The League of Women Voters is famous for educating the voting public without taking sides. But, look out – this highly motivated, non-partisan group of women voters is taking a side. The League of Women Voters of Missouri held a series of press conferences around Missouri last week endorsing Amendment 1 to clean up Missouri politics on the November 6 ballot statewide.
“The League of Women Voters believes in representative government and is endorsing this bipartisan effort to clean up state politics,” said Kathleen Boswell of Sedalia, president of League of Women Voters of Missouri. “This constitutional amendment will take power away from special interests and give it back to the people. League members encourage all Missouri voters to vote Yes on Amendment 1.”
In St. Louis, the press conference was held August 15 at City Hall.
“This is our chance to put Missourians before big donors, lobbyists and partisan games,” said Louise Wilkerson, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis. “Amendment 1 will increase fairness, integrity, transparency and accountability in Missouri’s General Assembly. Because the League of Women Voters believes in good government and equal rights for all, we are proud to endorse Amendment 1 to clean up the Missouri Legislature.”
Here is how Amendment 1 will increase integrity, transparency, and accountability in state government:
- eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly
- require that legislative records be open to the public
- lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates
- require politicians to wait two years if they want to become lobbyists
- and ensure that neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by adding criteria for fairness and competitiveness of the overall map, which will be reviewed by a citizen commission and keep compact and contiguous districts.
On those lobbyist gifts: "Politicians in the Missouri General Assembly have taken over $12 million in gifts from lobbyists who have business before the legislature," said Kelly Wood, a past league president. "These gifts include liquor, sports events, concerts, international travel and expensive dinners."
On those legislative maps: “Because of the way maps are drawn, candidates are essentially unopposed and they don’t have to work hard to get to know their voters,” said Ann Elwell, league board member. “They instead work hard to get to know their big donors. That’s not the way our democracy is set up.”
To learn more, visit http://www.cleanmissouri.org.
Diversity and Democrats
The effort to make the Missouri Democratic Party more inclusive of candidates who oppose the abortion option has failed.
An amendment to the party platform had been proposed by former state Rep. Joan Barry – and passed – that reads: “We respect the conscience of each Missourian and recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, such as abortion. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength and we welcome into our ranks all Missourians who may hold different positions on this issue.”
State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights) and St. Louis Alderwoman Annie Rice (I-8th Ward) were among the leaders of the pushback.
Newman wrote in a column for The American (that she later retracted, no doubt seeing a path to victory): “Did the party members voting on the platform balk at ‘diversity of opinion’ on racism, equality, voting rights, immigration or firearms? No, just women’s private reproductive decisions.”
Rice, who is also a Democratic committeewoman, pushed back with a tongue-in-cheek amendment (which she then withdrew) asking for “diversity of opinion” on right-to-work laws.
Galloway on Ferguson
How are they doing down there at Ferguson Municipal Court – the muni court whose depredations helped spawn a revolution?
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a report following up on her 2017 audit report of the court that found disorganized, damaged and unsecured case files, as well as a lack of oversight that resulted in at least $1,400 in missing funds.
The follow-up review found that while personnel have not pursued criminal prosecution or restitution for the missing money, they have worked to implement new procedures to better prevent and detect loss or theft in the future.
In 2017, Galloway was forced to take the unprecedented step of hiring a mold remediation company to recover and preserve available records in order to complete the audit. No effort has been made to remediate the remaining records and older records continue to be housed in an unsecure location.
The municipal division has instituted new procedures to ensure independent reviews of records, financial activity and modifications to transactions. The court also has a system in place to better document reviews of closed cases and dismissed tickets.
In 2016, Galloway – who is on the November 6 ballot against a Republican challenger who has her own challenged financial records – was presented with the Missouri NAACP 2016 Game Changer Award for her municipal court work.
Governor Parson on the border
The Missouri border is a long way from the Mexican border – about 1,000 miles (it’s 943 miles from the Missouri border town of Ridgedale to the Mexican border town of Reynosa). But Governor Mike Parson is strutting his stuff to look as tough on the border – the Mexican border – as President Donald “All My Campaign Operatives are Going to Prison” Trump.
The news hook for Parson: Four Missouri National Guard soldiers are serving on the southwest border, providing aerial surveillance from their UH-72 Lakota helicopter. Since arriving in Arizona earlier this summer, the crew has executed approximately 400 flight hours in support of the federal border security mission.
"By patrolling our borders, we can take a proactive stand against human trafficking, violence, terrorism, and illegal immigration from spiraling out of control,” Parson said in a statement of solidarity with Trump’s border policies, which have resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their families, many not yet reunited. “Our National Guard soldiers have done a great service to their country in their critical support role and have represented Missouri very well."
Parson is a good old boy and former county sheriff from Wheatland, Missouri – 996 miles from the Mexican border – who stands by his president, yet tries to come across a little kinder and gentler than the bull in the White House china shop. "This will always be a nation of immigrants,” Parson said in his statement, which concludes: “The American dream will never be lost." Tell that to the Mexican children in American cages, guv’na.
Civil rights leaders question Senate on Kavanaugh
Six prominent African-American civil rights leaders sent a letter to U.S. Senate leaders to express their concern that the Senate is not meeting its responsibility to fully and impartially evaluate the fitness of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings are set to begin on September 4, even though large portions of his record – including documents pertaining to his time in the White House counsel’s office during the George W. Bush Administration – cannot be provided by the National Archives before that date.
“Our federal courts derive their legitimacy from the confidence of the people,” they wrote. “Any process that undermines the legitimacy of our courts, weakens the court in the eyes of the American people.” The civil rights leaders also requested a meeting with Senate leadership to discuss a process “to restore the faith and trust of the communities we represent in the Senate and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court confirmation process.”
The letter was co-authored by Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of LDF; Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League; Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP; Reverend Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network; and Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation and Black Women’s Roundtable.
Madigan sues Trump
Missourians – whose state Attorney General Josh Hawley is a Trump toady trying to gut Obama-administration protections for people with preexisting medical conditions – can only gaze across the Mississippi River at a state with an AG who knows how to stand up to this fraud of a POTUS.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against Trump International Hotel & Tower (Trump Tower) in Chicago for violating environmental laws and jeopardizing fish and aquatic life in the Chicago River. She filed her lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Trump Tower for failing to comply with environmental laws that protect rivers and lakes. The suit alleged Trump Tower releases millions of gallons of water into the Chicago River per day without having conducted federally mandated studies of the impact its facility has on the river’s fish and without the required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
“Trump Tower continues to take millions of gallons of water from the Chicago River every day without a permit and without any regard to how it may be impacting the river’s ecosystem,” Madigan said. “I filed my lawsuit to make sure Trump Tower cannot continue violating the law.”