Monday, October 5, 2015

Starting the Week

Here comes John Brunner… The campaign released a high-energy video with whizzing camera shots, and background music.  See it here.


Remember Stem Cell?

Eleven years ago I started writing a column for the St. Louis Business Journal.  One of the first issues I wrote about was stem cell research.  It was a hot button issue.

Then there was a 2006 constitutional amendment that passed, approving the research.

The issue appeared to be settled.

But late last week… it popped back up.  The Republican gubernatorial candidates all came out against it.

You’d think they might have dodged it, said something like, “while I’m personally blah-blah-blah, the people have spoken.”  Instead, they’re all chasing the primary voters.  Chasing them hard.

I doubt that stem cell survives as an actually campaign issue when the general election heats up next year.  I just don’t think it will be a voter priority.

But this is a road-sign for what will likely unfold again and again before next year’s election.

The Republicans will be trying to get to the right of each other, and the Democrat Chris Koster can focus on the general election.

One of these Republicans will win the primary, but I’ll be surprised if they haven’t accumulated a lot policy positions and quotable soundbites that diminishes their general election prospects.

We’ll see…


Here Comes Ashcroft

After what has seemed like a slow start, Jay Ashcroft is holding a huge fundraiser on Wednesday in Springfield.  On the host list: John and Janet Ashcroft, Former Governor Matt Blunt, Sen. Jay Wasson, Reps. Sonya Anderson, Eric Burlison, Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin, Loren Cook, Howard Fisk, Peter Herschend, Scott Magill, BJ Marsh, Joseph Passanise, and Dee Wampler.


More Park Lands Coming

Post Dispatch reports that the state is accumulating more land for a new state park.  See it here.  There is some controversy.   Pull Quote: [T]he Missouri Department of Natural Resources did not make anyone available last week to publicly discuss its plans to add thousands of acres to its holdings.  Officials in Oregon County say they have been frustrated with a lack of information from DNR. Presiding Commissioner Patrick Ledgerwood said the DNR has not been forthcoming during the process, and he’s concerned about adding more public land in a county where he said the government already owns a fifth of the acreage. After hearing rumors over the summer and calling DNR several times, he had to drive to Jefferson City and go to the office of Missouri State Parks Director Bill Bryan before Bryan confirmed the state’s plans to acquire the land, Ledgerwood said. “That’s just ethical, to let the citizens of that county, let their local elected officials know what’s going on,” Ledgerwood said. “And we didn’t even get the courtesy of that.”


The cynics, or conspiracy theorists, say that this in Governor Jay Nixon’s play to beef up his resume to compete for Secretary of Interior in a Clinton Administration….


One More Thing to Worry About

Terrorism of the future might not have the devastating imagery of planes flying into skyscrapers, but might happen quiet invisibly.  CNN reports that cyber attacks are aimed more and more that US infrastructure targets like the energy grid.  See it here.

Legislative action requires?  One utility lobbyist says “Missouri's energy regulations were established in 1913 and have not been materially updated to keep pace with growing threats, like cyber security, or emerging technologies like smart grid, automation and cleaner forms of electric generation…”


Remembering Caskey

Former Sen. Harold Caskey passed away last week. This appeared in the Nevada Daily MailSee it here.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

By Governor Roger Wilson (retired) and Senate President Pro Tem James Mathewson (retired)


As former elected officials now long retired from politics and policymaking, we have no delusions of being remembered forever. The Capitol corridors are full of portraits of men and women who served their terms, made marks of varying distinctions, and departed the building and ultimately, this Earth.

But Missouri State Senator Harold Caskey, who died Oct. 1, deserves more recognition than most because he did more to impact laws and the lives of the people of Missouri. Harold did more by confronting and conquering the major life challenge of being legally blind since childhood due to a genetic condition.

Although he lacked sight, Harold never lacked a personal vision for the potential of Missouri. Blindness instilled in Harold a tenacity, which could at times be called stubbornness. This was especially true when it came to educating our children. No legislator better understood the mechanics and complexities of school finance. No legislator was a stronger advocate for rural schools since Harold recognized they are the lifeblood of rural communities.

Harold was a lead sponsor of the Excellence In Education Act, which led to smaller class sizes and set minimum pay for teachers to keep smaller schools competitive in hiring and retaining great educators. He also was a strong backer of Senate Bill 380, which provided the largest infusion of funding for public schools in generations while setting high standards.

Harold's mind and its workings could be a beautiful process or a fearsome experience. That is because Harold never stood up on the Senate floor with less than total preparedness. He accomplished this with loyal and dedicated staff members who read the text of bills into tape recorders, texts that Harold then memorized late into the night. Senators lived in apprehension of being publicly corrected by Harold, sometimes in regard to their own bills.

Harold was what we call an old-school Missouri Democrat - pro-life, pro-gun, pro-public education and especially pro-people when it came to taking care of constituents. We may not have agreed on all issues, but we would rather have Harold for us than against us. Many times Harold was preceded into the president pro tem's office by the sound of his heavy cowboy boots stomping on the marble. He would arrive lecturing in the most colorful terms, to which the president pro tem would repeatedly reply, "Harold, I love you!" Eventually Harold would turn back to his office, still lecturing.

He wasn't all hard-charging negotiator. For example, Harold would ply senators with a vast array of homemade pies from bakeries in his district. He had a quiet personal manner, and as U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill eulogized, he was "secretly a sweet softie." Nowhere was this quality proven as much as when Harold welcomed to his office and advocated for the blind and people with disabilities.

As Harold would tell you, his secret to success was his adored wife Kay, who gave the taxpayers free service by tirelessly taking care of constituents back home. She was Harold's eyes and his ears in the district. Our prayers for comfort go out to Kay, Kyle and the family.

Term limits took Harold out of the Senate after 28 years. But the proportional loss of wisdom with his Jefferson City exit was far greater than can be measured by a calendar.

This is our personal remembrance of a colleague from our shared Missouri Senate service, which, for the three of us, totaled some 65 years in the chamber. We mourn the passing of a great man, and a great friend. But Harold Caskey's life will be remembered as one of service and positive inspiration that will stand for years to come.



This moment in New Media… The New York Times says it’s hit a million digital-only subscribers.  See it here.


Former Speaker Tim Jones says no recession coming to Texas.  See it here.


Tomorrow night, Jane Dueker will talk to the St. Louis Young Dems “ about how she got started and why she remains a strong advocate for Democratic principles…” At The Pat Connolly Tavern….



Never too easy to start Christmas shopping… For the lobbyists that has everything… See it here.


eMailbag: Redistricting, redistricting, redistricting

Republican 1: Margins.  No one is talking about margins when discussing redistricting. Yes, Democrats can win statewide elections, this has been proven.  That doesn't translate into legislative success due primarily to margins.  Democrats will always run up their statewide totals in STL and KC.  They also win the legislative districts sometimes by a 80-20 margins in Jackson and STL county.  But the modern Democratic party in Missouri can't play in rural Missouri. Outside of Representative Harris, there is not a single non-urban Democrat.  Do they really think that a map can change this?  No matter how you draw a district in rural Missouri, it isn't going to change the numbers dramatically…


Republican 2: Should be 5-3 statewide, considering Gov got to appoint due to tragedy of Schweich.  Now look at where voters begin to know their elected- congress- it's 6-2 Rs to Ds and the same ratio holds for the Senate and almost the House.   The process could be "cleaned up" but to keep thinking gerrymandered, especially when maps were drawn by judges. Most veteran politicos know a Presidential year changes things also.


Lobbyist: Your most recent redistricting commenter seems to forget that candidates and fundraising matter. The GOP in the House and Senate have repeatedly out recruited, out campaigned and out fundraised their Democratic counterparts. On the statewide ballot, the opposite is true. The GOP consultants have wasted millions running worthless, divisive Primaries to bring flawed, broke candidates to a General against a unified Democratic Party that is flush with cash.


Today’s Events

From Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Sen. Wayne Wallingford Golf – Dalhousie Golf Course – Cape Girardeau.


Lobbyists Registrations

Rachel Klarich deleted her lobbyist registrations except for Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.

Miranda W Ayotte deleted Primerica.

James Caccamo deleted Mid-America Regional Council.

Patrick Dougherty deleted MO Votes Conservation, and Catholic Charities of Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Jill Noble deleted Concerned Women for America of Missouri.

Amrita Singh deleted Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


$5K+ Contributions

Koster for Missouri - $300,000 from  Eastern Missouri Laborers' Educational & Benevolent Fund.

Progress KC PAC - $25,000 from CHIPP Political Account.



Happy birthdays to Sen. Joe Keaveny (59) and Rep. Nick Marshall (43).