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!

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.

Chris Koster

Rex to Speak at MU

Rex A. Sinquefield, President Show-Me Institute, will be speaking at MU if anyone is interested in learning more about his system of buying influence. I bet the eduction groups calling for candidates to refund his donations will be there.

You’re invited to a seminar

Sponsored by the Truman School of Public Affairs

“Policy Research and Advocacy in Missouri”


Rex A. Sinquefield, President

Show-Me Institute

Thursday, November 1, 2007 – 10:00 a.m.

T.O. Wright Room, Reynolds Alumni Center

Please RSVP to keller@missouri.edu or 882-3304

Mr. Sinquefield is President and a Board member of the Show-Me Institute, a Missouri non-profit, non-partisan public policy research organization. Other Board Service includes DePaul University, Life Trustee; Dimensional Fund Advisors, Inc.; Financial Analysts Journal Editorial Board; Missouri Botanical Garden; Opera Theatre of St. Louis; St. Louis Art Museum; St. Louis Symphony; St. Louis University. Mr. Sinquefield also serves as a committee member of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis Investment Committee Member.

Mr. Sinquefield is co-founder, former co-Chairman and a Director of Dimensional Fund Advisors Inc., a registered investment advisor with over $150 billion under management.

He received his BS from Saint Louis University and his MBA from the University of Chicago. He has contributed numerous articles to books and academic and professional journals. Best known among these are the studies of rates of return Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation, which he co-authored with Roger Ibbotson. He has received two Graham and Dodd Awards for best articles in the Financial Analysts Journal.

Mr. Sinquefield was one of the first to successfully apply the academic findings of modern finance to money management. In the early 1970s, he and his colleagues at American National Bank of Chicago pioneered many of the nation’s first index funds.

Awards and honors Mr. Sinquefield has received recently are the Distinguished Entrepreneurial Alumni Award (with partner David Booth), University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business (1999), Financial Executive of the Year, DePaul University Finance Advisory Board (2004), Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (2004), DePaul University, College of Commerce (2004), Americanism Award (with wife Jeanne Sinquefield), Western Los Angeles County Council, Boy Scouts of America (2005), Fr. Joseph E. Boland Outstanding Alumni Award, Saint Louis University, John Cook School of Business (2006).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

TIME: Does the Supreme Court Still Matter?

There I was, buying my groceries in The Market at Brookside and among the gossip rags was the Time magazine, Chief Justice John Roberts picture on the front and the question "Does the Supreme Court Still Matter?" I bought it.

The article generally concludes NO, it doesn't matter.

The irony is that the Court's ideology is playing a dwindling role in the lives of Americans. The familiar hot-button controversies--abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, police powers and so on--have been around so long, sifted and resifted so many times, that they now arrive at the court in highly specific cases affecting few, if any, real people

I'm a Nina Totenberg nerdy court watcher, their decisions matter. What I have seen is a steady, right-wing chipping away at our rights. Hudson - let in questionable evidence, Marsh - KS death penalty constitutional, PICS v. Seattle - can't use race as sole factor in school assignments, Gonzales - abortion procedure banned, Ledbetter - limits time to file employment discrimination cases. Other commentators have determined that the Robert's Court is pro-business.

The reality is that almost every important decision coming out of the Supreme Court is 5-4, with Justice Anthony Kennedy casting the deciding vote. Rehnquist and O'Connor were replaced with Roberts and Alito. Roberts has led the court down a right wing path and needs but a single additional vote to ensure he gets his way every time. Even Time agrees with that.

In which case, no one should be surprised that Roberts has turned out to be an uncompromising conservative on a court split 4 to 4 on ideology, with a fifth conservative, Justice Anthony Kennedy, deciding case after case according to his own self-dramatizing muse. When Roberts was picked to be the nation's 17th Chief Justice, he talked a great deal about the need for the fractious court to find more coherence and common ground, to wage fewer ideological spats on the pages of unnecessary separate opinions. Some wondered if this was an offer on his part to split the difference between the rival camps, but no one wonders anymore. In two terms, Roberts has not taken a single position on a high-profile case that you would not expect a darling of the conservative Federalist Society to take.

All this to say, let's elect a Democratic president so John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg can retire so we can put on a couple of 50 year olds. No doubt that Roberts was qualified, but also no doubt that he was a highly conservative, Republican, Federalist. Thank goodness for the Missouri Plan!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Greatest Political Speech Ever: Sweat's "Whiskey Speech"

Here's the famous "Whiskey Speech; then-Rep. N.S. "Soggy" Sweat Jr. delivered on April 4, 1952, at a banquet while the prohibition issue was before the Mississippi Legislature.

"My friends,

"I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

"If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.


"If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

"This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise."

Update on AG Race

The only state wide primary on the D side will be for Attorney General, and thank God. This one is going to be a mess.

Missouri Political News, like many Democratic groups, is blasting away at Chris Koster. There's the post about Koster giving money to Ashcroft and Bush and Graves. There's the post about Koster taking money from a pro school choice supporter. There's the post about current Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley supporting Jeff Harris (instead of Koster).

Chris Koster continues to rack up labor endorsements, according to the Post Dispatch. "State Sen. Chris Koster, D-Harrisonville, may be in hot water with activists in both major parties, but he’s still collecting more union endorsements in his as-yet-unannounced-but-expected bid for Missouri attorney general."

Jeff Harris has recently announced some A list staffers, including Roy Temple, Julie Gibson and Vince Currao. There is no disputing that these three have long been in the Democratic trenches and will have many friends to call upon.

Margaret Donnelly had a good quarter, including loaning herself $70,000. Rumor, gossip, word is that she will put in up to $250,000 of her own cash.

Here are some numbers to think about, all from the secretary of state's web page. In 2004, Claire McCaskill beat Bob Holden for the Democratic nomination for Governor. There were 838,275 Democratic primary votes (although I doubt that many show up for the AG race).

Greene County - 30K votes.
Jackson County - 56K votes.
KC Election Board- 68K votes.
Boone Coonty - 26K votes.
St. Charles County - 39K votes.
St. Louis City - 61K votes.
St. Louis County - 157 K votes
Total - 437K votes (majority of D primary votes) in 6 urban counties. The other half are rural dems (can you say CAFO)

The three candidates have to be looking at getting 40% of the vote (or 335 K). Well, how do they do it?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kraus (48th) Still Accepting Excess Contributions

Everyone (ok, at least political types) in Missouri knows that the Missouri Supreme Court has knocked down the unlimited contributions. We are all back to the old caps - except Rep. Will Kraus (R - Raytown) and Ron Richard (the fella the Republicans want to be their next Speaker of the Missouri House).

The latest MEC filing shows Ron Richard made many contributions to ensure his successful election to replace Rob Jetton (who is term limited out) to the speaker's chair. Will Kraus took a nice contribution of $2,500 (well over the $350 cap), which accounted for over 50% of the money Kraus raised this quarter.

Richard, in a 16 day period between 7/2 and 7/18, wrote almost $100,000 worth of checks, almost all of which came from big PAC's. Who got this kind of money besides Will Kraus? Admitted felon Nathan Cooper got $500. Jeff Grisamore got $1,000. Ryan Silvey from Gladstone took $1,000. Bryan Pratt took $1,500 and Pratt's Republican opponent for Senator Bartle's seat also took $1,500 (wise move Ron, don't pick favorites, pay them both off!). It took $3,500 for Bob Nance in Excelsior Springs to get behind Ron Richard. Gary Dusenberg in Blue Springs was one of the last to get on board and he only got $1,000.

If this is how Republicans elect their leaders, I am proud to be a Democrat. Rep. Paul LeVota (D) was also elected to a leadership position this quarter. If the D's take back control of the house, Paul would be in the speaker's chair. How many contributions did he make to elected officials to secure his position? Zero.

Political Prosecutions by Bush's DOJ under Review

Right here in River City we had our fill of politics leaking into the Department of Justice (DOJ).

First, Bush/Gonzalez/Rove fired U.S. Attorney Todd Graves for not being political enough (note, this is the first time in history that anyone - let alone a Republican - has accused a Graves of not being political enough). Then the defenders of liberty and justice bring in the hatchet man, Scholzman, to prosecute some low level folks who registering voters right before an election (which was contrary to long standing DOJ policies). Finally, the Republicans got rid of Scholzman (who later resigns under a dark cloud) and bring in a relative of Senator Kit Bond. And we wonder why people across America and the world are sick of Bush?

Tomorrow, the House will dig into the selective (and political) prosecutions by the Bush DOJ.

(Washington, DC)- The House Judiciary Subcommittees on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security and Commercial and Administrative Law will hold a hearing titled, "Allegations of Selective Prosecution: The Erosion of Public Confidence in Our Federal Justice System" on Tuesday, October 23, at 10 a.m. in room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Members will address allegations of federal selective prosecution in several cases across the country including cases in Alabama, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

WHO: House Judiciary Subcommittees on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and Commerical and Administrative Law


Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh

Former Alabama U.S. Attorney Doug Jones

Professor Donald C. Shields, Professor Emeritus, Department of Communication, University of Missouri

WHEN: Tuesday, October 23, 10 a.m.

WHERE: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

This hearing will be webcast at


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Justice Department Report

Dr. Donald Shields will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee regarding his study of the political profiling of Democrats by the Ashcroft/Gonzales Justice Department this Tuesday. It will either be covered on C-Span or webcast, depending on what other threats to the Republic the Bushies have going next week.

Although largly ignored by local news, the study by Dr. Shields and his research partner has been cited in the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. He was even a guest on the Colbert Report. It is an ongoing study of publicly reported federal investigations and indictments involving local elected official. His numbers -- now updated through the end of Gonzales' term -- show a hugely disproportionately number of Democrats and an equally disproportionately low number of Republicans, one that could occur by chance only 1/10,000. Of course, even with the refusal of the Justice Department to release the rest of its documents, the firing of the US Attorneys demonstrates that the figures are not "by chance".

One of those sacked for not being partisan enough (!) was our own Todd Graves. But, local issues aside, future historians will likely rely on Dr. Shields' study as an important source for understanding the most politically corrupted Justice Department in our nation's history.

Justice Department Report

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nolte (R) v. Stone (D) - 33rd - look for a great race

Terry Nolte (R - 33rd) is looking at a good quarterly report (as opposed to some other Republican state representatives in close races). He went out and raised $12,000 from PACs and Republican election committees.

Rep. Nolte knows he is in for a battle. He followed Gov. Blunt around Jefferson City, and we all know how unpopular Blunt is after he kicked 100,000 people off health care. Nolte barely beat Terry Stone by 76 votes in 2006.

Nolte raised $4,800 this quarter. That is the wonderful power of the incumbency. Check out Stone's report, it is filled with Clay County residents donating $25 and $30 (yes, there's a few checks for the state max of $325).

The 33rd is a battle for the control of the Missouri House. The Republicans have to keep swing suburban districts like this one. The Democrats must take this one back to regain control of the House. The battle ground is in Clay County. Let the best candidate (who talks about the issues of education, health care and immigration and works the hardest) win.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not Fraudulent?

Ok, we all get the idea of separate committees. Both parties have used them with varying degrees of plausable deniability and embarrassment.

BUT.... When there is only one contributor to 100 newly formed committees, all of whom contribute the same amount to the same candidate, it is pretty obvious that someone is working a fraud on the election process.

Koster should do the right -- if painful -- thing and return the money with a polite "No, thank you." After all, he is running for AG, and even if this is technically legal it does not pass the smell test. Not for a Democrat.

Grisamore (47th) has a Tough Quarter

According to Blue Blog, Grisamore is having a tough quarter.

Here's the link to the MEC filing. Ron Richard (who the Republicans want to be speaker in 2008) gave Grisamore $1,000 (which is $775 more than the cap allowed by the law). KC Blue Blog makes the following pointed analysis:

The Republican from Lee's Summit reported raising $3850 and spent $1524.67 on rent and lodging leaving him with a report of just over $2600 cash on hand.

Here's where it gets worse:

Over $2500 of the money raised is over the $325 contribution limit and with so few checks sent in the first place it is almost definitely not a burden. Therefore, Grisamore must return the excess money leaving him with only $100 bucks in the bank and $8500 in debt.

That has to make Rep. Yates who is relying on that district to stay Republican significantly queasy. Maybe Rep. Pratt will rub his tummy for him.

Pratt & Yates are both ramping up for a run for Matt Bartle's senate seat, so they really don't want to blow their cash on Grisamore's seat. Bob Johnson may make a run for Grisamore's seat, with the support of Rev. Tom Haley (who barely lost this seat in 2006).

The 47th is going to be a good one to watch.

Buying Vouchers, One PAC at a Time

What's the hottest story coming out of the recent quarterly reports. No, it's not Jay Nixon raising more than Blunt when the caps are in effect. Its not even Dr. Sam Page having a great quarter. Its BILLIONAIRE Rex Sinquefield creating 100 PAC's and giving each of them $2,500 to get started. Yep, he just dropped $250,000 in to the old political bucket and quess who got almost half of it..

The Post did a pretty extensive write up on this extremely strange move. Why would someone do such a thing, even if they are worth a billion. Rex is the kind of guy that can and HAS written Blunt a hefty $100,000 check. As the Post pointed out, "A network of PACs, with each giving $1,275, would be a legal way for donors like Sinquefield to get around the limits while helping favored causes and candidates."

Who is Rex Sinquefield? Let's see what his friends say - "We just click on so many levels, on so many issues," said Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican who agrees with Sinquefield’s quest to abolish Missouri’s income tax. According to Wikipedia, Rex Sinquefield was the co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors and was its co-chairman until his retirement in 2005. In the 1970s, he did influential research on historical stock market returns and pioneered many of the nation's first index funds. Rex is a huge pro-voucher supporter.

Rex Sinquefield set up these 100 PACs and who got the money? Chris Koster. The Columbia Daily Tribune did a great job tracking Koster getting $99,450 from Rex's new PAC's. The Tribune also reported "the campaign spent $63,384.73 during the fundraising quarter, with bulk of that money going to Axiom Strategies - a firm run by GOP strategist Jeff Roe." Here's the link to Koster's recent MEC filing.

All Democrats want to welcome Senator Koster to the party. It's a big tent. Two issues that don't fit under our tent, however, are school vouchers and Jeff Roe. Expect an uproar from Harris and Donnelly about their position on school vouchers.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Democrats Across the State have Strong Showing - including Gunn (15th Senate)

A change is in the air. November of 2008 will bring very real changes to Missouri - look no further than the 15th Senate District in Kirkwood/St. Louis area.

Democrat Kevin Gunn is running for a vacant seat currently held my Mike Gibbons. Gunn will report raising over $100,000 in his first quarter and report over $100,000 on hand. No secret legislative committees, no PACS, just over 200 real Missourians concerned about the direction of our state. 3 Republicans are fighting about the nomination on their side. Gunn is a Webster Groves councilperson, worked for Gephardt and is a lawyer at a big firm in St. Louis. In short, he fits his district to a T. Here's what his law firm's bio says:

Mr. Gunn has deep political and familial roots in Missouri and Washington, D.C. His grandfather, Donald Gunn, was President of the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen and his father, Tom Gunn, was counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, the U.S. Senate Committee on Government Operations and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Law and Procedures.

All politics are local. We also know that Democrats turn out in droves in presidential election years. You give voters a reason to vote Democratic in a state senate race, they can vote up the ballot the for the D candidate all the easier. You get Democratic voters showing up to vote for Edwards (or Clinton or Barak), they will vote D all the way down the ticket (for Nixon, Page, Carnahan and AG). Some think that there will be an extra 5,000 voters in each state representative district show up.

Each candidate like Kevin Gunn puts us one step closer to Nixon in the Governor's mansion and a Democrat in the White House. Every senate seat is important, especially since we want to see KC's Sen. Jolie Justus in the majority.

Catholics Support SCHIP; oppose Graves

In one corner we have Bush and Congressman Graves - in the other we have Senator Kit Bond, Mayor Kay Barnes and social justice Catholics. The boxing match is over whether we should provide health care to poor kids.

That's right, Catholics have a lot of social justice left in them. Christianity is not all about abortion. Catholics United is starting a radio campaign today which is designed to hold Congressman Graves accountable for his votes on SCHIPS (health care for poor kids). The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, and the Catholic Health Association have all urged Congress and President Bush to support SCHIP. Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, said

Building a true culture of life requires public policies that promote the welfare of the most vulnerable.At the heart of the Christian faith is a deep and abiding concern for the need of others. Pro-life Christians who serve in Congress should honor this commitment by supporting health care for poor children.”

To hear the radio ad which is being played on talk radio and Christian radio, go to Catholics United web site. There's a large Catholic presence in St. Joseph, Missouri - right in the heart of the 6th Congressional District. Here's a hearty AMEN to Catholics United for being pro-life, for the whole life of God's creation.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Who Opposes Blunt Attacking the Missouri Plan?

Gov. Blunt loves to attack the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan. Why, because he can't reward his right wing donors with spots on the Missouri Supreme Court and purchase his version of justice.

The Downtown Civic Council recently sent Gov. Blunt a letter telling him, among other things, to quit attacking the Missouri Plan, according to Prime Buzz. The Civic Council is not some liberal think tank, it is comprised of Republicans and moderates. They are 100% pro-business, BIG business. They include:

Terrance Dunn, CEO of JE Dunn
William Berkley, president and chief executive officer of Tension Envelope Corp.;
David Frantze, a partner in the Stinson Morrison Hecker law firm;
John Bluford III, president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers;
Donald Hall Jr., president and CEO of Hallmark Cards;
Tom Bowser, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City;
Richard Hastings, president and CEO of Saint Luke's Health System;
Michael Chesser, chairman and CEO of Great Plains Energy;
Michael Haverty, chairman and CEO of Kansas City Southern;
Mark Ernst, chairman and CEO of H&R Block;
Mark Jorgenson, president and CEO of U.S. Bank;
Robert Kipp, chairman of Crown Center;
Robert Regnier, president of Bank of Blue Valley;
Thomas McDonnell, president and CEO of DST Systems;
Scott Smith, president of HNTB Corp.;
William Nelson, chairman of George K. Baum Asset Management;
Elizabeth Solberg, past chairwoman of the Civic Council;
Joerg Ohle, president of Bayer HealthCare, animal health division;
David Welte, general counsel, Stowers Institute and Bryan Cave law firm;
David Oliver, Berkowitz, Oliver, Williams, Shaw & Eisenbrandt law firm;
William Zollars, chairman, president and CEO of YRC Worldwide; and
Karen Pletz, president and CEO of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

The letter also told Blunt to quit attacking affirmative action and stem cell research and said

"We rely on you as the chief executive officer of the state of Missouri to provide leadership against issues that will harm the state's future and support efforts that will position Missouri well in the future global economy."

How did Blunt miscalculate this one so bad. Besides Jeff Roe, who was he listening to? For Pete's sake, if CEO's, bankers, architects, a construction company, investment bankers, doctors, corporate lawyers, accountants, the world's biggest trucking company and the Hall Family (Republicans biggest friends and the greeting card folks) think you are off base, then maybe Blunt has really lost touch with Missouri voters.

Go, Jay Nixon, Go!!

State Wide Candidate Wrap Up

Going into the weekend, just a quick wrap up of state wide candidates:

Gov: Jackson will not run against Blunt (too, bad.)

AG - on the Republican side, Catherine Hanaway won't run, giving Mike Gibbons a clear shot at the Republican nomination. Democratic side - Koster is rumored to announce his Democratic candidacy in the next couple of weeks. Koster may also have $1 million on hand. Donnelly announced her supporters, including local state reps Beth Low, Jennee Lowe & Kiki Curls. Harris' wife had a baby and they are rumored to have a good quarterly report.

Lt. Gov. - Dr. Sam Page is the first to have in his report. Page’s report shows that he’d raised $127,512 for the quarter ($503,480 total), spent $77,084 ($150,774 total), with $350,547 in the bank.

SOS - No one dares to mess with this Carnahan

Blunt Wants Big-Money Politics in our Courts (like Alabama)

Governor Matt Blunt (and Jeff Roe) want to get rid of the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan. Why - to allow big-money influences into our judicial system. Alabama has the most expensive partisan races for their Supreme Court in the country (we all know Alabama's reputation for being on the cutting edge of progressive issues). That's what Blunt wants - turn us into Alabama.

The Alabama Birmingham newspaper has had enough of folks buying justice in their state. Check out this guest editorial that highlights the obscene amounts of money that is spent.

Candidates in the state's 2006 Supreme Court races raised a total of $7.3 million, making it the most expensive such races in the country. That is, frankly, an obscene amount of money.
According to the Annenberg Public Policy Center, 63 percent of people surveyed believe pressure from campaign donors would affect a judge's impartiality to a great or moderate extent. That is a dangerous erosion in public trust.
Our justice system should belong to all of us, not to an inner circle of special interests. By taking our appellate judges and Supreme Court justices out of the partisan political process, we preserve confidence in our courts

The article goes on to explain why electing judges in partisan campaigns is a bad idea.

Some will ask what's wrong with electing judges. Why should they be different from lawmakers and governors?
The simplest answer is that judges are different. Legislators make laws, and voters should know what laws they intend to enact. Judges apply existing law to the facts of each case. They make hard decisions, and they must be neutral.
In reality, court rulings often affect large, powerful interests - both plaintiff and defendant - that are more than willing to underwrite runaway campaign costs

Governor Blunt, while we know that you love to reward big donors with nice jobs, we would prefer to have a neutral, impartial judiciary. Don't turn us into Alabama. Let's hope we can make it to November of 2008 to get Nixon into the Governor's mansion.

Republicans Seek to Override Bush (and Graves) on SCHIPS

You know the controversy, Congress passed an expansion of SCHIP (health care for poor kids). Congressman Graves voted against it (because he thinks it has something to do with illegal immigration). Senator Bond voted for it. Mayor Barnes said she would support SCHIP.

The end of times must be approaching because now Republican Senators are talking about an override of Bush's veto of SCHIP. Isn't that an override of Congressman Graves, too? How did Graves get so far out of step from the rest of the Republicans and the Country? Read the letter to the Wall Street Journal from Senators Grassley (R - Iowa) and Hatch (R - Utah).

Compromise Bill Sets Up A Less Expensive Schip
We were dismayed by the mischaracterization of the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2007 in your Sept. 28 editorial "Schip for Everyone." You did not accurately portray the work and diligence that went into crafting this truly bipartisan compromise, which passed the Senate twice with 18 Republican senators voting "aye." Due to our participation, the bill is significantly less expensive than the Schip reserve fund in the Democrats' budget, prohibits state waivers for covering adult men and non-pregnant women, and refocuses on low-income children by cutting federal matching dollars to states covering those over 300% of poverty.

In order to find and cover even half of the six million eligible but unenrolled kids, the Congressional Budget Office said we needed to spend more money than the president proposed.

Assertions that the bill expands coverage to higher-income children are baseless. In fact, the bill puts tremendous pressure on states to not cover higher incomes. Just like now, the only way a state may cover higher income families is with administration approval, which the Bush administration has given repeatedly.

We want this practice to stop, so our bill specifically targets Schip coverage to low-income children. It says that if states cover higher income families over 300% of poverty, then the money they get from the federal government is cut, and by 2010, they get no funding for such coverage if the state isn't covering most of its low-income children.

This is not an entitlement program. The legislation passed by the House would have turned Schip into an uncapped entitlement, but the compromise bill maintains the Senate position for a capped block grant.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R., Utah)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Taking Back the Missouri House, one Steve Hodges at a Time

Democrats have the very real chance to take back the Missouri House in 2008. If for no other reason, Democrats come out in droves in presidential election years.

We can take it back, and put Rep. Paul LeVota in the Speaker's chair, if we have more Steve Hodges. Hodges is the State Representative in SE Missouri, East Prairie, 161st District. The Southeast Missourian and the East Prairie Eagle recently ran a story that outlined the race in 2006.

When term limits kept Lanie Black from running again for his 161st District Missouri House of Representatives seat last year, a political bout ensued that became a priority for both state party organizations.
In one corner: Gary Branum, a respected New Madrid County farmer running on Black's legacy of agriculture-based Republicanism, with Black as his trainer.

In the other: Steve Hodges, a well-known businessman, substitute teacher, high school football referee and former sports coach from East Prairie, running on a populist message of helping the disadvantaged in one of the poorest legislative districts in the state. Hodges' trainer was former governor Warren Hearnes and his wife, Betty, a statehouse veteran who held a seat for 10 years in what was then the 160th District

Well, the Republicans are ticked. Republican Party Spokesman Paul Sloca has this to say:

"It's a very important race," Sloca said. "We feel confident about taking that back, because a Republican candidate is going to be running on a strong record of Republican accomplishments" in the areas of education, health care and illegal immigration.

Sloca calls Hodges' seat a "very, very vulnerable" Democratic seat that can be retaken in a "predominantly Republican" area, despite the Bootheel's long history of Democratic dominance.

What have the Republicans done for education, health care and illegal immigration? Higher education costs more in Missouri than it ever has, local school districts (like East Prairie) are getting less from the state funding formula, 100,000 poor folks were kicked off health insurance and the only thing that the Republicans have done on immigration is put Rep. Nathan Cooper (R) in jail for getting his rich Republican clients illegal immigrants to work for them.

Every seat counts. The difference between Republicans cutting Medicare to the poor and Andy Blunt pushing through ticket scalping for his brother to sign into law is putting a Democrat in the speaker's chair. We can't do it by electing Democrats in Brookside. We have to keep Hodges in his seat in the Bootheel. We have to pick up some seats in Clay County and Eastern Jackson County. We do that - while electing Jay Nixon to be our next Governor - and the nonsense stops.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MOHELA Audit to be released

State Auditor Susan Montee conducted an audit of MOHELA. Wonder what she found? Here's an interesting preview from the press release. The release of the audit will be at UMKC (an institution that had $15 million in funding yanked by Blunt from MOHELA due to retribution against Senator Jolie Justus).


(JEFFERSON CITY)—Since the MOHELA was created in 1981, it has generally reinvested its operating surpluses in additional student loans, resulting in the accumulation of a substantial amount of marketable assets. At June 30, 2006, the MOHELA's net assets totaled about $234 million, with operating revenues exceeding operating expenses by over $25 million in fiscal year 2006. During 2007, a law was enacted that will require the MOHELA to distribute $350 million to the state over the next six years, primarily for various capital improvement projects at the state's public colleges and universities. Our audit includes findings on executive severance packages and bonuses, contracts, procurement policies and expenditures.


DATE: Thursday, October 11, 2007
TIME: 2:30 P.M.
SITE: UMKC Fine Arts Building, Room 106 (near building’s east entrance); Parking
immediately northeast of building

Barnes v. Graves: SCHIPS makes the decision black and whte

Graves couldn't make the decision on who to vote for any easier. Do we provide health care insurance for poor kids or not.

You have Mayor Kay Barnes and Senator Kit Bond on one side, President Bush and Congressman Graves on the other. The House and the Senate both passed the expansion of SCHIPS. Bush vetoed the bill, Graves voted against the bill.

That crazy liberal, Senator Kit Bond, had this to say:

“SCHIP is a valuable safety net for needy children in families who don’t have the means to purchase affordable health care. Millions of children receive the vital well-child and preventative care, vaccinations, and emergency care they need to grow, learn and thrive thanks to the SCHIP Program. I am proud of my votes to create SCHIP in 1997 and to reauthorize the program today.”

Bond also has glowing things to say of Barnes

“Obviously the mayor and I are of different political parties, but the people of Kansas City expect elected leaders to work together to get things done,” Bond said in the release. “Because of [Barnes’s] commitment and dedication, Kansas City is a better place to live and work.”

Northeast Missouri voters (and 10% of those votes also come from Eastern Jackson County) have a black and white decision; do we want to support kicking kids off health insurance (vote for Graves) or do we follow the lead of Senator Kit Bond and vote for health care for poor kids and Mayor Kay Barnes.

Missouri Plan Works AGAIN!!!

Once again, the Missouri Non Partisan Court Plan has succeeded!!

The Appellate Commission (Chief Judge, plus 3 elected lawyers from across the state, plus 3 lay people appointed by a governor for a 6 year term), the same demonic people who sent up a panel of three qualified court of appeals judges to Governor Blunt to pick a new Supreme Court judge (Blunt picked the imminently qualified Republican, Judge Patricia Breckenridge), sent Blunt another panel for an opening on the Court of Appeals - Western District.

Guess what, they sent 3 very intelligent lawyers who were not political hacks up. Any of the three would be a great addition. The panel was Cindy Reams Martin (has her own firm in Lee's Summit, used to be with a mid-sized defense firm downtown, former president of the KCMBA, #1 in her class at UMKC Law), Alok Ahuja (at Lathrop & Gage, on the board of the KCMBA, experienced in arguing cases to the Supreme Court, very intelligent) and Clay County Judge James Welsh. Judge Welsh, formerly a Republican (gave up politics when he went on the bench because Clay County is one of the counties that selects trial judges based upon the Missouri Plan), was selected. Judge Welsh spent 20 years on the trial bench. Unfortunately, Blunt sat on this selection for several months, despite the fact that the Court of Appeals was short 3 judges, so he could lam bast the Missouri Plan.

I think that the vast majority of lawyers who appeared in front of Judge Welsh would said that he was thoughtful, treated witnesses, jurors and every person who appeared in front of him with great respect and that he was really, really smart. Judge Welsh - believe this - read cases. He wanted to follow the law.

Bill Placke is the President of the Federalist Society in St. Louis. He is one of the lead advocates to change the Missouri Plan. He told the Daily Record (a legal newspaper in Missouri) that "Welsh Ahuja and Martin all had solid credentials and that their panel was one of the best he has seen recently." Placke went on to say

"It seems to me that the debate has changed its focus from the nominees to the process of appointing judges in Missouri."

OK, maybe Placke is just wrong about how well this thing is working. But, look what Blunt had to say about Welsh
"Judge James Welsh brings a wide range of experience and expertise that will be invaluable as he serves the people of the Western District. I am pleased Judge Welsh has agreed to continue his service on the judiciary in this capacity."

State Senator Luanne Ridgeway is a frequent critic of the Missouri Plan and has written some very nasty things about the Missouri Supreme Court. Surely she has something bad to say about Welsh (who lives in her district and whom she has appeared in front of as a lawyer).

“Governor Blunt has made an outstanding selection to the Missouri Court of Appeals – Western District in Judge James Welsh,” said State Sen. Luann Ridgeway. “I have known Judge Welsh for more than 15 years. He is a judge with impeccable character and judicial demeanor that Missourians need on the court. I congratulate Governor Blunt on the appointment of Judge James Welsh.”

Why is there a debate? The Missouri Plan sent up three people with solid credentials. Blunt got to put a Republican on the Supreme Court and a Republican on the Court of Appeals - and they were both qualified. The Missouri Plan could also be called the "Non-hack plan" and it works. We have seen how Blunt makes other appoints - big time financial contributors. Let's save the judicial system from people buying judicial appointments, justice should not be for sale.

Congrats to Judge Welsh, you will make a fine addition to the Court of Appeals (despite you being a Republican).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Blunt Loves Secret Selection of Judges

Matt Blunt whined about the Missouri Non-Partisan Judicial Selection Plan. I think its wonderful, it even gave Blunt the opportunity to pick a judge with Republican roots for the Supreme Court that was good enough for both Ashcroft and Bond - Judge Patricia Breckenridge. Blunt wanted everything from applicants from college transcripts to their favorite supreme court opinion.

As you know, the Missouri Plan is only for St. Louis, Jackson County and Clay County trial judges and all the appellate judges in the state. It does not apply to other trial judges throughout our state - they have partisan elections. If someone quits, then the Governor appoints a replacement and that judge stands for a vote of the people at the next election.

Judge J. Miles Sweeney resigned in Springfield, Greene County. Blunt appointed his replacement. The Springfield News-leader - following Blunt's call for openness and light in the appointment of judges - asked for all documents Blunt reviewed to make his selection of the new judge. Mr. Messenger at the News-Leader got this thoughtful response.

"Dear Mr. Messenger: This is in response to your September 20, 2007, request for records under the Missouri Sunshine Law. Enclosed is Judge Sweeney's resignation letter. Other materials concerning Mr. Bob Lawson's appointment, interview notes on other applicants, and any other material concerning the appointment are closed for privacy concerns under sections 610.010 and 610.021 (3), RSMo. This position is not a lifetime appointment like the appellate courts (with retention elections); Mr. Lawson will face a partisan election in less than a year. Materials advertising the position would likely be open records, but the governor's office does not advertise for local judicial appointments. We would advise you to consult with the local officials for their steps to advertise the position. We received a number of applications and a great number of recommendations for applicants, so it is our assumption, based on the interest in the position that our office received before and after judge Sweeney's resignation, that the pending vacancy was well known among members of the local bar. Sincerely, Henry T. Herschel, General Counsel."

Nothing like a little hypocrisy to stir up the base.

Monday, October 8, 2007

KC MO PD Cost of Taking Bush to Breakfast

You will recall the stink in KC over traffic snarls when President Bush decided to fix the riff between Senator Bond and Congressman Graves by going to breakfast at the Corner Cafe. Who knows if it has worked, Senator Bond hasn't appeared in a photo op with Mayor Kay Barnes in a while.

I made a Sunshine Request of the KC MO Police Department. The information above is direct from the police department, nothing changed, nothing redacted. I paid the pretty sum of $85.06 to get this information.

All Americans respect the presidency and security is essential for the leader of the free world. Fixing political feuds can be done in the presidential suite at the hotel. Spending $3,867.90 to transport Bush to breakfast is crazy.

The CYA at the bottom of the KC MO PD cost summary indicates that almost all of the expenses would have been realized anyway. I assume, however, that the 1 major, 2 captains, 12 sergeants, 65 officers and 14 civilians are employed to fight crime. "Transporting politicians to try to keep Graves in office" is not in a KC MO police officers description.

Support Voters Deciding the Smoking Ban

City Council is going to decide whether or not to put Beth Gottstein's proposal to allow voters to decide on the smoking ban to a vote this week. They need to hear from voters.

Here's the easiest way to get them council@kcmo.org and mayor@kcmo.org

I emailed this letter earlier today

I write to you to express my support for Ordinance 071066, sponsored by Councilwoman Beth Gottstein.

This Ordinance does nothing more than take this hotly charged issue and put a smoking ban in front of the voters. These are the voters that elected you, so we must have a little wisdom. Give us voters the chance to decide this one.

If given the chance, I will be voting for the smoking ban. Even tobacco companies have given up arguing that second hand smoke isn't bad for people. Now we hear about property rights, freedoms and a host of other arguments on why people should be able to spread cancerous smoke to innocent bystanders. If someone wants to smoke at the airport, let them go to the smoking room or outside. That option is not available in many public places, including restaurants. The end of time will not come; people still eat at restaurants in Chicago, New York City and California.

Smoking kills people and I don't want to expose my children to second hand smoke. Adults can do what they want in their homes. Please allow the voters to decide this issue.

Here's a link to a great poster that says "A non-smoking section in a restaurant is like a non-urinating section in a swimming pool." Pretty clever.

Bush is No Truman

50 years ago, on October 5, 1947, in the first televised White House address, President Truman asked Americans to refrain from eating meat on Tuesdays and poultry on Thursdays to help stockpile grain for starving people in Europe.

The New York Times reported on the event and had this interesting paragraph:

Bringing international diplomacy in as an unseen guest at the table of every American family, Secretary Marshall declared that the American larder was the "vital" instrument of peace and called on the people to "tighten our belts, clean our plates and push ourselves away from the table" to relieve the hungry of Europe.

Lots has changed. Truman saw that hungry people would lead us to another war. Truman did not leave the baby boomers to pay for WW II, America had to tighten our belts. Has the world really changed that much in 50 years, or just the wisdom of the occupant of the White House?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hillary Reaches Out to Faith Communities

Today Hillary Clinton had a nice fundraiser in KC.

More important, she reached out to faith communities, meeting with ministers, discussing her faith. What I wouldn't give to have heard her address how the religious right has high jacked the morals debate. I understand that is was moving and very real. The Democrats have really gotten religion.

There, I said something nice about someone besides Edwards.

Campaign Contribution Update

We all know that the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that the statute allowing unlimited campaign contributions is unconstitutional.

Missouri Political News Service (an organization that has taken its fair (or unfair)share of pot shots from this blog) is reporting an EXCLUSIVE story that Todd Graves (brother of Congressman Sam Graves) sent an 11 page letter to the Ethics Commission telling them why they lack the power to tell candidates to return excess contributions. I hate to do this, but good story, MPNS
The entire letter from Graves to the Ethics Commission is attached.

Todd Graves' letter is a very well written, thoughtful piece of legal advocacy - yet, I disagree. I assume when a lawyer sends something on his or her firm letterhead it means that they are being paid. Wonder who hired Graves? Many important political folks have hired the firm, including Jeff Roe when he got sued. Matt Blunt has the most to gain. Jay Nixon and Jeff Harris have already said they will return contributions in excess of the campaign limits. Chris Koster - the other person who stands to get hurt if donations must be returned - is now a Democrat, so I trust that he wouldn't hire a firm of high profile Republicans. Maybe a big Blunt donor?

Any thoughts on who the mystery client is?

Secret Email, Illegal Immigrants and the Legacy of Blunt

Matt Blunt is shaping up his legacy - kicking the sick and the poor off health care insurance, secret emails and companies that hire illegal immigrants get kick tax breaks.

First Matt Blunt says his emails are deleted and that they are not public records. Then Ed Martin at an MHDC meeting starts talking about "a bunch of Mexicans" when discussing contractors that employ illegal immigrants. After complaining about the racist remarks, a Hispanic employee of the MHDC resigns under pressure. Next thing you know, some folks on the MHDC attempt to takes tax credits taken away from a contractor/developer named Hennesy for employing illegal aliens. According to Gone Mild, Ed Martin, speaking on behalf of the Governor, simply gets off the phone to stop the vote. Then, according to a video posted on Blue Blog, Blunt starts dancing around the issue of whether he has any responsibility for the crazy move of allowing contractors keep state tax breaks if they hire illegal immigrants.

One area that the media has muddled is the multiple contractors/developers at play at the MHDC. One vote at MHDC was about a developer/contractor named Hennesy that continues to employ illegal immigrants. Republicans and Democrats alike on MHDC supported pulling the tax credits, but with Ed Martin, Blunt's chief, getting off the phone, not enough votes existed to pass the resolution pulling the credits.

The other developer/contractor is Gundracker. He's guy that fired a Texas subcontractor using illegal immigrants and then went to the MHDC asking for more tax credits because he had to comply with the law and employ real to life Americans.

You know what fixes this - using union labor. You don't hear about JE Dunn getting caught with illegal immigrants on the job, because they use union labor. Imagine that, a world where a super rich Republican like Dunn can pay people a living wage and employ Americans. Almost sounds patriotic.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Blog CCP Rocks

The Committee for County Progress is the oldest and largest Democratic Club in Jackson County. We have 150 voting members and many more general members. We have forums, we discuss, we disagree and we endorse.

We are also the 7th most influential political blog in Missouri, and continue to move up!

Bush Vetos SCHIP

President George W. Bush, the guy who never uses his veto pen and who has run up 9 trillion worth of debt, has vetoed an expansion SCHIP.

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a national program in the United States which provides health insurance for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet cannot afford to buy private insurance.
State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)—a successful program that provides health care to millions of low-income children. Sen. Bond voted for it. Sen. McCaskill voted for it. Kay Barnes supports the measure. Congressman Graves voted against it.

On Monday, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organized a group of parents and children that marched to the White House to protest Bush's upcoming veto. What happened when they got there? They were asked to go away. But wait, it gets worse—two days before vetoing health care for millions of low-income children, George Bush had the nerve to issue a presidential proclamation commemorating—you guessed it—"Child Health Day."

Who could be against providing health care to kids? The guy who only does things that makes profits for his friends in the oil business, that's who.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Blunt's Secret Emails Continue to Cause Fuss

Well, Blunt keeping his emails secret continues to cause problems.

Shortly after it was mentioned here that Scott Eckersley was responding to Sunshine requests about emails, Fired Up! reported that Scott got fired. Readers may recall that I made a Sunshine request for emails about Jim Torres getting forced to retire from MHDC after he complained about racist comments and promised to keep you posted.

I got a letter dated September 25, 2007 from Henry Herschel enclosing Torres' resignation email, a letter from Ed Martin to Pete Ramsel (director of MHDC) and Pete's email. Jim Torres emailed his resignation letter to Pete on September 6, 2007 at 4:58 pm. Pete's email (grammer errors are his, not mine) to Ed Martin of September 7, 2007 at 5:13 am says:

Ed, Jim resigned yesterday. i am OK with this. it is to bad, but it is the best thing for the agency and JIM. again, i apologize to you. so you know he had issues with other commissioners, especially Jeff Schaeperkotter. pete

Jeff Schaeperkotter is not on the MHDC, but he does serve as Nixon's representative. Why would Pete Ramsel be revealing Jim Torres "issues" with other commissioners?

The letter from Ed Martin to Pete, dated September 6, 2007 (that means Ed quickly went into CYA mode) says in part:

Thanks for the call last night. I appreciate it and accept your apology on behalf of the MHDC. As I mentioned, I was surprised to read the fax from Jim Torres. I found it both unprofessional and inappropriate. . . . And I was clear that there are too many developers and contractors who deny that there is a problem with illegal immigration. Too many of them simply look the other way and that is unacceptable. . . . What [the contractor] did was illegal and the Governor and MHDC cannot accept his excuses.

OK, I'm calling BS. Ed Martin says simply looking the other way is unacceptable and that the Governor cannot accept excuses?? Well, Gone Mild reported how when that same contractor got caught employing illegal aliens AGAIN and there was a motion to take the tax credits away from the contractor, Martin looked the other way and hung up the phone so he wouldn't have to vote. KC Blue Blog dug in further and identified Nixon's representative (Jeff Schaeperkotter) as the person seeking to pull tax credits from the contractor that employs illegal aliens.

Chief of Staff Ed Martin and Gov. Matt Blunt, care to explain why you looked the other way and wouldn't pull the tax breaks from a developer that employs illegal aliens?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Grisamore (47th) has an Ethics Problem

Rep. Jeff Grisamore (R) has an ethics problem.

We all know about conflicts of interest; our mommas taught us to avoid them. You can't be in charge of the cookie jar and be dipping into it. That is, however, exactly what Jeff Grisamore is doing. According to KC Blue Blog and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, when Blunt announced that he was going to start giving state monies to churches to do the state's social services, Rep. Grisamore was at Blunt's side. Frequent readers of this blog will know I am not ashamed of my religion, but sure don't want my politics and religion mixed.

Grisamore makes $120,000 a year as president of the Alliance for Orphans and Widows (sounds like a really good cause). If you go to their website, don't expect much, its under construction. The conflict of interest arises when Grisamore sponsored legislation so the faith based organizations could get payed to do the state's social services work. The Bill is HB 888 and establishes the Faith-Based Organization Liaison Act.

Now, the ethics problems arise. Go to Jeff's political website and his address is listed as 305 S.W. Market Street. Go to the web site of the Alliance for Orphans and Widows and its address is, you guessed it, 305 S.W. Market Street. It gets even better, the two organizations share a phone number, too. 816-225-5695. At this point, it kinda gets sad. Representative Grisamore pays for the phone number out of campaign funds, according to his most recent MEC filing.

Don't mix politics and religion. Rep. Grisamore, please give one up (preferably, not God). Either it is a political office or a non-profit office (the website says they are in critical need of tax deductible contributions). It can't be both for you to keep your 501(c)3) status.