According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other sources, the spokesman for late Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich was found dead in his apartment yesterday:
Veteran Missouri state official Spence Jackson, who was media director for the late state auditor Tom Schweich, was found dead Sunday, sources said. He was 44.
A source told the Post-Dispatch his death was being investigated as a suicide.
Jackson’s death comes about a month after Schweich’s suicide. Amid the subsequent turmoil in the state’s Republican Party, Jackson emerged as a strong critic of Schweich’s political adversaries, to the point of calling for the resignation of a top party official.
Missouri state agencies often give “release time” to unions as part of their collective bargaining agreement. Release time allows for public employees to be paid by Missouri taxpayers while working for their unions, doing things like lobbying state legislators in opposition to laws like Right to Work and Paycheck Protection.
How much taxpayer money is spent paying public sector union members to do this?
After reaching out to multiple “state agencies, city governments and public schools throughout Missouri,” Trey Kovacs of the Competitive Enterprise Institute concluded that no one knows, but the cost is in the tens of thousands.
The problem is a matter of transparency and record keeping. Kovacs said Missouri’s lack of transparency is “disturbing and startling.”
“For instance, the Department of Corrections first just told me ‘Oh, these records are closed to the public,'” Kovacs said. “Then I informed them that several other Missouri government employers said me they were public and gave me the data. So then they came back and said, ‘Oh, well, we’ll make them available to you, but for a fee.'”
Kovacs said he was expecting something like $25. He was in for a shock.
“They said it would cost around $25,000 to produce the records and over 1,000 hours of mantime,” Kovacs said. He was stunned.
“I’ve been doing public records requests at the state level for a while in a number of states and before I came to Missouri, I think the highest fee I was ever charged was in Maryland and it was $100. So when they came back to me with $25,000 or so, I was absolutely shocked,” Kovacs said. “And especially claiming it would take over 1,000 hours to compile simple data of where government employee was and what they were doing, you’d think that would be easy data to acquire.”
It isn’t, because the Department of Corrections is recording this time through handwritten slips of paper.
But at least they are recording it.
According to what Kovacs reported in his article at CEI’s “On Point,” many agencies keep no records:
The Grandview School District’s Custodian of Records response sums up this lack of proper record keeping. Not only did the Custodian of Records inform us that release time records are closed under the state’s Open Records Act, but that “the District does not maintain or possess any records responsive to this request. I am not aware of which agency, if any, that maintains records responsive to your request.”
In Kansas City, the Office of the City Manager responded that its legal department came to the decision that records related to a specific employee activity are closed under the Open Records Act. Further, city officials said they do not keep records pertaining to CEI’s request and “would not be able to state how many overall hours of union leave has been granted to employees.”
The City of Springfield records manager said the city could not fulfill CEI’s release time records request because the majority of union activity during work time is governed by informal practices throughout the city and is not tracked separately.”
The City of St. Charles’s Deputy City Clerk told Kovacs that the Police and Public Works Departments don’t track release time separately and “have not been recording union business on daily schedules, therefore they have no records or names for unions business.”
While Parkway School District gave an incomplete response, what information they gave might surprise Missouri taxpayers.
“What we found at the Parkway School District, they were paying around $25,000 towards the union president’s salary, who only works for the union and never does any public work,” Kovacs said.
You read that right. Over a three year period, the Parkway School District paid nearly $100,000 of the president of the Parkway National Education Association’s salary, and not one minute of work was done for the school. The president works solely for the union.
While Gov. Nixon is traveling the state, scaring anyone who will listen that tax cuts will hurt school funding, schools are paying unions bosses tens of thousands of dollars for absolutely no work for the school districts.
And then there’s the month Parkway gave union members to go to Jefferson City and lobby.
Well, at least a month.
“Also at the Parkway School District, they gave at least 31 days to public employees to engage in lobbying events at the capitol, where they lobbied against Right to Work and Paycheck Protection legislation that would reduce union political clout,” Kovacs reported.
In essence, Missouri taxpayers are paying union activists to go to the state capitol to argue against legislation unions feel would hurt them.
And the amount isn’t even being tracked.
But it can be stopped.
Missouri’s constitution contains several provisions known as gift clauses that prohibit the state and local governments from granting public money or a thing of value to associations and corporations.
The state constitution prohibits any public expenditure to private entities “without regard to the purpose of the grant or loan. A proviso has been judicially grafted onto this and similar sections, however, which permits grants of public money to private entities if the grant is for a public purpose.”
The judicial rule created by Missouri courts to determine the validity of public expenditures is known as the “primary effect” test:
If the primary object of a public expenditure is to subserve a public municipal purpose, the expenditure is legal, notwithstanding it also involves as an incident an expense, which, standing alone, would not be lawful. But if the primary object is not to subserve a public municipal purpose, but to promote some private end, the expense is illegal, even though it may incidentally serve some public purpose.
Under the primary effect test, the primary object of the public expenditure must be to promote a public purpose and a private entity may benefit from it only incidentally.
Release time is at conflict with the primary effect test. Government unions are the primary beneficiaries of release time and they use it to promote their own ends, not a public purpose. Only government unions benefit from lobbying legislators, attending union conferences, or any other activity performed on release time.
The staggering lack of accountability and transparency in the amount of taxpayer money given to union business in reason enough to consider doing the same here in Missouri, especially when you consider the constant wailing from the school lobby regarding the need for more funding.
Here’s the entire report from CEI:
Look for a new TorchCast with Trey Kovacs later today.
That’s what a sign I saw in the Missouri State Capitol said as it was held aloft by the loud, self-righteous shuffling masses being directed around the building by their orange vested union handlers.
Here’s the Paradigm Shift.
Medicaid is, at its root, immoral.
Now I know there are some of you out there who just clutched your pearls and gasped at what I said, but it’s true.
Think of it this way: Would it be moral for you to demand from me that I surrender my money so that you could give it to someone else to pay for their medical needs? Not ask for a donation, but point a gun at me and demand that I cough up a portion of my property?
Of course that isn’t moral. That’s called armed robbery.
So why is it suddenly moral when we vote to have someone else point the gun at us? Why is it moral for a law enforcement officer, at the direction of an IRS agent, to use force against me if I choose not to participate?
It seems to be upside down. Up is down. Bad is good. Theft is moral.
And that’s all Medicaid is at it’s foundation. Sanctioned theft.
Medicaid is nothing more than the government using force to take from one person, launder it through the federal bureaucracy, pass what’s left to the state government so they can launder it, until finally a portion is doled out to those who can’t afford to pay for their own health care.
It is the forced redistribution of wealth, not only to the poor, but to the permanent government, the bureaucracy.
You know, the folks who lose your paperwork and forget you’re even alive.
But Medicaid is compassionate, we’re told.
That’s a lie.
First of all, there’s no compassion at the point of a gun, and I’ve already made it clear that’s how Medicaid is funded. People aren’t “donating” to it. They are being plundered. You can’t be compassionate if you’re not given a choice.
Second, where is the compassion is a program that offers treatment, adding millions to the rolls, but can’t deliver because government intervention in medicine is creating doctor shortages across the country, especially where Medicaid patients are concerned? There’s no compassion in putting someone on a waiting list.
And third, Medicaid increases the cost of healthcare for everyone else. I’m not talking about the fact that we have to pay for our own health insurance, along with our own co-pays while at the same time paying taxes to fund Medicaid. I mean Medicaid causes my bill from the doctor to be bigger. This is because Medicaid payments are less than the cost of treatment, so what’s left over gets shifted to patients with private insurance.
How is that compassionate?
The idea that expanding Medicaid is moral is nothing but propaganda designed to make opponents look like heartless ghouls. It’s how the left operates.
They go for the heart.
Fine, I’ll play that game.
Causing the innovative, highly trained and effective health care system in the world to become a third rate shadow of its former self is heartless.
Turning the health care system my children will someday turn into an Americanized version of a dirty, roach-filled third world clinic isn’t compassionate. It’s cruel.
It’s not like we can’t see the difference between what America has done with medicine and what other, more socialist countries have done.
If you think I’m wrong, tell me a few of the medical innovations coming out of Cuba. That’s the Michael Moore gold standard. Where are the medical tourists flocking to get the latest, cutting edge procedures done in that medical utopia?
You want a good health care system that offers the most innovative procedures done by the most skilled doctors at the lowest price? The path to that system lies in capitalism, not in government.
That path is moral and compassionate, because it offers choice, charity and the best result for everyone involved.
When Deanna Sporleder’s 17 year-old son announced he was spending the night at his 16 year-old girlfriend’s house, her home life turned upside down, and part of it was subsidized by federal grants to the local school.
Deanna and her husband were against their son leaving home and moving in with his teen girlfriend, but the girl’s parents consented and the local law enforcement, both county and city, told Deanna that at seventeen, her son could move out and they had no power to stop him.
A few months later, while signing her other children up for school, she asked what she should do about the situation with her son regarding enrollment.
“Not only did they tell me not to worry about it, my son was actually in the school counselor’s office at that very moment, registering as an unaccompanied youth and being identified as ‘homeless,'” Sporleder said.
Her son was categorized as being in a “doubled up” situation, meaning living with friends or relatives due to a lack of housing. But he had housing and a loving family that wanted him home.
Rather than attempt to reach out and reconcile things with his family, the school labeled Sporleder’s son as homeless and began subsidizing his choice.
“About two weeks after school started, my daughters came home and said, ‘Hey mom. He’s wearing new clothes and new shoes and the rumor is, the school social worker took him to Wal-Mart, took him shopping, signed him up for free lunches and he’s getting other support,'” she said.
When she heard that, she reached out for a meeting with the school principal, the school counselor and the school social worker. Sporleder said she met with the school counselor and social worker first and they confirmed they had, in fact, done this.
Sporleder said since then, she’s learned that the McKinney-Vento Act grants money to schools to help with homeless students.
The McKinney-Vento Act
The McKinney-Vento Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 to help with homelessness in America. It initially provided federal money for homeless shelter programs.
It was expanded under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), signed into law by President George W. Bush. Under NCLB, the McKinney-Vento Act now also deals with homeless children and their education.
According to Department of Elementary and Secondary Education documents written by Commissioner Dr. Chris Nicastro, “Local Educational Agencies” with twenty or more homeless students can apply for federal money to assist with their education. DESE documents show that schools can receive a maximum of $400 per student, with the minimum approvable grant being $8,000. It also says the maximum amount any LEA may apply for is $150,000, “regardless of the number of homeless children.”
Here’s how these funds are to be spent:
The question is, are these funds being used to subsidize Missouri students running away from home and shacking up with their teen girlfriend or boyfriend? In at least one case, it seems it is.
“I’m paying my school to pay my son to run away.”
Since her son left, Sporleder says the school has done little to bring the family together. Instead, she believes they are actually keeping them apart.
“I don’t know that I can say the school has taken an active process in bringing the family back together,” Sporleder said. “They have taken an active step to divide and destroy our family.”
Sporleder says the school removed her and her husband from her son’s school information, listing the parents of his girlfriend as his emergency contact. They’ve also removed his grandparents and his siblings.
And they’ve removed him from his sisters’ information.
They even let the girlfriend’s mother attend Parent/Teacher conference with Sporleder’s son.
“Why are we now unimportant?” Sporleder wonders.
And aside from the actions the school took to administratively separate the family, the grants from the federal government are subsidizing his actions.
“In essence, I’m paying my school to pay my son to run away.”
Grassroots activists are trying to ensure transparent and secure elections in Missouri by eliminating all digital voting machines in the state. Now, before you dismiss this as some sort of Luddite, anti-technology conspiracy theory movement, you should know a few facts about these machines.
For example, they can’t be audited, meaning when you cast a vote, there’s no way of counting your vote after it’s entered. The machine is supposed to have a printed tally within the machine, but it often breaks down. And that’s just one of many problems discovered by Missourians for Honest Elections:
Our analysis found a total of 298 reports of problems that occurred with the iVotronic voting machines (iVOs) that required the help—either by phone or a site visit– of at least one member of the County’s technical crew in the November 4, 2014 election.
Moreover, the logs show that at least 99 of these problems resulted in a primary technician having to call for assistance from a higher level technician on the crew; at least 13 had to be addressed by the Super Captains.
That might seem like a small amount of problems considering the number of votes cast, however, that’s not the biggest problem. It’s the fact that those votes can’t be audited, as shown in the recount for Amendment 1.
The fact is, an accurate vote by vote recount couldn’t be done, according to Freida Kehough, who offered the following testimony to the Financial and Governmental Organization and Elections Committee:
There was a statewide recount of Amendment 1 in September 2014. I was a volunteer observer for one day of that recount as staff reviewed the paper tapes from the DRE’s. Since I am aware of the problems with paper tapes I asked how they can have paper tapes that are reviewable and was told that they re-printed the tapes from what was in the machines. We can be sure that NO voter had verified any of this supposedly correct data, because no voter had ever seen the re-print. The process to review all paper tapes was ordered by the Secretary of
State but had to be abandoned due to lack of time. It took 3 workers approximately 1-2 hours to unroll one tape, find the specific vote and record it. There are approximately 1-2 rolls per 1800 machines to review. The process was subsequently changed to allow just a review the summary page at the end of each tape.
By my rough calculations, it would have taken a full month or longer to recount approximately 4500 tapes for 1800 machines by 10 teams of 3.
They ended up just printing out a summary and going off of it.
Same with the recount for St. Louis County Executive:
In the November 2014 election, St.Louis County had another election re-count—the race for County Executive. The recount of the paper ballots produced some additional votes for Rick Stream. A paper ballot that might have been spoiled because of an “overvote” does reveal “the intend of the voter” and must therefore be counted. The recount of the DRE’s did not include a review of the paper tapes, only a machine recount and a review of summary totals.
These machines are only used in a few areas, but these areas are densely populated, resulting in nearly 25 percent of all votes cast in Missouri being essentially unauditable.
The biggest roadblock to this bill becoming a law?
The Senate version of the Paper Ballot Bill (SB 623) was passed by the Missouri Senate in March. We had worked hard to educate the Senators and were very pleased that 22 of the 24 Republican Senators had voted for it.
However, we knew that Floor Leader Diehl would be an obstacle in the House. He’d purchased the DRE machines when he was head of the St Louis Co. Board of Elections in 2006, and had traveled to Mongolia to promote electronic voting machines with the Mongolian President and Parliament in 2009 and 2010. In addition, in a brief run in with him outside his office he had told us he would never allow our bill or any other requiring paper ballots to come to the floor of the House for a vote.. When we asked “Why not?” he said it was “just intuitive” that the electronic touch screen machines were more secure.
Republican or Democrat, every voter should be confident that their vote is going to be counted. As it stands now, nearly a quarter of the state have no physical evidence showing how they voted. It seems like something that needs to be corrected.