MOScout Daily Update: Parson Asks for DPS Audit - Tax Receipts Still Weak - Russell Gets Committee Nod - Prop D Autopsy and more...

Another Greitens’ Scandal?

In a vague, but ominous press release, Governor Mike Parson said that he was requesting an audit of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director’s Office after his new appointee Sandy Karsten raised “concerns about questionable use of taxpayer dollars” under previous leadership.

See Parson’s letter to Auditor Nicole Galloway here.  Yikers!

 

State Revenues Still Weak

As we enter the final week of the month, state tax revenues continue to be lackluster.  As of yesterday morning, state receipts were 3.8% lower than the same time one year ago.  These numbers can be volatile, but it’s definitely not feel-good data as folks start to forecast next year’s consensus revenue estimate.

 

Why Prop D Failed

A memo written by David Barklage before Thanksgiving outlined the demise of the Prop D gas tax.  The main culprit, according to Barklage: a “surge” of conservative voters near the end of the campaign. They were drawn into the voter booth by the Kavanaugh confirmation, Trump’s Missouri visits, and enthusiasm to participate in the US Senate race.

Barklage lays out the campaign’s data points… “Polling taken on October 23rd showed our ground and air campaign was working. It showed Prop D passing 52%-41% among likely voters.3 However, polling also sounded a warning alarm. It showed Republican intensity had

skyrocketed from 49% to 67%, an 18-point increase and Democrat intensity dropped from 65% to 62%. Of even greater concern was that very conservative voter intensity had grown to the highest of any group at 74%...

External polling showed Proposition D passing 55-40% on November 2nd.4 Furthermore, a sampling of 46% of the absentee ballots showed the proposition at 53.4% favorable. All of these data points would indicate that Proposition D was tracking to pass until a last-minute surge of very conservative voters upended the campaign…”

And

The memo suggests that supporters shouldn’t give up, but should consider another attempt to fund roads – sooner rather than later…

“It is important that any measure has clean language and does not add other elements as that just underscores voters’ skepticism that the funds will be diverted. One option would be to place a straight fuel tax with a sunset proposition on another fall ballot or explore the possibility of an April ballot along with municipal/education elections… Another option is to push for legislative action such as a smaller phased-in gas tax or use potential Internet taxes for transportation. All options come with challenges, but with a supportive Governor and Lt. Governor for the first time in decades ---it would be an opportunity lost not to find a solution sooner rather than later….”

 

Russell Gets Greene GOP Nod

Tipster says that John Russell – an alumnus of the Blunt Administration – won the endorsement of the Greene County GOP Committee to take Lincoln Hough’s spot on County Commission.  “He’s a common sense Republican that just won a resounding endorsement from the grassroots of Greene County.  He’s got a bright future…”

Russell’s name will be forwarded to Governor Mike Parson who makes the final determination on who to appoint.

 

End of an Era: Alderman Kennedy

St. Louis City Alderman Terry Kennedy will be resigning next week to become the Clerk of the Board of Aldermen.  He’s been an alderman since 1989.  In addition to being the chair of the B of A’s African American caucus, he’s also the second most senior alderman, and chairman of one of the most important committees, Public Safety.  Kennedy will be the first African American to hold the position of Board Clerk.

Here’s a piece by the mighty Jason Rosenbaum from 2015 about Kennedy dealing with a police shooting in his ward…

For the past few days, Alderman Terry Kennedy has been through a complex whirlwind.

Kennedy’s 18th Ward includes the intersection of Walton and Page, the place close to where police shot and killed Mansur Ball-Bey. Protests, tear gas and arson followed after the 18-year-old’s death in the Fountain Park neighborhood, the latest epicenter of a police shooting in the St. Louis area.

As he’s talked to residents of a neighborhood that’s struggled with violence and crime, Kennedy says reactions can’t be compartmentalized in tidy boxes. Some people, he said, are upset and skeptical about what happened on Wednesday morning. Others were concerned about destruction to their property. And some are expressing a combination of those sentiments. “They feel that, though they didn’t support the police in how they handled things, they still didn’t want people out in the street – nor not having the ability to traverse the streets easily to get from their home to someplace else or to their home,” said Kennedy, describing people he’s talked to with “plain old mixed reactions. ...”

Kennedy has a first-hand view of the tenuous relationship between police and African Americans. He’s been a key backer of a police citizens review board, an idea that was finally enacted earlier this year after a long legislative struggle. Some of that distrust could be seen throughout the week. Even though police have said Ball-Bey pointed a gun at officers before he was shot, some doubt that account. And Friday's revelation that Ball-Bey was shot in the back may add fuel to the skepticism.

Kennedy said it shouldn’t surprise anybody people raised questions in this case– or other recent police shootings. “You’re talking about a community that’s been historically disenfranchised. You’re talking about a community that also during segregation in this country suffered at the hands of police brutality on an ongoing, daily basis,” Kennedy said. “Now, that doesn’t say that it’s happening exactly like that today. But you cannot take the people out of their history and their experience in the interaction of police.”

 

End of an Era: Mannies

Veteran reporter Jo Mannies announced that early next year she will be move into semi-retirement.  Fittingly as someone who had spanned the “old school” and “new school” journalism, she made the announcement on Twitter with her signature “FYI.”  See it here

Just FYI: In early January, I will end my full-time journalism career at @stlpublicradio. After a two-month break, the plan calls for me to return in March part time. After 40-plus yrs covering pols, need to focus more on family, travel, life. #NoTimeToLose, #IllBeSeeingYou

And of course everyone immediately started gushing… like this nice ode by John Hancock.

So happy for her!  Jo Mannies the trailblazer, the analyst, the pro’s pro of reporters, the must-read columnist, the must-call-back ASAP correspondent. I’ve known her in all those capacities and have enjoyed every minute!  congrats!

 

Bits

Governor Mike Parson made eight appointments yesterday.  Israel Baeza was appointed as the Pettis County Eastern District Commissioner; Joel Evans, Daryl Sorrell, and Raymond Bailey were reappointed to the Seismic Safety Commission; Ronald Leckbee was appointed as the Knox County Eastern District Commissioner; Bob Nance and Blake Sherer were appointed to the Clay County Board of Election Commissioners; and Craig Stevenson was appointed to the Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Board.

 

The Appellate Judicial Commission announced the applicants for the vacancy on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, created by the August 2018 retirement of Judge Lisa Van Amburg.  They were: Deborah Alessi, Kelly Broniec, Michael Gardner, Richard Gartner, Michael Hodge, Joe Jacobson, Douglas King, Ellen Levy, Shaun Mackelprang, James McAdams, Jeffery McPherson, Darrell Missey, Eric Peterson, Robin Ransom, David Roland, John Torbitzky, Celeste Vossmeyer, and Carl Ward.                     

 

KC Star reports on the possibility of Medicaid expansion in Missouri and Kansas.  See it here. Laura Kelly, the new governor-to-be in Kansas, was elected in part on a vow to change that by accepting the federal expansion money. Kansas legislators voted for expansion last year, but then-Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, vetoed the bill. Brownback’s successor, Republican Jeff Colyer, also opposed it. Once Kelly takes office in January Medicaid expansion will have a clearer path….

 

Help Wanted

Arch City Defenders seek Managing Attorney, Civil Rights & Systemic Litigation. “We seek an experienced attorney to take a senior management position and lead our landmark civil rights litigation representing poor people, those experiencing homelessness, and communities of color who have been locked in modern-day debtors’ prisons, denied counsel and access to the courts, charged illegal fees and fines that have destroyed their lives in the name of profit, and subjected to various forms of state violence.” See the ad here.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Midwest Region Laborers' Political League Education Fund - $7,891 from Laborers Supplemental Dues Fund.

MO Republican Party $25,000 from Ralph and Ruth Deuser Trust.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Rep. Jeff Messenger, Ed Schieffer, and Lenny Jones.

 

Congratulations

To Christine Page and her husband, Larry, welcomed Lawrence Edward Page III at 8:15AM yesterday, 8lbs 10 oz and 21.75 inches long.