Thursday, October 12, 2015

Looking Around the Corner at MU

I did a round of calls yesterday to get a sense of where folks think the Mizzou troubles will lead.  Here’s the best guess…

First, in the near term the university’s trials will only become difficult.  One observer called it a “vicious cycle.” Just as they’re struggling with issues of diversity, they now will find it more challenging to recruit minorities because of all the bad press about the hostile environment.

And the recruiting challenges don’t stop with minorities.  Some expected enrollment to drop.  Mizzou has benefited from out-of-state tuition rates paid by students from Chicago, for example, because Mizzou is cheaper than University of Illinois.  Will they still be able to draw students from around the Midwest?

This also applies to efforts to recruit teaching and academic recruiting.

Second, the Missouri Promise plan – originally floated by Treasurer Clint Zweifel – would increase cigarette taxes to pay for scholarships for Missouri students to attend Missouri public universities.

The notion was obviously seen as a boon for the state universities, and former chancellor Tim Wolfe became one of its more prominent supporters. With Wolfe now exiting, and the university’s attention more focused on cleaning their own house, their ability to lead is diminished.  The expectation is that the proposal will be, at very least, tabled.

One state representative described as “dead dead dead dead dead.”  But others merely described as “dead.”  And of course in politics, dead is not a terminal condition.  It’s often just a valley between hills of visibility.

Third, as seen (below) politicians are finding the university a convenient punching bag.  Academia was never a favorite of conservative Republicans, but together with the Planned Parenthood controversy, there seems no downside to the lambasting.

Politicians may use this as an opportunity to revisit the idea of dismantling the university system across the state, and explore the possibility of other campuses going it alone.

One veteran shrugged off a mere “rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.”  Another observer warned that if the universities were separated they would be more vulnerable to political pressure than they already are.

But the upside of the idea – the ability to cut a layer of administrative personnel – may be attractive in this environment where the academics aren’t very popular.

We’ll see…

 

Meanwhile

Sen. Kurt Schaefer suggested that the actions of two Mizzou employees were criminal…

“The University's employment of Melissa Click and Janna Basler should immediately be terminated for their violations of MU's code of conduct and their actions referred by MU to the

City of Columbia or Boone County Prosecutor for appropriate action.  Although Ms. Click has vacated an appointment in the School or Journalism, she apparently remains an employee of the University of Missouri, contrary to some press accounts.

The conduct of Ms. Click and Ms. Basler constitutes the criminal conduct of, at a minimum, assault in the third degree pursuant to Section 565.070.1(3) and (5) RSMo, as well as attempted false imprisonment pursuant to Section 565.130.1, RSMo and 564.011.1, RSMo…”

And Josh Hawley comments in a US News article.  See it here.

Pull Quote: “This tells me this university is totally without governance at this point and is wandering into major, major constitutional problems,” says University of Missouri law professor Josh Hawley, who is on leave from the school as he campaigns to be Missouri’s next attorney general.

What does it say when both Schaefer and Hawley feel free to score political points unloading on the university?

 

Finally

A development sure to freak out Governor Jay Nixon, Concerned Student 1950 wants to meet with the governor.  See the Missourinet article here.

Pull Quote: Nixon’s office, in a statement, does not explicitly say whether he’ll meet with those students, but said he is “always open to hearing from Missourians about their perspectives on the challenges we face and their ideas for moving the state forward.”

Additionally, Nixon’s spokesperson, Channing Ansley, wrote, “The Governor is urging the Board of Curators to conduct a thoughtful, transparent and inclusive process…”

 

MCN Townhalls

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal continues her “Radioactive Waste Townhalls” this week.

Thursday, Nov. 12, 6PM - Johnson-Wabash Elementary, 685 January, Ferguson, MO 63135.

Friday, Nov. 13, 7PM - McNair Admin. Building Board Room, 8136 Groby Road, University City, MO 63130.

Saturday, Nov. 14, 10AM - Holman Elementary, 8811 Harold Drive, Berkeley, MO 63134.

Sunday, Nov. 15, 1PM -  Overland Community Center, Classroom 1, 9225 Lackland Road, St. Louis, MO 63114.

 

Hawley Fundy

Republican AG candidate Josh Hawley had an event last night with some Lake of the Ozarks Republican heavies on the host committee.  They include: Doug Russell who owns The Durham Company in Lebanon (his dad, Sen. John T. Russell was Appropriations Chair), Dick Bott who owns the 100 station/15 states Christian radio network, Bud Simmons who owns Pier 31, a big marina on the lake, and Susie Johnson is the major Republican organizer….

 
Salva Wants Pension

Former Rep. Ray Salva wants his pension… KC Star has the story.  See it here.

Pull Quote: Salva, 68, pleaded guilty in 2013 to a federal charge of illegally receiving Social Security payments while working as a state legislator. Missouri says the state’s constitution bars pension payments to public officials convicted of felonies, so it cut off his pension and has now asked a judge to order Salva to repay nearly $30,000 he’s already received…

Shortly after the guilty plea, MOSERS ended Salva’s state pension. It based the decision on a 2006 amendment to the Missouri constitution, which says a public official “convicted in any court of a felony which occurred while in office” is ineligible for a state pension. MOSERS later sued to reclaim $29,929 in pension payments it made to Salva between January 2011, when he first collected a payment, and June 2013, when he entered the guilty plea.

Salva refused to pay the money back. In a counterclaim filed with the Jackson County Circuit Court, he says the phrase “while in office” refers to the felony conviction, not to when the crime took place. His 2013 guilty plea came after he left office, Salva claims, so the constitutional ban shouldn’t apply.  He wants to keep the nearly $30,000 he’s already collected and receive a monthly pension of roughly $1,000 a month, along with interest and costs.

 

Noranda Stock Drops

The stock of southeast aluminum giant Noranda continues to indicate the difficulty of their operating environment.  See it here.  Five years ago the stick was $89/share.  Yesterday it closed at $1.19/share.  Moody’s says it has no debt maturities until 2019, which would seem to give the company time to turn things around.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s pressure for legislative action, or another Public Service Commission relief case, given their woes.

 

eMailbag: MOFreedom No Gummer

Missouri Alliance for Freedom’s Executive Director Ryan Johnson writes in response to yesterday’s MOScout piece…

As an organization dedicated to holding Missouri Legislators accountable of course we're not worried about winning favor within the legislature. We believe in disruptive innovation which is bound to ruffle some feathers, but the notion that we are universally disliked is laughable. Like anyone else in the public policy space we have a lot of friends and we have a lot of detractors.

When it comes to accomplishing ethics reform MAF has confidence in Todd Richardson and Ron Richard and the teams they have built. Any comments that MAF will somehow "gum up" ethics reform because some liberal Republicans dislike us and want to retaliate with nonprofit MEC disclosure is ridiculous.

 

Help Wanted

“The Missouri School of Journalism and the Columbia Missourian, the teaching newspaper, are looking for an assistant professional practice professor and director of audience engagement.

 This position helps journalism students pursuing skills in analytics, social media and techniques to engage with the public to produce journalism. Students in the Participatory Journalism class come from all interest areas in the school, including Strategic Communication.

The Missourian’s community outreach team is about:

  • fostering two-way communication with our community
  • aggressively incorporating community voices that would otherwise be overlooked into our coverage
  • making “social” journalism be about more than just posting to Facebook and Twitter
  • encouraging reporters and editors to pursue an open, transparent approach to doing journalism
  • keeping the newsroom involved in conversations after a story has published
  • seeking and incorporating feedback from our audience into our decision making…

 The University of Missouri is fully committed to achieving the goal of a diverse and inclusive academic community of faculty, staff and students. We seek individuals who are committed to this goal and our core campus values of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence…

See the ad here.

 

Today’s Events

Powered by Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

Rep. Sue Allen and House 100 Candidate Mike Allen – Sunset Country Club, 9555 Geyer – St. Louis – 5:30PM.

AG Chris Koster Reception – Home of Rep. Mike Colona, St. Louis 5:30PM.

House 70 Candidate Byron DeLear – Frederick’s Steakhouse & Pizzeria, 12490 St. Charles Rock Road Bridgeton, MO 63044, 5:30PM.

Rep. Cloria Brown Reception – Reinhold Electric, 2511 Lemay Ferry Rd. – St. Louis – 6:30PM.

 

Federal Filings

On the November report of the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee, Peter Herschend is listed as contributing $10,000.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Matt Hill and Kailey Burger.