Politics & Issues | St. Louis Public Radio

Politics & Issues

Commentary: Islands of care in a sea of woe

Jun 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 11, 2008 - Two similar but unrelated events in St. Louis recently garnered national headlines. On Friday, May 30, actress Melanie Griffith and drug czar Barry McCaffrey traveled here to address the National Conference of Drug Court Administrators. Their celebrity presence was intended to promote the concept of drug courts as an alternative strategy for dealing with nonviolent narcotics offenders.

Analysis: Crime in St. Louis has been worse

Jun 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 11, 2008 - Recent reports of an increase in crime in St. Louis bring back memories of a time, not so long ago, when crime rates were at an all-time high. Historical perspective may be cold comfort to today's crime victims, but it helps to know that crime rates do not always rise; they also fall, sometimes dramatically.

Knowing why crime declined in the past can help us to figure out why it is increasing now and how to avoid a return to a far worse period in recent history.

Public meetings set to discuss Arch grounds

Jun 9, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2008: The National Park Service won't be replacing the Gateway Arch's gleaming stainless steel with, say, yellow enamel paint (or installing a drive-thru window), but if you have an idea for improving the grounds surrounding the 630-foot memorial, now is the time to speak up.

Arch superintendent Tom Bradley says that two upcoming "open house style meetings'' are designed to get people thinking about ways to improve the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes the Arch and Old Courthouse. There won't be an official presentation, but rather stations where five "preliminary alternatives" will be explained, and where people can ask questions and makes comments.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2008 - St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley had to dig nearly four decades deep into his memory to find a historical moment that matched the sensations he felt about Barack Obama's meteoric rise from first-term U.S. senator to presumptive presidential nominee. Dooley found that moment in the TV announcement of Neil Armstrong exiting his spacecraft and walking on the moon in July 1969.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 5, 2008 - As a youth, I was dragged to see "The Music Man." This traumatic event occurred during a vulnerable phase of early adolescence when I had a carefully cultivated reputation to protect. It's tough to come across as the sixth grade's answer to James Dean if you're seen going to some dorky musical with your mother and your aunt. Alas, child abuse enforcement was lax in those days, so off I went. It was meager solace that it would be dark inside the theater.

Need help? Call 2-1-1

Jun 5, 2008
2008 photo, 300 pixels, ID of people not given
Bill Smith | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 5, 2008 - Just short of its first birthday, Missouri's new 2-1-1 phone system, a referral service for non-emergency help, is within months of completing an ambitious plan to expand its reach into nine counties in Illinois. Once the program is up and running, it would make the Metro East region among the first in the state to become part of a 2-1-1 system, according to United Way 2-1-1 director Kay Archer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 3, 2008 - When Betty Hearnes heard the news that Sen. Barack Obama would woo working-class and swing voters in Cape Girardeau, Mo., she thought perhaps the announcer had made a mistake.

"Somebody gave him bad advice," says the wife of former Missouri Gov. Warren E. Hearnes and secretary of the Mississippi County Democratic Committee in southeast Missouri.

"It wouldn't make any difference if he did back flips in Cape Girardeau. They still won't vote for him. They are going to vote Republican. He should have been told that before he went."

St. Louis fantasy baseball firm tosses shutout vs. MLB

Jun 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - The Supreme Court was not expressing an opinion on the legal issue when it decided without comment to turn down the appeal by Major League Baseball. But the action effectively ends the suit in which Major League Baseball and the Players Association joined forces against C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, the parent of CDM Fantasy Sports of St. Louis.

Commentary: Make transracial adoption more effective

Jun 2, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 2, 2008 - To take account of race or to not take account of race, that is the question -- or at least it is in transracial adoption.

The rates of transracial adoption have increased dramatically in the past decades, and research and the law are trying to keep up. From the social research perspective we've learned a few things. Historically, research on transracial adoption found no differences in outcomes for kids adopted across race compared to same-race families.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 2, 2008Although Illinois lawmakers passed a budget and skipped town Saturday night with only hours to spare before their deadline, that doesn't mean work is over for everyone.

Lawmakers have passed the red pen to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, saying it is his responsibility to bring the admittedly unbalanced $59.1 billion budget in line. On Monday, Blagojevich said he will meet with the four legislative leaders to negotiate the revenue-generating proposals that the House failed to pass.

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Clarion Ledger | Jackson, MS

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon June 2 2008: Now that this year's legislative sesson is over and the campaigns are in full swing for the primary, Missourians ought to look at what's needed and what's been done on several important issues. Among the most of important of these is education funding.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - The Texas Supreme Court was divided and its opinion was not as strong as the state appeals court decision of last week. But, one point all of the justices agreed about removing people from Warren Jeffs' polygamist household: The state should not have taken the boys and pre-pubescent girls from their homes.

Commentary: Roadkill

May 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - I'm indebted to our presentation editor for pointing out an article in the Southern Illinoisan: "The Illinois Department of Transportation will limit the amount of road-kill they remove (it removes) from the highway because of an expensive winter, District Nine Operating Engineer Kevin Grammer said.

Public invited to discuss plans for Arch grounds

May 28, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 28, 2008 - What is your vision for the Gateway Arch grounds?

The National Park Service is inviting the public to weigh in on plans for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial at "open house style meetings'' on June 25 and July 1. The Memorial includes the Arch and Old Courthouse. 

Birmingham News

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 28, 2008 - I recently received a letter from Hillary Clinton. Emblazoned across the envelope it came in was a pledge that she was “going all the way.” This struck me as a rather sporting proposition because, in the high school parlance of my youth, girls known to “go all the way” were the ones you could score with on the first date.

Artists aim to leave mark on 2008 election

May 28, 2008
2008 image of Tom Huck work that will become a billboard. 300 pixels
S. Carmody | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appearing in the St. Louis Beacon: May, 28 2008 - A fine-arts billboard campaign with a high-minded patriotic purpose kicked off Wednesday night at a red, white and blue rally in Grand Center in front of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

The museum location was appropriate: The effort is the creation of contemporary artists from Missouri and around the country, as well as members of the arts community in St. Louis. Their mission is to swell voter registration rolls in advance of the Oct. 8 deadline, while simultaneously encouraging voters to the go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 27, 2008 - The U.S. Supreme Court broadened the legal protection of workers who face retaliation for complaining about discrimination at work. The court ruled that workers who complained about race and age discrimination were protected from reprisals, just as are those who complain about sex discrimination have been protected since a 2005 decision.

Commentary: Personal observations of 'Tomorrow'

May 27, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As we settled into our seats in the cavernous performance hall, murmurs of shock and sadness spread with word of the Hamas rocket attack on Ashkelon. Just the night before in this hall, the murmurs had been of an alleged corruption scandal and the consequent impending downfall of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Yet for three days soaring above these whispers were the words of Elie Weisel, “Our history should not be others’ nightmare. Our hope should not be others’ despair.” Or of Amos Oz, Israeli author and humanitarian, who reminded us that realized dreams always bore an element of disappointment.

An inside look at the Missouri legislative session

May 19, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Two different efforts to make an end-run around the powerful teachers union lobby met with vastly different fates.

Child Porn case may have 1st Amend. impact

May 19, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: By a 7-2 vote in U.S. v. Williams, the Supreme upheld the federal PROTECT law making it illegal to advertise, present, distribute or promote material that purports to be child porn. The law was Congress' response to a Supreme Court decision several years ago throwing out a law that made virtual child porn illegal. The court threw out that law because it had traditionally based its child porn decisions on the need to protect the children depicted. With no real victims involved in virtual child porn, that justification disappeared.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Sen. Barack Obama is a bi-racial man running for president. Most people label him as African-American. Any way you slice it, some people do not support him solely because of his race. There, I said it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Last month, Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States and promised to do everything he could to rid the priesthood of predators. Before even touching down on U.S. soil, he said, “We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”

This is a good time to assess how his local representative is doing on that front.

Analysis: Drew prosecution could make felons of us all

May 16, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The prosecution of Lori Drew in the MySpace cyberbullying case appears to be the first time that a federal prosecutor has tried to make it a federal crime for a computer user to violate one of those "terms of service" agreements that no one reads. As despicable as Drew's alleged conduct was, the prosecutor's legal theory would make most of us federal felons.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Good deeds don't need a holiday.

Sometimes, they happen just because ... it's spring.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A year later, you can almost see the egg on Terry Jones' face. About 12 months ago, the political scientist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis was among pundits who saw the political campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as the equivalent of a colt signing up for the Kentucky Derby.

Commentary: Let Tony Soprano handle state communication

May 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: You won't catch me saying anything provocative in an email, no ma'am. Actually, that is not true. I routinely send missives that provoke and irritate half the recipients, simultaneously titillating the other half. I do not use expletives, which garishly punctuate certain bloggers' tirades and try not to embarrass my wife or my mom. In other words, I will defend every last word I write -- with today's technology you might as well be skywriting.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: More than the honorary degree Phyllis Schlafly is about to receive, the controversy surrounding her is itself fitting testament to the outsized role she's played in the national debate for most of her long life.

Once again, she stands in the spotlight - smiling and quotable - as opponents fulminate about the attention she's getting. This is vintage Schlafly.

Same-sex marriage in Ca. - Mildred Loving's legacy

May 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The state Supreme Court's 4-3 decision upholding same-sex marriage is likely to face an almost immediate challenge at the ballot box.  Opponents of same-sex marriage already had been collecting names to put the issue on the ballot in November - a move that could affect who comes out to vote in California during the presidential election. (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he respects the court decision and will not work in favor of the ballot initiative to overturn it.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Political campaigns are often likened to horse races. If you saw this year's Kentucky Derby, you'll understand why. That contest offered the perfect metaphor for the Democratic presidential primary in that the only female running wound up dead in second place, while Big Brown cruised to victory.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Replacing Justice John Paul Stevens with a Thomas/Scalia/Alito clone could move the court more dramatically to the right than any Supreme Court appointment in the past half century. The balance of the court on issues like religious freedom, affirmative action, gay rights and flag burning could switch. Hence the importance of the next president's selection of a new justice.

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