September 2, 2014

Only seven years to plan a big state party (AUDIO)

Planning for a big birthday party takes some time. Planning for a 200th birthday party takes a lot of time. But organizers have only seven years to put the event together.
The state of Missouri turns 200 on August 10, 2021. The State Historical Society of Missouri has started holding focus groups throughout the state to get public suggestions for the best way to celebrate the Missouri Bicentennial.
Society past-President Doug Crews says the state’s diversity makes the planning a challenge. Diverse economy. Diverse politics. Diverse climate. Diverse geography. Diverse demographics. Crews says the event will be especially important to one group of Missourians. “If we reach children in the schools…we’ll reach the adults, too,” he says. “I think that needs to be a focus on everything we do.”
He hopes recalling the first 200 years of statehood will encourage Missourians to look toward what the state can be in its third century, saying, “It can sort of be the springboard…to the next 100 [and] to develop a real pride in Missouri; Missourians are very proud of our state…and I think we could build on that.”
The celebration actually could start as early as 2017, the first year Missouri applied for statehood. Congress didn’t approve, though, until four years later.

AUDIO: Crews interview 6:29

Nixon: not calling for McCulloch to step aside

Governor Nixon is calling for a “vigorous prosecution” of the Michael Brown shooting case. But he says he is not asking St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to step aside. A petition circulated after the Brown shooting has called for McCulloch to recuse himself. But Nixon says there is a “well-established” procedure for a prosecutor to take himself off the case and have a special prosecutor be appointed. He says legal uncertainty would be injected into the situation and the prosecution could be jeopardized if that procedure is ignored.

The statement:
“From the outset, I have been clear about the need to have a vigorous prosecution of this case, and that includes minimizing any potential legal uncertainty. I am not asking St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to recuse himself from this case. There is a well-established process by which a prosecutor can recuse themselves from a pending investigation, and a special prosecutor be appointed. Departing from this established process could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution.”

Nixon: We will not be defeated by bricks, guns, Molotov cocktails (AUDIO)

Governor Nixon issued a statement shortly before nightfall and renewed demonstrations in Ferguson:

AUDIO: Nixon statement 

You can watch it at:

The text of the statement:
“Ten days ago, a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, in broad daylight. Since then, the world has watched a community become engulfed in grief, anger, fear and at times violence.

For a family mourning the loss of a son, it has been a profound personal tragedy. For Ferguson and our entire nation, it has ripped open old wounds that have festered for generations, and exposed difficult issues that communities across our country must still resolve.

But amid all the pain and distrust and anger, we’ve also seen tremendous acts of grace, courage, and kindness as the people of Ferguson try to maintain peace, while they call for justice for the family of Michael Brown. In Ferguson, people of all races and creeds are joining hands to pray for justice. Teenagers cooking meals for law enforcement officers. Community leaders demonstrating courage and heroism throughout the night in standing against armed and violent instigators. Volunteers coming out to pick up littered neighborhoods.

They are the faces of Ferguson. They are the faces of this region. They are the faces and soul of Missouri.

For them, for the family of Michael Brown, for all the parents who have had their sons taken from them much too soon, and for all the children dreaming of a brighter and better future, we now have a responsibility to come together and do everything we can to achieve justice for this family, peace for this community, and have the courage to address the problems that have divided us for too long. Real problems of poverty, education inequality, and race.

So how do we do that?

First, we must protect the people of Ferguson.

The officers of the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and other jurisdictions are united in working valiantly to protect the public, while at the same time preserving citizens’ rights to express their anger peacefully.

As we’ve seen over the past week, it is not an easy balance to strike. And it becomes much more difficult in the dark of night, when organized and increasingly violent instigators take to the streets intent on creating chaos and lawlessness.

But we will not be defeated by bricks and guns and Molotov cocktails. With the help of peaceful demonstrators, pastors and community leaders, Captain Johnson and law enforcement will not give up trying to ensure that those with peace in their hearts are not drowned out by those with senseless violence in their hands.

Second, a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.

The democratically elected St. Louis County prosecutor and the Attorney General of the United States, each have a job to do. Their obligation to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly; and I call upon them to meet those expectations.

Finally, once we have achieved peace in Ferguson and justice for the family of Michael Brown, we must remain committed to rebuilding the trust that has been lost, mending what has been broken, and healing the wounds we have endured.

This is hard. Nothing about this is simple. We won’t always get it right, but we’re going to keep trying. Because Ferguson is a test, a test not just for the people of this community, but for all Americans. And it is a test we must not fail.

Last week I met with and prayed with the mother of Michael Brown. She has lost a son who she can never bring back. But what we can do is work together to ensure that Michael Brown’s death is not remembered as the tragedy that sparked a cycle of violence and distrust, but rather marks the beginning of a process of healing and reconciliation.

So I ask that we continue to stand together as we work to achieve justice for Michael Brown, restore hope and peace to the streets of Ferguson, and march together toward a future of greater opportunity and understanding for all of us.”

War on Poverty anniversary (AUDIO)

The War on Poverty began half a century ago when President Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act fifty years ago this Wednesday.   It created the Job Corps, VISTA, and the Community Action program.  Another bill signed eleven days later created the Food Stamp program. Medicare and Medicaid came along a year later.

That first act is what led to the nineteen regional Community Action Agencies in Missouri.   Executive Director Heather Lockard says those agencies fight poverty at the local level in several ways.

“They provide emergency services to address families that may be in crisis or in a state of emergency.  They provide programs like Head Start.. to work with families and prepare children  to be ready for kindergarten.  They also provide services  for weatherization and housing and energy services,” she says.

She thinks Head Start began a movement that later led to programs such as Parents as Teachers, which originated in Missouri, and other early childhood education programs.

Lockard says leaders of the programs find many people are unaware of the services available to them, even after fifty years.  She says the recent recession exposed thousands of Missourians who had never needed them before to programs of their Community Action Agencies.

AUDIO: Lockard interview 13:47

Link to weatherization program:

Link to Missouri Association for Community Action:


Obama: time for healing, peace, calm in Ferguson (AUDIO)

President Obama says it is time to step back and plan for the future in Ferguson, where protests and vandalism have led to confrontations with police in the wake of a police shooting of an 18-year old man last Saturday.

Police filled a Ferguson street with tear gas Aug. 13. (courtesy LiveLeak, The Daily Lede)

The president “There is “never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.”

But he also says, “There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protestors in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of American police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs.”

Reporters for the Washington Post and the Huffington Post and a St. Louis alderman were among those arrested last night.

The president spoke during a news conference in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.   He says he is aware of raw emotions and passionate differences about what has happened and what needs to happen, but now is a time for “healing, peace, and calm on the streets of Ferguson.”  He calls for an open transparent process to make sure justice is done.   He says the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney on the scene continue to work with local officials to “move that process forward” and expects reports from them in a few day on how that process is happening.

AUDIO: President on Ferguson 3:52