"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.

Friday, December 30, 2005

City Seeks Justification of Preplanned Outcome

Hear no evil
Originally uploaded by mike721.
Business as usual. No apparently doesn’t mean “No” when that’s not what VBC’s in Springfield want to hear. It’s appalling and unethical to use the self-selected “input” of an editorial appeal to make this decision. The News-Leader knows better, but did it anyway. Their self-selective surveys are not more revealing than a bona fide election.

Those that want the crime lab will be much more motivated to call, or write, or blog in favor of the proposal. The “no” voices will once again be ignored, just as they were ignored concerning Broadway Av closure, the fraternity rezoning approval after the fact, and City Utilities coal vs alternative energy debate.

The News-Leader says “A lot of voters said their main objection was the early childhood education proposal.” For the record, I voted “Yes” to this proposal because I supported the early child care proposal, not the crime lab proposition.

It would set a horrendous precendent to overturn an election based on the kind of input suggested.

When a woman says "No" and a man persists, it's rape. So is this.

News-Leader Editorial

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Letters From Laurel: News from New Orleans

New Orleans - Katrina
Originally uploaded by martinaryee.
I found this in my email last week. It's a moving piece, that sadly reflects upon the state of our society today. We should all be aware that we are all at risk of Mother Nature's fury, or human folly, as the recent dam break reminds us. One's world can disappear much faster than it takes to build.

There is little I can add to this work, other than to say that other dispatches are available at http://o2collective.org/.

hello all-

I feel a pressing need to communicate something of the experience I
am having here, even as I know I can only capture a glimpse of what it is to be here. I want to say something you have not heard, to offer
some deep insight into the complexity of the situation here, but I
don't even know where to begin.

I am in a surreal and deeply inspiring hell- New Orleans is a
post-apocalyptic wonderland where utter devastation is everywhere and all relationships of culture, race, society and politics are richly counter-intuitive, nuanced and have gone from backward before to upsidedown now. I am floored. No account of what is occurring here can be given without a brief review of the stunning reality on the ground. The scale and scope of the destruction is really not possible to grasp if you have not driven the streets here.

There are over a hundred thousand cars that will never drive again
that have yet to be moved- they are in all manner of disarray- on curbs, upside down, in front lawns and perhaps most eerily-parked right
where they were left when their drivers suddenly fled more than 3 months ago.

There are currently 1.3 million households from the Gulf Coast still
residing elsewhere. Bodies are still found every day. Vast areas sit festering, powerlines strewn across streets, trees sliced right through
houses, two story homes crushed to the height of their front door.

Tens of thousands of homes are filled with rotting furniture, warped
floors and swollen drywall. Our bus and van arrived with 22 people at the brand new Common Ground Community Center just opened in the Upper 9th Ward district of New Orleans. We parked the bus behind a locked gate and set to helping establish this church complex as a housing, feeding and staging center for the growing network of CG volunteers arriving and leaving daily from all over the country. The organizing
phenomenon that is the Common Ground Collective is an incredible
sight to see. Common Ground was born the week following the hurricane, by a group of courageous locals and their regional activist allies
who initially armed themselves to defend black neighborhoods from
roving white vigilantes who were shooting at young black men. Out of that warzone atmosphere has grown an organic crisis response
team that has diversified and grown extremely quickly into a
sophisticated organization with over a half dozen semi-permanent locations and 30-some programs ranging from health care clinics, distribution centers, a pirate radio station, legal advocacy teams, and now house gutting crews.

I have spent the last two days working with one of these crews on a
house in the Lower 9th Ward. We've been working on the home of a 77 year old woman named Mable who has lived in her neighborhood all
of her life, and in this house for 25 years. We are working in a crew
of a half dozen folks, outfitted in Tyvek suits, industrial respirators, boot covers, work gloves etc- removing furniture and appliances, pulling down drywall, and piling it all in a trash heap in the street out front.

Yesterday we finished gutting her entire house, and today we returned
to spray a bleach solution on everything that remains and scrub it with brushes to kill the ubiquitous black mold. Black mold and bleach. Nasty and toxic. But the satisfaction comes in realizing that the house is structurally sound, and she will be able to return, if the government allows her. She is healthy, articulate and a prominent community figure. She has begun to give speeches to the community praising Common Ground and has offered us the use of her house for a year.

The overt and entrenched racism of local, state and federal
government is outrageous, maddening and impossible to overstate. There are literally neighborhoods side by side with the same level of damage
and the white ones are being cleaned, power is back and they are
being given trailers to live in on their lot while they rebuild. Next door, literally, in the black areas it looks like it did the day the water receded- no lights, no clean up, no people. There is a systematic
effort to rid this city of its majority black residents- and the extraordinarily blatant manner the government is able to get away with it on a daily basis is bitterly heinous. They are working to pass a law to make it illegal to gut houses or help residents repair their homes in areas the city deems condemned and will use imminent domain to give
pennies on the dollar to homeowners and forcibly give title of their
property to developers.

Everything is in upheaval and in addition to the weight of futility
in the face of the massive scale of damage is the nervous uncertainty that hangs over the future of this city. Competing models of
recovery are articulating themselves as they accelerate towards a
possible head-on collision that could be very, very ugly. Is it a national model of neighbor helping neighbor, local groups funded and
empowered to respond to the needs and wishes of residents? Or is it a
top-down, corporate profit driven decree imposed on an already suffering and oppressed people through economic apartheid and
brutal state violence? Both visions are actively evolving, and I
choose not to be a pessimist even if the signs are not good.

Adding absurdity to insanity is the juxtaposition of areas like the
French Quarter and Downtown to the outlying areas. Businesses and restaurants in these areas are largely open and a crew of us have been
partying in smoky bars in the french quarters each night since we've
been here. I am sleep deprived, contaminated inside and out and a little strung out- but there is a real way in which it is all quite
normal feeling. There is an electricity in the air- like we have been
waiting for this, like it is just the beginning.

Bill McKibben said of the situation, in the context of global
warming, that "New Orleans does not look like the America we know-but it looks very much like the world we will inhabit for the rest of our lives"... I am afraid he is spot-on. As 9-11 was a watershed moment in
global history, signaling a permanent change in our relationship to our government and the direction of our collective future, so too is this
the end and the start of an era of historical proportions. What
happens here relates to our national identity, to the possibility of healing the deep wounds of racism and class inequality in our lives, and to the role of the federal government in empowering or oppressing its citizens.

I have seen countless convoys of military police, police officers
from LA, New York and else where, corporate mercenaries on contract from Blackwater and on and on and on, but I have yet to see a single
FEMA official in the city of New Orleans. Halliburton is being paid
$3000 a house on a no bid contract to put tarps on leaky roofs, while the homeless and destitute owners and residents of those homes are
shunned. . . I could go on like that for a long while, telling tales
that outrage and frustrate, but depression and anger are not what I want to convey- because truly that is not the way it feels to be

This city is vibrant, and its people are amazing. Our daily
interactions are poignant and intimate- there is a raw humanity on display here that is heartening and affirming. I am tearing up right now just thinking of the passionate people I have met since I've been here- it inspires the desire to drop everything else and stay indefinitely-which many have done.

This is only the beginning- I am just barely starting to wrap my
comprehension around the dynamics of this strange and unique place-a place that feels viscerally familiar and completely foreign all at once, all the time. It is oddly comfortable and intensely challenging to be here. Stay tuned and I will try to write more soon.

Tomorrow is a rally and march for the Right to Return movement and
then I think we will go south to Houma for a day or two.

. . .huge love to y'all. . . . .

Monday, December 26, 2005

Calhoun to King

Every time I receive or send mail from my home, I am reminded of a great inequity and injustice perpetrated on my fellow citizens of this Nation. It is a small thing, but grates daily upon my conscience. As a pearl is formed from a minor irritation, so has grown this proposal in answer.

I would like to see the name of my street changed from Calhoun St to King St.

Many of the streets neighboring us are named after Senators, Webster, Douglas, Hamilton, and Calhoun, for example. Other streets in this locale name famous generals, Fremont, Grant, and Lyon, for example. Calhoun doesn’t fit, and is not fitting to be so honored.

John C. Calhoun was the primary proponent of Nullification during the debate leading up to the Civil War—the idea that States may ignore Federal laws. His most famous, or in my view, infamous, speech was “Slavery a Positive Good.” His political philosophy is repugnant in my nostrils. Calhoun believed that no civilization exists without the subjugation of a working class. That taken as a whole, the Southern slave was better off than a Northern factory hand, in that the slave was cared for even in old age, while the factory hand was tossed aside to the poor house when working days were done. As a student of history it daily festers and affronts me. It is a constant reminder of an evil that blighted our land.

I would see it replaced by the hopes and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. In contrast to Calhoun, King envisions a Nation united in freedom and equality, not “civilization” the domain of a privileged few at the top of the economic ladder.

As our Nation puts the blemish of slavery behind us, we should honor those that bring us hope and inspiration to be a greater Nation of freedom and equality for all, and shun those that would not.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Back to the Fusion

Originally uploaded by jazzyjess.
Before the sweeping electoral changes in the turn of the Twentieth Century, political parties were varied and often in a constant state of flux. Many of the changes in electoral politics were positive and made the process more inclusive, like women’s suffrage. Some didn’t work out, like Prohibition. Another change may be the root of an unexpected consequence, the removal of “fusion voting.” Among other factors, it weakened minor party participation and stifles political debate and involvement. Today, the American voter’s interests are held hostage to the ideologies of only two major parties.

Fusion voting was the practice of smaller parties endorsing a candidate that is also running on another ticket. It allowed for these smaller parties to have a real say in elections, especially in narrowly won races. A candidate who would win by a few points would be foolish to turn his back on a constituency that gave him the edge to win.

The dominant parties saw that practice as a threat to their “winner take all” philosophy. Make no mistake: spoils and privileges change hands every time one party wins out over the other. Both major parties have a strong interest in keeping it that way, and don’t want to share power, and in many instances, even pay attention to the views of minor parties.

And that keeps minor parties just that: Minor.

It’s my opinion that neither political party as they stand today represent the majority of the population’s opinions. It now a game of “who can get the mostest to the polls the furstest,” to badly paraphrase Nathan Beford Forrest. We see a lot of wedge issues that mean very little to the day to day responsibility of government being played like Aces in a hand of poker, when the real job of government is to govern for the greater good of all the people. Sadly, I don’t feel that’s uppermost in the minds of many elected “leaders.”

Fusion voting can be an effective vehicle to put power back into the hands of the people. A major problem in minor party formation is the understandable reluctance of voters to “throw their vote away” in a protest vote. With Fusion voting, the voters could clearly say to the major party candidate that “Hey, I’m voting for you under protest, and you better listen, or next time I won’t.” Voters could vote their preferred ticket and know they cannot be ignored—another election is just around the corner!

The Greens could form an effective, viable party, not enslaved to the Democrats. The Libertarians share values with both major parties, but often find themselves hostage to the Republicans. Minor parties would become viable again, and perhaps bring our political system out of the tailspin of pandering to special interests and wedge issue posturing that has co-opted our government.

Missouri has a law on the books that precludes any candidate from running under more than one parties’ banner. There is also a strong argument to be made that this practice is unconstitutional on the face of it. We need to eliminate that statute.

Denying any political party the right to endorse any particular candidate is denying a right to free speech.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Axe Grinding and Rabble Rousers

King James' Bane
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.
An oft heard refrain in city governments and in government in general, is how little average people are engaged in civics. Zoning meetings can be quite dull, often the only speakers to an individual motion is the person who initiated it. Public forums are lauded a success when a handful of people show up. News photographers often must strategically place their shots to make it look like someone even cares.

What I find disturbing is the recent trend in Springfield’s Various Boards and Committees (VBC’s) to belittle citizen involvement as people with “an axe to grind,” or a group characterized as “rabble rousers.” It seems whenever opposition springs up to a certain position or policy these tags come out. No doubt, that’s probably what King Charles I of England thought of Cromwell and Parliament back in the day.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Railroaded: Who's Next?

Evening Train
Originally uploaded by markcveitch.

During the discussion leading up to the Broadway closure, Springfield City Council rejected the motion to table made by Mary Collette, and seconded by Denny Whayne. This procedural change would have added the closure consideration to the overall planning looking at the railway changes. Examining the plan, it’s clear that businesses and residents are going to be sacrificed for the Jordan Valley Phase III project.

Two primary areas are in the way: Commercial Street businesses, and businesses and residents now located in the upper reaches of the Jordan Valley park’s footprint.

Commercial Street developers hope to find more parking space to accommodate more visitors with the proposed redevelopment plans. Currently, there are several old trackways north of Commercial Street.

Photo: Old tracks that lie just north of Commercial Street businesses: note Springfield City Police cars parked on the track right of way.

A glance at the railway plans dashed that hope. The plan calls for re-laying that trackage, which will place trains only a few yards from the back doors of businesses on the north side of Commercial Street.

Photo: Map of affected Commercial Street businesses on display at Dec 5th public input meeting.

The other area is in the footprint of the proposed Jordan Valley Park expansion. Several businesses will be dislocated, and some will find it difficult to find suitable new locations. For example, McCoy’s Iron and Metal, a metal recycling yard, relies on rail transport for steel scrap. Transplanting this business may lead to it’s demise.

Homeowners along Franklin Av and north of Phelps Street are even more vulnerable. Many are older, smaller homes owned by families for decades. Their “fair market value” will be nowhere near what it would cost today to build new homes.

During the railway planning public meeting, I asked City Manager Tom Finnie if business and residences were going to be subject to eminent domain buyouts. He indicated that this method is not being pursued. According to Finnie, the City is only acquiring those properties the owners offer for sale to the City. We’ll see how long this policy lasts as the Phase III project moves forward.

Jordan Valley Phase III map available at http://www.rrstudy.com/index_flash.html . This site also contains new railway maps in .pdf format.

Train Photo from Flickr: Evening Train Originally uploaded by markcveitch.

All others taken by author also on Flickr.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Gubernatorial Candidate Stumps in Springfield

State Attorney General Jay Nixon spoke to an overflow crowd at Avanzare Thursday night during a fundraising event. Nearly twice as many people showed than expected when the event was booked. Several local Democratic candidates were also on hand.

Photo: Michael Noell and Jay Nixon

Nixon spoke of Matt Blunt’s disappointing first year in office. He’s ”not your father’s Republican, he’s a neo-con, a conservatives conservative.” Nixon berated Blunt for breaking an election eve promise to not cut Medicaid, and pointed out that 337,000 Missourians are now adversely in their health care under Matt Blunt’s first year of office.

"The Republicans are asking the wrong question. They’re asking 'How can we cut Medicaid,' when they should be asking 'How can we maximize our resources to help as many people as we can'." Nixon declared that Missouri is losing $353 million to other states in lost Federal matching money for various health care programs.

Photo: Nixon addresses area Democrats

After his speech, Nixon mixed with well-wishers and addressed individual concerns and questions. Nixon confirmed that the Missouri Ethics Commission referred a second campaign finance ethics violation charged against Matt Blunt to the Attorney General’s office.

Photo: Nixon briefed by Dudley and Kay Martin

Welcome To Florida!

Originally uploaded by nogoodreason.

An email from a friend turned out to be a warning from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence that Florida’s legislature passed a “Shoot First” gun law. The law allows people who feel threatened by someone to shoot before making an attempt to flee or otherwise avoid violence. The Brady group is launching a campaign to increase awareness of this “wild west” attitude endorsed by a sitting legislature.


The word is getting out all over the country and the world, with tourists eyeballing the new law with trepidation.

But wait, it gets even better. The NRA is looking to export this horrendous policy to all fifty states. Missourians can look forward to more bellicosity from the gun lobby soon.

First, concealed carry—defeated at Missouri’s polls but endorsed by the Radical Republican legislature, and now “Shoot First.” Deadly force shouldn’t be the first recourse a reasonable and responsible citizen turns to.

Case in point: One Sunday morning, I awoke to the sound of my back door opening and closing. A quick check of my family member’s bedrooms showed I was the only one up. Thinking the door accidentally left open, I went to check on it, but picked up my baton on the way “just in case.”

As it turned out, a confused traveler was the intruder. He left in a hurry upon finding he’d picked the wrong door, thinking our home his sister’s, and apologized for the error. No force was needed, not even my baton.

If I used deadly force as a first resort, as allowed under this type of law, a simple mistake could have cost him his life, and cost me my conscience.

The NRA is really getting out of touch with rationality and mainstream America. Check out their “Black List” of people, businesses, and groups at http://www.nrablacklist.com/ .

Photo from Flickr: Chopper Originally uploaded by nogoodreason.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Residents Left With Few Options

Originally uploaded by MatthewBradley.

Last night, City Council brushed aside citizen concerns in opposition to two different issues.

Roundtree residents expressed their opposition to rezoning after the fact when a fraternity opened up on National Av. These residents spoke on the issue last week in opposition to the rezoning, which was NOT recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Council approved the illegal refurbishment, with Mayor Carlson saying the developer acted in "good faith." Personally, I don't see how a well-known, experienced real estate developer could NOT be aware of zoning restrictions of any property he owned. At least Councilman Jones spoke up about legitimatizing the usage after a developer obviously ignored zoning rules. It just begs for more of the same.

Northside residents in both Grant Beach and Woodland Heights were also brushed aside in the name of "public safety." That storyline is prominent on this blog, at www.137th.com , and the Springfield News-Leader, so I won't dwell on it here. We do owe a debt of gratitude to Councillors Denny Whayne and Mary Collette for their support.

When elected officials ignore the citizenry, citizens often feel either alienated, or compelled to escalate their protestations. These active neighborhood organizations do a lot of good for their respective neighborhoods. When they're turned away from the table by our city government, individuals will either walk away, or look to the few options left, like civil disobedience.

They know their vote doesn't count-at least to those now in office.

Photo from Flickr: Originally uploaded by MatthewBradley.

Some rights reserved http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Democrats Who Care and Share

Ward 9 Committeman and Committewoman Dudley and Kay Martin, with Committedog Beau, look on.

Dudley and Kay Martin really know how to celebrate Christmas. About 75 Boys and Girls Club children and their families were invited to sup hot spiced cider and enjoy the Christmas parade at the Martin’s place on Walnut St.

Delighted kids scramble for goodies as the Norrs look on.

No Springfield parade would be complete without the Central High School Kilties!


filthy lucre
Originally uploaded by shannonmary.

Money in politics. Blinders.

How else can one explain what is going on in this State, and this Country?

On the one hand, we have 40 million people without health insurance. Survey after survey of public opinion cites health care as a primary concern for Missourians and America.

Yet our elected "leaders" do nothing about it except to line the purses of their contributers, or worse, cut people off of state-sponsored health care in the name of Mammon.

What God do they worship?

Photo from Flickr: filthy lucre Originally uploaded by shannonmary.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Churches Cross the Line in Springfield

Originally uploaded by carriemouse.

Every day, television viewers in this area are treated to the stern visage of Reverend Agee of Cornerstone Church inviting churchgoers to join with him to “Take America Back” –a thinly veiled call to action for the intrusion of religion in politics. Other nationally prominent religious leaders are even less circumspect in their advocacy of right-leaning policy and partisanship.

Twice I’ve pulled my daughter out of churches she attended when they actively advocated political positions I strongly disagreed with. I was shocked and appalled when she came home from Central Assembly one Sunday. Her Sunday school teacher told the 8-10 years old class that all Democrats were going to hell. In the second instance, children riding the Cherry Street Baptist Church bus brought home trading cards depicting war planes, tanks, soldiers and sought-after terrorists.

My daughter is interested in religion, and I encourage her to explore religion and philosophy at her own pace, so that she may make her own decisions on what to believe. But when churches depart from spiritual teachings I must draw the line.

They have no business in political indoctrination, or in war mongering. The realm of religion is spiritual, not earthly.

The saddest part is, in spite of the years she’s attended church, not one invited her to be baptized.

Photo from Flickr: HA! Originally uploaded by carriemouse.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Town Hall Residents: "NO!"

dec 6 meeting 010
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.

Local residents argued for a "NO" vote on the Broadway closure issue in City Council. The issue re-emerged recently after languishing in legislative limbo for over a year.
In the earlier episode, strong opposition resulted in tabling the closure proposal. The closing is now persued with renewed vigor by BNSF and City Manager Tom Finnie.
Residents want more options examined in finding a long term solution to the Broadway crossing and the 80+ year old underpasses at Grant, Lyon and Washington. They asked city and state leaders to step up to the plate and lead.

At the request of City Councilman Denny Whayne, the City produced a lovely banner depicting an artist's rendition of how Grant Av's underpass might look after the addition of a proposed third track (see story from Dec 5, 2005 "Railroad Plans Unveiled.)

Residents were not placated by the banner when, on closer examination, it shows no real improvement for vehicular traffic or pedestrians. The Southbound lanes would remain the same, a left turn lane to enter Commercial St, and a narrow one-lane for through traffic. Through traffic would still be forced to "thread the needle" between the support columns and the abutment. The problemmatic 11"6" height for northbound drivers remains the same. No additional walkway is provided for the west side of the street. It was also noted by residents that the new facade on the railway overpass is already in the plans for the third track.

BNSF representative Roger Howard spoke and stuck to his guns in citing safety as a primary reason for the Broadway closure. When questioned on regulations governing railways, we learned that the railway inspects bridges more often than the once-a-year required by the Federal Railroad Administration, but that these records are not open to the public. When asked if BNSF would release inspection records for Washington, Lyon and Grant Av, he dodged the subject.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Railroad Plans Unveiled

65 people were on hand for the open forum looking at proposed candidates for new railroad crossings on the East side of Springfield and the Jordan Valley West Meadows project. There was also information available concerning the rail lines parallel to Commercial St. Local resident Robert Brantley spoke to KY3, saying “The people make the City, the people that live there. If the people are taken care of, then the City is taken care of.”

The meeting was opened by a short overview, with one-on-one dialogue following the presentation. Area residents had the opportunity to address their questions with one of the designer’s representatives, or write questions on 3X5 cards for further research. Photo below is an overview of the rail lines plan.

Three different plans were presented for the spur entering Jordan Valley. (Only one is pictured here.)

Some details of the West Meadows project are shown here. Another pdf file is available at http://www.rrstudy.com/ giving more detail on land the park will encompass.

This photo shows the addition of several tracks for train shunting immediately behind several blocks of Commercial St. Some observers were disappointed to see this expansion of railway usage. Area business owners want more parking available north of this business district for future redevelopment of Commercial St.

Of special interest to 137th District residents is the plan to add another track on the antiquidated bridges north of Commercial St. The Broadway closing is in part justified by BNSF and City Manager Tom Finnie by the heavier traffic soon to be run on these tracks. Note the annotation of bridge expansion on Grant Av rail overpass.

Local residents can air their opinions on these plans and on the proposed Broadway Av closure December 6, 2005. A Neighborhood Town Hall meeting is sponsored by City Councilman Denny Whayne at 7:00 pm, Woodland Heights Presbyterian Church. (Atlantic & Grant)

Photos from Flickr, originally uploaded by locofocomoto. Click on photos to view.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Burning Bridges

In today's News-Leader, Wendell Kerr said "If someone is in this country illegally, he/she has no legal rights. Deliberate breaking of laws is a criminal offense as well as sin. " http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051205/OPINIONS03/512050308/1006

Originally uploaded by luxpim.

Equating the breaking of a law to a sin is dangerous to a civil society. "Jim Crow" laws set forth many unjust conditions on select members of society. In light of this interpretation, the use of civil disobedience to change unjust laws would be a sin. When we mix religious and temporal affairs, we corrupt both.

The larger issue is one of human justice and human rights. Should one's accident of birth mean a condemnation to poverty and subjugation? Because one is born in Mexico, or Guatemala, or Algeria, or Somalia, does that forever condemn you to living in that condition? Are you barred the option of our ancestors, to leave the old behind and seek a new life for yourself and your children?

In the face of current U.S. immigration laws, many find that if they don't break the law, they are condemned to these fates.

God Bless America, and God help those who seek to better their lives.

Photo from Flickr, Uploaded on May 28, 2005by luxpim

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Bigfoot at Alien Staff Meeting

Caption/Comments on this Flickr art said

"Bigfoot attending Alien Staff Meeting at the secret Mothership hanger located 5 miles below Mount Shasta, California.

Management often required Bigfoot to attend meetings to "birddog" various issues. He felt that he really had no input or influence on anything that was discussed. When asked about risks and opportunities from the "Bigfoot perspective" he would just grunt."

I just wonder if the "public input" sessions the Various Boards and Committees (VBC's) that purport to collect public input from the citizens of Springfield are much different. It doesn't seem like it to me. The thing I hear most when talking to my Ward's constituents when discussing the VBC's is "Our opinion doesn't matter, they'll do what they damn well please." It's proven true in recent issues affecting the Northside of town lately.

It seems to me that many of the sessions have preplanned outcomes. Witness Donna Bergan's experience with the CU commission to look at the power plant issue recently. In various meetings with other concerned citizens, she testified that the most common source of information for that body was from or related to the coal fired plant industry, and few or none from alternative points of view. The very fact that she was picked for the body was a surprise to her: she had little to no experience with these issues and other candidates that were qualified were passed over, such as Paul Redfearn.

Hopefully, Dec. 5th's meeting * for public input concerning railroad crossings in Springfield will be different, but I'm not holding my breath.

Preplanned outcomes are a good way to keep a plan on track, but makes a mockery of real citizen participation.

* December 5, 20056:00 PM in the Bill Foster North Room of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce 202 S. John Q. Hammons Parkway
Photo from Flickr: Uploaded 12 Nov '05, 5.24pm PST by hua bing chong ji.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

railroad overpass, Delmas Avenue, San Jose, August 21, 2005

What we need at Grant Av: Taller bridge.

entering Willow Glen, Bird Avenue, San Jose, August 21, 2005

What we could have.

Grant Av Underpass

richard 11-28-05 001
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.
Fatiqued concrete pillar, several show signs of cracking and exposed rebar.

Railroad underpass Lyon Av wood trestles

Note plywood splints on several beams underneath railroad tracks.

Railroad underpass Washington Av South approach

Another eyesore, dilapated and fissured with water seeps.

What Northside Residents Have Today

Too Tall Truck
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.
An eyesore and hazard....

Friday, December 02, 2005

Money Muzzles Media

muzzled dog 2
Originally uploaded by locofocomoto.

Fired Up! is celebrating their new status as bona fide journalists, exempting them from political reporting. I celebrate with them. Regulating bloggers would lead to the destruction of one of the few venues left for real free speech.

Case in point: “Blunt thrown in the wash with Delay”. Joplin Independent broke the story online. It caught the attention of local political operatives Richard Napieralski, Robert Brantley, and Steven Reed. The story was reposted at Missouri Leadership and Greene County Missouri Democrats, and finally caught the attention of the Springfield News-Leader, but not until some arm-twisting by Reed.

The free speech issue would never have been addressed by the traditional media without these advertising-independent online sources giving it “legs.” Once it was printed in the News-Leader, it gained more attention on Fired Up! and on national blogspots.

In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog is because the News-Leader too-often won’t print letters to the editor responding to the Radical Right’s rants. It’s also provided background information on local issues for area commentators.

Free speech is not free if it’s fettered by money.

Photo by Flickr contributer Martin Krzywinski
Original story:





Thursday, December 01, 2005

Attention Roy Blunt Shoppers.....

Money money money money
Originally uploaded by skettalee.

Bet Roy's donors don't know that their donations are helping him and his cronies live high on the hog. Here's what is in his October 2005 Quarterly FEC report:

$3935 Tickets to Springfield Cardinals games
$5914 Food and Beverages, mostly in Wash. DC area swanky restaurants
$720 paid to Gandel Liquors for Booze
$850 paid to Pacific Cigar Company
$1901 paid to Justice Jewelers for "lapel pins"
$27,939 Visa Cards
$41,259 -----more than a lot of SW MO families make for a whole year!

And don't forget his pals at Thompson Communications, they billed him for $81,117 in these three months.

Photo from Flickr Money money money money Originally uploaded by skettalee.