Go back to homepageWatch PubDef VideosAdvertise on PubDef.netA D French & Associates LLCContact Us
 

Watch PubDef.TV


"Best Blogger"
St. Louis Magazine

Featured on
Meet the Press and Fox News

Watch our Meet the Press moment

"One of the Most
Influential People
in Local Media."

STL Business Journal


SUPPORT PUBDEF.NET

Your $7.00 monthly contribution will go a long way to helping us expand the coverage and services you enjoy.


GET THE LATEST PUBDEF NEWS 24/7:

Name:
E-mail:




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.

CONTACT US

Do you have a press release, news tip or rumor to share?

editor@pubdef.net
Fax (314) 367-3429
Call (314) 779-9958

Tips are always 100% Confidential


Subscribe to our RSS feed

Creative Commons License


 

 

 

 

 

Coleman Slams Herschend

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, February 07, 2008 at 3:58 PM

State Senator Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis City) today voted against the reappointment of Peter Herschend of Branson to the State Board of Education. Coleman spoke against the nomination for more than 40 minutes in committee Wednesday and for nearly an hour on the Senate floor today before he was eventually confirmed by the Republican-controlled senate.

She released this statement afterwards:
“In the committee hearing yesterday, Mr. Herschend told me I should be embarrassed of my school district,” Sen. Coleman said.

“I think Mr. Herschend should be embarrassed that he has decided to play politics with the children of my district. He should be embarrassed that he callously disenfranchised the citizens of my district by turning control of the St. Louis School District over to the state.”

In March 2007, the St. Louis Public Schools lost their accreditation when the State Board of Education voted 5-1 to rescind the accreditation after concluding that the district had met only four of the state's 14 academic performance measures. Peter Herschend was serving as President of the State Board of Education when the decision to strip the school district of local control was made.

At the time the state board voted to classify the St. Louis Public Schools as unaccredited, several other school districts possessed 2006 Annual Performance Review ratings that were equal to or below the scores assigned to the St. Louis City School District.

“It makes me wonder why Mr. Herschend has taken no action to reclassify other low-performing school districts,” Sen. Coleman said. “There seems to be no apprehension by Mr. Herschend or the Board that they are disenfranchising the voters of a predominantly black city. We are still forced to pay taxes, so we have taxation without representation.”

Additionally, Sen. Coleman expressed reservations about any person serving such a lengthy term on a state board or commission. Peter Herschend has served on the State Board of Education for 16 years, and with his confirmation by the Senate today, will serve another eight years on the board.

“Is it a good idea to allow anyone to sit on what is arguably the most important board in state government for 24 years?” Sen. Coleman asked her colleagues on the Senate floor today.

“If someone were to serve the maximum amount of time in the General Assembly, they could only serve 16 years. If the citizens of Missouri think it’s a good idea to limit the terms of their elected representatives, surely the length of service of an unelected official should be limited as well, especially one who wields so much influence over our children’s education.”
Members of the Missouri Senate affirmed the reappointment of Herschend to the State Board of Education today on a voice vote.

Labels: , , ,

Link to this story

8 comments


Days, Jones to Lead STL Caucus

By Antonio D. French

State Senator Rita Days, a Democrat from north St. Louis County, and State Rep. Timothy Jones, a Republican from Eureka ("The home of Six Flags," he reminded us.), have been elected to chair and vice-chair, respectively, the St. Louis Regional Delegation (formerly, the St. Louis Regional Caucus) in the state legislature.

The mission of the bicameral, bi-partisan group is to promote and collectively push legislation to advance the St. Louis region.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

0 comments


Sullivan Confirmed

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, February 05, 2008 at 6:47 PM

In the middle of all this Super Tuesday excitement, the Missouri Senate confirmed the appointment of St. Louis Public Schools czar Rick Sullivan.

Governor Matt Blunt, who appointed the real estate developer to lead the largest school district in the state, had this to say:
"Education is my highest priority as Missouri’s governor and I appreciate the bipartisan support Rick Sullivan received today by the Senate.

"Rick is an honorable public servant whose strong leadership is making a difference for our students attending St. Louis Public Schools at a time when our children and parents need strong leaders who care deeply about the future of these students.

"Rick is already succeeding in this role and I am confident he will continue rising to the challenges facing the St. Louis Transitional School Board to ensure that students in the St. Louis Public Schools receive the world class education they deserve."

Labels: ,

Link to this story

6 comments


Lawmakers Call for Local Control

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, February 04, 2008 at 5:07 PM

A group of local elected officials gathered in front of City Hall today to call attention to a bill in the Missouri legislature which seeks to give the City of St. Louis control over its police department—control which was taken away over 100 years ago during the time of the Civil War.



Those in attendance included: State Senator Maida Coleman, State Reps Talibdin El-Amin, Rodney Hubbard, and Jeanette Mott Oxford, Aldermen Terry Kennedy, Jeffrey Boyd, and Frank Williamson.

The bill is SB 785.

Earlier Story:

Local Control of Police Debated in Senate Hearing

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

7 comments


Local Control Being Debated

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 2:21 PM

HAPPENING RIGHT NOW...

JEFFERSON CITY -- As St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa and Police Board President Chris Goodson roamed the halls of the state Capitol today lobbying against a senate bill calling for a return of local control of the St. Louis Police Department on an unrelated issue, a group of city lawmakers were lobbying to return local control to the city police department

At this moment, several St. Louis aldermen are in the audience as the bill is being heard before the committee. Aldermen Terry Kennedy, April Ford-Griffin, Jeffrey Boyd, Kacie Starr Triplett, Frank Williamson, Marlene Davis, and Sam Moore are here in support of the bill.

Senator Maida Coleman is handling sponsoring the bill in the senate and Rep. T.D. El-Amin will be handling the bill on the House side.

The bill is SB 785.

UPDATE: There was a tense exchange between between Alderman Boyd, speaking in favor of the bill, asked Senator Harry Kennedy, a member of the committee who seems to oppose local control, if he feels elected officials are "incompetent." Kennedy, who is also a city committeeman, said he was offended by the question. The commiittee chairman quickly ended the exchange.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

30 comments


Senate Pledges to Work Together for Missourians (Blah, Blah, Blah)

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 6:00 AM

On the first day of the new legislative session, Republicans and Democrats in the state senate pledged today to get things done on behalf of all Missourians — despite this being an election year and the last session for many of the term-limited legislators.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Gibbons said voters and taxpayers aren't interested in political bickering and gridlock. "This is not a game to the people at home," said the Republican leader. "They expect us to fix these problems."



Democratic floor leader Maida Coleman said she hopes both parties can indeed move beyond the typical partisan battles and accomplish some important things this session.

"My hope is that — with this being an election year — that we do not have dissension that has sometimes crept into the chamber during an election year," she said.

Time will tell. But if history is any indicator, this pledge of cooperation will disappear faster than an incriminating email in the governor's office.

Labels:

Link to this story

2 comments


Legislature Resumes Today

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, January 09, 2008 at 10:35 AM

The second Regular Session of Missouri's 94th General Assembly will convene at noon today. State representatives and senators have made their way across the state back to the Capitol in Jefferson City for this election year session of the state legislature.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

2 comments


Advice and Consent: When and Why Not?

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, September 05, 2007 at 8:51 AM

There is a bit of Constitutional confusion in Jefferson City today.

As readers of PubDef had expected for weeks (and readers of the Post just found out today), Governor Matt Blunt withdrew the names of two of his controversial education appointees during last week's special session of the State Legislature. Both State Board of Education appointee Derio Gambaro and St. Louis Public Schools CEO Rick Sullivan were withdrawn from Senate confirmation because of lack of support from their home senators — a customary requirement for successful confirmation.



PubDef has reported than both men are expected to be resubmitted to the Senate soon and would remain in power until at least January, when the Senate reconvenes and again takes up gubernatorial appointments. However, the Governor's office believes it is not necessary to resubmit their names to the senate before next year.

According to a source close to the situation, the Governor believes that simply having the nominees on file with the Secretary of State's office is sufficient enough for the two men to continue to serve on a interim basis. The well-placed source says the Governor is considering not resubmitting the names to the senate until next year.

However, the Missouri Constitution clearly states, in the case of Gambaro, that appointments to the Board of Education must be made with the "advice and consent of the Senate." The law creating Sullivan's positions says the same thing. And apparently, the Senate's Republican leadership agrees.



State Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons (R-Kirkwood) told the Post-Dispatch the decision to pull the names was mutual to avoid a Senate vote. He also said he agrees with Blunt's staff that Sullivan and Gambaro still hold their posts for now. But Gibbons also said he believes the state constitution requires that the governor renew their interim appointments by September 19 if he wants them to stay on until the Senate reconvenes in January.

If these men serve for three months without being submitted to the Senate, it may put every action, vote and decision under close legal scrutiny. And in the case of Sullivan, who serves on a three-person board, if any important decisions are made by a vote of 2-1, a judge may later rule the vote was in fact 1-1 since Sullivan could not legally cast a vote — especially if he is ultimately not confirmed by the Senate.

Developing...

Previous Stories:


SLPS: Our Czar Still Reigns

LETTER: Sullivan, Gambaro Withdrawn

BLUNT WITHDRAWS SULLIVAN, GAMBARO

Will Blunt Withdraw Sullivan? Gambaro Too?

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

7 comments


Dempsey Wins Senate Race

By Antonio D. French

The people of St. Charles have spoken. Republican Tom Dempsey has defeated Democrat Ed Appelbaum tonight to become Missouri's newest state senator.

The final unofficial results are:

Dempsey — 6,671 (56.2%)
Appelbaum — 5,199 (43.8%)

Here's a statement from the Missouri Republican Party:
"Tom Dempsey’s hard-fought victory is great news for the residents of the 23rd Senatorial District who will benefit from his strong work ethic and his dedication to improving the lives of Missourians. Tom’s strong support of Gov. Matt Blunt’s agenda including funding increases for public education, enhanced job creation, significant health care reform and disdain for tax increases played an important role in his successful campaign. Missouri Republicans congratulate Tom on his impressive victory and look forward to his continued success as a member of the Missouri Senate."
Dempsey replaces Republican Senator Chuck Gross, who resigned to take another job.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

0 comments


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL PASSES

By Gabe Bullard

Filed Thursday, August 30, 2007 at 11:53 AM

BREAKING NEWS

The Missouri Legislature has passed Governor Blunt’s Economic Development Package, including the Distressed Area Land Assemblage Tax Credit. By a vote of 125 to 19, the House today passed the Senate version of House Bill 1.

Among those voting in favor of the bill were St. Louis State Representatives T.D. El-Amin, Rodney Hubbard, Rachel Storch, Tom Villa and Robin Wright-Jones.

Those voting against included Mike Daus, Jamilah Nasheed and Jeanette Mott Oxford.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

8 comments


BLUNT WITHDRAWS SULLIVAN, GAMBARO

By Antonio D. French

Governor Matt Blunt’s office officially withdrew his nomination of Rick Sullivan as CEO of St. Louis Public Schools yesterday after Sullivan’s State Senator, Joan Bray, refused to sponsor his appointment.

Blunt also withdrew the name of his latest appointment to the Missouri Board of Education, former State Representative Derio Gambaro, after State Senator Jeff Smith also refused to support his appointment at this time.

Both Sullivan and Gambarro were recess appointments. After the governor’s withdrawal this week, he will likely reappoint them after the conclusion of this week’s special legislative session. The senate would then take up their nominations again next year.

In other St. Louis Public Schools news... Superintendent Diana Bourisaw was in Jefferson City yesterday meeting with lawmakers and touting the good things going on in the district.

Earlier Story
:

Will Blunt Withdraw Sullivan, Gambaro?

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

2 comments


Senate Passes House Bill 1

By Antonio D. French

Late last night, the Missouri State Senate voted to pass House Bill 1, the economic development bill containing, among other things, the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit and the Quality Jobs Tax Credit.

The vote was 25-7 with one absence.

Among those voting in favor of the bill were Senators Maida Coleman and Rita H. Days. The two announced last week they will be hosting a forum on "land assemblage and the potential impact on the community" on Monday, September 10, from 6:00-7:30 pm at Harris-Stowe State University.

They will be joined by State Representatives Esther Haywood, Juanita Head-Walton, and Robin Wright-Jones; and former State Rep Amber Boykins.

St. Louis City's other two senators, Harry Kennedy and Jeff Smith, also voted in favor of the bill, which now heads back to the House today and a conference committee possibly this afternoon.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

8 comments


Legislature Back in Session

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, August 20, 2007 at 5:10 PM

The Missouri House and Senate both came back into session today to revisit the economic development package (HB 327) previously vetoed by Governor Matt Blunt. Of course, included in that package is the controversial Land Assemblage Tax Credit.

There was not much action today. In fact, the House was only in session long enough to first and second read the bill and refer it to committee for a hearing.

That hearing is scheduled for noon tomorrow. Check PubDef.net tomorrow afternoon for video from the hearing.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

1 comments


Will Blunt Withdraw Sullivan? [Updated: Gambaro Too?]

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 8:57 AM

The term of St. Louis Public Schools' chief executive officer may be even shorter than many predicted.

Governor Matt Blunt's appointment to the Special Administrative Board of the city schools, Rick Sullivan, has yet to be confirmed by the State Senate, and is unlikely to be unless his senator, Joan Bray, sponsors him.

Blunt appointed Sullivan after the legislature ended its last session. As a recess appointment, Sullivan would normally not have to be confirmed until the senate came back in January.

But as the state legislature reconvenes this week, there is growing speculation that Blunt will withdraw Sullivan from the CEO post to avoid his senate rejection and reappoint him again after the special session.

UPDATE:  According to Senate Minority Leader Maida Coleman, unlike a veto session, during a special session of the Legislature, the senate carries on with all its normal business, including confirmation of appointments.

The senate is scheduled to take up the confirmation of roughly 45 gubernatorial appointments during this short session. Unless they are withdrawn, that would include Sullivan and Board of Education appointee, Derio Gambaro — both of whom, at this point, do not have the support of their home senators.

The Governor's office has until the last 24 hours of session to withdraw their nominations. He then can renominate them 24 hours after the Legislature adjourns.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

20 comments


"Son of 327" Smaller Than Pop

By Gabe Bullard

Filed Monday, August 13, 2007 at 2:33 PM

When state legislators convene in Jefferson City for a special session next Monday, August 20, they will have a new version of the controversial Economic Development Bill, House Bill 327, to review. HB 327 was vetoed last month by Governor Matt Blunt because of the overall size and cost of the final bill.

According to House Speaker Rod Jetton, the "Son of 327" will be sent to committee on Tuesday, August 21. Numerous programs, including the Neighborhood Assistance Program, the Small Business Tax Credit and the Youth Opportunity Program, have been removed from the bill to lower its overall cost. But the bill's most controversial part, the Land Assemblage Tax Credit, remains — although it has been reduced from $12 million allowed annually and $100 million cumulatively to $10 million annually and $95 million cumulatively.

The cut is estimated at $70 million, bringing the total cost of the bill to $51 million, not counting the "New Markets" program that begins in two years.

On Thursday, August 16, at 10:00 a.m., State Representatives Jamilah Nasheed and Jeanette Mott Oxford will host a bus tour of the properties owned by developer Paul McKee. McKee, whose companies own more than 500 properties in northern St. Louis, is seen by many as the developer who would most benefit from the passage of HB 327 as it is written.

PubDef will be reporting from the special session in Jefferson City next week and following the negotiations as legislators, lobbyists and residents try to reach a compromise that allows north St. Louis to benefit from needed investment, while not cutting all but just one or two would-be developers out of the project.

Click here
to view a spreadsheet of all of the changes to HB 327.

Click here for more information on McKee's Blairmont properties.

Click here to watch PubDef's special report on Blairmont.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

16 comments


Smith Joins Koster at Announcement

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, August 01, 2007 at 12:05 PM

St. Louis State Senator Jeff Smith was by Chris Koster's side today as the Harrisville senator announced his crossover to the Democratic Party this morning in Columbia.

"Sen. Chris Koster is one of the most respected and capable members of the Missouri Senate," said Smith in a written statement. "For him to change political party shows that Republicans are in trouble."

Smith is responsible for leading Senate Democratic Campaign efforts for the 2008 elections. His involvement with Koster may ruffle the feathers of some in his party if Koster jumps into the Democratic Primary for Attorney General as he is expected to announce later today.

In another Smith-Koster connection, Elisabeth Smith, Jeff Smith's girlfriend and a former staffer to U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, is handling communications for Koster. (Readers may recall this great video featuring a victory kiss between the Smiths on Election Night 2006.)

"The Republican Party has become anti-research, anti-working families and anti-progress – while Democrats seek to move Missouri forward, Republicans want to hold our state back. Sen. Koster’s decision to leave the GOP is another sign that Republicans have become out-of-touch with the average Missourian," said Senator Smith.

Koster's change in party brings the number of Democrats in the Senate to 14 Democrats, with 19 Republicans and 1 vacancy.

And fueling allegations by Republicans of a Koster-Nixon conspiracy is a report from a source at this morning's Columbia announcement that Chuck Hatfield, Jay Nixon's former chief of staff, not only attended the event but physically carried the podium behind which Koster made his historic announcement.

Just a reminder: Koster will hold a press conference in St. Louis today at 3:00 p.m. in front of St. Louis University High School. Check PubDef.net later today for video.

UPDATE: No video. SLUH shooed us off.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

8 comments


Villa Raises $500

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, July 13, 2007 at 7:03 AM

State Representative and likely State Senate candidate Tom Villa raised just $500 last quarter, well below the amount expected to be shown by his chief rival, State Rep. Rodney Hubbard*.

According to campaign finance reports filed yesterday, Villa received just one contribution last quarter, $500 from the Missouri Rental Dealers Association on June 25. That is the same day the southside Democrat filed papers authorizing his State Rep campaign committee to raise funds for his State Senate bid.

After spending $2,538.19, Villa was left with just $27,280.44.

Meanwhile, Hubbard's report, which is expected to be filed sometime Monday, is rumored to show more than $100,000 raised.

*Rodney Hubbard is a client of A.D. French & Assoc.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

9 comments


DOCS GET MIDWIVES LANGUAGE BARRED

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, July 03, 2007 at 12:03 PM

KWMU is reporting that a judge this morning temporarily barred a law that would let lay midwives deliver babies in Missouri.

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce has issued a temporary restraining order against the midwives law. She scheduled an Aug. 2 hearing to consider a preliminary injunction. The bill is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 28.

The midwives provision was secretly attached by state Sen. John Loudon (R-Chesterfield) to legislation intended to make health insurance more affordable and accessible to some Missourians.

Several doctors groups sued. They claim the midwife language violates the Missouri Constitution by going beyond the bill's health insurance title and by changing the bill's original purpose.

Midwifery is currently punishable by prison time in Missouri.

Here is an interview we did with Sen. Loudon shortly after the controversy broke:

Labels: ,

Link to this story

1 comments


VIDEO: Hubbard Campaign Kick-Off

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, July 01, 2007 at 12:01 PM

Democratic State Rep. Rodney Hubbard kicked off his state senate campaign with a strong show of support from elected officials, former elected officials, and even some Republicans.

[WARNING: The following video features music containing language which some may find objectionable. NSFW.]



Among those spotted at Friday's event at the Carr Community Center in north St. Louis:

State Senators Jeff Smith and Chris Koster (R-Harrisonville); State Representatives Jamilah Nasheed, Talibdin El-Amin, and Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis County); former State Reps Yaphett El-Amin, Betty Thompson (D-St. Louis County), and Mark Wright (R-Springfield); President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed; License Collector Mike McMillan; former Mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr.; and Committeemen Jesse Todd (18th Ward) and Curtis Royston (27th Ward).

EXTRA: Watch Rodney Hubbard's full 23-minute speech at PubDef.TV

Labels: ,

Link to this story

25 comments


Blunt Calls Special Election

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, June 26, 2007 at 8:13 PM

Gov. Matt Blunt today called for a special election to fill the vacancy in the 23rd Senate District. The special election will be held on Sept. 4, 2007.

Republican Sen. Chuck Gross resigned from the Missouri State Senate effective May 31, creating an open Senate seat in the 23rd Senate District.

Candidates must be selected by party committeepeople and filed with the Secretary of State's Office no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 31.

There remains speculation that the special election provides opportunity for soon-to-be-term-limited St. Louis Democrat Maida Coleman to also leave the Senate early and accept a gubernatorial appointment.

Coleman's seat is currently the target of three announced candidates (State Reps. Rodney Hubbard, Tom Villa, and Robin Wright-Jones).

It is said that Blunt might give Coleman an early appointment to pave the way for Hubbard, a St. Louis Democrat with strong relationships with the state's Republican leadership.

Coleman has denied any rumors of plans for an early exit.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

6 comments


Smith on Gambaro

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, June 08, 2007 at 6:29 PM

State Senator Jeff Smith, whose sponsorship is needed for Derio Gambaro to be confirmed in January, issued the following statement today:

"Derio Gambaro was a worthy opponent in our race for the 4th District Senate seat and a dedicated public servant during his tenure in the state House.

"However, given the specificity with which I outlined my substantive concerns about the Governor's earlier nominee, I am disappointed that the administration chose to ignore rather than address the issues I raised. It is unfortunate as well that the administration refused my repeated offers for consultation on this appointment, particularly since I worked throughout the session in a bipartisan fashion on education issues.

"Since it is important that the city be represented on the State board, I will look forward to learning more about Mr. Gambaro's educational philosophy and qualifications."

Labels: , , ,

Link to this story

3 comments


Missouri is "Southern"? Who Knew?!

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, June 04, 2007 at 7:58 AM

Gov. Matt Blunt opened the three-day Southern Growth Conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Union Station yesterday with a presentation on Southern workforce challenges. Blunt is the current chairman of the Southern Growth Policies Board.

That begs the question, "When did Missouri become a Southern state?"

According to the organization's website, there are 13 state members -- Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia — plus the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (which is convenient since nearly 50 state legislators are heading there next week on the the state's dime, but more on that later).

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

8 comments


Legislators Secure Jobs for Themselves

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, May 27, 2007 at 10:35 PM

Call it taking care of their own. Or perhaps, an investment in their own futures. Whatever you call it, state legislators buried a nest egg in the controversial MoHELA bill signed into law last week.

Stuck in the center of the 52-page Senate Bill 389, which, among other things, took $350 million from the state's college loan fund and put it towards new construction projects on campuses around the state, there is also a provision that makes it much easier for legislators to get a job after they are term-limited out of office.

SB 389 also states that "no public college or university... shall reject an applicant for a faculty position based solely on the applicant having not earned a graduate degree, provided that the applicant has earned an undergraduate baccalaureate degree and has served for at least eight years in the general assembly."

So a bachelor's degree and four terms in the State House now makes you as qualified to teach in a Missouri college as a Ph.D. or a master's degree in the particular field.

Term-limits is now the tune to which self-preservation and special interests dance to in the State Capitol.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

19 comments


The Teachers Union vs. Jeff Smith

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, May 24, 2007 at 10:27 AM


DIY: How to Hitch a Ride in the Senate

By Antonio D. French



State Sen. Jeff Smith tells how he got his "Teach for Missouri" plan passed by the Republican legislature and signed by the Governor.

"The one thing that everybody agreed on was that nobody liked my whole package."

But obviously some of his Democratic colleagues still feel betrayed.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

15 comments


Showing Love for Loudon

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at 1:18 AM

Senator John Loudon set off a firestorm last week when he used a, shall we say, "creative" tactic to get his legislation legalizing midwifery passed by the State Senate.

In the immediate aftermath, his colleagues from the other side of the aisle called him everything from a liar to other four-letter words not allowed on the senate floor. Even his fellow Republicans were angered when they figured out what had happened. The leadership quickly stripped him of his committee chairmanship "indefinitely" as a punishment.

But not everyone was upset with Loudon. In fact, overnight the West County legislator has become the champion of natural birth supporters all across Missouri and beyond.

The day after the story broke, flowers filled Loudon's office, sent from bandit midwives and mothers who believe in their merits.

On Monday, an interview the senator did with PubDef went from roughly a hundred views on YouTube to over 450 [Update: Make that almost 800 by Tuesday], with more than two dozen comments from midwife supporters from as far as Canada (although some of the comments were suspiciously posted by new YouTube users who registered on the same day).

The issue of midwifery, while completely foreign to most Missourians, seems to be one of those rare issues that fire up supporters like few others. Perhaps Sen. Loudon's chairmanship was a small price to pay for his new army of round-bellied moms and outlaw deliverers.

Labels:

Link to this story

4 comments


Scenes from the Final Hours

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, May 20, 2007 at 12:27 PM


For Better or Worse, Session Ends

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, May 18, 2007 at 6:36 PM

This session of the Missouri Legislature wrapped up today at 6:00 in much the same way as it was conducted, with hard ball tactics by the majority and cries of foul from the minority.



After only being used a handful of times in the entire history of the Missouri Senate, the infamous "previous question" (or "PQ") motion was used twice in the last 24 hours to bring an end to debate and force a vote on two controversial bills — anti-abortion legislation and a largely irrelevant bill to make English the state's official language in all proceedings (was this ever a problem before?).

But even with the Republicans' control of both houses — not to mention the Governor's mansion — the legislature was still unable to wrap up all of its loose ends and a special session is expected to be called over the summer.

UPDATE:
Things got a little testy in the final hours. From Jason Rosenbaum of the Columbia Tribune:

The sour relations between Senate members of both parties were evident in remarks by Senate Minority Leader Maida Coleman of St. Louis, who called the GOP leadership "punks … because I couldn’t use my other word that starts with a ‘P.’ "

Labels: ,

Link to this story

0 comments


Abortion Bill Passes Senate

By Dan Martin

The Missouri Senate has passed a controversial bill that greatly changes the requirements for sexual education instruction in public schools, bans organizations that provide abortion services from distributing information in school, and establishes a program called the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Services Program

In addition, the bill controversially changes the definition of "ambulatory surgical center" in a manner that would require nearly all abortion clinics to operate surgery centers.

Senate Democrats largely opposed the bill, claiming that it would deny women not only information, but potentially access to legal abortions. Democrats continued to criticize the bill on the floor even after its passage.

Meanwhile, Gov. Matt Blunt issued a statement in support of the bill's passage.

"Missouri has again sent a strong message that we value the dignity of all human life and will continue to pass laws that will reduce the number of abortions in our state," said Blunt.

"I applaud the General Assembly for supporting my call to make the Alternatives to Abortion program permanent."

The governor specifically called out the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, saying it "should not be supplying our students with information about sexual health. This vital legislation ensures that our children get the information they need from their teachers, parents and physicians."

Labels:

Link to this story

0 comments


Long Night Leads to Final Day

By Antonio D. French


Smith Finds Republican Allies

By Antonio D. French

JEFFERSON CITY — The freshman senator who once proclaimed on campaign literature that if the Republican leadership was for something, he was probably against it, has now found more support on the other side of the aisle than his own.



State Senator Jeff Smith spent much of the night lobbying members of the State House to support his education legislation, which, among other things, implements mandatory testing for public school teachers and creates a system of voluntary merit pay to reward successful teachers who opt out of traditional tenure.

The measure passed the House as an amendment to a larger education bill with strong support from House Republicans who cut off Democrats wishing to debate the amendment.

Several St. Louis Democrats told PubDef.net that they felt betrayed by Smith, who often bills himself as a "progressive" Democrat. But Smith has found the progress of many of his proposals opposed by members of his own St. Louis delegation.

However, Smith did receive some support for his bill from some fellow St. Louisans, including State Representatives Ted Hoskins, Rodney Hubbard, Talibdin El-Amin, Tom Villa, and Fred Kratky. But it was only with strong Republican support that the amendment passed the House.

Most St. Louis area Democrats voted against the amendment, including State Reps. Jamilah Nasheed, Rachel Storch, Jeanette Mott Oxford, Mike Daus, Robin Wright Jones, and Maria Chappelle-Nadal, who was the only Democrat allowed to speak against the bill before debate was cut off.

UPDATE:
Though it passed the House, Smith's measure never made it to the Senate floor.

Labels:

Link to this story

21 comments


VIDEO: Senator Loudon Interview

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, May 17, 2007 at 5:18 PM

JEFFERSON CITY – Still receiving criticisms and praises alike, State Sen. John Loudon spoke with PubDef today about his passion for the controversial issue of midwifery and the fallout from his stealth legalization of the practice in Missouri.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

3 comments


Life in Prison for Dealing in Parks?

By Dan Martin

Filed Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 11:07 AM

The latest bill in Missouri's war on drugs would make distributing controlled substances in a park a specifically defined offense, punishable by up to life in prison.

Senate Bill 107, sponsored by Senator Yvonne Wilson, would create a specific crime entitled "distribution of a controlled substance near a park." Such unlawful distribution or delivery either on, in, or within 2,000 feet of a public or private park would become punishable as a class A felony.

According to the Missouri Attorney General's Office website, a class A felony is punishable by a sentence of 10-30 years or life in prison. For comparison, other class A felonies are crimes such as second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.

Critics of the bill find the level of punishment startling for such a broadly defined crime. In addition, they say the bill does not directly combat drug dealing, but merely pushes it out of parks and into other locations.

Labels:

Link to this story

13 comments


Carjacker, Meet Gun

By Dan Martin

The right to defend your home with lethal force is an established part of Missouri law. This term, however, some lawmakers are seeking to extend the authorization of defensive lethal force to cover Missouri's drivers as well.

There are two similar bills in the legislature right now that address this issue, Senate Bill 62 (sponsored by Sen. Jack Goodman)and House Bill 189 (sponsored by State Rep. Kenny Jones). Both bills authorize the use of deadly force against intruders into a home, residence, or motor vehicle.

The bills also provide exemptions to the "intruder" definition for persons removing their children, persons that have a right to be on the property, and law enforcement personnel.

Most lawmakers PubDef spoke to seemed fairly comfortable with the bills. "It's basically a minor extension of the existing law," said Sen. Jeff Smith.

The bills' sponsors could not be reached for comment, as they were in session.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

0 comments


Loudon Removed After Lie

By Dan Martin

Filed Monday, May 14, 2007 at 3:09 PM

BREAKING NEWS - READ IT HERE FIRST

Sources in the Missouri State Senate have told PubDef that the President Pro Tem of the Senate, Michael Gibbons, has relieved Senator John Loudon of his position as Chair of the Senate Small Business, Insurance, and Industrial Relations Committee following his deceitful actions on the Senate floor last Thursday.

See PubDef's story on Loudon earlier today for background information.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

2 comments


Heard "Loudon Clear": Senator Lies! [Updated with Audio]

By Dan Martin

A slick move by a Republican senator to pass his controversial legislation while even members of his own party weren't paying attention has left many of his colleagues red-faced and further harmed the integrity of the body.

Last Thursday, the Missouri Senate and House voted on House Bill 818, a fairly ordinary document dealing with Health Insurance and Tax Credits. The bill had come back from committee recently, and the bill's handler in the Senate, West County Senator John Loudon, assured his fellow senators that the bill had only minor technical changes from its previous versions. The bill was quickly approved.

What his colleagues soon discovered, however, was that there had been changes to the bill that were neither minor nor technical.

Loudon, who in his failed bid for State Auditor last year billed himself as the honest "Taxpayers' Watchdog", had secretly slipped language from his own failed legislation, Senate Bill 303, into the document and lied to his colleagues about it.

Senate Bill 303 would have made major changes to laws regarding the practice of midwifery in Missouri, and was called by one senator "one of the most controversial bills of the session."

Between a section specifying dislaimers for informational documents on health insurance and a section renaming earlier sections of earlier legislation, Loudon slipped in the following language:

"Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any person who holds current ministerial or tocological certification by an organization accredited by the National Organization for Competency Assurance may provide services as defined in 42 U.S.C. 1396 r-6(b) (4) (E) (ii) (I)."

What is tocological certification? Well, "tocology" is the medical term for the practice of midwifery.

Senate and House colleagues have expressed degrees of disapproval with Loudon's deceit. "I'm really disappointed in the way this happened," said State Sen. Jeff Smith.

"This body operates on trust... there's clearly no way we can read over 2,000 bills word for word, and so when a Senator announces that his bill only has some minor technical changes, we all trust that," said Smith.

State Rep. Rachel Storch told PubDef that she voted against the measure in the House precisely because of the speed with which it was being pushed.

"They had added so many provisions and [State Rep.] Doug Ervin, who was handling the bill on the House floor, was not giving us time to discern the new language," said Storch.

Smith also indicated that Loudon's actions may very well impact the Senator's ability to pass future legislation, as many of his colleagues have been expressing a reluctance to work with Senator Loudon in the future.

"All we have is our word," said Smith.

UPDATE: Now really hear it "Loudon Clear". Click here to listen to the actual floor debate (link via nikkisimmons.com).

Labels:

Link to this story

41 comments


SPECIAL REPORT: Legislative Watch

By Antonio D. French

This week, PubDef.net turns its eye towards the State Legislature. In the final days of the 2007 session, all the rhetoric and flowery phrases begin to fall to the ground and the true character of Missouri's 94th General Assembly reveals itself — and we'll be there to snap the picture!

Stay with us this week as we bring you stories, interviews, photos, and videos of what our state senators and state reps are doing, and what the consequences will be.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

0 comments


Hitching a Ride in Jefferson City

By Dan Martin

Filed Friday, May 11, 2007 at 9:01 AM

Governor Matt Blunt's brother, Andy Blunt, has been busy in Jefferson City this week. Blunt is a lobbyist for ticketing giant Ticketmaster, and apparently quite a successful one.

Blunt has been seeking a bill that would make ticket scalping legal statewide. With the current legislative session drawing to a close, his desired scalping bill was attached as a rider to an economic development measure, along with 28 other such bills whose sponsors had the same idea.

Efforts to clean up the legislation and remove a few of the staggering 29 amendments attached to it were abandoned when House and Senate negotiators were unable to come to an agreement on various tax credits that were part of the main bill. As a result, all 29 remained attached to the legislation as it passed and was sent to Gov. Blunt's desk.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

6 comments


Dam If You Do, Dam If You Don't

By Dan Martin

Filed Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 2:40 PM

In the wake of the collapse of the Taum Sauk Dam in December 2005, and in the midst of spring flooding throughout the state of Missouri, the State Senate approved a bill yesterday that would toughen operating and inspection procedures for dams throughout the state.

Sponsored by Senator Kevin Engler (R-3), the bill passed through the senate with only a few opposing votes. Despite the overwhelming support received in the Senate, however, Engler did not seem optimistic about the bill's chances in the House.

"It will either be attacked and lessened or it will die," said Engler. He cited representatives with strong farming constituencies as the most prominent opponents of his bill, commenting that farmers worry about the bill impacting their own small irrigation dams.

Engler also indicated that he feels a lack of significant pressure on legislators to pass the bill, despite the events at Taum Sauk in late 2005. "As long as people don't call them on it, it's gonna be a tough paddle," he said.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

0 comments


Smith's Qualifications Debated

By Dan Martin

Filed Wednesday, May 09, 2007 at 2:14 PM

Governor Matt Blunt's nominees for various State department directors were passed out of the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments committee this morning, and will now go to the floor of the State Senate for debate.

Among these candidates is Katie Smith, Blunt's controversial nominee for Director of Agriculture. Democrats have recently criticized Smith's credentials, noting that she is not only young (she is 29 years-old), but also that she has worked primarily as an aide to lawmakers in Washington, not within Missouri itself.

State Senator Maida Coleman told PubDef this afternoon that Senate Democrats plan "debate as to [Smith's] qualifications" for the Senate floor. Coleman explained that Senate Democrats feel that "there are very high expectations for the next director based on the shameful behavior of the former director," and thus are approaching the nomination with caution.

Sen. Coleman did, however, express her hope that should Smith be confirmed in the position, she perform well. "As a veteran of the Senate and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will do my best to assist her in her job," said Coleman.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

1 comments


VIDEO: Loudon and Days on SLPS

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, May 08, 2007 at 12:57 PM

State Senators John Loudon, a Republican from West County, and Rita Days, a Democrat from North County, recently appeared on the public affairs show "Jeff City Journal" with host Missy Shelton. One of the topics discussed was the situation with St. Louis Public Schools.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

6 comments


Coleman Denies Rumors

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, May 03, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Minority Floor Leader Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis) denied rumors that she is planning to make an early departure from the State Senate.

Talk has spread around the Capitol that Coleman, who because of term limits is in the last year of her career as a legislator, may soon be appointed to fill a vacancy on the Board of Probation and Parole.

But Coleman tells PubDef that she has no plans at this time to leave her seat early. "I love my job and no one has offered me an appointment," she said.

If Governor Matt Blunt was to appoint Coleman to the post, which pays more than $80,000 a year, that would greatly change the dynamics of the race to succeed Coleman.

Currently, State Representatives Rodney Hubbard, Connie Johnson, Robin Wright Jones, and Tom Villa are the names most often mentioned as possible successors. In the African-American community, there is a worry that infighting could leave St. Louis without any black representation in the state senate for the first time in decades.

If Coleman were to resign early, the Democratic committeepeople of her district would vote decide the Democratic nominee for the special election. That means that instead of having to win close to 10,000 votes, a candidate will need to only earn about 7 votes to win the nomination. And that's a whole 'nother ball game.

In other Maida news... The Republican blog, The Source, attacked Coleman this week for her support of Michael Ocello for a seat on the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board. Ocello is the strip club owner who was recently elected to the Mehlville School Board.

Coleman reminded PubDef that Ocello's was actually a re-appointment to the SBRF Board and that the board's chairman, J. Scott George, a Blunt appointee, sent her a letter requesting that she support Ocello for another term.

Here's an interesting quote from Ocello from a Woodhull Foundation paper titled "The Erotic Economy":

"You need a minimum of $2-3 million to even open a decent club," explains VCG holding company president Michael Ocello whose company owns almost 20 clubs worldwide. He trains ladies in current affairs, dress and wine tasting to boost his profit margins as well as the woman's earning potential.

"A lady from a rural community and limited background can come to work for me and someday leave our establishments with some sophistication and networking under her garter. It isn't a negative exchange, that's for sure."

Labels: ,

Link to this story

5 comments


THE DEATH PENALTY DEBATE

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 10:11 AM

SPECIAL REPORT

The Missouri State Legislature right now is considering several bills on capital punishment. Some, like House Bill 258 and Senate Bill 354, seek to abolish the death penalty all together. Others, like HB 445 and SB 439, seek to put a moratorium on all executions so that the process can be examined.

Last week, the House Committee on Crime Prevention and Public Safety held a public hearing on HB 445, sponsored by State Rep. Bill Deeken (R-Cole County). The committee heard moving testimony detailing some of the injustices and inconsistencies that exist in the current system.



State Rep. Connie Johnson (D-St. Louis City) was the last to testify before the committee. She briefly described the circumstances around the trial of her cousin, Marlin Gray, who was executed on October 26, 2005. She said that cases have recently been ordered to be retried for reasons that also existed in Gray's case, but now it is too late.

Another famous case, the 1995 execution of Larry Griffin, has led many people to believe that Missouri has already executed at least one innocent man.

"Before you execute somebody we need to make sure all the I's are dotted and all the T's are crossed," said Johnson. "Because once you pull that trigger you cannot bring that person back to life."

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

6 comments


Slay Closer to Getting Charter Power

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 9:34 AM

While students were settling into their spots for an all-night protest in his office, Mayor Francis Slay was in Jefferson City testifying in favor of a bill that would grant him the power to open more charter schools in the City of St. Louis.

Freshman State Senator Jeff Smith, the sponsor of the controversial bill, spoke with Pub Def Tuesday about Senate Bill 564.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

31 comments


More MOHELA Later Tonight

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 6:36 PM

The Senate is currently discussing Consent Agenda items (those that are non-controversial and do not cost more than $100,000). They are expected to again pick up the MOHELA bill this evening. Democrats are expected to continue their filibuster.

Check back later for interviews with St. Louis senators Maida Coleman and Jeff Smith.


Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

Labels:

Link to this story

0 comments


Nap's Over

By Antonio D. French

After a three-hour break for a quick shower and nap, Senators came back in session at 2 o'clock for hour number 20 of the Democrats' filibuster against Governor Blunt's controversial MOHELA plan.

Dems have a skeleton crew on the floor while leadership from both parties meet to negotiate a deal.

We're told that fundraisers have been cancelled for the night and both sides are ready for another night sleeping in chairs.


Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

Labels:

Link to this story

2 comments


In Jefferson City Today

By Antonio D. French

Pub Def will be reporting from the State Capitol today. Check back tonight for interviews with senators and representatives from St. Louis - and maybe the Governor.

The Senate has taken a break from their now 19 hour filibuster on Gov. Matt Blunt's MOHELA plan. They will resume at 2 o'clock.

State Rep. Talibdin El-Amin is preparing to introduce a bill aimed at crack cocaine. It would put a primary ingredient in the drug's production, baking soda, behind the counter, similar to what was done to the ingredients in Meth.


Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

Labels: ,

Link to this story

10 comments


Coleman vs. Cover Bands

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, March 09, 2007 at 6:39 AM

State Senator Maida Coleman has introduced a bill that seeks to protect the rights of the original performers of the songs that have become a part of our American culture.

Senate Bill 485
takes aim at so-called "cover" or "tribute" bands that advertise as if they are the actual bands themselves.

Mary Wilson, an original member of the legendary Supremes, was in Jefferson City yesterday lobbying on behalf of the bill. She told the AP that she feels that these impostor bands are robbing artists like her of their legacies — not to mention money.

The bill would make it unlawful for any person or band to advertise in the state using "false, deceptive, or misleading affiliation, connection, or association between the performing group and the recording group."

Exceptions include if:
  • The group actually owns the trademark
  • At least one member of the group was a member of the original group
  • The performance is clearly identified as a salute or tribute

Labels:

Link to this story

6 comments


Smith's Bill Would Let Mayor Sponsor New Charter Schools in the City

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, February 22, 2007 at 2:18 PM

READ IT HERE FIRST

State Senator Jeff Smith today introduced a bill (Senate Bill 564) to allow St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to sponsor new charter schools.

More later...

To learn more about the relationship between charter schools and their sponsors, see Section 160.400 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

Currently charter schools can only be sponsored by:
  • the school board (or perhaps the "transitional" board) of the district;
  • a public four-year college or university with its primary campus in the school district or in a county adjacent to the county in which the district is located, with an approved teacher education program that meets regional or national standards of accreditation;
  • a community college located in the district;
  • or any private four-year college or university located in a city not within a county with an enrollment of at least one thousand students, and with an approved teacher preparation program.
Under existing law, the Mayor may request a sponsor to consider sponsoring a workplace charter school, which is defined as a charter school "with the ability to target prospective students whose parent or parents are employed in a business district".

Smith's bill, if passed, will apparently (the full text is not yet available online) simply allow the mayor to sponsor charter schools directly, effective August 28, 2007.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

25 comments


COLEMAN INTRODUCES BILL TO ELIMINATE NEW "TRANSITIONAL" SCHOOL BOARD

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 12:35 PM

BREAKING NEWS -- READ IT HERE FIRST!

State Sen. Maida Coleman today introduced a bill (Senate Bill 551) to eliminate the "transitional" three-person, politically-appointed board approved last week to run St. Louis Public Schools. Here is a statement from her office:

"Today, I introduced a bill that would abolish the Transition Board, an entity poised to administrate the St. Louis Public Schools. I cannot in good conscious allow the State Board of Education to install a Transition Board that would effectively eliminate the representative democracy enjoyed by other school districts around Missouri.

"Furthermore, I am alarmed at the apparent moving target the State Board of Education has been using to determine if the St. Louis Public Schools should lose its provisional accreditation. It appears the State Board is predisposed to installing a Transition Board. It also seems that when the school district’s data would support continued provisional accreditation, the State Board is seeking additional data that would jeopardize the district’s status.

"Finally, the State Board’s remedy will be no panacea for the ills of the St. Louis Public Schools. In fact, the installment of the Transition Board is a dangerous precedent that could result in the degrading of our schools in St. Louis and around the state."

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

16 comments


BILL INTRODUCED TO RETURN LOCAL CONTROL OF POLICE DEPARTMENT

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, February 12, 2007 at 5:42 PM

State Senator Maida Coleman and State Representative Robin Wright-Jones have introduced legislation that would return control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to the people of the City of St. Louis, ending nearly 150 years of state control.

"We think the local representative democracy, the Board of Alderman, should decide how the police department should be managed," said Coleman in a press release today. "St. Louis would be one of the last cities to return to local control of the police department of the cities where the state took control of the police during the Civil War era."

During the early days of the Civil War, the State of Missouri, like many other states, took control of its major city's police department. By the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, local control of police departments returned to most cities like Baltimore, Atlanta, and others, but the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department remains governed by a board appointed by the Governor to this day, just as when the state took control in 1861.

Senate Bill 486, proposed by Coleman and Wright-Jones, gives authority to create a police department to the St. Louis Board of Alderman. It would be up to the Board of Alderman to decide how the police department is managed. The legislation also preserves the salary and rank structure of the current police department to ensure a smooth transition.

"There is no reason why people from Joplin to St. Joseph have a say in how we run our police department," said Wright-Jones.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

28 comments


Kennedy Joins Coleman Against Takeover

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, February 02, 2007 at 9:32 AM

State Senator Harry Kennedy has joined State Senator Maida Coleman in opposition to a takeover of St. Louis Public Schools.

In a letter written to Education Commissioner Kent King, Kennedy says, "I am writing to you to place in record my opposition to the possible vote eliminating the accreditation of the St. Louis Public Schools by the Missouri State Board of Education. Loss of accreditation could then lead to a complete takeover of the St. Louis Public Schools by a transitional board
under the authority of the desegregation statute. I believe an extension of provisional accreditation is the answer everyone is seeking to most favorably influence the successful operation of the St. Louis City public schools."

Kennedy goes on to say that an extension of provisional accreditation would allow the State Board of Education to be on record that the St. Louis Public School system is operating below standard.

"Extending provisional accreditation would allow DESE the ability to officially monitor and advise the current elected school board and superintendent. Assistance we all agree this board desperately needs," said Kennedy.

Kennedy, whose district is made of parts of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, joins Sen. Coleman in opposition to the takeover which is being pushed by Mayor Francis Slay and School Board President Veronica O'Brien.

"Immediate intervention of the state, without exploring every option available to local authorities could undermine and delay future success," said Kennedy.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

35 comments


GOP Attacks Smith's "Lack of Courage"

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, December 27, 2006 at 4:53 PM

The Missouri Republican Party sent out a press release this afternoon attacking State Senator-elect Jeff Smith, a Democrat, on his decision to oppose Gov. Matt Blunt's appointment of Donayle Whitmore-Smith to the State Board of Education.

"Smith today showed that he is more interested in bowing to Democrat Party bosses than doing what’s right for Missouri students," said the Republicans.

"Smith contradicts himself by praising Whitmore-Smith's efforts on behalf of urban education in the St. Louis area then in the same breath rejects her nomination because of a lack of experience," said Paul Sloca, communications director for the Missouri Republican Party.

"Jeff Smith’s politically-motivated rejection of Donayle Whitmore-Smith is a slap in the face to the African American community and to our urban schools. Jeff Smith is turning his back on his constituents in order to garner favor with Democrat leaders who have opposed Whitmore-Smith’s nomination," said Sloca.

"It is this kind of dismissive attitude toward our urban schools that have led to problems like those currently surrounding the St. Louis Public School District. It’s a disgrace."

Meanwhile, Gov. Blunt is also voicing his displeasure with Smith's decision.

"I am deeply disappointed that one of the Senator-elect's first actions is obstructing the appointment of a well-qualified African-American woman who would have done a magnificent job on the State's School Board," said Blunt.

"Donayle Whitmore-Smith was one of two African-American leaders I appointed to the State Board of Education. I am pleased that Reverend Stanley Archie of Kansas City will at least be given the courtesy of a hearing even though the same courtesy was not extended to Donayle."

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

12 comments


Smith Opposes Whitmore-Smith

By Antonio D. French

READ IT HERE FIRST

Senator-Elect Jeff Smith's Statement on Gubernatorial Appointee Donayle Whitmore-Smith:

Donayle Whitmore-Smith is a leader of courage and action. She has dedicated the last decade of her life to improving urban education by founding the Ptah Academy in St. Louis and attempting to provide additional educational options to children across the state. As an educator, an activist, and a parent, she has much to be proud of.

That said, she is not an appropriate candidate for the State Board of Education.

The State Board is the steward for Missouri's public schools. As such, its members should possess a breadth and depth of experience in public education and/or a background as strong advocates for public schools. Given Ms. Whitmore-Smith's lack of experience as a public school teacher, administrator, or advocate – and the fact that she has spent much of her adult life promoting private educational options – I am concerned about her ability to focus on improving our public schools. At a time when the St. Louis Public Schools are on the verge of losing accreditation and falling under the purview of the State, all members of the State Board must concentrate on the task at hand.

Equally troubling was Ms. Whitmore-Smith's noncommittal response to my question about the relative merits of teaching creation vs. evolution in public school science classes. In order to train a workforce that will help Missouri become a biotechnology hub, our schools must teach modern science and ensure that religious doctrine remains in appropriate venues.

It should be noted, as the co-founder of a group of public charter schools, I have advocated some of the very alternative educational options that Ms. Whitmore-Smith has supported. I neither retract my advocacy nor disparage hers. In fact, I appreciate her energy and her work. While I have not always agreed with Ms. Whitmore-Smith's policy prescriptions, she has been a passionate advocate for her cause and fresh voices like hers should be welcomed.

I have truly appreciated the input of thousands of Missourians while evaluating this nominee. Lamentably, however, some on both sides have succumbed to histrionics and demagoguery. Ms. Whitmore-Smith is not out to eviscerate public education; conversely, voucher opponents are not out to trap poor children in failing schools. And the abysmal outcomes of St. Louis public schools are not solely the result of bureaucratic dysfunction but, more broadly, the consequence of decades of segregation, benign neglect, and middle-class flight.

For the sake of our children and our state's economic future, we must move past petty political bickering to come together and find practical solutions to these problems. That means considering open enrollment policies so that children can choose any public school in a district, lateral certification opportunities for trained scientists, mathematicians, and linguists to ease the shortages of qualified teachers in their subject areas, continuation of St. Louis's voluntary transfer program, and expansion of innovative charter schools [such as the Knowledge is Power (KIPP) model] that provide increased choice within the public school framework while remaining accountable to the State Board.

Finally, I wish Ms. Whitmore-Smith the very best in her future endeavors. I hope we have opportunities to find common ground and work together on some of the above initiatives. And I hope that, in keeping with tradition and the historical mission of the State Board, Governor Blunt's future nominees have more extensive experience in public education.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

26 comments


Pressure Mounts on Smith

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, December 12, 2006 at 1:49 PM

State Rep. Maria Chappelle Nadal is calling on supporters of public education to call upon State Sen.-elect Jeff Smith to oppose the appointment of Donayle Whitmore-Smith to the state board of education.

Whitmore-Smith is director of the Missouri Coalition for School Choice, an advocacy group for education reform, and has actively lobbied for tuition tax credits.

"She is for school vouchers, taking public money for private use," wrote Nadal in an email to supporters. The University City representative also challenged Whitmore-Smith's credentials as a Democrat, a requirement for the seat she is being appointed to.

"She is NOT a Democrat! She professes that her father was a state representative, but in fact she has NO tie in's or relationships with Ward committees, no history of Democratic volunteerism, no contact or relationship with the State Democratic Party, nor the National Democratic Committee."

Nadal urged people to call or email Jeff Smith, whose support as Whitmore-Smith's state senator is customarily required for such appointments.

"He is the only person who has the upper hand on the matter," said Nadal.

Smith did not immediately reply to our request for comment, but his strong support for charter schools lead many to believe he will not oppose Whitmore-Smith, who founded the now defunct Ptah Academy charter school in 2001.

Earlier this month, the Education Roundtable, made up of eight administrator, teacher and parent groups, announced their opposition to Whitmore-Smith.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

21 comments


Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, December 05, 2006 at 6:00 AM

political briefsSMITH'S FIRST MISTAKE -- State Sen-elect Jeff Smith might have already made his first big political mistake -- even before he's been sworn in. Reliable sources tell PUB DEF that Smith made the very green mistake of showing his cards too soon in last month's floor leader vote.

Before the vote, Smith told Democratic Floor Leader (and fellow St. Louis City senator) Maida Coleman that he would not be supporting her and instead be voting for Sen. Chuck Graham to take her leadership post. Imagine Smith's surprise when minutes later, after some public and private deliberation, Graham stood up and nominated Coleman. Oops.

St. Louis Magazine's 47th "Most Powerful" St. Louisan (what, Fredbird wasn't available?) may have gotten some bad advice from Numbers 12 and 14 on the list.

political briefsROMNEY GETTING BLUNTED? -- In case you haven't noticed, the 2008 Presidential Campaign has begun. And the National Review's Jonathan Martin says our own Gov. Matt Blunt might already be picking a horse -- Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Blunt is quoted in the article as saying he would make a public endorsement "probably in the next few days."

political briefsBROWN v. BROWN -- Rumor has it that Harold Brown is aiding the re-election campaign of Aldermanic President Jim Shrewsbury. Brown was an aide to retiring State Sen. Pat Dougerty and briefly worked on the campaign of his replacement, Jeff Smith.

Well it seems Shrewsbury's opponent, Lewis Reed, has called in some Brown aid of his own, WGNU radio host Lizz Brown.

Brown -- who has recently begun to regularly attack Shrewsbury, while speaking very highly of Reed -- started hosting this week a one-hour weekly segment called "Aldermanic Updates with Lewis Reed". The segment, paid for by Reed's campaign, mirrors a format Senator-elect Claire McCaskill used during her recent campaign.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

9 comments


Caucus Fights Today [Updated x2]

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, November 09, 2006 at 8:58 AM

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."

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

3 comments


Earl Wilson Says He's 'Sick and Tired' of Being Taken Advantage Of [Updated]

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, October 16, 2006 at 9:45 AM

The head of the Gateway Classic Foundation has a beef with State Sen. Joan Bray (D-St. Louis County) and he's taking his support across the aisle.

Earl Wilson has endorsed Bray's Republican challenger, John Maupin, after being personally offended by Bray's refusal to support his nomination by Gov. Matt Blunt to the Lincoln University Board of Curators earlier this year.

In a press release sent out Friday, Wilson said he was "sick and tired of some Democrats taking advantage of Afro-Americans by not doing anything for them and expecting them to vote for them during election time." Wilson said since Bray didn't support him, he won't be supporting her.

"From this point on, I will support the candidate who is best for the community, whether he or she be a Democrat or Republican," said Wilson.

The 74-year-old founder of the foundation known best for its annual black college football game said he's tired of being disrespected by so-called liberals. "A liberal thinks he or she can kick your butt and still have you support them," he said.

"Not me. Scrutinize each candidate whether they be Democrat or Republican and vote for the individual based on his/her record."

UPDATE: Sen. Bray told PUB DEF this morning that it was at the request of three of her senate colleagues, Senators Rita Days, Maida Coleman, and Yvonne Wilson (all Lincoln alumni), that she supported replacing outgoing curator Pearlie Evans with another female candidate on the overwhelming male board.

"I respected their interest in replacing one good woman with another good woman," said Bray.

She also pointed out that Wilson, a cousin to Congressman Lacy Clay, had already twice before served on Lincoln's board of curators.

"And how does it serve his cousin at all to support a Republican in an overlapping district?" she added.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

10 comments


VIDEO: Jeff Smith Fundraiser

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, October 14, 2006 at 10:18 AM

Jeff Smith, the Democratic nominee for state senator from St. Louis' 4th District, held a fundraiser Thursday at the Regional Arts Commission on Delmar Ave. just three weeks before his uncontested general election.



According to Smith's last campaign finance report, his campaign raised $268,350.06 in his August 8 primary win, more than any of his four opponents. The campaign spent $214,393.51 as of Sept 2 and had a respectable $44,567.18 left in the bank.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

6 comments


Why You Bringing Up Old Stuff?

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, October 06, 2006 at 1:03 AM

A couple of things that were in my notebook but took a while to get posted...

'BOYISH' JEFF SMITH? -- Washington Post columnist Jabari Asim on St. Louis' own Jeff Smith: "Jeff Smith, an aspiring politician in Missouri, bears no resemblance to Jimmy Stewart. Unlike Stewart, who was a lanky leading man, Smith is small and boyish. Unlike Stewart's homespun tenor, Smith's voice tends toward the upper registers. His appearance is so youthful that a colleague once said of him, 'He's obviously short, looks like he's 12 and sounds like he's castrated.'" Click here to read the full article.

THE POST IS LOSING MONEY -- "Lee acquired Pulitzer Inc. in June 2005, and Pulitzer revenue is reported in statistical periods. For the statistical reporting period ended Aug. 27, 2006, Pulitzer advertising revenue decreased 2.0 percent compared with 2005, with total revenue down 1.6 percent. In St. Louis, advertising revenue decreased 2.8 percent, and total revenue decreased 2.6 percent. In the other former Pulitzer newspapers, advertising revenue decreased 0.2 percent, and total revenue increased 0.4 percent." Click here to read more.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

3 comments


Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, September 18, 2006 at 10:23 AM

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's Jonathan E. Kaplan reported 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.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

1 comments


VIDEO: Coleman Interview - Part 2

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, September 06, 2006 at 5:42 PM

PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE

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.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

15 comments


VIDEO: Coleman Interview - Part 1

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, September 05, 2006 at 4:08 PM

PUB DEF EXCLUSIVE

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.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

2 comments


El-Amin Claimed Ballots Were Illegal

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, August 09, 2006 at 6:17 PM

In the petition for a temporary restraining order filed yesterday by then-State Senate candidate Yaphett El-Amin, she alleged that one of her opponents, Amber Boykins, and State Rep candidates Joe Palm (who was running against her husband) and Shaun Simms (who was running against her political ally, Jamilah Nasheed) were distributing sample ballots in the 1st, 4th, 18th and 27th wards that were "false, misleading, and illegal."

Her complaint held that by using the terms "Democratic Sample Ballot" those campaigns were misleading voters into thinking that they had been endorsed by the respective Democratic ward organizations, which they had not.

Judge Lisa Van Amburg agreed with El-Amin and at 3:25 p.m. she issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting them from being further distributed.

Election Board officials say they instructed their roaming judges to inform the campaigns' poll workers to stop passing out the illegal ballots.

A hearing in this matter has been set for Friday, August 18, at 9:00 a.m. -- long after the polls have closed and winners have been decided in the affected races.

The Complaint
The Order
1st Ward Ballot
4th Ward Ballot
27th Ward Ballot

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

10 comments


El-Amin lawsuit sought to kill ballots

By Antonio D. French

According to former 1st Ward Ald. Irene J. Smith, defeated State Senate candidate Yaphett El-Amin filed a lawsuit yesterday against the campaigns of her opponent Amber Boykins, and Joe Palm and Karla May, both opponents of her husband, seeking to have those campaigns' sample ballots from being distributed in several wards.

According to Smith, who was speaking on Lizz Brown's "Wake-Up Call" radio show this morning, a temporary restraining order was issued around 3:00 yesterday to collect the "misleading" (El-Amin's word, not Smith's) sample ballots. According to Brown, some ballots were taken by election officials and Sheriff deputies.

More later...

Labels: ,

Link to this story

8 comments


Coleman: Slay May Not Be Forgiven

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, August 07, 2006 at 5:33 PM

State Senator Maida Coleman told PUB DEF today that she still feels disrespected by Mayor Francis Slay and would have a tough time forgiving her former ally even if he did apologize for his recent behavior -- which he has not.

As we reported over the weekend, Coleman was taken aback by a call on her cell phone from an angry and loud Slay last week. The mayor yelled at the senator about a letter she recently wrote to Gov. Matt Blunt defending the recent actions of the St. Louis City School Board.

"The only instability that you talk about in your press release that has occurred happened under the old majority school board, which the Mayor of St. Louis helped elect," wrote Coleman.

Slay ended his tirade with a thinly veiled threat: "Good luck with any future political plans you may have."

Coleman, who asserts that she never yelled back at the mayor, told PUB DEF today that even if Slay did offer to patch things up with her, she doesn't know if she can forgive him for speaking to her in such a disrespectful and bullying manner.

"I'll make my peace with God. I'll have to think twice about Francis Slay," she said.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

16 comments


Getting 'Worser' on the Southside [Update x2]

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, August 05, 2006 at 12:02 AM

Some voters in south St. Louis received an anonymous automated phone call today telling them to vote for anyone but Jeff Smith in Tuesday's state senate election. Many Smith supporters immediately pointed the finger at Derio Gambaro, Smith's chief competitor for the important southside vote.

"Jeff Smith is a part-time professor of African-American Studies," says a male voice that sounds kind of like Gambaro's -- but even if he was behind the calls, he probably wouldn't use his own voice.

"He is also the only candidate running that lacks any legislative or government experience. Jeff Smith is a carpetbagger," the voice continues. "We need a senator with experience and commitment to our community, not Jeff Smith."

There is no doubt that even many less partisan voters are thinking Gambaro is to blame, primarily because he and Smith have been going back and forth with negative campaign mailers directed at these same voters. In one memorable piece, Gambaro jokes that Smith's Confluence Charter School is "even worser then [sic] St. Louis Public Schools."

Gambaro told PUB DEF this evening that he was aware of the calls and deeply upset about it. "This is why people get turned off to politics," he said. He flatly denied having anything to do with the calls.

Blogger Larry Handlin recorded the call. Click here to listen.

UPDATE: State Rep. Yaphett El-Amin, another candidate for the 4th District State Senate seat, also denied knowing anything about the call when contacted by phone.

Her campaign has also started attacking Smith, who many see as the frontrunner in this race, on local black radio stations. An El-Amin commercial running on 95.5 FM asks voters if Smith thinks they are stupid for listing a vacant lot as his district address on early campaign documents.

UPDATE 2: Smith is trying to turn the phantom calls into a fundraising tool. In an email to supporters, he calls the calls "a combination of misrepresentations and outright lies" and asks them to contribute to his campaign via his website "then add $1 to show that you are giving in response to this email."

"I don't care about the amount," said Smith. "I just want to show that the community will not tolerate this kind of campaigning."

Labels: ,

Link to this story

14 comments


Smith, Gambaro Exchange Blows

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, August 03, 2006 at 6:43 PM

The battle for the southside vote is heating up as attacks between the two white State Senate candidates, Jeff Smith and Derio Gambaro, go back and forth in the mailboxes of 5th District voters south of Delmar.

Gambaro attacked Smith on his involvement with the Confluence Academy Charter Schools:





Smith attacked Gambaro on his support of Social Security reform:





Gambaro attacked Smith again on his charter schools:





Then Smith called Gambaro a "Republican in Democrat's clothing":





Then Gambaro said Smith would say anything to get elected:





You know, if white people just stopped fighting one another, they might be able to get something done for their communities.

That's sarcasm, people.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

20 comments


VIDEO: Canvassing with Jeff Smith

By Antonio D. French

During this final week before the August 8 primary election, PUB DEF will be pounding the pavement everyday with different candidates. Yesterday we were in north St. Louis with Jeff Smith, a candidate for state senate.

As Smith and his aide, Quinton Lucas, hopped out of the car and head towards the streets of the Visitation Park neighborhood in the 26th Ward, almost on queue (and wouldn't you know it, before our camera was rolling), a couple of young guys shouted from across the street "Yo, Jeff Smith!" apparently recognizing the energetic Democrat from a campaign poster, or mailer, or maybe his work as a basketball coach at a northside community center.



Not long into our door-to-dooring, we got a call from another candidate's campaign who we were scheduled to tag along with later. They were down the street. Soon they and their "secret weapon" were on the same street as Smith.

The loud voice of a female announcer could be heard saying, "it's time to send a proven leader to the state senate." Soon the large truck bearing photos of one of Smith's opponents, Yaphett El-Amin, could be seen coming down the street. The 6-foot tall video screen on its side could be seen clearly in the evening light with shots of El-Amin in schools, in hospitals, and in the State Capitol.

"I think that is so funny that came with their little toy," said Smith. "I wonder how much that cost them. She's only done one piece of mail."

Labels: ,

Link to this story

6 comments


Political Briefs

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 12:00 PM

COLEMAN GETTING CANNED? The Source, a Republican blog, claims that a battle is brewing between Minority Floor Leader Maida Coleman and fellow Democrat, State Senator Tim Green. The Source says Senator Chuck Graham, the Assistant Minority Floor Leader, is attempting to replace Maida with Tim. Stay tuned...

BOND TO BUSH: BRING THE BUCKS U.S. Senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent have asked President Bush to quickly approve Governor Matt Blunt’s request for a major disaster declaration for Missouri in response to this week's storms. They requested financial assistance for St. Louis City and Dent, Iron, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Louis and Washington Counties. The AP reports about 440,000 homes and businesses in the St. Louis area were still without electricity Saturday morning, but about 130,000 had been restored over the previous 24 hours.

BIONDI BACK FROM BEIRUT AFTER BOMBING After surviving the bombing of Beirut, Father Lawrence Biondi, President of Saint Louis University, made it back home yesterday from Lebanon.

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

3 comments


Harold Brown joins Smith's campaign

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, July 17, 2006 at 4:52 PM

Harold Brown, district assistant to State Sen. Pat Dougherty, has joined Jeff Smith's campaign to replace the term-limited Democrat. "These are huge shoes to fill," said Brown. "And Jeff Smith is the only one of the candidates who can fill them. Like Senator Dougherty, Jeff will represent the entire district – from Bevo Mill to Walnut Park."

Labels:

Link to this story

17 comments


Smith responds to "Caucasian" flap

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, July 13, 2006 at 5:29 PM

State Senate candidate Jeff Smith released a statement today responding to a press release from the campaign of Yaphett El-Amin which referred to his race, calling him a "known Caucasian."

Smith said, "While we have offered a hopeful, progressive vision to unify this district, Representative El-Amin has chosen to mire her campaign in the divisive politics of the past."

"Our city is moving forward. Yet just as we begin to move past race and revitalize our city, the El-Amin campaign had to resort to the politics of fear and hatred in a disgraceful attempt to teach racial hostility to a whole new generation of voters," said Smith.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

17 comments


Smith gets the Carpenters

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 2:29 PM

READ IT HERE FIRST

Sources say Jeff Smith just received the endorsement of the St. Louis Carpenters District Council.

Developing...

Shannon Weber, political director for the Carpenters' District Council of Greater St. Louis, has confirmed the endorsement. We're told press releases are coming...

Labels: ,

Link to this story

1 comments


Gambaro gets the 24th

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, June 28, 2006 at 10:37 PM

Sources tell us that Derio Gambaro won the 24th Ward endorsement tonight, beating Jeff Smith 42-10.

Labels:

Link to this story

17 comments


Clifton Heights Forum Monday

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, June 25, 2006 at 11:00 PM

The Clifton Heights Neighborhood Association will be having a forum for candidates in the 4th District State Senate race Monday night at 7:00 at Mason Elementary School, 6031 Southwest Avenue.

Labels:

Link to this story

5 comments


Break-In at Smith's Office? [Updated]

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, June 22, 2006 at 11:45 AM

BREAKING NEWS

A source from Jeff Smith's state senate campaign said someone was arrested this morning after attempting to break into their campaign office on Olive at 3:15 a.m. this morning.

Developing...

UPDATE: A spokesperson for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department tells PUB DEF they have no record of an attempted break-in at the address of Smith's office.

People in Smith's campaign say when they showed up this morning, the building's owner was there and he told them he received word early this morning that someone had been arrested after trying to break in. A phone call to the landlord was not immediately returned.

Still Developing...

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

43 comments


COPE recommends Boykins, Haas

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, June 20, 2006 at 9:20 PM

READ IT HERE FIRST

The St. Louis City Teachers' Union Committee on Political Education (COPE) has recommended that the union endorse State Rep. Amber Boykins for state senate.

COPE also recommended former school board member Bill Haas be endorsed in his campaign against State Rep. Rodney Hubbard. We are told that Hubbard never showed up for his scheduled interview with the teachers.

Local 420's executive board, which is not bound to accept the committee's recommendation, is expected to announce its full list of endorsements later this week.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

21 comments


VIDEO: Gambaro jabs Smith on charters

By Antonio D. French

All five of the candidates running for the open 4th District State Senate seat showed up early this morning for a debate sponsored by The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA).

Before an audience of people who don't have to be at work on a Tuesday morning, Kenny Jones, Amber Boykins, Jeff Smith, Derio Gambaro, and Yaphett El-Amin answered questions on topics ranging from the upcoming Stem Cell ballot initiative and a possible toll bridge crossing the Mississippi River to education funding and whether St. Louis' business community pays its fair share in taxes.

In one of the most spirited parts of the debate, former State Rep. Derio Gambaro attacked the record of professional educator Jeff Smith's Confluence Academy charter schools.



Gambaro pointed to the fact that 3rd grade students from the schools scored far below most students from St. Louis Public Schools on the state's reading tests [67.5 % of Confluence's 3rd graders tested "Unsatisfactory" in 2005 versus 24.7 % for SLPS].

Gambaro said he prefers a voucher (or tax credit-funded scholarship) system that would allow parents the choice of taking their kids out of SLPS and sending them to a school that is fully accredited.

Smith said it is unfortunate that people "who have just talked about doing things for the city schools are attacking people who have done things to improve the city schools."

He said that majority of the parents at Confluence gave the school an A or B grade last year and that there is currently a list of hundreds of families on a waiting list to send their kids to the charter school.

Trouble viewing this video on YouTube? Click here to download it to your computer.

Check back later for more videos from today's debate...

Labels: , ,

Link to this story

16 comments


Senate Ward Endorsements

By Antonio D. French

Filed Thursday, June 15, 2006 at 10:58 PM

State Senate candidate Derio Gambaro won the endorsement of the 8th Ward Democratic club tonight. Sources tell PUB DEF the former State Rep received 27 votes. The next closest candidate was Jeff Smith with eight.

Smith had better luck in the 28th Ward where he beat out Gambaro with 29 votes. Gambaro tied with Yaphett El-Amin with six votes each.

Labels:

Link to this story

21 comments


VIDEO: Candidates on Unions

By Antonio D. French

Filed Monday, June 12, 2006 at 9:41 AM

Several candidates and elected officials were in the audience at yesterday's OBS Candidate Forum for the 4th District State Senate candidates.

State Representative Connie Johnson, Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, State Rep. Candidates Jamilah Nasheed, Joe Palm, Talib El-Amin, and Karla May all watched as Derio Gambaro, Jeff Smith, Kenny Jones, Amber Boykins, and Yaphett El-Amin answered questions on different issues facing the residents of the district they each want to represent in the state senate.

May, who is running against Committeemen Palm and El-Amin to replace Yaphett in the state house, rose to ask a question that was directly pointed at the wife of one of her opponents.

She asked where the candidates stood on the issue of Missouri becoming a "right to work" state. There are currently 22 states with laws that discourage collective bargaining by prohibiting trade unions from making membership a condition of employment, either before or after hire. There is an ongoing effort to make Missouri such a state.



Four of the candidates voiced their strong support for labor, but El-Amin, who along with her father, Eddie Hasan of MOKAN, has sometimes been critical of local labor unions, said that unions do no have an excellent record for being inclusive of blacks and other minorities.

"In order for us to all come together and for us to really see the benefit of labor, we have to be at the table benefiting from the good-paying jobs," said El-Amin.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

19 comments


VIDEO: Candidates on Police Control

By Antonio D. French

Filed Sunday, June 11, 2006 at 11:02 PM

The candidates seeking to replace the term-limited State Sen. Pat Dougherty answered a wide range of questions tonight at a forum hosted by the Organization for Black Struggle.

Derio Gambaro, Jeff Smith, Yaphett El-Amin, and Kenny Jones were asked whether they support the City of St. Louis regaining control of its police department and where they stood on the issue of requiring cops to live in the city like other city employees.

Gambaro said that the issue should be handled like the Home Rule issue a few years back, with voters across the entire state asked whether St. Louisans should have the same right as most of them. Co-moderator Irene J. Smith, former 1st Ward alderman, quickly reminded Gambaro that this is a statutory issue, not a constitutional one, and that the legislature can decide it at any time.

El-Amin said that Gambaro has spoken at the same hearings as she has on police residency, but on opposite sides of the issue. She said she firmly believes that police -- and firefighters -- should be required to live in the city, something which Gambaro has testified against.



Smith and Jones also spoke in favor of requiring police to live in the city. The fifth candidate, Amber Boykins, was not present when this question was asked. She arrived to the forum nearly 90 minutes late.

More video tomorrow...

Labels: ,

Link to this story

19 comments


OBS Forum Today

By Antonio D. French

The Organization for Black Struggle will host a forum today for the five candidates running for the open 4th District State Senate seat.

The event will be from 4 - 6 p.m. at the Rowan Community Center, 1401 Rowan Ave. Organizers say all of the candidates have been invited to attend.

The candidates are State Reps. Yaphett El-Amin and Amber Boykins, former Congressional candidate Jeff Smith, former Alderman Kenny Jones, and former State Rep. Derio Gambaro.

Check back tonight for video from the event.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

1 comments


VIDEO: Jeff Smith Brings His A-Game

By Antonio D. French

Filed Saturday, June 10, 2006 at 8:03 PM

State Senate candidate Jeff Smith and his supporters organized a basketball tournament today in Fairgrounds Park. The free food, music and ice cream made for a good time for the dozens of people that came out for the event. But not everyone was glad to see the southside Democrat.

Three men from the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) walked along Natural Bridge Avenue carrying signs which read "Jeff Smith is trying to buy you with basketball and Bar-B-Q." One of the men told PUB DEF that he was supporting the campaign of Yaphett El-Amin, one of Smith's four opponents in the August 8 primary. The man said that El-Amin had not asked him to protest Smith's event.

Few people were distracted by the small protest and Smith even offered the men food and water.



The four candidates in this hotly contested race are Smith, State Reps. El-Amin and Amber Boykins, former State Rep. Derio Gambaro, and former Alderman Kenny Jones.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

20 comments


Smith picks up more labor support

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, June 07, 2006 at 1:11 PM

After starting the week off nursing a dog bite, state senate candidate Jeff Smith received some welcomed news a couple of days later. His campaign today announced the endorsement of three of the area's largest labor unions.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Joint Council #13, the United Auto Workers Region #5, and the Communications Workers of America Local #6320 all declared their support for Smith, according to a press release from his campaign.

Sam Simon, Smith's campaign manager, said his candidate now has far more labor support than any candidate in the race, despite the fact that he is running against several sitting and former legislators.

Smith is running in the August 8 Democratic primary against State Reps Amber Boykins, Yaphett El-Amin, former State Rep. Derio Gambaro, and former Ald. Kenny Jones.

Labels:

Link to this story

0 comments


VIDEO: Documentary May Give Candidate a Boost Days Before Election

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, June 06, 2006 at 6:06 AM

A PUB DEF VIDEO REPORT

In a close campaign with nearly half a dozen candidates, any little thing can push one of them to victory. Less than two weeks before the August 8 primary election, one state senate candidate may get that push from a local silver screen.



Washington University professor Jeff Smith is the subject of a documentary film about his 2004 Congressional campaign in which he nearly pulled off one of the biggest political upsets in recent St. Louis history.

The film, titled "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?," will be seen at the Silverdocs Film Festival in Washington D.C. later this month. But on July 27, St. Louis audiences will get a chance to relive the grassroots campaign which ended with a narrow defeat by the highly-favored heir to one of the state's most powerful political dynasties, Russ Carnahan.

The film will open at the Tivoli theater just days before Smith's name will again appear on the ballot.

On August 8, Smith will face four other much more seasoned politicos. This time though, he is arguably the frontrunner, with a comfortable lead in fundraising and now a film credit on his resume. But will it lead to victory or another disappointment for Mr. Smith's fans?

Labels: ,

Link to this story

25 comments


VIDEO: Senate Candidates on Crime

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 8:48 AM

At last night's Tilles Park Neighborhood Association candidate forum, Stacey Williams, a south St. Louis City resident, asked the 4th District State Senate candidates about the issue of crime.

"There are parts of this city that I know that even St. Louis policemen wouldn't dare be going in to," said Williams. "Good question, good question," someone in the audience shouted.

Derio Gambaro touted his support by the Fraternal Order of Police (the white police officers' union) as proof of his support for law and order issues. Jeff Smith said he didn't get the police endorsement because he opposed allowing cops to move out of the city.

Amber Boykins said that as a state rep, she has worked with Chief Joe Mokwa and Mayor Francis Slay on getting more officers patrolling those high-crime areas that Williams was probably talking about.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

9 comments


VIDEO: Smith jabs Gambaro on Soc. Sec.

By Antonio D. French

Three of the five people running for the open 4th District State Senate seat showed up Tuesday night at the Tilles Park Neighborhood Association candidate forum. State Rep. Amber Boykins, former State Rep. Derio Gambaro, and former Congressional candidate Jeff Smith answered questions from southside residents and moderator Jo Mannies, of the Post-Dispatch.

Most of the meeting was pretty tame, with candidates fielding questions on subjects such as education funding and how they would deal with a Republican majority in Jefferson City. But the first jab of the night was thrown by Smith on a question about Social Security funding -- an area which a state senator has almost no input on. Smith said Derio Gambaro has supported privatizing Social Security in the past, a charge that Gambaro strongly denied.



Candidates Kenny Jones and Yaphett El-Amin did not attend. Jones sent a representative. El-Amin told PUB DEF that she did not attend because the forum's organizers told her she could not be on the panel because the proper forms were not returned in time, something she said is not true.

Check later for a video of the candidates addressing the issue of crime.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

19 comments


Smith calls for filibuster

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, May 02, 2006 at 4:02 PM

READ IT HERE FIRST

State senate candidate Jeff Smith today called for a filibuster to prevent the passage of a bill that would require all voters to show a state-issued photo ID before voting.


"Forty-one years after the landmark Voting Rights Act abolished poll taxes, property requirements, and grandfather clauses, the Missouri Legislature is seeking to reverse the progress so many fought valiantly to achieve," said Smith.

"Trying to force this bill through this year will result in chaos and widespread disenfranchisement. I urge voters to call their representatives and ask them to filibuster this bill," said Smith.

Smith noted that the House version of the bill banned straight-ticket voting, which is more prevalent among Democrats than Republicans. "That demonstrates that the bill is about gaining partisan advantage, not cleansing the electoral process," he said.

Smith is running in the August Democratic primary against State Reps. Yaphett El-Amin and Amber Boykins, former State Rep. Derio Gambaro, and former Ald. Kenny Jones for the seat being vacated by term-limited Sen. Pat Dougherty.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

0 comments


Shrewsbury goes with Smith?

By Antonio D. French

Filed Friday, April 28, 2006 at 6:45 AM

Rumor has it that State Senate candidate Jeff Smith got the endorsement of the 16th Ward Democrats yesterday. The 16th Ward is not only the highest voting ward in the city but also the political base of Jim Shrewsbury, President of the Board of Aldermen.

Developing...

UPDATE: The St. Louis Oracle is reporting that, as expected, the 16th Ward also endorsed Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate, License Collector Gregg Daly for Collector of Revenue, and Ald. Mike McMillan for License Collector.

Labels:

Link to this story

2 comments


VIDEO: State Senate Candidates

By Antonio D. French

Filed Tuesday, April 25, 2006 at 5:25 PM

Two of the five candidates running for an open 4th District state senate seat, and representatives of two others, addressed a meeting of 15th Ward residents last night.

Former State Rep. Derio Gambaro and former 22nd Ward Ald. Kenny Jones told the audience about their past accomplishments as elected officials. Jones also spoke of his experience as executive director of the City's Civil Rights Enforcement Agency -- a position he was fired from after he "had an altercation" with his boss, Mayor Francis Slay.

State Rep. Amber Boykins was represented by her mother, former License Collector Billie Boykins. "She called me at the very last minute and said 'Mommy, I need you,'" said the elder Boykins. Jeff Smith was represented by 15th Ward resident Susie Anderson Bower.



State Rep. Yaphett El-Amin did not attend and did not send a representative. Both El-Amin and Boykins were presumably stuck in Jefferson City on business.

Also in attendence were two candidates for another hotly contested race, but one which does not include any parts of the 15th Ward. Jamilah Nasheed and Shaun Simms (husband of Amber Boykins) were both in the audience.

Labels:

Link to this story

1 comments


4th District Finances [Updated x4]

By Antonio D. French

Filed Wednesday, April 19, 2006 at 12:01 PM

The candidates seeking to replace term-limited State Sen. Pat Dougherty are Yaphett El-Amin, Jeff Smith, Derio Gambaro, Amber Boykins, and Kenny Jones. Their campaign finance reports for this quarter were due April 15. Over the course of the day, the reports will be made available by the state Ethics Commission.

Jeff Smith, who has led the race for dollars from the start of this contest, raised another $42,000 in the last three months. His campaign now has nearly $130,000 in the bank.

UPDATE: Amber Boykins reported raising more than $21,000 in the first quarter of 2006, including: a $3,000 in-kind donation from the Missouri Democratic Party, $650 each from political action committees called Women About Reform Movement and Loft PAC, $650 from developer Mary "One" Johnson, $650 from state rep candidate Joe Palm, $300 from consultant Tim Person, $300 from 21st Ward Ald. Bennice Jones King, $100 from Board Pres. Jim Shrewsbury, and $100 from a company called "Brown Ass."

After spending $6,763.78, Boykins' campaign had almost $59,000 in the bank as of March 31.

UPDATE 2: Looks like "Brown Ass" is short for a firm called Brown and Associates. The company's office is located in the Chase Park Plaza. The Boykins campaign has amended its report.

UPDATE 3: Yaphett El-Amin now has more than $84,500 in the bank after raising $50,000 since January.

UPDATE 4: Derio Gambaro raised more than $32,500 last quarter (including $3,100 in in-kind donations). After spending more than $37,000, his campaign had $32,243 in the bank on March 31.

Kenny Jones formed his campaign committee after the reporting period for the April 15th reports and therefore will not be filing a report for the period.

So the ranking of the candidates' war chests shapes up like this:

1. Jeff Smith ($130,000)
2. Yaphett El-Amin* ($84,500)
3. Amber Boykins ($59,000)
4. Derio Gambaro ($32,000)
5. Kenny Jones (N/A)

*State Rep. Yaphett El-Amin had the best fundraising quarter of the five candidates, raising over $50,000 since January.

Labels: ,

Link to this story

10 comments


The 23rd Annual Wine and Roses Ball

The 23rd Annual Wine and Roses Ball

PubDef.net is looking for cameramen.



The Royale Foods & Spirits

Visit the PUB DEF Store



Advertise on Pub Def

 

 

 

Google
 
Web www.pubdef.net