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If endorsements were as good as votes, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, armed with the largest host committee of current and former elected officials that anyone can remember, would have already won her 2008 election by a landslide.
Most of those hosts were on hand Wednesday night (we doubt all of them could've fit in one room) at Sqwire's restaurant in Lafayette Square as Joyce kicked off her campaign for a third term as the city's top elected law enforcer.
The Governor is looking for Missourians to serve on state boards and commissions.
"I encourage Missourians to explore our state's boards and commissions and apply for an appointment that allows them to use their God-given talents to help enhance the services we deliver to Missourians each and every day," Gov. Matt Blunt said in a statement today.
The governor has appointment authority to more than 200 boards and commissions. Some boards require specialized skill sets, sponsorship by their state senator and advice and consent of the Missouri Senate.
Since PubDef.net started 18 months ago, it has basically been a one man operation. The facts you read are as I know them to be true. The opinions expressed here have been my own.
But starting next week, the reports, opinions and views of a few new contributors will be added to the mix.
These invited guests will bring their own unique perspectives to this expanding discussion of local (and soon national) politics, media, education, race, economics, and much more — all while maintaining Pub Def's reputation for accuracy, honesty, speed, and relevancy.
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The group of St. Louis Public Schools students engaged in Day 5 of their sit-in demonstration at City Hall has sent out a press release announcing a press conference this afternoon.
Superintendent Diana Bourisaw is scheduled to join the students for the event which may, as we reported yesterday, announce an end to the City Hall sit-in and a re-targeting of the students' efforts from the now-vacationing city mayor to state education officials who are expected to meet Thursday to strip SLPS of its accreditation.
Who: St. Louis Public Schools students and Dr. Diana Bourisaw
What: The students of St. Louis City Public Schools will hold a press conference.
Where: Downtown City Hall – Room 208 "The Kennedy Room"
When: March 18, 2007 promptly @ 2:30 p.m.
Topic: "Deconstructing the Myth: Why Our Scholarships and College Admission Are Still At Risk"
In an effort to make Pub Def even better, we recently announced two new internships that will allow two important and exciting things:
1) Expansion of coverage. If you think it sometimes seems like we're in two places at once, wait until we actually are!
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Last week Pub Def received its first donation ever via that little "Make a Donation" button to the left. It was for $75 (15% of an intern's monthly stipend). A few days later we received another unsolicited donation. This one was for $25. Together, that $100 is going to pay for about a week of coverage from a Pub Def intern! So thank you very much.
Without sounding too much like NPR, let us just point out that the Kansas City Star has just launched a for-pay political blog (subscriptions are $395 a year). We want to keep Pub Def free, but we also want to keep Pub Def around. So if you value our content, think about making a donation every now and then. Even if it's just $5 (that's 1% of an intern's stipend!), it helps.
Like the voice of your grandpa telling you to put on a raincoat before you go out, KWMU Meteorologist Ben Abell has for years been a reliable source of helpful advice. But after April, the able weatherman will be moving on.
Last night, the 75 year-old Abell announced he will be retiring. According to the radio station, his weather reports have been a part of KWMU ever since the station went on the air, in 1972.
Abell's last forecast will be on April 27. Click here to read more.
Pub Def is now offering two 8-week internships for students interested in new media.
These internships offer students a chance to:
1) Witness and record public meetings of local and state government bodies;
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These internships come with a $500 monthly stipend and require approximately 10-15 hours per week of work.
About Pub Def:
PUB DEF is a non-partisan, independent political blog based in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. Our goal is to cast a critical eye on lawmakers, their policies, and those that have influence upon them, and to educate our readers about legislation and the political processes that affect our daily lives. Our reports have been featured on NBC's "Meet the Press", Fox News, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas City Star, and numerous other mainstream and new media outlets. The St. Louis Business Journal recently named PubDef.net as one of the most influential players in local media. Our exclusive reports and innovative use of video has made PubDef.net one of the most read political blogs in the state.
Please send resume and references to email@example.com with the word "INTERNSHIP" in the subject line. UPDATE: We have received many excellent applications for these two positions. So much so that we think we can be bit picky. So here is what we're holding out for:
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Former U.S. Senator Tom Eagleton passed away today.
Thomas Francis Eagleton (September 4, 1929 – March 4, 2007) was a United States Senator from Missouri, serving from 1969 until 1987. He is best remembered for briefly being a Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, sharing the ticket under George McGovern in 1972. He taught Public Affairs at Washington University for over a decade and taught a seminar on the Presidency and the Constitution at Saint Louis University School of Law.
Mayor Francis Slay has ordered flags in the city to be flown at half staff in honor of former State Senator, City Comptroller and Alderman John Bass.
"As an educator he inspired thousands of students in our city. As Comptroller he fought relentlessly for fairness and fiscal responsibility, and as State Senator, he fought fearlessly in Jefferson City to protect the vital interests of the City of St. Louis," said Slay.
"On behalf of all the residents of our City and all City employees, I want to extend my deepest and heartfelt condolence to his family and friends," he said.
Bass, who was 80 years old, passed away Sunday. A wake will be held tomorrow, Thursday, from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Wade Funeral Home, 4828 Natural Bridge. The funeral is set for Friday, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Parish, 4330 Shreve Ave.
Slay has ordered all the official flags be flown at half staff through Sunday.
Former State Senator and former St. Louis City Comptroller John Bass passed away yesterday.
In a message on her website, Bass' granddaughter, Kacie Starr Triplett, said Bass loved St. Louis and enjoyed being a public servant.
"He took his role very seriously, and was ALWAYS willing to share his wisdom and experience," wrote Triplett.
"My grandfather was both fair and honest. Although, I wasn’t around when he began his career in the 1970’s, so many people tell me today, how much of an impact he made on their life, and how fair and balanced he was. My heart is heavy with this great loss."
UPDATE: The arrangements are as follows:
Thursday, March 1st - Viewing from 4pm - 8pm at Wade Funeral Home, 4828 Natural Bridge
Friday, March 2nd - Viewing 9am - 10am at St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist (formerly St. Engelbert) Parish 4330 Shreve
Friday, March 2nd - Funeral at 10am, St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Parish, 4330 Shreve Ave.
Thank you again for all the words of condolences, cards of sympathy, and general acts of kindness since the passing of my grandmother. My family and I are greatly appreciative — not just of your actions, but of the community we call home. Thank you.
The wake for my grandmother, 21st Ward Committeewoman Myrtle French, is tonight from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Randall and Sons Funeral Home, 4600 Natural Bridge Ave. The funeral services will be tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., also at Randall.
Myrtle L. French, longtime community organizer and Democratic Committeewoman of the 21st Ward, passed away peacefully on February 8, 2007 at the age of 79.
Her strength, charm, determination, wisdom, and laughter will be deeply missed by son Fernandel French; grandchildren Antonio D. French, Diane F. Donaldson, and Deon F. Donaldson; sister Mildred Phipps and her husband, Robert, and children; sister Barbara Gess and her husband, Col. William Gess, and children and grandchildren; niece Shirley Spencer and children and grandchildren; nephew Jimmy Williams and children; many other relatives around the country, and countless neighbors and friends.
Myrtle Long was born August 31, 1927, the eldest of four daughters to James and Mary Long. A devoted mother and housewife for many years, she began in politics alongside then-husband, R.C. French, as an organizer in the 1960s in the old 20th Ward working with Committeeman Leroy Tyus and Committeewoman Geneva Wright.
In the 1970s, she moved into the 21st Ward and became a close ally of State Representative Russell Goward and Committeewoman Jackie Butler.
She diligently served the City of St. Louis as a Deputy Sheriff from November 1983 to retirement in March 1994.
After the tragic death of her daughter, Diane, in January 1990, Myrtle became legal guardian of her grandson, Antonio.
After decades of working to get others elected to public office, in August 1996 Myrtle was elected 21st Ward Committeewoman, an office in which she took great pride and served honorably, and was re-elected by the people of her ward ever since.
Congressman Lacy Clay has issued the following statement in response to President George W. Bush's State of the Union address delivered a short time ago:
"Tonight, the President reviewed his long list of broken promises and confirmed that he is still disconnected from what really matters to the American people. A year ago, he promised that as the Iraqi government stood up, the U.S. would stand down. Since he made that statement, 879 more brave Americans have been killed in support of Mr. Bush’s failed policy, for a total of 3,059 U.S. soldiers killed in action. The very last thing that we should be doing now is to send 21,000 more U.S. troops into the middle of a civil war."
"Next week, I will cosponsor a resolution that will advise the President that the House of Representatives strongly opposes his plan to escalate this tragic and unnecessary war. Mr. Bush’s continuing refusal to face reality in Iraq is depleting our military strength and weakening our efforts to fight the very real war against terrorism. We don’t need to escalate this war… we need to end it."
"The President also spoke a great deal about health care. But unfortunately, his health care proposal will do little or nothing for most of the 47 million Americans who are uninsured.It's like offering a band-aid to a patient who is bleeding to death. The obvious and most cost-effective way to achieve universal coverage is to expand Medicare to cover the uninsured, which is exactly what I have proposed." "In the first 100 hours of the new Congress, the U.S. House, with bipartisan support, has voted to raise the minimum wage, expand federal funding for stem cell research, implement the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, require negotiation of lower prescription drug costs for seniors, make college loans more affordable, and end the multi-billion dollar giveaways to big oil and gas companies. That is a great beginning."
"In the coming year, I hope that the President will truly put the state of our union first, and work with us to find common ground on key issues like immigration, alternative energy and conservation, restoring fiscal responsibility, increasing home ownership and ending unfair trade policies that hurt American workers."
SLAY SHARES WITH DEVLIN -- The mayor and the man accused of kidnapping two boys have something (or someone) in common: Richard Callow. According toJake Wagman, Mayor Francis Slay is allowing his number one P.R. man to moonlight as the media man for Michael Devlin. Either Francis thinks he's so Teflon that even the stink of a kidnapper won't stick or it's becoming very obvious that he has no control over his aides. Makes you kind of wonder who's running the show in Room 200.
FROM POPE TO BLUNT, BY WAY OF STL -- We're a little late in mentioning this, but for those that missed it, check out this link to a profile piece in the Columbia Missourian on the Governor's Chief of Staff, Ed Martin.
Martin, the former chairman of the St. Louis City Election Board, said of his old job, "It was possibly as dysfunctional as any agency in the state when I came in... And I think by the time we were done, we oversaw maybe the best elections St. Louis has ever seen. I think the governor saw that and was impressed."
The man that also once worked for Pope John Paul II ends with these words: "Pray for me."
SHOW ME THE MONEY (We couldn't resist) -- The Show-Me Institute will release a new study this week on how to replace the much-maligned city earnings tax.
The new study is a follow-up to a March 2006 study which showed that large cities with earnings taxes experience lower growth. Total real income has fallen in St. Louis since the 1970’s. The groups says the new study describes how St. Louis can replace the earnings tax without affecting city services and spark an economic revival.
Prof. Joseph Haslag of the University of Missouri is the author of the study.
This week Superintendent Diana Bourisaw marked her first six months at the helm of the city's public schools by listing some of her administration's accomplishments.
"Thank you all for making my first six months at the St. Louis Public Schools so enjoyable. I am very proud of the work we have done in such a short period of time, including:
Opening schools on time despite numerous obstacles.
Developing an updated Comprehensive School Improvement Plan that will continue to move the St. Louis Public Schools towards full accreditation.
Raising over $21 million in new grants for the 2006/2007 school year. In addition, the District is working to raise $20 million in scholarships for students in the class of 2010.
Restructuring the central administrative office in a manner than improves communication while also reducing costs.
Reaching out to community partners, parents, elected officials, teachers, and other stakeholders. The District also reintroduced the School & Home newspaper throughout the community.
Establishing new attendance targets for schools which have boosted the attendance at all levels.
Increasing the number of permanent, certified teachers in classrooms. This year the District has 50 long-term substitutes compared to approximately 200 in past years.
Increasing accountability at all levels of the organization.
Expanding the use of current technology. For example, our Human Resources Division will soon be completely paperless. Further, a new workforce management system approved by the Board of Education is expected to improve fiscal accountability and increase school security.
"These accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work and cooperation of administrators, principals, teachers, board members, and parents," said Bourisaw.
Congressman Lacy Clay's office proudly announced today that the St. Louisan was unanimously chosen by his Democratic colleagues to chair the House Subcommittee on Information Policy, the Census and the National Archives.
The chairmanship, which is one of five selected by the majority members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has primary oversight responsibility for the 2010 Census, an enormous $12 billion national project that will determine political reapportionment and the distribution of billions of federal dollars.
"This is a historic moment, and I deeply appreciate the confidence and trust that my colleagues have invested in me," said Clay in a press release.
"The census is one of the most powerful tools that the federal government has to help African-Americans and other minority communities. In 2000, the national census missed at least three million people - mostly the poor and minorities. But as the Chairman of the Census Subcommittee, I will use all the government's resources to see that this never happens again. Phoenix-like we will rise up and ensure that every American is counted."
Congressman Clay's subcommittee will also have oversight responsibilities for the National Archives and Records Administration, which safeguards essential evidence and historical records from U.S. Presidents, the Congress and the federal courts. It also has responsibility for the management of sensitive and classified information through the Office of Information Security Oversight and for monitoring the enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act.
Click here to view the agenda for Thursday's meeting of the State Board of Education. Early on the very full agenda is a report on St. Louis Public Schools by DESE Commissioner Kent King.
And tomorrow, the local Board of Education will meet for a work session and an administrative board meeting. Of note is an addition to the agenda for next Tuesday's regular meeting: an "update from the Mayor's office" following the President's Report.
The agenda was prepared by Board President Veronica O'Brien -- without the input of the district adminstration, according to sources -- and Ed Rhode, spokesman for Mayor Francis Slay, was not immediately aware of any such "update".
The Work Session will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Administrative Building, 801 N. 11th Ave., in Room 108 and is open to the public. The Administrative Board Meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 108 and is also open to the public. The agenda is as follows:
WORK SESSION AGENDA 5:30 P.M.
1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Finance Report (Revised GOB and Non-GOB Budgets) Mr. Enos Moss, Treasurer/Interim CFO
5. Kronos Report Mr. Terry Laster, CIO
ADMINISTRATIVE MEETING AGENDA 7:00 P.M.
1.1 Call To Order / Roll Call
1.2 Placement of Items on the January 16, 2007 Regular Board Meeting Agenda
a) Call to Order/Roll Call b) Pledge of Allegiance c) We Are Up To Good Things d) Public Comments e) Approval of Minutes f) Superintendent’s Report i) Presentation by Superintendent ii) Finance Report iii) Consent Agenda g) Board Resolutions i) Approval of election ballot and legal notice ii) Resolution on Management and Oversite of the Office of the Board of Education iii) Resolution to direct Superintendent to conduct a district-wide survey of all employees and parents to determine their feelings regarding either a full or partial State takeover of the St. Louis Public Schools iv) Resolution regarding Internal and External Board Communications h) President’s Report i) Update from Mayor’s Office i) New Business j) Information Requests k) Announcements
In her weekly e-newsletter, St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Diana Bourisaw announced this week that 76 of the district's 96 schools have reached attendance goals she set shortly after assuming the post in July.
"Earlier this year, I established attendance rate targets for all schools, including 95% for elementary, 92% for middle/junior high, and 90% for high," said Bourisaw.
"At the end of the first month of school, I highlighted those schools that met or exceeded those targets. I'm pleased to again share with you that nine more schools have been added to the list for the first half of the 2006-2007 school year."
Bourisaw indicated that eight out of 17 high schools, 15 out of 18 middle schools, 51 out of 57 elementary schools, and 2 out of 4 alternative schools have reached those targets.
The St. Louis City school board is holding a special meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Foundation Room at the Administrative Building, 801 N. 11th Street. The Special Meeting will begin in open session and move into closed session to discuss personnel matters.
A special school board meeting is tonight at 5:00 p.m. in the Foundation Room at the Administrative Building, 801 N. 11th Street. Click here for the agenda.
And the Central Democratic Committees of both St. Louis City and St. Louis County are hosting their Second Annual Holiday Party tonight at the Electrical Workers Hall, 5800 Elizabeth, from 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Among the topics we'll be discussing is the 6th Ward controversy over new ward organization members and missing by-laws and how it may relate to the campaign for Aldermanic President. Other likely topics will be the immediate future of the St. Louis Public Schools and recent changes on Cherokee Street. If you have suggestions for other topics for us to discuss use the comments section below.
Black Leadership Roundtable to Unveil Latest "Achievement Gap" Report
By Antonio D. French
Thursday, December 07, 2006 at 3:32 PM
The St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable will host its 2006 Annual Meeting this weekend. As part of the event, the Roundtable will unveil its latest publication, the "2006 Regional Report Card: Eliminating the African-American Academic Achievement Gap".
According to the group's chairman, John Moten, Jr., the report is designed to provide parents, school administrators, teachers, students and community members with reader-friendly information on the African-American academic achievement gap.
The Roundtable calls itself a "non-profit advocacy and action-oriented organization focused on improving the quality of life for African-Americans in the St. Louis metropolitan region." The group was instrumental in getting Darnetta Clinkscale and Ron Jackson endorsed by Mayor Francis Slay and Civic Progress in the 2003 school board election.
The event will be Sunday, Dec. 10, at UMSL's Millennium Student Center, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Mayor: Only 3% Still Without Power in City, National Guard Leaving Soon
By Antonio D. French
Wednesday, December 06, 2006 at 12:03 PM
The National Guard and the St. Louis Fire Department are going door to door today in the Shaw and Walnut Park neighborhoods looking for people in need of assistance.
According the mayor's website, only 2.8% of Ameren’s customers in the City of St. Louis are still without electricity.
Over 150 people slept at the Wohl and 12th & Park warming centers last night. Today guardsmen and firefighters will begin helping those people back into their homes. Both facilities will be open again tonight for those needing to stay warm.
The National Guard believes they will have their mission here completed by mindnight tonight.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights..."
The St. Louis Coalition for Human Rights will hold its 10th annual celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Sunday, Dec. 10.
The program will include a mini-panel discussing the question: "In a democracy, what is the relationship between human rights and religious freedom?" The panelists are Rev. Rose Booker-Jones, Dr. Dave Oughton and Bishop Reynolds Thomas.
The Coalition will also award prize money to the essay contest winners from area middle and high schools on the above topic. First place contestants will read their winning essays. Unsung heroes and "she-roes", nominated from the community, will also be recognized for their work in human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has been celebrated around the world since passed by the United Nations in December 1948.
This free event will take place from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Highlander Lounge, Forest Park Community College, 5600 Oakland Ave. For more information, call (314) 367-5959.
Two hundred more Missouri National Guard troops have been activated and will arrive in the St. Louis area by morning, according to state officials.
Gov. Matt Blunt issued an executive order today declaring a state of emergency in response to last night's ice storm which left hundreds of thousands without power.
"This storm left a trail of snow and ice across the state, thousands without power and countless Missourians stuck at home," Blunt said. "I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure state resources are readily available to assist however needed."
Blunt also activated the National Guard and directed the state to provide power generators in anticipation of the cold nights which many Missourians are facing.
"Several dozen guard members" and heavy vehicles started arriving this afternoon and generators will be staged to be utilized as directed by local officials. The Guardsmen will be available to go door to door, transport people to warming stations, distribute food or otherwise assist wherever they can with the storm response.
Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley requested the state's help this morning.
By 4:00 p.m. 30 guard members were expected to arrive in the St. Louis area, and by 5:00 p.m. an additional 50 to 60 more were expected in the Festus, Farmington and Desoto areas. The 200 more on the way will be in place by 8:00 a.m. and be disbursed throughout the city and county as directed by local officials.
For the second time this year, Ameren officials are telling St. Louisans they may be without electricity for several days.
At a press conference this morning, officials with the power company said it could be two days before they even know how long it will take to restore electricity to its quarter million St. Louis area customers currently without power.
Several shelters are being made available to help people stay warm during these difficult times. In St. Louis City, people can go to Township Hall at 2060 Delmar, the St. Louis Senior Center on Arsenal, and Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church at 5544 Dr. Martin Luther King.
If you have any information on other shelters, please post them in the comments section. And please check on your neighbors. If you live on the side of the street with power, don't let your neighbor across the street go cold.
The Council of Black Elected Officials will be meeting again on Saturday to approve the organization's by-laws and discuss the upcoming 5th District State Senate campaign.
Readers will remember this group, which has been dormant for many years, met again for the first time a few weeks ago (see video below). Not much happened at that meeting, leaving hopes high that this weekend these elected leaders can begin to broker some kind of deal that could avoid a replay of this year's 4th District race which left north St. Louis' black vote split.
The Council will again be meeting at the Gateway Classic Foundation, 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, at 10:00 AM.
State Rep. Rodney Hubbard is having a birthday party and he's inviting the whole city.
Hubbard and entrepreneur Kevin Bryant, of Inkosi Design Studio, are hosting the "1st Annual St. Louis House Party" on Friday, Dec. 8 to celebrate their birthdays and their love for their town.
"Rodney Hubbard and Kevin Bryant believe that we’ve got a lot to be proud of in St. Louis," reads their press release. "...Our sports teams, entertainers and of course all the new development that’s going on downtown. That’s why they are celebrating their birthdays with not just their families, but all of St. Louis."
The party starts at 9:00 at Club Dreams, 3207 Washington, and will be hosted by Chocolate Tai, of Nelly's Derrty Entertainment, and Universal Records recording artist Penelope.
And St. Louis' own Jibbs, the latest hometown rapper to break through to national fame, is scheduled to perform his hit "Chain Hang Low".
A portion of the proceeds from this event will go towards "Toys in the Hood", a not for profit venture created to provide toys for low income families for the holidays.
Journalism legend Ed Bradley, who died on Nov. 10 of leukemia, left a quarter of a million dollars in his will to local TV achor Cordell Whitlock, the "60 Minutes" icon's godson.
In a 2002 joint interview with USA Today, Whitlock, of KSDK Channel 5, credited Bradley with sparking his interest in journalism when he was in the third grade and Bradley got him into a White House press conference.
"I remember seeing Jimmy Carter walk into the room," said Whitlock. "That was the first time I'd ever seen someone I'd watched on TV in real life. It was breathtaking, just blew me away."
According to the New York Daily News, Bradley left Whitlock $250,000 in his last will and testament. The largest portion of Bradley’s $5 million estate went to his wife Patricia Blanchet.
According to a Downtown St. Louis Partnership newsletter, City Grocers, the only full service grocery market in downtown St. Louis, plans to relocate to the newly renovated Syndicate building thereby expanding from 6,500 square feet to over 14,000 square feet.
Clay, Scheck to Discuss Wrongful Convictions at Wash U. Tomorrow
By Antonio D. French
Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 4:05 PM
Congressman Lacy Clay and renowned defense attorney Barry Scheck (known best as the DNA guy from O.J. Simpson's "dream team") will be on the campus of Washington University tomorrow addressing some of the issues surrounding innocent men and women being wrongly convicted in U.S. courts.
Clay is scheduled to give the morning keynote speech (9:00 a.m.) at the Sixth Annual Access to Equal Justice Conference, which starts tomorrow at the Wash U. School of Law.
The school's Clinical Education Program and Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, along with the St. Louis University School of Law, will present "Convicted, Executed, But Not Guilty? Examining the Risks of Wrongful Executions and the Role of Prosecutors, Defense Attorneys, Academia and the Press," from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Anheuser-Busch Hall.
The conference is free and open to faculty, students, staff, and the public, but organizers say attendees must have registered by Monday to receive materials and attend the lunch. Click here for more info.
Scheck and Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., a former U.S. Attorney and former professor of law at the University of Kansas, are the afternoon keynote speakers (1:00 p.m.).
UPDATE: Coleman has retained her leadership position.
Democrats in the state legislature are in Jefferson City today to meet and select their leaders. For some time it has been rumored that State Sen. Maida Coleman, the current minority floor leader, will be challenged for her post. Back in September, Coleman sat down with PUB DEF to discuss this challenge.
Sources tell PUB DEF that Coleman's future might rest on the vote of her newest colleague, State Senator-elect Jeff Smith. A vote by Smith for Coleman would help insure his fellow St. Louis Democrat another term leading the Senate's minority party.
But if Smith were to instead vote for Sen. Chuck Graham, who is challenging Coleman for the position, it would help place control of the Democrat's House and Senate agenda squarely in Columbia, MO, which is where Graham and House Minority Leader Jeff Harris are both from.
The Democrats will meet to vote at noon.
And in the Legislative Black Caucus... there is word that State Rep. Rodney Hubbard (St. Louis City) will be challenging State Rep. John Bowman (St. Louis County) for the chairmanship.
Though the caucus' rules have stated that the chairmanship should alternate between City, County and Kansas City legislators, Bowman (who is the current chairman) lobbied to have that rule changed.
Check back later for more...
UPDATE: Coleman has retained her leadership position.
UPDATE 2: From Sen. Coleman's office:
After a two-seat pick up two days ago, Missouri Senate Democrats returned Sen. Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis) to her position as Minority Floor Leader during the first caucus meeting of the new Senate members.
"While Missouri didn’t make the dramatic gains of Democrats at the national level, picking up two Senate seats and five House seats is notable," she said. "Missouri is a cautious state, but we laid the groundwork for 2008."
Sen. Coleman said the Democrats look forward to working with the Republican majority, especially on key issues like restoring the Medical Assistance for the Working Disabled program. She added that she hopes the House can be convinced to pass the strong Medicaid provider fraud bill which passed the Senate last year.
Other leadership positions went to Sen. Chuck Graham of Columbia, Assistant Minority Floor Leader; newly re-elected Sen. Frank Barnitz of Lake Spring, Caucus Chairman; and Sen. Yvonne Wilson of Kansas City, Caucus Secretary.
Sen. Coleman emphasized that the Democratic caucus is strongly united and will be acting in the best interests of Missouri’s citizenry.
"Democrats will be outlining our legislative priorities more fully in the coming weeks," she said. "I hope Republicans will take notice of the changing political air nationally and in Missouri and focus on solving problems."