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



of a nursing home.


I breakfasted with you

then the familiar task of

cleaning your bedside


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
“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.”
“So, private development, love to do; dealing with the City of Springfield, you’d have to think twice?”
“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
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.


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