Monday, December 18, 2017

Q&A#1:  How Should We Grade Greitens’ First Year in Office?

Short answer:  Delivered a few homeruns, but Wins Above Replacement number is pretty low.


Those who say that Governor Eric Greitens has had a poor first year (one Republican graded his year as a “C- at best”) usually start with the assertion that any Republican governor would have achieved his “major” accomplishments.  One observer explained that Mickey Mouse – assuming Mickey’s a Republican – could have signed right to work and the tort reform bills.

And – they go farther – if Greitens had just been a neutral plain vanilla Republican sitting on the second floor, instead of a blow-horn, Facebookin’ gov obliviously blowing up the Senate, you’d have gotten much more done this first year.

This comment sums up this view: I would say “missed opportunities” defines the year. What were his successes. RTW? TNCs? Those would have passed under any GOP governor and are attributed to the years of work from Ron Richard and Todd Richardson respectively. So what sets him apart? What makes him unique from what a Hannaway, Brunner, or Kinder administration would have looked like? What actual unique accomplishments are his?

Certainly his clumsy attempts at Ed Reform, his prickly relationship with the legislature (or all-out war with the senate), and his secretive nature (New Missouri, Confide, etc) stand out as unique but none of them have advanced either the party or his personal ambitions.


But several MOScouters offer highlights of the first year that have been overlooked by others.

These include: sticking to his guns on SB 43, a bill that was controversial but highly desired by many business leaders; Solid cabinet appointments like Anne Precythe (Corrections), and Carol Comer (DNR); Worked well with judiciary and getting high caliber judges appointed; Where he’s failed to move the legislature – on ethics reform and a prescription drug monitoring program – he’s offered weaker version via executive order; He’s working to eliminate rules and regulations in every state agency; And while demonstrations haven’t stopped it’s unarguable that the “Stockley situation” went much better than Ferguson.

Plus one lobbyist writes: He brought in the final votes necessary to pass charter school accountability/expansion in the House. It died in the Senate but it was a bright spot in his legislative interaction. He shut down LIHTC - something Jay Nixon always wanted to, but never had the fortitude to do. And, as ugly as the process may look, he is replacing a status quo Commissioner of Education with an aggressive reformer.



Looking ahead, here are the challenges he faces next year…

Can he offer leadership to the St. Louis protests and bring the folks together around common ground police reforms?

Can he close the deal and land a big employer for southeast Missouri?

Can repair his relationships in the Senate enough to get more priority bills this session?

Can he navigate another tight budget year?

Can he take leadership of the RTW referendum battle so that rival GOP consultants aren’t fighting over who gets what campaign money?

Can he stop missing the easy lay-ups

Politically, one observer says he “probably needs to put an emphasis on beating Claire McCaskill and Nicole Galloway, [but also] set the tone that meaningful opposition to him in 2020 is a waste of time for real candidates…”

Finally, it’s never too early to start thinking about legacy.  You leave a legacy by tackling the issues others have kicked down the road.  Will Greitens get serious about the tough issues?

In the words of one lamenting Republican: The factors are all there for tremendous change and policy advancement... we control all levers of government and we are no closer to solving the big problem of our state: roads, higher education, economic development, healthcare, etc than a year ago…


Rumorville: Willis to Leave Speaker’s Office

Word is that David Willis, chief of staff for Todd Richardson, will be leaving the speaker’s office early next year and start a lobbying career…


St. Louis County Council Splitsville

The mighty Jason Rosenbaum talks with Don Marsh about the contentious nature of the St. Louis County Council.  See it here.

Pull Quote: The St. Louis County Council slashed $31 million dollars from County Executive Steve Stenger's 2018 budget proposal. Rosenbaum said, historically, the St. Louis County executive had a lot of power when it came to crafting the county’s budget, while the council took an advisory role. “And in this instance, since the council is effectively stacked with Stenger antagonists, [the council is] taking the lead,” Rosenbaum said. However, the Council increased its own budget to increase its audits of the administration.

What It Means

In most any jurisdiction this would be political theater.  However, St. Louis County is the largest county in the state, generating the greatest economic output.  This situation – a deteriorating relationship between the county executive and county council has some business leaders rattled.

I heard about it back when St. Louis was putting together a proposal for Amazon.  To them this smells of fighting over piece of the pie instead of civic leaders are on the same team focused on growing the size of the pie.


Budget Outlook

Budget watchers expect a consensus revenue number to emerge this week.  The number – a collaboration between the governor’s office and the legislature – will forecast expected revenue growth, and guide the budget process.  One difficulty this year with conjuring up a revenue forecast is the uncertainty arising from the federal tax rewrite.

However my understanding is that folks now are thinking the impact from the federal changes will not be as drastic as first feared.  We are out of the $700 million to $1 billion ballpark and in Professor Joseph Haslag’s $100 million-ish range.  (Haslag wasn’t cra-cra after all?).  Having a potentially bigger impact will be the continued phase-in of the state tax from 2014’s SB 509….


Twitter Ads Against Galloway

Twitter ads are being run against Nicole GallowaySee a screen capture of one hereHere’s the account linked to the ads.  The assumption is that these are being run by Missouri Alliance for Freedom which has been in a sunshine tussle with the Auditor’s Office.  But that’s not certain because there’s no “paid for” disclosure on the ads.

And apparently until the legislature updates the ethics laws to relate to the digital arena, that’s legal.  From Section 130.031

  1. Any person publishing, circulating, or distributing any printed matter relative to any candidate for public office or any ballot measure shall on the face of the printed matter identify in a clear and conspicuous manner the person who paid for the printed matter with the words "Paid for by" followed by the proper identification of the sponsor pursuant to this section.  For the purposes of this section, "printed matter" shall be defined to include any pamphlet, circular, handbill, sample ballot, advertisement, including advertisements in any newspaper or other periodical, sign, including signs for display on motor vehicles, or other imprinted or lettered material…



Rudi Keller does a deep dive in the low-income housing tax credits.  See it here.  Pull Quote: Before the 2016 Republican primary for governor, Greitens asked for a contribution, [developer Jeff] Smith said. At the time, Smith had contributed to [Peter] Kinder and former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway. “There was a request (from Greitens) and I personally did not make a contribution,” he said…


And low-income housing tax credit advocates took to twitter to pummel First Lady Sheena Greitens after she photo-oped homeless children after the affordable housing tax credits were cut.  See it here.


KTVO reports on fall-out from Greitens’ appointees firing DESE topper Margie Vandeven.  See it here with quotes from Rep. Nate Walker.


Austin Chambers shakes fist at Delta.  See it here. [I]t would be nice if your diamond phone line would stop hanging up….


Help Wanted

Victory Enterprises seeks Digital Account Strategist.  “Victory Enterprises' award-winning digital division is hiring a digital account strategist in our St. Louis office. Awarded the 2016 Best Overall Digital Campaign for a Republican firm, VE has a job opening for a full-time employee with benefits working with a variety of political candidates and causes located across the country. Our digital strategists work in a collaborative environment developing cutting-edge digital strategies and content for our clients. Strong writing and time management skills are a must. For more information, e-mail Joe Lakin at”


Lobbyists Registrations

Shanon Hawk added BJC Healthcare  Systems.

Jeremy LaFaver added South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

James Farrell deleted City of St. Louis, and Brown & Associates.


$5K+ Contributions

7th District Congressional Republican Committee - $10,000 from Believe in Life Liberty Yourself Billy PAC.

Mantovani for STL - $10,000 from Barrett Station Partners LLC.

Mantovani for STL - $10,000 from Bob O’Brien.



Happy birthdays to Kevin Elmer, Derrick Good and Dennis Fowler.