Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Breitbart Bloggers Who Lied About UMSL Are Also Lying About Their Own Identities

After my recent post knocking down the silly arguments of Insurgent Visuals, the group of anonymous cowards who originally distorted the comments of University of Missouri system professors, they've posted a couple of responses on their blog too dumb to dignify with a real response. For any decent person, there's no defense for intentionally editing someone's comments to hide the fact that they were quoting someone else rather than personally endorsing a statement, nor for chopping out the middle of a sentence to completely change its meaning. Like typical right-wing hacks, instead of just admitting that their original edits were fabrications, they instead think the way to respond is to distract from the original point by producing a new litany of highly-edited, out-of-context quotes. And instead of producing a single decent argument, they simply produce an endless string of idiotic claims until everyone else gets too bored to continue. Oh, and they seem to think that they should be praised for "releasing a partial transcript" after they got busted lying, though before they were busted they denied even the possibility that the quotes were taken out-of-context. Finally, they falsely claim that I said that James O'Keefe was involved in the project, though I clearly didn't:
But the real point is, whether or not O'Keefe had anything to do with the execution of this particular smear campaign, his connections with the people involved are relevant.
Anyway, like I said, their posts are not worthy of a real response, but I did get a great tip in the comments of my previous post. Insurgent Videos has an "About" page on their website, which includes pictures and terribly written biographies for their "team."

The website is shoddy enough that you immediately begin to suspect that the profiles are all fake. And that is exactly correct. Since Insurgent Videos first soiled the world with their sad attempt at a smear campaign, Google released a search engine that allows you to search for identical images on the web. And guess what? The pictures Insurgent Videos uses for their "profiles" are fakes.

For example, the photo of "Frank C" is actually of a Norweigan professor:

The photo for "Dallas J." is from another Norwegian:

And "Misty" is a photo from a mail order bride site:


It's so funny that this group, even after being completely busted lying, still publicly pretends to care about the truth. The fact that they use fake photos to hide their identities demonstrates clearly that they know they are not a respectable group and that the garbage they put out is an embarrassment to all thinking people. If they had any brains at all, they would fold up this phony group and just start some new obviously fake front group for the next time they try to push a terrible editing job to the media.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ed Martin Beclowns Himself With Dirty Tactics, As Usual

Ed Martin's staff tried to send around an anonymous letter attacking Republican Gubernatorial candidate David Spence. Sadly for Martin, they're just not very good at the "anonymous" thing. Eli Yokley at PoliticMo caught the name of Ed Martin's political director on the pdf document's meta-data, and also notes similarities to a hit job on Sarah Steelman from a year ago, back when Martin was considering running for Senate.

Pretty amateurish, but nothing surprising from a guy who cheered his supporters burning photos of his opponents and hinted at "voter fraud" after losing to Carnahan two years.

Also: does this mean Martin knows he's going to get walloped by Ann Wagner in Missouri's Second District primary?

Lessons From Meeting Barney Frank

Barney Frank announced today that he will be retiring at the end of this term. He was my Congressman for a couple years when I lived in Southeastern Massachusetts out of college, and I met him at a couple volunteer events. And I have to say about the time I spoke with him: he really wasn't very pleasant. Most people are fully aware that Frank is often crabby with right-wing conspiracy theorists and with the press, but he could also be a little cranky with liberals attending the same volunteer functions he did.

And there's a very important lesson in this: namely, that pleasantness has very little to do with actually being an effective legislator. There definitely are a few issues with Frank's record that you can criticize, but in general he's been a fighter for many of the core issues of the Democratic Party. And whether or not he was "nice" to me had nothing to do with whether or not he was a good representative.

Obviously there's a pretty long list of things wrong with our current political situation. But one that isn't talked about enough in my opinion is the fact that people personalize politicians way too much. We care too much about whether they're warm and friendly and charming and good-looking. Ultimately, I think, that stuff really doesn't matter very much.

The game of politics, quite frequently, is a game of trying to appear to be nice. But appearing to be nice isn't the same thing as actually being nice, and being nice in person isn't the same thing as being good at passing legislation that's in the best interests of the constituents. And, when it comes down to it, when the game is about appearances or personal favors rather than actual policy, Republicans can play it just as well as Democrats.

So, in general, I think we need to do a much better job of confronting stupid media narratives about "likability" or "being a good guy to have a beer with." What matters are things like improving the economy, dealing with the climate change crisis, and fixing a system rigged in favor of the 0.1 %. Focusing on the personal stuff, while fun, ultimately just plays into the hands of people P.R. and marketing types who don't care a whit about your actual interests.

Insurgent Videos Still Whining After Being Busted Lying About Missouri Professors

If you recall, a while ago Andrew Breitbart and Dana Loesch were caught red-handed pushing blatantly dishonest, highly-edited video designed to falsely claim that professors at the University of Missouri St. Louis and Kansas City were advocating violence. They were busted by Media Matters and Crooks and Liars, and I documented how Loesch had led the smear campaign locally by literally chopping words out of the beginning, middle, and end of the professors' sentences to change their meaning.

Like typical right-wing hacks, they won't apologize for their lies even though the full video clearly shows them for what they are. Yet for some strange reason, they refuse to say who actually did the video editing. Why, it's almost as if they know they're guilty.

But, without naming an actual person, they did push off blame about the editing on a group called "Insurgent Videos." And recently, Insurgent Videos along with Breitbart's site have been whining about the fact that various groups noticed connections between this smear job and disgraced smear merchant/clown James O'Keefe. Last week, in a lame attempt to defend Breitbart's sites for inventing a claim that a murder in Savannah had something to do with the Occupy movement, failed Congressional candidate and current editor for Breitbart Joel Pollak wrote the following:
The irony is that Media Matters and Boehlert often make false allegations based on little or no evidence. One small, representative example occurred when controversy erupted over video of radical classes at the University of Missouri in May. A Media Matters blogger speculated, falsely, that conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe “has something to do with this whole smear campaign.” No proof, update or correction was ever posted.
Pollak links to a Big Journalism post falsely claiming that Media Matters said that O'Keefe was "behind" their smear campaign against the University of Missouri system. Similarly, Insurgent Videos has a new, whiny post up, writing the following about Crooks and Liars:
2. C&L blames James O'Keefe
Without any reason to do so other than to assume that if it's 1) video + 2) center-right, it must be James O'Keefe.
Oddly enough, Insurgent Videos does not directly deny that O'Keefe is affiliated with the group.

Notice that in both cases, the groups are attacking a straw man: someone who claims that O'Keefe is "behind" the video. However, in both cases, the blogs were actually just pointing out real connections between people involved in the campaign and O'Keefe, which are relevant whether or not O'Keefe had anything to do with the actual smear campaign.

First, Phil, the student who sent the full videotapes to someone connected with Breitbart and then sat quietly as they lied about his teachers and classmates, was previously involved in an event on the Washington University campus with James O'Keefe. After that event, O'Keefe posted highly edited and dishonest video from a hidden camera that was designed to smear the Washington University administration. Like the UMSL tapes, it failed miserably. And also like the UMSL situation, Phil was initially silent about the smear attempts against his university and later wrote a column explicitly pushing O'Keefe's discredited attacks.

Likewise, as documented at Crooks and Liars, the original "Insurgent Videos" website did list someone named "James O'Keefe" as a contributor. It sure would be a remarkable coincidence if it was a different O'Keefe, and why couldn't Insurgent Videos just say so?

But the real point is, whether or not O'Keefe had anything to do with the execution of this particular smear campaign, his connections with the people involved are relevant. Why? Because he practices a dishonest and discredited brand of journalism, and people who choose to associate with that brand are endorsing the same dishonest tactics. The videos they presented were obviously dishonest, as anyone can see from watching them. So instead of admitting this fact, Breitbart's cronies instead demanded that we just trust the word of Insurgent Visuals and Phil instead of our own lying eyes. But even this lame distraction is flawed, because why would anyone trust people directly associated with James O'Keefe to provide a credible account of a politically-charged controversy?

This whole fiasco was a huge disaster for Breitbart and Loesch, so it's not surprising that they're working overtime to try to rewrite history.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Today In Interesting Twitter Exchanges

I had an Twitter exchange just now after casually mentioning that I was glad that newspaper editorial boards apparently can't be bought off quite as easily in Missouri as politicians. My comment was in relation to the fact that multimillionaire-warrior-for-the-1% Rex Sinquefield is throwing around boatloads of cash trying to get people to pretend that they really really like his disastrous Everything Tax that would bankrupt the state and many municipalities in addition to shifting the current tax burden away from the wealthy and onto the backs of the poor and middle class.

Anyway, here's how it went. Me:

State Representative Mark Parkinson (whom I don't think I've ever interacted with before):

Me:

State Representative Mark Parkinson:


Goodness, this guy is sensitive. To be honest, with the unlimited campaign contributions, frequent wining and dining by sketchy lobbyists, and the fact that many Missouri Republicans' legislation was actuallly written by corporations, I just kinda assumed that there wasn't even any reason for them to take illegal bribes. But now that Representative Parkinson mentions it, I guess the current legislature is both corrupt and incompetent enough it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they did.

Parkinson does, by the way, receive donations from Rex (not that there's anything illegal with that).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Riveting "Journalism" From Jake Wagman

Jake Wagman is out with another crucial "journalism" piece carefully designed to ensure that the voting public is fully informed about the political process, this one arguably even more important than that time he wrote a gossip column* about Carnahan's staffer selling her house. His post yesterday is about how, now that the World Series is over (which seems like a long time ago to me), Missouri politicians are betting on high school football games. No, I don't mean actual gambling, because that would qualify as real news; we are talking about the kind of stuff where they say "if your team wins, I'll have to wear their jersey" designed solely for the purpose of getting the attention of third string reporters who normally write stories about water-skiing squirrels. And hey, if you can get the Post-Dispatch to write about it as well, that's gravy!

I'm looking forward to some long-form investigative pieces from Wagman in the future, including:
  • Careful analysis of the landscaping decisions of Missouri Senators.
  • Can Albert Pujols' contract negotiations offer any clues about how to deal with the budget crises?
  • Which Cardinals middle infielders are most likely to run for office?
Remember, this is the guy in charge of reporting on statewide elections, like the contest for Governor and Senator McCaskill's reelection campaign.

For more on Wagman's, shall we charitably say, "mixed bag" of reporting, see here.

*Note: I actually don't mind gossip columns, as long as they appear under the heading "gossip," and not "politics."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tea Party Fan Tells Occupy St. Louis He's "Having Serious Thoughts" About Becoming a "Sniper for the 1%"

For some reason, a St. Louis area man thought it would be a good idea to tweet this:

I looked him up on Facebook, and, sure enough, he's a fan of the "Tea Party Patriots."


In fairness, I don't see any indication that he's connected to the local tea party. But it's another great example of the type of deranged thinking the modern day Right celebrates nowadays.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Press Release: Clay to Announce $2.5 Million in New Grants to Support Affordable Housing

Press Release:
Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) will be joining community leaders, government officials and grant recipients to announce $2.5 million in new funding to build and upgrade affordable housing in St. Louis.

Congressman Clay will be joined by officials from the Federal Home Loan Bank to announce $2.5 million in grants to provide affordable housing and home repairs for low-income residents and homeless veterans. The event will feature check presentations to Beyond Housing, Better Family Life and the Salvation Army.

The following organizations will be receiving Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Affordable Housing Program grants:

Better Family Life, Inc. and Midwest BankCentre
$500,000 grant
Beyond Housing and Midwest BankCentre (2 grants)
$1.0 million grant
Beyond Housing and First National Bank of St. Louis
$500,000 grant
The Salvation Army and Heartland Bank
$480,000 grant

Kudos To Slay and the St. Louis Police for Not Using Militarized Police Force

Obviously I've been pretty critical of aspects of how Slay's administration has engaged with Occupy St. Louis. But one thing that is extremely important and definitely deserves major credit is the fact that they decided not to use an overly-agressive, militarized police group when they decided to arrest protesters. The officers who showed up were not wearing riot gear, and did not have any weapons drawn. And, as such, there weren't really any incidents of confrontation between them and the protesters who were arrested. There is some question about whether the officers used fake name tags (some on took a photo of an officer with a name tag that said "Chupacabra," which doesn't match poilce records), but in general they did not behave aggressively.

Now you might say, "praise them for not being overly aggressive? That's how they're supposed to act!" And that's true, except that what we've seen constantly since 9/11 and the "Battle of Seattle" is police acting waaaay over-the-top in using force to bully non-violent protesters. I was at a protest in New York shortly before the Iraq War started and we were forced into pens and random people doing nothing wrong were tackled by police in riot gear. And at numerous protests since then, I've seen police in full riot gear completely overreacting to the actual circumstances. There's an excellent summary of some of the history over at an article at the Atlantic (though I'm not sure I agree with the premise that Pike is blameless).

Given the coordination among cities on cracking down on the Occupy groups, it seems pretty certain that the City of St. Louis made a conscious choice not to use these overly aggressive tactics. And that's important, and should be acknowledged.

Loesch Defends Conservatives Booing First Lady Michelle Obama

Dana Loesch, in an article too stupid for words, defended classless conservatives who booed Michelle Obama at a NASCAR event honoring veterans by rambling on about a bunch of unrelated things. Here's the money quote from Loesch:

For those who argue that “Palin wasn’t a First Lady,” what about when progressives booed George Bush at Obama’s inauguration?
Yeah. Actually, George Bush wasn't a First Lady either, so that argument doesn't really work.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mayor's Staff Plots How to "Disarm" OccupySTL Members

More fun with Sunshine Law requests! Mary Ellen Ponder, a staffer for Mayor Slay, sent Jeff Rainford (Slay's Chief of Staff) an email suggesting a strategy for "disarming" the Occupy St. Louis members:



The text:

Jeff,


I would like to recommend that you start the meeting by asking them what they want from the City. I suggest this because I think it will disarm the occupiers. I also think it will make the meeting less hostile. If at all possible, I would like to know who Jeff plans to bring to the meeting.

When you ask the occupiers what they want from the City, they will say they want to continue their freedom to assemble in public spaces: they believe it is their individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. The right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political freedom, and a civil liberty. They will say they believe this freedom, documented in the 1st amendment, trumps all other laws.

Also, i do not think we should move to remove them until after November 17th. On November 17th, the AFL-CIO and Jobs with Justice plan to rally and march with the occupiers. If we remove them before November 17th, November 17th will turn into a rally and march against the Mayor instead of a rally and march about joblessness.

I don't think it's a bunch of anarchist kids anymore. I think there is a decent number of labor peeps and veterans that support this movement.

Sincerely,
Mary Ellen

Being but a humble distributor of the facts, I will refrain from comment.

Did the City Decieve Occupy St. Louis About Helping the Homeless?

Last weekend, shortly after the city decided to kick Occupy St. Louis out of Kiener Plaza, I saw the following post on facebook:




I generally like Eddie (who used to work for the Post-Dispatch and now works for Slay), so I decided to investigate what this claim was about. According to the occupiers, Roth and city officials had promised that when they evicted the Occupy St. Louis group from Kiener, they would make sure to find housing for the homeless who had flocked to the Occupy demonstration because it provided a safer and friendlier environment than living on the street (and because housing was not available through the city). Yet, when last Friday rolled around and the police arrested anyone staying in Kiener past curfew, the only thing the homeless received was a slip of paper with the same old phone numbers to call. When they called, they were told there was no new space available.

The claim that Roth promised to provide an alternative came from a general assembly on Wednesday of last week where Roth and fellow Slay representative (and former union supporter) Mary Ellen Ponder were there to present their non-negotiable proposal. As can be seen from this video, there was already tension regarding the city's proposals about the homeless at Kiener, with one of the occupiers asking Roth why the homeless were being used as a bargaining chip by the city:


The comment in question from Roth, however, came earlier in the meeting in response to a different question from one of the group's longtime members, Cheryl, who also happens to be homeless. Roth says in the following video, "I'll be happy to come down with some people tomorrow to make sure to check with you and others."


This, as noted above, apparently did not happen. However, in my Sunshine Law request, I did see an email from Roth to Bill Siedhoff (who coordinates the city's response to homelessness) where Roth specifically mentioned a commitment to two men from the Occupy St. Louis group.

Here's the relevant text:



Hi Bill,



Mary Ellen and I were at Kiener Plaza last night for a second consecutive
night. We presented a proposal we hoped they might agree could serve as an
alternative to the encampment. One element is your stepped up effort,
already underway, to connect the homeless men and women who are participating in
the Occupy St. Louis demonstration with housing and other services.



Durin the back and forth with the demonstrators some, who said they were
homeless, disputed what you had said at Tuesday's meeting and claimed that the
City and other service providers have not been a presence at Kiener Plaza in
behalf of the homeless. I said that I believed the city could find through
its network of providers temporary shelter to all who wanted it.



Two men came up to me at the end of the evening and said they wanted to be
connected to housing and services. I said I would help them. One is going
to call me at 10 a.m. - and said he does not have a phone but will find one to
call me then.



Bill, could you please help me with these two guys--and use them to show the
group what we are capable of doing?



Please give me specific advice on how to simplify the path for these two men
that I can use for one of them when he calls at 10 a.m.



Many thanks,



Eddie



I checked with several members of the group and as far as they knew none of the homeless people at Occupy St. Louis had been helped out. It's still possible that Roth dropped the ball in following up with Siedhoff, but it certainly looks like he made an effort to help. Nevertheless, as far as the people I spoke with have heard, there has been no actual help. Whatever the exact story is, it seems clear to me that the Occupy encampment, just like Hopeville, is exposing some very serious problems in the City's ability and/or willingness to provide the homeless with adequate resources.

Did St. Louis City Cave to Downtown Partnership Requests? New Evidence Suggests Yes

Occupy St. Louis has previously alleged that St. Louis City's decision to evict them from Kiener Plaza was prompted by a meeting with the Downtown Partnership, a St. Louis business partnership whose board includes representatives from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Peabody Coal, and many others. Reporter David Hunn of the Post-Dispatch followed up on this suggestion by asking Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford about the allegations, but the city apparently would not answer his question:
Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff, refused to say if the city met with the Downtown Partnership last week, but insisted that the complaints are coming from many, not only the Partnership.

"There are lots of people complaining. I'm not going to point at one versus the other," he said. "I'm not going to get into it. What I would prefer not to happen is to have this personalized."

The city, he said, would not meet with occupiers today, nor would it discuss the issue in the press.
In documents obtained from a Missouri Sunshine Law request, I have found conclusive evidence that officials from the Mayor's office did meet with the Downtown Partnership to discuss OccupySTL. In fact, an email sent from Maggie Campbell, the President and CEO of the Downtown Partnership, suggests that the St. Louis group had been communicating with "counterpart organizations" around the country with the express goal of "unoccupying public parks." Campbell is forwarding an email from Jane Jenkins of Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc. about a man found dead in a tent at Occupy Oklahoma City. Here's the exact quote from Campbell's Oct. 31st email to Jeff Rainford (Chief of Staff for the Mayor) and Sam Dotson (Director of Operations for the City of St. Louis):
Fyi - newsflash from Oklahoma City - we are talking weekly with counterpart organizations in dozens of American cities, learning that more of them are moving forward with local plans to unoccupy local parks and return them to a condition that everyone can use them, while still allowing for the right to assemble and protest without taking possession of public space. We look forward to our meeting tomorrow to discuss this issue further, and we appreciate your support and thoughtful guidance.
I've uploaded the document to DocStoc, blocking out emails and phone numbers for the people involved. I can make the original, unaltered version available for any press who are interested in following up. Here's the document:

DowntownPartnrship


If it is true that the meeting with the Downtown Partnership is what promted the City to evict Occupy St. Louis from Kiener Plaza, this seems like an important example of exactly what the movement is complaining about: city policy being determined by business elites. Why should the city of St. Louis bow to pressure from groups like Bank of America who have a vested interest in shutting down protests that remind the public of their unethical and likely illegal behavior?

I think this also suggests that people in other large cities should also start investigating the communication between their city governments and the local downtown association. It sounds like St. Louis was just one of any number of city's where local business groups pressured the city's to crack down on protesters.

KMOV's Relentless Smear Campaign Against the 99% Movement

KMOV already has a horrible track record of ideological axe-grinding on behalf of the 1%. They've ignored 4,300 person rallies against corporate greed while hyping 700 person tea party rallies as evidence of a "populist uprising." They've run numerous hit pieces on the recipients of food stamps, while ignoring the actual causes of our country's financial troubles. And they regularly take cheap shots at local universities with lazy and petty "reports" that sound like they came straight from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh. In short, it's basically impossible at this point to regard KMOV as a trustworthy source of information, since it's clear that prefer to push their own confused beliefs on viewers while posing as "objective journalists."

With this in mind, it really should be no surprise that KMOV would openly display their bias against the members of the 99% movement who protest the status quo that KMOV desperately strives to protect. Nevertheless, the consistency of their skewed reporting on this issue has been a sight to behold. Some recent examples:

As already reported on this blog, KMOV reporter Craig Cheatham decided to use his coverage of the arrests last Friday as an opportunity to make "smelly hippy" jokes.

In the courtroom on Tuesday, KMOV reporter Mark Synder's story was dripping with sarcasm and derision:

Both Mills and the next occupy witness, Chrissie Brooks made it clear occupying Keiner 24 hours a day IS their political expression. If they can't do that, their free speech is being violated.

This brought approval from a dozen or so occupiers in the gallery. I know this because some held their hands up wiggling their fingers. That's the sign for, "we agree, we have consensus." I learned that on the Colbert Report.

Brooks provided another memorable moment when the attorney for the city asked her about occupiers trying to get a permit from the city to be in Keiner 24 hours a day indefinitely. She couldn't get one.

The attorney for the city asked her, "Were you told your political message was the reason you were denied a permit?"

Brooks answered, "No," then added, "but it felt like it."

And reporter Maggie Crane said that if you were stuck in traffic on Thursday on the MLK bridge, you should "blame" Occupy STL:
But what really took the cake was Marc Cox's tea party hit job on Occupy St. Louis yesterday, perfectly symbolic of the disrespect KMOV regularly shows for people who are outside of the establishment they lazily cater to.

KMOV has updated their story at bit since the original hack job, but I took a screen shot of the original story:

The real story is that a homeless man who was not a regular member of the Occupy encampment followed a woman into a tent and groped her breast. The police were called right away and the man was arrested. So it seems to me like (1) this story offers zero support for the tea party narrative that the actual occupiers are violent criminals and (2) offers very little support for the idea that the encampments are particularly dangerous places.

But this is not the impression you would get from watching KMOX's original coverage. Unlike KSDK, they did not report that the assaulter was a homeless man who was not part of the movement. Now, it's worth noting, there are several homeless people who are active and contributing members of the encampment, so just because someone is homeless does not mean that they're not part of the group. But the key distinction here is that the guy was not an active participant in the group, but rather was someone who just came by for the resources that the occupiers provide.

Second, in a complete violation of the rules of basic journalism, the reporter Mark Cox did not even bother to get a quote from a member of Occupy St. Louis. He just posted his smear piece and only later wrote a new story that included quotes from the occupiers, which as it happened provided the important context that the assaulter was not a part of the actual movement.

And finally, KMOV included a video of tea partier Gary Wiegart looking like Nosferatu, claiming that this incident proved that the darn hippies should have been immediately kicked out of Kiener Plaza.
"I vant to suck your blood. Also: white people are oppressed!"

KMOV in the original story referred to Wiegart only as a police officer, and only later noted that he's actually a registered lobbyist for the St. Louis Tea Party. In fact, Wiegert has a long history of extremism and conspiracy theories; he was the guy who invented the race-baiting conspiracy theory that Republican House Speaker Steve Tilley was in league with the New Black Panther Party because Tilley supported local control.

Just imagine if this were a story about a different institution. If an alleged sexual assault had taken place at a Bank of America, and a liberal activist made a video claiming that this proved that Bank of America creates an environment that encourages sexual assault, can you envision KMOV, under any circumstances, pushing this story without even asking Bank of America for a comment or doing basic research into the person making the claim? Of course not. They would never do it; they reserve their scorn and derision for people they think can't fight back.

What's worse, after KMOV wrote up this pathetic excuse for journalism, they then, from their main news Twitter feed, begged right-wing activist Dana Loesch to promote it for them:
Reporter Mark Cox then appeared on Loesch's radio show, and pretty clearly indicated that he didn't believe the Occupiers:


When I criticized KMOV on Twitter, they couldn't defend the fact that they didn't get quotes from Occupy St. Louis, nor that they were directly lobbying a right-wing activist to push their hatchet piece. But they did hilariously claim that their reporter had "uncovered" the story (actually, all he did was write down the tea party spin) and informed me that the Occupy St. Louis folks were welcome to try to track down the reporter if they wanted to be represented in his hit job on them.


So, in addition to an already horrible track record, we have three KMOTea reporters who made snide, condescending comments about Occupy St. Louis, and now an absolutely pathetically lazy smear piece by Marc Cox. This is not a case a "few bad apples" or careless mistakes; it pretty clearly represents a culture of bias and ideological axe-grinding at KMOTea. Why would anyone trust them as a news source?

Our Racist Habits

In the River Front times this week there is an article about the East Saint Louis Flyers football team. I have not completed the reading. It is an article about a successful hard driving coach who has his critics and has been sanctioned by a governing board. I have no doubt it is an article worth the reading. There was however a sentence that gave me pause.

I am paraphrasing because I did not take the paper home nor can I find a complete version on line. “Behind the bleachers in a large room sit 40 players all of them black.” What is the point of the adjective black? Is it intended to evoke some kind of nationalism or tribalism in people who self identify as Black? Is it intended to evoke some kind of pity for the underprivileged which we can assume by knowing a person’s skin color? Is this an attempt to address the demographics of East St. Louis? Or maybe it is just a very bad habit.



There is a knee jerk reaction to call a person racist when someone does anything that is objectionable well, that is either silly or redundant. We are Americans, citizens of a nation founded on racism, and to some degree we are all racist. Think of it as original sin. We are all sinners, most of us choose to try to avoid sin but we slip.

Years ago I returned from the service and heard a radio report on KMOX. It referred to the Black Alderman. I was not at the time a political being and so confused I gave the station a call. I asked why they were referred to as the “the black Alderman”. Was there some acknowledgement of apartheid made in my absence and now a portion of the cities legislators were restricted by race to given districts? I must admit the fellow on the other line was patient with my confusion and explained the reasoning for the adjective.

(Shortly afterward in traffic reports I also heard of a portion of the city referred to as the Depressed Section. “How horrible”, I thought, “What must it be like to live in an area described like that in the media.”Thankfully I did not expose that particular ignorance until today. But I digress)



When I was about thirty I realized that I shared this habit of unnecessary adjectives. Why when I told a story of a person walking down the street, a person I conversed with or a person with whom I had a conflict did I say, “This black guy” or “black woman”? What value did the descriptor add to the information being imparted? I asked my wife to correct me when I used the modifier for no good reason and I believe I have made progress in reducing this negative aspect of myself.



There are times it is appropriate. In a crowd of people it might be practical to identify a person by a descriptor for easy identification of for instance when one is describing tension which is attributable to cultural differences but these events are fairly rare. Or if they are not rare they are at least assumed as an element of the story and that is a problem in itself. When I was a boy my Grandfather might make a statement like,”Some of my friends are black.”You see it was an extraordinary exception and showed how forward thinking the white racist was. We have grown past the dark days of the 60s and 70s but still we use these modifiers.



Why do I think we should care? In the 17th century some peo0ple saw the benefit in permanently dividing us by race. Economically and politically they benefited from this division. I think it is obvious that some still benefit from this crime against humanity. Yet here we are 300 years later participating in the preservation of the division without even being aware. Most of us are not racist but we do racist things and we owe it to ourselves and our country to self monitor.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

1,000 People March For Jobs With Occupy St. Louis and Labor Groups


1,000 people marched today with OccupySTL and various labor groups for the November 17th Day of Action, marking the two month anniversary since Occupy Wall Street began. The protesters in St. Louis, as well as many other cities, marched to a local bridge to remind our legislators that we could put a lot of people to work by fixing our crumbling infrastructure.

The Fox 2 helicopter had some cool footage (make sure you see then end where it pans out on the whole crowd; sorry the resolution is so bad... oh, and the sound is strange too):



Fired Up has more on the declared economic emergency for the 99%.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Slay Obeyed: Mayor Slay Messaged Dana Loesch to Tell Her He Was Arresting Protesters

Yesterday, I pointed out that Mayor Slay's office said one of the reasons they decided to arrest protesters was because of feedback from "talk radio." Apparently, they think it's good city policy to try to appease the furthest right-wing fringe that carries coffins to local congressperson's yards, calls USDA officials "racist" based on doctored videos, and regularly attacks St. Louis institutions like UMSL and SEIU.

And thanks to a helpful tip from a commenter, it sounds like Mayor Slay was so eager to appease the right-wing fringe in St. Louis, he sent Loesch a personal message on Friday to let her know that he was going to be arresting protesters. She couldn't just wait to read about it on the news like all of the other rubes; nope, she's gets a special message so that she could cheer about those darn hippies getting their due.

Here's the clip of Loesch telling her rabid audience that Slay sent her a personal message on Friday:


Throughout the occupy protests, protesters have often chanted the following to the police: "Who do you protect? Who do you serve?" I think it might be more appropriate to ask the Mayor these questions.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Slay's Representative Cites "Talk Radio Complaints" And "Newspaper Comments" As Reason For Evicting OccupySTL

Prior to last Friday's mass arrests by the city of St. Louis of people engaging in political activism in Kiener Plaza, Mayor Slay's representatives Eddie Roth and Mary Ellen Ponder went to the Occupy encampment to make a non-negotiable proposal. While they were there, they were asked why, after nearly a month, they all of a sudden decided to kick the occupiers out of Kiener Plaza.


Here's Cathy asking the question:





And here's Eddie Roth's response:




He went on to note that in his impression it wasn't a decision made by "the plutocrats."

Roth worked for the Post-Dispatch editorial team. He knows better than to take those comments seriously.

And, in what can only be described as a remarkable coincidence, Jeff Rainford was on Dana Loesch's show today to receive her congratulations for kicking the violent dirty hippies out of Kiener Plaza (more on this later). It was the third time in less than a week that a representative from Slay's office was on her show.


Major Typo! Big Journalism Accidently Says Something TRUE!

Breitbart's Big Journalism forgot to proof-read today, and accidently said something factually accurate:

Faced with a groundbreaking investigation by investigative journalist and Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer that reveals corrupt self-dealing on both sides of the aisle in Congress, the mainstream media had two options:
  1. Criticize both sides in proportion to their involvement.
  2. Defend both sides, in order to protect Democrats in power.
Yesterday, Politico chose #1. Today, Huffington Post has joined it, defending the Republican speaker it routinely derides, in order to protect the former Democrat speaker that many of its contributors hope to reinstate.

Why yes, Huffington Post, just like Politico and Media Matters, did decide to criticize "both sides in proportion to their involvement." Which is what you should do. And which is why those outlets are taken seriously, unlike Big Journalism.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

St. Louis City Violates Their Own Rules During Occupy Eviction

For a group that decided that all-of-a-sudden they needed to follow the precise dictates of every rule and ordinance, the Slay administration didn't do a very good job of following their own rules. Here's the text of the eviction notice they sent to OccupySTL:
PUBLIC NOTICE: The City of St. Louis has a policy in place for handling and storing unattended property in downtown parks. The parks dept will gather up the property, put it in bags, tag it and store it in a secure place. To retrieve any items you leave in a downtown park, go to 1212 N. 13th between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m, this Saturday Nov. 12th or Sunday, Nov. 13th. After that, you can call the Parks Department at 314-289-5300. You are responsible for securing your valuables and personal belongings. We will use our best efforts to return belongings you leave behind.
Yet during the raid they threw signs and tarps into a garbage truck to be crushed:

In fact, they even destroyed and trashed the media tent:


Lesson for the day: following the rules is really, really, really important... except when it isn't.

Video From Arrests at Occupy STL

I tried out UStream on my relatively new Android phone today. Here's some video of the arrests of the St. Louis Occupiers after Slay decided he wouldn't let them stay in the part anymore (for reasons that so far are still not entirely clear).





It really was pretty tame, in its own way. In contrast to a lot of other peaceful protests I've been at, the police were not wearing riot gear. And while there was a small group of people who wanted to antagonize the police, they were greatly outnumbered and didn't really have much influence on how things went down.

St. Louis Journalists Take Cheap Shots at Occupy STL

Just another day for the "liberal" media.

Craig Cheatham, reporter at KMOV:


And David Sheets, an editor at the Post-Dispatch:



To be fair, Sheets is a sports editor, so a bias (if there really is one) wouldn't exactly signal the ruin of the republic. Nevertheless, it's worth noting.

h/t to @Taunia_Adams, @jeffreed and @Trianglman for catching the Sheets tweets.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Legal Analysis of Mayor Slay's Decision to Remove OccupySTL

Fox 2 News had lawyer Chet Pleban on yesterday to analyze the legality of Mayor Slay removing the occupiers from Kiener Plaza. For some reason I can't embed the video, but you can watch it here. It's pretty clear both people on the program have a lot of biases about the occupiers. The clip starts with them linking the Anonymous hacking to the St. Louis group, despite the fact that the Mayor's spokesperson Richard Callow said he didn't think the hacker was part of OccupySTL. They also call the part of the legal interpretation that says Slay is justified in kicking the occupiers out "the good news," later suggest that they're worried about riots from the group, and lament that horrible time in U.S. history known as the 60s. So yeah, it's pretty clear who they're rooting for.

However, what I thought was interesting is that Pleban suggested that while St. Louis City would normally be justified in removing they occupiers (a claim I'm sure Occupy STL disagrees with), the city is now in a pickle because they waited a full month to take any action. So it sounds like he thinks they need to provide some legal justification for why they made the change. I find this interesting because it seems to track the trajectory of my own thoughts.

I previously stated that I could understand why the city felt like it had to enforce the codes on the books. However, I objected when Slay's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford suddently tried to suggest (on Dana Loesch's radio show) that something had changed and that the occupiers were no longer "not harming anyone." It seems to me that he has not provided sufficient justification for that claim, and if the decision really was the result only of complaints from groups like Bank of America, then it does seem like a change in policy based on a decision to prevent the occupiers from speaking out (quite effectively) against corporatism run amok. Thus, following policy consistently from the beginning might not have been a violation of First Amendment. But changing how they enforce the policy based on the fact that the message was offending local businesses seems like it would be a restriction of free speech.

This is why last night I filled a Sunshine law request with the Mayor's office to try to ascertain what the actual complaints were, and to compare them to statements in support of the occupation. I'll let you know what I find out.

Former St. Louis Police Officer To Make Statement In Support of OccupySTL

Press advisory:
Occupy Police Stands in Solidarity With Occupy St. Louis

Former St. Louis County Police Officer to Make
Public Statement of Support While Denouncing Brutality


What: A Public Speech delivered by a former St. Louis Officer, directed to both officers and citizens of St. Louis. Topics covered in short will be: The officers history with St Louis Police, brutal tactics used against protesters by some departments, and what can result from it, including the officers own firsthand experience with police brutality. Oakland PD's open letter to the citizens of Oakland where they openly state "We are part of the 99%" Bad department leadership in a time when true leaders are needed, and finally Occupy Police's mission and position in the Occupy movement, which in less than 10 words is that "Police are part of the 99% too" and communities across the nation are needing them to stand openly with the rest of the 99, now more than ever -

Goal: To call out Mayor Slay and put an end to the planned raid @3 - To let it be widely known that officers are part of the 99% and that they don not have to obey commands put forth by unstable leaders who represent the interests of the 1% and not that of the common man or woman. Lastly to let it be widely known that Occupy Police supports officers and entire departments who protect their communities without the use of brute force or violence.

When: Today, Friday November 11th at 2pm sharp - Before the impending raid @ 3pm

Where: The corner of Market and 7th on the stage at Kiener Plaza in St. Louis

-Occupy Police Team & Officers of the 99


KMOX reported on this development earlier today.

Statement From OccupySTL On Their "Eviction Notice"

Press release:
Hey Hey, Ho, Ho: The Occupiers Will Not Go!

On November 10, 2011 Occupy St Louis received notification from the city of St Louis that we have 24 hours to remove all structures and obey the city curfew laws before they would forcibly remove our non-violent occupation from Freedom Square (formerly known as Kiener Plaza). Since October 1st, we have maintained a peaceful occupation in this public space, founded on the principle that large corporations have too much influence in the actions of our government. Mayor Slay and his Senior Staff have once again validated this by bowing to pressure from the Downtown Partnership of St Louis to restrict our First Amendment Rights to peaceably assemble.

Since its inception, Occupy St Louis has been a model of cooperation and non violence, and has made Freedom Square a safer, cleaner place. The city claims that in addition to violation of curfew that the tents and supplies we have in Freedom Square are a direct violation of city ordinance and provides a safety concern. We strongly disagree and believe that our encampment is a valid form of political speech justified by the First Amendment. Additionally this precedent has been set in other occupied cities across the nation.

On November 10, 2011 Mayor Slay stated in his personal blog that the city would be creating a space for a 24/7 public demonstration. On November 9th, senior members of the Mayor’s staff attended our General Assembly to propose this space to us as a possible alternative to Freedom Square. This was not a proposal, but rather an ultimatum to Occupy St Louis. The City had already made up its mind on the course of action that it would be taking. This new space would not allow for tents or occupation, which we feel are a valid forms of political speech. This proposal was blocked by a consensus of our General Assembly. The General Assembly uses consensus as our decision making process. It allows for all participants to have an equal voice. Occupy St Louis maintains that just because one states they are using the consensus process, does not mean that they are actually using it.

Occupy St Louis hopes that Mayor Slay realizes that our freedom to assemble is not limited to one space, but guaranteed to all people, in any public space, at any time. We believe that we are engaged in a vital attempt to restore the cornerstone of American ideals: equality, unity, and social mobility. St Louis City must recognize that Occupy St Louis is not mutually exclusive with public safety and the common good, but an ally in promoting social justice and in preserving order downtown. The medium is the message and our medium is occupation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Todd Akin Seems Proud of His Ability to Convey False Information

First Todd Akin's senate campaign sent out a press release that strongly implied, without actually saying, that he had been endorsed by Paul Ryan.

Then his political director tweeted that he had been endorsed by Paul Ryan:

And on Mark Reardon's show, Akin clearly dodged Reardon's question about whether Ryan's statement was actually an endorsement:



By the way, Todd Akin was not endorsed by Paul Ryan.

What seems so strange to me is that pretending it's an endorsement seems to have so little added value (assuming you think being endorsed by a guy who wants to end Medicare as we know it is valuable) over just saying that Paul Ryan likes Akin's Congressional record. Why not just be honest and upfront about the fact that it wasn't an official endorsement? And it's not like he could possibly think that no one would find out that it wasn't a real endorsement. The only explanation I can think of is that he's trying to prove to the tea party types that he can play that "passing on wildly false information without technically lying" game they're so found of. But even so, he failed, because his political director falsely claimed that he was endorsed by Ryan.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Todd Akin Campaign Falsely Claims Paul Ryan Endorsement

Earlier today, it was reported that Paul Ryan (the Republican who wants to end Medicare as we know it) endorsed Todd Akin in the GOP Primary. Then it was reported that Ryan didn't actually endorse Akin, but was just saying that he thought he was a swell guy. Reporters chalked this up to some creative wording on Akin's press release. However, it turns out that it wasn't just "creative wording;" members of Akin's staff falsely claimed that Ryan had endorsed Akin.

Here's Akin's Political Director explicitly claiming that Ryan had endorsed Akin:


And here's her profile:


The Republican Senate primary in Missouri is almost as much of a circus as the Presidential primary, and that's saying something.

Slay Spokesperson Doesn't Think Hacking Was Done By Member of OccupySTL

As previously noted, Mayor Slay's website was hacked by a person claiming to be a member of Occupy St. Louis. However, Richard Callow, a spokesperson for Slay's campaign, doesn't think the hacking was actually done by an OccupySTL member:
Slay campaign spokesman Richard Callow said no financial info was leaked.

"It gave our web guy a chance to earn his retainer," Callow said. "I sort of doubt it was done by a member of Occupy St. Louis. Our experience with them has generally been more positive."

Any guesses as to whether Gateway Pundit will correct his post?

Video: Rainford Dodges Request for City To Divest From Bank of America

As an update to my previous post, here's video of the exchange where OccupySTL asked the Mayor's staff about divesting from Bank of America.

Here's the initial question:

And here's Rainford's non-response response:

Notice that, despite saying he didn't want to give a "mealy mouthed answer," he didn't actually explain why they need to keep their money in one of the worst banks in the country rather than a local credit union or even to a bank like Commerce or Pulaski which doesn't have the same horrible track record as BoFA.

Wagman Blames Occupy For Hacking That Took Place A Month Before Occupy Movement

Update: Wagman's post has now been corrected, though without noting that it was corrected, as is standard practice.

Someone hacked Mayor Slay's website yesterday and claimed to do so in support of Occupy St. Louis (which seems pretty ridiculous considering that Occupy St. Louis is currently negotiating with Slay's office). This was clearly a counterproductive move, and as far as I can tell was done with absolutely no consultation of the people who are involved in the Occupation.

However, leave it to Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman to invent new facts that make the story better right-wing link bait. Wagman claimed in the post that Anonymous's hacking of the Oakland BART system was "linked" to the Occupy movement:
The poster claimed affiliation with the hacking network Anonymous, which has taken credit for infiltrating the computer network for the transit system in Oakland, a move also linked with the Occupy movement.


But, as Trianglman on Twitter points out, the hacking of BART took place on August 14, a full month before the Occupy movement even started. Nothing in the article Wagman linked to in order to support his claim mentioned anything about Occupy, which makes sense given that Occupy didn't exist then.

By the way, in my opinion David Hunn has being doing a great job covering the Occupy STL movement, and in general has been much less of a uncritical mouthpiece for the Slay administration than Wagman was when he covered City Hall. It's not clear why Wagman took the day off from his usual job of butchering stories about statewide politics to write about this story.


Jeff Rainford Declares That St. Louis Won't Move Money From Bank of America

I guess Mayor Slay's Chief-of-staff Jeff Rainford isn't a big fan of consensus decision-making. Or even that Far Left, touchy-feely process known as "consulting with others." From the KMOX report on the meeting between Slay's office and Occupy St. Louis:
Rainford refused the idea of moving city funds out of big banks, saying the banks provide revenue to the city and fund services downtown. He also refused to provide a building for the protesters to occupy.
Bank of America is one of the most unethical financial institutions in the country. Shouldn't Rainford at least provide an opportunity for the residents of St. Louis, or his fellow staff members for that matter, to weigh in?

Update: After seeing the video, Rainford does mention that people can introduce a bill to the Board of Aldermen regarding divestment.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rainford Won't Speak With Reporters But Will With Loesch?

Another interesting tidbit from the Post-Dispatch article on Occupy STL:
[Mayor Slay's Chief-of-Staff Jeff] Rainford said the city would not meet with occupiers Monday, nor would it discuss the issue with reporters.
But, of course, Rainford was willing to embarrass the city yesterday by appearing on Dana Loesch's hate-filled radio show.

Of course Loesch isn't a reporter or even a person who makes any attempt to accurately convey information, so there's nothing inconsistent about Rainford's action in relation to his statement. Still, it's rather curious that he's only willing to take questions on the issue from people like Loesch.

Macy's, Salvation Army Say OccupySTL Is Not In Their Way

From David Hunn at the Post-Dispatch:
Those involved in the upcoming holiday celebrations at Kiener said the occupiers were not in their way now.

A Macy's spokesman said the company had no plans to abandon its Nov. 18 celebration and parade, which leads from Kiener Plaza to its downtown store.

And a Salvation Army spokesman said the frame for the annual Kiener Christmas tree —actually a stack of 300 five-foot trees, said local Communications Director Will Becker —has already been erected without incident. The trees, he said, will be going up Wednesday.

"We have not had any problems with the Occupy St. Louis folks," Becker said. "They're protesting their own thing, and we're working around that the best we can."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rainford Pushes Flawed Arguments Against OccupySTL on Dana Loesch's Radio Show

First, Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford copied Dana Loesch's inflammatory rhetoric against OccupySTL, ridiculously claiming that the group was "unruly" and falsely suggesting that they were relieving themselves all over Kiener Plaza rather than in the port-o-potty's provided by local unions:
Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff, said the camps are getting unruly, the plaza is beginning to smell like urine, and a few were recently arrested for public intoxication.
Then, Rainford mimicked Loesch again by seemingly suggesting that the OccupySTL group might want violence:
"All I'm trying to do is to keep this from becoming Oakland," he said. "I'm trying to get this solved with no violence."

Still, he said, he understood that the occupiers may not have the same plans
So I guess it really should be no surprise that Rainford decided to appear on Loesch's radio show today to explain why the city has decided they need to kick the Occupy group out of Kiener Plaza. After all, Loesch has been trying to portray the campers at Kiener as filthy, violent, parasite-infested, astroturf, drug-crazed, sexual deviants from the very beginning, so it makes perfect sense that Rainford would help provide validation to St. Louis's Queen of Hate Radio.

You can listen to the interview here:


Rainford claims the city originally felt that OccupySTL was not hurting anyone, but "what changed" was that they no longer believed this was the case. However, his justification for the claim that OccupySTL is now "doing harm" is that the city has received complaints from people who "work downtown, live downtown, and have businesses downtown." Combine this with the previous revelation from the Post-Dispatch that Rainford refused to answer whether the city was now planning on cracking down on OccupySTL only because the Downtown Partnership complained at a meeting last week, and it seems like we have the makings of a very shoddy argument.

Previously, Occupy STL wasn't hurting anyone. But now, because a group with Peabody and Bank of America representatives on their board is complaining about Occupy STL, Rainford suddenly thinks that they are "doing harm?" Being angry at someone you wish would go away does not mean that person harmed you. Occupy STL could just as credibly claim that Bank of America was harming them with the stink eye. Furthermore, the idea that they're monopolizing the space isn't true either, as the group has been willing in the past to move tents to accommodate events. The city's sudden reversal without any evidence to now claim that Occupy STL is harming people seems like an incredibly tacky move. I hope they reconsider.

Bulldozers, Bats, and Bayonets: Gateway Pundit's Followers Call For Violence Against OccupySTL

Gateway Pundit is excited that the people he calls "goons" at OccupySTL aren't leaving Kiener Plaze. And, unsurprisingly, his followers are thrilled at the prospect of violence.

Here's a sampling of the comments from his post:

...
Send in a bulldozer. Or an Acme steamroller. Meep! Meep!

...
I hope they use dogs! A good bite on the butt would convince these clowns to move on down the road.

...
Jim, Why don’t you get your good buddy Albert P. to take his bat down there and show them some of his greatest hits?

...
Where is the 75th Ranger Regiment when you need them.
Fix Bayonets!!!

Rainford Refuses To Say If The Downtown Partnership Pushed Slay Into Telling OccupySTL To Leave

Occupy St. Louis earlier accused the Slay administration of asking them to leave Kiener Plaza and coming up with a list of grievances based on pressure from the Downtown Partnership:
Occupy St. Louis is one of many cities that exist as a solidarity movement with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which formed to publicly attest to the fact that corporations control far too much of our economy and political life. This movement has received vast support across the country. How ironic, then, that Mayor Slay has decided to stop listening to the complaints of the people and instead heed the complaints of the corporate groups who control the city. This week, Downtown Partnership met with the mayor’s office and told him to shut us down. He responded to their call. No more fitting example could illustrate who is pulling the strings. (For a list of who voiced the words behind the Mayor’s blog: http://www.downtownstl.org/AboutUs/PartnershipforDowntownStLouis/PartnershipBoard.aspx)
David Hunn of the Post-Dispatch followed up on this question with Jeff Rainford, Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff who previously made ridiculous accusations about OccupySTL, and tellingly Rainford refused to answer the question:
Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff, refused to say if the city met with the Downtown Partnership last week, but insisted that the complaints are coming from many, not only the Partnership.

"There are lots of people complaining. I'm not going to point at one versus the other," he said. "I'm not going to get into it. What I would prefer not to happen is to have this personalized."

The city, he said, would not meet with occupiers today, nor would it discuss the issue in the press.
So Rainford won't just say that the decision was not based on pressure from a business group? Seems pretty telling. And how many of the "other complaints" are coming from Dana Loesch's rabid followers, who have been whipped up into a frenzy based on repeated lies about the group? Rainford continues:
"We're gonna cool off," Rainford said this morning. "It's probably going to get inflamed anyway."

"All I'm trying to do is to keep this from becoming Oakland," he said. "I'm trying to get this solved with no violence."

Still, he said, he understood that the occupiers may not have the same plans
Is Rainford implying that the protesters want this to "become Oakland," where the situation escalated to violence and several protesters were seriously wounded by the police? I sure hope "the same plans" was intended to refer to something else.

Occupy STL Responds to Mayor Slay: Will The St. Louis Media Cover the Response?

Update: Looks like David Hunn wrote a story about the response for the Post-Dispatch. Glad to see it. Chad Garrison at the Riverfront Times also had an interesting take on the developments. Jo Mannies at the Beacon also covered the response.

The media in St. Louis reported excitedly last week on Mayor Slay's blog post indicating that the city was planning on kicking the Occupy St. Louis group out of Kiener Plaza (at least for overnight stays). Part of the Mayor's PR campaign included releasing a list of alleged violations by the occupiers (without any evidence to support the claims). Now Occupy St. Louis has responded with their own list of "violations" by the Slay administration, and I'll be curious to see if our enthusiastic media provides equal coverage for these grievances. I don't necessarily agree with every point on the list, but surely many of them would be part of the discussion in a healthy democracy, no? And it seems like it should be the media's job to provide equal coverage to both sides of the issue.

Here's the first part of the Occupy St. Louis response:
Occupy St. Louis is one of many cities that exist as a solidarity movement with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which formed to publicly attest to the fact that corporations control far too much of our economy and political life. This movement has received vast support across the country. How ironic, then, that Mayor Slay has decided to stop listening to the complaints of the people and instead heed the complaints of the corporate groups who control the city. This week, Downtown Partnership met with the mayor’s office and told him to shut us down. He responded to their call. No more fitting example could illustrate who is pulling the strings. (For a list of who voiced the words behind the Mayor’s blog: http://www.downtownstl.org/AboutUs/PartnershipforDowntownStLouis/PartnershipBoard.aspx)

The Occupy St. Louis movement is further disappointed that the mayor has chosen to hide behind false accusations to sway public opinion and to indicate that he has spoken to Occupy St. Louis. There has been no conversation from the Mayor’s office to Occupy St. Louis, only blog posts that have not been sent to Occupy St. Louis. The mayor’s chief of staff is quoted as saying that Kiener Plaza “reeks of urine.” Anyone is welcome to come to the site to see that this is not true. The occupiers have done a remarkable job of maintaining a clean and orderly space. The other allegations issued by the Parks Department are equally untrue in blaming the occupiers for a host of grievances, ranging from the ridiculous, (glass bottles) to the obscene, (public urination). Occupy St. Louis has always adhered to the idea that public spaces are public spaces and we have no grounds to tell people to leave, other than to encourage everyone to adhere to our safe space policy. The Mayor blames Occupy St. Louis, (which is not an organization but a group of autonomous individuals coming together to make decisions collectively) for behaviors that are almost universally the actions of individuals not participating in Occupy activities and would most likely have occurred regardless of our presence. The mayor’s other concern, that the occupiers must give way to allow for other events, is equally unfair. We have shared the Plaza with other groups on several occasions so far; it is everyone’s space and everyone is welcome. On the other hand, a Macy’s display with the occupiers evicted might just be enough to convince many in the area to Occupy the Holidays by shopping only at smaller local businesses.
And here's a general description of their criticisms of the city:
To put these accusations in perspective, we are issuing today our own list of violations committed by the city, of which Mayor Slay has been the chief executive for eleven years. Some of the violations cited illustrate the inconsistent application of laws that the mayor now wants to use against Occupy St. Louis. These are cases of hypocrisy and raise serious questions about unequal protection under the law. Other violations show the city’s cooperation with Big Business and demonstrate complicity in the economic oppression being raised by Occupy St. Louis. And of course, the violations include the incredible disparity and racial injustice that this City has long been guilty of towards African Americans. In total, these violations make the trivial and untrue accusations raised against us pale in comparison.
To read the full list of "Violations" by the city, see the Occupy STL post. I should note that I can't verify that the Downtown Partnership has anything to do with Slay's decision, and my guess would be they'd deny the claim.

Update: It looks like Mayor Slay has also updated his blog, with what sounds like a pretty reasonable response to me:
I expect the loudest critics of this measured approach to be those whose political agendas are most opposed to the Occupy protestors and who would love a provoke a confrontation to “prove” some prejudice about the groups that make up the Occupy coalition. That’s not my plan.
It's hard to evaluate for me, because some times the Mayor's office says reasonable things like this, and other times they engage in clear provocation and demonization.