Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recommended Reading 22: Springfield Public Schools

Numbers don't back district's claims Springfield News-Leader ~ by Tom Gargus

The "Springfield News-Leader" also provided the following editor's note:

"Editor's note: Tom Gargus says he spent $122 through the Sunshine Law obtaining district documents and used many others on the district Web site to draw his conclusions. We plan to allow the school district to respond to some of his contentions in a news story soon."


Monday, September 28, 2009

City of Springfield Weekly Calendar: Sept. 28-Oct. 2

Update, addition to Wednesday's meeting schedule and (new change as of Wednesday morning) the Springfield Police Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System Board of Trustees will meet in the Community Room of Fire Station #1 at 720 E. Grand instead of at the Busch building as originally planned.

Monday, 9/28/2009

No Meetings Scheduled

Tuesday, 9/29/2009

12:00 PM Council Lunch* Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654 (or immediately following Council Lunch)

12:30 PM (or immediately following Council Lunch) Special Council Meeting Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

2:30 PM Administrative Review Busch Municipal Building, Room 285, 840 Boonville Contact: Daniel Neal, (417) 864-1036

6:00 PM Mayor's Commission on Human Rights Busch Municipal Building, Room L45, 840 Boonville Contact: Bob Hosmer, (417) 864-1834

6:00 PM Police Fire Pension Fund Citizens Task Force Subcommittee Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Brenda Cirtin, (417) 864-1650

Wednesday, 9/30/2009 (revised)

12:00 PM City Council Plans & Policies Committee Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Lisa Harley, (417) 864-1443

5:30 PM Landmarks Board Old City Hall, Council Chambers, 830 Boonville Contact: Daniel Neal, (417) 864-1036

Cancelled 6:30 PM Commercial Street Task Force Busch Municipal Building, Room L45, 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

Addition: 6:30 PM Springfield Police Officers' and Firefighters Retirement System Board of Trustees Community Room of Fire Station #1 at 720 E. Grand

Thursday, 10/1/2009

5:00 PM Building Trades Certification and Examination Board Busch Municipal Building, 1st Floor Conf. Rm, 840 Boonville Contact: Nick Heatherly, (417) 864-1059

Friday, 10/2/2009

7:30 AM Watershed Committee Midtown Carnegie Branch Library , 397 East Central Contact: Loring Bullard, (417) 866-1127

9:00 AM Commercial Street Community Improvement District Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Donnie Rodgers, (417) 880-3435



1. General Council Discussion

2. Any and all matters to come before City Council

3. Adjourn to Special Closed Session Council Meeting

Source: City of Springfield Public Information Office


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sunday Reading: On Judging Others

I like the hair salon I go to. The girls are very good at their work [no matter which one "works you in"] and they can usually get me in, even without an appointment. I called on Friday, though because, since it was a Friday, I thought I might be pushing my luck to just walk in and expect them to have an opening. Us girls know the closer you get to the weekend, the less likely you can just walk in and get scheduled within 15-30 minutes. Another thing us girls know is that stories get told in hair salons, just like stories get told [so I hear] at barbershops.

I liked what "Betsy" [fictitious name] had to say because I think she really struck at the heart of an issue that seems to face many Christians. The "sin stigma" that is assigned to homosexuals. I'd have to admit, I generally handle this issue with kid gloves, myself, because it can be a very touchy subject among Christians. [Oops, I guess I'm taking off the gloves.]

Betsy was complaining about a relative who had recently become a Christian.

Apparently, before the relative became a Christian she was close friends with a gay couple, and the gay couple had done a lot for Betsy's relative. Helping her with school tuition, among other things [and it sounded like a lengthy list]. You see, gay people can be nice people and do nice things, Christians simply do not have the market on nicety.

Anyway, back to the story. Betsy's relative felt because the couple is gay and living a sinful lifestyle she should just cut them out of her life and refuse to see them anymore.

Betsy was concerned that this is just the sort of action, on the part of a Christian, that gives all Christians a bad name. I agreed with her but, interjected that Betsy's relative would mature as a Christian, at some point, and come to realize the error of her thinking. And, that's when Betsy made a very important point. The pain and hurt to the gay couple that was caused by the attitude of the fledgling Christian, by her complete rejection of them as people, as no longer deserving of her love and gratitude after all they had done for her, was not going to just go away while the new Christian "matured."

Christians like the, some might call, platitude: "Hate the sin but love the sinner," whether you think it is a platitude or not, there is huge wisdom in the statement.

I've got a little tract. It's titled, "For the thinking mind INTELLIGENCE TEST." There are 8 questions, or riddles, on the test. Number 7 reads:

"A man once broke all of the Ten Commandments. He lied, stole (the value of the article is irrelevant), lusted -- which the Bible says is "to commit adultery in his heart," failed to love God above all else, failed to honor his parents as well as to keep the Sabbath holy. He hated (which God sees as murder), failed to honor God's name, and he also "coveted," which means to want other people's things. How could God, who is perfect and holy (and therefore by His very nature must punish transgression of His Law), forgive him freely, and yet justice still be done? How can the man avoid Hell and go to Heaven?"

And here's the answer, in part, from the back of the tract:

"...He (the man) needs God's mercy. When Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment for our sins, satisfying eternal justice and at the same time demonstrating God's incredible love for sinful humanity. The moment the man repents and puts his faith in the Savior, God will forgive his sins and give him the gift of everlasting life. He then should read the Bible daily and obey what he reads, showing himself to be genuine in his faith...."

I think some Christians confuse the Bible's statement found in Matthew 7, verse 16, “You will know them by their fruits," as an excuse to judge other people but, what that scripture is saying, in context, is to beware of false prophets, and giving instruction on how to identify them, not giving Christians the go ahead to judge people who do not bear "good fruit" as unworthy of God's forgiveness. In fact, in the very same chapter of Matthew, we read in verses 1-5:

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."

Keeping it all in context, we must also look at verse 6, which says:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

Again, however, we need to consider carefully and prayerfully before we decide [judge?] who should be labeled as a dog, or who should be labeled as swine....

Still reading in Matthew chapter 7, we find "the golden rule," always one of my favorites. It's found in verse 12:

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. "

Meditate on these things:

Romans 3:9-10 says:

"9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE...."

Ephesians 2:8-10 and 12-14 says:

"8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ..., and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace...."

I think I'm right, I think this young Christian will grow in her walk with Christ, she will mature but, there may be people hurt in the process. That is why older, more mature Christians must offer direction to new, immature Christians. [And I and other, now more "mature" Christians, may have hurt people in the process of maturing in Christ, as well.]

I also think Betsy is exactly right. All Christians, whether each individual Christian is judgmental themselves or not, will be judged by non-Christians based on the actions of the most immature Christians they come into contact with, and based, sometimes, on the actions of those who claim to be Christians but, who may not, in reality, be true Christians [and whether those claiming to be Christians are true Christians or not is for God to judge, not me].

We, as Christians, have no business playing like we have the authority to judge others and the hearts of others. That authority belongs to God alone. How dare we, any of us, represent God as an unforgiving God, an unloving God! If Christians are, and I believe we are because that is what the Bible tells me, "...His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them," and if God loved the world so much that he sent his one and only Son to pay our sin debt for us, then we should be demonstrating the love of God as His representatives.

We truly can observe Christ-likeness and hate sin while demonstrating the love of Christ to people, for we are all sinners and yet, there are people we love, regardless of the sin in their lives, right? That is what Jesus came to do. That is what being "Christlike," at its core, should be. Jesus loved, forgave, and gave eternal life to prostitutes, eunuchs, tax collectors [who were hated in Bible times as thieves] and sinners. He hated the sin of depraved sexual activity of all kinds, including fornication, adultery and homosexuality but, He demonstrated His love for a world full of sinners when He died on the cross and rose again to prepare a place for believers in heaven.

By the way, just as an aside, I do believe there is one person the scripture calls each Christian to judge. Our own selves.

2 Corinthians 13:5:

"Keep examining yourselves to see whether you are continuing in the faith. Test yourselves! You know, don’t you, that Jesus the Messiah lives in you? Could it be that you are failing the test?"

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on Bible theology or interpretation of scripture. I am just a saved sinner like all the rest of the Christians in the world. If you are a Christian and you disagree with my interpretation of scripture regarding this issue, feel free to hash it out in the comment section. I promise to try not to judge you, and we might even learn something from each other along the way. ;)

Scripture source: ""

Tract source:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Repeat City Council Speakers not Going Away Anytime Soon

In fact, City Manager Greg Burris' recent remarks about regular speakers at City Council meetings, "probably just strengthens our cause," said Missouri Liberty Coalition member Carl Herd

I got wind that the Missouri Liberty Coalition (MoLiCo) would be meeting last Saturday, September 19, for a "planning meeting."

Considering I used to be the "Community Free Press" liaison with the local government watchdog group, and they haven't made it, as a group, into the news much lately, I thought it might be interesting to attend the meeting and see what they were talking about.

It has been nearly a half a year since three of the MoLiCo members ran for City Council seats. Nick Ibarra won his Zone 1 Council seat, the other two contenders, Tom Martz and Fred Ellison did not prevail against their opponents in the race.

Five members were in attendance at last Saturday's meeting, while a couple of other interested non-members contributed to the conversation.

The Missouri Liberty Coalition, as featured in the January 30, 2008 issue of "CFP," focuses on Springfield City government and City Council issues. For that reason, they regularly attend City Council meetings and address the City Council, often questioning actions the Council will take regarding legislation, for the most part, crafted in the City's legal department as a result of either an issue or interest of Springfield City staff or its City Council.

Listening in on their conversation, and even contributing my own thoughts at times (though I am not a member of the group) I learned they are content with maintaining a local city government focus, although, in the early days of their founding, they had considered scrutinizing the county and state governments as well.

Some members expressed concern about what, arguably, could be considered efforts by some people in the community, and even within the government, to minimize the opinions of the members of the group by seeming to suggest because they repeatedly address the Council, their voices are somehow less important than Springfield residents who do not regularly address the City Council.

"JackeHammer" would ask, who better to address the Council, who more credible, than a small group of interested and passionate Springfield residents, to raise questions about potential legislation facing our elected representatives, than a group who regularly and consistently reads and studies each City Council agenda and every item listed upon it?

In a recent interview in the "Springfield News-Leader," reporter Kary Booher asked Springfield City manager Greg Burris some pointed questions to commemorate his first year anniversary as Springfield's City manager. During the course of answering one of Booher's questions, Burris responded,

"When we go to a City Council meeting, there is a group that shows up -- it's a small group -- and speaks out critically against the city on anything. It doesn't matter what it is. But you don't see a civil discourse within the meeting. The meetings are civil, don't get me wrong. But you don't see other citizens getting engaged in the process. That's been a little disappointing. I'm hoping that changes over the next few years. Things have been so good for so long that I think many of us took it for granted that things would continue to go very well. But we're living in a different time right now. When the only people that bother to show up to City Council meetings and other meetings and speak out are the regulars -- and that's the only voice that the council gets to hear in a public setting -- that's a little disappointing."

There was little doubt in Carl Herd's mind that Burris was speaking of the members of the Missouri Liberty Coalition, who regularly attend Council meetings.

"I think that this just shows his inexperience as a City Manager in how he responded to Mr. Booher in his interview in the paper, and that when he looks back on it, he might have answered differently," Herd said. "But, as far as him trying to diminish the small group of people who attend City Council, and we pretty much know that that's the MoLiCo, for the most part, that probably just strengthens our cause."

MoLiCo member Tom Martz gave grace to Burris' right to have and share his opinions in the "News-Leader" but, wanted to be sure there was recognition that every member of the public has that same right to address their elected representatives. He felt that through Burris' comments he had learned more about Burris' thinking.

"Mr. Burris is entitled to his opinion, just like I am entitled to my opinion, and the individual membership of MoLiCo are entitled to their opinions as well, " Martz said. "To attend City Council meetings is my right as a citizen of Springfield, to question the actions of government is my duty as a citizen of Springfield, and we are a representative republic, therefore, my representation at City Council meetings, no matter how many I attend, should not be looked at as a means of disdain."

What are MoLiCo's plans for the future?

"We're still a very active group, maybe not huge in numbers but, a very passionate group that are still working on the real important issues, following City Council agendas, and responding to that, whether it be the pension shortfall or Springfield Mill and Lumber, or whatever issue comes up," Herd said.

Tom Martz, who due to his busy work schedule has not been able to attend City Council meetings as regularly as he has in the past, said when his seasonal work schedule begins to slow down he plans to start attending Council meetings more regularly again.

"Come about the middle of November, when my schedule slows down, then I will be back attending City Council meetings on a regular basis," Martz said. "I think it's irresponsible for people not to attend City Council meetings. Everything they do has an effect and an impact on what you do in your personal life."

One thing is certain, City manager Greg Burris will continue to have the ear and influence upon Springfield voters' elected representatives. He is a regular attendee of all meetings of the City Council, and it is his well paid job to continue to be a regular attendee. Burris' opinions will never be "diminished" because he repeatedly bends the ears of our elected representatives. Should your opinion be diminished because you regularly exercise your right to address your elected representative?

I'm just askin.'


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fruits and Vegetables Exempt from Prohibition Under a Section of Springfield Municipal Code...

for as long as research can reach but answers to simple questions do not exist; Municipal code prior to 1936 lost

The other day I mentioned I would continue to update "JackeHammer" regarding the Urban Garden Task Force and issues related to its eventual goal of providing recommendations for definitions and an ordinance to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will, in turn, provide recommendations to the City Council regarding how the City will deal with urban gardening and potential sales of fruits and/or vegetables in all districts of Springfield.

I was, at the time, awaiting requested information related to the City Code which task force member Petra Butler had discovered.

Since City Code is written based upon ordinances that, at one time, had their humble beginnings as approved City Council bills, I sought, through the procurement of those past Council bills related to section 98-5 of the City Code, the answer to a very simple question,

Why did the City exempt fruits and vegetables from the prohibition of display on public ways, including sidewalks, that section 98-5 instituted in the first place?

It stands to reason the City fathers had a reason for exempting fruits and vegetables from that prohibition, and since the Council bills of today have an in depth explanation about why City staff is seeking amendments to the City code, I thought looking at the bill related to the change in the code might shed light on that simple question.

Having now looked at bills dated 1978, 1972, 1949, and 1923, I still don't have any explanation about why fruits and vegetables were exempt from that prohibition other than they have been exempt from any such prohibition going back at least to 1923, including the years 1949 - 1971 when no person was allowed to place or display merchandise, "on any public right-of-way, street, sidewalk or parkway" at all, because it was considered as constituting "a hazard to persons traveling on the streets of the city."

In 1923, the Council passed an ordinance that it would be unlawful,

"...for any person, firm or corporation to display or exhibit any merchandise upon the sidewalk in front of it, or their place of business except as follows:

That fruits and vegetables when displayed upon the sidewalk cannot encroach upon said sidewalk in excess of two feet from the building line and shall be displayed upon benches or in crates not less than fifteen inches above the sidewalk.

That merchandise other than fruits or vegetables when so displayed shall not be placed upon any sidewalk a distance to exceed two feet from the building line."

In 1949, in an effort to comply with then Section 6625, Revised Statutues of Missouri, 1939, the display of any merchandise other than fruits and vegetables in the public way was banned altogether.

In 1972, City Manager Don Busch wrote by way of explanation in Council bill 9419,

"Last year a two day sidewalk sale was held in July; apparently it was met with some enthusiam. It is proposed that one be held on the days of July 28 and 29 of this year (1972). In order that ordinance authority might exist for such a sale, the attached ordinance is submitted following the outlines of the conditions under which the sales were held last year."

In 1978, in order to accommodate businesses that had conflicts with the dates listed in the ordinance which preceded it (the 1972 ordinance), the language was amended to read,

"No person shall place or cause to be placed or display merchandise on any public way, street, sidewalk, or parkway, except that fruit and vegetables may be so placed or displayed in front of the premises where sold if not less than fifteen (15) inches above the ground or pavement and if not extending more than two (2) feet into the public way. However, the City Manager may establish not more than two (2) sales periods each year. Each sales period shall be not more than two (2) consectuive days, and the sales periods shall be at least two (2) weeks apart. The sales periods shall be held only during the spring, summer or fall months of each year. During each sales period it shall be lawful for licensed business enterprises to display and sell merchandise upon the public sidewalks in accordance with the following conditions...."

So, apparently, since well before the City of Springfield became a first class charter City (in 1953) there was an exemption for fruits and vegetables from a prohibition of display on public ways, streets, sidewalks, and parkways in the city. There is no indication that the exemption did not include residential zoned districts, however, neither is there any indication that the exemption did include residential zoned districts. The code simply states fruits and vegetables may be placed or displayed in front of the premises where sold.

We can only speculate as to why fruits and vegetables were always exempt, even to today, from any prohibition of placement or display in the public way in Springfield. I think such speculation, taking into consideration state statute, might be interesting.

According to City Clerk Brenda Cirtin, the 1923 ordinance established the 1936 related code, and there is no record of codes dating before 1936.

"I went all the way back to the 1936 Code, fruits and vegetables were exempted out then. We don’t have any codes any earlier than that in our office; I have no idea what happened to them," Cirtin wrote in an email.


Monday, September 21, 2009

FCC to Consider and Debate Rules to Govern the Internet

Some excerpts from the prepared remarks of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, delivered September 21, 2009

Read the Speech at ""

" I will soon circulate to my fellow Commissioners proposed rules prepared by Commission staff embodying the principles I’ve discussed, and I will ask for their support in issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking. This notice will provide the public with a detailed explanation of what we propose to do and why....

"...our path to implementing them is not pre-determined. I will ensure that the rulemaking process will be fair, transparent, fact-based, and data-driven. Anyone will be able to participate in this process, and I hope everyone will. We will hold a number of public workshops and, of course, use the Internet and other new media tools to facilitate participation. Today we’ve launched a new website,, to kick off discussion of the issues I’ve been talking about. We encourage everyone to visit the site and contribute to the process....

"...This is not about government regulation of the Internet. It’s about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the Internet. We will do as much as we need to do, and no more, to ensure that the Internet remains an unfettered platform for competition, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity....

"... This is about preserving and maintaining something profoundly successful and ensuring that it’s not distorted or undermined. If we wait too long to preserve a free and open Internet, it will be too late."


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just for Fun: Recommended Reading 22: An After Report on the Pro-Obamacare Rally...

...held the day after an estimated crowd of over 1 million marched on Washington in protest to Obama's Health Care Reform plan

"The 300"

Source: "The Weekly Standard"


City of Springfield Weekly Calendar: September 21-25

Monday, 9/21/2009

5:00 PM Springfield Police Officers' and Firefighters' Retirement System Board of Trustees Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Evelyn Honea, (417) 864-1002

6:30 PM City Council Meeting Old City Hall, Council Chambers, 830 Boonville Contact: Brenda Cirtin, (417) 864-1650 (See: Agenda)

Tuesday, 9/22/2009

8:00 AM Mayor's Commission for Children Community Foundation , 425 E. Trafficway Contact: Denise Bredfeldt, (417) 864-1656

10:30 AM Solid Waste Management District Region O Executive Board Greene County, Room 309, 940 North Boonville Contact: Ronda Gulley, (417) 868-4197

12:00 PM Special Council Meeting Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Lisa Harley, (417) 864-1443

12:15 PM (or immediately following Special Council Meeting) Council Lunch* Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

2:00 PM Administrative Review Busch Municipal Building, Room 285, 840 Boonville Contact: Daniel Neal, (417) 864-1036

6:00 PM Police Fire Pension Fund Citizens Task Force Subcommittee Busch Municipal Building, 2nd Floor East Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Brenda Cirtin, (417) 864-1650

6:30 PM Urban Gardens Task Force Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Mike MacPherson, (417) 864-1198

7:00 PM Citizens Advisory Committee for Community Development Busch Municipal Building, 1st Floor Conf. Rm, 840 Boonville Contact: Vern Morgan, (417) 864-1844

Wednesday, 9/23/2009

6:30 PM Commercial Street Task Force Public Forum Old City Hall, Council Chambers, 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

Thursday, 9/24/2009

8:30 AM Workforce Investment Board Youth Council Missouri Career Center , 1514 South Glenstone Contact: Karen Dowdy, (417) 887-4343

9:30 AM School Crossing Protection Committee Meeting Busch Municipal Building, Traffic Eng.1st Floor Conference Rm, 840 Boonville Contact: Dan Jessen, (417) 864-1986

3:00 PM Board of Public Utilities City Utilities, C. Frank Knox Board Room, 301 East Central Contact: Gayla Jones, (417) 831-8311

4:30 PM Jordan Valley Advisory Committee Busch Municipal Building, 1st Floor Conf. Rm, 840 Boonville Contact: Marcia Chism, (417) 864-1037

5:30 PM Partners in Education "Treasures of the City" Government Complex, Various Locations, 840 Boonville Contact: Michael Brothers, (417) 864-1119

Friday, 9/25/2009

No Meetings Scheduled


*September 22 City Council Lunch Tentative Agenda

1. Sales Tax Review & Budget Adjustment Options - Greg Burris

2. Any and all matters to come before City Council


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nailing Health Care Reform to the Wall

The Vice president for public policy and research for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Barrett Duke, took his time in responding to President Obama's September 9 speech to Congress. In an article dated September 16, he asked, "Where is the President's Health Care Reform Bill?"

In August, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) released an Analysis of The House Health Care Bill, H.R. 3200. The analysis concluded, in part,

The simple fact is that if passed, no one can say for certain how badly this will all play out in practice. However, what we can say with absolute certainty is that this legislation will lead to diminished health care for most Americans, less choice, higher taxes, and unprecedented government intrusion into every level and aspect of society, from business, to education, to marriage, to individual liberty.

After the release of the ERLC's analysis, as the health care debate continued in Washington and in town hall meetings across the country, some Senators distanced themselves from the House resolution.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner has set up a Web page on information and resources concerning health care reform. Dates are not listed and therefore, based on Senator Warner's information, a timeline cannot be well established. At one point, under the banner of "Frequently asked questions," Warner, or his staff, answered the question,

Has Senator Warner read the text of the health care reform legislation?

...At the moment, the only version that is being discussed in public is the House version of the bill, which is just one of many health reform proposals in Congress. Once a final bill is introduced in the Senate, Senator Warner will read the bill and post it on our website so you can read it, too.

Warner's Web site indicated the bill which would eventually be considered in the Senate would be comprised of two different documents. One, a proposal from the Senate HELP Committee and the other from the Senate Finance Committee. At the time the answer to the above question was published, the Senate Finance Committee had not yet completed and released "America's Healthy Future Act of 2009." The committee noted it was "Scheduled for Markup By the Senate Committee on Finance On September 22, 2009," that document is 223 pages in length. The Senate HELP Committee proposal is 615 pages in length and can be read by following this link.

MSNBC reported in mid-July, a bipartisan group of Senators sought more time to write a bipartisan bill. At the time, the White House had imposed an August deadline to pass "the" health care reform bill. Such a statement seems to imply that the Senate, in mid-July was considering passage of the house resolution Congress had already passed.

In the MSNBC report, Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) indicated she wanted an opportunity to review "the" legislation over the August recess. She said she had reminded the president it took a year and a half to create the Medicare system.

I thought it was an interesting side-line that all of a sudden Senators were pretending that they didn't have a bill before the Senate to discuss, as though they never considered the house resolution for passage with a White House imposed deadline of August. It was almost as though, all of a sudden, during town hall meetings, they were trying to say the American people who had been debating the issue of health care reform were ignorant and didn't know what they were talking about because the Senate didn't even have a bill before them yet to read, let alone support. Geesh. The president wanted that house resolution rushed through the Senate and passed. He didn't care if anyone had read it. He didn't care if there was a debate. He simply wanted it passed in August before town hall meetings had even taken place.

Barrett complained in his September 16 article (from the ERLC), that he didn't know what plan Obama was talking about on September 9,

Many of the features he described do not exist in any of the bills Congress is working on. They aren’t in the liberal Democrats’ bills. They aren’t in any bill from the Blue Dog Democrats, who haven’t written one. They aren’t in the Republicans’ bills, and there are at least five that Republicans are trying to get people to notice.

Barrett did, however, deduce, "Evidently, President Obama has a health care reform plan."

It'd be nice to know what it is, wouldn't it? Then the American people wouldn't have to waste so much time trying to nail jell-o to the wall.

Barrett put it this way, in the conclusion of his article,

Obviously, the president has a health care reform plan. So where is it? When do we get to see it? I was encouraged by some of what I heard Wednesday night, but it doesn’t square with anything I’ve seen in Congress so far. Senator Tom Coburn made the same observation. He remarked, “It was a good speech, the problem is that what he wants and what they’ve written are two totally different things.” I agree. So I am looking for a bill that we can read to come from the White House. And here’s hoping that it doesn’t arrive DOA, just like all the current Democrat proposals.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

JackeHammer's Second-Ever Bullwinkle Award goes to....

Drum roll, please!

This is only the second time JackeHammer has issued a "Bullwinkle Award."

A person qualifies for a bullwinkle award when the actions of the person garner a reaction that is totally unexpected, not predicted, and the exact opposite of what the person set out to accomplish. It's a sort of an award for inadvertant irony, if you will.

The first time I issued a bullwinkle award, back on July 21, 2008, it was issued to radio talk show host and personality Michael Savage for inadvertantly raising autism awareness by making insensitive comments about autism.

I am issuing my second bullwinkle award to President Barack Obama for inadvertantly uniting conservative thinkers across the country as a result of his out of control policy initiatives.

Congrats Mr. President!


News-Leader Responds with Follow Up to JackeHammer's Breaking Story

It was really nice of the "Springfield News-Leader's" Wes Johnson to follow up today on the story I broke at JackeHammer last Friday.

Wes expressed his appreciation for all the hard work and research I have been providing when I saw him at the last meeting of the Task Force.

"I've been enjoying your reporting on the Urban Garden Task Force. Thank you," Johnson said.

It was the first time the News-Leader was represented at a task force meeting since the group announced their first meeting in early August and the fourth time the group has met.

In the mean time, I had received, along with the Urban Garden Task Force, a response via email to my blog post of last Friday from assistant City attorney Nancy Yendez.

In that response," Yendez indicated she had not researched state statute pertaining to Missouri Court definitions of farms or farming in relation to the sale of vegetables from a residential zoned property.

"Whether someone is a farmer for the state statute if they are selling in front of their residential house where they grew the vegetables has not been researched by me yet and it is not a simple answer," Yendez wrote.

She had anticipated being at the next Urban Garden Task Force meeting but did not realize it would not be held until next Tuesday evening, on September 22, rather than on September 15.

"I now have a conflict with that time period, so I do not know if I will make the meeting. I have talked with [Senior Planner] Daniel Neal today about my research on zoning sales in residential, on streets, etc," Yendez wrote in a later email.

Yendez had previously addressed the task force concerning the bearing Missouri state statutes might have on potential city policy regulating "urban gardens" at the group's second meeting on August 18.

As usual, I will continue to update the blog when I feel I have enough new information to share that it is warranted. At the moment, I am awaiting information which I feel might be pertinent to a clear understanding of the Municipal Code section sited by Ms. Butler in Friday's blog entry and discussed in Mr. Johnson's article in the "Springfield News-Leader" today.

...and Wes, I've been enjoying reading your coverage of the Urban Garden Task Force. Thank you. - Jackie Melton


Monday, September 14, 2009

City of Springfield Weekly Calendar: September 14-18

Monday, 9/14/2009

12:00 PM Library Board Finance/Personnel Committee Library Center , 4653 South Campbell Contact: Debbie Eckert, (417) 883-5366

Cancelled 12:00 PM Partnership Industrial Center West Administrative Council Chamber of Commerce , 202 John Q. Hammons Parkway Contact: Greg Williams, (417) 862-5567

Tuesday, 9/15/2009

8:00 AM Workforce Council of Local Elected Officials Missouri Career Center , 1514 South Glenstone Contact: Karen Dowdy, (417) 887-4343

12:00 PM Council Lunch* Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

2:30 PM Administrative Review Busch Municipal Building, Room 285, 840 Boonville Contact: Daniel Neal, (417) 864-1036

4:00 PM Library Board Library Center , 4653 South Campbell Contact: Debbie Eckert, (417) 883-5366

6:00 PM Mayor's Commission on Human Rights Busch Municipal Building, Room L45, 840 Boonville Contact: Bob Hosmer, (417) 864-1834

Wednesday, 9/16/2009

3:00 PM E-911 Advisory Board Greene County, Commission's Conference Room, 940 North Boonville Contact: Debbie Moore, (417) 864-1719

5:30 PM Landmarks Board Old City Hall, Council Chambers, 830 Boonville Contact: Daniel Neal, (417) 864-1036

6:30 PM Commercial Street Task Force Busch Municipal Building, Room L45, 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

Thursday, 9/17/2009

8:00 AM Airport Board Springfield/Branson National Airport, Board Room, 2300 N. Airport Boulevard Contact: Terri Winchester, (417) 868-0500

8:00 AM Springfield Convention & Visitor's Bureau Board of Directors Jordan Valley Park , 411 North Sherman Parkway Contact: Tracy Kimberlin, (417) 881-5300

3:30 PM Tree City USA Citizen Advisory Committee Busch Municipal Building, 2nd Floor West Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Benjamin Kellner, (417) 864-1178

7:00 PM Planning and Zoning Commission Old City Hall, Council Chambers, 830 Boonville Contact: Mike MacPherson, (417) 864-1831

Friday, 9/18/2009

No Meetings Scheduled


*Tentative Council Lunch Agenda for Tuesday September 15

1. 2009/2010 Flu Plan - Kevin Gipson

2. Health Department Tour

3. Any and all matters to come before City Council


Friday, September 11, 2009

BREAKING: The Urban Garden Task Force's Behind the Scenes Dilemma

Recently discovered Springfield City Code brings more questions about whether group should recommend the restriction of garden produce sales in any zoning district within the City

Urban Garden Task Force member Petra Butler has been researching Springfield's Municipal Code in order to get an understanding of what the City already has on the books related to the sale of fruits and vegetables within the City of Springfield.

The task force has wavered regarding whether to completely prohibit the sale of garden produce in a residential zoned neighborhood or allow limited sales of such produce. They've indicated they might recommend allowing sales of fruits and vegetables in residential zoned areas of the City at some point but, more crucial to them, at least at the last meeting, was defining categories of gardens and settling on a definition for each category. Such definitions could lay the groundwork for further, future government regulation of urban gardens.

Butler discovered a City Code that has the potential to make all speculation concerning sales of produce within the City of Springfield a moot point.

"I feel the whole premise of the Task Force is to make this simple. This shows that we already have a Code in place to address the issue," Butler wrote in an email.

The code in question, Chapter 98, Section 98-5 of Springfield's Municipal Code, provides for an exemption for fruits and vegetables from a prohibition against merchandise being "placed or displayed" on "any public way, street, sidewalk or front of the premises where sold," and the code even provides specific directions on how fruits and vegetables can be placed or displayed in "any public way."

The newly discovered municipal code could suggest a past municipal (city) precedent has already been set, and its intent was that those who sell fruits and vegetables be allowed to do so under the conditions outlined in that section of the code. The chapter and section implies it applies to all districts by the term "any public way." The code could be interpreted to include residential zoned districts simply because it does not preclude them.

Butler interpreted the prohibition contained in the code as applying to garage sale type sales and not to fruits and vegetables.

"I take that to mean that this requirement of two consecutive days and twice a year is for garage sales and does NOT apply for the selling of Fruits and Veggies," she wrote in her initial email, which included as a recipient assistant City attorney Nancy Yendez.

Yendez's only response, to date, to Butler's questions has been to refer Butler to another chapter of Springfield's City code. Butler was directed to Chapter 70.

Chapter 70 of the code, however, deals with licenses, permits and miscellaneous business regulations, the chapter does not mention farm/garden produce at all. Therefore, Chapter 98 would seem to be intended toward such "licensed business enterprises" discussed in Chapter 70 of the code but, what Chapter 70 does not do is remove, address or nullify the exemption from the prohibitions in Chapter 98 as they relate to the placement and display of fruits or vegetables in front of the premises where those fruits and vegetables are sold.

Section 98-5 allows the City Manager to permit licensed business enterprises to hold two sales per year, consisting of not more than two consecutive days, and with a spacing not less than two weeks apart.

Section 98-5 of the code says that during permitted sales periods, "it shall be lawful for licensed business enterprises to display and sell merchandise upon the public sidewalks," as long as: No more than half the width of the sidewalk is obstructed; no merchandise is left on the sidewalk overnight and; so long as the merchandise is not displayed anywhere other than in front of the merchant's own premises but, remember, the placement or display of fruits and vegetables in front of the premises where sold is exempt from requiring such permission, implying it is lawful to place or display fruits and vegetables in front of the premises where sold at any time, under specific guidelines outlined in the code.

To keep things in context, Missouri State Statute Section 150.030 provides that any farmer in the state who grows or processes any farm produce or products on his farm is authorized and permitted to "vend, retail or wholesale said products, free from license, fee or taxation from any county or municipality, in any quantity,...and by doing so shall not be considered a merchant." It seems to imply the farmer is allowed to sell on-site, because it mentions that all those authorized and permitted actions are applicable so long as he doesn't market his farm produce or products at some other off-site location. (By way of disclosure: I'm not a lawyer.)

Further, the Missouri Court has, in past cases, defined farms and farming as encompassing any size; any shape; any boundaries; and comprising anywhere from less than a lot to several lots or parts of lots. And, the court has further identified a farm as, "land cultivated-used in some way for the purposes of production by the owner thereof, . . ." (for more definitions of farms and farming, see: "JackeHammer: Missouri House of Representatives Addresses Springfield Urban Garden Questions").

One could easily conclude an urban garden is a "farm" within the boundaries of a city under the definitions provided by the Missouri court in past cases, and therefore: Since the state of Missouri prohibits any municipality from requiring licensing, fees or taxation on farmers, and; since the State court has further identified farms as being anywhere from less than a lot to encompassing several lots, and; since Section 98-5 of the Springfield Municipal code exempts the placement and display of fruits and vegetables from being limited to two sales periods of no more than two consecutive days at least two weeks apart, it seems there is a clear implication that the State of Missouri and the City of Springfield (through City Code 98-5) intended that farmers (or gardeners) should be unencumbered from licenses, fees and taxation and allowed to place and display fruits or vegetables for sale in "any public way," in front of the premises where they are to be sold any time of the year and for any period they wished, allowing they follow specific, Chapter 98 outlined, directions for doing so.

That, my friends, would appear to make urban gardening for retail in a residential zoned district in Springfield, Missouri an already permitted use.

At the last meeting of the Urban Garden Task Force, member Galen Chadwick suggested the task force should recommend to the Planning and Zoning Commission that it, in turn, recommend the City Council appoint a "Citizen's Food Council" to oversee the urban garden issue within the City.

Chadwick has long felt Springfield has an opportunity to become a model city in how it deals with the issue of urban gardens.

"This is a golden opportunity for the City of Springfield to lead the state because, the whole state is currently grappling with these questions," Chadwick said.

Chadwick views the new "code revelation" as an opportunity for the task force to bow out of this ongoing debate about whether farms within residential zoned areas of the city should be allowed to sell produce from their homes, front porches, yards and, now, perhaps even from "any public way."

"This is the graceful way out for the task force," Chadwick said. "They should hand off a recommendation to the City Council to appoint a Citizen's Food Council as if their hair's on fire and they're running toward the deep end of a pool."

Assistant City attorney Nancy Yendez addressed the bearing Missouri state statutes might have on city policy at the task force meeting on August 18. She did not mention Section 98-5 of Springfield's municipal code in the course of that meeting.

Yendez has indicated she is currently out of the office and will be available to answer questions on Monday, September 14.

Related (well, sorta): "Task force defines its terms for gardening Springfield News-Leader"


Web Site Saves the Histories of September 11, 2001

September 11 Digital Archive


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Special Council Meeting Thursday Night

The Springfield City Council is going to hold a special meeting Thursday night, September 10, at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

There will be a public hearing on Council Bill 2009-235: "A resolution outlining the November 2009 Police-Fire Pension Fund sales tax vote."

It appears the Council intends to vote on the resolution after the public hearing.

Under "new business" the Council agenda states they will also refer "the draft CID Ordinance to the Community Involvement Committee."

Source: The City of Springfield Public Information Office


[Anonymous] Blogger Exercises Old Ploy

If you can't win an argument, change it

A local [anonymous] blogger recently mischaracterized the content of a video produced by Oprah Winfrey's "Harpo Production, Inc." by claiming Hollywood stars pledged "support" to President Obama.

If that were the case, if Hollywood stars had merely pledged support to the President, that would be one thing but, that isn't what the Hollywood stars featured in the "Harpo" video, entitled "I Pledge!" did. They pledged to be "servants" to the President, not merely to support him. You can watch the video for yourself, I provided a link to it here.

> sup·port·er : one that supports or acts as a support

> sup·port (1) : to promote the interests or cause of (2) : to uphold or defend as valid or right : advocate (3) : to argue or vote for...

> ser·vant : one that performs duties about the person or home of a master or personal employer

> ser·vi·tude : a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one's course of action or way of life

It's a good thing that particular [anonymous] blogger offers advice not to take his blog too seriously! I really don't think he has any reason to worry about that.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Urban Garden Task Force to Meet Tuesday September 8

Meeting to be held in the fourth floor conference room of the Busch Municipal Building at 6:30 p.m.

Springfield's Urban Garden Task Force will begin considering draft definitions related to the urban gardening issue tonight at their fourth meeting. According to the agenda, they will also begin formulating recommendations for City staff to consider.

Senior Planner Daniel Neal passed along several documents to Task Force members and other interested parties on September 2, giving them nearly a week to look over the documents, prior to this September 8 meeting.

First draft definitions were included in the documentation. The definitions spanned: Personal gardens; community gardens; commercial gardens; and farmer's markets.

Personal and community garden standards were roughly outlined but, there were no standards outlined at all for commercial gardens and farmer's markets.

For more information about the agenda for the next meeting and what to expect to happen next regarding the issue of urban gardening in Springfield, see: JackeHammer: Urban Garden Task Force Moved to Fast Track


Monday, September 07, 2009

Read the President's Address to School Children Scheduled for Tuesday


Prepared School Remarks


City of Springfield Weekly Calendar: September 7 - September 11

Monday, 9/7/2009

Holiday - City Offices Closed

Tuesday, 9/8/2009

8:30 AM Library Board Buildings & Grounds Committee Kirkpatrick, Phillips, & Miller CPA's , 2003 E. Sunshine Contact: Debbie Eckert, (417) 883-5366

9:00 AM Board of Equalization Greene County, Room 113, 940 North Boonville Contact: Richard Struckhoff, (417) 868-4055

12:00 PM Council Lunch - Closed Session Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

3:00 PM Administrative Review Busch Municipal Building, Room 285, 840 Boonville Contact: Daniel Neal, (417) 864-1036

5:00 PM Watershed Work Session Watershed Offices , 320 North Main Contact: Loring Bullard, (417) 866-1127

5:15 PM Sister Cities Association Busch Municipal Building, 1st Floor Conf. Rm, 840 Boonville Contact: Sister City Office, (417) 864-1191

5:30 PM Sherman Avenue Project Area Committee Busch Municipal Building, 2nd Floor West Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Marti Fewell, (417) 864-1039

6:30 PM City Council Meeting Old City Hall, Council Chambers, 830 Boonville Contact: Brenda Cirtin, (417) 864-1650

6:30 PM Urban Gardens Task Force Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Mike MacPherson, (417) 864-1198

Wednesday, 9/9/2009

8:00 AM Downtown Springfield Community Improvement District Board of Directors Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Barb Baker, (417) 831-6200

8:30 AM Library Board Programs/Services/Technology Committee Library Center , 4653 South Campbell Contact: Debbie Eckert, (417) 883-5366

10:00 AM Land Clearance for Redevelopment Busch Municipal Building, 2nd Floor West Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Mary Lilly Smith, (417) 864-1094

6:30 PM Commercial Street Task Force Busch Municipal Building, Room L45, 840 Boonville Contact: Anita Climer, (417) 864-1654

Thursday, 9/10/2009

8:30 AM Springfield Police Officers' and Firefighters' Retirement System Board of Trustees Busch Municipal Building, 4th Floor Conf. Rm., 840 Boonville Contact: Evelyn Honea, (417) 864-1002

6:00 PM Art Museum Board of Directors Art Museum, Conference Room, 1111 East Brookside Contact: Jerry Berger, (417) 837-5700

Friday, 9/11/2009

8:30 AM Springfield/Greene County Park Board Nathaneal Greene/Close Memorial Park , 2400 S. Scenic Contact: Jodie Adams, (417) 864-1049

Source: City of Springfield Public Information Office


Tentative Tuesday City Council Lunch Agenda:

1. Personnel
Closed pursuant to Section 610.021 (13) RSMo

Source: City of Springfield Public Information Office


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Recommended Reading 21: Urban Gardening News from KC

"Civil Eats" Paula Crossfield » Bad Seed Farm in Kansas City Brings Urban Farming to the Next Level: Legislation

"This particular case has brought to the fore an issue which is bound to come up again and again as growing food changes the cityscape: how do we value urban land, and what are the existing laws on the books that keep urban agriculture from flourishing and feeding locals?"


Friday, September 04, 2009

Stars Pledge Servitude to their President

Oprah's "Harpo Production, Inc." "I Pledge!" video which featured Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and many other Hollywood stars pledging to be "servants" of Barack Obama was fodder for nearly every talk show on the radio today.

And for good reason.

In his 1928 autobiography, Benito Mussolini distinguished fascism from liberal capitalism:

"The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity. The Fascist State with its corporative conception puts men and their possibilities into productive work and interprets for them the duties they have to fulfill. (p. 280)"

It seems as though Demi Moore, Courtney Cox and so many others are no longer "selfish individual(s)" and are ready and willing to allow Obama to interpret for them the duties they should fulfill. Pledging to become his "servants" certainly implies he will be their "master," and it cannot be denied that the servant obeys the master. I believe this indicates that at least some Americans would be quite receptive to embracing fascism.

Indeed, it was rather sickening to see one of the individuals in the video kiss first one bicep and then the other as he stated, "I pledge to be of service to Barack (kiss) Obama (kiss)."

For whom did Oprah's Harpo Productions, Inc. produce this video? Who is it to inspire? They requested their viewers to tell them what their pledge would be, just before they gave their own, pledging to become servants to the President, surely they would like to inspire their viewers to do the same. What other reason could they have to share their own pledges through a professionally produced video? Will it be aired during Oprah Winfrey's time slot?

In a 2007 article, msnbc reported 7.4 million mostly white females over the age of 55 watched her program daily but also indicated 2% of all 18- to 49-year-olds watch Oprah. I have no idea what her viewership consists of today.

Many people are concerned about the direction of our country today. We are hearing the terms, socialism, Marxism, and fascism regularly. I found an interesting article written in August 1997 which includes historical information and analysis I think my readers might find interesting. It is reprinted by permission from "Imprimis," a publication of "Hillsdale College."

The Free Market and the Interventionist State

Richard M. Ebeling
Ludwig von Mises Professor of Economics, Hillsdale College

August, 1997

In 1926, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises visited the United States on a lecture tour. Upon his return, he delivered a talk on “Changes in American Economic Policy” at a meeting of the Vienna Industrial Club. He explained:

The United States has become great and rich under the power of an economic system that has set no limits on the free pursuit of the individual, and has thereby made room for the development of the country’s productive power. America’s unprecedented economic prosperity is not the result of the richness of the American land, but rather of the economic policy that understood how best to take advantage of the opportunities that the land offers. American economic policy has always rejected—and still rejects today—any protection for inferiority and uncompetitiveness over efficiency and competitiveness. The success of this policy has been so great that one would believe the Americans would never change it.

But Mises went on to tell his Viennese audience that new voices were being heard in America, voices that claimed that America’s economic system was not “rational” enough and that it wasn’t democratic enough because the voters did not have it in their immediate power to influence the direction of industrial development. Governmental controls were being introduced not to nationalize private enterprise but to direct it through various regulatory methods.

In comparison to Europe, America was certainly noticeably less regulated. But there were strong trends moving the nation along the same heavily interventionist path Europe had been traveling for a long time. In the America of 1926, Mises observed, “Both political parties, the Republicans as well as the Democrats, are ready to take radical steps in this direction, in order to retain the votes of the electorate.” He concluded that “the results from such a policy will be no different in America than from those ‘achieved’ in Europe.”

In Europe, the trend towards collectivism in the 1930s and 1940s took some extreme forms. Socialism, communism, fascism and Nazism were all tried on the other side of the Atlantic. They represented a total rejection of a free economy and individual liberty. In America, the collectivist trend never went to such an extreme, though Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first New Deal came very close to the fascist model.

Defining the Free Market Economy

Socialism, communism, fascism and Nazism are now all but dead. They have failed miserably. But they have been replaced by what is merely another more watered down form of collectivism that may be called “interventionism.” Indeed, interventionism is the predominant economic system in the world today. In 1929, Mises published a collection of essays under the title, Critique of Interventionism. He argued,

Nearly all writers on economic policy and nearly all statesmen and party leaders are seeking an ideal system which, in their belief, is neither [purely] capitalistic nor socialistic, is based neither on [unrestricted] private property in the means of production nor on public property. They are searching for a system of private property that is hampered, regulated, and directed through government intervention and other social forces, such as labor unions. We call such an economic policy interventionism, the system itself the hampered market order.

He added, “All its followers and advocates fully agree that it is the correct policy for the coming decades, yea, even the coming generations. And all agree that interventionism constitutes an economic policy that will prevail in the foreseeable future.”

With the demise of communism, public policy—especially in the Western world—is back to where it was when Mises wrote these words nearly seventy years ago. Comprehensive government ownership of the means of production and a fully centralized planned economy have very few adherents left, even “on the left.” At the same time, in spite of all the casual rhetoric about the triumph of capitalism, we have not seen much evidence. Here are eight points that define a genuine free market economy, or what Mises referred to as the “unhampered economy”:

All means of production are privately owned. The use of the means of production is under the control of private owners who may be individuals or corporate entities. Consumer demands determine how the means of production will be used. Competitive forces of supply and demand determine prices for consumer goods and various factors of production like labor. The success or failure of individual and corporate enterprises is determined by the profits or losses these enterprises earn, based on their greater or lesser ability to satisfy consumer demand in competition with their rivals in the marketplace. The market is not confined to domestic transactions and includes freedom of international trade. The monetary system is based on a market determined commodity (e.g., gold or silver), and the banking system is private and competitive, neither controlled nor regulated by government. Government is limited in its activities to the enforcement and protection of life, liberty, and property.

Defining the Interventionist Economy

Unfortunately, many modern politicians and academics who say they endorse such an economy are willing to tolerate a great deal of hampering indeed. When it comes to identifying the role of government in their conception of the market order, many if not most conservative economists still assume that government must be responsible for a social safety net that includes Social Security and unemployment compensation; must have discretionary monetary and fiscal powers to support desired levels of employment and output; must regulate industry to assure “competitive” conditions in the market and “fair”labor conditions for workers; and must directly supply certain goods and services that the market allegedly does not provide.

Indeed, thousands of individuals who claim to be “on the right” believe that government should institute some or all of these “public policies.” It is important to appreciate, however, that the very notion of “public policy,” as the term is almost always used, supports government intervention in the market in ways that are simply inconsistent with a genuine free market economy. Interventionism as public policy is not consistent with the free market since it intentionally prevents or modifies the outcomes of the market. Here are the eight points of the interventionist economy:

The private ownership of the means of production is restricted or abridged. The use of the means of production by private owners is prohibited, limited, or regulated. The users of the means of production are prevented from being guided by consumer demand. Government influences or controls the formation of prices for consumer goods and/or the factors of production. Government reduces the impact of market supply and demand on the success or failure of various enterprises while it increases the impact of its own influence and control through such artificial means as price and production regulation, limits on freedom of entry into segments of the market, and direct or indirect subsidies. Free entry into the domestic market by potential foreign rivals is discouraged or outlawed through import prohibitions, quotas, or tariffs. The monetary system is regulated by government for the purpose of influencing what is used as money, the value of money, and the rate at which the quantity of money is increased or decreased. And all these are used as tools for affecting employment, output, and growth in the economy. Government’s role is not limited to the protection of life, liberty, and property.

It is important to note that the “public policies” these eight points represent must be implemented through violent means. Only the threat or use of force can make people follow courses of action that are different from the ones that they would have peacefully taken if it were not for government intervention. There is really nothing “public” about these policies, after all; they are coercive policies.

The “Law of Association”

Contrast these policies with the policies of the free market. What is most striking is the voluntary nature of economic arrangements. The means of production are privately owned, and the owners are free to determine how the means of production will be employed. Thus, control over the means of production is depoliticized. Since it is not located in one place but is dispersed among a wide segment of the society’s population, it is also decentralized. Individuals control the means through which they can maintain and improve their own circumstances and they are not dependent upon a single political source for employment or the necessities and luxuries of life. But it is not just the owners of the means of production who have a high degree of autonomy in the free market economy; consumers do, too, since they are the ones who determine what products and services will be in demand.

The basis of society, Mises always emphasized, is what he called “the law of association.” Men can more successfully improve their individual condition through cooperation, and the means through which that cooperation can be made most productive is the division of labor. By taking advantage of individual talents and circumstances through specialization, the total quantity and quality of society’s output can be dramatically improved. Individuals do not have to try to satisfy all their own wants through isolated activity.

And once they specialize their activities, they become interdependent; they rely upon each other for the vast majority of goods and services they desire. But it is this very interdependency that gives production its real and true social character. If men are to acquire from others what they desire, they must devote their energies to producing what others are willing to accept in trade. The fundamental rule of the market is mutual agreement and voluntary exchange. Each member of society must orient his activities toward serving the wants of at least some of the other members in an unending circle of trade. The Scottish moral philosopher Adam Smith observed over two hundred years ago:

Man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is to their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whosoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their own advantages.

This is what assures that the uses for which the means of production are applied are guided by consumer demand. Each individual must find a way to satisfy some of the needs of others before he can satisfy himself. As a result, the prices for consumer goods and the factors of production are not decreed by government but are formed in the marketplace through the competitive forces of supply and demand. Success or failure is determined by the profits and losses earned on the basis of the greater or lesser ability to meet consumer demand in competition with rivals in the marketplace.

Abandoning Our Constitution

In 1936, the Swiss economist and political scientist William E. Rappard delivered a lecture in Philadelphia on “The Relation of the Individual to the State” in which he emphasized that no one could read the accounts of the constitutional debates of 1787 or the famous Federalist Papers without realizing that the Founders were “essentially animated by the desire to free the individual from the state.” He even went on to say, “I do not think that anyone who has seriously studied the origin of the Constitution of the United States will deny that it is an essentially individualistic document, inspired by the suspicion that the state is always, or always tends to be, dictatorial.” Reflecting upon the trends he observed in the United States in the New Deal era of the 1930s, Professor Rappard concluded: “The individual demanding that the state provide him with every security has thereby jeopardized his possession of that freedom for which his ancestors fought and bled.”

Is Soviet-style communist central planning now in the ashheap of history in the 1990s? Yes. Are masses of people in the West willing to walk in blind, lockstep obedience to fascist demagogues in torchlight parades? No. And hopefully neither form of totalitarianism will ever again cast its dark collectivist shadow over the West. However, six decades after Professor Rappard’s observations about statist trends in America and around the world, Western democracies are still enveloped in the tight grip of the interventionist state.

Private property increasingly exists only on paper. And with the abridgment of property rights has come the abridgment of all the other individual liberties upon which a free society is based. Our lives are supervised, regulated, controlled, directed and overseen by the state. Look at any part of our economic and social lives and try to find even one corner that is free from some form of direct or indirect government intrusion. It is practically impossible to find such a corner. This is because our lives are not our own anymore. They are the property of the state. We are the tools and the victims of public policies that are intended to construct brave new worlds concocted by intellectual and political elites who still dream the utopian dream that they know better than us how our lives should be lived.

Today, it is not free market forces but political directives that most often influence what goods and services are produced, where and how they are produced and for what purposes they may be used. If we pick up any product in any store anywhere in the United States we will discover that hundreds of federal and state regulations have actually determined the methods by which it has been manufactured, its quality and content, its packaging and terms of sale, and the conditions under which it may be “safely” used by the purchaser. If we buy a tract of land or a building, we will be trapped in a spider’s web of restrictions on how we may use, improve, or sell it. Every facet of our lives is now subject to the whims of the state.

Economics, Morality, and the Law

In an environment in which “public policy” determines individual lives and fortunes and in which social and economic life has become politicized, it is not surprising that many Americans have turned their attention to politics to improve their market position and relative income share. Legalized coercion has become the method by which they get ahead in life. And make no mistake about it: Every income transfer, every tariff or import quota, every business subsidy, every regulation or prohibition on who may compete or how a product may be produced and marketed, and every restraint on the use and transfer of property is an act of coercion. Political force is interjected into what would otherwise be a system of peaceful and voluntary transactions.

Over time, interventionism blurs the distinction between what is moral and what is not. In ordinary life, most people take for granted that certain forms of conduct are permissible while others are not. These are the Golden Rules they live by. Government’s task in human society is to enforce and protect these rules, which, as I have already indicated, are summarized in two basic principles: Neither force nor fraud shall be practiced in dealings with others; and rights and property of others must be respected. In the moral order that is the free market economy, these principles are the wellspring of honesty and trust. Without them, America is threatened with ultimate ruin—with a war of all-against-all in the pursuit of plunder.

When individuals began to ask government to do things for them, rather than merely to secure rights and property, they began asking government to violate other’s rights and property for their benefit. Their demands on government have been rationalized by intellectuals and social engineers who have persuaded them that what they wanted but didn’t have was due to the greed, exploitation, and immorality of others. Basic morality and justice has been transcended in the political arena in order to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.” Theft through political means has become the basis of a “higher” morality: social justice, which is supposed to remedy the alleged injustices of the free market economy.

But once the market became politicized in this manner, morality began to disintegrate. Increasingly, the only way to survive in society is to resort to the same types of political methods for gain as others are using or to devise ways to evade controls and regulations. More and more people have been drawn into the arena of political intrigue and manipulation or violation of the law for economic gain. Human relationships and the political process have become increasingly corrupted. In the 1920s, Mises explained a crucial aspect of this corruption of morality and law:

By constantly violating criminal laws and moral decrees [people] lose the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad. The merchant who began by violating foreign exchange controls, import and export restrictions, price ceilings, etc., easily proceeds to defraud his partners. The decay of business morals…is the inevitable concomitant of the regulations imposed on trade.

Mises was, of course, repeating the lesson that the French classical economist Frederic Bastiat had attempted to teach in the 1850s in his famous essay, “The Law.” When the state becomes the violator of liberty and property rather than its guarantor, it debases respect for all law. People in society develop an increasing disrespect and disregard for what the law demands. They view the law as the agent for immorality in the form of legalized plunder for the benefit of some at the expense of others. And this same disrespect and disregard sooner or later starts to creep into dealings between individuals. Society verges on the brink of lawlessness.

Bastiat predicted the moral bankruptcy that has been brought on by the interventionist state. But are we condemned to continue in a state of moral and political corruption? Many thoughtful observers shake their heads and conclude that the answer is “yes.” But it is worth recalling that in 1951 Mises wrote an essay called “Trends Can Change.” He was planning was increasingly dominating the world. At the time, the situation did seem irreversible; political, economic, and social trends all seemed to be heading in the direction of comprehensive collectivism:

One of the cherished dogmas implied in contemporary fashionable doctrines is the belief that tendencies of social evolution as manifested in the recent past will prevail in the future, too. Any attempt to reverse or even to stop a trend is doomed to failure…The prestige of this myth is so enormous that it quells any opposition. It spreads defeatism among those who do not share the opinion that everything which comes later is better than what preceded, and are fully aware of the disastrous effects of allround planning, i.e., totalitarian socialism. They, too, meekly submit to what the pseudo-scholars tell them is inevitable. It is this mentality of passively accepting defeat that has made socialism triumph in many European countries and may very soon make it conquer in this country [the United States] too…Now trends of evolution can change, and hitherto they almost always have changed. But they changed only because they met firm opposition. The prevailing trend toward what Hilaire Belloc called the servile state will certainly not be reversed if nobody has the courage to attack its underlying dogmas.

The trend towards totalitarian socialism was reversed. It was reversed by its own inherent unworkability. It was reversed by the faith of millions of people in the Soviet bloc who would not give up on the dream of freedom and by a courageous few who sacrificed their careers, their property, and even their lives to make that dream a reality. And it was reversed by friends of freedom in the West who helped prevent its triumph in their homelands and who provided an intellectual defense of liberty and the free market.

Interventionism in America in the late twentieth century is a trend that can also be reversed. Its own inherent unworkability and strangulation of the wealth-creating mechanisms of the market will start the reversal process. But that is not enough. We must rekindle our belief in and desire for freedom. And some of us have to speak out and refute the rationales for interventionism. We need to share with our fellow citizens a powerful vision of the free society and the unhampered economy. If we succeed, the great trend of the twenty-first century will be a trend toward greater individual freedom, an expanding global marketplace, and rising standards of living and liberty for all.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

About President Obama's Address to America's Children

I've been listening to the discussion about President Obama's Address to America's children scheduled for Tuesday, September 8. The discussions I've listened to have taken place on the Vincent David Jericho Program on "KSGF" the last couple of mornings. (Wed. and Thurs., podcasts accessible here.)

There were a couple of things that bothered me about the "menus of activity" which had been provided to teachers by "U.S. Department of Education" Secretary Arne Duncan. The "menus" were produced by U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellows.

According to "Cato@Liberty," "The administration has now backpedaled from a classic political gaffe and cleaned up the most offensive aspects; asking kids to write about how they can help, explain why its important to listen to political leaders, etc."

The President's address to students is going to be live streaming from the Whitehouse Web site.

Those of you whose schedule will allow you to view it can view it at this Streaming Video link. It will air on Tuesday, September 8, at 12:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time.


Springfield City Council Meeting Agenda for Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Springfield City Council meeting which normally would have taken place on Monday, September 7, has been scheduled for 6:30 PM Tuesday, September 8, in City Council Chambers, on the 3rd floor of the historic City Hall, because Monday is Labor Day.

The agenda for the September 8, City Council meeting is now available at the City's Web site.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Recommended Reading 20: Missouri State MOSERS and MoDot Defined Benefit Pension Plans Scrutinized

Shrinking retirement funds put pressure on Missouri to find alternatives -

"Echoing the call for a review is Gov. Jay Nixon's top budget official, Commissioner of Administration Kelvin Simmons. He said eight states commissioned studies of their pension plans last year.

"When you have an economy like we're experiencing, everything should be on the table to discuss," Simmons said. "You want to know the affordability of the system.""


"Is the best of the free life behind us now?"

"Are The Good Times Really Over" - Merle Haggard


Lockjaw? Spider-Ham? Hellcow?

Top 10 Oddest Marvel Characters - TIME

For Fat Jack and Larry


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Urban Garden Task Force Moved to Fast Track

So many gray areas, so little time

The Urban Garden Task Force meeting on August 25 brought with it some contention among dual members of the task force and the Planning and Zoning Commission and one of the task force members.

Springfield-Greene County Parks Director Jodie Adams made a presentation during the first part of the meeting. Adams and the Park Board plan to kick off an urban garden rental pilot project at the Rutledge-Wilson Farm Community Park in time for planting in the spring of 2010.

After Adam's presentation, task force chair Jack Wheeler quickly tried to narrow past discussions of the task force toward what the Planning and Zoning Commissioners felt were the key issues. Wheeler and Senior Planner Daniel Neal's areas of focus seemed to fix upon sales or distribution of farm produce and possible traffic increases to residential zoned districts.

"(Director of Building Development Services) Nick (Heatherly) kind of focused back on, well, if you're selling something for nothing it's still distributing it," Wheeler said. "I still say, as long as you're just giving it (garden produce) away, I guess, if you don't set up a stand and give it there (on-site), you can do whatever you want."

Neal said he had been in recent meetings with Heatherly, and the subject of home occupations had been a part of the discussion. Neal pointed out there are a lot of gray areas in the ordinance.

"What are you attracting to the site? You know, this is a retail, if it's a retail operation there, and, of course, that's something that would not be allowed because it's (residential zoned district) not a permitted district so, in a round about way we don't, it's still a pretty open gray area." Neal said. "The home occupations clearly delineate between two types of uses, one that attracts (traffic or customers) to the single family neighborhood and one that doesn't so, I'd say that would be a major factor in the decision of what's determined."

In the first two meetings of the task force, Wheeler had suggested he wanted the task force to be informal. He appointed Task Force member Galen Chadwick as the "resource man" of the task force and suggested he bring reading material pertinent to the issue for the task force to read.

Wheeler had previously indicated the charge could be changed if the task force wished to discuss changes, and had suggested the task force could add meetings at their pleasure. In fact, at their first meeting, Wheeler told the Task Force they were not limited to only four meetings, "We can add days, too. We can do whatever we want," but the tone of the meeting changed on August 25.

"Now, we've had a pretty wide ranging discussion so, we're really going to have to bring this back to come up with something that we can do to specifically focus on. I think a lot of Galen (Chadwick's) interests are very significant," Wheeler said at the August 25 meeting. "We may have to, actually, eventually, have to separate into two different issues because I can see the subject is so huge that if we don't get our group focused we'll never get a charge done, we'll never get an ordinance written."

Chadwick had his own view about what might slow down the task force's progress.

"These gray areas are golden opportunities. You don't have a, or very much, definition of anything that's stopping you from coming up with a comprehensive, coordinated plan that involves civic pride that focuses on sustainability," Chadwick said. "If you start with a philosophical statement, 'we want a sustainable Springfield,' then work backwards from that willingness to see that we could have resiliency...diversity, as a guiding principle, then you're building a house from the ground up. Each issue comes up before this board because you're focused on the details rather than the structure of the (comprehensive plan)."

The back and forth conversation between dual Planning and Zoning and Task Force member King Coltrin and Chadwick at that point is best shared as stated, trying to characterize it could not possibly do it justice.

Coltrin, to Chadwick: "Our task here is to, before I die, allow people to grow that garden. I can't social engineer this city in this task force. If you would like to socially engineer this city then I think you need to talk to the Mayor about a bigger task force and get that set up for a larger project..."

Chadwick interrupted, taking umbrage at Coltrin's characterization that he was trying to "socially engineer" the City of Springfield.

Coltrin: "Can I talk now? I let you talk."

Chadwick: You cannot mischaracterize..."

Coltrin: "I can't talk right now."

Chadwick: "You can't mischaracterize my words. I never said 'social engineering.' I don't want that on the record, sir, because other people are listening, including the media...I'm not going to be tagged with the label "social engineering.""

Coltrin: "I'm perfectly clear that what your realm of purview is is so large that we will not get through our task, which is to try and clear the way for people to do simple things as gardens in time for them to hit spring planting."

(Here: With Coltrin and Chadwick talking at once there was some unintelligible banter, I could not discern)

Chadwick: "I'm happy you do (want to clear the way for spring planting) we've met three times already, and we have nothing so far. I'm not controlling the agenda, you are."

Chadwick was later put on notice, via email, by another dual member of the task force and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

In an email written the day after the Urban Task Force's meeting, dual member Ray Shermer informed Chadwick that after the last meeting he "felt compelled" to send the following message.

"You come across with a vast knowledge of agricultural issues. The problem is that most of your comments are off-point to our discussion and are slowing down the process. I, for one, am not interested in the broad scenarios you espouse and by other’s negative reactions most members are not either.* We cannot include those off-tangential points in an ordinance. They are superfluous. We are simply trying to craft an ordinance to permit urban gardens when and where we can in this city. And Galen, there will be regulations governing certain gardening enterprises."

Shermer added, "So, I would appreciate, if you want to be a part of the process, stay on target and let us finish this work expeditiously."

Two days after the August 25 meeting, the September 1 task force meeting was postponed.

"Chair Jack Wheeler has requested the Task Force meeting next Tuesday be postponed to provide staff and the task force with more time to submit and review pertinent information for the discussion regarding draft Zoning Ordinance definitions," Senior City Planner Daniel Neal wrote in an email Thursday, August 27.

In another email, Planning & Development Department Director Ralph Rodnstad told JackeHammer, the Planning and Zoning Commission has "the authority to establish a task force to address an issue."

"I may have stated that Council probably did not have time to get involved, but I never asked the Mayor or Council if they wanted to be involved," Rodnstad wrote, "In some ways, it is better not to involve Council at this stage because Council is the ultimate decision maker and if a Council member or members are involved in a Commission task force, everyone may ignore Commissioners and just focus on the decision makers."

Rodnstad also further explained what the public can expect from the Urban Garden Task Force, the Planning and Zoning Commission, City Staff and the City Council pertaining to the issue of urban gardening.

"The task force recommendation will be placed on the next earliest Commission agenda, which we anticipate to be Oct. 8. There will also be a recommendation from staff, which may vary from the task force recommendation. The recommendations of Commission, the task force and staff will all be forwarded to Council for their consideration and approval." Rodnstad wrote. "We will not know when it will go to Council until Commission makes their recommendation. There is always the possibility Council could refer it to the Plans and Policies or Community Involvement Committee, but I hope there will be a consensus between the Commission, task force and staff so that Council has something they are willing to adopt without further study and lengthy debate."

When the task force meeting for September 1 was postponed, it was resceduled for September 8, and an additional meeting was scheduled for September 22. The agendas for those meetings did not include any discussion regarding the formation of another group to study broader or more long term goals related to urban gardens in the City of Springfield.

*Re: Shermer's summation that other members of the urban garden task force displayed negative reactions to Chadwick's contributions to the task force, it should be noted that Shermer's impression of other task force members involved his opinion. I, too, have an opinion regarding the reactions in the room that night but, it isn't particularly pertinent to the report.

Past "JackeHammer" entries and articles related to the issue of urban gardening in the City of Springfield, in the order they were published:

Bill Allows City to Propose Gardening Regulations in Residential Areas of Springfield

The Garden Plot Thickens...or not?

Breaking: City Planning Staff Recommending Zoning Amendments Defining "Urban Gardens" be Tabled

Missouri House of Representatives Addresses Springfield Urban Garden Questions

The City of Springfield Could be an Innovative Urban Garden Leader

Urban Garden Task Force Selection Process

Urban Garden Task Force Considers the Pros and Cons of Retail Produce Sales in Residential Neighborhoods

Only One of Springfield's Farmers' Markets is Legal Today but, not as a "Farmers' Market"

Also see:

busplunge: HEY! Get Out Of My Garden

busplunge: About This Garden Thing....

busplunge: Mary, Mary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

busplunge: "Urban Garden Task Force Considers the Pros and Cons of Retail Produce Sales in Residential Neighborhoods"