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State Senator takes aim at tax credit process – again

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As Governor Jay Nixon and Budget Director Linda Luebbering  prepared to announce additional budget withholdings … State Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau made public a letter he sent to the Governor, all other statewide elected officials, and all members of the General Assembly.  He’s asking them to consider something he has brought up numerous times in the past – on and off the floor of the Senate – that tax credits be made a part of the appropriations process.

Crowell has been a critic of the tax credit process … and believes lawmakers should have to stand and say “yes” or “no” to each tax credit proposal.  In his letter, Crowell writes:

“Tax credits play a vital role in Missouri’s economical development, but these cannot be an entitlement and should compete for Missouri’s limited amount of resources against basic services provided by the state.  By being subject to the appropriations process, the General Assembly will be able to provide greater accountability on how Missouri uses tax credits and have a greater ability to ensure our shared budgetary priorities are preserved.”

– Steve Walsh



Written by learfield

October 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Rain ends homelessness exercise at Westminster College

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It’s hard not to love the folks at Westminster College in Fulton.  But it’s equally hard not to laugh at how foul weather stood in the way of a symbolic gesture at the Mid-Missouri institution of higher learning on Tuesday.

A campus organization known as CIVICUS had planned a series of events designed to focus on combating poverty and homelessness.  Among them was one that would have seen CIVICUS holding what it called a “Cardboard City” event from noon, Tuesday, until noon, Wednesday.  The plan called for competing campus groups of up to eight people to build cardboard structures and to live in them for the 24 hours of this exercise.

Notice how I have written of this event in the past tense … and with good reason.

Just before 3 o’clock, Tuesday afternoon, the word went out that the “Cardboard City” CIVICUS event had been postponed … because of the weather … and rescheduled for next Monday.

This prompted Missourinet’s Brent Martin to suggest on the Missourinet Twitter feed: “Westminster students will instead spend next Monday as if homeless, weather permitting.”

Symbolism over substance … You gotta love it!


Steve Walsh


Written by learfield

October 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ann Wagner back in the political game chairing Roy Blunt’s U.S. Senate bid

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A former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg and a former Chair of the Missouri Republican Party is getting back into the political arena.  Ann Wagner is taking over as chair of Congressman Roy Blunt’s bid for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond.

Wagner held the chairmanship of the MRP for six years.  During that time she spent two terms as Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee.  President Bush appointed her Ambassador to Luxembourg in 2005 and she held that post until July of this year.

How big a deal is it for Republicans to have Ann Wagner back in the saddle?  It must be pointed out that it was during her time as MRP Chair that Republicans captured both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly for the first time in decades and decades and decades.  The GOP took the Governor’s Office, as well, with the election of Matt Blunt in 2004.

The Missouri Democratic Party has released a statement responding to the Wagner news, calling her a Washington insider and a "key player" in President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. Wagner says she is proud to have played a role in helping President Bush win a second term.

Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 26, 2009 at 8:59 pm

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Longhorns roll over Tigers to spoil MU homecoming

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Whose idea was it to schedule the Texas Longhorns as MU’s homecoming game?  Okay, there was no chainsaw … but this sure was a Texas-style massacre.

It had all the makings of an interesting match-up with Brent Musberger bringing the game to a national audience tuned to ABC … But by the end of the 1st quarter old Brent might have been wishing he could be back in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, calling the play by play of an exciting Little League World Series contest between Nicaragua and the Lesser Antilles.

Mizzou won the coin toss … Tiger fans were happy … and it was good.  But the Mizzou faithful jammed into Faurot Field had little else to cheer about as the Longhorns jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the 1st quarter and eventually thrashed the Tigers 41-7.

First Fan Jay Nixon was a no show.  But Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder dropped by the press box to say hello.  Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer was at the game … dressed in Mizzou gold.  He told me our junior U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was witness to the debacle … at least until she decided she had had enough and headed for the hills (or wherever it is one heads when escaping gridiron disappointment.)

With the score 35-7 at the half, thousands of the Mizzou faithful opted to beat the traffic and get out while the gettin’ was good.

It’s always tough to lose a lopsided game … especially one in which the good guys were out of it from early on.  But after three straight games against tough teams like Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Texas …Colorado and Baylor are next up for the Tigers.  Nothing comes easy in the Big 12 … but Texas is undoubtedly the class of the conference any opponent has to be considered at least somewhat of a relief.

Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 25, 2009 at 4:13 am

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Censorship in a public auditorium

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Folks, today we have a contribution from Missourinet News Director Bob Priddy … who makes it clear … VERY clear … he doesn’t really care too much for how next week’s Showdown at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau is being staged and controlled. Enjoy …


“It is grating to even tell you that former National Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be at Southeast Missouri State University in a few days “debating” healthcare.

These two people who used to be in positions of importance are making tidy sums by trotting throughout the country “debating” this issue. Neither will vote on the issue. Neither is responsible to any voter or other special interest constituency for their positions. But because they used to be somebody important they get lots of good money from the places where they put on their shows.

But there’s a problem with stuff like this.

These two do not want you to hear what they say during their show if you are not in the auditorium.  SEMO says the contract with them bars the news media from audio or video taping of the event. If you hear or see excerpts from their show elsewhere, they will be provided by SEMO’s video services department. Any electronic journalist wanting to use excerpts of this show will get only what the university’s video services people decide is important enough to make available.

You will not hear any of these excerpts on the Missourinet. We do not use what we call “canned material,” stuff that we or our affiliates do not gather ourselves and make our own independent editorial decisions about.

These two guys are not the first to play this silly game. The silliest practitioners of this censorship are Justices of the United States Supreme Court.

The Missourinet doesn’t think much of public figures who go to taxpayer-supported institutions to speak on issues of public importance who decide they can limit, control, and censor what the public gets to hear of their presentation. There are some barnyard epithets that apply to those attitudes but there also is a perfectly good word that is even more appropriate.


That’s what it boils down to. Just plain arrogance.

But we reporters suspect there’s another, deeper-seated reason.


We suspect the real reason they don’t want organizations such as the Missourinet to record their entire show or their entire speech and put it on the website is because they only have one script to follow. And if everybody can go to our webpage and hear their remarks, nobody will show up for their shows and speeches and all these big bucks they can get for additional performances will dry up. And then where would they be?

Well, maybe they’d have to think up something original to say.

Public figures appearing in public places discussing public issues have no business limiting what the public can hear.

If Newt and Howard want to debate that with us, we’ll be glad to do it. But you better believe it will all be on the record and you’ll be able to hear the entire conversation.”

– Bob Priddy, News Director


Written by learfield

October 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A party animal, but is he a donkey or an elephant?

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I received an email at 11:16 Tuesday night from the Cyrus Dashtaki for State Representative campaign.  He’s running to succeed the term-limited State Rep. Mark Bruns in the 113th in Jefferson City.

The email is an announcement that Cyrus Dashtaki raised more than $11,000 for the quarter that ended September 30th.

There’s a link to the candidate’s Web site … and it looks pretty good … with all kinds of information about Cyrus Dashtaki being a lawyer – specifically, an Assistant Attorney General.  There’s information on his family, details on where he went to school, and a whole lot of other stuff.  While reading this interesting information on a guy running for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives … I realized there was something missing.  Yup – something important was missing.

Nowhere in the press releases and nowhere on the candidate’s Web page is his party affiliation.  I actually had to go to the Missouri Ethics Commission Web page to learn which party he hopes to represent in the General Assembly.

It reminded me of the 2001 John Cauthorn – Robert Clayton special election to fill Joe Maxwell’s Senate seat after Maxwell had been elected Lieutenant Governor.  A ton ‘o money was spent on lots of TV ads … few of them revealing the candidates’ party affiliations.  I remember asking both candidates why they chose not to put the party affiliation in the ads … and they both told me, basically, that voters don’t really care about the party as much as they care about the candidates and his or her ideas. Could be.

But the party that controls the House or the Senate controls the agenda … when bills get heard … or even if they get heard.  One would have to believe that’s important to some voters … so why not easily make it known?  With those for whom party doesn’t matter … listing the party won’t matter.  So, just do it!

Any thoughts?

By the way, I did get in touch with  Cyrus Dashtaki … who returned my phone call during his lunch break.  This shows he is not doing political work on state time.  I asked him why I had to go to the MEC page to learn his party affiliation.  He told me, as did Cauthorn and Clayton, that party doesn’t really matter to a lot of voters. I suggested he was giving me the same canned response the other guys had given and he added a bit of a twist, saying, “It’s time to put the elephant back in the zoo and the donkey back in the barn.”  Very clever.

For the record … Cyrus Dashtaki is a Democrat.


– Steve Walsh


Written by learfield

October 21, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Gingrich and Dean headed for showdown at Show Me Center

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Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau has snagged some pretty big names and events.  For example, SEMO was one of the Missouri locations that hosted a rally by 2008 Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin.

The folks at SEMO have a couple of big names headed in for an event on Wednesday of next week.

The school is hosting a health care reform debate … one that is appropriately titled "Health Care Today."  And, the sparring partners will be former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Dean is a medical doctor while Gingrich is the founder of the Center for Health Transformation, an organization which aims to bring about better health at lower cost.

The event is scheduled for 7:30pm in the Show Me Center and is part of the 2009-2010 University Speaker Series.

Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

October 20, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized