Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Building Joplin website introduced

Ed Martin: Our government is corrupt

Rand Paul: Ed Martin will defend Missouri against Obamacare

Claire McCaskill: I have a strong record of independence

Billy Long: I support responsible defense cuts

In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long says he supports responsible defense cuts.

The defense cuts currently planned to take place in January would be extremely harmful to our nation.  However, I also believe our nation must balance its budget.  As a result, I support replacing current defense cuts with responsible cuts which target areas of the budget suffering from waste, fraud, abuse, or are simply inefficient uses of taxpayer money.
The crippling defense cuts are mandated by the Budget Control Act.  The defense cuts will take place on January 2, 2013, unless Congress can come together and pass legislation to avoid them.  To date, the House is the only chamber that has passed a plan to achieve Budget Control Act savings by replacing these cuts with responsible spending reductions.
In September, the Obama administration released its plans to cut defense spending.  The report stated that these cuts “would result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts, and reductions in base services for military families.”  The result is these steep cuts will have a “devastating impact” on our armed forces and their families.  I recently visited our brave men and women at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Missouri.  Cuts to base services will hurt these hard-working military families, and this is simply unacceptable.
The defense cuts could lead to a loss of more than 1 million private sector jobs according to the National Association of Manufacturers.  We need to support efforts to create jobs in our country, not efforts that create job loss which would likely lead to greater unemployment. 
America’s military faces a world with growing hostility and instability at the same time many of our weapons systems are nearing the limit of their useful lifespan.  Legacy programs like our aircraft carrier fleets, which are crucial for force projection across vast oceans, are aging and need to be replaced with systems that are able to confront the new strategic realities of our world. 
A strong America is a safe America and a safe world.  Only a few decades ago the world was caught in a bloody cycle of industrial scale warfare where thousands of Americans died in single battles.  America is a powerful, stabilizing force in the world because of our overwhelming conventional military power.  I want to be clear that I do not believe America should be a world policeman; however, the mere fact that we possess a strong military force discourages other nations from taking a militaristic stance toward their neighbors.
We cannot balance the budget, nor should we attempt to balance the budget, by gutting core security obligations that the federal government is constitutionally responsible to fulfill.  My House colleagues and I support efforts to replace the impending defense cuts with responsible spending cuts and reforms. It is now up to the president and Senate to offer a proposal to offset the cost of the crippling defense cuts. 
I remain committed to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to replace the defense cuts with responsible cuts and reforms.

McCaskill, teachers back federal school lunch program; Todd Akin hates it

(From the Claire McCaskill campaign)

Today, Claire McCaskill was joined by St. Louis area teachers at a press conference to highlight the importance of protecting the federal school lunch program, as well as other federal investments in education, from extreme politicians like Todd Akin who want them eliminated. Nearly 50 percent of Missouri’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school.

“I’m grateful today to be joined by some of the folks responsible for fostering Missouri’s next generation of leaders,” said McCaskill. “With just six days until voters head to the polls, it’s important that Missouri families know that Todd Akin is far too extreme on the issue of school lunches, which nearly 50 percent of Missouri’s students rely upon. While Congressman Akin wants to turn out the lights on key investments in our children, I know that hungry kids don’t learn, and I’ll fight to ensure Missouri families have access to school lunches, student loans and Pell Grants, all of which allow Missouri to remain competitive in the global marketplace.”

In the St. Louis City School District, over 80 percent of students rely on school meal programs to get through the day. In the Bayless School District, where Claire spoke today, nearly 60 percent of students qualify. And statewide, nearly 50 percent of Missouri’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school.

Despite those figures, Akin voted against school meal programs in Congress every time he has had the opportunity to do so.

In 2004, Akin was one of only five members of Congress to vote against the Republican bill to reauthorize school meal programs. In 2010, the federal school lunch program was reauthorized with unanimous support from all 100 Senators. Had Akin been in the Senate at that time, he’d have been the only Senator to oppose the bill.

The National School Lunches Program is a crucial tool the government utilizes to combat poverty and hunger in Missouri and throughout the country. Without the support of the federal government states would not be able to sustain the program leaving many more of Missouri's children hungry.

Akin's stance against federal school lunch programs is too extreme, even among his House Republican colleagues. Missouri’s Rep. Vicki Hartzler, a former teacher and Tea Party Republican, said these programs are critical to helping students get through the day. As reported by the Columbia Daily Tribune:

Every other Republican candidate in attendance at the fair today said they support school nutrition programs.

"I don't think so," U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, said when asked whether the program should be abolished. "I am a former teacher, and if a family is truly needy, it is appropriate for taxpayers."


2010: Akin Was One of Only 13 Members to Vote Against a Resolution Expressing Support for the National School Lunch Program. In March 2010, Akin voted against House Resolution 362, a resolution expressing the support of the House of Representatives for the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program. [Vote 89, 3/4/10]

2010: Akin Voted Against Reauthorizing the National School Lunch Program. In December 2010, Akin voted against the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs through fiscal 2015, including the National School Lunch Program. [Vote 603, 12/2/10]

2004: Akin Was One of Only 5 Members to Vote Against Reauthorizing the National School Lunch Program. In March 2004, Akin voted against a bill that would reauthorize such sums as necessary through fiscal year 2008 for a number of child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, Child and Adult Care Food Program and After-School Snack Program. [Vote 82, 3/24/04]

646,000 Students Per Day Received Free or Reduced-Price Meals in Missouri in 2011. According to the USDA, 646,000 children per school day received free or reduced price meals in Missouri in FY 2011. [USDA, FNS Program Data]

GOP candidates plan statewide bus tour

(From the Missouri Republican Party)

Join Republican elected officials, candidates, volunteers, and activists for Victory rallies across the state on Thursday, November 1, and Friday, November 2:

Thursday, November 1

9:00 AM: Jefferson City
featuring Dave Spence, Shane Schoeller, Ed Martin, Cole McNary, and Blaine Luetkemeyer2117 Missouri Blvd.
Jefferson City, MO 65109
12:15 PM: Springfieldfeaturing Dave Spence, Shane Schoeller, Ed Martin, Cole McNary, and Billy Long
300 E. Sunshine
Springfield, MO 65807
2:15 PM: Joplinfeaturing Dave Spence, Shane Schoeller, Ed Martin, Cole McNary, and Billy Long
2727 E. 32nd Street, Suite A
Joplin, MO 64804
6:00 PM: Lee’s Summitfeaturing Dave Spence, Shane Schoeller, Ed Martin, Cole McNary, and Jacob Turk
611 SW 3rd Street
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063

Friday, November 2, 2012

8:00 AM: St Josephfeaturing Dave Spence, Ed Martin, and Cole McNary
613 Edmond
St. Joseph, MO
11:15 AM: Kirksvillefeaturing Dave Spence, Shane Schoeller, Ed Martin, and Cole McNary311 N Elson St.
Kirksville, MO
3:30 PM: St Louisfeaturing Ann Wagner, Dave Spence, Shane Schoeller, Ed Martin, and Cole McNary932A Meramec Station Rd.
Fenton, MO 63088

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Preliminary hearing delayed for Springfield elementary teacher on prostitution charge

The preliminary hearing for Springfield elementary teacher Laura Fielder on a felony charge of promoting prostitution, originally scheduled for Wednesday in Greene County Circuit Court, has been continued to Dec. 12, according to online court records.

The records indicate the delay was requested by Ms Fiedler's attorney. She was charged with the crime Feb. 6; the preliminary hearing has been delayed numerous times.

When disasters hit our communities, Jay Nixon stepped forward immediately

Veteran: Claire McCaskill closed the door in my face; Todd Akin didn't

Tim Jones, GOP legislators: We're responsible for all good things, not Jay Nixon

The new Dave Spence ad

Nixon: Spence had a vote to pay back TARP funds; he didn't do it

Under questioning from Jason Rosenbaum of St. Louis Beacon, Gov. Jay Nixon backs his attacks on Dave Spence's record as a member of a bank board that did not pay back TARP funds.

Jay Nixon touts auto record during Wentzville stop

This video is from Jason Rosenbaum and St. Louis Beacon.

Nixon ad: Spence company late paying taxes, sued numerous times

Minimum wage earners rip Todd Akin

Protesters arrive for Akin/Gingrich appearance

Todd Akin: Women's bodies protect them from HIV

Joplin Tornado cost Empire District Electric $23 million

The May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado cost locally-based Empire District Electric Company $23 million, according to a report filed Oct. 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Electric segment revenues for the twelve months ended September 30, 2012, decreased approximately $8.7 million over the 2011 period. Weather impacts and reduced customer counts resulting primarily from the May 2011 tornado decreased revenues an estimated $23.0 million. Unseasonably hot weather experienced during the 2011 twelve-month period was more than offset by the effects of record mild winter weather during the 2012 twelve-month period. Off-system revenues decreased approximately $9.0 million when compared to the 2011 period, however the decrease had little impact on margin as these costs are passed through our fuel adjustment mechanisms. Customer rate increases added an estimated $20.3 million during the 2012 period compared to 2011, primarily from the completed rate proceedings in each of or our jurisdictions. This increase, along with the $3.0 million change in the Company’s estimate for unbilled revenue mentioned above, contributed to margin during the 2012 period, more than offsetting the decreased revenues from weather and customer counts.

Big-ticket contributions arrive for Nixon, Schoeller

The biggest oversized contributions reported today to the Missouri Ethics Commission were given to the Jay Nixon and Shane Schoeller campaigns, according to 48-hour reports.

The Democratic Governors Association, Washington, D. C. gave $100,000 to Nixon, while the Republican State Leadership Committee, Alexandria, Va., gave a quarter of a million to the Schoeller campaign.

No truth to the rumor that Rex Sinquefield plans to sue for alienation of affection.

Mold spores feel vindicated by judge's order in Neosho lawsuit

(My latest Newton County News column)

Times have been tough for mold spores in Neosho for the past three years since Jan Blasé blamed them to every mistake he made during his three years as city manager.

Those hard times may finally be over, thanks to a decision handed down by U. S. District Court Judge John T. Maughmer Tuesday.

Maughmer flatly rejected Blasé’s contention that the city of Neosho owed him nine months of severance pay, even though he sided with Blasé on the other part of the lawsuit and said the city’s employment agreement with Blasé guaranteed one year’s worth of health insurance for Blasé and his family.

The Jan Blasé saga made Neosho and Blasé laughingstocks in late 2009 and early 2010 when Blasé told the Joplin Globe that the poor decisions he made regarding the moving of earmarked money from one account to another to cover financial shortfalls was due to mold spores.

“I believe that excessive mold spore levels at City Hall severely affected the health of the finance director and the city manager, and that the exposure to high levels of mold spores affected overall performance. The vents in the city manager office were not hooked to distribution system and that forced all air in the attic directly unto the city manager every time any unit turned on at the request of a thermostat.”

And Blase told the Globe's Derek Spellman, “everybody (at City Hall) was sick” because of the mold, that he himself suffered from allergies, that he was “ill” for “many” months, and that he suffered from a “compromised” immune system.

As I wrote at the time, the mold spores were angered by Blasé’s allegations.

"Jan Blase makes us sick, too," one mold spore told me on condition of anonymity. "First, he blames us for misusing grant funds and now he wants to raise our property taxes." The spore was referring to Blase's use of state funds specifically earmarked for airport purposes to cover city budget shortfalls.

Reportedly, a group of leading spores is considering a defamation lawsuit against Blase."We probably won't do it," the anonymous spore said. "Even if we won, who knows what fund our money would come from?"

The defamation lawsuit was never filed, but the fiercely proud folk from the spore side of town still feel vindicated by today’s decision.

“Jan Blasé didn’t deserve one penny from the city of Neosho,” the same mold spore told me, again on condition of anonymity. “Ever since he gave that story to the Joplin Globe, we have had a hard time holding our heads up in Neosho and it’s spreading. My daughter and son-in-law were evicted from a house in Seneca back in August.

“There was a time when being a spore meant something in this town. There was a time when it meant plenty.”

The anonymous spore was not pleased with the judge’s decision that the city should foot the bill for one year’s worth of health insurance for Blasé and his family. “I suppose he didn’t have any choice since the city signed that foolish employment agreement, but my family and the families of other hard-working spores don’t have anywhere to turn for our health.

“Have you ever seen one of us in an emergency room?’

I had to admit that I had not.

“See what I mean.”

The proud spore’s final words during our conversation provide a hint that this story has yet to be completely played out.

“One more thing, Randy,” he said, as I was leaving.

“What’s that?"

“Would you happen to have a forwarding address for Jan Blasé?”

City of Neosho has to pay for one year of health insurance for Jan Blase and his family

A federal judge ruled today that the city of Neosho has to pay for 12 months of health insurance for fired City Manager Jan Blase, but does not have to give him severance pay.

The order, handed down by Judge John T. Maughmer in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, says the city's employment agreement with Blase specifies the health insurance benefits must be paid for Blase if he is terminated, but does not say anything about "for cause," while Blase is specifically barred from receiving severance pay if he was terminated "for cause."

Blase was fired in February 2010 for the following three reasons, listed in a resolution issued by the City Council the previous month:

(1)  had committed malfeasance in taking funds that had been received by Neosho for the dedicated purpose of aircraft hangar construction and instead using such funds to pay general city
obligations and payroll;

(2)  had failed to adequately communicate with the City Council; and

(3)  had failed to notify the City Council that revenues available to the city would be insufficient to meet the amount budgeted.

Blase's agreement with the city, signed in 2007, one year after he became city manager, said he would receive nine months of pay if he was fired without cause.

The judge's order made no mention of the mold spores that Blase blamed for some of his actions when they came to light in 2009 and early 2010.

City of Joplin offers assistance to storm-ridden East Coast

(From the City of Joplin)

Joplin City officials have reached out to Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to offer assistance to our fellow citizens along the east coast as Hurricane Sandy impacts several states and cities in its path.
“We’ve been monitoring this storm, as most of us have,” said Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr. “We have pledged our assistance to SEMA to help. We remember the amount of assistance that poured into our community following the tornado, and we want to help others as they helped us a year and half ago. For that reason, we have formed a team to provide this help and benefit others affected by a major disaster, and our policy is to respond if asked, based on the expertise we developed as a result of our experience last year.”
Rohr noted that the City of Joplin has staff experienced in disaster management, as evidenced by the City’s response to and recovery from the May 22, 2011 EF-5 tornado, and encompasses the areas of Administration, Finance, Police, Fire, Health, Public Works, and Emergency Management. Rohr directed the team’s formation last year and staff has identified approximately 30 personnel who could serve on this team as necessary. Keith Stammer, Emergency Management Director, notified SEMA that Joplin personnel are ready and willing to respond appropriately via an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request to the State of Missouri. EMAC is the general interstate agreement utilized during disaster responses.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow countrymen impacted by this storm, and we’re ready to help when called upon,” he said. Rohr, Police Chief Lane Roberts and Fire Chief Mitch Randles were scheduled to give a presentation at the New York Governor’s Conference on Emergency Preparedness today, but the event was postponed due to the pending arrival of the storm.
States impacted by Hurricane Sandy have already been inundated with offers of clothing, food, etc., so the city is asking Joplin residents to hold off on sending such items until they are requested through official channels. In the meantime, those who want to help are encouraged to donate money to the Red Cross, as the need for sheltering of displaced residents will be high until such time that power can be restored to affected areas.

Republican legislators: Nixon worked against us, not with us

(From the Dave Spence campaign)

Republican Leadership in the Missouri House of Representatives and key Republicans in the State Senate have written an open letter to voters directly refuting Governor Jay Nixon’s misleading campaign ads.  Specifically, the legislators debunk Nixon’s claims that he is “Independent” and works with Republicans. Signers of the letter include Republican Speaker of the House Tim Jones and Republican Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey.

    “For months, Jay Nixon has been raking in campaign cash from liberal trial lawyers and union bosses and then spending that money on misleading advertising and false attacks,” said Jared Craighead, Spence Campaign Manager. “These Republicans know better than anyone that Jay Nixon worked against them, not with them, on major issues like fending off Obamacare and balancing the budget."

    The open letter to voters can be viewed here. The letter will also be submitted to newspaper opinion pages across the state.

    Republicans signing the letter include: Speaker of the House Tim Jones, Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, Rep. Sue Allen, Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, Rep. Todd Richardson, Rep. Jeanie Riddle, Rep. Jason Smith, Senator Dan Brown, Senator Mike Kehoe, Senator Will Kraus, Senator John Lamping, Senator Brian Munzlinger, Senator Chuck Purgason, Senator Scott Rupp, Senator Eric Schmitt, and Senator Bill Stouffer.

Mitt Romney after Joplin Tornado: We need to put FEMA on the chopping block

This is the best Susan Montee can do?

I am not saying Peter Kinder is going to be re-elected, but if this is the best Susan Montee can do, we will have four more years of Kinder.

Rand Paul stumps for Ed Martin

Nixon: I support public education

Ed Martin: The NRA endorsed Chris Koster, but I love guns more

Rick Santorum robocall for Ed Martin

No offense to Rick Santorum, but when he talks about Chris Koster being nicknamed "Obama's Lawyer," I haven't heard anyone but Ed Martin call him that. It usually brings a chuckle from the rest of us.

Newt Gingrich to campaign with Todd Akin today

(From the Todd Akin campaign)

Today the Akin Campaign released the following information regarding upcoming Newt Gingrich events with Todd Akin in the Kansas City area.

Tuesday, October 30th

3:30 PM
Manufacturing Tour at Bennett Packaging 
220 Northwest Space Center Drive, Lee's Summit, MO 64064
Cameras allowed

4:30 PM
Media Availability with Todd Akin & Newt Gingrich
220 Northwest Space Center Drive, Lee's Summit, MO 64064

Wednesday, October 31st

8:15 AM
Standing With Courage Rally with Todd Akin & Newt Gingrich
Union Station under the Clock
30 West Pershing Road #400, Kansas City, MO

New McCaskill ad- Women: Todd Akin is scary

McCaskill campaign: Todd Akin favors repeal of 17th Amendment

(From the Claire McCaskill campaign)

In a strange display of hypocrisy, Todd Akin told voters at a Republican Primary debate in June that he does not believe that they should have the freedom to directly elect him to the United States Senate. By supporting a repeal of the 17th amendment, Akin is calling for a return to times when party bosses selected our Senators, despite the fact he's spent the last two months campaigning against "party bosses." 

Akin: "I Would Support a Repeal of the 17th Amendment." During the Senate debate at Lindenwood University in June 2012, "One of the things that did distinguish me from some of my colleagues here was the fact that I would support a repeal of the 17th Amendment which then says senators are chosen at the state level." [Akin at Lindenwood University Debate, 6/11/12

"This position would be hypocritical for anyone who is asking Missouri voters to elect them to the Senate but it especially troubling coming from a politician who claims to be campaigning against the exact same party bosses who would be in charge of choosing our Senators," said Erik Dorey McCaskill spokesman. "If Todd Akin had his way, Missouri's voters would be cut out of the process and politicians would be accountable only to their party bosses. This may be appealing for an extreme politician like Todd Akin whose views only appeal to an extreme minority of voters, but Missourians deserve a Senator like Claire who fights for all Missourians—no matter their political leanings." 

Ed Martin: Koster lying about what attorney general does

Thank heaven the election is only a week away. The following news release comes from the Ed Martin campaign.

Liberal Democrat Chris Koster must be confused about what job he's running for. In his overly-dramatic and egotistical TV ads, Koster repeatedly mentions his experience as Cass County Prosecutor. But Obama's Lawyer fails to mention that the role of Attorney General is not to be a prosecutor.

Former Attorneys General Jay Nixon and Jack Danforth had no experience as a prosecutor prior to serving as Attorney General, and St. Louis University Political Scientist Ken Warren disagrees with Koster's assessment of the office. Danforth, who has endorsed Martin, believes Martin will be a better administrator.

"I think when you elect an Attorney General, you’re not really voting for some positions on matters of public policy. You’re voting for a lawyer, a law office, and a way of putting a law office together," Danforth said. "I think this is what Ed offers. I think he’ll put together a law office that attracts very good people to it, and that is not so active in playing politics." (PoliticMO)

In a recent interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Ken Warren said:

“It is true what Martin is saying, It is basically an administrative job. The AG himself does not normally get involved in the act of prosecution.” (KWMU)

Republican Attorney General nominee Ed Martin is calling on Koster to set the record straight and stop deceiving the public.

“Chris Koster is lying to the public. The Attorney General is not a prosecutor. Go look at his official website – 'prosecuting' is not on there. He has departments for consumer protection, environmental litigation and the like, but no where does it mention anything about prosecution. He can pose for a picture holding a shotgun and pretend to be something else, but sooner or later the public will see through the blatant lies. Missourians deserve better from their Attorney General."

Furthermore, even while Obama's Lawyer Koster tries to claim his experience as a prosecutor makes him tough on crime, Missouri's problematic drug and crime issues are not improving under his term, as this fact check shows.

McCaskill cancels Joplin event following death of her mother

Sen. Claire McCaskill has canceled this morning's visit to Joplin Avenue Coffee, following the death Monday of her mother, Betty Anne McCaskill at age 84.

Attorney General Chris Koster and secretary of state candidate Jason Kander will be there at 9:30 a.m., according to an e-mail from Southwest Missouri Democrats.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Todd Akin: Our thoughts and prayers are with the McCaskill family after passing of Betty Anne McCaskill

(From Congressman Todd Akin)

Today the Akin Campaign released the following statement from Todd Akin.

"Lulli and I want to express our deepest condolences to Claire McCaskill and her family," said Todd Akin. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the whole McCaskill family right now."

Democratic party chairman: Saddened to hear of death of Betty Anne McCaskill

(From the Missouri Democratic Party)

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Mike Sanders released the following statement about the passing of Betty Anne McCaskill:
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Betty Anne McCaskill.  Throughout her life, Betty Anne was a constant voice and advocate for women and Missouri’s families.  Known and loved for her common-sense and hard work approach, Betty Anne’s support and strength for her family and Missourians will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Claire McCaskill and her family.”

Betty Anne McCaskill, mother of senator, dead at 84

(From the Claire McCaskill campaign)

Betty Anne Ward McCaskill, 84, passed away today from natural causes, surrounded by her family at her home in St. Louis.

Senator Claire McCaskill released the following statement:

"I am very sad to announce today the passing of my mother, Betty Anne McCaskill. For some time, mom's health has not been good, and our family takes comfort that she is now at rest. People all over the state have asked about her, and their prayers and concern have been greatly appreciated. Mom never met a stranger and lived life with enthusiasm that none of us could match. We were incredibly lucky to have a mother like her, a woman of great intellect and strength, who loved and nurtured, challenged and pushed, and was always there with wise counsel and great humor. While we know she's finally at peace, our family and her friends will all miss her so very much. Her death creates a hole in my life that will never be filled."


Betty Anne McCaskill, the first woman ever elected to the Columbia City Council, was a mainstay of Missouri Democratic politics throughout her life.

Inspired to get involved in politics after President Harry Truman delivered the commencement address at her University of Missouri graduation in 1950, Betty Anne was known for her own brand of plain-spoken, colorful, Midwestern sensibility, not unlike Truman's.

She and her husband, Bill McCaskill, worked for many candidates through the years, beginning with Senator Stuart Symington and every election year since. She was a friend to local town officials as well as Presidents, with the same campaign effort made for both.

As in her daughter Claire McCaskill's previous elections, in 2006 Betty Anne became a tireless fixture on the campaign trail as Claire successfully launched her first bid for the US Senate.

Betty Anne spoke on Claire's behalf at numerous events, where she famously peppered her remarks with self-effacing humor and phrases reminiscent of her Ozarks upbringing, such as "hornswoggled," "rickeydooed," and described the Medicare Part D "donut hole" as a "flimflam game."

In one well known campaign ad, Betty Anne touted Claire's integrity, hard work and guts—a series of traits that were clearly passed down from mother to daughter.

As was widely reported at the time, Betty Anne played a critical role in bolstering Claire's outreach throughout rural Missouri, a strategy that helped Claire garner enough votes to become the first woman from Missouri elected to the Senate in her own right.

Throughout her life, Betty Anne was a steadfast advocate for Missouri's women and families, working to ensure her daughters and granddaughters had the same opportunities as her son and grandsons.

Betty Anne's own career was wide-ranging and varied, but her life was marked by a sustained passion for encouraging women to get involved in politics and their communities.

Starting at an early age, Betty Anne and her husband, Bill McCaskill, urged their children to engage in political discussion over the dinner table, encouraging their daughters and son to speak up and hold strong opinions. At Halloween in 1960, Betty Anne taught her children to say "trick or treat and vote for JFK," as they went door-to-door asking for candy.

Among Betty Anne's first roles in public service was her appointment to the Missouri Commission on the Status of Women in 1970. The Commission was convened to evaluate the opportunities available to Missouri's women in the fields of government, business and education, and to make recommendations to remedy existing inequalities.

Betty Anne's appointment to the Commission was her first official post in her ongoing efforts to expand opportunities for women across Missouri in the fields of government and politics.

In 1971, Betty Anne became the first woman elected to the Columbia City Council. After her service, she remained actively involved in Democratic politics and the issues she cared about most, such as access to higher education. At one point, Betty Anne served on the Board and as President for the Trustees of her alma mater, William Woods University.

After moving from Columbia to Springfield, Betty Anne mounted an unsuccessful campaign for State Legislature in 1978 against Leroy Blunt, the father of Sen. Roy Blunt. In 1980, Betty Anne was appointed to be the Springfield Region Director of Census.

In 1989, Betty Anne received the Alumna Award of Distinction, the highest honor bestowed upon William Woods alumnae, where she also served as the president of the National Alumnae Association and was a member of the Board of Directors. In 1965, she received the Green Owl Award for outstanding service to the college.

At the age of 54, due to her husband's illness, Betty Anne showed her mettle once again when she embarked on a new, 20-year career as a financial consultant for Waddell and Reed in Kansas City.

In 2008, Betty Anne was honored by the Boone County Democratic Party with the Betty Anne McCaskill Glass Ceiling Scholarship, which was created to honor young women who are active in the Democratic Party.

Betty Anne Ward was born August 5, 1928, in La Crescenta, Calif. to Mildred Harlin Ward and Samuel Ward. As a child, Betty Anne's family moved back to Missouri, where she was raised in West Plains and then Lebanon, by her mother and her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth Harlin Conner and Tom Conner.

Betty Anne graduated high school in Lebanon, Mo., before attending William Woods University. Betty Anne transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

After graduation, Betty Anne married William Young (Bill) McCaskill on June 18, 1950. Betty Anne and Bill, who went on to serve as Missouri's State Insurance Commissioner, spent their married life in Houston, Lebanon, Columbia, Springfield and Kansas City, Mo before his death in 1993. She moved to St Louis to live with her daughter Claire and her husband Joseph Shepard in 2005.

As a member of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Betty Anne characteristically took an active role, singing in the choir and teaching Sunday School, just as her mother Mildred Ward had done by playing the church organ for more than 30 years.

She is survived by her children Anne Moroh (Don), Claire McCaskill (Joseph Shepard), Lisa Finn (Nick), and Will McCaskill; grandchildren Conner and Nolan Finn; Austin, Maddie, and Lily Esposito; and McKenzie McCaskill; numerous beloved step-grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and wonderful dear friends, including her caregiver Sarah Dalton.

A memorial service will be held to celebrate her life on Sunday, November 4 at 3 p.m. at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63108.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests a contribution to the Betty Anne McCaskill Scholarship Fund, 109 Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.

Todd Akin: Obama Administration abandoned those who died in Libya for political expedience

Kander ad rips Schoeller for absentee ballot plan

"When the Sirens Were Silent" tops Joplin Tornado books in Amazon rankings

Meteorologist Mike Smith's When the Sirens Were Silent tops the 11 Joplin Tornado books in the weekly Amazon rankings check.

The two books John Hacker and I have written about the tornado, 5:41 and Spirit of Hope, rank third and fifth, respectively.

1. When the Sirens Were Silent, Mike Smith, 59,658

2. Joplin 5:41, Kansas City Star, 75,355

3. 5:41, Randy Turner and John Hacker 280,214

4. 32 Minutes in May, Joplin Globe 282,198

5. Spirit of Hope, Randy Turner and John Hacker 740,882

6. Miracle of the Human Spirit, Mark Rohr 800,690

7. When the Storm Passes, Julie Jett, 1,225,586

8. Singing Over Me, Danielle Stammer, 1,271,499

9. 5/22: Stories of Survival, Stories of Faith, Scott Hettinger 1,436,403

10. Joplin Tornado House of Hope 1,847,435

11. EF5 at 5:35, Kathryn Sandlin 2,044,545

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shocker: Someone besides Sinquefield puts big bucks into Schoeller campaign

This past weekend has been a good one for secretary of state candidate Shane Schoeller, R-Willard.

Willard followed up a $100,000 contribution from Joplin businessman David Humphreys today with $200,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee, Washington, D. C., a group that promotes Republican state candidates nationwide.

Up until this weekend, the lion's share of Schoeller's financial support had come from retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has given him $400,000.

Nixon campaign: Help us fight Dave Spence's checkbook

Noting that businessman Dave Spence has written three checks totaling $2 million in the past couple of weeks, the Jay Nixon campaign is seeking some financial help to counter Spence's big bucks. The following letter was sent to supporters today.

$6 million.  $2 million in the last ten days alone.  That’s what we’re up against.
Yesterday, Dave Spence wrote his campaign another $1 million check, bringing the total amount our opponent has personally poured into the race to $6 million.
Combined with the millions he’s received from national Republicans, that means Spence will continue to saturate the airwaves between now and Election Day with more negative TV ads that distort Gov. Nixon’s record.  
Please help us fight back and show him that our state isn’t for sale.  Donate whatever you can today, $5, $50, $500 so that we have the resources to stand up to this onslaught.
While Gov. Nixon is running on his strong record of working across the aisle and balancing budgets to bring Missouri’s unemployment rate to a four-year low, Dave Spence has resorted to bankrolling a negative campaign of attacks and distortions. 
Please, help us fight back against this onslaught of dishonest attacks ads.  Your support today will make sure we can get our message out, no matter the financial odds.

Todd Akin and the magic condoms

Access to birth control has been an issue in campaigns across this country, but Congressman Todd Akin had a different take it on the topic during a Republican debate earlier this year.

Akin, whose campaign has been dogged by his claim that a woman can't become pregnant if she is legitimately raped (and scores of other strange comments he has made), told the tale of the miracle condoms. it is the latest Akin statement to be noted by his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill's campaign team. The news release is printed below.

At a Republican U.S. Senate debate in March, Todd Akin devolved into a wild tangent filled with sensational rhetoric saying,  “I can only think of one example in history where socialized condoms led to actual freedom.” Voters now know that Akin has established a pattern of using this kind of sensational rhetoric to rationalize his strange and extreme beliefs and distract voters from his views that are wrong for Missouri.

Akin Said He Only Knew of One Time “Socialized Condoms Led to Actual Freedom.” During a debate on KMOX in March 2012, Akin said “I can only think of one example in history where socialized condoms led to actual freedom. And it was on the Wall Street Journal, on the front page years ago… Chinese government was so excited about condoms. They had a lot of them. So, a guy inflated a whole a lot and made a life raft and floated his whole family to freedom with a life raft buoyed by condoms. Now there's an example of freedom from socialized condoms. It's the only one in the world.” [Akin at KMOX Debate, 3/16/12]

"Todd Akin's fear of socialized condom life rafts is almost as absurd as his commitment to getting rid of Social Security and Medicare," said Erik Dorey, McCaskill for Missouri spokesman. "While Todd Akin lays awake at night, asking himself whether "socialized condoms" bring freedom to the oppressed, Claire's focused on issues that actually matter, such as protecting Medicare and Social Security, federal student loans and the minimum wage.”

McCaskill campaign: Todd Akin one of 19 to vote against funding for Boys and Girls Clubs

(From the Claire McCaskill campaign)

In 2004, Todd Akin voted to raise his own pay just two weeks before he voted against funding for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Boys and Girls Clubs are one of America’s most ubiquitous youth organizations, which has a stated purpose of “inspiring and enabling all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.”

Akin Was One of 19 Members to Vote Against Funding for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.  On September 28, 2004, Akin voted against the Sensenbrenner, R-WI, motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill that would authorize $450 million in grants for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America over five years and increase the number of chapters nationwide to 5,000 by 2011.  The motion was agreed to 374-19.  [S 2363, R 185-19; D 189-0, 9/28/04]

“This vote is a disturbing look at the extent to which Todd Akin is willing to tell Missouri’s kids that they’re simply on their own,” said Erik Dorey, McCaskill for Missouri spokesman. “While Claire continues to focus on improving programs that we know work, Todd Akin has been voting in Congress to turn off the lights for Missouri children. Whether it’s the federal school lunch program or Boys and Girls Clubs, Todd Akin’s made it crystal clear that his own pay raises are more important than taking care of our most vulnerable kids.”

Akin Supported Congressional Pay Raise in 2004. Akin voted in favor of a motion to order the previous question (thus ending debate and possibility of amendment) on adoption of the rule to provide for House floor consideration of the bill that would appropriate $89.8 billion in fiscal 2005 for the departments of Treasury and Transportation and related agencies. If the motion had been defeated, an amendment to block the Congressional pay raise would have been allowed.  The motion passed 235-170.  [H Res 770,Vote #451, 9/14/04]

Claire McCaskill to be in Joplin Tuesday

Following the pattern that enabled her to defeat Jim Talent six years ago, Sen. Claire McCaskill will return to southwest Missouri in late October, something Democratic candidates have seldom done over the last two decades.

As part of her "Get Out the Vote" effort, McCaskill will meet supporters 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 30, at the Joplin Avenue Coffee Company.

Though Sen. McCaskill did not carry this area in 2006, she received enough support which, combined with her strength in urban areas, enabled her to narrowly defeat Talent.

Springfield News-Leader: Billy Long deserves a second term

Billy Long deserves a second term, the Springfield News-Leader said in its endorsement today:

Evans presented himself as a smart, sincere and well-meaning candidate — but with views well outside the mainstream of southwest Missouri. For instance, he talked of switching to a single-payer system for health care and of the need for major public investments in infrastructure, while going after cuts in a “ridiculously bloated defense budget.”
As we said two years ago, “Long seems to best voice the opinions of the average resident of southwest Missouri. We believe he is prepared to stand up for those opinions.”
Billy Long wants to make a difference, and he deserves another two years to prove he can.

I was unaware that investing in infrastructure and going after waste in the defense budget were so far outside "the mainstream of southwest Missouri."

I wonder if the News-Leader Editorial Board is simply pandering to the element that dominates its reader comments on its articles.

Springfield News-Leader: McCaskill's an easy choice

Not surprisingly, the Springfield News-Leader Editorial Board did not take long to make its decision on which U. S. Senate candidate to support. The newspaper endorsed the re-election of Claire McCaskill today:

While McCaskill has been a role model and advocate for women’s rights, Congressman Akin would be a throwback to attitudes that prevailed decades ago. And it’s not just for his ignorant remarks on women being able to avoid pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” The Republican candidate’s views on a host of other issues — Social Security, student loans, school lunches and even the Federal Reserve — put him well outside the mainstream.
For the good of Missouri, the choice is clear: Re-elect Claire McCaskill to the U.S. Senate.

Joplin Globe: Jay Nixon's the man

Considering everything Gov. Jay Nixon has done for the city of Joplin since the May 22, 2011, tornado, it would have been almost criminal for the Joplin Globe to endorse Dave Spence.

Thankfully, the newspaper's Editorial Board came out in favor of Nixon's re-election:

When hard oversight decisions had to be made in identifying the bodies of the dead, Nixon was there — in person — to take charge. We will never forget the faces of families who stood outside the temporary morgue, waiting for the bad news they knew was coming. Nixon brought people in to shorten that wait.
And in the storm’s aftermath, when Joplin had occasions to rejoice as businesses opened and homes were rebuilt, Nixon was with this town. In fact, nearly 18 months later, the Democrat continues to return to a part of the state where most of its residents regularly vote Republican.

The Editorial Board also offered other reasons for supporting the governor, but said it would support his opponent, Dave Spence, if he ever decided to run for the legislature.

Joplin Globe in endorsing Romney: Why should the rich have to pay one cent more?

The Joplin Globe Editorial Board endorsed Mitt Romney for president, reversing its position from four years ago.

While I am certain that the Globe board genuinely considers Romney to be the top candidate, I am just as certain that its members remember the firestorm that erupted four years ago when the newspaper endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain.

The newspaper came down firmly on the side of not raising taxes for those in the top two percent who have continued to prosper as the rest of the country has struggled:

Obama believes taxes should be raised on the wealthy, and he would then use the tax code to provide more incentives to certain industries, such as manufacturing, to get the economy moving. Again, targeted, short-term solutions.
It’s true that the nation’s wealthiest 2 percent — individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000 — can pay more, but why should they? We don’t think any American should have to pay 40 percent of his income in federal taxes — not to mention the good amount that’s also spent on local, state and federal taxes — regardless of what that person makes.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Podcast from Spirit of Hope: Tornado Teaches the True Meaning of School

This is a podcast reading of a chapter from Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado. The book can be purchased through the link on the right hand side of this page.

Paywall coming next month for Kansas City Star readers

I wrote about it in the July 27 Turner Report, and it is coming to pass in the near future- the Kansas City Star will join other McClatchy newspapers that have implemented paywalls preventing readers from having unlimited free access to their websites.

In a Thursday filing with the SEC, McClatchy said its program, called the Plus program, was introduced at five newspapers in September and was an immediate success. The filing was printed below with the portion abour the paywall italicized:

The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) today reported net income in the third quarter of 2012 of $5.1 million or 6 cents per share. In the third quarter of 2011 the company reported net income of $9.4 million or 11 cents per share.

Revenues in the third quarter of 2012 were $287.5 million, down 4.2% from the third quarter of 2011. Advertising revenues were $212.0 million, down 5.4% from 2011, and circulation revenues were $62.8 million, down 2.0%. Total digital advertising revenues grew 2.7% in the third quarter of 2012, with digital-only advertising revenues up 12.7% from the 2011 quarter. Digital advertising represented 22.9% of total advertising revenues in the third quarter of 2012 compared to 21.1% of total advertising revenues in the third quarter of 2011.

Results in the third quarter of 2012 included accelerated depreciation totaling $2.3 million ($1.4 million after-tax) primarily related to relocating Miami newspaper operations and severance and other restructuring charges totaling $3.9 million ($2.3 million after-tax). Income in the third quarter of 2012, excluding the net impact of these items, was $8.8 million compared to income in the third quarter of 2011 adjusted for similar items of $10.0 million. (Non-GAAP measurements are discussed below.)
Operating cash expenses, excluding charges associated with restructuring plans, declined $2.9 million, or 1.3%, from the 2011 quarter. Operating cash flow, a non-GAAP measure, was $67.1 million in the third quarter of 2012, down 12.8%.

First Nine Months Results:
Net income in the first nine months of 2012 was $29.9 million, or 35 cents per share. Net income in the first nine months of 2011 was $12.4 million, or 14 cents per diluted share.
Revenues in the first nine months of 2012 were down 4.7% to $875.1 million compared to $918.2 million in 2011. Advertising revenues in the 2012 period totaled $644.4 million, down 6.0%, and circulation revenues were $192.7 million, down 1.4%, compared to 2011.
Results in the first nine months of 2012 included the following items:

  • Accelerated depreciation totaling $6.5 million ($3.9 million after-tax) primarily related to relocating Miami newspaper operations.
  • Severance and other restructuring charges totaling $7.2 million ($4.3 million after-tax) related to continued restructuring of the company's operations.
  • A gain on the extinguishment of debt totaling $6.1 million ($3.8 million after-tax).
  • Reversal of non-cash interest expense totaling $7.8 million ($4.8 million after-tax) related to the release of tax reserves.
  • A favorable adjustment to net income totaling $7.0 million for tax settlements related to state tax positions previously taken.
Income in the first nine months of 2012 excluding the net impact of these items was $22.4 million compared to earnings in the first nine months of 2011 adjusted for similar items of $15.9 million. (Non-GAAP measurements are discussed below.)

Management's Comments on Third Quarter Results:
Commenting on McClatchy's third quarter results, Pat Talamantes, McClatchy's President and CEO, said, "Our third quarter results demonstrate that we're making progress in an uncertain economy. The advertising trend continued to move in the right direction in the third quarter: Ad revenues were down 6.8% in the first quarter of 2012, down 5.7% in the second quarter of 2012 and down 5.4% this quarter. We were particularly pleased to see continued growth in our digital advertising revenues and are excited about initiatives underway to pursue new revenue in both advertising and subscriptions.

"It's noteworthy that a growing percentage of our advertising revenues are now coming from sources outside of our traditional newspapers. Digital advertising and direct marketing together now make up over 36% of our advertising revenues.

"Advertising revenue from our digital initiatives continues to grow at a very healthy rate. Digital-only advertising revenue increased 12.7% in the quarter with automotive advertising from our products fueling the performance. Through the first nine months of 2012 our products have contributed nearly $23 million in digital advertising revenues - about a third of our total digital classified ad dollars. Our daily deals product, dealsaver®, continues its healthy growth with revenues up 84% in the quarter. Total digital advertising, which includes digital advertising both bundled with print and sold on a stand-alone basis, increased 2.7% compared to the 2011 quarter. Digital advertising now represents 22.9% of McClatchy's total advertising revenue compared to 21.1% in 2011. Our digital traffic also grew in the quarter with daily average local unique visitors to our websites and mobile content up 2.4%.
"In July, we launched impressLOCALTM , a suite of online products designed to offer local businesses a comprehensive digital marketing solution. impressLOCALTM provides affordable packages that include website customization, search engine marketing and optimization, social media presence and marketing services, as well as branding opportunities on the web through mobile and e-mail campaigns. It's now available at our newspapers in Fort Worth and Kansas City. While still early, our sales efforts have been positive and we plan to roll out impressLOCALTM to our other larger markets in early 2013 with our remaining markets to follow later in 2013 or early 2014.

"Direct marketing advertising, which now accounts for nearly 14% of our ad revenues compared to 11.4% two years ago, ended a string of nine consecutive quarters of growth with a decline of 2.5% in the third quarter. Although revenues declined modestly, the decline reflects, in part, the timing of some products and our culling of less successful products while keeping the more profitable ones that have good growth potential. For instance, revenues from our Sunday Select product, a package of preprinted advertisements delivered to non-subscribers upon request, grew 25.2% in the third quarter and were up 36.1% for the first nine months reaching nearly $10 million to date with deliveries to more than 625,000 households.

"Circulation revenues decreased in the quarter, down 2.0%. While circulation revenues and volumes declined in the third quarter, we are focused on developing strategies to generate additional subscription revenues and improve circulation volumes at our newspapers.

"In early September, five McClatchy newspapers – The Sacramento Bee, The Modesto Bee, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga., and the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. – introduced new subscription packages, known as our Plus program, for digital content that ended free, unlimited access to the newspapers' websites and certain mobile content. The Plus program includes subscriptions for both combined digital and print readers and digital-only readers. A metered paywall on each of the newspaper websites requires users to pay for content after accessing a limited number of pages or news articles for free each month. Existing home delivery subscribers are given free access to the digital content and rolled into the bundled print and digital Plus program when their subscription renews.

"We are excited about the early results. Thus far, only a small percentage of renewals have opted out of the Plus program, telling us our print readers value our content and high-quality journalism and are willing to pay extra for it in digital form. Similarly, we have added thousands of new digital-only subscribers to our paying customer base. We intend to expand this model to our other markets beginning next month. We believe the new subscription revenues will begin to make a more significant impact in the fourth quarter. In 2013, we believe the new Plus program could add more than $20 million depending on a number of factors, including how quickly we complete our company-wide rollout.

"Cash expenses, excluding restructuring costs, were down 1.3% in the quarter as compared to the third quarter of 2011. We continued to carefully balance expense management with strategically investing in our products and doing so enabled us to generate another quarter of healthy operating cash flow. For instance, our cash expenses declined even though we invested approximately $2.0 million in new revenue initiatives and enterprise-wide operating systems in the third quarter. All of our papers continue to publish daily, providing communities with needed news and information in whatever print or digital form they choose to access it. And every one of them does so profitably. Clearly high quality content delivered daily in multiple mediums continues to be a successful business.

"Our share of income from all equity investments was $11.7 million in the third quarter of 2012 and $27.1 million in the first nine months of the year. McClatchy's investments, particularly our digital investments, are consistently producing strong results which speak to the staying power of the underlying products. They are strategically important to our newspaper websites and we continue to work closely with these companies to maximize financial and operational performance.

"Looking forward, we will continue to focus on our strong and growing set of products and revenue initiatives, especially in digital and direct marketing. One thing we have learned from the 2011 fourth quarter holiday season and the spring holiday season this year is that advertisers increasingly bunch their spending around these major events. We are cautiously optimistic for another strong holiday season, but do not have sufficient visibility to provide specific guidance on advertising revenues for our fourth quarter.

"We will continue to carefully balance expense management with strategically investing in our products. We expect to continue to benefit from stability in newsprint pricing, recognizing that comparisons to 2011 get tougher even in a soft newsprint pricing environment. On balance, we expect cash expenses to be flat to down in the low-single-digit percent range in the fourth quarter of 2012."
Elaine Lintecum, McClatchy's CFO said, "We focused our excess cash flow for the third quarter on paying seasonally higher interest and tax payments. The debt balance at the third quarter remained at $1.564 billion and we finished the quarter with a cash balance of $15.7 million. Our nearest-term bond maturity in November 2014 is approximately $66 million – not an issue given our free cash flow. Our leverage ratio at the end of the third quarter as defined in our credit agreement was 4.71 times cash flow and our interest coverage was 2.19 times."