Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wheels of justice turn slowly in rape and murder of Rowan Ford

(The following is my latest Daily Kos post.)

In a perfect world, Rowan Ford would be halfway through her sixth grade year at Triway Junior High School in Stella, Missouri.
The biggest trials for Rowan would already be completed- adjusting to the change from the one-teacher existence of elementary school to having different teachers every hour and learning how to deal with the eighth graders who rule the school.
Like all junior high or middle school students, Rowan would be worried about just where and how she fits in.

Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world.

Rowan Ford never had the chance to experience middle school, and will never experience first love, graduation, marriage, children, or any of the other parts of life that most of us take for granted.
On Nov. 3, 2007, Rowan, a nine-year-old fourth grader was brutally raped and murdered- and nearly two and a half years later the two men who were arrested later that week for the crimes are still awaiting trial.

Rowan Ford was one of those children who slip through society’s cracks. She showed up at school long before classes began, and she stayed long after the final bell rang. She never wanted to go home.

That was noted in a Joplin Globe article by reporter Derek Spellman published two weeks after her death:

Her bike was her steadfast companion and she knew the roads well.
Friends and others in the community of Stella would see her — a slender, brown-haired 9-year-old girl gliding along on her blue-tinted Blossom Quest bicycle.
Rowan Ford was careful to steer clear of heavy traffic, preferring quieter side streets that took her around the town’s tree-clad slopes and to the home of her best friend, Tyler, who happened to live across the street from Ford’s second home: the Stella Baptist Church.
A friend recalled at her funeral last week that Ford “just kept going and going and going.”
There’s speculation in hindsight now, speculation after Ford went missing nearly two weeks ago, speculation that intensified after Ford’s body was found, that the Stella girl spent so much time riding around town because she was keeping away from something.

After she was reported missing, it did not take long before her stepfather, David Wesley Spears, and his friend, Chris Collings, were arrested. Both made statements admitting to the crime, according to published reports.
The murder, as one might imagine, was devastating to the town of Stella, which has a population of about 200 and to the staff and students at Triway Elementary. Those students are now at the junior high school, still awaiting justice for their slain classmate.

David Spears’ trial is scheduled for this summer, while Collings will not see the inside of a courtroom until early 2011, thanks to a system that perverts justice through easily obtained continuances and built-in roadblocks designed to prevent trials from taking place on a timely basis.

Though I have never been a supporter of the death penalty, if anyone ever deserved the ultimate punishment it is the men who could even contemplate such evil, much less actually go through with the act. And the death penalty is on the table for both men.

Life has gone in Stella since the community was shaken to the core by the murder, but there is never a day when Rowan Ford is far from the townspeople’s thoughts.

Visitors still flock to a memorial webpage for Rowan, with condolences continuing to pour in and pages filled with pictures of Rowan and images of cartoon characters like Winnie the Pooh, a direct contrast to the violence that ended Rowan’s life.

When the community recently dedicated a memorial park for veterans, a tribute to the child was included. In her absence, she remains a part of Stella’s everyday life.

Rowan Ford was robbed over and over during her young life. She was deprived of her normal childhood, her innocence, and eventually, her life.

Meanwhile, the hourglass of justice continues to turn at a glacial pace, as the years pass since Rowan Ford, forever nine, was taken from us.

Messenger: Ron Richard has eyes on governor's mansion

Speaker of the House Ron Richard is running for 32nd District State Senate, but he already has his eyes on a higher office.

Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Richard is considering a run for governor in 2016.

Speaking to the Political Fix at Lincoln Days, Richard said that he has pondered a possible run for governor in 2016. That would be midway through a possible second term in the state Senate, and the scenario assumes that current Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, wins a second term in 2012, where he is likely to face Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican.

“I’d like to be on the short list and see what happens,” Richard said.

El-Amin begins prison term

Former Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, D-St. Louis,began his 18-month prison sentence for bribery this week.

The convictions of El-Amin, former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, and former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis, have been widely cited as the impetus for pending ethics legislation in the House and Senate this session.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cynthia Davis explains pro-life bill

In her latest capitol report, Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, updates constituents on her pro-life legislation:

Last week we had a meaningful hearing on the main pro-life bill in my Children and Families Committee. This is nearly the same bill that easily passed through the House the last two years. However, both years the Senate allowed it to languish until the last week where it never went to a vote in 2008 and was grossly distorted by a perverse compromise in 2009. We expect this to pass the House again with the same veto-proof majority it has enjoyed in the House for the last two years.

Many pro-life bills focus on clinic regulations for the unborn child. This bill is different because it centers on how we can help women. The new safeguards added to our laws help women by making sure they have all the necessary information to enforce their choices. Women who are in a vulnerable position deserve access to all the relevant facts because an abortion is permanent and irreversible. This is especially important for thosw this is not right. That's why nearly 62 percent of all women who get abortions later have regrets, according to the Elliot Institute. (link here)

A witness testified of a woman who said moments after her abortion, "This is the worst day of my life." Even those who are pro-abortion should not want women to suffer this type of severe emotional trauma. If this woman had been properly screened and satisfied with her choice, she would not feel that way. While the US Supreme Court may have hampered our states' ability to pass legislation that protects the innocent, there is so much more we who are being pressured to get an abortion by those who ought to be supporting them and may be selfishly motivated by trying to avoid paying child support for the next 21 years.

Abortion is an act of violence that always leaves one person lifeless and can be particularly harmful to a woman's conscience. While some would like to deny this, deep down in their souls, most women kno
e can accomplish to offer real help to women who need emotional and material support.

Another highlight of the hearing happened when the committee discussed comparisons with dental offices. Our dental offices usually will not so much as fill a cavity without the dentist seeing the patient first and explaining what he will do. The patient usually makes an appointment for a week or two later, though a filling is far less invasive, less expensive and more reversible than an abortion. A committee member argued that, in her dental office the hygienist informed the patients when they have cavities and then the dentist comes in and fills it immediately. Perhaps, she was describing how she would like the abortion industry to operate, but I would like to thank her for making my point for me. In Missouri, we only allow the woman one day to ponder all that information on a decision she will carry with her for eternity.

These are a few of the goals included in this bill:
1.) It allows the women to view the ultrasound. The abortion clinics tell us they routinely do the ultrasounds, but with the new law, women will be allowed to see their unborn child as the technician sees him or her.
2.) It prohibits boyfriends, parents, family members, employers, etc. from coercing, threatening or poisoning the pregnant women.
3.) It provides a consultation with the abortionist one day before the surgery so that she can have all her questions and concerns answered by the person who understands her medical history.
4.) It allows the local county prosecutor to have information about potential victims of rape and incest in time for fetal tissue samples to be collected.

Some interesting side notes: I enjoy working with Representative Bryan Pratt to shepherd the bill through the House. He and I are from opposite ends of the state, but together we are bringing forth the very best elements of momentum and logic. With his legal prowess and my efforts to explain women's issues with influence, we have a wonderful opportunity to make "The Show Me State" the model to "Show other States" how to empower women to make healthy life-choices.

Cleaver: Distance between Democrats and Republicans on health care is a bridge too far

Making the comparison with an old movie, Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, said the difference between Democrats and Republicans on health care, is "a bridge too far":

I didn’t actually see much of the Summit at Blair House. Only the highlights (and lowlights) replayed last night. It is not that I didn’t want to sit and listen to seven hours of discussion, but the House was in session and I was in Committee.

I was reminded of an incredibly long WWII film released in the late 70’s called “A Bridge Too Far”. If you don’t remember this movie, it has everyone and his brother in it: Sean Connery, James Caan, Anthony Hopkins, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman even Laurence Olivier shows up and Robert Redford joins the movie in the last third to almost save the day. All that is to say, it was a star-studded movie. The picture was about “Operation Market Garden”, an attempt to secure a series of bridges along the Rhine that failed at the Battle of Arnhem. The Allies were able to seize all the bridges but the last one at Arnhem, which ended in a deadly and hard fought retreat.

The title line comes at the end of the movie, when a Lt. General says, “I always thought the plan was a bridge too far.”

Much like the movie itself, this is a very long way to get to the point. Despite the assembled star- studded cast, the excellent script and the perfect setting, yesterday’s Health Care Summit proved that bridging the gap between Republicans and Democrats on health care, at this point, is a bridge too far.

While the Summit certainly illuminated many Republican proposals that are already in the current legislation and several places that we can perhaps work together, there are simply fundamental differences between us that are very hard to span.

For my part, I am all for compromise, but I HAVE compromised. Getting to a public option was a compromise for me, and that is now completely been ruled out. There is no negotiating the difference between covering 3 million more Americans as the Republican plan would do and covering 30 million more as our plan would.

The same markets that are being advocated by some as the saviors of the system are the ones that have gotten us here in the first place. The same, laissez-faire policies are the ones that drove our economy to the brink. Have we not learned anything from the economic meltdown? I am a free market capitalist, but at some point a sense of fairness and equity is needed.

I am reminded of a story about health care reform in Missouri. In the mid 90’s the Missouri legislature was trying to require that an annual mammogram, for any women over 40, be considered a standard procedure. Prior to this law, mammograms were considered elective and carried a fairly large price tag; so many women did not catch treatable breast cancer early.

During the Senate hearings in Jefferson City, the health insurance companies kept citing a cost figure that no one could figure out. Essentially, they were arguing that it would cost hundreds of millions to cover an annual mammogram and that cost would be passed on to other customers. Sound familiar?

How could this be? Early detection surely would mean cost savings in the long run. Early stage cancer is much easier to treat and certainly more survivable. It didn’t make sense.

As the sponsor of the bill dug into the numbers it became horrifyingly clear what math the insurance companies were using to arrive at their bankruptcy-inducing number.

The hundreds of millions they had counted in costs came from the increased expense of caring for women who survived their cancer. After all, they would need care for the rest of their adult life. These cold companies had told a Senate committee via spreadsheet that it was cheaper for them for a woman to die early of breast cancer than for her to survive and live a long life.

And these are the same companies we are supposed to trust now. This is the marketplace in which we are to put our faith.

The simple fact is, health care reform will make insurance better and cheaper in the long run for those who are lucky enough to have it now; make it illegal to not cover those who are born with diseases through no fault of their own; and for the first time, offer the security of health insurance to all Americans.

Sometimes you have to draw a line. Some bridges are just too far.

Nodler joins Jamie McMurray on victory lap

The latest capitol report from Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, is centered around the visit of Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray, a Joplin native, to Jefferson City this week:

Many Missourians that were glued to their televisions last week as one of our own, Jamie McMurray, came into the final laps of the biggest race in NASCAR, the Daytona 500. Our guy in the #1 car had Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on his tail, but history on his side, and Jamie McMurray held them all off to take the checkered flag. It was my honor to be a part of his “victory lap” in Jefferson City this week.

Jamie McMurray made the trip to the Capitol with his #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet Impala in an exciting show on Thursday. It was a thrill to see the car in action, and I joined Gov. Nixon, Lt. Gov. Kinder, President Pro Tem Shields and House Speaker Richard in greeting Jamie and welcoming him to the state Capitol. I also had the pleasure of introducing Jamie to my fellow senators and presenting him with a resolution to recognize his accomplishment and to show my gratitude for his hard work. He was joined by Johnny Morris, owner and founder of Bass Pro Shops, an important business to our state and the Southwest Missouri area.

At age 8, Jamie McMurray began racing go-karts in his hometown of Joplin. By 1991, he had earned the title of World Go-Karting Champion. During the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series racing season, Jamie made himself known on the NASCAR scene by scoring two victories and finishing sixth in the point standings. He started off this year with a bang by taking the sport’s most prestigious race. It is an honor that this accomplished Missourian hails from the 32nd District, and I was privileged to introduce him to my Senate colleagues this week.

With his recent victory in the Daytona 500, Jamie has proven to be an accomplished racer, but he’s also a great man who is a strong advocate for autism because of his personal experiences with the disorder. Having a niece with autism, Jamie developed a partnership with the Autism Society of America and helped create the “Driving Autism Awareness” campaign. He continues to help raise awareness and express the importance to continue research for autism.

In my line of work, I’ve been fortunate to meet many of Missouri’s finest, and I’m proud to say that our hometown son is certainly one of them. Jamie has shown great humility and poise, and he’s also displayed the steel nerve it takes to come from behind and win the fastest race in our country. Jamie McMurray now holds a place in history with all of the great racing champions of the Daytona 500, and I’m proud to add a Joplin native to the list of famous Missourians.

Now, let’s root Jamie on to the cup!

(Photo: Jamie McMurray, his wife Christy, John Morris, Sen. Nodler's wife Joncee, and Sen. Nodler in Sen. Nodler's capitol office.)

Salazar pleads not guilty

Accused child-killer Eddie Salazar Sr. Carthage, pleaded not guilty during a video arraignment Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Salazar is accused of killing his eight-month-old son, Eddie Salazar Jr., whose body was found earlier this month in Spring River. The autopsy determined the infant died from blunt force head trauma.

The next hearing for Salazar is scheduled for 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, March 17.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stouffer: Skelton one of Nancy Pelosi's chief enablers

In a news release issued this morning, Fourth District Congressional candidate Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, continued to hammer on incumbent Ike Skelton:

In a meeting with the Kansas City Star Editorial Board on February 8, 2010, Ike Skelton defended his votes with Nancy Pelosi and his liberal majority in Congress for "Cap and Trade," the failed
stimulus plan and the TARP bailout as "the right votes."[1]

However, that should not come as a surprise. After all, Ike Skelton has been one of main enablers to Nancy Pelosi's speakership. Since 2001, Ike Skelton has contributed a whopping $865,000 to Democrat efforts in Washington to build a liberal majority we see governing today.

"I wonder if Ike Skelton thinks that Nancy Pelosi is the right speaker?" asked Aaron Catron, spokesman for 4th District Congressional Candidate Bill Stouffer. "Then again, he must since he votes with her over 95 percent of the time. In rural Missouri, we need common sense solutions and jobs. We cannot afford more of the Nancy Pelosi/Ike Skelton agenda of higher taxes and bigger government."

Secretary of Education is clueless if he thinks Rhode Island School Board made right decision

If we needed any more proof that the Obama Administration is going to be just as clueless as the Bush Administration was when it comes to improving our nation’s schools, we received the topper this week from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
When Duncan praised the school board of the Central Falls, R. I. School District for firing all of its high school teachers, he was putting the stamp of approval on a feel-good, no-nonsense solution that not only will not help Central Falls High School, but will steer the children on a direct path toward failure.
The board members were “showing courage and doing the right thing for kids,” Duncan said, apparently without taking a close examination of just what that action means for those same kids he thinks the board is helping.
Of course, Duncan has to take that stance since it is the administration’s policy that pushed the school board into that decision.
“In order to remain eligible for a portion of financial aid,” a CBS News article on the firings says, “the Central Falls district had to either come up with a strategy to improve with its existing teaching staff or start from scratch.”
After early negotiations with union officials failed, the board took the easy way out, fired everyone, and started anew with a blank slate.
What a fine message to send to our young people, and to the country as a whole, as we continue to struggle through a recession- if we don’t get our way, everybody goes and we have to hire a completely new staff- with absolutely no guarantees that the new staff will be any better equipped than the old staff to handle the problems at Central Falls High School. Meanwhile, qualified teachers, and there can be absolutely no doubt that the axe fell on many qualified teachers, are pounding the pavement looking for work.
When the Obama Administration and school officials embrace an all-or-nothing strategy, they are following the same bankrupt thinking that so-called educational reformers like Michelle Rhee in Washington, D. C.- closing schools and firing teachers, without rhyme nor much of a reason, does not necessarily translate into a better education for our children.
Much of the problem has been brought about by the refusal of educational unions to cleanse their ranks of incompetent and immoral teachers.
When unions allow teachers to languish in so-called “rubber rooms” in our largest cities, when they have been accused of having sex with students or when they have been proven to be totally incompetent in the classroom, or when they allow these same teachers to be passed from one school to another, they provide the ammunition for public school enemies like former 20/20 anchor and now Fox Business News reporter John Stossel, who hammers public education at every turn.
Allowing just one of these teachers to remain in a classroom, or for that matter to remain on the taxpayers’ dole, is enough to give Stossel, All Children Matter, and the rest of the educational voucher contingent free rein to indict every public school in the United States. It is wrong, but when we don’t take strong action to police our own ranks, we are handing those who want to destroy public education a loaded weapon.
Teachers who have room for improvement and who are willing to work to better themselves need encouragement and mentoring. Teachers who are thoroughly incompetent or morally bankrupt need to be shown the door and not given another year to damage impressionable children.
That being said, a policy that encourages school boards to fire everyone or lose federal funding is as lazy and incompetent as any of the teachers John Stossell and the voucher supporters trumpet (with nearly slanderous abandon) as indicative of all public school teachers.
When you sweep out all teachers, including the ones who have given their all and who have succeeded with countless children, you are not improving schools, you are hastening the destruction of public education.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cape Girardeau newspaper uses name of Jetton's alleged victim

Breaking with the other newspapers carrying the story and with the Associated Press, the Cape Girardeau Southeast Missourian ran the name of former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton's alleged assault victim.

Surprisingly, not one of the 22 comments had a problem with that decision.

Jetton accuser says she was childhood sex abuse victim

If the charges against former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton are true, he not only physically and sexually abused an unwilling woman, but it was a woman who had been sexually abused in her childhood, according to testimony in today's preliminary hearing:

Both Jetton and the alleged victim are recently divorced. Late last year, the woman said she decided to reconnect with old friends on the social Web site Facebook. She said she was sexually abused as a child and had dialogue with Jetton about that. The dialogue grew into an online friendship.

The woman said that because she sometimes has flashbacks of her sexual abuse, she and Jetton agreed to a “safe word” she could use if she was having a flashback and wanted the sex to stop: green balloons.

“I said ’balloons’ and he said ’green balloons’ because green was his favorite color,” she said.

The woman testified that Jetton showed up at her home Nov. 15 with two bottles of wine. They watched a football game on TV and she said she became groggy from the wine, though she wouldn’t say if she believed Jetton spiked the drink.

The rest of her testimony included a violent sexual encounter with Jetton, who was bound over for trial. His next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10, in Scott County Circuit Court.

Jetton bound over for trial, next hearing set for March 10

Former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, was bound over for trial today after a preliminary hearing in Scott County Circuit Court. He will be arraigned 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 10, according to online court records.

The primary witness against Jetton was his alleged victim:

She described flirting with Jetton prior to his visit and acknowledged that some of their texts may have been racy and implied that they would have sex, but said she resisted advances from him that night.

After drinking wine that Jetton had brought, she said she began to feel groggy and disoriented. Soon after that, Jetton began assaulting her – first striking her on the face, then binding her wrists, then choking her. She said she lost and regained consciousness several times, coming to for the last time that night while he was having sex with her and striking her on the leg.

As he did so, she said, he demanded that she call him “sir.”

“I was unable to see and I couldn’t talk, but I knew if I could at least say, ‘Yes sir,’ I would live,” she said from the stand.

March 1 arraignment set for fired Neosho city manager

The arraignment for fired Neosho City Manager Jan Blase, charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor, will be held 8:30 a.m. Monday, March 1, before Judge Greg Stremel in Newton County Circuit Court.

Blase was charged following a Newton County Sheriff's Department investigation into his alleged misuse of city funds, including shifting money into the general fund from a state highway department grant and from the hotel/motel tax.

Blase's firing was upheld by the Neosho City Council earlier this week.

Nodler to introduce McMurray at Capitol Thursday

Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray, a Joplin native, makes a triumphant return to his home state tomorrow. From a news release from Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin:

The car will arrive on the South Lawn of the Capitol at 9 a.m. (weather permitting). Senator Nodler will be joined by Governor Jay Nixon, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph and House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, in welcoming McMurray to the Capitol.

Senator Nodler will also introduce McMurray on the Senate floor and present him with a Senate resolution to thank him for his hard work and congratulate him on his achievements in racing. McMurray will then proceed to the House of Representatives to be recognized by House Speaker Richard and the members of the House.

Missouri GOP: High turnout for filing shows dissatisfaction with Democrats

Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith takes the high filing turnout as a signal of good things to come for his party. He issued the following release:

“In Missouri and across the nation, Americans are fed up with the big-tax, big-debt, big-government policies of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. They are tired of the relentless expansion of the federal government into the lives and pocketbooks of hard-working Americans, whether it is in the form of Democrats’ health care debacle, their devastating cap-and-trade proposals, or their failed stimulus. Now, Missourians are standing up and saying ‘enough is enough,’ which is why Republicans are literally lining up to run for office. As of 5:00 PM today, 224 Republicans have filed to run for local, state, and federal offices in Missouri—and this enthusiasm will only increase in the coming weeks as Republicans work to take back our country.”

Brisk filing during first day

Races have already emerged for the GOP in the 126th, 129th, 130th, and 131st districts after the first day of filing.

In the 126th District where incumbent Ed Emery, R-Lamar, is prevented by term limits from seeking another term, Republicans David Jerome, Everton; Bill Savard, Greenfield; and Mike Kelley, Lamar; have filed.

Bill White, Adolfo Castillo, and Shelly Dreyer, all of Joplin, filed on the GOP ticket for the 129th district, where Speaker of the House Ron Richard is term-limited, and Bill Reiboldt and Lynn Otey, both of Neosho, filed as Republicans in the 130th District, where Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, is term-limited.

In the 131st District, Bill Lant, Joplin, and Bill Buening, Diamond, have filed on the Republican side.

So far only one candidate has filed in the 127th District, Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, the only Joplin-area representative who is not term-limited. Also unopposed thus far are Charlie Davis, Webb City, in the 128th District, in which Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, is term limited, and Ron Richard, for the 32nd District State Senate seat currently held by Gary Nodler.

Three candidatse, all Republicans, Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, Rep. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, and Larry Wilson, Flemington, filed in the 28th Senate District, where Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, is term limited.

Bennie Hatfield, Sedalia, filed on the Constitution Party ticket.

Nine candidates file for Seventh District seat

Nine candidates, seven Republicans, one Democrat, and one Libertarian filed for Seventh District Congress on the first day Tuesday.

Republican candidates filing, in order, are Jeffrey Wisdom, Gary Nodler, Bob Schanz, Mike Moon, Darrell Moore, Jack Goodman, and Billy Long.

Tim Davis, Branson, filed on the Democratic ticket, while Kevin Craig filed as a Libertarian.

Jetton preliminary hearing set for this afternoon

The preliminary hearing for former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, will be held this afternoon in Scott County Circuit Court.

Jetton is charged with assault in connection with alleged rough sex with a Sikeston woman.

Cameras have been banned from the hearing.

More details about the alleged crime can be found at this link.

Insurance lobbyists schedule fundraisers for Roy Blunt

As we move into what might be the last throes of the great healthcare battle of the Obama Administration, my Congressman, Roy Blunt, a candidate for U. S. Senate in Missouri, is also making his allegiances clear.
While Democrats and Republicans are getting together Thursday, with only an outside chance of hammering out meaningful heath care and insurance reform, Roy Blunt, the newly-minted Tea Party conservative, the-government-is the-source-of-all-evil Republican, will be playing politics as usual- and playing footsy with insurance lobbyists.

During a nine-day period beginning Wednesday, March 10, insurance lobbyists will be throwing fancy soirees to pick up big bucks for the Congressman, a continuation of the K Street magic that has been a hallmark of Blunt’s time in Washington.
On March 10, the lobbying firm D. C. Navigators will hold a reception for Blunt, according to Open Secrets. The firm numbers among its clients the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, as well as a number of pharmaceutical companies.

The suggested donation, according to the website, is $5,000 PAC Host; $2,500 PAC Sponsor; $2,400 Individual Host; $1,500 Individual Sponsor; $1,500 PAC; $1,000 Individual

For those unfortunate special interests that cannot make it to that event, don’t lose any sleep over it. On the very next day, at an undisclosed private residence, (people who need to know will be told where it is) an old associate of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and two former governors, now both heading lobbying firms, will keep the money flowing into the Blunt campaign.

The hosts include Glenn LeMunyon, head of LeMunyon Group LLC, a lobbying firm that represents just about everyone except insurance interests, including Verizon, Union Pacific, Lockheed Martin, and Fannie Mae. LeMunyon, at one time was Tom DeLay’s policy assistant. But don’t worry about the insurance interests not being represented. Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, now president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers will be a host as well as Kristen Chadwick of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, whose clients include the American Insurance Association, and a number of health care and pharmaceutical interests.

Former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves, now president and CEO of the American Trucking Association, will also be a host.
Finally, on Thursday, March 18, the action moves into the Capitol Building when former Blunt aide Sam Geduldig, now a lobbyist for numerous interests, including Prudential, Fidelity, All-State, American Insurance Association, and just for good measure the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable, will be one of the hosts for a reception. Other hosts including Keating.

Suggested donations- $5,000 PAC Host; $2,500 PAC Sponsor; $2,400 Individual Host; $1,500 Individual Sponsor; $1,500 PAC; $1,000 Individual

With these special interests bankrolling Roy Blunt, and when most of his family including his campaign manager son, daughter, and wife are lobbyists, it is hard for anyone, whether on the left or the right, to take serious Blunt’s claim that he speaks for the average Missourian.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nodler officially joins Seventh District race

Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, issued the following statement after filing today to run for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Roy Blunt:

“Southwest Missourians want a better future for their kids and grandkids. They want us to stop piling unmanageable debt on them. They want us to create jobs and make it easier to access credit.

Barack Obama and his leftist collaborators Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are dangerous to the continued fiscal health of our country and southwest Missourians will reject them at the ballot box in 2010. Obama’s insistence in pushing government health care through Congress via reconciliation constitutes a blatant and brazen socialist power grab.

These are serious times. Southwest Missouri needs a serious Congressman who can stand up to the unprecedented leftist agenda of these liberal radicals. I can be that serious Congressman and that's why I've filed to represent Missouri's 7th Congressional district."

Salazar arraignment scheduled for Thursday

Eddie Salazar Jr.'s arraignment on second degree murder charges in connection with the death of his his eight-month-old son, Eddie Salazar, Jr., will be held 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Jasper County Circuit Court, according to online court records.

A motion for a pool camera has been filed, but has not been acted upon by the judge, according to online court records.

Salazar, Carthage, is alleged to have killed his son, and claimed the infant had been kidnapped. He is also charged with filing a false police report. The child's body was found Feb. 6 in Spring River.

Carnahan files for U. S. Senate

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan filed for U. S. Senate today and issued the following message to her supporters:

Today, I'm officially filing as a candidate for US Senate. I can't tell you how grateful I am for all your encouragement and support in the months since we launched this journey.

Everywhere I go, folks tell me about their frustration with the non-stop partisan gridlock and the fact that those who are "too big to fail" or can afford a high-powered corporate lobbyist still have a stranglehold on what gets done in Washington.

Any system where insiders get rewarded and we get stuck paying the bill is wrong and needs to be fixed. That's why I'm running for Senate. I'm running because Missourians deserve a senator who will work for them, NOT the big corporate interests...a senator committed to restoring fairness to our economy and creating jobs, not giving excuses to protect the status quo. And a senator committed to bringing accountability back to Washington and Wall Street by ending the financial abuses of the past.

That's why I'm working so hard to reach out to people in all parts of the state. In the past few weeks alone, we've logged a lot of miles - including visits in Hannibal, Mexico, Springfield, Williamsburg, Nevada, Fulton, Kansas City, Columbia, Linn, Boonville, Perry and St. Louis. Our grassroots team is a real inspiration...and will make all the difference in this campaign.

With just over eight months until Election Day, we can't waste a single day. Our race remains one of the most competitive in the nation and every volunteer, every dollar raised, and every vote is going to count.

Stouffer files for 4th District Congress

Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, filed today for the Fourth District Congressional seat currently held by Ike Skelton. From the news release:

Republican Senator, Bill Stouffer (R-Napton), made it official as he filed with the Missouri Secretary of State to be placed on the August 3rd Primary Ballot as a Republican. Senator Stouffer commented on the opportunity to run in the district he has called his home his entire life:

"It comes with great joy today that I officially filed to run as a Republican in my home District, the 4th Congressional District. After three decades in Congress, Ike Skelton has lost his way. He is voting over 95% of the time with Nancy Pelosi; voted for the damaging "Cap and Trade" legislation and voted for the failed stimulus bill of last year - votes that Mr. Skelton defends as "the right votes. His votes for "Cap and Trade" and the failed stimulus were wrong and are not representative of the smart, conservative citizens that make up rural Missouri. I am fiscally conservative, have a track record of leading on issues important to our families and farmers and have heard the demands of reform across rural Missouri. For the first time in a long time, Mr. Skelton has a race on his hands, and I'm excited to be that Republican to hold him accountable."

Bill Stouffer and his wife, Sue Ellen, have been married for 42 years. They have two sons and four grandchildren. Stouffer is considered a leader in transportation and agriculture issues and currently serves as Chairman of the Senate's Republican Caucus, Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Transportation and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources.

Billy Long files for Congress

Billy Long made it official today, jumping into the Seventh District GOP race. From his news release:

Today, Billy Long made it official as he filed to run as a Republican in the 7th Congressional District. An auctioneer, Realtor, and former radio personality from Springfield, this is Billy’s first time running for any political office.

“I am proud to have the opportunity to run for Congress to represent the people of southwest Missouri. Now the people will have a chance to elect someone who is not just another career politician,” said Billy. He continued, “I am honored to have the support of so many, and I hope that the Seventh District will join me on Election Day to bring a new kind of representative to Washington. It is time to for the people to take back our government. For too long, career politicians have increased our deficits, spent money on needless projects, and ignored the people back home. I have the real-world experience – holding a job, building a business, meeting a payroll, raising a family, being part of a community – that too many in Congress lack. If I am elected, I will bring common sense, conservative values, and a good work ethic to Washington D.C. to oppose the radical Obama-Pelosi agenda.”

Ruestman: My property tax bill is stalled

In her latest Ruestman Report, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, says her property tax bill has been stalled in the House:

My bill, House Bill 1350, to reform property taxes is stalled once again. This bill would cap the yearly assessment to property. Because my bill freezes property taxes at the agreed assessed rates until the resale of the property, the only loss is in tax increases! It seems unfair to expect those who worked hard to own their own property to be taxed more and more every year. The Oversight Committee of the General Assembly made a determination of how much the bill will cost based on what different taxing entities tell them. Figures from school districts, counties and other special districts, have estimated that YOUR property taxes will continue to increase statewide up to an additional $328 billion by the year 2013! This appalls me. Money these taxing entities want, but have never collected, is not a loss. My bill creates no real loss. In the meantime, many people who are now struggling to make their house payments are facing continually rising property taxes. Where does it end? When does the government realize that to allow citizens to keep the money they earn is the road to success!

I am fighting an uphill battle, but it is important this issue is pushed to the forefront of public commentary in our state. Please let all of your elected officials know how you feel about this issue. Economic growth for individual citizens is what our country needs, not continued growth of government that must be always funded by the wage earner. Elected officials must understand that it is not the time in history to continue to TAKE from its citizens. It is the time to make it as easy as possible for them to be rewarded for their labors!

Goodman files in Seventh District

Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, officially filed today for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Roy Blunt. From his press release:

Jack Goodman officially filed for the MO-7th Congressional District Republican nomination today. As a citizen legislator in the Missouri State Senate, Goodman has earned a reputation as a conservative leader and legislator. Goodman made official his intention to take that needed leadership and the conservative, common sense values of southwest Missourian’s to Washington, D.C.

“I am excited to file for the U.S. House of Representatives where I will work for the people of the MO- 7th District and take their common sense conservative commitment to smaller government, reduced spending, more freedom and less intervention to Washington -- and deliver their message to Congress to start listening and stop ruling.

I am filing today because I share the people’s deep concern and opposition to the direction our country is taking. As a husband and father—as someone who has been blessed to grow up here where freedom opens opportunity for all -- I feel it is my duty and moral obligation to help put this country back on track.

As a Missouri State Senator, I have always worked hard to represent the people I serve and to solicit their input on legislative issues while working with other members of the Senate to find solutions that work for all Missourians. Over the past eight years I have helped lead Missouri as it has taken conservative steps to encourage job growth, reduce spending, and to put our state on a firm financial footing, while improving protections for the unborn and our second amendment rights. We need leaders in Washington who will stand up to special interests, political pressures, members of congress on both sides of the aisle, and do what is right for our country, not just for their re-elections.

We live in the greatest nation the world has ever seen and we have a tremendous opportunity as a country to continue to provide the example of freedom and democracy for billions of people around the globe, which makes the decisions that we make today as a country all the more important.”

Hartzler files for Fourth District Congressional seat

Former Rep. Vicky Hartzler issued the following statement after filing for the GOP nomination for the Fourth District Congressional seat today:

Former State Representative Vicky Hartzler said today, “It’s inspiring that people everywhere I go are on fire to stop Washington’s far-left agenda and put America back on track. Together we say, together we say, ‘It’s time for the leadership in Washington to embrace the Heartland’s common sense ideas and positive values of faith, family and freedom that made America great. Our ideas can turn this country around.’ If I’m entrusted with our people’s vote in the U.S. House, I will stand up for the people of the Fourth and vote for the principles of freedom and constitutional government every time.
“Our campaign has been a “people’s express” from day one, a grassroots effort to save America from job killing taxes, back room cronyism and a national debt which will hang an albatross on future generations. I’ve covered thousands of miles since August, and the people’s energy for the right change rises higher by the day. Mr. Skelton voted for Nancy Pelosi to be the Speaker. He votes with Nancy Pelosi more than 90% of the time. When Nancy Pelosi needs his vote, Mr. Skelton comes running. One vote says it all – he voted for the national energy tax, the biggest job-killing tax hike in history, a catastrophe for manufacturing jobs, agriculture, and the price of energy in any form. When no one was watching closely, somewhere in his 17 terms, he became a typical Washington liberal. He refused to listen to his constituents in the Fourth who warned him that the climate tax would kill jobs all over our district and send them to Mexico or China. He also has supported Obama’s failed stimulus scheme, the unpayable national debt, and all the rest of Obamanomics, every step of the way. That’s not siding with the people of the Fourth; that’s siding with San Francisco values.
“We know what will create jobs. It’s Main Street free enterprise. We must start by cutting the tax burden and red tape on job creators and families. The reckless spending and debt that Mr. Skelton has voted for again and again must stop, or we will be ruined. America is the wonder of the ages because we solve big problems and achieve great things, starting with the American Revolution. We have the people, the values, and the resources to do the job today. It will be my great honor if I’m chosen to help, as the conservative voice for a conservative district.”
Hartzler served Cass County and Johnson County in the Missouri House of Representatives 1995-2001. While there, she advanced ideas to lower taxes, strengthen education, protect children, promote adoption, and empower small business job creation.

Prior to serving as a lawmaker Vicky was a classroom teacher at the junior high and high school levels in Lebanon and Belton. She and her husband, Lowell, run a diversified farming operation in Cass County and are co-owners of Hartzler Equipment Company, with store locations in Harrisonville, Lamar and Nevada.

Monday, February 22, 2010

MSSU board member resigns after "fag lion" remark

(From my latest Daily Kos post)

The Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors had no idea when scheduling its annual “retreat “that it would end with one governor resigning and the others in full retreat.

And it all started because of a comment about the school mascot, the lion. Board member David Ansley, during a presentation by the athletic director about the school’s logo said, “We went from the fag lion to the ferocious lion.”

One of the dangers of these so-called “retreats,” is they encourage a level of informality that is not usually seen in regular meetings and sometimes that brings out the worst in officials.

And not just Ansley. The Joplin Globe reports that immediately after Ansley’s use of the slur against homosexuals:

Board President Rod Anderson looked at reporters who were covering the panel’s retreat meeting on Saturday at the university and said, “That’s off the record.”

The Globe article says two other board members, Charles McGinty and Sherry Buchanan, said the comment should not be printed.

If Globe reporter Greg Grisolano had any doubts about whether he should run the quote, those pleadings should have settled the matter. My old publisher at The Carthage Press, Jim Farley had a hard and fast rule- “If someone asks us not to run something, we put it one page one.” Especially when it is news.

And that is exactly what the Joplin Globe did. Earlier today, Ansley, who apologized for his statement before the retreat had concluded, resigned from the Board of Governors.

Ansley, a personal injury and medical malpractice attorney from Springfield, Missouri, made the right decision, one that was probably made easier by the fact that his term has already ended and he is only serving until Gov. Jay Nixon appoints a successor.
Of course, the outcries came immediately in the comment section of the Joplin Globe. Ansley was a victim of “political correctness,” one person after another said, with many adding their own anti-gay slurs, some of them apparently intending to be clever, but falling far short of the mark.

No, David Ansley was not a victim of political correctness, any more than George Allen was a victim of political correctness when he called an opposition campaign volunteer a macaca.

Our institutions of higher learning should set the example for today’s society. We no longer tolerate slurs of any kind. That is not political correctness; that is simple civility.

Obama explains proposed education act to governors

During the National Governor's Conference over the weekend in Washington, D. C., President Barack Obama outlined his plan for "a redesigned Elementary and Secondary Education Act that includes a comprehensive, new vision to help states successfully transition to and implement college- and career-ready standards by improving teacher preparation and development, upgrading classroom instruction, and supporting high-quality assessments."

Goodman bill designed to get government out of the way of faith-based services

In his latest report. Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, a candidate for the Seventh District Congressional seat, discusses his bill, which passed the Senate last week, which gets the government out of the way of faith-based charities:

Thomas Jefferson once said, “government is best which governs the least.” I try to adhere to this principle as I work setting the policies of our state.

In the communities of the 29th District, churches, charities and other philanthropic organizations provide a helping hand to those who have fallen on tough times and need help to get back on their feet. In some communities of the 29th District, innovative and conscientious citizens have put together a not-for-profit, faith-based community health clinic to provide quality health care to neighbors in need, using mostly volunteer services and donated resources. Unfortunately, the efforts of these good people to address a problem on their own have encountered governmental roadblocks. Specifically, the state wanted to regulate the volunteer clinic as an insurance company.

I sponsored SB 616 this session to exempt such clinics from the regulations applicable to insurance companies. To make sure the exemption is only used by legitimate charitable efforts, the following conditions must be met to qualify for the exemption:

Eligibility for the plan must be limited to those earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($44,100 annually for a family of four) and not covered under any other group insurance arrangement.
The plan must be operated on a not-for-profit basis.
Covered primary care services must be provided to enrollees, either by providers on staff of the sponsoring organization or by volunteers recruited from a local medical or osteopathic society who have, in both instances, agreed to provide their services for free or for nominal reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses or supplies related to the service provided.
Payments to outside contractors for marketing, claims administration and similar services must total no more than 10 percent of the total charges.
The plan must receive the approval and endorsement of the local medical or osteopathic society in consultation with the Missouri State Medical Association.
The sponsoring non-profit organization must file an annual report with the Secretary of State.

Seeing individuals in our communities come together, work and sacrifice to meet the needs of our neighbors makes me proud and grateful to be a Missourian. While I believe government cannot offer the best solutions to many problems, I am convinced government should not impede viable solutions proposed by our private citizens. Senate Bill 616 is intended to remove a roadblock hindering valiant efforts by conscientious Missourians. I am pleased to report that the Senate passed my bill late last week. It now progresses to the Missouri House for similar action.

Stouffer resolution to reject tax increase approved

A resolution sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer, a Republican candidate for the Fourth Congressional District seat, passed the Senate. Stouffer issued the following news release:

State Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, announced that the Missouri House has voted to pass his Senate Concurrent Resolution 35. This disapproves of the recommendations voted on by the State Tax Commission that would raise land valuations for certain landowners.

"We are dealing with extremely volatile markets, record production expenses, weak demand and landowners struggling to manage debt and cash flow throughout our district," Sen. Stouffer said. "Now is a bad time to raise taxes on any Missourian, including the state's landowners."

The resolution successfully blocks a plan to raise taxes on Missouri's farmland by an average 11.5 percent increase statewide. The measure was backed by the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Corn Growers, Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Cattlemen's Association.

"While property tax levies are set locally, the commission's increase in farmland productivity values means a tax increase on farmers and ranchers statewide," Sen. Stouffer said. "This is simply not the time to be raising anybody's taxes."

Speck planning crackdown on The Chart

The First Amendment appears to have little meaning for Missouri Southern State University President Bruce Speck.

Campus sources tell The Turner Report Speck went ballistic after seeing an editorial in this week's edition of the MSSU campus newspaper, The Chart.

Immediately after Speck read the article, he reportedly said, "This type of thing needs to be stopped."

I have already been receiving reports that the Chart has been under fire from the Speck administration because of its investigative reporting into the proposed medical school for Joplin (something which could use a lot more investigative reporting).

It is time for the Joplin-area media to come to the defense of The Chart and the First Amendment. The young reporters have done nothing wrong, other than to pursue truth that Bruce Speck, Dwight Douglas and others on the MSSU Board of Governors do not want brought to light.

When their First Amendment rights are threatened, it becomes that much easier to threaten the Freedom of the Press for anyone else who dares to examine the actions of elected officials and others who are responsible for taxpayers' money.

The Joplin Globe's coverage of the controversies surrounding Bruce Speck have been primarily limited to quoting both sides of the story; little investigative reporting has been featured.

The Globe barely touched on the hiring of Speck after he was the only one interviewed for the job. Almost no examination of his record at Austin Peay has been featured, though that record includes an inability to get along with faculty members, a hounding of the university's international program, and accusations of racism.

The least the Globe, The Carthage Press, the Neosho Daily News, and our area television and radio stations can do is to defend the First Amendment, the very thing that enables them to do what they do every day.

Wednesday final day for Jessica Daley, Allison Woods new KODE weekend anchor

KODE weekend anchor Jessica Daley announced that she is leaving the station. She has already anchored her last weekend newscasts and will have her last day as a reporter Wednesday.

Ms. Daley has been hired by a Des Moines, Iowa station.

Her replacement at the weekend anchor post will be recent hire Allison Woods, formerly a reporter at KNWA in Fayetteville.

Ms. Woods' biography on the Four States Home Page website notes her reporting background:

While at KNWA, Allison covered a diverse range of topics. Prior to that, she reported for Fox24 in Fort Smith, AR. It was there that Allison broke a highly controversial, multi-part animal abuse story that involved the local humane society. Her breaking story brought the issue to the community’s attention and, as a result, a new program that closely monitored the safety of the animal was established.

Stefan Chase leaving Hometown Today

March 5 reportedly will be the last day for Stefan Chase, co-anchor of Hometown Today on KSN. Ms. Chase has been hired as a reporter at the Fox affiliate in Kansas City.

Ms. Chase has been Hometown Today and noon anchor for about three years.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wilson: Ethics legislation will include campaign contribution limits

Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, chairman of the special House Committee on Government Accountability and Ethics, says whatever legislation his committee creates will include campaign contribution limits.

Mayer: Open enrollment is the way to go

In a letter to Missouri educators, Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter explains his bill which would allow for open enrollment in public schools:

Dear Educator:
Education has been a top priority of mine during my tenure in the Missouri General Assembly. I sincerely admire your profession and appreciate your service educating Missouri’s youth. Knowing that, I hope you will afford me this opportunity to address some concerns that have been brought forth by some of your colleagues pertaining to Senate Bill 603, otherwise known as the “Open Enrollment Bill.” The most common of these concerns include the reason for this bill, athletics, overcrowding, special education, transfer timing and funding.
I sponsored SB603 as a response to an increasing amount of reports from parents throughout our state requesting changes in enrollment policy. In one such instance, parents had appealed up to the Missouri Board of Education for the reassignment of their two young children. These children were riding school buses daily in excess of one hour each way along windy lake roads to attend a school in their assigned district. However, the adjoining school district carried the name of the town in which they resided. In addition, the route to the adjoining district’s school largely avoided the curvy lake roads and was only fifteen to twenty minutes away.
“Open enrollment” imposes no change on athletics. Missouri high school athletics would continue to be governed by the Missouri State High School Activities Association. Any high school athlete that transfers, under MSHSAA, is ineligible to compete for one year, which is consistent with current MSHAA rules.
A study was recently prepared for the General Assembly by the Joint Committee on Education in December of last year entitled, “Open Enrollment States: Policies and Practices.” This study found that participation rates among students in other “open enrollment” states hovered around the five percent mark. We do not envision a mass exodus of students from one district to another. In addition to the low participation rates found in states that participate in this program, SB 603 carries a number of safeguards to protect against overcrowding, one of which allows each school district to limit classroom sizes and student-to-teacher ratios. If these ratios would be met or exceeded, the “receiving” school district need not accept the transfer. Also, we do not require the “receiving” school district to provide transportation outside of their district. It would be the duty of the parent or guardian to provide any “additional” transportation required.
Senate Bill 603 was also drafted in a manner cognizant of special education concerns, acutely aware of both the needs of the children and the additional costs of the district. For students receiving special education services, a request to enroll in another district will only be approved if the receiving district maintains a special education program appropriate for the child.
The “Open Enrollment Bill” requires parents to send notification to the desired “receiving” district by January 15 of the preceding school year of the intent to transfer. Any requests after this date would be subject to approval by the board of education. This would prevent untimely transfers and unexpected infusion of students.
With regard to funding, I am working on a provision to incorporate into our bill that would minimize disruption to each school district’s per pupil expenditure. I will work to ensure that this bill funds participating student’s education with district’s interests in mind as well.
I am grateful for this opportunity to clarify my genuine intentions to better our Missouri schools. Whether it is “Open Enrollment” or working with my colleagues in the Missouri Senate in an attempt to fully fund the K-12 foundation formula, I understand the importance of the investment in Missouri’s youth and education.

Ridgway expresses support for Fair Tax proposal

Sen. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, expresses support for the Fair Tax proposal in her latest column:

A “Fair Tax” proposal is pending in the Missouri Senate and recently received a hearing in the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee. In a nutshell, the Missouri Fair Tax proposal would allow our citizens to change our state constitution. If adopted, our state income tax would be eliminated and replaced with a statewide sales tax on retail purchases of goods and services.

The plan pending in Missouri, if properly done, could become the greatest economic development tool we have ever seen. Statistics show that states without an income tax have more economic and population growth than states with both income and sales taxes. With a statewide unemployment rate hovering over 9 percent, Missouri is in dire need of more quality jobs and economic growth.

Now is the time for real change — not just more tinkering with a system that, so far, has failed to keep jobs in Missouri or bring in new ones. The Fair Tax is designed to have no impact on revenues derived from property taxes or local sales taxes. It is targeted only at eliminating state income tax and replacing it with a statewide sales tax. To make sales tax income match our current income tax revenues, it is estimated that the statewide sales tax would have to be approximately 6-7%, up from the current 4.225 percent. Our current state income tax is riddled with loopholes and exemptions for special interest groups.
Currently, Missouri has hundreds of sales tax exemptions and more than 40 tax credit programs. The Fair Tax eliminates all tax credits and almost all sales tax exemptions. The proposal I support excludes taxation on expenses for all education from preschool to higher education.

A sales tax on services would also be imposed. Richer Missourians would obviously pay more, simply because they tend to consume more. Lower income Missourians are also protected under the plan as they would be given an exemption from paying any sales tax up to a certain level of spending.

With a Fair Tax, Missourians would immediately see an increase in their net income as there would no longer be state income tax withheld from our paychecks. Everyone would pay their fair share, whether they are a law-abiding citizen, a drug dealer, illegal alien or black marketer — if you buy goods or services, you pay the tax at the time of purchase. No more cheating on income taxes because there is no income tax. When federal tax time comes, there would be no state forms to complete, state records to compile or check to write to the state.

Rupp: Opening the door for charter schools

In his latest Rupp Report, Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County, details his bill which would open the door for more charter schools in Missouri.

There may be no bigger issue at the State Capitol than education. The 2011 fiscal year budget calls for more than $3 billion to fund Missouri’s K-12 classrooms, which is a record amount for our state. As vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, it’s my job to make sure that we’re smart and efficient with that money, because our children and our schools deserve nothing less than the best we can provide to them.
That’s why I’ve sponsored legislation that modifies the way our state approaches charter schools. Missouri’s parents deserve to have all options on the table when it comes to their child’s education. One measure, SB 838, amends the current law and allows charter schools to be set up in any school district that has schools that have been labeled as underperforming regarding school improvement. If your local school is sinking instead of swimming, then you, as a parent, deserve the right to have your child attend a school that meets your and our state’s standards.
This proposed legislation would also allow any higher education institution to be a sponsor of charter schools within their district, and to have some of those costs defrayed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). It will set up policies and procedures for establishing the school and meeting academic guidelines, and it changes the performance goal review to an annual basis, rather than the current tri-annual measurement.
My other legislation relating to charter schools, SB 835, allows “high risk” or “alternative” schools the opportunity to make credit arrangements outside of the school. This includes off-campus instruction, students who work, independent studies, and performance-based credit options, as long as DESE studies the alternative arrangements and makes sure that the students are still graduating, going to college, or working.
Finally, I’ve introduced legislation that rewards our brightest for graduating high school and getting to college early. Senate Bill 907 creates the Early High School Graduation Scholarship Program, which gives the student 80 percent of that student’s state aid (the amount the state would have spent on their fourth year of high school) to use toward college. The other 20 percent would go to the school district, so that the school is not penalized for letting their smartest students move on.
As we move our classrooms into the future, our schools must be as competitive and high-performing as we ask our students to be. That means opening up the system to those who can meet the standards we desire, and making sure that no student is hindered from finding their way, no matter what that way may be.

Scott: Federal government special deals are morally wrong

In his latest report, Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, joins the chorus of Republican state officials opposing actions being taken at the federal level:

This year the Missouri Senate has passed a measure declaring our objection to how the federal government is handling the current debate over health care. More specifically, Senate Concurrent Resolution 37 points out the special deal made by Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson that permanently exempts his state from bearing the costs of newly eligible Nebraska Medicaid enrollees under the U.S. Senate's version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590).

Commonly known as the "Nebraska Compromise," this deal would not require Nebraska to allocate substantial funds to accommodate the federal health care bill's new Medicaid provision. This exemption has not been offered to any of the other states, including Missouri.

In our Senate chamber, two quotes are etched in marble: "Nothing is politically right that is morally wrong," and "Free and fair discussion will ever be found the firmest friend of truth." Does Sen. Nelson's "compromise" sound fair or politically right to you?

We didn't this so either. That's why 28 Missouri senators agreed to pass this important resolution. The Nebraska Compromise further affects our nation's confidence in their elected officials — confidence which has already been shook with the continued conflict over how our federal government is debating health care.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 37 calls on Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to join the 13 other state attorneys general in our country to challenge this special deal. We're asking our attorney general to review the constitutionality and legality of Sen. Nelson's compromise.

This measure has been passed by the Senate and is now in the House for similar consideration. To read the full resolution, please visit and type in SCR37 in the bill search field.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Resolutions introduced in House, Senate to block federal cap-and-trade legislation

Newman will receive at least five years in prison

At the minimum, Pete Newman, the former Kanakuk Kamp director who pleaded guilty Thursday to sex charges, will receive five years in prison...and it could be much more:

At the minimum, Newman will spend at least five years in state prison before becoming eligible for parole, and must register as a sex offender if and when he is released. The actual length of his sentence — and whether each count will carry a concurrent or consecutive jail term — will depend on Circuit Judge Mark Orr.

“There’s no agreement as to what the sentence can be,” Merrell said.

The prosecutor said Friday he couldn’t say what sentence he would ask for at the hearing, but wants “to be able to present some evidence to the judge at sentencing to show what an appropriate sentence would be.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lager explains employment law reform bill to committee

Missouri House Week in Review

Kinder running for governor in 2012

The election is still more than two and a half years away, but Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder told college students he will run against Jay Nixon for governor in 2012.

Former KY3 political reporter Dave Catanese, now with Politico, broke the news this evening:

Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder told a gathering of college Republicans in Washington Friday that he plans on running for governor in 2012, according to two separate sources who heard the comments.

The announcement by the two-term Republican isn't itself surprising, but Missouri Republicans told POLITICO it was the first time they had heard Kinder address his plans so specifically in a public setting.

"I will be running for governor in two years," Kinder said, according to two Republicans who attended the luncheon at Jack's Restaurant in Dupont Circle.

Lankford named to State Department of Education post

Webb City R-7 Superintendent Ron Lankford, who is retiring June 30, has been named to a post with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The following news release was issued today:

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro announced today that she has tapped Ron Lankford, superintendent of the Webb City School District, to be her deputy. Dr. Lankford will join the staff of the Department of Education as deputy commissioner for fiscal and administrative services, effective Aug. 1.

“Dr. Lankford will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to our agency. He is highly regarded throughout the state and respected for his expertise and leadership in financial management and academic issues. The State Board of Education and I are delighted we were able to attract a leader of his caliber,” Nicastro said.

Lankford was honored earlier this year as “Superintendent of the Year” by the Missouri Association of School Administrators.

Lankford began his career as a social studies teacher and counselor in the Harrisburg School District. He joined the Webb City School District (Jasper County) in 1977 as a junior high school principal.

He served the district as junior high principal, high school principal and associate superintendent before being named superintendent in 1998. He had previously announced his plans to retire as superintendent at the end of this school year.

GOP: Carnahan attends Seattle fundraiser by radical group

It did not take long for the Missouri Republican Party to answer a charge by the Carnahan campaign that Roy Blunt is being bankrolled by the biggest contributor to the Swift Boat campaign:

Lloyd Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party, issued the following statement regarding Robin Carnahan’s attendance at a Seattle fundraiser sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters (see below for Seattle Post-Intelligencer article on the topic):

“Robin Carnahan can run to Seattle for secret fundraisers with radical organizations, but she cannot hide from Missourians. This is the Show-Me State, and now Missourians see Carnahan for what she really is—a pawn of liberal Washington interest groups who would vote to rubberstamp the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.

“It is obvious that radical Washington special interest groups are attempting to purchase Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat for Robin Carnahan. Since April 2009, an astounding 19 months before Election Day, liberal groups have poured more than $1.3 million into Missouri on Carnahan’s behalf. Until now, Carnahan has remained largely silent about the effort, but it is now clear that she is actively involved with the groups that are doing her dirty work for her.

“Despite Robin Carnahan complains that outside special interest groups could influence Missouri’s elections, she has been caught attending a secret West Coast fundraiser sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters—exactly the kind of extremist out-of-state group that Carnahan pretends to oppose. Not only is this a stunning, brazen, and shameless display of hypocrisy from Robin Carnahan, but it is yet another example of the revolving door that exists between Carnahan and the radical special interest groups that are bankrolling her campaign.”

Pete Newman pleads guilty, sentencing set for April 30

Former Kanakuk Kamp Director Pete Newman pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of statutory sodomy in the first degree, three counts of statutory sodomy in the second degree, and three counts of enticement of a child. 

All of the crimes involved underage boys. Judge Mark Orr ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and set Newman's sentencing for April 30 in Taney County Circuit Court. 

 Newman was sworn in and told the court he understood the consequences of pleading guilty and said he was doing so voluntarily. The allegations against Newman were outlined in Taney Count court documents. From the Sheriff's Department's investigative report:
"Between 2005 and 2008, Pete Newman became a close friend of his by attending family dinners, sleepovers, bible studies, taking vacations together and writing letters. Pete would hold one-on-one sessions with (the boy) in Pete's hot tub (at Pete's residence) and would request they be naked. Pete would discuss life's struggles with (him) and talk about masturbation. Pete would explain that if (the boy) would masturbate with him in his hot tub then there would be no lust and therefore (the boy) would not be sinning."
The boy told Roberts he and Newman masturbated together 10 times over a four-year period. The sex went further than masturbation with another teenager, according to the report. 

After beginning with the masturbation sessions with the 13-year-old, the report said, "Pete started masturbating (the boy) and (the boy) would then masturbate Pete." That led to oral sex when the boy turned 15. 

Newman allegedly used the hot tub trick on a 14-year-old, again resulting in mutual masturbation sessions. When the Sheriff's Department began contacting former campers from other states, they heard more disturbing stories. 

Parents from Tennessee told the deputy their son, who was 14 at the time, reported engaging in the same type of activity with Newman. Roberts described Newman's tactics, saying Newman became close to boys aged 11 to 15, hung out with them, gained their parents' trust, then beginning slowly with the hot tub and leading to sexual experiences. Roberts referred to it as "the grooming process" used by sexual offenders. Charges have also been filed against Newman in Durango, Colo. From the Durango Herald:
He is suspected of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust in La Plata County. He faces numerous charges in Missouri for allegedly sexually assaulting boys, and other states are considering similar charges. Newman was employed as a director with Kanakuk Kamps for about 10 years. The incident in La Plata County occurred in September 2008 at Kanakuk's K-Colorado campus near Vallecito. The local children's camp is now under new name and ownership. Kanakuk Kamps hosts a variety of Christian summer camps for boys and girls between ages 7 and 18. The Sheriff's Office declined to say whether the alleged victim in Colorado is a local resident. The agency is trying to determine whether there are more victims, said Investigator Sam Eggleston.
Charges are also being considered against Newman in other states, according to published reports.

Carnahan release ties Swift Boat funder with Blunt attack ad

In a response to an attack ad launched against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, Carnahan campaign manager Mindy Mazur issued the following call for contributions Thursday:

It's more than eight months until Election Day but Congressman Blunt and his friends have already started running TV ads attacking Robin. That's right: TV ads in February. What's worse - the ads are paid for by Congressman Blunt's 7th Congressional District Committee, a committee that just six months ago received $100,000 from the largest Swift Boat attack ads funder, Robert Perry.

The misleading ads they are running against Robin are a clear attempt to distract voters from Congressman Blunt's very public Washington record of reckless government spending and voting to protect the interests of big banks, big oil and big insurance over Missouri families.

It's going to take a lot of resources to distract folks from his enormously troubling record, so we can only assume that Congressman Blunt's Swift Boat friends are just getting started.

Now, we are working hard every day to make sure Robin can fight back and get out her message of bringing common sense, accountability and reform to Washington. But we can't do it alone - we need your help.

Congressman Blunt just got $100,000 of help from Swift Boat funders. But that doesn't mean we should let them have smooth sailing on their mission to attack Robin. Help us raise our own $100,000 to fight back by donating $20.10, $45 or even $100 today.

Seventh District candidates scheduled KZRG appearances

Two of the candidates for the Seventh District Congressional position GOP nomination have scheduled appearances at KZRG (1310 AM, 102.9 FM) next week.

Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, will be the guest host at 7 a.m. Monday, and Springfield auctioneer Billy Long will be "stopping in for a chat" after 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to a KZRG release.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Missouri GOP ad says Carnahan links with ACORN continue

Tilley: Bill is a move in the right direction on autism

Nodler: Senate bill helps protect the unborn

Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, a candidate for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Roy Blunt, voiced his support for Senate Bill 793, which puts some hurdles in front of those seeking abortions in Missouri:

Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have worked to protect the rights of the unborn. The majority of Missourians have made it clear that they stand with life and life-affirming education. This week, Senate Bill 793, a bill that makes sure women considering abortion have all the facts, was heard in a Senate committee.

Emotions can run high for an expectant mother, especially when considering how to proceed with a pregnancy. Senate Bill 793 contains provisions that modify Missouri’s informed consent requirements to make sure that pregnant women receive information and have time to process their options when considering an abortion. This includes a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed, giving time for the woman to think about her options.

Women seeking an abortion need to know the truth. The bill requires that a woman receives information including details on the emotional and physical risks of the procedure and the physiological characteristics of an unborn child at two-week gestational increments. She would also receive information on the gestational age of her unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed and must be given an opportunity to view, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, an active ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child. It is our hope that this information will help persuade women seeking abortions to choose other options.

The bill also works to provide options for pregnant women by requiring a physician or a qualified professional to discuss the medical assistance and counseling resources available, advise the woman of the father’s liability for child support, and provide information about the Alternatives to Abortion Program.

Similar provisions to the ones in Senate Bill 793 have been proposed in past sessions, but have been held up by a select few. It is my hope that this bill will pass this year and we can continue our work to protect life in this state.

Chart editorial rips MSSU Board of Governors

Missouri Southern State University's feisty newspaper, The Chart, ripped into the Board of Governors in a take-no-prisoners editorial in its most recent edition. Board of Bumblers is about the kindest comment the panel received:

And then there's the ego of the Board. Dwight Douglas scolded the Faculty Senate representative last month for not being "positive."

Afterwards, Douglas was asked if he thought the faculty was at all justified in being unhappy with the situation.

"In my opinion, no," he said.

What message is this Board sending - to the campus community, to other institutions and to lawmakers in Jefferson City?

This administration stomps on toes then goes into hiding, cuts and eliminates programs that the campus begs them to save, is raising millions of dollars to lease property and partner with a private school.

Kansas City Democrat opposes drug tests for welfare recipients

Rep. Michael Brown, D-Kansas City, stated his opposition to a bill that would require drug tests for welfare recipients in a news release issued today:

I am appalled that when resources are at an all time low there would be an attempt to pass legislation to cut Food Stamps.

Republican Representative Brandon’s HB1377 to cut food stamp recipients benefits by requiring drug testing leaves me no option but to voice my horror of the devastation this will have on families.

Eighty percent of the people living below the poverty line are children. These aren’t just individuals on drugs, they’re parents with children. When you take things away from the parent you’re hurting the children.

Why punish children for their parents’ mistake? The welfare system is already intrusive and adding drug testing to the system is just one more invasion into people’s lives—all they want is help.

This bill does not only cut food stamps but has a collateral effect by accelerating a family to becoming homeless. Will shelters turn away persons and their families if a parent tests positive for drugs when entering a shelter? If so, then where do they go?

The person tested will be responsible for the cost of the test. How will these people pay for the test?

Furthermore, there is cost associated with the bill. To administer the drug tests is estimated to cost $2.6 million in the first year.

Put all together, this bill is intrusive, expensive, hurtful and inhumane; leave it to House Republications to be mean during lean times!!

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Stouffer: People love my drug tests for welfare recipients plan

In his latest Stouffer Report, Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, a candidate for Fourth District Congressman, says he has received overwhelming positive reaction to his bill to drug test welfare recipients:

Since my office received so much feedback from the proposal (Senate Bill 607) to test work-eligible welfare recipients suspected of substance abuse, I wanted to share just a portion of the responses with you.

For those not familiar with the legislation, individuals utilizing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) who are suspected of using illegal drugs would be tested. If positive, the recipient would be referred to a treatment program and assistance for dependents would be provided to a third-party, such as a grandparent. Here are some responses from constituents on the proposal:

“I agree on the drug testing 100 percent!”
— Slater, MO

“Your bill truly seems harsh.”
— Kearney, MO

“I work hard for my money and see a lot of people that are on welfare or disability and are as capable of working as I am. I have to take drug tests to keep getting paid, so why shouldn't those that are getting free money. I have no problem helping those that truly need help.” (As an aside, I drive a truck for my real job as a farmer and I am also required to take an annual drug test. A proposal in the Missouri House would require the same for all legislators.)
— Macon County, MO

“A bill like this should have been passed 20 years ago. No work, no pay. Welfare needs a complete overhaul. “
— Marshall, MO

“[Regarding the proposal, if] somebody is down, [welfare is here] to help you (of course there is a little humiliation involved-drug test to boot) and if you don't tow our line we'll kick you while you’re down.”
—Rayville, MO

“Welfare for the children are some family’s main source of income, the more children, equals more income! This should be the next bill you should address.”
— Arrow Rock, MO

“I think this is a great idea that most of the working class has talked about for years. It’s time to act on this.”
— Sweet Springs, MO

“Where are you getting the money to pay for the tests?” (Current estimates show the tests will cost around $50 each. There is a big expense in the administrative hearings for appeals and folks that want to reapply after a three year wait period.)
— Lexington, MO

“I would go one step further and suggest that anyone receiving government assistance of any kind not be allowed to visit the casinos and gamble.”
— Marshall, MO

“We want to say that we support your trying to do something about this criminal behavior. Good for you. We are behind you. Keep up the good work for Missourians and the country.”
—Ozark, MO

“I strongly agree with your proposed bill. I worked as a caseworker and I have wished we would require this for a long time.“
— Benton County, MO

“I grew up on the streets [in an urban area] and saw it both before and after implementation of the welfare system. I know the poverty and the 'trap' that it puts people into. Which is, I guess, what liberals wanted; to make the people dependent upon them.”
— Orrick, MO

Keep your comments coming. The more feedback I get from you, the better I am able to do my job in Jefferson City. I have enjoyed the responses on this topic for the past several weeks.

Cameras banned from Jetton preliminary hearing

When former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton appears in Scott County Circuit Court for his preliminary hearing on an assault charge involving kinky sex, no still cameras will be allowed to take photos, and no audio or video recording equipment will be permitted, thanks to a decision by Judge Terry Brown.

Brown, who has the case on a change of judge, made the decision after consultation with the Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd during court sessions, Scott County Circuit Clerk Christy Hency said.

Media in Southeast Missouri, including the Southeast Missourian, had previously been informed that they would be allowed to take still pictures and record video and audio to provide pool coverage to statewide media expected to cover the event.

Jetton is scheduled to be in court at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Benton, Mo.

Is there a sketch artist available who specializes in green balloons?