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Nixon to add election bill to Mo. special
session
By CHRIS BLANK
Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday he is adding legislation delaying Missouri's
presidential primary to the agenda for a planned special session to be focused largely on economic development
issues.
Nixon said earlier this week that he would order state lawmakers back to the state Capitol in September to
overhaul Missouri's business incentives. On top of that, the governor wants state lawmakers to approve
legislation that pushes back next year's presidential primary election from Feb. 7 to March 6. The later
presidential primary is needed for Missouri to comply with rules set by the national Democratic and Republican
parties.
During their regular legislative session, lawmakers approved an elections bill that delayed the presidential
primary. However, Nixon vetoed the measure earlier his month while citing concerns with two other parts of the
legislation.
One of those pieces would have required special elections to fill vacancies for many statewide elected offices
instead of allowing the governor to appoint someone to serve out the term. The other dealt with local elections,
and Nixon said it could have cancelled elections and prevented write-in candidates for local offices in more than
900 communities with a population of less than 35,000 if the number of candidates equaled the number of
positions to be filled.
Nixon said he has supported moving back the presidential primary.
"I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly during the special session to pass narrow,
bipartisan legislation to make this important change," Nixon said.
Immediately after the legislation was vetoed this month, the Missouri Republican Party called the move
"reckless" and criticized Nixon for not raising his concerns sooner. A Republican Party spokesman declined to
comment Friday about the governor's plan to include the presidential primary in a special session.
This week, legislative leaders outlined an economic development proposal, and Nixon highlighted his priorities
during speeches in St. Louis and Kansas City.
The plan generally would offer new business incentives while shrinking existing state tax credits to help pay for
it. It would include up to $360 million in tax breaks for a possible international cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis
International Airport and incentives for science and technology companies, computer-based data storage centers
and amateur sporting events.
Lawmakers also have proposed limiting a state income tax credit for low-income seniors and disabled residents
to people who own their own homes while excluding renters and lowering a cap on the tax credits available for
renovating historic buildings from $140 million to $90 million.
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Nixon adds presidential primary bill to
special session's agenda
BY JASON HANCOCK • jhancock@post-dispatch.com > 573-635-6178 | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 4:13
pm
Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday that he will ask lawmakers to take up and pass a bill moving the date of
Missouri‘s presidential primary during a special session this September.
Earlier this month, Nixon vetoed a bill that would have moved the state's presidential primary to early March from
early February in order to comply with national Republican and Democratic Party committee rules. However, he
said the veto was because of other provisions in the legislation, not the primary.
Republicans immediately criticized Nixon for the veto, saying it could result in presidential contenders ignoring
Missouri during the 2012 campaign season. National party rules say that only four states — Iowa, New
Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — can hold caucuses or primary elections before the beginning of
March. States that break the rule can be punished by having their delegations cut in half at party conventions.
On Wednesday, Nixon announced he would call a special legislative session for September to focus on an
economic development bill. He will now ask for the presidential bill to be included as well.
―I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly during the special session to pass narrow, bi-
partisan legislation to make this important change,‖ Nixon said in a statement.
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Tax credit deal rests on cargo hub here
By Tim Logan tlogan@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8291 | Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2011 10:00 am
The tax credit compromise unveiled last week by Missouri lawmakers would do many things.
It would set up a fund to help high-tech startups grow. It would create new incentives to draw data centers and
big-time college sports to Missouri. And it could boost the state treasury by as much as $1.5 billion over the next
15 years, providing money to pay for roads or schools — though much of it at the cost of a tax break for poor
senior citizens.
Independently, many of these programs are popular. But they've languished in a Jefferson City logjam. Now, in
the complex calculus of budgets and politics, they've all become intricately linked in a bundle that will go to
lawmakers in a September special session.
And they've become dependent on another piece of the delicate package, one alternately described as either a
"big idea" or a "boondoggle:" $360 million in tax credits to build a cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International
Airport.
These so-called Aerotropolis tax credits are just one piece of a much larger deal. But they are the key ingredient,
say people who helped craft the compromise, bringing oxygen to a whole range of other ideas — both new tools
and reforms to old ones — that many say are necessary to revive Missouri's economy.
"Aerotropolis became the magnet. It really had the most momentum," said Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri
Chamber of Commerce. "It became the vehicle to pull all the rest of this through."
Many of the other measures, from the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, or MOSIRA — that
new startup fund — to tax breaks for data centers, have long been on the agendas of Missouri business groups.
But any new economic development program ran into opposition from budget hawks, who say Missouri spends
too much on tax credits already. Efforts to cut that spending met with the ire of influential developers, who rely on
historic and low-income housing tax credits to finance projects.
Then along came Aerotropolis.
The program, billed as key to a "transformational" trade deal with China, brought together a diverse crew of
supporters, from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to business groups to developers with close ties to state
Republicans. It offered a carrot — in the hope of jobs and new projects — to builders likely to be stuck with lower
caps on historic and low-income housing tax credits. And it captured the imagination of lawmakers, passing with
wide margins in the House and Senate before being added into a bigger economic development bill.
The knot of that bill was too thick to cut by the mid-May close of the regular legislative session. But as talks
continued between Lambert and China Air Cargo, they lent a sense of urgency to talks on a bill everyone could
live with — which is what legislative leaders said they'd come up with on Wednesday.
"You would not have passed anything if not for Aerotropolis," said Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff. "It would
have just been gridlock."
There are plenty of people who don't think Aerotropolis will fly — or that it deserves so much state money.
The libertarian Show-Me Institute has been particularly critical, pointing out that the area around Lambert already
has plenty of vacant warehouse space and arguing that the bill favors certain developers. Several national
experts in air cargo have said they doubt St. Louis' ability to create a freight hub from scratch in what is a highly
competitive industry already built around major airports in Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.
But that may be moot at this point — at least from lawmakers' perspective.
Gov. Jay Nixon — who had stayed mostly mum on the program, fueling speculation that he opposed it — came
out loudly in favor on Thursday. In a speech in Creve Coeur, he called for "bricks and mortar investment" around
a "thriving commercial hub" at Lambert, and promised a special session to vote on the package. Still, Nixon
could have a bone to pick with other parts of the deal.
Despite adding the cargo hub and other new programs, the House-Senate package manages to cut state tax
credits by $1.5 billion over 15 years — a top priority for some senators. More than half of the savings — $855
million — comes from ending a tax break claimed by 96,000 elderly and disabled people. The bill would make
renters ineligible for the so-called "circuit-breaker" property tax credit, which is worth up to $750 a year for senior
citizens or people with disabilities who earn $27,500 or less (or married couples earning $29,500).
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The plan — which could add more than $50 million a year to state revenue — came out of Nixon's Tax Credit
Review Commission last fall, which argued that renters don't pay very much in property taxes and shouldn't get a
break for them. It found its way in to both the House and Senate tax credit bills, but met opposition from Nixon,
who called the circuit-breaker "an important consumer protection" and said renters should keep it. Now it's a key
piece of the deal.
In his speech Thursday, the governor didn't mention senior citizen tax breaks. A spokesman later had no
comment on the issue. But by Friday afternoon, the Missouri Budget Project, which lobbies for programs that aid
the poor, was ringing alarm bells.
Any new incentive programs need to be paid for, said Amy Blouin, the Budget Project's executive director. But
putting so much of the cost on the backs of poor seniors makes little sense.
"The 'circuit breaker' has a positive benefit for 96,000 Missourians," she said. "We're very unsure whether
Aerotropolis will benefit anybody."
But even if it doesn't — and the program's supporters endlessly point out that it delivers no money if there is no
foreign trade — Aerotropolis may give some life to other efforts that do. That's what Sam Fiorello hopes.
President of the BRDG Park biotech incubator in Creve Coeur, Fiorello doesn't claim to be an expert in the ways
of Jefferson City. But he's watched too many good startups leave St. Louis and he thinks MOSIRA is a way to
keep them here. The program — modeled after a similar one in Kansas — is designed to provide state funds at
key stages in a young company's life, so it can keep growing.
"We get (plant science companies) here. We turn heads. We get them excited," he said. "But we just can't get
them over the hump with financing."
He and others in the tech industry have been pushing MOSIRA for three years now, only to run into a legislative
logjam over other programs. It's not that MOSIRA doesn't have support, said House Speaker Steve Tilley. It
does. But it and other smaller programs like it didn't have enough juice to survive the marathon of the
Legislature. Now they've got a shot.
"We never had anything with the oomph to get enough votes," he said. "Aerotropolis was kind of the straw that
broke the camel's back."
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Local officials uncertain about economic
development plan because bill has yet
to be written
Sunday, July 24, 2011
By Melissa Miller ~ Southeast Missourian
Local officials say they need more details before they can fully support an economic development deal
announced last week by Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, and Rep. Steve Tilley, R-Perryville.
A major economic development bill died in May on the last day of the legislative session, when the Senate and
the House couldn't come to an agreement on tax credit reform.
Mayer and Tilley recently traveled the state announcing House and Senate members have reached a consensus
on a proposal that would create jobs programs and revamp tax credits saving more than $1.5 billion annually.
The plan is expected to be discussed during a special legislative session in September.
The tax credit package put forth from Mayer and Tilley includes:
* $360 million over 16 years in Aerotropolis tax credits for warehouse facilities and airlines to create an
international cargo hub at Lambert Airport in St. Louis.
* The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, which would dedicate a portion of state income tax
from new jobs at science and technology companies into a fund to help startups.
* Tax breaks for data centers, which house large computer banks.
* Caps on historic preservation tax credits and low-income housing tax credits. It also bans the practice of
"stacking" both low-income and historic preservation tax credits on the same project.
* A provision that would make renters ineligible to receive the senior citizen property tax credit.
However, the proposals have not yet been put into the form of a bill for senators and representatives to review.
"You can't go out and announce a deal that doesn't exist, that hasn't been reduced to writing and that people
don't even know what's in it," said Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau. "This stuff matters. We're talking
about hundreds of millions, billions of dollars here."
Crowell said as soon as he heard there was a deal reached, he called and asked to see a copy of the legislation.
He was told it hasn't been drafted yet.
Rep. Ellen Brandom, R-Sikeston, also got the same response when she asked for more details about the
proposal.
"In general, I support it, but I have not seen this proposal," she said. "I would very much like to review everything
in writing."
When asked about the text of the legislation, Rep. Tilley referred The Southeast Missourian to Rep. John Diehl's
office to obtain a copy, but a spokeswoman for Diehl said the bill was still being drafted would be filed within the
next month.
From what he's seen of the summary released by Mayer and Tilley, Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of
Commerce executive director John Mehner said it includes many of the proposals economic developers wanted
to see passed during the regular legislative session.
"I have not seen a bill. Until there is something in front of us to look at, we don't know where we stand on the
final product," Mehner said.
One proposal from the spring that's not included is a program called Compete Missouri that would cut red tape
for businesses and provide seed money for companies looking to locate here. Gov. Jay Nixon said last week he
wants to see the Compete Missouri plan included in legislation addressed during a special session.
Brandom, who serves on the House's economic development committee, said Cape Girardeau and Sikeston
have lost projects to other states that offered that kind of incentive.
She said it was a "major disappointment" that the session ended without passing an economic development bill.
"The most important thing we want to do is create jobs," she said.
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The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act could benefit Southeast Missouri by providing an
ongoing funding source for high-tech and scientific research companies, Mehner said. It's a good tie-in with the
work being done at the Southeast Missouri State University Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, he said.
Brandom said she also support that program, which is modeled after a similar successful effort in Kansas.
"Right now, we're losing jobs to Kansas," she said.
Mehner said the incentives for data centers to locate in Missouri, while producing large initial investments, aren't
likely to produce many jobs. Mehner and Brandom said that conceptually the development of an international
cargo hub in St. Louis could benefit Southeast Missouri farmers. It would depend on how the bill is written.
Tilley said while the cargo hub would bring in planes filled with imports, the returning flights will open new
markets for Missouri agricultural exports, specifically beef.
"It will help the job market in St. Louis and our neck of the woods as well," Tilley said, noting that many people in
Perryville, Farmington and Cape Girardeau County drive to work in the St. Louis area. The increased tax
revenue from about 20,000 jobs created by the Aerotropolis project would also provide more money for schools
and transportation statewide, he said.
"Things that make St. Louis thrive spill over to help the rest of Missouri," Brandom said.
But Crowell called Aerotropolis a "boondoggle for St. Louis" and said it will not help Southeast Missouri cattle
producers because China has a ban on imported beef.
"We're not stupid down here," Crowell said. "We can see when politicians who want to take St. Louis money
speak down to their constituents."
Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, said she isn't sold on the Aerotropolis yet either.
"Most of it I like," she said of Mayer and Tilley's economic development proposal. "The Aerotropolis I still need to
do more research on to see all the ins and outs."
Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, who is a member of the House's economic development
committee, did not respond to a request for comment.
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Science, trade and tax credits key to
jobs bill
Tim Sampson, Missouri News Horizon
Missouri Senate Bill 100 didn‘t make that many headlines when it was introduced back in January.
Among the flurry of bills offered up by lawmakers during the first weeks of the regular session, it was not the
most ambitions. It proposed a simple change to the cap on the residential treatment tax credit and sought to
create a new 50 percent tax credit for donations to development disability care providers.
These aren‘t the kind of changes that would precipitate last-minute, closed-door negotiations on the last day of
session. Certainly they would not be worth calling members of the House and Senate back to Jefferson City for a
special session in September.
But that‘s exactly what did happen as S.B. 100 morphed into an omnibus economic development and tax credit
reform bill. That simple two-item piece of legislation is now projected to save Missouri taxpayers $1.5 billion over
the next 15 years by dramatically overhauling the state‘s tax-credit system. Numerous provisions – from
scientific industry reinvestment to a $360 redevelopment plan for the St. Louis Airport – were folded into the bill.
After failing to pass the economic development package in the final hours of the regular session in May,
Republican leaders in the House and Senate have been working to hash out the differences behind the scenes.
Earlier this week, Senate President Pro Tem Robert Mayer, R-Dexter, and House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-
Perryville, announced that an agreement had been reached. A day later, Gov. Jay Nixon announced his intention
to call the lawmakers back into session to pass the bill.
―We are poised to accelerate the growth of existing businesses, to expand global trade; to fuel innovation and to
nurture start-ups,‖ Nixon said while announcing his plans. He added, ―We have not yet crossed the goal line, but
we will.‖
But what exactly is contained in the modified, catch-all jobs bill? Here are some of key provisions contained in
the current version of the bill:
TAX CREDIT REFORM
A substantial portion of the jobs bill is tax credit reform, based off the findings of the bipartisan Missouri Tax
Credit Review Commission appointed by the governor last year. Lawmakers largely adhered to the commission‘s
findings, which called for eliminating, combining or phasing out 28 different tax credit programs.
Mayer said the reforms – which are several years in the making – will help the state adapt to a changing job
market and economic climate.
―The world has changed over the last 10 to 15 years,‖ the senate‘s top GOP leader said. ―And the types of tax
credit programs that are in place today may not work for tomorrow.‖
Among the more significant changes to the tax code are proposed modifications to the historic preservation tax
credit and the low-income housing tax credit. Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said these two issues are
largely what gummed up the deal on the last day of session.
As it stands now, the historic preservation tax credit – which provides tax breaks to builders for refurbishing
historic buildings and homes – would be capped at $90 million. That‘s a decrease of $50 million from the current
cap. Missouri‘s historic tax credit is one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.
The new bill also places a seven-year sunset on the low-income housing tax credit, which eases the tax burdens
on contractors who build affordable housing.
‘AEROTROPOLIS’
One of the biggest additions to the original S.B. 100 is the inclusion of the so-call ―Aerotropolis‖ project.
The $360 million economic development plan is aimed at transforming the St. Louis Lambert International Airport
into a hub for international trade in the Midwest. The project will focus on developing warehouses and
distribution infrastructure in a limited area surrounding the airport. Supporters predict it could ultimately create
20,000 jobs.
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Both Nixon and Republican leaders express support for the project. Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom
Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said the project would ultimately benefit all Missourians, not just those in the St. Louis
area.
―One of the reasons why our state has held up in a very difficult recession is the strength of our agricultural
economy, and the air cargo hub provides an opportunity to open our agricultural industry to new markets,‖
Dempsey said.
However, some critics in the aircraft industry have derided the project, saying that the St. Louis airport will not be
able to catch up and compete with Chicago and other major airport cities.
MOSIRA
In announcing the special session this week, Nixon and legislative leaders all trumpeted the Missouri Science
and Innovation Reinvestment Act – known as MOSIRA – as a way to help encourage growth among the state‘s
high-tech job sector.
―MOSIRA will create a stable, ongoing source of funding to foster investment and job growth in high-tech and
scientific research companies,‖ the governor said.
The legislation would allow the state to capture a percentage of tax revenue generated by employees already
working in these fields and set it aside specifically for reinvestment into the science and technology sector.
Supporters say it will help develop emerging high-tech industry clusters in the state‘s metropolitan areas. But
with a seven percent cut to the state‘s higher education budget this year, it may be difficult to fill those jobs with
Missouri natives.
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Susan Redden: Jobs, disaster recovery
to be special session topics
By Susan Reddennews@joplinglobe.com
A job creation package will be the focus of a special legislative session this fall, and another priority will be
paying for recovery from disasters in Missouri, including the May 22 tornado.

Plans for the session were outlined last week by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and Republican leaders in the
Missouri House and Senate.

Job creation was to have been the centerpiece of the legislative session that ended in May, but that didn‘t
happen.

House and Senate leaders last week announced that they had reached a consensus on economic development
issues for the special session, with measures designed to create new incentives to keep jobs and bring new
ones to the state. That will be combined with more than $1.5 billion in savings to be achieved by reducing or
eliminating some tax credit programs, and requiring timely reviews of such programs.

Lawmakers stressed the need for those efforts, noting that some surveys rank Missouri‘s economy the third
worst in the United States.

House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, said the proposed changes will make incentive programs more
accountable by requiring periodic reviews or automatic sunsets. The reviews will require the programs to prove
they are meeting state goals or face automatic elimination, with the savings to pay for additional economic
incentives.

The proposals would authorize new job creation programs including turning Lambert International Airport in St.
Louis into an international trade hub, attracting high-tech jobs to the state, adding incentives to encourage data
centers to locate in Missouri, creating new job training programs, and adding a tax credit to attract national
sporting events to the state.

Nixon has said the special session should include action on paying for the state response to the Joplin tornado
and other disasters in Missouri, including flooding. He already has instructed Linda Luebbering, budget director,
to set aside $150 million. State efforts toward Joplin‘s recovery announced by the governor in recent weeks
include $75 million in economic development aid, nearly $20 million for the Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs
program, $2 million for a Joplin Child Trauma Center, and $122 million in housing tax credits and incentives for
builders, developers and homeowners.

Sen. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said that for Joplin residents right now, he believes housing is more important than
jobs.

―We still want people to go to work, but we have to get them into a home,‖ he said.

Richard said he has asked Joplin officials how the state can help with financing and tax credits to get people into
homes, especially residents who are finding that insurance payments on their former homes fall short of what it
costs to get them into new housing.

―We need to fill that gap, and still do some job creation,‖ he said.
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Richard said he expects reports from interim committees on disaster recovery will be ready for review in the
special session.

The Joplin senator is chairman of the Senate committee. That committee, along with a House panel that held
hearings in Joplin, will determine what actions the state can take to help residents and government agencies as
they recover and rebuild form recent natural disasters.

Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, was named vice chairman of the House panel. Other members included Charlie Davis,
R-Webb City, and Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage.

Richard said he hopes findings from both committees can be combined and presented to the Legislature for the
special session.

―I‘m going to ask House members to give us a sense of what they heard, put it together with our report and come
up with some recommendations,‖ he said.
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Nieves' Attorney Seeks to Dismiss Civil
Suit
Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 7:00 pm / Washington Missourian
State Sen. Brian Nieves is asking a judge to dismiss a civil suit against him alleging he assaulted a campaign
worker for a political opponent.
Nieves‘ attorney Michael J. Payne, with the St. Louis firm of Frankel, Rubin, Bond, Dubin, Siegel & Klein, P.C.,
filed an answer in Franklin County Circuit Court to the civil suit filed by Shawn Bell the former campaign worker
for Dick Stratman who challenged Nieves in the Republican primary campaign for the 26th District State Senate
seat.
The defendant‘s answer, filed Thursday, July 14, claims that Bell was trespassing in Nieves‘ office where he
―voluntarily appeared.‖
It also states that there was ―no medically diagnosable‖ or― medically significant‖ injuries to Bell.
Bell‘s suit includes three counts, including false imprisonment, assault and intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Bell said when he entered the office Nieves threw him against a wall, head-butted him, slapped him, pulled out a
gun and threatened to kill him, according to a statement filed with police.
Bell further alleges that Nieves detained him at gun point, shouted insults at him and forcibly made him remove
his shirt.
Denies Allegations
Nieves has repeatedly denied he assaulted Bell and previously called the allegations ―preposterous.‖ He did
acknowledge that the two men met in his office and had a verbal confrontation saying ―it wasn‘t a nice
encounter‖ but denied pulling a gun on Bell.
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks declined to file criminal charges in the matter.
Dave Bailey, Nieves‘ committee chairman at the time of the incident and current chief of staff in the state Senate,
was present when the alleged incident took place.
In an interview with police, Bailey said at one point that he saw Bell down on his hands and knees apologizing to
Nieves but that he was not forced to do that. He told police he never saw Nieves brandish a gun.
Bell later filed a request for a protection order against Nieves in Cole County but withdrew it Sept. 20 after
negotiations by the attorneys for the two men were conducted to head off a threatened civil suit.
In November, Nieves gave an interview on a St. Louis radio show where he said that the civil lawsuit had been
dropped and that he had been ―completely exonerated.‖
He later criticized The Missourian for not reporting that the civil suit had been dropped on his own radio show.
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Missouri job losses among highest in
nation last month
By DEREK KRAVITZ/The Associated Press
July 22, 2011 | 5:58 p.m. CDT
WASHINGTON — Unemployment rates rose in more than half of states in June, with Missouri reporting some of
the biggest job losses — evidence that slower hiring is affecting many parts of the country.
The Labor Department said Friday that unemployment rates in 28 states and Washington, D.C., increased last
month. Rates declined in eight states and were flat in 14. That's a change from May, when 24 states reported
falling unemployment rates.
Twenty-six states reported a net gain in jobs in June, while 24 states lost jobs.
The changing trend in state unemployment rates reflects a weaker economy hampered by high gas prices and
lower factory output. Nationally, employers added only 18,000 net jobs in June, the second straight month of
feeble hiring. The U.S. unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2 percent.
The economy expanded only 1.9 percent in the January through March period, and most economists expect
similar growth in the April to June quarter. The government releases its first estimate for second-quarter growth
on July 29.
Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia reported the biggest job losses. Missouri suffered its biggest losses in
education and health services, while Tennessee said the 16,900 jobs cut in the state last month were led by
steep losses in state and local government.
Those states were also affected by harsh weather this spring, which may have led to some job losses.
Joplin — hit on May 22 by a tornado that killed 159 people, destroyed more than 7,000 homes and displaced
5,000 workers — reported 9,400 jobs lost in June.
Tennessee was swept by flooding, high winds, hail and tornadoes in June, which washed out bridges, downed
power lines and temporarily closed a sewer treatment facility and a local airport.
Nevada had the highest unemployment rate among the states for the 13th straight month. It rose in June to 12.4
percent, up from 12.1 percent in May. The state has been hampered by foreclosures, depressed home sales and
a decline in tourism.
It was followed by California at 11.8 percent and Rhode Island at 10.8 percent.
North Dakota reported the lowest unemployment rate at 3.2 percent. Booming oil, agriculture and manufacturing
industries have helped the state keep the nation's lowest unemployment rate since November 2008.
It was followed by Nebraska at 4.1 percent and South Dakota at 4.8 percent.
Some companies are cutting their work forces. Layoffs rose to their highest level in nine months in May,
according to a separate Labor Department report last week.
The impasse in Washington over raising the federal government's borrowing limit could affect several states,
including Tennessee and Virginia. Those states could see a downgrade to their credit rating if the U.S. defaults
on its debt, according to Moody's Investors Service.
The government reached its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit in May. The Treasury Department said it will default on
its debt if the limit is not raised by Aug. 2.
Analysts are expecting another weak month of hiring in July, based on recent data.
The economy needs to generate about 125,000 jobs per month to keep up with population growth and prevent
the unemployment rate from rising. It needs at least twice that many to rapidly reduce unemployment.
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Three Clayton residents join lawsuit
against school transfers
By Dale Singer, Beacon staff
Posted 3:43 pm Fri., 7.22.11
Three residents of the Clayton School District have joined the lawsuit involving St. Louis students trying to enroll
in the Clayton schools and having the city school system pay their tuition.
The students' arguments were backed by an opinion issued by the Missouri Supreme Court last summer, but the
high court sent the case back to St. Louis County Circuit Court for further action. Attorneys for Clayton schools,
the city schools and the state of Missouri met with Judge David Lee Vincent III Friday prior to a trial date set for
Sept. 26.
At the meeting, Vincent granted the motions filed earlier this week by Clayton school district residents Janis
Abrams, Judith L. Glik and Elizabeth L. Wack. The motions, which were filed by the same lawyers who are
representing the Clayton School District in the case, argue two main points:
      The Hancock amendment to the Missouri Constitution prohibits the transfers because they represent an
         unfunded mandate on Clayton schools and Clayton taxpayers.
      It is impossible for Clayton to comply with the requirements of the lawsuit, given the relative size of the
         school districts.
The lawsuit, known as the Turner case, has been the subject of intense discussion among educators, lawmakers
and others in Missouri since it was handed down last summer. In its ruling, the court said that according to
Missouri law 167.131, students who live in unaccredited school districts have the right to transfer to accredited
districts in adjoining counties, with their home district paying the tuition. The receiving district must accept any
students who apply, the court ruled.
Currently, only St. Louis and Riverview Gardens are unaccredited among Missouri school districts. In the wake
of last year's Supreme Court ruling and further legal action, another judge in St. Louis County ruled last month
that the Webster Groves schools must accept a high school student from St. Louis. Webster Groves plans to
appeal that decision.
The filing this week by the three Clayton residents argues that their school district should not have to accept
students from the city because the state does not provide any funding to pay for the transfer, as required by the
Hancock amendment.
Further, they argue, the method of payment that state law does provide, billing the student's home district for
tuition, is "unconstitutional and unenforceable."
The taxpayers also cite arguments made by Missouri in the case, saying that without the ability to refuse to admit
students, including those who may not now be in public schools, the Supreme Court has created a situation that
is impossible for school districts to cope with.
"There are in excess of 50,000 school-age children resident in the city of St. Louis," their pleading says, adding
that the Clayton schools have "a current student body of approximately 2,500 pupils."
"As a practical matter of demographics," they continue, "transfer of even a small percentage of students living in
the city of St. Louis to a small district like School District of Clayton would be impossible. The School District of
Clayton and all the other St. Louis County school districts simply lack the space and other resources needed to
accommodate tens of thousands of transfers."
Another argument says that the Turner ruling clashes with the 1999 federal court settlement of the area wide
school desegregation case, which requires the state of Missouri to "continue to pursue a policy of
desegregation."
"A state mandate authorizing segregative publicly funded transfers," their motion argues, "violates this
requirement and would therefore also be a violation of the state's obligations under the Equal Protection Clause
of the 14th amendment, and compliance with that mandate would therefore be an impossibility."
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They also say that other difficulties would arise in the area of special education, and the financial burden
imposed by the Supreme Court ruling "would effectively bankrupt the City District, rendering compliance with the
statute a financial impossibility, and defeating the ongoing effort by that district to achieve reaccreditation."
In a broader view they say that if the transfers are funded through the state's school foundation formula, they
would "place a massive new burden on that formula (which is already underfunded), resulting in the further
underfunding of education statewide. This problem would be compounded by the inclusion of private and
parochial school students, who are not currently in the public schools and are not counted in the state foundation
formula calculations."
Finally, they argue that compliance with the Supreme Court ruling "requires the bumping of resident local
students from their school" in Clayton.
Chris Tennill, spokesman for the Clayton schools, said the district knew that the residents were planning to seek
to intervene in the Turner case.
"We were aware of what was going on and were a party to this," he said. "This is an additional way for us to
defend this thing."
Tennill said Clayton now has 72 tuition-paying transfer students; 20 are from the city, none from Riverview
Gardens.
In an earlier filing in the case, the students seeking to enroll at Clayton and have the city school system pay their
tuition said that Clayton and other districts who support their case "are waging a tireless and obviously well-
funded effort to thwart the lawful implementation of the Supreme Court's opinion and accompanying mandate in
this case. It is obvious that the districts will endeavor to interminably prolong this litigation so that they do not
have to deal with the perceived practical problems that they plainly believe the Supreme Court has caused
them."
By such action, it said the students "are most directly and acutely victimized," spending thousands of dollars.
"This court should relieve them of their financial hemorrhaging now."
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Taxpayers join legal fight over school
transfers
BY ELISA CROUCH ecrouch@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8119 | Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2011 12:00
am
CLAYTON • A new twist emerged Friday in the lawsuit involving parents in failing school districts who want to
transfer their kids to better schools, energizing those who say it would be impossible for districts to comply.
In a closed meeting with attorneys, St. Louis County Circuit Judge David Vincent III issued an order to allow
taxpayers to join the legal battle between Jane Turner and Clayton Public Schools.
The taxpayers — Janis Abrams, Judith L. Glik and Elizabeth L. Wack — filed a motion earlier in the week
arguing that allowing an unlimited number of children to transfer from failing districts at those districts' expense
would violate the Hancock Amendment of the state's constitution. In specific, because Clayton schools could not
turn any students away, they say the transfer would impose an unfunded mandate on Clayton schools and
taxpayers in the Clayton district.
Last summer, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an opinion that says school districts must comply with a law
that states parents in unaccredited districts may transfer their children to nearby better schools, with their home
district covering tuition and transportation costs. In addition, the opinion says receiving districts cannot turn
students away.
School districts receiving the students argue that ruling could require schools to construct new buildings and hire
additional teachers.
The ruling isn't being enforced because the judges also sent the case back to the lower courts for trial, which is
scheduled for Sept. 26.
In 2007, Jane Turner and three other St. Louis parents sued Clayton schools when its superintendent denied
their request to allow their children to attend tuition-free, at the expense of St. Louis Public Schools. Instead,
Clayton officials told parents they must pay tuition.
Turner's attorney, Elkin Kistner, opposed allowing the Hancock argument to become part of the case. "It's going
to make this case more complicated than it needs to be," he said.
Chris Tennill, spokesman for the Clayton district, said Friday's developments will ensure that all the district's
arguments are heard.
"It's just another element of our defense in this case," he said.
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Moving past ‘puppy mill’ debate
BY TODD C. FRANKEL tfrankel@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8110 | Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2011
10:00 am
OWENSVILLE, MO. • Louise Loeb steps on the bio-security doormat and instructs her visitors to do the same,
disinfectant squishing up as shoes press down. She washes her hands and then opens a glass door leading to
one of the most controversial industries in Missouri, a business sector heavily scrutinized for the past year and
now operating in a cloud of distrust stirred up by a bitter fight over new regulation.
This is a dog-breeding operation.
Inside, a single line of 16 elevated cages sits in a bright room about the size of a mobile home, a white-walled
space dotted by potted flowers. At the sight of Loeb, 25 dogs — Yorkies, poodles and Maltese — bounce in their
cages. The barking drowns out the room's air purifier and climate-control system. Each cage has a bowl of Royal
Canin dog food and an automated water nozzle. A few dogs excitedly paw at plastic doors opening to small,
shaded outdoor runs.
"Hush up. Shhhhh," Loeb, a grandmother and retired drafter, says to no avail.
This is not a problem dog breeder. Loeb-A-Rosa Kennels is not the reason most Missouri voters last November
approved Prop B, a ballot measure enacting stiff new rules for dog breeders. Nor is Loeb-A-Rosa the reason
animal activists and others cried foul as state lawmakers gutted Prop B, replacing it three months ago with
weakened regulations. Gov. Jay Nixon called it a compromise. A Humane Society of the United States official,
echoing many activists, called it a travesty.
Loeb's small kennel is considered by state regulators to be one of the best, "a model for others," as described in
its last inspection report. And that's saying something in Missouri, home to more dog breeders than any other
state by far, about 1,250 breeders in all, producing an estimated 40 percent of the puppies sold nationwide.
But the fight over Prop B, at the ballot box and in the Statehouse, resulted in a toxic environment. So even Loeb,
one of the state's best breeders, was staunchly against it. She is suspicious of claims that Prop B was aimed just
at cleaning up the industry.
"It was focused at me," Loeb says. "They wanted to get me out of business, and they came that close."
The 'puppy mill' capital
By most accounts, dog breeders had run of the state for years. Kansas once was considered the nation's puppy
mill capital, according to Bob Baker, a longtime animal welfare investigator and now director of the Missouri
Alliance for Animal Legislation. But in 1988, Kansas passed its first dog-breeding laws. Breeders moved to
Missouri. They settled mostly in the state's southwestern corner. Although Missouri followed with its own
breeding rules in 1992, enforcement was a problem. A 2001 audit, among several, criticized state inspectors for
going at least two years without fining or suspending a single breeder.
"For years," Baker said, "the Department of Agriculture had been horrible."
That led to Prop B going on the ballot and winning 51 percent of the vote. Public outrage had boiled over with the
constant parade of dogs rescued from subpar breeders and shame over Missouri's moniker as the puppy mill
capital. The Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals largely
bankrolled the effort.
Victory was short-lived. The industry has an estimated $1 billion to $2.5 billion annual economic output in
Missouri, according to the Missouri Pet Breeders Association. Immediately after Prop B passed, breeders
complained they would be shuttered by the new rules. A limit of 50 breeding dogs would cripple larger
operations. Outlawing the stacking of cages and requiring bigger cages would be too costly.
Lawmakers were listening. After a convoluted legislative process, those provisions and others were stripped or
changed. The cap on dogs was gone. Limits on breeding frequency were abolished, but a veterinarian could
impose them in certain cases. Cage sizes had to triple, but not for five years. And instead of solid flooring for
cages, the new law said flooring should not sag and had to be thick enough so paws would not get caught.
The Humane Society and ASPCA were outraged.
"It was unfair, premature and wrong," Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle said recently.
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But two major animal groups in Missouri supported the new bill. This resulted in a very public and rare split
among activists. It's still such a touchy subject that one of those state groups, the Humane Society of Missouri,
based in St. Louis and with no connection to the national group, declined to make president Kathy Warnick
available for an interview to discuss the division.
State animal groups worried about losing all of Prop B's gains. Lawmakers were poised for a full repeal. Prop B
was reduced to a bargaining chip.
"What we did get back was only because of Prop B," said Baker of the Alliance for Animal Legislation. The new
law "is different, no doubt about that. But it is just such a huge improvement for the dogs."
It tasted like a defeat. But many consider Missouri to now have the nation's second-toughest dog-breeding
statutes, behind only Pennsylvania.
The question is whether the new law will be enforced.
The problem before was not that Missouri had weak dog-breeding laws, Baker said. The laws were being
ignored.
Enforcing the law
A Department of Agriculture division, the Animal Care Facilities Act program, is responsible for inspecting dog
breeders.
At Loeb-A-Rosa last week, one of those inspectors stopped by for a visit with the Post-Dispatch. A six-year
veteran, Dawn Wall has seen plenty of changes in the program, especially in the last two years. Some were
small but important: She now wears a uniform of state-issued green shirt and khakis. Her truck now is equipped
with a computer, a printer for issuing inspection reports and a GPS unit.
"With new management, priorities change," Wall said.
The new management is agriculture director Jon Hagler. He took over in 2009 and cleaned house. Half of the
dog-breeding inspectors were shown the door. "Some were professional reasons and some were retired," Hagler
said. He appointed a new program manager. He recently added two inspectors, bringing the staff to 13. Two new
inspectors and two new investigators of unlicensed breeders are still to be added.
As a result, the number of inspections more than doubled from 2008 to 2010. Staff completed the same number
of inspections in the first half of 2011 as in all of 2008. Violations shot up 84 percent from 2008 to 2010. And
since 2008 the number of licensed dog breeders in Missouri has fallen 30 percent.
The state attorney general's office now has a staffer focused solely on animal cruelty. Last month, the attorney
general's office used the new dog-breeding law to obtain a temporary restraining order against a breeder in
Monett, Mo., for alleged violations.
"With all the rhetoric that went around in the debate, what was lost was that the program is a much different
program today that it was in prior years," Hagler said.
The Missouri Pet Breeders Association agreed. "In past years, it was more lax," its president Barbara York said.
The national Humane Society's Pacelle admitted state inspectors are doing a better job. "Enhanced enforcement
is welcome. It was always welcome," Pacelle said. "We just don't think good enforcement is a substitute for
replacing Prop B."
Animal welfare groups also are wary that the state's attitude toward dog breeders could change with a new
administration. That's one reason Prop B so strictly defined what was expected of breeders, down to the smallest
details. Prop B didn't just say dogs should not be over bred; it specified what that meant: Dogs get one heat
cycle off after every two on.
The new bill does not limit breeding frequency — and it left many details for the agriculture department to flesh
out. Some of those rules were unveiled last week, including what type of cage floors will be permitted.
Change is coming
Loeb picks up a Yorkie puppy and strokes its black and tan hair. This one is going to a couple flying in from
Colorado. Two years ago, Loeb was getting $1,000 a puppy. Now, due to the economy, she's asking $400 to
$500.
She raises no more than 20 puppies a year. She tries to breed her dogs just once a year, something her
veterinarian disagrees with.
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"He told me, God made the dogs to breed twice a year," Loeb recalls. "How would you like to do that, that's what
I told him."
For now, she's going to keep doing it her way.
But Loeb is curious. She wants to know if her cages are big enough to meet standards taking effect in 2016. Wall
gets a yellow tape measure and black calculator from her truck. She makes notes in a small notepad, taking into
account the sizes of the dogs and the square-footage of the cages.
The answer is no.
Even one of the state's best kennels will not be good enough.
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Changes in air quality inspections feed
worry in Missouri
By KAREN DILLON
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City and St. Louis officials paint a dire picture of the future, thanks to a cut in state funding for air quality
inspections:
Delays in construction projects. Greater health risks. Expired operating permits for gas stations, dry cleaners and
factories.
Missouri officials say all those fears are overblown.
But all agree that last month the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it would no longer fund
air quality inspections done by the city offices and that the state would handle those beginning Oct. 1.
DNR officials say the move is necessary to save money.
―It is unfortunate that we had to take this action,‖ said Leanne Tippett Mosby, DNR‘s environmental quality chief.
―We looked at this (as) an efficiency action.‖
But local officials say DNR is in no position to do the inspections itself. In fact, they think the state is jumping
through a window without looking first.
―This is a true public health concern,‖ said Dolores Gunn, director of the St. Louis County Health Department,
which had a $1 million budget and 12 employees in the air program.
―Where is DNR‘s strategic plan? How many (workers) will they have on the ground? How does that affect
respiratory illnesses?‖
Some fear that a lack of inspections will lead businesses to pollute more.
―I think (companies) are going to lose a lot of the interaction the city was able to provide, educating the industry,‖
said Joe Nasseri, president of Environmental Consulting Services of Kansas in Leawood, which advises
businesses. ―The number of inspections will most likely be reduced.‖
In all, Kansas City, St. Louis and St. Louis County employ about 40 people in air programs. Missouri has given
the local offices there and in Springfield about $2 million in state and federal money annually to:
•Issue construction permits for companies that emit pollutants.
•Monitor pollution levels from hundreds of factories and smaller businesses.
•Respond to complaints about odors, dust and fumes.
•Authorize demolition projects and oversee asbestos removal.
DNR officials said they are prepared to take on all those responsibilities.
They said they would save money because they would not have to hire anyone to conduct the work, which would
be done internally.
―We determined we can conduct the additional work,‖ Mosby said.
But DNR hasn‘t disclosed plans on how it will transfer the workload from the cities to its staff.
And an analysis of the programs‘ workloads also wasn‘t given to the cities or The Star. The analysis is being
updated and will be given to the Environmental Protection Agency soon, said Renee Bungart, DNR
spokeswoman.
The EPA oversees the enforcement of the federal Clean Air Act, and could derail the transfer plan.
―The analysis hasn‘t been publicly given (to the cities) because basically they are contractors,‖ Bungart said. ―We
don‘t have to inform them what our plan is. We hire them to conduct business for us on behalf of the
government.‖
DNR has not made a public announcement that it is cutting the city funding. As a result, few of the businesses
that will be affected by the decision know about it yet.
The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, for example, has not taken a position on the issue because it
hasn‘t heard yet from members, said Pam Whiting, a vice president.
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Indeed, DNR did not tell the cities themselves about the decision until last month. Kansas City officials are still
trying to see if they can save any portion of the air program, while St. Louis city health officials say they‘ve
decided they can‘t.
―This took us by surprise,‖ said Mike Manning, the Kansas City Health Department‘s air program manager.
―We are looking at some options,‖ he said, but he declined to say what those are.
The St. Louis city health department has 21 employees in the air program, and director Pam Walker doesn‘t see
how DNR can pick up all their work.
―I‘m hard-pressed to understand how they can pick up the work of 21 local workers with their existing staff when
they have never done this work before in this city,‖ Walker said.
Indeed, DNR has said it is on the brink of insolvency and it doesn‘t have enough employees to respond in a
timely way to all the complaints on pollution, odors or other matters.
―It‘s going to be a difficult transition,‖ Jim Kavanaugh, DNR‘s air quality chief, acknowledged in a June 30
meeting about the cuts.
A spokeswoman for the EPA Region 7 said federal officials are waiting for information about the transition, and
she has no official comment at this time.
The city air programs came into play in the late 1960s and 1970s when Kansas City and St. Louis were coated in
smog.
The federal government enacted the Clean Air Act, but neither the federal government nor the state had the
manpower to do all the work. The cities‘ health departments were enlisted to enforce air pollution laws with
annual grants from the state and federal governments.
Today, smog is almost invisible, but ozone remains a serious problem in the cities. This summer, Kansas City
has exceeded federal ozone standards five days.
The state cuts will be felt differently by each city:
•Kansas City: Health officials want to see if there‘s any way they can save any of the air program by greatly
reducing it.
The city had nine air workers in the Health Department but already had cut two.
Currently Kansas City issues at least 200 permits and conducts inspections for sources of pollution that range
from the Bannister Federal Complex to dry cleaners, printers and other mom-and-pop businesses that have
emissions.
There also are 200-plus retail gasoline stations that have to be inspected.
The Health Department would especially like to salvage its asbestos program, which includes permits for
removal of asbestos from buildings and homes. The office issues an average of 150 asbestos permits per year.
Construction and remodeling cannot begin in many buildings until asbestos is removed. In the past, the city has
initiated several high-profile enforcement cases against developers in which heavy penalties were levied.
Nasseri, of Environmental Consultants, said the loss of state funding will be felt, and he fears that with fewer
inspections, companies will skirt pollution laws.
―Out of sight, out of mind,‖ he said of inspectors.
―Hopefully everyone will do their part and stay compliant. But there are some who feel they are not being visited
(by inspectors), so they may just forget about their daily activities to stay in compliance.‖
•St. Louis: The city health department expects to shut down the work of 21 air employees by Sept. 30, but the
county, with 12 air employees, is still looking at options.
―I see no other alternative than to close down the program,‖ said Walker of the city department.
Gunn, with the county, said the situation is difficult at best. At worst, it could create a situation in which
uninspected businesses can‘t get permits renewed on time.
―If everyone follows the law, that could mean no gas stations, no construction, no dry cleaners, no print shops,‖
she said.
Permits carry expiration dates, and when those permits expire, the companies being monitored for air pollution
would have to be shuttered unless DNR provides an extension.
And if developers cannot obtain air pollution and asbestos permits, construction should be halted, Gunn said.
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Walker, with the city, added that the air program is important because it helps reduce ozone levels. Several
years ago, the St. Louis area was placed in a special program to try to push it into compliance with federal
standards.
Mosby said DNR would fill three open positions to monitor air quality in the St. Louis area.
•Springfield: That area also will lose funding from the state.
The Springfield City Council is trying to save at least the permitting part of the program, said Clay Goddard,
assistant director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
The Health Department has enough money to continue to operate some air programs until the end of the year.
Of the five employees who were in the program, only two are left, he said.
Outside the major cities, air-pollution permitting and asbestos enforcement are done from Jefferson City.
Regional DNR offices also pick up inspections.
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Schatz Says He Will File Meth Bill Next
Session
By Gregg Jones, Union Missourian Editor | Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2011 3:00 pm
State Rep. Dave Schatz said he will again file legislation that would require a prescription for cold medicine used
in making meth.
Schatz, of Sullivan, said statewide legislation is needed because electronic tracking of the sale of
pseudoephedrine is not slowing down meth production.
Last year, he filed the ―Meth Lab Elimination Act,‖ that called for a prescription for pseudoephedrine a meth
precursor. The Missouri House passed the prescription law but the measure did not reach the Senate floor
before the session ended.
Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in drugs such as Sudafed. Missouri restricts the sale of
pseudoephedrine to pharmacies, limits the amounts a person may buy and requires the purchaser to sign a log.
Now, Schatz has met with law enforcement representatives to review where the bill ―went wrong‖ and look at
new stats.
Missouri began electronic monitoring of the logs to track purchases but even with that, law enforcement
agencies reported an almost 10.5 percent increase in labs in 2010 compared to 2009.
At the time the bill was filed, critics said the statewide monitoring system was not given enough time to work.
Schatz said meth labs seizures this year are already up compared to last year and the monitoring system has
been in place over six months.
―A lot of people said the tracking system was given not enough time, but our basis is that the tracking system is
not a fail safe and midyear stats show labs are up 8-10 percent compared to last year,‖ he said.
Last week, Schatz met with representatives from the Department of Public Safety, the Missouri State Highway
Patrol, police chiefs and Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit Commander Sgt. Jason Grellner.
―We finally got the interested parties in a room to begin to recap what we want to do in the upcoming legislative
session,‖ Schatz said. ―We talked about countywide measures and parts of the state that are already under
prescription only ordinances.
―We also want to possibly engage some of the opposing people to ask them what the best way is to end meth
production in the state with the least amount of intrusion on law-abiding citizens,‖ he added.
According to Schatz, prescription laws have worked in Oregon and Mississippi, the only two states in the nation
with the prescription restriction.
After those states passed prescription laws, the number of meth labs in those states dropped sharply.
Opponents of prescription laws say that they punish law-abiding citizens who use the drugs for relief of cold and
allergy symptoms.
During the last session, 64 House members have signed on as cosponsors of Schatz‘s bill. It takes 82 House
members to pass a bill.
The legislation also had support from Gov. Jay Nixon, Attorney General Chris Koster and law enforcement
agencies and prosecutors throughout the state.
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MoDOT's Keith named president of
regional association
St. Louis Business Journal
Kevin Keith, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, was elected Thursday as president of the
Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials.
The regional association works to represent and serve the transportation needs of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
It‘s a division of the American Association of State Transportation Officials (AASHTO).
―I‘m excited and honored to lead this organization in efforts to improve our national transportation system,‖ Keith
said in a statement.
Keith, who‘s been with MoDOT for more than 25 years, was named the agency‘s director in November 2010
after having served as interim director since April last year.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission recently signed off on a five-year, $600 million annual
construction plan that‘s about half the size it was in past years.
The budget cutbacks, reflecting a statewide revenue malaise, also resulted in 1,200 layoffs at MoDOT.
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MoDOT crews change their schedules
by Lindsey Boetsch, KHQA/Hannibal
These blazing hot temperatures might have changed your daily plans.
They've also changed the plans of road construction workers.
If you've noticed, no road construction workers in Missouri were out Friday.
But it's not because this week was so hot.
They have shifted to four 10 hour days instead of five eight hour days.
They also rotate jobs more frequently and spend time in the air conditioned trucks.
You might think that the workers who ride on the heavy machinery have the hottest job.
That's often not the case.
MoDOT Maintenance Superintendent Randy Shubert says, "You're standing on asphalt and or concrete. You're
looking at pavement temperatures of 120 degrees in midday. So you're standing there on that pavement, if
there's not a lot of breeze movement, then you're getting a lot of heat off that road."
The workers also are given bright neon t-shirts to wear instead of the heavy vests.
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After Floods, Debate Over Missouri River
Rolls On
By A. G. SULZBERGER, New York Times
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The meandering path of the Missouri River, charted by Lewis and Clark, once served as
the main travel artery across the Great Plains, carrying people and goods between the comforts of St. Louis and
the wilds of the Montana territory.
But as railroads and highways replaced the river as the preferred shipping routes, barge traffic dried up so much
that some ports have gone years without seeing a single one. And now the river is dividing the region that it had
stitched together with each of its oxbow bends.
The record flooding this summer along the Missouri River has overwhelmed dams and levees, swamped small
communities and forced large cities into emergency measures to hold the water back. And so the pressing
matter of how to manage flooding on the Missouri has added a new urgency to the contentious question that has
long nagged this region: What precisely is this river for?
In a normal year, the water that is used to keep the river level high enough for barges comes from releases from
the dam system built to control river flow. But the states north of the dams, including North and South Dakota,
have argued that the river is no longer needed for navigation and that more water should be kept in the
reservoirs for recreation, to help the region‘s economy.
The summer-long flood brought promises of renewed cooperation after years of legal and legislative battles.
Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said a recent meeting of a group of senators to examine how
the waterway was managed represented ―a high point, pardon the expression, for cooperation for states along
the Missouri River.‖
But these leaders have not yet breached the underlying concerns about how the federal government manages
the water.
Earlier this year, the Missouri Congressional delegation succeeded in stripping financing, after more than $7
million had been spent, from a study of the priorities for river management that was supported by upriver states,
arguing that it was redundant and amounted to an attack on navigation.
Even as Ms. McCaskill praised the collaboration in fighting flooding, she noted that she and other leaders from
both parties in Missouri remained committed to supporting shipping interests on the river. ―While navigation is
much more important than recreation, we should not let the fight between navigation and recreation get in the
way of flood control,‖ Ms. McCaskill said.
Her colleagues north of the dams have a different view.
―Frankly, navigation never developed as anticipated,‖ said Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, who
called for a revision of how the river was operated. ―The basic operational assumptions from the management of
the river are really no longer valid.‖
Asked about the continued emphasis on navigation despite the sparse traffic, Jody Farhat, the chief of water
management for the Missouri River Basin for the Army Corps of Engineers, said: ―The primary reason is it‘s
because it‘s the law. The Corps of Engineers does what Congress tells us to do.‖
Once wide, shallow and unusually winding, the Missouri River has been drastically reshaped over the last
century, at a cost of more than $650 million, to create a channel friendly to modern vessels, according to federal
estimates. The result is a narrower, deeper, straighter river, which the government spends about $7 million a
year to maintain.
The predictions for boat traffic that were used to justify the spending never materialized. The amount and value
of river freight has actually declined sharply since the late 1970s, a few years before the project was finally
completed, according to federal data.
Though the river cuts through the heart of farm country, almost no grain is transported on the Missouri — 4.8
million of the 5 million tons of cargo moved by barge last year was sand and gravel, which was usually shipped
less than a mile. Traffic upriver from Kansas City all but disappeared.
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―They‘ve had decades to prove this is worth the expenditure of taxpayer dollars,‖ said Andrew Fahlund, a vice
president for conservation at American Rivers, a conservation organization that has sued over the management
of the river.
Even the shipping company of Roger Blaske, whose great-grandfather and every generation since have plied
these waters, was one of several on the river to close after years of drought made business even more
unpredictable. He was unsure if it would ever again be profitable to work on the waterway.
―I guess it could be,‖ Mr. Blaske said with a heavy sigh. ―It was at one time.‖
Some leaders maintain that the industry will revive. In St. Joseph, Mo., where just two barges have visited in the
decade since the construction of a $1.3 million port, city leaders insist that the river is still viable as a commerce
route.
Just downriver in Kansas City, leaders are looking into reopening a port, with the head of the effort saying he
hoped upriver states would not ―choke off the opportunity for people below.‖ And the State of Missouri received
$900,000 in federal money to examine how to get more freight on the river.
―The highways are congested, the railways are headed that way, the waterways have capacity,‖ said Ernest
Perry, the freight development administrator for the Missouri transportation department.
Other rivers have shown that shipping can still be viable. Though slower than other forms of transit, river barges
are able to carry far larger quantities at a lower cost. Even with aging infrastructure on many major shipping
routes — and despite the widespread flooding this year — the business as a whole remains healthy, industry
leaders say.
But the Missouri can accommodate fewer barges because of the strong current and sharper bends. And though
navigation, along with flood control, gets priority for releases of water from dams, the unpredictable river levels
have made shipping contracts riskier.
The most substantial contribution to navigation that the river makes is supplying water to the far busier
Mississippi, into which the Missouri empties just north of St. Louis.
Kevin Holcer, a manager for AGRIServices, a Missouri company that sells fertilizer and other agricultural
products, said that when the shipping operations they worked with went out of business, the company bought its
own tugboat.
―We‘re really the only one on the Missouri that‘s out here every day for hire,‖ he said. The current flood shut
down river traffic and has caused substantial losses, he added.
Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers have said that the reservoir levels were drawn down to ―full flood
capacity,‖ when rain unexpectedly filled the space set aside for snowmelt — forcing the dams to release more
water than ever before. Various parties have suggested that more water than necessary was being held back.
Corps leaders acknowledge the tension between vacating water for a flood and holding it for other use, but
maintain that the guidelines never anticipated a flood of this size.
That defense has not assuaged Gov. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa, a Republican, who has strongly criticized the
Corps of Engineers for not releasing more water sooner. He said he believed that the other uses, like navigation
and recreation, distracted from the focus on flood control.
―They‘ve lost their way,‖ Mr. Branstad said. ―They‘re not doing what the dams were designed to do in the first
place. As a result, we‘ve suffered significant losses.‖
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Missouri River flooding hurts barge
industry
By Anthony Schick, Columbia Missourian
July 23, 2011 | 4:46 p.m. CDT
BRUNSWICK — The Missouri River gave the shipping industry too much of what it needed this summer.
After a lasting drought in the river basin decimated the corridor's barge industry for the past decade, this
summer's flooding has washed away hopes for a bounce-back year.
Long-haul shipping on the Missouri River fell from 1.3 million tons in 2000 to 269,000 tons in 2009. Water levels
too low for heavy barge traffic drove away most of the existing shipping on the 675-mile stretch from Sioux City,
Iowa, to St. Louis.
When the drought ended at the decade's turn and 2010 estimates neared 333,000 tons, the industry grew
optimistic of an upward trend. Rising river levels sparked hope for a longer, healthier shipping season. The
Missouri Department of Transportation projected increases of 15 percent to 20 percent this year, Freight
Development Administrator Ernie Perry said.
That's not going to happen.
The U.S. Coast Guard extended a closure of the Missouri River between Gavins Point Dam and Glasgow last
week. That stretch of nearly 600 miles is the longest piece of the river ever closed.
Some stretches of the river were too high to navigate even before the closure, Army Corps of Engineers
Navigation Manager John LaRandeau said.
"You can imagine the frustration of the people who make their living on the river," LaRandeau said. "River
shippers eking by, just trying to get through the drought years, then business comes back and they're ready to
enjoy the good years, and the river puts a stop on that."
He expects the flooding to result in one of the worst years ever for Missouri River shipping.
Bill Jackson, general manager of the grain and fertilizer supplier AGRIServices of Brunswick LLC, agrees.
"That's a foregone conclusion," said Jackson, standing on the terminal's empty docks and watching the high,
swirling water. "We haven't had anything on the river since early June."
The dock usually gets weekly barge service when the river allows, Jackson said. River navigation accounts for
about one-third of business for AGRIServices, a joint venture between the Brunswick River Terminal and
Columbia's MFA Inc.
When the river closes, shipping via rail cars and freight trucks drives up costs. A rail shipment costs him roughly
25 percent more per ton than a barge. Truck shipments are double the cost. A barge can move one ton of cargo
576 miles per gallon of fuel versus 413 for rail car and 155 for semi-truck.
AGRIServices' towboat, the M/V Mary Lynn, also has offered one of the only barge services based on the
Missouri River for the past seven years. When it does not need the Mary Lynn for carrying grain and fertilizer,
AGRIServices rents the boat for various shipping jobs. The Mary Lynn is operating in St. Louis this summer,
where river levels still allow for traffic.
No end in sight for river closure
The flooded river has restricted more than just the Mary Lynn.
Magnolia Marine, a barge company that brings asphalt into Kansas City, has not shipped on the Missouri River
since June 11, Port Captain Lester Cruse said.
That creates problems for Paul Dolak, the operations manager at Brenntag Mid-South in Kansas City. Dolak's
plant receives asphalt shipments from Magnolia Marine and sends them all over Kansas City and surrounding
areas for public projects.
"It has a tremendous effect," Dolak said of the river closure. "It's been a long time since I've had a barge come
up the river."
Instead of one man working to operate a barge shipment, Dolak now has eight working overtime to manage rail
cars. Between the river and a poor economy, the plant is operating at 30 percent of its normal business.
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"This plant survives off the Missouri River. I don't think we could stay in business if we lost navigation on that
river," he said. "Right now, I'm maintaining with the rail cars. How long I'm going to maintain, I don't know."
How long the stretch of river will stay closed is uncertain. Cruse expects Magnolia Marine barges to be back on
the Missouri sometime in mid-August. Others think the rest of the summer season is lost.
"From the folks I have talked to, they are shut down till September," Perry said "It's just eliminated doggone near
all the traffic on the Missouri River."
Just another setback
Not much traffic existed before the river began flooding, either.
Missouri served as the origin or destination for 83 percent of commodity tonnage shipped on the river between
1994 and 2006, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. Even in Missouri, though, there
are only a handful of barge operations.
The effort to establish a barge industry on the Missouri River has a long and controversial history. Only lower
basin states use the river for navigation, and debate has persisted over what role that navigation should play in
river management.
Between the start of the 20th century and 1980, there were numerous efforts to narrow and deepen the channel
for better navigation.
Commercial shipping, however, never lived up to expectations. The vast majority — 84 percent — of tonnage on
the river is sand and gravel, 80 percent of which travels less than 10 miles. Long-haul tonnage peaked in 1977 at
3.3 million. Between 1994 and 2006, 2.8 million tons of food and farm material traveled along the Missouri River.
In that same period, 189 million tons traveled on the Mississippi River.
"It's been pretty much impossible for navigation to take off," Dolak said of the past decade. "We wanted more
water so that we could increase business, but because the corps has to manage it for all interests, they hadn't
been releasing that much water."
That changed this year, as unprecedented rain and runoff in the upper basin prompted six major reservoirs on
the river to release record amounts of water.
Perry said the flood is not a death blow to the industry, it's just another frustrating setback. Once the flooding
subsides, barge services will return to the river to salvage what they can of the season.
"They'll make plans for next year, too," Perry said, "But most certainly that depends on if the weather and the
river cooperate."
Jackson is confident shipping can right itself on the Missouri River. Even in the drought years, AGRIServices
increased its tonnage on the river, he said. Jackson has plans to expand barge service, using a second boat to
run shipments between Kansas City and Sioux City.
"Everything is here. The infrastructure is here," Jackson said. "It's just a matter of getting the correct amount of
water."
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Trials, tribulations of a ‘long summer’
Governor, senators tour levee
Kristin Hoppa
St. Joseph News-Press
AMAZONIA, Mo. — The Missouri River flood fight brought officials to the area Saturday to assess damage and
discuss future efforts toward flood prevention.
Gov. Jay Nixon, joined by State Sen. Dr. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, and State Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah,
surveyed an Andrew County levee Saturday afternoon. The officials climbed onto Levee 476-L, near Amazonia,
and examined the National Guard‘s pumping operation.
―We are working with locals to try to save some land and save some infrastructure,‖ Mr. Nixon said. ―We need to
assess the damage, look at where we are and understand that this is going to be a long summer.‖
Surveying farmland covered by seepage water, Mr. Nixon said as Gavins Point Dam releases stay high for the
foreseeable future, and potential rain threatens the Missouri River Basin, flooding will continue to be a issue in
the area. He stressed that communities are dependent on the reliability of area levees.
―The entire system is going to have to sustain this level of water at the baseline for the next, at least, 30 to 35
days,‖ he said. ―As that pressure builds on various levees and back-up levees, as we see more sand boils, as we
see more breaches, people need to stand ready to assist.‖
Mark Schweizer, president of the Amazonia Levee District, spoke with Mr. Nixon and said locally, sand boils
have not been a problem. However, he estimated about 3,000 acres are underwater from ground seepage along
Levee 476-L.
―We have families out here that won‘t be able to stay in their houses, because roads will be covered. Plus, we
are trying to save our crops,‖ Mr. Schweizer said.
The governor said local and state help will be vital in rebuilding and reinforcing levees that have been damaged
during the flood. Instead of placing blame on individual entities, he said the focus should be on moving forward
and gathering support throughout the area.
―We need to get all the folks, not to point the finger in blame, but to use that as a constructive force to make the
necessary changes to prevent this from happening in the future,‖ Mr. Nixon said. ―Right now, we need to make
sure we have the resources here to fight this flood.‖
He said he hoped for a joint effort from other states along the river to urge changes in flood prevention.
―I‘ve been in the Senate since 2005, and in every year since 2009, we‘ve had floods,‖ Mr. Lager said.
―Individuals have been pushed out of their homes and businesses, and have had to change their way of life.
Something needs to change.‖
Mr. Nixon was joined on Saturday by officials from the Missouri National Guard, the Missouri Department of
Natural Resources and Andrew County. Earlier in the day, he had toured the Woolridge Levee in Cooper
County, in central Missouri.
The governor said regardless of where he toured, he is impressed with the dedication of those in the flood fight.
―I see a lot of water, but the most water I see is the sweat on the brows of Missourians fighting this flood,‖ he
said.
―It‘s really important to interact with folks who live on the property and understand it, because we want to be
hand-in-glove with them to rebuild as quickly as possible.‖
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Governor Nixon Tours Levees in
Amazonia
KQ2, St. Joseph
It is past the point of high tide in Amazonia, Missouri and Governor Jay Nixon was personally on hand for an
inspection of levee protection efforts in northwest Missouri on Saturday.
Nixon met with levee officials and locals who are pitching in to help keep the river at bay, but his attention
remained on the massive cleanup that will begin when the river finally recedes.
"As I said before, we rebuild this infrastructure not only in northwest Missouri, not only the public infrastructure
but also in Joplin, in Birds Point, it's been an unbelievable year," Nixon said. "When the legislature comes back
in September I'm going to put our best estimate together on what we have to pay as a state, I expect that to be in
the hundreds of millions of dollars."
In spite of the rising waters Governor Nixon also found hope in what he saw around him in northwest Missouri.
"I see a lot of water but the most water I see is the sweat on the brows of Missourians fighting this flood," Nixon
said.
Governor Nixon also added that with over a half million acres of farmland now underwater it was very important
for farmers to remember that they are one of Missouri's prime resources.
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Senators Fret over FEMA
Missouri News Horizon, Dick Aldrich
WASHINGTON D.C. — Senator Roy Blunt is confident the Federal Emergency Management Agency has
enough money available to help the state recover from the Joplin tornado, the southeast Missouri floods, and
other natural disasters.
Senate colleagues don‘t sound nearly so convinced.
During a hearing of a subcommittee of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in
Washington earlier this week, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, laid out some sobering statistics. Fifty-five major
disasters proclaimed by President Barack Obama‘s administration so far this year have left the FEMA
emergency operations budget on course for a $3 billion shortfall.
What‘s more, the president has included just $1.8 billion in his budget request for the fund in the next fiscal
year‘s budget. The fund has been bailed once already this year with an $850 million influx. Currently, the fund
has $1.2 billion available, and FEMA Deputy Director Richard Serino told the senate panel that he expects that
to dip below $1 billion early in August. Serino said the agency is preparing to use the fund for life saving
operations only.
―We‘ll put on hold funding some of our other long term projects – public buildings, public roads that are on down
the line – until we get another budget,‖ Serino said.
Serino was not specific about what projects might be put on hold, but clearly, the future of emergency funding at
the agency is not bright. Still, Serino said the agency‘s response to emergencies will not be predicated on the
amount of cash it has on hand.
The uncertain nature of emergency funding does not phase Blunt. He said he expects a full amount of help from
FEMA for clean-up operations in Joplin for the aftermath of the May 22 tornado and the rest of the state following
floods along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
―No question that Joplin is one of the worst tornado disasters in the history of the country both in loss of life and
property,‖ Blunt said. ―The Missouri flooding, the opening of Bird‘s Point…all exceed what would be seen as a
normal spring and summer disaster.‖
Pryor and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, called into question the use of FEMA and its emergency funds at the
current rate.
―The impact of repetitive disasters threatens the fiscal health of state and local governments,‖ Pryor said. ―We
can‘t rely on the federal government to fill the gaps left by insufficient state and local funds.‖
Paul said congress and FEMA need to take a look at how and when the agency responds to emergencies.
―We get involved in so many of these routine storms that maybe we don‘t have enough money when we have
truly catastrophic storms,‖ said Paul. ―It‘s kind of hard to be against declaring a disaster, so we always declare a
disaster, and I think not every disaster is created equally.‖
―The question is can the federal government keep doing it, does the federal government have enough money to
keep supplying endless amounts of money through FEMA?‖
Blunt agrees with Paul that the government does seem to be too quick to declare emergencies in the aftermath
of seasonal storms and floods.
―We need to be sure that any time anything happens we immediately look to the governor and say ‗Why haven‘t
you called for a federal disaster yet?‖ Blunt said. ―We need to be sure that we‘re doing the right things with
disasters and when they occur, whatever funding is necessary is available for that because it wasn‘t spent on
things that weren‘t as significant.‖
Pryor advocates mitigation as a way to cut costs. He said investments in storm shelters and better building
practices in tornado prone areas, and the continued buy-out of land that frequently floods could help FEMA in
the long run.
Blunt agrees, but said in the short term, attitudes may need to change. Paul cited numbers that show federal
disasters have increased from Ronald Reagan‘s term where 28 were declared his entire four-year term to the
current 55 this year, before the start of hurricane season.
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―I don‘t think it hurts at all to evaluate the process of why there‘d be so many more disasters declared under
President Obama than under past presidents,‖ Blunt said.
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Joplin confronts tough choices
City leaders must decide whether to rebuild or reinvent.
Springfield News-Leader
JOPLIN -- Empty concrete pads where houses once stood. Untouched playgrounds still riddled with broken
glass. A once-bustling retail district, eerily quiet on a weekend night.
Two months after a huge tornado split Joplin in half, the recovery here has barely begun, and the city remains
focused on cleaning up massive mounds of debris. But local leaders say Joplin and the neighboring village of
Duquesne already face another question: How much to rebuild and how much to reinvent?
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, what we really want to do is return to business as usual, go back to exactly
what was there at the earliest possible time, get everyone back in their homes," said Bob Berkebile, a Kansas
City architect and disaster recovery specialist who has been working informally as a consultant in Joplin. "But I
have never seen a community where they couldn't have made a decision to build back something different."
In Joplin, city officials, neighborhoods and families are beginning to confront decisions that involve trade-offs of
cost, speed, quality and uncertainty: whether to strengthen building codes to produce better houses, but also
some delay; to plot out more parks and amenities that would raise the quality of life, but require detailed
planning; to require new storm safety features that would balance peace of mind against more expense for those
of modest incomes.
Some choices are being made in an atmosphere still charged with crisis.
Since the storm, "People were buying homes sight unseen," said real estate agent Allen Hall. "There was a time
for a couple of weeks where people would come in and say, 'I don't care about the price, I need this home.'"
Jeff Goldhammer, a local nonprofit manager whose home was destroyed, is living 25 miles away in Neosho for
several more weeks until the house he purchased is available. With a vacant lot on his hands but a glut of similar
lots available, he's listening to the public conversation and wondering what to do.
"You had homes worth triple digits destroyed, and then you had homes for people with low to moderate incomes
destroyed," he said. "These groups of people have different situations, different desires."
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Mo. auditor advising Joplin officials
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich has some advice for Joplin officials as they handle
large amounts of money in the recovery from the May tornado.
Schweich was scheduled to present several recommendations Monday at a meeting with officials in Joplin.
His office says the presentation will outline ways to avoid problems while accepting and using large amounts of
recovery money.
Among the recommendations are developing a budget for disaster relief funds and getting to know program
requirements, eligibility guidelines and any deadlines for filing reports.
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When disaster strikes, ordinary citizens
become first responders
By Jason Rosenbaum, special to the Beacon
Posted 9:14 pm Sun., 7.24.11
Homeland Security efforts are often associated with professional firefighters and police -- those trained to be first
responders. But a program available across the state offers training for ordinary citizens to react affirmatively to
emergency situations.
Community Emergency Response Teams -- or CERT -- have been set up across Missouri and around the
country. The program is under the umbrella of a Homeland Security program called Citizen Corps. The goal of
CERT and other Citizen Corps programs is to supplement professional first responders in a natural disaster,
crime outbreak or medical emergency.
Citizen Corps programs received $267,000 during the state‘s last grant cycle, a much smaller number than other
Homeland Security grant programs. That money went to counties with CERT programs, as well as other Citizen
Corps agencies training volunteers in fire, police and medical communities.
CERTs have popped up in urban areas like St. Louis and rural regions like Webster County in the Ozarks. In St.
Louis, the program trains ordinary citizens to respond to a natural disaster. In rural areas, CERTs can be an
important stopgap for communities without a lot of resources to respond to a tornado, flood or earthquake.
Like most Homeland Security grants, the money for Citizen Corps affiliates, such as CERT, is taking a hit
compared to the 2010 budgetary year. And it's an open question whether the decline in resources will lead to the
program's demise.
Some say the program will survive since the program is more oriented toward education and training; it's not
resource-dependent and doesn't require a lot of equipment or manpower. But others involved say the program is
danger of "fizzling" without enough money.
CERT volunteers, though, would be of little use in a terrorist attack. While CERT training includes some terrorism
awareness, it is more focused on natural disasters. Those who go through the training are explicitly told to call
authorities if terrorism is suspected.
Nick Risch, the chairman of the Franklin County Citizen Corps Council, said CERT members are explicitly told
not to get personally involved in a terrorism situation.
"It basically gives them an awareness of what the potential is out there," Risch said. "It does not give them any
direct knowledge on how to handle a terrorist -- because we don't want a CERT member to get involved."
UNDER THE UMBRELLA
The idea behind CERT predates the Department of Homeland Security. It started in 1985 in Los Angeles as a
way to train residents to respond to a major disaster -- such as an earthquake.
As Jaci McReynolds of the Webster County's CERT program pointed out, such training keeps helpful citizens
from hindering the efforts of police and firefighters.
Ten years later: are we safer?
As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks nears, are we safer from a terrorist attack? In a series of articles,
funded by grants from the St. Louis Press Club and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the
Beacon will look at how money from the Department of Homeland Security was spent in Missouri. This project is
being done in partnership with the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
As anti-terrorism funding shrinks, controversy grows over how to spend it
Federal funds for firefighters -- anti-terrorism program or employment subsidy?
"The problem is, when people were coming to help and they were untrained, they were actually injuring
themselves or putting more at risk the people they were trying to help," McReynolds said. "So the L.A. County
Fire Department saw there was a need to make sure that there's a trained group of what we call here in Webster
County neighbors helping neighbors."
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McReynolds added, "It's a trained group of ordinary citizens for when something happens and they do come to
help, at least they have a basic skill set that tells them how to protect themselves and how to protect others."
Although the focus of the training varies from place to place, it usually involves classes on what to do -- and what
not to do -- in an emergency. After people complete a certain number of classes, they can be provided with ID
cards, vests or helmets.
CERT was eventually placed under the Citizen Corps umbrella, which according to its 2009 annual report was
created to "identify ways 'to support and enhance the efforts of the American public with respect to preparedness
and volunteerism in the war on terrorism.'"
The report went on to say: "Mindful of the increased risk of terrorism, as well as vulnerabilities to natural
disasters, hazardous materials, and public safety threats, the resulting strategic policy was an all-hazards
approach to citizen preparedness and participation."
In addition to CERT, Citizen Corps includes:
      Fire Corps, which steers volunteers to assist local fire departments in non-emergency roles. This
         includes, according to Citizen Corps' website, fire safety outreach, youth programs and administrative
         support.
      USAonWatch, a repackaged "Neighborhood Watch" program. Although this endeavor was originally set
         up to reduce crime, the program expanded its focus after 9/11 to disaster preparedness, emergency
         response and terrorism awareness.
      Volunteers in Police Service, which according to Citizen Corps is "for citizens who wish to volunteer their
         time and skills with a law enforcement agency."
      Medical Reserve Corps, a group of volunteers to supplement emergency and public-health resources.
         Members may also help with blood drives and immunizations.
The last Missouri grant cycle for the Citizen Corps program, which includes some funds from the 2009 fiscal
year, totaled $267,000. Allocations ranged from a $1,500 grant to Douglas County to start a CERT program to a
$39,500 allocation to Greene County for a "citizens' preparedness initiative."
According to the Citizen Corps website, Missouri has 66 CERT programs, 47 branches of Volunteers in Police
Service, 32 Medical Reserve Corps and 26 Fire Corps throughout the state. Missouri also has 17 county
councils and 12 local councils that help oversee Citizen Corps-affiliate programs and initiatives.
Alan McCurry, a member of the steering committee for George Washington University's Homeland Security
Policy Institute, formerly served as the former chief operating officer of the American Red Cross. When he left
that organization in 2007, he said he felt a "deep understanding of the lack of preparedness for the average
American."
"And we could never put our finger on why not," McCurry said. "People in general, families in general,
businesses in general don't do things they need to be prepared. So organizations like CERT in my view,
anything that raises the visibility within a community, within a family, within a school district ... anything local I
see has great benefit."
He said programs like CERT help first responders treat the people who need the most assistance by giving
trainees the power to help themselves and those around them.
"It's my observation that families that are prepared or organizations that are prepared can take the routine while
the first responders in the medical and the police and fire and rescue and all those can focus on those truly in
need, rather than those who did not think ahead," McCurry said.
ACTIVE PRESENCE in the state
St. Louis, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Louis County and the Metro East all have active CERT
programs.
Sarah Gamblin-Luig, a program specialist for the St. Louis Emergency Management Agency, said the goal of
Citizen Corps programs such as CERT is to educate volunteers so "communities are safer and stronger and
more prepared to respond" to threats.
In particular, Gamblin-Luig said if something happened in a neighborhood or workplace that affects CERT
trainees directly, they could "address a situation." In 2011, she said close to 200 people were provided with
CERT training.
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"For CERT, it's to enable citizens to have the skills to be what would truly be a first responder on the scene of an
accident or a disaster or some sort of event and start to carry out some of the critical functions until the
traditional first responders arrive on the scene," Gamblin-Luig said.
Situations could include a natural disaster, such as tornados that hit the St. Louis metro area earlier this year.
But it can also involve less dramatic activities.
Abraham Cook, director of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, said his county's CERT
program has about 250 participants. Volunteers assist with the Washington Town & Country Fair and hand out
pamphlets on "preparedness activities"
"We have not had that many deployments, per se," Cook said. "But I guess that's a positive thing."
Cook said CERT participants have used their training to assist people in immediate distress, such as a high
school student having an asthma attack. But he added that the training could come in handy in the event of a
natural disaster, such as a flood of the nearby Missouri River or a tornado.
"Notable activations are limited because we haven't been hit with immediate needs. And a lot of time it goes
unnoticed," Cook said.
Still, Cook said the CERT program is valuable and goes a long way toward making Franklin County prepared for
disasters.
"This program makes us more prepared,‖ Cook said. "It provides a sense of preparedness to the citizens and
also gives an educational aspect. If nothing else, if somebody is in an earthquake out here, and CERT teams are
able to shut off gas lines to houses and shut off the electric, that‘s going to make us a little safer.‖
But he added the program has limits when work needs to be done by professional first responders. During a
tornado this past New Year‘s Eve, Cook said professionals were on scene and it wasn‘t practical to bring in
CERT volunteers.
―There are times and places where professionals are in there and they need to do what they need to do,‖ Cook
said. ―And the CERT teams don‘t need to get in their way.‖
McCurry -– who survived a tornado in Kansas when he was younger -– said ordinary citizens need to be
prepared.
―These programs heighten and develop interest,‖ McCurry said. "And I would hate to see that interest lost
because who and when and where the next disaster‘s going to strike is an unknown. I always used to chide my
people: We know when hurricane season is, [but] tell me when earthquake season is. So you‘ve got to be ready;
you‘ve got to be thinking about that stuff."
TERRORISM AWARENESS -- NOT ACTION
But when it comes to preparing for terrorism in particular, Gamblin-Luig said CERT training focuses on
awareness -- not on action.
"The CERT program is very specific in what a CERT team member is expected to or should involve themselves
in, and very specific about what they should not involve themselves in," Gamblin-Luig said. "So any terrorism
information is more of awareness level of if you see something that is a terrorist incident, the only thing that you
would really do is to alert the authorities and then distance yourself from the situation."
According to a manual on the program's website, CERT volunteers should "treat possible terrorist incidents as a
stop sign."
"CERTs are not equipped or trained to respond to terrorist incidents. Professional responders will need
specialized equipment and personnel to respond to a terrorist incident," the manual states. "In addition, it is
important to remember that terrorism incident scenes are also crime scenes. CERT members should avoid
taking any action that may disturb potential evidence."
The manual does note that alertness has been effective in the past.
"On May 1, 2010, street vendors in Times Square noticed a smoking SUV with its blinkers on, engine running
and no one inside. They decided to say something to a police officer," the manual said. "Thousands of people
were cleared from the area while the bomb was dismantled."
RURAL USE
For McReynolds, Webster County's CERT program is more than just a supplement.
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The 56-member team's mission -- which according to McReynolds is to "fill the gap in a disaster until traditional
first responders can arrive on scene" -- is similar to other CERT programs. But she said the southwest Missouri
county's rural nature can make the program more necessary.
"Because we live in a very rural community -- our county only has a population of about 38,000 people -- our
first-responder resources are very low," McReynolds said. "We have mostly volunteer firefighters in the
community, and we have very few law enforcement officers. So our program is utilized more frequently than a
more metropolitan team because it assess risks of things that may be more routine for other communities."
In addition to assisting with recovery in Joplin, McReynolds said CERT participants have helped with two missing
persons cases and with traffic control at parades.
"A lot of things that we do may not be within the typical CERT response but certainly contributes to our
community," McReynolds said.
According to documents from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, most Citizen Corps grants for the CERT
program have gone to rural areas. Webster County, for example, received a $4,500 grant in fiscal year 2010
after putting up a $500 match.
Mike O'Connell, a spokesman for the state's Department of Public Safety, said in an e-mail that Citizen Corps
volunteers from Christian, Lawrence and Greene counties have assisted in response and recovery efforts in
Joplin.
"Missouri OHS has found the program to be useful and well received," he said.
Tom Roy of the Stoddard County Public Health Center said one facet of his county's CERT program is providing
emergency training to teachers.
"We're turning these teachers into first responders for their school districts," Roy said. "So there would be a set
number of people who would take the class and they would be their own little team for that school district. And if
anything were to happen -- be it earthquake, tornado -- [the teachers] are going to be the first responders."
Roy said the program -- which received a $5,500 Citizen Corps grant in fiscal year 2010 -- has provided training
for about 200 people since its inception about five years ago. And preparing for an earthquake is a key element.
The New Madrid fault line runs along the Missouri Bootheel, as well as parts of Arkansas and Tennessee.
Stoddard County would almost certainly be affected if a major earthquake occurs.
"When we get to that earthquake chapter, it's something that we concentrate on," Roy said. "We spend extra
time talking about earthquakes and more specifically talking about the New Madrid earthquake and how it's
going to affect us directly."
Such training not only could help Stoddard County residents in their homes but also in their workplaces or if they
are en route to home from work. The training's importance, Roy said, comes down to priorities.
"Here is Stoddard County, we are very, very aware that we have 30,000 residents," Roy said. "We realize that
the ratio between our emergency personnel and our residents is not good. So that's where our residents are
going to have to step forward and take care of themselves, take care of their neighbors and take care of others."
"Being in Stoddard County, we've got bigger cities around us," Roy added, pointing to Poplar Bluff, Cape
Girardeau and St. Louis. "And if an emergency like the New Madrid earthquake were to happen, we know we're
not going to be at the top of the list. We're going to be far down that list as far as the nation responding. The
nation's going to respond to St. Louis, they're going to respond to Memphis, they're going to respond to Cape
Girardeau. But they're not going to respond to us, at least not initially. We're going to be way down that list and
therefore, that's where CERT comes into play."
FUNDING DRAIN
Like other Homeland Security grant programs, the amount of money available for CERT and other entities under
the Citizen Corps umbrella is shrinking.
Examples of Citizen Corps grants for the FY2010 budget year
Place
local match
federal grant
total
purpose
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Greene County, Springfield
$4,388.89
$39,500.00
$43,888.89
Citizen Preparedness Initiative
Cape Girardeau County, Cape Girardeau
$2,666.67
$24,000.00
$26,666.67
Cape Girardeau Citizen Corps and CERT Alliance
Christian County, Ozark
$2,611.11
$23,500
$26,111.11
Christian County Citizen Corps
Cole County, Jefferson City
$2,222.22
$20,000
$22,222.22
CERT, Neighborhood Watch, Youth CERT, Medical Reserve Corps
Bollinger County, Marble Hill
$2,222.22
$20,000
$22,222.22
Initial and Refresher CERT courses
SOURCE: Missouri Department of Public Safety
ST. LOUIS: $143,689 has been budgeted from a 2010 UASI grant for Citizen Corps equipment and training
region-wide. Examples of grants from this funding source include:
St. Louis City: $29,867
Franklin County: $19,000
About $9.98 million is available for Citizen Corps grants in the most recent Homeland Security grant allocations,
a figure that decreased from $12.48 million in the 2010 fiscal year. That means Missouri will lose about $47,357.
St. Louis' CERT program and other Citizen Corps programs receive funding from the Urban Area Security
Initiative, a grant program that provides money to cities to prepare against terrorist events and other major
disasters.
John Whitaker of the St. Louis Area Regional Response System said in an e-mail that $143,689 has been
budgeted from the 2010 UASI grant for Citizen Corps equipment and training region wide.
"Not much of that has been spent yet," Whitaker said. "The grant has a three-year life cycle."
Steve Swift of STARRS told the Beacon in an e-mail that $29,867 in 2010 UASI funds were budgeted to the St.
Louis CERT, while $19,000 was budgeted to the Franklin County CERT.
The St. Louis region has seen its share of UASI funds decrease in this budget year, while the Kansas City area's
money from that program was eliminated. There is an ongoing debate within Congress about whether to
concentrate the money on bigger cities like New York and Chicago or include smaller ones such as St. Louis or
Kansas City.
Gamblin-Luig expects to see less money for the CERT program in the coming years. But she said since the
program isn't dependent on a lot of resources, it could continue without UASI funding.
"I definitely don't think the city's CERT program is in jeopardy of being lost because of loss of UASI funds,"
Gamblin-Luig said. "The CERT program existed before UASI funds, and it will continue to exist afterward.
Certainly it's a little easier to know you're going to get something from UASI as far as planning. The good news is
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we've got some CERT equipment that we can use for exercise and response already in our possession that has
been provided by the grant funding."
"Really, the main ongoing cost is the costs of continued training," she added, also saying that classes can be
conducted in public buildings for free.
But others interviewed by the Beacon aren't as optimistic. Cook, for example, said declining funds will "definitely
make things more difficult."
"However, I hope we're able to sustain through the harder times," Cook said. "I think that we will be able to
survive. I hope we will be able to through the community outreach. And with some of the volunteers within the
Franklin County area, we'll be able to sustain a good CERT team and Citizen Corps council."
Roy said it doesn't take a lot of money to teach classes. He added that his time is basically donated and that
some equipment doesn't need to be replaced every year.
"As the funding does dry up, it'll be hard," said Roy, adding he can sustain the class for the next few years. "But
eventually down the road, that money is going to be so small, either you're going to have to start teaching fewer
classes or you're going to have to be working with equipment that might not be the best."
"I'm sure as the funding keeps fizzling down the road, so will the program," he added.
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Lawmakers get an earful from voters on
the debt
By David Goldstein, Curtis Tate and Daniel Lippman • McClatchy Newspapers | Posted: Saturday, July
23, 2011 12:05 am
WASHINGTON • As the political battle of wills over raising the debt ceiling continues, the switchboards on
Capitol Hill have been lighting up.
"Stop bickering and compromise on a solution," said a caller to the office of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas
City.
"Stop spending and don't raise taxes," said another.
They reflect the deadlock over the issue between Congress and the White House.
But a plan this week from a bipartisan group in the Senate to trim the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next decade
has inched up hopes that the impasse can be solved.
"Initially, the thoughts were, don't raise the debt ceiling no matter what," said freshman Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-
N.C. "People are changing their minds a little bit. I'm leaving it open, I'm listening to all my constituents, and
ultimately, we're going to make a decision when we see what the president's plan is. I'm hoping we're not going
to go to the deadline."
The debt ceiling debate didn't start out as such an explosive issue. It is, after all, a pretty unlikely topic to become
such a political tinderbox.
As White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters recently, "Honestly, did anybody in this room —
before they had to cover issues like this — have any idea what a debt ceiling was?"
It basically means the government has hit the limit — $14.3 trillion — on its credit card. The fight has been over
whether Congress will allow it to borrow more money so Washington can pay its bills by Aug. 2.
Led by President Barack Obama, advocates for raising the limit say that not doing so would damage the
economic recovery and cause serious harm to America's global standing.
They point to Moody's and other influential credit rating services, which have warned of a possible downgrade if
the deadline passes without action on the debt.
Opponents, primarily a group of Republican freshmen in the House elected on campaigns to lower budgets and
reduce taxes, are using the deadline to extract changes that make good on their pledges.
Missouri freshman Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, said the message from her constituents is clear: "Don't
give in. Draw a line in the sand."
Suddenly, one of the wonkiest of Washington issues has become a political cause celebre. With the 2012
elections looming and the Tea Party movement surging, the charged atmosphere is a possible harbinger of
what's to come.
The public didn't immediately seize on the issue as it did in the fractious debate over health care reform two
years ago. But several congressional offices say that their constituents became more focused as media
coverage intensified.
That's reflected in polling. A CBS News survey early last month found that nearly 70 percent of the public was
opposed to raising the debt ceiling and about a quarter was for it.
Last week, the numbers were nearly even: 49 percent were against an increase, 46 percent were in favor.
"We have had a mix of calls, from, 'Stand your ground, do not compromise,' and we have others that say, 'Look
you need to raise the debt ceiling, but you need to solve our long-term problems in the process,'" said freshman
Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan. "Then there are others who say this shouldn't even be a political issue."
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Local entities have strong ratings
Downgrade unlikely to affect area bonds
Jimmy Myers
St. Joseph News-Press
Moody‘s Investor Service‘s review of a possible downgrade of the bond rating of the United States could affect
five states.
Missouri‘s top-notch (AAA) rating will not be affected unless the downgrade is more severe than what is currently
expected. The sovereign rating, which is the measure of probability that a country will fall out of compliance with
loan agreements, would have to fall below Aa1 (low risk, but more susceptible to long-term risks than a Aaa
rating), for Missouri to be affected.
Local entities such as Buchanan County, Heartland Health, the St. Joseph Public School District, Northwest
Missouri State University and Missouri Western State University would likely be unaffected by a lesser state
rating.
However, Moody‘s and other rating services, such as Standard & Poor‘s, rate these entities, which do affect the
price they pay when bonding projects.
Missouri Western‘s Standard & Poor‘s rating is A-minus. The school has around $23 million in revenue bond
debt, the bulk of which went to the latest residential hall project. Student housing fees are used to pay back that
debt.
Rick Gilmore, associate vice president for financial planning and administration at Western, said the rating is
very good and reflects the rating service‘s projection that the school will have the funds to continue to pay down
that debt.
Moody‘s, in a report from April, gave a stable score of A2 to Heartland Health on its $192.6 million of rated
revenue bonds. The report said the outlook is ―positive and stable.‖
Buchanan County‘s most recent Standard & Poor‘s rating comes from May 2010. About $25 million in revenue
bonds, due in 2026, give the county a rating of AA/A-1+, which means the ―obligor‘s capacity to meet its financial
commitment on the obligation is very strong,‖ according Standard & Poor‘s.
Northwest Missouri State University‘s rating, based on $85 million in debt related to its multi-phase residential
hall construction project, is A3, according to Moody‘s. Obligations rated A are considered upper-medium grade
and are subject to low credit risk, according to Moody‘s.
The St. Joseph Public School District has a favorable credit rating from Standard & Poor‘s of A-plus.
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Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver talks
debt
KCTV/Kansas City
KANSAS CITY (KCTV) -
There are no new developments on the debt ceiling debate after a one hour meeting at the White House on
Saturday between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders.
After Saturday's meeting, the White House released a statement saying it wants a long-term solution because a
temporary extension of the debt ceiling could hurt the U.S. credit rating and force Americans to pay higher
interest rates on credit cards and other consumer debt.
If the nation's debt limit isn't increased by Aug. 2, the government will lose its borrowing power and could default
on its financial obligations.
Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver said while in Kansas City this weekend he cannot escape the looming debt
ceiling Republicans and Democrats have refused to agree upon.
"If we are not able to pay the bills, Kansas City, which is a federal center, in other words we have a huge work
force in this area, we probably will see somewhere in the numbers of 75,000 people who are no longer working,"
said Cleaver.
Obama and speaker of the house John Boehner can't agree on the spending cuts needed to raise the debt
ceiling. Lawmakers like Cleaver argue that if it's not done, the United States can't pay its bills and that could lead
to a total financial collapse.
"We're going to see federal facilities closing down because we don't have money for operation so you can think
about federal courthouse, social security office, the VA hospital. It gets worse," said Cleaver.
Cleaver says he believes Boehner desperately wants to come to an agreement. In a late night press conference
Friday, Boehner remained optimistic.
"And I have confidence that the bipartisan leaders in the Congress that can come together and to insure that we
have an agreement that will allow the country to avoid default and meets the principles that we have outlined.
Spending cuts that must be greater than the increase in the debt limit and no tax increases," said Boehner.
Cleaver says it's an uneasy time at the nation's capital, one that could lead to dire consequences here in Kansas
City as well as worldwide.
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Steelman: ‘We need to cut deficit
spending right now’
By Tyler Francke, Branson Tri-Lakes News | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 3:36 pm
Former Missouri Treasurer and 2012 candidate for U.S. Senate Sarah Steelman said she believes Congress
should raise the nation‘s debt ceiling, with a few conditions.
―It‘s three things for me,‖ Steelman said. ―I‘m a supporter of the cut, cap and balance approach to changing the
budgeting process.‖
It is now less than two weeks before Aug. 2, the deadline by which the nation will reach the debt ceiling and no
longer be able to pay all of its bills. Party leaders from both houses have been meeting regularly with the
president, but disagreements still divide the parties.
Republicans are calling for deep spending cuts now and deals to reduce the deficit in coming years, while
Democrats, who support some cuts as well, are asking for tax increases, which many of their opponents find
untenable.
Steelman, a Republican, said the federal government needs to end deficit spending and adopt an amendment
that would require its budget to be balanced every year.
―We have to have a balanced budget here in Missouri,‖ Steelman said. ―Why shouldn‘t the federal government
have to live by those rules too? They work. Why are we spending more money than we have? ... We need to cut
deficit spending right now.‖
Steelman said deficit spending by the federal government and a national debt in excess of $14.3 trillion has
severe consequences, including causing inflation and putting a damper on business investment.
She said she has spoken with many business owners who said they are ready to hire new people, but haven‘t
out of uncertainty due to the nation‘s economic troubles.
―All of these things affect Missouri families,‖ she said. ―It creates high unemployment, a stagnant economy and
puts pressure on the price of commodities, like what we see in the price of gas.‖
Steelman said she thinks there is money that can be saved through downsizing government and increasing
efficiency, such as putting programs like Medicaid under the jurisdiction of the states, which was suggested by
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin.
However, she also believes cuts need to be made, and that all areas of government should be on the table.
―There are places to cut. There may even be a percentage that could be cut across the board that makes
sense,‖ Steelman said.
―I honestly think Congress should be delving into each agency budget and figuring out what truly needs to be
kept and what doesn‘t need to be kept. And if it‘s a good program, is the federal government the best level of
government to administer it?‖
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MISSOURINET
MU Professor explains work with
Chinese earthquake researchers
by Mike Lear on July 25, 2011
Researchers at the University of Missouri are working with counterparts on the other side of the globe to study
earthquakes.
Professor Mian Liu with the University‘s Geology Department says quakes in northern China share one major
characteristic with those that occur in the New Madrid zone: they are considered ―interpolate earthquakes,‖ or
earthquakes that happen in the interior of tectonic plates rather than at the edges. Quakes are more frequent in
northern China, however, which Dr. Liu says is why studying them there yields more information.
Some of the work deals with the length of time between a major earthquake and an aftershock. Dr. Liu says the
research suggests that contemporary events at New Madrid could be aftershocks of the major earthquakes that
hit the region 200 years ago.
Other data suggests interpolate quakes move around a region over long periods rather than always occurring in
a concentrated area.
Dr. Liu says the Chinese government puts a lot of money into earthquake studies and rates that nation‘s work,
researchers and equipment as first class. He says the relationship with the University of Missouri is benefitting
both sides.
He also says there is plenty of work yet to be done.
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Job training program gets $2 million
grant
by Allison Blood on July 24, 2011
Despite having below average unemployment numbers, The US Department of Labor is giving Missouri two
million dollars for it‘s On The Job training programs.
The Department of Economic Development says the key to getting people back to work is job training.
Department spokesman John Fougere says Missouri‘s On the Job training program gives people specific job
training while getting paid while they look for work.
Fougere says Missouri got this grant money because the program was working so well in giving on the job
training to laid off workers. He says this helps business too by increasing productivity and allowing companies to
not have to pay for training.
Fougere says this program is for people in a large range of fields from auto technicians to Information
Technology jobs to healthcare professionals. The program started in 2009.
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Remains found in heavily wooded area
could be missing Willard couple
by Jessica Machetta on July 23, 2011
There‘s no connection that can be found right now to human remains and the land they were found on in Taney
County, but Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell is helping Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott find Becky and
Rusty Porter, the couple that went missing from their Willard farmhouse in April.
Authorities say the bodies found almost two miles in the woods off Protem-Cedar Creek road have been there
awhile. Members of the Porter family were too broken up to talk on tape with Missourinet affiliate KTTS/News
talk KSGF reporters, but did say justice will be done. They also requested a little privacy after learning two sets
of skeletal remains were found .
CSI teams say they‘re working as quickly as they can to make positive IDs. The two bodies were found in a
heavily wooded area. Authorities say there is an abundance of evidence to work with.
There have been no arrests or suspects identified in the case.
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BLOG ZONE
Nixon expands special session to
include presidential primary
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
Posted 3:25 pm Fri., 7.22.11
Possibly bowing to pressure from both national political parties, Gov. Jay Nixon just announced that he is
adding another topic to the special session to held in September: Moving the date of Missouri‘s presidential
preference primary to March 6, from its currently scheduled February date.
Both parties are threatening sanctions if the move isn't made.
Nixon had vetoed a General Assembly-passed measure moving the primary, because of other provisions in the
bill that would have:
-- Eliminated local elections in many communities when the number of candidates equaled the number of offices.
Nixon noted today he objected to such a move, seeing it as curbing democracy. He pointed out that last-minute
write-in candidates would be outlawed under such a provision.
-- Done away with the governor's power to appoint replacements when fellow statewide officials stepped down
before their term was over. The vetoed bill would have mandated special elections. Nixon contended such a
requirement would have cost the state money.
Governors rarely get to make such major appointments. It's been almost 20 years since Secretary of State
Judith Moriarty, the first woman elected to that post in Missouri, was removed by the state Supreme Court.
Then-Gov. Mel Carnahan replaced her with fellow Democrat (but at the time, little known) Bekki Cook.
Nixon emphasized in today's statement that he is authorizing only "a narrow bill" moving the primary date, and
not any side issues (see above).
"I look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly during the special session to pass narrow, bi-
partisan legislation to make this important change," Nixon said.
He did not mention the primary during a question-answer session this afternoon with reporters in Fenton, where
he participated in a ribbon-cutting at Leinco Technologies, a biotech firm.
Nixon left the door open to perhaps allowing the special session to take up the local-control issue, which would
allow the city of St. Louis to take back control of its police department. Nixon emphasized that economic
development was to be the session's prime focus, with other issues added if they met his "broad consensus''
test.
The presidential primary issue likely fits, since leaders in both parties are concerned about the sanctions should
Missouri fail to move its primary.
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Governor Nixon Toys With City's Hopes
for Local Control in Special Session
By Albert Samaha, Riverfront Times
On Wednesday, Mayor Francis Slay wrote on his blog and the Post-Dispatch reported that a bill to bring local
control to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department would be included in the special session now being
planned for September.
Not so fast, said Governor Jay Nixon yesterday.
At a speech at the Danforth Plant Science Center, the governor said that local control would be heard only if
there was a "crisp-consensus" among legislators.
The Governor has stated that the special session should be reserved for urgent issues related to jobs.
State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who has been the most vocal critic of local control, echoed Nixon's
sentiments on St. Louis Public Radio yesterday, saying that special sessions are usually only for for "economic
reasons or an emergency."
But local control supporters argue that the bill died in May because it was held hostage by a group of senators
seeking tax credit reform. So the two issues are consequently connected. Now the tax credit reform issue is
resolved: Tens of millions will be cut from historic and low income housing tax credits in return for $360 million to
be set aside for the China Hub project. That bill will definitely be included in the special session -- clearing the
way for local control.
If it can get included in the special session, the local control bill is almost certain to pass. With the Police Officers
Association now in support of it -- after getting their collective bargaining agreement and agreeing to the
language of the bill -- the only real opposition to the bill has vanished.
The special session will most likely be held sometime before the annual veto session on September 14. So
Mayor Slay and Co. have a few weeks to persuade the Governor. Maybe a box of chocolates. Or maybe a
horse's head...
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Even amid Aerotropolis win, signs of
tension between Slay, Nixon remain
BY JAKE WAGMAN • jwagman@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8268 | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 3:30
pm
ST. LOUIS • This week's news of a deal that could pave the way for a new China shipping hub at Lambert
Airport was great news for both the top Democrat in Jefferson City and at City Hall.
Mayor Francis Slay could finally claim a victory for the city amid the Capitol logjam, while Gov. Jay Nixon could
quell critics that say he doesn't pay enough attention to the St. Louis region.
Well, some critics at least.
Even amid the self-congratulating and back-patting, the progress on Aerotropolis offered a fresh reminder that
the relationship between Nixon and Slay remains lukewarm — at best.
Slay and Nixon have previously sparred over the need for local control of the city's police department, an issue
that, like the China hub, could come up in a special session later this year.
On Aerotropolis, Nixon appeared poised to deliver the news himself, trumpeting a "major policy address" several
days in advance.
But before the governor could deliver his speech Thursday at the Danforth Center in Creve Coeur, Slay
appeared Wednesday at Lambert — with members of the Republican leadership in the General Assembly.
There, Slay watched as Senate Leader Rob Mayer and House Speaker Steve Tilley announced that a deal had
been brokered to move Aerotropolis forward.
Nixon quickly called a special session, and proceeded as his planned for his speech on Thursday — though
neither the mayor nor his senior staff were present.
That Slay, whose father was a Democratic ward boss for decades, would stand with GOP leadership, but miss
the governor's speech does not come as a surprise.
The mayor is at ease building Republican alliances, whether its accepting a $10,000 campaign check from GOP
fundraiser Sam Fox, or hosting Roy Blunt in his City Hall office.
While he pushed hard for the city to get the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Slay's support for some
statewide Democratic candidates, such as Robin Carnahan (a city resident), barely registered last year.
When it comes to his own personal politics, for Slay it's city first, party second.
The approach has worked pretty well for the mayor so far, who's in his third term and preparing for a fourth.
That approach may be tested next year, when Nixon runs for re-election against Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who has
been downright chummy with Slay.
Missouri Democrats can probably stomach the state's most visible mayor forging a bond with Republicans if it
means advancing the city's agenda.
But if the 2012 governor's race finds Slay too comfortable across the aisle, his party may not be as forgiving.
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Poll suggests strong support for local
police control in St. Louis
Dave Helling. 2 days, 18 hours ago
Missouri Club for Growth has issued a press release claiming 72% of Missourians surveyed support local
control of the St. Louis police department.
Only 9% oppose the idea, the release says.
If accurate, the polling will make Kansas City police officials nervous. As we‘ve reported, a statewide ballot
initiative is in the works that would put local control on the 2012 ballot — local control in both St. Louis and
Kansas City.
It‘s a safe guess Missourians who support local control in St. Louis would support it here as well.
There‘s a way out — the legislature could approve local control just in St. Louis and petitioners would drop their
effort. There‘s no word so far on whether Gov. Jay Nixon will include police control in his special session call; if
not, next year‘s legislative session might be the last chance to forestall local control in Missouri‘s two largest
cities.
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KRASKE: Where was Peter Kinder?
Last week, Missouri GOP legislative leaders toured the state touting their breakthrough on a sweeping eco-devo
package.
Nowhere in sight was Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the likely 2012 Republican candidate for governor, who could have
stood in front of the TV cameras as the GOP delegation leader.
That was either a major campaign blunder — or a sign that the leaders just aren‘t all that enamored with him.
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Rod Jetton: Success, Scandal & Change-
The Fight to Be King of the Mountain
TheRecoveringPolitician.com
As I am new to RP you may be wondering what to expect from my posts. Will they be rightwing rants, or
milquetoast musings? Will they be politically correct or in your face opinions? The best way I know how to
answer that, is to tell you my story.
I‘ll start with me on the flower covered dais in a packed, standing room only Missouri House chamber, my right
hand raised, repeating my oath of office. My wife is holding our Bible, and my loving family is sitting in the house
well watching their dad, son and brother being sworn in as the second youngest Speaker in Missouri state
history.
Many wondered how a country boy from Marble Hill, Missouri could go from the lowest ranking member in the
minority party to Speaker of the House in just four years. Some said it was my work ethic; some said it was my
political skills; and others said it was my friendly likable style; but no one really seemed to know the real reason.
While I‘m sure hard work, skills and smiles helped, being in the right place at the right time and term limits
created an opportunity! My House seat opened up only because of term limits, and we had a chance to win the
majority only because so many Democrats were term-limited. All of the senior Republicans had left which gave a
friendly, hardworking guy who knew how to raise money and help candidates win campaigns, an excellent
opportunity to be the Speaker in just two terms.
Life is always throwing opportunities your way, and it‘s up to you to take advantage of them. I freely admit the
four years it took to win my first House campaign, help spearhead the legislative redistricting process for my
party, recruit candidates, win the majority and position myself to be unopposed for Speaker, were four of the
busiest years of my life. I have never consistently worked that hard at anything in my life and I thought I
understood hard work.
Running track and setting school records required working out twice each day to get in the 100 miles a week it
took to win races. When I joined the Marine Corps I learned a new level of hard work. They gave me 90 pounds
of gear and ordered me to march through the hills, with no rest or sleep, through all kinds of weather for days on
end. Starting a small real estate business and making it profitable, required early mornings and stressful nights
day in and day out.
But all those experiences were just preparing me for what it took physically, emotionally and mentally to recruit
candidates, win the majority, unify caucus members, advance an agenda, get good press, and stay in touch with
donors all while trying to be a good father, loving husband, and solid community leader back home and in the
district.
Don‘t get me wrong, I am not complaining. The crazy thing is, I LOVED IT! I was having a blast, everything was
going my way, everyone loved me, respected me, and wanted to know what I thought about matters great and
small. The other positive aspect of all my success was the policy changes I was able to implement. Expending
political capital and pushing hard for the policies I believed in was never a question for me. I studied the rules,
reached across the aisle to make friends and understood how to use my political clout to get things done.
In the House it takes a united team to change things. Developing an agenda, unifying our caucus behind it and
leading them in the public debate was a very worthwhile experience that required using the carrot and the stick. I
rewarded both Democrat and Republican friends alike. I helped them with their priorities and gained their support
on our agenda. I also sometimes punished my opponents.
I made it clear that if you crossed me or my allies there would be consequences. I removed chairmen, kicked
members out of their offices, delayed Senator‘s bills, and ignored the Governor‘s priorities, with no regard for
party affiliation. In my mind, you were either helping my caucus pass our priorities, or you were slowing us down.
It‘s amazing what can be accomplished in politics when a leader does not mind taking a few arrows to force
change.
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I take some pride in what we were able to do in Missouri. I‘m pro-life, and we made it harder to get an abortion in
Missouri, resulting in the lowest number of abortions performed since 1975. I‘m also a gun nut, and after several
failed attempts in previous years, we gave law-abiding citizens the right to carry.
In 2003, Missouri had a $1 billion deficit, but by the end of 2007 we had a $600 million surplus. For the first time
ever we cut the size of our state work force by over 3,000 employees. While our previous Governor was forced
to cut education funding because of the bleak budget situation, we were able to increase education funding by
over $500 million from 2005 to 2008.
Missouri also went from having the 47th worst roads in 2002 to the 9th best by 2007 resulting in 161 fewer
deaths in 2006, the biggest drop of any state in America that year. Missouri went from being the number one
meth producing state in America with 2,860 meth incidents in 2003 to just 1,280 in 2006. That‘s a 55 percent
drop, which made our state a safer place to raise children. We also reformed our tort laws which stopped the 20
to 30 percent yearly medical malpractice premium increases and actually lowered premiums keeping doctors in
Missouri.
Hopefully, my liberal friends have not stopped reading, because we also increased funding for perennial liberal
priorities such as autism support, S-CHIP‘s, Utilicare, First steps, food pantries, Meals on Wheels, and drug
courts. Ironically, these are the same programs our Democratic Governor and his Democratic legislative majority
were forced to cut in 2001 and 2002 when Missouri was going broke.
Another exciting aspect to this story is that we accomplished all this with no new taxes! You heard me right; we
didn‘t pass a single tax increase. In fact we cut taxes. One of the few bills that I actually introduced and passed
during my eight years, was a tax cut on social security benefits. Because of my nutty liberal friend Sen. Jeff
Smith’s threatened filibuster, I had to compromise and put an income cap on it, but we still eliminated taxes for
thousands of senior citizens in Missouri.
I cannot take credit for all this success, nor do I want to leave you with the impression that I am solely
responsible for all these changes. We had a unified team in the House helping me push this agenda and a
Republican majority in the Senate along with Republican Governor Matt Blunt. Strangely enough, it sometimes
seemed like we had to fight our Governor and our Republican Senators more that we had to fight our Democratic
colleagues.
All in all things are better in Missouri because of the changes we were able to make and I am thankful to have
played a part in changing the direction of our state, but there is a cost to everything. While I was successful in
the political world I failed in the personal part of my life.
For me the costs were high. Next post I will write about how these successes led to my failure. I will also discuss
some of my choices and how they negatively affected my family, friends and finally led to my political downfall.
It‘s a sad story that I do not relish telling, but I hope by sharing it others can avoid making the mistakes I made.
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Rod Jetton: Success, Scandal & Change,
Part 2-Flattery, Criticism and Bitterness
TheRecoveringPolitician.com
In my last post, I talked about some of my successes, and success can be a wonderful thing, but if you‘re not
careful, success can be your downfall.
It sure took a toll on me. I tried to hide my vanity and pride, but deep down in my mind, I started to believe all the
things lobbyists, other members, donors and conservative activists were saying about me. When you are a
public official with power over funding and other member‘s bills – along with all the laws people live by – folks
tend to tell you what you want to hear.
Everyone tells you what a good job you‘re doing, how smart you are, how thankful they are that you are in
charge, or that nobody else has ever done or could ever do as good as you.
Of course in politics not everyone is singing your praises. In Missouri the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post
Dispatch were not very friendly to a conservative Republican like myself. I received plenty of bad press. Liberals,
labor unions, and trail attorneys opposed to my agenda sent me thousands of emails and letters, which were not
always flattering.
Another item that made enemies and allowed the press to attack me was my campaign consulting company. By
2004, I was spending more and more time helping friends with their campaigns, so I decided to start my own
campaign consulting business. I didn‘t work for any House campaigns or HRCC, but I helped some of my friends
who wanted to move up to the state Senate or Congress. I also was able to work on Mitt Romney‘s presidential
race in 2008.
Between my political activities, legislative duties and straightforward ‗tell it-like-it-is attitude‘ I started picking up
quite a few new enemies, and they never hesitated to start a nasty rumor or provide a negative quote about me
when they could. Oddly enough, most of my attacks came from the Republicans.
You are probably asking why I didn‘t listen to my critics or at least think about their charges. The simple answer
is most politicians develop thick skins, because critics say such terrible things about them, and constantly mis-
characterize their motives. For me it was easy to chalk up all the negative comments and criticism to enemy
hacks that hated me, because I had either beat them in the legislative chess game or defeated them in a
campaign. I told myself that no matter what I did they would complain.
My experience has shown me how easy it is for powerful leaders to listen to the flattery and discount their critics
when they are under fire.
Another negative consequence to the flattery and criticism a leader hears is they start putting everyone into two
camps. You‘re either for them or you‘re against them, and if you‘re critiquing them or even questioning them, you
fall in the latter category. They become a bit paranoid when friends or innocent bystanders try to be honest and
tell them the truth. Unfortunately, I feel this sometimes happened to me and it damaged a few of my
relationships.
But let‘s get back to the flattery. It slowly started affecting me. Not in the beginning; I knew what they were doing
and I told myself not to pay attention to them, but flattery has a way of slowly creeping up and changing your
attitude. (Or at least it did me)
Have you ever heard the story about the frog that was placed in the pot of boiling water and immediately jumped
out and survived?
If you have, then you know that same frog didn‘t fare so well when he was placed in a pot of cold water while the
heat was slowly turned up until he was boiled to death and never even knew it. It‘s very embarrassing to admit
that this happened to me. Looking back on my time in the legislature I feel a bit like the frog that was slowly
cooked to death and just didn‘t feel the heat rising. In fact the warm water feels kind of good after awhile.
But be careful, because the warm water will kill you.
What I needed was balance. Take a moment and think about the word: BALANCE.
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It‘s a simple word that makes the whole world go round. Balance is required for the sun, moon, and stars to work
like they do. It takes balance for us to walk, drive and function as human beings. Most importantly it takes
balance in your life to have healthy relationships with your wife, kids, family, friends, co-workers and fellow
citizens.
The biggest mistake I made was not having balance in my life. I worked too hard at politics and forgot about my
family, friends, community and sometimes, the whole reason I went to Jefferson City in the first place. I
remember telling my ex-wife that when the first campaign was over I would be home more. Then session started
and I said after session I will be home more. Then I was gone working on redistricting and when that was done
the next session had started, and after that I was working night and day to win the majority, and I told her once
we won I would be home.
I didn‘t realize winning the majority would take even more of my time or that everyone would be depending on us
and I would become even more entangled in my political responsibilities. When she complained about me not
mowing the grass, attending games, going to teacher conferences or hanging out with her, I felt she wasn‘t
considering how important my work was.
I mean, we were trying to change the state and I was working to make things better by passing all the legislation
we believed in.
The truth is I was working on good things, but I was neglecting the most important things of life. She was all
alone raising three kids, who didn‘t see their dad enough; and unfortunately, my actions made them feel like my
work was more important than they were.
There was nobody happier than me when term limits ended my official position in 2008. I was tired of feeling
responsible for all the problems that needing fixed in our state. I was also tired of getting beaten up in the press
and having my enemies constantly trying to take me out. As a private citizen, I thought I would be able to be
behind the scenes, work on my friend‘s campaigns and get out of my opponents‘ cross hairs.
Unfortunately by that time, my marriage was in bad shape, and even though I was out of office the political
attacks were intensified. In early 2009, we separated, and by October we were divorced. I tried to tell everyone it
was a good thing for me, but deep down inside I was hurt. After all, we had been married almost 20 years and
had raised three wonderful kids.
I was a 42-year-old ―successful‖ divorced man, whose personal life was not turning out like I planned it. I had
wonderful parents — my dad was a Baptist preacher — and they had given me a perfect childhood. I was a
family values conservative Republican who was not supposed to have these types of problems.
I won‘t go into details, but my life was not reflecting the teaching my parents had taught me, nor was I being the
example I would want my kids to see.
The next post will be the conclusion to this story, and I will tell you what brought my political career to an end and
how my troubles helped me turn my life around.
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Jeff Smith: Rod Jetton & Our Unlikely
Friendship
TheRecoveringPolitician.com
The Missouri Senate – not the U.S. Senate – former U.S. Senator Jim Talent once told me, is the greatest
deliberative body in the country today. Because any senator has the right to speak for as long as he chooses on
any matter, each senator, even a freshman in the minority, can wield power if he plays the game well.
But I didn‘t understand how to wield power when I got there. I would soon learn, though, from veterans like
Senators Victor Callahan and Jason Crowell, and House Speaker Rod Jetton.
When I came to the Senate, I aspired to be the young, liberal wunderkind that many journalists and activists had
anointed me. In taking the unprecedented step of blocking a gubernatorial appointment before being sworn in, I
sought to carve out an image for myself as a strong progressive, unafraid to stand up to the state‘s most
powerful Republican, Governor Matt Blunt. However, as I soon realized, the very image that helped me in my
district was crippling me in the Senate.
My colleagues defeated nearly every proposal I offered during my first session, often with undisguised delight. I
suffered so many defeats my first year – on amendments to restore funding cut from children‘s health care, to
enact an earned income tax credit for the working poor, to reveal an abstinence-only sex ed bill – that none
really stood out.
All that stood out was a feeling of losing.
I hated losing, because I was very competitive. But I also saw the poverty and violence up close night in, night
out, at neighborhood meetings and anti-gang marches, and that increased my sense of urgency.
I‘d been in a hurry my whole life. But never did I feel such a sense of urgency as I did near the end of my first
legislative session when I realized that as one of 34 senators able to change the state‘s direction, I‘d
accomplished next to nothing. It was time to learn how to win.
******
To win – and to do so consistently – I knew that you needed to be either feared or loved. Respect wasn‘t
enough.
Term limits meant that no one was around long enough to be truly loved, and only a few were feared. I knew I
wasn‘t. For starters, I was too nice and I didn‘t like pissing people off. Those who were feared didn‘t care who
they pissed off.
Second, I lacked institutional knowledge, both on policy or procedure. Without deep understanding of an issue
and a firm grasp of Senate rules, it was hard to be feared on the Senate floor, where the action went down. Also,
we (Democrats) were outnumbered 23-11, which didn‘t help inspire fear. But after observing how Senator
Crowell used the filibuster to great effect, I vowed that I would influence a policy debate in the same way
sometime soon – and ironically, I got my first chance on one of Crowell‘s own bills.
Crowell was best friends with House Speaker Rod Jetton, and was the Senate handler for the sole bill Jetton
filed in 2007 – a bill to eliminate state taxation on all Social Security benefits reached the Senate. There was no
coordinated Democratic strategy for dealing with the bill, so I asked the Minority Leader where she was on the
bill, which was the centerpiece of the House Republicans‘ agenda for the session. ―Whose bill is it?‖ she sniffed.
―It‘s Speaker Jetton‘s.‖
―Then Ah‘m aginzit.‖
Understanding that this would likely be the extent of the Leader‘s engagement, and with most Democrats off the
floor when Crowell brought the bill before the body, I stepped up. First, to indicate that I was serious, I asked the
research staff to prepare 15 separate amendments for me, starting by exempting from taxation those with
incomes under $50K, with amendments at successively higher figures. I offered the first one and engaged
Crowell in a two-hour debate about tax policy, supply-side economics, and the national debt.
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After a while Crowell asked if I planned to filibuster the bill. I don‘t plan on allowing it to pass, in its current form, I
said won‘t pass as is. This signaled a willingness to negotiate, and Crowell stopped debate and motioned me
into the Round Room – the small room behind the chamber where negotiations occurred.
At this point his countenance shifted from happy warrior to insolent teenager. ―Go ahead, kill the bill,‖ he said. ―I
don‘t care. Go ahead, kill it – it‘d be political suicide. But it‘s not my bill. I DON‘T CARE.‖
A minute later, Senator McKenna appeared. McKenna, a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-labor Democrat, was the only
senator with 33 friends in the body – everyone‘s favorite golf partner, softball teammate, and drinking buddy.
Ryan‘s father was Senate President Pro Tem of the Senate and consummate peacemaker, and Ryan is his
father‘s son. So when he saw me and Crowell in heated debate, he pulled me aside and asked, ―What‘s your
problem with the bill?‖
I told him I was fine with a tax cut for middle-class seniors who get double-taxed on Social Security, but that
millionaires making six figures annually off investments don‘t need a tax cut. He asked if I‘d explained that to
Speaker Jetton. ―No, but there‘s all the time in the world to discuss it on the floor,‖ I said archly.
McKenna hated filibusters. ―Let‘s go see Jetton,‖ he said.
***
If there was one guy in the Legislature who was renowned for his mastery of the use of power, it was Speaker
Jetton. His main strength was in, as he liked to say, not giving a shit. About anything. As a show of this, during
times of tension between the House and Senate when neither chamber would take up work on the other
chamber‘s legislation, he would sometimes adjourn the House in mid-afternoon just to show that, well, he didn‘t
really care if anything passed. ―Guvment‘s big enough already, we don‘t really need many more laws,‖ he‘d
chortle when asked why he‘d adjourned after lunch.
Sen. McKenna and I walked down to the Speaker‘s office, and my friend state Rep. Rodney Hubbard, who was
hanging out with Jetton, introduced us. Rod was a caricature: country-boy Marine-cum-realtor-cum-politician. He
laughs and slaps me on the back, harder than I expected. ―Ehna friendaHubs izza friendamahne!‖
He took us into his enormous, well-appointed office, and asked what my problem with HB 444 was. ―Well, Mr.
Speaker, I just don‘t see giving a tax cut to millionaires when we‘ve just cut the working poor off health care.‖
―Mmmm, Ah hear ya. But ol‘ folks want it! We oughta do raght bah ‗em! And it polls over 80%!‖ He winked.
―Mr. Speaker, I could support eliminating the tax on seniors with incomes under 50K, but not wealthy seniors.‖
It was the first round of a marathon negotiating session that continued on the floor and off for 13 hours and
culminated late that night with the passage of HB 444, which exempted people with incomes under $85K from
state taxation on Social Security benefits. I wasn‘t in love with the compromise, and neither was Crowell, but it
passed 29-3, and for the first time, I was in the center of negotiations on a major bill.
***
The week after session, Jetton called me and invited me to accompany him in a statewide fly-around to promote
the passage of HB 444. I declined. ―Last thing I need in my district is a bunch of photo ops all over the state with
you!‖ My district was about 2/3 minority and about 80% Democratic.
Rod laughed, then got serious.―Hmmm…well would it help if I trashed ya real good? Like, ‗We got a pretty good
bill here, but it coulda been a heckuva lot better if that damn lib-rull nut Smith hadn‘t screwed with it!‘ How‘s that?
That the kinda thing ya lookin‘ for?‖
I laughed, ―Nah, but I appreciate the gesture. Probably just best if you leave me out of it, ya know?‖
The next time he came to town he met me out. We had drinks and recapped the session.
―You played the Social Security thing pretty smart,‖ he said. ―I wanted the lib-rull nuts to kill it. Kill it and I pick up
more seats next year.‖
―Were you surprised I didn‘t try?‖ I asked.
―Naw, I‘se surprised you were straight though! I thought you were a gay lib-rull nut!‖
―Seriously?‖
―Yeah, then I see you got a girlfriend. But they say she‘s just a cover.‖
―Seriously?!‖
―Smith, you mean to tell me you honestly didn‘t know people say that? Hell, everybody thinks that.‖
―Everyone? Or like, just a few people?‖
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―Everyone,‖ he laughed. ―Don‘t worry, I‘ll defend ya. I‘ll tell ‗em ya got a smokin‘ hot girlfriend, tall with skinny
arms!‖
***
Over the next few years, Rod and I became unlikely allies on several issues – education reform, economic
development, urban revitalization. Most of my friends couldn‘t understand how I could work with him – let alone
like him. Some pointed to the incident when he shouted at the Governor in the middle of the Governor‘s State of
the State address. Others assailed the unusual arrangement by which he served as a political consultant for
several sitting senators whose legislation could not reach the Governor‘s desk without his blessing. The first
group said he was an ignorant right-wing hick. The second group said he was a brilliant Machiavellian hick.
I don‘t know what happened on the night, years later, when Rod visited the home of a lady friend, a rendezvous
that led to his political demise. I do know that it will haunt him for a long time. I also know that he is a better
person today because of that night.
I tried to stand by Rod during his troubles as he stood by me, sending me long letters in prison about politics and
policy, friendship and loyalty, mistakes and repentance. Perhaps more than anyone else who wrote me, he‘d
walked a day in my shoes. He was willing to explore that, willing to explain he found strength in dark times. He
asked me the questions about prison that everyone else was scared to ask, which I found oddly refreshing. I
wrote back that I was hanging in there, and that not even prison had turned me into the man he thought I was
before he met me.
If his contributions to this blog can offer even one reader the kind of perspective that his letters offered me last
year, they will be well worth it. I hope you take the time to read them.
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Rod Jetton: Success, Scandal & Change,
Part 3-Downfall and Renewal
The RecoveringPolitician.com
So far I‘ve told you how I rose to power, changed our state, and lost control of my personal life. This concluding
post will complete the story of how I finally got my life back on track.
I don‘t know if you believe in God or not, but I DO! In December of 2009, God finally had enough of my wayward
ways and allowed my choices to get me into a situation that only he could help me through.
After spending the night with a lady I had reconnected with on Facebook, I was charged with felony assault. The
press, along with my enemies, had a heyday, and I immediately shut my consulting business down.
Soon after that, I was notified that I was a target of a federal grand jury investigation surrounding my handling of
a bill in the 2005 legislative session.
Needless to say I started 2010 broke, with no job, very few friends and lots of time on my hands. As bad as my
troubles were at the time, looking back now, I‘m thankful for them. Life passes by so quickly, and very few of us
get the chance to sit down and contemplate what is important. My troubles gave me a chance to analyze my bad
choices and personal weaknesses.
With my pride stripped away, I was able to honestly evaluate my past actions. I saw how foolish I had been to
put my family on the back burner. I learned how bitterness toward my enemies had made me a bitter person to
everyone around me. The hardest thing for me to admit was that I wasn‘t the same friendly and caring guy who
had gone to Jefferson City in 2000.
Most of my friends now say, ―Rod you were not that bad. You always treated everyone with respect. We liked
you then and we like you now.‖ I‘m very thankful for those friends and their support, but I know the pride that was
in my heart and I know I should have handled my political fights and personal problems better.
As I mentioned earlier I‘m thankful for all the successes I was a part of. I‘m also thankful for all the kind people I
met along the way who helped and encouraged me. But, I wish I would have worked less and stayed home
more, been more forgiving and not gotten bitter at my opponents, been less prideful, less judgmental and more
understanding. Plus, I wish I had lived the personal life I believed in and not been such a hypocrite.
Of course, I can‘t change the past. I can only look to the future and focus on learning from my mistakes.
Life is wonderful for me now. Each morning I wake up and thank God for the day. I spend more time with my
family and stay connected with and share the concerns of my friends. I have a lovely new wife, a challenging
new job and a contentment I never knew in my first 42 years of life. The assault case is behind me and it
appears the grand jury has suspended their investigation since the five-year statute of limitations ended in May
of 2010.
Now let‘s get back to what kind of posts you can expect from a guy who was king of the mountain and almost
lost it all. I hope to provide you with a very candid and honest assessment of today‘s political maneuverings.
While I am a conservative Republican, I have seen liberal and conservatives in both parties sell out for self-
interest. I have been on the inside of politics, and know it is a rough business and most everyone is just using
everyone else to be king of the mountain.
Even though it sometimes sounds like I‘m a bit jaded against our system, I have faith in our public servants. I‘m
an optimist and trust in the goodness of people. But like the old Colonel in the Marine Corps said, ―Don‘t expect
what you don‘t inspect.‖
I have learned that your favorite politician is probably not as good as you think he is. But the one you hate the
most is probably not as bad as you think she is. Basically, we elect good people who want to make things better,
but by nature they want everyone to like them at the same time.
The public has a thousand different ideas on what they want, and even they are constantly changing. It reminds
me of a line from the Roman movie Gladiator, when the emperor‘s sister said about Maximus, ―The mob is fickle
brother, they‘ll forget about him in a month.‖ It seems to me in America today all too often the ―mob‖ is more
selfish than the politicians they elect.
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My goal will be to give you my opinion of why our officials are doing what they are doing, and who it will help or
hurt the most. Hopefully we can discuss the effect of term limits on legislative bodies and how special interests
impact the process. I hope to give my opinion on how I have seen rules, regulations, and taxes affect people‘s
wellbeing, as well as how greed by businesses and individuals have destroyed lives.
I am a conservative and I still hold strong opinions, but my time in office has taught me that credit and blame are
bi-partisan issues. I also learned that those of us out of office have a bigger effect on our elected officials actions
than we think. It is important for us to debate, discuss and communicate our opinions on the issues of the day.
Because their decision on those issues will determine the rules we have to live by tomorrow. And now that my
journey is more than half over I want to enjoy all God‘s blessings with each day He graciously allows me to live
in this great country represented by leaders who are doing their best to make this a better place to live.
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Blunt, Portman try to break impasse
over trade deals
By Robert Koenig, Beacon Washington correspondent
Posted 5:19 pm Fri., 7.22.11
WASHINGTON - In what seemed a banner year for free trade, the United States in 2007 signed pacts with
Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Four years later, Congress has yet to ratify any of those trade agreements
-- even though the European Union and Canada are taking advantage of their own deals to boost exports to
those countries.
Making an effort to break the impasse that has held up the trade pacts, U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Rob
Portman, R-Ohio, announced Friday that they had lined up a dozen Senate Republicans to back an extension of
trade adjustment assistance (TAA) if it is separated from the three trade deals in Senate ratification votes. (The
trade adjustment assistance is for U.S. workers whose jobs have been hurt or eliminated by free trade.)
Portman said the dozen Republicans, along with support for job training from all 53 Senate Democrats, would be
more than enough to stop any threatened filibuster of trade assistance. Blunt also said he had been told that
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, can deliver a separate House vote on that assistance.
"We're frustrated that this [was not] done long ago," said Blunt, adding that he was pleased that the dozen
Republican senators had "recognized the importance of this moment and joined us in this effort to demonstrate
our commitment to working together to get all three deals passed as soon as possible."
More information
Details of the trade pacts can be found at: Panama; Colombia ; and South Korea.
The main sticking point for years has been labor's concerns that the trade pacts -- especially the South Korea
agreement, which was re-negotiated last December -- might cost some U.S. workers' jobs. That's why the
administration of President Barack Obama has insisted on an extension of the job-retraining program. In the
case of Colombia, there were also concerns about human rights abuses involving Colombian labor leaders.
Many Republicans question the cost and effectiveness of trade assistance, but bipartisan changes were made
recently by House and Senate tax-committee leaders. "TAA as negotiated is not exactly what I would have
negotiated, but it appears to be the price that needs to be paid" to get a Senate vote on the free-trade pacts,
Blunt said. At the moment, a TAA provision is tied to the South Korea trade pact, but the administration has the
option of separating the trade assistance extension into a freestanding bill.
Blunt said the free-trade agreements need to be ratified as quickly as possible because "we are losing market
share" in Korea and other countries, with Europeans and Canadians selling more goods there after ratifying
similar free-trade deals.
Timing of Senate votes up in the air
While the senators' commitment represented a step forward, it was unclear Friday whether the Obama
administration needed further Republican assurances on trade assistance before it formally submitted the three
trade pacts to the Senate, starting the 90-day clock for ratification. "We're in active discussion with congressional
leaders," an administrative official told Reuters. "We hope we can reach agreement as soon as possible."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does not think it will be possible to hold a Senate vote on
the trade pacts before the August recess. But he said Friday that he would work with Majority Leader Harry Reid,
D-Nev., "to ensure a fair floor process," so that "if the administration can generate the votes it needs, the TAA bill
will pass on its merits."
At a Capitol news conference, Portman -- a former U.S. trade representative -- asserted that ratifying the three
trade pacts is "urgent" because it could create 250,000 new U.S. jobs. "Our country is in a fiscal crisis and export
promotion is one of the few budget-neutral tools available to help spur job growth," he said.
Blunt told the Beacon that the trade pacts "will create jobs in Missouri." Trade with the three countries, he said, is
"very important to Missouri agriculture, not only the grain crops but particularly the livestock industry" -- with
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South Korea being "a great market" for Missouri beef, pork and poultry. "And [Korea] is also a good market for
lots of finished products and value-added agricultural products that can come from Missouri."
Missouri merchandise shipments in 2010 were worth nearly $13 billion, according to U.S. statistics. Exports of
manufactured goods support an estimated 132,000 jobs in the state in 2008, meaning that about one-sixth of
Missouri's manufacturing workers depend on exports for their jobs. About 4,710 companies in Missouri are
involved with exports.
Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that Blunt, Portman and
the other senators "are showing real leadership on trade and a genuine commitment to the creation of American
jobs." He said the trade assistance compromise should be supported because it reflects the nation's "difficult
fiscal circumstances."
A U.S. Chamber study has warned that delays on the pending trade agreements have put as many as 380,000
American jobs at risk. The European Union, whose free trade pact with South Korea took effect on July 1,
already has seen a 16 percent rise in its exports there. A similar deal between Canada and Columbia will take
force in mid-August.
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Debt ceiling fight spills into Missouri
political contests
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
Updated 11:33 am Mon., 7.25.11
Washington's battle over the debt ceiling has begun to trickle down to Missouri's top two contests on the 2012
ballot: the U.S. Senate -- and governor.
The Senate jockeying isn't surprising, as U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and her two Republican rivals --
U.S. Rep. Todd Akin and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman -- have all stacked out positions somewhat in
line with their respective parties.
The gubernatorial angle is somewhat unexpected, as Democrats take after a weekend debt-ceiling tweet from Lt.
Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican expected to challenge Gov. Jay Nixon.
Akin, R-Wildwood, went on the attack late Sunday, by citing McCaskill's opposition to the GOP-backed "Cut,
Cap, and Balance" bill that passed the U.S. House, but died in the Senate.
Akin had been one of the co-sponsors of the bill, which would have cut federal spending, capped future spending
so by that 2021 it would be under 20 percent of the nation's gross national product, and propose a constitutional
amendment mandating a balanced budget.
Said Akin in his statement, in part: "McCaskill‘s votes make clear her willingness to grant President Obama an
increase in the nation‘s credit card with no strings attached.. Once again proving her talk of an ‗independent
streak‘ is little more than that: talk."
As for himself, Akin added, ""I will not support any proposal to raise the debt ceiling unless it includes a real
solution to the problem we face."
UPDATE: Akin was even sharper in his attacks at a Republican barbecue in Springfield, Mo., telling his audience
that the debt-ceiling battle was fueled, in part, by the fact that President Barack Obama is "a flaming socialist."
McCaskill has sought to portray the Republicans as irresponsible, portraying their opposition to a debt-ceiling
increase as a refusal to pay debts that the country already has incurred.
(Steelman, by the way, has sought to carve a middle ground. She recently compared the debt-ceiling fight to
football. ".. I think it‘s time to find leadership that doesn‘t put us on 4th and 10, backed up against our own goal
line time and again....We must broaden the tax base and incentivize domestic investment. Erase the carve outs
and subsidies for special industries that have been forced through by Washington‘s best lobbyists.")
In Missouri's expected-but-not-yet-announced contest for governor, the state Democratic Party is calling for
Kinder to apologize for one of his Sunday tweets in which he blamed the "rapidly growing nat'l debt'' on
"spending levels never before seen n peacetime."
Said state Democratic Party spokeswoman Caitlin Legacki: "There are thousands of military families in Missouri
who would probably disagree with Kinder that this is a 'peacetime.' Kinder should do the right thing -- correct the
record and apologize for being so careless."
Kinder's frequent -- and occasionally controversial --tweets on Twitter have been a longstanding Democratic
target.
Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Nixon has been circumspect on the matter of the federal debt and the debt
ceiling fight.
During an interview Friday, the governor acknowledged that Missouri's AAA credit rating might be threatened if
the federal government defaults by failing to raise the debt ceiling.
Although emphasizing that Missouri "pays its bills'' and must balance its budget, Nixon observed that all states
are somewhat linked to the federal government's credit rating.
As for the battle in Washington, he added, "It's my best hope and expectation they will reach a fiscally prudent
and responsible solution."
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Blunt, GOP allies push action on trade
deals with Korea, Colombia, Panama
BY BILL LAMBRECHT • blambrecht@post-dispatch.com > 202-298-6880 | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011
12:21 pm
WASHINGTON • The drive to expand exports is sidetracked like just about everything in polarized Washington,
but two Republican senators say they have found a way to hasten action on long-stalled trade agreements.
Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio produced a letter this morning promising that a dozen
Republican senators won't stand in the way of legislation to help workers who lose their jobs due to foreign
competition.
Skirmishing over that legislation, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, has blocked consideration of free
trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Blunt said that each of those agreements holds the potential for big rewards for Missouri, not just for beef, pork
and poultry exports but for many other products as well.
"This is about opening those markets to products produced by the American workforce, whether it's the
agriculture workforce, or the manufacturing workforce or the service industry workforce," Blunt said at a news
conference in the Capitol.
The GOP senators' vow to help Democrats break a Republican filibuster could, in theory, let the trade deals
come up at any time.
But floor action before summer adjournment in two weeks appears unlikely with Congress mired in seemingly
round-the-clock negotiations to forestall government default on obligations.
Blunt and Portman this morning made the case for haste, both for economic and political reasons.
A newly completed trade deal between the European Union and Korea has dramatically increased European
exports, they said. Likewise, a free trade deal between Canada and Colombia takes effect Aug. 15.
Blunt observed that action is needed soon not just because of the approaching American elections, but also due
to controversy in Korea over the deal with the United States.
In Korea, opposition to the deal from labor unions, farmers and students has been growing. Korea holds its
National Assembly elections next spring.
"The closer we get to their election, the harder it is for Korean legislators to do their part. We need to get this
done," Blunt said.
In Washington, supporters of the trade agreements must contend with a reservoir of mistrust and outright
opposition from labor unions, who cite negative impacts on American workers from the 17-year-old North
American Free Trade Agreement.
President Barack Obama, some experts believe, may be unwilling to move forward with the trade deals next
year when he will need labor, a core constituency, in his re-election bid.
"It doesn't get any easier when you get closer to an election," Portman said. "And we're going to have plenty on
our plate this fall...There's never an easy time to do anything in this place."
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McCaskill: Obama in Mo. "would be
great"
David Catanese, Politico
Early bets that President Obama will return to Missouri in 2012 to campaign?
Asked about the prospect this morning on MSNBC's Daily Rundown, Sen. Claire McCaskill attempted to put the
best face on what would appear to be an unlikely scenario.
"He laughs about it because he says, 'Believe me, if I came to Missouri I'd tell them all how stubborn you are and
how about half the time you won't do what I ask you to do,'" she said. "So as long as Missourians have a sense
that I've been willing to swim upstream when necessary, against my party's leadership, including the president, I
think it'll be great."
Notice the first-term Democrat said "if" Obama ventures into the Show-Me state and not "when."
Hard to imagine the image of McCaskill on stage with Obama at a rally in a state where his numbers are under
water. His biggest asset to his old Senate colleague will be fundraising and that can be done without the stage
and photos.
McCaskill's going to be tied to the president no matter what she does -- but any day Missourians are reminded
about her loyalty to him on the health care law and stimulus spending is a bad day for McCaskill.
Her branding will be separation from the president -- the thorn in the side of everyone in Washington, including
the liberal wing of own party, fiscal accountability and feisty straight talk.
McCaskill's known for speaking her mind, but it's hard to believe "it would be great" for Obama to spend much
time in a state that would appear to be off the table for the White House in 2012.
She should be hooking her wagon to Gov. Jay Nixon, who will outperform any Democrat in the state, even if he
were to lose.
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National Democratic group wades into
Missouri Senate race
BY JASON HANCOCK • jhancock@post-dispatch.com > 573-635-6178 | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 2:09
pm
Patriot Majority USA, a Democrat-aligned political organization, has purchased TV ads across Missouri attacking
a Republican-backed Medicare plan.
The ads come in response to recent TV ads criticizing U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill that were paid for by the
Republican-aligned nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. The focus of the latest ad is a portion of
a GOP budget proposal that would have replaced Medicare with what amounts to a voucher system.
―People in Missouri and all across America will suffer, our economy will suffer and our country will be weaker if
these kinds of radical ideas are allowed to become law,‖ said Patriot Majority USA President Craig Varoga. ―Our
TV ads are designed to stop these radical ideas contained in the Republican budget plan.‖
Last month another Democratic group, Majority PAC, also launched an ad defending McCaskill. Varoga is
associated with both of the groups. Their aim is to counter the spending of conservative organizations like
Crossroads GPS, which along with its affiliate American Crossroads spent around $2.3 million last year in
Missouri against Democrat Robin Carnahan during her unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Here is the script of Patriot Majority USA‘s TV ad:
ANNOUNCER: ―Missourians know we need to cut spending. What‘s the Republican plan?‖
NEWS#1: ―The Republican budget repeals Medicare...‖
NEWS#2: ―...they voted to kill it...‖
NEWS#3: ―End Medicare as we know it.‖
ANNOUNCER: ―The Wall Street Journal says their plan will essentially end Medicare. Costing seniors six
thousand more a year. And putting your health decisions into the hands of insurance companies.‖
NEWS#4: "...people who worked their whole life. Now the Republicans are saying no, no.‖
ANNOUNCER: ―No to Medicare. No to seniors. That‘s the Republican plan.‖
Patriot Majority USA is a 501c4 nonprofit, meaning it is not governed by the Federal Elections Commission and
does not have to disclose its donors.
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Steelman's bank account lags way
behind Akin's tally
By Jo Mannies, Beacon political reporter
Posted 12:32 pm Fri., 7.22.11
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman has less campaign money in the bank than she had three
months ago, according to her latest campaign finance report, now displayed on the Federal Election
Commission's web site.
Steelman, Missouri's former state treasurer, reported only $181,091.96 in the bank as of June 30. That's almost
$8,000 below what she reported March 31.
Steelman's bank account is also only about one-ninth that of her Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-
Wildwood, who reported $1.18 million in the bank as of June 30.
Steelman and Akin are vying for the right to take on U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who last reported $2.84
million in the bank.
Unlike Akin or McCaskill, Steelman had not made public parts of her campaign-finance report before it became
available on the FEC's site.
Steelman's report shows that she raised $200,624 during the last three months, but spent even more --
$213,059.87. Overall, she has raised $524,841.20, and spent $414,158.36.
The upshot: Her "burn rate'' (spending versus money-raising) appears high for so early in the campaign.
Candidates usually try to hoard as much money as possible early on, so they have money for TV ads and other
spending during the summer and fall of an election year.
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Goldman Sachs donations fuel Blunt's
PAC fund
BY JAKE WAGMAN • jwagman@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8268 | Posted: Friday, July 22, 2011 10:24
am
ST. LOUIS • U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt moved across the Capitol in 2011, but his campaign has kept a key corporate
friend from last year.
In his final year in the House, the Springfield, Mo. Republican was one of the top recipients of cash from
Goldman Sachs, the financial services conglomerate that has been a lightning rod for criticism as the economy
tanked.
Now that he's in the Senate, the Wall Street powerhouse has continued to support Blunt politically.
Campaign finances forms filed last week for Blunt's leadership PAC — the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund — shows
more than $29,000 in contributions from Goldman and its executives since January.
Blunt's 2010 Senate campaign received nearly $52,000 from Goldman, according to the Center for Responsive
Politics. Only two other lawmakers — both in Goldman's home state of New York — received more from
Goldman in the election cycle, according to the Center.
The most recent donations to Blunt come as the firm is escalating its lobbying presence in D.C., preparing for
decisions that could determine how the government regulates the financial services industry.
Goldman's largesse, however, is not limited to Republicans. Part of their effort to influence Capitol Hill includes
paying thousands of dollars to another prominent former member of the Missouri House delegation — St. Louis
Democrat Dick Gephardt, who has lobbied for Goldman since 2008.
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EDITORIALS … & Letters to the Editor
Editorial: After jobs bill, time to turn
Missouri's focus to education
By the Editorial Board | Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2011 12:00 am
The most important number in the jobs bill that will be the subject of a September special session of the Missouri
Legislature has nothing to do with how much the state might spend to lure Chinese cargo planes to St. Louis.
It's not the number of jobs the legislation might create if all the pieces fall into place. It's not the hypothetical
millions of dollars in economic activity that might follow.
The key number is $1.5 billion.
That's the amount of real dollars that could be saved over 10 years if the jobs bill is coupled with reforms —
caps, sunsets and outright cancellations — of some of the state's hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credit
programs.
Those savings, hard as it will be for some business and special interests to give up, will be absolutely necessary
if Missouri is ever to focus on what should be its No. 1 economic development opportunity: Better schools and
colleges.
This is not to downplay last week's positive news that lawmakers and Gov. Jay Nixon have agreed to a special
session.
Most of the elements of the still-unwritten jobs bill, chief among them a plan that will offer incentives to turn
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport into a foreign-trade hub, could be positive for the St. Louis region. That
plan has the potential to help revitalize a city and region struggling to find its post-recession wings.
The jobs bill also would provide seed money for high-tech start-up firms that focus on biosciences. It also aims to
keep home-grown companies in Missouri.
The state's central location, its low energy costs and its strong base of plant and animal research suggest
reasonable odds for the success of those bets. But at their core, they are just that — bets.
Nobody knows for sure if they will work or how well.
Here's what we do know: For St. Louis and Missouri to thrive, support for education must be more than a political
slogan. It must be the No. 1 goal of a coalition that includes Mr. Nixon, the Republicans who control the
Legislature and the business community that has exerted pressure on those elected officials to call legislators
back to Jefferson City.
Mr. Nixon likes to talk about how much he supports education. He did so again Thursday when he announced
the special session in a speech at the Danforth Plant Science Center. He said the state had to 'support every
student who dreams of a job and a career."
He's right. But Missouri hasn't done that. In the past decade, state funding for higher education per capita has
been dismal, standing at 45th lowest in the nation last year, according to the Center for the Study of Education
Policy.
In fact, Missouri led the nation in percentage decrease of support for higher education in 2010-11. Each of the
last two years, Mr. Nixon has cut scholarship funding for those students with dreams. If jobs are the ultimate
goal, that's the wrong approach.
The governor, the Legislature and the business community all share the blame for being too consumed with tax-
credit programs whose effect on job creation never has been adequately quantified. That focus has come at the
detriment of the one proven economic development strategy: producing top-notch schools.
A 2008 joint study of Stanford University and the University of Munich is just one of many that makes the direct
tie between quality of education and economic growth. "The accumulated evidence … is that the quality of
education … has powerful economic effects," the authors concluded. "Economic growth is strongly affected by
the skills of workers. What people know matters."
Consider the juxtaposition of two stories on the front page of Thursday's Post-Dispatch.
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There was the story that St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley had
appeared at Lambert with legislative and business leaders to announce the China hub compromise.
But at the bottom of the page was a story reporting that a second area judge had given a St. Louis student the
right to transfer from an unaccredited city school to a district in the suburbs.
Mr. Slay and Mr. Dooley understand that education is the preeminent challenge if the St. Louis region is to be
truly strong again. To attract businesses and families that want to raise their children here, the schools have to
get much better.
It's a complicated problem that involves more and smarter funding. It requires traditional public school supporters
and advocates of reform measures such as charter schools to work together.
Colleges and universities will have to give up regional turf battles and consolidate programs so that the best
ones can compete globally. Students with dreams will need a financial boost to afford college.
Tax credits may help revitalize a city and lure young professionals in the short term. But those young people are
leaving in droves, census data tell us, once they have children.
Incentives might lure airlines and freight forwarders and data centers to the region, but those businesses will
demand a highly qualified workforce. If Missouri wants to attract employers, a well-educated workforce is job
one.
The China hub incentives in the pending jobs bill are well conceived and worth the effort because they don't pay
off until jobs show up.
But support for such legislation should be contingent on the state's civic and business leaders finally saying:
Enough already with stealing from education.
That was the clear point made last year by two men on ideological extremes — Mr. Nixon, a Democrat, and state
Sen. Jason Crowell, a Republican — when they joined forces to push the state to rein in its out-of-control tax
credit programs.
Those programs diverted money from education, both men said, to the detriment of Missouri students.
The tentative agreement for the special session has shown us this: When St. Louis area business leaders unite
behind an issue, they can put tremendous pressure on politicians who otherwise have no incentive to work
together.
If those leaders truly want to move St. Louis and Missouri forward, they will focus on education. We'd like to see
them get behind building a 21st-century revenue structure as well, but that's a tougher sell.
Long-term economic development in Missouri won't come from China. It will come from better schools.
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Short Take: Democratic senator makes
telling treasurer choice
Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2011 12:00 am
Missouri state Sen. Robin Wright-Jones still has a $95,000 problem — she spent that money but hasn't yet
shown the taxpayers and voters where it went.
When we last asked her about the missing money, Ms. Wright-Jones, a St. Louis Democrat, said she would
show a full accounting in 30 days. She blamed the financial discrepancy on her last campaign treasurer, who
had become ill. Then she blamed Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman for writing a story blaming her ill
treasurer. When we called her, she again blamed her treasurer's illness and assured us answers would be
forthcoming.
The 30-day window closed more than a week ago. Still no answers.
Mr. Wright-Jones did give a hint, though, as to what her plans are regarding a possible explanation for the
missing money. She hired a new treasurer, Angelia Elgin, who was ousted as the fire chief at the financially
troubled Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District. She was accused of signing contracts without the
approval of the district's board.
If Ms. Wright-Jones was looking to restore voters' confidence, she should have ignored any resume that included
the words "Northeast Fire District." Ethics investigators should start throwing in the bullpen.
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Long needs to compromise on raising
debt ceiling
Congressman plays dangerous game with federal credit rating
Springfield News-Leader
It is time for U.S. Rep. Billy Long to get beyond being "fed up" and start looking out for the best interests of his
constituents.
Long, a Springfield Republican, has fallen in with a group of hard-line congressmen, taking uncompromising
positions on our federal budget mess.
It was dangerous enough earlier this year when he was one of 70 members of the House to vote "no" on a
stopgap spending measure -- meaning he essentially was in favor of a government shutdown.
But now he seems willing to play Russian roulette with the government's credit rating as we approach a deadline
for raising the debt ceiling.
"We are not going to raise the debt limit and they need to know that now instead of August 2nd," Long told a
reporter more than a week ago, repeating what he said he had told a visitor from the Federal Reserve.
When asked to explain in an interview Thursday with our Editorial Board, Long refined his position.
"We need to get it done," he acknowledged, before adding: "We need to quit spending the money."
It's true Long's views are probably in sync with many (even a majority) of his constituents, who are disgusted
with the game-playing and politics in our nation's Capitol.
No one wants to pay higher taxes and everyone wants to cut government spending.
We just don't want them to cut the programs that we use.
Long also is correct in saying that the debt ceiling debate is a symptom of the real problem: we are spending 42
percent more than we are taking in through revenue.
"We need to tighten our belts," Long said -- just raising the debt ceiling is not going to be enough to maintain the
government's top-flight bond rating in borrowing money.
He pooh-poohed the bipartisan plan devised by the so-called Gang of Six in the Senate. That plan would cut the
deficits by nearly $4 trillion over 10 years through a combination of spending cuts and changes in the tax code
that would result in more revenue.
"It is no plan," Long said. "They don't say how they are going to do it."
He said he could support some changes in the tax code, but then Long (a former Realtor) said a proposal to limit
the mortgage interest deduction "would absolutely decimate real estate" and would "soak the middle class."
He said he could not support a debt ceiling plan that increased revenue in any way -- "not during a double-dip
recession."
But a compromise involving some additional revenue is precisely what is in the best interest of the country -- and
is precisely what will be needed in order to pass anything of significance through Congress and get President
Obama's approval.
Spending cuts alone will not get the country's budget under control.
By Long's own admission, even the aggressive House budget he voted for in April -- the so-called Paul Ryan
"Path to Prosperity" -- would take 26 years to end deficit spending.
Does 26 years sound reasonable to you?
When we endorsed Billy Long's bid for the U.S. House last fall, we urged him to use his proven business skills
and asked him "to bring common sense to Washington."
Common sense tells you we should not play games with the country's credit rating by defaulting on our
obligations.
Common sense tells you we should pay our bills -- and not just the priorities that Long has suggested: Social
Security, Medicare, troop payments and other funds for national security.
Common sense tells you it's time to make a deal with Obama and the Democrats, and we think Long's job is to
work toward the best possible compromise, not take an absolutist position.
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Being "fed up" is wearing thin.
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Our Opinion: Unfinished business
becoming legislative specialty
Jefferson City News-Tribune
Special legislative sessions are becoming less special and more common.
Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday called a special session to begin in September. His announcement came one day
after legislative leaders announced an accord on an economic incentive plan.
The plan calls for incentives for high-tech enterprises and international trade, to be paid by scaling back a
number of existing tax credits.
Tax credit reform popped up on state government radar as a way to curb state spending and balance the
budget. The governor in the summer of 2010 named a 25-member tax credit review panel to study Missouri‘s 61
tax credits and report recommendations to lawmakers before they convened for the regular session in January.
After kicking the tax-credits can down the Capitol hallways for more than four months during the regular session,
legislative leaders now say they are ready to act.
The action, however, is not simply to curb tax credits, but to use the savings to afford new ones. Legislative
leaders agree, however, a net savings will result.
New proposals for the special session listed by both the governor and legislative leaders are:
• Incentives to encourage data centers to locate in the state.
• The ―Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act,‖ designed to attract high-tech jobs.
• ―Aerotropolis,‖ a proposal to convert Lambert International Airport in St. Louis into an international trade hub.
Other provisions were cited separately by the Democratic governor and by Republican leaders.
Despite some division, the governor and legislative leaders shared excitement about special session prospects
that would:
• ―... leverage our unique Missouri assets and seize unique Missouri opportunities whose time has come.‖ Gov.
Jay Nixon
• ― ... couple more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer savings by reducing, eliminating or requiring timely mandatory
review of various tax credits, with creating new incentives to keep and bring jobs to our state.‖ Senate President
Pro Tem Rob Mayer.
• ―... save taxpayers billions of dollars while securing the future of innovative and financially responsible tax
incentive programs to keep and relocate business to Missouri.‖ House Speaker Steven Tilley.
We‘ll withhold our enthusiasm until we hear discussion and debate. Our initial reaction is: What took so long?
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Analysis: Enrollment lags in new health
care plan
By DAVID A. LIEB
Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- One of the first prongs of President Barack Obama's health care law has been in
effect now for a year, and the result in Missouri is that about 500 additional people with chronic health problems
now have insurance.
It is, by most accounts, an underwhelming result. Missouri's experience is pretty typical of the national norm,
which is causing even some supporters of the federal health care law to question how it is being implemented.
One of the less-publicized provisions of the 2010 law required a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan in each
state. Backed by $5 billion of federal subsidies, the health plans are intended to provide insurance at lower
prices than typically available to people with health problems who have been uninsured for at least six months.
The new health insurance plans provide a bridge to 2014, when a new requirement kicks in prohibiting insurers
from charging higher premiums to people based on their health status. That's the same year that most people
will be required to have health insurance or face tax penalties, and that people will be able to purchase coverage
through new online health insurance markets called exchanges.
When Missouri began taking applications in July 2010 for its federally mandated Pre-existing Condition
Insurance Plan, officials expected to cover about 3,000 people, said Vernita McMurtrey, executive director of the
Missouri Health Insurance Pool. One year later, it has just one-sixth of that amount - about 500 enrollees.
Missouri is not unique.
"Enrollment is fairly low across all states," said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health policy at the nonpartisan
Kaiser Family Foundation.
Relying on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and a unit of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said last July that it believed between 200,000
and 400,000 people likely would enroll in the new health plans.
The actual number is but a fraction of that. Through May 31, a total of 24,712 people nationwide were enrolled in
the pre-existing condition insurance plans.
Health care analysts and insurance executives cite several reasons for the lackluster response.
Chiefly, the health insurance premiums still are more expensive than many people can afford - or want - to pay.
Federal law prohibits the plans from charging more than the state's standard individual health insurance
premium for people of a similar age. That means chronically ill people can get insurance policies at the same
cost as healthy people. But many chronically ill people who have gone without insurance for six months either
are unemployed or in low-wage jobs, which makes it difficult for them to afford even the standard premiums.
Under Missouri's plan, for example, a 50-year-old man who opts for a $1,000 deductible would pay a monthly
premium of $544, McMurtrey said.
That would consume about half the paycheck of someone working 40 hours a week in a minimum wage job,
without accounting for taxes, housing payments, food, utilities and gas for a car.
Missouri lowered its premiums by 25 percent, effective Feb. 1, in an attempt to make the plan more affordable.
Program administrators currently are analyzing whether they can lower rates again, McMurtrey said.
Until now, "Missouri hasn't been really creative in how to get the lowest prices," said Thomas McAuliffe, a policy
analyst at the Missouri Foundation for Health.
Not helping matters was the fact that many people - at least initially - found Missouri's application for the program
confusing, McAuliffe said.
Another factor holding down enrollment is the requirement to first go without insurance for a half year, Tolbert
said.
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"There are probably a lot of people - at least some people - who have existing insurance, but it's fairly limited,
who would likely benefit by enrolling in the better coverage," she said. But "they're simply not going to be willing
to go bare, as we say, for six months to access the better coverage."
Still another factor is the tendency of some people to avoid purchasing insurance until they know it's needed,
said Larry Case, executive vice president of the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents. Even though vehicle
liability insurance is required by state law, about 14 percent of Missouri drivers lack it, Case said. Some people
purchase car insurance only because it's necessary to license their vehicle, then quit making payments, he said.
Similarly, Case said, people have little incentive to purchase health insurance under the pre-existing condition
plan until they know they are headed to the hospital or have a major medical expense upcoming.
McMurtrey said many people who enroll in the plan immediately use their health coverage, in some cases have
major operations such as heart bypass surgeries or organ transplants within two or three weeks.
Although some health care analysts said Missouri's program has not been sufficiently publicized, McMurtrey said
she has traveled the state to discuss it at hospitals, nursing homes, community centers, schools and with any
group that can spread the information among those with chronic health problems.
"Even though the 500 itself is not a high number, we are serving needy Missourians," she said. "Quite honestly,
across the country, none of the states have the enrollment we thought we would."
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Letters to the editor, July 23
Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2011 12:00 am, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In defense of modern firefighters
In "Putting out fires can be complicated" (July 18), Bill McClellan said that firefighters have a "1958 mentality."
While smoke detectors do have an impact on firefighting — they alert people to fires early — fires still happen.
The myth that "we don't fight as many fires anymore" has been dispelled. Leading fire service expert David
McGrail has written that the decades from the mid 1960s to the 1980s saw a 100 percent increase in structure
fires over the previous 50 years. We just now are nearing normal. That spike in fire calls certainly is true with the
St. Louis Fire Department.
According to Underwriters Laboratories, fire growth is exponentially faster than it was even in the early 1980s
because of the makeup of our furnishings. According to UL, "legacy furnishings" (furnishings of the late 1970s
and earlier) contained more organic materials and take, on average, 18 minutes to go from incipient (very small
fire) to flashover (everything in the room on fire). Modern furnishings contain more plastics, which melt and burn
very hot and go from incipient to flashover in three to five minutes. An outstanding response time is three to five
minutes from the 911 call to arrival of first company, so all the smoke detectors do is get occupants out and the
911 call made, which is a big deal.
In 1958, all large urban areas had more firefighters than they do now. In 1958, according to Mr. McGrail,
departments ran about the same or fewer fires as now, but they did not respond to other calls, such as for
hazardous materials or medical runs. The total call volume has grown exponentially and the number of
firefighters needed to safely and successfully work a fire has not changed, although staffing levels have
decreased.
Memorable fires still happen. On July 17, there were at least three working fires in St. Louis (I saw nothing in the
paper about them, either). An off-duty firefighter made a bold and daring rescue of a man in a vehicle in the
River Des Peres.
People who are not firefighters have a misconception of what we are, and they may take the comments from Mr.
McClellan's firefighter friend out of context. That could lead to further reduced staffing, and that would be
dangerous.
Mike Newbury • St. Louis
International Association of Firefighters, Local 73
Healthier meals, healthier military
Military service is becoming increasingly attractive to many young adults. The military services are meeting their
recruitment goals this year. The Defense Department says this is in part because of the poor economy and
patriotism in many young people.
But there's a brewing issue. Even among young adults who have excellent academic credentials and clean
police records, many cannot enlist in the military because they are overweight.
The U.S. Department of Defense indicated that weight problems represent the leading medical reason why
young adults cannot enlist in the military. One in four exceeds weight limitations. Defense told Congress that it is
concerned about the impact of obesity and other disqualifying factors on future recruiting.
Consider this: In Missouri, 42 percent of young adults are either overweight or obese, according to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's more inclusive criteria. That is more than 200,000 overweight
young adults in Missouri alone.
What can we do to reduce child obesity and help expand the pool of young adults qualified for military service?
School is a great place to start. Many children consume as much as half of their daily calories during school
hours, and more than half of all school kids eat at least one meal served in school every day. But the nutrition
standards for school meals haven't been updated in 15 years. School meals don not include enough fruits,
vegetables and whole grains, and they contain too many unhealthy fats.
Last year, Mission: Readiness, a national organization of more than 200 of my fellow retired admirals and
generals, strongly supported congressional passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
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Under the new law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to bring the nutrition standards up to date and
get healthier meals on students' trays.
To reduce obesity and strengthen national security, Congress must keep the promise it made through passage
of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act by:
• Supporting the USDA in its effort to implement the science-based meal standards,
• Ensuring that schools have the support they need to meet heightened standards.
Moving forward, schools will need support ranging from training and technical assistance to new equipment in
order to serve more nutritious meals that will teach kids healthier meals can also be appetizing.
Such efforts will help ensure all of our children can lead healthier lives.
Charles Williams • St. Louis
Rear Admiral, USN, retired; member, advisory council of Mission: Readiness
Environmental roulette in Labadie
If the Franklin County Commission allows a coal ash landfill in the Missouri River bottoms at Labadie, it would be
an impending fiasco. The commission likes to say it is a "local issue." But placing a coal ash landfill in the
bottoms is environmental roulette. The commission can attempt to paint any picture it wishes, but all the people
living downstream should realize that their health and safety are at risk.
There is no structure that is "flood proof," as the commission is trying to imply. Massive amounts of toxic coal ash
could be carried by the flood water downriver through St.Charles County, St. Louis County and St. Louis City. It
could proceed down the Mississippi, affecting the water of all people who depend on the rivers for their drinking
water. Some have said coal ash could migrate into the groundwater, potentially contaminating wells.
The commission is attempting to "fast track" the required regulation amendment before the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency rules on toxicity. The updated flood plain map recently adopted by the Franklin County
Commission clearly shows the proposed landfill site in the floodway, not just the flood plain. The commission is
attempting to get regulations in place to "grandfather" in the landfill before these factors eliminate the possibility
for such a landfill. It also is attempting to make the landfill a permitted project, not a conditional use permit,
eliminating hearings, public input and timely oversight of the project. The commission claims that this is being
done to minimize litigation, but it is a ploy to allow Ameren to construct the landfill without any addtional
problems from pesky citizens who are complaining that this idea is lunacy.
This is not a Franklin County issue, but a regional issue. This decision could have an impact on perhaps millions
of people, and the people of the region should put pressure on the commission to just reject a coal ash landfill in
the flood plain of the Missouri River.
Eric Reichert • Villa Ridge
Solving several national issues
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is right about earmarks. Let's eliminate them, but let's also eliminate the
president's ability to spend money on any project he chooses without correct legislative authority.
As a long-time Republican, I respectfully disagree with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on this issue of federal spending
projects escaping the normal scrutiny by the respective House and Senate committees and the full House and
Senate. My friend, former Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., sometimes used earmarks to restore Missouri's
fair share of transportation funding and to fund many worthwhile research and education projects, but in this time
of severe fiscal crisis in the federal government, the time has come in the federal appropriation process to do
away with "earmarking."
We also should be concerned about federal administration officials enacting law by independent action without
the legislative process. Twenty years ago, when an administration official got out of line, he quickly was
corrected by the White House or a House or Senate committee. Now, an administration official or a "czar" can
make decisions and spend federal dollars with little or no legislative authority and with the White House's
blessing.
While we are looking at misguided federal authority, let's look at the harmful economic effects of the Endangered
Species Act, originally designed to protect endangered species. It became a tool for environmental groups to ask
a judge to block private or public projects.
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If left unchanged by federal lawmakers, the Endangered Species Act, as currently structured, repeatedly will be
used to block the use of public and sometimes private property based on one federal judge's decision. This is not
our true representative form of government. It is fiat by one federal judge, inspired by an environmental group.
Our nation's natural resources should be used wisely and be protected from abuse by unscrupulous individuals
and corporations. But let these decisions on natural resources be made by the legislative process and not by
one federal judge.
Peter C. Myers • Sikeston, Mo.
Tired of Washington
I'm sick and tired of the people in Washington, D.C., who are running this country. All they want to do is take
from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — take from the poor give to the rich. They won't take tax breaks
from the rich because they are the rich. It used to be government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Now it is for the party by the rich.
Our good jobs have gone overseas, and we give millions to other countries while we have homeless, starving
and uninsured people here.
They think the middle class and the poor are pushovers with no fight in us. Let's show them we are not to be
messed with. It's time we take our country back. We must vote them out.
Rocky Garrison • St. Peters
Consigned to trash bin of history
I hope Americans finally realize the Republicans have no interest in cutting the deficit, balancing the budget,
putting people back to work or even advancing the social issues they claim to espouse. Their only interest is
gaining and maintaining control of the government so that they can loot the treasury with tax subsidies and
loopholes and game the system to favor their wealthy corporate cronies.
It is amazing that is they hardly bother to camouflage their naked greed and crass dishonesty. They just repeat
their asinine ideology, confident that people wouldn't be so outré as to mention that their emperor is naked.
Cases in point: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's stripping union rights to balance the budget after the unions
already had agreed to his financial demands and Republicans refusing to accept large cuts to social programs
because Democrats dared discuss minuscule revenue increases.
Because we have no recall option, we must hold our anger close and stay resolute until 2012. Then we must
turn the Republicans out en masse. I hope this Republican Party will follow the Whigs into historical oblivion.
Unfortunately, we have no viable choice but to vote for the Democrats, a fragile reed at best. They will have two
years to prove their mettle, during which time we must ease ballot access restrictions to allow third parties to run,
pass instant-runoff voting to torpedo the 'spoiler factor," strengthen public election funding to dilute the corruption
of corporate money and eliminate the Electoral College so that a candidate who loses the popular vote no longer
becomes president.
Then, if the Democrats don't step up to the plate, we'll be ready to consign them to the trash bin of history as
well.
Lydia Lewis • St. Louis County
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Letters to the editor, July 24
Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2011 12:00 am, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Brentwood should ask for state audit
Brentwood Mayor Pat Kelly and the Brentwood Board of Alderman were unable or unwilling to respond to the
following questions at the July 18 Board of Aldermen meeting:
• How did the city's "independent" audit firm miss the city administrator's embezzlement and the overtime paid to
city firemen?
• Why did the city elect to omit auditing the internal controls in 2009 and 2010?
• Why did the city forgo punitive damages (fraud surely was indicated)?
• Why was a fireman forced to resign and then given a lucrative pension and another city job?
The mayor's suggestion of hiring another independent firm, for which the city would set the scope of the audit, to
look at the internal controls falls short of what is needed to restore the citizens' confidence in the city.
It is clear that Brentwood's hard-working taxpayers are entitled to a pull-no-punches independent state audit.
Mr. Kelly and the Brentwood aldermen should be among the first to sign our petition requesting an audit by the
state auditor.
Matt and Maureen Saunders • Brentwood
On the short end
Regarding "Brentwood firefighters got sham overtime" (July 17): The old saying "too much money corrupts" is
true today, too. Is the problem as presented in Brentwood believable? No way, Jose. The administration had to
be asleep over the years not to notice what went on. The fire chief authorized overtime pay that he knew was not
earned. Same for the assistant chief, who realized the problem and confessed.
What happens now? The chief retires with a pension of more than $i00,000. The assistant chief gets a pension
of about $80,000 and a new position with an $80,000 salary.
The only person coming out short is the taxpayer.
So what's new?
Joseph Chapo • Clayton
Fear of government
According to the Paul Hampel's report "Brentwood firefighters got sham overtime" (July 17), complicit
overpayment to firefighters ran rampant through the ranks of officials in Brentwood. It seems we taxpayers
should fear not only big government, but small government as well.
Gene Lange • Florissant
Guilty of great service
Brentwood Fire Chief Bob Niemeyer is guilty only of giving his men the best of everything, including 100 percent
of himself. His love for his job, his total accessibility and his unwavering commitment to his men and his
community make the Brentwood Fire Department one of the most highly recognized and respected fire
departments in the community. As a former captain with the Maplewood Fire Department, I can say I've never
known a more honorable man. His presence in the fire service has provided many firefighters, including me, with
stability in unstable situations. He will be missed. His courage, guidance, leadership and experience all are
irreplaceable.
What shame that a resignation was forced from a man who has been such an inspiration to his peers and
community. I regret losing the service of such a great man.
Ray Holthausen • St. Louis County
They thought it was OK?
The really sad part of the story "Brentwood firefighters got sham overtime" (July 17) is what the firefighters
believed. Apparently they thought it was perfectly acceptable to be dishonest. It was OK to put it to the taxpayer
by being paid for time not worked. This behavior is unacceptable for those who carry the mantle of hero. It sure
lets the kids down.
I hope the money from the sham overtime was donated — to the USO. There is no questioning the heroics of the
troops who pass through there.
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C.A. Worthylake • Ballwin
A good example
Wonderful news in "Subdivision powers up with no-cost electricity" (July 17): The MidAmerican Solar Company
moved the manufacturing of components from China to a "union state" in the United States because of problems
with quality control in China.
We need more companies to follow this example. These are the companies that need tax breaks, not the
companies that are moving out of the United States.
Barbara Headrick • Lake Saint Louis
Smoke and mirrors
"Subdivision powers up with no-cost electricity" (July 17), about wind and solar power at Lexington Farms,
contained an example of the smoke and mirrors that continually bombard the public. The story implied to the
reader that the energy in the subdvision is "free."
How about this headline instead: "Taxpayers cough up $2.5 million to furnish 'free' power to 32 homes."
Robert W. Harmon • St. Charles
Saving by avoiding costs
Regarding "Reversal on rebates stings solar industry" (July 17): A 10 kilowatt photovoltaic solar system can
power the average home in Missouri. Over the life of the system, it will generate more than 342,000 KW hours.
This saves all Ameren Missouri customers the "avoided cost" of $0.163 per KW hour. The "avoided costs" are
those costs Ameren would have incurred for fuel.
Escalated for inflation, the savings for Ameren customers is $30,250. The Ameren rebate for this system is
$20,000, saving Ameren customers $10,250.
An added benefit for all Missourians is cleaner air and lower health care cost for areas like St. Louis (which is a
non-attainment area according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) for those with breathing ailments.
This is a win-win situation for all.
Malcolm Murphy • St. Peters
Invest in the future
In "Call his bluff" (July 17) Charles Krauthammer wrote, "If conservatives really want to get the nation's spending
under control, the only way is to win the presidency." Mr. Krauthammer has selective memory. President George
W. Bush was handed a surplus by President Bill Clinton. Mr. Bush squandered that surplus and began deficit
spending to ensure that his wealthy benefactors got a huge tax cut. No jobs were created. President Barack
Obama, to get a budget passed, extended the tax cuts. No jobs were created.
Now the House wants to cut spending on education programs, which can create jobs. Businesses that reduced
payrolls in the recession have improved productivity of remaining workers. Many of these companies are earning
profits at or greater than they before the recession. They will not be creating jobs. Job creation will come only
from innovation and new industries.
Innovation requires highly educated and skilled labor. The conservative Republicans in the House are willing to
sacrifice the future in order to appease their wealthy supporters. Instead of focusing on the economic issues at
hand and representing the people, they play games to win elections at any cost.
We must invest in the future, in research that will create industries supplying non-oil based energy and in
education from kindergarten through graduate school, providing real opportunity to grow our economy, our
country and the middle class.
Honest legislative debate culminating in a package of appropriate spending reductions and revenue increases
will go a long way in growing the economy and helping members of Congress in their reelection bids.
Ellis M. Frohman • Chesterfield
Time to pay the bank
In "Call his bluff" (July 17), Charles Krauthammer blasted President Barack Obama for wanting to achieve a
longer-term deal in raising our country's debt ceiling. Does he not remember that the Bush administration raised
the debt ceiling eight times with little fanfare, and it did not offset the costs for two tax cuts, the expensive Iraq
war started on false pretenses or the $600 billion Medicare drug bill? Why is it now wrong to raise the debt
ceiling to pay for debts we already incurred?
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During the Iraq war, people asked how they could help. President George Bush told them to go out and spend.
We've all heard that we can't spend without having money in the bank. Now the time has come for all of us to
contribute to the federal bank — which means that we have to pay higher taxes. Sixty-seven percent of
Americans said in a recent Quinnipiac poll that we have to raise taxes along with cutting the federal budget.
Eva Adams • Union
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Letters to the editor, July 25
Posted: Monday, July 25, 2011 12:00 am, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cost-effective reuse of Pruitt-Igoe site
Regarding "new group seeks ideas for old Pruitt-Igoe site" (July 15): The plan shown shows it extending east to
20th Street. However, at 20th Street, between Cass and O'Fallon, are the church of the Living God and St.
Stanislaus Kostka Polish Roman Catholic Church. They are not part of Pruitt-Igoe, but adjacent to it.
Pruitt-Igoe now is a landfill filled with hazardous materials. Its cheapest use would be a golf learning center, such
as in Forest Park. Cover it with clay and sod, and there would be no need to remove the hazardous materials.
Such a center might encourage people to move nearby.
Hazardous material removal would have to be a federal responsibility. Congress is reluctant to pay its bills right
now. But the city could cap and cover it and use it in a way that improves the quality of life in St. Stanislaus
parish and make people proud to live there. That seems to be the cost-effective way to go.
Joseph J. Kuciejczyk Jr. • St. Louis
Missed coverage of shuttle landing
I guess all the editors at the Post-Dispatch must be younger than I am. I guess none of them remember, as I do,
gazing in awe at the television screen, watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.
That must be the reason the paper chose to run only a photo of the last space shuttle landing, virtually ignoring
the end of the U.S. manned spaceflight program.
I'm quite certain that the Associated Press had a ready-made story that the paper could have run on the front
page, but I guess elderly men running in the heat and an Express Scripts deal that hasn't even happened is
bigger news than the end of an era in American history.
Way to drop the ball, Post-Dispatch.
Bill Phelan • St. Louis County
Asian carp: Delicious
Regarding "Carp-rich Illinois has a plan for Asian invader: Feeding the poor with a pest" (July 14): Asian carp are
taking over many U.S. rivers. You can stand on top of the dam at Carlyle Lake and see thousands of them
feeding on the surface of the Kaskaskia River.
Asian carp are delicious food. The meat is pearly white, and they taste cleaner than catfish or buffalo fish. The
bones are large and easy to remove. Anyone who doesn't like to eat Asian carp never has and doesn't know
what he is missing.
It's no wonder the Chinese are buying tons of them.
James R. Knapp • Greenville
Marketing strategy
Regarding "Carp-rich Illinois has a plan for Asian invader: Feeding the poor with a pest" (July 14): Perhaps if
Asian carp were renamed, it would have a better chance of being marketed as food. Tastes change. Wasn't
lobster once upon a time considered "poor man's" food?
If Schnucks or Dierberg's decide to carry the fish, I'd try it — with drawn butter.
Ruth Dougherty • St. Charles
Heartless headline
The headline "Carp-rich Illinois has a plan for Asian invader: Feeding the poor with a pest" (July 14) could be
paraphrased "Let the poor eat pest." The headline can be placed with Marie Antoinette's famous quote, "Let
them eat cake," uttered about the bread-starved French poor. The headline also matches what a Chinese
emporer was said to have asked when told this subjects didn't have enough rice to eat, "Why don't they eat
meat?"
Have we become that heartless? Or does the newspaper retain a cadre of insensitive headline writers?
John D. Kretschmer • Clayton
Heart of the matter
Colleen Carroll Campbell writes well, but Thomas Jefferson with Mark Twain as his editor couldn't defend the
point she attempted to make in her column "Smearing Bachmann" (July 21), mainly that the left's questioning of
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Michele Bachmann's religious upbringing in 2011 is somehow different from the right's 2008 treatment of now-
President Barack Obama.
Ms. Campbell could save herself and her readers a lot of time if she'd simply state her basic argument: She
believes abortion is so evil that any pro-life candidate is automatically preferable to any pro-choice candidate.
She then could use her free time to question why what she describes as a church whose anti-Catholic stance is
merely "a 500-year-old anti-papal phrase buried in ... doctrinal statements" chooses to publish a 3,477-word
defense of its position on the church's official 21st-century website.
Lou Malnassy • Kirkwood
Unserious candidates
Regarding "Smearing Bachmann" (July 21): Colleen Carroll Campbell says everyone is picking on poor Michele
Bachmann and claims this is anti-Catholicism.
Ms. Campbell omitted that Ms. Bachmann is running for the highest office in the land and is subject to the same
scrutiny Democrats are, that Bachmann claims she has a direct pipeline to God and that her husband runs an
unlicensed counseling center to "pray away the gay" that accepts Medicaid reimbursements (I guess Ms.
Bachmann doesn't mind her family receiving that government handout, in addition to her husband accepting the
biggest bailout of them all — farm subsidies).
As outlined in our Constitution, the Founding Fathers stressed the importance of the separating church and
state. The last person I want running my country is a person who blindly justifies his (or her) decisions by
spouting that God decreed it so. That is a dictator.
In addition, anyone who knows a lick about mental health and sexual orientation knows our sexual orientation is
hard-wired at birth. If the Republicans can produce a serious candidate, I'll pay attention. But if they can produce
only talking heads who spout religion instead of ideas to improve our economy and country besides praying for
rain and praying for heterosexuality, they do not deserve serious consideration and should be relegated to being
the butt of political jokes.
Ms. Campbell's one-sided commentary is more suited for the old Globe-Democrat, and we all know what
happened to it.
Scott Miller • St. Louis
An easy cut
In balancing the federal budget, some programs are such obvious wastes of taxpayer dollars that both parties
would be crazy not to agree to make cuts.
Consider the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Bill Broadband Loan Program. In almost nine years, this
program has used $2 billion in taxpayer funds to provide low-interest loans to companies claiming to be bringing
high-speed Internet networks to rural areas of the country that were never wired for the Information
Superhighway. But sloppy execution by the USDA has led to widespread waste. A 2005 internal audit found that
loans were being directed not to unserved rural communities but to well-to-do suburbs that already have access
to the Internet, and new rules would make areas with as many as three Internet providers eligible for funding.
The USDA is authorized to provide nearly $400 million in loans this year. If lawmakers can't make this program
work for the 14 million unserved rural Americans it is intended to serve, Republicans and Democrats alike —
including U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, should support cutting it back.
Keith Robinson • St. Louis
President, St. Louis Chapter, A. Philip Randolph Institute
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Letters | Saturday, July 23
Kansas City Star

Limbaugh shadow
Even though some infighting is occurring between the GOP and tea party (over the debt limit, for example) their
common link appears to be Rush Limbaugh. Ever since President Barack Obama was elected, Limbaugh
advised them to say ―no‖ to anything Obama proposed.
Presumably this is their collective strategy to ensure that Obama is a one-term president, regardless of whether
their ―no‘s‖ are irrational or detrimental to the American people. In short, a large portion of Congress is operating
on the advice of a former OxyContin addict.
Michele Elliott
Overland Park
Shared sacrifice
AARP recently came out saying it is open to future cuts in Social Security. I also see they‘re running television
commercials against cuts to Medicare.
As someone who recently became eligible to join AARP (and replied back that I have no intention of joining their
disreputable organization) I was wondering: If AARP is in favor of maintaining current levels of benefits for future
retirees, will it have the guts to come out in favor of tax increases?
To all of you seniors on the way to the casinos who say, ―I paid into it, I deserve it,‖ let me remind you that
having paid into it doesn‘t mean we have the right to rob from the young to pay for the old.
With our budget mess there can be no more sacred cows. Everyone must share in the sacrifice until our house is
in order.
Ed O’Toole
Kansas City
Change U.S. tax rates
When bargaining rights are taken away from the workers, hourly wages become stagnant, and management
gains controlling power over the working and middle classes.
Too much of the total income and wealth of America is controlled by the top 1 percent of our country. This is the
reason the working and middle classes and the poor of our country are struggling to feed their families, make
ends meet, and pay their rent, mortgages and utilities while the wealthy are receiving generous tax exemptions
and are not paying their fair share of taxes. Corporations and the wealthy need to pay their share of taxes.
Robert Reich, President Bill Clinton‘s former secretary of labor, proposes that in order to spur growth, the
middle-class tax rates need to be cut, which makes sense to me.
Corporations and the wealthy with incomes of more than $15 million should pay taxes at a 70 percent rate. For
those with income between $5 million to $15 million, the tax rate should be 60 percent and between $500,000 to
$5 million, the tax rate should be 50 percent.
There should be a substantial decrease in taxes for families earning under $100,000 annually.
Terrance R. Hawbaker
Atchison, Kan.
U.S. women’s soccer
I am writing to say that I do care about the accomplishments of the U.S. Women‘s soccer team during the World
Cup. The team gave the country something to rally around and cheer about. Those cheering included our troops
in Afghanistan and President Barack Obama.
The team gave us one of the most thrilling games in our sports history with the performance against Brazil. They
gave us a new set of role models for young girls and women. They are athletes who displayed a strong work
ethic, talent and resilience.
They were gracious in victory and defeat. I think all of those things are worth caring about.
Michelle Pond
Overland Park
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Make taxes more fair
I have a great idea. Let‘s ask for tax equity of the approximately one half of the population who pay absolutely no
income tax, yet consume as many if not more of the goods and services provided by those of us who are the
other half, who pay more than their fair share of such taxes.
The debt ceiling debate and ―tax the rich‖ battle has been raging for months, yet no one has suggested we ask
those in the non-paying group to pay at least something, however small. I would be happy with $5 a week. Am I
the only one who thinks this is reasonable?
Yes, there are the haves and the have-nots. I am beginning to see myself as one of the haves (who have to pay
taxes for myself and millions of others) to provide for the have-nots (those who do not have to pay their fair
share).
Dr. M. Kathleen Brewer
Overland Park
Women’s rights
The ongoing crackdown on abortion services in Kansas is truly appalling. Already women are wondering whether
a coat hanger or illegally obtained drugs are in their future if they become pregnant unexpectedly or against their
will.
If I had not had safe and legal access to abortion in 1983 I would absolutely, definitely have chosen one of the
following options:
•Suicide.
•Illegal abortion by any means possible, including coat hangers or illegal drugs.
•Swallowing poison to cause abortion or miscarriage.
•Increasing my use of illegal street drugs for the same purpose.
•Inducing trauma to my abdomen to cause abortion or miscarriage if I was forced to give birth.
•Infanticide.
To take away the medically-safe option of choice from women can be a death sentence for a few, or life ruined
for most others. To deny abortion services leads to job loss, homelessness, the ending of relationships, more
children on welfare, more children and families in poverty, child abuse, child murder and infanticide.
Gov. Sam Brownback and our evangelical Legislature are making a grave mistake by cracking down on a vital
service to women, children and families.
Kathleen M. Isabell
Kansas City, Kan.
Share road with bike riders, pedestrians
In his July 17 As I See It guest column ―Kansas City has ignored walkers, bikers too long,‖ Eric Rogers points out
that automobile exhaust is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. One of the provisions in Kansas
City‘s Climate Protection Plan was to dedicate 1 percent of the public works budget to infrastructure for biking
and walking. By implementing this provision, Kansas City could move steadily forward in building these facilities.
This would be a quick, low-cost way to reduce greenhouse gases as well as traditional pollutants. Having fewer
cars on the road would be a welcome relief on days like this summer when there have been many Orange
Ozone alerts.
David Anderson
Kansas City
Codes can change
A recent article on building codes in Missouri lacked some information (6/26, A1, ―Experts challenge building
design, codes.‖
Yes, codes are a minimum. This is clearly noted within each code. Anyone can submit a proposed code change,
which is heard at a public hearing by a committee comprised of experts on the subject at hand. There is a
committee that hears only the proposed changes to the structural provisions of the code.
Because it is a public hearing, those at the hearings can provide testimony for or in opposition to the proposed
change. After public testimony, the committee votes on the change.
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After the committee hearing, the proposed change is voted on by the governmental agency members of the
International Code Council. These agencies are comprised of individuals who enforce the provisions of the code,
therefore having the final say in whether the proposed change is approved.
The 2012 International Building Code has changed the wind loads for this part of the country from 90 mph to
vary between 105 and 120 mph, dependent upon the risk category of the structure. The 2012 IBC does not
require storm shelters, but it does reference design standards.
Eirene Oliphant
Olathe
Broken promises
I did not put out any flags this year. I have been angry at the ―leaders‖ of our federal government.
Candidate Barack Obama promised change and leadership. We have seen little of either. Instead he is crippled
by the disease of politics. He waffles indecisively and won‘t fight for his beliefs.
Members of Congress are so hidebound to their constituencies and their mantras that they are totally gridlocked.
They are willing to gamble their dogmas against a looming default on the federal debt.
The Supreme Court is willing to let elections be determined by the wealthiest corporations.
Perhaps I should have put the flags out and focused rather on military heroes alive or deceased, tireless postal
carriers, the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security who protect our country and the countless federal employees who
do their jobs well.
But as Harry Truman said, the buck stops here — meaning at the top.
Byron A. Stewart Jr.
Independence
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Letters | Sunday, July 24
Kansas City Star

Obama sidesteps people
The Wall Street Journal has stated that President Barack Obama has an ―untouchable‖ list, which includes his
health-care reform, his $128 billion unspent stimulus funds, education and training outlays, his $53 billion high-
speed rail proposal, spending on ―green‖ jobs and student loans.
The president has stated seniors may not get their Social Security checks if the Republicans deny his deficit
ceiling. I guess he cares less for the people of this country than for what the future will state about his ―great‖
social programs.
Gerald Magnenat
Stilwell
Obama’s budget sham
The president and the lamestream media are telling us what might not be paid if the government‘s debt ceiling is
not raised $4 trillion. That is the wrong answer to a question that no one is asking.
The federal government takes in about $220 billion every month. If the debt ceiling isn‘t raised and the president
is not planning on paying our debt obligations, Social Security, Medicaid or our military personnel, where will the
$220 billion go?
What‘s more important? This is the important question that is not being asked or answered.
Bob Gough
Lee’s Summit
Helping children heal
When reading the letters defending and pleading for forgiveness for Bishop Robert Finn, I couldn‘t help but
wonder where the writers‘ concerns should be placed. They all project tolerance and forgiveness. This must be
because they don‘t want to rock their own faith by not believing in such a holy man.
Wake up. You should side with our Lord and care to protect the children and help them heal.
Anne Gleeson
O’Fallon, Mo.
Reich column
Robert Reich‘s excellent July 20 column, ―Big government makes sense once understood,‖ merits my affirmation
100 percent. He sanctions big government, and so do I. A massive government is required to govern the people
of this land.
He comments, ―Over 44 percent of Social Security recipients say they ‗have not used a government social
program.‘‖ I am currently a Social Security recipient and I was a recipient of the G.I. Bill of Rights program when I
was a young buck preparing myself for the job market.
I am reminded of the critique of President Bill Clinton‘s first State of the Union Address in January 1993. As I
recall it, an interviewer asked Dick Armey and Ted Kennedy what they thought of Clinton‘s speech. Armey
replied that it was one of the worst speeches he had ever heard. Kennedy replied that he heard a different
speech than Armey heard, because he thought it was very good. The interviewer asked Armey whether he
favored the minimum wage. Armey replied, ―Of course not. I‘m in favor of everyone having jobs.‖ The interviewer
turned to the camera and laughed.
George Krewson
Kansas City
Cooperation needed
President Barack Obama says there may not be enough money to issue Social Security checks if the debt limit
isn‘t raised by Aug. 2. How can that be? All he has to do is go to the famous Social Security ―lockbox‖ and get
the money he needs.
But wait — there isn‘t anything in it but a bunch of worthless government IOUs.
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It‘s time for both parties to behave like responsible adults instead of spoiled brats. Stop pandering to party
extremists, both left and right.
Quit posturing for re-election. Do what‘s right for America. We need spending cuts, starting with things that aren‘t
even federal government responsibilities (such as public radio).
And we need tax increases, but not only on the rich — on all of us. After all, the George W. Bush tax cuts
lowered the 15 percent rate to 10 percent for everyone who pays taxes, so we all got something.
Raise the ceiling now but only a little. Then get to work on real change in spending and taxes, not after the 2012
elections, but this year.
Jeffrey Missman
Kansas City
Immigration reform
Missouri, Kansas and the federal government are considering making the E-Verify program mandatory so that
undocumented workers are not hired. Currently, only a small percentage of U.S. employers use E-Verify.
Making it mandatory will overwhelm a flawed system, driving undocumented workers into the cash economy,
causing the government to lose the taxes paid by immigrants now. In addition, the burden on employers will be
substantial.
It is a burdensome and flawed administrative requirement. Two of the raids by immigration in recent years on
poultry plants owned by Swift & Co. and George‘s Inc., involved employers who used E-Verify — and yet they
had numerous undocumented workers.
A better solution would be for Congress to provide temporary legal status for workers who have been in the U.S.
for five years, who have paid taxes on work performed, and who are non-criminals. Those workers could then be
placed in the visa line so that they are not cutting in front of others who have done it legally.
While Congress is at it, increase the number of immigrant visas so that the lines are not so long. These are steps
that can help America‘s economy, increase safety and keep families together.
Angela Ferguson
Raytown
‘Untouchable’ loopholes
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went on record saying that closing the tax loophole for corporate jets would
only save about $2 billion and he is against it. He considered it a meager amount.
Many programs are being cut that when added up don‘t equal the $2 billion in savings from this one loophole. A
job retraining program that can actually create jobs was recently cut by $2 billion. Apparently Cantor thinks not
closing the tax loophole on corporate jets is more beneficial to the country than trying to create jobs.
Sadly, this is one of the items brought up in the budget talks that resulted in Cantor walking out. Another was
changing the tax structure for hedge fund managers. Instead of being taxed at the capital gains rate of 15
percent, they would be subjected to an earnings tax, just like everyone else who draws a paycheck.
These are just two examples that can add revenue but because they are classified as tax increases they can‘t be
considered. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being cut from programs that target the poor such as food
programs — but don‘t touch tax breaks for corporate jets.
Karen Lane
Overland Park
Haunting U.S. debt
I heard Rush Limbaugh talk about how great Ronald Reagan was as president. However, Limbaugh failed to
include that President Reagan increased the national debt from about $800 billion to $2.7 trillion. The wealthy
got very big tax cuts.
The Republican presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush continued with tax cuts. Bush took the
national debt into the trillions of dollars.
Thanks a lot, President Reagan, for leading this country into significant debt — the debt that haunts us today.
Richard Huff
Overland Park
Help Humane Society
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Calling all animal lovers. I‘m writing on behalf of the HELP Humane Society in Belton, a home to more than 300
cats and a half-a-dozen dogs. HELP is a unique animal shelter.
It is truly a no-kill, almost cage-free haven for many of the area‘s homeless pets and has taken in many animals
that other shelters deemed too old, sick or behaviorally challenged to be given a chance at life. When they
arrive, HELP‘s director, Cyndi, promises them they will never be alone or suffer again. They will always be safe
and loved.
However, because of financial strains, many of these precious lives are in jeopardy of being sent back to kill
shelters.
Please help Cyndi keep her promise to these innocent creatures by becoming a shelter buddy. By donating just
$10 a month, you can sponsor an animal at HELP and ensure it lives a long, happy life.
I know times are tough, but just $10 a month could be the difference between life and death for many of these
animals. If you would like to be a shelter buddy, visit www.helphumane.org or call 816-318-HELP (4357).
We need 1,758 more by the end of September. Please help HELP.
Elizabeth Hermes
Raymore
Jeb Bush for president
Can America afford to make this kind of a mistake in a presidential election? Former Florida governor Jeb Bush
has ruled out running in 2012, as he also did in 2008, because of his brother‘s low approval rating. This was
because of the constant slanderous efforts from the left to destroy George W. Bush‘s legacy in order to regain
power
This mobbing was wrong. Bush is an ethical man who through two terms remained a fine role model for our
youth.
Our financial quagmire was brought about and is escalating because of uncertainty. Imagine Jeb Bush in the
White House today. He would replace this with certainty, and prosperity would soon follow.
Even though Jeb Bush says he would not rule out a run for the presidential office after 2012, he said, ―I haven‘t
ruled out being on ‗American Idol‘ either.‖
James F. Westhues
Overland Park
Ensure women’s safety
Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life, please explain to me how outlawing abortion through
regulation of medical facilities that provide a safe abortion ensures the safety of women in Kansas. How do you
ensure that back alley abortions will be safer?
Whether you agree or disagree with the decision in Roe v. Wade, it is still the law of the land and to suggest that
women will be ―safer‖ by getting abortions in back alleys or by coat hangers is beyond my understanding.
Please at least be honest about your motives — that a fetus is more valuable to you and your organization than
is a grown woman.
I, too, wish we didn‘t have abortions, but I prefer a legal procedure over its predecessors — back alley and coat
hanger abortions.
Michele Manne Snyder
Olathe
Dragging Kansas backward
As big-government Kansas Republicans continue to drag the state backward with their latest attempt to legislate
women‘s reproductive rights by forcing unreasonable restrictions on groups like Planned Parenthood, one can‘t
help but see the hypocrisy being displayed.
The party of less government and cost cutting is displaying its true colors by spending the state‘s precious tax
dollars to harass legal businesses and push their intrusive personal agenda on legitimate health care providers.
I propose that any money being spent and lost by the state of Kansas because of pending lawsuits and phony
state inspections should come out of the pockets of these agenda-driven legislators and not from my tax dollars.
Scott Kesterson
Overland Park
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Don’t leave children, pets in vehicles
To the dear dad who left his 6-year-old red haired-boy in the car, thank you. Last Sunday, I left the Brookside
Market to find your son alone in your car in 93-degree heat.
It took 20 minutes for my adult daughter, two assistant managers, a security guard from the store and me to find
you.
From this experience, I learned invaluable lessons. People should immediately call 911 if they find a child alone
in a car. At this temperature, it was 133 degrees in your car, with the windows cracked and no air.
Kansas City Police Capt. James Thomas explained the Missouri law on endangering the welfare of a child.
Because this dad was unaware of endangering his child, other parents might not understand this is a law to
protect the safety and well being of children.
I want everyone to know it is against the law to leave your child or pet alone in the car.
Fact: It is 40 degrees hotter in the car than outside of it. Fact: 50 children left alone in cars died last year, and
other children were kidnapped.
Let‘s abide by the law and do the right thing. Together we will keep all children safe and alive.
Peggy Mulvihll
Kansas City
Highway department praise
I just want to say how much I appreciate what the Missouri Department of Transportation did when workers put
up the orange barrel man on Interstate 70 heading west before the Blue Ridge Boulevard exit. He‘s pointing out
a closed left lane ahead.
That really got my attention in a good way. Thanks guys. It was quite inventive — and cute.
Eve Eighmy
Independence
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Letters | Monday, July 25
Kansas City Star

Hidden marital benefits
Congratulations to New York on the passage of the Marriage Equality Act. One day I may want to marry my
boyfriend of three years. If I do soon, I won‘t be doing it in Kansas or Missouri because it is not allowed.
Instead, he and I will travel to a far-away state. In celebration, we will go out to an expensive restaurant. We both
will rent tuxedos and maybe even rent a car and hotel for a few nights.
Our friends and family will join us, and they will spend money, too. In the end, we will have contributed countless
dollars to out-of-town businesses that could have gone to Kansas City area businesses instead.
Upon returning to Kansas, our marriage will not be recognized. Out of frustration and in protest, we might choose
to move to a state where our marriage is observed.
We‘ll get jobs, buy a house and live the rest of our lives there enjoying the American dream. Our talents will no
longer benefit local companies. We will begin paying taxes to a new community.
Same-sex marriage is good for business. Why don‘t some of my conservative friends in government understand
that?
Michael Olsen
Merriam
Hendricks column
The media and others have taken up the Hyatt memorial cause to promote an $800,000 art project to
commemorate the skywalks collapse on July 17, 1981, which killed 114. The gist of Mike Hendricks‘ July 20
column, ―Ponying up for Hyatt memorial,‖ is to shame people who haven‘t given to the project and to persuade
us that the memorial is a worthy pursuit.
Hendricks is entitled to his civic callings and has decided to get on board the memorial bandwagon. However,
there is another way to look at the project.
First, the victims‘ families were awarded millions of dollars. Second, the victims‘ families also received life
insurance payouts. Third, the attorneys representing the victims‘ families received monetary awards.
Where did this money go? Why wasn‘t it used for building a memorial?
Thirty years after the tragedy, the families are asking for donations to build a memorial. Wouldn‘t the millions of
dollars received by the lawyers and victims‘ families pay for the memorial?
The recipients of monetary awards in the skywalks collapse had more pressing needs for their money, and now
they want us to pony up. It all looks like hypocrisy to me.
John Boyer
Leavenworth
Empty mall promises
Mission Center was failing to thrive.
―Tear it down, make it more alive!‖
And so it happened one fine day
Mission Center went away.
Great things were promised of what was to be.
Signs were posted for all to see.
Years have slipped by and nothing‘s been done
Promises broken one by one!
The signs are faded and can no longer be read.
All that remains is a large bed of weeds. An eyesore for sure.
So now as people pass through Mission,
It looks as though we lack ambition.
Perhaps in place of a grandiose plan
Try grass and flowers and a yardman.
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Rosemary Pappert
Roeland Park
Schofield column
Matt Schofield‘s July 10 article, ―Two decades later, Kansans deserve mercy,‖ has at least one correct
statement: As we pro-lifers knew, Dr. George Tiller was ―killing babies.‖ Women with a fellow human being, a live
baby in their uterus, entered the clinic, and when they left, the baby was dead. I think this is the same as any
other form of murder.
It is difficult to understand why this is not clear to any thinking person.
James B. Pretz, M.D.
Kansas City, Kan.
Pro football for all?
The pro football season was endangered by a fight over the incredible profits from television, a lockout and a
strike.
The players demanded a larger piece of the action. They have wonderful contracts, but are risking their health
and facing short careers. In spite of huge profits, the owners always want more. So the two sides were at
loggerheads.
We fans are not surprised. Football has become a rich man‘s game with an incredible cost to attend. Yet the
seats sold are a small part of the total revenue.
Here‘s a thought: Take the money in contention and use it to make football better by being open to all. Lower
ticket prices, and fans will clamor to buy them.
Any future strike that takes a season away will have the opposite effect. Ask baseball. It is doing better, but still
is recovering from the strike when we lost the World Series — and with it, fan loyalty.
Fred Slough
Kansas City
Tea party death panels
State and national lawmakers continue to nag about reducing deficits by cutting so-called entitlement programs
that help the poor, the elderly and students.
In the same breath, these same legislators continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, stating
that these breaks will benefit the job market. So far, no job market benefit has made a fingernail dent in our
crashing economy from these entitlements.
My question is why are these legislators so adamant about continuously padding the pockets of the uber-wealthy
and mega-corporations while literally taking food, health care and child care away from the most vulnerable in
our society? Is this what is meant by the ―death panels?‖
Rosemarie Woods
Kansas City
Reich column
The arguments in favor of big government articulated by former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich in his July 20
column ―Big government makes sense once understood‖ unwittingly make the opposite case.
He writes that ―most of what government does that helps average people is now so deeply woven into the thread
of daily life that it‘s no longer recognizable as government.‖
The insidious effect of such mindless dependence on government to provide daily assistance is that it
undermines the self-reliance and self-determination that made the U.S. the world‘s most prolific economy.
Reich quotes alarming statistics, like 43 percent of unemployment insurance beneficiaries and 44 percent of
Social Security recipients saying they have not used a government social program. How many pull the voting
lever with no understanding of the consequence or cost?
We have been on this slippery slope a long time. Let‘s support elected officials who will put us on solid ground
with smaller, accountable government that promotes personal achievement.
Joe Gravino
Overland Park
Obama and Carter
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Shortly before the presidential election in 2008, I predicted that if elected, Barack Obama, like Jimmy Carter,
would turn out to be a one-term president.
I noticed an eerie similarity in the style of both men in their campaigns.
In retrospect, they not only were unable to solve the problems that they inherited from previous administrations,
but they were responsible for creating new ones.
I am 91 years old and have voted in 14 presidential elections. When Obama promised the American people
―change‖ without specifying the kind of change he had in mind, I immediately became suspicious of his motives.
Carter was unable to cope with the serious inflation during his administration and was tied in a knot by Iran for
444 days in a hostage crisis.
In a like manner, Obama has been unable or unwilling to tackle our serious unemployment problem, the illegal
immigration problem and a host of other problems, not to mention his Obamacare health package, which may
even turn out to be unconstitutional.
I just hope that the American electorate will be wiser and saner in 2012.
Andrew Reiz
Leawood
Obama’s re-election
Recently there have been political polls with some people saying they were not sure President Barack Obama
deserves to be re-elected.
I have a question for them: Who else is there? Who else is qualified? Certainly no Republicans are. All they can
do is complain and make smart sarcastic remarks.
We do not need Republicans in the majority anymore. Their goal is to destroy any program good for the people
and replace it with what? We cannot allow them to destroy Social Security, Medicare or other social programs.
I urge all voters to get behind the president and help him wherever we can. Democrats must come out 100
percent for Obama next year.
Make sure your voter ID is good, and check your neighbors‘ and friends‘. We must be ready for this election.
Joe Spielbusch
Independence
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