Archive for the ‘Missouri Politics’ Category

Missourian Confirmed as New US Ambassador to Ireland
September 19, 2014

Post Dispatch:

The Senate on Thursday confirmed St. Louis native and lawyer Kevin O’Malley as ambassador to Ireland.

His was part of a series of voice-vote confirmations approved without opposition by the Senate as it worked toward a pre-election recess.

According to his biography, O’Malley was a veteran litigator at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C., where he focused on medical negligence, federal white collar criminal defense, and product liability defense.

O’Malley, who has 40 years of trial experience, is a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law.

O’Malley told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July that there is “an unbreakable bond and a deep kinship between the people of the United States and the people of Ireland.” He pointed out that  the U.S. and Ireland have $38 billion in annual trade.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said after the confirmation that Ireland “is an important ally, and that friendship is just as important now as it ever was. Ambassador O’Malley is a great choice to manage this critical relationship.”

Vince Garozzo, president of Greensfelder, issued a statement Thursday evening calling O’Malley a “natural diplomat with the gift of hearing and understanding all sides, and an extraordinary ability to confront and resolve contentious issues in a civil and courteous manner.”

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Nixon Starts Lottery Reform With Commission House Cleaning
September 19, 2014

(AP) — Gov. Jay Nixon replaced most of the members of the Missouri Lottery Commission on Thursday as he released a report recommending the agency review its policies on prizes and advertising in a quest to route more money to education.

The shake-up in oversight at the Missouri Lottery comes after it posted record sales during the past budget year yet transferred less money to education than it had in the previous year.

Nixon in July had directed his state budget office to review the lottery’s operations. That resulted in a series of recommendations Thursday that the lottery revise its contracting procedures to save money and re-examine whether it is devoting too much of its proceeds to prizes and advertising.

“Two decades ago, Missouri voters spoke loud and clear that the proceeds from the Missouri Lottery should benefit our public schools, and it’s clear that the lottery has some work to do if it’s going to keep delivering on that promise,” Nixon said in a written statement.

The lottery was authorized by voters under a 1984 constitutional amendment. And a separate 1992 amendment required all proceeds not used for prizes or administrative expenses to go to public K-12 schools and higher education institutions. The amount provided to education had consistently been above 25 percent annually during the past decade, but dropped to 23.1 percent in the 2014 budget despite higher sales.

The budget office report said Missouri ranked fourth nationally over the past decade in the percentage of lottery revenues devoted to prizes. It recommended the lottery solicit an independent analysis on the right balance between prizes and education transfers.

From the 2005 to 2014 budget years, the lottery boosted its advertising expenses from $2.1 million to $16 million annually. Legislators increased advertising funding largely because lottery officials predicted that it would result in greater sales and thus more money for education.

But “based on actual transfers to education, it is unclear if this was actually the case,” the report said.

Until Thursday, all five members of the lottery commission had continued to serve several years after their terms technically expired because Nixon hadn’t appointed replacements. Nixon apparently began searching in earnest for new members after the lottery posted lower education transfers during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Copies of the governor’s daily schedule provided to The Associated Press show he talked by phone on Aug. 7-8 with three of the four people he announced Thursday as appointees. The new commissioners, who will need Senate confirmation next year, include:

- Terry Adams, of Lake St. Louis, a former school superintendent who is replacing Gina Hoagland, of Ladue.

- Phyllis Chase, of Kansas City, who is director of the Charter School Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is replacing Jacque Land, of St. Louis.

- Paul Kincaid, of Springfield, who is retiring in October as an administrator at Missouri State University. He is replacing Stephen Snead, of Turners.

- John Twitty, of Springfield, a former municipal utilities manager, who is replacing Kevin Roberts, of Hillsboro.

Pamela Wright, of University City, remains on the lottery commission, although Nixon’s website shows that her term expired in September 2010.

Lottery spokeswoman Susan Goedde said the new members are expected to be in place for a Friday commission meeting during which the recommendations will be discussed.

St. Louis County Prosecutor May Release Ferguson Grand Jury Audio Tape
September 18, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A prosecutor says he’ll immediately release transcripts and audio recordings of a grand jury investigation into the death of Michael Brown if the panel doesn’t indict the suburban St. Louis police officer who shot him.

Spokesman Ed Magee on Wednesday said St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has ordered that the proceedings be transcribed and audio-recorded, an unusual step for grand juries in Missouri. The story was first reported by St. Louis Public Radio.

Magee said the decision was spurred by the high-profile nature of the case.

“We just want to be more open,” he said.

Brown was shot by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Police said the shooting happened after a scuffle inside Wilson’s squad car spilled out into the street. The shooting of the unarmed, black 18-year-old by Wilson, who is white, spurred massive protests and several days of unrest.

If Wilson is indicted, the testimony and recordings will become potential evidence for trial and will not be released. McCulloch has said the grand jury investigation is expected to last into mid-October.

Missouri Citizenship Test?
September 18, 2014

(AP) – Some former Missouri officials are backing a proposal to require high school students to pass a test used for immigrants applying for citizenship.

Former Gov. Bob Holden and other political leaders said Wednesday that the test is necessary to educate students on democracy.

A study conducted by a conservative Oklahoma research organization found less than 3 percent of high school students in that state could pass the citizenship test. Backers of the Civics Education Initiative say data on how Missouri students would fare isn’t available.

Under the proposal, Missouri high school students would have to correctly answer at least 60 percent of the citizenship questions in order to graduate.

The proposal is part of a push by the Civics Education Initiative to enact similar laws in all states by 2017.

Koster Won’t Appeal Early Voting Ruling
September 17, 2014

(AP) – The Missouri attorney general’s office will not appeal a ruling rewriting the ballot summary of an early voting proposal.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster said Tuesday that he won’t ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case following Monday’s decision by an appeals court panel.

The appellate judges said the summary drafted by legislators was misleading, because it failed to note that the proposed six-day early voting period would occur only if state funding is provided.

The appeals judges ordered the funding contingency to be included in the ballot summary.

House and Senate leaders had said they did not want to appeal the ruling, because they didn’t want further legal complications before the measure appears on the November ballot.


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