Politics & Issues

Political news

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and Republican rival Bill Corrigan sharpened their attacks today during their second public forum, held over lunch before members of the Northwest Chamber of Commerce.

Dooley, a Democrat in office since 2003, accused Corrigan of "having something to hide'' because the latter has declined to release his personal income tax returns, as the county executive did last week.

Corrigan, in turn, accused Dooley of improperly spending county money on "$150,000-a-year consultants'' and opinion polls.

We’re doubly excited about the Beacon’s recently announced plan to add a Washington correspondent.

The reporter will add breadth and depth to the Beacon’s already strong coverage of issues and politics that affect our region. And he or she will appear as well on St. Louis Public Radio in a new partnership. The Beacon’s goal is to reach people where they are in ways they find most useful and convenient, and this arrangement will help us deliver.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., appeared to exude more optimism today about St. Louis' chances of landing a transit hub with China than she was about her party's chances in this fall's election.

Addressing members of the St. Louis Chamber and Growth Association, McCaskill said that the latest talks with China indicate Lambert Field should be seeing two Chinese cargo flights a week by next summer.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- arguably the most popular Republican now running a Democratic-dominated state -- will be campaigning in Missouri on Wednesday for GOP U.S. Senate nominee Roy Blunt.

Although, technically, Christie won't be in the state. He will join Blunt via teleconference, as they address Blunt volunteers gathered in campaign sites around the state.

(From left) Rick Firebaugh, John Boehner and Ed Martin
with permission from the Ed Martin campaign

U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, may not have been seen during last weekend's visit to Missouri, but both parties hope he'll be heard.

Boehner headlined private fundraising events:

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri's Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, marked Labor Day by launching a new ad that focuses on jobs and features the owner of a St. Louis dry-cleaning store.

But arguably more significantly, the ad includes what the GOP believes may be a magic word this election season: Obama.

"Robin Carnahan supports the Obama agenda. I don't,'' says Blunt in the ad, referring to his Democratic rival.

Sherman George and Francis Slay
File photo

Former St. Louis Fire Chief Sherman George in the past has been at odds with Mayor Francis Slay over some things -- but the two share opposition to Proposition A, the statewide ballot proposal to bar or restrict local earnings taxes.

In St. Louis and Kansas City, which now impose an earnings tax, Proposition A would require citywide votes every five years to sustain the tax. All other communities in the state would be barred from imposing such a tax on income.

St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green says she will campaign against Proposition A and will help raise money to defeat the Nov. 2 statewide ballot proposal, which would bar Missouri communities from imposing earnings taxes, and require local authorization votes in the two cities that already have them: St. Louis and Kansas City.

Green says she plans to "speak out against Proposition A on Oct. 1 during her keynote address at the annual Workers Rights Board breakfast."

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is leading a host of prominent Missouri Republicans, past and present, who are headlining a Sept. 27 statewide blitz of fundraising events on behalf of GOP state auditor nominee Tom Schweich.

Schweich said today he hopes to raise $500,000 over the day, which includes a breakfast in Kansas City, a lunch in Springfield, Mo., and dinner in St. Louis.

In Missouri's increasingly bitter contest for the U.S. Senate, Republican Roy Blunt is bringing in some big guns while Democrat Robin Carnahan is countering with a big shot.

Blunt, a congressman from southwest Missouri, is traveling around outstate Missouri on Friday with top officials with the National Rifle Association as part of an apparent move to elevate the social-issue planks like gun rights that help energize conservative Republicans -- especially in rural Missouri.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says a statewide proposal that could lead to the end of the city's earnings tax "will most assuredly win in November" and he is concentrating his efforts and resources on the subsequent vote in April in the city only.

In an interview with the Beacon, the mayor said, "I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that the earnings tax isn't eliminated unless and until there is a plan to replace it."

A hearing on a request for a full order of protection against state Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, has been postponed again -- this time at the request of Nieves' attorney.

Shawn Bell, a campaign worker for one of Nieves' opponents in the Aug. 3 Republican primary in the 26th state Senate District, has accused Nieves of threatening his life and brandishing a weapon during an encounter the day after the election. Nieves has called the Bell's claims "preposterous."

Missouri's decline in state income may be coming to an end. The figures released today by state Budget Director Linda Luebbering show that state government saw a slight uptick in revenue collections for August, compared to a year ago: $594 million last month, compared to $589.5 million a year ago.

Although up only $4.5 million, the 0.8 percent increase comes after close to two years of monthly declines -- many of them in double digits.

Brenda Talent, a prominent tax lawyer and the wife of former Sen. Jim Talent, is taking on a new job next week as the new executive director of the St. Louis-based Show-Me Institute.

The conservative research and educational institute advocates free-market approaches, particularly in fiscal matters.

The day after President Barack Obama gave a major speech on Iraq, all of the major political events on Wednesday were focused on -- jobs.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley headlined a packed business luncheon in Clayton hosted by the county's Economic Council, and featuring a bipartisan array of politicians in the audience or on screen. (A special video narrated by Dooley, a Democrat, honored retiring U.S. Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.)

Former state Sen. Betty Sims, R-Ladue, has been named by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, to the state's Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

Sims held the 24th District state Senate post from 1995-2003, when she had to step down because of term limits. She was succeeded by Democrat Joan Bray, who also is leaving after this year because of term limits. (The 24th District has the region's only competitive state Senate this fall, between Democrat Barbara Fraser and Republican John Lamping.)

Republican state auditor nominee Tom Schweich has reported his first hefty donation since winning his party's nod a month ago. David Humphreys, co-owner of Tamko Building Products in Joplin, wrote a check to Schweich this week for $50,000.

Humphreys had given Schweich $10,000 during his primary battle against state Rep. Allen Icet of Wildwood.

At the Beacon, we cover news that matters to people in the St. Louis region. But people are interested in more than what happens here. What happens in Iraq, for example, hits home whether we like it or not.

Pre-speech predictions that President Barack Obama's Iraq address Tuesday night was aimed primarily at his political base appeared to be borne out -- with area Democrats initially offering the only comments shortly before and after his speech.

The silence from most Republicans may have reflected their need to mull over his comments or a decision to continue their focus on other issues -- most notably, the continued troubled economy. The one GOP exception was U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield and Missouri's Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's office has just announced that he has appointed a nine-person search committee to look for a permanent replacement for Mark Templeton, the former head of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, who resigned Monday.

The committee includes two St. Louisans:

National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka offered a rousing endorsement today of Missouri's Democratic U.S. Senate nominee, Robin Carnahan, and laid out the stakes of this fall's election in graphic terms for the state and national labor movement.

"The party of 'No' doesn't want your vote," Trumka told several hundred state labor leaders gathered at the downtown Renaissance hotel for their annual statewide AFL-CIO convention. "All they want you to do is stay home out of frustration."

As President Barack Obama prepares to announce the official end of U.S. combat in Iraq, several St. Louis area residents expressed concerns about the cost, in both lives and dollars, of the effort to bring democracy to that Middle East country.

We've all heard about the controversy of Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally, which took place on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech." The analysis has largely been stuck on the question of whether Beck should or should not have held his rally on the landmark date.

Allen Hill, a Vietnam War veteran from Festus, is leery of the real reason the United States is ending its military operations in Iraq.

President Barack Obama's explanation to be delivered on television Tuesday night -- that it's now time for the Iraqis to defend themselves -- sounds to Hill a lot like what then-President Richard M. Nixon said in 1975, when the U.S. ended military action in Vietnam.

Express Scripts' expansion in north St. Louis County may have made the pharmaceutical supplier the darling of state and regional officials. But it's also put the growing firm at odds with some major unions, many of whom contract with the firm for their workers' medicines.

And those tensions could spread here.

This just in: Gov. Jay Nixon just named Kip Stetzler acting director of the state Department of Natural Resources following the resignation today of Mark N. Templeton.

According to Nixon: "Templeton will become the executive director of the Office of the Independent Trustees of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust. In that role, he will be responsible for ensuring that funds are available to address the claims of those affected by BP’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Templeton has been DNR director since 2009."

Jim Hacking
From law firm website

Most of us say deportation, but in legal circles, with the government and those who find themselves involved with a case, it's called removal.

The word itself pretty much describes what happens: A person is literally removed from this country for a number of reasons. But how removal works is not necessarily easy to understand or navigate.

The national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is finally swooping into Missouri with a TV ad aimed at helping Democratic nominee Robin Carnahan by bashing her Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt.

Respondents of a recent Real Clear Politics Poll indicated that 50.7 percent of Americans disapprove of the job that President Obama is doing, and 61.4 percent expressed the belief that the country is on the wrong track. Similarly, an Associated Press poll released on Aug. 16, 2010, showed that only 32 percent of independents agree with the Democratic policies of the current government, down from 52 percent of independents who supported a Democratic led government at the last election.

In 1964, when Mr. Akin and I were 17, the movie "Seven Days in May" was released. Starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, it is the story of an attempted military coup in the United States following the president signing a treaty with the then Soviet Union. While the movie is not considered a classic, it may have had as profound an effect on the thinking of presidents and members of Congress as any film over the past 60 years.