March 10, 2008

Post-Dispatch responds to bullying charge

I received the following email from the the Post-Dispatch on Friday;

  • Mr. Fischer: As promised, we have looked into your concerns regarding our story and reporter Paul Hampel. After discussions with the reporter and the subject, we feel both our reporting and our article were accurate, fair and responsible in dealing with a very sensitive and newsworthy topic. We believe the story humanized a current tension point in city halls across the area: the rights of citizens to hold public officials accountable vs. the rights of public officials to attempt to limit that access -- rightly or wrongly -- to ensure public safety. The story in no way cast aspersions on anyone. We will just have to agree to disagree on this one.
    Adam Goodman
    Assistant Managing Editor/Metro
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

First, these are not my concerns but are the concerns of many people who read the article. My posts on the article, "After Kirkwood shootings, gadflies under the microscope," are by far the most read posts on my blog. ( The following posts are about the article; Post-Dispatch platform is a fraud, Has Post-Dispatch resorted to bullying widows to make news? and Update on Post-Dispatch attack on citizen activism. I have received more comments and emails on this subject than any other issue I have addressed and unfortunately many people have simply given up on our only daily paper.

As to the Post-Dispatch "looking into this article" here is what I know they did. Chris Ave, the editor who approved the story, contacted Ms. Waters. Ave told her he did not see any problems with the story and repeatedly told her there was nothing "factually wrong" with the article. Ave told Ms. Waters it was not his decision whether a retraction would be done or an apology given but that he felt none was needed. He did tell Ms. Waters he was sorry the story upset her.

In regard to the email from Mr. Goodman, notice how the he frames the issue now; "the rights of citizens to hold public officials accountable vs. the rights of public officials to attempt to limit that access -- rightly or wrongly -- to ensure public safety." While that might have been a good article it is clearly not the article which was published. From the headline to the side bar this article accepted as fact the perception by some officials that citizens involved in local government are annoying at best and possibly a threat. Gadfly is not a term of endearment for citizen activists, nor is a psychiatrist necessary to look into their motives.

As to the decision of the Post to stand behind its article, this should come as a surprise to no one. Of course, the paper cares about any attacks on its credibility and for that reason the Post-Dispatch and its owner, Lee Enterprises, have been viewing my site at record numbers. They have also been running Google searches under various themes such as, "hampel and gadfly and post-dispatch." Why? Because, in my opinion, what the Post is really concerned about is that someone with a wider audience then mine will pick up on this story. There isn't an argument to be made that the article written by Paul Hampel was anything other than an unwarranted attack on three citizens who dare to get involved in local government. If the Post were to admit its mistake or if this story was to gain a wider audience, the Post would have to defend the article itself and the decision not to do anything about it. They hope by ignoring this issue, their own little "gadfly" will go away.

March 08, 2008

Is Eddie Curran flat wrong?

Eddie Curran is a reporter with the Mobile Press Register. He claims his stories prompted an investigation of former Gov. Don Siegelman and his administration. An investigation which led to Siegelman being indicted and later found guilty on public corruption charges. However, questions have surrounded the prosecution and conviction of Siegelman and these issues were recently raised in a 60 Minutes piece on the case. Following the piece Eddie Curran wrote a letter to 60 Minutes accusing the show and Doug Jones, one of Siegelman's lawyers, of being "flat wrong" about testimony given by Nick Bailey, a former aide to Siegelman.

Curran sites to the following from 60 Minutes;
  • “Mr. Bailey had indicated that there had been a meeting with Governor Siegelman and Mr. Scrushy, a private meeting in the Governor's office, just the two of them,” says Doug Jones, who was one of Siegelman’s lawyers. “And then, as soon as Mr. Scrushy left, the governor walked out with a $250,000 check that he said Scrushy have given him for the lottery foundation.” “Had the check in his hand right then and there? “ Pelley asks. “Had the check in his hand right then,” Jones says. “That Scrushy had just handed to him, according to Bailey's testimony?” Pelley asks. “That's right, showed it to Mr. Bailey. And Nick asked him, ‘Well, what does he want for it?’ And Governor Siegelman allegedly said, ‘A seat on the CON Board.’ Nick asked him, ‘Can we do that?’ And he said, ‘I think so,’” Jones says.

And later in the segment;

  • In this new investigation, prosecutors zeroed in on that vivid story told by Siegelman’s aide, Nick Bailey, who said he saw the governor with a check in his hand after meeting Richard Scrushy. Trouble was, Bailey was wrong about the check, and Siegelman’s lawyer says prosecutors knew it. “They got a copy of the check. And the check was cut days after that meeting. There was no way possible for Siegelman to have walked out of that meeting with a check in his hand,” Jones explains. “That would seem like a problem with the prosecution's case,” Pelley remarks. “It was a huge problem especially when you've got a guy who's credibility was going to be the lynch pin of that case. It was a huge problem,” Jones says.

Curran writes;

  • Jones was actually correct when telling your wide-eyed host Pelley that the check was dated after the meeting. However, it was given to Siegelman at a later meeting. Neither prosecutors nor witnesses at trial, Bailey included, said the check was given by Scrushy to Siegelman at the first meeting. Doug Jones was flat wrong on this point which 60 Minutes thought so powerful that, out of what surely was a much longer interview, it used in the segment.

Curran's claim that the 60 Minute piece stated Bailey testified at trial about the $250,000 check is untrue. I have read the transcript and watched the program and there is absolutely nothing to support Curran's allegation. I will explain his "mistake" below. Curran also wrote;

  • The problem is that there was no testimony that the first $250,000 check was given to Siegelman at this meeting.

Again, Curran is wrong in this statement. The 60 Minutes piece claimed that Bailey "indicated" the $250,000 check was given to Siegelman at the first meeting. And, contrary to Curran's claim, this appears to be true. Legal Schnauzer did some research on what was reported on the trial and found the following;

From the Birmingham News, March 5, 2006;

  • Bailey also admitted his initial recollections to a grand jury were incorrect. He said that, after meeting with Scrushy in 1999, Siegelman showed him a check for $250,000 signed by Scrushy. On the date Bailey recalled, the check hadn't been written, and the check was from a Maryland land company, not signed by Scrushy.

From the Birmingham News, May 4, 2006;

  • Defense lawyers showed that Bailey's initial recollection to prosecutors about the meeting between Scrushy and Siegelman had to be false. Bailey said that after the meeting, Siegelman showed him a check Scrushy had given him, but the check was dated later. Bailey admitted he wasn't sure when the meeting occurred.

Now, to explain Curran's error; Bailey did testify that Siegelman received the check at the first meeting but this testimony was apparently given at the grand jury proceedings not at trial. Siegelman's lawyers used Bailey's grand jury testimony to impeach (attack his credibility) him at trial.

Curran was actually correct when telling his wide-eyed readers that there was no testimony at the trial from Bailey that Siegelman received the check at the first meeting. However, 60 Minutes and Jones never made that claim. Curran either made a major blunder on this point or is intentionally misleading his readers, in any case Curran is the one who is "flat wrong."

In fact, if you watch the 60 Minutes piece, you will see that Bailey's credibility was a major issue at the trial, which is why Bailey's claim that prosecutors made him write out his testimony over 70 times is crucial. These statements were not given to Siegelman's lawyers and this evidence would have been so damaging it is doubtful the prosecutor would have allowed Bailey to testify. Of course, it would also be serious misconduct on the part of the prosecutor to withheld this evidence, a point Curran choose to ignore.

Curran wrote;

  • It is my understanding that 60 Minutes spent months on this story. That you did so and got so wrong this crucial element of the evidence presented to the jury is stunning.

It is my understanding that Curran has spent years covering this story and he even claims his reporting is what led to the investigation. That he made such a major mistake in his letter to 60 Minutes is stunning and should call into question all of his reporting in this case.

Curran also wrote to 60 minutes;

  • I am sure that your sources on the defense teams have the transcript and if you asked, would provide it to you. If not, I will be glad to search my records for appeals briefs or could send you stories by me and other reporters from the trial. The issue is simply not in dispute. Your big witness – Doug Jones – was not at trial and he was totally wrong. I suggest you call him and ask him to provide the documentation to support what he told you with such an impressive degree of authority. Don’t rely on his memory – ask him to provide you with the documentation. This is what real reporters do and what an audience expects of 60 Minutes.

It looks like Mr. Curran has finally found something he and his critics agree on; he is not a real reporter.

March 06, 2008

Top ten jobs offered by Matt Blunt

Apparently, Matt Blunt has come up with a new plan on how to help Republicans win elections, offer Democrats plum positions. However, the positions offered to State Sen. Frank Barnitz, D-Lake Spring (he declined) and 15th District State Senate candidate Kevin Gunn aren't the only offers Blunt has made. In a Wake Up Call Missouri exclusive, below are the top 10 other positions offered by Blunt;

10. Tony Messenger; Biographer for book about Blunt, "Matt Blunt, The Deleted Years."

9. Speaker of the House Rod Jetton; Sneaker of the House

8. Bill Luetkenhaus; Partnership in new real estate company, "The Blunt Team"

7. Jeff Harris; Chief sniffer for new "Blunt Commission on Sniffling CAFO's"

6. Nathan Cooper; Anything he wants, just as long as Blunt doesn't end up his roommate

5. Steve Ehlmann and Peter Kinder; Co-Chairs of Paul McKee Yes Man Committee

4. Colonel Jack Jackson; CEO of new fried chicken restaurant chain. ( This just in; Governor Blunt has announced that he has offered the position to Colonel Sanders instead.)

3. Kit Bond; Chief of Staff for Senator Roy Blunt

2. Mike Huckabee; Bass guitarist in Matt's new band, "Let's Be Blunt"

1. Sarah Steelman, Kenny Hulshof or Jay Nixon; A job in which nothing needs to be accomplished.

Update on Post-Dispatch attack on citizen activism

My two posts on Paul Hampel's story "After Kirkwood shootings, gadflies under the microscope," continue to garner a lot of interest. ( Post-Dispatch platform is a fraud and Has Post-Dispatch resorted to bullying widows to make news? ) A few notes on the posts;
  • I never spoke with Sandy Waters before yesterday and I learned about her experience with Mr. Hampel from someone who reads my blog. That individual explained how Sandy had told her how Hampel mislead Sandy about the reason for his call. Later that evening I called Sandy and spoke with her for over an hour about the article. Sandy believes the Post-Dispatch and Hampel should publicly apologize for their actions. I agree Sandy.
  • I emailed my first story to Hampel along with a note that stated I thought he should apologize for the article (this was before I spoke with any of Hampel's targets) but that I didn't think he would because it was apparent from reading the article he just didn't get it. Hampel responded via email "You strike me as quite rude, Rick. But maybe you're just email-rude. I'll bet you're not a jerk in person." I thought this was rather ironic considering the hatchet job Hampel performed on his three random targets and I responded "I tend to be rude to people who abuse their power, sometimes even in person."
  • After I was told that Waters claimed Hampel mislead her, I emailed Hampel and the Post asking if they cared to comment. Hampel replied "First, you make rude comments to me. Then you reiterate that, even in person, you're a jerk. And now you want me to call you to respond to a nutty, anonymous email? What a clown you are! I'll never waste my time opening another email from you."
  • Adam Goodman of the Post sent me an email stating, "Your note to Arnie Robbins regarding Paul Hampel's story and the anonymous posting on your blog was forwarded to me. I am the assistant managing editor/Metro at the Post-Dispatch. I will look into this. Meanwhile, if you do end up communicating with the anonymous commenter, please ask the person to contact me directly if she has a complaint. Thank you."
  • The person who initially contacted me about Sandy Waters has indicated she prefers to remain anonymous because she doesn't want to be the paper's next victim. Sandy told me Hampel called and left her a message yesterday but she didn't want to speak with him because she did not trust him. And who can blame either one of them.
  • I have received a lot of emails and comments from people who read the article and said that my original post about the story stated exactly how they felt. Some people have forwarded me letters they wrote the paper, some have posted comments but many choose to remain anonymous because they fear reprisal. What a sad statement about the Post-Dispatch.
  • Finally, thanks to an alert reader who tipped me off to an editorial in the Post yesterday, "The temptation to overreact." The editorial discussed a citizen, Dan Sullivan, who filed a lawsuit against the Kirkwood School District over a property tax issue and lost. Sullivan has now decided to run for a seat on the school board and the editorial stated "We encourage his citizen activism." I wonder if the writer of that editorial had a good laugh with Mr. Hampel when crafting that sentence?

March 05, 2008

False statements continue in Koch Road scandal

I posted yesterday about the decision that was handed down by the Missouri Court of Appeals yesterday on the Koch Road scandal. In the post I mentioned three things the decision did not do, namely;
  • Find that the decision of the County to vacate Koch Road was proper.
  • Address the fact the the conditions under which Koch Road were to be vacated have never been met.
  • Change the fact that Koch Road was illegally torn out by the developer and builder.

I posted those things because I knew others involved in the litigation would attempt to mislead the public about what the court said. And they did. Let's start with McBride & Son CEO John F. Eilermann, who stated in the Post-Dispatch that the ruling "confirms what we have said all along: the suit had no merit. This, most importantly, confirms the homeowners have clear title, and the road vacation was proper."

Maybe Mr. Eilermann will correct these false statements tomorrow since McBride people have been reviewing my blog today, hopefully in an attempt to learn the truth. But just in case they still don't get it, the court's opinion stated that my clients did not have the right to question the vacation of Koch Road, and does not condone the County's action. The Circuit Court judge ruled the County's vacation of Koch Road was unlawful and the Court of Appeals did not say this decision was wrong but instead said that the court did not have jurisdiction to overturn the vacation, even if it was illegal.

However, even more troubling is the following comment from John Sonderegger who said county officials feel vindicated that they made the right decision, but they wish the matter had been resolved before homes were built. Sonderegger made a career misreporting at the Post-Dispatch before he was rewarded for his years of service to the builders/developers by County Executive Steve Ehlmann. However, Sonderegger's ability to mislead the public may also have been a consideration since he did such a fine job of it in his comment. The court did not vindicate the county as noted above and if the county was worried about the homes being built they could have stopped it if they followed the law. Or wanted to represent the citizens rather than special interests.

In any event, maybe the county will now correct its actions in filing the paperwork to finalize the vacation of Koch Road since they were put on notice in court that their actions were based on false information provided by O'Fallon. Are you going to ignore this Mr. Ehlmann? Hmm, the word conspiracy comes to mind, but only in a legal sense Steve.

Has Post-Dispatch resorted to bullying widows to make news?

My story yesterday, Post-Dispatch platform is a fraud, has drawn more interest than anything I have posted before. And it should. The post was about a story written by Paul Hampel, who apparently had a bad day and decided to take it out on citizens who dare to question their local governments. Actually, after speaking with one of the people Hampel attacked, it appears it wasn't simply a bad day on Hampel's part, but rather a planned attack.

Sandy Waters is a 64 year old widow who has lived in St. Peters for over 34 years. She has been a trustee in her subdivision for over 20 years, a job that comes with no pay but a lot of headaches. She managed her son's baseball team when he was younger because no else wanted to do it. Sandy did all this while working part time in between being a mother and wife full time.

While she followed local politics, Sandy had never spoken at a St. Peters council meeting until 2005. What made her take the time to get involved? Sandy was watching a city workshop one night at home when Alderman Jerry Hollingsworth mentioned an idea in which St. Peters citizens could help out the community by paying for a street sign which read, "Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25". Sandy thought it was a good idea and that night went up to the council meeting and publicly volunteered to pay for such a sign. Her alderman, Patrick Barclay then followed Sandy's lead and also pledged to pay for a sign. Since then Sandy has been a semi regular at the meetings, sometimes praising the city for its actions, sometimes criticizing St. Peters but always caring about her city.

If you read the Post-Dispatch's Platform, you would expect them to celebrate and encourage citizens like Sandy rather than compare them to a murderer, but that is exactly what Paul Hampel and the Post did. Hampel called Sandy about ten days ago and left a message that he was with the paper and would like to talk to her. At first Sandy was hesitant since she had no idea who Hampel was or why a reporter would want to talk to her, but after talking with a friend she decided to call him back.

Sandy says that Hampel told her he covered local government and that Tim Bryant, a Post-Dispatch reporter who covers St. Peters, had said she was very educated on issues involving property values and taxes and that is what he wanted to talk to her about. Sandy thought that was odd and told Hampel the only reason Bryant might have said that is because she once spoke about issues regarding property values at a public meeting but she didn't consider herself an expert by any means.

Hampel followed up by asking Sandy about speaking at St. Peters city meetings without ever telling her what he really intended to write about. In fact, Sandy says when she would tell Hampel about some of the reasons she was involved, such as a statement made by former alderman David Hayes that "There's no free speech in this chamber," Hampel would act shocked that such things really happened. As Hampel reeled Sandy in he got more personal, asking her if she was married, and Sandy opened up to him explaining she lost her husband in 2003 and that she would always miss him.

Hampel seized upon this opening to ask Sandy if the reason she went to St. Peters meetings was to fill this void. (In the article Hampel quoted a psychiatrist who said "gadflies" often attended public meetings because this "is their only dynamic, if you will, in which they're interacting with people.") Sandy was insulted by the question because it insinuated her involvement in the community was some kind of a mental illness and that this involvement could replace her husband. As Sandy became suspicious of Hampel's true intentions he followed up with a question about whether she could ever become violent over the actions of the city. (In the article Hampel indicates he asked another of the "gadflies" if he could see himself committing an act of violence like Charles "Cookie" Thornton, who killed five people at a Kirkwood council meeting last month.)

At this point Sandy was growing even more suspicious of Hampel's motives and he finally mentioned the Cookie Thornton killings in Kirkwood before informing her that he had to go. It was only after she got off the phone that Sandy first suspected Hampel was going to try to compare her to Thornton and her suspicions came true when the article came out Monday.

Hampel's article was titled "After Kirkwood shootings, gadflies under the microscope." Hampel wrote "Often called gadflies, they see themselves as champions of freedom and watchdogs of local government. But post-Kirkwood, a conflict has arisen between security and First Amendment rights. Where these critics may once have been seen as annoying, if sometimes right, some are now being looked at as possible threats."
Gadfly is a term the Post has used in describing Thornton ("Charles 'Cookie' Thornton was the town gadfly", "It's not that Plummer thought the town gadfly....") And it is also the term Hampel used to describe this 64 year old widow whose only crime appears to be that she loves her home town and wanted to get involved.

According to Sandy, that is exactly what St. Peters Mayor Len Pagono told Hampel when he spoke with him. Pagano called Sandy and told her that he spoke with Hampel before the article ran and told him how she loved her city and her neighborhood, that she was civic minded and that he had known her for 25 years and considered her a friend. However, don't look for Pagano's kind words about Sandy in the article because they are no where to be found. Bullies like Hampel have no need to let the truth get in the way of their attempt to make 64 year old civic minded widows like Sandy Waters look dangerous.

Bad news for Premier 370 and St. Peters

A Missouri Court of Appeals decision out of the Western District, could be a big blow to St. Peters and its financing of Premier 370, a development in a flood plain off of Highway 370. The decision reverses a judgment entered in the Circuit Court of Cole County granting St. Peters Motion for Summary Judgment against claims brought by various entities and individuals (plaintiffs) challenging St. Peters usage of tax increment financing (TIF) on the development.

A Motion for Summary Judgment asks a court to enter a judgment against a party based upon undisputed material facts in the case. The "facts" in the motion are presented to the courts in various ways (such as affidavits, documents or deposition testimony) but the court does not here live testimony.
The Court of Appeals decision is not a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs but instead states that the Circuit Court was incorrect in entering a judgement on behalf of St. Peters based on the "undisputed facts" presented in the motion. This means the case can go forward and allows for a trial.
According to an article in the Post-Dispatch, St. Peters officials stated the court's comments about "a full-blown court trial to review municipal decisions rather than summary proceedings are very troubling." I have to agree with St. Peters on this one, allowing evidence to be presented in public about how the city makes its decisions could be very troubling for St. Peters as well as some of its elected officials and administrators, past and present. But then sometimes the truth can be troubling.

March 04, 2008

Post-Dispatch platform is a fraud

  • "I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty." statement by Joseph Pulitzer, April 10, 1907

  • "What a bunch of crap." statement by Rick Fischer, March 4, 2008

I just ran across an article in yesterday's Post-Dispatch titled, After Kirkwood shootings, gadflies under the microscope. It is one of the most insulting, condescending, hateful articles I have seen in the Post in the last day. Lets start with the headline which describes those who participate in local government as gadflies-a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism. Right off the bat the Post is telling its readers what it thinks of citizens who take the time to get involved, "we thought they were nothing more than annoying pests but now we have to consider whether they are dangerous!"

The writer, Paul Hampel, then discusses three "gadflies" in an attempt to make anyone who dares to follow local government seem clinically insane. In fact, the writer talks to a psychiatrist about what is wrong with these people and whether they could be dangerous.

  • "Our ability in behavioral medicine to predict violence on the part of the average citizen is very, very poor," said Dr. Paul Packman, a psychiatrist at St. John's Mercy Medical Center. "We don't understand at what point does someone decide, 'OK, this is it.'"

  • For some people, such meetings constitute a social life, said Packman, the psychiatrist." Being a committed gadfly is their only dynamic, if you will, in which they're interacting with people," he said. Others, he said, may attend because they failed to get elected and see meetings as their only avenue of influence. For some, public forums are entertainment. And then there are those who feel a great sense of responsibility that is out of proportion to their ability to affect change."These are people who feel very strongly as do-gooders, but these types tend to fall out of such systems when they realize that they have very little impact," Packman said.

Even worse, here is how the reporter frames the issue in speaking about Arnie Dienoff, a regular at meetings in Bellfontaine Neighbors; "Dienoff, who denies he would ever hurt anyone..." What was Hampel, who denies he would ever plagiarize, thinking? While Hampel, who denies he is an arrogant pin head, does everything to convince his readers Dienhoff is odd, there is no hint of any violence in Dienhoff's actions.

Hampel, who denies being a fascist, then asks the "gadflies" if they might be violent. To the best of my knowledge, the tragedy in Kirkwood was the first time a "gadfly" has gone on a shooting rampage in the area in...forever, but we do have a whole lot of politicians who are corrupt. Do you think Mr. Hampel, who denies having a clue, would write, "Senator Bond, who denies being a corrupt politician..?" Or conduct an interview in which he asked, "Now Senator McCaskill, could you ever see yourself taking kickbacks or bribes?" Of course not, because that would be a) stupid, b) poor journalism and c) stupid. But Hampel, who denies being a poor journalist and stupid, thinks nothing of it when covering the silly people who dare to keep an eye on local government.

Maybe if the Post and Hampel started covering local politics and reporting on it truthfully, he would have less of an elitist view on the subject. In fact, maybe a good place for him to start would be if he read the paper's platform and do something no one at the Post seems to be willing to do, follow it!

Koch Road decision handed down

The Court of Appeals handed down their opinion today on the Koch Road scandal. The Court ruled that my clients (I am co-counsel for the group of residents which challenged the County's decision to vacate Koch Road) lacked standing in which to challenge the County's decision. Standing is a legal term which relates to the right to bring an action and the Court's ruling states that a group of residents do not have the right to challenge an illegal vacation of a County Road unless those residents have some injury different than the public as a whole.

This decision does not;
  • Find that the decision of the County to vacate Koch Road was proper.
  • Address the fact the the conditions under which Koch Road were to be vacated have never been met.
  • Change the fact that Koch Road was illegally torn out by the developer and builder.

Stay tuned.

March 03, 2008

Obama's ties to Chicago developer could cause problems

Chicago developer Tony Rezko's trial on federal corruption charges was scheduled to began today. Rezko was indicted back in October of 2006 for allegedly using his influence with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to seek kickbacks and campaign donations from firms going after state business. While Barack Obama's name may surface from time to time in the trial he is not expected to be a major player. However, Obama's relationship with Rezko, including a questionable land deal, is certain to become a bigger issue in his campaign.

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Robert Novak and TPM, to name just a few, all had stories on Obama's relationship with Rezko today. With the trial scheduled to last several months, you can be sure this relationship is going to continue to haunt Obama on the campaign trail.

Who would have guessed that a developer, a questionable land deal and a politician would become an issue in a campaign? If Obama ever needs a break from the controversy all he needs to do is pay a visit to St. Charles County where such actions get you buildings named after you rather than investigated.

Developer Welfare

Last week I posted about how Matt Blunt and the State Senate reappointed Bill Luetkenhaus to the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) without mention of a questionable land deal involving Luetkenhaus and developer Jeff Smith. This land deal drew attention to the standards and rules under which the MHDC operates, however, all of that is apparently forgotten. Despite calls for stricter standards and a review of the conflict rules, the MHDC has done nothing. Of course, this might be because MHDC Chairman Richard Baalmann named Luetkenhaus to lead a committee to rewrite the standards. No, I'm not joking. The guy whose land deal was the reason the MHDC was looking into changing it's standards, Luetkenhaus, is in charge of changing those standards. Not surprisingly, Luetkenhaus' committee has not made any changes.

Anyway, Sunday's Columbia Tribune took a look at how the MHDC helps line the pockets of developers with taxpayer money. Since all of this is being done in the name of affordable housing for senior citizens I guess we are not supposed to question this expenditure. Take a look at the Tribune article and let me know what you think.

Karl Rove's America Update

For those interested in reading about the Don Siegelman case, there is an update on Legal Schnauzer. In a post titled On Siegelman, 60 Minutes, and History, information is provided from various view points. While Legal Schnauzer believes that there are serious questions regarding the prosecution of Siegelman, the blog offers opposing views and is a good resource for anyone who wants more information on this disturbing case.

One of the things I have noticed is that Republicans (at least those who want this story to go away) seem to be employing the tactics of Morton Blackwell who teaches Republicans how to "Handle Negative Information" at his Leadership Institute. And yes, Karl Rove is a proud graduate of Mr. Blackwell's school.

March 02, 2008

Karl Rove's America, Part II

Remember Scooter Libby? The guy who was convicted of lying to the feds about his involvement in the Valerie Plame case? The guy who received a pardon from George W. Bush shortly before he was set to begin serving his sentence? The guy who claimed he was a scapegoat to protect Karl Rove? That last part kind of got lost in the trial but that is exactly what Libby's lawyers said they would prove in their opening statements.

Here is a little refresher from a January 23, 2007 article in the New York Times;

  • Mr. Wells (Rove's lawyer) told the jury that the unnamed White House officials wanted to protect Mr. Rove because they believed his survival as President Bush’s political adviser was crucial to the health of the Republican Party.
    Mr. Wells Jr. said his client, known by his nickname, “Scooter” was innocent and that a decision was made that “Scooter Libby was to be sacrificed.”
    It was important to keep Mr. Rove out of trouble, Mr. Wells said, because he was Mr. Bush’s right-hand man and “was most responsible for seeing the Republican Party stayed in office. He had to be protected.”

In fact, Libby's lawyers even stated Vice President Dick Cheney agreed with Libby's belief he was being set up as a scapegoat;

  • But his most startling comment was his assertion that Mr. Libby became enmeshed in legal difficulty because of White House efforts to protect Mr. Rove.
    Mr. Libby, Mr. Wells said, complained to Mr. Cheney that he was being set up as the fall guy. The Vice President supported that view, Mr. Wells said, and wrote a note by hand saying: “Not going to protect one staffer + sacrifice the guy who was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others.”
    He offered his interpretation of the note, explaining that “incompetence” was a reference to the fact that the C.I.A. had mistakenly allowed the White House to use inaccurate information in Mr. Bush’s State of the Union speech about Iraq’s efforts to obtain uranium in Africa. The staff official, he said, was Mr. Rove. Mr. Libby had been assigned to speak to reporters to straighten out the confusion from Mr. Bush’s speech, a chore Mr. Cheney likened to sticking his head in the meat grinder.

Opening statements are not evidence but instead an opportunity for a lawyer to provide the jury an outline of what evidence will be presented on behalf of his client. However, every good lawyer knows that if you tell a jury you are going to present evidence you better follow through because the jury is going to be expecting it, especially when you make claims such as Wells did. And, of course, Libby had good lawyers, very good lawyers. Which is why many were surprised when they didn't follow through on presenting evidence to support their theory that Libby was a scapegoat to protect Rove.

So why would Libby's very able legal team not present the evidence on Rove? The answer lies in their opening statement; Karl Rove was so important "he had to be protected." As soon as Libby's lawyers threatened to spill the beans on Rove the pardon was a done deal, all Libby had to do was keep his mouth shut. Just another example of how Karl Rove and his George W. Bush have taken our justice system hostage.

March 01, 2008

Wake Up Call Review

Here are this week's most popular posts:
  1. Mr. Olivo goes to Washington

  2. Which one is better than the other?

  3. Rod Jetton's mouth is a Democrats' best friend

  4. Karl Rove's America

  5. Suburban Journal leaders meet with Wake Up Call

Since I started the blog in November I have had an increase in hits every month but February was by far the biggest month for Wake Up Call. I hope to keep this trend going in March. If anyone has any comments, story ideas or criticism, you can leave a comment on the blog anonymously or send me an email at

It's 3:00 AM in Missouri, the phone rings...

A new campaign ad put out by Hillary Clinton asks the question who would we want answering the phone at the White House in a crisis? Here is what you could expect if you call a Missouri politician at 3:00 AM.
  • Matt Blunt: "I understand it's an emergency but I've already accomplished everything I set out to do."

  • Jeff Roe: "No he puts his trash out on Tuesday night you idiot."

  • Jay Nixon: "And you're sure it was a Republican involved. O.K. I'll be right there."

  • Rod Jetton: "Why don't you get off your lazy a** and do it yourself. What? Oh, um I'm sorry Mr. Plaster, I'll get right on it."

  • Kit Bond: "Sam I know it's you. Now quit calling me. I told you my doctor said I needed to rest."

  • Susan Montee: Don't worry Mayor Pagano. I'll just say you're clean; nobody actually reads my audits.

  • Steve Ehlmann: Answering machine; If you're a developer who has donated money please press 1, If you're a developer who would like to donate money please press 2, All other callers, there is nothing I can do for you.

February 29, 2008

Blunt and State Senate vote for business as usual

The Columbia Tribune reported yesterday that the Missouri Senate confirmed Gov. Matt Blunt’s decision to reappoint Bill Luetkenhaus to the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC.) The MHDC provides state tax credits on housing projects to developers. Luetkenhaus was involved in a controversial land deal with Columbia developer Jeff Smith last year. In the deal Smith paid Luetkenhaus 1.7 million dollars for a piece of land Luetkenhaus bought two months earlier for $932,000. According to the Tribune article:
  • Smith is one of the state’s largest developers of low- and moderate-income housing. As a commissioner, Luetkenhaus votes on whether state subsidies should be distributed to developers like Smith.

When the Tribune reported this deal last year Blunt indicated that Luetkenhaus should recuse himself from any votes involving Smith. There was also talk of revising the standards of conduct policy for the MHDC. According to the Tribune;

  • Commission Chairman Richard Baalmann named Luetkenhaus to lead a committee to rewrite the standards. The panel was supposed to meet earlier this month, but Luetkenhaus cancelled the meeting because of other business. A new session has been scheduled for March 21.
    "I think we will get something that will address disclosure more than what the current rules do," Luetkenhaus said.

No need to waste your time on "disclosure" Bill, if anyone was paying attention we wouldn't have to worry about you anyway.

February 28, 2008

Your Flag Lapel Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore

Which one is better than the other?

And here's my list of donors, I mean contractors I want on the job.

Are you an American or a Republican?

The story on the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is gaining traction after 60 Minutes aired a story. However, the 60 Minutes story lasted less than 15 minutes, which is barely enough time to cover the highlights. Those interested in this story can read much more about it at the following sites; The Legal Schnauzer, TPM and Harpers. I have read extensively on the Siegelman prosecution, including from those who try to defend the actions of Karl Rove, the prosecutors and Judge Mark Fuller. And after reading all this, it is my opinion that Don Siegelman is a political prisoner.

Included in those calling for an investigation of the Siegelman prosecution is former Arizona Attorney General Grant Wood, a Republican advisor to John McCain's campaign. However, it appears the official Republican response is to stand in support of Karl Rove and defend the prosecution. Of course, when the facts get in the way of the party line, the Republicans turn to one of Rove's favorite tactics, attack the messenger.

The Siegelman case should scare every American without regard to party affiliation. Rather than simply follow the official party line I suggest Republicans review this case very carefully and make a decision; are you willing to support your party at the expense of the values of your country?

Springfield lawyer may play role in Siegelman case

A 2003 affidavit filed by Springfield, MO. attorney Paul Benton Weeks regarding Federal Judge Mark Fuller may play a role in the investigation of wrongdoing regarding the prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Fuller was the judge in the Siegelman case and was also the judge in case filed by Weeks. In a story written by Scott Horton for Harpers, Weeks stated he did a routine check on Fuller to see what type of judge would be handling the case. Weeks stated, "I was astonished by what I found,” and that immediately after the papers were filed, Weeks said that Fuller was removed as the judge handling the case.

According to Horton, Week's affidavit accuses Fuller of,
  • engaging in criminal conduct both before and after he came on to the bench. The charges include perjury, criminal conspiracy, a criminal attempt to defraud the Retirement System of Alabama, misuse of office as a District Attorney, and an obstruction of his background check by the FBI in connection with the review of his appointment by President Bush to the bench.

What does this have to do with the Siegelman case? Horton writes;

Weeks told Horton that no one from Hillman's office had contacted him in regard to the allegations he raised. One other interesting note; when Siegelman was sentenced Fuller failed to rule on a motion to release Siegelman pending his appeal. The Court of Appeals ordered Fuller to rule on the motion and when he did the Court of Appeals said his order was not sufficient. Fuller eventually issued a 30 page order denying Siegelman's request, however, Siegelman still can't appeal the case. Fuller's court has still not prepared a transcript of the trial which concluded over 20 months ago. The transcript is supposed to be prepared within 30 days of sentencing.

February 27, 2008

Karl Rove's America

The 60 Minutes story on the prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, which aired Sunday, failed to appear on a CBS affiliated TV station in Alabama, WHNT-TV. Viewers who tuned in to WHNT instead found the following message:

  • We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes tonight featuring ‘The Prosecution of Don Siegelman.’ It was a technical problem with CBS out of New York.

However, CBS told Scott Horton, a writer who has covered the Siegelman story while blogging at Harper’s, that;

  • There is no delicate way to put this: the WHNT claim is not true. There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters.

Horton goes on to state "I was told that the decision to blacken screens across Northern Alabama could only have been an editorial call." While WHNT denies it was an editorial decision it later changed its story on why the 60 Minutes piece did not run at the scheduled time. The station ran the segment later.

Why would WHNT censor the Siegelman story? The following from the blog Facing South might help explain the decision;

  • WHNT is owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners, an investment company managed by prominent supporters of President Bush, whose former advisor Karl Rove was implicated in the "60 Minutes" Siegelman investigation. But as the New York Times notes, the station is managed by a separate company, Local TV -- whose chief executive, Robert "Bobby" Lawrence, is a former Clear Channel Communications executive and also a major Bush contributor.

The Siegelman story is not going away but if we are lucky maybe Karl Rove will be, for a long time.

Mr. Olivo goes to Washington

Brock Olivo, a former running back at Mizzou and then in the NFL, announced his candidacy for the 9th Congressional seat being vacated by Kenny Hulshof. Olivo's campaign got off to a rocky start when he was unable to answer some basic questions about why he was running. Things got worse for Olivo when it was revealed he has never voted. Everyone has taken a turn at making fun of Olivo but the more time I've had to think about it the more I think Olivo may be what we need in office.
Maybe Olivo's lack of experience means he won't know how to slip a provision into a lengthy bill to help a friend/contributor. Maybe being honest and admitting he doesn't have an answer is better than the patronizing, misleading answers we get from most politicians. Maybe Olivo hasn't learned how to use power to seek revenge or request special treatment. Maybe Olivo is smart enough to understand who he is supposed to be representing and whose money he is spending.
Maybe Olivio understands freezers are where we keep food, not money. Maybe Olivo understands what the "public" in public records means. Maybe Olivo knows what the definition of "is" is, what an oath means and what the difference is between public service and personal interest. And maybe Olivo knows the difference between right and wrong. If so, maybe we will be alright in sending a political newcomer to Washington because I'm not sure I like what others call "experience."

February 26, 2008

It's time for Karl Rove to quit hiding and answer questions under oath

60 Minutes did a story on the prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman Sunday night. Siegelman is serving a 7 year sentence and many believe he was not guilty of the bribery charges for which he was convicted. Even worse, many believe he was targeted for prosecution because he was considered a threat to the Republican party in Alabama. The 60 Minutes story also discussed allegations Karl Rove, who got his start in Alabama politics, might have been involved in targeting Siegelman. Rove responded to the allegations below;

Rove's denial of the alleagtions raised by Dana Jill Simpson were addressed by Ms. Simpson on the clip below from MSNBC;

Simpson went before Congress and told her story under oath, something Rove refused to do. I'm sure Congress will give Rove another chance and I'm sure Rove won't take it. For those interested in reading more about this story,the following sources may be helpful; The Legal Schnauzer, TPM and Harpers, which has a good story about Rove's appearance on Fox. This is a story that should scare us all.

Translation-Dempsey wants to run for higher office

The Columbia Tribune's Politics Blog had an interesting story yesterday regarding Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles. Dempsey voted for the 2006 bill which eliminated campaign finance limits but he voted against the 2008 bill to do away with the limits. Jason Rosenbaum, of the Tribune, asked Dempsey to explain his vote. Here is what Dempsey had to say along with some comments from Rosenbaum;

  • “The bill that I filed didn’t have elimination of limits in it,” Dempsey said. “It did have a component that if you look in the bill that’s filed that raised the limit and eliminated the ten times the limit on the party committees. There was a campaign finance piece. We took that out and sent it over to the Senate side. But the primary drive behind the bill in 2006 for me was elimination of the caucus system that had been abused for decades.”
    Dempsey is referring to a loophole in the lobbyist disclosure process that allowed gifts to be attributed to members of ‘caucuses’ instead of individuals. That prevented disclosure of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of meals and entertainment from Missouri Ethics Commission reports.
    Nevertheless, Dempsey still ultimately voted to pass that 2006 version of the bill. I asked him what made him change his position for this year’s legislation.
    “As I consider what the priorities for the state should be, I frankly didn’t think this was a priority for me. It’s not in my top ten, it’s not in my top twenty,” Dempsey said. “We have a flawed system to do this. While I understand it and agree with it in principle, you’re still going to have negative campaigning. You’re still going to have huge sums of money raised. You’re replacing one flawed system with another somewhat more transparent, but also flawed. For me it wasn’t a priority. And from a timing standpoint with the campaigns this year, it just didn’t think it was something that we should be considering.”

Translating this from "politico speak" into English, I think what Dempsey is saying is that he plans to run for higher office someday and doesn't want a vote to eliminate campaign finance limits to be used against him although he really agrees with doing away with the limits.

You Paid For It story on streets in Bayfield

You Paid For It (which covers waste in government and airs on Fox 2 St. Louis) ran a story on the problems the Bayfield subdivision is having with its streets. I do not have a lot of knowledge on this issue and would like to hear from someone who can better explain the situation. For what its worth, the O'Fallon Journal ran an article on this story a couple of weeks ago entitled Subdivision has checkered jurisdiction, which may help explain the issue. You can view the You Paid For It piece by clicking here.

The Truth Held Hostage-Day 98

Back in November, the O'Fallon Journal reported false information in regard to the Koch Road scandal. The information reported by the Journal was in regard to the date Koch Road was vacated and by falsely reporting that date, Journal readers were not provided information which would show McBride & Sons, the builder and a major advertiser in the Journal, illegally tore out the road. O'Fallon's role in improperly issuing building permits to McBride was also not properly reported because of the Journal's "mistake." It now has been;

  • 98 days since I informed the Journal reporter, Elizabeth Perry, of the error in her story.

  • 71 days since I was told the Journal would be correcting its "mistake" (after Perry wrote a second article containing the exact same false information) regarding the Koch Road vacation.

  • 40 days since Journal editor Erin Schultz told me the Journal "will correct factual errors as quickly and clearly as possible."

  • 16 days since Ms. Perry mislead her readers again as to the destruction of Koch Road, and was once again informed of her "mistake."

  • 12 days since I met with Bob Williams, the Journal's publisher, Dave Bundy, the editorial director, and Ms. Schultz to explain the "mistakes" the Journal had made in its stories.

Since everyone from the publisher on down knows the Journal incorrectly reported this story, the Journal can no longer claim this was a "mistake." Instead, I think we can now safely state that falsely reporting the story is the official policy of the Journal.

February 25, 2008

Democrats don't want too much democracy

I've never seen a Democrat claim the Republicans should not have a candidate for President. Instead, the Democrats try to convince the voters they should not vote for the Republican candidate because of policy differences or because the candidate is not qualified to be President. So what's the Democrats problem with Ralph Nader, who recently announced he will run for President in 2008? The fact that Nader is running.

Democrats believe a Nader candidacy could siphon off enough votes from their candidate to help elect John McCain. And to that I say, who cares? Democrats and Republicans have become so arrogant that they now believe the Presidency is the exclusive right for one of their candidates. Third party candidates are seen as a nuisance rather than a democratic option for those of us fed up with the two party monopoly of power. When that nuisance threatens to interfere with the Democrats right to the presidency, Democrats show their true colors. Democracy is great just as long as it doesn't interfere with their power.

Fish & Ships, February 26, 2008

On tomorrow's Fish & Ships program (the most dangerous 15 minutes on the radio) we will discuss;

You can hear the show every Tuesday starting at approximately 9:00 AM until 9:15 on KFAV, 99.9. If you can't hear the show live you can go to the O'Fallon Watchdog later this week to listen to the show.

WARNING: Residents of St. Peters are reminded to avoid listening to Fish & Ships. Information on the city can only be obtained through St. Peters PR(avda) department.

Premier 370 work still can't go forward

Work is still on hold at Premier 370 Business Park in St. Peters according to an article in today's Post-Dispatch. Premier 370 is being built in a flood plain and St. Peters has invested millions of dollars in the project, money the city stands to lose if the project does not go forward. FEMA has not yet approved the development for federal flood insurance and until it does the project will remain stalled. According to the Post article, critics of the plan include;

  • Illinois officials who contend the levee will worsen flooding in Grafton and other areas.

  • The Great Rivers Habitat Alliance, an advocacy group for flood plain preservation, which alleges the work on the 4 mile long levee has not been done properly. The levee cost St. Peters 22.5 million dollars to date.

There are also concerns on how the city will handle flooding issues on two spots where railroad tracks cross the levee. The Post article indicates the city has failed to respond to FEMA's latest concerns and that if St. Peters does not respond by March 17 the application will be suspended and the process will have to start over again.

The Premier 370 project has been steeped in controversy from the beginning with other issues including;

  • Appraisals not done on some of the land purchased for the project.

  • Land Purchased from former Mayor Tom Brown's son-in-law at a much higher rate than other land.

  • Bonds not competitively bid on the project.

  • No request for proposal (RFP) on the project.

  • Failure of St. Peters to keep proper documentation of records on the project.

State Auditor Susan Montee noted the project was "at risk" because the city had not secured final approval from FEMA and she also discussed the other problems mentioned above. However, Montee offered no explanation as to why there was a hold up with FEMA and ignored all the problems set out in her audit when she stated publicly that St. Peters "was a clean city." The Post article further illustrates what a poor job Montee did on her audit and how St. Peters officials have taken unnecessary risks with the taxpayers money.

February 24, 2008

You Paid For It returns to O'Fallon

You Paid For It is airing another segment on O'Fallon, Mo. Monday night. The You Paid For It team covers wasteful government spending and was in O'Fallon a few weeks ago regarding a story about the Koch Road scandal. Promos running on Fox 2 indicate Monday's story will be about O'Fallon's crumbling roads.
During former Mayor Paul Renaud's tenure as mayor, his friends in the building community (and his employer McBride & Sons) were able to pass ordinances that lowered the standards under which streets had to be poured. In addition, the city failed to properly inspect the work on streets by the developers and it later turned out many of these streets did not meet the lowered standards. Under Mayor Donna Morrow and City Administrator Bob Lowery, the city has returned escrow money to developers who failed to properly pour streets. I'm not sure if this is the angle You Paid For It will be covering but it is a story the residents need to hear.

60 Minutes looks at Karl Rove's Justice Department

60 Minutes aired its much anticipated story entitled The Prosecution Of Governor Siegelman tonight. Siegelman is the former Democratic governor of Alabama who was convicted of bribery. The main charge against Siegelman was that he gave a position on a state board to businessman Richard Scrushy, in return for a substantial contribution from Scrushy to a campaign to bring a lottery to Alabama. Siegelman was a proponent of the lottery.

The 60 Minutes story looks at two issues with the case, (1) Was Siegelman targeted by the Justice Department for political reasons; and, (2) Was Siegelman guilty. Karl Rove, who played an integral role in the Siegelman case, has refused to discuss his role and the White House and Justice Department have not cooperated with an investigation by Congress. The Siegelman case is just one part of a series of allegations regarding the Bush administration's use of the Justice Department for political purposes.

For those of you in Republican St. Charles County who wonder how the people involved in widespread corruption continue to go untouched, take a look at this video and remember our County Prosecuter, Jack Banas, and US Attorney, Catherine Hanaway, are both Republicans.

Obama is a "thoroughly dangerous man!"

1973 at the Dew Drop Inn, Jackson, Mississippi on a Saturday night. (From Uneasy Rider, Charlie Daniels)

Now he let out a yell that would curl your hair,
But before he could move I grabbed me a chair,
And said, "Watch him folk, 'cause he's a thoroughly dangerous man.
Well, you may not know it, but this man's a spy.
He's a undercover agent for the FBI,
And he's been sent out here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.

"He was still bent over, holdin' on to his knee,
But everybody else was looking' and listenin' to me,
And I laid it on thicker and heavier as I went.
I said, "Would you believe this man has gone as far
As tearing `Wallace' stickers off the bumpers o' cars,
And he voted for George McGovern for President."

"Well, he's a friend of them long-haired, hippy-type, pinko fags,
I betcha he's even got a Commie flag,
Tacked up on the wall inside o' his garage.
He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys,
He may look dumb, but that's just a disguise,
He's a mastermind in the ways of espionage."

2008 at the Republican National Convention, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, September 1-4.

Now his ole lady told that crowd
What she thinks of our country, she ain't proud
And he don't seem bothered at all by that.
Hell, with a last name like Obama
He's surely an undercover agent for Osama
And he's been sent out here as a Democrat.

I been told he won't pledge to our flag
But that's no surprise from a pinko fag
And he ain't really Christian like you and me.
His preacher is a friend of Louis Farrakhan
Barack wants to talk to the nuts in Iran
And he's probably still on drugs, we should make him pee.

I'm sure he's a Muslim from his name
And those people just don't think the same
Cause they're spending their time reading the Koran
He can't be trusted, I tell ya guys
He may talk nice, but that's a disguise
Because this Obama is a thoroughly dangerous man.

February 22, 2008

Did Busplunge break the blog ranking code?

Last Sunday I wrote:

  • I was ranked as the fifteenth most influential political blog in Missouri last week by I'm not sure what that means but the 100 Year Old Weblog, which posts stories from 100 years ago, was 18. If they ever make it to the 1950's I'm toast.

Well the 100 Year Old Blog stayed true to its name but it still flew past me as I dropped two spots to number 17 while 100 Year jumped all the way to number 11. How Blognetnews comes up with these rankings is a mystery even after you read its explanation:

  • BlogNetNews' Blogosphere Influence Rating combines a variety of data sets to determine which blogs are most powerfully influencing the direction of the Missouri political blogosphere. The exact method BNN uses to calculate influence scores must remain proprietary in order to prevent attempts to game the system. BNN's methodology takes into account the fact that all Internet data is profoundly limited in its reliability by using multiple data sets that, when combined, reveal a fair picture of activity in the blogosphere.

Huh? I still haven't figured out how McDonalds makes its special sauce so I'll have to leave the interpretation of that explanation to others. And while I'm not sure if Jim at the Busplunge (coming in at a solid number 7) can tell me what all this means, he may have found the key to the code. In a post titled Homosexual Males Prefer The Color Blue, Busplunge explains the results of its week long study in which "homosexual" or "gay" were the subject of numerous posts. Jim's theory was that posts that covered these subjects would propel him up the Blognetnews rankings and at weeks end he moved up from number 14 to number 7.

While I still haven't figured out how to put this information to use, we should all applaud Busplunge for sharing the results of the experiment. Just think of what could have happened if this information fell into the hands of someone less scrupulous than Jim at Busplunge? I'm not sure we are ready for the 100 Year Old Gay Weblog.

Wake Up Call Review

Here are this week's most popular posts:
  1. Missouri Political Idol
  2. Susan Montee has no credibility
  3. Is O'Fallon looking for new source of income?
  4. Ethics in journalism-Part I
  5. Suburban Journal leaders meet with Wake Up Call

Missouri Political Idol was a runaway favorite and I may have a new episode next week. I never got to a new top ten list so I hope to do that next week as well as a further look at ethics in journalism. By the way, the Suburban Journal still hasn't corrected its "mistake" on the Koch Road scandal although the information has now been provided to the publisher, two editors, the reporter and the corporate headquarters in Iowa of the Journal's owner, Lee Enterprises. I'm not sure if it is even fair to discuss the Journal in regards to ethics in journalism anymore, instead maybe we should just consider it an advertising circular.

If anyone has any comments, story ideas or criticism, you can leave a comment on the blog anonymously or send me an email at

Jetton released as trade for honest politician falls through

The State of Missouri announced today that it has released its Speaker of the House, Rod Jetton after trade talks broke down. Jetton has had a controversial career with the state and last year he was accused of putting his own interests ahead of the teams. Jetton's contract expires later this year and many believe he has been using his employer's resources to find work. Apparently the last strike for Jetton was when he accused some of his employers of being "lazy."

Efforts to trade Jetton centered on obtaining an honest politician in return but team officials indicated the market was inundated with dishonest, mean spirited, self centered politicians like Jetton. "The only offer we got was for that new kid playing for the feds, Nathan Cooper, but we don't see much of a difference between the two," said a team official speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Lets be honest, we made a mistake when we originally signed Jetton and we can't expect someone to give us something of value for him," the official went on to state.

When reached for comment Jetton said he already has an offer to play for a new franchise proposed for Plasterville but Jetton indicated he expected other offers as well. "I still have a lot to offer," Jetton stated, "besides, when you been around the game as long as I have you can always call in a few favors."

February 21, 2008

Susan Montee has no credibility

Susan Montee released her audit report on Governor Matt Blunt's office and unless she comes out and announces what a clean office he runs we should ignore everything she does and says here on out. After Montee audited St. Peters she stated publicly it was on of the cleanest city's she had audited. However, as I stated in one of my posts about the audit (links are set out below);

  • When reviewing the audit one should also consider that former Mayor Tom Brown was not only guilty of "abuse" regarding the land sale but Montee completely failed to mention that Brown and the city were found to have unjustly interfered with a local business because the owner dared to speak out against Brown and the city. This could end up costing the residents over a million dollars. Couple this with the fact that Tom Brown's successor, Shawn Brown, is in federal prison for bribery and you get a picture that St. Peters is not a clean city but instead it is one of the dirtier cities in the region. Based upon the facts, I challenge anyone to claim St. Peters is a clean city.

Montee's public statements about the St. Peters audit were in stark contrast to what she reported not to mention what she failed to report. The allegations she raises against Blunt appear to be much less serious then the issues she failed to adequately report in St. Peters and her credibility should be called into question by anyone reporting on her findings. Republicans are already claiming Montee's audit is politically motivated and anyone who has seen her work would have to agree.

Susan Montee's audit of St. Peters should be investigated

St. Peters is a dirty city-Part 1

St. Peters is a dirty city-Part 2

February 20, 2008

Is O'Fallon looking for new source of income?

O'Fallon officials have asked the state to increase the amount of fines cities in St. Charles County can levy against someone who violates city ordinances. Currently the maximum fines are limited to $500.00 by state statute and O'Fallon wants it increased to $1000.00. In an article which appeared in the O'Fallon Journal, O'Fallon Mayor Donna Morrow claims the changes are needed because more serious charges are being handled in Municipal Court.

If that is true O'Fallon has only itself to blame. Serious criminal matters should always be filed at the state level as a misdemeanor or felony and if O'Fallon is keeping cases at the Municipal level that involve more serious charges it is doing so by choice. The Journal article notes that the most serious cases the city courts deal with are for assault and harassment, however, these types of cases can almost always be filed as state charges.

The article states:
  • The case that touched off (Scott)Rupp's legislation involved a young man who in 2007 was accused of sending thousands of harassing messages to a 17-year-old girl, Stephanie Price, through her Internet MySpace account, Morrow said. Stephanie Price told her parents, who contacted police. O'Fallon police tried to offer the case to the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's office, which didn't take it, said O'Fallon municipal prosecuting attorney Larry Nesslage. County Prosecutor Jack Banas has said, in turn, that O'Fallon police did not file a formal application for charges with his office. O'Fallon police then issued the young man a summons for harassment. Nesslage later changed the charge to littering and gave the defendant the maximum fine, $500. Nesslage said he couldn't charge the young man with harassment because of the way the harassment statutes are written.

Nesslage's statement (in the bold above) makes absolutely no sense. If it was true that Nesslage couldn't bring harassment charges (which I don't believe) then his duty as a prosecutor is to dismiss the case or refer it to the County Prosecutor. How does Nesslage explain charging the defendant with littering?

What almost certainly happened here is that O'Fallon kept a case it should have referred to the County. The defendant then hired an attorney who negotiated a plea agreement with Nesslage. Littering is frequently the end result of a plea bargain in Municipal Court and it makes no sense to charge someone with a crime they didn't commit (littering) because you can't bring charges for a crime they did commit (harassment.) The article indicates the victim was not happy with the disposition of the case, therefore, my guess is that O'Fallon is trying to cover its actions at this point.

Going back to why O'Fallon wants to increase its fines, the most obvious and common explanation probably applies, the city wants more money. O'Fallon is deep in debt and needs money now to deal with major problems such as its sewer system and an understaffed and poorly equipped police force. Residents of O'Fallon should be wary of Morrow's claims the city wants to get "tough on crime" because the end result is likely to be the opposite. O'Fallon will be even more tempted to file charges in Municipal Court so that it can tap in to a new source of revenue.

Missouri Political Idol

While the political junkies were following the news on Election 2008, most of the people watching TV were tuned in to American Idol. Luckily, I came across a show that combines politics and music; ladies and gentlemen welcome to Missouri Political Idol.

Nathan Cooper got the show off to a great start with his rendition of I Fought The Law And The Law Won which was followed by Chuck Graham doing his best Frank Sinatra on One for My Baby (And One More for the Road.) Peter Kinder gave one fan at least 100 million reasons to cheer with his version of Willie Nelson's Me and Paul. Colonel Jack Jackson, who had originally planned on singing Matt Blunt's selection agreed to sing another song, however, Kinder ended up taking Jackson's second choice. Jackson finally settled on the Big & Rich song, Never Mind Me but later withdrew from the competition to help another contestant.

The show was stopped for a while when Kit Bond's version of Big Boss Man was interrupted by Sam Graves who started singing Time Will Tell by Bob Marley. However, the show went on and Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser dedicated his song, Why Don't You Get a Job, to his wife Gloria Squitiro and she later took the stage herself to sing the Pam Tillis song Don't Tell Me What To Do. The judges were all impressed by Jeff Roe's heartfelt cover of Low Life by the Police which was followed by Paul McKee's song, which he dedicated to his friends in North St. Louis, Eve of Destruction.

Also in the competition were;

Finally, Matt Blunt closed out the show with a medley starting with Sittin' On Top Of The World, followed by an old Marty Robbins song, I Can't Quit (I've Gone Too Far) and closing with Fade Away by Oasis. Next week's show should be interesting as each singer gets to pick a song to send a message to their fans, however, the show has already caused infighting between the contestants about who will be allowed to sing John Lee Hooker's song I Need Some Money. Stay tuned.