Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ferguson

Post-Dispatch continued unrest in Ferguson though with some moderation last night.  Read it here.

 

A Ferguson Legislative Agenda

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed outlines a possible Ferguson legislative agenda in her statement yesterday…

“There are no more words to describe this tragic situation that have not already been said. My very heart goes out to Michael Brown's family. But what we need to recognize on this day is that, despite the grand jury's decision, those who have stood for justice since the beginning will continue to reshape our communities by our positive actions and our strength.

As a legislator, one of my roles is to restructure our city through policy. As we get closer to the beginning of the next legislative session, I will continue to work on bills that will help our city heal. I will be sponsoring a few pieces of legislation that will work toward that goal.

One would dissolve all the villages that exist currently in St. Louis County and place the governance of those villages under the authority of unincorporated St. Louis County.

The second would tighten current statute regarding the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer.

Yet another, calls for a special prosecutor to be named in the event of any law-enforcement-officer-involved shooting.

We stand at a turning point in history. How we move forward is up to us…”

 

Different Lens

If They Were Deer Hunters…

Sean Nicholson on Twitter flags a Rep. Wanda Brown rant about the lawlessness in Ferguson and how it compares to zealous Department of Conservation agents.  See it here.

 

Blame McCulloch

The St. Louis American, the black weekly newspaper of St. Louis, has an editorial blaming St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch for “enflaming” the situation. Read it here.

“St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch chose to announce the grand jury decision in the Police Officer Darren Wilson case in the dark of the night on Monday, November 24. He did this knowing that the grand jury’s decision – that there is no probable cause to charge Wilson with a crime in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown Jr. – would inflame the Brown family and their many supporters... [He] did this knowing that this protest movement, when enflamed, can take on a very different nocturnal character… The result of McCulloch’s choices was an unmitigated disaster. Brown’s family went blind with grief and rage, as anyone with a brain and a heart could have predicted they would, and the community convulsed around them… Some of these outside agitators are seasoned riot chasers who seize any opportunity to fight the police at militant protests and who favor the rhetoric of fire and the practice of arson. This incredibly volatile mix of ingredients, handled by someone as brazen and reckless as McCulloch, exploded on West Florissant Avenue and South Florissant Road on Monday night and burned to the ground…”

 

Blame Nixon

“At a news conference in the late afternoon, Governor Jay Nixon was asked about this nighttime announcement. In an answer that was consistent with his generally clueless performance throughout this crisis, Nixon said the decision to announce the decision at night was made solely by McCulloch. In other words, don't ask him! He's only the governor!”

 

The Sin of Silence

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal’s statement chastises/prays for bystanders: “The events and mismanaged actions that led to last night’s violence are intolerable. However, I find those that portray themselves to be our allies in urban areas, yet remained silent for 108 days, are a disgrace to humanity. I pray for those bystanders that said or did nothing in all this time…”

 

Where Are The Conservatives?

I’ve been surprised than more small government types still don’t view a police officer killing an unarmed American citizen as a form of lawlessness also…

 

My Own Meandering Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

I have always been fascinated how small – seemingly meaningless – decisions or acts can profoundly alter one’s course.  It happens in novels and movies a lot, but also in real life.

I think of the events that led me to meet my wife for example.  I can trace it back several years earlier when I invited a stranger to a dinner party – and even years before that when I met the friend who later would suggest I invite that stranger.

When I read Dorian Johnson’s grand jury testimony yesterday I found myself marveling how the small inconsequential acts sometimes aren’t.  Johnson was Michael Brown’s friend.  And he heads out on the morning of Brown’s death to get his girlfriend some breakfast and buy a cigar to make a blunt to smoke some weed.

He’s planning to buy that cigar from some dude in the building complex where he lives, but instead gets to talking with Brown and engrossed in the conversation, without realizing it he walks instead to the store… putting them and their lives into an intersection with Darren Wilson.

And now we have fires in Ferguson…

Maybe we get the fires regardless.  Perhaps the environment was so ripe for an eruption and any thousands of possible events could have set it off.  Like a forest fire – lightning will strike even if you can’t predict when exactly.  Perhaps I’d have met my wife anyway through some other series of events.

Who knows.  But here we are.

 

Not long after the Michael Brown shooting, there was another kid killed by a cop, though off-duty at the time.  This time it was in south St. Louis, a few blocks from the school my kids attend.

At a parent meeting to discuss the killing, there was a wide range of thoughts and emotions on display.  I found myself feeling… I have no other words… hard-hearted.

There had been a shooting on my block a few days before.  But the kid didn’t die – shot twice in the leg – and the shooter wasn’t a policeman (it was the gas station clerk).  It was no big news. I don’t even think it made the paper.  That’s how routine shootings are in St. Louis.  I’ve become numb to it.  I said to another parent, “Yeah it sucks these kids are getting shot, but it feels like math to me: you put enough guns in a small enough space, people will get shot.”

The kids got guns. The cops got guns.  The clerks got guns. Everyone’s got guns.  It’s not surprising to me that they use them.  Heck, the old lady I bought my house from fifteen years ago was selling in part because she’d had her house broken into and they stole her gun!

What I thought but didn’t say was, “Our legislature will never help the urban areas with their gun problem; there’s no point in thinking you can change it.”

I will be reading (or not reading) about gun shootings every week for the rest of my life. It is as much a certainty in my life as the sun rising and setting. Being hard-hearted about it saves my emotional energy for the rest of my life.

 

Some of these inevitable shootings will involve police of course.  And despite Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s admirable attempt to envision a legislative agenda which improves the way these matters are handled (see above), I imagine that the ghost of this tragedy will be present for a generation.

That consequence for Missouri policy makers is that – insomuch as Ferguson in St. Louis County is equated with St. Louis in the national consciousness, and the images of arson, looting, and lawlessness are seared into the same national consciousness – each shooting of the future will bring a reprise of this saga.

One cost in this scenario will be economic.  It will be a slow economic apocalypse of sorts, so slow can be denied as it happens.  St. Louis loses a few notches in the national pecking order.  Businesses are harder to recruit; talent sets up shop elsewhere; capital factors in additional risk.  The drag is almost invisible, but its toll on the state’s economic engine will be real.

 

Fundraising Calendar

Fundraising events from Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:

November 28: Rep. Joe Don McGaugh Tailgate/pre-birthday celebrate – Lot W corner of Tiger Ave & Rollins – 8am-1:30pm

November 30: MO Democratic Party Reception, Senate Project at Chief’s game.

 

$5K+ Contributions

UTU-PAC - $5,300 from United Transportation Union PAC.

Hanaway for Governor - $10,000 from Rex Sinquefield.

 

Happy Birthday

Happy birthdays to Jane Dueker, and Committeeman Damon Jones.

Thanksgiving:  Ward Cook.

Friday: Reps. Jeff Messenger (65) and Ed Schieffer (65).

Saturday: Reps. Joe Don McGaugh (31) and Mike Bernskoetter (55), and Peggy Nalls.

Sunday: Lara Granich and Alison Gee.

 

MOScout News

Missouri Scout will be taking Thanksgiving vacation starting… now.  Skipping Friday, no rummage Saturday, no poll Sunday, see you all Monday.  Then we’ll be in December and the polls will be back and we’ll be gearing up for session.  Have a good Thanksgiving everyone!