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Friday, January 11, 2013

Voters' Rebel Yell

[ Patrick Tuohey ]

The Kansas City Star's Yael Abouhalkah wrote a piece the other day in which he listed the sales taxes paid in various part of the metro area. Our own piece on Big Mac taxes found that KC had a higher rate than New York City. At the end of his piece, Abouhalkah lamented that,

The sales tax has become the funder of choice for many projects in this area. Don’t expect that to change — until voters rebel when they decide rates have soared too high.

I don't know what Abouhalkah is expecting, exactly. Voters have been rebelling for years—with their feet. Our public school district has about 14,000 students, down from 75,000 at its peak. (They haven't all moved to parochial schools.) Kansas City's share of the regional population and jobs has been declining as Kansas' suburbs grow. Kansas City's use of TIF's and economic development to spur net job growth is a complete failure.

Of course it's not just high taxes chasing people away, it's also a lack of the services those taxes are supposed to provide (infrastructure, safety and education). Don't forget the steep and continuing tax of sorts imposed on us by the EPA in the form of higher water and sewage rates. Everyone who lives in KC knows of a neighbor who moved across the state line or just beyond the city limits to escape the high cost—and low performance—of government.

Kansas City's problems aren't manifesting themselves in angry voters marching on City Hall but in their marching away.

1/11/2013 10:12:26 AM

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nixon's First Stand

[ Patrick Tuohey ]
While Missouri Republicans celebrate an increased majority in the General Assembly and a new party chairman, Jason Hancock over at the Star reports that Nixon appears likely to move to the left. Nixon, according to the story, spent his first term,

steer[ing] clear of direct confrontation with legislative Republicans, who for the last decade have dominated the General Assembly. If anything, lawmakers complained he shared his thoughts on legislation only after it landed on his desk.

Liberals have been frustrated by Nixon and his unwillingness to get involved in issues important to them. They likely are arguing that those veto-proof Republican majorities in the Assembly were caused by Nixon's failure to provide a clear alternative. To make matters worse, his campaign for re-election painted him as a conservative, taking credit for things the legislature did. But now liberals are being told to expect great things from him.

The story suggests that Nixon's priority in his first term was getting re-elected. But now that he's term limited, well, it's another ballgame.

Re-election means four more years of “opportunity to get things done,” Nixon said, but term limits mean that’s the end of it. After nearly three decades in state government, his time is running out.

Read that again. Nixon has spent almost 30 years in state government, but now he's serious about getting things done. Things beside re-election, that is. Well, sorta. According to longtime friend Chuck Hatfield,

“I’ve never met a politician who didn’t want a promotion,” Hatfield said, later adding: “I’d be surprised if Governor Nixon has ruled anything out.”

Think of it as a re-election campaign... to a higher office. Nixon's new rhetoric isn't aimed at Missouri voters; it's aimed at national Democratic leaders. Will Missouri's liberals continue to champion a governor who doesn't champion them?

1/10/2013 10:03:44 AM

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Strong Arm Tactics in the 8th CD

[ Patrick Tuohey ]

The special election to replace Rep. Jo Anne Emerson will be decided by the 86 delegates to Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District Republican committee. (We understand they will be required to show photo ID before casting their vote.) Let's hope the various candidates are less heavy handed than some Poplar Bluff city employees.

The SEMO Times wrote back in November of the Poplar Bluff effort to increase sewer rates by 75% to renovate the existing treatment facility. The city is accused of using strong arm tactics, including police resources, to affect the election outcome. On election day,

an armed officer was dispatched to tear down signs that he claimed were illegal.  The officer then tore down the signs opposing the city’s ballot measure while ignoring other signs without “paid for by” disclaimers. He informed the crowd of poll workers that he was “only supposed to take this sign.”

City officials and police claimed they were acting under the orders of the Missouri Ethics Commission, which denied making any such request or even informing the Poplar Bluff police about any such investigation. Members of the City Council claimed to be unaware of the city's tactics—but it is another lesson that in big cities and small, the interests of city employees aren't always the same interests of taxpayers.

1/9/2013 10:02:17 AM

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Show-Me Obamacare Restraining Order

[ Patrick Tuohey ]

Most of Missouri's mainstream media hasn't reported on it, but the Show-Me State's Sharpe Holdings, Inc., headed by Charles Sharpe, has won a temporary restraining order against implementation of the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The STL Beacon seems to be alone in their reporting.

Plaintiffs argued, as have others, that the Act infringed on their rights. Specifically,

Plaintiffs argue that immediate relief is required because they must identify a health plan and complete the enrollment process immediately, because the renewal date of their current employee health benefit plan is January 1, 2013 and because otherwise failure to follow the ACA Mandate will result in significant fines and penalties. They argue that they will likely succeed on their claims that the ACA Mandate violates RFRA, the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause, and the right against compelled speech."

In other words. Obamacare violates their religious freedoms. The money quote from Judge David D. Noce, who sided with the plaintiffs, seems to signal an eventual plaintiff victory:

the court concludes that plaintiffs have shown that the enforcement of the ACA mandate, and its substantial financial penalties, on their health plan would substantially burden their religious beliefs.

The preliminary injunction hearing set for Monday, January 14 in St. Louis Federal District Court.

Incidentally, Sharpe does not object to supplying birth control to employees but rather "Plan B, ella, copper IUDs, and related education and counseling" that "prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the wall of the uterus, thereby leading to the ejection of the fertilized egg from the woman’s body, in other words, the abortion of the live fetus."

Sharpe Holdings v HHS

1/7/2013 11:44:40 AM

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Message from the Grinch

[ Patrick Tuohey ]

We took our children to Christmas in the Park, a Jackson County Parks and Recreation event featuring approximately 30 holiday themed displays and 100,000 lights (none of them too Christian, by the way). But it is one display that stirs us to comment.

A lighted display at the entrance to the park reads:

Christmas in the Park
A Gift To All
From County Executive
Mike Sanders
and the
Jackson County Legislature

We haven't called the Parks and Rec department, but our suspicion is that this event is in fact not funded through the generosity of Sanders, et al., but by Jackson County taxpayers whose money is then appropriated by Sanders and the legislature in their official capacity. We've been given a "gift" using money taken from us.

Sadly, this mindset—that government money belongs to those who spend it—is common at all levels of government. This is why some think it is a compromise to increase taxes a little and increase spending a little, thinking the government is being prudent. In fact all money comes from the people, and good policy is reached not by a little of both but by less of one and none of the other.

We're confident that Sanders and the legislature did not require this sign be placed as a monument to their beneficence but by a grateful Parks and Rec. And we don't argue that Christmas in the Park ought not be funded. But it might be nice if the sign instead read:

Christmas in the Park
A Gift To All
From Jackson County Taxpayers.
Thank You For Your
Continued Support.

11/28/2012 1:10:24 PM

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