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Talent, Bond Vote to Allow Bush to Broadly Interpret Geneva Convention
By Antonio D. French
Friday, September 29, 2006 at 8:25 AM
The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 65-34, has passed a controversial bill that gives broad authority to President George W. Bush to interpret (or re-interpret) the long-standing Geneva Convention standards on the treatment of prisoners of war as he sees fit. Missouri Senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent, both Republicans, both voted in support of the bill. Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, both Democrats, voted against.
Clay, Carnahan Vote Against Wire-Tapping, Passes House 232-191
By Antonio D. French
St. Louis Congressmen Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan were among 191 members of the House of Representatives to vote against legalizing the Bush Administration's domestic spying program yesterday. The bill passed with the support of 232 of their colleagues. The Senate has not been able to come to an agreement on the controversial program and likely will not vote on it before the pre-election recess.
Blacks Aren't Getting Very Much From Well-Funded Stem Cell Supporters
By Antonio D. French
Thursday, September 28, 2006 at 1:13 PM
Several African-American elected officials and community leaders have asked supporters of the extremely well-funded Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures why so little of their budget is being spent with and on the black community.
"As we head into the final days before the November election, I believe that more emphasis should be given to the inclusion efforts of the Coalition," wrote St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green in a letter to Dr. William H. Danforth.
In the letter, written on Sept. 8 and recently obtained by PUB DEF, Green tells Danforth, who has often been the public face of the Stem Cell initiative, that more minorities should be added to the Coalition's staff.
"If at the end of the day when the vendor list is tallied and African-Americans have been fairly represented, then this non-partisan initiative can certainly shine through as inclusive," wrote Green.
The Comptroller isn't the only one complaining about how little of the organization's $16 million is trickling down to black political vendors around the state. Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellanrecently wrote about a similar letter from Ald. Freeman Bosley, Sr. written to Brad Ketcher, the Coalition's campaign manager.
PUB DEF has been told that that letter was not actually ever mailed. But Ketcher did receive a letter from the chairman of the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable. In his response letter, dated Sept. 14 and also obtained by PUB DEF, he said "more than $2 million has been expended or is committed to be spent for African-American outreach."
Outreach? Is that money spent with black firms to reach black voters or money spent with out-of-town white-owned companies, such as Clear Channel Radio or Washington-based mail houses?
"The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures has many African American vendors, consultants, staff members and volunteers on our team," said spokewoman Connie Farrow. She told us to look on the campaign's financial reports filed with the state. And so we did.
As of July 1, over $1.2 million to California-based Winner & Mandabach. $350,000 to Seattle-based Michael D. Meyers Co. for direct mail. $94,000 to Ketcher. $64,000 to Farrow. $75,000 to Sandra Aust from the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing. $12,000 to the Kelley Group (that's Robert J. Kelley of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, AFL-CIO).
Oh wait, a black person: $6,000 to Rev. B.T. Rice for "issue outreach". Not looking so good, Connie.
"The next campaign finance reporting deadline is Oct. 15, which we will meet. Our Coalition and supporters continue to identify opportunities to strengthen our efforts in the African American community," said Farrow.
We will see.
[Editor's Note: PUB DEF contacted the Coalition for Lifesaving Cures last week about doing some advertising. To date, we have not heard back from them.]
Okay, let's round out the Thursday morning bitching with a complaint about an article in the St. Charles Journal (man, with all this whining this site's going to start reading like a -- a blog).
Now granted it's St. Charles, but considering this reporter used to write for the Suburban Journals, it kind of hurts that we weren't included in their story on political blogging, which mostly talked about partisan blogs Fired Up Missouri and The Source, and a local site called St. Chuck Watch. But no Pub Def Weekly. [Insert sad face]
Oh well, no more whining. Let the haters hate. We've got important work to do...
From today's "Political Eye" column in the St. Louis American: "...several other African-American businessmen announced Monday that they are backing Talent and gave his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill an 'F' on the issues."
Now how would they know about that report card? There was no American reporter in the room -- or any other reporter except PUB DEF's -- but no mention of our exclusive report or photos.
It is very tiring to have to fight over and over for the same basic courtesy that any other reporter would get. A little appreciation for making it so easy for these larger news organizations to simply copy-and-paste their stories would be nice.
Rumors breed rumors. In the days since the local blogosphere has been discussing a possible challenge to Aldermanic Pres. Jim Shrewsbury from 6th Ward Ald. Lewis Reed, another rumor has been circulating about a second alderman who was considering entering the race.
Two separate sources told PUB DEF that 27th Ward Ald. Greg Carter wanted to be the African-American candidate to run for President of the Board. When Reed became the choice of some influential politicos, they say Carter became upset and soon cut a deal with Shrewsbury involving committee assignments and a possible chairmanship.
Carter told PUB DEF tonight that those rumors are ridiculous.
"I haven't done anything with Shrewsbury," said Carter. He said that it wouldn't even be possible for him to run for any other office at this time because of the demands of his full-time job and the risk to his retirement benefits. "I've got 23 years here. If I do anything, it'll be after my 25th year."
Carter said his ward organization, which includes committeewoman and State Rep. Connie Johnson and committeeman Curtis Royston, decides as a group which candidates they are going to support.
"We don't do it like other communities do it," he said. "We invite all the candidates and ask them questions. Then we decide who to support." He said the President's race will be no different.
Any good rumor has some truth to it and Carter admits that he does have his eyes on a higher position.
"I've got something in mind, but not for at least another three years," he said cryptically.
Someone is updating U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill's Facebook profile -- and it ain't her.
According to The Maneater, the student newspaper of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Facebook, a social networking website popular among college students, created thousands of pages for gubernatorial and congressional candidates, including McCaskill. But to the average visitor, it appears as though the candidates themselves created the page.
A Facebook spokesman told The Maneater that the login codes were made available to the campaigns so that they -- and only they -- can update the info. But apparently someone else was updating it -- with suprising accuracy (who knew she loved Crosby, Stills and Nash?).
"The information looks accurate, but it seems as though the page was written in a way that appears it was written by Claire McCaskill," the campaign's spokeswoman, Adrianne Marsh, told the paper.
According to The Maneater, the McCaskill campaign contacted Facebook administrators Monday and requested that the profile be taken down and replaced with a series of links. The profile now includes only her educational history, contact information and links to her official Web site. We'd give you a link, but registration is required to view Facebook pages.
Back in April, the staff of the Columbia Missourian created a mock-up of Pres. George W. Bush's Facebook profile. Click here to see it.
FUN FACT: Guess who the editor-in-chief of The Maneater was back in 1999... None other than Post-Dispatch City Hall reporter Jake Wagman.
The president of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, Kevin Ahlbrand, debated 6th Ward Alderman (and possible Aldermanic President candidate) Lewis Reed on the question of police residency last night.
The informational debate, which occured at a meeting of The Tilles Park Neighborhood Association, is largely moot since the state-appointed police board voted last week to significantly relax the ban just seven weeks before voters are scheduled to let their opinion be known on the matter in a non-binding referendum.
Reed joked that the debate took place on Ahlbrand's home turf, in SLPOA's hall in south St. Louis. Those in attendence -- including Ald. Jennifer Florida, state senate aide Harold Brown, mayoral aide Charles Bryson, and current Aldermanic Pres. Jim Shrewsbury -- also heard debates on the stem cell initiative and the proposed tobacco tax increase.
At a meeting of the Tilles Park Neighborhood Association last night, Aldermanic President Jim Shrewsbury tried to explain several of the propositions and charter amendments voters will be asked to vote on November 7.
Today (Thursday) is the deadline to sign up to be a tech support guy (or lady) at polling places on Election Day, Nov. 7. Technical Specialists are still needed.
You don't have to be a CS, able to write code with your eyes closed. Just know a bit more than the sweet white-haired ladies that will be asking for your photo I.D. before you can vote.
Do a public service and maybe make enough to pay your car payment (or at least a couple of fill-ups). The pay is $225 for a day of training and the actual work on E-Day. Call Stephanie Doss at 622-3546 or Summer Richardson at 622-4327. Tell 'em PUB DEF sent you.
AUDIO: McCaskill Defends Record, Asks Why Crumpton Was at Talent's Event
By Antonio D. French
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 5:14 PM
State Auditor Claire McCaskill defended her record this morning on WGNU's "The Wake-Up Call with Lizz Brown" against what her campaign called "totally unfounded" statements made at a fundraiser for her opponent, U.S. Senator Jim Talent.
In PUB DEF's exclusive story yesterday from the event hosted by a group of local black businessmen, we reported that two of the hosts printed a large poster calling out McCaskill on what they said was a decades-long silence on issues relating to blacks. They gave the senate candidate an F grade in four different categories.
The mock report card was an answer to a similar failing report given to Talent from the NAACP on his record. Today during a one-hour block of paid air time, McCaskill told radio host Lizz Brown she thought it was strange to see on PubDef.net that local NAACP head Harold Crumpton was among those in attendance at yesterday's event.
"Maybe you can explain this to me," said McCaskill, who was calling in on a cell phone. "The NAACP gives Jim Talent an F on his report card for the way he has voted in Congress and [Talent's supporters] have a press event trying to make up some problems I have, which are not real, and the head of the NAACP in St. Louis is there?"
Brown answered that Crumpton is not your typical NAACP president. "If the NAACP gave out indictments... we would have the most indicted head of the NAACP in the State of Missouri."
The board of the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, the metro area's designated planning agency, will be meeting tomorrow for their regular monthly meeting. One of the topics of discussion will be the new $1 billion Mississippi River Bridge.
The board is scheduled to vote on a proposal to do yet another analysis of the traffic and financial situations at the root of more than a decade of calls for a new bridge and why construction still has not begun on actually building one.
Elected officials from Missouri and Illinois are expected to attend, including St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, St. Clair County Executive Mark Kern, Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan, and St. Charles County Executive Joe Ortwerth.
The meeting will be Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. at Gateway Tower, One Memorial Drive, on the 16th floor.
The Tilles Park Neighborhood Association will sponsor a State and Local Ballot Issues Forum tonight at 7 p.m. at the St. Louis Police Officers Association Hall, 3710 Hampton. The event is open to the public and will be moderated by Dave Drebes, publisher of the Arch City Chronicle.
Proponents and opponents of Constitutional Amendment 2 (the stem cell initiative), Constitutional Amendment 3 (the tobacco tax increase), the non-binding (and now irrelevant) police department residency referendum, Proposition B (the minimum wage increase), the proposed recreation sales tax, and the Charter Amendment to increase fines will be speaking on these issues.
UPDATE: More on tonight's line-up...
Constitutional Amendment 2 (stem cell): A representative for Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures v. Dr. Rob Hanson, MD, PhD, Missourians Against Human Cloning.
Constitutional Amendment 3 (tobacco tax): Cindy Erickson, Committee for a Healthy Future v. Ron Leone, Missourians Against Tax Abuse.
Proposition B (minimum wage increase): Proponent Amy Blouin, Give Missourians a Raise.
Proposition P (city recreation sales tax): Proponent Charles Bryson, Office of the Mayor.
Four charter amendments: Neutral presentations by Board President Jim Shrewsbury.
Police Dept Residency Nonbinding Vote: 6th Ward Alderman Lewis Reed v. Kevin Ahlbrand, St. Louis Police Officers Association.
TPNA was unable to secure the ballot numbering on the city charter amendments. As of 8:40 a.m. this morning, the Board of Elections did not have sample ballots. Absentee balloting in Missouri began this morning.
The St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will be hosting a luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The topic of discussion will be corporate media ownership.
Panelists include Jeff Gordon, president of the St. Louis Newspaper Guild; Dave Ervin, vice president/general manager, KMOX 1120; William A. Lanesey, vice president/general manager, KPLR-TV Channel 11 CW; Alvin Reid, city editor, St. Louis American; Ed Bishop, editor/general manager, St. Louis Journalism Review; and Antonio D. French, PubDef.net.
The location of the event is still to be announced. Stay tuned for details...
Republican Sen. Jim Talent, in the middle of a very close campaign with Democrat State Auditor Claire McCaskill, took a few minutes yesterday to sit down with PUB DEF to discuss what he sees as the choice facing Missouri voters in November. He also answers why he's taken the position he has on the stem cell debate and why he hasn't taken a position on the proposal to raise Missouri's minimum wage.
Before retiring in 2002, J.C. Watts was the lone black Republican in Congress, the first elected from a southern state in over 120 years. Today he is a businessman and ordained minister in his home state of Oklahoma and a talking head on cable news.
Yesterday Watts was in St. Louis to speak to a group of local black business, religous and civic leaders. He also spoke with PUB DEF about his friend, Sen. Jim Talent ("He listens to hear, not to respond."), and the anti-incumbent sentiment of voters across the nation ("If you find yourself in a ditch, you probably dug it.").
Black Businessmen Raise Funds for Talent, Give McCaskill "F" on Issues
By Antonio D. French
Monday, September 25, 2006 at 12:41 PM
PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE
Republican Sen. Jim Talent continues his push to make inroads with black voters. A group of African-American business leaders held a breakfast fundraiser for Talent this morning at the offices of Midwestern Construction Company in old north St. Louis.
The host committee included Midwest owner Charles Kirkwood, entrepreneur Darryl Jones, David Steward of World Wide Technology, Bryan Cave attorney Jerry Hunter, and political consultant Tim Person. The event also featured a special guest, former Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr. from Oklahoma.
Talent told the roomful of nearly 100 black business, civic, and church leaders that too often politicians come to the African-American community and tell them what they are going to do. He said what he tries to do is ask people what they want him to do for them.
"Politicians do that with other communities of interest," said Talent. "I don't go to the farmers and say this is what Jim Talent thinks ought to happen in agriculture."
While Talent made only a couple of indirect mentions of his Democratic challenger, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, his supporters took a more direct approach.
Darryl Jones held up a glossy poster which read: "...Let's See Claire's Report Card", an answer to the NAACP's report card which is often referenced by McCaskill supporters. On that report card, the organization gave Sen. Talent a failing grade. On this report card, paid for by Jones and Kirkwood, McCaskill scored F's in three categories relating to black St. Louis and an F minus in the more general "Fighting for Our Communities" category (click here to see the card).
Familiar faces attending today's event included former school board member and Urban League CEO James Buford, Rev. Sam Jones, NAACP Pres. Harold Crumpton, and former St. Louis Rams star Mike Jones.
Talent and Watts both sat down with PUB DEF for an interview. Click here to see video of our conversation with Talent and click here to see Mr. Watts.
UPDATE: The McCaskill campaign calls Jones and Kirkwood's claims "totally unfounded." Adrianne Marsh, the campaign's communications director, sent the following statement to PUB DEF this afternoon:
"When elected as Prosecutor and as Auditor, Claire walked into offices that had little to no diversity and she made unprecedented changes for the better. Additionally, she conducted ground breaking audits that affected African American businesses, including an audit of the Minority Business Enterprise to ensure that diversity within state contracts was a priority.
At a time when the voice of those who have been adversely affected by the policies of the Bush Administration should be heard, Senator Talent wants to prevent thousands from voting by supporting both the state and national Voter I.D. laws aimed at disenfranchising minority, disabled and older voters. Claire has been and always will be a champion for the African American community."
The addition of the new video player in our banner now presents an opportunity for campaigns and businesses to run their television commercials on our site (That's a big "hint-hint" to Ms. McCaskill, Thomas and Montee; Mr. Talent; all you Stem Cell supporters and opponents; and all the folks against the tobacco tax and in favor of it).
Steve Smith, owner of The Royale Food and Spirits, which is often home to many political and social get-togethers, has some beef with 20th Ward Alderman Craig Schmid. While Smith is eyeing a Cherokee Street property for his next splash of urban cool on the southside's often beige canvas, a little thing called Ordinance No. 66690 all but ensures the underutilized commercial area remains one of the city's notable underachievers.
Last year, around the same time Schmid was also pushing a law to authorize seizing young people's vehicles for merely possessing speakers deemed too large, the shall we say "conservative" alderman passed Ord. 66690 which extended by three years his ban on new bars in the ward.
The ordinance states, "The existence of alcoholic beverage establishments appears to contribute directly to numerous peace, health, safety and general welfare problems including loitering, littering, drug trafficking, prostitution, public drunkenness, defacement and damaging of structures..."
Smith takes objection to that blanket characterization of neighborhood watering holes.
"Contrary to Ordinance No. 66690, I do not believe that an establishment similar to the Royale will contribute to the destruction of property or community values in the 20th Ward," wrote Smith in an open letter asking people to write a letter of their own in support of his campaign against the devil-90 law.
But even with a Santa's bag full of supportive words and "fight the power" sentiments, Smith is going to have a tough time swaying Alderman Schmid.
Schmid told former RFT reporter Mike Seelyearlier this year that he'd rather see buildings remain closed and vacant in his ward than allow new bars to open.
"In particular locations, absolutely," the alderman said. "What happens is that your good residents go somewhere else, and you can't attract people to take their places. We're planning some new homes right to the north of [Crimmins' property], and we can't have that next door. Quite frankly, we want to have our cake and eat it too."
The Crimmins in reference is Tim Crimmins, a local realtor who paid $130,000 for a 20th Ward property with plans of opening a hip urban bar similar to what Smith now has in mind. But before Crimmins invested another $200K in the building, the alderman pulled his coat tail to the fact that he, his bar, and his money weren't welcome in the 20th Ward.
Despite that precedent, Smith remains hopeful. In the nearly 10 years since the bar ban was first enacted, the city has seen a surge of new energy and a greater willingness on the part of entrepreneurs to invest in the region's urban core.
"What the Ordinance does not take into account," wrote Smith in his letter, "is the progress that has been made in the intervening years by the neighborhood, and the City itself. The area is poised for additional growth."
Aldermanic Board President Jim Shrewsbury held a fundraiser on Thursday at The Royale, a popular southside bar, and PUB DEF's camera was on the scene. See more photos from the event at www.pubdef.net/photos/shrewsbury_party.
The Arch City Chroniclebeat us to reporting (doesn't happen very often) the latest rumor which is making its way around city political circles: 6th Ward Alderman Lewis Reed will be challenging Jim Shrewsbury in next year's President of the Board race.
We all know race and races go together like peas and carrots in this town, so of course the chief concern among many black politicos is who would fill Reed's seat on the board. Win or lose, if he was to run for President he couldn't keep his aldermanic seat since both races occur on the same day.
The name that most often comes up as Reed's likely successor is Democratic Committeeman Patrick Cacchione (who curiously is on record as giving $1,000 to Republican Sen. Jim Talent less than two years ago). Cacchione is white. Reed is black. While whites only make up 44% of the city's population, they hold the vast majority of elected offices -- including almost 60% of the aldermanic seats.
Some northsiders may withhold supporting Reed's longshot campaign for Board President if he doesn't make a clear effort to keep the 6th Ward seat filled by an African-American.
PUB DEF will be at today's meeting of the Board of Aldermen. Check back later for comments and reactions from colleagues of both Reed and Shrewsbury to this rumored Battle Royale.
UPDATE: Reed tells PUB DEF that he is indeed contemplating a run against Shrewsbury. He said he will be making a final decision sometime within the next 3-4 weeks.
But judging by the presence and close proximity to Reed of political consultant David Poger (fresh off of Jeff Smith's state senate victory) at today's aldermanic meeting, it appears Reed might already be picking up some talent.
Friends, family, past colleagues, and elected officials -- including St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, and State Senators Rita Days, Joan Bray, and Pat Dougherty -- all showed up yesterday to congratulate retired State Sen. Wayne Goode as he received a very unique honor.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis paid tribute to Goode (who Chancellor Thomas George called the campus' founder) by unveiling a life-size statue of the former legislator near the spot where the campus was first dedicated 40 years ago.
The bronze sculpture was created by renowned sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter. Goode served in the Missouri House and Senate for four decades and is credited with writing the legislation that established UMSL.
Editor's Note: This reporter managed Goode's last senate campaign in 2000.
Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill today accepted an offer by KMBC-TV, KCPT-TV, KCUR-FM and the Examiner Independence to debate in Kansas City on October 18. This is the fifth scheduled debate between the two U.S. Senate candidates.
The Kansas City debate will take place at the University Academy charter school. The debate will be moderated by KMBC-TV’s new anchor Larry Moore. The panelists are KMBC-TV’s political reporter Michael Mahoney, Kansas City Star political reporter Steve Kraske, KCPT-TV public affairs and the news programming director Nick Haines, KCUR-FM news director Frank Morris and Examiner Independence editorial board editor Jeff Fox.
Talent and McCaskill participated in their first debate last Friday at the Lake of the Ozarks. The candidates will also debate on October 8 on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington, D.C., on October 11 in St. Louis and on October 16 in Springfield.
GOP charges McCaskill with "hiding" environmental group's endorsement
By Antonio D. French
The Sierra Club recently endorsed State Auditor Claire McCaskill in her bid to unseat U.S. Senator Jim Talent, but Republicans today charged the McCaskill campaign with trying to hide her support from the pro-environment organization, which is often at odds with conservative lawmakers.
"You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep," said Paul Sloca, communications director for the Missouri Republican Party, in a press release sent out this morning. He pointed out the Sierra Club's endorsement is not among those listed on McCaskill's website.
"The McCaskill-Sierra Club agenda is clear: No to ethanol, no to farmers, no to job creation, no to private property rights, no to flood control and no to locks and dams. Claire McCaskill’s record shows she would put the interests of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters ahead of Missouri interests. Missourians can’t afford that risk," said Sloca.
The McCaskill campaign has not yet replied to a request for comment.
U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill and State Auditor candidate Susan Montee will be addressing a meeting of the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Committee tomorrow at the Firefighter's Hall. Central Committee Chairman Brian Wahby tells PUB DEF that "all Democrats are invited."
The meeting starts at 7:00 at 4271 Delor (just east of Gravois in the Bevo Neighborhood).
The Police Board voted this morning to lift the residency requirement for civilian employees who have been with the department for seven continuous years.
Mayor Francis Slay had made a motion to table the vote until after the Nov. 7 non-binding referendum in which voters would let their preference be known in the matter, but the mayor's motion was not seconded by any other board member.
UPDATE: Here are some clips from today's meeting. BTW, the final vote was 3-2 with Slay and JoAnn Freeman Murrow voting against -- though interestingly, Murrow did not second Slay's motion to table the vote.
The state-appointed St. Louis Metropolitan Police Board will be meeting this morning at 9:30 a.m. at the department's headquarters, 1200 Clark Avenue. They are scheduled to vote on a proposal to change the residency requirement for civilian employees -- seven weeks before the public is allowed to let its feelings be known on this issue in a Nov. 7 non-binding referendum.
Board President Chris Goodson and Mayor Francis Slay (who as mayor is also a member of the board) have not responded to requests for comment on whether this action is further evidence that the police board has no accountability to the citizens of the City of St. Louis?
Gov. Matt Blunt has appointed former Downtown Now! director and current Pulaski Bank president Tom Reeves to fill one three suddenly open seats on the seven-member board of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA).
The board is scheduled to vote Sept. 27 on Blunt's $350 million plan to divert funds liquidate assets from the college loan system to pay for construction projects at universities around the state.
Reeves is also a member of the special committee created by Mayor Francis Slay to examine the proposal to allow BJC Hospital to expand its use of a portion of Forest Park land.
The Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy and the Missouri Transportation Institute will be sponsoring a forum this week on the challenges to people and businesses expected from the planned reconstruction of Interstate 64 (Highway 40).
"Jobs and Community Life During the I-64 Reconstruction" will be held Friday, September 22, from 7:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom (Room 310), Anheuser-Busch Hall, on Washington University's Danforth Campus. The audience will be invited to take part in a panel discussion led by Kurt Odenwald, County Councilman from the 5th District of St. Louis County, and two nationally known transportation experts -- Genevieve Giuliano, professor and senior associate dean for research and technology at the University of Southern California; and Joseph Giglio, a senior academic specialist and executive professor at Northeastern University. Click here for more info.
Music legend Willie Nelson, who was recently in St. Louis to endorse U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, was issued a misdemeanor citation this morning for possession of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana.
According to the AP, Louisiana State Police stopped Nelson's tour bus early this morning for a routine commercial inspection when a state trooper smelled marijuana inside. Police seized about 1.5 pounds of marijuana and two-tenths of a pound of mushrooms.
PUB DEF interviewed McCaskill just a few weeks ago standing in front of that very bus. We had joked with her communications director, Adrianne Marsh, earlier that day about whether Willie Nelson's tour bus is a place a Senate candidate really wants to be in the final weeks of the campaign.
UPDATE: The McCaskill Campaign has some more star support. Rock star and Missouri native Sheryl Crow has recorded a video message in support of Claire McCaskill. Click here to watch it.
POLICE BOARD TO VOTE ON CIVILIAN RESIDENCY -- BEFORE VOTERS GET TO
By Antonio D. French
On November 7, city voters are scheduled to vote on a non-binding referendum that would again let their feeling be known about the police department's residency requirement. But it appears the state-controlled police board won't be waiting to hear what voters have to say.
St. Louis Police Board President Chris Goodson has scheduled a vote this week on lifting the requirement for civilian employees to live in the City of St. Louis. The vote will be Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the department's headquarters, 1200 Clark Avenue.
We have requested comments from Goodson and board member Mayor Francis Slay, who told PUB DEF last month that he hoped the police board would wait until after the citizens were allowed to vote in November.
Slay said that referendum vote would be a "more accurate representation of what the people of St. Louis want" than the series of public meetings held by the board over the past few months.
SMART PLAY, REGARDLESS - The Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske gave U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill props for the "Smart Move of the Week" for buying 100 tickets to last weekend's Rams game, helping to ensure the game would be broadcast locally. "It gave McCaskill a big splash of free media in the state's largest media market," wrote Kraske.
But some Republicans are talking conspiracy. STLMedia.net is reporting allegations that the McCaskill campaign and the KMOV sales department made a deal to give the campaign TV coverage in exchange for the buying the tickets, valued at $4,400.
"The sell-out made it possible for KMOV to air the game, which otherwise would have been blacked out locally," writes Mike Anderson. "Unconfirmed, so far, but eminently believable: without a News Director and GM Alan Cohen out of town, the Sales Manager forced the deal through, promising the news coverage in return for the sell-out of tickets so the game could air and thus be sponsored locally."
CAPITOL INACTION - As legislators gathered in Jefferson City last week for their annual Veto Session, many observers were left wondering, "What's the point?"
In the constitutionally required session, the State Legislature declined to override any of Gov. Matt Blunt's vetoes (he only made four line-item budget vetoes this year) and a move to restore some of the Governor's harmful reductions in Medicaid benefits didn't even make it on the agenda.
"We could've ensured some of our most vulnerable citizens could continue to report for work. But we didn't," State Sen. Maida Coleman told the Associated Press.
One cynical Capitol observer noted that, despite accomplishing next to nothing, all of the legislators that showed up did get paid for their efforts -- and if they opted to stay overnight, they got paid for that too. For those that did stay overnight, several lobbyist-sponsored Shindigs kept them from getting too bored in their hotel rooms.
THE AIR WAR - Both Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill are duking it out on the tube now. After a month-long headstart in which incumbent Talent ran unanswered commercials touting his centrist "political party's don't matter" message, challenger McCaskill joined the TV fight last week with an ad featuring her mom, daughter, and true-and-through Missouri values.
The Hill'sJonathan E. Kaplanreported on a survey which showed both ads appealing to centrist voters. From his article:
The survey conducted by Wilson Research Strategies showed that the advertisements were equally appealing: Talent's ad was slightly more effective than McCaskill's ad, 42 to 38 percent. But among independents, McCaskill's ad trumped Talent's by 42 to 34 percent.
Nevertheless, neither ad was particularly impressive to the respondents in terms of message, effectiveness or an ad that "I would talk about." Both ads scored lower than the average in each category. Yet they were equally appealing, earning a 5.8 on a 10-point scale. McCaskill's ad was more memorable.
Kaplan quotes political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg calling the race a "toss-up", but adding he thought of the five most vulnerable Republican seats, the Republicans are most likely to hold Talent's.
Aldermanic Board President Jim Shrewsbury will be holding an "evening of political dialogue" Thursday, Sept. 21, at The Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway. Various friends, prognosticators and characters (including Royale proprietor Steve "Iron Skillet" Smith) are promised to be in attendance. And of course, political contributions will be accepted.
Next week, the 6th Ward Democrats will be holding a fundraiser at the home of Committeeman Patrick Cacchione, 3419 Hawthorne Boulevard. The "Taste of the 6th Ward" will feature dishes from ward restaurants, including Panama Red's, The Pepper Lounge, The Tap Room, Sqwires, and Tanner B's. It all happens on Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen return to duty today after an eight-week summer vacation. One of the things scheduled for today's meeting is a brief recognition of the 28-year legislative career of State Sen. Pat Dougherty.
Dougherty, who was prevented from seeking re-election this year due to term limits (and whose first senate campaign in 2001 this reporter managed), is the subject of Resolution #96, introduced by Ald. Jennifer Florida (15th Ward).
"During his exemplary career in the Missouri General Assembly, Senator Dougherty has been an outspoken champion for the rights of children, senior citizens and families in this State and has been instrumental in the passage of legislation designed to guarantee those rights," the resolution states.
Click here to see the other resolutions to be introduced today to honor and commemorate St. Louis people and events.
Judge Strikes Down Voter ID Law [Updated x3 with Video]
By Antonio D. French
Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 5:16 PM
A judge has just struck down Missouri's law requiring voters to present a photo ID before they can cast a ballot. A restraining order has been issued preventing the Secretary of State's office from implementing the requirement.
UPDATE: Circuit Court Judge Richard G. Callahan today ruled the Missouri Voter Protection Act Unconstitutional, saying it "constitutes an impermissible additional qualification to vote in violation of Article VIII, Section 2 of the Missouri Constitution."
Callahan also said it represented an "undue burden to the fundamental right to vote," it violated the prohibition on interference with the "free exercise of the right of suffrage" and the requirement that "all elections shall be free and open", and by requiring payment of money to vote, it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the state constitution.
A statement from the Secretary of State's office is expected soon. And check back later for an interview we did earlier today -- before the ruling -- with the new chair of the St. Louis City Board of Elections, Kimberley J. Mathis. We talked briefly about the photo ID law.
At a meeting of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus yesterday in Jefferson City, legislators debated over whether current chairman, State Rep. John Bowman, should be allowed to keep the post during the upcoming session.
According to the organization's current by-laws, the chairmanship is to be passed to someone from one of three regions (St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the Kansas City area) every two years. Bowman, who represents a part of St. Louis County, took over as chair after State Rep. Ted Hoskins, also from the County, was removed earlier this year. At issue is whether Bowman can continue serving as chair after Hoskins' term has expired.
The next region in line for the chairmanship is St. Louis City. Some members have told PUB DEF to look for State Reps. Rodney Hubbard and Connie Johnson to seek the post -- two members who, along with State Rep. Robin Wright Jones, are also mentioned as possible candidates to replace the term-limited State Sen. Maida Coleman in 2008.
U.S. Senator Jim Talent and U.S. Senate Candidate Claire McCaskill have accepted their fourth debate today, which will be held on October 11th at 8:00 P.M. at Clayton High School in St. Louis.
The debate will be hosted by the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and will be broadcast live on local television by KSDK Channel 5 (NBC) and also on radio by KWMU 90.7 FM.
This is the candidates' fourth scheduled debate so far. They will also debate on September 15th at Lake Ozark for the Missouri Press Association's Candidate’s Forum, on October 8th in Washington, D.C. on NBC's "Meet the Press", and on October 16th in Springfield for a debate hosted by KYTV Channel 3 (NBC), Ozarks Public Television, KSMU 91.1 FM and the Springfield News-Leader.
The St. Louis Board of Education tonight voted to make Dr. Diana Bourisaw the permanent superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools.
By a vote of 4-2 (board member Ron Jackson walked out of the meeting) the board voted in a closed meeting to drop the title of "interim".
"After viewing first-hand the abilities of Dr. Bourisaw, the board felt there was no need to look further for a new superintendent," said Board President Veronica O'Brien in press release handed out later at the regular administrative meeting, which was open to the public.
"We have the perfect leader right in front of us," said O'Brien.
Check back later for video from tonight's meeting.
UPDATE: School Board President Veronica O'Brien told reporters after the meeting that the board dropped the "interim" title so the superintendent could apply for grants for the district.
"We can't apply for some of the grants that she can go in and get with the name 'interim' on it," she said.
O'Brien also said that making Dr. Bourisaw the permanent superintendent helps provide stability for the district, which helps to attract higher quality staff.
"We did what was in the best interest of the district and I think were following the guidelines of what [State Education Commissioner] Kent King and the task force want us to do," she said.
The City of St. Louis received the deed to the L. Douglas Abram Federal Building from the General Services Administration yesterday.
Monday's ceremony marked the final step in a three-year process of the city purchasing the building from the federal government for about $7.5 million. The city plans to convert part of the building into a parking garage for a newly renovated Kiel Opera House and the Savvis Center (soon to be called the Scottrade Center). Other parts of the building will be used to relocate offices of the the city's Health Department.
Back home after four days in Washington and what seemed like a week in O'Hare airport in Chicago (sometimes known as the place on-time flights go to die).
Checking up on some email and much of it was about the story we broke last week which included a controversial quote by U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill. National news organizations like the Associated Press, Congressional Quarterly, and The Washington Times (in tomorrow's edition) all picked up the story. As did blogs like the Daily Kos and many others.
[UPDATE: Here's a link to the Washington Times story.]
And of course the conservatives ate it up, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Rush Limbaugh (click here to listen).
As you can imagine, the site has been getting a lot of traffic over the past few days. And many of our videos have for the first time earned honors on YouTube.
Former President Bill Clinton was in St. Louis yesterday to raise money and votes for Democrat Claire McCaskill in her bid to unseat U.S. Senator Jim Talent. Here's some video from the public rally at The Pageant.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 36th Annual Legislative Conference ended last night with their annual Awards Dinner. More than 400 tables -- at up to $750 per seat -- filled the Washington Convention Center as members of the CBC honored and were honored by current and former members.
It seemed that every black player in national politics was in the room last night. But no one drew the crowds -- or the opportunistic photo seekers (this reporter included) -- like U.S. Senator Barack Obama.
VIDEO: Roberts Brothers, Wayman Smith added to Missouri Walk of Fame
By Antonio D. French
Saturday, September 09, 2006 at 4:23 PM
PUB DEF is reporting this week from Washington D.C. where we are attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 36th Annual Legislative Conference.
St. Louis entrepreneurs Mike and Steve Roberts and Anheuser-Busch VP Wayman Smith were among the names added to the Missouri Walk of Fame in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
At a reception in the beautiful headquarters of the National Association of Realtors, Congressmen Lacy Clay (St. Louis) and Emanuel Cleaver II (Kansas City) welcomed the Roberts Brothers, Smith, Kansas City natives Dr. Gayle Holliday, Rev. Dr. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson, and Freedom Inc. founder Fred Curls into the two-year-old Walk.
Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean stopped by to show his support. Retired Congressman Bill Clay, Sr. was on hand for the evening with his family. From the Missouri House of Representatives, State Rep. Melba Curls (Fred's granddaughter) and State Rep. Juanita Walton (with husband Elbert) also attended.
U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill has received strong criticism from Republican leaders for comments she made about Pres. George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina that were first reported on this blog.
Earlier this week, McCaskill told a group of local elected officials, which included white and black Democrats, that she would remind people over the course of her campaign against Republican Sen. Jim Talent that "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) both called on McCaskill to retract her words yesterday (who knew they read PUB DEF?). Frist even went so far as to say her criticisms were in some way aimed at the "under-staffed, under-equipped medical personnel making heroic efforts to save lives" in New Orleans.
To her credit, McCaskill didn't deny her words or backtrack on their meaning. She said she was just voicing "what many people felt about the tragedy of the response to Katrina."
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is one of those many people. Yesterday in Washington, Cleaver told a group of several hundred people at a Congressional Black Caucus event that Hezbollah did a better job responding to the needs of their people in Lebanon after the recent war than America did after Katrina (see our exclusive video).
In a related matter... PUB DEF is more than a little irritated at our town's daily newspaper today. After picking up on our story and running with it throughout the day yesterday on their website, they completely left out the name of our website and even the name of this reporter in the print edition of the story in today's paper. We believe the snub was deliberate and find it completely unprofessional. It seems the paper's senior political reporter is "hating the player" because we are constantly beating her in the game.
VIDEO: Cleaver on Katrina: Hezbollah did a better job than U.S. Gov't
By Antonio D. French
PUB DEF is reporting this week from Washington D.C. where we are attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 36th Annual Legislative Conference.
This afternoon, Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II hosted a session on "The Evolution of the Black Church and the African-American Political Experience". Cleaver's co-panelists included former Congressman Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake from New York; Rev. James T. Meeks, a state senator from Illinois; and the very popular Bishop T.D. Jakes, whose non-denominational Dallas church boasts a membership of greater than 28,000.
Cleaver stressed what he said is the need for black politicians and religious leaders to work together. He told a room of several hundred -- mostly black -- people that no matter what their religious, economic, or other demographic differences, they all face a common foe in racism.
He told a story of a rabbit who was walking along when suddenly he was shot at. The bullet narrowly missed him and he darted into the first hole he saw. Inside the hole was another rabbit. That rabbit asked the first, "What's wrong?"
"Someone's shooting at me!" he answered.
"Why?" asked the second rabbit.
"I have no idea."
"Well, I'll go have a talk with him. Wait here." And the second rabbit calmly stepped out of the hole and walked towards the hunter. "Sir, why are you shooting at my..." Boom!!! The hunter's rifle sounded off, again barely missing its target. The rabbit darted back in the hole.
"That guy's crazy!" he said. "First he shot at you and now he's shooting at me!"
"I don't think you get it," said the first rabbit. "He's not shooting at me or you. He's just shooting at 'rabbit'."
"Friends, what's happening is happening to all of us," said Cleaver.
He pointed to the images of blacks starving and begging for water in front of the Superdome in New Orleans as evidence of African-Americans being in the same second-class boat.
"One day after Hezbollah discontinued bombing Israel, Hezbollah was passing out $12,000 checks in Lebanon," said Cleaver. "[And] we couldn't do it in New Orleans."
To some, the Congression Black Caucus Weekend is as much about play as it is about work -- Well, actually, depending on who you talk to, those work sessions are just excuses for "partying and hooking up" afterwards -- much like the Democratic and Republican Conventions every four years. Since this reporter is happily hitched, there won't be any hooking up. But my first night in D.C. did see plenty of parties.
We started off at the Hotel Monoco where the IMPACT Group hosted a CBC party in a beautiful outdoor courtyard filled with live music and upper class black people. There we bumped into Congressman Lacy Clay and his wife. We also rubbed elbows with Cousin Jeff from BET.
We then moved over to the exclusive ticket-only Fannie Mae party at Union Station. Crossing the street on our way to the shin-dig, we passed Senator John McCain in the crosswalk, just walking alone like any other guy. In the party we ran into Clay's aide, Darryl Piggee, and his wife.
From there we headed to the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, which we were told is the second largest government building in D.C. (the Pentagon is the first). With VIP tags hanging around our neck (hey, we know people), we rubbed elbows with NAACP President Bruce Gordon and lobbyists and executives from just about every kind of corporation you can think of. We left before Ashford and Simpson took the stage for a concert sponsored by Southern Company.
Then we hit California Congresswoman Maxine Waters' invitation only party at the Fairmont Hotel (she didn't invite me, but again, I know people -- don't hate). Also in attendance were Congress members Barbara Lee, Al Green and William Jefferson (whose legal woes have made news recently). Lee Brown, former Mayor of Houston, and Mayor Johnnie Ford from Tuskegee, Alabama were also spotted. After snapping a couple of pictures of Waters (a St. Louis native whose sister was my 8th grade teacher) and Jefferson doing the Electric Slide, we split.
But before heading back to our hotel room to do a little writing, we stopped by one last party at the Hyatt Conference Hotel (sponsored by Remy Martin, no ticket necessary) and made a quick pass through Butler's Cigar Bar. On our way out, we bumped into Congressman Emanuel Cleaver from Kansas City and Congressman William Jefferson again.
And as I write this, in my pocket is a coveted ticket to one of the most exclusive parties of the week, The Black Party at D.C. hot spot, H2O Restaraunt and Lounge. But too little sleep and too many drinks mean this ticket won't get used and will instead become just another momento of one memorable night.
A Circuit Court judge today ruled against the group seeking to recall 3rd Ward Alderman Freeman Bosley, Sr. The judge ruled that the St. Louis City Board of Elections does have the right to allow signers of the petition to have their names removed from the petition by way of a signed affidavit.
Bosley and his supporters succeeded in getting hundreds of signers to opt to have their names removed -- enough, in fact, to leave the petition well short of the required number of valid signatures.
McCaskill Rallies Democrats, Aide Kicks Jeff Smith Out of Meeting
By Antonio D. French
Wednesday, September 06, 2006 at 7:15 PM
PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE
U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill met yesterday with several St. Louis area Democratic elected officials to emphasize the importance of the upcoming statewide elections and to heal whatever wounds may remain from last month's Primary fights.
Mayor Francis Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green, State Senator Maida Coleman, State Reps. John Bowman, Robin Wright-Jones, Yaphett El-Amin, Connie Johnson, soon-to-be State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, City Democratic Committee Chair Brian Wahby and most of the committee members were at the meeting at McCaskill's city headquarters in the St. Louis Marketplace on Manchester. But one recently elected city Democrat did not attend -- and not for lack of trying.
Jeff Smith, who recently won a tough primary election for State Senate and has no opposition in the general election, was stopped at the door and asked to leave by McCaskill's political director, Brandon Davis. He told Smith the meeting was only for "elected officials."
At least two of those elected officials voiced some concerns they had with McCaskill and the direction of the state party.
Committeewoman Norma Leggette (4th Ward) told McCaskill that she wasn't sure what to tell her constituents about what the Democratic Party stood for anymore. She said she felt the there were two parties in the City -- one white, one black.
Committeeman Joe Palm (26th Ward) said that McCaskill's opponent, Sen. Jim Talent, was making strong inroads into the black community. He claimed the incumbent Republican has been making promises of financial aid to black church leaders and even some northside politicos. Palm warned McCaskill that gimmicks won't increase voter turnout.
"I know I lost, but my opponents in my [State Rep] race had a big truck with video and signs too, and the turnout was still terrible," said Palm. He said the Republicans have gimmicks too. "Talent lit the Arch up pink," he said referring to Talent's bill that authorized bathing the Gateway Arch in pink lights to bring attention to breast cancer.
McCaskill listened quietly to Palm and Leggette before taking the floor. In a spirited voice, she told them that she would do everything she could to make clear to every Democratic voter that "George Bush has no better friend than Jim Talent."
McCaskill said she would remind people that "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black."
"That's what I'm talking about," interrupted Palm. "Your people should be videotaping that right now!"
U.S. Senator Jim Talent today jabbed his Democratic opponent, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, on her upcoming visit by President Bill Clinton -- who his campaign refered to as "Hillary Clinton's husband."
In a fundraising email to supporters, Talent said McCaskill has already "embraced the help of John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, John Edwards and her personal 'hero' Howard Dean - but sharing the stage with Bill Clinton shows just how far she'll go to carry the banner for the Washington liberals."
Clinton will be in town Saturday for a $2,100-per-person fundraiser for McCaskill at The Chase Park Plaza and a free Democratic rally at the Pageant on Delmar earlier in the day.
There have been rumors of a battle brewing for State Sen. Maida Coleman's position as Minority Floor Leader -- possibly from fellow Democrat, State Sen. Tim Green. We asked Sen. Coleman if she's worried about losing her position.
When Coleman returns to the senate she'll have a new colleague from St. Louis -- Jeff Smith. Coleman was openly supportive of one of Smith's opponents in the August primary election. With that in mind, we asked her if she expects Smith to be an ally in Jefferson City.
Finally, we asked Coleman about her own plans for life after the senate. State term limits prohibit her from seeking re-election. Earlier this year she had expressed interest in running for state auditor and city license collector. But after little support among Democrats and a scathing article in the Post-Dispatch about her own personal financial history, she decided against campaigning this year. Coleman said those experiences left her questioning the commitment of her party to African-American candidates.
U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill sent out a media advisory moments ago saying their candidate will be on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" at 6:00 this evening. From the advisory:
Today, during MSNBC’s day-long programming dedicated to politics in America, U.S. Senate Claire McCaskill will be interviewed by Chris Matthews on Hardball. The show will profile the McCaskill-Talent race. Even after $2.5 million in G.O.P. television ads, Sunday’s St. Louis Post Dispatch/Research 2000 Poll shows McCaskill leading Talent 47-46.
Reminder: I will be co-hosting an event today called Tastes for Tunes: A Restaurant Event to Benefit KDHX Community Media. Restaurants throughout the St. Louis area will donate a percentage of their sales to benefit KDHX 88.1 FM and KDHX-TV (Channels 21 and 22 in the City).
I'll be at The Royale Food & Spirits, 3132 S. Kingshighway, and would love your help in supporting the cause. To do so, all you need to do is show up and eat! (Pretty easy, huh?)
Come between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for good food, get your picture taken, whisper some tips in my ear, and help support independent community media in St. Louis.
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone that came by this afternoon. The event was an absolute success!
Special thanks to the following attendees: (soon-to-be) State Senator Jeff Smith, (soon-to-be) State Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, Pam Ross and Brandyn Jones from the President of the Board's office, prolific blogger Shark Fu (aka "Angry Black Bitch"), Sal Martinez, Tim Person, Shirley Spencer, Teachers Union Pres. Mary Armstrong, my co-host Grace Woodard and her crew from the SLU student newspaper, Jessica the waitress, and Steve Smith the proprietor.
Click here to see some great photos from the event.
Last week, State Senator Maida Coleman blasted Gov. Matt Blunt and his head of the Office of Administration for politicking on the taxpayers' dime. In a press release she called Commissioner Mike Keathley a "spin doctor" and said he lacked credibility when speaking on issues other than the budget.
Coleman, who as the Minority Floor Leader in the senate is one of the highest ranking Democrats in Missouri, sat down with PUB DEF today to discuss her criticisms of Keathley and Blunt. She also discussed one of Blunt's latest hires, former St. Louis Election Board Chairman Ed Martin, who is now the Governor's new chief of staff.
Coleman said the election board under Martin had no business trying to get involved in the legal fights over the new voting requirements, which she said was really about "disenfranchising the large numbers of blacks and Democrats who vote here in the City of St. Louis."
Come back tomorrow for part two of our interview with Sen. Coleman as she discusses rumors of a fight to retain her leadership post in the state senate; her relationship with the newest senator from St. Louis, Jeff Smith; and her future plans for life after term limits.
The Associated Press is reporting that Gov. Matt Blunt will not be calling a special session for the Missouri legislature this year. From the AP:
Blunt said in July that he would call a special session if lawmakers could reach consensus on a pair of Medicaid bills - one addressing fraud by medical providers, the other restoring coverage to some disabled workers. Any special session likely would have begun next week.
But Ed Martin, Blunt's new chief of staff, said Tuesday that the governor has no intention of calling a special session.
"There doesn't seem to be consensus over what the issues should be," Martin said. Click here to read the full story.
This is how they celebrate Labor Day in St. Charles: take aim at the laborers.
Following a similar move in Valley Park, St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil is preparing to introduce a bill tonight that would fine employers up to $500 per day for each illegal immigrant they employ.
Valley Park's recently passed ordinance punished business owners who hire illegal immigrants by revoking their licenses and landlords that rent to illegals by fining them up to $500. Jim Shrewsbury, President of the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen, recently commented on the Valley Park legislation on his website.
"While reasonable people will agree that breaking the law is wrong, by passing its illegal immigrant ordinance Valley Park has carved out a dual reputation for itself. Some will forever see the town as a place of bigotry and intolerance. Others will see Valley Park as a model American city," said Shrewsbury.
Many Mexican-Americans, who are legal residents, believe that these new laws could lead to an increase in hiring discrimination. Brazil and supporters of his bill say local governments have to do something if the federal government won't.
It'll be interesting to see how long St. Charles' housing boom lasts after this.
PUB DEF will spend much of this week in Washington D.C. for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 36th Annual Legislative Conference. We will also be in our nation's capital for the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. We hope to bring you interviews with several members of Congress and key staffers as well as video reports related to 9/11 and its continuing impact.
While away, we'll be calling upon our eyes and ears around St. Louis to keep us up on all the latest. If you'd like to be one of those eyes and/or ears, jot down this email address and this phone number:
email@example.com (email us press releases & tips) 314-518-2364 (leave tips 24 hours a day)
Also, if you've got a video camera, a steady hand (for God's sake, use a tripod), and some editing software, you are hereby deputized. Go forth and seek knowledge -- then upload it to YouTube and shoot us the link.
St. Louis Public Schools is currently one of 11 "Provisionally Accredited" school districts in Missouri. But if things don't get better soon, it may lose that provisional status and become only the second unaccredited district in the state.
Just ahead of today's release of MAP test scores showing few gains by a school district that continues to produce students, the vast majority of which are not proficient in either math or communication skills, the State's Commissioner of Education, Kent King, had this to say:
"The State Board of Education, as you know, makes the decision about accreditation of school districts. They make that decision based on student performance data.
When we see a district that has had two years in a row where it has unaccredited status based on student performance, then I'm not very optimistic the district [we presume he meant State Board] will not make a decision to un-accredit the school district -- if that's what it turns out to be after all the data is thoroughly analyzed."
Some, like Post-Dispatch education reporter Steve Giegerich, connected the dots to take this to mean that King was warning that the state may take over the school district [see "Missouri warns St. Louis it may take over schools"; Post-Dispatch, August 31].
But others observe that the State Board of Education is unlikely to be in any rush to take over the problems of SLPS. Even if the district loses its provisional status after three years of turmoil and lost accreditation points, under current state law, SLPS would have two years to earn back its accreditation.
The prospect of the state moving to use provisions of the desegregation agreement to takeover the district before that two-year period was over may only add to the instability and uncertainty that King and DESE have pointed to as reasons for their current concerns about the district.
Some believe that a top-down approach to addressing the problems of the district -- such as that taken by the past school board majority and former Superintendent Bill Roberti -- is exactly the wrong philosophy for St. Louis Public Schools. Board Pres. Veronica O'Brien addressed that subject in a statement released yesterday.
"It is clear that a top-down approach to curriculum development did not empower teachers to teach, or help students achieve," said O'Brien.
The faculty is pleased to announce that in the month of August, we received 53,044 visits to our website. Our pages were viewed 57,449 times and visitors downloaded 4,905 files. We also produced 25 videos which were viewed thousands of times (see below).
Everyone have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. And please remind your mothers that there will be a bake sale on Tuesday.
Pub Def editor Antonio D. French, Arch City Chronicle publisher Dave Drebis, and (soon-to-be) State Sen. Jeff Smith were the guests on "Collateral Damage" with host Fred Hessel on Monday. The topics of discussion were St. Louis Public Schools and the Talent-McCaskill U.S. Senate race. Click here to download the 30-minute show.