Franklin County Democrats

The official site of the Democratic Party of Franklin County, Missouri

Browsing Posts published in March, 2011

Today the Post-Dispatch published the short version of my Op/Ed on the confusing aspects of Right-to-Work (for less).  You can read it here.

The Washington Missourian printed the long version this week and it is available here

The high road could be described as the U.S. Conference of Bishops wrote in their 1986 letter, economic justice for all. They argued that fair wages, rest, health care, retirement benefits and reasonable job security “are all essential if workers are to be treated as persons rather than simply, a factor of production.”

Does your state representative and senator view you as a “factor of production” or a “person”?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s editorial board opines on the shenanigans Brian Nieves is pulling in the Missouri State Senate to block a technical change in state law that would allocate $105 million in federal funds to Missouri’s unemployed if passed.

No surprise there. Nieves has the compassion of a sea urchin when it comes to the downtrodden. But in response to his indifference one concerned constituent emailed Nieves to express their disgust at his obstructionism. Nieves’ response is at once comedy and tragedy.

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I was fortunate enough to attend the  Joint Legislative Conference held by most of the Industrial and Service Unions in Missouri on Monday 3/28/11.  The event featured several speeches by several current office holders including my friend Mike Talboy the Minority Leader in the Missouri House.  I also would like to note that another good Franklin County Democrat, Russ McRary was in attendance.  In the interests of space I would like to briefly review the comments of two speakers – Attorney General Chris Koster and Governor Jay Nixon. continue reading…

USAToday has published a cautionary tale for Missouri legislators who have jumped on the standardized test score bandwagon. In a lengthy investigative report on the D.C. public school system under then chancellor, Michelle Rhee, the problem with high stakes education schemes comes to light.

From the start, Rhee emphasized a need to raise scores, restore calm to chaotic schools and close those with lagging scores and small enrollments. She paid bonuses to principals and teachers who produced big gains on scores. She let go dozens of principals and fired at least 600 teachers. Others retired or quit.

Turnover was brisk. Richard Whitmire, author of The Bee Eater, a biography of Rhee, reported that Rhee hired 1,918 teachers during her three years in office –– about 45% of those on the payroll last October. Only 2,318 current teachers had been hired before Rhee took charge.

The pressure on principals was unrelenting, says Aona Jefferson, a former D.C. principal who is now president of the Council of School Officers, representing principals and other administrators. Every year, Jefferson says, Rhee met with each principal and asked what kind of test score gains he would post in the coming school year. Jefferson says principals told her that Rhee expected them to increase scores by 10 percentile points or more every year. “What do you do when your chancellor asks, ‘How many points can you guarantee this year?’ ” Jefferson says. “How is a principal supposed to do that?”

Rhee churned through principals. TheWashington Post reported that Rhee appointed 91 principals in her three years as chancellor, 39 of whom no longer held those jobs in August 2010. Some left on their own, either resigning or retiring; other principals, on one-year contracts, were let go for not producing quickly enough.

Union officials say the pressure for high test scores may have tempted educators to cheat.

“This is like an education Ponzi scam,” says Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers’ Union. “If your test scores improve, you make more money. If not, you get fired. That’s incredibly dangerous.”

Rep. Scott Dieckhaus’s education bill (now stalled in committee) is based on a similar guiding principle. It is rooted in the idea that competition, one of the basic tenets of capitalism, will always lead to innovation and a positive outcome. Dieckhaus, like Rhee, wants to experiment with competition in the classroom by pitting teacher against teacher using student test scores as a measure to assess pay raises and award district funding. But when the stakes are high competition often just leads to cooking the books to give the appearance of solvency. We’ve seen this phenomenon over and over in business (and in sports with performance enhancing drugs). Now we are starting to see it in educational systems with similarly questionable results.

What ever it takes to win is a terrible philosophy under any circumstance, but it’s an especially bad one to force upon educators.

Welcome to Chapter 3, Banding Together for the Common Good from Thom Hartmann’s Unequal Protection.

A corporation has no rights except those given it by law. It can exercise no power except that conferred upon it by the people through legislation, and the people should be as free to withhold as to give, public interest and not private advantage being the end in view.

The St. Louis Veterans Administration has announced that work is now under way on a new community based outpatient clinic which will be located in Washington, MO. Veterans will soon be able to get routine medical care and procedures done right here in Franklin County.  In the past, local veterans had to travel either to St, Louis or to Columbia to receive medical treatment.

This new clinic will be located on Roy Drive and will tentatively open in the spring of 2011. Due to the large number of veterans located in this area, Washington is considered to be an ideal location for the new clinic and it is anticipated that approximately 2500 veterans will be able to get most primary medical services taken care of here. The clinic will provide basic services including doctors, nurses, therapists and mental health practitioners.  Veterans currently being treated at other VA facilities will be able to transfer to this new facility with specialty services still being provided by the larger VA facilities in St. Louis or Columbia. We will post additional information as it becomes available.

Electric cars are the future, maybe not this electric car.


Now that electric-powered Nissan Leafs have been driven by the first owners for several weeks, Nissan’s claimed 100-mile range is being tested in reality. The result? Reports of Leafs running out of juice and stranding drivers with little warning.  Although the details in the complaints on the MyNissanLeaf forum differ, the common thread in each is the Leaf suddenly paring back the estimates of its range in the middle of a trip, ending in a brief “turtle” mode — marked by an orange turtle icon on the Leaf’s dash — followed by the shutting down to prevent battery damage.  ”Went from 17 to — to turtle to dead in about 5 miles. 2.3 miles from dealer. 4.2 miles from home,” wrote one Leaf owner. Another owner suffered a similar experience, leaving the Seattle airport last month for a 15-mile drive home with the Leaf reporting enough power for 26 miles: “Around downtown the range is down to 8 miles (still plenty to get home, which was by then 5 miles away). At the ship-canal bridge it went into turtle, I barely got off the freeway. 2 Mile from home and after about half the distance it told I would have from the airport, i.e. 13 actual miles driven, it went dead. I actually managed to drive 400 yards in turtle mode. 10:30 pm, wife and screaming kids in the car (which was blocking the right lane of a busy road), just came back from the east coast, cars zooming by and honking, several near misses.”  Nissan provides complimentary towing to Leaf owners for just such events. In the Seattle case, the operators who took the tow-truck call asked if the Leaf just needed a jump start.

In a recent discussion on Democracy Now Ralph Nader said George W. Bush committed war crimes with his Iraq policy and then went on to say that “Barack Obama is committing the same crimes” and calls for his impeachment.

The same crimes? Really? Nader seems to have forgotten some pretty important details of the recent past and ends up doing more harm than good in a way that only Nader can.
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Enjoy Chapter 2 – The Corporate Conquest of America from Thom Hartmann’s Unequal Protection.

While corporations can live forever, exist in several different places at the same time, change their identities at will, and even chop off parts of themselves or sprout new parts, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to its reporter, had said that they are “persons” under the Constitution, with constitutional rights and protections as accorded to human beings. Once given this key, corporations began to assert the powers that came with their newfound rights.

Introducing the FRANKLIN COUNTY Prescription Discount Card

FREE to County Residents!

Americans are paying more for prescription drugs than ever before. Without prescription coverage, staying healthy can come at a high price. With the Franklin County Prescription Discount Card provided to you in a joint effort with the National Association of Counties (NACo), you can save money on many of your prescription purchases!

Any county resident without prescription drug coverage can use this program. Even if you have insurance for prescription drugs, you may still benefit from the discount card, since it may save you money on prescription drugs your existing plan does not cover.

Everyone is eligible!

  • No income requirements
  • No age requirements
  • Unlimited use for the whole family

The Franklin County Prescription Discount Card is:

Valuable. Save an average of 22% off the pharmacy’s regular price on all commonly prescribed prescriptions and an average savings of 50% on 90-day supplies of select generics through mail service. Savings are also available on high-tech and injectable drugs through our specialty pharmacy.

  • Easy. There are no claim forms to fill out and no annual fee to pay.
  • Convenient. More than 59,000 participating pharmacies nationwide,

23 participating pharmacies are right here in the county!

Consumers always receive the lowest retail price. On occasion, pharmacies will price a particular medication lower than the discount rate available with the NACo card. If that occurs, consumers will receive the lower price. Either way, consumers will always receive the best price available.  This is not insurance,  and discounts are only available at participating pharmacies

The Prescription Discount Card can be picked up at most City Halls, or at the Franklin County Government Center at 400 East Locust in Union. .

Pick up your card and start saving today!


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