Ward Capital Improvement funds for Grand Ave. median maintenance

FYI  via Alderman Conway:

Dear Neighbor, Both Alderwoman Ingrassia and myself have received the okay to fund $12,000 of the beautification and maintenance cost associated with the Grand Ave medians. The medians are the entryway to our neighborhoods and should properly reflect who we are. We have received permission to use Ward Capital Improvement funds to be matched by the adjacent neighborhood and businesses. Sincerely,
Ald. Steve Conway, CPA, ATTY

Recent U.S. Votes

Recent Senate Votes
Friedland Nomination – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (51-40, 9 Not Voting)

On Monday, the Senate approved the nomination of Michelle T. Friedland to be a judge on the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES

Minimum Wage Increase – Cloture – Vote Rejected (54-42, 4 Not Voting)

Senators failed to invoke cloture for a bill that would have raised the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 last Wednesday.

Sen. Roy Blunt voted NO
Sen. Claire McCaskill voted YES

Recent House Votes
Mil Con/Veterans Affairs Appropriations – Passage – Vote Passed (416-1, 14 Not Voting)

The House approved a bill on Wednesday to provide $165 billion in fiscal 2015 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, military construction, and military housing. The bill would provide $58.7 billion in advance appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for certain VA medical care programs. Only Rep. Raul Labrador, R.-Idaho voted against the measure.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES

Legislative Branch Appropriations – Passage – Vote Passed (402-14, 15 Not Voting)

House members voted to approve $3.3 billion to fund the legislative branch of the federal government, excluding the Senate, in 2015. The bill includes money for the Library of Congress, Government Accountability Office, Architect of the Capitol, and Capitol Police.

Rep. William Lacy Clay voted YES

Missouri Legislature overrides Nixon’s tax cut veto

Once more, I am embarassed to be a citizen of Missouri.  Shame on that Democrat who went along with the Republican’s tax cuts.

via StLToday:

JEFFERSON CITY • Republican legislators stood together and a lone Democrat bucked his party’s governor on Tuesday to give Missourians their first state income tax cut in nearly a century.

In the most far-reaching move since Republicans took control of the Legislature 12 years ago, the House mustered the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat.

Exuberant Republicans, who gathered in the ornate House Lounge after the vote, called the day historic.

“Today, we lived up to the promise to Missourians, to provide hardworking Missourians some of their money back so they can grow their families, their farms and their small businesses,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

The vote was 109-46, with Rep. Keith English, D-Florissant, walking into the chamber at the last moment to provide the pivotal vote. The Senate had voted for the override Monday on a straight party-line vote of 23-8.

Drama of the moment aside, the tax code changes will take effect gradually.

In five annual steps beginning in 2017, the bill will cut the state’s top personal income tax rate to 5.5 percent from 6 percent and provide a new 25 percent deduction for business income reported on individual returns.

The cuts will be implemented only if state general revenue grows by at least $150 million a year compared with the high-water mark of the previous three years.

English said in an interview that the tax cuts were needed to help small businesses grow and that the bill had safeguards to protect education. He contended that Nixon had spread “misinformation” about the bill.

Nixon, who has called the bill unaffordable, unfair and reckless, issued a subdued statement Tuesday, saying that it failed to protect education funding and threatened the state’s AAA bond rating.

In his veto message last week, Nixon portrayed the tax cut as benefiting the wealthy.

He said 52 percent of the tax savings would go to the top 7 percent of taxpayers. Meanwhile, a family making the median income of $44,000 a year would receive a tax cut of only $32, Nixon said.

The bill is projected to cut income taxes by $620 million a year by 2022, though Nixon has warned that the tab could be much higher.

The governor contends that unclear wording appears to get rid of state income taxes for about 2.5 million Missourians. He cited a line in the bill that says that the top income tax bracket — which applies to people earning more than $9,000 — will be eliminated.

House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-Town and Country, led the charge to marshal votes for the override. He called Nixon’s argument “laughable” and dismissed it as “scare tactics.” Diehl said Republicans had no plans to address the unclear provision by passing another bill this session.

Nixon’s argument did win one convert: Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart. Roorda had backed the tax cut when it initially passed but voted Tuesday to sustain the governor’s veto. Roorda called the apparent elimination of the top tax bracket a “fatal flaw.”

Republicans used timing as their ally, passing the tax cut early enough in the session that they had time to consider the veto before they adjourn on May 16. That way, Nixon couldn’t campaign against the bill all summer, as he did last year when he fended off an override of a broader tax cut at the September veto session.

Legislative leaders said that delaying the tax cut’s impact until 2017 will allow time to fully fund the aid formula for K-12 public schools. They also touted the requirement that state general revenue must grow by $150 million a year before the incremental cuts are triggered.

Those changes helped the GOP win over the renegade Republicans who scuttled an override last year.

“This is a bill that is fair and responsible,” said Rep. Nate Walker, R-Kirksville, one of the former dissidents.

Critics said the trigger was inadequate.

Missouri needs $250 million a year in general revenue growth just to maintain current levels of service, according to a statement by the Missouri Budget Project. That analysis doesn’t count annual increases in the number of people who depend on various social programs. The budget project is a liberal-leaning organization that advocates for policies that help low- and moderate-income Missourians.

Other opponents questioned whether the bill was the first step in a bigger plan to replace income taxes with consumption taxes, a move long championed by political mega-donor Rex Sinquefield of St. Louis. They noted that the Legislature is advancing a sales tax increase to pay for transportation projects.

“It’s almost a little experiment,” part of an attempt by proponents to implement a tax shift, said Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis.

Sinquefield made a fortune in the investment business in California, then returned to his native St. Louis about eight years ago. Since then, he has donated millions of dollars to politicians and issue-oriented campaigns aimed at revamping the tax code and public education.

Grow Missouri, a group partly funded by Sinquefield, praised the Legislature’s action Tuesday. Group treasurer Aaron Willard said the legislation “will go a long way toward helping stimulate Missouri’s economy.”

The tax cut’s backers said that many of Missouri’s neighboring states had cut their taxes in recent years and that Missouri must follow suit to compete.

“Half the states in the union have done this,” said Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We’re very happy.”

Brad Jones, who lobbies for the state arm of the National Federation of Independent Business, predicted that businesses would use the extra money to give employees raises or help pay rising health insurance costs.

“Any time you put money back into the hands of a small-business person, they take it and put it back in the business,” Jones said.

Even so, some said boosting the economy wasn’t the main goal. Rather, downsizing government is at the heart of the plan.

“The real fight here is how much does government need,” said Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah. Because the bill provides only a 25 percent tax deduction for business income, he said, it “is not an economic development tax cut. It is a limit-the-growth-of-government tax cut.”

The bill is SB509.

MO Dems announce new exec director and director of campaigns

I am excited to be working with these women!

via Missouridems.org

JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple today announced the appointment of Crystal Brinkley as the new executive director and Kristen Self as director of campaigns. Both will take over their new positions effective April 28.

“We are pleased to announce Crystal Brinkley as the Party’s new executive director and Kristen Self as the new director of campaigns,” Chairman Temple said. “I am thrilled to be building our team’s capacity with two talented professionals who are committed to the Democratic Party’s mission of improving the lives of Missouri families.”

Brinkley brings a unique skill set to the executive director position. She previously served as volunteer coordinator on Congressman Dick Gephardt’s Presidential Campaign, traveled to various states on Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign, and managed then State Representative Rachel Storch’s reelection campaign, demonstrating knowledge and experience in both statewide and local grassroots activities. Brinkley also served in Governor Nixon’s administration. Most recently, she was the finance director at the Missouri Democratic Party.

“Crystal has shown a tireless work ethic and strong leadership skills both as finance director at the Party and in previous positions,” Chairman Temple said. “She’ll continue to advance our Party’s priorities on all levels.”

Kristen Self comes to the Party with deep campaign experience. Self served as finance director for the Indiana House Democratic Caucus for eight years where she was responsible for all fundraising activities for the Caucus, the Speaker of the House, Democratic Leadership, and many Democratic members and candidates for the Indiana House of Representatives. In August of 2009, she was promoted to campaign director where she managed the day-to-day campaign operations for Democratic candidates for state representative, developed strategy and messaging for campaigns across the state and provided strategic guidance to candidates from the launch of their campaigns through Election Day.

“Kristen’s talents and experience are exactly what our Party needs to execute a successful 2014 election cycle and beyond,” Chairman Temple said. “She will bring strong leadership and guidance to our joint legislative operations, and we are thrilled she is joining the team.”

Salameh’s Market under contract to City’s LRA

via Alderman Steve Conway:

We have received a a signed contract for the City to Purchase Salameh’s Market. This purchase had been a key element of the vision to redevelop the Shaw Neighborhood for the past 30 years. I would like to thank Mayor Slay’s administration, Laura Costello the Director of LRA, the past CDA Director Jill Taggert and the SNIA members and Housing Corporation members that have dedicated their time and resources over the past years to help make this happen. This building has had a debilitating impact on our housing values, created negative perceptions of our neighborhood and has impacted the quality of life in Shaw. There are no immediate plans for this building or site. I am now comfortable knowing that we will involve the Housing Corporation and Neighborhood Association in seeking requests for proposal to redevelop this site. Closing is set for May. Progress is never easy,

Chancellor Wrighton Says “No” to Demands of Wash U Students Against Peabody

Contact: Madeleine Balchan, mbalchan2@gmail.com, 937-360-6246
Chancellor Wrighton Says “No” to Demands of Wash U Students Against Peabody
Students Immediately Escalate Fight by Organizing ‘Alumni Against Peabody’
Five student representatives from Students Against Peabody met with Chancellor Wrighton this morning to begin negotiations on the students’ demands. The students are demanding: 1. Remove CEO Greg Boyce and Peabody from the Board of Trustees, and 2. The Chancellor must attend community-organized tours of Peabody extraction zones and issue a public statement about his experience.
The student representatives, Julia Ho, Jamal Sadrud-Din , Georgia McCandlish, Emily Alves, and Megan Odenthal, met with the Chancellor for about half an hour before walking out of the meeting. When asked if he has the power to take a stand on the University’s relationship with Peabody, Chancellor Wrighton said, “I could, but I won’t.”
“This meeting has shown us that the Chancellor has decided to side with Peabody Coal instead of the students of Washington University,“ said Julia Ho, a member of the negotiating team. “We know where he stands, and we know what we have to do to change his mind.”
Immediately after the negotiating team walked out of the meeting, Students Against Peabody began heightened pressure on Chancellor Wrighton. Mobilizing quickly, a group of 40 supporters walked to the Chancellor’s office in Brookings and delivered a letter from students and community members urging the Chancellor to honor student demands.
Local community supporters today included PJ Wilson, Director of Renew Missouri. Wilson said, “Standing with these students makes me proud to be a Missourian. Renew Missouri has been pro-renewable energy and anti-nothing. Until today. We have to stand up to fossil fuel companies.”
In addition, Students Against Peabody then commenced organizing alumni, many of whom are on campus this weekend for Alumni Weekend. Alumni are being urged to calling the Alumni Annual Fund office and state that they refuse to donate to Washington University until the demands of Students Against Peabody are met.
Students Against Peabody is in the fifth day of a sustained sit-in outside of Brookings Hall, the main administration building on Washington University’s campus. The students cite numerous reasons why the University should ends its relationship with Peabody, including Peabody’s contribution to global carbon emissions, participation in ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), marginalization of indigenous and rural communities in places including Black Mesa, Arizona and Rocky Branch, Illinois, and interference in democratic processes through their lawsuit against the local Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative.
Photos are attached.
Students are available to comment throughout the day.