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Blunt surges ahead of Carnahan in new poll

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There is good news for Missouri Republicans in a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race.

The poll gives Republican Roy Blunt a 49 percent to 43 percent lead over Democrat Robin Carnahan. Three percent of those surveyed prefer some other candidate, with five percent undecided. This represents a big shift since last month’s Rasmussen Reports survey on this race. It had Blunt and Carnahan in a statistical tie with Carnahan ahead slightly at 46-44 percent. September’s Rasmussen Reports survey had the two tied at 46 percent.

Rasmussen points to opposition to the federal health care overhaul legislation as a key reason for the shift:

“As it has for other Democrats throughout the nation, the health care issue appears to be creating challenges for Carnahan. Just 37% of Missouri voters favor the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, but 62% oppose it.”

While Carnahan has all but been assured the Democratic nomination, Blunt faces a GOP Primary challenge from State Senator Chuck Purgason of Caulfield.

Steve Walsh

Written by learfield

January 21, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Nixon asks Missourians to contribute to Haiti earthquake relief

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Governor Jay Nixon is encouraging Missourians to contribute to the relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The State of Missouri website calls on Missourians to pray and to donate money to relief organizations and agencies. The site has a link to the USAID website.

Steve Walsh


Written by learfield

January 19, 2010 at 7:31 pm

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Former Missourinet Reporter Pens Pulitzer Bio

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     Former Missourinet reporter James Morris has been working for six years on a ground-breaking biography of newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is preparing to hit the road for HarperCollins to promote the new book, PULITZER, A LIFE IN POLITICS, PRINT, AND POWER. 

     James returned toJefferson City to mine the Missouri State Archives for previusly-unharvested material about Pulitzer’s legislative career as a reformer from St. Louis who, in one infamous episode, almost killed a lobbyist in a barroom fight. He also uncovered in Paris previously-unknown material from Pulitzer’s brother and wife that offer new context to Pulitzer’s life.

      Most of today’s generation knows Joseph Pulitzer because of the prizes carrying his name.  But Pulitzer’s career as a crusading state lawmaker and owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before he went to New York to revive the New York World and, as HarperCollins says, "ushered in the modern mass media."  

     Some of us used to call him  the author "James."  Others called him "Jamie."  The book says "James McGrath Morris."    His middle name wasn’t always "McGrath."  He changed it when he married Patty McGrath. 

We hired James from KRQE in Albuquerque.  He arrived in steamy Jefferson City in August and rented an apartment just a couple of blocks from our then-downtown office.  Until he adapted to the considerably less arid climate of Jefferson City, he’d show up in the mornings drenched in sweat.

     He was an excellent reporter who was (as all good reporters should be) terminally curious about things.  On his days off, he’d jump in his car and head off to who knows where and stop along the way in small town stores just to chat and enjoy the company of rural Missourians.  James, you see, had grown up as the son of a diplomat, had spent much of his time in Washington or other cosmopolitan places both foreign and domestic. In fact, he was fluent in Serbo-Coratian, a talent he seldom had to use in talking to Missouri legislators or country store patrons. 

      He loved coming out to the softball fields in the summer to watch softball games although he knew little about sports (he once did a sportscast on a football Saturday during which he thought RG, HB, and DT were player’s initials, not their positions).  It was the joy of the fellowship at the events that gave him so much pleasure.  

     When then-Governor Bond made his first overseas trade trip, we sent James with him so he could phone back reports in those pre-internet days when delivering stories from all points of the globe was more complicated and difficult than it is today.  We kept some of his reports in our sound archives and a few years ago when James passed through Jefferson City we dug one of them out and told his son that there was a theory that all broadcasts ever done were still traveling through space but we had found the technology to reach out there and bring one back.  Then we played one of the reports from Tokyo.  The boy was amazed. 

     James was our Washington correspondent for a few years before he and Patty moved to upper New York, where he published a book about the wine country.  Later he owned Seven Locks Press back in Washington before he became a teacher in Virginia and got into more serious writing.

     Now he and Patty live in a lovely hacienda in the mountains above Santa Fe, NM where they are gracious hosts to guests and visiting authors. 

     It’s always a great relief to finally hold a book in your hands that you have labored over for years. Some might think it would be an exciting thing.  But those of us who know what it is like to invest months and years in writing a book and seeing it published know the main feeling once the first copy is in your hands is relief. 

      James got his first copy of the bookstore version of PULITZER yesterday and is obviously relieved, as you can tell in the picture taken in the dining room of Hacienda Morris. Rest up, James.  The road trip starts soon.  We’ll see you at Downtown Book and Toy in Jefferson City in March.

Bob Priddy, News Director

The Missourinet

Written by learfield

January 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

‘If you can’t do it, get out of the game’

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Three of us went to the Truman Library and Museum in Independence to view the “Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs,” a collection of 139 Pulitzer Prize winning photos on display, over the weekend.

A photographer myself, I was excited to the point of giddiness to view the gripping images. Knowing most of them were captured in the rawest of moments, people enduring life’s slings and arrows, I had braced myself, ready to reflect on personal tragedies that show the brutality of our history.

I was also looking forward to the technical aspect — shadows, lighting, F stop, shutter speed and the blurs of motion in photos that move, the crisp lines of those that don’t. A history of cameras is present too: clunky Graphlex cameras and one-shot flash bulbs. Speed Graphics were the “portable” camera of the time when the Pulitzer prizes were first awarded to photographers. Joe Rosenthal shot the flag raising on Iwo Jima with one. Nat Fein used a Speed Graphic to shoot Babe Ruth’s last at-bat in Yankee Stadium. A dozen other Pulitzer Prize winning images were taken with these dinosaurs. Impressive at the least, not to mention many were taken by photographers looking through their lenses rather than the bullets whizzing by.

The exhibition begins with the first prize-winning photo from 1942, “Battle on the Picket Lines,” by Pete Brooks with the Detroit News. The photo captures the brutality of breaking a picket line, an instant before the downswing of a billy club. These are times I cannot remember. It’s not the history we were shown in classroom history books.

Moving through the display, there are iconic photos that have become so ingrained in American culture we’ve seen them a million times: Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, the Fireman holding the broken corpse of an infant after the bombing in Oklahoma City, the Twin Towers, Columbine … Cambodia … Kent.

There are rare moments of joy, celebration. A family running to greet a prisoner of war who has finally come home. Children playing in front of Cabrini Green in Chicago, their smiles shining brighter than the sun above them casting long shadows on the grounds of Chicago’s notorious housing project.

However, many of the photos rock viewers to the core with raw emotion, pain and suffering we cannot fathom.

“The whole exhibit was riveting,” said one viewer. “The photo of the starving child crawling to a food station will never leave me.”

It never left the keeper of that photo either.

Kevin Carter went to cover the Sudan famine in 1994. Journalists were told to touch no one because of disease. His photo shows a famine stricken child crawling towards an United Nations food camp about a mile away. A vulture stands behind the tiny collapsed body, waiting for the child to die.

Carter said he regretted not picking the child up, against all advice. He didn’t know what happened to the child since he left as soon as the photo was taken. Three months later, his red pickup truck was found parked near a small river where he used to play as a child, a garden hose attached to the exhaust funneled the lethal fumes inside.

“I’m really, really sorry,” said a note left on the passenger seat beneath a knapsack. “The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist.”

The exhibition quotes many of the photographers who were deeply affected by their work. They said they had to keep their focus, both literally and figuratively. There is emotional safety behind the lens. In news, personal feelings have to be kept in check, at least until the assignment is over. One must focus on the craft, the technical aspect, to get the story for the rest of the world.

Perhaps Carter described it best before taking his own life.

“I had to think visually. I am zooming in on a tight shot of the dead guy and a splash of red. Going into his khaki uniform in a pool of blood in the sand. The dead man’s face is slightly gray. You are making a visual here. But inside something is screaming, ‘My God.’ But it is time to work. Deal with the rest later. If you can’t do it, get out of the game.”


–Jessica Machetta

Written by learfield

January 18, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Nixon scraps 31 boards and commissions

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31 state government boards and commissions are becoming a part of Missouri history … along with 473 appointed positions.

Governor Jay Nixon, acting on recommendations from Commissioner of Administration Kelvin Simmons, has announced plans to eliminate the boards in what he calls part of his proposal to streamline government and to make services more efficient and effective.

13 of the boards and 227 positions were eliminated as a result of the Governor signing an executive order on Friday. He’ll ask the Legislature to do away with the other 18 boards and 246 positions.

Among the boards being eliminated: The Missouri Council on Patient Safety, the Missouri Energy Policy Council, the Advisory Committee on Lead Poisoning, and the Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee.

While some of the boards will simply cease to function … the duties of others will be transferred to remaining boards and commissions.

Steve Walsh


Written by learfield

January 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm

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Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn announced as speaker at Missouri Republican Lincoln Days

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The Missouri Republican Party has added another name to its roster of speakers at next month’s Lincoln Days weekend in St. Charles. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee will deliver the keynote speech at the Missouri Federation of Republican Women luncheon.

Blackburn has been a regular on the cable TV talk shows – especially on the Fox News Channel – which means there’s probably a good chance she’s already well known to the faithful attending Lincoln Days. Sorry … I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, the GOP had previously announced Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will be the guest speaker at Friday night’s banquet.

This year’s Lincoln Days event runs from February 26th to 28th in St. Charles.




Written by learfield

January 15, 2010 at 12:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Former Transportation Commission chief raking in bucks in Senate bid

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Mike Kehoe 2009 4th quarter.doc
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It’s that time again … when campaign contribution numbers start to roll in as candidates and their campaigns look to a filing deadline for the final quarter of 2009. It turns out the fourth quarter of 2009 was a good quarter … a very good quarter … for the former Chairman of the State Transportation Commission.

Mike Kehoe, who is running for the Republican nomination in the Jefferson City seat being vacated by term limited Senator Carl Vogel, raised $87,058 for the quarter that ended December 31st. That brings to $208,678 the amount raised since the Jefferson City automobile dealership owner kicked off his campaign in July.


Written by learfield

January 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm

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Health care reform politics at play at Capitol

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It might be a political move … but 2010 is a political year … and the question being asked is certainly valid.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has sent all state lawmakers a copy of a letter he sent to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon last week … asking the Governor where he stands on the health care reform legislation making its way through Congress in Washington.

The letter suggests passage of health care reform would raise the cost of living in Missouri and would bankrupt the state. It puts the cost of Missouri’s share of an expanded Medicaid program at $450 million dollars per year. It further suggests Missouri could not pay its share of the overhaul without cutting funding to education.

Asked for reaction … Nixon spokesman Scott Holste said the Governor’s Office is declining to comment.


Written by learfield

January 8, 2010 at 11:35 pm

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The Killer Among Us

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I used to sit next to a killer. 

Nice guy.  Good sense of humor.  Smart.

We sat next to each other many times at the Senate Press table.  He was reporting for a Jefferson City radio station.  I was in my usual place for the Missourinet.

I had known him since he was a red-headed little kid who sometimes joined his father in the House press gallery when I was covering the House years earlier.  His father was the House Information Officer, a good guy, a professional in his job who died too soon. 

His son grew up to be a killer.

But who would have known as I and the others at the Senate Press table sat with him after he’d grown up, worked in radio in a bigger market, and returned to Jefferson City  to work  for one of the hometown radio stations?  

I sat next to a killer and we told stories and shared observations about what was happening in state government and who the players were and what was happening behind the scenes.   Just a regular guy.  Young.  Full of energy.  Enjoying life. 

He and his wife left after a couple of years to move to the Boston area.    And that’s where James Keown fed her enough anti-freeze to kill her. 

That’s when I knew what it was like to be a crime story cliché, the kind of crime cliché we’re reading about and hearing about after yesterday’s shootings at the ABB factory in St. Louis  that killed three employees and wounded five others before Timothy Hendron killed himself.

Today we’re reading in the newspaper and hearing on the St. Louis radio and television stations neighbors who are saying Hendron seemed like a regular guy—kind, religious, generous, helpful, a guy who made his own beer and shared it with the neighbors.   They’re surprised, even shocked. 

It’s the story that reporters write every time someone does something as heinous as Hendron did.  It’s part of a search for  the questions that cannot be avoided—Why?   What caused this terrible act? 

Unless the person leaves behind a note or survives to explain himself or herself, friends and neighbors—those who live next to or sit next to killers—will always be left to ponder the fact that they never recognized the capability for violence within that person.

In time those questions drift to the back of the mind as new neighbors move in or new people take their seats next to us.  We cannot survive if we spend our lives trying to peer too deeply into the souls of those around us.  We simply have to get on with life and trust that the hidden trigger that turns a peaceful friend into a terrible fiend remains hidden in them as well as in ourselves. 

I used to sit next to a killer. 

Who could have guessed?

Who can ever guess? 

And if we are to live in a normal interactive society, should we risk trying to guess?

I think I’d rather gamble on being shocked and surprised than trying to determine if the person I sit next to is a killer.  I’d rather become a crime story cliché than live a life of suspicion and mistrust. 

Bob Priddy, News Director
The Misourinet

Written by learfield

January 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Senator calls on AG to denounce “Nebraska Compromise”

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The behind closed doors deal struck to secure the vote of Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska to end U.S. Senate debate on health care reform legislation has come under fire from people all across the country.  And, several of the country’s Attorneys General have joined forces to challenge the so-called "Nebraska Compromise" that would exempt Nebraska from paying its share of any Medicaid increases resulting from the health care changes.

Now, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is being called on to join the chorus of AGs speaking out against the sweet deal. The request comes from Senator Eric Schmitt of Glendale. He’s written a letter to the AG asking him to oppose the secret deal that would have Missouri and 48 other states pay for Nebraska’s share of Medicaid cost increases.

The AGs office acknowledges receipt of the letter but says it does not have a response yet.


Written by learfield

January 7, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized