Franklin County Democrats

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

Browsing Posts published in March, 2012

With this weeks hearing of the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court and the hours of discussion about the individual mandate it became apparent once again that Republican rhetoric disguises their lack of resposibility.

The individual mandate is the mechanism that solves a major problem with the current health care system in which the actual health care costs of the uninsured are added to the premiums of every American that has health insurance.  These costs are making American business uncompetitive, fueling inequality, and putting increasing pressure on family budgets across the country.

It’s no wonder that a party that supports this situation also supports Right-to-Work for less which allows workers in a unionized facitlity to receive the benefits of representation while not paying their fair share but instead forcing their co-workers to cover the cost of representation in the workplace, much like the health care costs of the uninsured are covered by the insured and taxpayers.

So Republicans get your boots on and pull yourselves up by your freeloadin’ bootstraps while Democrats do the heavy lifting of crafting policies that actually promote responsibility.

Let the cries of the persecuted Christians begin …

Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said he is putting a temporary pause on beginning the commission’s weekly meetings with a prayer after receiving a letter dated March 21 from the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.

In the letter, the organization’s legal director, Anthony Rothert, said the ACLU received a complaint “about repeated instances of sectarian prayer offered at meetings.”

Each Tuesday for more than a year, Griesheimer has begun the meetings with a reciting of the pledge of allegiance and a prayer to God and Jesus Christ.

The prayers have varied from thanking God for the weather and the World Series Championship of the St. Louis Cardinals to asking for protection for servicemen and – women.

Rothert said sectarian prayers — in this instance, Christian — at county commission meetings are unconstitutional.

Griesheimer said addressing the situation isn’t easy.

“I don’t back down from a fight, but what we’re dealing with is (potentially) taxpayer money,” he said, noting that the county could incur costs if faced with a legal challenge.

“I think temporarily we’ll go to a moment of silence,” Griesheimer said.

Greisheimer makes it sound like this is a minor legal snafu and once County Council Mark Vincent works his magic Sleepy John can go back to singing the praises of Jesus before each official government meeting. But it will be no more Constitutional in six months than it as been all along.

He’s right about one thing, county taxpayers will be the ones to incur the legal costs of fighting this if Greisheimer persists, and it will all be for naught because the county does not have a legal leg to stand on.

Legislative Update – The Week in Review
By Otto Fajen, MNEA Legislative Director
Number 12 – March 29, 2012

ANTI-WORKER AMENDMENTS ADDED TO STATE BOARD INTERVENTION BILL
The Senate Education Committee approved an SCS version of HCS/HB 1174 (Mike Lair) on March 28. Sen. Jane Cunningham offered four amendments to the bill. An amendment responding to prior actions by DESE regarding school accreditation and pupil transfer was defeated by a 4-4 tie on a roll call vote. An amendment to maintain existing language, deleted by HB 1174, calling for an unaccredited district to create a plan to submit to the voters for dividing the district territory if the district can not regain accreditation within three years was also defeated by a 4-4 tie.

However, the committee adopted two anti-worker amendments offered by Sen. Cunningham by voice vote. The first would prevent a district from compensating a school employee on release as an employee union officer unless the employee works full-time for the district. The second amendment apparently purports to prohibit a Special Administrative Board from bargaining a contract with an employee union. Both amendments are unneeded attacks on public employee unions and potentially in conflict with the constitutional right of all Missouri employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. Missouri NEA strongly opposes both amendments and will seek to have them removed from the bill as it continues through the process.

While the Association strongly opposes the amendments added in committee, MNEA supports the original bill. The House version of HB 1174 revises the timelines and options for State Board intervention when it classifies a district as unaccredited. The bill allows the State Board to consider possible changes in governance when classifying a district as unaccredited, rather than waiting two years and automatically lapsing the district. The bill also incorporates language to require that the State Board hold a hearing in the unaccredited district to help bring community resources and stakeholders together in support of a district improvement plan.

TENURE REPEAL BILL
The Senate did not debate SB 806 (Jane Cunningham) on March 27 when the bill was brought up in order on the calendar. The bill was placed on the Informal Calendar, but could be taken up for debate later this session. Stay tuned for a possible action alert concerning the bill later this session.

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Talking Points Memo has audio of Mitt Romneyyukking it up while telling a story of how his dear old auto executive dad didn’t want to hear the music after closing a plant and laying off Michigan autoworkers.  I am sure all the former Chrysler, Integram, Ventra, small business owners, large business owners, realtors, teachers, public employees, and almost everyone else in Franklin County affected by the closing of the Fenton Assembly Complex will enjoy this “humorous” tale as well.  At the least they can hear by his laughter how much Mitt Romney enjoyed telling it.  He might even enjoy it more than the car elevator he’s having built in his new mansion.

Competition is the guiding principle behind the school reform legislation popping up in State Houses across the country. The idea is that if teachers are placed in a competitive environment the best ones will rise to the top and those producing lower student test scores will naturally be pruned from the system. It all sounds good in theory. There’s just one problem: people cheat.

Some educators might take offense to that, after all, these are professionals we are talking about. But so was Mark McGwire. So was Bernard Madoff. So were a multitude of politicians throughout the ages who ended their careers in disgrace. Being a professional does not preclude one from cheating, especially when the stakes are high. So the results of this Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation should give the school reform crowd pause. It found that “educators — principals, teachers and other staff — took part in widespread test-tampering.”

In nine districts, scores careened so unpredictably that the odds of such dramatic shifts occurring without an intervention such as tampering were worse than one in 10 billion.

In Houston, for instance, test results for entire grades of students jumped two, three or more times the amount expected in one year, the analysis shows. When children moved to a new grade the next year, their scores plummeted — a finding that suggests the gains were not due to learning.

Overall, 196 of the nation’s 3,125 largest school districts had enough suspect tests that the odds of the results occurring by chance alone were worse than one in 1,000.

For 33 of those districts, the odds were worse than one in a million.

Americans place a high premium on winning. It’s part of our DNA. But the more competitive the situation the more temptation there is to place one’s thumbs on the scales. This is the basic flaw in the school reformists’ logic. Competition doesn’t always produce a better outcome. That’s one of the great myths we’ve been taught about capitalism. Sometimes it just motivates people to do whatever it takes to win.

Nobel economist Paul Krugman’s piece Lobbyists, Guns and Money makes the connection between ALEC and it’s corporate sponsors and the difference between their stated support for free markets and their actual pursuit of profits from taxpayers pockets.  Great read.

Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.

What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.

A friend of mine recently purchased an American made “Little Giant” stepladder.  He found it by looking for the “Made in the USA” label.  A more efficient method would be to know if what you are looking for is American made and where you can buy it. Fortunately, Roger Simmermaker of www.howtobuyamerican.com has put together just such a list. Signing up for e-mail updates will get you this list for free!

The American-made Retail E-guide features over 2,500 American-made products from over a dozen popular retail stores like Dillard’s, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, and Costco.

Three days after Spring Break ends – Nixon vetoes Workplace Discrimination and Whistle-Blower bills. Thanks much for any contacts you made with Nixon to veto!

Both Houses continue their assaults on education – AND want to get their hands into our Retirement Fund, best in nation! (has been called ‘pension envy’). Much more below …

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Rep. Lyle Rowland’s (R-Ozark) HB 1046 is on the House informal calender. The constituent who inspired Rowland to bring it to committee believes there was “no certification of residency or birth certificate” for President Obama and “none was ever produced.” If Majority Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka) — himself a birther — brings this up for debate, it will be yet another waste of time and pander to the extreme right when we have real problems to address.

HB1512 could also come up for debate soon in the House. This anti-Sharia Law nonsense is sponsored by Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific) — and cosponsored by the Majority Leader — but comes directly from model legislation drafted by radical lawyer and white supremacist, David Yerushalmi. So in addition to Curtman being an Islamophope, he’s also unoriginal.

If you think about it, the genesis of almost all legislative ideas advanced by today’s radicalized movement conservatives are born out of some combination of fear, paranoia or delusional conspiracy theory. Rare do we see bills introduced that speak to the needs of the people or that intend to make the government work more effectively. It’s very sad that these are the kinds of ideologues Missourians keep sending back to the state capitol. But as long as voters do, this is the kind of frivolous legislation our tax dollars will be funding.

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