Monday, December 31, 2007

Edwards Leads Latest Poll in Iowa


Here's what I know about polls in Iowa - they don't count for much. Nevertheless, if your candidate is in the lead, your shout it from the mountain top. Here's the latest poll from McClatchy/MSNBC:



Edwards 24%
Clinton 23%
Obama 22%
Richardson 12%
Biden 8%
Dodd 2%
Kucinich 1%
Gravel >1%
Undecided 8%

For an interesting read on how Edwards has spent the last four years securing rural caucus votes, check out Newsweek's Edwards: A Sleeper Candidate?

For months, Edwards has been rounding up support in the state's rural precincts where the front runners have paid less attention. While Obama and Clinton have drawn crowds in the thousands in places like Des Moines and Ames, Edwards has been winning over people in tiny towns like Sac City (population: 2,189). Even if he loses to Obama and Clinton in the state's bigger cities, he hopes he can still win by wrapping up smaller, far-flung precincts that other candidates have ignored. "The bulk of our support is in small and medium counties," says Jennifer O'Malley, Edwards's Iowa state director. O'Malley says Edwards has visited all 99 counties in the state; the campaign has so far trained captains covering 90 percent of all 1,781 precincts. Rural voters are sometimes reluctant to caucus, so the campaign has been enlisting respected community leaders to encourage first-timers to get past their apathy or fear.

One thing you can bank on, Iowa will give both the Republicans and Democrats a surprise. My uneducated, out of touch, biased predication - the first vote in the urban caucus meetings will go like the poll above. Rural voters are all sporting a "Hogs for Edwards" bumper sticker due to Edwards opposition to corporate pig farms, so the rural caucus numbers will be big for John. Since you have to have 15% of the vote to survive to round II (which Richardson and Biden won't get), the Richardson/Biden votes will split between Edwards and Obama because these voters want big change. Edwards wins Iowa, Obama a close 2nd, Hillary is 3rd.

Kline for Jo Co Judge


Think that the folks running the Johnson County, Kansas Republican Party went too far by putting Phil Kline in as prosecutor, wait till they make him a judge!

Yesterday's KC Star had an informative article by Diane Carroll on attempts in Kansas by the same extreme conservatives who gave Johnson County Phil Kline as prosecutor to rid the state of nonpartisan judges.

In Kansas, voters elect judges in 14 of the state’s 32 judicial districts. In the 18 other districts, including the 10th Judicial District of Johnson County, judges are appointed by the governor after input from lawyers and citizens. The judges face a retention vote every four years.

Tim Golba of Lenexa led the petition drive to place the judicial issue on the ballot, as well as the one that seated a grand jury to investigate Planned Parenthood. He said he wants judges who are fair. But he also thinks judges should share their views on issues such as abortion and school finance and be held accountable to the public.


So instead of nonpartisan judges, the anti-abortion crowd wants judges to preview their judicial opinions. Screw the facts of the case, who cares about applying controlling law - tell us how you will rule and we will elect you passed on that. Who cares if it violates the ethics rules for judges.

Thankfully, there is some intelligent opposition that points out there is not a single decision by single Jo Co judge that merits dismantling a successful nonpartisan plan.

Attorney Greg Musil, who leads a citizens group formed to oppose the measure, called Johnson Countians for Justice, said switching to elections might sound good at first blush. But once people understand that the motivation behind it is to fill the courts with conservative judges, they might feel differently, he said.

Musil said he has asked ballot proponents numerous times to point to one outrageous decision made in the last 20 years by any one of Johnson County’s 23 district court judges, four of whom serve in the more limited role of magistrate judges.

“To date, I’ve not heard one from anybody,” Musil said.


Attacks on the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan - whether it is in Kansas or Missouri - are designed solely to get partisan hacks with agendas on the bench. Let's hope that Johnson County voters beat this initiative into the ground like they did Kline's attorney general campaign.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Funk Open for Pot Shots


Don't just take cheap shots on a blog at our mayor, do it in person! Here's an exciting press release. The questions are which town hall meeting will require security and will he be bringing his wife(y) and will he do one on the West side?

Mayor Mark Funkhouser will hold two town hall meetings in January. The hour-long town hall meetings begin with a 15-minute introductory address followed by 45 minutes of questions and comments from the audience.

Wednesday, January 16 at 6 p.m.
1709 Highland
Hosts: Memorial Missionary Baptist Church

Wednesday, January 30 at 6 p.m.
14 West 10th St.
Central Library 5th Floor Auditorium
Hosts: Downtown Neighborhood Association

If you are interested in hosting a Town Hall Meeting, please contact Crispin Rea in the Mayor's office: 816-513-3503, or crispin_rea@kcmo.org.


You do have to tip your hat to Funk for having the spine to show up and take the spanking that he knows is coming.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

KC Star Praises Mike Sanders


In the feel good political article of the year, the KC Star simply praises County Executive Mike Sanders.

While pointing out a few bumps with the firefighters union, the article notes that Mike has developed excellent working relationships with members of the Jackson County legislature. Balancing the budget, lots of communication and open government is what the county government has been about this last year.

After years of discord, the County Legislature and the county administration got along in 2007 — which may be the most notable achievement of County Executive Mike Sanders’ first year in office.
...
Sanders made some tough decisions in 2007, not all of them well-received. He is most proud of bringing spending in line with revenue, although he slashed 142 jobs and took heat for backing tax support for agencies outside county government. But Sanders has quietly ushered in a new era, said Legislator Dennis Waits.


Congrats to Mike on this great article

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Religious Right Tears Apart Republican Party via Huckabee


The Buzz on A2 of the KC Star had this little tid bit:

Arianna Huffington writes that Huckabee's poll surge is partly the result of decades of Republicans capitalising on evangelical voters as "just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns.

"But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP's Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles, fled the lab, and is currently leading in Iowa. And the party doesn't know what to do."


In Missouri we are all too familiar with the religious right's hold on the Republican party. Right here in Jackson County we see Senator Matt Bartle attacking on Warren Erdman (former chief of staff to Senator Kit Bond) for an appointment to the board of curators because of right to life issues. We see Sen. Chris Koster quiting the Republican party based, in part, on the stem cell issue. We also see the far right's favorite political consultant, Jeff Roe, being retained by Huckabee to push him on his blog, The Source. It should also be noted that the religious right - who is already disenchanted with Gov. Matt Blunt - can't be happy with Blunt backing Mitt Romney. There are too many examples of the religious right dictating Republican policy to even mention.

The Republicans have a problem here in Missouri. Folks are tired of Jeff Roe attacks. They are sick of extreme candidates. In Missouri, swing voters decide every election and suburban women ain't going to vote for a Huckabee. Here's hoping Huckabee gets the nod.

Monday, December 24, 2007

God Bless the Family Farm


It is Christmas Eve and it will be a white Christmas. One of the small highlights is making cookies with my kids. We needed eggs, so we use Campo Lindo eggs, with the little note tucked inside.

Good day from Campo Lindo Farms,

Old man winter sure is coming in with a bang, isn't he?! Since we're just a little north of Kansas City, we really got a lot of ice last week and it certainly made some chores more challenging! Imagine carrying around a crate with 360 eggs while walking on slippery ice. Amazingly enough, we've only had one incident (so far) of slipping on the ice and breaking several eggs. Believe me, the only one smiling when that happens is Michel Angelo, our barn cat, who gets to clean up the mess. Thanks for supporting a local, very sparkly because of the ice, family farm.

Carol, Jay, Brando & Isabel.



Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Koster Receives National Attention: New Republic Magazine


Our little attorney general race is catching national media play. Below is a very informative article from the New Republic on Chris Koster.

Meet the moderate who proves the GOP is losing the heartland.

"As much as we would all like to believe the General Assembly is a 'Mr. Smith' kind of entity, the reality is that these institutions are far more like a tug of war," says State Senator Chris Koster, as we sit over coffee at the Courtyard Exchange. "If you are going to go down there, you have to get on one side of the rope or the other, and I realized I was on the wrong side of the rope."

Koster was elected a state senator in 2004 as part of a swing to the Republican Party in Missouri. The Show-Me State, once considered the archetypal swing state, seemed to be going Republican, with the GOP taking the governorship and both houses of the General Assembly. Koster quickly rose to become the chairman of the Republican caucus and the vice-chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and was widely thought to be the Republican choice to succeed Democrat Jay Nixon as attorney general in 2008. But on August 1 this year, Koster suddenly announced that he was switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party; he is now trying to win the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

Koster's defection comes on the heels of party switches last year by prominent Republicans in neighboring Kansas. Like Kansas Attorney General and former Republican Paul Morrison, Koster is a self-identified moderate who found himself at odds with what he calls the "religious extremism" in the Republican party. His defection is further evidence that in the Midwest, Democrats, once seen as left-wing extremists, are beginning to capture the coveted center. They are the party to whom "moderates" have begun to gravitate.

Koster, 43, is a red-haired and lanky former prosecutor with a deep baritone and a commanding presence. He's not the kind of person one would want to face in a courtroom, though he is still learning the skills of talking to political reporters. He repeatedly prefaces his sentences with the telling adverb "candidly," as if to suggest that he is about to reveal dark secrets.

After graduating from the University of Missouri and its law school, Chris Koster landed a job in the office of Republican state attorney general Bill Webster. "Candidly, that is how I ended up a Republican," he says. While in Jefferson City, Koster became friendly with lawyer and later judge Barbara Crancer, the sister of Teamster President Jim Hoffa. In 1994, when Koster ran for public prosecutor in Cass County, he won partly on the strength of an endorsement from the Teamsters Union's powerful Local 41. Koster was a very successful prosecutor--working with Paul Morrison, who was then a prosecutor in Kansas's neighboring Johnson County, to convict serial killer John E. Robinson.

When the Democratic State Senator retired in 2004, Koster ran for the seat, winning on the strength of his record as public prosecutor and the support of organized labor. In Cass County, which had been Democratic since the Civil War, he became the first Republican to hold that office in over fifty years.

But Koster was by no means the kind of conservative Republican that has reigned in Washington since 1994. Instead, he was the kind of Republican once very common in the Midwest: pro-business, but also friendly to labor; nominally conservative, but not pious or punitive on social issues. Think, for instance, of retiring Ohio congressman Ralph Regula or former Illinois Governor James Thompson or current Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter.

While backing Republican tax and spending proposals, Koster broke with colleagues who opposed increases in the minimum wage and were seeking to repeal the legislation that provided prevailing wage agreements. Koster, who, with the state senate only a part-time gig, took a job with a Kansas City law firm specializing in personal injury suits, also opposed Republican efforts to reduce awards for workers' compensation and to protect insurance companies from lawsuits. But his disagreement over these issues wasn't what finally convinced Koster to switch parties. It was the debate over stem cell research that consumed Missouri Republicans after the 2004 election.

With the Republicans in charge of the governor's mansion and of both houses of the General Assembly in the wake of the '04 election, Senate Republicans, prodded by Missouri Right To Life, introduced a bill that would have made it a felony to engage in basic kinds of stem-cell research. Koster, by his own admission, was "very close to the issue." His father, who died at age 58, had suffered from diabetes, one of the diseases for which stem cell research may develop a treatment, and had lost his eyesight in his last years. Even today, Koster chokes up when talking of his father's early death. Koster was also worried about the growing reluctance of the multi-billion dollar Kansas City-based Stowers Institute to invest in medical research in the state because of the hostility toward stem cell research.

Koster, breaking with many of his fellow Republicans, led the opposition to the anti-stem cell bill, and with Democratic support, was able to kill it. Then in the 2006 election, Koster was the only Republican State Senator to back Amendment Two, which allowed any kind of stem cell research in Missouri that was legal under federal law. But the controversy didn't end with the passage of Amendment Two. This year, Koster has fought attempts by his fellow Republicans to put an amendment on the ballot in 2008 that would repeal it. "In 2007," Koster said in his August 1 statement, "the issue of stem cell research has clearly divided along partisan lines. The Republican Party is against embryonic stem cell research. The Democratic Party is in favor of the research. I choose to fight alongside those with whom I agree."

Koster had initially planned to run for attorney general as a Republican, but he recognized that he would face the determined opposition of Missouri Right-to-Life, perhaps the most powerful interest group in the Missouri Republican Party. Political advisers told him that if he wanted to win the Republican nomination, he would have to stop talking about stem cell research. That was clearly a factor in his decision to switch parties. He was inspired, too, by the example of Morrison, in Kansas, who had switched parties to run for attorney general. "Candidly, you know the fact that Paul jumped first and that he and I were the same kind of centrist politicians, gave me a comfort level."

But there is a difference between Morrison and Koster. As I found when I interviewed him in Topeka, Morrison is above all a lawman. He doesn't like to discuss anything that impinges on political ideology. But Koster is much more of a politician, and in the months after he has made the switch, Koster--no longer constrained by his desire to rise within Republican ranks--has become a full-fledged Democrat. He talks about being "progressive" rather than "conservative." Koster, following the lead of many scientists, reserves judgment on whether the new method of creating stem cells from skin cells will work on human cells, but he acknowledges that by the fall of 2008, stem cell research may no longer be an issue in Missouri. He touts his support for worker rights and the minimum wage and for an independent judiciary--against a proposal by the state's Republicans to replace the non-partisan method of choosing judges. He has won the endorsement of the Teamsters and the Building Trades and is receiving financial support from the state's trial lawyers, who see him as one of their own.

Much of the changes in Koster's views are subtle, demonstrating how in the face of the Republican shift to the far right, moderate Republicans can easily become moderate Democrats. When he ran for state senate in 2004, Koster, who is Catholic, described himself as "pro-life." But in explaining what that means, he told the Kansas City Star that he "would limit abortion to the boundaries set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court." When he arrived in Jefferson City, he says, he discovered that "the term 'pro-life' means something different inside the Capitol than outside. There are a lot of Catholics who would say they are pro-life, but if they were asked whether they would criminalize abortion, they would say they wouldn't go that far. In the assembly, [pro-life] means you would criminalize." Accordingly, Koster the Democrat now describes himself as "pro-choice," but his views on abortion have not changed. He supports Roe v. Wade, but would also support "some common sense restrictions," including parental consent.

Koster could very well lose the Democratic nomination. Missouri is not Kansas, where Morrison, after he switched parties, had an easy path to the nomination. Missouri has always had a competitive Democratic party. Koster has two serious challengers who, among other things, are trying to brand him as an opportunist and to tie his views to those of a wealthy Republican who has contributed to his campaign. That might work in the Democratic primary, even though Koster would make a formidable general election candidate. But regardless of the outcome, Koster's defection is a blow to a Republican party in Missouri that had once counted him among its leading lights--and another nail in the coffin of Karl Rove's long-term dreams of a Republican realignment in America's heartland.

John B. Judis is a senior editor at The New Republic and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Missouri Plan - just the Honest Truth

The Missouri Non Partisan Court Plan is frequently attacked by some on the far right wing. One of the best summaries of the plan can be found at Gone Mild in a post entitled: The Complete Honest Truth About the Missouri Plan

Jeff Roe Backs Huckabee, with Rep. Yates


OK, call me a conspiracy theorist.

Here's a post by Steve Kraske on Buzz Blog:

The Mike Huckabee bandwagon appears to be racing through Missouri.

On Monday, Missouri backers of Huckabee are set to announce endorsements from 27 state lawmakers. Among them are a slew of Kansas City-area Republicans, including state Sen. Matt Bartle of Lee’s Summit and state Reps. Brian Baker of Belton, Will Kraus of Raytown, Brian Yates of Lee’s Summit and Bob Nance of Excelsior Springs.

Those endorsements, his supporters say, will give the former Arkansas governor the endorsement lead in Missouri. In second place, the Hucksters say, is Rudy Giuliani with 13 legislative endorsements.

Many of those Missourians will invade Iowa for the final two weeks of the campaign. At the helm of Huckabee’s Missouri campaign: Jeff Roe of Axiom Strategies in Kansas City
.


In a sign of what may be coming down the road when State Senator Matt Bartle is term limited out in 3 years, Jeff Roe and Rep. Brian Yates seem to be on the same team. That leaves Rep. Bryan Pratt out in the cold. Recall that both Rep. Pratt and Yates work at the same law firm and enjoyed some joint publicity in an article entitled "Devil's Advocates; Two Shook Hardy lawyers continue the firm's dark legacy."

Like him or love him, Sen. Bartle has the Eastern Jackson County Republican primary voters on his team. Bartle's endorsement will mean a lot. Those Eastern Jackson County Republican primary voters like Sen. Bartle and Gov. Huckabee. I bet Rep. Yates has already hired Jeff Roe and that he wins the Republican primary.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Corporate v. Family Farm


The fine folks over at Gone Mild had an interesting post - "Koster the Imposter Brought Home the Bacon." The post discussed corporate pig farming (CAFO's).

Some of the comments discussed local farms, in particular Campo Lindo. I am big fans of their eggs, and chickens. Why buy their eggs, which are expensive (even without the costly antibiotics)? Because every carton of eggs includes a note from the people who own the farm. On this Sunday, when snow covers the ground, the little note I discovered in my egg carton made me feel warm.

Hello from Campo Lindo Farms,

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they had been told that we are currently getting eggs from other people and selling them in our cartons. I just want to let you all know that we do not do that. "Our ladies" are the only ones doing the work for us, hence the recent shortages. Our young layers are finally getting with the program, so hopefully we'll be in good shape in time for Christmas cookies! Thanks for being patient with and supporting a local farm where "the ladies" do a lot of the work.

Carol, Jay, Brandon & Isabel

Friday, December 14, 2007

KC MO Council Revolts!


We have seen all the banter back and forth about the Funk(y), Mammy, Semler(y), police escorts to the "black side of town(y)" and IPhones(y). One of the most thoughtful responses from a member of City Council, Cindy Circo, is below:

A message from Cindy Circo
December 14, 2007
Dear Friends,

I wanted to provide you an update on the issue regarding the City Manager, Wayne Cauthen. I know many of you have called my office this week regarding this issue.

Yesterday, myself, along with eight of my colleagues on the city council, approved a new 3 ½ year contract with the City Manager. Since early summer, we have been in negotiations with the City Manager on a new contract. I was under the impression that these were good faith negotiations.

However, on Monday, when the Mayor unilaterally stated that he was not going to sponsor the ordinance to renew the city manager's contract, I was stunned. I believe the council has not sought nor want discourse with Mayor Mark Funkhouser. What I firmly believe is that the Mayor's action set a precedent for any future action of this administration and more importantly the future of Kansas City's form of government. I do not believe that the City Charter granted the Mayor the authority to act in the manner that he did. Any City Manger in Kansas City not only works at the pleasure of the Mayor but also the pleasure of the Council.

This issue is not about the Mayor. And it is not about Mr. Cauthen. It's an issue that gets at the very core of the council-manager form of government and I believe that was threatened by the Mayor's actions earlier this week. My vote was cast on behalf of the citizens of Kansas City in order to protect our charter, our form of government, and yes, our democracy.

I will encourage the Mayor and Council to continue to work together and do what is best for Kansas City. I am committed to serving you and will work hard to make Kansas City an even better place to live, work and play. We have too much at stake and we must continue to move this city forward.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if there is ever anything I can do to assist you.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Cindy


Agree or disagree with Councilwoman Circo, you have to give it to her that she is intelligent, thoughtful and right on about the need to work together to move KC ahead.

Boy Governor's Latest Plot Against Children

Hold the presses! After three years in office, the Boy Governor has just noticed that raping children is a bad thing.

Duh.

He wants to execute child rapists -- a really bad (if emotionally satisfying) idea. First of all, the death penalty is both expensive and useless as a deterrent. BUT IT GETS WORSE! If you make any crime but murder a capital offense, it provides an INCENTIVE to murder the victim, to reduce the chances of ever being charged & convicted. Eliminate the victim as witness, since you can only be executed once.

That is where the old saying "As well be hung for a sheep as a goat" comes from, Matt. It's in all the law books. Ask a lawyer -- if you can find one still talking to you. Even proposing execution for such a crime actually endangers the children we want to protect -- even if we never get around to executing anyone.

So is the Boy Governor so dumb he does not realize that he is actually endangering child victims -- or so desperate to be reelected that he does not care?

Or does the answer really matter?

President Claire McCaskill


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's blog is reporting on a great new book, "The Political Brain, the Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation."

The theory is that people vote with their hearts, not their heads. We need passion, not just an alternative to George W. Bush. To get Americans out to vote, they have to have something they are excited about. The author of the book, Drew Westen, threw in this little tid bit about Missouri's favorite Senator:

“Personally, I think if Hillary Clinton is not our first female president, my money is on Claire McCaskill, who has a wonderfully folksy way about her — along with a very sharp mind — and who manages to blend traditional femininity with the toughness of a prosecutor, in a way that allows us to activate both of our models of womanhood: the more unconscious ones that come from (most of) our experiences being raised by a woman, and our more conscious values, which are more egalitarian.”


Those of us from Jackson County already know that she is all that and more. Senator McCaskill would be a great president, whether she is the first woman president or not. Heck, she be a great choice for a VP, too. She's sitting in Truman's chair, might as well follow his path to the White House, too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Representative Nathan Cooper (R) gets 15 months in the big house


You will recall that Republican State Representative Nathan Cooper pled guilty to federal charges that he steered temporary work visa to illegal aliens for his clients in in the trucking industry. Republicans love profiting off illegal aliens!!

This blog discussed Nathan Cooper several times. You know, things like Rep. Nathan Cooper and Rep. Jerry Nolte determining that abortion is the cause of illegal immigration. KC Blue Blog was the first to call on Cooper and the Republicans to give the tainted money he raised in a single golf tournament (65,000) to charity.

Fired Up pointed out the Cooper got half the sentence recommended by the federal sentencing guidelines, passed in part of 32 letters of support that were filed under seal. Don't you wonder which Republicans went to pat for their pal? Which Republican with ties to Blunt think we should go light on an attorney who uses his political power to help corporations profit off of low wage illegal immigrants?

I think Matt Blunt, who called for openness during Supreme Court nominations, should call for openness during the sentencing of some one who supports profitable illegal immigration. Surely Blunt's buddy, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, would listen and petition the court to make the letters open.

She's Back . . .


Sen. Jolie Justus is back to blogging. Check out her blog, Fresh Meat. Her insights from session are insightful, honest and refreshing.


The Missouri Senate is much more interesting (and liberals have a much stronger voice) with Jolie in Jefferson City.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Barnes Plaza at Sprint Center


In 2003 Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes put forth a vision for a downtown arena. A public/private partnership formed among AEG, Sprint and the the National Association of Basketball Coaches resulted in Kansas City's newest landmark, Sprint Center. In recognition of Mayor Barnes efforts, the City of Kansas City and AEG have named the plaza in her honor.

The dedication ceremony is December 15th from 1:30 - 2:15. Come join is this great celebration. Congratulations Congresswoman Barnes!

New Democratic Blog


The Jackson County Democratic Committee is becoming extremely active. They have hired a new executive director, Jessica Podhola. They have also started a blog - go check it out.

http://jacksoncountydemocraticcommittee.org/blog/

Republican Poll Shows 71% of Missourians Like the Nonpartisan Court Plan


This blog spends lots of time talking about the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, mostly because it is being attacked by the radical fringe of the Republican Party, including Governor Matt Blunt, Jeff Roe and the Adam Smith Foundation. Who can blame Blunt, his ship is sinking and judges are easy to pick on. Attorney General Jay Nixon is raising just as much money as Blunt in the governor's race (now that campaign contribution limits are back in place) and Blunt's choice of Mitt Romney isn't selling well with the Religious Right in Missouri.

Public Opinion Strategies - a Republican organization - conducted the study for Justice at Stake, Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, and the Missouri Institute for Justice.

A few highlights of the poll:

Bipartisan majorities oppose many of the proposals to change the system recently floated by critics, while 73 percent of those surveyed want Missouri judges to be independent of elected officials like the Governor and state legislature.

By a ratio of more than two to one, voters believe that the Supreme Court of Missouri makes its decisions based on the state’s laws and constitution, not the personal beliefs of its seven members. Self-identified Republicans are the most likely to feel this way – 68 percent of Republicans polled feel law trumps ideology for decisions made by the state’s highest court.

Only 1 of every 50 Missouri voters see changing the way state judges are selected as a top priority for the Governor and state legislature. Voters are far more likely to cite health care, taxes and government spending, and public education as top priorities.


Don't look for the fringe to give up - until they can get thier wackos on the bench, they won't be happy. The Rule of Law is not the goal, its obtaining thier version of justice (which ain't justice for all).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Crime & Punishment; Koster gets FOP endorsement


Koster, who is running a campaign for Missouri Attorney General based on being an experienced prosecutor, picked up a key endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police.

Koster was the Cass County Prosecutor before running for Missouri Senate. Voters love police officers - “I am honored to receive the endorsement from the state’s police,” said Koster. “Law enforcement is the top job of Missouri's Attorney General and I am proud to have the support of those who know law enforcement the best.” While prosecutor, Koster made national talk shows for his work in the John Robinson case (the guy who was killing women and putting them in barrels). I'm anti-death penalty, but if a guy ever deserved it, its John Robinson. Current KS AG, then Johnson County KS prosecutor, Paul Morrison, was the first to try Robinson (securing the death penalty). Koster entered a plea that allowed Robinson to get life in prison.

Crime and Punishment - general voters love it. Congrats on this important endorsement.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Environment Takes Lead in Politics


The Democratic Party has always been the home of environmentalists. Global Warming issues have propelled Al Gore pack into the spotlight with his Nobel Prize. The Sierra Club has been a constant critic of the Bush Administrations pro-oil policies. Democrats and environmentalists go hand in hand.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr recently endorsed Hillary Clinton and is spending time in Iowa. In Missouri, those involved in helping keep our world clean and safe are keenly aware of politics, not just green house gases. For example, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment recently emailed its members urging them to contact Sen. Kit Bond to help save wilderness areas of the Mark Twain Forest. The Missouri Sierra Club has opposed coal burning plants.

A key issue for all of these environmental groups is CAFO - large corporate pig farms. According to an EPA study, a CAFO with 4,000 hogs can generate as much waste as a city of 16,000 people. A Class 1A CAFO (17,500 hogs and above) can generate as much waste as the city of St. Louis. The Sierra Club opposed pro-CAFO measures in Missouri. The Missouri Farmers Union (the anti-Farm Bureau) opposed CAFOs. The Missouri Rural Crisis Center, progressive, statewide membership organization that works to empower farmers and other rural people, opposed CAFOs. A group called Concerned Citizens of Platte County opposed CAFOs. National groups such as FactoryFarm.Org are even focused on Missouri.

Here's how this becomes an issue. In Iowa, the #1 bumper sticker is "Hogs for Edwards" because John Edwards has come out strong against CAFO. The issue gets Democratic primary voters energized. In Missouri's AG race, Koster supported CAFOs, Harris and Donnelly opposed. We will see if this turns into anything or not.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bush in History

In 408 days, the Bush presidency will end. (That is, barring some wild Cheney/Rove spasm of historical exceptionalism, on a scale beyond even the Supreme Court appointment that marked the beginning of the regime.) And, we will blink in the dawn of a new era, wondering what in the hell that was about. And the Bush regime will begin to be placed into historical context.

Ironically, the proverb "History is written by the victors" has many attributions, reflecting the uncertainty and even falsity of much we accept as "history". A few more colossal military screw-ups, and our greatest President may have been recorded as the final and most inept President of the formerly United States. "What if" games can lead to all kinds of altered visions, with history's villains triumphant, and history's heroes vilified.

But the process of assessing presidents in the popular mind is far less binary. Nixon has become a paranoid, flawed master of foreign policy. Reagan is widely viewed as a dim-witted simpleton with a sunny smile who surrounded himself with corrupt thugs (though a few hold-outs still remember him as "morning in America"). Kennedy, well, heck, you can't even mention him in some circles without genuflecting, though serious study reveals a far less saintly Jack.

A common theme in presidential assessments is that truly negative views cannot hold. As Americans, we cannot stomach the thought that one of our leaders was actually a bad person. As noted above, even Nixon, who resigned when he hit the depths of disapproval to which Bush has sunk, has gained a more generous stature than anyone thought possible when he left office. At the time, he was a slimy, despicable crook, but now he has risen to a competent president with a flair for talking with the Chinese, whose fatal flaw was too much concern about being reelected.

The truth is that W needs an upgrade in reputation. The truth is, grade school students in 2050 aren't going to look at the large sheet of oval portraits, focus on Bush (he may attract attention for being the last in that consecutive string of white males) and learn what really happened. No teacher is going to stand there and say "At the turn of the Century, Democrats fell under the control of a bunch of incompetent, gutless party leaders, and the Republicans fell under the spell of the Christian right, and the voters elected Gore, but the Supreme Court preferred Bush, the war-criminal, who soon launched one understandable war and then one inexcusable, evil debacle that destroyed our country's standing in the world."

America in 2050 will not believe how bad Bush has been. We, as a country, need to believe that our path has been righteous, and always toward the light. We even gloss over the Spanish-American War these days, as a 6 month adventure in helping other countries gain their independence from Old Europe. In a few more years, the Bay of Pigs will either drop entirely out of mainstream history books, or be upgraded to a valiant effort that inspired the Cubans to hold on for another 50 years until Castro died.

My imagination fails me as to how we can remake W, though. He launched a brutal, bloody war against a country that had not attacked us and posed no threat to us, reprising the role of Hirohito. He gave us secret prisons and people "disappearing", ripping a page out of what we had thought was Stalin's playbook. He made us torturers, and rendered the Geneva Conventions "quaint", drawing from the Pol Pot genre. He accepted a presidency that wasn't his to accept, in the best tradition of tin-horn third-world "presidents". He played guitar while New Orleans drowned, like a modern-era Nero. How do we cobble together an acceptable portrait out of this historical Frankenstein of ill-chosen parts?

My suspicion and hope is that Bush will be remembered in the manner of Lyndon Johnson - a kind of forgotten war-time president whose focus was on a war he couldn't win or end. We'll have to forget that, unlike Johnson, Bush started his war, and chose it with an eagerness that led him to skew intelligence. We'll have to forget a whole lot about Bush.

It's going to be a slow, painful process to forget about Bush. Forgiveness of the person, of course, is going to be beyond the ability of many of us, but fixing what he has done to us will be difficult enough that it will provide plenty of distractions.

Some will read this and complain that it's not fair that Bush will get off lightly for his misdeeds. I agree - he's a war-criminal and an uncaring leader serving the interests of the wealthy. But history has never been a fair and just narrative. It's about creating a story we can live with. America will not be able to live with the truth of George W. Bush. In 408 days, we must begin to reinvent him.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Koster - "A Man Without A Country"


Tim Hoover from the KC Star penned a very interesting article; Koster's party switch in Missouri leaves hard feelings on both sides of partisan fence.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans are happy with Chris. From all I can tell, and based upon human experience, the R's are really ticked and the D's are glad he's on our team, but open arms are not yet extended. Think of it as if the QB from your high school arch rival (in my case, Ozark), moved into your town (i.e. Republic) and challenged your QB for the starting job. You are glad he's not the QB for Ozark any more because he's really talented, but you have known your QB since 4th grade.

To carry the analogy too far, now Koster is running for Football Homecoming King in Republic. Kids from Ozark certainly don't get to vote. Heck, Nixa and Rogersville don't get to vote. That is why Dr. George Connor of Missouri State University is right - Koster is "a man without a country." Here is what you need to know about Dr. George Connor - he wears ties made out of wood. Bow wood ties; regular length wood ties. So, he's unstable which makes him a good person from which to get a quote. Second, he is an extremely tough professor who works folks so hard that they never want to go to law school (which is his stated purpose). Finally, he tried to talk my wife - the smartest, prettiest girl ever to be in the SMSU political science department - out of marrying me (but, he was not alone in that unsuccessful effort).

Hoover's article is insightful because it points out that both the Republicans and Democrats are gunning for Koster. Gov. Matt Blunt is weak because the first thing he did was kick 100,000 off Medicaid. Koster was with him. The two other D candidates (Rep. Jeff Harris and Rep. Margaret Donnelly) for Missouri AG opposed Blunt's effort. Donnelly (who has hired D political stud Richard Martin) and Harris (who has the deadly one/two/three combo of Roy Temple, Julie Gibson and Vince Currao) are going to clip Koster at every chance. Republicans in the Missouri Senate can only see their old QB lined up on the other side of the ball. The Republicans will take an unsportsman like conduct penalty for the chance to put a helmet in Koster's back.

Here's hoping this fight doesn't ruin our chance to take back the governor's seat and keep the AG in the D column. Also, when I (very poorly) played football in Republic, we didn't have those cool stripes on our helmets, which is why we were called the pumpkin heads.

Rats Abandon Sinking Ship - Herschel Resigns


The KC Star is reporting Henry Herschel, the general counsel for Gov. Matt Blunt, has followed former Chief of Staff Ed Martin out the door.

Henry Herschel presided over the Sunshine Law debacle of destroying emails, Scott Eckersley being trashed by his own party, Ed Martin making a fool of himself and the entire administration being knocked off track. I'm sure Henry will be welcomed back to Jefferson City for his deposition in Eckersley's case.

Makes perfect sense that he is exiting stage left, but do you really want a new chief of staff, a different general counsel and a bunch of strangers running around while Matt Blunt has the biggest race of his life on the line?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Court Plan Battle Looms

A battle for the survival of the Missourian Nonpartisan Court Plan is looming, according to a recent article in the Columbia Missourian.

The most direct challenge to Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan comes from the Federalist Society, a conservative activist group that is seeking signatures to put repeal of the system on the 2008 statewide ballot. Two lawmakers also say they plan to pursue changes during the next legislative session. Meanwhile, six former Supreme Court justices have created a group that seeks to protect the existing process.


If you are interested in learning more about the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan, the CCP has organized a forum on November 29th at 6:30 at the UMKC Law School Courtroom (500 E. 52nd Street). The forum is free and open to the public.

Dr. Sam Page Joins Forces with AARP


I received the following email from Representative Sam Page's campaign for Lt. Governor. Dr. Page exemplifies middle class, swing voter values in Missouri - values that have always resided in the Democratic Party. Sam's campaign will help Nixon, and every Democratic candidate in Missouri.

While our televisions fill with ads defining us as red, blue, progressive and conservative, our lives remain burdened by the high cost of health care for our families.

No matter your political stripe, Dr. Sam Page and the AARP agree: All Missourians should have access to affordable, quality health care.
Dr. Sam Page, a physician and State Representative, together with the AARP, signed the Divided We Fail pledge.

"I am committed," says Dr. Page, "to working with my colleagues across the aisle to develop and implement policies that provide all Missourians with access to quality, affordable health care. I understand that Missourians want answers, action and accountability from their elected officials -- not legislative stalemate. The time has come to address these critical national priorities. I pledge to work across party lines to sponsor or support legislation that seeks to provide every American with access to quality, affordable health care." Dr. Page is the first candidate for statewide office to sign the bipartisan pledge. To learn more about Dr. Sam Page and his bid for Missouri Lt. Governor visit SamPage.com.

To join the effort designed to engage the American people, businesses, non-profit organizations and elected officials in finding bi-partisan solutions to ensure affordable, quality health care and long-term financial security -- for everyone, go to DividedWeFail.org.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

PREDATORYLENDINGASSOCIATION.COM

Great attack. You will roll with laughter -- unless you are a payday loan lobbyist or a legislator with a payday loan contribution.

Blunt Wants It "Illegaler"

The Boy Governor, desperate to stop the hemorrhaging of his support even amoung the Repub base, is playing the Imaginary Immigration Card.

Blunt wants to make it illegal to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens.

DUH! Make that "illegaler"
.
It is already necessary to prove legal residence to get a drivers license.

Of course -- as any lawyer knows -- we would be better off if illegals could get licensed and INSURED, even if those licenses could not be used for air travel. (Anyone who thinks illegals don't drive -- and have accidents -- is, to put it Bluntly -- a fool. I guess Blunt thinks we should bear the cost of the non-insured with higher rates for ourselves. That assumes thought.)

What is really embarrassing (if they were capable of embarrassment) is the way his staff used our NONPARTISAN police department to announce this very partisan issue. The Chief obviously was surprised, and wanted to hide under a desk when this was sprung on him, but carried on with admirable professionalism.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ed Martin Resigns!

Here at Blog CCP, we pride ourselves on our quality of analysis, our wit, and our progressive values. Today, we get to be among the first in the Blogosphere to announce that Ed Martin has resigned his position with the Governor's office.

More analysis later . . .

(Somebody tell KC Blue Blog . . .)

Turkey Pardons Turkey

Today the Boy Governor became the first Mo Governor to pardon a turkey.

Seriously.

And the turkey didn't even have to contribute to the GOP.

Friday, November 16, 2007

W's new pet

Laura Bush bought "Dubyah" a parrot for his birthday.

She told Dick Cheney, "The bird is so smart! George has already taught him to mispronounce over 200 words!"

"Wow, that's pretty impressive," Cheney said."But you realize that hejust 'says' the words. He doesn't understand what they mean.

"That's okay," Laura replied. "Neither does the parrot."

(Thanks to Bob Hemenway)

Senate in Session Over Thanksgiving


One of Bush's favorite moves is to make recess appointments. Senate goes home for Spring break - someone who would never get confirmed gets a fly free pass around the Constitution. Remember Bolton? Senate wouldn't confirm, recess appointment to be the UN Ambassador, Bolton resigns under a cloud of questions.

Well, according to Roll Call, Sen. Harry Reid is keeping them in session over Thanksgiving to stop the Thanksgiving give-a-ways. Thank goodness for a Democratic majority to stop the right wing!! Happy Thanksgiving, Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Boy Governor Ruins What He Touches

Just like he wants to turn our judges into right-wing political hacks, the Boy Governor seeems to want to turn our Highway Patrol officers into his own personal thugs. What's next? Truncheons for inconvenient cameramen?

Who needs good PR when you have all those excess campaign dollars ready to go on TV?

Of course, you gotta love his chutzpah filing a complaint about violating his attorney client privilege -- like the boy who axe-murdered both his parents, and then sought mercy from the court because he was an orphan!

Like the anti-torture memos that got the assistant AG fired, good legal advice can be really, really inconvenient to those who really, really want to ignore the law.

MO Non-Partisan Court Plan - better than Michigan


Wanna know why we love the Missouri Plan - because it is better than Michigan. Michigan has partisan elections of judges (which is what Jeff Roe, the Adam Smith Foundation and Gov. Matt Blunt want).

In Michigan they are anticipating a $20 million dollar race for a single Supreme Court position (see article below). The people donating are not seeking neutral, fair justice. They donate because they want to purchase their brand of justice. Is that what we want in Missouri?

Let's think about Enterprise Rent a Car (the folks from St. Louis who opposed the Sprint Arena (and by flawed logic, Garth Brooks)). Enterprise Rent a Car is actively engaged in the Missouri legislative process. Enterprise got sued for telling an accountant to not follow IRS regulations on how to depreciate cars. Enterprise lost and did not like the ruling (Dunn v. Enterprise). So, they tried to get it overturned in the legislature (SB 168). When that didn't work, Matt Blunt appoints Don Ross, Enterprise VP, to the appellate judicial nominating commission. For those frothing at the mouth for more partisanship in the selecting of judges - be happy. Matt Blunt is doing his best to pack the judicial commission with ultra conservative agendas. If the people of Missouri vote him back into office, like they voted Ashcroft to back-to-back terms, then he can do it.

By Stuart Frohm

11/12/2007

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Clifford W. Taylor was the mystery speaker at today's Midland County Republican Party fundraising breakfast.

Diane Bristol, the county party's chairperson, said last week that a statewide candidate she couldn't announce was among the scheduled speakers.

Other speakers were the Rev. Keith Butler of Southfield, possible future member of the Republican National Committee; state Republican Chairman Saul Anuzis; Midlanders U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, state Sen. Tony Stamas and state Rep. John Moolenaar; and state Rep. Bill Caul of Mount Pleasant.

Caul announced that he will be a candidate for re-election. This term he had a mild stroke and was treated for prostate cancer. He represents the 99th District, which includes parts of Midland County and all of Isabella County. He is seeking his third consecutive two-year term -- the last House term the state's term limit would allow him.

Taylor said his own re-election is important to keep conservatives in the majority on the court, with the court's 4-3 split. He said he does not yet know who Democrats will nominate to run against him next year.

In Michigan, candidates for judicial seats appear on the ballot without party labels.

On Oct. 22, a statement from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network said Taylor and Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer both raised the possibility of a $20 million campaign next year when Taylor seeks a second full term on the court.

Taylor, a Flint native, was appointed to the court in August 1997 by then-governor John Engler to succeed Justice Dorothy Comstock Riley, who retired.

Taylor was elected in 1998 to fill the balance of Riley's term. Taylor was re-elected to a full eight-year term in 2000 and was elected chief justice by colleagues in January 2005.

Engler appointed him to the state Court of Appeals in 1992.

More on the Republican breakfast is planned for publication in a future edition of the Daily News.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blunt Pushes Journalists Around Over Secret Emails

The Blunt fiasco over super-double secret emails and the hatchet job on Andy Blunt's friend and lawyer, Scott Eckersely, continues to spiral out of control.

Some folks in the traditional media had the nerve to ask Governor Blunt if he would like to re-visit his denial that a memo existed from Scott Eckersley to Blunt staff that emails are public records that must be saved. Blunt got nervous, didn't answer the question, told his driver to leave and Blunt's security (Missouri Highway Patrol) pushed the reporter's out of the way. This ain't bloger spin, watch the video.

KC Blue Blog continues to track this story, calling for an apology by Blunt for his staff manhandling reporters. This entire ordeal is sad. Eckersley has been trashed by Ed "bunch of Mexicans" Martin and his fellow S.W. Missouri Republicans - the very guys he went to high school with. Blunt can only say Eckersley "was fired for cause." With Eckersley being forced to hire some of the top tier lawyers in the state, the Blunt administration is in for a fight that the media and Missourians will not soon forget.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blunt Wrong About Secret Emails

You all remember the flap over the destruction of emails. Blunt says he destroys them. Blunt's former attorney, Scott Eckersley, says he warned Blunt not to do it and was fired for that advice. Blunt says - not true; Eckersley was fired because he did outside legal work and that he has looking at porn at work.

Well, the AP is reporting that the memo exists from Eckersley to Blunt saying emails are public records. KC Blue Blog has done an outstanding job of keeping track of this story.

What is shocking about this administration is how fast they turn on their friends and how the truth seems to be irrelevant. Scott Eckersley was high school buddies with Andy Blunt, lobbyist extraordinaire. When Blunt didn't like Scott's legal advice, Blunt (and his chief of staff Ed "bunch of Mexicans" Martin) trashed him completely, leaked emails to media outlets and made sure the Source (Jeff Roe's blog) got the first shot at the story. Blunt says no memo exists. The AP has a copy of the memo. Someone is wrong.

Eckersley hired Republican attorney Chip Robertson (former Missouri Supreme Court judge appointed by Ashcroft) to represent him. The truth will ultimately come out and the depositions of Martin, Blunt and Eckersley will make for enjoyable reading by someone.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Some want political hacks for judges - latest proposal to gut non-partisan plan



The latest proposal to gut the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan is circulating thanks to the Federalist Society and Rep. Lembke. Here's the problem - we don't want partisans on the bench. Just because someone is close to an important politician doesn't make them qualified to be a judge. Political types shouldn't be excluded from the process, but they should have substance as a lawyer.

Judges should be neutral, they should be fair. Judges should be able to apply the law and follow precedent. Judges shouldn't owe people favors, should raise money for political campaigns. Yes, it is an ivory tower view of the world. If you are Matt Blunt, do you really want Bob Holden's best friend deciding your case? If you are Jeff Roe, do you really want a highly partisan Democrat deciding the libel suit brought against you by a Republican? No - we want a neutral place that we can all trust to decide cases of importance.

Let's pretend that the state legislature decides it is ok for the Cardinals to pay for the training of umpires, hire the umpires, and send the umpires over for the Royals game. Would they call every play wrong - no. Would we all question the impartiality and fairness over a system - yes. Would there be a Don Denkinger moment in every game - you betcha. That is what we are talking about here - every citizen and corporation should feel like the scales of justice are balanced when they walk in the door.

The St. Louis Post blog on the subject is below

Critics of Missouri Plan lay out new judicial-selection proposal

By Jo Mannies

11/08/2007 1:48 pm

Bill Placke, president of the St. Louis chapter of the Federalist Society, has kindly forwarded to us the latest version of the proposed ballot measure to revamp the state’s current judicial-selection process for the state Supreme Court, appeals court, and circuits in the St. Louis and Kansas City area.

The aim is get the Legislature to approve the measure and place it on the November 2008 ballot.

Placke emphasizes that the Federalist Society is split over the measure. Those supporting include local lawyers Tom Walsh and Sam Hais (the latter a former circuit judge, and state Rep. Jim Lembke, R-South County.

Among other things, the proposal:

–Sets time limits on judicial vacancies

–Calls for the selection panel to pick five nominees, from which the governor would choose.

– Revamps and expands the selection panel (now three lawyers elected by the lawyers of The Missouri Bar, three citizens selected by the governor, and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, who serves as chair).

The panel would be expanded to 10 members, some of whom would be picked legislative leaders:

– Two members of the Missouri Bar, appointed by the governor (one from each major party).

–Two gubernatorial appointees who “are not members of the Missouri Bar” (one from each major party).

– One person named by the state House speaker

– One person named by the House minority leader

– One person named by the state Senate president pro tem

– One named by the state Senate minority leader

– Two from the Missouri Bar, named by the attorney general (one from each major party).


As a point of clarification, every lawyer in Missouri is a member of the Missouri Bar.

Missouri House Democrats on Healthcare

By Paul LeVota

As a gubernatorial candidate Matt Blunt repeatedly promised not to cut Medicaid eligibility. One of his first acts as governor was to champion eligibility changes that resulted in 180,000 fewer Missourians, including 70,000 children, receiving health care coverage than when he took office. Ever since, Gov. Blunt has been trying to undo the damage to his re-election prospects through impressive sounding but superficial proposals that fail to undo the damage to those kicked off the health care system.

The governor’s first attempt was this year’s so-called MO HealthNet bill. Although trumpeted by the governor as a sweeping reform, its most significant changes simply renamed Missouri’s Medicaid program and the state agency that runs it. Rather than restoring health care to Missourians who need it, the bill actually imposed new bureaucratic barriers to coverage.

Heading into a gubernatorial election year, the governor now has announced his Insure Missouri proposal, which he claims would extend private health insurance coverage to 200,000 Missourians by 2010. Given the administration’s record on health care to date, the plan should be viewed with substantial skepticism.

The plan would pay for private insurance subsidies by using money currently paid to hospitals for providing emergency room care to the uninsured. Ironically, the governor added to the flood of uninsured Missourians seeking emergency room care by cutting Medicaid. Even if Insure Missouri’s optimistic coverage estimate is achieved, more than 500,000 Missourians would remain uninsured, with many continuing to rely on emergency rooms for their only access to care. Therefore it is questionable if Missouri hospitals can absorb the reduction in indigent care reimbursement over the long haul.

The shift in taxpayer-funded health care from Medicaid to private insurers also would result in a dramatic and wasteful increase in overhead. Whereas a mere 4 percent of the money spent on Medicaid goes for administrative costs, such costs account for a whopping 25 to 30 percent of premiums in the private market. Missouri could more efficiently use taxpayer money by restoring Medicaid eligibility to at least 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

The major deficiency is the proposal wouldn’t cover the sickest and most vulnerable Missourians -- children, the elderly and the disabled. And since the governor’s plan relies on providing coverage through health management organizations, it also ignores rural Missouri, where there is little HMO penetration.

House Democrats know that the best, most affordable to taxpayers and most efficient way to improve health care access in Missouri is to undo the governor’s damaging 2005 health care cuts. Shaky schemes built on uncontrollable factors and overly optimistic claims that fail to benefit the most vulnerable Missourians simply won’t hold up.

Last week House Democrats announced part of health care agenda for the 2008 legislative session. Key proposals include reversing the state’s Medicaid cuts and establishing a new Missouri Health Policy Authority. We made these announcements at a series of press conferences through out Missouri at medical facilities in Kirksville, St. Joseph, Springfield, and Scott City.

Although the state a $320 million general revenue surplus in the current budget, the governor says Missouri can’t afford to undo his damage. Yet restoring Medicaid eligibility would cost $155.8 million in general revenue – less than half of the surplus – and allow Missouri to leverage an additional $265.3 million in federal Medicaid funds that instead is going to pay for health care expansion in other states.

Ironically, the very reason we have a surplus is because the governor cut health care. You don’t leave money sitting in the bank when you have bills to pay, and right now Missouri isn’t paying its health care bills.

Streamlining a disconnected bureaucracy is another element of the health proposals in House Democrats’ Moving Missouri Forward legislative agenda for 2008. Based on similar efforts successfully implemented in Kansas, we propose establishing a Missouri Health Policy Authority to oversee and coordinate the state’s role in health care. By establishing this authority Missouri for the first time would have a team of health care professionals directing policy and ensuring efficient use of taxpayer resources.

While streamlining government’s role in health care is important, even the most efficient system is of little use if it isn’t accessible to the people who need it. Today, 180,000 fewer Missourians have access to health care than did nearly three years ago when Gov. Matt Blunt took office and enacted his devastating Medicaid cuts. The restoration of those cuts remains Priority No. 1 for House Democrats.

By reversing the governor’s health care cuts and streamlining government health care bureaucracy, House Democrats have a plan to put the state on the pathway to health coverage for all.

Paul LeVota, an Independence Democrat, is the Missouri House Democratic.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Claire Opposes Iran Backdoor War


Our US Senator, Claire McCaskill is keeping the fine traditions of Senator Harry Truman alive and well by making sure the Bush administration knows they do not have authorization to go to war in Iran. Sen Jim Webb, the Virginia Senator who served in the arm forces and whose son is in Iraq, is fighting against an Iran war, too. Below is a release detailing her efforts to prevent a back door war in Iran.

My father, a World War II veteran, instilled in me an appreciation of our armed forces, and the young men and women who have done so much to protect the freedoms we cherish. He taught me to appreciate the gravity of warfare, and that war should be pursued only when there are simply no alternatives available.

The Iraq conflict represents the unfortunate result when these principles are ignored, and I will continue to do everything in my power to force the President to change course. But Congress must be equally vigilant to ensure that new flashpoints in the Middle East do not follow the same failed course as our Iraq policy.

In particular, I have been concerned with the Bush Administration's provocative rhetoric on Iran, and I am using my seat in the United States Senate to remind the President that military action requires the express consent of Congress. I have resisted efforts to provide what I would call "backdoor" approval for military action in that country. Last month, the Senate considered an amendment that would categorize Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a "foreign terrorist organization". To me, adoption of this amendment could essentially provide approval of military action against Iran, especially by this Administration. I am also concerned that this amendment was debated without the benefit of a single hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which I am a member.

I voted against the amendment, and this month joined Senator Jim Webb and other Senate Democrats in a letter to President Bush stating, "We wish to emphasize that no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action
against Iran."

If Iraq has taught us anything, it is that we must be aggressive and vigilant in stopping President Bush and Vice President Cheney from dragging us into new military quagmires. I will continue to do everything in my power to prevent this from happening

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Presidential Poll - It Ain't Decided Yet


The mainstream media would have you believe that the Democratic primary has been decided. The DFA (Democracy for America) poll, however, shows it is much different.

Now, I will give you that an on-line poll lacks lots of the scientific qualities of a poll. However, a primary caucus in Iowa is about the die-hards coming out to stand in the corner of their favorite candidate. In that way, its kinda like an on-line poll - only those who are really pumped up about a candidate show up. The DFA poll shows the top 3 vote getters are Kucinich, Gore and Edwards. Clearly, there are some die hard Democrats out there that wants to vote for a liberal, even if they ain't running. The DFA poll allows you to drop off candidates.

Since the Iowa caucus is a two-round deal, candidates do get dropped off after the first round if they don't have 15% of the vote. Since Gore ain't running and Kucinich doesn't have a chance unless a UFO lands, that leaves lots of liberals looking at Edwards. Like the Iowa caucus, the DFA poll allowed you to put your candidates in order (1 - 3). Edwards won the DFA poll in Iowa. John Edwards picks up the Gore and Kucinich votes if they drop out and won the poll, again. If you drop out everyone but Edwards/Hillary/Obama, then Edwards is still the winner.

Like I said, it ain't real scientific, but I bet we are all a little amazed at what happens in Iowa on January 3rd.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Don't Forget to Vote Today!

IN an election with low turnout, your vote matters even more!

Forum on the Missouri Plan - Nov. 29

More than any other blog in Missouri, the Committee for County Progress Blog has defended the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan. The CCP is a member organization of Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts.

The CCP is also hosting a forum on the Missouri Plan. The forum will be at the UMKC Law School (500 E. 52nd) on November 29th at 6:00 Dale Youngs, president of the Missouri Institute for Justice, will give a history of the plan. Former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Judge Chip Robertson (appointed by Ashcroft) will speak in favor of the plan. Professor Bill Eckhardt will speak against the plan.

With Matt Blunt bad mouthing the Missouri Plan, with Jeff Roe attacking good judges like Judge Tom Brown in Cole County and with the Adam Smith Foundation being created for the purpose of changing our Constitution to eliminate non-partisan judges, a little education on this issue can never hurt.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Barnes is the Top Democratic Challenger in the Country


Kay Barnes represents one of the best chances in the nation for a Democrat to knock off a Republican, according to Congressional Quarterly. Below is some relevant portions of the article.


Best-funded House challengers for 2008

1) Jim Ryun, R, Kansas’ 2nd, $880,000 (Nancy Boyda, D)
2) Sandy Treadwell, R, New York’s 20th, $822,000 (Kirsten Gillibrand, D)
3) Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R, Texas’ 23rd, $819,000 (Ciro D. Rodriguez, D)
4) Andrew Saul, R, New York’s 19th, $782,000 (John Hall, D)
5) Deborah Honeycutt, R, Georgia’s 13th, $708,000 (David Scott, D)
6) Kay Barnes, D, Missouri’s 6th, $656,000 (Sam Graves, R)
7) Jim Hines, D, Connecticut’s 4th, $618,000 (Christopher Shays, R)
8) Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, R, Texas’ 22nd, $607,000 (Nick Lampson, D)
9) Christine Jennings, D, Florida’s 13th, $592,000 (Vern Buchanan, R)
10) Dan Seals, D, Illinois’ 10th, $567,000 (Mark Steven Kirk, R)

The races:
. . .
6) Missouri’s 6th District (St. Joseph, part of Kansas City)

Challenger: Kay Barnes, Democrat ($656,000 raised, $578,000 cash on hand)

Incumbent: Sam Graves , Republican ($948,000 raised, $756,000 cash on hand)

Barnes this year finished an eight-year run as mayor of Kansas City, part of which is included in a district that also takes in suburbs of that city — and substantial rural territory in northwest Missouri that is Graves’ political base. Barnes surely will be the toughest Democratic challenger faced to date by Graves, who won narrowly in 2000 to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Pat Danner but has easily beaten subpar Democratic opposition in subsequent elections.



What does this mean? Unlike former candidates up against Graves and his hatchet man, Jeff Roe, Mayor Barnes will have the tools she needs to win. Holding Graves accountable for his votes on SCHIPS, making sure people know of Roe's in your face attacks - everything can be put before the voters.

MORE2 Forum on Education


No doubt, the eduction system in KC is not what we would want. We have a vote tomorrow for Independence to take some of the KC MO school district. No Child Left Behind has been a failure (i.e. if Lee's Summit and Blue Springs School Districts get bad report cards, something ain't right). Mayor Funk has yet to have his big meeting on education.

At least one group is willing to tackle this issue head on. MORE2 (Metro Organization of Racial and Economic Equity) is hosting a forum "Healing our Hurting Public Education System." It is at 7:00 on November 8th at Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church (2801 Swope Parkway). MORE2 is compromised of several different faith based groups - Jewish, protestant, Catholic, White, Black.

If you care about public education in KC MO, this would be a great place to learn more.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Harris Gets Labor Endorsment


The race for AG seems to be the only source of excitement in Missouri politics. Rouge websites (www.kostertheimposter.com), competing endorsements and press releases. Ain't life grand?

Common thought was that Chris Koster was going to pick up all of the unions. Chris worked hard for union interests as a prosecutor, got the Cass County Justice Center built with union labor and resisted attacks on prevailing wage while in the senate. Harris and Donnelly have likewise resisted attacks on prevailing wage while in the House. Unions like Chris Koster. Usually, unions stick together like glue. A union friend is a friend till the end. AFSCME, a very heavy hitter in the union world, endorsed Jeff Harris. Here's the press release.


AFSCME Endorses Harris for Attorney General
Harris Announces Plan to Review the Costs of Privatization of State Jobs

Columbia – Today the Missouri council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced its endorsement of Representative Jeff Harris for Attorney General. In response to his earning the support of Missouri public workers, Harris issued the following statement:

"Throughout my career, I have been honored to stand with organized labor on behalf of the working men and women of Missouri. As the Democratic Leader in the Missouri House, I am proud to have fought against the Republican agenda pushed by Matt Blunt that has rolled back protections for Missouri's working families.

"When Republican special interests sued the state to get Governor Holden's collective bargaining executive order rescinded, Jay Nixon turned to me as assistant attorney general to handle that case. I successfully defended that executive order in court and would do so again as attorney general."

Harris also announced his plan to review the costs of privatizing state jobs and the status of worker protections under these contracts. Harris also said he would initiate legislation to set strict provisions for state contractors who violate labor laws.

"Worker protection will be a top priority in my administration," Harris said. "Since taking office, Matt Blunt has privatized countless state services at the expense of hard working state workers, enabling him to reward his friends with new state contracts."

Harris has previously been endorsed by the Sheet Metal Workers, Operating Engineers Local 513 and Operating Engineers Local 148.


Anyone want to speculate on the effect of Harris picking off this major union? What does it mean, is there a splinter? How many union members pick a D ballot or an R ballot in the primary? Will union members listen to their representatives and vote for Koster or Harris? How come Donnelly can't get a union endorsement despite being from a big union town like St. Louis?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Coalition Names Six Former Chiefs as Honorary Co-chairs

The Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan has been under attack by Matt Blunt and Jeff Roe. The neutral judiciary is being defended by a group called Missourians for Fair & Impartial Courts (MFIC). The CCP has signed on as an organization supporting MFIC. The following press release was issued today regarding 6 former Supreme Court judges (both Republican and Democrat) working to keep partisan politics out of the judiciary.

JEFFERSON CITY — Following a summer fraught with criticism of the method by which a slot on Missouri’s Supreme Court would be filled, six former chief justices of the Court have joined an organization formed to protect Missouri’s nonpartisan court plan and preserve the independence of the judiciary.

“Having served as chair of the Appellate Judicial Commission during my tenure as chief justice, I know the plan works to keep politics out of the judicial selection process,” said John Holstein in agreeing to support Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts. “It troubles me that there are forces at work intent on injecting politics back into the process.”

Holstein, an appointee of Gov. John Ashcroft who served on the high court from 1989 through 2002 and as chief justice from 1995-97, joins five other former chief justices who have agreed to serve as honorary co-chairs for Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts.

The other co-chairs:

The Honorable Jack Bardgett – appointed by Gov. Warren Hearnes (D), served as chief justice from 1979-81.
The Honorable Ann Covington, appointed by Gov. Ashcroft (R), served as chief justice from 1993-95.
The Honorable Andrew Jackson Higgins, appointed by Gov. Joe Teasdale (D), served as chief justice from 1985-87.
The Honorable Edward “Chip” Robertson, appointed by Gov. Ashcroft (R), served as chief justice from 1991-93.
The Honorable Ronnie White, appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan (D), served as chief justice from 2003-05.
“As former chief justices of the Missouri Supreme Court, we believe that Missourians depend on fair and impartial courts to provide stable and rational resolution of disputes, protect property and economic interests, and, when needed, protect people from the overreaching of government,” said Covington, the first woman to hold the position of chief justice on the court.

Through their involvement with Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, the former chiefs will advocate for Missouri’s courts to remain accountable to the constitution and the laws of the state -- not political pressure and special interests. For nearly 70 years, Missouri has been a model for the nation, creating a nonpartisan method for selecting judges that nominates judicial candidates based not on political party affiliation, but on merit. They are devoted to protecting Missouri courts from attacks by a small group of politicians and special interest groups.

“Unfortunately, Missouri’s highly respected nonpartisan court plan is under attack by special interests who believe that some other process – some politically-driven process – would produce judges of the same quality that now serve Missouri’s citizens as the final arbiters of the law,” said White, who retired from the court in July. “Justice should be fair and impartial. The Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan should be preserved to protect our individual rights.”

As the six former court chiefs join forces with Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, membership in the broad-based coalition continues to grow, including nearly 40 business, education, religious, professional and consumer groups such as AARP Missouri, Missouri National Education Association, Committee for Economic Development and the Missouri Municipal League, in addition to a number of legal organizations.

“Our diverse membership proves that this isn’t an issue that matters only to attorneys and judges,” said Landon Rowland, Committee for Economic Development trustee. “Our system of judicial selection seeks the best qualified judges while maximizing independence and still allows a degree of direct accountability to Missourians.

“There’s a reason so many other state governments have adopted parts of the Missouri Plan – because it works.”

To join Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, please visit www.protectjustice.org on the Web.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Blunt's Secret Emails Result in Firing of Counsel


This blog, and many other blogs and traditional news sources, have been highlighting Blunt's administration with secret emails. The saga continues.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch confirmed with Scott Eckersley that he was fired by Blunt and Ed Martin for his opinions that government emails are public records. "I believed I was fired for pointing to written office policy which ... contradicted how the office was handling record requests," Eckersley said. Seems that the Blunt administration has been monitoring Eckersley personal email account even after he was fired.

Eckersley said his attorneys will look into how Blunt staffers monitored his e-mail account, and other issues related to his firing. He has hired Steve Garner, a lawyer with the politically prominent Strong Law firm based in Springfield, Mo. Also assisting is lawyer Chip Robertson, a former chief justice on the Missouri Supreme Court. These two lawyers are very intelligent and very successful (one even happens to be a Republican who was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ashcroft).

Blog World is hopping. FiredUp asks this question "Did Scott Eckersley advise the governor or Ed Martin (or both) that the actions of the governor's office violated written policy on records retention?"

Blue Blog is continuing their call for Ed Martin to be fired for these actions and for Governor Blunt to ask for the Attorney General's Office to open a full investigation into these matters, with complete cooperation by all Blunt staffers.

All I got to add is this letter I got from Eckersley politely telling me he got my Sunshine request and he would respond. While I ultimately got a response from Henry Herschel, it would have been nice to see what Eckersley would have produced.

Jackson County = Fiscal Responsibility


Dan Tarwater and Henry Rizzo recently sent me this update on the fiscal health of County. They, along with Mike Sanders and the other fantastic legislators, are working hard to run our County in a responsible manner.

Dear Fellow Jackson County Democrats:

With the substantial help of last years CCP endorsements, 2007 marks reform and restructuring in the leadership of your Jackson County government. We are pleased to report to you on the progress made and the ongoing cooperation of the leaders of Jackson County.

County Executive Mike Sanders has teamed up with with the Legislature in the commitment to providing open transparent professional & efficient government. This commitment also provides fiscal responsibility and accountability to you the citizens and taxpayers of our great county. We have already taken major steps to balance the budget and become fiscally sound again. We will no longer accept spending more than we make. The County Charter empowers the Legislature to provide the checks and balances on the administration of the County. In the spirit of cooperation and teamwork with the County Executive, we have proposed and are implementing a 5 Point Plan of improved timely financial information and decision making processes for Jackson County Government. The financial health of any County is the universal litmus test for determining a county’s safety, livability, and ultimately the quality of living it offers our citizens. You have our commitment to this end.

The Truman Sports complex is the Crown Jewel of Jackson County, the voters of Jackson County in 2006 entrusted their vote in the passage of the $500 million dollar stadium renovation project. We are providing constant monitoring of the expenditures and monthly updates on the progress of this important Project. You can share in this exciting process by now viewing streaming video of the Legislative Committee meetings and the full details of the 5 point plan for Jackson County, from the County website http://www.co.jackson.mo.us/

Together we are making Jackson County great again!

Sincerely,
Dan Tarwater III, Chairman
Henry C. Rizzo, Vice Chairman
Jackson County Legislature

Chris Koster Announces for AG

OK, every blog in the state has already talked about Chris' announcement. However, I had lots of soccer games and Halloween parties with my kids this last weekend. In case you didn't get this email from Senator Koster, here it is.

Dear Stephen,

Last night in Harrisonville, I announced my intentions to seek the office of Attorney General of Missouri. After serving ten years as Cass County Prosecuting Attorney and three years in the state Senate, I am running for Attorney General because Missouri deserves an Attorney General who will put law enforcement front and center in their next administration.

Let me be clear: this candidacy is about law and order. It is about aggressive, innovative, clear thinking, and uncompromising law enforcement. And if experience matters in the state’s top law enforcement job, I am the only candidate—Republican or Democratic—who can say ‘I have been there.’

As Prosecuting Attorney of Cass County, I was honored to serve with Missouri’s law enforcement community in some of the toughest criminal cases facing our great state. Whether I was prosecuting drug peddlers, white collar criminals, or murderers, nothing made me prouder than making Missouri safer for our families and children. And that is what this race is about.

Our state faces unprecedented challenges. In recent years, Missouri has seen a rise in internet crimes, most notably in sexual predators who use the internet to lure their child victims. We have also seen the devastating effects of methamphetamine on our rural communities and the escalating crime rates within our urban centers.

That is why Missouri needs an Attorney General with real law enforcement credentials. I am the only candidate in this race who has ever walked the crime scenes, overseen the forensic investigations, interrogated the killers, trained the young lawyers, and made the closing arguments from rural courtrooms all the way up to our Supreme Court.

Over the coming months, I will put forth progressive and smart policies in Jefferson City and across Missouri that address the issues of crime in our cities, drugs in our communities, crimes committed on the internet, the irrefutable relationship between failing schools and rising crime rates, and clear but realistic thinking on the death penalty.

I will continue to fight for the same things I have held dear throughout my public service career. Whether it is defending the legality of lifesaving stem cell research, which offers our state the unprecedented ability to lift the disabled out of wheelchairs and cure previously terminal diseases; fighting on behalf of Missouri working families by combating efforts to abolish collective bargaining and make Missouri a right-to-work state; or standing up for Missourians in the mold of the greatest consumer advocate our state has ever seen, Jay Nixon. I will never rest until our Attorney General’s office stands up and gives a voice to every Missourian.

Missourians are frustrated with the current direction of our state, and it’s no wonder. The extreme right-wing has led us down a path that is anti-progress, anti-science, and anti-anything that does not benefit their corporate friends. That is why I became a Democrat and that is why I am running for Attorney General.

Fifteen years ago, my first job out of law school, before I was a prosecutor and before I was a Senator, was as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Missouri. 2008 is the opportunity for me to go back and turn that office into something extraordinary.

Our next attorney general will be the voice that stands in the courtrooms of this nation and makes the closing arguments on behalf of Missourians. All I have to offer you is the experience of someone who's been there.

I humbly ask you today to come aboard this effort and help me to be that voice.

Please visit my website at www.chriskoster.com and sign up to volunteer for my campaign. I look forward to talking with you and serving as your next Attorney General.

Sincerely,
Chris Koster