Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit or Not, Manners Matter

I wonder how many other local bloggers work on a blog entry and then delete it? This is one I wrote tonight and considered deleting, it wouldn't have been the first time. I've always questioned why anyone wants to hear (or read) my opinion anyway? Who am I? Who cares what I think?

Here's a blog I wrote. I don't know if anyone will be interested in reading it or not. I don't know if it sounds like I'm preaching. I don't know if it will make someone mad or if it will make someone think and inspire them or if they'll read halfway through it and think, this is boring but, bloggers blog even when they have nothing to say. I think I had something to say tonight. You all can be the judge of whether it's of any value or not. Personally, I think I just like talking to myself most of the time anyway, working through my own thoughts. Anyway, read it if you want to. - Jackie

I would think it would take a lot of political experience to learn how to gracefully lose a hard fought campaign for an office, either at the local, state or federal level.

I'm thinking of how well Senator John McCain handled losing the Presidential election compared to how Senator John Kerry reacted to his loss in 2004. Kerry didn't make any huge blunders post election but, he didn't handle it with the same level of grace that McCain handled it.

I said it takes "political experience" when maybe, that isn't exactly true. I don't know, maybe it goes deeper than that. I just know that losing is something that people, if they are blessed, are taught to accept, it doesn't come naturally to be graceful when you've lost something. It's a learned reaction. Sort of like when we don't really like the meat loaf but we say, "that was delicious," anyway. It's just the polite thing, the right thing to do, even if it goes against the grain and even if it's a "little white lie."

One of the things that was discussed in my Sunday School class this morning was that people, often, don't send thank you notes anymore. One lady in my class even spoke up and said she'd attended a bridal shower where the bride-to-be didn't even know she was supposed to send thank you notes for the gifts she'd received. I've been to weddings and showers where I have taken a gift or enclosed money in a card and never received acknowledgement for the gift, myself.

As an anecdote, I've been working with some girls, they're all sisters, who ride the bus to our church. I know their Mom works on Sunday, I don't know about their Dad, I've only met him once but he seemed like a nice enough guy. But, anyway, I've been bringing a quarter, 50 cents in quarters, sometimes a dollar in quarters, and giving them to the girls to put in the offering plate. If I give them more than one quarter, I let them decide whether to put it all in the plate or keep a portion of it. It's given me an opportunity to talk to them about tithing but, something I didn't count on was the opportunity it afforded me to talk to them about being thankful for what they did get rather than asking for more. It seemed no matter how many quarters I gave them they wanted to know if I had more quarters, and if I did, could they have them? Anyway, Robin pointed out in Sunday School this morning that manners seem to have fallen by the wayside, not in all cases, but it might be true in the majority of cases.

Thanksgiving is behind us and we all, those of us who are Christians and believe in God and that good things come from Him, anyway, spent time thanking Him for the things we have been blessed with. I thank Him for ongoing blessings, today. Having a church to go to and grow. Having opportunities to serve Him, hopefully not just in church but beyond. Sweet little moments when gently, I can tell a child to say thank you for what they got and be grateful, rather than always asking for more and explaining that doesn't just go for when I give you a quarter, they should carry that with them whenever anyone, anywhere, gives them something. That simple thank you without the follow up of, "can I have more" that is known as having good manners is an important lesson in our society. In a day of made-in-China-throw-away-toys, some children aren't taught that anymore and instead of complaining about bad parenting maybe we could create or craft little moments in their lives to give them those messages they might not be receiving at home. Just a thought.

Anyway, back to losing elections. I'm feeling generous, I think I have a weakness for that, when it comes to human failure. You see, I've failed a lot, at a lot of things. When it comes to losing gracefully, sometimes it's hard to say the right thing when your heart is telling you something else. Grace is when you do it anyway, when you say the right thing even though your heart is, maybe, screaming a different tale.

During the course of some of the local campaigns I noticed some unseemliness going on between this one and that one which caused me to stop and think about how difficult it is not to argue. I know I have a difficult time when I think I'm right and someone else is wrong not to "straighten them out," on the error of their ways, we all think we're the right one, don't we? Candidates for office have to be careful in their reactions.

You know, I think there once was a day when we all were more careful about our reactions. Certainly, there is something to be said for being out in the open, for sharing our opinion but, people used to talk about how to share opinions, that they should be shared gently, with kindness and love. Christians sometimes talk about doing that in the Church, about offering correction to a brother or sister in Christ with love as the motive, in gentleness and in kindness. Someone, I think, brought that up in Sunday School this morning too, because we were talking about how Christians show they are different. It was discussed that might be an excellent area to show that Christians are different, by showing kindness when we lose or are angry and have no reason to show kindness. I'm thinking it might even be more important to show kindness when we win.

Compassion was another word discussed in my Sunday School class. There could be more compassion for losers, in my opinion. No one likes to lose, and I'd think that someone who has opened their lives to total scrutiny, put their political philosophy and ideology on the line for all to see and often spent a lot of their own money on their campaigns, only to be rejected, might be deserving of a bit more compassion. Sometimes they might not react and respond with grace, sometimes maybe they could have spent a little more time in retrospection before they wrote that hot-headed letter to the editor of a local paper.

I can't help but wonder how I'd have reacted.

James 3:2; 7-12:

2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt[a] water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

There's a lot to say for that old cliche, "Walk A Mile In My Shoes."


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interesting New Feature at TV23's Web site

I just wanted to call attention to an interesting new feature I recently discovered at TV23's Web site.

If you click on the link above and look at the gray bar with links above the quick time viewer, you will see a link that reads, "Connect with Greg Burris." The featured streaming video available at this time regards long term visioning sessions he's been holding with various local groups in Springfield. This video covers a meeting he held with "the Network," a Chamber of Commerce group of young professionals under the age of 40.

If you are interested, the video is only a couple of minutes long. Here's the link to the streaming video.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mayor and Council Candidates have been Certified

Candidates except for Zone 4 will face a primary run off in the February 3 election because there are more than two candidates in every other category.

For Mayor: Jim O’Neal, Sandra Queen Noble, Christopher Donegan, Tamara Finocchiaro

For Zone 1: Nick Ibarra, Denny Whayne, Cameron Eaton

For Zone 4: Scott Bailes

For General Seat A: Robert Stephens, Lyle Foster, Tom Martz

For General Seat B: John Rush, Jason Lillard, Fred Ellison

I guess we know who will fill one of the seats. Scott Bailes will take the seat currently filled by Councilman John Wylie since no one filed to run against him in the general election.


Citizens Make a Difference

When they allow their voices to be heard

I just received a news release from the City of Springfield which states that the Urban District Alliance has requested Council Bill 2008-337 be tabled and remanded to the Council’s Plans and Policies Committee.

For those of you unaware, or just needing a reminder, Council Bill 2008-337 was the ordinance which would have changed the closing time of the center of Park Central Square from 1:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

I recently devoted a Council Notes column to that issue and there have been many other vocal critics of the ordinance, both at and since the last Council meeting, where a public hearing was held.

I'm glad the ordinance has been tabled. It went against the grain of what I thought the city was trying to accomplish, to make the square an inviting place, a place people would want to frequent and would enjoy.

What troubled me the most, I guess, was that the reason it was proposed to close the center of the square earlier appeared to be based on a concern about impressions and perceptions. You know, we all realize that the impressions we make on people matter, but should laws and ordinances be based on people's perceptions and impressions of other people? I don't think so.

Apparently, the UDA has rethought it.

From the news release:

“We appreciate the public comment this issue has generated to date and look forward to working with the City, residents, business owners, and developers to continue the revitalization of Park Central Square and Center City,” Worley said in his request to table the bill.

Members of the Council's Plans and Policies Committee are:

John Wylie - Chair, Gary Deaver, Mary Collette, and Denny Whayne.

The committee's areas of responsibility are: Master planning in all of the areas; City code revisions and; Council goals and procedures.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Important anniversaries

must be commemorated

Don't ask me what I was doing when I discovered that today is a very important anniversary. I won't tell you. You know, not everything is your business?

For whatever reason, known to me, I discovered that today is the first anniversary of a day, a year ago, when Ryan Cooper stole my red gel ink pen.

I have never received an apology. Never a nod of remorse. Never a red pen(sion?) contribution or any arbitration or mediation to correct this terrible offense.

If the pen is mightier than the sword, the pen runs red in the hands of Ryan Cooper.*


*Disclaimer: The "skateboarding" Ryan, linked above, did not steal my pen and I have no reason to believe he has ever stolen a pen.

City Council Candidate for Zone 1

Interviewed by Vince Jericho this morning

Wow, Kourtney made this easy:

"Why is one Springfield resident running for council- zone 1 and what is his three step solution to fixing the Springfield pension problem? Click here to listen to Nick Ibarra's interview with Vincent David Jericho. Click here to learn more about Nick Ibarra and click here to view his proposal on the pension." - Source: KSGF


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Issue of Community Free Press

You might wonder why I devoted my entire Council Notes column to the general ordinance which, if passed November 24, will close the center area of Park Central Square at 11:00 p.m. as opposed to the current closing time of 1:30 a.m. Well, it's because I see it as a class warfare sort of issue, and, really, I'm not the only one who views it that way. I mean, what is the whole square renovation supposed to accomplish? I thought the point was to draw more people to the square, not send them home earlier.

That's where the class issue arises.

Generally, many of the patrons of the center of the park who stay after 11:00 p.m. may not be able to afford a cover charge at one of the local establishments on Park Central so, it seems to me the Urban District Alliance, with the City Council as its tool, wants to pick and choose who should enjoy the area and who should not. If you happen to be one of those who is hanging out in the center of the square, spending little money, well, move along 2.5 hours earlier than the money-spending-people, would ya? "Whaddaya think this is??? A public square???"

I could go on about it when what I really want to do is direct you to the new issue of CFP, which is online tonight and in some stands already but will fill the rest tomorrow. What I tried to draw out was the real reason* there was a request to close the square at 11 p.m. It isn't so much that there are real, tangible problems there, no, it is that some of the preferred clientele being drawn there might get the wrong IMPRESSION, that they might FEEL intimidated by the patrons in the park. You see, those patrons in the park have no control over anyone's feelings, only those harboring the feelings do. Do we, or the City Council, want to hold those people who are hanging out in the center of the square responsible for other people's impressions, for other people's feeeeeeelings? Consider, the worst thing the business owner who spoke last Monday night could come up with when Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky asked him for a description of "riff raff:" People who yell at passing cars, "What are you looking at!?" Give me a break.

Bob Mace also weighed in on the issue on page 7 with a very good point: "New York’s Central Park is a 24/7 operation with woods, lakes, and structures everywhere. The thought that the city of Springfield would proclaim itself unable to protect and defend one block, populated by a couple of benches, in the very heart of the city is preposterous." Go Bob!

Some guy named Chris Wilson apparently b-u-m-p-e-d MY pension article off the front page to page 2. Seems the guy is a teacher who is running a "Graphic Classroom," meaning, he encourages his class to read by the use of some carefully selected comic books and graphic novels. He rates them for educational quality at a Web site, which is appropriately named: The Graphic Classroom, go figger. But, seriously, thanks, Mert, for a great article about some real creativity at play in the classroom. ;)

Brian Brown explored the Commercial Street Community Improvement District's possibilities, namely, the self-imposed on you (the consumer) tax they can decide to levy if they meet certain conditions. The article is very informative and tells you how many CIDs Springfield hosts and where. I had wondered about that.

City Council Candidate in waiting (a little birdie (psst...I said birdie, not query) told me this candidate turned in his petitions to the City Clerk's office today) Fred B. Ellison, wrote a guest column calling for the City to show a bit more "skin," when it comes to funding the pension plan for the police and firefighters.

On page 13, Kara Hartfield tells you where you can go to create your own Christmas ornaments; host a party to do so or; attend a holiday free art day with hands on activities and story telling.

Kara will also tell you about College Night on C-Street, BUT, you have to read the whole paper before you will be able to find it because I'm not telling.

That's it. That's what I'm spotlighting this time. There's a whole lot more to read in the issue, you'll have to find out for yourself.

Check out the advertisers too and pay them a call. It'll help ensure your locally owned free community paper will continue to be available. It's free because of them. Remember them this holiday season!

*In my opinion


Monday, November 17, 2008

A few obscure (and soon to be obscure) Presidential quotes

"I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions --but I don't always agree with them." - George Bush

"I was under medication when I made the decision to burn the tapes." - Richard Nixon

"Things are more like they are now than they have ever been." - President Gerald Ford

"I have come to the conclusion that the major part of the work of a President is to increase the gate receipts of expositions and fairs and bring tourists to town." - William Howard Taft

"Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an oyster." - Theodore Roosevelt

"Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion." - Calvin Coolidge

"If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last." - Ronald Reagan

"It's no exaggeration to say that the undecideds could go one way or another." - George Bush

"When you have got an elephant by the hind leg, and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run." - Abraham Lincoln

"We can do some work together to fix up the country." - President Elect Barack Obama (Speaking of John McCain)


Getting Ready for Christmas before Thanksgiving

Killer Crack Peanut Butter Fudge
Cookie Baker Lynn
eat me, delicious: Peanut Butter Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup (160 mL) evaporated milk
1 cup peanut butter*
1- 7 oz (198g) jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk in a heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat. Add the peanut butter, stirring until melted.. Add marshmallow creme and vanilla; beat until well blended.

Spread in a buttered 9 x 13 x 2 - inch pan. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate. Cut into squares when firm.

Learning Death

I see you walking in your kitchen
favoring your hip, each step like a great rocking
row boat

Will it be tomorrow?
The bulldozer will come to level the house
where your nine children ran to play?

Long gone the kitchen table we sat at talking gardens
and life choices

sorting baby clothes found at garage sales
while frozen clothes hung clean in the icy outside cold where
the birds sat in the summer, in the summer

Chickens, stumps and horses
axes, barbed wire and pretty dresses made from feed sacks
hams and pies and poker
and laughter
loud, rude, roaring laughter

Death of dogs, death of grandpas, grandmas, mothers

learning death from the outside
looking through its windows

we still see you, see all of you

in life


Update: An animation


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Memories

Ah, thinking of Thanksgivings past provide such wonderful, such rich memories and maybe it isn't until one of our most vital family members is gone that we fully realize the value and the depth of their contributions to the holidays.

Right now, at this moment, if Mom were still alive, we'd be planning how best to spend our few dollars on a turkey, a ham, the marshmallows and noodles, the cranberry sauce. We'd be trying to decide, 'do we have turkey and ham for Thanksgiving this year, or just turkey and then, a smaller turkey with a ham for Christmas?'

I'd soon be pulling my hair out trying to find those little yam patties at Price Cutters or Food 4 Less. They put them somewhere new every year! I always bought more than what Mom asked for because they were my favorite. Some people like the cranberry sauce for a bit of sweet, for me, it was always Mom's candied yams with toasted marshmallows on top and it seemed there was never enough left over to get to take all I wanted home with me.

Mom would be worrying about what kind of pop to buy because Traci really enjoys having some pop to drink and doesn't buy it at home. Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper. How many cans of diet as opposed to regular? And if we DO get a ham, don't forget the 7-up, not Sprite, 7-up. Mom always cooked her ham in 7-up. And... 'Why does Traci ASK if she can have a can of pop, she knows I got them to drink!?' Mom would ask, every year Mom would ask.

The elbow bumping, the fighting over who gets how much broth and for what, but not to worry, Mom would remind us, 'There is plenty of canned broth in the cupboard if we don't have enough turkey broth to share.'

Mom will sit at the table and chop the onions and celery for the dressing. Mom will peel the potatoes, with Traci's help, 'how many?'

Will Vicky and Jerry be late again? 'Maybe we should tell them 1:00 and then really have dinner at 2?' (We never did that but we were tempted every year.)

Will Sharron come this year??? If Sharron comes I'll have to make Gabe a pecan pie, and Vicky likes them too.

'I'll have to make Larry a raisin pie, Larry loves raisin pie, you know? I wish I had Mom's recipe...' says Mom, 'We'll have to make plenty of noodles, that was Reagan's favorite, we'll send some home for Traci to give her if Reagan can't come.'


Friday, November 14, 2008

James 2:1-6

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Whether you're "riff-raff," a member of City Council, a Pension Board Trustee, an aginner, a reporter simply trying to get the facts, a taxpayer, a skateboarder, Larry Rice, or a member of the peanut gallery one thing is for sure, no one likes to feel disinfranchised. Everyone wants a little respect.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama: Ready to rule on day one

Paul Seale, Arena of Ideas, posted a short clip of Tom Brokaw's Meet the Press interview with Valerie Jarrett. You can watch the whole clip at the clip link. Here's the money quote:

"Given the really daunting challenges that we face it's important President elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to RULE day one." -Valerie Jarrett, Obama transition co-chair

I thought he was elected to be President, not as ruler of the United States of America.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Park Board take over of the Springfield Skatepark

It was planned to be a done deal

When I wrote "The Stage is Set for Springfield-Greene County Parks to Take Over the Skatepark" back in May, I didn't know how right I was. I don't know the exact date the Park Board, or Parks Director Jodie Adams decided not to renew the agreement with the Springfield Skatepark Association but what I do know is the Springfield City Charter, in Section 5.6 states:

"The fiscal year of the City of Springfield unless otherwise provided by ordinance, shall begin on the first day of July and shall end on the last day of June of each calendar year...."

So, when I was doing some unrelated research tonight, I was a bit surprised to learn that in 2007, no later than June 30, 2007, the Park Board requested budgeting and budgeting was included for the running of the skatepark:

Public Parks Sales Tax Fund--2001 Parks Sales Tax Priority Number 1:

"NEW PARK OPERATIONS-SPRINGFIELD SKATEPARK-- Springfield Skatepark Association, Inc., is the organization currently operating the Springfield Skatepark. They are expected to cease operations and management of this facility in October 2007. As a result, the Springfield-Greene County Park Board anticipates operating the facility at that time. To operate this facility, three full time positions are necessary to cover this seven day per week operation and includes the following: (FTE) Community Recreational Coordinator, and two full-time contractual supervisors. To operate this facility, requests for all necessary, operational budget items are included within the budget necessary to begin operating the facility effective October 1, 2007. Total budget for operating this new facility is funded from operating revenues and the 2001 Parks Sales Tax revenues.

Estimated Costs: $339,405. This priority is funded in the 2007-08 budget." - [PDF] CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, MO 2007 - 2008 ADOPTED BUDGET

June 4, 2008, as the city and City Council were budget crunching for fiscal year 2008-09, I wrote, "Springfield Skatepark Association/Springfield-Greene County Parks Mitigation: Example of Open and Transparent Government." In that entry, I quoted from Jason Wert's blog, "Life of Jason,*" an update in which he quoted, in part, Public Information Director Louise Whall as making this statement:

"We have another round of mediation scheduled for January 8 (2008) and we are hopeful this matter can still settle. We want to work with these guys if at all possible. But we don’t feel its appropriate to air any details on the matter until we make this further attempt at mediation. After the January 8 meeting we should be in a position to discuss it more fully.”

We all know now that the city ended up filing suit to try to take ownership of the skatepark.

This story just gets more and more wicked.

We're supposed to believe the city and Park Board were seriously trying to negotiate and work with "these guys" in January, 2008, when they'd already budgeted to take over management of the skatepark 4 months before the agreement was even due for renewal and had stated outright the Skatepark Association was, "expected to cease operations and management of this facility in October 2007" in the budget document for fiscal year 2007-08?

I wonder what happened to that estimated $339,405 that was budgeted for running the Springfield Skatepark last year? Hmmm.

Update: The bus rode around the block on this one:"TWO PLUS TWO MAKES FIVE!"

*The author (Jason Wert) gives permission for electronic, print or broadcast media to use information from any posting ONLY if a link to this blog site is provided and printed identification of the location of the information provided or the full web address of the site,, is mentioned as the source of the information."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

While you weren't paying attention

(well, some of you)

"The Community Free Press" stealthily filled area newstands with its free community paper Tuesday and Wednesday of the past week. That's right, you can pick it up at no cost and read, in depth, about things that matter the most to Springfield and Greene County citizens. (At least that's the goal and, personally, I think it is being achieved through a lot of hard work by a lot of hard working people but, we want to do more, there's always room for improvement!)

The paper's political director, Brian Brown, explored the question of red-light cameras and safety. Adolph Belt, Jr. was found liable on Sept. 16 for running a red light at a Springfield intersection equipped with red-light cameras. Belt, a state trooper for 30 years, has appealed the charges on two fronts. Brown reported that, "Both sides in the case say motorist safety is the key issue."

In, "New Car Dealers Struggle," Brown reported new car and light truck sales were down 12.8 percent for September as compared to September 2007. Brown reported, in this article, not all area car lots are suffering from the decline.

Jackie Melton (who dat?) declared, "Understanding the City's Emergency Bills," an emergency. The bills pop up on the City Council agenda and often cause people to wonder what the emergency was and what determines when a bill is an emergency. The article outlines how and when a bill on the City Council agenda is determined to be an emergency.

In an update, the paper outlined the key elements of City Manager Greg Burris' plan to save the police and firefighter pension plan. There is also contact information provided on how to contact your Council members to let them know whether you favor or oppose the 1 percent sales tax voters will likely approve or deny in February of 2009. Included with that update is the proposed ballot language as it would appear in that election. The first reading and public hearing on this bill is scheduled for the November 10, City Council meeting.

Also, on the topic of the sales tax measure, the "Viewpoints" section carries quotes from local citizens. The citizens sat down with CFP on November 1, to discuss possible alternatives to a sales tax for funding the police/fire pension.

Councilman Burlison's recent statement on city priorities was summarized and appears on page 7.

Contributor Kelsey Garman alerts readers that Jennifer Rothschild, who was diagnosed with a rare degenerative eye disease early in life and is now blind, will be a guest speaker at the "Fresh Grounded Faith" women's conference at High Street Baptist Church, November 14-15. Rothschild has written 6 books, including the best-selling, "Lessons I Learned in the Dark."

CFP Managing Editor, Mert Seaton, always manages to interest even a reader like me, who is not particularly interested in sports, with his regular sports column. In this issue's column he admits he's failed his oldest son Tyler, "in one of the worst ways possible...." I'm not going to tell you how, you gotta read the paper.

Kara Hartfield alerts us to Women Artists of the Midwest in "Celebrating Women Artists," page 14. Hartfield wrote, "The group was organized to help gain support and recognition for female artists in the Ozarks and Midwest...." Find out where you can view the show featuring new original works by several Midwest members.

I didn't know you could drive a stake in a suit and tie but Greene County Commissioner Dave Coonrod shows us how it's done on page 17.

Check out the latest issue and leave feedback. Then, consider writing a letter to the editor at CFP and let them know what your interests are, what concerns you have for our community and how you think we can cover your interests better. News tips are always welcome, too! Email is the preferred method, and letters should be sent to but, letters may also be faxed to: (417) 447-2140 or, mailed to: Springfield's Community Free Press, PO Box 2418 Springfield, MO 65801-2418

You can also subscribe to the paper, for home delivery, by emailing: or mailing your request to the same address above. Include your name, address and phone number (for verification).


Friday, November 07, 2008

Urban Districts Alliance: Valuable Partner and Ally of City of Springfield


As I begin my final term as Mayor of Springfield and reflect on my years on City Council, one of my proudest accomplishments has been the remarkable change we’ve seen in the heart and core of center city Springfield.

One of the City’s most valuable partners and allies* in that effort is the Urban Districts Alliance. The volunteer board and hard-working staff representing the four districts that comprise our Center City are to be commended for the perseverance and vision it has taken to bring downtown back – and look ahead to its equally exciting future.

The year ahead will again be filled with the sights and sounds of construction equipment on a number of major projects. West of the Square will buzz with construction of two parking decks and the College Station theater, restaurant and retail complex.

In the midst of Jordan Valley, renovation will begin on the Missouri Highway Patrol Crime Lab that will complement the nearby Roy D. Blunt Jordan Valley Innovation Center opening this spring.

Selection of developers for the Heer’s Tower and the former arena site next to the Springfield Exposition Center will further those important sites this year.

New city-supported Streetscapes will enhance the section of Boonville near the Innovation Center and the College Station area. A Streetscape project completed in 2006 complements the dynamic Monarch Art Factory that opened to house a number of creative business ventures and draw patrons west of downtown for concerts, exhibitions and the popular First Friday Artwalks.

As we had hoped and anticipated, the major public investment continues to spur this type of private investment throughout the area. New lofts, retail and commercial properties are being redeveloped throughout center city, particularly near major projects such as the Innovation Center and College Station.

The City and the UDA will continue to work hard to support both the public and private investments that will drive Center City’s evolution. We are most appreciative for the support shown by residents, businesses and property owners downtown to continue the self-imposed Community Improvement District assessment to provide key services such as maintenance and beautification efforts downtown.

The year ahead is full of promise and we look forward to working with Urban Districts Alliance to realize the full potential of our common goals for Springfield’s Center City.

Thomas J. Carlson
Mayor of Springfield

Source: Urban Districts Alliance (UDA) 2007 Progress Report

Google Search:

[PDF] 07 UDA Booklet
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
Urban Districts Alliance. For more information:. Louise Whall. City of Springfield Public Information Director. P.O. Box 8368. Springfield, MO,;download

*All emphasis mine


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Notes on select items of the consent agenda

of the November 10, Springfield City Council meeting

Some highlights:

First reading consent agenda bill 2008-341, adds changes to the Land Development Code of Springfield.

A new section (412) is proposed for adoption by the City Council to which developers might want to take note.


It could allow the city to apply an, at minimum, 30 foot easement to a prospective subdivision of a developer:

a). If a trail in the area the developer is looking to develop has been previously identified by the Springfield-Greene County Comprehensive Plan; and

b). Even if plans for a trail in that area have NOT been previously identified by the Springfield-Greene County Comprehensive Plan.

The bill will amend the Land Development Code, Article II, Subdivision Regulations in three new areas. Those areas are:

> Designed Trailhead
> Linear Park Trail
> Neighborhood Linear Park Connector

Look at the bill yourself by clicking on the link above to read how it could potentially effect the plans of subdivision developers over all, and don't worry, even though a potential, at minimum, 30 foot wide strip of city easement seems like a large swath of property to you, you can rest knowing that nothing controversial ever ends up on the consent agenda. I'm just making a mountain out of a molehill, no doubt.


COUNCIL BILLS 2008-345 and 346 will both amend Chapter 2, Section 2-92, of the Springfield City Code relating to salary rates and pay grades for various job titles within the City service by changing the authorized job positions for City of Springfield and/or Springfield-Greene County by deleting lesser paid positions/pay grades and adding higher paid positions/pay grades. There has been a trend lately, in the city, of accomplishing pay raises through deletion and addition of existing and non-existing positions. Just noting that.

There may be a perfectly plausible reason for these actions, I haven't had the opportunity to look into it yet, but some people in the community question if this isn't a way to give raises to city employees without acknowledging they are getting a raise. I think I know a little about this but would want to verify what I *think* I know before making a comment.

Notes on the November 10 City Council Agenda

First reading, Emergency and Second reading bills

The November 10 City Council Meeting Agenda is online.

The item suspected to draw the most attention from the public is:

Item 12. COUNCIL BILL 2008-339:

"A special ordinance calling an election on February 3, 2009 in the City of Springfield, Missouri, to submit to the qualified voters a question as to whether or not to institute a one-cent sales tax on retail sales within the City of Springfield, Missouri, for the purpose of providing revenues for the Springfield Police and Firefighters Pension System, providing for a sunset on the tax at the earlier of either the end of five years from the date of commencement of the tax or the Pension Fund reaching a fully-funded status, and declaring an emergency."

The bill has been declared an emergency but is not anticipated to be voted on Monday night, instead, it is listed as a first reading bill.

The proposed ballot language for the February election is:

"Shall the City of Springfield impose a sales tax at a rate of 1 percent solely for the purpose of providing revenues for the Springfield Police and Firefighters Pension System with said tax to sunset upon the earlier of A) Five (5) years from the date of the commencement of collection of this tax or B) the Pension System fund reaching a fully-funded (100%) status as determined by an independent actuarial study conducted for the Pension System Board of Trustees?”

There is one emergency bill on the November 10 agenda:

15. COUNCIL BILL 2008-340. (Carlson) A special ordinance authorizing the City Manager, or his designee, to apply for and accept a Missouri Department of Economic Development Emergency Community Development Block Grant Fund grant for the purpose of acquiring, redeveloping and disposing of foreclosed/vacant properties, and to execute agreements and do all things necessary to carry out such grant; amending the budget provided for the Planning and Development Department of the City of Springfield, Missouri, for Fiscal Year 2008-2009 in the amount of $2,800,000.00; and declaring an emergency

Council will likely adopt the Internal Auditor's Policies and Procedures and approve the annual Audit Working Plan of April Lathrom. See Item 21. COUNCIL BILL 2008-322. If you would like more information on the Internal Auditor's Policies and Procedures, see Community Free Press (CFP) supplements to the print edition of October 22. There is also a summary update on page 4 of the October 22 editon of CFP.

Also up for vote tonight is COUNCIL BILL 2008-323, "a special ordinance authorizing the City Manager, or his designee, to appropriate $165,000 from the level property tax fund balance to construct a public parking lot at Jefferson Avenue and Phelps Street."

Council is expected to approve the reappointments of 4 members of the City Utilities board, Patrick Platter; Lisa Officer; Mark McNay; and Tom Finnie. The vote was divided at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting. Councilman Doug Burlison and Council woman Cindy Rushefsky cast nay votes regarding Mr. Finnie, citing him as the source of many problems the city faces today. The other three members up for reappointment were unanimously approved for recommendation to the City Council by the Committee of the Whole.


Vince Jericho hosted pension discussion with pension board members

Local KSGF radio host Vincent David Jericho hosted a discussion about the Police and Firefighters' Pension System this morning.

Assistant Fire Chief and Firefighter representative to the Pension board David Hall; Ron Hoffman, appointed citizen representative of the board and longest serving member and; Ken Homan, retiree representative of the board, were on hand to give their experienced and knowledgeable input.

It's well worth a listen if you are interested in the pension plan issue.

I'd also like to remind you that there will be a 7 p.m. presentation of the proposed solution to the pension plan given by City Manager Greg Burris tonight at Big Momma's Coffee and Espresso Bar. The Missouri Liberty Coalition has scheduled the meeting and wants the public to know they are welcome! Get details here or here.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Meeting Alert: City Manager to make pension presentation; take questions

Thursday night (November 6)

I got a phone call from Mr. Tom Martz asking if I would make the public aware that Springfield City Manager Greg Burris will be making an approximately 20 minute presentation on the city's plan to solve the police and fire pension system's funding problems.

After the presentation, Mr. Burris is expected to take questions from the attendees of the meeting.

The meeting is completely open to the public! Woo hoo!!!!

If you would like to attend the presentation and find out more about the city's plan to solve the pension system's issues. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Big Momma's Coffee & Espresso Bar, 217 E. Commercial Street.

Be prepared to sip some superb drinks and savor some great eats. To view the menu and price list, click this link.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Obama wants to usher in "social, political and moral change" in America

Much has been made of the Chicago Public Radio discussion on "The Court and Civil Rights," from 2001, in which Barack Obama said:

"I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways we still suffer from that."

"I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts, the institution just isn't structured that way....

"You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, you know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time."

The court's just not very good at it and politically it's very hard to legitimatize opinions from the court in that regard. So, I mean, I think although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, you know, I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts...."

Last Tuesday, I noted here that the way Obama said "courts," it just didn't sound like the end of the sentence. It wasn't the end of the sentence, however, I don't think knowing the end of the sentence particularly changes anything, at least not in my opinion but, for what it's worth, here is the rest of what he said, at that point in the discussion:

"...I think although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally, you know, I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts, I think that is a practical matter, our institutions just aren't really equipped to do it."

If anything, it continues the line of thinking that Obama feels the better place to make major redistributive change is through other means than the Supreme Court, you see, during the course of that discussion, Obama had also said:

"I think that if you look at the victories of and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples so that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and, as long as I could pay for it, I'd be okay but, the Surpreme court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in the society and, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical, it didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the constitution, at least as its been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you but, it doesn't say what the state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn't shifted and one of the things that I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused."

The statement does not change the fact that Obama seemed to feel, in 2001, that the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy was successful in vesting, as he said, "formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples," but he alluded to the civil rights movement as failing in causing the court to venture, he said, "into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in the society," for that reason, he felt, "as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical, it didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the constitution, at least as it's been interpreted."

I would note, Obama referred to the constraints the Warren Court failed to break as "essential" constraints, I think that is important and further provides focus to the fact that the panel was looking for ways to effect those "issues of redistribution of wealth and more basic issues of political and economic justice in the society," but, at least Obama, didn't feel that the courts were the best way to accomplish those changes.

One could certainly make an argument that by choice of the words "success" and "failure" and their implied application by Obama, that he tends to believe it would have been good, or a "success" if the Warren Court had ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and more basic issues of political and economic justice and that, since he later pointed out, the Warren Court generally interpreted the constitution as, "a charter of negative liberties" that says "what the states can't do to you," and "what the federal government can't do to you but, ... doesn't say what the state government or the federal government must do on your behalf," that Obama might have felt the state and federal government could be doing more on your behalf and, specifically, he might have felt it should be doing more in the areas of redistributive, political and economic justice, otherwise, why would he call the civil rights movement a failure in that regard, in regards to "bringing about economic change through the courts?"

That is what worries some people, and I believe rightly so, and it appears that it worried Obama and others on the panel of speakers also, but their concern or worry appeared to be dependent upon which side of the political ideological sphere the state and federal governments' social or moral change, through the courts, was represented.

I would also point out that later, Obama and other guests make clear they understand there is a difference between redistributive and distributive actions on the part of the court.

In a nutshell, in my opinion those on the panel were looking for and discussing what was the best way to effect social, political and even moral change in America and in Obama's opinion the Supreme Court didn't seem to have much of a track record of success in that regard.

A caller named Anna, who had been a community organizer and planned to go into labor organizing later asked the speakers, "to comment on why they [thought]," "one of the great tragedies of the civil rights movement was the focus on the courts and not enough on the community work." She could not remember who had made that comment but, it was Barack Obama who had made it and he replied:

"Well, as a former community organizer, this is Barack Obama, it's because organizing's hard. You know, litigation is hard but organizing is harder." Obama added, "You know, part of it is just that, you know, it's difficult to mobilize change at the local level so, that makes a lot of difference."

Gretchen Helfrich, the host of the Chicago Public Radio discussion seemed bent on undermining the reputation of the Supreme Court, calling into question its stability and noting that, as she put it, "[The court] doesn't accomplish stable social change because you always have the intervention of a not clearly predictable act." She kept bringing up Bush v Gore, a decision she clearly despised and disagreed with. Here's what she said: "I'm wondering if the court's position, at the time of Bush v Gore, and don't worry, we're not going there again, but I just want to say, one of the things people said was, 'the Court is this institution that has so much respect and authority and legitimacy so, it could use its institutional reputation to wade into this controversy and impose a solution,' possibly at the expense to that reputation, okay so, you all heard those arguments. My question is, how stable is that?"

Her answer came from Susan Bandes, Professor of law at DePaul University and the editor of the book, “The Passions of Law.” Bandes responded, "I think that we may have kind of a consensus here that the court can, perhaps, bring us a little bit ahead, you know, and act as a kind of a moral signpost in the distance but it can go too far ahead and, you know, we need the community organizers, we need Congress, you know, we need some kind of a dialog and a coalition in order for any kind of change to be at all lasting. I think it was Bickle, Peter Bickle, who has said the court is the least dangerous branch. Really all its got is its capital, it hasn't got the power over the purse, it hasn't got the power of the sword and we have to respect it or it loses everything."

Clearly, this "bird of a feather" panel, hoped and wished to effect social, political, economic and even moral change in America and the effect the civil rights movement played in the Supreme Court was a topic of discussion, as well as the Supreme Court in general, but much of the discussion was over the reach of the Supreme Court and how far it should go in the direction of, as Obama worded it, "economic change through the courts," but the discussion didn't stay focused only on economic change. That topic, the topic of Obama's admission of contradiction within the politically left sphere will likely be the topic of my next post. It pertains to the "moral" changes I kept throwing into this posting. There is a reason for that.

More to come on Obama's redistributive change

(and his admission of contridiction within the ranks of "the left")

When I posted "Recommended Reading 32: Obama and "redistributive change"," I asked a question and said I would try to listen to the entire radio program cited, myself, when I found the time. I did so and I was right in my suspicion.

Sometime tomorrow (excuse me, later today) or when I get a chance and am not so bleary eyed, I'll share some of what I found out.

G'night, or morning, however you care to look at be continued.