Legislature Wrapup

23 May

The Missouri legislative session ended on Friday the 13th. Here is a recap of how our representatives voted on certain measures during the last few weeks of the session. On many measures, all local GOP representatives, or all reps (including the one Democrat) voted the same way on a bill. I generally don’t mention those bills.

Paycheck protection: This was already vetoed by the governor, and it was back for override votes. It failed in the Senate by one vote. Paul Wieland switched from a no the first time around to a yes on the override, and Gary Romine went from absent to voting no. The House votes were the same as the first time, with Becky Ruth, Elaine Gannon, and lone Democrat Ben Harris voting no. Here’s a Missouri Times article on Gannon and Romine and their status as pro-union Republicans.

Medical marijuana: A bill to allow its use only by cancer patients in hospice ultimately failed in the House. It actually passed what is called a perfection vote 91-59, with all JeffCo reps voting yes, except Ruth who was absent. But on the third reading two days later, it failed 66-87. Though many reps flip-flopped, the JeffCo reps stayed with their votes (Ruth was absent again). But a broader medical marijuana initiative is likely to be on the ballot this fall.

Ethanol inventive extension: This bill to extend the subsidy through 2020 passed the House 104-47, but did not get a final vote in the Senate. This is an issue that divides conservatives, and two local GOP Reps, Rob Vescovo and John McCaherty, voted no, while the rest of the JeffCo delegation supported it.

Critchlow law: Vescovo’s bill regarding the use of administrative leave for public employees passed both houses this year after falling short in the Senate last year. It requires a hearing within 60 days of an employee being placed on administrative leave. In the original House vote this year, Ruth, Gannon, and Harris voted no. The Senate amended the bill and passed it unanimously, and on the subsequent House vote all JeffCo reps supported the bill.

Sheriff Rep on 911 Board

16 May

JeffCo Sheriff Glenn Boyer, who is stepping down from that job after this fall’s election, has also stepped down from the Jefferson County 911 Dispatch Board of Directors, on which he has sat since 1990, according to the May 5 Leader. Undersheriff Steve Meinberg, 2nd in command at the sheriff’s office, was appointed to replace him at the April 25 911 board meeting. He was selected over a couple of individuals who have graced these pages before: former state representative Jeff Roorda and Crystal City administrator Jason Eisenbeis.

Meinberg said “it’s important to be a representative of the Sheriff’s Office on the board because we are the largest user of 911 services.” That begs a question:

Meinberg is running to replace Boyer as sheriff in the November election. There are several GOP challengers, one who will be selected in the August primary to take on Meinberg (primary preview here). If Meinberg loses, one assumes that the new sheriff will appoint his own person to be 2nd in command, and it would be advisable and well within his rights to do so. In that case, will Meinberg step down from the 911 board (his term runs until April 2018)? If it is important for the sheriff’s office to have representation on the board, that is what he will do if he loses the election.

Wieland Exposes Boyer on Vet Appointment

10 May

I am way overdue on writing this post, since the events happened a month ago, but I’ve been busy with the lawn and yard. I would still like to get this on the record, however.

This episode all started when JeffCo Sheriff Glenn Boyer (D) went complaining to his buddies at the Leader about how state Senator Paul Wieland (R, 22nd district) was blocking Boyer’s appointment to the Missouri Veterans Commission. Boyer howled that he was being blocked for political reasons, since he endorsed defender-of-rogue-cops Jeff Roorda in the 2014 Senate race that Wieland won. And if that was the reason, that would have been fine. That’s politics. Boyer can’t be political when it suits him (like with the Obama truth squad) and then turn around and be apolitical.

In the original Leader article on February 18, Wieland would not comment on why he was blocking the nomination. Only in late March, in an interview on KJFF radio, did he open up. It turns out that his house was burgled in early February, and he did not want to engage in a public fight while the sheriff’s office was investigating, which I think was a wise choice.

When Wieland did speak, he pointed out that state law governs appointments to the vets commission. RSMo 42.007.3 says:

The governor shall make appointments to the commission from lists of nominees recommended by each of the statewide veterans’ organizations incorporated in this state, chartered by Congress, or authorized under Title 38, United States Code.

It turns out no such organization nominated Boyer. The governor did produce a letter dated 1-6-15 from the state VFW commander nominating Boyer, but Wieland said nobody ever showed him this letter, according to the April 14 Leader. Wieland says some vets groups said they did not, in fact, want Boyer (to protect them, Wieland did not name them). In all his caterwauling, Boyer has never really addressed the fact that the law was not followed. One would think that a lawman would be concerned about that sort of thing.

Boyer also falsely claimed that keeping him off the commission was somehow preventing a state veteran’s home from being built in Jefferson County. This despite the fact that a) JeffCo already has a rep on the commission, and b) a new state veteran’s home is absolutely not in the cards. While Leader editorial page editor Pat Martin, a Boyer fanboy, admitted no home was in the works, he refused to criticize Boyer for saying that, and went so far as to devote his full-page column on March 10 to attacking a letter writer who criticized Boyer.

Leadership 101

Incidentally (or not), Wieland’s stolen items were not recovered, even though he has a GPS hit from a phone that was taken. Boyer claims that a detective did not listen to a voice mail Wieland left him for several days after it was sent. Wieland said “this makes the Sheriff’s Office look pitiful,” which is very true. Boyer acknowledges that the case was a big fail whale, but he turned around and blamed Lt. Dave Marshak, the north zone commander, because this happened in his zone. Boyer also pointed out “oh, by the way, he is running for sheriff as a Republican.”

So not only do you have a case where the leader of an organization is publicly blaming his subordinate for a failure, but he is doing it in the hopes of influencing an election in which Boyer has endorsed his undersheriff, a Democrat. But I thought Boyer wasn’t playing politics! Is this the kind of leadership we want to perpetuate at the sheriff’s office? Now we see why Wieland was careful not to put others at risk of political reprisals. (On a related note, I heard a story just the other day of a relative of Boyer allegedly getting arrested while driving drunk but being allowed to merely sleep it off.)

An arrest was made and charges were filed in the Wieland burglary, but only in St. Louis. The JeffCo prosecutors office, run by Forrest Wegge (D) is not filing charges. Hmm…

SJR 39 Stopped -Probably a Good Thing

29 Apr

SJR 39 is the measure that would have”granted greater legal protections under the Missouri constitution to clergy and wedding vendors who decline to participate in a same-sex wedding.” It received a tie vote in a House committee Wednesday, which probably means it is dead. Had it passed the House, it would have gone to a vote of the people. (It passed the Senate in March after a long filibuster; JeffCo Senators Paul Wieland and Gary Romine voted yes.)

While I agree with the motivation behind this bill, the potential negative repercussions are too much. Witness what happened in North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi recently and previously in Indiana; businesses protested and cancelled projects, performers cancelled concerts, and nationwide negative attention rained down. Is this bill worth all that?

Plus, some have said this bill was poorly drafted in a way that would not make it through the courts and would be too broad. If the Legislature wants to pass this bill, it needs to be narrow and airtight.

I agree with the sentiments of Missouri Republican governor candidate Eric Greitens, who said:

“I don’t believe this legislation is the right approach,” Greitens said in a statement. “I oppose SJR 39 because I believe that while it is well-intentioned, it could unintentionally threaten our economy and job creation.

“Here in Missouri, we are already 47th in job growth and 42nd in wage growth. We simply cannot afford more policies from Jeff City that have the potential to kill jobs.”

In general, I question whether the Legislature does enough to fix the numbers Greitens cites, instead spending too much time creating small, incremental changes in things like gun and abortion law and passing bills like this one. With its supermajorities in both chambers, Republicans have a rare opportunity to enact sweeping conservative economic, budgetary, and regulatory change.

At the same time, the GOP on a national and state level should perhaps rethink its approach towards big business. Given the way corporations are sabotaging efforts to enact these religious freedom bills, perhaps their requests for TIFs, subsidies, and tax breaks should be denied. This stuff is corporate welfare that doesn’t really help the economy anyway; but it definitely should not be awarded to companies that make public threats related to bills like this.

JeffCo GOP Caucus Report

10 Apr

Republicans across Missouri gathered Saturday for county caucuses, the first step in choosing delegates for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Jefferson County Republicans met at Windsor High School.

caucus

The caucuses take on extra importance this year, even though Missouri had a primary, because of the possibility of an open convention if Donald Trump does not get the necessary delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot. If that happens, delegates are then free on later ballots to vote for who they like, so Trump and Ted Cruz are jockeying to get their supporters selected as delegates. These county caucuses are the first step in choosing Missouri’s 52 delegates to the national convention, 37 of which Trump won via the primary vote.

In the primary, Trump won JeffCo with 49% of the vote to Cruz’s 38%.

The 2012 JeffCo GOP caucus was surrounded by controversy between the establishment and Ron Paul supporters. This was in the back of many people’s mind coming in to today (especially those who brought snacks – the 2012 caucus lasted nine hours).

How it Went Down

The caucus, which was scheduled to start at 10, did not get underway until 10:45 due to delays in getting the final number of attendees tabulated. Part of this was due to having to sign in those who arrived close to 10:00 and part was apparently due to issues with the voter data sent from the county clerk’s office. More on this later. It was declared that 162 people were registered, but that two had already left. But when the district numbers were added, they only came to 157. The body agreed to go with that number.

Things were a bit more complicated in JeffCo due to the fact that we are split up between three Congressional districts – the 2nd, 3rd, and 8th. After the county caucuses come the congressional district and state conventions; each of which get to choose some national delegates. So at the JeffCo caucus we had to select 6 slates, one for each district to both conventions. But in reality each district selected the same slate twice to send forward.

County councilman Bob Boyer was selected as caucus chairman, as he was in 2012, then it was on to the delegate selection. Attendees were divided up into three seating areas, one for each Congressional district. In each district, two slates were proposed: a “Make America Great Again” pro-Trump slate stocked with local elected officials, county GOP committee members, and activists, and a second slate, which became the “Make America Really Great Again” slate, made up of pro-Trump relative outsiders (with a couple of exceptions).

In the 2nd district, which was allotted 12 delegates by the state party, the outsider slate submission (a printed sheet containing names and addresses) was disqualified before the vote because it contained a duplicate name. Therefore, the establishment slate, which included five current/former/future Arnold city council members, Bob Boyer, and Ken Horton (current treasurer candidate and former Tea Party leader), had no opposition and was selected.

In the 3rd district (34 delegates), both slates were disqualified, the outsider one for having another duplicate name and the establishment one for having the aforementioned Ken Horton on it (at an old address – he is no longer in the 3rd district). Since this left no slates to be considered, both sides got to fix and resubmit their lists. Dave Day, speaking for the outsider slate, spoke to the crowd about how his list was tried and true Trump supporters, not establishment members. Derrick Good, speaking for the establishment slate, defended his slate as the people who work for the party to get candidates elected. He said he was tired of the negativity towards the establishment, and proclaimed his own support for Trump from day one, including an unsuccessful attempt to win a position as Trump’s state director. His slate included three state representatives, Senator Paul Wieland, and county executive Ken Waller (these individuals, some of whom have endorsed Cruz, were not present). A vote was held, and the outsider slate won by one vote.

Almost immediately, a question arose, and much conversation was taking place around the head table. From what I was able to gather, a caucus attendee was seated with the wrong district, thanks to some or other confusion, in part related to data from the county clerk. Discussion took place on what to do with this newfound information, leading outsiders to think “here we go again, they are trying to steal our victory.” In the end, we moved on, but it sounds like this slate could possibly be challenged in an appeal to the state party. It seems to me that the mistake, found at a convenient time, was noticed too late and the slate selection should stand.

caucus2a

Photo via Mark Paul

In the 8th district (18 delegates), the establishment slate won by a wide margin. So in the end, two establishment slates won, but the outsider slate that won has more delegates than the other two combined (because most of JeffCo is in the 3rd district).

The above is what I saw and heard at the caucus. If I made any errors, please let me know.

Platform Considerations

I did not stay for all of the proposed amendments to the draft state GOP platform, but here were some that I heard, along with the vote results. Successful amendments get passed on with the selected delegates to the next conventions.

  • Make Missouri’s primaries closed (so only registered Democrats/Republicans can vote in them). Since Missouri voters don’t declare a party when registering, this would require some major changes. This would stop candidates like Trump, who draws many independent and Democratic voters. This would give the party more control over who wins the primary, but it would keep out the types of crossover voters that help the party win general elections. This amendment passed by a large margin.
  • Use paper ballots in elections. This is based on fears of hacking and manipulation of voting machines, which also have no paper backup. This passed unanimously.
  • An amendment to remove right to work from the state platform was proposed by Arnold councilman Jason Fulbright. JeffCo is home to many pro-union GOP elected officials. This vote ended in a tie, which meant that it failed.
  • Disallow individuals found by the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) to have an ethics violation (mostly these are for campaign rule violations) from being GOP delegates. This, I believe, was aimed at county GOP central committee members who were found to have violated campaign finance rules in 2012. The argument against this was a claim that it was easy to get an MEC violation, for things like not putting “paid for by” information on campaign signs. This amendment failed by a large margin.

Some April 5 Election Endorsements

31 Mar

Yeah, I know, we just voted a couple of weeks ago, but it is time to vote again in the low-turnout municipal elections. But these elections are important. There are many tax increases on the ballot, along with local politicians, some who like to raise taxes, raise spending, and file or allow the settlement of lawsuits against local cities. With that in mind, I would like to offer some endorsement. In some cases, I will provide the reasoning behind my endorsement.

Fox School Board

  • Michael Booker – understands that Fox needs to regain the public’s trust
  • Not Dan Kroupa

Arnold City Council

  • Ward 1 – EJ Fleischmann
  • Ward 2 – John Brazeal – will provide an independent, critical voice for transparency and good decision making in city government
  • Ward 3 – two bad choices

Antonia Fire

  • Preston Haglin – fiscal responsibility

JeffCo Health Dept

  • Preston Haglin – fiscal responsibility, limited government

Pevely Board of Aldermen

  • Ward 1 – Erin Kasten
  • Ward 2 – Linda Hahn

Rock Fire

  • Cathy Woolridge

Hillsboro School Board

  • 3 year term:- Dennis Bradley – to hold the administration accountable

Rock Ambulance

  • Charles Groeteke

August Primaries Set

29 Mar

The filing deadline has passed for the August 2 primary election. Let’s review the local races.

Legislature

Three legislators who represent parts of JeffCo will run unopposed in August and November. They are Senator Gary Romine (R, 3rd district, Farmington), Becky Ruth (R, 114th, Festus), and Ben Harris (D, 118th, Hillsboro). Legislative candidates can be found here.

Shane Roden (R, 111th, Cedar Hill) will face four primary opponents: Jason Jarvis, who Roden beat in the 2014 primary 60% to 40%, Ryan Jones, Gary Bonacker, and Tammy Orzel. Quite a crowded field.

Rob Vescovo (R, 112th, Arnold) will have a rematch with Democrat Robert Butler in November, a rematch of 2014, when Vescovo won 60% to 40%.

Two Democrats will face off for the right to run against Dan Shaul (R, 113th, Imperial). They are Mike Evans and Karen Settlemoir-Berg.

Elaine Gannon (R, 115th, De Soto) will face Barbara Stocker (D) and a Libertarian candidate, Charles Bigelow, in November.

John McCaherty (R, 97th, High Ridge) will be opposed only by a Libertarian candidate, Tracy Scott, in November.

County Races

I wrote about the August county races here, but let’s do an update. County candidates can be found here.

County councilwoman Renee Reuter (R, 2nd district, Imperial) will face Democrat Roger Hendrix in November.

In addition to Flat Top Rorabacher, George Engelbach (R, 4th, Hillsboro) will have another primary opponent, with a rematch of the 2012 primary against Charles Groeteke. Then, Engelbach won by all of 4 votes. Groeteke must have found a few more friends since then. I’m not sure why Groeteke feels the need to challenge a sitting councilman, but that’s what he’s doing. The winner of this faces former state representative Jeff Roorda.

In council district 6, Democrat Cliff Lane is stepping down. Running to replace him are Democrat Richard Henry and Republicans Kevin Weaver and Dan Stallman (a former sheriff’s deputy and candidate for sheriff who is currently on the county GOP committee).

Three Republicans are running for the open county assessor seat: current councilman Bob Boyer, Mary Dunnegan, and Cary Blum. The winner will take on Todd Melkus, Democrat, who works in the assessor’s office.

 

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