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					MISSOURI SENATE COMMUNICATIONS
       DAILY NEWS CLIPS
               Collected/Archived for Saturday-Monday, Dec. 17-19, 2011 - Page 1 of 93



Republicans oppose Jay Nixon's budget plan, call for
meeting
BY VIRGINIA YOUNG • vyoung@post-dispatch.com > 573-635-6178 | Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2011 12:05
am
JEFFERSON CITY • Republican lawmakers are sharply criticizing Gov. Jay Nixon's idea to ask five Missouri
universities to lend the state $107 million next year to help balance the budget.
But with no ready-made solutions at hand of their own, and with the state facing a potential shortfall next year
of around $750 million, Republicans — who control both houses of the Legislature — said they are ready to sit
down with the Democratic governor and come up with ideas for balancing the budget.
"Everybody knows we have a big problem, and I think people expect us to work together to solve the problem,"
said Rep. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, the House's budget chairman "Going out and lone-gunman on this thing is
not helping this situation."
Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said the governor didn't include the Legislature in his
talks with the universities, something that must change.
"If the governor wants to have a discussion, you've got to include all the parties," he said.
Nixon's proposal would ask the University of Missouri, Missouri State University, the University of Central
Missouri, Truman State University and Southeast Missouri State University to provide the state a total $107
million from their reserve funds. The University of Missouri would bear the largest portion of that total — around
$63 million, followed by Missouri State at $13 million. The remaining schools would provide roughly $10 million
each.
That money would help avoid or lessen cuts in the state's $850 million higher education budget.
Nixon envisions the universities would be paid back by the state over a seven-year period with money diverted
from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, or MOHELA.
To become a reality, the plan would have to win approval from the Legislature.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, told the Columbia Daily Tribune that he opposes participation in the
money transfers plan by Southeast Missouri State University, which is in his district.
"Exactly when did university presidents become Jay Nixon's payday loan officers?" he asked.
The ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, Sara Lampe of Springfield, said she has not yet been
briefed on the governor's proposal. But this time of year it is expected that the governor will float ideas for the
budget, she said.
"We still have time before we start working on the governor's budget proposals," Lampe said. "At this point in
the process, the governor is doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing, and I commend him for looking for
alternatives to just cutting everything."
Lampe said she would need more detail about the proposal to draw a conclusion about it but said at first blush it
sounds intriguing.
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"If we cut the universities' budgets, they will have to make a decision of whether they want to tap into their
reserve funds or start making their own cuts, including layoffs," she said. "If I understand the governor's idea
correctly, this would allow them to dip into their reserves with the help of the state to pay them back."
Schaefer and Silvey said they are working with the governor's staff to come up with a consensus revenue
estimate for next year. The budget will be built around that number, so the decision is key.
"One would expect some revenue growth, but we haven't made an announcement about that yet," said Linda
Luebbering, Nixon's budget director.
Others have said that growth of 2 percent to 3 percent would be an ambitious goal, and that part of that new
revenue would be absorbed by increased mandatory costs, such as rising Medicaid expenses.
In other words, such revenue growth won't be enough to dig the state out of its budget hole.
For the last three years, the state has been using one-time revenue — primarily federal stimulus funding — to
balance the budget. The one-time sources that are ending will create a $650 million shortfall next year.
On top of that, the federal government will lower its matching rate for Missouri's Medicaid program, a change
that will cost Missouri about $100 million next year.
Medicaid is the joint state-federal program that pays for health care for the poor. The federal matching rate is
recalculated annually and is based on a formula that takes into account each state's wealth, on a population
basis. Missouri's population is not growing as fast as some states, so the calculation spreads Missouri's wealth
over fewer people.
"Missouri has gotten — relative to other states — slightly wealthier on a per-person basis," Luebbering said. As a
result, instead of covering about 63 percent of the health care program's cost, the federal government will
shoulder about 61 percent of the tab.
Luebbering said the budget problems are getting harder to solve because they follow several years of deep
cutbacks. Some of the prior cuts helped make state government leaner and more efficient, she said. But as for
the future cuts, "if we had the money, we wouldn't recommend them."
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Nixon proposes tapping university reserves
Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon wants five of Missouri's largest universities to consider tapping their
reserves to help plug a hole in next year's state budget and avoid deeper cuts to the state's higher education
system.
Nixon's proposal would call for the universities to provide the state $106 million from their reserves. The state
would pay that money back to those specific universities in their operating budgets for the 2013 fiscal year, the
governor's budget director, Linda Luebbering, said Friday. Over the next several years, the state then would
replenish the university reserves with money diverted from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.
The net effect of the money transfers is that the universities would shoulder the burden of the state budget cuts
in the short-term but would be made whole in the long run. Luebbering described the money shifting as only an
idea, not a definite plan. Nixon, a Democrat, is expected to outline his official budget proposal to lawmakers in
mid-January.
Luebbering said significant cuts will be necessary for the state fiscal year that begins July 1, because revenue
growth is not expected to make up for the loss of about $750 million of one-time funding sources in the current
budget, including the last remnants of the federal stimulus programs.
"We're going to have another very challenging budget year in 2013," Luebbering said. She later added: "The
global economy has just taken longer to turn around than anyone would have thought a couple years ago, and
the resources have just not caught up yet."
Under the proposal discussed by Nixon's administration with university officials, the University of Missouri
system would be asked to take $62.3 from its reserves; Missouri State University would supply $13.7 million and
$10 million each would come from the reserves at the University of Central Missouri, Southeast Missouri State
University and Truman State University.
The total of $106 million was intended to match the amount of money the Missouri Higher Education Loan
Authority already owes to the state over the next several years for a college construction program enacted
during the tenure of former Gov. Matt Blunt, Luebbering said. Instead of going to buildings projects, the money
would be diverted to replenish university reserves. But the loan authority hasn't made its recent installment
payments on the construction program because of its own financial concerns and because Nixon's administration
and lawmakers have instead tapped MOHELA for tens of millions of dollars to help make up for funding cuts to
college scholarship programs.
State lawmakers have expressed concern both about the substance of Nixon's proposal and the fact that they
were not initially kept in the loop about it.
The general details of the proposal were first reported Thursday by the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, told the Tribune he opposes participation in the money transfers plan by
Southeast Missouri State University, which is in his district.
"Exactly when did university presidents become Jay Nixon's payday loan officers?" he asked
House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, called the plan ridiculous.
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"The governor is looking for this scheme that avoids making tough decisions on cuts," Silvey told the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch. "Rather than balance the state's budget, he wants to dream up new revenues sources, which
happen to be interest-free loans from our universities."
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has said the idea sounds like it may be "a
Bernie Madoff-type Ponzi scheme."
Schaefer, who was briefed on the plan Thursday by the governor's staff, said he is willing to see whether an
acceptable loan plan could be worked out. But he said many concerns would need to be addressed, including
whether using university reserve funds for the state's budget would hurt a university's bonding capacity and
wrongly divert money that came from private donations or student tuition.
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Colleges asked to tap reserves
Governor wants schools to loan $107 million to help cover budget gap.
Josh Nelson, Springfield News-Leader
Several Springfield-area lawmakers panned a proposal from Gov. Jay Nixon's office asking Missouri State
University and four other public schools to lend $107 million to help cover a shortfall in next year's budget.
Missouri State would be asked to kick in $13.7 million from its reserves to the state higher education budget for
the next fiscal year beginning July 1. The University of Missouri system would give up $62.3 million. Truman
State, Central Missouri and Southeast Missouri would all contribute a total of $30 million. The higher-education
budget covers the operating costs for Missouri's four-year public institutions and community colleges.
The money would be used to offset an expected double-digit cut to higher-education funding and would be used
in fiscal year 2013 to cover classroom expenses. Money taken from the reserves would be repaid through the
Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, known as MOHELA, over the next seven years, said Linda Luebbering,
the state budget director.
Scott Holste, a spokesman for Nixon, directed questions to Luebbering's office.
Luebbering said the plan is a stab at providing stable funding levels for higher education and cautioned it was
part of a preliminary budget. A final draft of that budget will be presented to lawmakers in January.
"It is just one concept put out there," Luebbering said.
The state is facing a shortfall of $750 million caused by the expiration of federal stimulus funding and a different
federal contribution to the state's Medicaid program, Luebbering said.
Local lawmakers voiced doubt over the plan and compared it to the types of financial schemes that precipitated
the banking collapse and recession.
"On its face, to me, it appears to be creative financing at its best and a shell game at its worst," said state Sen.
Bob Dixon, R-Springfield.
Dixon said he was concerned by the secrecy that surrounded the proposal. Several other lawmakers in the area
said they hadn't heard of the plan.
State Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, sits on the House Budget Committee. He said the plan only delays any
painful decisions the lawmakers and Nixon may have to make.
"This is more of a political move, because at the end of the day, you're making a cut. You just aren't doing it
now," Burlison said.
Lawmakers said they didn't like the idea of using loans from MOHELA to backfill the schools' reserves.
"I think that money needs to stay where it's at," said Rep. Lyle Rowland, R-Cedarcreek, a member of the House
Education Appropriations Committee.
Dixon also said he was worried that drawing down from the MOHELA account may risk its credit, because lenders
said the authority must keep its reserve accounts up. Former Gov. Matt Blunt used MOHELA to fund building
projects on campuses. That ended when Nixon came into office because of concerns over MOHELA's solvency.
Rep. Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, questions what has changed regarding those worries about MOHELA's funds.
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"What has changed in the bottom line?" Schoeller said.
Clif Smart, MSU's interim president, said he learned about the proposal at the end of last week. MSU's board of
governors has not discussed it.
"It's extremely premature," Smart said.
With large higher-education cuts looming, Smart said university officials are open to discussion.
MSU is planning on a reduction of up to 5 percent, or $3.6 million, in its fiscal 2013 budget. A double-digit cut
would make it necessary for the school to tap its reserves, Smart said.
Nixon's proposal would keep funding stable, Smart said.
"We will get the money back, but all is predicated on the idea that in 2014 we will recover to the point there will
be increase rather than decrease (in revenue)," he said.
MSU has a reserve of about $59 million, including nearly $30 million in the central reserve fund. That fund grew
by more than $3 million in 2010-11.
"We've done an outstanding job in saving," Smart said at a regular board of governors meeting Friday. "It may
shrink when the rainy day is here."
Hal Higdon, chancellor of Ozarks Technical Community College, said it is too early to tell what the discussion
regarding funding cuts will yield. He added that lawmakers will have to weigh in on the matter also.
"The bottom line, we hear all types of cuts in December. It never turns out to be the same," Higdon said. "Don't
panic until we are further into the legislative session."
Higdon added that he has heard reports of up to an 18 percent cut.
"It won't shock me if it's 10 percent," Higdon said.
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Nixon wants a loan
by Megan Wise, KTVO/Kirksville
KIRKSVILLE -- Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is reaching to Missouri Universities for help.
Nixon has asked five Universities in Missouri to come up with a loan to the state totaling 100 million dollars. The
first round of figures are as follows: Nixon would like the University of Missouri to contribute 63 million dollars.
Missouri State University would contribute 13 million dollars. The University of Central Missouri, Southeast
Missouri State University and Truman State University would contribute roughly 10 million dollars each all in an
effort to help the state's budget for next year.
If this preliminary idea were to pass, the 10 million dollars Truman State would have to contribute, would come
from their reserve funds. Each University keeps a reserve in case of emergency.
Truman State University President Troy Paino said, "I think what the Governor's office is trying to do is to figure
out how to make up for the budget shortfall that they are anticipating for next year, without decimating higher
education and without making higher education unaffordable for students."
Paino believes more ideas will be brought to the table within the coming weeks. He believes that this is part of
the Governor's attempt to keep tuition as low as possible.
There is also the concern over student debt and the cost of getting a college degree. In addition to the loan
proposal, the state is concerned about the budget for financial aid programs including: A Plus, Access Missouri
and Bright Flight grants. Nixon wants to cut state funding for scholarships in half. If this proposal were to pass all
Universities would contribute half of the amount that students are getting in the financial aid programs. Truman
State University students receive 3.6 million dollars in Access Missouri and Bright Flight grants, so that would
mean Truman State would have to return 1.8 million dollars to help fund those student grants.
This proposal is still preliminary, and the first of many ideas. The Universities will have a better idea about what
the Governor proposes as a solution in January, when he submits his budget to the General Assembly.
Paino said, "I've already asked that we try to be as conservative as we possibly can with our spending pattern to
try to hold back as much money, so we can absorb whatever cut we have to endure."
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Lawmakers to focus on children's welfare in upcoming
session
However, lawmakers say budget constraints could affect many goals.
Josh Nelson, Springfield News-Leader
Many southwest Missouri lawmakers do not have to go far to learn about the state's struggles to improve child
welfare.
The lawmakers can look to their own personal experiences or stories told by their constituents. The tales recount
child deaths due to abusive adults and difficulties navigating the bureaucracy of foster care or family services.
And the lawmakers say constituents speak about their desires to keep improving the condition of children in the
state.
"There's just been too many deaths to turn a blind eye to it," said House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-
Willard.
As the News-Leader continues to shine a light on critical children's issues in the Springfield area, lawmakers also
say they will focus on those concerns during the upcoming session of the General Assembly, starting on Jan. 4.
Local children's advocates believe area legislators are positioned to make an impact on the dialogue.
The issues are broad in scope and include changing public school funding, tax credits for programs for low-
income families and crisis programs and new laws aimed at preventing abuse or neglect. Lawmakers also say
they face another year of tight budgets, which could affect many of their goals.
"A lot of the constraints are financial," said Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield.
Barbara Brown-Johnson, the executive director of the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield, believes southwest
Missouri legislators can affect the discussion over child welfare through their appointments to high-profile
committees, such as the budget or children and families committees.
"I'm seeing more and more credibility being given to legislators from this area," Brown-Johnson said. "... It wasn't
that way even 10 years ago."
Resources
According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, the number of calls to the child abuse and neglect
hotline increased by 9 percent in 2010, the latest full year of statistics available. And while there has been a surge
in calls, the overall number of substantiated incidents, where evidence of abuse or neglect is found, is down from
four years ago.
Lawmakers like Dixon say there's been some success made in relation to children's welfare, like the Child Witness
Protection Act. The law provides a set of rules to help minors testifying in court. Dixon wants to re-establish a tax
credit program for crisis programs like Isabel's House and the Child Advocacy Center. The organizations are given
unclaimed tax credits, which can then be used to leverage donations, he said.
Rep. Thomas Long, R-Springfield, is backing similar tax credits for food pantries and other organizations in the
House. But even if all the credits are approved, the new revenue raised for programs would be only $7 million,
Long said.
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More substantial funding measures would be needed to help the family and social services programs make up for
several years of budget cuts.
"I think that some of the budget cuts of the last few years have been Draconian when it comes to children's
issues," Brown-Johnson said.
Long, who has been a foster parent, said a good move may be to create a clearinghouse of information through
the Department of Social Services for foster families, advocacy groups and state agencies. The information hub
would ease the stress of trying to navigate the various bureaucracies to get service, a process with which Long
said he is very familiar.
"It took me two days to find out there are only two orthodontists in the state of Missouri that take Medicaid for
braces," he said.
Safety
While awareness is key to reducing child abuse and neglect, several high-profile deaths also had an impact. A
proposal sponsored by Schoeller was inspired by one of those tragedies.
In 2005, an 18-month-old boy from Willard named Gavin Jordan died at the hands of his mother's boyfriend. The
bill changes how caseworkers investigate claims of abuse. Schoeller's bill has had strong support in both
chambers, but never managed to make it to the governor's desk. Schoeller said this is the fifth year he'll push for
the bill.
Rep. Melissa Leach, R-Springfield, sits on the House Children and Families Standing Committee. She said she
believes lawmakers and agencies should look at ways to educate the public instead of passing new laws.
Education might be more effective in relaying safety information, she said.
Dixon said he understands some of the push back on issues related to children and families. In southwest
Missouri, questions arose over how state social workers handled child abuse cases. There have also been worries
about state social service agencies overreaching.
"With some people there's a real reservation to do too much without really thinking it all the way through,"
Dixon said.
Dixon encountered that when he was working on the children's witness protection act, which took three years to
pass. Eventually, he got it done with support from outside the legislature.
School fight
A battle looms over rewriting the foundational formula, which provides basic funding for elementary and
secondary schools. Lawmakers around the state are worried about funding disparities between school districts in
the state. It's a tough task to strike an equilibrium between large, urban districts and small, rural ones, said Rep.
Charlie Denison, R-Springfield.
"It's almost impossible to be 100 percent fair and I don't care how hard you try," Denison said.
Citing the tight budget and economic situation of the state, Springfield school officials are asking lawmakers to
freeze funding this year instead of trying to write a new formula.
Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, said she worries schools could end up taking a bigger hit this year if the formula
is reopened, because there may be less money available to dedicate to education.
"We're going to be lucky if we do that football thing, hold the line," Lampe said.
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Lawmakers will also likely address other concerns like restoring funding for Parents As Teachers, an early
childhood program that had $2 million cut from its budget, expanding funding for other early childhood
programs and a variety of proposals regarding school choice or open enrollment.
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Study finds fault with Missouri legislature term limits
Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY -- The Missouri legislature has returned to the 1920s. It's a flash to the past that is due largely to
term limits.
A recent report by a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that the average tenure of state
House and Senate members in the current era of term limits is similar to that of lawmakers who served in 1920s,
when state government was much smaller and lawmakers weren't limited in how many times they could seek re-
election.
But the historical twist is not a good thing, concludes David Valentine, associate director of public service at the
university's Truman School of Public Affairs.
Valentine equates legislative tenure with knowledge, meaning today's lawmakers are less informed about the
intricate details of state government despite the fact that it is much more complex than it was during the Roaring
Twenties.
He concludes that term limits have negatively affected the ability of lawmakers to tackle tough policy decisions,
increased their propensity to view their current office as a steppingstone and weakened the power of the
General Assembly, among other things.
Term limits have "elevated politics and depressed the value of subject matter knowledge," Valentine said. He
added: "I think the results are we do not solve our problems."
The public need look no further than this fall for anecdotal evidence of Valentine's assertion.
Though House and Senate leaders had claimed to have an agreement on an overhaul of Missouri's business
incentives and tax breaks, the proposal ultimately floundered and failed to win passage during a special
legislative session.
The primary reason is that the House and Senate couldn't agree on the specifics and refused to keep negotiating.
Valentine notes that some lawmakers felt uncomfortable trying to sift through the complex details of the
proposal in a compressed time span. He says the animosity between House and Senate leaders also was
indicative of a term limits era in which lawmakers lack the trust and familiarity that develops among long-time
colleagues.
Missouri is one of 15 states with legislative term limits.
Voters in 1992 approved caps of about eight years each in the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate.
The clock started ticking with the 1994 elections, meaning it wasn't until 2002 that most veteran House members
and some senators were barred from seeking re-election. The deadline hit in 2004 for the remaining senators.
That means Missouri has now cycled through an entire class of term-limited lawmakers -- as those elected in
2002 or 2004 have either used up their allotted time or are entering their final year in their chambers.
According to Valentine's research, the average tenure for a senator in 2011 was 2.7 years, which was several
times shorter than the nine-year average that existed in 2001 before term limits forced out longtime lawmakers.
The average length of service for a House member in 2011 was two years -- less than half the 5.4-year average
that existed in 2001.
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Those figures were comparable to the average length of service for lawmakers during the period of 1921 to 1931.
As Valentine notes, the state budgets in the 1920s were but a fraction of today's $23 billion budget, and the state
at that time had little responsibility for infrastructure, almost no role in social service programs and left economic
development entirely to the private sector.
Today, "our society is more complex, our issues are more complex and our government is more complex," said
Valentine, who worked in the Senate research office from 1977 until 2001. "You just can't come in off the street
and become an effective legislator -- and you could in the 19th century."
One of the chief advocates for Missouri's term limits contends Valentine's assessment is wrong, because his
underlying assumption is flawed.
To equate tenure with knowledge is an insult to the intelligence of many people who win election, said Greg
Upchurch, a St. Louis attorney who was chairman of the Missouri Term Limits group that backed the 1992
initiative.
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Mo. initiative seeks to increase renewable energy
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A newly proposed Missouri ballot initiative seeks to increase the amount of
renewable energy used in Missouri.
The proposal would bump up the renewable energy standards approved by voters in 2008 and also would give
new power to the state's official consumer advocate to make sure the standards are implemented.
The 2008 measure required investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy sources for 15 percent of their
power by 2021. The initiative targeted for the 2012 ballot would increase that to 25 percent by 2026.
A Jefferson City lawmaker says Secretary of State Robin Carnahan should not write the summary for the proposal
because her younger brother is a wind energy investor. Carnahan's office says her ballot summaries have always
been fair.
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Jagged Maps Slice Up Old Alliances
In Redistricting, Democrats Try to Spread Out Black Votes; Black Leaders Try to Concentrate Them
By NAFTALI BENDAVID, Wall Street Journal
Democratic Party officials in key states are fighting with leaders of one of their most dependable constituencies—
African-American voters—as each tries to gain advantage from the redrawing of House district lines.
In some of the disputes, black leaders find themselves allied with Republicans, a striking subplot to the once-a-
decade redistricting process.
In Maryland, black voters are suing over a Democratic redistricting map they say dilutes African-American power.
Black congressmen in Illinois said the state's Democratic-drawn map might violate the Voting Rights Act, the 1965
landmark civil-rights law that aims to protect minority representation.
In Missouri, African-American legislators joined Republicans to pass a pro-GOP map that protects two black
congressional seats, infuriating other Democrats. In Ohio, Republicans courted black legislators, with some
success, as they pushed their plan into law.
This tension comes down to hard-edged politics. Democrats want to distribute minority voters among various
districts to elect as many Democrats as possible. Black leaders often want to concentrate those voters so they are
likelier to elect African-Americans.
Similar conflicts have erupted for years, but the tensions are especially pronounced this year, in part because
Democrats in many parts of the country are drawing a larger share of their vote from minority communities. If
minority voters are concentrated in a few House districts, Democrats worry, they will find it harder than ever to
win in non-minority districts.
That is leading some Democrats to call for the once-unthinkable: a broad reinterpretation of the Voting Rights
Act, which forbids diluting minority voting power. The act has put many black Democrats in office, but it's
becoming clear that it could also be reducing the number of Democrats overall.
Richard Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said the act made sense when few
Southern whites would vote for a black candidate, but was "a remedial measure, like a cast. If a cast is on too
long, the leg atrophies. Now, the legislation is atrophying."
Forty-two African-American Democrats serve in the House, more than a fifth of all House Democrats. That's a
much higher proportion than in the last Congress. Democrats lost 63 seats largely held by white lawmakers in
2010, while black representatives held on to their seats—a stark illustration of blacks' importance to the party.
Republican leaders say the maps they support simply follow the law and uphold minority rights.
"This is not a Republican or Democrat issue," said David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican
Party. "This is a voting rights issue."
To be sure, black and white Democratic officials remain allied in most redistricting battles. But the cross-currents
are producing tensions.
The biggest fight may be in Missouri, where the Republican legislature recently drew a map with six GOP-leaning
seats and two Democratic districts with large numbers of black voters. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon promptly
vetoed it, but the Missouri legislature overrode the veto, with four African-American legislators joining 105
Republicans to provide the exact number of votes needed.
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Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, one of the four, said in an interview it was crucial to her to preserve a historically black St.
Louis district. "I'm a very loyal Democrat," she said. "I'll give the Democratic Party 90% of me. But I want to have
10% for myself."
Ms. Nasheed immediately faced the wrath of fellow Democrats, who met after the vote and threatened to
censure the dissenters or strip them of committee assignments, though they didn't follow through.
Rep. Russ Carnahan (D., Mo.), whose district will be carved up by the Republican map, angrily confronted two
black colleagues in Washington, Reps. William Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver, because he felt they had not stood
up for him, according to people familiar with the dispute. He even aimed an expletive at Mr. Clay on the House
floor, one person said.
Mr. Carnahan declined to comment. Mr. Cleaver said in an interview that the map was the best Democrats were
going to get from the GOP-dominated state legislature.
"My district was not drawn out of Cleaver love by the Republicans," he said. "It was drawn to minimize
Democratic impact in Republican districts, so of course we are concerned about packing. However, this is a
political process."
The dispute in Maryland is contentious, too. The state's dominant Democrats drew a map designed to oust
Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, partly by siphoning black voters from the districts of African-American
Democratic Reps. Donna Edwards and Elijah Cummings. State Sen. C. Anthony Muse, an African-American
Democrat, sharply criticized that approach.
"The goal of the Democratic Party is to strengthen the Democratic voice in Congress," he said in an interview.
"That is a noble goal, but not if it's done in a way that snuffs out the voices of the people."
A Maryland group called the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee, which defends African-American
interests in redistricting, is backing a lawsuit against the Democratic plan. In an unusual alliance, the Maryland
GOP supports the lawsuit, and the Legacy Foundation, a conservative group, is helping fund it.
Matthew Verghese, spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party, said the new map didn't significantly weaken
African-American districts.
Illinois's redistricting is expected to be even better for Democrats than Maryland's, giving the party three or more
additional House seats. But the state's three African-American House members asked whether the map violated
the Voting Rights Act by not creating a new Hispanic-dominated seat to reflect the growth of that group in the
state. The lawmakers worried that weakening the act could hurt all minorities. They didn't join a GOP lawsuit
against the Democratic plan, but, unlike other Democratic leaders, they declined to provide money for
Democrats to fight the lawsuit. A federal court Thursday upheld the Democrats' map.
"Minorities should be allowed to represent themselves in state legislative bodies and in Congress, which means
that congressional districts must be drawn in a way that allows equal opportunity for minorities to get elected,"
said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., one of the three black officials.
Illinois Democratic spokesman Steve Brown said the map doesn't violate the act. "You always respect the
thoughts of members of Congress," he said. "But at the same time, it is the belief of those who developed the
map, and the governor who signed it into law, that it does comply."
As states grapple with redistricting and the Voting Rights Act, the views of leaders on all sides are rarely
monolithic or predictable.
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Rep. Mel Watt (D., N.C.), an African-American, is among those complaining that Republicans are putting too
many black voters into his own district, meaning none of them can influence adjoining districts.
"It represents a disappointing effort by the Republicans to dilute and minimize the political influence of African-
American voters in the Piedmont," Mr. Watt said.
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Ameren proposes new shoreline plan for Lake of the
Ozarks
Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The controversy over property rights at Lake of the Ozarks may soon draw to an end.
On Friday, Ameren Missouri, which operates the Bagnell Dam at the lake, released a revised shoreline
management plan. The plan would shrink the hydroelectric dam’s reservoir easement zone to an elevation of 662
feet above sea level in most locations along the lake.
Shoreline Manager Jeff Green says this plan removes most of the lakeshore properties that were recently
discovered within the dam’s current buffer zone – built improperly over the course of decades. This new plan
would completely eliminate the fear that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could forcibly evict
homeowners.
Green says Ameren will formally submit the plan to the commission after a period of public comment.
“FERC’s decisions are FERC’s decisions, so I mean, we’re hopeful that they look favorably upon our application
and approve it, but certainly, that’s a decision that they have to make,” he said.
Facing stiff public pressure, Ameren’s announcement comes five months ahead of a scheduled deadline. Missouri
lawmakers, who have made great political hay out of vowing constant prodding to see that the issue is resolved
quickly, greeted the company’s announcement eagerly.
“As I’ve repeatedly said in my conversations with Ameren and FERC, the people who call the Lake their home
deserve a resolution on this issue immediately,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, the author of a recently introduced piece of
legislation that would force FERC to take private property rights into consideration when making shoreline
management plans.
Congresswoman Vicki Hartzler, who represents the Lake area, also praised, Ameren’s announcement and
encouraged all residents to take part in Ameren’s public comment period.
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Occupy KC hopes police will waive cost of protest
When Occupy KC asks police to waive fee for protest march, Mayor James reminds organizer that the city is
working on a shoestring budget, too.
By CHRISTINE VENDEL
The Kansas City Star
Protesters from the Occupy Kansas City movement want to march on downtown streets Dec. 30.
But they don’t have the $4,100 fee to pay police officers to shut down traffic near Ninth and Main streets to
ensure their safety. So an attorney representing the group asked the Board of Police Commissioners on Friday for
an indigency waiver, prompting this discussion:
Whose budget is tighter: The movement’s or the city’s?
Occupy organizer Michael Enriquez said there shouldn’t be a financial barrier to exercise First Amendment rights,
but board officials said the actual issue was covering the cost.
Mayor Sly James, a member of the police board, asked Enriquez if the group would be willing to pay a portion of
the fee.
Enriquez said the group had collected $1,000 in donations, but they couldn’t pay most or all of it to police
because they needed it for other operating costs.
“We’re operating on a shoestring budget,” he said, prompting James to reply: “I understand. So do we.”
James said the city couldn’t afford the cost either.
Just because the city’s budget is bigger than the Occupy movement’s budget, James said, “it doesn’t mean
there’s any more wiggle room.”
Board president Pat McInerney said he needed to get more information from police commanders before they
decided whether to grant the request for the waiver.
Board members asked Occupy Kansas City’s attorney, Gina Chiala, whether protesters could march on the
sidewalks to avoid the need for extra officers.
Chiala said the protesters were dedicated to marching in the streets because “it sends a more powerful
message.”
The march, called “The death of the social safety net,” would involve about 100 people and would be a symbolic
funeral to bring attention to the group’s issues, Chiala said.
Members of the movement have been peacefully encamped for months in the city’s park south of the Liberty
Memorial. Police officials and James said they have appreciated the good relationship they’ve maintained with
the group so far.
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Housing agency upholds wage standards for Joplin
ALAN SCHER ZAGIER
Associated Press


COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- A state housing agency rejected Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's proposal Friday to suspend new
federal wage standards for Joplin-area tornado recovery projects aimed at low-income residents.
The Missouri Housing Development Commission agreed Friday to continue paying the prevailing federal wage to
builders after learning a change could delay by at least six months construction projects already in line for state
tax credits and low-interest loans. The move failed without a vote when no other commissioners agreed to
second the motion from Kinder, who participated by telephone.
The housing agency voted last year to adopt the federal pay standard for residential projects receiving state
subsidies. But that was before the prevailing wage rose substantially in September - in some cases by nearly 300
percent - in the first adjustment to the standard in decades.
"It was a timing thing," said commission chairman Jeffrey Bay, a Kansas City lawyer. "If we move to amend the
(recovery plan), we have to start over. ... We need construction to start in Joplin, not wait another year."
The Sept. 30 revision of the federal wage rules boosted the prevailing wage for a carpenter in the Joplin area
from $7.98 an hour to $21.47 an hour, plus $12.65 in benefits. The federal prevailing wage for a roofer in the
Joplin area rose from $7.25 an hour to $21.30 an hour plus $8.08 in benefits.
Kinder, who is also a commission member, said such hikes would boost the cost of an $8.5 million project in
Joplin by nearly $2 million. The price of $125,000 single-family home would increase to $147,000 if built with
MDHC aid, the lieutenant governor said. He shared a letter of support from the eight state lawmakers whose
Joplin area districts cover tornado-damaged areas.
"None of us, at the time we voted on this last year, anticipated the historic devastation from natural disasters we
had here in Missouri," said Kinder. "Our broad new requirement is having a negative effect on the rebuilding of
Joplin."
The commission has committed about $100 million in tax credits and loans over the coming decade to spark the
construction of low-to-moderate income rental units and single-family, owner-occupied homes in the Joplin area,
where a May 22 tornado killed 161 people and destroyed more thousands of residences. Later Friday, the panel
endorsed $4.5 million in state tax credits for six Joplin projects that would add 340 affordable housing units in
the city.
A city housing study after the deadly tornado found that Joplin needs 1,400 rental housing units, of which 560
would be classified as affordable
The housing panel did not hear public comments Friday, but several representatives of building trade unions who
attended the meeting hailed its decision to proceed as planned.
"Joplin doesn't need a wage cut at this point and time," said Dave Wilson, a union organizer with the Carpenters'
District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity, which covers Missouri, Kansas and southern Illinois. "This was a
drastic increase in wages because a wage survey hadn't been done since 1980, and the wage rates hadn't been
updated since 1990. It was long overdue."
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Wilson said that the higher wage rate attracts "much more qualified candidates who can produce a higher level
of output."
"He was mistaken on the impact of prevailing wage," Wilson said, referring to Kinder. "To say it's going to result
in 20 to 30 percent fewer homes is a fantasy, plain and simple."
The housing commission decided in August to give Joplin $90 million of the $250 million in state and federal tax
credits expected to be awarded under its primary incentive program next year. Although the actual tax credits
are spread out over a 10-year period, developers typically generate cash upfront by selling their tax-credit
vouchers on a discounted basis.
The commission also set aside $10 million for loans to developers of single-family homes that can be sold to
families with incomes of up to about $84,000 annually.
The Joplin rebuilding effort received another boost Friday when the U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed to
include the city in a low-interest loan program for small rural communities.
The USDA waived the population requirement for Joplin, which has approximately 50,000 residents.
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MHDC approves Joplin projects
By Debby Woodin, Joplin Globe
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Eight projects that will provide 340 houses, duplexes and apartments in Joplin and Webb City
were approved Friday to receive state tax credits.
The Missouri Housing Development Commission, meeting in Columbia, accepted staff recommendations and
voted unanimously to award about $4.5 million in federal and $4.3 million in state tax credits.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had arranged for the commission to set aside $122 million overall for rebuilding about
3,400 units lost in the May 22 tornado. Seven of the projects are in Joplin, six in the tornado zone. One of them
approved is in Webb City.
Those properties built will be affected, though, by a recent increase in prevailing wage. A motion by commission
member Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to waive prevailing wage for the Joplin projects and in other areas stricken by a
natural disaster died for lack of a second.
City Manager Mark Rohr had expressed concern about the affect a recent rise in the wage rates would have,
citing one example of a masonry laborer hourly rate going from $7.50 to $35.
Prevailing wage regulations are enforced by the Missouri Department of Labor only for commercial or
government projects. But in August, the MHDC adopted a new requirement that the wage rates would apply to
residential construction for which it grants tax credits, Kinder said.
Kinder, in asking for the waiver, told the commission that “this is not an attack on prevailing wage broadly
considered or broadly applied.” The increased cost it would add to construction could result in elevated sales
prices or less quality construction, he said.
He said a house that would have sold for $125,000 would likely have to be sold for $147,000. One developer told
officials that tornado-resistant construction features would have to be abandoned to reduce the building cost,
Kinder said. Another said that more apartments and duplexes would be built rather than single-family houses.
Commissioner Brian May asked staff what would happen if Kinder’s motion were adopted.
Staff member Kip Stetzer said that under the tax code, the commission’s allocation plan that outlines its
regulations would have to be changed.
Underwriter Bill Ulm said that would involve not only changing the commission’s regulations, but throwing out all
the proposals, taking new ones, holding a new public hearing, conducting new staff research and holding another
commission meeting. The steps would take another six months, Ulm said.
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Missouri housing agency upholds prevailing federal
wage in Joplin
BY JASON HANCOCK • jhancock@post-dispatch.com > 573-635-6178 | Posted: Friday, December 16, 2011
11:15 am
UPDATED at 11:30 a.m. with additional detail
COLUMBIA, Mo. • Missouri's housing agency on Friday refused to suspend prevailing wage standards for projects
in Joplin that receive state tax credits.
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican who sits on the Missouri Housing Development Commission, asked the board
to waive the requirements. No other member volunteered to second Kinder's motion, and it died without a vote.
Kinder said the requirements -- which mandate that workers on state-subsidized projects be paid the prevailing
federal wage -- would result in fewer housing units being built in the tornado-ravaged community, as well as
lower quality projects.
The commission voted unanimously last year to mandate prevailing wage in the projects it approves, a vote
Kinder supported. But since that time, one of the deadliest tornadoes in history struck Joplin, he said. Combined
with the decision in September by the U.S. Department of Labor to update its prevailing wage, the costs to
construct residential housing in Joplin have skyrocketed, Kinder said.
The prevailing wage for a carpenter in Joplin increased from $7.98 an hour to $21.47 an hour after the federal
government's change.
"None of us, when we voted on this change last year to depart from decades of practice by the commission,
anticipated the historic destruction by natural disaster, or the updates to the prevailing wage rate by the U.S.
Department of Labor," Kinder said.
To bolster his case, Kinder presented a letter advocating for the suspension of prevailing wage signed by seven
state representatives and a state senator from the Joplin area.
The commission's staff pointed out that changing the prevailing wage requirement would mean amending the
commission's quality application plan adopted in August. That would require the plan to be put out again for
public hearings, and also for developers interested in attaining construction credits from the state to re-apply for
those funds.
All told, if the prevailing wage measure passed, the process would be delayed at least until June of 2012, the staff
said.
Kinder's motion died, and later in the meeting the commission approved millions in state tax credits for housing
units in Joplin and around the state.
Leaders of the Carpenters' District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity and the Eastern Missouri Laborers'
District Council praised the commission's decision to leave the wage standard in place.
"Rebuilding Joplin is more than a structural investment," said Gary Elliott, of the Eastern Missouri Laborers'
District Council, in a statement. "I applaud the MHDC's decision to maintain prevailing wage requirements for
affordable housing projects in Missouri. Strong wages create strong communities, especially in a place like Joplin
that has already been through so much."
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The issue will likely come up again when lawmakers return to Jefferson City for the 2012 legislative session next
month. Senate President Pro Tem Robert Mayer, R-Dexter, has already filed a bill that would suspend prevailing
wage requirements in areas that have been declared a disaster by the governor.
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Prevailing wage rates will be paid in Joplin rebuild …
for now
Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Contractors rebuilding low income housing units in Joplin will be required to pay federal
prevailing wage rates.
The issue of construction worker pay has been a concern of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder who sought to have the
Missouri Housing Development Commission grant an exception to the prevailing wage rule during a meeting
Friday in Columbia. Kinder’s motion died without a second.
Kinder and other community leaders in and around Joplin opposed new housing commission rules that require
workers on state-subsidized projects to be paid the federal prevailing wage used on federally funded public
works projects. Kinder argues that provision will slow reconstruction work.
Kinder said MHDC’s wage requirements on residential projects will drive up construction costs in Joplin, resulting
in fewer homes being built and reducing the quality of construction.
“I am extremely disappointed at the action by the MHDC and the deception by the Nixon administration that this
change would somehow delay these projects,” Kinder said.
Kinder’s motion was opposed by building trade unions.
“I applaud the MHDC’s decision to maintain prevailing wage requirements for affordable housing projects in
Missouri,” said Gary Elliott of the Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council in a prepared statement after the
commission decision. “Strong wages create strong communities, especially in a place like Joplin that has already
been through so much.”
But this may not be the end of the prevailing wage fight. Earlier this month, the leader of the Missouri Senate,
Robert Mayer, R-Dexter, prefiled a piece of legislation that would suspend prevailing wage requirements in state
disaster areas for five years.
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States unlikely to heed NTSB call for cell ban
By JIM SALTER
Associated Press


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Lawmakers in Missouri had the chance, after two buses packed with high school band members
slammed into a freeway wreck caused by a teenager who was sending a flurry of text messages, to impose
tougher limits on driver cell phone use. It got filibustered.
Federal transportation officials are citing that accident in pushing for states to enact an all-out ban on cell phone
use by drivers, restricting the use even of hands-free devices. But spurring lawmakers to take up the cause may
be difficult. Skeptical lawmakers give the proposal little chance at succeeding in state capitols around the
country, and many aren't planning on introducing ban bills.
The reason? While acknowledging growing safety concerns, lawmakers are wary of inconveniencing commuters
and say a complete ban would be one of the deepest government intrusions yet into the daily lives of motorists
who have woven their phones tightly into their daily routines. Others are worried a ban would be unenforceable.
And the cell phone legislation in most states already took years to get approved.
"It's a popular thing to pass another law," said Bill Stouffer, a Missouri Republican and chairman of the state's
Senate Transportation Committee. "But anything that takes your eyes off the road is just as deadly as texting or
talking on the cell phone. Where does it end? Why not ban map reading or eating while driving?"
The centerpiece of the NTSB's proposal was an August 2010 wreck southwest of St. Louis in which a pickup truck
slammed into the back of a semi cab that had slowed for road construction, and the buses then crashed into the
wreckage. The pickup driver, Daniel Schatz, 19, and a bus passenger, Jessica Brinker, 15, died. Thirty-eight
people, mostly students, were hurt.
Investigators said Schatz had sent and received 11 texts in 11 minutes just before the accident.
The NTSB's recommendation far exceeds the patchwork, and largely unenforced, prohibitions many states now
have. Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving, while nine states and Washington,
D.C., bar handheld cell phone use. Thirty states ban all cell phone use for beginning drivers. No state bans the use
of hands-free devices for all drivers.
In Idaho - which has historically resisted federal mandates and is one of seven states without any sort of
regulation on the use of cell phones by drivers - proposed bans have been rejected the last two legislative
sessions after lawmakers questioned their enforceability and the need for new government dictates. South
Dakota has a broader law discouraging "distracted driving" but lawmakers have steadily opposed specific bans on
electronic devices.
"I was listening to all this heart-wrenching testimony against texting behind the wheel, and I got to thinking
about all the calls I'd gone off to where someone was hurt in a car accident," said South Dakota Republican Rep.
Betty Olson, an emergency medical technician from Prairie City. "In just about all of them, they were distracted,
so what they were doing was already against the law," Olson said. "They wouldn't be paying any more attention
to a law banning texting."
Driver inconvenience is also among the factors state lawmakers cite in their opposition. Others note that cell
phones have benefits. In some parts of rural South Dakota, Olson said, a driver's cell phone can be "a life saver."
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With enforcement of cell phone and texting laws already difficult, Stouffer said police will have an even harder
time if hands-free devices are banned.
"How's an officer going to know if I'm singing my favorite song with the radio or talking on the phone?" he asked.
Even in Missouri, where the bus crash occurred, the lawmaker who tried to broaden the texting ban afterward
believes a full-blown cell phone prohibition goes too far.
The state has barred drivers 21 and younger from texting while driving since 2009. Several lawmakers proposed
legislation the next year to extend that to all drivers but failed, partly because of concerns over whether it could
be enforced. After the bus accident, a similar attempt to broaden the ban was defeated by a filibuster.
Democratic Sen. Ryan McKenna said he'll likely try again for the texting ban, but not for the overall ban.
In California, which bars drivers from talking on handheld phones but permits hands-free devices, state Sen. Joe
Simitian doubts states would oblige the NTSB with an absolute ban.
"I think the NTSB recommendations are dramatic and I think they are helpful in highlighting the risks associated
with distracted driving," Simitian said. "As a practical matter, an outright ban is a nonstarter" he said, noting it
took five years to pass the state's existing law, and citing expected opposition to an all-out prohibition.
In recent years, phone features have multiplied and so have the distractions. For commuters, texts, pop-song
ringtones, emails and even video calls are but a few of the potential distractions competing for their attention
behind the wheel.
As phone features multiply, so have accidents blamed on texting and wireless calling. The National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration said there were 3,092 fatalities blamed on distracted driving last year, 408 of which
involved cell phone use. It was the first year the administration broke out cell phones as a separate cause of
distraction.
The wireless industry initially fought state legislation against cell phone use while driving, but has in recent years
mainly emphasized personal responsibility and driver education over legislation. After the NTSB's
recommendation Tuesday, industry trade group CITA-The Wireless Association repeated its support for bans on
texting while driving but added that larger prohibitions should be left to the states.
Even lawmakers who are willing to push for a complete ban concede that passage won't come easy.
Alaska is considering such a move, said Anne Teigen, senior policy specialist for the National Conference of State
Legislatures. That ban has supporters among some police agencies. In Minnesota, which passed a texting ban
three years ago, Democratic state Rep. Frank Hornstein said that based on the NTSB recommendation, he will
introduce legislation aimed at banning cell phone use by drivers.
Hornstein and Alaska state Rep. Max Gruenberg, a Democrat from Anchorage, noted that battles over road
safety laws - such as tougher seat belt requirements or lower blood-alcohol content limits in drunk driving cases -
often take years to pass. Hornstein also acknowledged that some residents would oppose a cell phone ban,
believing they can police themselves.
"A lot of people will say, `I can do this fine, I'm a good driver. It's other people,'" Hornstein said.
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Tuition dispute to stall transfers of KC students
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Problems are already cropping up after the Kansas City School District announced its
plans for responding to a law allowing students from unaccredited districts to transfer to better-performing
schools.
The Kansas City district will lose accreditation Jan. 1. After that date, the district is required to allow its students
to transfer to accredited schools and to pay the costs.
But the North Kansas City District said Friday it needs $9,508 upfront to cover tuition costs. The problem is the
Kansas City district is offering only $3,733 and wants to pay the money in monthly installments.
The Raytown and Center school districts released similar statements, saying the money the Kansas City district is
offering is too low. The districts say they won't admit students until the tuition issues are resolved.
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For Mo. students, cell phone debate isn't academic
By JIM SUHR and JIM SALTER
Associated Press


ST. JAMES, Mo. (AP) -- The text was about something innocuous: A request to go to the county fair. It set off a
highway pileup that took two lives, injured dozens and left two school buses and a pickup truck in a crumpled
heap.
As the nation debates a federal recommendation to eliminate cell phone use in cars, the high school band
students from St. James who were involved in the wreck last year have already done it themselves. After losing
one of their classmates, many of the teens made a vow: Using a cell phone behind the wheel is something they
just won't do.
The young man who was on the other end of the pivotal text exchange, who says he didn't know his friend was
driving, is still haunted by the catastrophic result of what began as a simple message about their plans.
"I pretty much feel like it was my fault," said the young man, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition
that his name not be used because he fears retaliation from people who might blame him.
He was texting with 19-year-old Daniel Schatz, who investigators say set off the accident by slamming into the
back of a semi cab that had slowed for road construction. The buses then crashed into the wreckage. Schatz and
a 15-year-old girl on one of the buses, Jessica Brinker, were killed instantly.
The National Transportation Safety Board has cited that accident in its push to ban drivers from using cell phones
- even hands-free devices. That recommendation has already met with resistance from lawmakers around the
country who fear an unprecedented reach into people's driving habits.
But young people in St. James, a sleepy town of about 3,700 near the Mark Twain National Forest, have already
changed their behavior.
"The majority of us will refuse to text and drive because of this," said Ian Vannatta, 16, who was on one of the
buses and is a new driver. "It's the difference between life and death."
Emily Perona, now an 18-year-old senior, survived the bus crash with a broken pelvis despite sitting just one seat
ahead of Brinker.
"If a text or a call is that important, it should be no problem pulling over to the side of the road and then take
care of what you need to," Perona said. "No life is worth texting your friend or anybody back while you're behind
the wheel."
The events of Aug. 5, 2010 - spelled out in a chilling Missouri State Highway Patrol report - convinced her of that.
Vannatta and Perona were among about 50 St. James band students piled onto separate buses - one for boys,
the other for girls - on their yearly pilgrimage to Six Flags St. Louis.
Conditions were clear, though several stretches along the freeway were under repair. The buses made their way
through two work zones before rolling up to a third at Gray Summit, about 40 miles southwest of St. Louis.
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Michael Crabtree, a 43-year-old trucker bound for St. Louis for a load, had just gotten onto Interstate 44 driving a
semi cab without a trailer. Near Gray Summit, along a straight, uphill ribbon of highway, he slowed for road work
when he saw in his rearview mirror a silver pickup barreling down on him. He braced for impact.
The 2007 GMC driven by Schatz - a former University of Missouri reserve quarterback and a Republican state
lawmaker's son from nearby Sullivan - hit Crabtree's cab at 55 mph.
Tour bus driver Eugene Reed saw the wreck from behind, pulled over and scrambled out to warn other
approaching drivers. That's when both of the St. James buses rolled by.
The lead bus driver told investigators she straddled the eastbound lanes' center line to get around the tour bus.
She glanced in the mirror to see what Reed was doing when her bus, carrying the girls in the band, rammed the
pickup truck from behind.
Perona recalls everything just shaking, then thinking, "God, help me." In a confused haze, she peered out the left
window and saw the bus had tilted skyward.
"It's almost like I blacked out," she remembers. "Then all of a sudden, I was struck."
The second St. James bus had just crashed into the pileup with such force that its front cab broke through the
back of the first and into the very back seat, where Brinker sat directly behind Perona.
"I waited, and I prayed," Perona said.
The violent impact sent the first bus up onto the pickup truck, crushing it, and even atop the semi cab, where the
bus came to rest pointed up, almost like a rocket ready to launch.
On the second bus, Vannatta recalls the impact as merely a blur.
"All I remember is seeing the glass shatter, hitting the seat and hearing screaming," he said of the collision that
sent him lurching into the seat ahead of him, leaving him with a compression spinal fracture that damaged four
of his vertebrae.
Retiree Dan Schrock, who was traveling with his wife from their home in Crescent, Okla., to visit their son in
Cincinnati, saw debris flying and stopped to help.
He found the front door of the lead bus too high off the ground for the girls to escape, and the back door was
jammed against the pavement. Schrock and other rescuers improvised. Another man managed to climb in as
Schrock stood outside a passenger window, ankle-deep in diesel fuel spilling from the bus, and helped lift the
girls to safety.
"They just looked like they were in shock," said Schrock, now 76. "They really weren't screaming or crying, just
total shock."
Vannatta remembers sitting along the roadside, where a hasty triage was unfolding: The unhurt in one group,
those with minor injuries in another. "Those majorly hurt were shipped off as fast as they could," the teenager
said.
While both school bus drivers were charged with careless driving, their cases have not yet gone to court.
In the end, it was Schatz's texting that caused the wreck, the patrol and the NTSB determined.
The friend with whom Schatz was texting had known him since childhood. Their exchange that morning was
about plans to spend the day at a county fair, the friend told AP. He said he thought Schatz was at work.
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Phone records obtained by the Highway Patrol showed that the friend first texted Schatz at 9:58 a.m. An
exchange of 10 other texts followed. When the friend sent a final text at 10:09 a.m., Schatz never replied.
"I just figured he got busy," said the young man. He learned later his friend died at about that moment.
Perona waved away any blame for the wreck.
"Everyone makes mistakes," said Perona, who has rebounded from the broken hip and a damaged nerve that
until last August left her with a dragging foot, forcing her to drop out of band her senior year as a clarinet player
because she couldn't march. "You just need to learn from them."
Trumpet-playing Vannatta, who before the tragedy had never been in a wreck, has taken caution to another
level. He puts the phone away when behind the wheel - no exceptions. And he avoids the freeway in his Ford F-
150 pickup, taking an outer road to his warehouse job some 15 minutes from home.
Around St. James, the NTSB's call for a total ban on behind-the-wheel cell phone use has blunted the
community's efforts to move on from losing a girl whose burial plot includes plaid pink socks - homage to
Brinker's always-colorful attire that friends say matched her cheery character.
"I still go to her grave on occasion, where I pray and talk to her," Vannatta said. The tragedy "is something that
will stay with this community for a very, very long time. It's going to and has changed all of our lives."
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Paul McKee charges on amid setbacks in makeover of
St. Louis
BY TIM LOGAN • tlogan@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8291 | Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 12:30 am
ST. LOUIS • Twenty minutes into a tour of the industrial wasteland north of downtown St. Louis — a world of
backhoes and construction debris where a new bridge from Illinois will bring thousands of cars in two years —
Paul McKee tells the driver to pull over.
With his rented minibus perched at Cass Avenue and an extended Tucker Boulevard, McKee spins around in his
seat and points outside.
"This is it," he said. "This is going to be the intersection of Main and Main. This is going to be the hottest corner in
the whole St. Louis region."
Looking out the big bus windows — up ahead at downtown, back at the bridge taking shape, left and right at
freshly cleared plots big enough to hold the kind of development this neighborhood hasn't seen in too long —
you want to believe him. That is why he had the bus pull over here in the first place.
For Paul McKee, getting people to believe is a big part of his business model.
A veteran developer and chairman of McEagle Properties, the 66-year-old McKee has hatched some of the
grandest plans the St. Louis area has going. Like turning our underused airport into a global cargo hub. And
reinventing whole neighborhoods of the battered near north side. He makes the bold pitch, then pursues big
public subsidies to help make it happen.
This has put McKee at the center of a raging debate about development incentives, and won him powerful
friends, and foes, from here to Jefferson City. To some, he is a schemer in a nice suit, leaning on the public to pay
for his projects. To others, he is the kind of accomplished visionary this region desperately needs.
Either way, there have been growing signs that McKee's real estate empire could be in trouble:
• NorthSide Regeneration, his $8.1 billion plan to bring thousands of jobs and new homes to north St. Louis,
remains in legal limbo, two-plus years after winning the blessing of City Hall.
• The plan to bring Chinese air freight to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, which McKee launched four
years ago, is stalled after state tax credits to fund it failed.
• NorthPark, the 550-acre business park McEagle is co-developing with Clayco in north St. Louis County, needed
extra financing help from St. Louis County this fall to stave off lenders.
• Hazelwood Commerce Center, another North County business park, is mired in lawsuits and a cleanup gone
wrong, and now McKee could face a $32 million judgment even as unpaid taxes pile up.
• And smaller financial disputes continue to dog even his most successful projects, such as the master-planned
community of WingHaven in O'Fallon, Mo.
COMPLEX DEALINGS
McKee's projects are owned by a web of holding companies — more than 100 limited liability companies that
trace back to McEagle's O'Fallon address. Many include silent partners. He has had some big victories, but like
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most developers, he is highly leveraged, regularly borrowing and refinancing. He says he has paid down $40
million in debt in the last few years and has the confidence of his lenders.
But what is on the public record looks daunting.
Three of his companies are being sued for $7 million over an unpaid loan tied to his giant, master-planned
WingHaven development in St. Charles County. McKee personally is a defendant in a lawsuit over loans for a day
spa there. In April, he settled a $407,000 lawsuit from a contractor on his long-stalled retail and office project in
Shiloh.
The biggest bill came the day before Thanksgiving, when a federal judge ruled against McKee — personally and
through his companies — in a lawsuit by BancorpSouth. The bank sought $32.1 million on a loan for the 151-acre
Hazelwood Commerce Center. McKee has appealed the ruling, and both he and BancorpSouth are suing cleanup
firm Environmental Operations over its work there. But for now, that judgment hangs over his other projects.
"I don't see how anything he's doing is going to go forward while he's got that judgment," said Bevis Shock, an
attorney suing McKee over his NorthSide project.
The bill on Hazelwood is about to get bigger. McKee's company has not paid its property taxes, which, with fines
and fees, now total $745,447. On Jan. 1, they will climb to about $1.3 million.
But McKee says not to worry. He says BancorpSouth ought to pay the taxes, and he is confident the lawsuit will
settle. The Hazelwood deal is isolated from the other projects, he said, and poses no wider threat. He keeps his
lenders up to speed, he adds, so there are no surprises.
"Every banker knows every liability I have," he said. "We've been very open with our lenders."
And he continues to get loans, though sometimes with assets that appear far from certain. For instance, earlier
this year, McEagle renewed lines of credit with Triad Bank. According to filings with the secretary of state's office,
McEagle put up as collateral half of the development fees McEagle hopes to get from the Shiloh project and half
of the commissions the company "may be entitled to earn" should it help Anthem Blue Cross sell its downtown
real estate.
In an interview, McKee described the deals as routine and said the Anthem deal was one of several he was
working on at the time. An Anthem spokeswoman said the company has talked with a potential buyer, but "at
this time there are no plans to move forward with any sale."
RAISING CONCERNS
McKee has won a lot of support from public officials, too. For years, he has worked both sides of the aisle and
donated to candidates ranging from Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to Democratic St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
Four years ago, Missouri lawmakers created the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage tax credit, mainly to help
McKee buy land for NorthSide. To date, he has collected $28 million worth — money he's used to pay down loans
with the Bank of Washington — with an application pending for more. His projects have used tax increment
financing, state bonds and other public help, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
Lately, though, his clout has waned. A $480 million tax credit bill to help the China Hub — which was widely seen
as a boon for McKee — failed to get through the Legislature this past session. And now his financing is being
openly questioned on the floor of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.
During debate this month over a bill that would help McKee buy the Bottle District, 17 long-vacant acres north of
the Edward Jones Dome, Alderman Scott Oglivie said he worried that the city was growing too reliant on McKee.
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"There's just real uncertainty about the financial situation of this developer," he warned.
Still, the measure passed, 20-3.
The question now is whether local governments have become so heavily invested in McKee's projects that they
feel they have no choice but to help him stay afloat.
Consider St. Louis County's recent decision to take on more debt for NorthPark, the business park east of
Lambert that McEagle is co-developing with Clayco. While NorthPark has had some success, the project in
October needed some help to refinance its debt, said Mike Jones, senior policy adviser to County Executive
Charlie A. Dooley. So the county issued $22 million in TIF bonds — up from $14.75 million — though at lower
interest rates.
It was either issue the bonds or risk a default that could set the project back years, said Jones.
"That was not in the county's interest," he said.
BUILDING AN EMPIRE
Certainly, McKee inspires confidence. He grew up in middle-class Overland and graduated from Washington
University, then made his name building Paric Corp., one of the region's biggest construction firms, from scratch.
His son, Joe, now runs that firm.
As a developer, he turned an old Monsanto research farm into WingHaven, a planned, manicured neighborhood
in O'Fallon with about 2,400 homes and a divisional headquarters of MasterCard. Then, when fast-growing
pharmacy-benefit company Express Scripts might have left St. Louis altogether, McKee helped cement it in north
St. Louis County, where it has blossomed into St. Louis' biggest company.
He is an accomplished, wealthy man. An ambitious one, too.
The bid to turn Lambert into a Chinese cargo hub was conceived by McKee and his lawyer, Steve Stone, and they
funded it for a few years before the Midwest China Hub Commission was created. McKee's vision for north St.
Louis would bring thousands of jobs and new homes to some of the poorest neighborhoods in the Midwest. The
simple fact that he is trying — at an age when most people retire — wins him a lot of good will.
"We need people with vision. We need people who believe in the future of north St. Louis. And he's one," said
Jeff Rainford, chief of staff to Mayor Slay. "If there's a small leap of faith, I think it's justified."
In McKee's vision of the future, everything works out. The lawsuits get settled. The projects begin. Development
snowballs. Neighborhoods are reborn. His optimism is relentless.
When asked the obvious question of how he thinks he can pull this off, his answer is basically "Why do you think
we can't?" He's always got a deal — or five — in the works. He peppers his emails with exclamation points and is
fond of putting the word jobs in all-caps, as in "JOBS!"
His pitch is intensely personal. A few years back — when he was being hounded over his secret land-buying on
the North Side — McKee ditched his public relations firm. Since then, the man has made his own case, whether
to a few skeptics in a church basement or before hundreds at City Hall. He's held 110 community meetings on
NorthSide, he says. He talks about his grandfather, who drove a streetcar on Cass Avenue. He usually brings
Midge, his wife of more than 40 years. He points to Express Scripts and MasterCard and says he can bring
companies like that to north St. Louis. His message is simple: Follow me. I know the way.
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He has had some victories lately. Express Scripts has opened two buildings in 18 months at NorthPark. His sons,
Chris and Joe, led the renovation of Peabody Opera House. Who else, McKee asks, has done $380 million worth
of development in this region in the past three years?
PUSHING FORWARD
The Shiloh project is finally under way, too. After sitting dormant for four years, site work began in the fall on 140
acres just south of Interstate 64 in St. Clair County. Before long, he says, it will have stores and offices and senior
housing.
"There's scrapers out there right now," he said. "When was the last time you saw scrapers working around
here?"
Those scrapers are working, though, largely because Shiloh did something the city of St. Louis would not. It
guaranteed $5 million in TIF bonds with its own money, in exchange for some land McKee owns nearby. If the
project goes south, Shiloh is on the hook.
"With the economy such as it is, things were a little tough," said Shiloh Mayor James Vernier. "We wanted to get
that project kicked off."
McKee's NorthSide has been stalled at the TIF stage for some time now. While the city approved a $390 million
TIF package in 2009, a judge tossed it out the next summer, agreeing with four residents that McKee's plans were
too vague to justify blighting two square miles. The suit is now in appeals court but any ruling is probably months
away. Settlement talks have been sporadic, but the plaintiff's lawyers say they are still not seeing the specifics
they want from McKee.
Without TIF money to lay the groundwork for development, McKee says, he can do only so much. But he is
moving ahead. As the new bridge is being built, he is talking with a range of tenants about land he owns nearby.
He has had one functioning business — a pipe distributor called National Sales Co. — move into a building on
Delmar Boulevard. McKee has a PowerPoint presentation with a dozen deals that are in line to start soon around
NorthSide. Next year, he said, will be a good year.
The trouble is, those deals are never as clean as they appear in a PowerPoint.
Take the Clemens House. Its front yard hosted a groundbreaking more than two years ago, celebrating plans to
turn the historic Cass Avenue mansion into senior housing. Then state tax credits fell through. The building still
sits dark and empty.
Since he started NorthSide, McKee has talked of luring a KIPP charter school to the project. He even had a
building under contract — an old school on Benton Avenue owned by Zion Lutheran Church. The contract expired
in October. The deal never closed.
The building was too small, said KIPP St. Louis executive director Kelly Garrett. He is still talking with McKee
about other sites, but he is talking with other developers, too, and while KIPP still wants to open a school on the
North Side, it is not necessarily going to be in McKee's NorthSide.
"We're excited about what (McKee's) doing," Garrett said. "But we're talking with several people."
WAITING GAME
People who have made deals with McKee can't wait forever. A few years ago, the Missouri Department of
Transportation set aside $10 million to rework the 22nd Street Interchange on I-64 (Highway 40), on the
condition the city of St. Louis come up with the rest of the money.
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The project would free up 38 acres of prime real estate on the western edge of downtown, land McKee has been
looking at for years. His plan — and the city's — was to use money from the NorthSide TIF to fund the effort and
put office towers on the site.
But the stalled TIF means nothing has happened, and now MoDOT is hearing other requests for the money, said
area engineer Deanna Venker.
"We have $10 million available (for 22nd Street)," she said. "But at some point, if a decision is not made, that
money will go back into the pot."
Meanwhile, on the streets McKee wants to rebuild, patience seems to be wearing thin.
His years of secret land-buying — and of letting his buildings decay — rankled neighbors and set off all sorts of
theories about what this suburban developer was up to in this poor, mostly black, part of town.
But after he went public with his plans in May 2009, that began to change. He reached out to churches and won
over the aldermen. He allied with the Hubbards, a powerful political family in the neighborhood whose patriarch
Rodney Hubbard runs the nonprofit Carr Square Tenant Corp. Carr Square now owns a 2.5 percent stake in
McKee's NorthSide Regeneration LLC and gets a small cut when the project sells state tax credits.
Meanwhile, McKee's ceaseless talk of jobs began to win him grudging support from residents, who saw no one
else doing much. But it has been a while, and the jobs haven't materialized.
A special election is Tuesday for the aldermanic seat in the 5th Ward, where much of NorthSide is located. The
three-way-race among Tammika Hubbard, Rodney Hubbard's daughter; former April Ford-Griffin aide Tonya
Finley; and longtime resident Rose Green has become largely about McKee and his project. At a candidates
forum last week, the biggest applause came in response to pledges to hold the developer accountable.
"He has a lot of grand plans, and there's nothing wrong with that," Green said. "But he should sit down with us
and ask us what we want, not just tell us what he wants."
Even people who have talked with McKee in the past say they have not heard much from him lately.
Sean Thomas is executive director of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, a nonprofit that works just outside
McKee's NorthSide footprint. McKee owns some land in Old North, and said early on he would sell it to the
group. There were conversations, Thomas said, but nothing in at least six months now.
"We're kind of in the dark," he said. "A lot of neighbors are curious to know what his plans are."
'FIELD OFFICE' DREAMS
Yet plans are one thing McKee has loads of.
They are tacked all over the walls of a conference room in his NorthSide "field office" — an old trucking depot on
Howard Street. Maps of property he hopes to buy. Drawings of lively streets. Blow-ups of blocks McKee hopes
will soon hold a health clinic, new homes, banks and shopping plazas.
This is where McKee brings bankers, brokers and builders, the people he will need for his plans to become reality.
He makes his pitch, then puts them on that rented bus.
His tour highlights all that is changing, how McKee envisions the new bridge will transform these busted blocks
into a front door for downtown. How, block by block, acre by acre, he hopes to knit back together neighborhoods
torn by too much decay.
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One recent evening, the tour ended in a grassy plot overlooking the 22nd Street interchange near Union Station.
Standing in the mud in his shiny black shoes, McKee pointed out the messy knot of roads and where he would
put his office towers.
"All of this is sitting, waiting," he said.
He just needs to get his hands on that TIF. To convince investors. To land some tenants. To clear up those
lawsuits.
He just needs you to believe.
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County was in dark over McKee tax problem
BY JIM DOYLE • jdoyle@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8372 | Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 12:15 am
For nearly three years, real estate developer Paul McKee hasn't paid property taxes on several parcels of his
stalled industrial park in Hazelwood. But St. Louis County officials say they were unaware of the delinquency
when they recently approved multimillion-dollar refinancing for another county project of McKee's — NorthPark.
Hazelwood Commerce Center LLC, one of McKee's companies, currently owes $745,447 in delinquent taxes,
interest and penalties for 2009 and 2010 property taxes, according to the St. Louis County Department of
Revenue. In two weeks, the firm's tax liability is expected to rise to $1.29 million, plus additional penalties.
By a 4-2 vote, the St. Louis County Council passed legislation last month to refinance $14.75 million in bonds on
McKee's delayed NorthPark project and issue $7 million more. McKee and his co-developer, Clayco, have
struggled to develop the business park, which is being built east of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Three council members who voted for the refinancing — Kathleen Burkett, Pat Dolan and Hazel Erby — say they
were unaware of McKee's tax problems, and had they known, it might have affected their decision on the
NorthPark bailout.
Erby, who sponsored the legislation, said that McKee's delinquent taxes were vital information. "If I had known
that, it may have changed my mind," she said.
Councilman Mike O'Mara, who abstained from voting on the NorthPark bonds, said the council was pressed by
county staff to hastily approve the refinancing and should have been told about the unpaid taxes.
"I wish maybe we had a little more time," he said, "and a presentation on the Hazelwood project might have
been helpful."
The unpaid taxes are for the Hazelwood Logistics Center, a 151-acre site north of Lambert that included an illegal
dumping ground. McKee plans to build an industrial park, but the project has run into environmental problems
and litigation.
McKee's associates include his youngest son Chris McKee, a real estate developer who last month announced
and then aborted a run to become the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
In an interview, Paul McKee said not paying the taxes was "a strategic decision," given the Hazelwood project's
legal disputes and cleanup problems. He said the taxes should be paid by BancorpSouth Bank, which lent the
developers $28.4 million for the project. The bank sued the developers last year, saying they defaulted on the
loan. A federal judge ruled in the bank's favor, and the developers are appealing.
When asked about the unpaid taxes, Paul McKee said: "We asked the bank to fund that, but the bank has not. ...
The bank stopped funding me. ... We're not spending any more on this until things get settled."
Bank officials said they could not discuss the tax bill because of pending litigation.
Paul McKee said the Hazelwood project stalled because Environmental Operations Inc. of St. Louis failed to clean
up the largely vacant and blighted site — a charge the environmental firm disputes. The developers and
BancorpSouth sued the environmental firm last year, complaining that the site remediation had left unsafe levels
of methane gas in the soil.
Meanwhile, the project's tax liability is expected to rise. Its 2011 taxes, which total $545,479, will become
delinquent if not paid by Dec. 31.
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The project, which includes tax-exempt land owned by the city of Hazelwood, has relied on public subsidies. The
developers lined up about $7 million in brown field remediation tax credits from the Missouri Department of
Economic Development to help pay for the site cleanup, and $17 million in tax increment financing from the city
of Hazelwood. They used those incentives to help borrow $36 million from private banks.
The developers paid about $606,000 of state and local property taxes on portions of this land in 2007 through
2009 "under protest" and appealed the county's assessments to the Board of Equalization and State Tax
Commission, saying the land's value is minimal.
Mike Jones, a senior policy adviser to County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, said county officials were not aware of
the unpaid taxes on the Hazelwood project when they recommended refinancing NorthPark bonds. But, even if
they had known, he said, they would have advised the council to approve the deal.
Jones said that keeping that 550-acre site out of foreclosure is in the county's best interest.
"If we'd have known, we would have said, 'Damn,' and we'd have done it anyway," he said.
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Could 2012 be the most competitive Senate election in
years?
By Aaron Blake, Published: December 16, Washington Post
Twenty Senate seats have changed hands since 2006, the most competitive back-to-back-to-back election cycles
since the 1940s. And it might only get more competitive in 2012.
The nature of the map and the high number of quality candidates who have stepped forward in the first year of
the 2012 election cycle could put upwards of half of the 33 Senate seats in play.
Already, the Cook Political Report lists 10 Senate races as toss-ups — more than at this point in the 2010, 2008 or
2006 elections. Cook also rates 21 races as being at least somewhat competitive at this point, which is at least
five more than any of the three preceding elections.
And if the Senate is indeed at stake — Republicans need to gain three seats for a tie and four for the majority —
it appears as though it won’t be decided in just a couple states, but rather by competitive races all over the
country.
In recent weeks, the 2012 map has taken a turn for the competitive.
Two of the seats that have long been at the top of the Line — North Dakota and Nebraska — both look like they
are something closer to toss-ups today, especially if Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) seeks reelection.
Meanwhile, other states that don’t appear on the Line are starting to look even more competitive. Republicans
have new hope in states like Florida, Hawaii and Michigan, while Democrats say they could have a third bona fide
pickup opportunity in Arizona and some hope in Indiana if Sen. Richard Lugar (R) loses his primary.
In any other year, all or most of those states would have a good chance at making the Line. But the top 10 Senate
races this time around are genuine toss-ups at the moment.
So what does it all mean? Practically, it means the national parties and outside groups could have a lot of races
competing for their attention.
If so many toss-ups remain on the map, Republicans will again have to decide whether to go after the cheaper
states or the states that appear the most winnable. For example, are they going to go to great lengths to defend
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in the Boston media market, or try to win an open seat New Mexico, which is much
cheaper the play in?
Translation: it should be a fun cycle. And we shouldn’t lose track of the Senate races even as the presidential race
heats up.
To the Line!
10. New Mexico (Democratic-controlled): Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty
Murray (Wash.) made very clear recently where her party stands in the contested primary between Rep. Martin
Heinrich and state Auditor Hector Balderas. “We recruited Rep. Heinrich, and we think he’s doing a great job,”
she said at a recent press briefing. While that statement won’t make some in the Hispanic community happy,
Heinrich is the more proven commodity and, at least according to recent polling, the stronger nominee against
former congresswoman Heather Wilson, the heavy favorite in the GOP primary. (Previous ranking: 10)
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9. Wisconsin (D): This is perhaps the most wide-open and interesting primary of the cycle on the GOP side.
Former governor Tommy Thompson (R) has problems on his right, but he just got the endorsement of former
Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, which should help (to what degree, we don’t know). Former congressman
Mark Neumann, meanwhile, has got the backing of tea party-aligned Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-
Ky.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). And to top it all off, the National Journal recently argued that state House Speaker
Jeff Fitzgerald also has a path to victory. The winner gets Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D). (Previous ranking: 9)
8. Ohio (D): This race has already taken a turn for the bizarre, with Democrats crying foul over a U.S. Chamber of
Commerce ad that they say makes Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) look bad. State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) has
raised lots of money, but we’re still waiting to see what the 34-year-old’s campaign is all about. And as we’ve
noted before, Brown is formidable. (Previous ranking: 8)
7. Virginia (D): In a race that hasn’t changed much since it became clear that former governor Tim Kaine (D) and
former senator George Allen (R) would run, the recent early debate between the two amounted to big news.
Post-game handicapping suggested that Kaine had won the day, although it’s far from clear that a debate nearly
one year before the 2012 election will have any significant impact on the dynamic of the race. We continue to
believe that this race will be the marquee contest of the 2012 Senate cycle for three reasons: the size of the two
personalities involved, the competitiveness of Virginia at the presidential level and the likelihood that this race
will be very, very close. (Previous ranking: 7)
6. Montana (D): Democrats gleefully moved around a poll conducted by the Montana Chamber of Commerce
that showed Sen. Jon Tester (D) leading Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) 42 percent to 37 percent. Other data suggests
that the race is closer and, given the state’s Republican lean, it’s hard to imagine Tester winning by more than a
point or two. But the very fact that Tester is in the game -- given the anti-incumbent sentiment in the country --
speaks to the fact that his personal brand may be able to weather the problems the national Democratic Party
will have in the Last Best Place. (Previous ranking: 5)
5. Nevada (Republican-controlled): Normally, the fact that Sen. Dean Heller was appointed to the job -- on an
interim basis -- that he is seeking to hold full-time next year would be a major political blessing. Not so much in a
year like this one. Democrats note that Heller is the only person in Congress to vote for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget
plan twice -- once in the House, once in the Senate -- and Heller has been outraised by Democratic Rep. Shelley
Berkley of late. The whole shebang in this race is Clark County (Las Vegas). Berkley needs to win it -- and win it
big -- to offset losses in the more rural reaches of the state that Heller represented in the House. Lucky for her,
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) showed her the way during his 2010 win. (Previous ranking: 4)
4. Missouri (D): Republicans continue to insist that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is in deep trouble while
Democrats insist that she is inoculating herself from President Obama and her party — look at her recent call for
a permanent earmark ban — and that a lackluster field of GOP candidates could save her. Of the GOP field,
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) recently told the Wall Street Journal:
“We have a three-way primary, and it really depends on who’s nominated, whether they are able to withstand
what they know is coming at them in a general election.” (Previous ranking: 3)
3. Massachusetts (R): This race, more than any other, has been climbing up our list in recent months. That’s
because a series of polls continue to show Democrats in better and better position. The most recent is a Boston
Herald poll from last week that shows Elizabeth Warren taking a seven-point lead on Brown. More importantly,
the poll showed Brown falling out of favor with Massachusetts voters, with his personal favorable and approval
numbers dropping. And given the state’s heavy blue lean, he needs to remain a very popular Republican to win
reelection. (Previous ranking: 6)
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2. Nebraska (D): The question here is whether Sen. Ben Nelson (D) seeks reelection and that announcement is
coming soon. If Nelson doesn’t run, this seat probably moves to the top spot on the Line with the GOP being
heavily favored to pick it up. His exit may also open up the race to someone like Gov. Dave Heineman (R), who is
so popular that he would be a shoo-in. As in Missouri, the GOP field here is something of a question mark.
(Previous ranking: 2)
1. North Dakota (D): Democrats are convinced that the political handicapping world -- or at least the Fix -- has
this race all wrong. Yes, they have a quality candidate and proven vote-getter in former attorney general Heidi
Heitkamp. Yes, Rep. Rick Berg, the near-certain Republican nominee, is nowhere near as popular as Sen. John
Hoeven was when he swept to the Senate in 2010. But North Dakota is likely to go strongly for the Republican
presidential nominee -- no matter who it is -- in 2012, and it’s hard to imagine Heitkamp over performing Obama
by 10 or more points. (Previous ranking: 1)
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Brunner to meet with Greene County Republicans
Springfield News-Leader
John Brunner, a St. Louis businessman and Republican Senatorial candidate, will visit with Republican supporters
in Greene County this evening.
Brunner is the chairman of Vi-Jon, a cosmetics and healthcare company.
According to an email from the Greene County Republican Party, Brunner will have a "meet and greet" with
Republican activists.
Brunner, who is running for office for the first time, is in a three-way primary with former state Treasurer Sarah
Steelman and Congressman Todd Akin.
The winner will go on to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Several national publications said the Missouri
Senate election will be one of the top 10 most competitive races in the country.
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McCaskill: End of Iraq War a chance to refocus at home
Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Shortly after what may be best describe as the official end of an unofficial nine-year war
in Iraq, Sen. Claire McCaskill said was grateful that the conflict finally has reached a conclusion.
On Friday, U.S. military leaders signed over the last American military base in Iraq to that country’s sovereign
government, with plans to remove virtually all the 4,000 U.S. troops that remain by the end of the month.
“I join all Missourians in congratulating our troops on a job well done, and thanking them and their families for
their sacrifice,” McCaskill said in a written statement. “I’ve always supported the plan to withdraw all American
troops from Iraq by this year, and I’m glad to see this day finally arrive.”
Like many Americans, McCaskill had been critical of the war, while supporting the troops fighting it throughout.
As a former state auditor in Missouri, McCaskill said she constantly viewed the conflict through a fiscally critical
lens.
Shortly after joining the Senate in 2007, McCaskill teamed with Virginia Sen. Jim Webb to establish an
independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting. The commission issued a final report earlier this
year and identified $31 to $60 billion worth of U.S. taxpayer dollars that were lost to either fraud or waste
associated with military contracting during the war.
“We made progress in our efforts to stop rampant waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars in wartime
contracting—but the end of this conflict will allow us to turn our attention and our resources toward
strengthening our own nation,” McCaskill said.
With all U.S. military bases now turned over to the Iraqi government, just 4,000 troops remain. At the peak of the
war, more than 170,000 troops were stationed in more than 500 bases throughout Iraq. Several hundred soldiers
will stay after Dec. 31 however to help protect U.S. personnel and interests.
The war, which began with the bombing of former dictator Saddam Hussein’s army, commenced in March of
2003 under the leadership of President George W. Bush and motivated by a publically stated fear that Hussein
was harboring weapons of mass destruction in violation of international sanctions. War was never officially
declared by Congress – as outlined by the U.S. constitution – but the military campaign was successful in driving
out the former Iraqi leader who was hanged in 2006.
The war was controversial throughout its existence and grew increasingly unpopular with the American people
overtime – especially as more and more American soldiers and Iraqi civilians were killed during the escalation of
sectarian violence following overthrowing of Hussein. More than 4,000 U.S. servicemen and women were killed
during the conflict, with more than 60,000 Iraqi civilians also becoming casualties of the war.
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Defense bill includes safe guard for National Guard
employment
Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — National Guardsmen serving domestic duty will be afforded the same employment
protections as soldiers serving overseas under a provision of the Department of Defense authorization bill passed
by congress Thursday.
Previously, guardsmen had the right to return to their civilian jobs after their job on active military duty. But the
law placed a five year cumulative limit on how long that guarantee lasted.
Under an amendment to the the defense authorization bill sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt, full time guard duty
would be exempt from the time limit. Blunt said that National Guardsmen are being called on to active duty
more frequently both overseas and at home.
“When National Guardsmen and women are working side-by-side with their active-duty counterparts, supporting
active duty missions, they should not be forced to decide between keeping their civilian jobs or supporting
critical national security missions,” said Blunt.
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Senate Votes For Payroll Tax Cut Extension
WASHINGTON (KMOX/AP)- The Senate has approved a two-month extension of a cut to the Social Security
payroll tax and agreed to continue jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
The 89-10 vote comes as a partial victory for President Barack Obama’s year-end jobs agenda.
But the bill also contains a provision demanded by Republicans to pressure Obama into approving construction of
a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline.
Environmentalists oppose the project, but it promises thousands of jobs and several unions support it.
Missouri Senators Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R) both voted in favor of the package, as did Illinois Senator
Dick Durbin (D).
Illinois Senator Mark Kirk (R) voted against the measure and sent KMOX a written statement why:
“Congress should not cut contributions to Social Security that over 40 million American seniors depend on. This
bill cuts Social Security contributions by $20 billion, replaced with Treasury debt that does not even have a AAA
credit rating from Standard and Poors. While many of us support the bipartisan Keystone Pipeline to add jobs, I
worry that under the bill, the President will kill this project 60 days from now.”
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A year later, Long still 'fed up'
Colleagues in Congress just care about getting re-elected, legislator says.
Springfield News-Leader
WASHINGTON -- When Rep. Billy Long arrived at the U.S. Capitol last year for his freshmen orientation, he was
awestruck. Now, after 11 months in office, a more apt description might be dumbstruck.
He's hired a 17-person staff. He can rattle off key Republican talking points. And he's found his way to the
cafeteria, although he won't be going back there anytime soon (more on that later).
But even though the Springfield Republican has mastered the basics of being a member of Congress, Long -- a
former auctioneer and political neophyte -- is still as perplexed and frustrated as ever with the way Washington
works, or doesn't. A man who ran on the slogan "fed up" says he still is.
"I'm fed up for different reasons," Long said, in an interview reflecting on the close of his first year in Congress.
Before he won election to the U.S. House in 2010, Long recalled coming "unglued" as he watched lawmakers in
Washington approve a bank bailout, a stimulus package and a massive overhaul of health care.
Now that he is part of Washington himself, "I'm fed up (because) nobody wants to do anything up here except
get re-elected," he said. "That's all they care about."
If Christmas wasn't a week away, "there'd be no compunction to do anything," he said last week, sitting at a
small table in his sparsely decorated House office. But because lawmakers all want to get home for the holidays,
"they're going to try at the last minute to put some deals together."
Long won his first election to represent Missouri's 7th congressional district after then-Rep. Roy Blunt decided to
run for U.S. Senate.
Long's victory came at a remarkable political juncture, as he and 86 other conservative Republicans rode a tea
party-infused wave of discontent and put the GOP in control of the House.
Like other GOP freshmen who had pledged to slash spending and rein in the federal government, Long expected
to make good on those promises right out of the box in January after he was sworn in.
"When you're first elected, you really think you're going to be able to move your agenda and get some things
done," he said.
Shift in debate
Now he knows better. When asked what the highlight of his first year was, Long didn't tick off any specific
legislative victories. Instead, he talked about being part of a freshman class that forced a shift in the
congressional debate -- from stimulus spending to deficit cutting. "This year, we completely changed the
conversation" by forcing $61 billion in cuts to federal spending and making a "huge deal" out of raising the debt
ceiling. "The question is, where do we go from there?" he added.
When asked about the low point of the last year, he quickly offered up a familiar GOP line -- that too many of the
Republican-backed bills passed in the House have stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Long has taken a low-profile path in his first year. He has joined the Republican Study Committee, a group of
House conservatives, as well as the Songwriters Caucus and the Sportsmen's Caucus. But he declined an
invitation to join the more high-profile Tea Party Caucus.
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The first-term lawmaker doesn't attend many news conferences or blast out a blizzard of press releases. He
hasn't been a regular on the cable news channels, like some of his freshman colleagues, such as Reps. Allen West
of Florida or Joe Walsh of Illinois, two tea party favorites. And he has no interest in climbing the leadership
ladder.
"I'm 56 years old," he said. "I'm not a young guy coming in with aspirations to be speaker in 25 years."
"Large persona"
But Long has also made an impression on his colleagues. "Billy has really made a name for himself up here," said
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., a fellow auctioneer and freshman who got to know Long during their respective 2010
campaigns. "He is a large persona."
Duncan said that Long doesn't speak up often in the Republican conference meetings, but people listen when he
does. "The times he has spoken, it's been well received," he said, adding that Long often tries to bring the
internal party debate "back around to the bigger picture."
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, recalled a heated internal party debate over raising the debt ceiling.
"You had people screaming, I mean really angry, and I would watch Speaker (John) Boehner up there, and his jaw
is clenching," she said. Long got up and said "something flat-out hilarious," she said, which defused the tension
but also made a pragmatic point. (She declined to get into more specific details.)
Duncan said Long also has earned a reputation as a "solid" member of the Homeland Security Committee, on
which they both serve. He said the two of them have taken a few off-campus trips, one to meet with the U.S.
Coast Guard commandant and another to talk with officials at the National Counterterrorism Center, both efforts
to bone up on security issues.
Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, said Long also has made a good impression within the Missouri delegation.
"He's very open and speaks his mind," Clay said. "He's not a button-up kind of guy," he added, referring to Long's
habit of leaving his ties loose at the neck, as well as his easy-going personality.
Clay said the delegation all rallied around Long after the Joplin tornado hit, and he was impressed with how Long
handled the disaster.
"It was a lot heaped onto a freshman," Clay said. "But you could see him right before our eyes grow into his job
and grow into his responsibility."
Learning curve
For his part, Long seems to like the learning curve he faces in Washington. He said that when he first arrived, he
was told he had to hire a chief of staff, various legislative aides and a scheduler. "I'm like, 'What's a scheduler
do?'" he recalled asking. "I didn't know what a scheduler was."
He has since learned that his scheduler is one of the most important people in his office -- in charge of setting up
meetings with constituents, telling him when he has a Republican conference session or needs to be on the
House floor for votes, and hopefully also making sure he has a few minutes for lunch.
That's a meal he now packs for himself -- after a hard lesson about how the House cafeterias work. "The first
week I was here, I paid $27 dollars for a salad," Long said, noting the cashiers weigh such items and charge by the
ounce. (He said he was sure the container alone cost $12 and vowed to test his theory out by putting one piece
of lettuce on a plate and heading to the checkout line.)
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In any case, Long now brings a homemade ham sandwich (plus chips and olives), packing it up before leaving his
one-bedroom apartment near Washington's Union Station each morning. (His wife, Barbara, visits occasionally,
but prefers to stay at their home in Springfield, and he goes home most weekends.) He usually arrives at his
House office around 8 a.m. and finds his daily schedule printed on a card -- with meetings parceled out in 20-
minute increments -- in his chair. His desk is spotless, since he clears it off at the end of each day.
"Hopping all day"
"This job is not hard," Long said. "It's not hard work. But it's long hours, and they keep you hopping all day." He
notes that his day can be upended at a moment's notice, if a last-minute House vote is scheduled, or a GOP
members' meeting.
Despite his lack of political experience and his outsider status, Long also seems comfortable in Washington. He's
already made a half dozen or so good friends in the first year and seems to enjoy kibitzing with his colleagues
(although he avoids Washington's night-time social circuit, preferring to go home for another sandwich and some
rest.)
Long has not strayed too often from the House Republican leadership on major bills, voting with the GOP 93
percent of the time, according to a Washington Post tally of votes. Long said he casts his votes without regard to
where the leadership is or what his vote tally will look like in such analyses. He noted some of his colleagues vote
against meaningless items to "pad" their record and make themselves look more independent.
That's not something he's interested in. Nor is he interested in becoming part of the in-crowd. Long says he
wasn't a politician when he got here and he hopes he won't be one when he leaves.
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House GOP leaders balk at short-term extension of
payroll tax cut
By Robert Koenig, Beacon Washington correspondent
Posted 6:11 pm Sun., 12.18.11
WASHINGTON – With time running out before the payroll tax cut expires, House Republican leaders are balking
at the short-term Senate deal to extend the tax cut for two months while a longer-term fix can be worked out.
“It's pretty clear I and our members oppose the Senate bill,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday
on NBC's Meet the Press. “I believe two months [extension] is just kicking the can down the road.”
The last-minute House GOP opposition after Saturday’s bipartisan 89-10 vote to approve the short-term fix upset
Democrats and may have endangered prospects for the payroll tax extension. Boehner said he is pressing for the
Senate to return to session and reach a compromise between its fix and the year-long extension approved by the
House.
“Speaker Boehner says he does not want to ‘kick the can down the road,’” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in a
statement Sunday. “His stubborn refusal to accept this bipartisan approach will endanger a tax cut and kick
America's middle class off the road.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warned that, if the House “refuses to vote on the bipartisan
compromise that passed the Senate with 89 votes, Republicans will be forcing a $1,000 tax increase on middle-
class families on Jan. 1.”
A Reid spokesman said Sunday that the Senate would not return this week if the House kills the Senate-passed
deal. But a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said a new compromise may need
to be worked out to extend the payroll tax cut for a full year, rather than just the two-month patch.
Blunt thinks deal is possible
Some Republican senators agreed with Boehner’s position. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who voted against the short-
term payroll tax extension because it would continue to divert funds from the Social Security trust fund, tweeted:
“Perhaps House fully realized Senate's two-month kick-the-can bill cuts contributions to Social Security by $20
billion.”
Even though he voted for the two-month compromise, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said on CNN that he understood
the qualms of House GOP members about it. And he said he was optimistic that a compromise could be worked
out.
“I had a couple of calls from some of my buddies in the House this morning saying, ‘We don’t want to do this.’
The one-year extension that the House voted for was bipartisan, too,” Blunt said. “I guess we’ll just have to work
this out…. I think friends in the House are going to have to work through this.”
Boehner said that many House Republicans complained during a conference call late Saturday that the $33 billion
Senate bill lacked serious spending cuts. But Democrats countered that it would be paid for with a monthly fee
on households that get mortgages from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
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Blunt said he still thinks a deal can be worked out and approved by year’s end. “Nobody wants any of these
things to happen, so I believe this will be worked out in a way that doesn't raise taxes, that hopefully helps create
some additional private-sector jobs,” Blunt said.
For her part, Sen. Claire McCaskill , D-Mo., said House GOP opposition to the Senate fix was puzzling. “Huh?
Senate votes 89-10! to make sure taxes don't go up for working folks. House Rs balking. Talk about extreme,”
McCaskill tweeted Sunday. “Rs in House will fiercely fight to prevent taxes going up even a dime on mega
wealthy, but ok with taxes going up on working families. Weird.”
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer called on House Republicans to “stop playing politics and get
the job done” by going along with the two-month extension and then working to find a compromise that would
extend the payroll tax for a year.
$1,000 per family
Without congressional action by year’s end, the payroll tax withheld from wages would increase by two
percentage points -– to a 6.2 percent rate -– on Jan. 1. The average American family would end up paying about
$1,000 extra a year.
On Sunday, Boehner suggested that a House-Senate conference meet over the next two weeks to resolve the
differences between the Senate’s short-term fix and the year-long extension approved by the House earlier this
month. But most Democrats objected to numerous provisions of that GOP-backed bill.
That House bill would maintain the payroll tax at 4.2 percent, extend unemployment benefits for 79 weeks
(rather than 99), but requires testing for illegal drugs and says high school dropouts must get a GED-equivalency
to get such benefits. The House bill also would weaken an EPA rule on pollution from industrial boilers and would
extend the tax break for businesses buying equipment for 2012.
Aside from the tax cut extension, the Senate bill renews 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and extends the
“doctor fix” that would avoid a 27 percent reimbursement cut from Medicare to physicians. It also would require
President Barack Obama to approve the proposed 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas within
60 days or issue a finding that it's not in U.S. national interest.
Many Democrats object to how the House bill proposes to pay for its $180 billion cost: by extending the current
pay freeze on civilian federal workers for another year and requiring them to contribute more toward their
pensions; raising the fees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge for insuring mortgages; raising Medicare
premiums paid by higher-income elderly; cuttting some health care overhaul law programs; selling part of
broadcast spectrum; barring illegal immigrant parents from collecting child tax credit refund checks; and blocking
food stamps and unemployment benefits for the wealthy.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday that failure to pass legislation to extend the payroll tax cut could cost
Republicans their majority in the House. “This is a test of whether the House Republicans are fit to govern, and it
is a make-or-break moment for John Boehner's speakership,” he asserted.
Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democratic leader, said that “America has had its fill this year of repeated
political ultimatums from Speaker Boehner.”
But Boehner said on NBC that the House legislation is “a reasonable, responsible bill. ... So we really do believe
it's time for the Senate to work with the House to complete our business for the year.”
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MISSOURINET
Bill would make no due diligence a crime for DED
employees
December 19, 2011 By Mike Lear
One of the first bills created in response to issues raised after the failure of a deal to bring a sucralose plant to
Moberly has been filed.
Representative Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage) is the sponsor of HB 1061.
Its sponsor, Representative Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage) sits on the House Interim Committee on Government
Oversight and Accountability. His legislation, House Bill 1061, would make it a class “D” felony for any employee
of the Department of Economic Development to issue, authorize, allocate or recommend the issuance,
authorization, or allocation of economic development bonds to a project without first doing due diligence on it.
Flanigan says not enough information is being gathered before tax credits are issued by the Department. He says
that has to change. “When you’re dealing with tax credits, you’re dealing with money…taxpayer money. And so I
thought if you’re not going to do your due diligence it’s a crime, and I made it one in the bill.”
Flanigan considers himself one of many the state who thought DED was doing due diligence on projects it was
connected to. He was surprised to learn otherwise. “Until that came out in the hearing the other day, I was
shocked. That the Director of Economic Development, David Kerr, said before our committee, ‘we don’t do due
diligence.’ That set the committee down because people were surprised…very surprised at that. That was when a
lot of people started looking at each other wondering, ‘what are you doing then?’”
Kerr told the committee on November 30 that DED’s tax incentive programs are performance based, protecting
taxpayers if a company does not deliver on its claims. He told lawmakers this reduces the need for “costly, time-
consuming and quite frankly wasteful due diligence by state workers when our programs allow the free market
to police whether the company will ultimately receive the tax incentives requested.” Even so, he says due
diligence checks are done and were done in the Mamtek deal, looking for indications of fraud or
misrepresentation as early as possible in a project.
The Representative thinks the discussion that began in the interim with those hearings on the Mamtek project
will propel his bill into the session. He expects the bill will receive time in committee and on the floor, where it
will become more defined. Right now, the bill it does not include specific parameters on how much due diligence
must be done or other details.
He stresses that any DED employee would be subject to prosecution if found to be violating the law set forth by
his bill, up to its Director. He would not speculate what would have happened had his bill been law when the
Mamtek deal was developing, however. “I can’t go there, don’t know that. Don’t know how people react when
they have all the information in front of them. This obviously wasn’t in place when Kerr was running…when he
was doing his thing. So, who knows? I don’t know. We can only go forward from today.”
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Traffic fatalities headed for 62-year low
December 19, 2011 By Bob Priddy
Missouri drivers are headed toward their least deadly year on the roads since Harry Truman was president.
The highway traffic death toll will decline for a sixth straight year in 2011 and will finish below 800. The six year
decline comes after almost 40 years in which the state averaged more than one-thousand fatalities a year.
Last year the death total was 821.
Patrol Captain Tim Hull recalls the Patrol had set a goal of reducing fatalities numbers to 850 by 2012. But
numbers so far make it pretty certain the 2011 total will be less than 800–the first time since 1949 the number
has been less than 800.
He says safer vehicles, median cables, greater public awareness of dangerous behavior, and increased
enforcement of traffic laws all have contributed to the decline.
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Elk Restoration sees challenges, changes
December 19, 2011 By Allison Blood
More than 35 elk are now living on the Peck Ranch. Photo courtesy of the Department of Conservation
Elk Restoration Coordinator Ron Dent says the Conservation Department has learned a lot in the past few
months of spending time with the more than 35 elk now in Southern Missouri. He says the department didn’t
anticipate how much stress the animals would feel being moved to a new area, so now the department is doing
more to help them become comfortable.
He says the Conservation Department did some controlled burning of forests in the area so new plants would
grow that are the type of things elk like to eat. He says that was in an effort to make the elk feel at home.
He says the elk are happy, they aren’t trying to run away and are getting along. They are expecting some of the
females to have babies within the next few weeks.
He says the area where the elk are living, Peck Conservation Area, is going to take on an additional 35 elk from
Kentucky soon. He says the long-term goal is to have a population of about 500 in the next few years that will
then be able to be hunted.
Right now though, the elk are off-limits to hunters, though a group of youth hunters was able to go deer hunting
in the same area where the elk live. Missouri and other states are seeing a decline in young hunters, though
Missouri has several programs aimed at recruiting them.
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BLOG ZONE
Tilley, Mayer open to another legislative effort to pass
local control
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter

Posted 11:46 pm Sun., 12.18.11

Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, says he's open to making one last try to end state control of
the St. Louis police department during his final legislative session.

And state Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, says he's willing to revisit the issue as well.
In separate interviews, the two legislative leaders discussed various issues that they hope to address in the next
legislative session that begins Jan. 4. Both will be leaving after 2012 because of term limits.
Tilley, who recently dropped a 2012 bid for lieutenant governor, volunteered that he remains supportive of the
effort to allow St. Louis officials to control the police department, which has been overseen by the state General
Assembly and the governor since 1861, the beginning of the civil war.
Tilley got the proposal through the state House twice this year -- during the regular and special sessions -- only to
see the bills killed because of an unrelated debate over economic issues. Tilley said he believes a majority of the
House still supports the idea.
Mayer said last week that he's not opposed to local control and would be receptive to such a bill coming before
the Senate again. Mayer had not pressed for passage during this year's regular and special sessions. He has said
that he wasn't out to block the proposal but simply had other priorities.
Ironically, the legislative leaders' support comes as the St. Louis Police Officers Association says it no longer
backs the legislative route -- and prefers an initiative-petition proposal being advanced a group called "A Safer
Missouri'' and bankrolled by conservative financier Rex Sinquefield.
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Cadre of local businesspeople help Spence raise money
fast
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
Updated 8:33 pm Sat., 12.17.11
A handful of area businessmen have helped one of their own, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Dave Spence,
outpace Gov. Jay Nixon in big donations for the first part of this month.
Since Nov. 29, Spence has collected $280,000 in contributions of more than $5,000, compared to $98,000 for
Nixon, a Democrat who has been very successful in the fundraising department.
Nixon still maintains a large fiscal edge, with more than $4.22 million in the bank as of his last campaign report,
filed Oct. 15. But Spence appears to be working hard to catch up early.
Spence will file his first campaign-finance report on Jan. 15, when Nixon also will report his latest numbers. Until
then, neither candidate is reporting any donations of $5,000 or less.
Spence's early large donations came from seven area businessmen, two of whom -- Bill Koman and Robert
O'Brien -- gave $100,000 apiece.
In addition, Spence donated $2 million of his own money to his campaign.
With exceptions of O'Brien and Koman, Spence's donors have not been major campaign contributors to other
candidates.
The others are:
      Keith Strope, chief executive of Tricor Braun
      Kevin Maher, president of St. Charles Automotive
      John Tlapek, principal with Equity Group
      Mark Mays, with Clear Channel
      Daniel Creston, executive vice president with Alpha Packaging, a firm owned by Spence and an equity
        group
Although Spence is holding off on any public events or on-the-record interviews, he has been traveling the state
to privately court fellow Republicans. Aside from the economic issues, Spence also is emphasizing his social
conservative status.
A Catholic, Spence notes that he is opposed to abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. That latter stance is
underscored by his wife's donation of $2,500 in 2006 against Amendment 2, the constitutional change that
protects all forms of stem-cell research allowed under federal law. Amendment 2 narrowly passed statewide in
2006.
That stance may help Spence with some area businesspeople, and hurt him with others, since many were
involved on both sides of the Amendment 2 campaign.
Later Friday, the Missouri Democratic Party offered up its comments, as the party continued its attacks on
Spence's side job as a board member for Reliance Bank:
"It's no surprise that Spence turned to his friends for money because it will be hard to convince anyone outside
his close circle of friends to give their money to a candidate who took a $40 million bank bailout and refused to
pay it back. Spence was a major shareholder of that bank, profited from the bailout money, and now expects
folks to contribute to his campaign?"
UPDATE: A Spence spokesman said Saturday that the Democrats are continuing to misrepresent Spence's tenure
at Reliance Bank, a bank which did accept $40 million in federal bailout money in early 2009.
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Spence previously has said that although he was on the bank's board, he was not on the holding company that
approved taking the federal bailout until a few months later. Spence left the bank board and the holding
company last March, and says he did so, in part, because he objected to Reliance's decision not to make its first
$2.2 million in repayment of the federal bailout aid.
Democrats note that Reliance's explanation of Spence's departure to the SEC did not cite any disagreements.
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McCaskill marks the departure of troops from Iraq
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
Posted 12:43 pm Fri., 12.16.11
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who helped set up the congressional panel monitoring spending in Iraq and
Afghanistan, today marked the departure by the end of this month of all U.S. troops remaining in Iraq.
In a statement, McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was among those "congratulating our troops on a job well done and
thanking them and their families for their sacrifice."
"I’ve always supported the plan to withdraw all American troops from Iraq by this year, and I’m glad to see this
day finally arrive," she added.
"Since it began, I’ve viewed this war through the eyes of a proud American but also those of a former auditor. We
made progress in our efforts to stop rampant waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars in wartime contracting
— but the end of this conflict will allow us to turn our attention and our resources toward strengthening our own
nation. I cannot think of the end of this war without thinking particularly of the thousands of service members
who gave their lives or were seriously wounded in Iraq — men and women we will honor forever."
In 2007, after arriving in the U.S. Senate, McCaskill teamed up with a fellow freshman senator, Democrat Jim
Webb of Virginia to set up an independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting that McCaskill has
said was "modeled after the 'Truman committee' which investigated government waste and fraud during World
War II."
McCaskill has credited the panel with uncovering billions of dollars in waste and questionable spending.
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Perry's last stand in Iowa--Romney still gets Bain
payouts--Gingrich hires political director--Emily's List
endorses Bysiewicz--DCCC attacks Republican who
oppose payroll compromise
Politico
DECORAH, Iowa—Greetings from Rick Perry’s bus tour. The Texas governor has a moment of opportunity here as
Newt Gingrich fades, but we don’t get any sense of real momentum. Our story this morning looks at the uphill
climb Perry faces in his quest for a comeback.
The latest Iowa numbers, published overnight, put Ron Paul narrowly in the lead. Public Policy Polling has Paul
holding around 23 percent, Mitt Romney improving slightly to 20 and Gingrich slipping to 14. Rick Santorum,
Michele Bachmann and Perry tie at 10 points each.
Paul’s lead, however narrow, puts some pressure on the second-tier candidates to attack him. Following
Bachmann around northwestern Iowa Saturday, we were struck by how much – and with no prompting – she
attacked Paul for his stance on Iran. It was striking how many people at Bachmann events quite like the
libertarian, admiring his opposition to abortion, and how many on the ground actually believe he could win the
Jan. 3 caucuses.
WHAT THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ARE UP TO THIS WEEK: Retail is finally becoming king. Gingrich stumps in
Iowa today and stays through Wednesday, when he’ll fly to New Hampshire. Romney is in New York City to do
Letterman’s Top 10 tonight and Morning Joe tomorrow, but he’ll spend Tuesday through Friday on a bus tour
around the Granite State. Perry and Bachmann continue their own bus tours around Iowa. Santorum continues
to be ubiquitous here, with three events today. Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman kick off the week in New Hampshire.
** As Perry and Romney face questions about their income, an evangelical group meets today to ponder an
endorsement and EMILY’s List endorses the DSCC’s non-preferred candidate in Connecticut, here’s POLITICO’s
Morning Score: your daily guide to the permanent campaign.
THE STAKES – FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD: Your Morning Score correspondent sincerely apologizes
for this email’s tardiness. It was a late night, and the time zone cost us another hour. With two weeks until Iowa
caucuses and no debates left, we have these questions for the week ahead:
(1) Will the Family Leader endorse someone besides Gingrich?
(2) To what extent will non-robopolls substantiate PPP’s latest finding that Gingrich is sinking fast in Iowa?
(3) Does Kim Jong Il’s death dominate more than one news cycle?
(4) Is Romney’s emphasis on his off-camera, family-man side doing anything for his personal favorability
numbers?”
(5) Will Newt Gingrich respond in any way to the conservative establishment backlash against his rhetoric on
federal judges?
TOP TALKER – “BUYOUT PROFITS KEEP FLOWING TO ROMNEY”: The front page of today’s New York Times has a
triple-bylined story that offers fodder to Romney opponents trying to remind voters of his ties to private equity.
“In what would be the final deal of his private equity career, he negotiated a retirement agreement with his
former partners that has paid him a share of Bain’s profits ever since, bringing the Romney family millions of
dollars in income each year and bolstering the fortune that has helped finance Mr. Romney’s political
aspirations,” the story says. “The arrangement allowed Mr. Romney to pursue his career in public life while
enjoying much of the financial upside of being a Bain partner as the company grew into a global investing
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behemoth… Moreover, much of his income from the arrangement has probably qualified for a lower tax rate
than ordinary income under a tax provision favorable to hedge fund and private equity managers.”
GLASS HOUSE – PERRY’S PENSION COULD DOG HIM IF HE GETS TRACTION: Perry stepped up his attacks on
Romney as a creature of Wall Street this weekend, but the Texas Tribune’s Jay Root writes that he “sparked a
wave of criticism, and some unanswered questions, after filing paperwork [last] week revealing that he is
collecting both a salary and a pension from the state of Texas.” More: “[He] disclosed to the Federal Election
Commission Thursday that he was earning a gross monthly retirement annuity of $7,698, or about $92,000 a
year. Aides said the governor officially retired as a state employee in January but continues to draw his $150,000-
a-year salary, and he expects to retire again with a higher pension as a member of the ‘elected class’ when he
leaves office. Aides cited an obscure provision of the Texas Government Code, chapter 813.503, that they say
allows him to legally draw full-time pay and then retire twice.”
ENDORSEMENTS – KIRK BACKS ROMNEY: Freshman Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk will endorse Romney today. This
comes after the Des Moines Register, the Oklahoman and the Portsmouth Herald editorial pages backed the
former Massachusetts governor this weekend. Bob Dole came out for Mitt in an that ran in Sunday’s Register.
STAFFING UP – GINGRICH HIRES A POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Martin Baker starts work for Gingrich today, Jonathan
Martin scoops. The well-respected operative is taking a leave from the direct mail firm he founded in 2007. He's
well-connected in the close-knit operative world, having previously done stints at the NRCC, as Chief of Staff for
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and on campaigns in West Virginia, Virginia and Florida.
SOUTH CAROLINA TALKER – GINGRICH HAS MORE PAID STAFF THAN ROMNEY: “Palmetto State GOP insiders
seem to agree that Romney has not laid enough political groundwork in the state should he need to a strong
showing in the January 21 primary,” CNN’s Peter Hamby reports. “Romney has just three paid staffers in the
state and one campaign office in West Columbia. Gingrich, who leads Romney by a wide margin in the most
recent polls, has five offices in the state and 12 paid staffers. Haley gave Romney a coveted endorsement, but
she was elected in 2010 without any sort of political machine that can now be handed over to Romney. The
South Carolina donor community has also complained privately about Romney's hands-off approach to the
state.”
IS JOHN MARSHALL ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE? – GINGRICH WOULD DEFY SUPREME COURT RULINGS HE DIDN’T
LIKE: “Newt Gingrich says as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions that conflicted with his powers
as commander in chief, and he would press for impeaching judges or even abolishing certain courts if he
disagreed with their rulings,” the LA Times reports. "I'm fed up with elitist judges" who seek to impose their
"radically un-American" views, he said in a Saturday conference call.
UNDISCIPLINED? – NEWT’S WAR ON COURTS FRIGHTENS ESTABLISHMENT: It’s hard to overstate how uneasy
some of these comments are making many of our right-leaning friends with jurisprudential backgrounds. There is
palpable outrage that, in their view, Gingrich apparently thinks you don’t need to believe in Article III of the
Constitution to call yourself a Constitutional Conservative…From USA Today: In his CBS appearance Sunday,
“Gingrich brushed off concerns raised by Michael Mukasey, a former federal judge and attorney general in the
administration of President George W. Bush, who during an interview with Fox News called Gingrich's plan
‘dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall and would reduce the entire judicial system
to a spectacle.’ ‘I think many lawyers will find this a very frightening idea,’ Gingrich said. ‘They've had this run of
50 years of pretending judges are supreme, that they can't be challenged.’”
NOT A HELPFUL HEADLINE – FROM TODAY’S WSJ: “Gingrich vs. Courts Echoes South's Criticism of 1950s
Segregation Decisions.” This is the lead of their NEWS story: “In his call to rein in the judiciary, Newt Gingrich has
gone further than any major candidate in recent memory, with scalding rhetoric rarely heard since the 1950s and
'60s, when Southern politicians claimed the Supreme Court exceeded its authority to order the end of
segregation.”
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EVANGELICALS DIVIDED – FAMILY LEADER MEETING TODAY TO TALK ENDORSEMENT: Reuters reports that “the
Family Leader, one of the state's most influential evangelical groups, is in intense debate about whether to back
Gingrich…One influential Christian conservative in Iowa said group leader Bob Vander Plaats…is facing opposition
from members for his support for Gingrich. ‘Bob wants to go with Gingrich,’ the source said. ‘Too many
supporters around him think that's utter madness. So they may go their separate ways.’ … Gingrich lent
significant financial backing to a 2010 effort in Iowa, led by the group leader, which wound up with three Iowa
Supreme Court justices voted off the court in a fight over gay marriage. The group failed to resolve their
differences over Gingrich at a meeting Friday and will meet again Monday. Julie Summa, a spokeswoman for The
Family Leader, said that an announcement on an endorsement would come early in the week.”
THE MORMON CARD: Vander Plaats told The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz for a separate story on where
evangelical support is going: “If you are an elder in the Mormon Church and have been part of the Mormon faith
for all your life, why not just speak openly about it, about what it is?” he said. By failing to do so, Romney created
the impression that “like, yeah, you’re hiding something.”
INFLUENTIAL IOWA PASTOR PICKS SANTORUM OVER BACHMANN: “The Rev. Albert Calaway, a retired
Assemblies of God minister who lives in Indianola, [this weekend] endorsed Santorum – but said he’d like to see
Bachmann as the vice presidential nominee,” The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs writes. “There’s
absolutely, positively no divine power vested in me for this, but if I had it, I’d personally love to pronounce Rick
and Michele as lawfully wedded running mates,” Calaway told the paper. He is president of Truth, Values and
Leadership, an organization that serves about 200 Iowa churches and pastors.
GAY MARRIAGE – BACHMANN CALLS KINSEY REPORT A “MYTH”: At a meet-and-greet in Clarion yesterday,
Michele and Marcus Bachmann mixed it up with a Democrat who told them that 10 percent of the population is
gay. “And if you have 28 children, then 2.8 of those kids are very likely gay,” the woman told her, per CNN.
“‘Well, that's according to the Kinsey Report,’ the candidate replied. Dr. Alfred Kinsey is best known for
conducting interviews with thousands of individuals and publishing his findings in books on human sexual
behavior during the 1940s and '50s. Bachmann's husband, who runs a clinic in their district in Minnesota that has
long been accused of conducting ‘reparative therapy’ by trying to help gay individuals become straight, then
chimed in. ‘Your facts are wrong,’ he said. ‘That's not valid?’ Schnell asked back. ‘No it isn't,’ Michele Bachmann
said. Her husband added, ‘No, it's not at all. It's been a myth for many years.’”
Protestors at the Pizza Ranch also waved rainbow flags and signs “to draw attention to what they say are a high
number of LGBT suicides in Bachmann's Minnesota congressional district,” per the LA Times.
BISEXUAL GIRL CONFONTS PERRY: Meanwhile, in Decorah, an openly bisexual 14-year-old "incensed" over
Perry's criticism of gays openly serving in the military confronted him over claims he makes in his “war on
religion” ad. “This is about my faith, and I happen to think that there are a whole host of sins - homosexuality
being one of them,” Perry told her. And I'm a sinner. And so I'm not going to be the first one to throw a stone
but…I don't agree that openly gays should be serving in the military.”
OUT THIS MORNING – ROMNEY CAMP HITS GINGRICH FOR DISTANCING HIMSELF FROM FREDDIE: The
campaign will send a press release this morning that again accuses the former House speaker of changing his
story about the work he did for the embattled lender. The latest iteration is Gingrich’s claim on CBS Sunday that
he did not “personally” get the money and that his “share” was “relatively small.” Spokeswoman Andrea Saul
calls this “another example of his unreliable leadership and represents the kind of Washington political games
that Americans are fed up with.” Campaigning over the weekend, Romney insinuated that Gingrich worked as a
lobbyist – even if he technically didn’t. "I'm going to let the lawyers decide what is and what is not lobbying. But,
you know, when it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, typically it’s a duck," he said in South Carolina while
campaigning with Gov. Nikki Haley.
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ROMNEY GLASNOT, CONT. – ROMNEY SKATES THROUGH SUNDAY SITDOWN: “After avoiding Sunday morning
interview shows for nearly two years, Mitt Romney spent half an hour with ‘Fox News Sunday’ host Chris Wallace
largely repeating his campaign talking points and mini-stump speeches,” per Reid Epstein. “Wallace, who
provided the toughest moment for Romney of Thursday’s Sioux City GOP debate when he charged the former
Massachusetts governor with flip-flopping on gay rights and abortion, avoided such confrontations during the
interview taped Saturday in Charleston, S.C. Instead, Wallace allowed Romney free reign to discuss his economic
policies, his personal life and – without inquiring about specifics – his differences with” Gingrich.”
HELPFUL UNION LEADER HEADLINE – “HUNTSMAN’S TAX PROPOSAL GETS THINK TANK’S HIGHEST GRADE”:
“The Tax Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said Huntsman’s plan rated a B+ grade for its ‘wipe the
slate clean’ approach to tax expenditures…Huntsman, who moved his campaign headquarters to New
Hampshire, has already been lauded by The Wall Street Journal and several other publications and think tanks for
his tax plan.” Gingrich, the paper’s preferred candidate, received a C+ in the study.
SNIPING ON THE SUNDAY SHOWS – IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
On NBC, Bachmann continued her back-and-forth with Gingrich from Thursday’s debate: "My facts aren't
wrong. It's just that he's memory challenged…What he said sounded very condescending. It sounded like he was
talking down to me as if I were one of his students. I am not one of his students. I am a serious candidate for the
presidency.”
On CNN, Huntsman attacked Romney’s position on Chinese currency manipulation: “This speaks to somebody
who clearly doesn't have any experience in dealing with the Chinese, because if you had any experience with the
Chinese, you would know that it is a relationship these days based on what they like to say is reciprocity.”
WHAT THE PRESIDENT IS UP TO: He’ll be at the White House meeting with advisers (undoubtedly on North
Korea) but has no public events scheduled.
PAYROLL POLITICS – DCCC SLAMS 70+ REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED AGAINST COMPROMISE: Late Sunday, after
House Republicans and Speaker Boehner came out against the Senate payroll tax agreement that drew 39
Republican votes, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel made individual statements in the districts of over 70 House
Republicans. His attack that they are raising taxes on 160 million Americans by an average of $1,000 a year
represents the first time this year that Israel has taken on individual members directly in their districts like this.
Starting today, the DCCC also plans to launch a campaign of automated phone calls in 20 targeted districts, online
advertising and a new grassroots action website calling on targeted House Republicans to “stop the Tea Party
from forcing this middle class tax increase.”
SNEAK PEEK – EMILY’S LIST ENDORSES BYSIEWICZ IN CONNECTICUT PRIMARY: The group will announce today
that they are fully endorsing Connecticut Senate candidate Susan Bysiewicz. This is significant because the
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has made clear that they back Rep. Chris Murphy in the primary
battle between the two. The DSCC has talked a lot about its batch of women candidates, but in this instance they
are at odds with an influential women’s group. “2012 is an historic year for Democratic women running for
Senate and EMILY’s List is thrilled to have another strong woman to support,” Stephanie Schriock, President of
EMILY’s List, says in a forthcoming statement of the former secretary of state.
FIRST IN SCORE – PLANNED PARENTHOOD THROWING FULL SUPPORT BEHIND BALDWIN: The Planned
Parenthood Action Fund will announce its endorsement of Tammy Baldwin for Senate in Wisconsin late Monday
afternoon. Cecile Richards, who runs the fund, touts her long-term and reliable support for abortion rights in the
House. The group will designate Baldwin a “CHAMP” on their “Women are Watching” website.
FIRST LOOK – MISSOURI GOP HITS MCCASKILL ON EARMARKS: The Missouri Republican Party is launching their
second “Chameleon Claire” web video this morning. The focus of the 53-second video is “McCaskill’s flip-flop on
earmarks.” Senate candidate John Brunner hit on this same theme last week.
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NEBRASKA SENATE – NRSC SLAMS NELSON IN NEW WEB AD: To commemorate the two-year anniversary of the
so-called “Cornhusker Kickback,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee is putting out a minute-long web
video attacking Sen. Ben Nelson. The vulnerable Democrat has telegraphed that he might announce his future
plans over the holidays, and the GOP is trying to keep the pressure ratcheted up by reminding voters that he
offered a key 60th vote for a critical procedural vote that allowed President Obama’s health care law to pass.

KENTUCKY HOUSE – WEBB-EDGINGTON ANNOUNCES RUN FOR DAVIS’ SEAT: State Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington
is announcing this morning that she will run to fill the seat opened by the surprise retirement of Congressman
Geoff Davis in Kentucky’s fourth district.
INDIANA – DEM STATE CHAIR NOT RESIGNING AFTER ALL: “Indiana Democrats gathered Saturday morning
expecting to replace Dan Parker as their state chairman. Four tumultuous hours later, they had decided he would
stay in the post,” the Evansville Courier and Post reports. “It was a move that blocked an intraparty squabble
between factions that have been at odds for years, and means Parker, who has held the post for seven years, is
set to remain chairman until his term expires in March 2013. The sequence of events that led to Parker keeping
the job boil down to this: The clear options were Parker or Joel Miller, a man supported by a Marion County
contingency that takes issue with the state party’s leadership. The statewide candidates and Parker’s allies chose
him.”
CODA – QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He has all the characteristics of the type of person I would bring forward.” – Rick
Perry, responding to a voter who asked whether he’d consider appointing Herman Cain as Secretary of Defense.
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Blunt: Congress 'almost totally dysfunctional'
Politico
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, recently elected to the GOP leadership starting next year, is among those bashing
Congress these days.
"The Congress is almost totally dysfunctional right now," Blunt said during an appearance Sunday on CNN's State
of the Union. "All we've done this year, my first year in the Senate, and I'm in the minority in the Senate, is barely
keep the doors open. Of course, people are not satisfied with that."
Blunt and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) traded barbs over who is responsible for the partisan stalemate that
has overwhelmed Capitol Hill this year. Blunt blamed President Barack Obama and the Democrats, while
Menendez castigated Republicans for doing the bidding of "millionaires and billionaires."
Blunt, who rose to majority whip in the House, said Republicans there "are going to have to work through this"
when asked about opposition in that body to a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. The Senate voted by a
89-10 margin on Saturday to approve a compromise package, but Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House
Republicans want a one-year extension instead.
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Senators trade jabs one day after reaching compromise
CNN
One day after the Senate voted 89-10 in favor of a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, two senators
argued Sunday about whether the House of Representatives wanted to move forward on the legislation.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, accused House Republicans of playing
politics and “itching for a fight with Democrats in the White House” while they undermined tax relief provided in
the Senate measure.
In response, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who spent 14 years as a House member before winning a
Senate seat in 2010, said he was unable to explain a disconnect between the Republican leadership in the House
and Senate on the Senate plan.
While Senate Republican leaders voted for the two-month payroll tax cut extension, House Speaker John
Boehner rejected the plan Sunday.
Noting he would assume a Senate leadership role in January, Blunt told CNN Political Correspondent Joe Johns
that he heard from former House colleagues who “don’t want to do this” because they like their own bipartisan
version of a one-year payroll tax cut extension.
“I don’t know what Republicans in the House are saying they’re itching for a fight,” Blunt said in response to the
accusation by Menendez. “I think what they’re saying they wanted was the one-year tax extension they paid for.”
For Menendez, the House version would pay for the tax cut extension by “taking money from the middle class to
give it to the middle class.”
“In the House version, they take money from middle class families in Medicare, they take money from middle
class families in health care, they take money from middle class civil servants,” he said in reference to provisions
in the measure.
Menendez added that he’d “love to see a year” of tax cut extensions, but insisted Republicans had to “stop
fighting for millionaires and billionaires” so that both the House and Senate could come to an agreement.
Blunt accused Menendez of simply wanting to increase taxes as part of any package, but acknowledged that the
House bill was “not as bipartisan as the Senate vote.”
Political gridlock has been largely unpopular and congressional approval ratings have plummeted in response to
bipartisan bickering, with only 11% of respondents saying they approve of Congress in a recent CBS News poll.
Menendez blamed the poor ratings on Republicans taking “a greater pound of flesh” from the middle class. For
Blunt, both chambers are “almost totally dysfunctional” because “the president’s obligation to lead has not been
met.”
Blunt also noted that “the Congress, as an institution, will not be on the ballot next year - the president of the
United States will be.”
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EDITORIALS … & Letters to the Editor
Steve Kraske | Did they really just say that?
Kansas City Star
A “Satan sandwich” anyone? Mo-Kan pols kept their jaws flapping in 2011:
• “It’s difficult to be a Democrat because Democrats are crazy.” — Missouri Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a
Democrat.
• “I’d rather die than go to Kansas.” — Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
• “KU and Lawrence are not very well-respected.” — Kansas Rep. Anthony Brown, a Eudora Republican.
• “I’ve got this thing about figured out.” — Kansas City’s Mark Funkhouser, on being mayor.
• “I have always been a very, very lucky man.” — Funkhouser conceding his defeat.
• “Sam, we’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. We’re ready for a permanent reset of state
government.” — House Speaker Mike O’Neal, in a toast to new Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
• “The average guy on the streets hates Spanish, and it is everywhere.” — Missouri state Rep. John Cauthorn, a
Mexico Republican.
• “My party, honestly, is in denial about how severe the problem is.” — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a
Democrat, on the need to cut spending.
• “Obviously, I look more like Denzel Washington.’’ — Sly James, explaining how he and rival Kansas City mayoral
candidate Mike Burke differed.
• “It hasn’t been from any sort of intimate contact.” — James explaining why he and Burke kept exchanging
colds.
• “It looks like to me that if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a solution to our
illegal immigration problem.” — Kansas Rep. Virgil Peck, a Tyro Republican.
• “I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane.” — McCaskill following news about the failure to pay
$287,000 in personal property taxes for the aircraft.
• “I get asked those kind of questions all the time. Very typical.” — Missouri lobbyist John Bardgett on requests
from lawmakers to pay for parties.
“Well, it is great to be back in the state of Tex — state of Kansas.” — President Obama in Osawatomie.
• “He’s a pandering, political Opportunist with a capital O.” — a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial on Democratic
Attorney General Chris Koster after he challenged the health care law.
• “I may do that; I don’t know that I need to do that.” — Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt on whether he would view
photos of a dead Osama bin Laden. He eventually did.
• “I’m tired of looking and feeling fat.” — McCaskill, who recently lost weight.
• “The entire state of Missouri stands with the people of Joplin.” — Gov. Jay Nixon.
• “100?” — Brownback, asking a Leawood audience about how high the state speed limit should go.
• “It’s not like we’re cutting down a tree to build a pencil. It’s like we’re sharpening a pencil that’s already there.
(pause) That’s not a great analogy. I don’t know if you really chop down a tree to build a pencil.” — Nixon on
whether lawmakers could pass a jobs program.
• “A sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” — Cleaver on the debt-reduction deal.
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Susan Redden: Missouri’s U.S. senators agree on
defense authorization act
By Susan Redden, Joplin Globe
Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, Missouri’s two U.S. senators, emphasized different elements of the measure this
week but both praised passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Blunt, a Republican, said the bill begins to authorize development of a new long-range bomber, “which will
hopefully help spur job creation in Missouri.”
He also noted the legislation contains an amendment he sponsored to ensure National Guard soldiers mobilized
for domestic emergencies are entitled to the same employment rights when they return from active duty as
those who are activated for service overseas.
McCaskill, a Democrat, also cited continued support for the FA-18 Superhornet, which is produced in St. Louis.
She also praised the absence of earmarks in the legislation, which she claimed was a result of an amendment she
sponsored. A week earlier, McCaskill had released an investigation that she said found at least 115 earmarks
totaling nearly $1 billion had been inserted in the legislation by the House Armed Services Committee.
A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Readiness and
Management Support, McCaskill also pointed to a pay raise for U.S. troops in the measure, and a provision she
urged that capped compensation for government contractors and capped overall contract funding at 2010 levels.
Tea Party
After positions in leadership during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Blunt is moving up the ladder
in the Senate.
In secret balloting last week, Blunt was elected vice chairman of the GOP conference, the fifth-most senior
position in the party. U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, was elected chairman of the caucus.
Blunt won the post over U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, a tea party favorite. The race was being watched as
a measure of tea party influence in the Senate.
In the presidential race, Blunt is an avid supporter of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is not a tea
party favorite. While he was in House leadership, Blunt was the major support-gatherer in the House for then-
candidate George W. Bush leading up to his election in 2000.
Meth Labs
Some Missouri lawmakers will try again in the legislative session that starts Jan. 4 to pass a bill requiring a
doctor’s prescription for medicines containing pseudoephedrine, which is used in the manufacture of
methamphetamine.
The Missouri Sheriff’s Association and the Missouri Highway Patrol have urged the ban. Some fear that Missouri
could soon reclaim its previous No. 1 ranking among states with the most meth labs if something isn’t done.
Joplin a year ago imposed its own city ordinance requiring doctor’s prescriptions for medications containing
pseudoephedrine. Joplin police Chief Lane Roberts, a vocal advocate, argued that the requirement existed until
1976.
A bill imposing the requirement is not among proposed legislation that has been filed thus far. But past bills on
the topic have not fared well because of opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.
Jumping Jacks
My favorite proposed piece of legislation among the dozens of bills being pre-filed is one that would designate
the exercise commonly known as “jumping jacks” as the official state exercise.
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Our Opinion: Appropriate step toward openness in
redistricting
Jefferson City News-Tribune
State Sen. Jason Crowell is term-limited, so he can’t be affected, personally, by the constitutional amendment he
proposed this week.
But the Cape Girardeau Republican is on the right track, at least as a first step.
Crowell introduced a joint resolution to require all future legislative redistricting efforts be covered by the state’s
Open Meetings law.
We think the final version of his proposal — which also would have to be approved by a statewide vote before it
could go into effect — should include all of the Legislature’s debates about congressional redistricting.
The problem occurs only once every decade.
After the U.S. Census Bureau releases its official population counts for each state, lawmakers’ district boundaries
must be redrawn to reflect population changes.
Missouri’s Constitution requires the Legislature to redraw the congressional district lines, and it creates two,
bipartisan residents’ commissions — whose members are nominated by the two largest political parties, then
appointed by the governor — to draw the new state House and Senate boundaries.
The Constitution also requires the residents’ commissions to schedule public meetings, and sets a six-month
deadline for them to finish their work.
If they fail — as they did this year and 10 years ago — the job is assigned to a panel of six appeals court judges
who are appointed by the Supreme Court, and are required by the Constitution to file their maps within 90 days
and have a majority (at least four) approve the final lines.
But the Constitution doesn’t require them to meet in public, and neither judges’ panels did.
So Crowell complained in a news release: “The judges decided to proceed in drawing the maps behind closed
doors without explanation for the way the new districts were drawn.”
Drawing new political boundaries is a very political exercise — especially in a year like this one, where the state
lost a congressional district because other states grew at a faster rate than we did.
And there are a number of rules that must be followed in drawing the lines, including keeping the number of
people in each district as equal as possible, keeping the districts “compact and contiguous” and protecting what
are called “communities of interest” (including those of minority groups).
Nowhere do the legal requirements include protecting incumbents’ ability to win re-election.
But the complaint always is out there, that the political party in power will work to protect its own future.
That’s why all the map drawing, and all the debating among the people drawing the maps, should be done in the
open.
No matter how long it takes and no matter who’s doing it — lawmakers or residents’ commissions or judges.
Complaints about how this year’s judges handled the work may be valid — but they’re not the only ones who
failed to have a public debate, and this isn’t the only time it wasn’t done correctly.
Crowell is right when he said: “The redistricting processes and drawing of Representative and Senate district lines
are so fundamental to our democratic process that such activity should never occur in a secret.”
Lawmakers should take his proposed amendment, expand it to include themselves, then put it on next
November’s ballot so the people can get a more open redistricting process in the future.
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Short take: Wanted: College president. No experience
required
Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2011 12:15 am
The obvious problem facing the University of Missouri's Board of Curators and Timothy M. Wolfe, its out-of-the-
blue choice as the university's new president, was this: How do you explain the selection of a former software
executive with no significant academic credentials as the leader of a four-campus university system?
Answer: You take a sow's ear and turn it into a silk purse.
On Wednesday, Mr. Wolfe visited the university's St. Louis campus and said he plans a two-month "journey of
enlightenment" to bring himself up to speed on the needs of the various campuses.
This is great. Next time we're lost, we're going to tell our spouse that we're on a journey of enlightenment.
On Wednesday, curators praised Mr. Wolfe's Columbia roots (he grew up there and got a bachelor's degree from
Mizzou) and said he understood academia because his parents were professors.
And then there was curator Pam Henrickson's explanation that Mr. Wolfe would bring "fresh eyes. Somebody to
come in and say, 'Why do you do this?' "
This would not be a good way to hire someone to, say, fix your car. Whatever happened to straight talk?
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GENE ROBERTSON: Accountability more important
than secrecy in hiring UM System president
By GENE ROBERTSON
December 16, 2011 | 1:28 p.m. CST
COLUMBIA — The faculty, students and taxpayers of MU and the state of Missouri are owed an in-depth
explanation of the reason for the secrets surrounding the hiring of the UM System president.
This explanation is owed to all of us by the governor, the curators and our local chancellor, as well as the faculty
councils within the UM System. Each of these entities ought to be held accountable for the its participation or
lack of participation in this process.
They all are accountable in some way for the lack of transparency surrounding the search process, including the
search committee membership and the decisions surrounding transparency.
The search process should not model questionable behavior for students and taxpayers. The curators are
endowed with the public’s resources and trust. Their behaviors should be transparent.
The search committee's charge and the rationale for that charge ought to be explained. The steps taken to fulfill
that charge ought to be explained.
The range and number of potential candidates ought to be shared. The narrowing process to achieve a list of
finalists ought to be explained.
The weeding process that led to the selection of the president should be explained. The decision to choose a
corporate administrator rather than an academic administrator should be explained.
If this decision was based upon successes achieved by the previous successes of a non-academic administrator,
those successes ought to be made known in the spirit of intellectual candor.
Scrutiny of decision making is an inherent element that is prized at universities. That process is assumed to be
instrumental to educating future leaders.
Secret behaviors lead to notions of deviousness, which should not be considered at the beginning of new
president's tenure.
It is the responsibility of us all to remove this veil of questions by giving the appropriate explanations that will
allow the conduct of the university’s mission with as much integrity imbued in it as possible.
William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU.
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Our Opinion: Working on a smarter approach to crime
Jefferson City News-Tribune
A group of Missouri officials deserves praise for advancing practical steps to help reverse some disturbing trends
in criminal justice.
The Working Group on Sentencing and Corrections — with representatives from the executive, legislative and
judicial branches, as well as prosecution and defense lawyers — was created in June to explore ways to improve
the state’s public safety return on corrections spending.
After months of analyzing data, the group on Wednesday issued a 10-page report, complete with
recommendations.
The data revealed a problem.
The trend that began in the 1990s to build more prisons resulted in an inmate population that more than
doubled from 14,074 in 1990 to 30,729 this July.
Similarly, corrections spending increased by 249 percent from 1990-2009, topping $660 million this fiscal year.
The crime rate, however, essentially remains flat. The working group reports: “Yet all this spending on
corrections has not produced commensurate improvement in public safety.”
The group found revocations of parole and probation accounted for 71 percent — characterized as an
“overwhelming majority” — of prison admissions.
Further analysis revealed a majority of those revocations were based on “technical” violations of parole or
probation.
In response, the working group advanced a range of recommendations. Among them:
• Grant probation and parole officers more authority to use sanctions, including shock incarceration, for
technical violations.
• Combine drug and alcohol treatment with monitoring by supervising officers.
• Offer incentives for compliance with supervision.
• Hold victims accountable for victim restitution.
• Create an oversight group to monitor implementation of the recommended reforms.
Missouri Supreme Court Judge William Ray Price Jr., a working group member, summarized the objective when
he said: “It’s not a question about being soft on crime or hard on crime; it’s a question of being smart on crime,
to get the best results for our people at the lowest expense.”
The existing model of increasing incarceration at increasing expense with no improvement in public safety isn’t
working.
The new recommendations — incentives, sanctions, treatment, accountability — are derived from a
comprehensive, intelligent interpretation of the data.
Let’s find out if they create a smarter approach to criminal justice.
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Call for Cellphone Ban
Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2011 5:32 pm Washington Missourian
Missouri and Franklin County were in the national news this past week when the National Transportation Safety
Board released its report on an investigation of an Interstate 44 accident near Gray Summit that claimed two
lives and injured 38 people. The board called for a ban by states on the use of cell phones and other portable
electronic devices while driving, including hands-free devices.
The investigation of the accident revealed that a 19-year-old driver of a pickup truck had been texting just before
his vehicle crashed into the rear of a semi-tractor. That caused other vehicles to be involved in the accident,
including two school buses from St. James. One of the students in the bus, along with the driver of the pickup
from Sullivan, were killed. The tragic accident happened in August 2010.
The recommendations from the NTSB go beyond current restrictions on cell phones and hand-held devices in
some states. Thirty-five states currently ban texting messages while driving and nine states ban use of hand-held
cell phones while driving. The NTSB does not have the authority to ban cell phones while driving but its
recommendations are issued to urge states to take appropriate action.
The NTSB said more than 3,000 people were killed last year due to distractions, which are on the increase on
highways, railways and waterways. No state bans use of both hand-held and hands-free cell phones for fully
licensed drivers, with some having a ban for younger drivers. The NTSB considers listening and talking via a
speaker and/or a headset as being a distraction also and should be prohibited.
Missouri has a ban on texting while driving for younger drivers but has not banned use of a cell phone for talking
while driving. A ban probably will come in the future on the latter. There is no question that talking on a cell
phone while driving can be a deadly distraction, not only for the driver but for others. To text while driving is the
most hazardous practice.
This is a public safety issue, which should prevail over any protests about individual freedoms and rights being
restricted. We’ve had too many deaths involving distractions that impair a person’s ability to drive in a safe
manner. Cellphone use while driving is hazardous, especially when the device is hands-held.
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Our Opinion: Making the call on texting while driving
Jefferson City News-Tribune
Driving is a privilege and a responsibility.
It is neither a right nor a self-absorbed pursuit.
When a driver sets a vehicle in motion, the safety of others — passengers, pedestrians, other motorists — must
be a priority.
Vehicle weights range from 3,000-4,500 pounds for compact cars to 7,500-12,000 pounds for full-size pickups
and SUVs, according to autos.com.
A driver, essentially, is navigating a potentially dangerous and deadly vehicle among others, frequently on
congested roads or in populated communities.
Hazards abound, even under the best of circumstances.
Distracted and impaired driving undermine safety. They increase the chances of accidents, which can result in
inconvenience, lost time and money, injuries and death.
We’re not telling our readers anything they don’t already know.
But knowing it hasn’t stopped distracted and impaired driving.
A number of states, including Missouri, have initiated laws and enforcement efforts aimed at drunken driving,
which is linked to more than 10,000 fatalities annually in the U.S.
Like drunken driving, distracted driving is nothing new.
A more recent addition, however, is the use of cellular telephones, including the practice of texting while driving.
The practice has prompted state regulations. Texting while driving is prohibited in 35 states; nine states ban
hand-held devices entirely; and 30 states, including Missouri, prohibit cell phone use by younger drivers.
The regulatory trend received a boost Tuesday when the five members of the National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) unanimously called for a ban on cell phone use by drivers. Exempted would be emergencies and
the use of GPS navigation systems.
Is this recommendation too harsh? Does it trample personal choice?
In seeking an answer, let’s look at the accident that prompted the NTSB recommendation.
On Aug. 5, 2010, on a interstate near Gray Summit, the 19-year-old driver of a pickup collided with a tractor
trailer, touching off a chain reaction pileup involving two school buses.
Two people — the pickup driver and a 15-year-old student aboard one of the buses — died and 38 others were
injured. The investigation revealed the pickup driver had sent and received 11 texts in the 11 minutes preceding
the accident.
Generally, we are reluctant to support added regulations on individual behavior.
But the deadly evidence — thousands of people killed annually by impaired and distracted drivers — continues to
rise.
Cellphone use while driving is simply the most modern culprit contributing to the persuasive argument that life-
or-death consequences trump personal preference.
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Our View: Law’s no substitute for sense
Joplin Globe
Creating laws as a way to force people to use common sense is never an effective way to bring about change.
However, education goes a long way toward converting the nonbelievers.
We point the finger at ourselves here. Two years ago, we editorialized that passing a law that bans texting while
driving was like banning eating French fries while driving, changing radio stations while driving or even applying
lipstick while driving.
We were wrong. Preliminary numbers are showing that texting while driving goes beyond distracted driving. The
frequency in which drivers text has increased and it’s irresponsible and dangerous. Implementing laws that hold
drivers accountable for their actions is likely the best way to make our roads safer.
Missouri already bans texting for those 21 and younger. During the next legislative session we should take the
next step and ban texting while driving for all ages.
However, we disagree with a portion of a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation released last
week that strongly urges all 50 states to ban talking on cell phones, even hands-free phones, while driving. A
complete ban goes beyond any sense of reasonableness or reality in today’s mobile world.
Frankly, there aren’t enough law officers out there to enforce a total ban.
Many of our readers will admit — at least publicly — that no one should text while they drive. We think they
would be willing to abide by that law — or at least face the consequences when they get pulled over.
But, we don’t think motorists are going to stop making or taking calls on their phones, any more than they would
be willing to stop talking to the other passengers in the car.
On this one, we urge common sense. Not more legislative mandates.
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Editorial: Recession reveals cruelty and failure of
'welfare reform'
By the Editorial Board | Posted: Monday, December 19, 2011 12:00 am
The creeping pace of recovery from the recession of 2007-2009 continues to keep unemployment persistently
high and inflict significant pain on people and families throughout the country. It also has tested the American
safety net — and found it dangerously frayed.
Whether our nation's leaders are capable of repairing the net is not at all clear. For that matter, it's not clear that
some of them believe in a safety net at all anymore. The latest congressional squabbling over extending
unemployment benefits hasn't inspired confidence.
To be sure, some strands of the net are stretched but holding. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
(food stamps), for example, still provides a last barrier between millions of American families and debilitating
hunger.
But other pieces of the net gave way long ago, Exhibit A being so-called welfare reform. The Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families program was created in 1996 as a radical reconfiguration of the welfare program
known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
The vaunted reform bill passed by a Republican Congress led by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and signed
by Bill Clinton, a Democratic president then seeking re-election, was supposed to move people "from welfare to
work." It never did that very well. Now, when there is little work to be had, the program has been revealed as an
utter failure.
The program's core structural defects, which critics had identified and warned of before the bill passed, has
allowed growing numbers of vulnerable families with children to fall into deep poverty.
TANF confirmed the obvious: The fastest and easiest way to reduce the number of low-income and impoverished
Americans receiving assistance is simply to stop paying them and leave them to fend for themselves.
In 1995, before reform, 62 percent of families with children below the income poverty line received assistance
under AFDC. By 2008, that number had fallen to 22 percent, according to a study of government data compiled
by the Institute of Policy Studies and three other social service organizations.
In 1995 under AFDC, a qualifying below-poverty single-parent Missouri family with two children could receive a
monthly benefit of $292. In July 2011 under TANF, a comparable Missouri family could receive the same: $292.
Adjusted for 15 years of inflation, that's a decrease of 29.8 percent, according to a study released last month by
the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.
The 1996 law that created TANF did not accommodate inflation or population growth. It eliminated uniform
federal criteria for eligibility for assistance and removed a minimum federal guarantee of money that states
needed to assist all those who met the qualifications and followed the rules.
It also eased requirements that states provide people with job training, placement services, child care and
Medicaid coverage as part of finding work, services that would continue during an initial transition period after a
parent found employment.
Not surprisingly, the 50 different TANF programs defined and operated by 50 budget-crunched states have failed
to keep up with rising unemployment, according to Urban Institute figures.
Between 2007 and 2010, the U.S. unemployment rate increased by 88 percent. During that same period, the
national TANF caseload increased by just 14 percent.
In Missouri, the unemployment rate increased 81 percent between 2007 and 2010. The state's TANF caseload
increased by just 1 percent. In Illinois, the unemployment rate increased by 67 percent during that time, while
the TANF caseload increased by 32 percent.
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A tough, resilient generation of Americans learned first-hand from the Great Depression of the 1930s that
anyone could end up poor, that there was neither shame nor blame attached to the condition and that the
strength of our country and our communities lay in a shared commitment to protect each other from
deprivation. They empowered their government to begin weaving a social and economic safety net to provide
that protection to all Americans.
Such values don't seem very fashionable today, at least not in the halls of government or the executive suites of
their corporate patrons. But the effort continues, and the need remains.
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Kevin Wilson: Sprinkler mandate legacy of victims
By Kevin Wilson
Nov. 27, 2006, may not be one of those “where were you?” moments for a lot of people, but, for the families of
the 11 people who perished in the Anderson Guest House fire, that day will never be forgotten. It left an indelible
mark not just on the families, but on everyone in the state of Missouri that has loved ones in a similar facility.
It was a frigid night much like the ones we have had the past week or so and made much colder by the stark
reality of what had happened in just a few minutes.
The fire that swept through the cinder block building ultimately claimed the lives of 11 people, including a
caregiver who could have escaped if not for trying to save others.
I met then-Gov. Matt Blunt later that day as we toured the charred remains of what had been home to 33
mentally ill and elderly residents and two caregivers.
Our emotions matched those of everyone else present and we both vowed that we would work to see that a
tragedy such as this would never occur again in the state of Missouri.
We went to work immediately drafting legislation addressing safety issues for facilities housing our most
vulnerable residents. The governor put his staff at my disposal including state Fire Marshal Randy Cole, who was
instrumental in developing the final legislation. We also brought in industry representatives so that we could
come up with the best legislation possible.
But, the task was neither easy nor quick. Some in the state felt that we were overreaching on the regulations and
fought to derail the legislation that we put forward. And, as those of you who follow politics know, it is much
easier to kill legislation than it is to pass it. But, even though there was opposition, it was in no way partisan in
nature, as both sides of the political aisle recognized the importance of taking steps to protect our most
vulnerable residents.
Along the way we found out that a fire had struck the Katy Jane Memorial home in 1957 killing 75 individuals, but
yet here we were 50 years later faced with a similar tragedy. For those of us in the fight it was not an option to
go even one more year without passing this bill.
My fear was that if we did not act quickly — as more time was put between the tragedy and the passage of
legislation — then the opponents would find a way to postpone the solution.
The bill made its way through the process but it required constant vigilance and prodding to ensure that it did
not get lost in the legislative shuffle. When the bill hit the Senate side, I have to tell you that Sen. Jack Goodman
stood tall and took on all opponents to push it through that side of the Capitol and never once did he waiver in
his support. He was a true hero to the effort.
So, after almost an entire legislative session the bill was back in the House with Senate changes and required a
final vote before passage. To say I was concerned about getting time to get that vote is an understatement. Many
a bill dies in the last few hours of a Missouri legislative session and this was not one that we wanted to see meet
that fate. I became the biggest pain in the butt that I could to the majority floor leader. I pressed him constantly
about getting the bill on the floor, and with one day to go in the legislative year I got my wish and the bill passed
unanimously.
Fast forward to this past legislative session and there were still those who wanted to postpone some of the
safeguards who are supposed to go into effect at the end of December 2012. Legislation passed overwhelmingly
to delay implementation of the sprinkler mandate until 2014. (I should note that other safety requirements have
already been implemented and the sprinkler mandate was the last one because it was the most difficult to
implement.)
With the advent of term limits, many who voted to postpone the implementation were not in the Legislature
when the initial bill was passed and did not fully understand the ramifications of their actions. Ultimately Gov. Jay
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Nixon vetoed that bill and no attempt was made to override his veto so the mandate is still slated to take effect
on schedule.
So now here we are, five years after the Anderson Guest House tragedy and finally the families and friends of
those who died can at least gain some solace in knowing that they did not die in vain. Laws can’t always prevent
accidents from happening, but in this case all those involved can at least have some peace knowing that we have
done everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable in the future.
Kevin Wilson is a former state legislator. He lives in Neosho.
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Letters to the editor, December 17
Posted: Saturday, December 17, 2011 12:00 am, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Prescription requirement for pseudoephedrine is wrong answer
As lawmakers across Missouri continue to search for an answer to our methamphetamine problem, I wanted to
share my concerns about the much-discussed prescription requirement for popular and reliable medications
containing pseudoephedrine that some policy makers believe will stem the flow of meth. The truth is that the
prescription requirement has been shown not to be as effective in stopping meth production and abuse as a real-
time, stop-sale system. But we do know prescription mandates will definitely drive up the cost of health care and
punish the families and workers in our state who can least afford to pay more for care.
Millions of Missourians legally purchase FDA-approved medicines containing pseudoephedrine to relieve their
everyday cold and allergy symptoms. These products include common names like Sudafed, Allegra-D and Claritin-
D. As over-the-counter medications, they are relatively affordable, but if the proposed prescription mandate is
implemented, treatment costs will skyrocket. Instead of being able to purchase medicine at the local pharmacy, a
person will have to schedule an appointment, see the doctor — likely skipping work or pulling kids out of school
to do it — pay for the office visit and then pay for the prescription itself. For those Missourians who have health
insurance and don't have a rigid schedule, this might be a minor inconvenience, but for those among us who are
low-income, have children, don't have health insurance and/or work by the hour, having a head cold or a
seasonal allergy attack is going to be costly and overly burdensome.
Worse yet, the conversation in favor of a prescription requirement for safe and effective medicines containing
pseudoephedrine ignores the fact that the policy is both extreme and largely unsuccessful. In Oregon, for
instance, years after enacting a prescription mandate, 80 percent of law enforcement in the state believes that
meth is the "greatest drug threat." And according to authorities, meth is both "highly available and widely used"
in Oregon. So, why in the world would we consider enacting a policy that doesn't work and punishes law-abiding
citizens? It just doesn't make sense.
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to the meth problem, but Missouri has already taken concrete steps to
address it. The Legislature recently passed a bill requiring the state to join a multistate real-time, stop-sale
system that stops any illegal sales at the counter and provides law enforcement critical data to apprehend crooks
seeking to make meth. The truth is, electronic tracking is blocking thousands of illegal sales each month, while
allowing moms and dads to get the cold and allergy medicines they need so they can work and care for their
families.
As lawmakers debate — and hopefully reject — a statewide prescription requirement for products containing
pseudoephedrine, I hope they understand there is a common-sense policy already in place that does not place
the burden of the meth battle on those who can least afford it, yet stops common and benign medicines from
getting in the hands of those who seek to make illegal drugs and would easily find a way around extreme
proposals like prescription mandates.
Christopher Arps • St. Louis
Managing partner, NLB Enterprises
Reducing health care costs
One point of agreement of all the Republican front-runners and our state's House and Senate leadership is that
the "Affordable Health Care Act," aka "Obama Care," must be repudiated and repealed. Why?
I have not heard an answer to: "If not Affordable Care and its mandates, what do you propose?" By their silence I
must believe their answer is the laissez faire position of do nothing or bolster the status quo.
In the past two years, my employer and I absorbed 32 percent and 38 percent insurance rate increases.
Additionally many costs were shifted to me, in the form of refigured formularies moving drugs to higher co-pays;
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opening gaps in co-pays and co-insurance; and creating a new group of doctors, clinics and hospitals that are now
"out of plan network" (where I risk exposure of 45 percent of the total cost with no cap).
This past weekend through a Post-Dispatch Business section article I learned that SLU Hospital joined Walgreens
in being "out of plan network providers" for one national carrier. What's the contentious point? No, not that care
delivery costs are skyrocketing; rather a battle between billion-dollar enterprises over how to divvy up the
windfall from all these increases. My employer has been more than fair, but neither of us can continue to absorb
these types of unjustifiable cost increases and service reductions.
The Affordable Health Care Act suffers from too much minority party implantation of poison pills, and self-
serving clauses added by independent Mr. Lieberman's insurance lobbies. Those issues can and should be
addressed.
However, with the Affordable Health Care Act, we have a clear path making all users of health care participate in
the cost base. We have a path to cost reduction because when coverage denial is not an option, serious
rethinking of practices and cost must occur. It is a national disgrace to spend twice as much as the next
developed country on care delivery and have health outcomes rank near the bottom of all countries. We are a
better country and we can do better.
I live in Missouri and I will vote for the party or candidate whose policies support my family and our values.
Candidates, who do you support, families or insurance industry?
David Sager • Hazelwood
Ballplayers don't have to win titles to be iconic
Garrett Jackson's op-ed piece Dec. 13 ("From iconic to merely great") claims that Albert Pujols' recent move to
the Los Angeles Angels denies Pujols' status as an "iconic" player. Jackson's premise is "There is a fairly clear path
to iconic status and that includes multiple championships."
It appears that Mr. Jackson is unaware of Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Ted
Williams, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr. or Ken Griffey Jr., none of whom won more than
one championship. Some of them won none. These examples are from one sport and are the result of only a few
moments' reflection. The list is surely much longer.
In short, Mr. Jackson is wrong. Perhaps he's ignorant. Perhaps his perspective has been formed by a lack of
experience. Perhaps he is simply emotional about Pujols' decision. It matters not. What he terms iconic players
and what have been traditionally thought of as iconic players are two different things. He does not have the
authority to change the definition.
Jerome Peirick • St. Louis
Quit whining, Deidre
Listening to Deidre Pujols on the radio talking about how stressful the negotiations were made me sick to my
stomach. Stressful? You've got to be kidding me! What was there to stress about? Was she stressing over
whether Albert would get 28 or 30 thousand dollars per at-bat for the remainder of his career? Was she stressed
wondering if $254 million was enough to compensate Albert for taking 95 mph fastballs inside? Was she stressed
wondering if $254 million was enough to cover Albert's selfish play calling from the field resulting in unnecessary
outs?
Quit your whining, Deidre! Stress? You want stress? For the same amount of money Albert will make in one or
two at bats, we are paying young Armed Forces members to voluntarily serve their country while deployed to
some hell hole for the YEAR! 95 mph fastballs? How about a 600 mph bullet . . . by the dozens at a time! You
want stress? While Deidre relaxes in a luxury suite and Albert is in the dugout having his picture taken by
thousands, some young family is huddled in a substandard home worrying about their loved ones sitting in a hole
they dug out while the enemy takes their picture, too. Unfortunately, the enemy doesn't view their picture with
the same admiration that many do of Albert. You want stress? Albert's selfish play calling resulted in a simple
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out. A selfish play on the part of our brave young men and women could result in many friendly deaths. You want
stress?
Enjoy the liberties the brave young men and women have given you while you stress over that $254 million,
Deidre. Just quit your whining, because it's starting to stress me out!
Mark Gardiner • Mascoutah
$130 million not an insult
Mrs. Pujols referring to an offer of $130 million from the Cardinals management as being an "insult" is
unbelievable. I assume that the $198 million plus a 9-year contract offered last January is an "insult" also, since
Mr. Pujols turned it down. How much money does one person need? I cannot even fathom that much money.
Look at the world around us. Every day, the Post-Dispatch writes of the 100 Neediest Cases here in St. Louis.
These people don't even have the bare essentials for living. How would they look at this "insult" of $130 million?
Carol Costigan • Creve Coeur
New Brenda
Sounds like there's a new Brenda Warner in town!
Kevin Kertz • O'Fallon, Mo.
Shoddy work at prevailing wage
In the Dec. 12 editorial "Wage rage," it is stated "As we noted before Mr. Schoeller's committee got to work,
economic studies show that the benefits of lower wages are minimal at best, especially compared with long-term
costs created by the shoddier construction that comes from less-skilled employees."
My question, what wage rate was paid to the individual who joined the misaligned pipes at the Eagleton
Courthouse that later burst, causing millions of dollars in damage? I would guess, at least the prevailing wage.
Henry G. Schaper Sr. • Oakville
Ignoring wars' lessons
The most effective weapon in any war or political game is "divide and conquer." I have heard the phrase "cut and
run" used by whatever party that got us into the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars. The phrase 'support our troops"
is the most hypocritical phrase used by either party. The sad truth about the "cut and run" as described in those
wars is our leaders in Congress ignored the lessons of those wars. How did sacrificing so many sons and
daughters in those wars help us? How did cutting and running hurt us?
Ray Vance • St. Peters
New Madrid bicentennial reminds us to be prepared
The next three months mark the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid quakes that rocked parts of Missouri,
Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee in 1811-1812. Massive tectonic plates deep below began stretching
and burping, forcing rivers to change course and run backward. Gaseous crevasses swallowed cattle and
buildings.
If an 1811-sized quake struck under New Madrid now, damage would be staggering. One scenario projects 3,500
dead, 80,000 hurt, 730,000 displaced, 2.6 million without electricity. Countless schools, hospitals and fire stations
built pre-1940 would be rubble. Ruined bridges would paralyze barge, truck and rail traffic in and out of the
nation's breadbasket.
The message of the New Madrid quake bicentennial to St. Louis-area residents: Be prepared! Have an emergency
plan and disaster kit. And join the Feb. 7, 2012, Great Central U.S. ShakeOut, an 11-state earthquake drill that last
year had 3 million participants.
Claude Walker • Chicago
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Letters to the editor, December 18
Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 12:00 am, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Pass the extension on payroll tax cut
By now, the specter of losing approximately $1,500 per year to payroll taxes should be of deep concern to
America's working poor and middle class. $1,500 could be a tuition payment for a kid in college, a deductible for
a badly needed medical procedure, enough to keep the house warm during the freezing winter. In other words,
$1,500 could mean so much to those that have so little.
Yet, Republicans have decided that those benefits pale in comparison to their obligation to do the bidding of the
oil and gas giants supplying the donations to which they have become so addicted. The latest Republican
proposal, which the president has rightfully said he would veto, ties Republican support for the extension of
payroll taxes to approval of the Keystone pipeline. This pipeline would deliver oil from Canada all the way down
to Texas. Republicans argue that the Keystone pipeline will create thousands of new jobs.
That is true, however, in the process, thousands of acres of pristine public lands would be subject to the same
type of accidental catastrophe that happened in the Gulf of Mexico with British Petroleum. President Obama has
wisely chosen to carefully study the pipeline issue before committing the country toward a process that could
prove fatal to parts of America's environment. He, and his advisers, know that the pipeline would positively
affect the national unemployment rate. But he also knows the horrors of deep-sea drilling in the Gulf, where the
oil leak caused public fear, damage to the lake beds and shorelines, and death to fish and wildlife.
The working poor and the middle class will seriously suffer without the payroll tax extension. Generally speaking,
when the white middle class suffers, African-Americans and other minorities suffer beyond the point of
inconvenience. They experience the sickening grip of debt, despair and worse.
That's why the Ecumenical Leadership Council, representing hundreds of predominantly African-American
churches in the St. Louis area, urges Republican lawmakers to stop holding American workers hostage to the
interests of big oil and gas and pass the extension of the payroll tax cut.
Rev. Douglas Parham • Clayton
Vice chairman, Ecumenical Leadership Council of St. Louis
Pujols still a hero
I cannot believe the St. Louis Cardinals fans being so nasty and petty. How two-faced can people be?
Albert Pujols gave the team 11 wonderful years. He gave his all. He deserves to still be considered a baseball hero
in St. Louis. He did so much for the poor and needy; he will still do so. St. Louis has the title of the "greatest fans
in the country" — they should show it. Good luck to him and his family.
The Cardinals have won the World Series many times. Losing Albert Pujols won't change that; there will be more.
Frances Dohr • Affton
Savor Pujols' time here
How quickly the fans turn and how quick to judge. It is not about the money — never been the money. It is about
a feeling; a feeling of worth, of being valued, and Pujols deserved to be. The Cardinals failed him.
Here we have a poor boy from the Dominican Republic who worked his way up the ranks in baseball to become
one of the all-time greats! He gave back to his community threefold and those less fortunate in his homeland.
We St. Louis Cardinals fans were the beneficiaries of the exciting and magical time. Remember it, savor it, be
grateful he passed our way. Be happy for him and wish him well.
Marlene Rabe • St. Louis County
Rabbitt was a statesman
I've always admired Missouri's former House Speaker Dick Rabbitt. He did the right thing when nobody was
looking.
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In the early 1970s, campaign finance reporting was an unwelcome "hot potato" for the General Assembly. Still, it
was an idea whose time had come, and legislation was introduced. The debate on the House floor was
impassioned but unproductive. The real work took place in the evening, in the speaker's office, where Rabbitt
convened a small group of key legislative leaders to hammer out the details. The bill assigned responsibility for
the reports on the secretary of state. I was Secretary Jim Kirkpatrick's deputy, and so I was invited to sit in and
keep notes for the group.
This informal group worked hard over several weeks to draft legislative language that would balance the burden
of reporting with the importance of full disclosure. There were a lot of conflicting interests. During one rather
heated discussion, trying to reach agreement, Dick Rabbitt blurted out "But what's best for the people?" I
remember it clearly, because I had never heard a legislator ask that question, much less in the privacy of his own
office. And then, a few nights later, he asked again "What's best for the people?" The question burned itself into
my mind.
Almost 40 years later, I've still never heard another legislator ask that question. This is why I always admired
Speaker Rabbitt. He was a statesman. R.I.P.
James F. Dowd • Webster Groves
Just pick Romney
At long last, something I can agree with: Kathleen Parker's Dec. 13 column "The GOP's death wish." I've been
thinking lately that the Republicans are just like the Democrats: They're looking for an "American Idol," anyone
who can win; in which case they should go for a Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. I wouldn't know
these women if I met them on the street, but I sure know their names.
I'm an old woman who thought the object of voting was to pick the person most capable of doing the job for
which they were running, in this case, Mitt Romney. It's time to go back to the smoke-filled rooms to select a
candidate. The United States is after all a republic, not a democracy. The smoke-filled rooms gave us Harry
Truman, ranked by most historians as one of the top five best presidents. The primaries gave us Obama.
Mary Espenschied • Brentwood
No aid for Pakistan
So the Pakistani government, which has been the recipient of $21 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds since 2001, wants
to tax shipments of essential supplies and materials to our troops in Afghanistan. This apparently in retaliation
for the accidental killing, by a U.S. helicopter strike, of 24 Pakistani troops. Fair enough, it's their sovereign
territory, and they can do what they want with it.
It would be equally as fair for the U.S. to deduct $1 from the aforementioned aid for each $1 charged in transit
fees plus a reasonable fee to cover the additional bookkeeping, say 5 percent.
Why we continue to pour our money down the rat hole in Pakistan, a country which tolerates and harbors the
Taliban, is a mystery to me. Hopefully all of our troops will be withdrawn from that backward and violence-
plagued region sooner rather than later. Then we can begin to invest those billions here at home where they are
sorely needed.
If the government in Islamabad can't stand on its feet without our money, that should be their problem.
Jim Shepard • St. Louis
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Letters to the editor, December 19
Posted: Monday, December 19, 2011 12:00 am, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Helping those with diabetes
"Cells from monkeys, pigs used in research" (Dec. 15) by Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian was great information to
share with your readers.
Dr. Marc Hammerman has been on the front lines of JDRF-funded research for many years. His struggles and
successes are similar to most researchers'. It takes an average of 20 years and $1.5 billion to make a concept a
reality, and Dr. Hammerman has been walking a money tightrope as he proceeds through his research. We
appreciate what he has been able to accomplish.
For more than 40 years, JDRF has been a leader in the search for an end to type 1 diabetes, through both
research funding and advocacy. During that time, we have always talked about a cure as a singular destination: a
return to normal physiology.
But today, we realize that we are engaged in a process of curing type 1 diabetes — that a cure is not just a
destination but also a journey along a path. And we recognize that a part of our mission must be to help those
living with type 1 today to live healthier, easier, and safer lives until we arrive at the end of that path.
In addition, we understand that the word "juvenile" is no longer descriptive of the disease or those burdened
with it. JDRF market research tells us that, today, 85 percent of those in the U.S. with type 1 diabetes are adults.
We must communicate that JDRF is an organization for all ages, and all stages of this disease.
The JDRF identity was created with these key considerations in mind. We have dropped the formal name
"Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation" from our identity and will be known simply as JDRF. This better reflects
our commitment to work for all those with type 1 diabetes.
M. Marie Davis — Crestwood
JDRF executive director, Metro St. Louis/Greater Missouri Chapter
Texting or life?
Texting while driving is getting more and more publicity, and is getting to be a problem. How many times do we
have to read about fatal car accidents involving texting while driving to get the problem completely against the
law, for anyone of any age?
I recently found out that the law is for people of ages 21 or younger, and as a high school student, I fall in this
category. I respect this law and find it completely necessary, but for it to only include young adults is a joke in my
mind. It doesn't matter who you are, texting is going to distract you. No text is more important than your life. If it
can't wait, call the person and talk to them so you can at least keep your eyes on the road.
One of the main problems is that the law isn't enforced enough. Drivers aren't too worried about texting while
driving because one, the police aren't really able to catch you unless you hold the phone up to them, and two, it
is said by many to be very easy, and can be done without any danger. But any of us that has had to swerve out of
the way of another car because of texting knows it isn't worth it.
Could the controversial red light cameras help enforce this law? Maybe. Anything to help prevent texting while
driving would be nice. This entire law needs to be looked over again.
Blake A. Smugala — Affton
False premise in column
The Dec. 15 editorial ("Gay and proud") by Tony Messenger about Lucas Case, who is a gay Republican and
member of the national organization of gay Republicans GOProud, is based on a false premise that to be against
same-sex marriage or in favor of the "don't ask don't tell" policy is to be anti-gay. It is not anti-gay to have these
positions.
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There is also an assumption in the column that to be a gay person (Republican or a Democrat) is to be in favor of
same-sex marriage and against the "don't ask don't tell" policy. Not true — we do not all believe the same. And
then there is the framing of these two issues as a civil right. We do not all see these issues as a civil right.
The column states that Mr. Case wants gay Republicans to "out" themselves. Well I have done that. And I do not
find Republican people to be anti-gay.
Kate Martin — St. Louis County
Washington mediocrity
I'm angry and annoyed. The mediocrity we've put up with from our "leaders" in Washington is unacceptable, and
we need to change it. Our country is in economic crisis, and nobody is willing to step up and provide actual
leadership to pull us out of it.
While some celebrated an unemployment rate of "only" 8.6 percent, half that change was explained by the fact
that 315,000 people dropped out of the labor force. Job creation barely kept pace with the entry of new people
into the workforce.
Those 315,000 people join the 5.7 million people officially classified as long-term unemployed. That number is at
historically high levels, representing nearly half (43 percent) of all the jobless people in this country.
It's not that they don't want jobs. Most of them have fallen into despair. Even worse, what they may have fallen
into is realism. Unless we use the power of government to do something, some of them will never work again.
They're falling out of the "normal" economy and into a new reality of persistent joblessness and, for some,
eventual poverty.
There's also a silent epidemic of youth unemployment. Official teenage unemployment is 23.7 percent, and the
real rate is much higher. Recent college graduates face historically high jobless rates — along with historically
high student debt.
We need a massive jobs program now to fix our crumbling bridges, highways, railroads, dams and public
buildings. We need to fix wage stagnation by going back to the policies that built the middle class, beginning with
stronger collective bargaining rights for working people. Unions were one of the engines of post-World War II
prosperity, and the war on unions needs to stop.
We also need higher taxes for the wealthy, tax advantages for companies that hire, and higher taxes for those
who make money by gambling, trading other people's debts, or hedging against the success of the American
economy. We need to downsize the financial sector, which is capturing too much corporate profit and squeezing
out job-creating businesses.
In short, we need leadership in Washington, not the "business as usual mediocrity" that we've come to accept.
We have to demand it, and if we don't then the once great America of our past will never shine again.
Robert Allen — Jefferson City
Disguised tax increase
I wonder whether your readers, who are retired and who whose taxable income for the year is $85,000.01 or
more, think they are rich. Evidently, the government does.
All such taxpayers are subject, since 2003, to an additional reduction in Social Security benefits for Medicare
benefits and now, thanks to the so-called Affordable Care Act, are subject to another reduction for the
prescription drug plan. These are in addition to whatever a taxpayer is paying for Medicare supplemental
insurance and for the private drug plan they purchase.
Do you think this seems fair to them? It is really a disguised tax increase on a discreet segment of the population
— a segment that votes. I hope they are paying attention. There are better ways to solve the entitlement
program problems.
Theresa A. Brennan — Crystal Lake Park
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Letters | Saturday, Dec. 17
Kansas City Star
‘Occupy’ frustrations
It seems politicians and pundits are using the same focus-group-approved word to describe the ever growing
Occupy Wall Street protest in cities nationwide: frustrated.
They still don’t get it, and I don’t think that they care to.
Ricky Setticase
Gardner
Cellphone driving ban
The National Transportation Safety Board recommends a full ban on the use of cellphones while driving, partially
precipitated by the 2010 chain-reaction accident near Gray Summit, Mo. (12-14, A1, “Cellphone ban is urged”).
Many cellphones today already have internal GPS capabilities, and the FCC has urged manufacturers to meet
location accuracy standards in all phones by 2018. Any electronic device with GPS can easily determine the
moving velocity of the device.
So it seems to me it would be relatively easy for the cellphone manufacturers or even the service providers to
install apps that would automatically disable the device while traveling say at 30 mph or faster.
Problem fixed; lives saved.
Now if we could just fix eating while driving and putting on makeup while driving.
Mike Cunningham
Kansas City
Catholic Church abuse
It irks me to hear about child abuse cases, even those involving Catholic priests. Over the years, I have noticed a
pattern of these kinds of cases and events.
Every time there is an economic slowdown, a recession, massive loss of jobs and many going homeless and
hungry, cases of priests molesting children surface like the skeletal soldiers that come out of the ground in “Jason
and the Argonauts.”
Historically, the Catholic Church has paid money to victims without having to go to court. This has encouraged
many alleged victims to come out of the woods. How convenient.
What does it take for legitimizing victim of child abuse at the hands of Catholic priests knowing that the church
will pay without argument whether it happened or not?
A jobless “Catholic” who conveniently remembers something that may have happened 30 to 40 years before?
Just complain and the jobless will get their 30 pieces of silver, by gum or by golly. Now the jobless have money
without having to work for it.
William A. Ingram
Kansas City
Sad racetrack finish
Safely across the state line, it is amusing but sad to watch Kansas City. Kansas City Raceway has been there for
decades. It has been enjoyed by many, paid taxes and provided employment. It’s provided real entertainment in
a city that pays serious money for that kind of thing.
But suddenly the city buys the land and turns it into a park, not only taking it off the tax roll but making it an
everlasting expense for the city.
There may have been a desperate need for a park right there, but we didn’t hear about it. We did hear that
neighbors complained of the noise.
Were those neighbors there 40 years ago, or did they move next to a race track and then complain of the noise?
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Elizabeth Cook
Shawnee
Torture doesn’t work
Waterboarding is a technique of torture wherein water is poured onto the covered face of a tied-down captive
causing him or her to experience an almost-immediate “gag reflex” — therein producing the horrifying sensation
of inescapable drowning.
It is little different from being tied so tightly that you can’t move and then being placed in a coffin and buried
alive, thinking you’ll never get out. In this instance you immediately get the unbearable sensation of close
confinement and that you’re losing your ability to breathe.
Self-preservation reflexes are so strong in these cases that a person can seriously injure himself just physically
fighting his supposed hopeless situation. And to escape, he also becomes more than willing to say anything the
torturer wishes to hear.
Notwithstanding, the main point is this: If we say that this torture method is an allowable policy of our CIA and
the U.S. military — then we must also consider it to be quite acceptable and proper for an enemy to employ the
very same methods on our captured American personnel.
John Graff
Olathe
Republican Party shift
Each passing day makes it clearer that the GOP (Grand Old Party) has become the POG (Party of Greed).
Art Winter
Raytown
Insurance confusion
I must be getting old. I went to a state Senate public hearing recently on the new insurance exchange mandate.
I was astounded to hear people upset because they may have to pay more taxes to pay for insurance (Medicaid
and even Medicare) fighting to have their private insurance premiums increase (for the uninsured). They talk like
the exchange is a government program when it is allowing people to buy private insurance on a more
competitive basis than now.
In addition to many individuals, many small businessmen and an association begged for the help an exchange
would offer. The legislators, who spend most of their time arguing their legislation is needed to help the small
businessman, seemed uninterested and have fought against the exchange in the past. Are they really interested?
One speaker complained about the provision in the law saying 80 percent of insurance premiums must go to pay
claims. Others cheered him.
Now I was in insurance 35 years. I never had anyone complain to me that insurance companies were being
cheated by government.
I heard constant complaints that government was not doing enough to prevent the carriers from stealing to
make excess profits.
Martin Walsh
Glendale, Mo.
Term-limit Congress
The case for term limits of senators and representatives in Congress has never been greater.
As elected representatives their fiduciary responsibility is to those who elected them, not to increase their
wealth at the expense of the electorate.
They make laws that pertain to all citizens but they exempt themselves. Here are a few examples:
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They vote themselves a yearly pay raise, have their own retirement program outside of Social Security, receive
retirement benefits far in excess of the average citizen, partake in insider trading that would land an ordinary
citizen in jail, and obtain high-paying jobs from lobbyists upon their departure from Congress.
I am sure there are many other perks that we citizens are not aware of. It appears that they are not serving the
best interests of this country and its citizens but rather themselves.
Term limits of two terms may prevent the cronyism that seems to be rampant among our elected congressional
representatives. Our representatives need to be held accountable as they are deemed public servants and are no
different than the rest of us.
John Markert
Lenexa
U.S. freedoms eroding
Earlier this year President Barack Obama asserted his right as president to authorize assassinations, including
those on U.S. citizens. In his view, the Constitution apparently simply no longer applies.
Now Sen. John McCain, with the support of Sen. Lindsey Graham, has slipped a passage into the defense
authorization bill that allows the Department of Defense to indefinitely detain any American citizen, even on
American soil, as part of the “war on terror” if that person has “substantially supported” known terrorists or
“associated forces.”
You will have no right to an attorney. You will have no appeal.
The citizens of this country better wake up, or someday they may be whispering to their neighbors what it used
to be like to live in a free America.
Brad Lucht
Kansas City
Kauffman volunteers
Concerning the signage or lack thereof at the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, it would be a shame
to litter the center with signage that no one would read anyway. Having worked different venues and events
around town over the last 13 years, I know signage makes no difference.
The secret to a successful patron experience would be to overflow the events with accommodating, well-trained
volunteers who know the place inside and out with a drive spearheaded by management for a stellar and
comprehensive volunteer program, not using a hired-out staff.
The volunteers will desire to be there and want to help, and when they are nurtured and appreciated, their work
is a win-win for all.
Kansas City has an abundance of helpful and giving people who would welcome the chance to volunteer and be a
part of this fabulous world-renowned center, built and paid for by a group of the most generous and
philanthropic contributors.
Kansas City has a tremendous opportunity to make this center the ultimate patron experience, not only in its
grandeur of vision realized, but as the most inspirational theater and concert experience that it was designed to
be.
Kathy Q. Peterson
Prairie Village
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Letters | Sunday, Dec. 18
Kansas City Star
KC homeless camp?
I went to the Occupy Kansas City site to take some things, and though I didn’t spend a lot of time there, I got the
feeling that it was more of a homeless community pretending to be a political organization. There are a lot of
tents, but the five people I saw — well, it didn’t seem like they would know what day it was. I just can’t tell if it is
real or a scam.
Mark Phillips
Kansas City
Jesus as role model
As a Christian, a follower of Jesus — the person who best represents the character of God for me — I feel
compelled to offer an alternative view of him.
Recent letters would have us believe that Jesus was all about encouraging us to help the disadvantaged in a
personal way, through our giving.
I agree that this would please Jesus, but I think we miss a big part of his mission when we focus only on that and
fail to see the social justice side of him.
Jesus lived in a world that was very unjust, much like ours today. He knew that God’s vision for a world of justice
was not going to happen while wealth and power were concentrated at the top.
But he also knew that violence would not bring this vision into being.
Jesus advocated a way of living that was threatening to the powerful, and he died as a result of his vision.
He really was a political activist, in the best sense of that term.
I encourage people to think about Jesus in this way and try to be like him. His humanity, and ours, challenges us
for sure.
Rev. Glenda Fish
Overland Park
Diuguid column
Lewis Diuguid wrote in his Dec. 12 column, “Time for grown-ups to grow up in KC schools,” “They (surrounding
districts) didn’t want black kids then, and they don’t want black kids now.”
I read lots of letters attacking Mr. Diuguid for “harping on race,” and I generally disagree with them. But here I
believe he’s overstepped.
Mr. Diuguid, have you looked at the racial makeups of Center, Grandview, Hickman Mills and Raytown school
districts? It’s not that they “don’t want black kids.”
They are majority black already.
What they don’t want are kids who have been floundering in low-performing schools. They are concerned about
the effect on their current students who have to be their first priority.
You can argue whether or not this is valid, but this is not about race. Making it so helps no one.
Stacy Wright
Kansas City
Troop appreciation
As I watched President Barack Obama’s Fort Bragg “welcome home” speech, one thought continually made its
way to the front of my consciousness. As a Vietnam veteran, I am very pleased that Americans have learned to
separate their appreciation for the troops from their concerns over the policy that promoted the war.
Any of my fellow Vietnam vets would understand how important this will be for these younger veterans as they
go forward. Good job, America.
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Jerry Hall
Holt Mo.
U.S. needs assistance
I watched an episode of “60 Minutes” on television recently, and I saw people living in trucks and cars with no
food. Mr. President, the money spent on one of your vacations would feed a lot of people.
You always want to feed poor countries. When are you going to wake up?
America is badly in need of help. How about some help to those people who are living in cars and trucks with no
food?
America is calling for help. Take care of these families first. They are our neighbors.
Talk, talk, travel, travel will not do it. Food and providing for the necessities will.
May God bless America, land of the endless recession. We are all thankful for what we have.
We also need things made in the United States instead of China and all other countries. How about it, Mr.
President?
Rose Ann Odell
Louisburg, Kan.
End credit card debt
Every day in America, people fall further and further into debt. Over a lifetime, some Americans acquire so much
debt that they could never pay it off unless they live more than 200 years.
Why? Credit cards.
When people buy things via credit card, they’re spending money they don’t actually have. People love credit
cards for that. Suddenly, no one has to wait until payday to purchase that new flat screen.
However, let’s remember that patience is a virtue. We don’t need credit cards or the debt that they bring. Who
actually wants to be in debt when a person doesn’t need to be?
Debit cards are an excellent alternative to credit cards. They’re just as quick and convenient. The difference is
individuals are not borrowing money with a debit card.
Let’s raise a new generation of smart spenders and a generation of smart savers. If we don’t act now and
eliminate credit cards, Americans and our credit cards will be welded together until debt do us part.
Abby Kucera
Lee’s Summit
Cellphone lot for KCI
A regular complaint about the Kansas City International Airport is a lack of a cellphone waiting lot.
Of all KCI’s shortcomings, this is the easiest to correct.
Any of the numerous vacant parking lots along Mexico City Avenue or Paris Street could easily be converted.
The only expense would be a few signs to direct people there.
In the meantime, if you need to wait for an inbound passenger at KCI, pick a vacant lot and make it your own.
Vicky Welsh
Kansas City
Grinch as president
What this country needs is not a good five-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot on Sunday. What we need is good
ole boy Newt Gingrich to “take a bath and get a job.”
If Gingrich won the Republican nomination for president and then defeated Barack Obama in November, we’d
have a Grinch in the White House. Then we can have a Grinch Stole Christmas for four years, for sure.
Arthur Elkins
Belton
Bus service to Royals
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Next year should bring new and exciting baseball to Kansas City with a young team plus the 2012 All Star game. It
would be a perfect time for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and the Royals to bring back express
bus service from downtown and through Crown Center and the Country Club Plaza.
The plan in place three or so years ago was too good to last. The round trip was just $5 with a $5 discount on a
Royals’ ticket.
Doubling the cost would still be an attractive offer, and I hope that could be made sweeter with a discount offer
from the Royals. The service would be an important and appreciated one for tourists along with residents of the
city.
This is an appeal to give express bus service a try at least through the All-Star game. Make the offer, and I think
passengers will help 2012 attendance top 2 million.
Don Biggs
Kansas City
Faith as guide to truth
In all people’s lives, they must go on a journey for truth. As I began mine to search for evidence for a God, it led
me to believe in the Christian faith.
When I saw the unspeakable beauty of nature, it all screamed of the presence of a creator. There is no
conceivable way in my mind that all of the wonderfully intricate things of this world could have been created by
some sort of random chance or “scientific” encounter.
Once I decided that there was a God, I had to figure out which God he was. When I began to understand the
Christian faith and the stories of the disciples’ sacrifice for the story of Jesus Christ, it all fell into place.
The greatest reason I believe is my personal experience. After searching for the answer to one of life’s greatest
questions, I became sure that the God of the Christian faith exists and acts in our lives. This has shaped my life
immensely and is now my strongest belief.
Matthew Judd
Blue Springs
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Letters | Monday, Dec. 19
Kansas City Star
Royals run like Wal-Mart
The recent Kansas City Royals have a history of being just plain cheap as well as mismanaged.
It’s not a real surprise that they didn’t want Frank White around. He was getting so good. They couldn’t or
refused to pay him his worth — similar to the way in which we’ve lost players in the past.
They seem more interested in running the team like a Wal-Mart rather than a major league franchise. One
example was the recent “rule five” draft. The Royals drafted a player.
There is a $50,000 fee for drafting players. The team promptly sold the player it had chosen to the Yankees for
$100,000. What a profit — wow!
Frank can rest assured his friends and fans will always be here.
Mike Fisher
Kansas City
Bruised Royals’ egos
All of this flap concerning Frank White’s dismissal is costing the Royals upper management a lot of bad press with
the fans, and justifiably so. Their lack of good judgment issuing vague accusations of negative comments reeks of
bruised egos inflicted by a higher authority on the game.
Their satisfaction, although at the expense of the fans, is not only regrettable but a lose- lose scenario for all
involved. It’s not Frank who needs the attitude adjustment — it’s Royals upper management.
Dave Willhauck
Kansas City
U.$. for wealthy
Folks, you might want to become familiar with the word “plutocracy,” for that is rapidly becoming the type of
government we have in this country.
Our feckless Congress now takes its marching orders from Wall Street’s major corporations, industries, lobbyists
and the very wealthy.
As it appears there’s no possibility of our Congress people growing a backbone, I’m afraid that government of, by
and for special interest groups and the rich will soon be a fait accompli.
Jerry Ward
Overland Park
Oil pipeline bad idea
I’ve always considered myself an independent leaning toward the right. Now, I’m not so sure.
Somehow we have to stop the insanity. Now the Republicans have attached a bill to the tax cut and benefits bill
to proceed with the pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Are we nuts? Didn’t we learn anything from the disaster in the Gulf and in the rivers near Yellowstone? We
simply can’t allow this to proceed.
We can’t afford to take the chance to pollute the underground water supplies across the Midwest. I would be in
favor of building refineries at the Canadian border.
We don’t need to pipe the oil to the Gulf to be refined and shipped to other countries.
Stop the insanity, and vote every incumbent out. Don’t buy the garbage that the unions and big oil are selling,
saying, “It will create more jobs.” At what expense?
I don’t want Barack Obama as the next president either, but it’s stupid to make that our only priority. The next
time the leaders in the House or Senate speak, pay close attention.
In the old days, it was called selling snake oil. They’re phony as a three-dollar bill
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Ernie Vietze
Raytown
Big brother closes in
It is easy to sympathize with those who are considered crackpots or defenders of liberty. We live in a country in
which the cost of government is growing faster than our ability to pay for it.
If you make under $100,000 a year, you are very aware of the high cost of everything. If it exists it is taxed and
regulated, or fees are added to ownership or use of whatever you buy.
At the current rate of regulation explosion, the future will require the assistance of a lawyer just for our everyday
existence. Silly, right?
Go purchase a new automobile with cash. It takes about 10 days to acquire the proper ownership papers before
you can go to the state to purchase the license plates. Where I live, that cost is about 9 percent of the purchase
price.
How long will it be before we will be required to acquire a permit just to use a gas-powered lawnmower to
maintain your lawn?
As things are right now, you can receive a ticket in some cities for not cutting your grass.
Jerry R. Jackson
Liberty
Boeing’s Kansas loyalty
I am concerned about Boeing’s possible abandonment of the Wichita facility. I hired in at Boeing in 1979. At age
22, I looked forward to making a decent living at the finest airplane manufacturer in the world.
After Boeing sold the place in 2005, and after the tanker deal was finally secured, we all assumed — wrongly it
seems — that Boeing had finally settled down and would leave the few of us who remained, alone. But like our
politicians in Washington D.C., who promise us one thing and deliver another, we are left twisting in the
prevailing winds of companies across this country, which have been outsourcing our livelihoods for decades.
I understand an unprofitable company cannot long stay in business and can’t employ anyone. But Boeing is
anything but unprofitable, and the tenacity Wichita and the state of Kansas showed in fighting for the tanker
contract should not be dismissed so cavalierly.
We showed our loyalty. It’s too bad it may not be returned in kind.
Kathleen Butler
Wichita
‘Altar boys secret’ series
Only a disoriented Christian would decry the light that shines in the darkness. Yet apparently a mindset exists
that is intent on defending the church.
The Star’s December series, “The altar boys’ secret,” highlighted two individuals worthy of the highest praise —
the abused individual and the reporter.
Their courageous actions can only lead to potentially releasing many people from a bondage to fear, shame and
guilt.
The extensive articles allowed us an understanding of the emotional and spiritual effect of abuse. Release from
bondage, by no means, constitutes a healing. It is simply the doorway for a process of healing to begin.
I hope the church will not fail in this ministry to restore these individuals to spiritual wholeness.
It is disconcerting to read of a priest who is telling his parishioners to “pray for the enemy.”
That can only encourage the church to adopt a victim mentality and foster isolation from their fellow men. That
stance positions the perpetrators to morph into victims.
The church should pray not to become another protected species of political correctness. Sadly, those under such
protection lose the ability for self-examination to their detriment.
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David Starke
Lexington, Mo.
High taxes, bad schools
Jackson County’s assessment department warned of higher property taxes this year. Still, I was surprised when I
opened the bill.
I noted that the lion’s share of the levy goes to the Kansas City School District. I understand that a good school
system benefits a metropolitan area in many ways.
I lament that our system is failing, and has, to some extent fallen short all the decades of my plus 50 years. The
possible state takeover is both a blessing and a curse.
Something about our school board does not ring true. Too much infighting, too little careful study, not enough of
a partnership with the Greater Kansas City community and all the resources it could bring to bear on the current
situation in our schools.
Maybe a takeover would work. Still, it spells that our district is in trouble.
The message this sends to prospective businesses and developers in the region is not a good one. Kansas City
loses jobs and prospects for continued growth.
I’ll pay my tax bill. I always do.
I will budget more carefully for next year and hope for the best.
Cathy Dobson
Kansas City
Overland Park wrong to do roadwork near mall
I would like to nominate Overland Park for the “Bonehead Idea of the Year” award.
Overland Park officials apparently picked the holiday season to have construction on Quivira Road. It is one the
major entrances to Oak Park Mall.
Frankly, the access to one of the Kansas City area’s busiest shopping malls isn’t that great under the best of
conditions. But having road construction and lane closings at this time of the year is downright stupid.
Johnette Zimmerman
Overland Park
Christmas memories
As Christmas approaches, I always reflect on how best to show the true meaning of the season. This year I am
reminded of one of the kindest people I have ever known — my second-grade teacher, Ms. Ann Shumaker.
I can still see a bunch of 7-year-olds listening to music, making ornaments and making little gifts for each other at
our Christmas party. Ms. Shumaker, who taught in the North Kansas City School District, cared so much for
others.
I still have the pencil pouch she personalized for each of us. Two orange pencils engraved with my name filled the
pouch.
I pray each of us makes the time for special memories this season — memories that will last a lifetime. Rushing
around to buy gifts is not what Jesus Christ intended.
Ms. Shumaker died in February, and I will miss not sending her a Christmas card this year. I have taught for 15
years, and as my family decorates our tree, I will hang a very special ornament toward the top.
It’s one that a 7-year-old boy created many years ago with the help of his second-grade teacher.
Mike Harding
Kansas City

				
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