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Roorda Embattled as Cop Union Manager

19 Feb

Having been knocked out of the political game due to Jefferson County’s rapid shift from a blue to a red county, Jeff Roorda is now facing heavy criticism in his role as business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA), where he is the de facto spokesman for metro area police and the go-to guy for cable news shows looking for a controversial commentator. Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger puts it starkly in this latest column: The Fire Roorda bandwagon grows — St. Louis cops deserve a better voice.

The latest round of criticism of Roorda includes the mayoral candidate that was endorsed by SLPOA, Lyda Krewson, calling on the union to fire him. Criticism of Roorda has been heavy since the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, an event which Roorda parlayed into two books and countless cable news appearances, during which he aims not for common ground but for provocation (this is probably why he keeps getting invited back). This role, which I imagine many in Jefferson County support, did not help him overcome the local GOP wave, as he lost a state Senate race in 2014 and a Jefferson County council race in 2016.

Krewson’s call and Messenger’s column were prompted by this Facebook post by Roorda about St. Louis mayor candidate Tishaura Jones (who is currently second to Krewson in the polls):

roorda-post-tishaura

Krewson, the only white candidate in the race with a shot to win, is late to the game among those running for mayor in denouncing Roorda. He was a major topic at a late January mayoral debate, where Krewson was booed after she denounced Roorda’s various comments but would not call for his firing (which she now has).

The primary election is on March 7, and the Democrat nominee will be rubber-stamped to victory on April 4. Will Roorda last that long in his current job?

roorda-cooper

I love this photo.

Shoving Suit

Roorda has a problem on another front as well. He is being sued over a 2015 incident at a packed, heated St. Louis board of aldermen committee hearing when he allegedly shoved a female as he made his way to the front of the room (see video, which is open to interpretation, at the above link). The plaintiff is asking for $500,000.

RTW Roll Call

3 Feb

The Missouri Legislature has passed right to work and sent it to the governor’s desk, where it is sure to be signed. Below I will record the votes of the JeffCo legislative contingent on right to work bills (HB 91 and SB 19). There are no surprises here; everyone voted as expected.

Senators

Wieland – No

Romine – No

Representatives

Gannon – No

Harris – No

McCaherty – No

Roden – No

Ruth – No

Shaul – Yes

Vescovo – Yes

House Bills Sponsored by JeffCo Reps

15 Jan

The Missouri legislative session is underway, and with GOP supermajorities in both houses and a GOP governor, we should expect a lot of big items to be passed in the next few months. I’m going to take a look here at what bills our local representatives are pushing. I will look at the activities of the two state senators that cover Jefferson County in a separate post.

Shane Roden, R, 111th district, Cedar Hill –  He has a bill allowing adult motorcycle riders to go helmetless if they have proof of health insurance (motorcycle helmet freedom is a big issue with him) and another bill concerning firefighters and cancer and hazardous duty. On another interesting note, he is cosponsoring a medical marijuana measure. Roden is a paramedic and firefighter.

John McCaherty, R, 97th, High Ridge – He also has a motorcycle helmet law, but it requires everyone under 21 to wear a helmet, while Roden’s bill only requires helmets for those under 18. McCaherty has a bill regarding custody of in vitro human embryos and one about school library media services programs. He is co-sponsoring a bill to add crimes against police to the hate crimes law.

Rob Vescovo, R, 112th, Arnold – He is the most active local rep as it pertains to bill filing, and has several significant bills. One would require public entities to issue bonds via public sale, or competitive bidding. I wrote here about a state auditor’s report that stated that this change would save Missouri taxpayers millions of dollars by forcing the financial companies that work with public entities to get the best deal on bonds.

Another Vescovo bill would prevent political subdivisions from giving preferential treatment to unionized companies in public construction projects (aka project labor agreements, which drive up costs to taxpayers). This bill was introduced last year but did not come to a vote.

Another bill requires written contracts for school superintendents and assistant superintendents, and limits the amount of  severance pay that these officials can receive. This will stop the outrageous payouts to disgraced superintendents like Fox’s Dianne Critchlow.

Vescovo is also co-sponsoring the hate crimes against police bill, and is cosponsoring a bill to modify rules about expert witness testimony at trial (implementing the Daubert standard).

Dan Shaul, R, 113th, Imperial – No bills at this time.

Becky Ruth, R, 114th, Festus – She is trying again this year to create a Waterways Trust Fund to divert money to ports. She also wants to add two new genetics diseases to newborn screening requirements (she has added other diseases in the past) and add a teacher to the State Board of Education. Finally, she has a bill to create a tax deductible First-time Home Buyer Savings Account. Ruth is a former teacher and a current realtor.

Elaine Gannon, R, 115th, DeSoto – She is sponsoring a resolution urging the creation of a Joachim Creek Joint Task Force to battle repeated flooding in DeSoto, and she has a bill making some minor adds to high school equivalency degree testing programs. Gannon is a former teacher.

Ben Harris, D, 118th, Hillsboro – No bills at this time.

Big Labor Power Waning in JeffCo

16 Nov

According to liberal Post-Dispatch columnist (is there any other kind)?) Tony Messenger, unsuccessful Missouri Democratic candidate for governor Chris Koster began his election day in Arnold, speaking to union grocery workers.

This is not too surprising, as JeffCo has long been seen as a union stronghold. But the results of Tuesday’s election suggest that those days are in the past.

One of the major issues of the gubernatorial campaign was right to work. GOP candidate Eric Greitens was all for it, while Koster was strongly against it. One would think that this would have made a big difference in our county. But Greitens carried Jefferson County by a 53.6 percent to 42.7 percent margin, even bigger than his statewide 51.3 – 45.4 win.

In local legislative races, two incumbent representatives who have cast votes in favor of right to work were on the ballot. Rob Vescovo, Republican in the 112th district, won a rematch with Robert Butler by a 59.6 percent t0 40.3 percent margin. Two years ago, Vescovo won with 60.0 percent of the vote, so his right to work support had virtually no effect on his margin of victory.

Likewise, Dan Shaul, Republican in the 113th district, won re-election by a 57.8 to 42.1 margin. Two years ago, he received 56.9 percent of the vote against an arguably weaker opponent. His foe this year, Karen Settlemoir-Berg, actually works for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

While most Republican legislators from JeffCo still oppose right to work (RTW), it is clear now that supporting it is not a career-killer for local politicians like it has been perceived to be in the past. But now that Missouri has a Republican governor, only a bare majority in the Legislature, instead of a veto-proof one, will be needed to pass a RTW law. It is likely that, in a few short months, RTW will be passed and signed and will be taken off the table as a political issue.

Is Jeff Roorda Campaigning for County Council?

27 Sep

Update: As of 10/6, I am seeing some Roorda signs along the roads of the 4th district.

November’s showdown for the district 4 seat on the county council features two familiar faces in JeffCo politics; former councilman and former Rock Ambulance board member Charles Groeteke on the GOP side and former state representative Jeff Roorda on the Democrat side.

Interestingly, I have not seen any evidence of a Roorda campaign. I have seen no signs, no website, no ads. I haven’t even seen a website smearing his opponent, like the one that popped up during Roorda’s 2012 race for state representative. Have you seen any of this, or seen him in any parades? Let me know in the comments. He has been on CNN a few times recently to defend cops involved in shootings. He has become CNN’s go-to guy for this duty. He also has a book coming out just after election day about what he calls the “war on police.”

One thing Roorda has been doing, however, is raising money. As of the beginning of this month, he had raised over $32,000, mostly from lawyers and unions, compared to $8,000 for Groeteke. But Roorda has only made about $7,000 in expenditures (not including over $8,000 in loan repayments to himself and his old candidate committee). The expenditures were mostly putting on a golf tournament and giving charitable gifts to police and veterans groups from the campaign account. He spent a mere $200 on signs. Groeteke has spent about $3,300, including $2,100 for printing and mailing.

There are 41 days until the election. Roorda could start campaigning yet, though it is getting kind of late, but he has the money necessary to launch a late blitz. He has a fundraiser on Friday.

Fundraising Idea

I have a suggestion for Groeteke for raising some money. Every time Roorda goes on CNN, his critics launch an avalance of anti-Roorda messages on Twitter (see here). What Groeteke could do is put up a fundraising page, and when these tweet storms are happening, put out his own tweets that say “Hey, I am running AGAINST JEFF ROORDA in November. Help me defeat him!” with a link to the fundraising page. I bet he could get some contributions out of this. I would downplay Groeteke’s GOP ties on the website, though, since Roorda’s opponents are mostly members or supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and probably not big fans of the GOP.

JeffCo Reps and the United for Missouri Scorecard

7 Jul

United for Missouri, a conservative organization, has released its 2016 Legislative Scorecard, in which it ranks representatives based on their votes on selected bills. Rep. Rob Vescovo (R, 112th district, Arnold) received a 99.9% score from the group (he missed some of the votes, so he did not reach 100%). I will look at how the rest of the JeffCo delegation was rated.

United for Missouri (UfM) “is committed to educating and mobilizing citizens about the impact of limited government and economic policy on the state and the impact of the federal government exceeding its Constitutional limits on achieving growth, opportunity and prosperity.” It selected 19 bills from the 2016 session that fit within this mission, and tallied how each legislator voted. Here’s how Jefferson County’s House members fared:

  • Rob Vescovo, R, 112 – 99.9%
  • Shane Roden, R, 111 – 90.3%
  • John McCaherty, R, 97 – 88.7%
  • Dan Shaul, R, 113 – 84.0%
  • Becky Ruth, R, 114 – 73.3%
  • Elaine Gannon, R, 115 – 70.7%
  • Ben Harris, D, 118 – 24.0%

Here is UfM’s list of bills. It includes voter ID, paycheck protection, ethics bills, court reforms, a gas tax hike, and a prescription monitoring database. The bills are weighted, so for example, Gannon got four votes “wrong,” but one of them was paycheck protection, which had UfM’s highest weighting. Roden missed on two votes; one for data storage center tax breaks (he voted yes; UfM doesn’t like targeted tax breaks), and one for the ethanol subsidy. Four House members received 100% scores, and two got 99.9%.

In the Senate, three GOP members scored 100%, including two that are running for higher office (Will Kraus for Secretary of State and Kurt Schaefer for Attorney General). Missouri’s senators scored as follows:

  • Paul Wieland, R, 22 – 94.7%
  • Gary Romine, R, 3 – 73.5%

Wieland got one vote “wrong” – he voted for the gas tax increase (which was not enacted).

These numbers probably aren’t too surprising to anyone that follows our legislators, but it’s interesting to see their voting records quantified.

 

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.

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