Monday, December 31, 2007

MO Liberty Coalition to meet Saturday, January 5, 2008

Members of Springfield's local Libertarian party are the willing catalysts for a non-partisan citizen's group that you are invited to attend. Springfield's Libertarian party worked diligently to see the State audit of the City of Springfield, including the audit of City Utilities.

Originally, the Chief Petitioner of the petition drive to get the City audited was Doug Burlison, now City Councilman Burlison. Burlison passed that baton to Tom Martz after winning his Council seat in April of 2007.

The group, again, a non-partisan group, has been tentatively named "Missouri Liberty Coalition," the name is subject to change.

The first meeting of the MO Liberty Coalition will take place this Saturday, January 5, at the Kansas Expressway Library Station from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. They will meet in the Frisco Room and everyone is invited to attend.

"It's just people who are concerned with where government is going, how our tax dollars are being spent and how we're being represented, not only on City Council but also when the various department heads seem to turn a blind eye to the people here within the city." ~ Tom Martz on KSGF's Vincent David Jericho Program this morning.


I believe this could be a very interesting meeting and a very interesting "coalition." I plan to attend and observe at least a part of the meeting on Saturday.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bitter cold

Winter sun warms the air in the car

a faux summer in an enclosed space

stepping out, the cold is bitter

like an aspirin dissolving in one's mouth

but not as bitter as the familiar

"fresh"

smell

of a nursing home.

Before

I breakfasted with you

then the familiar task of

cleaning your bedside

commode

I'm realizing that

visiting the nursing home is

like cleaning that commode

After a while even the cleaning solution

meant to freshen it

begins to wear


(This has been my offering in what appears to be a new craze in the blogosphere. The topic of commodes and plungers is catching on and I didn't want to be left "behind." No need to thank me, it was my pleasure.) :)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Newest Element

I received this in an e-mail this morning, along with wishes for a Happy New Year from a friend of mine. ~ Thanks, Alice! The author is unknown:

Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction which would normally take less than a second to take anytime from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of two to six years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which some of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as the critical morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons. ~ Author unknown

Friday, December 21, 2007

Talk is cheap - Thoughts on C.U. General Manager John Twitty's comments on the Vincent David Jericho Program, December 21, 2007

Okay, I've gotta say this about this:

December 21_6:50am_What does CU have to say about things in the Audit
Friday, December 21, 2007 - 42 - Guest John Twitty, General Manager of C.U.


What I heard was a lot of willingness to TALK, willingness to be RESPONSIVE, willingness to have a DIALOG, but no promises.

Beyond Twitty's vague statement that, "We take the audit very seriously," I'm just not hearing any real details about how Twitty plans to "be responsive." What? By running T.V. ads for public relations and telling every media outlet in the city, "We take the audit very seriously," with the addition of C.U.'s polished and paid for advertising slogan?

The most troublesome of all, to me, in the C.U. audit report, was the question of charitable contributions accompanied by the verbal statement of adamant belief from State Auditor, Susan Montee, that these charitable contributions are unconstitutional.

Here was Twitty's response to Vincent David Jericho on that issue:


"It's again, Vince, I think, an area that's ripe for some really good DISCUSSION and we intend to address that one in particular because it is such a policy based or philosophical CONVERSATION and those questions that you ask are certainly fair.

I would say that we would never, ever, at City Utilities, do anything, KNOWINGLY, to violate either the constitution or any statute, whether federal or state or the city charter, so if there are things that we need to do differently on a going forward basis in this area we certainly want to do them in a way that is acceptable and supported by the community."*


As a matter of fact, when I attended the press conference after the C.U. audit hearing Tuesday night, December 18, John Twitty would not commit to seeking an opinion from the Missouri Attorney General so that the city-owned utility could put this issue to rest, once and for all, with an opinion from the highest authority on constitutionality in the State of Missouri. Instead, he said there are other ways to determine whether it is constitutional for a city-owned utility to make charitable contributions out of PROFITS netted from their customers.

The Missouri State Auditor, Susan Montee, believes it IS unconstitutional and further stated that the city-owned utility should not be profiting from the electric services they provide to the public.

Again, at the press conference, Twitty said there are other ways to get opinions on that, but when you have a difference of opinion of this gravity between the State Auditor's office and a city-owned utility and choose to make your decision about the constitutionality of the policy based on the opinions of your own in-house or otherwise hand-picked attorneys, this citizen wonders whether C.U. plans to continue with the policy because as long as they do not seek the State Attorney General's official opinion they will not KNOWINGLY be violating the Missouri constitution and they can continue to make these contributions as they choose.

This would seem like the most OBVIOUS time to seek the opinion of the State's Attorney General, in my opinion.

Twitty said:

"If there are some of these kind of things that give people heartburn or heartache then I want to engage in the dialog with them to give them the information to at least from their own opinion."*


My opinion is that you should seek the opinion of the Attorney General on whether it is constitutional for a City owned utility to profit from the services they provide and then distribute those profits among hand-picked local charities, John.

Talk is cheap.

*emphasis mine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vincent David Jericho interviewed and hosted question and answers with Susan Montee about C.U. Audit December 19, 2007

"I was highly offended by the suggestion that we just wouldn't understand because they're way too special." --- State Auditor Susan Montee regarding C.U.'s questioning about whether the State Auditor's office was qualified to audit a large utility company


Listen to more of what Susan Montee had to say on the Vincent David Jericho Program this morning:

December 19_7:50am_Could we be paying less for our utilitiesWednesday, December 19, 2007 - 22
Guest: Susan Montee- State Auditor

December 19_8:00am_Should the be a profit on city owned utilitiesWednesday, December 19, 2007 - 19
*A Must Listen!
Guest: Susan Montee- State Auditor

December 19_8:30am_What questions came out of the audit on CU Pt 1Wednesday, December 19, 2007 - 9
Guest: Susan Montee- State Auditor

December 19_8:50am_ What questions came out of the audit on CU Pt 2Wednesday, December 19, 2007 - 8
Guest: Susan Montee- State Auditor

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thoughts on Jason's interview with the Mayor and the City Audit Report

I started this posting a few days ago and was just too dang busy to go back and finish it. It's kind of a mixed up mess but I'm going to try to make some sense out of it and post it because I'm taking a break for a bit.

The Peanut Gallery

I've been meaning to comment on this:

From The Life of Jason Interview: Springfield Mayor Tom Carlson, when Jason said:



"During the announcement of Mr. Hammons landing the deal for the arena site, you made the statement “I’ll bet any day of the week, I’ll bet on people that have got real money at risk, time, money and effort to spend as opposed to the people from the peanut gallery.” Several of your critics have taken this statement and said this proves you are not betting on the average Springfield resident but only those with money. I wanted to give you the chance to explain that statement and to explain what you meant by the term “peanut gallery.”


Mayor Carlson responded, in part:



"What I was responding to was this: there were people who had real money at risk who had entered into the competitive process to see who would get to build on that land. There were other people who were critics of the city government who said the process was rigged. What I was trying to say was this: Those people who were saying the process was rigged were not trying to acquire the land. The people that had their money at risk and had to decide whether to spend their money here and their resources really do drill down and figure out whether they think the rules are fair. Those people said it was fair..."


Well, yeah, sorta. Here's the timeline of Richard Baier of BC Development's statements. There was a bit of inconsistency there:


October 3 letter to Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith
“There does not seem to be a desire by the TIF Commission or the City to enter into open and fair competition for the development of these projects.”

October 5 interview with Vincent David Jericho on KSGF radio
Baier:
“My only reluctance to do business in Springfield would be, if there’s a public bid type process. Maybe I don’t understand all the politics in that type of thing, and I would push away from doing that. But as far as private development, where I go down and look for a site to build a medical project or retail or whatever the case might be or another hotel, I’m all for that because I like Springfield.”
Vince:
“So, private development, love to do; dealing with the City of Springfield, you’d have to think twice?”
Baier:
“Yeah, I’d have to think a couple of times, there.”

October 22 City Council meeting
“We don’t feel that we’ve been mistreated in any way, shape or fashion on this process. We’re definitely interested in working with the city.”


The Audit Report Fall-out

I don't necessarily disagree with Doug Burlison that it would be counter productive to go on a witch hunt after hearing the audit report and reading what has been written after the report in the News-Leader and on certain blogs but I'm thinking that Councilman Burlison arrived at that position after being privy to the results of the audit for some time (like at least a YEAR). Burlison has had time to process the information from that audit and his end conclusion is that it is better to look ahead and fix the problems rather than look backward and try to place the blame. Burlison might be correct in his decision but, citizens of this city should be allowed that same span of time to process the information contained in the audit report and come to that conclusion after grappling with the facts of the audit report for a while. Citizens of Springfield deserve the same amount of time to fuss, complain and discuss the details of the audit report as, rest assured, the City Council has had and in more than one closed meeting prior to the hearing of the report December 6.

I suspect that these warnings against "witch hunts" and this promise to do better in the future is meant in some small way to placate the citizens, to calm the "Peanut Gallery," if you will. I don't resent the public's anger and frustration over the results of the audit on the City of Springfield. Just as the City and Council have had a good amount of time to come to grips with the state of this City, the citizens of this city deserve at least the same amount of time to process it. AND we deserve to be allowed to process it without being smeared and condemned for it or treated as though we are some second class, low-life "Peanut Gallerians" in the process.

Nationally, there has been an outcry from the American public for government accountability that will extend to local government and no amount of city officials patting citizens on the head will make it all go away.

So, to those citizens who take an interest in their local city government and criticize the way it has been run in past years, there's nothing wrong with that. Don't let anyone suggest you are being counter productive when you need the same amount of time to mentally process the results of the audit report that the city has had in dealing with and responding to the report. It is a natural process and will run it's natural course and citizens deserve to be allowed that process without being told they are "going on a witch hunt" or being counter productive. Don't believe it when you want to have your say in your local government and hold them accountable, it's your job.

The next shoe is going to drop on December 18 when the State Auditor releases and reports on the City Utilities audit. Poor timing for the City, they'll likely still be hearing from the public about the results of the City audit when they are faced with the new report on City Utilities and I suspect it's going to be a really big shoe.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Recommended Reading 16

From Roger Ray's column in the Saturday News-Leader:

We might find more effective use for Park Central Square funds

edit: it should be noted that the City of Springfield is obligated to make $1 million in improvements to the square under their agreement with McGowan Walsh.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Springfield City Council's independent auditor (Investigator) position of vital importance

The decision about who should be the independent auditor hired by the City Council for oversight of the City of Springfield's financial dealings should be as vitally important to the citizens of Springfield as the City Manager's position (I wrote about this position here back in August after a memo from Deputy City Manager Evelyn Honea demanded that all information acquired from departments of the City be run through the City Manager's office prior to its release to any individual Council member. Memo included at end of this entry).

Following is the section of the City's Charter that allows for such an investigator:

Section 2.15. Investigator
The council may appoint an investigator who shall serve for such term as the council may prescribe. He shall be a certified public accountant or a person specially trained and experienced in governmental or business investigation or administration. His
duty shall be to keep the council informed as to the work performed, methods, and financial affairs of the city. He shall not be responsible for the keeping of accounts. He shall make such investigations of the work of all departments of the city and such reports to the council as it shall require. He shall make such other investigations as the council may direct. He shall have access to all books and records of all departments of the city. If the council desires, he shall certify to the correctness of any or all financial reports before the same shall be regarded as official.

The City suggests it will go outside Springfield to seek applicants for the City Manager position which Bob Cumley will vacate next year. Sources tell me that the Council is considering hiring someone locally for the position of independent investigator.

Memo from Deputy City Manager, then Assistant City Manager Evelyn Honea:

TO: Management Team Management Team Secretaries
FROM: Evelyn Honea, Assistant City Manager
RE: Process for Sending Material/Information to Mayor and City
Council
DATE: June 25, 2007
_________________________________________________

Any information or material being sent to the Mayor and members of City Council MUST be approved by the City Manager or Assistant City Manager BEFORE it is sent to Councilmembers.

To avoid confusion, please use the procedure outlined below:

1. Any memo or other information should be e-mailed to Evelyn Honea or Bob Cumley for approval. Please provide a hard copy if it is not possible to e-mail the material.

2. You will be notified of Bob/Evelyn's approval or asked to make changes. If asked to make changes, please resubmit the corrected material for approval.

3. Upon approval, please provide 13 copies to the City Manager's Office for distribution to Council. A member of the City Manager's staff will deliver the material to the Council mailboxes. (The 13 copies include: 9 for Mayor and Council, 1 for the media folder, 1 for the City Clerk, 1 for the City Manager, and 1 for the Assistant City Manager.)

4. Mail is only delivered to the Mayor and City Council on Wednesday afternoons at 4:00 p.m., prior to City Council meeting every other Monday night, and at Tuesday luncheons. Please keep this schedule in mind when communicating with Councilmembers.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance with this process.

EH/jgcc:

Bob Cumley, City Manager
Brenda Cirtin, City Clerk
Anita Murphy Cotter, Assistant City Clerk

City audit report

Jason, over at Life Of Jason, live blogged the audit report if you were unable to attend. Not exactly like being there but probably more detail than you'll get short of reading the report for yourself (links to the actual report will surely be available soon from more than one source on the internet and keep reading your copy of Community Free Press - Midweek).

It was pretty cold out there and the parking lot at City Hall was a bit icy when I arrived but had dried off a bit by the time we left.

Don't forget Vincent David Jericho's interview with State Auditor Susan Montee in the morning. That's 1260 am. "Johnny outta bed," at 6:00, OR you can listen to the pod casts here.

Jason apparently hung around and got a statement from City Council after I left. I was bitin' on a piece of lemon meringue pie by that time. ;)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"...we believe the city could improve," Spokeswoman for the Missouri State Auditor's Office said

Wes Johnson quoted the spokeswoman for the Missouri State Auditor's Office, Samantha Brewer, in State to unveil Springfield audit:

"The audit has recommendations in areas where we believe the city could improve," Brewer said. "We don't have enforcement powers. We cannot make the city implement the recommendations contained in the audit. That part is up to the citizens who need to go to meetings and make the city respond to them."


Wouldn't it be awesome if more citizens of Springfield would go to meetings and "make the city respond to them?"

I notice there are some in the blogosphere and elsewhere who would have you look to them to disseminate information gathered at meetings. Nah, you don't have to be there, this one or that one will take care of your civic responsibility so you don't have to.

Certainly, it is nice to read news articles and reports about what transpired at this meeting or that meeting. It's nice to read this blogger or that blogger's take on events but if I could do anything through this blog it would be to somehow encourage citizens to show up in person. You don't have to be there? No, no one is going to make you take an interest in getting your information first hand. Someone else will always be happy to tell you the high points from their vantage point if that's what you want. Will you be more sympathetic to the opinion of Tony Messenger, Vincent David Jericho or a smorgasbord of bloggers and reporters who will comment on the report? Will you read everything written and then decide based on what was important to this person or that person from their vantage point? Will you trust others with that information gathering for you?

As a person who has attended many meetings involving City Council I can tell you that you don't get all the information shared at any given meeting. Reporters, journalists, radio talk show hosts and bloggers pick and choose what they will include in the discussion, it isn't necessarily intentional, it's just that space and air time is limited.

Sometimes you miss some of the quirky facts because there simply isn't room or air time to include everything. Those to whom you hand over responsibility to inform you can't possibly tell you every minute detail of every meeting. So, I would encourage people to attend every meeting they can attend, realizing it isn't likely anyone can attend all of them. I don't get to attend every meeting in the city either, but we could all do better with Samantha Brewer's charge to "go to meetings and make the city respond to them."

Reminder: Vincent David Jericho will be interviewing State Auditor Susan Montee tomorrow morning (Friday) on KSGF.

The audit report will be heard at City Council chambers tonight at 7:00 p.m. The address is 830 Boonville Avenue.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"The internet business..."

Momma Twoop directed me toward what Stephen A. Smith of ESPN TV has to say about bloggers and the internet business, read here:

"And when you look at the internet business, what’s dangerous about it is that people who are clearly unqualified get to disseminate their piece to the masses. I respect the journalism industry, and the fact of the matter is ...someone with no training should not be allowed to have any kind of format whatsoever to disseminate to the masses to the level which they can. They are not trained. Not experts. More important are the level of ethics and integrity that comes along with the quote-unqoute profession hasn’t been firmly established and entrenched in the minds of those who’ve been given that license.

"Therefore, there’s a total disregard, a level of wrecklessness that ends up being a domino effect. And the people who suffer are the common viewers out there and, more importantly, those in the industry who haven’t been fortunate to get a radio or television deal and only rely on the written word. And now they’ve been sabotaged. Not because of me. Or like me. But because of the industry or the world has allowed the average joe to resemble a professional without any credentials whatsoever."

City Audit Report ~ don't miss it

Mark your calendar to attend the report on the city audit tomorrow (Thursday) night in City Council chambers, 7:00 p.m., 830 Boonville Avenue.

Also note: State Auditor Susan Montee will be on the Vincent David Jericho Show Friday morning. The show is on KSGF from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. 1260 AM, 104.1 FM. If you cannot listen to the show live, you will be able to download the podcasts at your convenience.

Miles from home

You do not know

I cannot tell you

each night lengthening

each night stark

filled with your face

on a pillow

where I do not want you to be.

You cannot know

I cannot tell you

heart hurting, no longer able

to hide behind picture frames

lining a wall

behind what I must do

what I do not want to do.

I cannot tell you

the days I want back

days we had now belong to

someone else

who doesn't know you

doesn't love you like I do.

You cannot know that hurt

it hides behind what I must do

It hides behind pictures on the wall

I hang to try to remind you

remind you that I love you.

All the things you cannot know

All the things we shared you can

no longer face, facing away

behind those pictures

behind those smiles

Miles from home.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.”
“It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December.”
Then he sighed, “That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.”
“My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,’
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.”

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
“I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother,
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.

So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright.

Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.”
“But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget,
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled,
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

~ Written by Michael Marks, December, 2000

Friday, November 30, 2007

City Manager Search Committee applicant deadline today

Today is the deadline to fill out an application to serve on the Search Committee for our next City Manager. If you are interested in being on that Search Committee fill out the application by following the appropriate links here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Town Hall meeting for Zones 2 and 4

Cindy Rushefsky and John Wylie are hosting a Town Hall meeting for Zones 2 and 4 tonight at the Brentwood Branch Library Community Room, 2214 Brentwood Blvd.

The meeting is for residents of those Zones, central and northeast and central and southeast, but it's open to the public. It starts at 7 p.m. and is planned to last till 9:00 p.m.

Present to discuss city issues and answer questions will be:

City Manager Bob Cumley
Police Chief Lynn Rowe
Traffic Engineer Earl Newman
Parks Director Jodie Adams
Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith
City Utilities Associate Gen. Mgr./Electrical Supply Scott Miller
Public Information Director Louise Whall



For more information about upcoming City meetings and events go to Community Free Press - Midweek and select the City of Springfield hot link in the left hand side bar.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If you must know...

I understand that what I am writing about these days may not suit some of my regular readers. I'm sorry if I disappoint some of you. I have a lot on my plate right now and beyond obligations that I have with family, church and the writings I do beyond this blog I may not have a lot of time to keep this blog updated as much as usual and it may be lighter fare because honestly, that's about all I have the time or energy for.

For the benefit of my good friend, Momma Twoop, let me just say: "This too shall pass."

I've been very interested in the discussions about good and evil going on at KSGF in the mornings with Vincent David Jericho and had started working on something for the Christmas season before Vince started that discussion that I hope to finish when I have the time. I really wish I had the time and energy to put my two cents in on Vince's discussion right now but I just don't.

For the moment, it sucks being me.

I've never understood why anyone cares what I think in the first place but lately there's been too much thinking to process and I'm doing what I can to keep myself informed and carry out my responsibilities. If you could see what's going on in my head right now it'd scare ya. Believe me, you really don't want to know, it'd be way too much information.

The State Auditor's report on the audit of the City of Springfield is coming up. It's open to the public. Attend it. It will be in Council Chambers at 830 Boonville Avenue, December 6, 7:00 p.m.

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

General questions for discussion

Do you believe first impressions are always right? If so, why? If not, why not?

I'm talking about those gut feelings you get when you first meet a person. Are they reliable?

I'd love to see some real discussion on this topic. I might add to it later, I might not, who cares? ;)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Post Thanksgiving 2007

This Thanksgiving was definitely what Thanksgiving should be all about.

Nine of my family members, including my husband and I, gathered together in my Mother's rehabilitation facility room. The center was very kind, allowing us to move a conference table into her room because plan A, to all go to the conference room together to eat fell through when Mother didn't feel up to getting out of bed and sitting up with us to eat there. The staff there helped us move chairs in that they rounded up from all over the center and we had a lovely Thanksgiving table and the food the cafeteria prepared was perfect when accompanied by some homemade desserts prepared by my sister-in-law and I.

We had turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, rolls and a dollop of cranberry sauce followed by homemade cheesecake, chocolate meringue pie and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Mother didn't eat much but seemed to really enjoy the cheesecake, the chocolate meringue pie and the company of her children, in-laws, one of her grandsons and brothers and sisters.

I am moved to tears that my family, besides my brother and sister-in-law were willing to give up a meal in a more enticing atmosphere to gather together there. It isn't where you are, it's who you are with on Thanksgiving day that makes it special. This day was a testament to that. So, while I won't claim that there wasn't some sadness today, due to the circumstances, I think we were successful at making the best of a bad situation.

My brother said that maybe as she drifts off to sleep, in and out of sleep all day, she hears us murmuring in the background and thinks she's at home for a little while. She managed to pretend to "gobble, gobble, gobble," like a turkey once, echoing my husband's call and I got a great picture of my brother's sleeping face with her sleeping face in the background. Then, I got my nephew sleeping off a turkey coma in one of the waiting rooms with his sweatshirt wrapped around his eyes and his mouth hanging open. I've promised to post it to the internet for all the world to see, he believes me because he's a goof.

My sister-in-law and I weren't terribly disappointed that we didn't have to wash all those dishes this year and my brother and I weren't terribly disappointed that we didn't have to spend our traditional two hours sitting at the table packaging up little care packages for everyone in the family to take home.

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember and all the reasons why were on display today. People giving of themselves to serve others. The staff and my family catering to one another and most of all, the love we all share for that little woman who has prepared more Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for all of us than we could begin to count. If people can be angels then that little lady has an awfully big pair of wings hidden somewhere in that hospital bed and there are no words to describe how much she is loved, how much we all hurt for her pain, how we'd all love to take it away. She amazes us with her sweetness, regardless of how much pain she endures that sweetness is always present, that little smile, those little twinkling eyes when she first glimpses the face of someone she loves and oh, God, how we love her.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving this year. It has been one our family will never forget, bittersweet, full of poignant moments that we'll always remember, the moments that make us who we are from the beginning of life and seem to carry through to the end.

Thanksgiving 7

From President George W. Bush's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation November 16, 2001:

In thankfulness and humility, we acknowledge, especially now, our dependence on One greater than ourselves. On this day of Thanksgiving, let our thanksgiving be revealed in the compassionate support we render to our fellow citizens who are grieving unimaginable loss; and let us reach out with care to those in need of food, shelter, and words of hope. May Almighty God, who is our refuge and our strength in this time of trouble, watch over our homeland, protect us, and grant us patience, resolve, and wisdom in all that is to come.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ryan Cooper stole my pen

Two minutes after I told him not to take my red pen, Ryan Cooper walked out the door with my nifty red-gel ink pen.

I want it back.

Moral: Never loan a red ink pen to someone who wants to make little red ink marks on your papers, especially if his name is RYAN COOPER. Dang it.

Alternate moral: Never steal a* ink pen from a blogger.

It's hard for me to be thankful right before Thanksgiving when there is a tall, almost bald guy running around with my ink pen in his pocket. ;)

*Excuse me: AN ink pen.

Thanksgiving 5

Thanksgiving 8000 calorie poem

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
and your pies take the prize,
and may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off your thighs!
-Unknown

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you think Independence Day is America's defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down.--Tony Snow

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving 4

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving thanks.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his [a] ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

BibleGateway.com - Psalm 100

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yes, it IS called a free press!

At The Rhetorica Network on Media/Political bias, Andy Cline wrote:

"There is no such thing as an objective point of view.

No matter how much we may try to ignore it, human communication always takes place in a context, through a medium, and among individuals and groups who are situated historically, politically, economically, and socially. This state of affairs is neither bad nor good. It simply is. Bias is a small word that identifies the collective influences of the entire context of a message...."


Cline continues:

"Journalists, too, speak from political positions but usually not overtly so. The journalistic ethics of objectivity and fairness are strong influences on the profession. But journalistic objectivity is not the pristine objectivity of philosophy. Instead, a journalist attempts to be objective by two methods: 1) fairness to those concerned with the news and 2) a professional process of information gathering that seeks fairness, completeness, and accuracy. As we all know, the ethical heights journalists set for themselves are not always reached. But, all in all, like politics, it is an honorable profession practiced, for the most part, by people trying to do the right thing...."


So, when a blogger at the News-Leader.com Community Blogs - Ozarks Right wrote he was:

"...amazed that a citizen would criticize a news organization for ferreting out a story on violations of a SUNSHINE LAW..."


I had to wonder why and question whether he might have missed the point, entirely. I don't know that he was speaking of me when he talked about "a citizen" but I seemed to be among few (maybe the only) questioning why Tony Messenger, the Editorial Page Editor of The Springfield News-Leader has seemed so intent on taking Eckersley's side when the latter claimed he was fired for calling attention to the Governor's email retention policy. I've never questioned or objected to any "news organization for ferreting out a story" on any subject, let alone a story on violations of the Missouri Sunshine Law.

In fact, David Burtond, member of the Missouri Press Association, Southwest Missouri Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Ozarks Press Association and the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors recently wrote, Journalists Should Expose Unethical Practices of Others in the News Media. Burtond was citing The Society of Professional Journalist's Code of Ethics. He wrote:

"Right under the heading of "be accountable," the code says journalists should "expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.""


From Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics (this is not a complete list, I selected from it to make a point but, please, do follow the link to read the entire list):

--Deliberate distortion is never permissible.Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
--Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
--Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
--Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
--Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
--Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
--Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
--Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
--Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.


Certainly, the first amendment to the constitution reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


And, I'm not formally announcing that I would like to take David Burtond's charge of holding local media accountable for perceptions of ethical violation and I should point out that The Society for Professional Journalists code of ethics is followed voluntarily by members of the media, they are not required to follow it.

The readers of Messenger's combined articles, columns and blog entries on the Eckersley/Blunt administration/Sunshine Law affair can decide whether his writings have been entirely ethical or not but certainly, I have a right, and some might even say an obligation to consider and question that aspect of the coverage.

Food for Thanksgiving 3

This recipe is a favorite of my Mom, Sister-in-law and my own. It's for those people who aren't addicted to canned, jellied cranberry sauce, like my husband and Aunt Sharron:

FRESH CRANBERRY BAVARIAN

1 pt. (or bag) fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp plain gelatin
1 1/2 cup whipping cream

Pick over berries, wash in cold water, then drain. Pulverize berries in a blender or food processor. Stir in sugar and salt. Cover and let stand in refrigerator a few hours or until sugar dissolves. There should be at least 1 1/2 cups puree. Stir in lemon juice. Measure water into custard cup; sift gelatin into it and let soften 3 or 4 minutes. Now set custard cup in hot water until gelatin melts, then stir it into berry mixture. Set in cool place until syrupy. Whip cream until stiff but not until buttery, then fold berry mixture into cream lightly. Turn into a mold. Cover and chill in refrigerator until firm. Unmold to serve (I set it in hot water for a minute then unmold and gently blot it with a paper towel or napkin). May be garnished with a puff of whipped cream and a few choice whole berries, or serve plain.


The way I make it (and recipe is adjusted for it) it makes a little more than most Jell-o molds will hold. That's so hubby and I can have a dish on the side as a treat before Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mind food for Thanksgiving 2

Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.

Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian Chief

Council Bills 2007-363, 364

Council Bill 2007-363 amends the City Code, Traffic and Vehicles, Section 106-96 so that conservators of the peace (people the City Manager authorizes to issue parking citations) will also be given the authority to ENFORCE city parking ordinances, ENFORCE rules, regulations and ordinances pertaining to handicapped parking, and ENFORCE all Park rules, regulations and ordinances while on Park property.

Council Bill 2007-364 amends Article 1, In General, Chapter 82 of the Springfield City Code, Park rules generally, by adding an additional subsection (c) to Section 82-1 for ENFORCEMENT of the Park Rules, Regulations and Ordinances by THE PARK RANGERS for the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department, while on park property.

The originating department is the City Manager.

Under "remarks" at Bill 2007-364:

"The proposed amendment is in response to a request received from the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. This expanded authority will assist parks in dealing with problems at the various park locations, which is often a low priority for the City and County Police Departments, when compared to other service calls these Departments normally receive. This amendment will allow parks to address the park problems with its own Park Rangers as they occur."


Questions 1 and 2: How do you "enforce" rules, regulations and ordinances? Will Park Rangers be authorized to carry firearms for enforcement purposes?

Question 3: Is the lateral hiring program, which allows experienced police officers to be hired at a higher level of pay in consideration of their previous experience working? (see: CFP Midweek - Archive Issues Page, Volume 5 Issue 11 City Council Roundup, Addressing Police High Turnover Rate)

City of Springfield, MO - Upcoming Council Meeting Agenda

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mind food for Thanksgiving 1

Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meaness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jalal ad-Din Rumi, Persian Poet

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reflections on the politics of the Eckersley/Blunt affair

after reading Ryan Cooper's piece in the Springfield News-Leader

Late last night I was thinking maybe I'd been a little harsh to a commenter at my blog. I suggested that by writing "don't you think you've said enough," he was suggesting I had no right to write what I wrote. Well, that wasn't true. He never questioned my right to write about any subject, so, yes, I'll answer my own question this morning: it was harsh to frame it that way. My apologies to that commenter.

And then I'll write incessantly about the same topic again. ;)

I read Ryan Cooper's Blunt's chief of staff won't keep his job, this morning and realized there is yet another side of the story I hadn't thought about. A more sinister side that Tony Messenger didn't touch on (at least in a way that resonated with me) and I didn't touch on. The side of the story that takes politics back to the political arena, where it really belongs, and reminds me of how little I know about the machination of politics. Perhaps that's why I spent my time on the issue looking at what is right and wrong about Tony Messenger's approach to the issue. I'm more comfortable going there.

Cooper put the subject of Eckersley/Blunt right back where it belongs, in a territory that I seldom tread, at least not consciously. For me, and I think for most Americans, politics is not supposed to be played out like a series of moves by skilled players, with the American people the pawns on a chess board, their thoughts moved strategically by the players to ensure a player's future "checkmate."

Politics and the ideology that accompanies it is supposed to be about its players representing us in a way that will lead us, as a whole, as a community or a country in the right direction. Politics are supposed to be about leading us to be the best, to travel the right road. We aren't politicos, we're human beings who have our own thoughts and opinions about what is right and what is wrong and how we can achieve the best goals, goals we have decided are worthwhile because they are the "right" goals.

Cooper wrote about The Leadership Institute, he wrote about Morton Blackwell, "a conservative political guru." Morton is the president of The Leadership Institute which boasts it is "For conservatives who want to win."

Everybody wants to be a winner. There are rules to every game. Politics, or the ideology that represents political parties has its game plan, has its rule book. I'm naive to think it doesn't. So, call me naive for not taking that into account. I'm sure Messenger takes the "game" into account far more than I.

Not being familiar with The Leadership Institute, I looked around their website briefly. I don't have a lot of time this morning, have a busy day ahead, but I found this speech given by Morton Blackwell to young conservatives at the Heritage Foundation's Third Generation meeting in 1985, an excerpt (he was speaking about Richard Weaver's book, "Ideas Have Consequences":


"Weaver warned powerfully against rootless, mechanistic manipulation, against knowledge "of techniques rather than of ends." His deserving target was the destructive tendency of modern man to lose his sense of purpose as he rapidly accumulates knowledge of how to do things. But it is a gross misreading to suggest he argued against action. It would be fair to say he held that actions based on the right ideas will have desirable consequences. He quite correctly gave absolute priority to ideals, but recognized the duty of philosophically sound people to take actions...."


He continued:

"The intellectual's dismay at the untidy nature of political life is by no means new. Very late in life Plato wrote in his Seventh Epistle:

For both the written laws and the unwritten laws of good conduct were gradually destroyed, and the state of things became worse and worse at an astonishing pace, so that I, who at first had been very eager to go into politics, finally felt dizzy when I looked at it and when I saw things carried in all directions in utter confusion. I did still not give up watching for a possible improvement of these conditions and of the whole government; but, waiting all the time for an opportunity to do something, I finally had to realize that all the states of our time without exception are badly administered.

If Plato was dizzied by politics and withdrew almost entirely from personal participation, we should not be surprised that so many conservative intellectuals and aspiring intellectuals now find comfort in the proposition that Ideas Have Consequences. They can believe themselves thereby absolved of the awkward responsibility for personal actions.

The world of politics is invariably imperfect and replete with compromises. How tempting it is to shield our principles from degenerating contact with such untidiness. Never mind that we simultaneously insulate the real world from the ennobling effect of practical contact with our principles.

Now, however, we should know better. Edmund Burke did not tell us: "All that is necessary to triumph over evil is for men to have enough good ideas." Quite the contrary, Burke's most famous words are: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing....""



The moral to the story? Is there one? If there is one, I think it is probably that we need to be careful of the motivations behind our politicians, or "representatives," that is, if we are even in a position to know them. That we should not allow the "players" to manipulate us with behind the scenes machinations that don't follow the law (if that is the case with the Blunt administration) in order to achieve their goal of "winning."

Ryan Cooper shared some insight into a process I think most of us don't understand, or maybe it's just me.

Blackwell concluded:

"Good ideas have desirable consequences only if we act intelligently for them. We owe it to our philosophy to study how to win."


Well, maybe so...but who wants to think about that? Who wants to think about the future of our country in terms of political winners and losers? Who wants to be that cynical? The truth is, we have to be that cynical. We choose which "mechanistic manipulation" best suits our own political ideology and then we have to live with our choices, whether we consciously recognize the "mechanistic manipulations" of the one who holds our future like a chess piece in a game or not.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Messenger continues to seek the truth...

...well, sorta.

Tony Messenger has written a lot of editorials about Scott Eckersley and the Governor's office. He's gotten plenty of slaps on the back and kudos for his work. Here are a few of the praises sung for him by commenters at the Springfield News-Leader's web site:

malcontent wrote:


"Keep up the good work Tony. I'm sure I speak for a lot of readers when I say I'm happy to see the News-Leader taking a critical look at what our elected officials are doing in our name."


stillconservative wrote:


"Thanks for the exceptional reporting Messenger, thanks for sticking your neck out there and taking a few hits to do what's right Eckersley, and no thanks to Blunt and his staff for their terrible (and maybe criminal) stint in office. Take 'em down boys, make it rain."


wineisgood wrote:


"Kudos to Tony Messenger for his fine (and ACCURATE) work."


ProgressiveVet wrote:


"When needed, Tony is a bite and hold on bulldog. Yeeeehaw!!! Er, whoops. Kudos to good reporting and commentary regarding shinnigans of those who only think they can do whatever they want to do."


Mom2 wrote:


"Tony,
Thank you and th epaper for following and staying on top of this. I voted for Gov Blunt--once........not again. I know there are two sides to every story..but, this is becoming unbelievable in the facets we are hearing."


LauraMcCaskill wrote:


"Thanks to Tony Messenger for bringing transparency to this issue."


What is this grand thing Tony Messenger has done? What has been the focus he's had that has brought such glowing reviews?

Well, he's written a slew of editorials about how Scott Eckersley, the recently fired Blunt administration attorney, is more credible than the Missouri State Governor's office and administration. Today he wrote Men vouch for Eckersley.

Messenger spoke to Jerry Harmison, a Springfield attorney and former President of the Springfield School Board, a Republican who has known Scott Eckersley "since he was a law clerk at the firm Lathrop and Gage." He spoke to Greene County Circuit Court Judge Mark Powell. He spoke to Springfield City Attorney Dan Wichmer.

These three men spoke on behalf of the integrity, character and honesty of Scott Eckersley.

What does it prove?

NOTHING.

That is, nothing other than Messenger's continuing willingness to try to do to the Blunt administration what he accuses the Blunt administration of doing to Scott Eckersley.

Character assassination by ink on an editorial page editor's computer screen and the printed page of The Springfield News-Leader.

Eckersley has claimed that the Governor's office fired him because he advised them on email retention. He can't prove it (or won't prove it) and he would have said nothing about it if someone from the Blunt administration would have only given him a glowing reference for the Romney Presidential campaign so that he could get another job. I mean, that's the least they could do, right?

So far, we have evidence that supports Blunt's office that Eckersley was fired for cause after being given an opportunity to resign, an opportunity he declined.

So far, we have evidence that Eckersley was receiving emails from an adult-sex website.

In Attorney speaks out about being fired, Messenger wrote, "Eckersley shudders at the thought that his name would ever be uttered in the same sentence with the phrase "group sex."" But later in the same editorial Eckersley was reported to have said the web sites were spam email that came to his state account after he forwarded another email account there. At this link, provided by the News-Leader, you can view emails sent to: scott.eckersley@employershealthnetwork.net from: Adult FriendFinder [cupid@adultfriendfinder.com]. This must be one of the email accounts Scott Eckersley forwarded to his state owned computer.

My husband has received spam solicitations before, but nothing like this. Nothing that tells him he has 5 new matches. Nothing that lists his name as though it is an account that has been opened. On this email, it references: "eck44556677" and tells the receiver "we have 5 members near Columbia that you're looking for!" The email also offers him an opportunity to join other dating sites and offers that, "This email was sent to you in association with the member, eck44556677, on Adult FriendFinder. If you think you've received this email in error, you can remove your address from our database." The email then asks, "Did you forget your password? For any other assistance or questions, contact us." It is not the only such email found at the link provided above. Interestingly, he signed other, unrelated emails "eck," that are included in the package of information the Governor's office sent to the News-Leader to support the reasons they gave for Eckersley's firing.

So far, in other emails available at the link above, we have evidence that Eckersley spent a lot of time explaining why he was late for work and even wrote an email to "Herschel Henry" with the subject line: "Before you fire me..." in which he discusses why he's going to show up late and offers that he's going to put 2 or 3 additional alarm clocks around his apartment so he won't oversleep again.

In another series of emails between Eckersley and John Russell, Eckersley said he's overslept AGAIN and wondered if Herschel could fire him for it. Eckersley said he got yelled at and that it was merited but that he just kind of didn't really care too much. Russell told him that "Techinically I guess but I don't think he would 1. Want to and 2. Do it without talking to Ed." (Typo Russells).

Finally, we have evidence to support the Governor's office's claim that Eckersley spent a lot of time doing business for a company owned by his family.

What is interesting is that Messenger never questions any of this. Instead, he writes such titles as "E-mails released by state show Eckersley case has most merit," "Attorney: Firing 'reprehensible,'" Blunt lawyer's letter leaves the questions," and "Men vouch for Eckersley."

What has been so obviously missing in this entire convoluted saga of editorials is any editorial questioning of Eckersley's claims. Eckersley's statements are all taken at face value and Eckersley is always given the benefit of the doubt, Blunt's office never is given the benefit of the doubt. Not once. In fact, when Messenger titled, "AP: Memo backs Eckersley," he completely ignored some key points in the Associated Press article, such as, the AP article states:

"A former staff attorney for Gov. Matt Blunt sent an internal office memo challenging his boss’s stance on deleting e-mails just weeks before the attorney was fired, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Associated Press."


But then adds much later:

"It is not clear if any of the recipients passed the memo on to Blunt, his chief of staff Ed Martin or anyone else in Blunt’s office."


And:

"Eckersley said he wouldn’t comment directly on the memo, citing attorney-client privilege."


Then:

"On Friday, Chrismer reiterated that Blunt’s office has “no record that Scott Eckersley ever wrote or stated that the practices of our office were inconsistent with any law or standard on record retention and I cannot comment on a document that any news outlet has so little confidence in that it will not provide it to me.”"


And the memo, in fact does not state the practices of the Governor's office were inconsistent with any law or standard on record retention. The AP reports it as saying:

"In the Sept. 14 memo, Eckersley said “e-mails can be ’public documents”’ — a legal opinion that was at odds with public statements Blunt and his spokesman Rich Chrismer were making at the time." (emphasis mine)


I'm not sure what statements The AP writer was referring to here. I've always heard that emails CAN be public documents but aren't ALWAYS public documents. I don't remember hearing or reading that Blunt or Chrismer ever said otherwise. Maybe someone can refresh my memory on that? AP goes on:

"The memo is not clear-cut in its stance that e-mails are public documents. It says not every e-mail is automatically public because the Sunshine Law excludes letters or documents that a government agency receives, but does not retain."


The AP article also claims that Eckersley advised the Governor's office:

“If we want to attack the AG on this we should not ask the post-dispatch why they have not requested letters from Nixon, we should ask Nixon to clarify the retention schedule as one of the members of the commission that created it,” the memo says."


Tony Messenger, if anything makes me laugh. He's very comical. He claims that The AP article "backs Eckersley," it seems to me that it also backs the Governor's office.

It is such allegations that Eckersley's case is more supportable than Blunt's case that has me reeling trying to keep up with the spin. I'm sure if I wanted to contact three or four men who have worked with Ed Martin, Matt Blunt, Herschel or any other Blunt staffer that I could find three or four men who would vouch for their character, integrity and honesty and, you know what? That wouldn't prove anything either.

Messenger keeps claiming he wants the truth but it seems he only wants to question one party on this issue and I don't think it will be easy to get at the truth doing that. Sorta like paddling a boat with one oar and keeping it on the same side of the boat, causing you to only go in circles. I don't know if Tony is getting dizzy yet from all of his spinning, but I can "vouch" for it that I sure am.

I know a couple of things here, maybe even more than that but I'm getting tired. I know that we DON'T know the truth yet and I know that the Attorney General needs to clarify Sunshine law policy on email retention. Hey! Now that I think about it, those are the same things I knew yesterday and the day before yesterday. Call Tony Messenger for all the allegations that we DON'T yet know are true.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sunshine law policy on email retention needs Attorney General's clarification

I'm beginning to think there may be something to Tony Messenger's fuss about his email request regarding "Martin's attempts to rally pro-life groups to urge Attorney General Jay Nixon's removal from a case defending a new abortion law." But it still isn't a settled issue.

I'm always willing to accept fact and accept the truth and I also recognize that there are some things about the Sunshine Law that I don't understand (in fact, maybe that no one understands). That doesn't change anything in regards to Eckersley's charge that he was fired for calling attention to email retention, in my opinion, but, in fairness, Messenger's questions regarding his original request for an email from Martin are legitimate.

Last Sunday, November 4, Messenger laid out how often the Governor's position has changed (a characterization I am uncomfortable with), here:

He quoted an AP story:

"Here's an Associated Press account of the changing opinions coming out of the governor's office:


"Blunt has offered varying explanations for his office's handling of e-mail records. In one interview, he said that 'nobody saves e-mails for three years.' In another, he said his office has no written policy on e-mail retention but merely follows the Sunshine Law. In yet another, Blunt acknowledged using 'four or five' e-mail accounts and deleting some messages to avoid an overflowing inbox.""



I could word parse a little here, for instance, was Blunt saying that nobody saves ALL their emails for three years or was he saying that nobody saves ANY emails for three years? That's not really clear.

The AP, in the portion of the story Tony quoted, quotes Blunt and stays with the facts of what is known about Blunt's "position," Tony hasn't always done that and that has been of as much interest to me as the actual story. I think if you follow what I have written in the past you will recognize that. My questions have been, for the most part, about how far an editorialist should go in drawing conclusions and taking a side BEFORE all the facts are out and the truth is apparent.

Case in point, in the same column last Sunday Messenger wrote:

"Herschel tries to suggest that reporters should be more interested in the attorney general's office and how it handles e-mails. He takes issue with how Eckersley has characterized his firing. And he offers yet the latest in changing explanations for how the governor views retention of e-mails."

He was referring to a portion of a letter Herschel wrote :

"...with respect to e-mails, our retention policy is similar to and perhaps superior to that of the attorney general's office: e-mails that are not public records are retained; some that are not public records are not retained; others that are not public records are retained. Paper documents and digital documents are treated under the same standard. (Attorney General Nixon's spokesman told The Associated Press on September 24, 2007, that the attorney general's office routinely deletes e-mails that are not public records. This is common practice.)"


You see, I question whether Herschel tried "to suggest that reporters should be more interested in the attorney general's office and how it handles e-mails?"

I don't see any "suggest(ion)" that reporters should be more interested in the attorney general's office and how it handles email than in the Governor's retention policy. This is where I take issue with Messenger. His over-exuberant excitement over assuming that he knows the motives behind statements made by the Governor and/or his administration. Certainly, as an editorial writer he will do so but it is his obvious excitement at finding an "AHA!" moment with the Governor's office on this issue that has been tedious and debatable in almost every instance. I question his analytic abilities to conclude the motives and intentions of others without asking and I always have.

Regarding Messenger's statement:

"He (Herschel) takes issue with how Eckersley has characterized his firing."


Herschel wrote:

"He (Eckersley) now claims he was fired over the Sunshine law. There is nothing that supports his assertion, and we only released documents supporting the true reason for his dismissal after he made false claims to the media."


Herschel is correct, Eckersley is claiming he was fired over the Sunshine law and there really hasn't been anything that supports that assertion. It sorta galls me that every single time the Governor or his administration has offered further elaboration on their policy, which has been identified as "to follow the Sunshine law" that they've been charged with changing their story. I don't view it so much as a "change" of their position as an elaboration on their policy.

For instance, their policy is to follow the Sunshine Law. Herschel, same letter, wrote:

"So you will know our policy, it is to meet fully the disclosure standards of the relevant statute (the "Sunshine Law," Chap. 610 et seq RSMo). Our policy is provided to employees at Section 5.11 of the office manual. Further, the policy is consistent with the recommended practices of the Secretary of State."


How is this a change? "Our policy is "X" and "X" is provided to employees as a part of the office manual. "X" is consistent with the recommended practices of the Secretary of State." Clarification for the record, not an attempt to change their position, in my opinion. It's true that Blunt stated "there is no policy," but it is also true that he QUICKLY followed that statement with "Our policy is the Sunshine law."

Don't get me wrong, I think there is legitimacy in Messenger's questions:

"Why were Martin's e-mails deleted? Was that a violation of the state's e-mail retention policy?"


But I can't agree with Tony that there is "no doubt" that deleting emails regarding "Martin's attempts to rally pro-life groups to urge Attorney General Jay Nixon's removal from a case defending a new abortion law," was a violation of the state's email retention policy. I don't think that's a settled issue but I am leaning a little more toward Messenger's assumption.

Tony wrote:

"The bottom line is this: I'm seeking the truth, governor. Are you?"


He's already implied that the Governor is NOT seeking the truth. He wrote here :

"The bottom line is the same as it always is: Taxpayers deserve the truth.

When it comes to the Sunshine Law, Scott Eckersley told it.

The governor's office has not."


On Tuesday, November 6, Messenger wrote under "Another Herschel letter,":

"that e-mail was deleted and not provided in accordance with the Sunshine Law (which is not in dispute)."


Email retention policy simply hasn't been settled, in my opinion, and if Messenger spent more time trying to get to the bottom of that and see that it is settled instead of seeming to be so exited about pouncing on the Governor and his administration for unproven charges this whole episode would be easier for me to stomach.

Then in "AP: Memo backs Eckersley," Messenger quoted an AP story. Excerpts of that AP story:

"The memo also pointed out that Blunt himself signed a record retention policy in 2001 when he was secretary of state that said state agencies must retain for three years records, including “all general communication.”’ The e-mail stated an updated retention policy kept that requirement. The memo used all capital letters to emphasize that e-mails are considered public under the Missouri Sunshine Law because the statute covers any document “written or ELECTRONICALLY STORED, retained by or of any public governmental body.” The memo is not clear-cut in its stance that e-mails are public documents. It says not every e-mail is automatically public because the Sunshine Law excludes letters or documents that a government agency receives, but does not retain...."

"...The memo says the reporter is in error to assume specific e-mails mentioned in the article are public. The memo also suggests a way Blunt can handle the story as a campaign issue against Attorney General Jay Nixon, Blunt’s presumed Democratic rival in the 2008 governor’s race. “If we want to attack the AG on this we should not ask the post-dispatch why they have not requested letters from Nixon, we should ask Nixon to clarify the retention schedule as one of the members of the commission that created it,” the memo says...."

"...It was sent to two people, including a Blunt aide. It is not clear if any of the recipients passed the memo on to Blunt, his chief of staff Ed Martin or anyone else in Blunt’s office. Eckersley said he wouldn’t comment directly on the memo, citing attorney-client privilege. He repeated his claim that he sent
several memos like it, and said they all made the same argument. He said the memos went to Martin, Chrismer and legal counsel Henry Herschel. Blunt officials have repeatedly denied that claim. On Oct. 30, Blunt’s chief counsel for the Office of Administration, Rich AuBuchon, told the AP: “Mr. Eckersley never once voiced a concern, never once wrote an e-mail, never once talked to other employees in the office evidencing any concern that the governor’s office was not complying with the Sunshine Law or any record retention policies.” On Friday, Chrismer reiterated that Blunt’s office has “no record that Scott Eckersley ever wrote or stated that the practices of our office were inconsistent with any law or standard on record retention and I cannot comment on a document that any news outlet has so little confidence in that it will not provide it to me....”


It seems to me that Eckersley's advice that "we should ask Nixon to clarify the retention schedule as one of the members of the commission that created it," was good advice and that there still is no proof of Eckersley's claim that he was fired for advising the Governor's office on their email retention policy. I'm still just trying to stick to the facts as they are known and as willing to accept the truth as ever.

Note: All emphasis mine

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Irreconcilable Differences, a repeat...

I don't normally read Roger Ray's From the Left columns at the News-Leader but, because of the marriage analogy, Jason at Life Of Jason perked my interest when he wrote Look Closer At Roger Ray . I wrote a marriage analogy from, at the time, a conservative Republican position back in 2006, at the height of liberal outcry against the war in Iraq.

Since then I have become an independent because I recognize there really isn't much difference between the two parties actions. But I think there is still some validity, though a bit dated, in my past entry from 2006, so for a bit of a different perspective than Roger Ray's on the marriage analogy and polarization of not just political parties, now, but Americans as a whole, here's the link:

Irreconcilable Differences

Here's a tease:

"Today America is polarized, there are clearly some irreconcilable differences between certain political pundits. What is a citizen to do when he or she would like to divorce themselves from the political antics and power plays by one party against the other?

I believe that Republicans, who clearly are more willing to fight for our security and safety in these states should be awarded the home, the car and custody of the kids. I plan to explain why I have come to this conclusion."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Just another note on the Eckersley affair and journalistic integrity

It's enough of an obligation that citizens must question their government constantly, but when citizens are forced to question the press whose duty it is to question and cover that government it is likely more of an obligation than a good citizen has time to bear. It is for that reason that journalistic integrity should be, no, MUST be an issue.

Journalistic Integrity

Lacking in the press vs the Blunt administration fiasco regarding Scott Eckersley's firing

I have been trying to follow the complicated issue which, in my opinion, was trumped up against Governor Blunt and his administration regarding the Scott Eckersley firing. It started out as what should have been a simple question about which government emails fall under the Missouri Sunshine Law and which emails do not. In my opinion it has been complicated by certain journalists who have spread around gossip rather than reporting fact and who appear to have taken sides on the issue, propping up one party while disparaging the other based on their own gossip. You can follow most of the exchange I have had at the News-Leader forum in the comment section found under this article if you're interested in the discussion. This was my last entry, it was made to fellow commenter "TsTwkT":

""The documentation they have shows it was deactivated on 9/25. There's no time delay for it to kick in and the documentation was provided by the technology company."

Have you seen that documentation, TsTwkT? I'd like to see that documentation. Where might I access it? Further, where do you come by your information that "there's no time delay for it to kick in?"

Then the next obvious question would be, does the Blunt administration have the right to access a state computer used by a state employee in their own administration after he is fired?

Eckersley was an employee of the Blunt administration, the computer he used on the job was not his own. Does his employer have the right to access information stored in that state owned computer? To what degree?

Taking it out of the political realm, if you use a computer supplied by your employer at your office do you have the right to limit your employer's access to their computer should you either quit or be fired from that company? I would think that your employer would have free reign to examine their own computer, especially if, after you were fired you had challenged their reasons given for firing you in a public forum.

I think the difference between myself and some people is that I'm just not willing to jump to conclusions and I certainly don't mean to suggest I have all the answers. I just think that there are some questions that aren't being asked. Some pretty serious charges are being leveled at the Governor's office and many of them are based on rumor. This isn't the only issue that such rumored charges have been made, nor the only party that has had rumored charges leveled without any real, tangible proof of wrong doing. I suppose my question is a broader one than about Eckersley vs the Governor's office and it really has been from the start. The broader question is about certain members of the press VS the Governor's administration. How far should editorialists go in making charges without supporting them in the press? Where is the line and when is it crossed? It's a sort of a moral issue for me, I suppose.

Now, I've got other business to be about and to be honest, this issue has merely served as a bit of a diversion for me during a difficult time. When more evidence to support some of the rumors comes out I might revisit it. Oh, and I would like the links to that evidence you have alluded to from the "technology company."


Some members of the blogosphere bowed out of the discussion some time ago because they, apparently, tired of the gossip based on nothing but he said/he said. I can't say that I blame them.

For me it's been a diversion to get my mind off of the sad situation I have been going through with my Mother. She had her surgery yesterday. She lost her right leg just above the knee. This issue was something just complicated enough to allow me to occupy my mind for a few moments here and there and try to maintain a bit of sanity. But, I think it's pretty much run its course.

I want to thank all of those who have been praying for my Mother. She has some hard work ahead and continued prayer for her and my family is still appreciated.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

URGENT ~ e-m-e-r-g-e-n-c-y

Emergency Council Bill 2007-353 is:

"A special ordinance authorizing the City Manager, or the Deputy City Manager, on behalf of the City of Springfield, to enter into an agreement with the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission (MHTC) for the purpose of coordinating participation by the City and the County in the cost of the Commission's public improvement known as Airport Boulevard...."


Just in case you're wondering why it's an emergency, Section 5 of the bill states:

"The City Council finds and declares that this ordinance constitutes an emergency because it pertains to an appropriation for payment of current expenses for the City government and THE PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE IS AFFECTED...."*


So, dear citizen, if they don't hurry up and approve their part of the financing of the new "airport boulevard" your health, safety and welfare is in danger. Thar yew go.

*emphasis mine.

Council Bill 2007-352

Oh, good heavens! The City Manager or his designee is asking for City Council approval to enter into more sale negotiations. Geesh.

See November 5 Council Meeting Agenda.

Hey, the peanut gallery needs to apply for volunteer service on the City Manager Search Committee!

Council Bill 2007-351 qualifies as an item of interest. It's a resolution to formulate the process for establishing a Search Committee for the hiring of a new City Manager. It states, in part:

"Whereas, it has been determined that a Search Committee which will consist of representatives from a cross section of the community will be established, and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Deaver will Chair this Committee; and

Whereas, there may be other members of City Council that desire to be involved in establishing the criteria for the Search Committee, and in determining its makeup.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI as follows:

That Mayor Pro Tem Gary Deaver and members of the City Council desiring to do so, shall meet and establish the process for selecting members of the Search Committee.Additionally, they should develop the process they wish the Search Committee to follow in selecting candidates for the City Manager position. This selection process shall be presented to City Council for formal approval within thirty days of the passage of this resolution.

Be it further resolved that following the formal approval of the selection process, citizens interested in serving on the Search Committee shall file a Volunteer Service Application with the City Clerk. All applications received by the deadline established by the process, will be considered for appointment to the Committee. The names of those being recommended to serve on the Selection Committee shall be submitted to the City Council for final approval, not more than thirty days following the deadline."


Under remarks the bill states:

"Mayor Tom Carlson has indicated that he would like to follow the process that was following when Missouri State University was looking ot hire a new President. That process was the establishment of a Search Committee that was comprised of members of the Board of Governors, alumni, faculty, staff, and students. This approach provided representation from a wide range of perspectives."


I hope they do not forget to include representatives of the peanut gallery on the Search Committee. I know peanut gallerians do not always have "real money at risk, time, money, and effort to spend,"* but they deserve representation as much as anybody else. And please, do not forget conspiracy theorists, you never know, Tony Messenger might want to file an application. Oh, my, I wonder if the applications will be subject to the Sunshine Law? That could open a whole new can of worms! ;)

*source: Mayor Tom Carlson

Email, email, who's got the email?

Rumors continue swirling around the Scott Eckersley firing

Jo Mannies of The Post-Dispatch claims to have an email:

"dated Sept. 14, in which Eckersley lays out to a co-worker what he says should be the response of Blunt staffers when asked by reporters about the handling of office e-mails."


The Post-Dispatch did not provide access to that email to the public. Instead they are polling readers as to whether they believe Governor Blunt's office is obeying the law regarding emails.

Tim Hoover of the Kansas City Star reported there is an email that proves Eckersley had advised the Blunt administration about email retention but that Eckersley's attorney didn't release it. He was concerned about attorney-client privilege.

Tony Messenger of The Springfield News-Leader claims the story has legs because the Dispatch and the KC Star have picked it up. All three sources cite an email they apparently have in possession that Eckersley claims supports his allegation that he had sent emails to Blunt officials informing them of email retention policy. None of them have posted that actual email for readers to examine. In fact, and as admitted by Messenger (see: The evidence is adding up) that email proves nothing.

Messenger links an Agency Records Disposition Schedule circa 2001 from the Office of the Governor signed by the Agency Director, Carol Gilotrap. The Agency Records Disposition Schedule was approved by then Chairman of the State Records Commission, Matt Blunt on October 25, 2001. Messenger identifies this document as "the Governor's email retention policy." Mannies only cites "a separate state law" and does not link it. I wonder if policies held by one Office of the Governor are carried over to the next Office of the Governor or if each Governor is responsible for his own office's policy? Messenger seems to be using the document as proof that the Governor lied when earlier this week he said:

"Our policy is to follow the Sunshine Law, that's the policy."


Blunt said:

"The Sunshine Law provides lots of information about that (what qualifies an email for retention), it differentiates and is very specific about what is and is not a public record."


Messenger also, in "The story has legs" at his blog, wonders whether that law was rescinded by the Governor but didn't bother to confirm whether it had been or not. Messenger claims that Blunt "doesn't really want to say that," as though he is privy to what Governor Blunt either wants or does not want.

Here is what the Missouri Sunshine Law says about electronic records:

The Sunshine Law encourages public governmental bodies to maintain records in electronic formats that are accessible to the public (Section 610.029.1). Public governmental bodies are obligated to provide records in the format requested, if available (Section 610.023.3). However, when a requester demands records in a format beyond the scope of staff expertise, a body may charge for the actual rate of programming necessary to comply with the request (Section 610.026.1(2)).

Section 610.025 requires that certain e-mails sent by members of a public body be copied to the custodian or that member's public office computer. It is triggered when a member of a public body sends an electronic message dealing with public business to two or more members so that, when counting the sender, a majority of the body's members are copied on the message. Once transmitted to the custodian or the member's public office computer, the e-mail is an open record, unless it is subject to an exception in Section 610.021.*


Now, in the case of Messenger's original request, the request that started this whole affair seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Something to do with a member of the Blunt administration trying to rally support from a group OUTSIDE the Governor's office to request their promotion of a certain related policy or something? If so, according to what I just posted from the Sunshine Law, that action would NOT have triggered the copying of the electronic message to the custodian of public records because it wasn't sent to a majority of the body's members. So, while being used for possible partisan reasons it wouldn't be considered something that should be kept in public records or something the public would necessarily be interested in, UNLESS you happen to be a fervent editorial journalist bent on smearing the Governor's administration by casting undue doubt on whether they should be emailing an outside activist group from their state computer at taxpayer's expense. I hope I'm remembering this correctly, I could not find where the News-Leader website references Tony's original "controversy" over not being allowed these email messages. In fact, I can't even remember who was involved, but then since Messenger is not required to verify or substantiate his claims and allegations then why should I? I mean, I'm just a blogger, he's the editorial editor of the city's leading newspaper.

*emphasis mine