Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lampe's Proposed Anti-Bullying Bill

is just wrong

The News-Leader editorial board supports Sara Lampe's bill to outlaw bullying of specifically categorized groups of students based on particular information about them.

The board, which gives opinions for the newspaper, says Sara Lampe has "guts" because she wants to outlaw bullying in those specific "categories" for those specific reasons.

The "Our Voice" column implies that if it were blond haired, blue eyed children who were being bullied and whose school work suffered as a result:

"Parents would be outraged. Lawmakers would demand change. School officials would take action."

And, the newspaper's editorial board goes on to indicate:

"State Rep. Sara Lampe hopes for that kind of reaction -- as do we -- when she files a bill outlawing bullying of various categories of students, including those who are gay."

I'm glad I'm not on their board, I disagree. No student, whether "blue-eyed," "blond haired," black, white, brown, "gay," straight, Christian, or non-Christian or, any other "various category" across a broad spectrum of "categories" should be bullied. It makes it seem like Lampe, and the News-Leader's board that agrees with her, think some laws ought to be applied only to certain categories of people and the heck with the rest of them.

I, personally, believe all people are special. Every single student should be protected from bullying and if it is going to be outlawed it should simply be outlawed across the board, not be gender specific, race specific, sexual orientation specific. If it is because of those specific categories of students named by Lampe that it is necessary to have a no bullying policy then, I think, it would be acceptable to note that fact but, to identify only "certain categories of students" for protection from bullying implies that it is okay for any category of student NOT identified to be bullied.

Such an idea will surely get brownie points among some of Lampe's Democrat party constituency but, either all students deserve protection from bullying or all students do not deserve protection from bullying. Certainly, one "category" of students shouldn't deserve protection from bullying more than another.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Planned Parenthood: Keeping Politics out of the Doctor's Office?

The "Springfield News-Leader" published a "Voice of the Day" letter today offering a slanted view of what a regulation President Bush signed into law will accomplish.

Alison Gee, Southwest Missouri's Planned Parenthood Vice President, described the regulation as "a midnight regulation," though, in an earlier post, I referenced "Baptist Press" (BP) had reported the Health and Human Services Department had been working on the regulation for much of this year and had introduced the proposal in August. After its introduction, a 30 day comment period followed. In fact, the report from BP had stated (or warned) that critics of the measure were charging it was "an eleventh-hour move," so, no surprise Gee erroneously represented it as "a midnight regulation."

It's a topsy turvy world when the ten commandments are meekly removed from a government office because it offended one man but a nationwide effort is made to force doctors, pharmacists and pharmacist assistants to deal in abortion and abortion drugs against their own moral consciences. Or, should I say, there is an outcry against any regulation protecting those doctors, pharmacists and assistants from providing services and prescriptions which are in contradiction of their own moral code? In other words, your right to an abortion trumps the doctor's right to decline giving you one?

This morning, I followed the hot link provided by the News-Leader at the online edition of the paper:

"Join us. Visit to learn more."

...What I found at the link, originally, was a replacement of the home page with a blatant call for money. Under a snowy, pine tree laden, peaceful blue, starlit banner, Planned Parenthood invited those who landed there to support "Choice on Earth":

"We have this special page up for just a few short days instead of the regular Planned Parenthood homepage because right now, we have a special opportunity: A long-time supporter will match, dollar for dollar, every online gift that we receive through December 31, 2008, up to a total of $300,000."

That is what I found the first time I clicked on the News-Leader's hot link. When I went back to pick up the link for this blog entry the link had been updated to direct the reader to the Planned Parenthood homepage. At the home page is a prominent "Choice on Earth" fund raiser notice.
Directly below the "Choice on Earth" contribution notice, the reader is invited to:

"Learn more about issues and elections at the website of our advocacy and political arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund."

Political arm!??? Wait a minute! Didn't Gee promise in her "Voice of the Day" letter today:

"We will fight this and use all of our power to keep politics out of the doctor's office."


Yet, they have a political arm? If their intent is to keep politics out of the doctor's office, why the need for a "political arm?"

Apparently, they just want to keep politics out of the doctor's office if it goes against their own political agenda. You see, it's okay to offend the moral conscience of doctors, pharmacists and their assistants through political activism, just don't offend Planned Parenthood by exercising your own right to be politically active in a cause that counters their own political agenda.

Bully, bully.

Gee wrote:

"President Bush is continuing to take his ideology and politics and smother women's ability to make fully informed decisions about their health care."

The regulation isn't about Bush "smothering" a woman's ability to make fully informed decisions about health care. It is about protecting the rights of doctors and pharmacists not to have to provide a procedure or prescribe drugs which cause a moral dilemma for them, individually. But, those very critics of the regulation have already sought the inclusion of funding for abortion in any national health care coverage plan president elect Barack Obama might seek so, it shouldn't come as a surprise these pro-abortion activists care little about the individual rights of people unless it goes along with their own agenda. (See BP's report on that, here.)

In this case, I see Bush trying to protect peoples' rights and Planned Parenthood trying to force others to provide services for an activity the former oppose on spiritual or moral grounds and, not stopping there, Planned Parenthood won't really be happy until they force every American taxpayer whose moral conscience is in opposition to abortion to financially support any woman's choice to abort.

In fact, the regulation does nothing to smother women's ability "to make fully informed decisions about their health care." Planned Parenthood can still inform women and women will still have a choice as to whether they want to abort a baby or choose another option, such as putting the baby up for adoption.

It's really about money, your money and my money. Planned Parenthood wants you to think without more of your willingly donated money, today, and future mandated tax dollars, their ability to "fully inform" women about their health care will be hindered or "smothered." They want to force all doctors and pharmacists to provide abortions and prescription drugs which some doctors are conflicted about providing. They want providing those services and prescription drugs forced upon those doctors and pharmacists to make the choice of abortion more convenient for women who want them and they want all of us to eventually be forced to foot the bill with our tax dollars.

Should women have the right to have a convenient abortion? Women can certainly get one but, poor things, it might not always be as convenient for them as they might like. They might have to make a day trip. What a pity.

I know people who have to travel to Kansas City or St. Louis to get treatment for certain illnesses so, should the taxpayer be forced to provide money (through the government) to every hospital in the nation so that all treatments and procedures are convenient to every single patient who needs those treatments or procedures that might be currently unavailable in their own cities, at their local hospitals and clinics? Is convenient "availability" what should dictate the expenditure of taxpayer dollars, even at the expense of individual moral conflict?

I have a cousin who is often forced to travel to Little Rock, Arkansas to receive the veteran health care benefits she needs. She can get them, but it's less than convenient for her and she often has to make the trip under physical duress, something which isn't often the case for women choosing abortion.

President Bush signed a regulation to affirm "the right of doctors and other health care providers to refuse to participate in abortion and other medical procedures to which they object," not to deny women access; accessibility to abortions was not affected one whit by this regulation. Abortions are as available to women today as they were the day before Bush signed that bill.

Yes, Alison Gee, let's do ensure we keep politics (and money grubbing) out of the doctor's office.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hope, Not Platitudes

Matthew 6:

25"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

In this article, Dr. Charles Stanley pointed out the difference between concern and anxiety.

I'm thinking maybe it would have been more timely to have posted about this before Christmas but, I don't think those who are inclined to be worried and anxious are any less anxious today than they were before Christmas.

So much of the time I feel like I spend my time telling people the right words and sometimes I question, within my own mind and my own heart, whether I live up to the words I know are right in my own life. I do try not to worry about financial matters, always trying to do everything I can and then placing it in God's hands, trusting him to work things out...and I have the trust built on past experiences when God HAS worked everything out for us, over and over again. I do trust God but, at times, I confess, I let worry take over and have to correct myself, reminding myself of the verses above over and over again.

I wonder, at times, if saying the words, or quoting those words out of the Bible aren't helpful to those who are worrying. I wonder if our actions, when we are having our own troubles, speak louder. I question, sometimes, whether to share difficulties with others because I feel if I tell others we're having difficulties they might think I am worrying or complaining. I think, if we are truly not worrying and are not anxious about our difficulties why would we even bring them up? Then, on the other hand, I think, if I don't share my difficulties with others, how can they see my faith in God in action? How can it be a testimony? Perhaps if we share it after the fact? After God has worked it out and we are no longer in need? I think that might be the answer.

I think it was on the 22nd or 23rd of December that I went to the grocery store to do my last minute round up of essential grocery items for the recipes I had planned for Christmas dinner.

I got the car parked and it was very cold as I headed across the parking lot with my hands shoved in the pockets of my coat. As I got about 10 feet from the door of the Price Cutter's I heard a woman sobbing loudly about two parked cars over. I didn't know what it was about but, as I entered the store, she and her very young daughter and another adult came in behind me. I heard her tearfully complain, "I've been saving and saving...." I gathered later that either she'd lost her wallet or someone had stolen it. She had saved $200 in that wallet, I assume to buy the groceries necessary to prepare a meal for her family for Christmas. Maybe some of it was for gifts, I just don't know. When I heard her broken voice, full of disappointment at the loss of that money she'd scrimped and saved for Christmas I wanted to give her something. I wanted to replace it but, with what? I had nothing to give. If I gave her what I had, then what would I feed my own guests for Christmas? So, I shopped and got what I needed to prepare my own family's Christmas dinner but as I shopped I fought tears. I couldn't get her out of my mind and she is still on my mind.

I wonder, if I had approached her that night and said:

" not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?"

Would it have made her disappointment less? What if I had cried with her and told her, "I know how you must feel, I've been there before?" A complete stranger? In a grocery store aisle, with onlookers staring at us?

Dr. Stanley pointed out, in the article linked above, that we most certainly can choose our reaction to situations. Sometimes I choose well, sometimes I don't. I'm human like everyone else but, I'll say this...there are a lot of people struggling this year. I can do nothing to help them financially. Often, I am reminded I can't even help myself, how can I help others? Maybe by listening? Maybe by forgetting my own self and thinking of others, being crafty about how I can respond, if not financially, in some other equally beneficial way?

One thing I do know is that talking about it and knowing what the right thing to do is without actually putting it into practice in my life and the lives of others helps no one. So, how do I help myself when my own family is in need and help others without hampering my own efforts of helping my own family, time wise?

Sometimes it feels like life is a balancing act and the rope ain't any bigger around or any stronger than a strand of hair.

If it helps to remember that God is in control and God works things out in the lives of believers then we will do better to spend our free time, what free time we have, in reflection on that fact rather than on worry, always remembering to do what we can to help ourselves and never forgetting to help others, even if all we have is a hand to be held and ears to listen with. It does help me because, like I said before, I've got past victories to remember. I hope, for others, they have past victories to remember too.

I hope we really do what we (Christians) can to help others rather than offering platitudes. I hope we mean what we say to others and I hope we genuinely practice our faith rather than simply and hollowly repeating what we've been told.

I hope our prayer lives are as they should be and that we rely on God. While God uses believers, at times, to accomplish things in our lives and the lives of others we shouldn't rely on them to meet our needs. God directs and He guides and He's the provider, not our bosses, our family, our friends. God, Emmanuel.

I also don't know why God allows people to come to the brink...well, maybe I do know why, at that...Brokenness: The Way to Blessing (I'm not sure how long that link will be available, it was a daily devotional).


President Bush Signed Bill on Human Trafficking December 23

According to Baptist Press the legislation will:

-- Significantly increase the ability of the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Office to thwart sexual and other forms of trafficking overseas;

-- Strengthen prosecution efforts against trafficking in the United States;

-- Increase punishment for traffickers;

-- Enhance protections for trafficking victims in this country;

-- Empower U.S. attempts to halt the use of children as soldiers in other countries;

-- Require the Justice Department to produce a model law for states to use in investigating and prosecuting trafficking;

-- Clarify federal law cannot be interpreted to consider prostitution as an acceptable mode of employment;

-- Authorize a presidential award for exceptional efforts in the fight against trafficking.

Read all about it here.


Ozarks Transportation Organization is Taking Public Comment on an Amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program

The City's Public Information Office recently issued a news release on behalf of the Ozarks Transportation Organization (OTO).

The OTO wanted to announce a public comment period from Dec. 24, 2008 - Jan. 7, 2009 regarding their proposed amendment to the 2009-2012 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Apparently, the proposed amendment is not available for online viewing and requires a trip to the OTO offices at 117 Park Central Square, Suite 107 but, is said to include:

"The addition of a project to add capacity to Route 60 from Kansas Avenue in Republic west to the City of Monett."

I'd note for readers, usually, when a news release or ballot issue states an amendment "includes," and sites example(s), they are just that, example(s), and there is more to the amendment or ballot issue than what is stated in the news release or on the ballot issue. Would it be nice to see the words, "The amendment will include but is not limited to:" rather than just, "The amendment includes:?" Yep, but I haven't seen it happen yet.

So, if you think this is an issue you'd like to weigh in on, it might be worth your time to go to 117 Park Central Square, Suite 107 and take a look at the OTO's amendment for yourself.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

It's been a busy week, getting ready for company for Christmas. I said I was going to post a great song I found earlier this week on Christmas eve, danged if I could even remember what song it was by the time Christmas eve got here.

We had a beautiful Christmas service at our church tonight. We are really blessed with talented singers there and I got to bring home two big, gorgeous poinsettias after the service. Nothing makes a house look more like Christmas than poinsettias. My sister-in-law doesn't know yet that she's going to get to take one of them home with her.

My husband and I had a great time earlier in the week baking the pieces and putting together a gingerbread house that will go home to my grand niece and nephew tomorrow night.

I've got everything done that I could get done until the ham goes in the oven later this morning.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas. Love your family and celebrate all their little quirks. I know I plan to fully enjoy my family as we celebrate our love for each other and the birth of Christ. Fortunately, we all even agree on politics, for the most part, and we do enjoy discussing the topic.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rasmussen: 74 Percent of Adults Support Religious Displays on Public Property

Rasmussen™ reported today that 74 percent of adults support religious displays on public property.

Only 17 percent of adults believe nativity scenes or menorahs have no place on public property.

Government offices and their holders generally back down from law suits as they are so costly. The suits are often a financially lucrative undertaking for organizations, such as the ACLU, under 42 U.S.C., Section 1988, of the United States Code.

It took one complaint earlier this year to cause Circuit Clerk Steve Helms to remove a poster depicting historic scenes, pictures from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the 10 commandments from his County office.

Presiding County Commissioner Dave Coonrod advised Helms to remove the poster, later hosting choirs of Christmas carolers in the rotunda of the County Courthouse. There were no complaints about the carols, sometimes religious, being sung on public property.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas 4: The Reason for the Season

There Is A Reason

A Living Prayer

It's About the Cross

Go Tell it on the Mountain


This Week at Baptist Press: Groups try to Advance NON-Reproductive Rights

As one of its issues to watch, this week Baptist Press (BP) pointed readers to President elect Obama's transition Web site, where a 55 page report signed by over 60 abortion rights groups are urging the president elect to include abortion coverage as part of any national health care plan he might consider after he takes office.

Ironically, while the report includes "Health" in the title it also suggests it advances reproductive rights. The full title of the report is, "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration."

Let me get this straight so you will understand my bias. I am pro-life, not pro-abortion. I also understand that those who support abortion rights prefer the title, "pro-choice." I don't care how they want to be identified, a rose is a rose whether called a Diana, Princess of Wales™ or a Double Delight™ . And, I'm not sure how abortion advances the "reproductive rights" of women, it seems to me it actually promotes the opposite. They would like the taxpayer to be forced to fund abortions, in other words, what they really seek is to advance a woman's right NOT to reproduce through abortion. I wonder, what does NOT reproducing have to do with reproduction? In my opinion, it would have been more honest to have titled it "Advancing Non-Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration," or "Advancing Taxpayer funded Abortions and Health in a New Administration." These advocates care not one whit whether it is against some taxpayer's individual ethical and moral convictions or sensibilities to abort babies for health reasons or just because they are currently inconvenient.

Pro-Life Susan B. Anthony List's President, Marjorie Dannenfelser was quoted in the article as stating, "After a decade of common-sense restrictions on taxpayer funding, the abortion industry thinks it deserves a bailout from President-Elect Obama."

Dannenfelser recommended pro-life advocates contact their senators through their Web site at: to seek their opposition of the taxpayer funded abortions that these pro-abortion groups seek.

Meanwhile, BP reported, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under our current President, George W. Bush, announced a regulation intended to protect doctors' and health care providers' rights,"to refuse to participate in abortion and other medical procedures to which they object."

BP pointed out, HHS was working on the regulation for much of this year and introduced the proposal in August. A 30 day comment period followed.

"The Christian Medical Association (CMA) reported 41 percent of its members said in a survey they had been "pressured to compromise Biblical or ethical convictions.""


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas 3: On the lighter side

For The Birds sing with Leon Redbone's Christmas Ball Blues

And, for the kids: Here's a site where they can decorate their own gingerbread man and send it as an e-card for Christmas!


Rasmussen: Congress' Approval Rating - Single Digits in latest survey

It marks the first time since the election

According to Rasmussen Reports™ Congress' job performance approval rating has fallen to single digits again. It is the first time since November's election, when Democrats gained additional seats in the House and the Senate. Only 2 percent of the likely voters Rasmussen surveyed believe Congress is doing an excellent job while only 9 percent believe Congress is doing a good or excellent job.

Among Democrats, only 14 percent gave a good or excellent job performance score to Congress, even though their own party leads.

34 percent of those surveyed think a majority of the Congress is corrupt, down 2 percent since Rasmussen's last survey.

Ironically, while the government is in the throes of seeking more and more regulation in the private sector, a separate Rasmussen survey showed some voters believe politicians are more corrupt than the CEO's of large corporations and that belief was held by a whopping margin of 48 - 25 percent.

In their weekly review of polls, Rasmussen says most Americans see Barack Obama as about the only bright spot in the future.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas 2

Mindy Smith "Away in a Manger" with Alison Krauss

And The Angels Cried


Farewell to Mert Seaton

as the Managing Editor of the Community Free Press

I plan to lightly summarize the December 17 issue of the Community Free Press today. Instead, to me, the most important story of the issue is the fact that the CFP is losing our much beloved Managing Editor. The issue of the 17th was the last issue which will be stamped with Seaton's approval and I know I feel the loss so probably, even more than this freelancer, do the staff members and publisher of my chief means of income. They are the ones who saw his face everyday and I know they were blessed for it.

So, here's the rundown. I have a story entitled, "West Central WOES" in the paper, covering the issue of crime in the West Central Neighborhood. Brian Brown has an article dealing with pre-filed bills and other priority topics for the upcoming State legislative session and he also discusses soon to be Governor Nixon's want of restoring Medicaid cuts. And, as usual, there is much, much more so, do pick up a copy or if that isn't possible, read the online edition.

What I really want to do today is post, in it's entirety, the last Sports column of a really nice guy who I am fortunate to have gotten to work under for almost two years now. I know everyone will join in with me in wishing Mert Seaton good luck with his new job and a wonderful and Merry Christmas and New Year. Here's his last sports column (reformatted):


A few months ago I interviewed retiring library director Annie Busch for a story that appears in this issue. When I asked Busch about her feelings on retiring she called it “bittersweet.” I truly didn’t understand what that meant until now.

This is my last issue as a staff member of the Community Free Press. I will be leaving at the end of the year to pursue other opportunities. On one hand, I am excited about my future endeavors. But, on the other hand, there is a feeling of sorrow about leaving a place, and people, that has given me more than I could ever explain.

First off, I would like to thank our publishers, Breck and Amanda Langsford, for showing me the ends and outs of this business, and for taking a chance on a bright-eyed rookie right out of college. You guys are more than bosses; you are friends who have made a lasting impact on my life.

Next, I would like to thank the current and past staff members of CFP. I could not have done any of this without you. Your dedication and hard work was an inspiration for me each and every day.

Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to give a heart-felt thank you to our readers. You caring, supportive people have been one of the main reasons I succeeded for two years. You have been with me for the birth of a child and the death of a family member. You publicly witnessed my successes and failures. And, for the most part, you accepted me into your circles with open arms and hearts. Sometimes, we in the media forget about our most important clients —you. I tried to do my best to make this paper something the people in the community would be proud of, and I hope I have made you feel important and needed. As I leave this place there are too many fond memories to recall. But, what I will remember most is all the praise and criticism you, the reader, gave me. You made this paper what it is today, and I implore you to keep making it the best community newspaper in town.

As I type this, I struggle to find a way to end. There are so many more people to thank and so much more I want to say. But, as Mark Twain once said, “It is better to appear stupid, than to open your mouth and remove all doubts.” So, in order to remain somewhat intelligent I will only say this:

Goodbye, good luck, and thank you for the memories.

Since the Community Free Press has no place to leave online comments, you are welcome to leave well wishes for Mert Seaton here, in the comment section of this blog or, and this would be the best method: consider writing a letter to the editor of CFP and let them know how much Mert will be missed. You can do that by writing to this address:, be sure and include your name and phone number for verification purposes, only.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008 - 1: Little Drummer Boy Countdown

(These are just my top five picks from the videos I viewed at "YouTube." I certainly didn't view them all! One of my requirements of consideration was that drums had to be featured. It's amazing to me how many versions of The Little Drummer Boy there are that have little or no drums in them. It was difficult choosing between my number 1 and number 2 for the top spot, however, I liked the honesty of my number 1 choice and the depth of the drums so, it won out in the end.)

5. Duncan McCall Pipe Band / Little Drummer Boy

4. Little Drummer Boy, David Bowie and Bing Crosby

3. Little Drummer Boy featuring awesome drum solo

2. Josh Groban Little Drummer Boy

1. Little Drummer Boy - Johnny Cash and Neil Young


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

O'er my Dead Oleo

Jim, of busplunge fame, has a very serious posting tonight on an issue that is sure to be highly controversial all across the Missouri Ozarks.

Jim put it this way, "Sara Lampe Wants To Legalize WHAT?"

Further, he warned:

"Tread carefully Sara, there are some out there who don't want to change the law."

I thought he would appreciate knowing there is yet another who might oppose the legalization of the evil "Chiffon:"





Saturday, December 13, 2008

This week at Baptist Press

I've started trying to remember to do a little looking at what Baptist Press is talking about on Saturday night the last week or two. I don't know that I can promise I'll do it every week but I'm going to try.

Baptist Press' Assistant Editor Michael Foust's article on President Bush, "Land: Bush not 'theologian-in-chief," revealed, in my opinion, that Land wasn't right on target, as far as I'm concerned.

It isn't any surprise to me that President Bush didn't meet Land's "theologian litmus test," but I think at least one conclusion about Bush was a bit off the mark and, I should add, I don't think it is an American President's duty to become an evangelical Christian's "theologian-in-chief."

Land drew the conclusion that Bush believes there is more than one way to reach God, more than one path, more than one avenue, based on something the President said to Cynthia McFadden of NightLine in a December 8 interview. I'm a bit of a word parser and I think Land went a little too far in drawing that conclusion.

Bush said:

"I don't think God is a narrow concept. I think it's a broad concept. I just happen to believe the way to God is through Christ, and others have different avenues toward God, and I believe we pray to the same Almighty -- I do."

Clearly, Bush made the statement that he believes "the way to God is through Christ." He went on to say that other people follow different paths toward God, not stating that they actually get to God, but only that they are following different avenues toward God. I think there is a subtle difference and the difference is an oft used tactic of politicians.

Certainly, if word-parsed it can't truly be used against him by an evangelical who wants to claim, as Land did, that Bush was saying there are other paths to God, after all, Bush said he believes, "the way to God is through Christ," and others who might believe there are other avenues to God can't argue against him, or take offense because he gave a head nod their direction and did not make a firm statement saying they would never reach God by following a different avenue, simply that they have "different avenues toward God."

Politicians are practiced at giving just enough of an answer to satisfy an interviewer while being sufficiently vague to not offend those with whom, if pressed, they might disagree. Bush certainly hasn't been an over all good speaker but he can sometimes rise to the occasion of being a sufficient politician.

Democrat Pot calls Republican Kettle

More thoughts on Commissioner Coonrod's Alarming Statements

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the comments made by County Commissioner Coonrod today. It seems to me the Greene County Commission is sending a lot of mixed messages regarding what is appropriate and not appropriate in regards to free speech these days.

Greene County Presiding Commissioner Dave Coonrod recently said he was speaking for the entire County Commission when he stated that even if Circuit Clerk Steve Helms disassociated himself from his County office when writing a letter to the editor he didn't have a right to do so. If you are interested in Coonrod's comments you'll find them linked in a previous JackeHammer posting.

I didn't weigh in during the election cycle when there was a controversy over whether Helms should have a poster hanging in his County office which, among other historical references, included the 10 Commandments but, Commissioner Coonrod did. He advised Helms to remove the poster from his office because it might be offensive to some patrons of the office.

As an American and a Christian, I had no problem with Helms displaying that poster including the 10 Commandments but, if I was opposed to the 10 Commandments hanging in the Circuit Clerk's office why wouldn't I also be opposed to a daily choir singing Christmas carols at the County Courthouse?

Don't get me wrong, as an American and a Christian I think it is lovely that choirs are singing Christmas carols in the County Courthouse rotunda. I love the idea.

I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It took one offended atheist's complaint to cause Helms to remove that poster from the Circuit Clerk's office wall. Why isn't this atheist complaining about Christmas carols sung in the Greene County Courthouse rotunda? Could this have been an attack on an incumbent Republican Circuit Clerk in an attempt to effect the November election!?

I'm just asking some questions here, I don't know the answers, and I've already admitted to being naive in the past so, feel free to honor me with that moniker anytime. It's been highly publicized that Christmas carols are being sung in the County Courthouse rotunda but no one seems to be offended enough to complain and the very County Commissioner who went on the record as opposing a poster which depicted American historical events and contained a religious reference has sanctioned these carols. Some people would say there's a word for that, but today, they are being as quiet as a Christmas mouse. ;)

I am opposed to singular citizens censoring religious freedom under the guise of tolerance for all and I am opposed to opening a can of worms which gives elite, elected office holders the power to make judgement calls for everyone about what is acceptable and unacceptable speech, about what is appropriate or inappropriate religious reference and about what can be worn on a T-shirt within a County building. I don't care if you are a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Constitution Party member, an Independent, a Green Party member or a member of any other number of political speech is under constitutional protection for a reason. It is in times when an individual's speech offends a person that the wheat is separated from the chaff in regards to whether a person believes it is a valued right.

Freedom of speech should not be used as a partisan exercise.

In a highly publicized public meeting, an independently elected County Commission office holder, speaking on behalf of other independently elected County Commission office holders, admonished another independently elected County office holder for exercising his freedom to express his opinion in the public arena. In doing so, that independently elected County Commission office holder exercised his freedom to express the opinions of himself and the elected Commission in the public arena. It appears that Coonrod believes he has retained the right to express his, and the entire Commissions,' personally held opinions in a public forum while believing that Helms should be censored for exercising his own.

Ironic, ain't it?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Greene County Presiding Commissioner's Comments Alarming

Presiding Greene County Commissioner Dave Coonrod is a charming, likeable guy, however, I was alarmed by his comments at a recent County Court "en banc" meeting.

Dirk Vanderhart of the Springfield New-Leader published an on-line link to the "dressing down" of Circuit Clerk Steve Helms at his Web log yesterday.

Coonrod was upset about a letter Helm's wrote to the editor of the News-Leader. In the letter, Helms took a position in opposition of the 1-cent sales tax the City of Springfield will place on the election ballot in early February, 2009.

The dispute between Coonrod and Helms came close on the heels of controversy regarding letters written by assistant City Attorney Duke McDonald. Some members of the community are calling for McDonald to be fired because he wrote letters to the editor expressing his views regarding homosexuality, while others defend him.

Helms pointed out that he had not signed the letter as the Circuit Clerk but the News-Leader had added his position, internally. At issue is an elected or city/county/state employee's right to exercise free speech, as a private citizen, in the public arena.

Coonrod, apparently, doesn't feel Helms has such a right. After an exchange in which the Circuit Clerk inquired whether he has given up his right to offer an opinion regarding the running of the City, Coonrod replied, "Yes, you do (give up your right). Yes, you do. It says here (in the News-Leader), you're the Circuit Clerk. In my opinion, you do."

Coonrod went on to state:

"You're not getting it. It doesn't matter even if you do can state, at the very start, 'I'm writing this letter not as the Circuit Clerk of Greene County but, I'm writing this letter as a citizen of Greene County, or Springfield, or whatever you are,' you're still a Circuit Clerk."

Helms' response referred to, as the News-Leader reported, Coonrod's dismissal of Helms' opinion regarding the City's handling of the police fire pension fund, due to Helms' past bankruptcy filing:

"You (Coonrod) can say, 'You can't say anything because you made a mistake.' I think I have as much right as anybody because I'm pointing out mistakes that are currently being made," Helms replied.

Though the voice of the judge speaking in response to Coonrod's attack on Helms is not identified in the recording, the News-Leader indicated it was Associate Circuit Judge Dan Imhof who responded to Coonrod's attack on Helms:

"You're never going to see me writing a letter to the editor, I'm not going to ever do it. He's (Helms) elected on a partisan ticket, he's an independent office holder, he's got a constituency that goes beyond just people going to the Circuit Clerk's office, you know. It may be wise or unwise for him to write letters like that and I can understand your concern but, I'm not going to try to censor him."

I thought I'd add my opinion to the mix. I think Duke McDonald and Steve Helms both have the same free speech rights as any other citizen. I also believe that employees of the City of Springfield should be able to discuss their political views without the threat of firing by the City.

A young Constitution Party candidate who ran for a congressional seat in the November election found himself faced with deciding between running for the seat or losing his job with the City. Under Section 6.11. Prohibitions, a City employee is restricted in their political activities, and there is plenty of wiggle room, in some areas of the section, for interpretation regarding the enforcement of that section.

Section 6.11 was used to force Travis Maddox to either give up his run for Congressman Roy Blunt's seat or give up his job, Maddox chose the latter.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Recommended Reading 33: Take up your Sword, the 2008 Christmas Wars have Begun

Kelly Boggs, weekly columnist for Baptist Press, took a bit of the bait in the Christmas wars in a battle kicked off by atheist Dan Barker this week.

Barker placed a provocative sign at the Washington State Capital, not as a symbol of his own atheistic belief but Barker, himself, admits he placed it there as an attack on religion.

Boggs reported that Dan Barker told Seattle's KING-TV, "It is not a religious display. It is an attack on religion."

Click this link to read the entire article: An atheistic Grinch


Friday, December 05, 2008

Missouri Republican Liberty Caucus Meeting Saturday, December 6

The meeting will take place from noon till 3:00 at the Carnegie Midtown Library, 397 East Central, in the upstairs meeting room.


- Develop State of Missouri Mission Statement, Policies and Principles

- Amend RLCMO By-Laws

- Open Discussion about the future of RLCMO

- Group Photographs; Suggestion, business attire for pictures

For more information: contact Tom Martz at

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Stringing Together some Community Thought on Public Safety and Crime Issues

Wow. There are some striking similarities between conditions on the ground in St. Louis and in Springfield, Missouri as evidenced in this Springfield News-Leader article, Alderman encourages residents to arm.

Read in light of an article published in the current issue (out today) of the Community Free Press, it gives one pause. In "City Cop Shortage is ‘Dog Gone Cold’," Brian Brown wrote that based on advice from Springfield's new City Manager, Greg Burris, and according to "Springfield Police Chief Lynn Rowe, the department is short 25 officers, and staffing levels aren’t going to be addressed before the city stabilizes the department’s pension situation." Brown goes on, "Burris said it doesn’t make sense to bring in new officers right now because new hires would be Tier II employees under the current system, and the city is trying to get switched over to the state’s LAGERS system."

Personally, I'm thinking that sort of depends upon one's priority. If public safety is the number one priority, it certainly DOES make sense to bring in new officers right now but, one could determine, considering the City failed to adequately address the underfunded pension problem for many years, that even though it's been identified as such, public safety hasn't really been the number one priorty issue in our City for many years.

According to Brown's article, "“The [hiring] freeze will occur at least until February 3,” Burris said. “If the tax passes, then we can start new academies. If the tax does not pass, we will have to reassess, and figure out what we’re going to do.""

Some months ago, I believe during budget discussions, some members (at least one) of the City Council were questioning what exactly ARE core City services? Council woman Rushefsky was seeking definition of that term. They've spent some time since then trying to get a vision of the direction the City should go. City Manager Greg Burris has questioned individual members regarding what they'd like the City to look like in 15 years. He brought along a 1999 Council resolution to one of those luncheon meetings to outline, I guess, the most current resolution of the Council regarding priorities. Council Bill 1999-438 was filed on December 7, 1999. It can also be referenced by Resolution number 8721.

"REAFFIRMING City Council's six priorities of Public Safety, Transportation/Traffic, Quality of Life and Economic Development, Communication with Citizens, Center City Revitalization, and Long-Range Planning/Vision 20/20 for next year, as discussed at the City Council's annual workshop on November 20, 1999."

Public Safety was at the head of the list. Tom Finnie was City Manager at the time. Proposed Action Step Priorities, under the explanation to the bill, for the Public Safety category included, but weren't limited to, interestingly, an "Implementation of Law Enforcement Sales Tax for; Additional Officers (City committed to 60 new officers and 12 non-sworn staff. By July, 2000, 45 officers and 9 non-sworn personnel will be hired. All 60 officers and 12 staff personnel scheduled to be hired by July, 2001.); Space Needs; Mobile Data Terminals and; Records Management System." Another category of interest was: "Determine Action on Photo Red Light Enforcement."

Again, personally, I would have preferred to have seen more "long range planning" dedicated to public safety than to Vision 20/20 projects. But, that's just me.

This morning, Vince Jericho said, "Times of great stress and strain also provide times for great opportunity," before he brought up a struggle being faced due to crime on the west side of downtown Springfield. Jack Pugh, a renovation contractor, has redeveloped houses on the west side of town in an effort to revitalize the area. He said:

"I tell you, good things do not happen to people who come here, on the Vince Jericho Show, especially when they speak against the status quo and the good old boys and girls that like to run this town.

"Since I was here last, I've had one building put on the dangerous building list because I absolutely refused to, along with David, to put any more money in this house on South Main because crime is so bad out of control there and, we even have a building standing open down the block where all the vagrants are living in at night. We just can't put more money in this and have it torn out. It's boarded up, which is not in compliance with the City's ordinance simply because 3 of the windows have been broken out since we started working on it. So, we shut it down, we boarded it up hoping the City can get crime under control on that street again."

It gets even more interesting, if you can call it that, maybe "alarming" would be a better word. Listen to the podcast. They touch on the article I referenced from the News-Leader, too.

I'd like to see our City Council continue to make an effort to define what core city services are for our City. It's a basic thing. Sometimes I think the citizens of this City understand core services better than the Council or City officials. In my opinion, they seem to want to expand core City services into something not "core" at all.

A Council in 1999 listed public safety first when listing their 6 priorities. Whatever long range vision they have practiced apparently didn't extend to how to protect the public and provide for law enforcement. Hinging public safety issues to whether the tax payers are willing to pass a sales tax to fund the police and firefighter pension system doesn't strike me as the most well thought out plan.

In the meantime, I think, just as a citizen of Springfield, watching our City Manager lead our City Council through feel good discussions of what you'd like to see our City look like in 15 years or what kind of a catch phrase we could identify our City by seems a bit high schoolish in light of the serious issues facing us, and don't get me wrong, I understand the City cannot have tunnel vision and ignore every aspect of our City and its growth other than public safety. I understand they have to have peripheral vision but, I'd like to see them stop giving public safety lip service as the highest priority and actually make it the highest priority.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Throwing the Dog Breeder out with the "Low-life Pet Owner?"

I don't know when, exactly, the words "dog breeder" became dirty words but contempt seems to be a more prevalent attitude toward those who breed dogs than not, these days. Personally, I'm worried our city may be planning to "throw out the baby with the bath water" when the key problems with the stray dog population are totally unrelated to dog breeders.

Some of my family have been dog breeders. My Grandmother bred a variety of dogs and my own Mother was a dog breeder for a while. She also showed her Shitzus in both Texas and Missouri and earned a share of ribbons, plates, cups, even a Shitzu wind chime, which my Aunt Sharron, who has also bred Shitzus, inherited upon my Mother's death.

I often hear dog breeders described as "puppy mill" owners. But, quite often, it is those very dog breeders to whom pet lovers across the country look when they want a companion animal.

Currently, I own a Boston Terrier. He's about 4 years old and we've had him for three or four months. He was given to us by a friend who said he wouldn't have given him to anyone else.

Who would you go to if you wanted to purchase a pure bred, registered dog like a Boston Terrier? More than likely, you'd look in the newspaper and aargh! There, in the classified ad section, you'd find what you were looking for, not just a pet, a member of your family. A dearly beloved family member. Your new family member would have been bred by a dog breeder. Your new little (or big) joyful ray of sunshine wasn't an accident, he was a planned event and, more than likely, his sire and dam were bred so that their owners could sell the puppies, sell them to someone like you. Someone who wanted one of "those" so bad they were willing to pay a price to have the honor of owning a pure bred, registered dog.

Scooter isn't the first pure bred dog I've owned. I've owned a Poodle, a Doberman and an Afghan Hound. My very first dog was a Chihuahua, her name was Bambi Joy. My Dad accidently ran over her in the driveway as he was leaving for work one day. She used to sleep on my robe on the floor at night. After she was killed I'd drag that robe into bed with me at night and my Dad would come in and drag it out, scolding me for carrying it there.

My last dog died either late December, 2007 or early 2008. If you think it's awful that I don't know the date of when my beloved Spike died, you'd need to know the whole story. For one, it was his time and that made it easier to let go. He was about 17 years old when he died and he was a joy every single day of every single year, but I had my hands full with my Mother at the time. I really didn't have the time to stop taking care of Mom to grieve the loss of Spike and, like I said, it really was his time. I was at a City Council meeting when he passed but my husband was home with him. He died just moments before I got home. Spike was a Silky Terrier/Schnauzer mix. I adopted him from the Humane Society and I would have, likely, gotten my next dog at the Humane Society if we weren't given the gift of Scooter.

Anyway, I was reading Sarah Overstreet's column in the Springfield News-Leader this morning and there it was:

"People like the Trogolos throw out lifelines to dogs facing death by needle or years caged in no-kill shelters. And while the Springfield City Council snoozes, low-life pet owners let their dogs have litter after litter, thinking that someone else will come along to take the animals off their hands."

I haven't talked to Sarah Overstreet about the issue and if I did, perhaps she'd say she wasn't talking about responsible dog breeders who take care of their animals and prize them, maybe she was talking about people who don't really care about animals at all. Maybe she was talking about the kind of people who have a female dog and let her roam the neighborhood when she is in season, to get bred by a male dog who is left to roam the neighborhood too but, what I do know is the legislation the City Council considered earlier this year and was referred back to the Community Involvement Committee, at the request of Council woman Collette, would effect those breeders who you would go to if you wanted to purchase a pure bred, registered dog. Under what has been discussed and considered, dog breeders would be penalized and regulated just as if they are some "low-life pet owner" who takes no responsibility for their animals, letting them run loose and, in turn, letting the puppies run wild in the neighborhood as well, only to be picked up by animal control, taken to the Human Society or another shelter in the area, or missed, altogether, to later add to the stray animal population themselves.

I'm not sure what is the answer is to the stray animal population, but it doesn't seem to me that regulating and penalizing responsible dog breeders is the answer to the problem. There needs to be some sort of penalty to those who are irresponsible pet owners that doesn't penalize dog breeders who are responsible and care for their animals.

I guarantee you that dog breeders are NOT letting their in-season dams run the neighborhood to be bred irresponsibly and I will also guarantee you that breeders who have, often, paid a hefty stud fee are not abandoning puppies so, why should they be treated by the same standards as those who are irresponsible? Why should they be regulated and restricted? They know the capability of their animals better than the government. They should be allowed to make decisions which should be determined based on the welfare and capability of their individual animals, not by a government agency which has never seen the animals and simply wants to encourage responsibility.

Education might be a good start. I understand the Health Department wants to make it a priority issue this year. I'd like to think there are other ways to call attention to problems besides bringing them in the form of a council bill for public hearing. I just think the city/Health Department should look where the problem is, not where it isn't.