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 Blognetnews.com. 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 rfisc82376@aol.com.

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.

February 19, 2008

Ethics in journalism-Part I

I have discussed on here the failure of the Suburban Journals and the Post-Dispatch (both are owned by Lee Enterprises) to cover stories in St. Charles County which were negative to their major advertisers. In fact, both papers have done stories highly critical of those who have dared to speak out against the control the builders/developers (major advertisers in the papers) have over politics in St. Charles. In the opinion of many, this slanted coverage is a direct result of the money spent on advertising and this has been going on for years. However, in this post I want to discuss another potential form of bias relating to an editor seeking a job from a municipal government they are responsible for covering.

Brad Mudd was the managing editor of the St. Charles Journals (including the O'Fallon Journal)back in 2004. This was a time when allegations of corruption involving builders/developers and city officials in O'Fallon were widespread. Many of the allegations were later found to be true in a state audit and through documents obtained by citizens. However, the O'Fallon Journal and the Post failed to report on these issues for the most part. Some of the most damning evidence was obtained from a request to O'Fallon for emails. The city attempted to illegally delete the emails but someone failed to delete the deleted emails file before the CDs were given to a citizen. When the city learned of its mistake it sent out the police chief in an attempt to get the CDs back and later had its attorney send threatening letters. The CDs were not returned and copies were later distributed to other citizens and the Journal and Post.
One of the emails read as follows:
  • Cheryl, I had heard from a little birdie that Dave Dorr resigned as the PR director for the city. I have tried to contact him to wish him well, but have not heard back.

    The main reason I'm sending you this message is to see if the city has anyone in mind for the position. The position is not listed on the city's Web site under employment opportunities. I am interested in applying for the position if it is open. Any advice on timing and how I should apply for the job would be much appreciated. As you can probably imagine, I would not like it to be widely known that I have an interest in working for the city.

    Thank you for any information you can give me.


Cheryl refers to former O'Fallon alderman Cheryl Hibbeler and the sender is Brad Mudd of the Journal. The Society of Professional Journalists has a code of ethics which is considered the standard to which journalists are held. Under the heading Act Independently the code of ethics state:

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know. Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.

— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.

— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.

— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Mr. Mudd had every right to seek other employment, however, once he took a job as a journalist he presumably agreed to follow the code of ethics for journalists. There can be no doubt that a person seeking employment from O'Fallon is not likely to report unfavorable information on the city and Mudd's actions violated the code of ethics in several respects. In addition, the code of ethics requires that unavoidable conflicts be disclosed, however, this was not an unavoidable conflict but was one that Mr. Mudd chose. The Journal was made aware of this conflict but has never disclosed this information to its readers.

I would be interested in hearing from others regarding what they believe the Journal should have done and whether the paper still has an obligation to report the conflict to its readers.

February 18, 2008

Fish & Ships

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 that the city does not recognize free speech.

February 17, 2008

The Sunday Funnies?

  • A recent Harris poll ranked the top ten U.S. presidents with Abe Lincoln leading the way. George W. Bush, whose approval ratings have dropped to 30%, finished tenth. The poll also found that 100% of those polled could not name 11 presidents.

  • Speaking of polls, a recent poll by Wake Up Call revealed that 100% of those I polled had never been polled.

  • I was ranked as the fifteenth most influential political blog in Missouri last week by Blognetnews.com. 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.
  • Speaking of old news, I found a copy of an O'Fallon Journal from 1948 which reported "Dewey Defeats Truman." A spokesmen for the Journal indicated the paper never ran a correction and that he was unsure what the problem was with the story.
  • Spring training has started and word out of the Cardinal camp is Tony LaRussa is considering batting the pitcher first this year. According to LaRussa this would be like having 8 lead off hitters.
  • Could there be any worse example of government waste than Kansas having an office for tourism and travel? Attractions like The World's Largest Ball of Twine really don't need any help from the government do they?
  • Roger Clemens needs to understand the "I'm not here to talk about the past" defense doesn't work after you've been charged with perjury.
  • There have been a string of faintings recently at rallies for Barack Obama. Meanwhile the McCain camp reports a string of scooter accidents.

February 16, 2008

What is Steve Ehlmann hiding?

In August of 2007 state lawmakers passed a lengthy bill (SB 22) which made numerous changes to Missouri laws affecting municipal government. SB 22 was filled with so many changes to the law that our elected representatives were voting to change laws without any knowledge of the reasons for the changes or even what was being changed. This type of legislation allows for legislators to sneak in changes to laws which benefit special interests or even one or two "friends" of the legislator.

One example of this was the change in the law on how to incorporate as a Village in Missouri. Rod Jetton has never fully answered questions regarding his role in changing this law but once the new law went into effect, Jetton's friend and contributor, developer Robert Plaster filed under the new law to incorporate his land as a Village. While Jetton and the new law were widely criticized, a similar change in a law (Section 228.110) on how to vacate a public road has been ignored. However, like the Village law, the change in this law appears to be done to help a developer and builder on one project, this time in St. Charles County. Of course, that road is Koch Road which has been the subject of legislation in O'Fallon, St. Charles County and Jefferson City, each time in an attempt to give this public property free of charge to a developer.

I spoke with one of the sponsors of the change in the road vacation law this week, Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-O'Fallon. Funderburk explained to me that he was contacted by St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann who lobbied for the change. This caught me by surprise because Ehlmann had requested a meeting with three of the residents involved in the Koch Road dispute a few weeks ago. At that meeting Ehlmann volunteered to the residents that he had no involvement in the changes made to the law in Jefferson City. Ehlmann also told St. Charles County Councilman Joe Brazil that he had nothing to do with the changes made at the state level. This directly conflicts with Funderburk's statement that Ehlmann was the only person who contacted him regarding this change.

At the time I spoke with Funderburk I had no reason to doubt Ehlmann's statements regarding his involvement in the state legislation and I never asked Funderburk if Ehlmann played a role in the matter. Funderburk was simply explaining the reasons why he supported the legislation, reasons which came mostly from Ehlmann's lobbying efforts.

So it appears Ehlmann is lying about his role in changing a state law to benefit a builder and developer on one project in O'Fallon, but why? It is already a matter of public record that under Ehlmann's leadership the county has ignored the illegal destruction of Koch Road and O'Fallon's deliberate false statements regarding New Koch Road. It is also a matter of record that under Ehlmann, the county has failed to protect the interests of the citizens but instead has advocated on behalf of his builder/developer friends. The large sums of campaign contributions Ehlmann has received from builders and developers is also public information, including those who directly benefit from Ehlmann's positions on Koch Road.

So what is Steve Ehlmann hiding? I emailed Ehlmann the information about his "contradictory" statements on Monday and he has not offered an explanation or response. My guess is Ehlmann wanted to keep his role as a (paid?) lobbyist for the builders and developers a secret. However, with everything else we know about Ehlmann, why would anyone be surprised.

Fight is on to stop eminent domain abuse

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights (CPR) is a grass roots organization fighting to put an end to eminent domain abuse in Missouri. Eminent Domain is a process by which the government can take property away from private citizens to put that property to a "public use." However, our elected representatives and courts have expanded the meaning of "public use" to a point in which property is often taken from private citizens to be used for another private purpose. Even when eminent domain is used for a proper purpose, the process is stacked against property owners. Faced with overwhelming public support for a change in how and when government can use eminent domain our elected representatives did what the do best, talk a big game while passing legislation that fails to address the concerns of Missourians.

For this reason CPR is working to correct this issue in one of the purest forms of democracy, an initiative petition to amend the constitution to stop our government from abusing its power of eminent domain. While I think we should be very cautious anytime we are asked to amend our constitution, our elected representatives have shown us time and again that they cannot be trusted with the power of eminent domain. There are many ways to join in this fight including;
  • volunteering to gather signatures

  • donating money to the cause

  • signing the petitions

  • talking about the fight with friends and neighbors

For more information on how to help or to learn about why this is important visit the web site of Missouri Citizens for Property Rights.

February 15, 2008

Wake Up Call Review

Here are this week's most popular posts:
  1. Top ten reasons Kinder dropped out


  3. Friends don't ask friends to lie under oath.

  4. Can I get a Big Mac, an order of campaign finance reform and a large coke?

  5. Does the O'Fallon Journal have a credibility problem?

Apparently the top ten lists are favorites as my top ten list on Rod Jetton (Top ten "explanations" Jetton supported Village law) was also one of the more popular pages. I hope to have another top ten list next week as well as more on media bias, Steve Ehlmann, Koch Road and the presidential election. If anyone has any comments, story ideas or criticism, you can leave a comment on the blog anonymously or send me an email at rfisc82376@aol.com.

Is Jon Dolan ready for the scrutiny?

Jason Rosenbaum of the Columbia Tribune reports today in his Politics Blog that Jon Dolan is considering running for Kenny Hulshof's seat in the Ninth Congressional District. Dolan resigned his seat in Missouri’s Second Senatorial District in 2006 to become the Executive Director of the Missouri Health Care Association, a long term care trade association in the state that represents skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and businesses serving the long term care profession. Dolan moved to Jefferson City after he quit the State Senate and no longer lives in the Ninth District, although that is not a requirement to run.

Maybe Dolan thinks the residents in this area forgot how he quit on them to take a more lucrative job in private industry, however, how can Dolan ever make a claim he is seeking public office for any reason other than his own personal gain? Of course, he could simply admit he wants the job because of the increase in pay and other "benefits."

If Dolan decides to run for office a few issues that went away when he quit may resurface. One of those issues involves allegations of a cover up involving a drug overdose death at the home of former state representative Don Kissell. Kissell's daughter was sentenced to 8 years for her role in the death. Former O'Fallon Police Chief Steve Talbott was fired by the city, in part, because of his handling of the investigation. St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas criticized the O'Fallon police department's work on the case. Dolan had contact with Talbott and Kissell the day of the murder and O'Fallon officials alleged Dolan changed his story on what he was told by Talbott.

Another issue of concern with Dolan is his relationship with developer Paul McKee. McKee has been the focus of increased scrutiny because of his involvement in buying land in North St. Louis. Last year McKee's lawyers helped draft legislation which could award him 100 million dollars in tax credits. Dolan has told people how much he looks up to McKee and that he considers McKee his mentor. Up to this point McKee's influence over politics in St. Charles County has all but been ignored by the media.

Dolan can be assured that the issues he left behind when he walked out on his last job as an elected official are going to resurface if he decides to re enter the political arena. He cannot count on a complacent media to keep quiet in a high profile race for Congress, and a well financed opponent and the increased popularity of political coverage on the Internet will result in a new political world than the one Dolan left behind in 2006. I'm not sure someone with Dolan's temperament is cut out for such a race. And I don't believe we will find out.

Suburban Journal leaders meet with Wake Up Call

Regular readers of this blog are aware of the problems with the Suburban Journal's coverage of St. Charles County. I have pointed out in detail the Journal's "mistakes" in regard to the Koch Road scandal, which is a result of the paper protecting one of its biggest advertisers (McBride & Sons) in my opinion. Elizabeth Perry has been covering the story for the Journal, therefore, her reporting has been the focal point of much of my criticism. After Ms. Perry mislead the Journal's readers again this week about the Koch Road story she responded to an email I sent her by asking that I not contact her anymore. To be quite honest, I was surprised by how long it took her to get to that point.

Another reporter for the Journal, Steve Pokin, had manufactured a quote he attributed to me in a story he wrote a couple of years ago. After several emails in which I asked Pokin to provide me the source of the quote, Pokin finally responded by saying it was in an email I had sent him. Pokin was unable to produce the email and when I forwarded him copies of all of our emails Pokin simply quit responding to me. Two years later and Pokin still hasn't admitted his mistake or responded to me and I imagine he advised Perry long ago to follow his cowardly ways.
When Pokin quit talking to me he claimed he did so at the request of his editor, however, his editor also quit responding to my requests that the Journal correct Pokin's false report. The Journal is taking a different approach this time as evidenced by the following email I received from Dave Bundy;
  • I'm the editorial director for the Suburban Journals. I oversee the news operations for all 31 of our publications across the Greater St. Louis area. I understand that you have not been happy with the way Elizabeth Perry and Erin Schultz have addressed your complaints regarding Koch Road and related issues. Suburban Journals Publisher Bob Williams and I have reviewed your blog entries, so we have some familiarity with your situation. But it would benefit us if you would sit down with Bob, Erin and me to see if there's more we can or should be doing. Would you be available to meet for about at hour at 4 p.m. on Thursday at our office in St. Peters? I'm not certain we can make you entirely happy, but I'd like to make certain you feel you've been listened to.

So at 4:00 PM yesterday I went to the Journal's office in St. Peters. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes, with about half of that time wasted on Bob Williams, the publisher, and Erin Schultz (an editor) asking me to clarify my issues with the Journal's coverage on Koch Road, something I have done to the point where there can be no legitimate failure to understand. Of course, these are not "my issues" anyway and the Journal's repeated "mistakes" in its reporting are issues which call into question the credibility of everything the paper is reporting. When I asked the simple question as to why the Journal had not corrected its mistakes or reported the full story, Mr. Williams simply ignored the question and responded by telling me that I was wrong in my opinion regarding the influence big advertisers have over the Journal's coverage. And so it went for 40 minutes.

While I'd like to think the Journal met with me because it really wants to report the news fairly and accurately, I suspect something else is at play here. My guess is that the Journal has an unhappy reporter in Perry who is tired of taking the heat for the paper's refusal to truthfully report the news about Koch Road. The meeting yesterday was an attempt to appease me while making Perry think the Journal is doing something. From the questions I was asked about the time tables involved in the various lawsuits filed over Koch Road, I think the Journal was trying to figure out how much time it has before it will have to report on this story again. And when the Journal does report on Koch Road my bet is that it will simply avoid any aspect of the story which brings into question the illegal destruction of the road.

I could be wrong about why the Journal wanted to meet with me and I hope I am. However, the Journal didn't need to meet with me if all it wanted to do was report the news truthfully. Correcting past mistakes and reporting the news truthfully in the future would do a lot more than meeting with one vocal critic.

February 14, 2008

Is Obama the next Ronald Reagan?

Conservatives who worked themselves into a lather because John McCain was not a Reagan Republican are now trying to come to grips with McCain as the proverbial "lesser of two evils" candidate. However, if conservatives really want the next Reagan, maybe all they need to do is look on the Democratic side at Barack Obama. Obama shares many of the same attributes that got Reagan elected, i.e. charismatic personality, good public speaker, call for "change" and he is viewed as a Washington outsider.
Of course, conservatives want to believe Reagan's popularity was due more to his conservative principles rather than his personality. However, how do they explain the election of Senators and Congressmen whose stated beliefs were in stark contrast to Reagan's? Or why the American people have not elected a "Reagan Republican" for president since? Did the American people change from their conservative values once Reagan left office?
The answer is that we elect presidents more on personality than policy, a fact conservatives do not want to admit because it reveals the myth of the Reagan revolution. While I applaud conservatives who put their principles ahead of blind allegiance to a party, they need to realize the voters are looking for a very different "next Ronald Reagan" and that this person may very well be a Democrat.

February 13, 2008

Friends don't ask friends to lie under oath.

What would you do if you were asked to testify under oath about something damaging to a close friend? I think most people would start by questioning what they are being asked to testify about in hopes of convincing themselves they could be wrong. If there was no question their testimony would be damaging to their friend the next question would be whether to lie. In the end most of us would do what Andy Pettitte did. Pettitte signed an affidavit stating his close friend and former teammate Roger Clemens told him he had used HGH.

Clemens went before Congress today to protect his reputation against allegations that he used steroids and/or HGH. The allegations were raised by Brian McNamee, Clemens former personal trainer. However, much more damaging to Clemens was the affidavit filed by Pettitte. Clemens claims Pettitte "misheard" him or "misremembers" what he said but that he still considers Pettitte a friend. You can be sure that Clemens did everything he could to convince Pettitte he "misremembered" what Clemens told him and that Pettitte did everything he could to convince himself his friend was right. Which makes Pettitte's testimony even more compelling.
If Clemens is lying you have to wonder what kind of person he is to force his "friend" into this position. Do you know anyone who would put a friend in this position? I do but I'll save that story for another day.

Paper reports on illegal destruction of Koch Road

In an article which appeared in the February 9, 2008 edition of the First Capitol News, the story of the illegal destruction of Koch Road is reported. The article, entitled Here's The Story About Koch Road Controversy, looks into the role of former county councilmen Bob Schnur in the scandal and lays out a time line of the case.

Let's hope that the increased media attention of this abuse by builders, developers and our elected representatives will force the mainstream media to take note. At the very least maybe the Journal and the Post will be shamed into reporting the facts.

February 12, 2008

Can I get a Big Mac, an order of campaign finance reform and a large coke?

Three legislators from Mississippi recently proposed a bill to prohibit restaurants from serving fat people. Apparently the purpose of this bill is to fight obesity, which is kind of like trying to stop people from smoking pot by banning the sale of munchies to people who are stoned. Or like using campaign finance reform to stop corrupt politicians.
While lawmakers in Mississippi or trying to stop fat people from buying Whoppers, in Missouri we are trying to stop fat cats from buying politicians. Missouri legislators pretend they can do this through campaign finance laws, a favorite tool of politicians to make the voters think their elected representatives are doing something. Politicians who favor reform argue, in the words of State Representative Jeff Smith D-St. Louis, that "we don't want government to be auctioned off to the highest bidder." This is an interesting statement in that the "we" Smith is talking about obviously includes him, while the "government" includes those unnamed government officials who can be bought.

This type of statement is typical of the "honest" reformers who want to limit the ability of wealthy individuals and businesses to corrupt their "dishonest" colleagues. However, I have yet to see a campaign finance reform law that donors and donees have not found a way around and that does not even consider the more direct forms of bribery. And make no mistake about it, when Smith talks about auctioning government off to the highest bidder, he is claiming there is a problem with bribery. While I agree with Mr. Smith's assessment of the problem, his solution of campaign finance reform ignores the direct solution, prosecutions.

Making politicians get their money under the table isn't going to stop corruption anymore than making obese people eat at their tables at home rather that at restaurants is going to cure obesity. Instead what "reformers" like Jeff Smith need to do is start naming names of the corrupt officials they claim to be protecting us from so that the guilty parties can be prosecuted. And while you're at it Mr. Smith, Super Size it.

February 11, 2008

Fish & Ships

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

  • The Kirkwood tragedy

  • The federal stimulus package (Is Lyn Schipper finally seeing the light about Republicans?)

  • The coverage by the Post and Journal of Koch Road and

  • The Missouri gubernatorial race

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 warned that prolonged exposure to Fish & Ships may cause you to question authority.

February 10, 2008

Rod Jetton's mouth is a Democrats' best friend

Rod Jetton spoke at the annual Lincoln Days gathering of Missouri Republicans and, as is usually the case, he did not disappoint...Democrats. Jetton, who suffers from an incurable case of athletes mouth, shared his thoughts on illegal immigrants with his fellow Republicans. According to a report by Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch;
  • Jetton ignited even more applause when he said illegal immigration was to some degree the public's fault. "I hate to tell you, but there are a lot of lazy Missourians out there who don't want to work," Jetton said. "I'd like to trade some of our people for some of the Mexicans who work so hard." Jetton isn't running for re-election this fall and plans to focus on his political consulting business. Hulshof is among the candidates who have been cited as potential Jetton clients.

Jetton's statement is interesting in several respects. First, it is probably not a good idea for a guy looking to drum up business for his "political consulting" business to attack his target audience. However, Jetton's statement also shed light on the big lie that Missouri Republicans want to do something about illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is important to the big business contributors the Republicans rely on and Jetton's statement is right out of the PR department of the industries which violate the law by employing the illegals.

While Jetton's statement was probably shared by the group of elitist Republicans he was speaking to, it was certainly inconsistent with the "party line" which Republicans are selling to get elected. It was also inconsistent with the rank and file membership of the party. You would think a "political consultant" would know this.


If papers were required to warn their readers of the dangers of their product as other products are, the Suburban Journal would be required to place in big bold letters the following; WARNING: THE JOURNAL HAS BEEN FOUND TO REPORT FALSE INFORMATION. As I have reported in detail (Does the O'Fallon Journal have a credibility problem?) the O'Fallon Journal has not only failed to report on the actions of one of its biggest advertisers, McBride & Sons, in illegally destroying a a public road but the Journal has actually reported false information on this story. Despite having been fully informed of the truth, the Journal continues in its attempt to protect the guilty parties.

In an article dated February 9, 2008 entitled Koch Road Case Continues, the writer, Elizabeth Perry reports,
  • Last year, St. Charles County Circuit Judge Lucy Rauch determined St. Charles County was wrong in deeming the road "useless," a decision that led to the destruction of that portion of road and homes being built on the property.

A reader unfamiliar with the facts (i.e. readers of the Journal and Post-Dispatch) are led to believe that St. Charles County's finding that Koch Road was "useless," allowed McBride & Sons (and the developer Hyland Green) to tear out the road. This is absolutely false and Ms. Perry and her editor Erin Schultz are aware this is false. However, by reporting the story in a false light the Journal is able to protect McBride & Sons from further exposure of its illegal actions.

The Journal promotes itself as providing "the most comprehensive coverage" of the St. Louis area. Journal readers should be warned that the Journal's "coverage" is limited to news, whether true or not, it wants to report.

February 08, 2008

Top ten reasons Kinder dropped out

Peter Kinder announced that he was dropping out of the Missouri governor's race tonight in Springfield. Kinder stated he dropped out to avoid a fight in the Republican primary. However, in a Wake Up Call exclusive, we have the top ten real reasons Kinder dropped out of the race. Drum roll please...

10. Republican leaders convinced him it was better to be a Lieutenant and a governor.

9. Wants to finish work on 100 million dollar tax credit for guys with first name of Paul and last name of McKee.

8 Decided to challenge Rod Jetton for mayor in Village of Plasterville.

7. Tired of being bullied by Kit Bond on MySpace account.

6. Decided to take position as political crony in Ehlmann administration.

5. Wants to spend more time collecting urine samples at Tour of Missouri.

4. Hulshof gave in to demands for access to delete button.

3. Wasn't interested in moving in with Nathan Cooper.

2. Afraid those "dumb animals" were going to kick his a**.

1. Accomplished everything he set out to in campaign for governor.

Wake Up review

This weeks most popular pages are as follows:

  1. Does the O'Fallon Journal have a credibility problem?

  2. Does Bob Lowery believe complying with the law is frivolous?

  3. The Journal's response to allegations of favoritism

  4. No charges in Megan Meyer case

  5. You Paid For It on Koch Road

The stories about the O'Fallon Journal's coverage of Koch Road have been very popular and have generated a lot of discussion. I will be following up on this story and the Koch Road scandal in the coming weeks. Searches on Google regarding the Megan Meyer case have brought people from all over the world to my site and the You Paid For It story on Koch Road continues to generate interest. Fox 2 has links to some of my posts on its You Paid For It page. As always, if anyone has any comments, story ideas or criticism, you can leave a comment on the blog anonymously or send me an email to rfisc82376@aol.com.

Roe lawsuit allowed to go forward at this time

The motion to dismiss filed by Joe Brazil against Jeff Roe was denied today. Brazil originally filed a lawsuit against Roe for libel regarding false allegations Roe posted on his web site, The Source, about a tragic accident that occurred back in 1982. Roe then filed a counter claim against Brazil apparently claiming Brazil was the source of information for a column which appeared in the First Capitol News calling Roe "a political assassin." Roe has also sued First Capitol.

In ruling on Brazil's motion to dismiss the issue is simply whether a cause of action is stated. The court is required to assume Roe's allegations in the lawsuit are true and then determine if these allegations would be grounds for a lawsuit. Roe's lawsuit could still be dismissed at a later date by the court or all of the cases could proceed to trial. This ruling has no effect on Brazil's lawsuit against Roe.

February 06, 2008

The Journal's response to allegations of favoritism

Prior to posting my story on the Journal's coverage, I sent a draft to the paper's editor, Erin Schultz. I asked her to let me know if my post contained any factual mistakes. Ms. Schultz's response to my email stated; "Rick, here is my response. I respectfully request that it be posted in full. Thank you." Her comments are set out in full below;
  • The Journals have reported on the court's decision that Koch Road was vacated illegally and will continue to report on future decisions about the road. Mr. Fischer has made numerous claims that the Journals are ignoring parts of the story. When asked to elaborate on what he thinks the paper should cover with regard to the road, Mr. Fischer has responded not with answers but with a barrage of false allegations that the newsroom is acting to protect Journal advertisers. These allegations are untrue. The Journals will continue to report independently on the Koch Road issue. We respect Mr. Fischer and his work as a community watchdog, and we welcome his criticism. While we may not always agree with his work, we will not spread false allegations about his character or ethics. We hope he will extend the Journals the same courtesy.

According to Ms. Schultz, the Journal has asked me to "elaborate on what (I) think the paper should cover with regard to the road" and that I have not answered their requests but instead replied with "a barrage of false allegations that the newsroom is acting to protect Journal advertisers." First, let me cover what is true in that statement; I am absolutely alleging the "newsroom" at the Journal is acting to protect its advertisers. Ms. Schultz simply dismisses my allegations as false. Rather than simply dismiss Ms. Schultz allegations as false, I will prove they are false based on the facts.

While I have written in the past about the favorable treatment advertisers receive from the Journal (as well as the Post) the dispute over the Koch Road coverage began when the Journal reported in a November, 20, 2007 story that Koch Road was vacated in 2006. My problem with this was as follows:

  1. Koch Road was not vacated in 2006 and has never been vacated. None of the parties in this matter claim that it was vacated in 2006. This "error" is crucial to the story and avoids reporting the most significant aspects of the scandal which are;
  2. McBride & Sons (builder) and Hyland Green (developer) illegally destroyed a public property when they tore out Koch Road one night in May of 2006. If Koch Road was vacated in 2006, as Ms. Perry reported, the property upon which it ran would belong to McBride and Hyland and they may have had every right to destroy it. However, if it was not vacated then the destruction of the road was not only a violation of the law but also a criminal act.
  3. O'Fallon issued permits to McBride to construct homes right on top of where Koch road ran. Again, if Ms. Perry was correct then O'Fallon may have had the right to issue those permits, however, if Koch Road was still public property, O'Fallon intentionally violated the law to benefit a developer.

It should also be noted their are victims as a result of the illegal actions noted above. The residents in the area of Koch Road have been left without a publicly maintained road in place of Koch Road. The developer has never finished New Koch Road and it does not meet MODOT standards. Residents report the uncompleted intersection with Highway P is dangerous and that there have been several accidents. In addition, the homes McBride built on Koch Road were sold to innocent families who paid close to $300,000 for their dream homes. These families cannot sell or refinance these homes because of the easement for a public road which runs right through their property (and homes in some cases.) The employees who instructed O'Fallon city Administrator Bob Lowery why the city could not issue permits to McBride were fired days before the road was illegally destroyed. These employees have alleged their refusal to violate the law on behalf of the builders is why Lowery fired them.

For these reasons I wanted the Journal to (1) correct its error in reporting the road was vacated in 2006, (2) report the actions of McBride and Hyland in destroying a public road and (3) report O'Fallon's role in unlawfully issuing permits. So did I fail to let the Journal know that these were the issues I wanted the Journal to cover as Ms. Schultz's claims in her comments? You be the judge.

Correct mistake of date Koch Road was vacated.

1. November 20, 2007 phone call to Ms. Perry explaining that she was incorrect in reporting the road was vacated in 2006 and why this was important.

2. November 20, 2007 email to Perry stating "It is very clear that Koch was not ever legally vacated and certainly not vacated when the city issued building permits."

3. November 20, 2007 I posted on here: The Suburban Journal did a story last week about a lawsuit filed against McBride & Sons by residents whose homes were built on a public right of way. The story reported that the right of way was vacated in 2006, however, this is in incorrect. The road has actually never been legally vacated, a point which is crucial to the story and which should bring into question O'Fallon's role in this controversy. However, up to this point neither the Journal nor the Post has covered this angle.

4. December 15, 2007 email: After Ms. Perry again reported the road was vacated in 2006 I emailed her and stated;

--Koch Road was not vacated in 2006 as you reported. I explained this to you in a phone conversation after your last article and you indicated your information came from a previous story written by a different reporter. I provided you detailed information regarding when Koch Rd. was vacated.

5. December 16, 2007; I posted Ms. Perry's second story misstating the date Koch Road was vacated and added my comments which discussed her failure to correct her error and why it was important.

6. December 17, 2007 phone conversations with Perry: I spoke with Perry on a couple of occasions in which we discussed her continuing to misreport that Koch Road was vacated in 2006 and why this was important.

7. December 20, 2007 phone conversation with Perry: Perry tried to debate me on the date Koch Road was vacated. An interesting role for a reporter considering no one involved disputed my claim.

8. January 17, 2008 email to Schultz: I wrote:

--The story that was printed contained numerous mistakes which went uncorrected. The most important of which was the day the road was vacated. Of course, if you report the story truthfully you would then have to report on the illegal destruction of a public road by the area's largest builder.

9. January 17, 2008 email to Schultz: I wrote:

--I will try again. Why wasn't the mistake I noted corrected? Please tell me the Journal's reasoning for not printing that Koch Rd was illegally destroyed by McBride & Sons and Hyland Green?

I could not make my position any clearer that the Journal should correct its "error" in reporting that Koch Road was vacated in 2006. As can be seen above the Journal was also well aware I was claiming they had failed to report (2) the illegal destruction of Koch Road by McBride and Hyland and (3) O'Fallon's role in issuing permits to allow a builder to construct homes on public property. I am not going to go though the entire list of times I let the Journal know what they had failed to cover but this is an example from a December 15 email:

  • -This story completely avoids the fact O'Fallon issued building permits for homes on a vacated road and that the developer tore out the road and started building on a public road which was not vacated.

As final proof that the Journal is well aware of what I claim they have failed to report here is an email dated January 17, 2008 from Ms. Schultz:

  • The assertion that the road was illegally destroyed is something I'll continue to look into. It is unwise for any publication to take and reiterate such allegations without investigation, as I'm sure you understand as a publisher yourself. We corrected two factual errors in the story you mentioned. I regret that those errors happened. The other allegations you've made will continue to be looked at. I can't guarantee that you will be happy with our coverage. What I can tell you is that we will continue to look harder at the issues you've raised.

As to Ms. Schultz's claim I have failed to elaborate on what issues I think the Journal should report; CASE CLOSED. As to my allegation that the Journal is protecting one of its biggest advertiser's (McBride & Sons) illegal actions; I submit Ms. Schultz's comments are further proof.