Bond gives farewell speech today
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
seMissourian.com -- Scott Moyers
After almost a quarter-century in Washington, this week marks the last few days of Sen.
Kit Bond's career of public service to Missouri. Bond is scheduled to deliver his farewell
speech at 10:30 a.m. today on the Senate floor.
Bond has said he intends to join a law firm and continue working to bring jobs to
Missouri when his term expires. He will be replaced by Roy Blunt in January.
On Monday, Bond received the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service
Medal. This is the highest award that can be granted to non-career federal employees,
private citizens or others who have performed distinguished service of exceptional
significance to the intelligence community. The award was established in 2008 to
acknowledge individuals who rendered "extraordinary service at considerable personal
sacrifice and who were motivated by patriotism, good citizenship or a sense of public
McCaskill, Bond back extension of
Democrat votes yes despite opposition to including top
Springfield News-Leader: Malia Rulon • Gannett Washington Bureau • December
Washington -- Missouri Sens. Kit Bond, a Republican, and Claire McCaskill, a
Democrat, voted together Monday to help the Senate overcome a key procedural hurdle
toward passage of an $858 billion tax cut package.
The bill, compromise between President Obama and Republicans, would extend key
Bush era tax cuts to everyone, regardless of income. It would also extend
unemployment benefits until 2012 and offer a one-year payroll tax holiday for working
"I held my nose and voted yes," McCaskill said, calling the deal a "true compromise."
She said the bill included her biggest priority, to extend tax cuts to the middle class and
"These are essential to our economy right now, but Republicans would not allow either
without a temporary extension of the tax bonuses to multimillionaires," she said. "The
compromise was certainly not ideal, but it was necessary."
Bond spokeswoman Shana Marchio said Bond, who will retire at the end of the year,
voted in favor of "blocking the crippling tax increases" from taking effect Jan. 1. "Bond
continues to stress that Congress can't leave before protecting Americans from the
largest tax increase in our history," she said.
Senate passage of the bill is virtually assured. A final vote was expected as early as
Monday's 83-15 vote surpassed the 60-vote supermajority needed to break a filibuster.
The vote to advance the bill will help the White House lobby reluctant House Democrats
to support the legislation.
Contributing: Brian Tumulty, Gannett Washington Bureau
Analysis: Virginia ruling on
health-care reform revives debate
on national power, states' rights
By William H. Freivogel, Special to the Beacon
Posted 5:31 pm, Mon., 12.13.10
A leading constitutional law expert at Washington University called Monday's court
decision striking down a key provision of the health-care law "embarrassing" and
"anachronistic." But a libertarian lawyer said it was a refreshing reminder that
congressional power has limits.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that Congress did not have the power to
require people to buy health insurance, a requirement of the Affordable Care Act
considered essential to its workability.
Bruce La Pierre, a constitutional law professor at Washington University Law School,
said the decision was "right out of the 1930s," a throwback to pre-Depression era law
when the courts voided child-labor laws.
The "decision is an anachronism," he wrote in an email. "Judicial limits on national
legislative power have accomplished little good and are rarely if ever, and certainly not
here, anything more than judicial disagreement with legislative policies.
"If (the health-care law) is bad, there is a simple solution -- amend it or repeal it. The
power of judicial review should be husbanded -- exercised sparing and carefully -- to
protect individual rights from majorities; it should not be squandered in policing disputes
between the national majority (ACA is good policy) and a state majority (ACA is bad)."
Dave Roland, director of litigation at the Freedom Center of Missouri, disagreed. "Most
importantly, Judge Hudson's decision reaffirms that there are still constitutional limits to
congressional power, some areas of a person's private decision-making into which the
federal government may not intrude," he wrote in an email.
Roland noted that the judge did not decide the issue of how Virginia's Health Care
Freedom Act -- similar to Proposition C passed in Missouri in August -- would interact
with the federal health-care law. "Presumably, courts will only need address this issue if
the U.S. Supreme Court eventually reverses today's decision and upholds the
constitutionality of the individual health-insurance mandate," he wrote.
Hudson is the third judge to rule on the health law. The other two upheld it. In all three,
the judge's decision was in line with pre-bench political views. Hudson was active in
Republican politics before being elevated to the bench by President George W. Bush.
NATIONAL POWER VS STATES' RIGHTS
Many of the nation's most important legal and political disputes have centered around
the issue of national power. Chief Justice John Marshall was a great architect of
decisions upholding the exercise of federal power to create such institutions as a
national bank. National power versus states' rights was at the heart of the dispute
leading to the Civil War, just as it was to the legal fight over the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
That law was upheld under an expansive reading of Congress' power to regulate
Before and during the early years of the Depression, the Supreme Court threw out
federal and state laws to protect workers. But the court reversed itself under heavy
pressure from President Franklin Roosevelt and upheld a greatly expanded view of
Just how expansive is illustrated by two decisions that Judge Hudson considered but
discarded in making his decision: Wickard vs. Filburn and Gonzales vs. Raich. The 239
bushels of wheat that Roscoe Filburn grew on his farm in Montgomery County, Ohio
during the 1940s and the six marijuana plants cultivated by Diane Monson earlier this
decade for her medicinal needs illustrate the breadth of Congress' commerce power.
Filburn bristled at the Depression-era regulations of the Agricultural Adjustment Act,
which set a wheat production quota to avoid excess supplies and low prices. Before
Uncle Sam intruded upon his life, Filburn raised a crop of winter wheat on his 23 acres
of Montgomery County, Ohio. He sold about half his wheat and used the rest for home
consumption and to maintain a herd of dairy cattle and a poultry and egg business.
In 1941, the feds told Filburn he could produce wheat on just under half of his 23 acres.
He went ahead and planted all the land and went to court claiming that the
home-consumption of a trivial amount of wheat couldn't be touched by Congress' power
to regulate interstate commerce. But the Supreme Court disagreed.
The court said that even a small amount of wheat consumed at home could affect the
stream of commerce. In describing Congress' broad commerce powers, the court
harkened back to the decisions of Chief Justice Marshall who "made emphatic the
embracing and penetrating nature of this (commerce) power by warning that effective
restraints on its exercise must proceed from political, rather than from judicial,
Marshall, the first important chief justice, had recognized broad power for Congress to
enact laws "necessary and proper" to the exercise of its powers, especially its power to
regulate interstate commerce.
Monson's pot case came to the court in 2005 in a different context. The Depression was
a distant memory, and the Rehnquist court had been cutting back on Congress'
commerce powers by ruling it could not regulate such subjects as guns in schools and
how universities handled cases of violence against women. Many legal scholars thought
the court was about to toss out Wickard. But it concluded in Gonzales vs. Raich that
Monson's pot was a lot like Filburn's wheat and that both could be regulated by
Congress because they had an impact on interstate commerce, even if miniscule.
Hudson said that the national health-care mandate was different from Filburn's wheat or
Monson's pot. Filburn and Monson had taken affirmative steps to grow the wheat and
pot. By contrast, a person who doesn't buy health insurance is not taking an affirmative
step. That is crucial, Hudson wrote, because the Commerce Clause only allows
Congress to regulate "activity," and the refusal to buy health insurance is not an activity.
Hudson said that the Rehnquist era decisions limiting Congress' power to regulate guns
at schools and sexual violence on college campuses were more relevant to the
THE COMMERCE CLAUSE AND INTERSTATE COMMERCE
La Pierre disagreed with Hudson's analysis. "The court has long upheld Congress'
power (under the necessary and proper clause) to regulate local activities that have a
substantial effect on interstate commerce," he wrote. "There is no warrant for Judge
Hudson's distinction between local acts (buying health care insurance) and local
omissions (failing to buy health-care insurance) -- both affect the price of health care in
the interstate market -- and the power to regulate, under long-settled precedent,
includes the power to penalize.
"As Judge Hudson correctly notes, '[t]he court's task . . . is limited to determining
whether a rational basis exists for Congress' conclusions' that a local activity affects
interstate commerce. Unfortunately, Judge Hudson ignores his own counsel and
proceeds to substitute his judgment for Congress' judgment. ...He substitutes his
judgment that the local activity (failing to buy health insurance) does not affect interstate
commerce for Congress' determination that this local activity does affect interstate
"The question is not, as Judge Hudson would have it, 'the authority of Congress to
compel anyone to purchase health insurance.' The question is whether Congress has a
rational basis for its determination that failure of citizens to purchase health-care
insurance raises costs of health care in the interstate market. The short answer is that
Congress has a rational basis for believing that individual decisions not to purchase
health-care insurance, viewed as an aggregate, will raise the cost of health care and
prevent low-cost delivery of health care for persons with pre-existing symptoms. That is,
without an adequate revenue base, the interstate health-care system will fail."
But Roland agreed with the judge's interpretation of the Commerce Clause. "The court
seized upon the vital distinction between an individual deciding to take action (such as
growing wheat or marijuana) deemed to be counter to the public interest and an
individual's decision not to act (i.e., choosing not to purchase something one does not
want). Judge Hudson determined that even the Supreme Court's precedents of Wickard
and Gonzales did not allow the federal government to use the Commerce Clause to
require that citizens engage in an involuntary economic transaction."
CONGRESSIONAL POWER TO TAX AND IMPOSE PENALTIES
The other issue before the court was whether the health law was constitutional under
Congress' broad power to tax. Hudson reasoned that the health-care mandate was
enforced by a "penalty" rather than a "tax" because Congress was not trying to raise
revenue. Because it was a penalty rather than a tax, Congress could not rely on its
broad taxing powers, Hudson concluded.
La Pierre called Hudson's interpretation of Congress' taxing power a "crabbed
understanding of tax power, right out of the 1930s." He added that is "hard to believe
that Hudson can spin his analysis on the basis of conclusory labels 'tax' and 'penalty' --
hard to believe that Bailey (the child-labor tax case) still rings true for Judge Hudson."
The courts do not look at the intent or motive of a tax, La Pierre wrote. For example, the
court has upheld taxes on bookies and marijuana sales, two taxes probably aimed at
discouraging activities rather than raising revenue.
He added that it was "embarrassing" that Hudson relied on U.S. vs. Butler, to rule that
the health-care law violated states' rights protected by the 10th amendment. The Butler
decision was from the era before the Roosevelt court recognized broader congressional
Roland, on the other hand, wrote that, "the court reinvigorated the distinction between
taxes levied for the purpose of generating revenue and regulatory penalties under the
guise of taxation. Congress is permitted to impose tax-based regulatory penalties for
laws passed pursuant to the Commerce Clause. But if Congress lacks authority under
the Commerce Clause to regulate certain activity (or inactivity, as the case may be), it
cannot avoid constitutional limitations by creating 'taxes' intended to force the desired
behaviors. This is vitally important because it affirms that courts have a responsibility to
discern when Congress is using sleight-of-hand to accomplish an otherwise
La Pierre wrote that the truly conservative approach to judicial interpretation of the
health-care law would be to uphold it.
"The Republicans -- who couldn't defeat health-care reform in the political process last
year -- are now trying to obtain judicially what they couldn't obtain in the democratic
(small d) political process," he wrote. "It is always amusing to watch the opponents of
judicial activism turn to the courts to redress their political losses. Sadly, Judge Hudson
has given them the first round. One can hope, nonetheless, that the Roberts' Court will
prove to be judicially conservative as opposed to politically conservative, that it will defer
to the political branches of government, and that it will tell the new conservative
Congress to repeal health-care reform on its own."
Kinder, Akin laud Virginia court
ruling against federal health care
By Jo Mannies, Beacon Political Reporter
Posted 12:28 pm, Mon., 12.13.10
Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country, both leaped on
today's court ruling by a federal judge in Virginia that parts of the new federal health law
The judge's ruling applies only to the mandates, to be put in place in 2014, that all
Americans obtain health insurance. The White House has said it expected today's ruling
by the judge, a GOP appointee.
Said Kinder, a Republican who has pursued his own legal challenge of the law:
"Today's ruling is a victory not only for the people of the United States but also for the
freedoms we hold so dear. Judge Hudson's ruling confirms what many of us believed to
be true nearly one year ago -- that Congress overstepped its authority in mandating that
every American purchase health insurance.
"This ruling strengthens my lawsuit, which currently awaits a hearing in a Missouri
federal courtroom. This also boosts the efforts of more than 20 other states that will
bring their arguments before a Florida federal judge on Thursday.
"With an overwhelming majority of states joining this constitutional challenge, I am
calling on Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster to join me in this legal effort on behalf
of the people of the great state of Missouri.
"Nearly one year ago, we watched as this law was passed in a series of back room
deals and bribes, leaving cash-strapped states like Missouri to cover the hefty tab. But
now, with our continued efforts across state lines and with the new Congress expected
to begin efforts on repealing and replacing this law with true, systematic health-care
reform, we are one step closer to putting an end to Washington’s attempt to control our
health-care system in America."
Observed Akin, “I am very encouraged by today’s ruling. Judge Hudson has found what
I and many members of Congress who opposed this legislation have long believed --
that the Pelosi, Reid Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by requiring that
every individual American purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
"I will continue to monitor this case as it is appealed to the Supreme Court level as I
work for full repeal of this ill-advised legislation."
Eminent domain, tax break
proposed in 2012 for Mo.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri groups that want to limit the use of eminent
domain and expand tax breaks for charitable donations have been cleared to try to get
their proposals on a statewide ballot.
The Missouri secretary of state on Monday approved the summaries for the group's
proposals, clearing them to seek voter signatures on petitions. If they succeed, the
measures would appear on ballots in November 2012.
Eminent domain involves the seizure of private property for development. Critics want to
amend Missouri's Constitution to limit who can use eminent domain and how property
can be seized.
Another group wants to let people who donate to charities claim a tax credit worth 60
percent of the donation on top of existing tax breaks.
Tax-credit proposal for schools
among initiative petitions
approved for circulation
By Jo Mannies, Beacon Political Reporter
Posted 5:51 pm, Mon., 12.13.10
Almost two years before the next general election, the Missouri secretary of state's
office has approved four initiative petitions to get ballot measures before 2012 voters.
Three propose restrictions on the use of eminent domain, a popular topic although most
initiative petitions have yet to collect enough to get such restrictions on Missouri ballot.
The fourth seeks to offer tax credits for contributions to educational and charitable
not-for-profit groups, in addition to the tax deductions those groups already receive.
The initiative-petition's author, Herman Krieghauser of Chesterfield, said the tax-credit
proposal also would apply to private and public schools.
Kriegshauser is a local leader of the Educational Freedom Foundation, a non-profit
group advocating school choice. It would be among the groups to benefit from the
proposed tax credit. The secretary of state's office estimates that the measure, if
approved by voters, would cost the state and local governments $5 million a year in tax
Kreigshauser previously has submitted such initiative-petition proposals but has been
unsuccessful in collecting enough signatures or filed his proposals too late.
Kreigshauser says that he hopes that this time he'll be able to attract thousands of
volunteers from non-profit groups to help collect the necessary signatures.
To get on the ballot, a proposed constitutional amendment requires signatures from
roughly 147,000 to almost 160,000 registered voters from at least six of the state's nine
congressional districts. The number required depends on which six districts are
The signatures must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 6, 2012.
Tilley changes committee; sets
sights on lieutenant governor seat
By TONY MESSENGER > email@example.com
Posted: Monday, December 13, 2010 1:30 pm
JEFFERSON CITY -- If there's one truism about politics in the age of term limits it's this:
Everything happens a little quicker.
Missouri's incoming Speaker of the House Steve Tilley hasn't even officially been
handed the speaker's gavel yet, and already, he's setting his sights on his next office:
Late last week, Tilley said, he changed his campaign committee so that it now says he
is specifically seeking the office of lieutenant governor in 2012.
"That is something we're seriously considering," Tilley told the Political Fix. "We wanted
to get it out of the way so I could focus on the important work we have to do in the
When the legislative session starts Jan. 5, Tilley will preside over the largest GOP
majority in state history, with 106 Republicans to 57 Democrats. Because of term limits,
Tilley will only serve as speaker for two years. He will be ineligible to run for the House
With Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder widely expected to run for governor, Tilley would be a
well-funded and formidable opponent for what would be an open seat.
Gov. Nixon picks new director for
By CHRIS BLANK, Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday picked a public
relations firm project manager to join his Cabinet and the head up the same state
environmental agency she helped lead earlier this decade.
Sara Parker Pauley was named the new director of the state Department of Natural
Resources. She was the department's deputy director from 2001 to 2005 and served as
the liaison to business and environmental groups and oversaw the environmental
agency's historic preservation, energy center, technical assistance and public
The appointment requires Senate confirmation when lawmakers return to the Capitol
next month. Nixon announced the selection at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He
cited Pauley's professional experience and said she values the state's natural and
"Sara Parker Pauley has a breadth of experience - and a proven track record of success
- helping government, business and non-profit groups find common ground and build
consensus," Nixon said. That is the kind of problem-solving we need."
Pauley, 45, of Hartsburg in central Missouri, replaces Mark Templeton. He resigned as
DNR director earlier this year to head the Office of the Independent Trustees of the
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust. The fund was established by BP PLC and is
administered by two trustees.
During Templeton's tenure, the Department of Natural Resources faced criticism and a
legislative inquiry into the handling of E. coli test samples from the Lake of the Ozarks.
The governor's office created a nine-person committee to conduct a nationwide search
for Templeton's replacement.
Pauley has been a project manager for D.J. Case & Associates and worked with state
and federal agencies on developing policy, marketing and environmental compliance.
Before that, she was the executive vice president of a start-up energy company based
in Missouri. She also served as the chief of staff to a Democratic state House speaker
from 1996 to 1998.
Pauley said she plans to promote renewable energy and conservation of natural
"I grew up outdoors - hunting and fishing in the Ozarks with my grandparents and
parents - so caring for and respecting Missouri's outstanding natural resources is a
value that goes back generations in my family," Pauley said. "I also believe that
economic growth and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive."
Pauley has degrees in journalism and law from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
She also has taught a course in natural resource policy and administration at the
Federal campaign finance records show that over the last two years Pauley donated
$500 to Democratic Congressman Ike Skelton and $500 to Democratic U.S. Senate
candidate Robin Carnahan.
Dale Helmig is free on bond for
the first time since 1996
By TONY RIZZO, The Kansas City Star
MAYSVILLE, Mo. | Wearing prison orange, Dale Helmig shuffled into a Missouri
courthouse Monday night shackled hand and foot.
He emerged less than an hour later, a free man for the first time since 1996, when a jury
found him guilty of killing his mother.
For Helmig, Monday was an “overwhelming” experience that he had always believed he
would someday see.
“I never gave up,” Helmig said moments after his newfound freedom was declared at
the DeKalb County Courthouse in Maysville. “I knew one day I would walk out.”
His brother, Rich Helmig, also said he always believed his brother would be a free man.
He drove halfway across Missouri on Monday to deliver the $5,000 needed to win his
brother’s release on bond.
“This is the happiest day of my life,” Rich Helmig said. “It’s just so surreal. It’s finally,
While Dale Helmig was freed on bond Monday, his case is now in the hands of Missouri
Appeals Court judges and a county prosecutor.
The appeals court earlier Monday ruled that Helmig should be granted bond after a
lower court judge found last month that Helmig’s conviction and life sentence in the
1993 death of Norma Helmig were the result of a “fundamental miscarriage of justice.”
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster objected to Helmig’s release. He previously had
argued that Helmig should remain incarcerated while his office appealed the judge’s
Kansas City lawyer Sean O’Brien, who represents Helmig, said he was surprised by the
release order. But he immediately began working with Missouri prison officials and the
court clerk in DeKalb County to accomplish Helmig’s release Monday.
O’Brien, who is also a professor at the law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas
City, led a team of lawyers, investigators and college students who worked for years to
convince a court that Helmig was innocent of killing his mother, whose body was found
tied to a concrete block in a mid-Missouri river near the home they shared.
Last month, DeKalb County Senior Circuit Judge Warren McElwain ruled that Helmig
was unfairly convicted and said his legal team had provided strong evidence that he
was actually innocent.
McElwain found that prosecutors presented jurors with false and misleading evidence at
Helmig’s trial and that his lawyer had pursued a “hare-brained” defense and had failed
to competently represent Helmig.
He also found that evidence uncovered by O’Brien’s defense team refuted the
prosecution’s arguments at trial and strongly implicated someone else in the killing.
Koster’s office is challenging McElwain’s ruling in the Court of Appeals. If McElwain’s
ruling stands, the prosecutor in Osage County, Mo., will have to decide whether to retry
“If rational minds prevail, there will not be a retrial,” O’Brien said.
Helmig, now 54, has been in custody since March 1996, when a jury found him guilty of
first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison.
He was being held at the Crossroads Correctional Facility in Cameron, Mo., about a
20-minute drive from Maysville. Prison officers delivered him to the courthouse in
Maysville about 5:20 p.m. and he was greeted by a wall of cameras and lights.
He was taken upstairs to the sheriff’s office, where he changed clothes, and a few
minutes later he walked into McElwain’s courtroom wearing a maroon polo shirt and
gray pants. One of the prison guards carried Helmig’s former prison garb in a plastic
bag. Sitting at a table with O’Brien and another attorney, Bronwyn Werner, Helmig
listened as McElwain explained the conditions he would have to follow while on bond.
McElwain ended the brief hearing at 5:49 p.m. with the bang of a gavel and the words,
“the court orders the petitioner released.”
Rich Helmig walked to his brother and they embraced in a tight hug for about 30
Afterwards, the brothers conducted an impromptu press conference.
Dale Helmig thanked the many people who supported him and worked for his release.
He also thanked God and said he would just “go with the flow and see what happens.”
Rich Helmig, who couldn’t suppress a smile, said they would definitely be going fishing.
Dale Helmig will live with his brother in Rocky Mount, Mo., and said he is looking
forward to being able to see his three children, including a daughter who was in diapers
when he went to prison.
Dale Helmig didn’t hesitate when asked the first thing he would do.
“Be a free man,” he answered.
Teen overdose highlights lax
regulation of doctors
By JEREMY KOHLER • firstname.lastname@example.org and BLYTHE BERNHARD •
Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 12:15 am
Dr. Janet Akremi says she's a caring doctor who helps people in pain.
But the way she helps people has long drawn attention from the board that regulates
"On occasion," she said, the Board of Registration for the Healing Arts has sent her
confidential letters expressing concern about her prescribing practices.
By the time the board formally sought to discipline her in October 2008, she had already
been sanctioned by another state agency — the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs — several times beginning in 2003 for reckless handling of addictive medicines at
Dancing Horizon Health, her clinic in Boonville, Mo.
The healing arts board created "letters of concern" in 1986 to express a "genuine
concern" about a doctor's conduct, according to a newsletter from the time.
The letters were not regarded as discipline. "Hopefully, these letters can serve as
encouragement for the physician to be introspective about his practice pattern," the
newsletter said. When the practice began, the board sent out 20 letters a year. By 2006,
the number of letters sent out had grown to 910.
While a reprimand or suspension or probation is a public action, Missouri patients
cannot check to see whether their doctor has received a letter, or sometimes multiple
letters, of concern.
Missouri's regulation of doctors is among the nation's most lax, a Post-Dispatch
investigation has found, and doctors who provide substandard care often can continue
to practice without any public action by regulators.
In Akremi's case, it wasn't until after the death of a mid-Missouri teen that the healing
arts board filed a complaint. Narcotics that she prescribed ended up in the hands of
Steven Flenoid, 16, of Centralia, who used them to kill himself in April 2008, according
to its complaint.
Flenoid had bought them from one of Akremi's patients, Terry Watson, whom the doctor
supplied with addictive drugs despite knowing that he abused them.
In early 2008, a social worker from Boone Hospital Center in Columbia, Mo., phoned
Akremi to say Watson had overdosed after cooking and injecting Oxycontin. Within
weeks, she wrote Watson a new prescription for the narcotic, and later added sleeping
pills and sedatives, even though in her notes she described Watson as a "notorious
medication abuser," according to the board complaint.
Watson, who is serving nine years in prison for drug dealing, said in an interview that he
told Akremi his back hurt.
"She knew what was going on with me," Watson said. "She still handed me the pills."
LETTER USE GROWS
Some doctors have received four or more letters of concern in their careers — but no
restrictions on their licenses, former board members said.
"You have doctors who clearly should have stopped practicing a long time ago but just
continue to get additional letters of concern," said Joe Ortwerth of St. Peters. Ortwerth is
the former St. Charles County executive and served as the board's public member in
Although Ortwerth said he found board members to be hardworking and conscientious,
they had a hard time distinguishing between minor issues and serious problems, he
"The customary response is to provide a letter of concern despite the fact that the types
of things for which letters of concern are issued range considerably."
One example uncovered by the Post-Dispatch because the letter became part of a court
file involves Dr. Seth Paskon, of Potosi, Mo., who received a letter of concern in May
"I am directed to advise you that it remains a matter of some concern to the board that
you prescribe controlled substances with such abandon," wrote the board's chief
medical officer, Dr. C.C. Reynolds.
To avoid future run-ins with regulatory agencies, Reynolds advised, Paskon should
exercise caution and use better documentation.
In September 2002, the board did file a complaint against Paskon to seek public
discipline, accusing him of negligence in prescribing drugs to several patients.
Five years later, in 2007, the Administrative Hearing Commission ruled the board didn't
prove that Paskon had violated standards of care. The commission rules on discipline
cases when the board is unable to reach a settlement with the doctor.
Paskon was a "caring physician" who treated Medicaid patients "that other doctors
would not treat," a commissioner wrote.
By 2008, coroners in Washington, Iron and St. Francois counties said they had linked
Paskon to 50 overdose deaths. He closed his office in August 2008 after a jury in a
federal civil trial in St. Louis found he had defrauded Missouri's Medicaid program and
written unnecessary prescriptions for powerful drugs.
Former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway called Paskon a 'substantial public safety
The healing arts board revoked Paskon's license for five years in late 2009.
Asked when — and why — the board started handling the vast majority of its cases in
letters, Travis Ford, a spokesman for the division that oversees the board, said he did
When the Post-Dispatch requested the 6,000 letters issued since 1999, the board
initially refused, saying the letters were private correspondence with doctors, shielded
by a state law that says all "information" about state licensees is confidential, including
where a doctor went to medical school.
The department eventually agreed to give the newspaper a sample of 10 letters it sent
to doctors earlier this year. But the doctors' names and the exact details of their
wrongdoing were blacked out.
Ford said it had taken about 30 minutes to locate, redact and copy each one-page letter
— or five hours.
At that rate, he said, it would take the board 3,000 hours to copy the letters at $21 per
In other words, about 18 months of work that would have cost the newspaper $63,570.
The sampling of letters make reference to doctors' transgressions, including a delay in
treating an infant in distress, the wrongful administration of vaccines, drunken driving
charges, discipline actions taken by another state, lack of follow-up in patient care,
billing irregularities and failure to report a termination of clinical privileges.
In one letter about the treatment of a patient, the chief medical officer writes, "The board
… expects you have taken steps in your practice to prevent a recurrence of this type of
systematic breakdown and as 'Captain of the Ship,' you realize you are responsible
ultimately for maintaining the quality of care."
Ortwerth and his predecessor on the board, Mark Tucker, said they think the public
should be aware when doctors have several letters of concern in their files.
Some states, such as North Carolina and Arizona, put letters of concern on their
websites for patients researching doctors.
Dr. Jean Hausheer, who served on the Missouri board from 2006 to 2009, said the
public doesn't need to know when a doctor has a lapse in judgment and receives a
"It's like giving someone a warning, and there's no reason to make that public," she
said. "It gets their attention, and if it doesn't, those people show up later anyway."
Akremi was one who showed up later.
When the healing arts board sought to discipline Akremi in 2008, it claimed she harmed
patients by increasing doses of addictive painkillers without medical justification. The
case is still pending before the Administrative Hearing Commission.
Akremi is still licensed to practice, although the drug bureau stripped her license to
prescribe addictive drugs. She said the board can't prove she did anything wrong in any
of the cases.
"They don't know that boy died from Oxycontin that came from me," she said.
Centralia Police Chief L.A. Dudgeon, who investigated the case against Watson, said
she's wrong. Where the drugs came from is "not in dispute," he said.
Steven's father, James Flenoid, said he wished the board had acted sooner if it believed
Akremi was a problem. "Would a person have to drop dead in the office before they
Steven still might have obtained drugs elsewhere, "but that would have been one
avenue that would have been taken away."
The board must have thought there was "malfeasance" or "improprieties" if it sent
Akremi letters of concern, said Dudgeon, the Centralia police chief.
"It wasn't until the death of a 16-year-old boy in Centralia, Missouri, do we get action."
Mo. board warns against on pedicure
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri regulators are warning nail and beauty salons against
using razor blades to remove calluses during pedicures and other skin treatments.
The state Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners says it's received nine complaints about
the use of a device called a "credo blade" to remove calluses and dead skin.
Missouri outlawed credo blades last year. The short-handled devices are similar to household
razors. Officials say the blades can cause bleeding and infections and remove healthy skin.
State officials say calluses should only be removed by using a pumice stone or file.
Two Springfield councilmen host
medical marijuana forum tonight
Councilmen taking issue to citizens after it doesn't
make council priority list.
Amos Bridges • News-Leader • December 14, 2010
After failing to gain traction with their fellows on City Council, two Springfield officials
hope to strike up a conversation about medicinal marijuana with the public.
Councilmen Doug Burlison and Dan Chiles have scheduled a public meeting tonight at
the Library Center to talk about the topic, which they failed to have added to the city's
list of 2011 legislative priorities.
The 6:30 p.m. event is expected to run through about 9 p.m. and will feature an airing of
the film, "What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?"
The keynote speaker is Mark Pederson, director of Sensible Missouri, a statewide
patient advocacy group, and founder of the nationwide Cannabis Patient Network.
A panel discussion with patients who use marijuana medicinally and a
question-and-answer session will follow the film.
"What we want to do is just open up a public discussion about this," Chiles said.
"Fourteen other states and the District of Columbia have allowed medical marijuana and
it's time for Missouri to start talking about this."
Chiles said the issue became important to him after he was diagnosed with prostate
cancer, while Burlison is a long-time supporter of legalization efforts.
Chiles said that since bringing up the topic he's received "a storm of phone calls and
messages, letters and e-mails from people who think it's time for us to begin this
Burlison said he hopes the meeting will help dispel some of the "misconceptions and
myths" surrounding the drug.
"I think folks will realize that marijuana is not just a funny Cheech and Chong thing, but
has the potential to be one of the greatest medicines of this century," he said. "I hope to
get some better information out there and initiate the public discussion."
Pederson, who has led similar presentations in other Missouri cities, said the goal is to
"re-educate America about the value of cannabis" and spotlight its benefits for patients
"with legitimate illnesses."
"When we're talking about cannabis being used as medicine, what we're really talking
about is auto-immune disease," Pederson said. "You're basically helping your own
auto-immune system to fight disease."
Pederson said he has interviewed about 150 patients using medicinal marijuana for the
Cannabis Patient Network and expects several from southern Missouri to attend tonight.
The feature-length film that will be shown at the meeting focuses on the scientific
support for medicinal marijuana use, he said.
"It's important to get the science out there -- the science is what people aren't hearing
about," he said. "These are actual scientists, actual physicians talking, people who are
specialists in their field."
Pederson said he is planning a follow-up meeting in Springfield in January and hopes to
hold similar meetings throughout the state in 2011 with a goal of circulating a petition
initiative in 2012 to take the issue to a statewide vote.
Wagner wins Tennesseean's
support in RNC bid
BY BILL LAMBRECHT>email@example.com
Posted: Monday, December 13, 2010 3:02 pm
WASHINGTON -- On the day Michael Steele planned to make known his plans for the
future, St. Louisan Ann Wagner scored an endorsement in her campaign for chairman
of the Republican National Committee.
John Ryder, a Memphis lawyer and GOP committeeman, sent an email to RNC
counterparts around the country today calling Wagner "the complete package."
"She can raise money, run the building and present a good image for our party," he
Ryder said in an interview that he has known Wagner for more than a decade and
believed she would fill the bill as Steele's replacement.
"She has the skill set the committee needs right now," said Ryder, who did not support
Steele when Steele won his hotly contested victory two years ago.
Ryder, like several other committeemen, said he was in the dark about what Steele will
say when he speaks to RNC members in a conference call this evening.
Defections of supporters and a drumbeat of negative publicity about his fundraising
lapses have suggested that Steele would have a difficult road to re-election. He is the
first African American to head the national Republican Party.
Fox News reported this afternoon that Steele would, indeed, seek re-election to the job
he won in January 2009 after multiple ballots. Fox cited two RNC members as the
Wagner, a former Missouri Republican chairman and RNC national co-chair, is one of
several candidates aggressively seeking Steele's job. Among them are Steele's former
political director, Gentry Collins, who has sharply criticized Steele's fundraising.
The election is scheduled to take place Jan. 14 in Washington. On Jan. 3, Wagner and
other candidates plan to present their cases at a forum in Washington sponsored by
Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative advocacy group.
Ryder predicted that Wagner would secure more endorsements from the 168-member
committee by week's end.
"There are a lot of telephone conversations and a lot of meetings going on," he said.
State of Missouri demands
Marine's cash-strapped family
repay $4,724 in food stamps that
it mistakenly approved (twice)
By Justin Kendall, Mon., Dec. 13 2010 @ 2:00PM
The state of Missouri screwed up. Now it's trying to make others pay.
The state of Missouri twice approved Courtney Edwards' family for $300 a month in food
stamps. Edwards' husband is a Marine and raising a family with four children on his
salary has been tough. As Edwards told KMBC Channel 9, the assistance was a "huge
That was until the state demanded the money -- $4,724 -- back.
Edwards told KMBC that her family was denied on a its third application for state
assistance with the state claiming the couple made too much money -- even though
their household income hadn't changed. The state claimed the feds did an audit, told
them that they were figuring up who should receive food stamps wrong and told the
state to go get its money back.Good luck getting money from people who are already
struggling to make ends meet.
"I don't know what I'm going to do because I was barely making it before," Edwards told
KMBC. "That's why I asked for help.
Edwards apparently spoke with someone with the state who admitted they screwed up.
But that doesn't mean the state isn't after its money.
So a family struggling to make it now owes an agency charged with helping struggling
families because of an error the agency made. How fucked up is that? .
Apparently, the state doesn't want to be a total Grinch: It's offering Edwards a
repayment plan. How kind ... pricks.
Cynthia Davis' booty brings all the
TSA agents to the body scanner
By Mandy Oaklander, Mon., Dec. 13 2010 @ 7:00AM
Every time Missouri state Rep. Cynthia Davis sends out her Capitol Report, it seems
that our inbox dings a bit more cheerily than usual. We know we're in for a good time
when the subject is "The TSA Pat Down" -- Cynthia Davis style.
She is incredulous at the fact that outside of O'Fallon, nobody knows who she is.
Are they really afraid that a member of the Missouri State Legislature is going to
perform an act of terrorism and suicide? I think not.
But Davis is out to rectify that injustice, damn it, and proposes a solution for people, like
herself, that are above reproach terroristically. She calls them "frequent flyers"--also
known as rich white people -- and their employees. Instead of going through security,
she suggests that a "simple fingerprint or iris scan upon boarding is all that is necessary
to prove your identity" if you're a part of this WASPy cadre.
Because her progressive measures have not yet been adopted by airports, Davis wrote
that she had to undergo the trauma of a "personal body search," which was when she
realized that the terrorists had won:
The fact that our citizens are now being violated by body searches when they want to
fly, and the fact that we are violating our own constitution to accomplish this, is a form of
victory for the terrorists already.
Hey, TSA: Cynthia Davis wants to know why you insist on feelin' on her booty and
letting all those swarthy Muslims go unmolested. You knew it was coming:
Greater scrutiny of those who buy one way tickets, pay with cash and originate from
nations that are hostile toward us would make a lot more sense than our own
government violating our citizens in the name of enhanced pseudo-safety.
But why stop at the red flags? Let's condemn an entire swath of people:
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that the acts of terrorism were executed by
Muslim men trying to kill Americans because of their religion. The Muslim religion
teaches world domination and there is a historical record of them brutally killing their
opponents, so this is nothing unusual. The men who blew up our buildings on
September 11th, acted out of sincere dedication to their religion.
Davis' misunderstanding of Islam is the lowest, saddest part of the letter. Thankfully,
Davis wraps it up with a little ditty about her favorite subject: her sexual wiles.
She's made it very clear that she believes sex is a sacred, eternal, transcendental union
that cannot be destroyed by wind, fire, or X-ray scanner radiation. When Cynthia Davis
mates, she mates for life. Still, Davis says, it seems that some people want to see her
Even though St. Louis does not have an international airport, they always give me the
hand patting because I wear skirts. In Washington D.C., I wore the exact same skirt and
even used my concealed weapon permit for my identification and they didn't feel it
necessary to pull me out of the line, X-ray or naked-body scan me or physically touch
Patting, skirt-wearing, weapons, naked-body ... way to save the best paragraph for last.
Sounds like the beginning of a new genre of story: legislat-erotica. Thanks again,
THINGS I’D LIKE TO SEE IN 2011
December 13th, 2010 | Author: Jerry Berger
1 A line of cosmetics branded with glamorous Diane Breckenridge’s name and
2 Local investors in Bernie Madoff’s scheme being reimbursed
3 Less garages and parking lots
4 Revivals of Greek Gourmet, Parkmoor, Lotus Room and Busch’s Grove
restaurants and Golde’s Department Stores, Ed’s White Front Barbecue, Sam
the Watermelon Man and the Winter Garden ice-skating rink
5 Less repeat footage of Prince William with Kate Middleton
6 Current magazines in hospitals and doctors’ offices
7 Permanent free seat sections for the underprivileged at sports events, the
Symph and theatrical venues
8 More appearances in our town by Guv. Jay Nixon, who seems to come here only
for sports events
9 Absence of television interviews depicting relatives’ reactions, i.e., when
reporters ask something stupid like, “How did you feel about the murder?”
10 Crestfallen developer John Steffen’s recovery
11 A lifetime contract for Convention & Visitors Commission’s pro Kitty Ratcliffe for
her extraordinary work in wooing the Dem Convention advance team to bring to
our town its hoop-de-doo
12 L’Ecole Culinaire’s disclosure of its tuition
13 And, more classy people of firm resolve, who will stand up and be counted no
matter how unpopular the cause.
by Bob Priddy on December 13, 2010
We heard it late last week. A chunk of the wall was taken down when Governor Nixon’s
press office sent out word that the governor would make an announcement in his office
and would answer questions from reporters afterwards. As you know, we had written
critically about what seemed to us to be stonewalling about the postponement of the
trade mission to Taiwan a few days earlier.
Today (Monday) there was another “thunk.”
Sam Murphey called from the press office to let us know the Governor’s schedule for
the rest of the week. And he indicated the staff would be letting us (and other members
of the Capitol press corps) know more often about the governor’s upcoming travels and
“Thunk” is a good sound to hear.
We hope we hear some thunks coming from some state agency spokesmen’s offices,
MO education program gets $12M
from stimulus act
by Ryan Famuliner on December 13, 2010
The $12 million in federal grant money will be used to study how effective the program’s
approach is in rural communities over the next five years.
The program is called enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching strategies
(eMINTS). Executive Director Monica Beglau says the program usually only has the
funding to set up in 6 to 10 Missouri classrooms a year.
“This will allow us to put eMINTS in 40 school districts this coming year and an
additional 20 school districts in 2014,” Beglau said.
Beglau says the application process for the grant was as competitive as the “Race to
the Top” program. The “Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)” was part of the stimulus act of
“About $10 million of that will go directly into the school districts to purchase the
equipment, pay for the professional development and provide stipends for the teachers
who are participating in the program. So the bulk of the money will go into our Missouri
school districts to create these technology-rich classrooms and train teachers how to
use the equipment and teach differently,” Beglau said.
As part of the application process for this grant, eMINTS also had to secure some
corporate partners. Beglau says those sponsorships added another $3 million to the
budget of the program. It’s one of 49 entities across the U.S. to get this grant money.
“The hope with this grant competition is that the research that is done on these different
programs will show that there is a significant difference in how students perform when
they’re in these programs. Then the department of education can study the programs
and see what might be possible to scale those up,” Beglau said.
eMINTS was founded in cooperation with the University of Missouri 10 years ago, and
Beglau says its approach has seen a lot of success.
“Approximately half of the districts in Missouri have at least one eMINTS classroom or
have had one. The program involves helping teachers use technology in their
classrooms so it really changes how students are learning, how they’re engaged, and
the projects that they do in the classroom,” Beglau said.
Beglau says the grant will enhance an already strong program, which has expanded to
eight more states since it began, and also reached classrooms in Australia. While the
grant money will be used to study its impact in rural school districts, Beglau says
eMINTS classrooms can be in rural and urban areas, K-12.
“The focus of the program is really on helping teachers learn to use technology in
instructional ways as opposed to just teaching students how to keyboard or use certain
software programs. It’s really a very intensive professional development or professional
learning program for teachers. The equipment in the classroom, the technology in the
classroom, is really kind of the catalyst for that, if you will,” Beglau said.
It’s estimated over the next five years, this grant money will reach more than 10,000
Missouri students and 240 teachers. Follow this link for more on the program.
New DNR director named
by Ryan Famuliner on December 13, 2010
Governor Nixon has picked the new Director of the Department of Natural Resources.
It’s Sara Parker Pauley, a Columbia native who served as Deputy Director of the DNR
from 2001 to 2005. Nixon says the hire is the product of a nationwide search.
“I assembled a team of senior leaders from business, agriculture, conservation,
education and others to identify and recruit potential leaders for this critical post in my
cabinet. At that time I made it clear that I expected this new cabinet member to bring
vast professional experience and personal commitment to the mission of promoting
sound, environmental stewardship and sustainable economic development for the 21st
century,” Nixon said.
Nixon says the Columbia native has been chosen based on her various areas of
“Sarah brings decades of experience in conservation, energy education and public
policy to this position. Most recently Sarah has been a project manager for D.J. Case &
Associates, a natural resources communications firm. She previously served as the
deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources, as executive vice president of
a distributed power company, as Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House of
Representatives and as director of conservation programs for the American National
Fish & Wildlife Museum,” Nixon said.
She was Chief of Staff to former Missouri House Speaker Steve Gaw from 1996-1998.
Pauley agrees; her experience will be very helpful in her new job.
“I understand how, you know, we must protect our resources at the same time grow the
economy. Really this is a good time for me, balancing my government background and
my private industry background, hopefully to benefit the state and its resources,” Pauley
Pauley is a Columbia native and currently lives in Hartsburg. She says that will also be
an advantage, compared to someone that could have been hired from out-of-state.
“Somebody who can walk in the door, know the state, know many of the constituencies
already and have relationships with those constituencies, have a passion for our
resources. I really think this, for this (economic) time, it will be very beneficial to have
someone coming in as a Missourian with that experience,” Pauley said.
Pauley says her job will be much more than just maintaining state parks and historic
“I also believe that environmental stewardship and economic growth are not mutually
exclusive. My experience in the private sector as well as in government has made it
clear to me that public policy works best when all stakeholders work together,” Pauley
said. “I am very eager to begin advancing Governor Nixon’s renewable energy agenda
and developing new sources of clean, abundant energy and to growing our economy
and promoting Missouri’s energy independence… Ensuring that we are creating a
greener, healthier and more prosperous state.”
She expects to start work soon.
“It looks like I’ll be gearing up quickly and starting sometime before the end of the year.
So as you can image, with session starting, that’s going to be such a priority is just
getting up to speed. Getting with my leadership team at the agency and get up to speed
with the issues,” Pauley said.
Pauley replaces Mark Templeton, who resigned in August to oversee payments to those
affected by the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. The appointment is pending state senate
Senator to push to close habilitation
by Bob Priddy on December 13, 2010
A state senator wants a study to set a timetable for closing the state mental health
department’s habilitation centers. Senator Scott Rupp of St. Charles has worked on
mental health matters in the past. He’ll sponsor a bill next year to have the mental
health department hire an expert to develop a plan to transfer all clients in habilitation
centers to community-based programs. He says a dozen states have done away with all
of their residential centers.
He says Missouri hasn’t been moving as quickly as he would like. Rupp thinks it is
inevitable that the state will close its habilitation centers. But he says it should be done
in a way that provides places for continued treatment instead of giving clients only a few
weeks to find a place after a closing announcement is made. He’d like to have the study
done within a year, with a five year transition time for all habilitation center residents.
Rupp says the state will save millions of dollars. He says the cost of serving and
housing someone in a habilitation center averages about $350-600 a day. But he says
the average cost in a community residential facility is about $200 a day.
EDITORIALS … & Letters to the Editor
Arch project's success depends
on strong planning, lasting
The Editorial Board www.STLtoday.
Posted: Monday, December 13, 2010 9:00 pm
When two members of a president’s cabinet descend on a community for a
high-profile working visit — and they aren’t accompanied by the director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency — it’s a good sign that something positive
and exciting might be in the works.
Such was the case last week when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited St. Louis.
The two VIPs came to town last Friday at the invitation of U.S. Sens. Claire
McCaskill, D-Mo., and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., to assess the progress in an ambitious
project to reinvigorate the national park that includes the Gateway Arch, including
plans to better connect it with St. Louis’ central business district and expansion to
the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River.
They toured the park and the proposed Illinois expansion site. They met with area
political, civic and business leaders. They reviewed plans with Michael Van
Valkenburgh Associates, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based landscape architecture firm
appointed to lead the team that will execute the project.
Then, standing with Ms. McCaskill in East St. Louis’ Malcolm W. Martin Memorial
Park against the striking backdrop of St. Louis’ iconic skyline, the two men explained
that they expect such a complex and large-scale project would move ahead despite
the economic recession and partisan rancor. In fact, they said, it could be completed
on an aggressive timetable because it engenders national purpose and is backed by
strong planning and compelling partnerships.
Messrs. Salazar and LaHood agreed that the Gateway Arch occupies a special
place in our national history, identity and imagination reserved for our greatest icons,
such as the Statute of Liberty. The expansion and improvements contemplated by
the project, they argued — an expanded underground museum with a grand
entrance, improved access to the park through the Gateway Mall downtown, a new
southern entrance to with improvements and amenities, as well the Illinois expansion
— are generational “legacies.”
What puts it on a fast track, though, both men said, are the bi-state, bipartisan, civic,
business and philanthropic partnerships coalescing around the project. Those were
evident in the entourage that accompanied the visitors.
Missouri and Illinois political and business leaders stood together. The Missouri
Highway Commission, sometimes criticized for favoring rural projects at the expense
of urban projects, conspicuously sent two members. East St. Louis Mayor Alvin
Parks stressed that with this project the Mississippi River should be seen as “a
ribbon” that connects Missouri and Illinois economically and with their heritage as a
Gateway to the West.
The durability of these partnerships will start to be tested on Jan. 24. That’s when
the design team will roll out the results of a review begun in late September to refine
the project proposals, develop cost estimates and set priorities. This package will be
presented for another round of public review and comment.
Ms. McCaskill and Messrs. Salazar and LaHood appeared undaunted by the
potential financial heft of the project. Early in the process, the National Park Service
estimated its part of the project would cost about $300 million. Ms. McCaskill said
that she believes that the project could win that level of public support.
In 2009, Mr. Salazar said he would move “heaven and earth” to see that the project
is completed by Oct. 28, 2015 — the 50th anniversary of the completion of the
Gateway Arch. He said he was looking forward to returning to St. Louis for that
Last week, the secretary told us the party date remains on his October 2015
Letters to the editor, December
Gov. Nixon was wrong to give in to China's demands on trade trip
Gov. Jay Nixon has set a bad precedent by knuckling under to the Chinese by
canceling his trade mission to Taiwan at Beijing's demand ("Hub backers warned
Nixon against trip," Dec. 7). The Chinese threatened to punish Missouri if Mr. Nixon
didn't call off an export-promotion trip that already was set to win Missouri millions in
purchases by Taiwan.
But money is beside the point. It's the principle that counts, and Mr. Nixon has
embarrassed us by throwing principle out the window. Since when does a sovereign
state like Missouri give in to demands from dictatorships? I've done some checking,
and as far as I can determine, Missouri is the first state to kowtow to the Communist
Party of China.
The Chinese embassy and the Chinese consulates in the United States have a bad
habit of threatening states, cities and universities with economic punishment if they
don't do as Beijing tells them. Up until now, American governors and mayors have
told Beijing where to take their demands. Now that Mr. Nixon has given in, we can
expect no end to Chinese demands. Shame on the governor.
Jay Casey • Joplin, Mo.
Regarding "Top towing scandal figures get prison" (Dec. 4): So, the Bialczak
brothers go to jail for tax evasion. What a sweet deal. They also get to go at
separate times so one brother is available to run their companies, S&H Parking
Systems and St. Louis Metropolitan Towing.
The had been accused of taking bribes and inflating towing bills, among other things.
Their behavior was an assault on the public.
Where is the justice?
John Minton • Maryland Heights
The editorial "Brake job: $17.4 billion" (Dec. 9) used a brake job as an analogy to a
hospital admission. That was a poor analogy and very misleading. A more correct
analogy to reality is a body shop repair of a car damaged in an accident by a drunk
or otherwise impaired driver.
Well more than half of readmissions to a hospital are in part because of a patient
who does not take his medication or who does not follow medical advice to quit
smoking, lose weight, quit drinking alcohol or exercise. If a patient is prescribed
medication and does not take it or keeps smoking, how is it the failure of the
If a drunk wrecks his car, and it is then repaired, would you expect the body shop to
repair it again for free when he gets the car in another wreck?
Dr. Gary Carpenter • Quincy, Ill.
Stop blaming doctors
How do we prevent hospital readmissions? Commit to a healthy lifestyle and stay
out of the hospital in the first place.
Americans abuse their bodies and then expect hospitals and doctors to "fix" them.
How much money would we save if we all took a few simple steps to improve our
health. Move more, eat less, eliminate tobacco, drink in moderation, wear a seat
belt, get a good night's sleep. This alone would dramatically improve the health of
our nation and trim billions of dollars from the national health care budget.
It's time to stop blaming doctors and hospitals for our health ailments. We all know
what we need to do improve our health, but very few of us do it.
Beth Wuesthoff • St. Louis County
A delaying action
For the last five years, Missouri Citizens for Property Rights has been trying to bring
to the people a vote concerning the use of eminent domain. The proposed
amendment would place restrictions on the use of eminent domain by the state and
municipalities, protecting property owners from having their land taken under the
pretext of public use only to find it being turned over to another private entity. On
Jan. 5, the Missouri Court of Appeals in the Western District ruled that the phrase
"and that landowners receive just compensation" in a summary statement for the
amendment must be removed because, in part, it already was in the Missouri
Constitution and was unnecessary and confusing. Unfortunately, rather than striking
that phrase, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is drafting the summary to replace it
with "while continuing to provide just compensation."
Is Ms. Carnahan trying to open the door for more litigation? That would cause further
financial expense, and would result in having kess time to gather signatures required
to place the measure before the people.If so, that shows a lack of respect for the
Missouri Court of Appeals and is a reprehensible action to quell the will of the people
of the State of Missouri.
Bob Therina • Ballwin
I'm confused. For years I've been reading about the "Bush tax cuts for the wealthy."
Over and over and over again I heard that former President George W. Bush and his
cronies cut taxes to take care of their wealthy friends. Now it appears that all
taxpayers received cuts in proportion to what they paid. How can this be? That
everyone's tax rates were lowered must come as a real surprise to those who get
their information only from the Post-Dispatch.
Through its opposition to the proposal that the current tax rates be maintained for all
taxpayers, surely this great newspaper is not advocating that one group of American
citizens (and a minority group, to boot) be treated differently from the majority?
Yet the impression is certainly given that "the rich" are somehow less American than
others and should be punished. As I said, I'm confused, but, to my simple mind, this
seems like bigotry of the most blatant kind.
Man, I'm sure glad I'm not one of those evil, less "real" American rich guys, dodging
those pitchforks about which Sen. Claire McCaskill warned us. But if I were, I'd
certainly have to think twice before spending my advertising money in a paper that is
so inclined to target me for attack.
Ken Krueger • St. Louis
The Dec. 12 "Matson's View" editorial cartoon, depicting the good ship USA, was
missing an important part: Without its engine and propeller in the "middle class"
section, the ship would go down — smoke stack, bridge, first-class cabins and all.
But then, that may have been R.J. Matson's very important message.
Beverly D.Rehfeld • St. Louis
Blame the tax-takers
The more I read the Post-Dispatch's editorials, augmented by editorial cartoonist
R.J. Matson's almost always inaccurate illustrations and the letters from the paper's
most ardent supporters, the more I feel I'm rereading Saul Alinsky's "Rules for
The mantra regarding and espousing class warfare would make old Saul proud. On
occasion, the editorials are a little more subtle, as with the use of the term "the
working middle class."
The inference is that people above the middle class, those devilish rich folks, don't
now and never have worked.
As far as tax loads go, here's the simple truth: The top 1 percent of income earners
in this country pay 38 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 5 percent pay 59
percent of all federal income taxes. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no federal
The rich aren't the ones who are using and taking the "working middle class'" tax
dollars. It's the spend-spend fed and the 47 percent who are tax-takers, not
Dan Flynn • Dardenne Prairie
Emerson's support appreciated
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
On behalf of more than 100 retired generals and admirals who are members of the
national not-for-profit Mission: Readiness, I want to thank Rep. Jo Ann Emerson for
supporting the bipartisan child nutrition legislation that won congressional approval
earlier this month.
The 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act pulls junk food out of school cafeterias and
vending machines, promotes nutrition education and increases access to quality
nutrition programs for millions of kids across the nation.
From a national security perspective, this legislation is both necessary and timely.
Right now, the Defense Department reports that one in four of all young adults are
too overweight to join the military and that weight problems have become the leading
medical reason why young adults cannot enlist.
America's security depends on being able to field a strong military. This legislation
sets new nutrition standards for school meals and is a good first step in helping
reduce childhood obesity and increasing the pool of qualified candidates for military
As co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, Rep. Emerson understands the
importance of teaching healthy eating habits to our nation's children and making
sure nutritious food ends up on our students' plates. We applaud her continued
leadership on the hunger and nutrition issues, and we are pleased that she voted not
only to provide more healthy meals to our kids but also to maintain our long-term
NORMAN R. SEIP, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) USAF, Washington, D.C.
USA TODAY MISSOURI NEWS
Monday, December 13 -
Showboat runs aground in Mo.; 600 stuck
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — More than 600 passengers and crew were expected to be stuck on a
showboat overnight after high winds caused the vessel to run aground Saturday on a Missouri
lake, officials said.
The Branson Belle ran aground at Poverty Point on Table Rock Lake.
The cruise began having problems with propulsion around 6 p.m., said Lisa Rau, a publicist for
Herschend Family Entertainment which owns the boat. A tug boat was called to help, but wind
picked up and the boat ran aground, Rau said.
At 11 p.m., officials decided it was best to let winds calm before trying to move the boat to
where the passengers could disembark. About 567 passengers and 76 crewmembers were on
"The safest thing to do is leave it where it is at," said Sgt. Dan Bracker, spokesman for the
Bracker speculated it could be 6 a.m. Sunday before the vessel can be moved.
No injuries were reported, and Rau said all the passengers were dry.
She said three people on board had medical conditions unrelated to the grounding. An
emergency medical technician was on board to help, Rau said.
Tuesday, December 14 – No Update