October 23, 2014

Disaster declaration sought for 20 MO counties hit by Sept storms

Governor Nixon has asked the federal government to declare 20 counties in northern Missouri a disaster area, due to severe storms September 9 and 10. The declaration would allow local governments to seek assistance for the costs of response and recovery.

File photo of flooding near Waynesville.

File photo of flooding near Waynesville.

Nixon says strong winds damaged schools and other public buildings and some areas experienced days of flooding. He says assessments revealed damage to roads, bridges, and low water crossings. During the storms’ peak impact, 70 roads were closed including parts of I-29 and U.S. 36.

In a statement Nixon writes, “The response and recovery costs to the affected communities – some of which had already been hit by damaging severe storms in May and June – will be extensive, and federal assistance with these costs will help the entire region rebuild and move forward.”

Nixon is asking for the disaster declaration in Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Daviess, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Mercer, Nodaway, Putnam, Ralls, Shelby, Sullivan and Worth counties.

Results of another Michael Brown autopsy released

Michael Brown, Junior, was shot in the hand at close range and had been using marijuana, according to the official autopsy report, now obtained and reported on by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Dispatch had two experts review the report. They tell the paper the findings could support the report that Brown was reaching for the gun of officer Darren Wilson. They also say the placement of the other gunshots Brown suffered do not support the claim by witnesses that he had his arms up in surrender when he was shot.

The findings conflict in at least one respect with an autopsy released by the family of Brown and conducted privately. In that one, a forensic pathologist said none of Brown’s wounds appeared to have been from shots fired at close range.

Results from a third autopsy conducted as part of the federal investigation have not been released.

Gephardt sees Congressional hostilities softening (AUDIO)

A former Missouri Congressman who ran for President twice thinks time will restore Congress to a productive level after several acrimonious years.

Richard Gephardt now heads his own lobbying company in Washington after 26 years representing part of St. Louis in the House, six as Majority Leader and eight years as a Minority Leader.

He says the unpopularity of Congress is not new and says it’s usually unpopular because getting a majority of 535 people to agree on major issues can generate a lot of controversy.

Gephardt thinks the condition has been worsened by voters angry about the recession. “A lot of people lose their jobs, lose their house, lose their pension,” he says. “They get angry, understandably, and they tend to send people to represent them who are equally angry and having made up their mind ‘that these are the answers’ and ‘it’s going to be my way or the highway.'”

He says  many of those members are leaving or are becoming more likely to compromise. He says he’s an optimist who thinks Congress will get back to a more normal situation between the chambers and within the chambers and in relations with the President, whoever it might become.

But, Gephardt says, decision-making will never be easy in Congress

Gephardt joined former House Speaker Dennis Hastert during a seminar in Washington.

AUDIO: Gephardt, Hastert 7:25

Nixon: new ‘Ferguson commission’ will seek lessons from unrest

Governor Jay Nixon has announced the creation of an independent commission that will study the unrest in Ferguson since the shooting of Michael Brown August 9 and make recommendations for how to make progress on the issues behind it.

Governor Jay Nixon announces the Highway Patrol will take over security in Ferguson (screencap courtesy of KSDK)

Governor Jay Nixon

He plans to announce its membership next month.

Nixon says the commission will have three main goals: to conduct a thorough, wide-ranging and unflinching study of the underlying social and economic conditions underscored by the unrest in the wake of Michael Brown’s death, to tap into expertise needed to address key concerns identified by the Commission, from poverty and education to governance and law enforcement, and to make specific recommendations for making the St. Louis region a stronger, fairer place for people to live.

Nixon announced the Commission today at St. Louis Community College-Florissant.

“How do we move on from shouting past one another in the streets, on the internet and the evening news?” Nixon asked. “Some people would tell you that the choice is one thing or the other: trust or force, speech or silence, black or white. It is far more complicated than that.

“Legitimate issues have been raised by thoughtful voices on all sides. Shouting past one another will not move us to where we need to go. Outsiders eager to grab the national spotlight and push their own agendas do not have the best interests of this community, this state or the nation at heart. We need to solve these problems ourselves, we need to solve them together, and we need to act now,” Nixon said.

Nixon stresses the commission will not investigate the Michael Brown shooting, and says the responsibility for that investigation remains with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney and grand jury, the FBI, the federal Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General.

“Whatever the outcome of their investigations, we must move forward together,” says Nixon.

He included a stern message that seemed targeted at those who have resorted to looting and property damage, or might in the future.

“More acts of violence and destruction like those we have experienced at times during the past 73 days will not be tolerated, and will only hurt the communities that have suffered the most at the very time they need restoration and healing.

“Our faith, our laws, and the principles on which our democracy was founded demand more of us,” said Nixon.

He asks those interested in joining the Ferguson Commission to apply on the state’s website.

Nixon has been harshly criticized by some for his handling of the situation in Ferguson, including several state legislators from the region. Some accused him of being “missing in action” during the early days of unrest.

The governor has defended his actions and says he was involved from “very early in the process.”  He also created the new Office of Community Engagement to look for solutions to problems regarding race, educational and economic opportunities.

Hartzler wants more restrictions on travel to fight Ebola

The Department of Homeland Security has announced it will require all flights coming from countries in West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak continues, to go to one of five U.S. airports where enhanced screenings for the disease are being done.

Those airports are John F. Kennedy International in New York, Dulles in Washington, Newark in New Jersey, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, and the closest to Missouri; Chicago’s O’Hare International.

Several Republican members of Missouri’s congressional delegation had called for travel bans or restrictions in response to the outbreak.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, after the announcement of the funneling of those flights today, issued a statement commending the Obama Administration for taking steps to keep Ebola from spreading in the U.S., but questioned whether more still needs to be done.

“Due to the large window in which an infected person could be symptom-free, I believe we must suspend the issuance of visas to individuals from those affected countries,” writes Hartzler. “We must do more to stop the spread of the virus in the United States and to protect American lives.

Senator Roy Blunt has also called for travel restrictions to fight Ebola, including during a segment on NBC’s Meet the Press.