Monday, December 9, 2013

KC Star: Another Nicastro Conspiracy?

The fire from critics of DESE Comission Chris Nicastro got another log or two over the weekend as the Kansas City Star ran a report of a “hidden plan” to “wipe clean” the Kansas City School District.  Read it here.

Pull Quote:  Revelations in emails obtained by The Star and dating to April show a state education department eager to create a new school system, even as the long-beleaguered but stabilized district was preparing to celebrate its best academic improvement in years…


In mid-August, days before the state’s district report cards were to be released to the public showing a surprisingly high score for Kansas City, a CEE-Trust partner shared his talking points with Nicastro and staff debunking the performance of a district where 70 percent of the students still perform below proficiency.


“It suggests a conspiracy against our success,” said Kansas City Superintendent Steve Green


“We’re after new ideas,” Nicastro told The Star on Friday. “It’s hard when people look backwards. We have to rethink how we teach children. What if we could start with a blank sheet of paper?”

New Grow Missouri IP

In another variation on their theme, Aaron Willard, executive director of the low-tax advocacy group Grow Missouri has submitted another initiative petition to the secretary of state.  It is open for public comment.  See it here.

It would lower the state income tax to 4.9%, and authorize the legislature to raise the sales tax to compensate for revenue shortfalls.  And its definition of income exempts many types of business income (S corps, partnerships, trust income for example).


Where’s the new HB 253?  Nothing so far that I can see in the House pre-files that would be what the tax cut proponents promised: an early, cleaned-up version of the vetoed bill from last session.

On the Move: Wedel to Exit House Dems

Minority Leader Jake Hummel sent an email to his House Democratic Caucus late last week saying that his chief of staff Ted Wedel was resigning, effective in January.

Aside from being a popular figure within the Democratic caucus, Wedel has served several minority leaders previously – Mike Talboy, Paul LeVota, and Jeff Harris.  Additionally his previous stints in the Holden administration and as the House’s general counsel and House’s chief clerk gave him a keen understanding of the levers and limits of the minority’s powers which will be difficult to replace.

Guernsey Gets Attention for License Plates

Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan wrote a piece yesterday about Rep. Casey Guernsey using old state representative plates.  See it here.

While it’s hard to imagine that a negative slam in the “big-city” Post would be anything other than helpful to a rural politician in Senate 12, McClellan’s column makes Guernsey sound entitled and out-of-touch: ignoring traffic laws, cutting into line, dismissing his constituent’s and colleague’s concern, and brushing off a reporter’s inquiry.


Tipster: Hall Will Be Back at PSC

Daniel Hall will be re-nominated as soon as legislature leaves. If his nomination had been in play while Senate in session, they would have needed to confirm him. If not confirmed he could never be reappointed.  Rumor is he went on the Department of Natural Resources payroll for a week.”


Lesinski-Conway Rematch

Terry Lesinski started a campaign committee to run for House 104 as a Democrat.  The current incumbent is Republican Rep. Kathie Conway.  It’s a Republican district, though not overwhelmingly so.

Lesinski ran against Conway in 2012, losing 43.6%-56.4%.

New Transportation Tax Committee

Missouri Transportation PAC was formed last week, and immediately had contributions from legislators who favor levying a tax to pay for highway improvements in the state.   See contributions from Sens. Tom Dempsey, Mike Kehoe, and Ryan McKenna below in the “5K+ Contributions.”

The treasurer of the committee is Charlie Kruse, former president of the Farm Bureau.

Lobbyist Registrations

From the Pelopidas website:

John Britton, Jennifer Durham, and John Durham deleted MO Economic Development Association; and added Consumer Electronics Association.

James Harris deleted Human Society of the United States.

Philip Baker added Coakley Strategic Solutions LLC, Retail Bankers Association, Aligned Resources Group LLC, an Baker Partners LLC.

Jeffery Hardin added Citizens for Community Improvement.

Michael E Ryno added Link Jefferson City.

Andrew B Blunt and Jay Reichard deleted Amaya Gaming Group Inc.


Missouri Transportation PAC - $10,000 from Dempsey for Senate.

Missouri Transportation PAC - $10,000 from Rudolph Farber.

Missouri Transportation PAC - $5,001 from Friends of Ryan McKenna.

Missouri Transportation PAC - $5,001 from Citizens to Elect Mike Kehoe.

Citizens for Steve Stenger - $5,005 from McCulloch for Prosecutor Committee.

Missourians for Children’s Education - $10,000 from Michael Mooney.

Missourians for Koster - $10,000 from Bommarito West County.

Notes on Money

Rudolph Faber is a businessman and former chair of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Committee.


Former state senator Jeff Smith (the big 4-0).