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates who he was.

"I am staunchly pro-life and I am staunchly right to carry. I am proud to be a born again Christian. I am the proud owner of a large firearm and the holder of a right to carry permit."

There's more and the video of Stevenson's speech will be posted later tonight.

Craig: Get the government back where it belongs

Kevin Craig, Libertarian candidate for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Roy Blunt, made his case for less government at the Jasper County Farm Bureau's Meet the Candidates Monday night in the Carthage Senior High School Auditorium.

Craig noted that the Constitution gives the government "no authority over education and energy." He pointed out that Blunt was first elected in 1996, at a time when the Republican platform called for abolishing the departments of Energy and Education. Instead, Craig said, the budgets for those departments have doubled.

A video of Craig's speech will be posted later tonight.

Democratic candidate makes case for Congress

"I will not be a strict conservative ideologue, Richard Monroe, candidate for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Roy Blunt, told Jasper County voters tonight during the Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates.

Monroe, a federal prosecutor for 20 years and a former chief assistant in the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney's office said, "We have an economy on the verge of recession. We have a federal budget out of control."

To help tackle those issues, Monroe said, he would offer "a strong, independent voice."

A video of Monroe's speech will be available later tonight.

Blunt: It's time to treat our economic resources as an asset, not as an enviromental hazard

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt told a Carthage crowd tonight that it is time for America to treat its economic resources as "national assets and not as an environmental hazard."

Speaking at the Jasper County Farm Bureau's Meet the Candidates in the Carthage Senior High School Auditorium. Blunt said, "every other country in the world" looks at economic resources and what can be done with them, except for the U. S."

Blunt said, "We need to be moving forward on all fronts. We need to find more, use less, and invest in the future."

Blunt faces no opposition in the Republican primary. Possible general election opponents Richard Monroe of the Democratic party, and Kevin Craig, of the Libertarian party, also spoke Monday night.

Stories and videos for all three candidates will be posted later tonight.

Hulshof: It's time for Missouri to move forward

Congressman Kenny Hulshof asked approximately 100 people at the Jasper County Farm Bureau Meet the Candidates tonight, "Do we move our state forward or turn the clock back?"

The turn the clock back reference, Hulshof said, was referring to the days when funding was short for education, when the answer to every problem was "raise taxes," and when frivolous lawsuits were the norm.

Hulshof opened his remarks with a story designed to appeal to the rural element in the audience. "I used to walk barefoot on our farm chopping cotton," he said, "and I have had a chance to walk the marble halls of Congress.

"That is the Missouri dream."

A video of Hulshof's speech will be added later tonight.

Richard has $153,184.73 in campaign account

Speaker of the House in waiting Ron Richard has $153,184.75 in his campaign account (or war chest as the Joplin Globe calls it), according to his eight days before election report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Richard received $2,175 in contributions since the beginning of July, including maximum $325 contributions from Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, and Missourians for Better Courts, and $300 from Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill.

Richard faces on opposition in the August or November elections.

Information posted on Obama visit to Springfield

The Springfield News-Leader has posted information on Sen. Barack Obama's visit to Springfield Wednesday:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will hold a town hall meeting starting at about 10 a.m. Wednesday at Glendale High School.

The event will be held in the high school gymnasium, which school officials said has a capacity of up to 1,500 people.

Doors will open at 8 a.m.

Tickets are free and can be picked up from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the following Obama campaign field offices: 220 S. Campbell St., in downtown Springfield

270 W. Mt. Vernon St., Nixa

900 W. Washington St., Suite 220, Marshfield

457 S. Albany Ave., Bolivar

For more information, call 417-496-2384.

Feltner arraignment set for 9 a.m. tomorrow

The arraignment for Eric Feltner, 40, former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Cole County Circuit Court.
Feltner is charged with two counts of attempting to furnish pornographic material to a minor.

GateHouse Media stock sinks to 66 cents per share

GateHouse Media's stock fell another 18 cents or 21.43 percent today, closing at 66 cents per share.
The stock hit an all-time low of 65 cents before climbing a penny at closing.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, Neosho Post, Big Nickel, Greenfield Vedette, Aurora Advertiser, and Pittsburg Morning Sun in this area.

Steelman report shows half a million spent for television

The eight-day report filed today by State Treasurer Sarah Steelman indicates she has spent more than half a million for television advertising for her campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination since July 1.

The report shows the Steelman campaign paid $498,590 to Media Placement Technologies, an Alexandria, Va., firm which places television advertising for candidates. Mrs. Steelman also paid $29,875.75 to Dirt Road Productions LLC, Stowe, Vt. for "shipping TV spots."

Sinquefield committees kick in $25,650 for Steelman

State Treasurer Sarah Steelman's late fundraising push included 19 maximum $1,350 contributions from committees formed by retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield to get around the state's contribution limit (which is still in effect until Aug. 28).

Different chapters of Missourians for Tax Reform and My Job, My Wage contributed $25,650 to the Steelman campaign, according to a disclosure report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Steelman has half million in bank for final push

The eight-day report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows State Treasurer Sarah Steelman has $503,318.81 in her account for the final week of her campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.

Mrs. Steelman reported receiving $329,952 since July 1, and spending $538,563.21.

Ruestman receives $2,025 in July

Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, running without opposition in August and November, has received $2,025 in contributions since July 1, according to her eight-day disclosure report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Mrs. Ruestman's contributions included maximum $325 donations from Missouri Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Jefferson City; and Ethelmae Humphreys, Joplin.

The report shows Mrs. Ruestman spent $1,199.70, leaving her with $73,099.87.

Nodler, Icet criticize Nixon budget plan

In a news conference earlier today, Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, and Office of Administration Commissioner Larry Schepker ripped Attorney General Jay Nixon's budget plan. The following release was issued by the Missouri Republican Party:

State budget leaders Sen. Gary Nodler, Rep. Allen Icet and office of Administration Commissioner Larry Schepker warned today that proposals to spend additional taxpayer dollars will shift the state's current budget surplus to a deficit sooner than expected. The leaders compared the state's ongoing expenditures to the state's ongoing revenue, showing in the next Fiscal Year, that if the state continues an average growth, it could not afford Nixon's plan.

Nodler says taxpayers can't afford to expand or create new programs such as the recently-proposed healthcare coverage expansion plan touted by gubernatorial candidate Jay Nixon.

"Nixon's changing budget assumptions do not lend to formulating a fiscally responsible state budget, instead it is as if he is treating the budget like a Jackson Pollock painting and just throwing out numbers creating a blob of confusion," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Nodler said. "The money to spend without consequence is not there. He is putting the cart before the horse and should take a tax increase to the voters, only if they approve it would he have the funding to expand the state's welfare rolls."

House Budget Committee Chairman Icet shared in the warning to taxpayers by adding that the amount taxpayers spend to pay for the current level of services for Medicaid recipients in FY2008 ballooned by more than $327 million dollars for FY2009, due to the high inflation of healthcare costs.

"We have made a commitment to continue to increase funding for our children's education by tens of millions of dollars every year," he said. "That large cost coupled with the higher cost of healthcare eats away any surplus money by the next fiscal year."

The budget writers presented data showing the current $833 million fund balance could be consumed to cover normal growth of operating costs in FY2009 and FY2010. Missouri is currently in FY2009, it runs from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009.

Despite this onslaught of GOP budget bigwigs, somehow I bet Jay Nixon will survive the Democratic primary nest Tuesday.

Harris: Latest report shows major momentum

Democratic attorney general candidate Jeff Harris' eight-day report shows major momentum for his campaign, he said in a just-issued news release:

Today Representative Jeff Harris' campaign for Attorney General will report raising more than $110,034.99 in his 8-Day report with the Missouri Ethics Commission. This impressive total comes on the heels of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll which showed Harris winning the Democratic primary by 10 percentage points.

Harris' fundraising report also comes one day after the Kansas City Star endorsed him in its Sunday edition and just a week after he also won the endorsement of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Harris also has earned the endorsements of former Governor Roger Wilson, former Governor Warren Hearnes, former Lt. Governor Joe Maxwell and Senate Democratic Leader Maida Coleman.

"Our campaign is peaking and we have the momentum," said Harris. "Our major endorsements, our lead in the polls, and the incredible level of support we are receiving from regular folks across Missouri will all add up to victory on August 5."

Since announcing his candidacy more than a year ago, Jeff Harris has raised a total of $934,669.58 from more than 2,900 individual contributions, and unlike his two rivals, his campaign reports absolutely no debt. The campaign reported more than $190,000 in cash on hand with every penny being spent almost immediately in the final days.

Harris' campaign also continued its dominant online fundraising effort, raising more than $25,000 online through its website in the month of July alone. The campaign also took in more than $16,000 online in just five days to close out this latest fundraising period. Overall, Harris campaign has raised nearly $100,000 online, and he leads all Missouri statewide candidates in fundraising through the grassroots Democratic fundraising website

Zweiful campaign responds to GOP attack

The back-and-forth between the Missouri Republican Party and Democratic state treasurer candidate Clint Zweifel continued this morning, as the Zweifel campaign issued a response to the GOP response to Zweifel's ad criticizing the policies of the Blunt administration. The following response was issued by Zweifel's campaign manager, Patrick Lynn:

“For the last four years, Missouri has had a state treasurer that failed to speak up when irresponsible financial decisions were made, like slashing health care and raiding MOHELA. The Republican establishment is clearly nervous about the possibility of Clint Zweifel bringing needed reforms to the State Treasurer’s Office.”

For more background, check out this item from the July 26 Turner Report.

The original Zweifel ad can be found in the July 25 Turner Report.

Hunter takes out $7,000 loan for public administrator race, pours close to $15,000 into advertising

Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter has spent nearly $15,000 in advertising since the first of July, according to her eight day before election report, filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Mrs. Hunter reported receiving $12,375 during that time period, with $7,000 coming in the form of a three-month loan to herself, according to the Ethics Commission documents.

The Hunter campaign spent $8,000 in two $4,000 installments with the Joplin advertising firm of Phillips, Ward, and Associates, most likely for the television advertisements which have been blanketing the airwaves. Past Ethics Commission documents indicate Mrs. Hunter's husband, Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, has been employed by the firm.

Mrs. Hunter also spent $205 with Mornin' Mail, Carthage; $200 with The Carthage Press, $709 with Carthage Broadcast; and $5,711.25 with Victory Enterprises, Davenport, Iowa, for mailers and advertising.

Among those contributing to the Hunter campaign:

Citizens for Barney Fisher, $100; Friends of Tilley, $350; St. Charles Organization of Republicans, $675; Cornerstone Health Care, Rogers, Ark., $425; Christian Hospice, Springfield, $425; Senior Care Pharmacy, Joplin, $675; Northport Health Services, $675.


Mrs. Hunter has two primary opponents, Angie Casavecchia Ashens and Monty Morgan. Morgan has not filed his report as of this moment. Mrs. Ashens has received $2,529 since the first of the month, and has spent $2,009.01. Contributors include Cindy Rogers, Carthage, $600; Don Johnson, Carl Junction, $650; James Long, Carl Junction, $650.

Mrs. Ashens spent $827.50 with the Joplin Globe, $609.59 with R. D.'s Printing, Joplin, and $420 with M&M Signs.

GateHouse Media hits another all-time low

GateHouse Media's stock price has hit another all-time low, falling to 72 cents per share this morning, down 12 cents from Friday's closing 84 cents. The price had rebounded slightly to 74 cents per share as of 10:05 a.m.

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

Emery raises $1,000 in July

Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar reported receiving $1,000 in contributions in July, according to the eight days before primary report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Emery received maximum $325 contributions from CenturyTel Partners for Missouri, Jefferson City; and Laclede PAC, St. Louis. He also received $100 from Missouri Optometic PAC, Jefferson City; and $250 from Ray Gollhofer, Sarcoxie.

Among his expenditures was a $250 contribution to Kenny Hulshof's gubernatorial campaign.

Emery spent $1,201.76, leaving him with $8,035.55 in his account.

Stevenson raises $8,355 during July

Rep. Bryan Stevenson, facing no opposition in either the primary or general elections this year, raised $8,355 during July, according to his eight days before primary report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Stevenson reported spending $4,418.26, leaving him with $8,296.81.

Those contributing the maximum $325 were:

Missouri Medical PAC; HCA Missouri Good Government Fund, Missouri Criminal Lawyers PAC, Jefferson City; Freeman Physicians Group PAC, Joplin; Pfizer (Drue Duncan, lobbyist); MOSFA PAC, Ford Motor Company Civil Action Fund; NHS Management LLC, Joplin; Steve Garner, Springfield; Henry & Henry, West Plains; Kenneth Vuylsteke, Eureka; Onder, Shelton, O'Leary and Peterson; Missouri Freedom, Jefferson City; Law Offices of Palmer Oliver, Springfield; T. Jones, Shawnee Mission, Kan.; Timothy L. Brake, Fairway, Kan.; Grant L. Davis, Kansas City

Stevenson reported receiving $400 from Community Support Services.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Obama to campaign in Springfield Wednesday

Barack Obama will bring his presidential campaign to Springfield Wednesday, according to an AP article:

The daylong visit on Wednesday will include Springfield, Rolla and several other smaller cities and towns that are still being finalized.

"This is a microcosm of his strategy on a national basis," U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Sunday on a conference call with reporters. McCaskill, who will join Obama for the trip, has been a key adviser in Obama's campaign and has pushed him to travel to areas that are not usually considered friendly Democratic territory.

"It's very important for people in traditional Republican strongholds to have a sense of how humble he is, how patriotic he is, that he is a good Christian man who understands Missouri," McCaskill said.

McCaskill: McCain criticism of Obama was "over the top"

Sen. John McCain's remarks that Barack Obama would rather lose a war in order to win the election did not sit well with Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

In an appearance this morning on Fox News Sunday, Ms. McCaskill answered McCain's criticism:

"I think it's a little over the top. And frankly, I think John McCain knows it's over the top. Barack Obama has had a very constant and consistent message on Iraq, and that is in order to keep our nation secure, we have to have a broader view. It's not just about what's going on in Iraq.

"And the interesting thing is the American people agree with him. The Iraqi people agree with him. This week we learned that the leader of the Iraqi government agrees with him. And even President Bush is beginning to sound like he's ready for a timetable for us to get out of Iraq.

"At this point, only John McCain is out there almost by himself in terms of the leadership of the two countries."

A complete transcript of Ms. McCaskill's appearance can be found at this link.

Taking the low road to the nomination

Longtime political observers have compared this year's Republican governor battle to the 1992 race, in which three statewide officeholders, Attorney General Bill Webster, Secretary of State Roy Blunt, and State Treasurer Wendell Bailey fought for the GOP nomination.

And I must admit, the attacks launched by State Treasurer Sarah Steelman against Kenny Hulshof have shown some similarity to those leveled by Blunt against frontrunner Webster 16 years ago.

Roy Blunt's effective merry-go-round ad gave the accurate impression that Webster was using the state's Second Injury Fund to reward campaign contributors. The advertisement was decried as "dirty politics" at the time, but Blunt was pointing out an ongoing problem with Webster's ethics, ethics which eventually led to Webster's crushing defeat by Mel Carnahan in November 1992, and to his later term in a federal penitentiary. Blunt's attacks were aimed at ongoing Webster issues. Blunt did not reach nearly two decades into the past to find dirt on his opponent.

That is the problem with some of the material on a new website set up by Sarah Steelman to attack Kenny Hulshof. In tactics reminiscent of the Bush campaign's Willie Horton ads against Michael Dukakis 20 years ago, a video on the Steelman website blames Hulshof for allowing a rapist/killer to be walking the streets, due to actions Hulshof took or failed to take 16 years ago.

The connection is weak. I have no problem with Mrs. Steelman blasting Hulshof on his votes on earmarks or for any part of his Washington record, but this is over the top and cheapens both the race and the candidate.

News-Leader: Steelman has a credibility problem

The Springfield News-Leader Editorial Board has taken a different approach to its endorsement of Kenny Hulshof in the Republican governor's race- it opens with an attack on Hulshof's opponent, Sarah Steelman.

In fact, if you did not read through the entire editorial, you would not even realize the News-Leader was endorsing Hulshof. The headline, "Steelman's attacks leave her lacking," fails to mention Hulshof. The first six paragraphs do not include the name Hulshof.

In fact, the actual endorsement does not occur until the 19th paragraph. Ironically, the News-Leader takes the same approach it criticize Steelman for launches an attack and pretty much hides whatever substance the article may have.

An example of the editorial's approach toward Mrs. Steelman:

State Treasurer Sarah Steelman has a credibility problem.

It's not the typical one for a politician, like getting caught in a hypocrisy, or flip-flopping.

No, Steelman's problem has its roots in her take-no-prisoners style.

In her quest for the Republican nomination for governor, Steelman has been attacking her opponent on so many fronts, and with such vigor, that it's kept her from developing a platform.

And the actual Hulshof endorsement:

In more than a decade as a U.S. representative, he has shown an ability to broker change without the kind of confrontation that can paralyze. He told our editorial board: "Principled leadership means you have to build some consensus."

Hulshof has a farming, business and prosecutorial background, as well as the experience in Washington. He has demonstrated -- despite his record with earmarks -- that he opposes big government, understands agricultural and crime issues and is willing to take a tough stand for what he thinks is right.

That commitment showed when he led the 2003 ethics investigation into influence trading by former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Observers from both sides of the aisle praised his work as nonpartisan and courageous.

He gets our nod for the Republican nomination. We also encourage him to do as promised and specifically define more of his plans to address some of the state's most pressing problems.

To be fair to the News-Leader, a subhead atop the story on the newspaper's website reads "Hulshof, who showed he can broker change, deserves nomination." Of course, the headline is so light, it almost escapes notice.

So for those who may have missed it- The Springfield News-Leader has endorsed Hulshof.

Denver Post: Does Rod Smith belong in Hall of Fame

Today's Denver Post included a compilation of quotes about whether wide receiver Rod Smith, the former Missouri Southern State University standout who announced his retirement last week, belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Among the quotes:

"He gets overlooked by a lot of people because he doesn't have any controversy around him. . . . He just did his job and did it well. He certainly has all the attributes that you want in a Hall of Famer. He's got great numbers so he has to be considered."

Wade Phillips, Cowboys coach

And this one:

"Just look at his stats and look at his rings."

Mike Shanahan, Broncos coach

Hulshof ad criticizes Steelman stance on tort reform

The latest ad for Republican governor candidate Kenny Hulshof criticizes his opponent, Sarah Steelman, for her stance on tort reform.
I'm not sure whether that is an issue that resonates more with Missouri voters or with the business interests that Republicans generally represent, but the advertisement does play up Mrs. Steelman's halting delivery, making it appear that she is unsure of herself.

This ad could backfire on Hulshof.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ethics Commission documents show Koster changed his tune with lobbyists

When the ball dropped and 2006 turned into 2007, Democratic attorney general candidate Chris Koster celebrated the new year with food and drinks provided by Ameristar Casino lobbyist Jorgen Schlemeier, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.
The documents indicate Schlemeier paid $117.75 for "meals, food, and beverage" for Koster and a like amount for Rep. Shannon Cooper, Rep. Tom Dempsey, and Dempsey's wife, Mollie.

The Ethics Commission documents indicate Koster changed more than his party this year. He has also changed the way he deals with lobbyists.

This year, Koster has accepted $342.43 in lobbyists' gifts. He accepted more than that, $475, on one day, June 24, 2007.

Koster's totals for 2008 are slightly less than opponent Jeff Harris' $367.48, and more than his other opponent, Margaret Donnelly's $208 during the first five months of the year.

But while the totals for Ms. Donnelly and Harris are similar to their past totals, Koster's have changed dramatically.

In 2007, Koster accepted $2,175.28 in lobbyists' gifts, including $475 for continuing legal education costs June 24 from Sara Schuett, lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. The previous day, he accepted $298.70 from Ms. Schuett for travel and lodging and on June 22, Ms. Schuett provided $117.53 in meals, for a grand total of $891.23.

The Ethics Commission documents show that Koster not only accepted more than two thousand dollars in gifts from lobbyists in 2007, but he did not always wait for the lobbyists to come to him.

On Jan. 2, 2007, Ethics Commission records indicate Koster solicited $290.52 in "meals, food, and beverage" from Derek Leffert, lobbyist for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

Koster accepted even more from lobbyists in 2006, $2,343.49, according to the Ethics Commission documents, including his end of the year celebration on the dime of Ameristar Casino. The total included another $181.95 in meals from Schlemeier, with $50.94 of that total credited to Ameristar Casino.

The 2006 total also included $110 in entertainment from Erin Elliott, University of Missouri, $125 in entertainment and $25 for meals on Oct. 1 from Brett Leopold, Sprint Nextel, $120 in meals Sept. 22 from Mel Nicholson, SSM Health Care, and $475 from Ms. Schuett on June 22.

Ms. Donnelly $208 in lobbyists' gifts for the first five months of 2008 include $167.48 on Jan. 11 from Nicholson, representing SSM Cardinal Glennen Children's Medical Center. Since that day she has only accepted $40.52 in gifts.

In 2007, Ms. Donnelly accepted $345 in gifts and in 2006, she accepted $219.17

Harris' $367.48 for the first five months of the year, also includes the $167.48 on Jan. 11 from Nicholson and $200 in "other" from Bonnie Bowles, lobbyist for the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons.

Harris' 2007 total of $694.42, included $149.35 from Sara Schuett, Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, for meals and $60 for lodging. Harris accepted $840.98 in gifts in 2006.

New client for Blunt, Reichard

Lobbyists Andrew Blunt, brother to our governor, and Jay Reichard added a new client to their roster Friday.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents indicate Blunt and Reichard now represent Computerized Vehicle Registration, which has an address of Dearborn, Mich., listed, but appears to be based in Los Angeles.

Harris: Star endorsement shows broader appeal

On the heels of his endorsement by the Kansas City Star, which has already been posted on-line and will run in the Sunday print edition, Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, notes that he is the only candidate who has received an endorsement for the Democratic nomination for attorney general outside of his home town:

The Star is the second major newspaper to endorse me in this campaign, and I am the only candidate to win the support of someone other than their hometown paper. The Star’s endorsement absolutely affirms our commitment to campaign in every corner of the Missouri.

This tremendous news comes just as our next television ad hits the air tomorrow. Like the Star’s endorsement, the ad highlights my comprehensive agenda as Attorney General, while also emphasizing my lifelong commitment to stand up for my beliefs.

Harris has also been endorsed by his hometown Columbia Daily Tribune.

Nixon will make no endorsement in attorney general race

Attorney General Jay Nixon issued a statement today saying he will not endorse any of the three major candidates for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. The statement was made after candidate Jeff Harris released an advertisement on the internet, and scheduled to start airing Sunday, which features a positive statement from Nixon.

"We have three strong candidates in the Democratic primary race for Attorney
General. I am not endorsing any one candidate over the others. I have known
Margaret Donnelly since 1988. During those 20 years she has been a champion
for Missouri families. Missouri would be lucky to have Margaret Donnelly as
its next Attorney General. Chris Koster has served the people of Missouri
for many years and has a long record as a prosecutor. This experience would
serve him well as Attorney General."

It is hard to believe that the omission of Jeff Harris' name was an oversight.

KC Star endorses Harris

The state's largest newspaper, the Kansas City Star, will endorse Jeff Harris for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

In the endorsement, which is scheduled to run in the Sunday print edition, the Star Editorial Board says:

Harris and Donnelly both show integrity. Harris, however, has an edge based on his leadership role and prosecutorial experience. As the former Democratic leader in the Missouri House, he effectively managed diverse interests, which is no small task.

Moreover, Jeff Harris has sound ideas. He wants to use the office to emphasize open government and preservation of public records, for starters. He would work to protect consumers. One of his good ideas is to transfer the Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility rate matters, to the attorney general's office to give it more independence.

As a legislator he worked to protect Missouri's environment from pollution by factory farms. He also championed limits on campaign donations.

Those are ideas that would carry over well into the job of attorney general.

Post-Dispatch endorses Donnelly

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has endorsed Margaret Donnelly in the three-way race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general:

Three Democrats are waging a spirited, high-spending race:

• Margaret Donnelly, 54, a state representative from Richmond Heights and a lawyer who specializes in family law, has been a leading voice in the Legislature on behalf of children. As attorney general, she says, she would emphasize child support enforcement, the Sunshine Law, consumer protection and prosecution of Medicaid fraud. She also said she would crack down on frauds against senior citizens, with a special eye on the reverse-mortgage market.

• State Rep. Jeff Harris of Columbia, 43, offers a comprehensive plan for the office based on his experience as a former assistant attorney general. He says he also would place a special emphasis on consumer protection. In addition, he believes the attorney general’s office should absorb the Missouri Public Counsel’s office and represent consumers before the state Public Service Commission.

Mr. Harris is an impressive candidate, but the strength, heart and tenacity of Margaret Donnelly make her our choice.

• The third and most controversial candidate in the race is state Sen. Chris Koster, 43, of Belton. He became a Democrat only a year ago, saying he no longer could abide the state GOP’s “extremist agenda.” In an interview, Mr. Koster acknowledged that if there were room in the Missouri Republican Party for a moderate, he would not have made the switch. We, too, wish there were room in the state GOP for a moderate. But Democratic voters may not feel comfortable with a man who voted in favor of much of the Republican legislative agenda and who has heavy financial backing from conservative activist Rex Sinquefield, whose key issues are lower corporate taxes and school choice.

The editorial will appear in the Sunday print edition of the Post-Dispatch.