Archive for December 2009
- Gov. Nixon: a better bottom line.
- Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder: a bicycle built for two.
- Sec. of State Robin Carnahan: unchallenged ballot wording.
- Auditor Susan Montee: numbers that add up.
- Treasurer Clint Zweifel: more takers of unclaimed property.
- Attorney General Chris Koster: a doggy in the window, well taken care of.
- Senator Bond: a record chestnut crop.
- Senator McCaskill: earmarks for books only.
- Members of the legislature: an indictment-free year.
- Spokesman of the Democratic Party, Ryan Hobart, and the Republican Party, Jonathan Prouty: “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale and “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Holliday and a long term contract for Albert Pujols.
- St. Louis Rams: A No. 1 pick for the 2010 NFL draft who makes the team — in more ways than one.
- Kansas City Royals: Good health for Zack Greinke.
- Kansas City Chiefs: A packed Arrowhead, once again.
- The Missouri Tigers: A trip to the Final Four in basketball. Respect in football … like a better bowl game next year.
- Northwest Missouri State Football Coach Mel Tjeerdsma: a sixth trip to the NCAA II Championship game, same result.
- Lindenwood Football Coach Patrick Ross: another trip to the NAIA Championship game, different result.
- KU Athletics: good will among football and basketball men.
- Dept. of Natural Resources: enough chlorine for the entire Lake of the Ozarks.
- Missouri Highway Patrol: fewer than 850 traffic fatalities in 2010.
- Governor’s Office Building: Caller ID for the elevator telephones.
- Dept of Conservation: No deer in headlights.
- Missouri National Guard: Peace on Earth.
- Our listeners and readers: A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
A message from behind the lines.
The rise of the official spokesmen, spokeswomen, spokespersons, spokesones—pick the one that works best for you— for state government agencies is becoming more pervasive and more oppressive with each administration in Jefferson City. It too often reaches a point where reporters are refused opportunities to speak to those in state government who are most knowledgeable about a subject, a policy, or an issue.
It is not a uniform matter in all agencies. Some of the PR people understand one of their functions is to connect reporters to the knowledgeable people in their departments or divisions who are prepared to answer any questions reporters might have. But others have taken the position, or been given the position, of keeping reporters away from department or division directors or others within the bureaucracy who have the specific expertise the reporter needs for his story.
Such is the case this week with the Department of Economic Development’s study called “The Green Jobs Report.” The report was compiled by the Missouri Economic Research & Information Center for the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, a division of the economic development department. The report was signed by MERIC Director Marty Romitti. It had some interesting stuff in its 41 pages.
We shared the section on “Green Farming” with our colleagues on the Brownfield Network, our Agriculture Network, who provided some interesting questions to ask.
It strikes us as naive to think that a department public relations person could give the candid answers to questions at that issue and the others that could be given by a person intimately familiar with the compilation of the information and the interpretation of its meaning. We have found PR people pretty good at repeating what’s in a news release or in a report but often not real solid when it comes to probing questions beneath the release.
We called the DED PR person who wrote the news release, Keener Tippin, and asked for Marty Romitti’s phone number. Some time later we got a call from another PR person, John Fougere, who told us we couldn’t talk to Mr. Romitti but we could talk to him or maybe to the department director, perhaps, the next day. We opted for the department director. The next day now has passed and we have heard from neither the second PR guy or from the director of the department,
The concept of elevating PR people to be impenetrable walls between the media and people in state government who can and should provide their expertise and knowledge has been increasing at least since the Holden administration. It got worse during the Blunt administration and has degenerated even more under Jay Nixon’s reign.
It was rare not that many years ago when we called someone in state government directly and were told we had to go through the agency PR person, who in those days mainly wanted to know that the conversation was going to happen, often so the department director would not be surprised to see someone from his or her agency quoted in the press.
Even that was a point of contention from time to time. But it was usually resolved rather quickly.
Not today. The walls are up. The bureaucracy is carefully protected by it by the department spokesmen who, unfortunately, are not as all-knowing as they want us to believe. The reporters at the Missourinet don’t think the public is well-served when the people in state government who have the best answers are put off limits by the stone wall (one word or two, your choice) builders.
— Bob Priddy, News Director
Bond’s poem, and his point, chides Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for his wish to get a healthcare reform bill passed by Christmas.Reid has been trying to get fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to back off his request to eliminate the proposed Medicare expansion. But Reid isn’t ready or willing to sacrifice what he calls a key element of the health care bill, and has told reporters he first wants to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. Lieberman has been accused of “holding up the will of 59 others,” when the bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate, but after a caucus meeting Monday, he reportedly has relented and says he will join the Dems in approving the measure. Politicos say abortion funding is still the hinge upon which this bill hangs. Either way, it’s clear Bond thinks this healthcare reform measure is, in his words, a lump of coal in America’s stocking. There is one issue Bond talked about today in his Washington Listening Post report that doesn’t have an “R” or a “D” in front of it — chestnuts. He started an orchard in Mexico, Mo., years ago and is now reaping the rewards. For more on Bond Chestnuts, visit www.kitbond.com. You’ll find some lovely recipes and you don’t even have to be against healthcare reform to enjoy them.
It gives me great pleasure to tell you I am away from the office this week, killing off a week of time that is owed. While I won’t be writing much during the next week … there are some things that just must be publicized. This is one such thing.
Saturday, I was in Florence, Alabama for the Division II National Championship Football Game – won by the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats. Football is great … but what fascinates me is how some fans are more than willing to embrace cold weather – very cold weather (temps hovering in the 30s) – to show support for their team.
It was cold … very cold … and the students from Maryville didn’t mind sucking it up. Ah … to be young again!
Congrats to the Bearcats – Missouri’s national champs!
The Show-Me Institute, a St. Louis-based free market think tank, is coming out against tax breaks! Well, not all tax breaks.
A commentary written by Show-Me Institute research analyst Christine Harbin is critical of the use of tax credits to encourage film production in the state. She suggests these tax credits do not promote lasting job growth and do not attract significant revenue into state coffers. Not only that … but she claims many of these film projects can cost more in state funding than they generate in temporary economic activity.
The Show-Me Institute is generally supportive of efforts to reduce tax burdens … but gives the thumbs down to tax credits targeted to filmmakers.
In our never-ending effort to highlight examples of symbolism over substance … we bring you what had been scheduled as Planned Parenthood’s “Stop Stupak!” bus tour.
The notices went out on Monday informing the media that the bus tour would kick off in Central Missouri, stopping by the Columbia offices of Senators Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond. All this was to have been an effort to call on Missouri’s U.S. Senators to vote NO on the health care overhaul amendment put forward by Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak – an amendment, approved by the House, that would prevent any public funding of abortions.
But the “Stop Stupak!” tour never gained much traction … because of the rain. Tuesday morning the word went out from Planned Parenthood that the Columbia portion of the tour was being cancelled … “due to the weather conditions.” There was, however, information that the Kansas City portion of the tour would take place.
Doesn’t this remind you of the recent decision by students at Westminster College in Fulton? They had planned on spending time in cardboard boxes to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless … but the weather got bad so they called it off.
Ahhh … convictions of convenience … aren’t they special?
Does anyone remember that memorable line from 1967’s “Cool Hand Luke” … when the chain gang captain says, “What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate?” Okay, fast forward 42 years to Missouri politics … and it seems the Republican campaigns for State Auditor might have a bit of a failure to communicate.
Late last week the Tom Schweich for State Auditor campaign sent out a press release with the names of various people supporting the Schweich candidacy. Included on the list was State Senator Delbert Scott of Lowry City. Monday afternoon the Allen Icet for State Auditor campaign released a statement telling one and all that Senator Scott had “set the record straight.”
It quotes Scott as saying, “That listing was unauthorized by me,” concluding with, “I continue my strong support for Allen Icet for State Auditor.”
In a bipartisan effort to avoid more confusion, Democratic State Auditor Susan Montee has opted not to discuss support for her reelection bid.