Morning headlines: Ald. Matt Villa steps down, state Senator proposes changing judicial elections, value of tourism advertising increases

Feb 15, 2011
  • A member of a long-time political family in St. Louis is leaving his post as alderman for the 11th Ward. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Ald. Matt Villa says he needs to focus on expanding the family's business, Villa Lighting. Villa's grandfather, Red, was the 11th Ward alderman for more than 40 years and his uncle, Tom, served a total of 30 years as a state representative and president of the Board of Aldermen. Matt Villa has been in office since 1997. He told the Post-Dispatch he stepped down yesterday because it's the last day to add slots to the April ballot.
  • The state of Missouri got more bang for its advertising buck last year than in 2009. The annual report from the Missouri Tourism Commission, presented to lawmakers yesterday, showed that visitors spent $53 for every dollar the state spent on advertising in 2010, up from $47 per dollar in 2009. Commission members say that return shows why the tourism division needs more funding. The division received about $13.4 million this fiscal year, and is slated to receive the same amount in next year's budget.
  • A Republican state senator is proposing legislation that would phase out partisan elections for Missouri's trial judges. Under the bill sponsored by  State Sen. Kevin Engler of Farmington, judges elected before 2012 would continue to be elected on a partisan basis until they are no longer on the ballot. Their replacements would be elected in non-partisan contests. Judges are selected at the ballot box in all but the largest of Missouri's metropolitan areas. Engler's bill has the support of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.
  • The man who had been the interim head of the Illinois State Police has been tapped to head the state's Emergency Management Agency. Illinois Public Radio reports that  Jonathon Monken had led the agency for nearly a year, but senators had never made his confirmation official over concerns that Monken, an Iraq war vet, had never been in law enforcement. Monken was supposed to have a confirmation hearing on Wednesday and it was unclear if he would be approved.