"Wing of the Democratic Party made up of workingmen and reformers, opposed to monopolies and financial policies that seemed to them antidemocratic and conducive to special privilege. The Locofocos received their name when party regulars turned off the gas lights to oust the radicals from a Tammany Hall nominating meeting. The radicals responded by lighting candles with new matches known as locofocos and nominated their own slate." (From: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9048706 )

My Photo
Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I am husband and father in a family of four, wife Verna, son Thomas, and daughter Jennifer. We've lived in Springfield's 137th District for over ten years at 800 W Calhoun St, and love the Grant Beach area. I was born to a military family, my mother and father met at Ft Leonard Wood. I was born in Ft Hood Texas, and travelled throughout my childhood, with most of my time spent in any one place in the Rolla Mo area. When I completed my own four year hitch with the US Navy, I settled here in Missouri, living in Mt Vernon. I moved into Springfield in 1994 to attend (then) SMSU and stayed, finding our permanent home in the Grant Beach Park area.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day Without Emigrants Photo Essay

An American family breaks bread together.

May Day Without Emigrants Photo Essay

A prayer for all Americans and immigrants.

May Day Without Emigrants 005

The event was sponsored by Grupo Latino and Manos a Manos

May Day Without Emigrants Photo Essay

450-500 people rallied at the Teamster's Hall in Springfield.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Heart of the Westside Residents Deserve Better

HOW Meeting 001
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.

Heart of the Westside Neighborhood Association residents are up in arms at the lack of enforcement action by the city and feel ignored by the local media. At issue is the use of the Christian Foundation, 2112 W. Division as an illegal homeless shelter. From their minutes dated March 16, 2006:

Price Brown, president of the Foundation was notified by letter dated Dec.28, 2005, that the city denied the request for a permit for an emergency shelter in the building; the letter stated the illegal use should cease immediately. The Christian Foundation filed an appeal and continued to house homeless men in the building. The appeal hearing was held Mar. 7, and the board denied the appeal. The city then gave the foundation 30 days to remove the men from the building or appeal their decision in Greene County Circuit Court.

The foundation has not appealled in ciruit court. The neighborhood group is disappointed that the deadline passed without enforcement by the city. The residents are now considering other options, such as suing the City.

An interview with a close neighbor of the Foundation reveals the use of 2 other buildings adjacent to the Foundations thrift store for illegal homeless shelter and “yard sale” style marketing of donated items. This homeowner observed what amounted to an outdoor market of used articles that went on for months on end. Additionally, a semi truck trailer can be seen parked on residential use property.

Residents deserve better from the City and the Foundation. Both entities should respect their neighbors: The Foundation needs to become a better neighbor and refrain from activities that blight the neighborhood, like ongoing “yard sale” style marketing, and illegal property uses. The City needs to follow through on enforcement immediately—these citizens acted in good faith that the City would, and are sorely disappointed at the foot dragging of city enforcement officials. It’s now two weeks past the 30 days given to the Foundation to comply. Let’s not make it two months----or years.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"The Leaders We Are Waiting For Are Us"

Senator John Edwards addressed a crowd at Juanita K. Hammons Hall Wednesday, April 19. He continued his theme of “Two Americas” expounded during the 2004 Presidential campaign, and called young people to action in saying “The leaders we are waiting for are us.”

Edwards pointed out the need both nationally and internationally for Americans to step up to the plate and lead on the issue of poverty. In the U.S. 37 million people live in poverty, while throughout the world, 3 billion people exist on $2 per day. Katrina exposed the vulnerability of the poor; most people who could not evacuate lacked the means to do so. In any adversity, “the poor always get hurt the worst, they live on the razor’s edge.” Edwards is hopeful though. “Americans have a hunger to be inspired.”

Edwards pointed out that the Katrina disaster brought out the best in Americans while the governments stumbled as an indicator of what can be accomplished with inspiration. He believes the American public wants a return to a sense of national community, and categorically rejects the notion that one’s success or failure is entirely the credit or blame of the individual. “I never could got there by myself, “ said Edwards.

Edwards put forward some ideas to address our national poverty problems. He pointed out that 50 million Americans work in the service sector of our economy with wide variances in pay from place to place. He used the hospitality industry as an example; those who can be a part of a union get living wages and benefits, while those who cannot earn $6 per hour without benefits. Edwards proposed a simple sign up process for individuals to join a union, instead of complicated processes used today. Edwards would also like to see a crackdown on predatory lending practices, raising the national minimum wage, matching funds for struggling families to build savings accounts, reform of the Earned Income Tax Credit and access to college for qualified students without burdening young people with student loan debt.

Senator Edwards said all these issues and more are part of a bigger issue. We got “lots of politicians, but few leaders’ and a “huge void in moral leadership.”

He closed with “The leaders we are waiting for are us.”

Friday, April 14, 2006

Volunteer Call: Minimum Wage Petition

A group of about 40 people assembled to learn more about the minimum wage initiative Wednesday, April 12, at National Avenue Christian Church, 1515 S National. Rev. Roger Ray exhorted the group to help with the campaign by collecting signatures. Kay Mills (Mo Pro-Vote) and Clark Brown (SEIU) added information about how to gather signatures and outlined goals of the effort.
People interested in circulating this petition can join in the effort by meeting at National Avenue on Saturday mornings through the deadline date of May 6, 2006. Contact Kay Mills at kmills_724@yahoo.com for dates, times and petition forms.

Here's what Rev. Ray has to say about this issue:
From the April 6, 2006 newsletter National Ave-News

A good working definition of the minimum wage is, I'd like to pay you less, but if I did, they would put me in jail. And another very real definition of a peasant is someone who has to do very hard labor, but who is still too poor to have a decent life. Put the two together in the USA of 2006 and what you get is the intentional creation of a peasant class in this democracy which came into exisence, in large part, to escape the tyrannical class oppression of Europe. Let me use my "pastor" voice to say this clearly, the creation of a class of poor people in America who cannot earn enough to havc a place to live, clothes to wear, and food to eat is a sin, it is evil, plain and simple.
There are a lot of things we could do as a society to lift the burden of poverty off of the growing millions who are employed but just not able to make it. I wish that our legislature would cap the interest rates these Payday and Car Title loan places could charge (some charge in excess of 1000% apr!!!). I wish that we had universal health care which would provide at least very basic health care for everyone(our legislature just cut another 5,000 children off of health care services). I wish that college education was made available to everyone who had the capacity to earn a college education (tuition rates are rising again this year, making education less and less avaiable to the poor, making it more likely that they will reamain poor).
But, there is nothing more basic to addressing povery thatn raising the salaries of those who labor at the very bottom of the pay scale. About seven million Americans work for minimum wage which is presently $5.15/hour. This has not been increased for the past nine years! How can this be? How can we fail to give even cost of living increases to the people who earn minimum wage in this country, a nation which is blessed with such abundance? How can decent people sit back and silenty accept the obvious abusive creaton of a peasant class all around us, cooking our food and caring for our elderly?
There is a movement in Missouri to get an increase in the minimum wage on our November ballot. The proposed increase is modest, probably too modest, but it is a start in the right direction. The proposal is to raise the minimum wage in Missouri to $6.50. Of course, no one could really live on that salary either, but raising the minimum wage usually pushes most other lower salaries up with it. It is not a solution to poverty, but it is one positive step and we can help to make it happen.
It will take 25,000 voters' signatures on petitions to get this measure on the November ballot and the signatures must be collected by mid-May. To help with this I'm asking anyone who is willing to help collect signatures...
As often as the question is asked, "Why doesn't someone do something?," isn't this a good time for all of us someones to do something? Please help.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Jim Talent and Medicare Part Dupe

Jim Talent 001crop
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.
Jim Talent held a press event at exclusive “The Gardens” retirement center in Springfield, April 10, 2006. What he said, and left unsaid, was unsatisfactory.

Talent claimed ignorance on a part of Medicare Part D that’s disturbing to anyone entering into these contracts. When asked a question about the ability of insurance companies to drop insurance coverage for drugs in their plans while requiring patients to stay in the program until the open dates each November, he claimed that would entail an “extraordinary circumstance” that would allow a patient to change to a different plan. Talent claimed he didn’t know for sure, and he would “get back to you” on that issue. I found his answer to this duplicitous. Anyone who has listened to the analysis and commentary on Medicare Part D knows this isn’t true. The customer has no ability to change plans until the November open dates roll around, while the companies can change what drugs are covered at will at any time. He was party to passage of the bill and should have known how this would affect his constituents. His answer is disturbing in either event: he either voted for the bill with this glaring fault, or willfully danced around the issue.

Even more disturbing was Talents desire to make statements about his fellow Senators “Off the record.” I attended the event with camera and steno pad in hand for this blog, and was listening to Talent speak with some attendees, He suddenly stopped, looked directly at me, and said “This is off the record, right?” I replied to him that “You’re never off the record, Senator, you know that.” Talent said he wouldn’t say it then, but did comment that the subject was about what other Senators had to say about the program.

Makes you wonder, what is he telling constituents about his colleagues in the Senate he doesn’t want reported publicly?

Monday, March 06, 2006

HCR No 13 Not So Lucky

Originally uploaded by asmodeus.
Missourians should be aware of this resolution. It is not binding law, but gives one a view of the assembly's views. Many of us are repelled by the establishment of a "majority" religious point of view. Rep. Sater of SWMO is the grandstander for the motion. Bad luck for the Republicans, the obvious political ploy may be backfiring.

Like many things, you find the devil in the detail. What I find disturbing is replacing rule of law religious protection, with "respect."

"Whereas, as citizens of this great nation, we the majority also wish to exercise our
constitutional right to acknowledge our Creator and give thanks for the many gifts provided by
Him; and

Whereas, as elected officials we should protect the majority's right to express their
religious beliefs while showing respect for those who object;"

In First Amendment issues I would rather have rule of law than "respect." The former usually begats the latter.

"SECOND REGULAR SESSION House Concurrent Resolution No. 13

Whereas, our forefathers of this great nation of the United States recognized a
Christian God and used the principles afforded to us by Him as the founding principles of our 2
nation; and 3
Whereas, as citizens of this great nation, we the majority also wish to exercise our 5
constitutional right to acknowledge our Creator and give thanks for the many gifts provided by 6
Him; and 7
Whereas, as elected officials we should protect the majority's right to express their 9
religious beliefs while showing respect for those who object; and 10
Whereas, we wish to continue the wisdom imparted in the Constitution of the 12
United States of America by the founding fathers; and 13
Whereas, we as elected officials recognize that a Greater Power exists above and 15
beyond the institutions of mankind: 16
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the members of the House of 18
Representatives of the Ninety-third General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate 19
concurring therein, that we stand with the majority of our constituents and exercise the common 20
sense that voluntary prayer in public schools and religious displays on public property are not 21
a coalition of church and state, but rather the justified recognition of the positive role that 22
Christianity has played in this great nation of ours, the United States of America. 23

Friday, March 03, 2006

City Promises

City Promises
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.