Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Larry Conners Update

This was a while ago, but in case you missed it, Larry Conners lost a lawsuit.

Then he lost it again.

I predict he will lose many such lawsuits.

State Education Commissioner Helps Right-Wing Front Group Write Evasive Ballot Language

Here's a November 21 statement from the Missouri NEA site:
(Jefferson City, MO) Today education leaders from the American Federation of Teachers, Missouri National Education Association and the Missouri State Teachers Association issued the following joint statement regarding press reports of Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro’s covert conversations with Rex Sinquefield lobbyist Kate Casas. 
“As educators we are disturbed by Commissioner Nicastro’s covert communication with a registered lobbyist, her potential disregard of open meetings law, and the circumvention of input from anyone involved in the day-to-day operations of public schools. 
Published reports indicate Commissioner Nicastro actively assisted a special interest lobbyist in crafting language for an amendment to the Missouri Constitution and ordering DESE staff not to post items to the State Board of Education’s public agenda. Nicastro assured special interest groups the fiscal note outlining the financial impact would be favorable.
The professional staff at DESE developed language that disclosed the potential significant costs to local districts. However, Nicastro chose to personally override her financial experts at the expense of taxpayers. 
Government officials have a duty to act in an open and transparent manner for the benefit of the citizens of the state of Missouri – Commissioner Nicastro’s actions fall short of that duty.”
More soon.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sinquefield Spokesperson Not Sure If Sinquefield Has Opinion On Sinquefield-Funded Project

From a recent Beacon article:
Better Together executive director Nancy Rice said last week that she hasn't talked to Sinquefield about the new organization.
Better Together is funded by the Missouri Council for a Better Environment (MCBE).  Nancy Rice is the media contact person for MCBE, a group previously funded exclusively by Sinquefield.  She's a spokesperson for Sinquefield.  She works for his lobbying group. Sinquefield was reported in August to be working on this project.

These games are silly.  Just stop.

Déjà Vu: Casas Confused About The Group He's Working For, Again

A long while back, I reported on how St. Louis "Democrats" were being paid off by extreme right-wing ideologue Rex Sinquefield to work on the ballot initiative restoring local control of the police department to St. Louis.  As I've said many times, I support local control, and in fact worked with the groups who had been pushing for local control long before it occurred to the St. Louis establishment that it might be a politically useful campaign. However, I had concerns about the way the campaign was being run as a PR campaign for Rex Sinquefield and anti-tax groups around the state.

Specifically, I was critical of one of Sinquefield's group's primary beneficiaries, Martin Casas, who repeatedly claimed to be clueless about the operation he was working on.  Casas wrote an article for Vital Voice asking people to sign a petition for United for Missouri, a right-wing group run by Sinquefield's employee Carl Bearden, who among many other things:

  • Voted to ban the existence of gay/straight student alliances in Missouri.
  • Was a co-sponsor of HB885 in 2004, which would "Prohibit public institutions or any entity receiving state funds from adopting discrimination policies that exceed state and federal protections against discrimination."
  • Voted in favor of placing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Missouri on the 2004 ballot.

  • So Casas wrote an article for St. Louis's premier LGBT news source asking people to hand their contact information over to a dude categorically opposed to equal rights.  And to make it worse, rather than just being honest about it, when I asked Casas about who was handling the emails from the petition, he responded by claiming: "I have no idea! I'm working on #LocalControl!" The idea that Casas, a failed candidate for state office, had been contracted to get signatures to an online petition without having any idea of what would be done with the signatures is pretty ridiculous, even for him.

    So now we have a new Sinquefield-backed initiative, described by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch way back in August, created to "study" various aspects of City and County services. Again, I personally think the City and County should be merged.  But like the Post-Dispatch editorial board, I think this discussion should be transparent and honest, rather than opaque and deceptive.  However, rather than being honest, the group, staffed by Rex's previous campaign operatives, is pretending to be unconnected to Rex Sinquefield.

    So for starters, let's just be clear that the Twitter feed for the group, Better Together St. Louis, is run by Martin Casas.  With his usual stealth, Casas managed to tweet and post on facebook an identical post using his personal account and Better Together simultaneously, demonstrating that he's running both.

    But what's really amazing is that Casas is again acting clueless about Rex Sinquefield's involvement in the group.  During a Twitter conversation, Casas initially said that Sinquefield wasn't involved in funding the group, then said he "didn't know" after it was pointed out that Sinquefeld was previously the only funder of the group, MCBE (Missouri Council for a Better Economy) that paid for "A Better St. Louis":
    So Casas, for the second time, gets very confused when he's asked about whether he's working for a Sinquefield group and in what capacity. Of course, in the grand scheme of things, Casas is pretty irrelevant to whatever policy outcomes might occur.  Yet this whole approach is suggestive of a broader disdain for the public from the group.  Rather than simply being up front about Sinquefield's involvement, the effort so far has been designed, rather sloppily I might add, to act as though Rex has nothing to do with it, though he clearly has been involved in the planning and financing of the plan for a long time.  And if they can't just admit that he's a key part of the effort, what else are they trying to hide?  And more importantly, as the Kansas City Star's Yael Aboulhalkah asked, "What's in it for Rex?"

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    St. Louis Journalism Review

    Gotta say, I don't really understand what the Gateway Journalism Review takes itself to be doing.  If you call yourself a "Journalism Review" and say in the mission statement that you aim for the public to have the "most credible, fair media possible," then shouldn't you be among the first to call out charlatans and grifters, rather than the last? Maybe write stories when someone is dishonest on CNN, rather than at teh Blaze?  It's not really providing any accountability if you only call out a media personality a full year after every thinking person stopped taking the person seriously.

    But yeah, don't get your news from the Blaze.  Can't argue with that.