Unbelievable, not really
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
I will be awarding certain people and organizations the Red herring Award every week for their brazen attempts to have people look away from the real issues.
The first award goes to Rush, Hanninty, and FreedomWatch.org for their exaggerated umbrage and phony outrage of MoveON.org's rather sophomoric newspaper ad. Once again, the Democrats in Congress are not setting agenda. Education, health care, and ending the war in Iraq are the issues. Not a newspaper ad!
The Republican echo chamber is alive and well. However, the blogsphere is alive and well and will take the neocons to the mat on the real issues when they try to change the debate.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
If you as, Taxpayers, Constituents and Parents are concerned about the School Board’s site selection process:
To show your concerns: be visible and attend either or both Monday's September 17th City Council Meeting at 7:00, City Hall, 701 E. Broadway, 4th Floor, and Tuesday's, September 18th School Board's Meeting at 6:30 in the District's Administration building, 1818 Worley St. with the School Board and Committee, which Phyllis Chase picked to rank and choose sites and which sites were brought to the School Board in a very short time frame by individuals in the community. It is unclear whether the public will be able to comment at this meeting.
Elizabeth Brixey, City Editor of the Weekend Missourian wrote: "Whether you have school age children or not, the quality of schools and the quality of education shape your community... We don't know which site is best, but we believe the best way for that decision to be made is with the addition of your input and insights by participating on our new blog on the high school site found at columbiamissourian.com/blogs. At last count we have had about 30 of them." From those interviewed: The public "were are concerned with finding the best spot for Columbia students as a whole". "It doesn't seem the public is really getting a say in this matter -- it's these appointed representatives who get to do that."
Some have said: Many of the "appointed representatives" on the School Board Committee which will rank the identified 5 sites, you always see over and over on many of the Committees, Commissions and Boards in the City, and on this present Committee, many seem to have a financial vested interest.
First there was the School Board and Phyllis Chase's unilateral decision to choose the site for a new school without transparency, no minutes and voting to buy the property in a closed session, violating the State's Sunshine Law/. Then under public pressure Phyllis Chase and the School Board acquiesced to another process, invited people with land to identify what they were willing to give/sell to the School Board, and then between September 10th when the properties identified were announced and this coming Tuesday, September 18th the School Board and Phyllis Chase said they wanted the Committee members to each rank the sites and then according to that ranking the decision will be made.
Columbia Missouri City Council's Partial Agenda: Monday September 17, 7:00 p.m., City Council Chamber
I. Introductory Items: Roll Call, Approval and Adjustment of Agenda Including Consent Agenda
II. Special Items: Selecting an artist of City Hall Expansion, Plaza and Streetscape Percent for Art Project; Authorizing a Percents for Art agreement with Howard Meehan
III. Scheduled Public Comment: Sid Sullivan – Utilize portion of Cosmo Park for the third school
Below is some history of what has taken place using information from the Missourian, Tribune and other sources:
- "state law says (610.021): "… a public governmental body is authorized to close meetings, records and votes, to the extent they relate to the following: (2) Leasing, purchase or sale of real estate … where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration therefore," - emphasis added. In this case, the buyer and the seller knew what property was involved and the price. There was no danger of the price going up, so the school board had no legal authority to close the meeting."
- Critics said the first site does not have adequate roads or sewer services needed for a school. Some also have complained that the board did not seek input from city or county planners or the public before voting to use the site for a school.
- Sid Sullivan: "If voters are upset about what uncontrolled development has done to our infrastructure problems, they have to be furious at how the school board can naively create an even greater infrastructure gap. Superintendent Phyllis Chase should apologize for this colossal blunder and rethink this decision before any groundbreaking takes place. We need two changes in our state law to avoid future blunders. First, there should be a joint city/county planning commission for all land use within a two-mile periphery of the city limits for any city over 50,000. Second, there should be mandatory referral requiring all taxing districts to refer their plans for new facilities to the appropriate planning commission. This would create the full review process before a single body diverts all our future roadway dollars."
- There needs to be planning and action between the school district, the city, and the county. But apparently the School Board does not need to consult the City or the County when they choose a site, even though the City and County may need to fund the infrastructure to support the school in the area the school will be built.
- Choosing a site for a school needs to be done in an environmentally, economically and logistically sensible manner among all government bodies that will be affected.
- Stamper said it would be a "grave mistake" to build a school north for that reason. "That’s part of the logic that people aren’t getting," he said. "I think we want to keep Hickman from becoming an inner-city school or geographically landlocked." DeSpain reiterated that Columbia Public Schools boundaries don’t necessarily match city boundaries. The district is short from north to south and wide from east to west, she said. "There is not a lot of area north of Hickman before hitting the Hallsville district." The redistricting committee will work to redraw high school boundaries fairly, said Chairman Don Ludwig, a former board member. No matter where the new school is built, "we’re going to end up with three schools mirroring the population of Columbia as a whole," he said. "It won’t be perfect, but it will be close to being perfect. Rock Bridge is going to change, Hickman is going to change, and we’re going to have a new school."
- The property is outside Columbia city limits and lacks access to, city water or electricity. Local nearby roads are paved Road are paved, but they are considered "inadequate for a significant increase in the volume of traffic," said David Mink, director the Boone County Public Works Department. Both roads also lack sidewalks.
- School Board President Karla DeSpain said but those issues would likely be concerns at any vacant site, regardless of the location, "Any place you have that much land, there is going to be some concern," she said. "There are not many locations with enough land for a high school that would have pre-existing infrastructure. "We’re not going to find property with infrastructure all ready to go. We have to see what’s available, what’s appropriate and what would best serve the district."
- The first phase of the new high school, school is expected to open to ninth- and 10th-grade students in the fall of 2010. It will house ninth through 12th grades, . No decision has been made/ It would include classrooms for about 600 students and common areas such as a cafeteria and media center. That structure would be built with $22 million from the $60 million bond issue package voters approved in April. Voters would be asked to approve two additional bond issues to complete the high school. The new high school would house only ninth-graders the year it opens, and additional grade levels would be added as classes move up. Students attending other Columbia high schools won’t be asked to transfer into the new building. Columbia’s new high school is expected to open in fall 2010 and be completed in three phases.
- "This decision is too important to exclude the public. " "Opening deliberations to the public would remove the veil of secrecy and provide assurance that all important issues are thoughtfully weighed. " With the new committee appointed to review and rank the 5 sites offered (most to be bought) by individuals or groups, will there be enough time so that all important issues in the choice of the school are weighed? Has there been enough time to search for land? Why hasn't the north west sector of the city been included in the search? Phyllis Chase said: "I would like to get the word out that if anyone has 80 to 100 acres of property in the eastern quadrant of the district, the district would be willing to look at it," she said. "The site has to be on the east side of the city because of the boundaries of our district. Certainly it could be further north than the Vemer property, and if anyone has land in that vicinity to trade or sell at a reasonable price, let Dr. Chase know."
- Chase said she couldn’t guarantee (road) improvements would be made, historically, she said, "the city and county has worked with the school district to ensure student and staff safety."
- As one of our Columbia Board of Education members said about another matter, let’s think outside the box. Just because something has always been done one way does not mean there is not a better way to do it.
- Chase said a comprehensive high school needs 80 to 100 acres to allow space for football, softball, baseball and soccer fields and parking lots. Locating a high school in that area (Vemer) could force growth that way, but it could also address growth that’s coming regardless of the school’s location, Chase said. Public Water Supply District 9 and Boone Electric Co-Operative serve that area, and officials from both entities have said they’re equipped to handle the school. But Chase acknowledged there are challenges at the site that must be addressed. "Sewer is a major issue that we need to talk about and plan for," she said.
- Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase stands by the decision to locate a third major high school southeast of Columbia despite lingering concerns that it doesn’t meet the needs of the city’s northern growth patterns.
- Avoiding potential conflicts of interest with staff or students is difficult, Chase said. "As the third-largest employer here in Columbia, and with 17,000 kids and one in five adults a part of our school system, that - probably whatever we were doing, selling or whatever - would have an impact on someone we know or someone who works for us or with us."
- Assume that the new high school houses 1,500 people. Assume that they travel 10 miles farther (round trip) than they would have if the board had sited the school for a shorter commute rather than a bargain price. What will this additional transportation cost? Some students will ride the bus, but most will drive or be driven, and many will make multiple trips for extracurricular activities. Assume an average of one daily round trip by car per person. At $3 per gallon and 20 mpg, this added driving will cost Columbians $2,250 per school day. The savings on land will be quickly swallowed by transportation costs, and midway through the second year we will be in the red, losing nearly $400,000 per year in unnecessary gas money. Meanwhile, we will be dumping into the atmosphere an unnecessary 15,000 pounds per day of carbon dioxide.
- Superintendent Phyllis Chase has repeatedly said the property, partially donated by Turner Vemer, was the only affordable option, but she said this morning she’d be willing to consider alternatives. "I think I’m on record as saying should we find any other more suitable land, certainly, we and the board would consider that," Chase said. Local Realtor John John said, however, the district turned down a more suitable site less than two years ago. Businessman George Godas offered to donate the school district 30 acres of the 200 acres he owns north of Interstate 70 just east of Route Z, then increased the offer to 50 acres and was willing to sell the district additional acreage, John said. The donation came without any stipulation of how the land had to be used, John said, although Godas offered $200,000 for naming rights to the school.
- John said district administrators didn’t look hard enough for other sites. "If they had, they would have found them," he said. "I guarantee I could have found them a half a dozen sites. For $500,000? Probably not. But when you add infrastructure costs, probably the overall cost would have been less." Boone County Northern Commissioner Skip Elkin said district administrators might have known about the additional costs had they asked county officials before making the decision. But he said no one from the school district asked the county for input about the site. "They might have saved $500,000, but it’s going to cost five times that to get all of the infrastructure out there," Elkin said. "Is the school district saving? Maybe. Is the community saving? I don’t think so. … I don’t want to second-guess the school administration, but today, with the lack of infrastructure and facilities in that area, I don’t think it’s an appropriate site today. Ten years from now? Who knows?"
- During a pre-council meeting , Second Ward Councilman Jerry Wade told schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase and board of education President Karla DeSpain he was "befuddled" by the site selection process. "We’re getting information on this after what appears to be a decision already made," Wade said. Chase and DeSpain had shown up to talk with the council about plans to build the district’s third traditional high school on 80 acres at New Haven and Rangeline roads partially donated by Boone County farmer Turner Vemer. Wade and others have said the site is problematic because it will be expensive to extend city services such as sanitary sewer to the site. "I don’t know where we’re going to have money within the next five years," he said last night. Chase responded that almost 1,500 people attended public meetings on the school plan and about 100 have served on committees. "There has been no concerted effort to keep this a secret," she said. The district held community forums last fall, but the forums did not seek input on where a high school should be located. Chase also told council members last night it would have been irresponsible to discuss infrastructure needs with the city before April 3, when voters approved a $60 million bond issue to pay for the first phase of the school, slated to open in 2010. School board members first publicly acknowledged plans for the Vemer site only a day before the board voted on June 21 to build a high school there. Last night’s meeting was the first time school district officials had discussed the site with city officials. Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said it was important for the public to buy into the proposal. "Even handing out a map with boundaries of district schools would have gone a long way," he said. As the 20-minute meeting ended, Chase said, "Point well taken."
- Chase and school board members repeatedly said they had no specific plans for the Vemer land when the district acquired it in January, but Vemer said yesterday there was no question in his mind: He donated it for a new high school. "That’s what Dr. Chase and the lawyer told me it was going to be used for," Vemer said when reached by phone in New Mexico yesterday. This morning, Chase acknowledged she told Vemer in December the property would be used for a high school - six months before the school board voted on it. "We anticipated a high school everywhere we were looking for land. We shared that anticipation with Mr. Vemer," she told the Tribune this morning. Former Assistant Superintendent Chris Mallory, who first contacted Vemer about his land, said he’s spent the past year as a consultant for the district talking to developers, real estate agents and property owners about available sites. He said he mostly has looked east, not north, because district officials want the new high school to draw from both Hickman and Rock Bridge territories. "The district’s been looking to the east for the past 15 to 20 years," he said.
- Any future discussions about the location should involve the community, said Tom Rose, the newest member who was absent during the board’s June vote. "It’s important to have everyone’s involvement before we say, ‘Yes,’ " Rose said. "There will be lots of discussions. We have to have them. We have to be clear to the public and involve the public as much as we can." Nothing in Missouri statutes requires school districts to hold public hearings or involve other public entities when making decisions about facilities. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has no role in site selection or building projects, either, because the state doesn’t provide funding for school construction. "Some other states have more prescribed guidelines when it comes to buildings," said Tom Quinn, DESE’s director of school governance and facilities. "In some states, before a school is built, the design and site have to be approved. It’s different in Missouri. Buildings are a local effort. It’s up to local people." Unlike private developers, who have to go through a rezoning process requiring two public hearings, schools and churches can be built on any property, regardless of the zoning. The Vemer property is zoned for agriculture. The public has a say in school building decisions through the election process, board President Karla DeSpain said. "In the sense that school districts must get approval from the public to build buildings, districts and boards are not autonomous," she said. "Those buildings are placed according to the enrollment needs in the district."
- Voters in April approved a $60 million bond issue to build the first phase of a new high school. Two more $60 million bond issues in coming years will need to be approved to complete the building. It’s too early to know whether the unpopularity of the high school location will hurt the district’s chances of getting those bonds approved, said Bill Elder, a school-community relations expert and director of University of Missouri-Columbia’s Office of Social and Economic Analysis. - Mallory, a former assistant superintendent, helped the district acquire 80 acres southeast of Columbia from former Boone County farmer Turner Vemer. Mallory’s total salary includes an $18,750 finder’s fee for Vemer’s land, based on 1 percent of the 40 acres sold and 1.5 percent of the 40 acres donated. The rest of the charges come from $75 an hour for 128 hours of work. Superintendent Phyllis Chase hired Mallory last year. According to documents obtained by the Tribune, he began work on Sept. 1, 2006. The superintendent is not required to seek school board approval before hiring consultants
- Tom Burkett said: "It’s ridiculous to try to build where the population isn’t. It makes sense that a third high school would go where the population is now." "
Saturday, September 01, 2007
It was a great forum, kudos to Pro-vote for pulling it off :)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Mr. Hulshof, you are all the constituents' representative, not just your big dollar donors and the paid lobbyists. I'm sorry if you need a marketing consultant to have a focus group and hand pick your audience. You need to face the music on your record of supporting this increasing unpopular war. It's time to stop hiding behind the moniker that only Columbia liberals care about this war, it stretches all across your district
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Brandon Costerison of the Nixon Coordinated campaign for mid-Missouri says he will be cleaning up the VAN (Voter Access Network) and will be phone-banking for Jay Nixon. He stated he wanted to start this early before the political buzz starts to rise.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 28, 2007
For instance, when someone says something like "call off the dogs", it does not mean people are dogs. It means to have those people stop hunting or searching for something or someone like search dogs.
It is funny because I heard from a friend that someone they knew with a lot of education took it literal. I hope the voucher people don't hear about this, they would want to privatize every school in Missouri. :)
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Sweet memories. So what have we today?
The Columbia Memorial Day Fly-in I attended bears little resemblance to a sincere memorial of war dead. This year’s headlined 10,000-square-foot "Virtual Army Experience" attracted participants lined up as if they were at Disneyland, to play soldier on widescreen video screens with a climax of realistic explosions. (No cries of the dead and wounded, no screams of women and children - just "Shock and Awe" explosions.)
When did war become a game?
When did Memorial Day become an obscene military recruitment tool?
As a member of Democracy for Missouri, I was present outside the VAE, helping to hand out more than 200 American Friends Service Committee DVDs on the truth about enlistment and military service. We are told that once inside, uniformed VAE personnel offered to break the discs. I pray that those who held onto their DVDs will watch and share them. Democracy breathes truth.
The "Fly-in" as organized was very poorly attended, and there were few old planes in evidence - just recruitment "rides." My hope is that organizers will have an epiphany about the true meaning of Memorial Day and stop glorying in weaponry and destruction.
505 E. 10th St.
Monday, June 11, 2007
authored by Bill Monroe
Friday, June 08, 2007
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
A federal appeals court ok'd lethal injection as an accepted killing device. In my opinion, if it is wrong for an individual to kill, it should be wrong for the state. To me the state is not this omnipotent entity that is above the moral law we all follow but a group of individuals. So you have this pomp and circumstance of court room procedure and 12 people choosing your fate, but still doesn't justify murder.
Anyway, cherish your family and friends and let them know that you're OK....So to those I know I want to let you know that I am fine :)
Friday, June 01, 2007
Sites are usually chosen where there is less resistance to having them built. So the squeaky wheel usually doesn't get a lab.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Rise of Teacher Unions in Missouri: Missouri Supreme Grants Collective Bargaining Power to Teachers
What effect will this have on Missouri school districts? The possibility of strikes comes to mind, especially in urban locales where the pay is low and the retention rate is poor. The court decision: Springfield vs. Clouse, that prevented teachers from collectively bargain, was made 60 years ago and now this author believes that the pent up pressure to organize will be released. Stay tuned, education policy will definitely be changing due to the recent court decision
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I have been to the Salute to Veterans airshow off and on for the last 14 years and what I saw today was the most egregious show of disrespect to those who died for this country. Instead of having a tarmac full of old planes and stories by veteran pilots, it is now a show to recruit those into military service. All the military services were there. Their main demographic they were aiming at were children and young adults 13 or above. Not only did they have over sized mascots walking around, the Army had what was called the "Virtual Army Experience" This was a virtual reality game that one can go through and kill the "bad guys". In my opinion, this was very inappropriate. Memorial Day is a holiday to remember and mourn our war dead. When I was growing up, it meant going to the nearby military cemetery and paying your respects. Most of the time, we just went to the park and picnicked with family. But here at the Columbia Regional Airport it is about paying homage to our war machines. For those who would like the Wikipedia definition of Memorial day, just click on link.
Many military people were very friendly and insisted that they gave me the right to live free. Sorry folks, my constitutional rights are inherent, they are not given to me and especially not by the military. Comment and share your thoughts :)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The office is located at 915 E. Ash St. in Columbia. It on the corner of 10th street and Ash.
photo from senate.gov
Friday, May 18, 2007
Wilson's speech took us back to the days of compromise where tempers would flare, but concessions were made in the end and both parties respected each other. Gov Wilson pledged that he will do the best he can to get democrats elected in '08.
The Keynote speaker was Attorney General Jay Nixon, who is running for governor against presumably Matt Blunt in 2008. He campaigned on a platform of health care, education (from primary to higher education), and experience. He appeared fired up and ready to take on the governor.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Besides violating the fourth amendment's protection from illegal search and seizures, it is also denying the poor the proper care they need to fight their drug abuse. Society and particularly the state need to realize that substance abuse is a medical problem and cannot be solved by cutting off their medicaid.
As a side note, the state of Missouri is projecting a 200 million dollar surplus, but instead of restoring the cuts that were made in 2005 and getting those who lost their benefits back on Medicaid, the Republicans want to cut taxes and give it to the wealthiest of Missourians. It is a shame that many Republicans in this legislature at best feel philosophically that helping the poor and disabled is not the role of government and at worst show contempt towards them.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
J. Karl Miller has finally gone too far in his call to end non-existent "voter fraud" in Missouri, thru the use of Voter photo IDs. His thinly veiled racist referrences are over the top:
"The dense populations — which include an abundance of the lesser-affluent, least-educated and most-defenseless people — naturally attract a criminal element and provide a fertile ground for the incidence of fraud."
R epublican efforts to suppress Black voting in this Country are legion. The firing of Federal Attorney Graves when he refused to play ball with the Alberto Gonzales' agenda and pursue so-called voter fraud cases in Missouri is a recent example. Miller refers to this in his opinion piece. It has been shown to have no merit and may contribute to Gonzales being impeached. Republican Ohio's voter suppression of African Americans in the last two elections are well documented: Lines blocks long in the Black areas, and no waiting in the white suburbs.
J. Karl sites cases in which ACORN's paid registration people faked documents to increase their reimbursement. ACORN has acknowledged that this took place in a handful of instances. The pertinent question is, whether these faked people voted. Of course they didn't. There is not one case cited in which someone actually voted fraudulently.
The photo ID scheme is nothing more than an poll tax aimed at preventing the poor and handicapped from voting. It is racist and needs to be recognized as such. The "dense" populations of "most defenseless people" have every right to vote unhindered.
Pres. Democracy for Missouri
505 E 10th St
573 592 8328
Let me remind everyone that there has not been one instance of anyone voting when they were not supposed to, period.