Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Springfield News-Leader Endorses Jim Lee For Greene County Circuit Clerk

From The Turner Report:
The Springfield News-Leader has endorsed Jim Lee, author of the Bus Plunge blog, for Greene County Circuit Clerk.

In an editorial in today's edition, the News-Leader's Editorial Board notes:

Lee has a history of dedication to jobs he has tackled -- including small businessman, teacher, work force development specialist for the state Department of Economic Development and southwest regional coordinator for the Missouri State Teachers Association. The latter job required Lee to balance many interests, work with people, lots of them, and steadily move toward goals that were not always easily achieved.

He should be given a chance to bring that discipline to a new, public role. Adept at representing teachers for years, he now deserves a chance to represent us -- in an important, overburdened government office.

The newspaper also expresses reservations about Helms' fiscal discipline, noting his 2003 bankruptcy, which was first revealed in the July 22, 2006 Turner Report.

Pro Life AND Pro Obama

Why this election can't be reduced to one issue.
By William J. Gould, as published in Commonweath Magazine. WEB EXCLUSIVE

Significant portions of the Catholic Church in the United States appear committed to the proposition that the only acceptable political manifestation of being a Catholic entails embracing the Republican Party. Clearly this is the (at least de facto) position of many prominent prelates such as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver and Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton. It is also quite clearly the position of EWTN, which furnishes a one-hour commercial for the Republican Party every Friday night at 8 Eastern (Of course, I’m referring to The World Over, hosted by Raymond Arroyo). Nor is that support confined to high-ranking church figures and leading Catholic media outlets. On the contrary, at Mass in my parish two weeks ago, a very young, newly ordained priest encouraged his listeners to vote Republican solely on the basis of the abortion issue.

In this political and religious climate, I find Doug Kmiec’s support for Sen. Barack Obama a salutary and refreshing development. I say this as someone who does not fully share Kmiec’s enthusiastic embrace of Obama or his high expectations regarding what an Obama presidency is likely to achieve. Instead I write as someone who has long been disenchanted with American politics and who fully expects that we will continue to be ill-governed no matter who wins the election.

Why then do I regard Kmiec’s contribution in such a positive light? For two reasons. The first is that as a Catholic with a long history of support for the prolife cause, Kmiec’s endorsement of Obama calls into question the notion that the GOP is the only acceptable political option for Catholics. Of course one might well counter that the Democratic Party is a far from welcome home for Catholic principles as well, and I would readily agree. But that’s not really the point. At the moment, neither party is a good vehicle for the promotion of Catholic social principles. Catholics who truly understand and embrace the main ideas of the Catholic political and social tradition will find themselves politically homeless and regularly confronted with unattractive voting options. But if political homelessness is the characteristic condition of American Catholics, then the proper response of church authorities should be to acknowledge that lamentable situation rather than to offer de facto political endorsements—as they are coming perilously close to doing with the Republican Party. To the extent that Kmiec’s vocal support for Obama challenges the movement toward a Republican hegemony within U.S. Catholicism, it performs a major service.

The second reason I find Kmiec’s position helpful is that, while clearly speaking from within the prolife movement, he provides much-needed correctives to two unfortunate tendencies within that movement. The first is the propensity of many prolifers—including many church leaders—to attach so much significance to opposing abortion that they end up effectively dismissing every other issue as unimportant or of minimal importance. (Indeed, in a recent pastoral letter, Bishop Martino approvingly quoted the view of his predecessor, Bishop Timlin, that “abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign.”) While opposition to abortion is surely an important part of Catholic teaching, it does not begin to exhaust the riches of the Catholic social tradition. On the contrary, there are many other important matters—issues of foreign policy (including questions of war and peace), health care, whether and how we are going to meet our obligations to the poor, just to name a few—on which the Catholic social tradition has much wisdom and insight to contribute. To reduce Catholic teaching to opposing abortion, which many bishops are very close to doing, is to present a truncated version of the Catholic tradition, and Kmiec is to be commended for pointing that out.

Kmiec has also rightly noted a tendency among many in the prolife movement to ascribe excessive importance to the results of elections, including this one. This has long been my impression of the prolife movement. Having reduced everything to the issue of abortion, they tend to attach excessive (I almost wrote utopian) hopes and expectations to the outcomes of elections. In this year’s campaign, they appear to believe that everything hinges on electing John McCain, who will appoint prolife justices who will in turn overturn Roe v. Wade.

There are serious problems with that approach. To begin with, it mistakenly treats this election as though it were a referendum on abortion. It is not. Voters are not being asked to vote directly up or down on whether we support legalized abortion—as have the electorates of some other countries (Ireland and Portugal, for example). Of course, if we were faced with such a prospect then the prolife rhetoric about how important it is to vote a certain way would make a lot more sense. But we are not faced with a referendum on abortion. Instead, we are asked to choose between candidates campaigning on a wide range of issues (candidates who, once in office, may or may not carry out the policies they are proposing). This is the familiar situation that causes so many conscientious Catholic voters, myself included, to feel so conflicted.

Even if McCain wins, it’s not certain that he will be able to fulfill the hopes some fervent prolifers are investing in him. If elected, he will almost certainly confront a Senate controlled by a large Democratic majority. This will make it very difficult to shepherd an openly prolife justice through the confirmation process. He may surprise supporters by nominating people considered unsuitable by prolifers. After all, McCain has already indicated that he will not have a “litmus test” for judicial appointments. Moreover, he is known to be a rather mercurial fellow. In any event, we can never know for certain what kind of person a president will nominate to the Court. Who expected President George W. Bush to nominate Harriet Miers? Nor can we be sure how new justices will vote. Did the Republican presidents who nominated Earl Warren, William Brennan, and David Souter expect them to turn out as they did? But let’s assume a best-case scenario. Let’s assume McCain is elected, that his nominees for the Court are confirmed by the Senate, and that they go on to prove instrumental in overturning Roe. While I would welcome such a development, let’s not be under any illusions about it. It would not mean the end of legalized abortion in America. Instead the issue would be kicked back to the states. Different states would adopt different policies. And given the remote prospect of a constitutional amendment banning abortion, there is every reason to expect that such a situation would remain for the foreseeable future.

If that analysis is correct, then a McCain presidency, even under the best circumstances (at least from a prolife standpoint), is not going to result in a final or definitive triumph over legalized abortion. Yes, it would change the nature of the struggle, but the struggle would continue, probably indefinitely. And there would still remain the need to address all the other important issues confronting us, issues to which some of us do not regard a McCain presidency as the best response.

In view of all this, we would be far better served by church authorities if, instead of granting a kind of unofficial imprimatur to a particular party (as some seem to be doing), they would recognize and accept a legitimate pluralism and diversity among faithful Catholics seeking to discharge their political responsibilities in the light of church teaching. The kind of pluralism I have in mind would range from radical perspectives such as that of the eminent Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre—who contends that the two major parties are so defective that not voting is actually preferable to voting—to support for antisystem third-party candidates like Ralph Nader, to voting for Obama (as I will) on the grounds that, on balance, his administration will do more to serve the common good than McCain’s, to voting for McCain (as many others will) on prolife or other grounds. That approach comports far better with the situation facing Catholics than anything proposed by bishops like Chaput and Martino.

Finally, let me try to avoid misunderstanding by affirming that I am prolife, and that I fully share the objective of the prolife movement to end legalized abortion. But I also believe that our national well-being will be much enhanced if the pursuit of this worthy objective is integrated within the broader context of Catholic political and social teaching rather than made the sole criterion of Catholic political orthodoxy. In seeking to promote a prolife agenda, we will do well to lower our expectations about what may be achieved by any one election (or even by a cluster of elections). Progress against abortion is likely to prove slow and incremental. But that should not surprise us, for as T. S. Eliot wrote: "The Catholic should have high ideals—or rather, I should say absolute ideals—and moderate expectations." Nor should that discourage us, for, as Eliot also wrote: "For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."

William J. Gould is Assistant Dean of the Juniors at Fordham College.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Treasury set to dish out financial rescue funds

As the Treasury Department strives to avoid a financial meltdown, the following story is making its way across the wire services:

WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department will start doling out $125 billion to nine major banks this week to get credit flowing again, giving a lift to U.S. markets on rising confidence that the government's moves would stave off a protracted recession
Meanwhile, in this afternoon's mail, I received the following letter from the company I had my life insurance policy with:

The Protestant's Three Huts

A Protestant was stranded all alone on an island. He begins sending smoke signals, hoping that somebody will find him.

Ten years pass, and a boat is sailing by. The captain notices the smoke signals, and decides to pull into the island. When he docks, he sees three huts. The Protestant runs out and embraces the captain, and says, “Thank you for rescuing me!” The captain says, “No problem, where are the others?” The man says, “There is only me, I am all alone on this island.”

The captain, confused, asks, “If you are all alone, then why are there three huts?” The man says, “Well, the first hut is where I live, that’s my home. The second hut is my church, where I worship.” The captain asks, “And what is the third hut?” The man says, “Oh, that was the church I used to go to.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I think the US just attacked Syria, is it Cheney's gift to McCain?

Josh Landis has this analysis.

Some are calling it Cheney's gift to McCain.

Something is happening in Syria, somethign serious.

Something is happening in Syria. News reports say US helicopters and special forces made a raid, at least 8 people were killed
developing.....6:37 pm

Friday, October 24, 2008

How Many Were At The Rally?

Count the toiletsLooks like there are eight.
Read all about the Portable Sanitation Association International, the PSAI.org - Dang, whoda thunk there was an association for Kybos!
Then, read Special Events Usage Guide and do the math.
This should tell you how many people the guys who tend the toilets estimated would fit into the space of the rally, how long the rally would last, and how many toilets they thought they would need based on their estimates.


The Vet Who Did Not Vet


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Prime Territory

No pictures, but the pvt rn on her way home from work said Bass Pro is surrounded by Prime Trucks, new Prime Trucks.

gotta love it.

What Happened? My Life Insurance Policy Just Went South, In A Hurry!

I just received a phone call from Deanza Pearson of Central Security Life Insurance Company of Richardson, Texas.

In 1984 I purchased from Andrew Jackson Life Insurance Company of Jackson Mississippi, the agent was Lindsey Head, a $100,000.00 life insurance policy. I paid premiums of $1500.00 a year for seven years then the policy paid for itself.

In early 1993 Dan White, the owner of Andrew Jackson Life Insurance Company, bankrupted the company. The state of Mississippi stepped in and took over the company. My policy ended up with Central Security Life Insurance Company.

This morning Deanza Pearson of Central Security Life Insurance Company called me and told me that to keep my life insurance I would have to start paying a yearly premium of $2,867.19.

This year.

Next year it will be higher.

The current economic crisis cost me my life insurance.

Now, if I were a betting man, assuming I live another 20 years, do I want to spend $57,348.80 to get $100,000?

Or, am I better of buying term and spending $20,000 to get $100,000?

Or am I better to keep my money and try not to get angry at those greedy SOBs who robbed us all?

Hey, Washington, I could use some of that bailout money to pay my life insurance premium.

Heck, I would be happy with just a portion of the clothing allowance.

What Happened?

Well, something happened. How else did we go from this:
to this?
Maybe they shoulda stuck with the maverick theme?....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rudy's Robo Call

This is the robo call Kristin received from Rudy GuilianiHi, this is Rudy Giuliani, and I'm calling for John McCain and the Republican National Committee because you need to know that Barack Obama opposes mandatory prison sentences for sex offenders, drug dealers, and murderers.
It's true, I read Obama's words myself. And recently, Congressional liberals introduced a bill to eliminate mandatory prison sentences for violent criminals -- trying to give liberal judges the power to decide whether criminals are sent to jail or set free. With priorities like these, we just can't trust the inexperience and judgment of Barack Obama and his liberal allies. This call was paid for by the Republican National Committee and McCain-Palin 2008 at 866 558 5591.

Note that Rudy claims Obama "opposes mandatory prison sentences" for rapists and murders, Rudy is actually referring to Obama's opposition to specific mandatory minimum sentences. By dropping the word "minimum," he's insinuating that Obama opposes mandatory prison sentences in general.

Campaign Accessories, Jeff Larson And Greene County

Carson and Larson

Does the name Jeff Larson sound familiar? It should. Larson is the Karl Rove protégé who’s a principal in the robocalling firm of FLS Connect (the “FLS” stands for Tony Feather, Jeff Larson, and Tom Syndhorst, all veteran Republican political operatives). Larson’s firm is the same one that launched the scurrilous robocalls against John McCain in 2000, and that McCain has now hired to make robocalls connecting Barack Obama to Bill Ayers. Evidently, Larson also has quite the eye for women’s fashion. Even hateful liberals would have to admit that Palin dresses awfully nicely.
For the whole story link here.

FLS Connect, Yeah, they're the guys who make those nasty robo calls. Did you get one? Kristin got two more of them today, saying how nasty Obama is--the calls don't talk up McCain, they talk down Obama. She saved them on her machine. I will try to get them up on here.

Mark my words: FLS Connect will be making lots of robo calls into Greene County homes again this election and they won't just be for McCain/Palin.

A Respectable Republican Cloth Coat

$150,000 For Clothes? One Hundred And Fifty Thousand Dollars For Clothes? Dang, My House Only Cost $80,000

Sarah Palin and the RNC spent spent almost twice as much money on clothes for her and her family since McCain selected her as his VP choice in late August than I paid for my house

$80,000 spent on house
$150,000 spent on clothes
From MSNBC's First Read:

McCain's Palin Problem: Speaking of Palin, her numbers have plummeted in our poll. For the first time, she has a net-negative fav/unfav rating (38%-47%), the only principal to carry that distinction.

What's more, 55% think she's unqualified to serve as president if the need arises, which is a troublesome number given McCain's age. (Have worries about McCain's age risen because of Palin? Seems to be the case). In fact, her qualifications to be president rank as voters' top concern about a McCain presidency -- ahead of continuing Bush's policies. (Who would have ever thought that Palin would be a bigger problem for McCain than Bush would?)

And while inexperience turns out to be voters' top concern about an Obama presidency, it's probably not helpful to the McCain camp that inexperience is now a liability for its ticket, too.

If these poll numbers weren't bad enough for Palin, now comes a Politico report noting that the RNC spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize her at high-end stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue -- a story that could further add to the perception that Palin isn't a serious candidate.

The campaign released a statement last night that seemed to confirm the report: "With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses. It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign."

A few questions here from NBC's Andrea Mitchell: Did the campaign announce that she was donating to clothes to charity because there's a potential tax problem here? And is Palin permitted to accept these kinds of gifts under Alaska ethics laws

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Riding The Bus Through The Years.....

Airstream and Suburban, Kansas, Summer 2008
New Year's Eve 2006 Bus
New Year's Eve 2007 Bus
New Year's Eve 2008 Bus
New Year's Eve 2009 Bus
New Year's Eve 2010 Bus
Christmas 2005 Bus
Christmas 2006 Bus
Christmas 2008 Bus
Christmas 2009 Bus
Corn Maze Bus
Precious Moments Bus 1
Precious Moments Bus 2
Halloween Bus 2006
Mr. Peabody's Private School For The Extremely Clever Bus
Ernie's Festival Bus
Birthday Bus
Float Trip Bus
High School Hippy Daze Bus
Irish Couch Potatoes Girls Precision Marching Band and Drill Team Tour Bus
Parkview Viking Football Bus
Well Travelled Bus
Naked Bus
Partisan Bus 1
Partisan Bus 2
Partisan Bus 3
Snow Bus
Parade Bus

The Kurlee's, Sean And Tracy And The Durham's, Stanley and Madeline

Meet Tracy Kurlee and her husband Sean:
And now, meet Stanley and Madeline Durham:

...I was looking at this picture of Obama's grandparents and thinking how much he looks like his grandfather. And suddenly, for whatever reason, I was struck by the fact that they had made the decision to love their daughter, no matter what, and love their grandson, no matter what. I'd bet money that they never even thought of themselves as courageous, that they didn't give much thought to the broader struggles in the the world at the time. They were just doing what right, honorable people do. But the fact is that, in the 60s, you could be disowned for falling in love with a black woman or black man. There is a reason why we have a long history of publicly biracial black people, but not so much of publicly biracial white people.

We often give a pass to racists by noting that they were "of their times." Fair enough, and I know Hawaii was a different beast, but still, today, let us speak of people who were ahead of their times, who were outside of their times. Let us remember that Barack Obama learned the great lessons of life from courageous white people. Let us speak of those who do what normal, right people should always do when faced with a child--commit an act love. Here's to doing the right thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Greene County Circuit Clerk Candidate Jim Lee always believed he was correct in following the directives he received from the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC).

He was right. Today Lee received a letter signed by Stacey Heislen, interim Executive Director of the MEC dismissing the complaint filed against him.

Earlier this month, Lee's campaign finance record was questioned when a Republican activist lodged a complaint against him with the MEC.

The complaint alleged Lee hadn't filed necessary finance reports with the commission. But the candidate pointed to a letter from the MEC stating he wasn't required to file with the state.

The MEC agreed with Lee, saying in their letter of October 15, 2008: “From the facts presented, the Commission voted to dismiss this case.”

According to Missouri State Law, the Commission shall dismiss any complaint lacking any basis in fact or law which is frivolous in nature.

The complainer told the News-Leader and local bloggers that his motive was to get Lee kicked out of the race, or at least cause him some embarrassment.

Lee said campaign tactics like those used against him don’t sit well with Ozark voters.

“Here I am focusing on how I can run the clerk’s office with the integrity and positive leadership we all expect and want from a Circuit Clerk while my opponent and his campaign are only interested in embarrassing me. I’m not keeping track of what my opponent and his campaign are doing but it certainly doesn’t appear to be very dignified.”

Missouri Law says that any person who submits a frivolous complaint can be held liable for actual and compensatory damages to the alleged violator for holding the alleged violator before the public in a false light.

Pink Jeeps

My brother Ed, who lives in Daytona Beach, traded his way into a CJ-5 for his son. Ed's blog is here. As I understand the story, our older brother Bob found an old jeep and purchased the jeep for Ed's daughter Taylor. So now Ed's boy and girl both have Jeeps.

My brother John, who lives in Ormond Beach which is next to Daytona Beach, chronicles the saga of the pink jeep. John's blog is here. John doesn't have a Jeep. "He likes station wagons", said the fat lady as she kissed the pig.

Anyhow, here are some pink Jeeps for Taylor!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

For What It's Worth.....

I Like Giraffes Too, But Not This Much....I Bet She's In Demand At Children's Parties!

Will I Be A Target Of Robo Calls, Too?

Kristin, who lives next door, has received some of those robo calls over the past week. Actually she receives them quite often. If she is not home the calls go to her answering machine and she erases them. I told her to keep them and forward them to David Catonese over at the KY3 political blog.

Kristin doesn't like the robo calls. They are nasty, suggesting Obama pals around with terrorists and.... well, listen for yourself. This is the call she received:

These robo calls seem to be originating from FLS Connect out of St. Paul Minnesota. Here is their website. This is the same firm that did all those calls against McCain in 2000. A page on their website features this testimonial from Karl Rove:

"I know these guys well. They become partners with the campaigns they work with. From designing the program to drafting scripts; from selecting targets to making the calls in a professional, successful way they work as hard to win your races as you do."
Yeah, the same Karl Rove. He's a big bud with one of the principals of FLS, Tony Feather, who had his start with the Missouri Republican Party.
A former executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, Feather is known for his fierce campaign tactics on behalf of candidates like John Ashcroft and former Missouri Attorney General Bill Webster. Feather ran Webster’s 1992 campaign for governor; Webster not only lost but went to prison on charges related to misusing his office for campaign purposes. Feather is also a compatriot of Karl Rove, whom he first met in 1974.
Feather founded Feather Larson Synhorst with another GOP operative, Tom Synhorst, who is sometimes referred to as the "Johnny Appleseed of Astroturf."

FLS is responsible for many of those annoying robo calls to voters that arrive during the days leading up to elections.

I suspect things will only get nastier the closer we get to the election. There is only one door left unopened and McCain cracked it a little bit yesterday with the politically charged word "welfare", as in saying that Obama is a socialist and wants to turn the IRS into a giant welfare agency. Socialist? Welfare? Will we be hearing those words on the robo calls in the coming days? What's next? This? "Don't forget: he's definitely black and he may be a terrorist."

Do robo calls work? well, robo calls from FLS Connect are cheap. At six cents a call, $764.60 reaches almost 13,000 Greene County voters. Did you receive one in August? I did and I remember how the caller ended the call.

I just don't think I would want to associate myself too closely with Karl Rove and his robo calls crew. But these guys seem to like making robo calls. (Tim Trower is a busy fellow!)

Where will the calls come from and who will pay for them?

How will the call be phrased?

Will they be pro candidate or anti candidate calls?

Why do I get this feeling that I am going to be a target of robo calls?

Maybe because we look to the past to predict the future?

Just Got This Email From Karen.....

Here is an interesting approach
I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of
AIG. Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to
America in a "We Deserve It Dividend".
To make the math simple, let’s assume there are
200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens 18+. Our population is
about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child.
So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.. So
divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billion that equals

My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a
"We Deserve It Dividend". Of course, it would NOT
be tax free. So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%. Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.

But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in
their pocket. A husband and wife has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
• Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved.
• Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads
• Put away money for college – it’ll be there
• Save in a bank – create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
• Buy a new car – create jobs
• Invest in the market – capital drives growth
• Pay for your parent’s medical insurance –> health care improves
• Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean – or else

Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it...instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 (“vote buy”) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President.

If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG –
• liquidate it.
• Sell off its parts.
• Let American General go back to being American General.
• Sell off the real estate.
• Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up nd clean it up.

Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t. Sure it’s a crazy idea that can “never work.” But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party! How do
you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 billion We deserve the "We Deserve It Dividend" more than the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.

And remember, The Family plan only really costs $59.5 billion because $25.5 billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

Ahhh...I feel so much better getting that off my chest.

Don't You Just Hate It When This Happens....

ps-everyone is expected to recover from their injuries. WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS!!!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On My Street

Sam Wilson

Sam Wilson was born in Park Rapids, Minnesota, United States of America on Aug 10 1917.

100,000 Came To See "That One" In St. Louis!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Barack Obama attracted 100,000 people at a Saturday rally here, his biggest crowd ever at a U.S. event. The crowd assembled under the Gateway Arch on a sunny Saturday afternoon to hear Obama speak about taxes and slam the Republicans on economic issues.
Lt. Samuel Dotson of the St. Louis Police Department confirmed the number of attendees piled into the grassy lawn by the Mississippi River.

Greene County Circuit Clerk Candidates Answer The "Life Of Jason" Questions

Life Of Jason recently asked the two candidates for Greene County Circuit Clerk, Steve Helms and Jim Lee the following series of questions. A reader thought it would be interesting to see the two men's replies side by side. The SN-L also interviewed the two candidates for a story set to appear in the Sunday issue of the Springfield News-Leader.

HELMS: Jason, I want to thank you for the questions and the opportunity to talk about the issues of this office.

LEE: First of all, Jason, thank you for presenting me with this opportunity, as I seek election to the post of Greene County Circuit Clerk, to deliver my message to the readers of LifeOfJason. I truly believe that citizens-journalists, such as you, are complimenting the mainstream media in a way that was not thought of twenty or even ten years ago. I appreciate your making this arena available to me in my run for the Circuit Clerk position.

Secondly, I feel there were two options in answering the LifeOfJason questions. Option I would have been to give you short, easy to read answers that would be little more than talking points and sound bites from a stump speech. These answers would not have any depth to them and would shed no real light on how I intend to run the Circuit Clerk’s office. Or I could answer your questions completely and accurately, with well researched answers, even if those answers took a little longer to compose and present and it took a little longer to get my answers to you. The second option is the option I chose.

This is a crucial election. I believe that, especially in this election, voters will want to have explored all avenues of information before they mark their ballot.

1. How do you define the role of the Circuit Clerk beyond the job description listed on the Greene County website?

HELMS: The primary job of Circuit Clerk involves handling and recording the documents of the courts and receipting and dispersing funds. As a businessman, I understand that the customer is king. That fact is the reason that from the very beginning my stated goal has been: Building a knowledgeable and efficient staff that provides friendly, professional customer service.

I want our customers to know that everything we do is to serve them better. I will work to eliminate needless bureaucracy and help provide better access to the courts and vital information about the courts.

LEE: The Circuit Clerk is responsible for maintaining complete and accurate records of the court, collecting, accounting for, and disbursing all monies paid into the court; and performing other duties, as necessary to assist the court in performing its duties. Some of the duties of a court clerk are: Receive, process, and maintain the judgments, rules, orders, and all other proceedings of the court.

The Circuit Clerk is also the responsible party to:
• Issue and process: summons, subpoenas, executions, garnishments, sequestrations, judgments, orders, and commitments;
• Collect and disburse all fines and costs;
• Collect and disburse other monies paid into court as ordered by the court;
• Preserve the court seal and other property of the office;
• Provide uniform case reporting;
• Assist with genealogical searches including: criminal records (excluding traffic and misdemeanors), civil (excluding orders of protection, small claims, landlord-tenant issues, and judgments less than $25,000), dissolutions, name changes, juvenile, adoptions, financial, paternity, child support, and immigration records.
In some counties, the Circuit Clerk is also responsible for summoning jurors and is the first stop for citizens who wish to obtain a passport.

By definition, the above duties are what the Circuit Clerk does. How the Circuit Clerk does the above duties is the reason we have elections.

2. Do you feel the Circuit Clerk’s office has the resources now to get the job done in the most efficient manner?

HELMS: No. According to the State’s own work-study program, our court is understaffed by 22 employees. The new state mandated software program, Justice Information System is more time consuming than the system that we previously had.

We are getting the job done for the courts, but it is not to the level that I am satisfied with, and that is why I am passionate about moving our courts forward by implementing technological improvements.

LEE: Simple answer: yes and no. The reality of the matter is that, given the current state of the economy, there appears to be little likelihood of any significant change in the financial resources available to the Circuit Clerk’s office that I am aware of. We must, therefore, utilize the available resources in a most effective and efficient manner.

Here is an example of what I mean: The Circuit Clerk’s office has around seventy employees. All of these employees should to be trained and cross trained, if they not already are, in every aspect of the clerk’s business. Everyone should know and be able to do everyone else’s job, giving every position a back-up person. Departmentalization and compartmentalization can be eliminated. If a primary clerk is absent, the back-ups can fill in the gap.

Everyone in the clerk’s office should be working towards the common goal of making the office efficient and accurate. We can do it when everyone pulls together.

3. What can be done to streamline the functions of the Circuit Clerk’s office?

HELMS: Using today’s technology, we could begin a scanning and imaging system that would save us hundreds, if not thousands of man hours. We spend a large amount of time moving paper files in and around our office, between courtrooms, and the county archives (this is because we do not have enough room to store all the files that we need in our office).

As a matter of fact, our County Archives is out of space and they are going to have to spend thousands of dollars to add on or build a larger building. With a proper scanning and imaging system, this would not be necessary for the courts.

LEE: In the October 8, 2008 edition of the Community Free Press, the current clerk said that many don’t understand that the state’s new software system is slowing down his office and “it may be a long time before things run as smoothly as they did before.” He also said that there’s a “learning curve” with the new JIS software and it could be up to two years before his office has fully adjusted

I have calls into Circuit Clerks in the St. Louis and Kansas City regions of the state. I want to ask them these questions:

• How long did it take their staff to adjust to the new software?
• Did their staff experience the same high rate of turnover the Greene County Circuit Clerk’s office is experiencing? (the current clerk states about 50% of the current staff have been at their jobs for less than one year).
• What strategies and methods did they use to speed up the learning curve and get their offices fully adjusted to the new JIS software?
• Isn’t two years a long time to adjust to a new software program?

What worked for these clerks in their offices as they made their adjustment to the new JIS software deserves to be examined fully. What worked for them may very well work for us here in Greene County as well.

I will also ask the Office of the State Courts Administrator (OSCA), if feasible, for the budget authority to hire temporary employees to reduce the current filing backlog in the clerk’s office.

I will seek out training assistance and implement, if not already in place, continuing education programs for staff, to include full-time, part-time and temporary employees.

I will consult with and collaborate with former clerks and employees for ways to bring back efficiency and accuracy to the office.

One possibility for streamlining the office which keeps surfacing is talk of making a transition to paperless filing. This is potentially a good idea. However, before paperless filing can take effect the following items must be addressed.

A. The case files must be filed correctly. When a case file is not filed in the correct place, as has been related to me as having happened, it matters if it is a paper file or a computer file. When a file folder (a paper file) containing a case file gets filed in a wrong file drawer or wrong file section, eventually it will be found, probably. When a computer file (a paperless file) gets filed in a wrong folder, however, or a wrong file sub folder or listed with the wrong file extension, it may never be found. Anyone who has ever lost a computer file can relate to that experience.

B. Entries must be entered correctly in the JIS case files. Paper files can contain original documents, copies of documents and handwritten notes. There needs to be appropriate training on entering the information contained in these original documents as they relate to options in the JIS software. If a docket entry is made incorrectly or lacks the correct coding of the supporting documentation, it may go unnoticed until the case file is accessed next. This can cause the court proceedings relating to that file to come to a halt until the file is corrected, wasting not only the court’s time, the prosecutor’s time, the witnesses’ time, the lawyer’s time and, in extreme cases, may cause an innocent person to remain in jail until his file is correctly processed. There needs to be continuous training in this area and the training must reflect the latest updates to the software program.

4. Does political party really make a difference in terms of the Circuit Clerk? Why or why not?

HELMS: No, it is more important to have the right person. The office of Circuit Clerk is non-political in the sense that I have a job to do for the people. The Circuit Clerk doesn’t set legislative policy or agenda.

It’s exactly the same as when I sold a product or service to someone in the private sector. My concern was not on their political affiliation or mine, but whether or not my product or service took care of their need.

On a side note, there are some in the Judicial system that want to make the Circuit Clerk an appointed position. Even though I was initially appointed to this office, I am against that view. I believe that an elected official is much more accountable to the public.

LEE: This position should be filled by the most qualified person on the ballot who is seeking the post, regardless of political party.

Instead of asking what political party a candidate belongs to, the questions that I ask are these: which of the two candidates is better qualified for the position; which of the two candidates can best meet the needs of the office and the needs of the court. In the case of this election these questions also would appear to be appropriate: what is not being accomplished in the office that needs to be accomplished and how can the areas which need improvement be addressed?

5. How is continuing education important to the staff of the Circuit Clerk’s office?

HELMS: Continuing education is extremely important. One of the hallmarks of a professional is whether or not you are continually learning about your profession. Education is not a degree, it is a life long pursuit.

Because our office is working with no slack in our workload to staff ratio, it is extremely difficult to do what we need to do. I have instituted a plan that will help us in this area. Proper training is one of the ways that we can improve efficiency, and over time we will reap those rewards.

LEE: As an educator, I know full well the value of continuing education programs, especially when you realize that almost half of the current clerk’s staff have been in their jobs for less than a year. It is absolutely imperative given the importance of the record keeping that office is responsible for, that continuing education programs for the Circuit Clerk’s staff be ongoing, thorough and comprehensive.

6. In July, someone raised an issue about a poster in the Circuit Clerk’s office that made a reference to Jesus and threatened legal action. First, do you think the reaction of the citizen who threatened to sue was over-reacting and/or possibly had an agenda and second, what do you feel are the limits for a public official in expressing their personal views in the workplace and, by extension, their employees (since an employee brought in the poster and not the Circuit Clerk)?

HELMS: I believe that some are hypersensitive to any religious symbolisms in the public arena. The person that complained about the poster told me that he felt that the poster would limit people’s access to the court. I disagree.

I moved that poster to a bulletin board, not because it had any religious connotation, but because I thought it honored the men and women who died on 9-11.

Up until about 1947, the Supreme Court would have sided with me on this issue. It has only been since that time that they have moved to an extreme position of trying to force out any religious content from the public square; whether that be from a public official or a citizen.

I, like hundreds of those who called me in support of keeping this poster up, am offended that an extreme minority view is allowed to dominate our nation. I am tolerant of opposing views. I served my country in the United States Army and fought for their rights. If people want to change the Constitution and our rights, they should use the amendment procedure and quit allowing activist courts to make law by fiat.

LEE: This matter was settled when the current clerk, on the advice of his attorney, removed the poster.

The second part of the question is simple: I will follow the directives of the regulating legal authority.

7. Recently, a local publication ran a story questioning the efficiency of the Circuit Clerk’s office and the delays in processing cases. Do you feel those stories had any merit and it so what changes would you make to correct the problems raised in those stories?

HELMS: I came into this office knowing that we had challenges. This office has gone through more change in the last year than perhaps in the last ten years. We have a high case load with over 30,000 new cases filed each year.
When demand for the courts exceeds current capacity, of course you are going to have some backlog. The problem is a lack of resources in the entire Judicial system.

The question is whether my opponent could do anymore than we are already doing. The answer is no. We are conducting more training today than we have at any other time in our office. We are using every available resource to get temporary help. We are making procedural changes and aggressively moving to new technology to make us more efficient.

I have shown leadership in this office and we are getting the job done for the courts, but I am not satisfied. As a member of the Missouri Circuit Clerks Association, I have met with many of my peers and they are struggling with many of the same issues. It is wrong to just put a band-aid on the problem so we can kick the problem down the road. I want to solve these problems, and until the people understand, we won’t have the political will to do what is right.

LEE: I am not familiar with the story or stories you reference. I do know this, however: the current clerk has stated, as mentioned earlier, that half of the clerk’s staff are new employees with less than one year on the job. He told us he had to hire these new employees to replace all the long term employees who quit their jobs with the Circuit Clerk’s office because they were close to retirement age and did not want to learn a new software program.

It is my opinion that in these tough economic times we are going through, most people do not give up government jobs (which have benefits, like health insurance) because they don’t want to learn a new software program. I believe this huge turnover in staff is indicative of a deeper problem in the office that goes far beyond being unwilling or unable to learn a software program.

I work hard and I lead by example. When people see their leader working with them and learning with them, the process of developing into a team begins. The clerk’s staff will work with me, not work for me.

8. What makes you the best choice for voters on November 4th?

HELMS: December 2007, a friend asked me to consider running for Circuit Clerk because he knew that the current Clerk was going to retire and that there was a need for someone with the right skills to see that office through a challenging time. Since I valued his advice, and because he is close to the judicial system, I investigated this opportunity to serve.

After speaking with many in and around the courthouse, I spoke with my wife and prayed for wisdom. I then decided to make myself available. I was appointed to this post after my resume and experience were compared to several other capable candidates who also put their name in for this office.

That was March 1st of the this year. Since that time, I have further outlined the issues that we have to deal with. I am already taking the steps that we need to do to correct these issues. I am providing the right leadership. I am willing to work with everyone necessary to solve our problems. I don’t just talk about solutions, I am implementing them.

I ask for your vote November 4th and trust that you will give me the time to accomplish what we need to do. It is not going to take months, but years to build up the expertise in this new system and to bring the right technologies to our office. Once it is done, we will have the best courthouse in the State of Missouri.

LEE: I have over thirty-five years of professional experience in the areas of administration, management, and public relations within the business, educational and governmental communities of Missouri.

I have lived in the Ozarks since 1964. I graduated from St. Agnes High School in 1967. I am a cum laude graduate of MSU with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. After graduating from MSU, I attended graduate school at Drury University.

I have been involved in community and school district activities. I was the treasurer of the “Better Schools for Kids” committee and received a “Star Catcher” award from the Springfield School District for my efforts in that successful campaign. I was active in the “Vote No on Amendment 7” campaign. When our children were of school age, I was a member of and supporter of the PTAs at their schools. I was a member of the Jarrett Middle School site council. I am a graduate of the Springfield “City Academy”. and I am active in the Fassnight Neighborhood Association.

As a Workforce Development Specialist for the Missouri Department of Economic Development working out of the Monett Career Center, I worked closely with courts, mental health agencies, law enforcement, educational institutions and other community service organizations. I passed an extensive state background investigation before I was hired for this merit job position.

As the Southwest Regional Coordinator for the Missouri State Teachers Association, I worked closely with teachers, administrators, superintendents, school boards in over 125 school districts in southwest Missouri. I travelled frequently to Jefferson City to meet with legislators and Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education officials. During my tenure with MSTA, membership in the SW Region increased from 3500 to over 10,000.

As a 6th grade teacher in Nixa, MO, I was part of the team that aligned the curriculum to meet Missouri School Improvement Standards (MSIP). I was a team leader for an adolescence training program and a crisis counselor for Caring Communities within the school district

After my marriage in 1973, my wife and I started a branch of her family’s business. We provided food and game attractions for county and state fairs throughout the Midwest and Canada. I directed a staff of 15-20 employees and operated a fleet of motor vehicles and trailers.

When our children reached school age, we sold our family business and my wife and I returned to school to further our education. She earned her RN degree from Burge School of Nursing and I earned my Missouri teaching certificate from Missouri State University.

I am proud that I am a United States Army veteran. I was trained to be a combat medic but served as a headquarters clerk in a hospital. I received an honorable discharge and I was awarded the Army Commendation Medal.

Missouri gives participants in the Missouri Public School Retirement System the opportunity to retire at age fifty-five, which I did.

Since my retirement I have been a full time property manager for our rental properties. I have made arrangements, if I am so blessed to win this election, to turn that function over to another. The Greene County Circuit Clerk’s position is a full time position and I will treat it as such.

My wife and I have been married for 35 years. Regina is a nursing supervisor for CoxHealth. We have two children: Sara, who works in the administrative offices at Cox College School of Nursing; and Jim who is a manager for Southwestern Bell Telephone/ATT. Sara and her husband Daniel live on a small farm in Lawrence County. Jim, his wife Kristin and their three children (Trey, Austin and Sophie) live next door to Regina and me.

I am also the author of “Bus Plunge,” which has consistently, since its inception, been rated as one of the top twenty political blogs in Missouri by the “blognet” rating service.

I am 59 years old.

I work hard, I work honest and I don’t try to kid anybody. With your vote and support on November 4th, I can bring dignity and respect back to the Circuit Clerk’s

At this point, if you would like to make a final statement to my readers, attach it here.

HELMS: You may go to my website at www.stevehelms.net

LEE: Throughout my professional career I have received letters of commendation, letters of appreciation, letters of recommendation and letters of endorsement. Here are some excerpts:

Kent King, Executive Director, Missouri State Teachers Association
“Jim has the insight and ability to take a project from “cradle to grave.” His ability to listen is well honed and he repeatedly dealt with difficult issues, resolving them in an expedient and satisfactory manner”

Mike Wood, MSTA Director of Governmental Relations
“Jim has the ability to adapt to various situations. Thinking “outside the box” is something that he is able to do in order to successfully accomplish goals.”

Terry Bond, Curriculum Facilitator for Communication Arts, R-12 (retired M-NEA)
“I recognize Jim as an especially effective, hardworking, and deeply committed professional…I saw him lead a stale, moribund organization to renewed energy, relevance and effectiveness.”

Marc Maness, Director, Office of Community Development and Grants, R-12
“In addition to his communication and interpersonal skills, Jim has developed a well honed sense of organizational message…his ability to “stay on message” to make sure the organization or cause he represents has a clear and definable message. Jim understands that consistency in message for an organization is vital to its success.”

Senator Frank Barnitz (D-16)
“Mr. Lee is one of the nicest persons I have met. His personable character makes you at ease the moment you begin a conversation with him. He has a strong sense of self-discipline, is highly self-motivated…I most certainly recommend Mr. Lee without reservation…”

Former Senator Roseann Bentley (R-30)
“Jim has demonstrated a disciplined and positive campaign that left many people with very favorable opinions. I believe that Jim has demonstrated his abilities as a leader and a manager with financial skills and strong communications skills.”

Former Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell (MO)
“Jim and I have known each other for many years and you would be hard pressed to find another person with his experience, political sense and energy.”

Kelly Knauer, Kelly Knauer Editorial Projects, Springfield, MO
“…he is a dynamic, self-starting individual who never takes a job without throwing himself into full-throttle. Even more important, Jim is a master of the “aw shucks,” down-home approach that seems to be a prime requisite to achieving success in any endeavor in these parts. But don’t be fooled by Jim’s unassuming demeanor: he has mastered educational and social policy issues, is an articulate spokesperson…and brings energy and professionalism to his work.”

Springfield News-Leader Editorial Board
“But if ideas matter….the race will go to Jim Lee…Lee brings a focus to his discussion of issues, he sticks to the issue and what he wants to do. Lee’s approach builds confidence in those around him…” 2000 136th District State Representative newspaper endorsement.

“Our endorsement goes to Lee because of his more moderate stands…Lee generally brings the wider view in his discussion of issues. His moderate approach will work well…” 2002 138th District State Representative race newspaper endorsement.

(c) 2007, 2008 Jason Wert. All rights reserved. The author gives permission for electronic, print or broadcast media to use information from any posting ONLY if a link to this blog site is provided and printed identification of the location of the information provided or the full web address of the site, www.lifeofjason.com, is mentioned as the source of the information.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Dress Code? A Dress Code To Vote?

Here is an email that I am not forwarding:

Please, please, please advise everyone you know that they absolutely can not go to the polls wearing any Obama shirts, pins or hats, it is against the law and will be grounds to have the polling officials turn you away.

That is considered campaigning and no one can campaign within X amount of feet to the polls. They are banking in us being excited adn not being aware of this long standing law that you can bet will be enforced this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They are banking that if are turned away you will not go home and change your clothers. Please just don't wear Obama gear of any sorts to the polls! Please share this information, oh and for those of you who were already aware this was not meant to insult your intelligence.

Just trying to cover all grounds.
Read more here.

In 2006, Sara Lampe and I took the bus to the fire station on Grand, across from the MSU parking garage, which was her polling place. I parked the bus in a parking space. Someone complained to the polling officials because that someone thought I was parked within 20 feet of the door (I wasn't) and was in violation of the law because there was a Sara Lampe sign taped on the bus. That someone said I was electioneering. Oh my. Sorta like Joe says, some people end up chasing rabbit trails.

Everybody Gets 15 Minutes....

From wikipedia:

15 minutes of fame (or famous for 15 minutes) is an expression coined by the American artist Andy Warhol. It refers to the fleeting condition of celebrity that grabs onto an object of media attention, then passes to some new object as soon as people's attention spans are exhausted.
Joe the Plumber is having his 15 minutes....

My plumber's name is "Rick".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Has Anyone Else Noticed

Joe the Plumber has given more interviews than Sarah Palin?

Best google citation: Does Joe the Plumber know Joe Six-pack