- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

WELLSTON, Mo. (AP) - In a story Oct. 30 about Gov. Jay Nixon’s frequent visits to north St. Louis County after the Ferguson police shooting, The Associated Press incorrectly reported the number of such visits by the governor. Nixon was in Ferguson 10 times in the first two weeks after Michael Brown’s death and at least seven times in the past two months.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Nixon unveils jobs program in St. Louis County

Nixon unveils plan to increase summer jobs in north St. Louis County

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER

Associated Press

WELLSTON, Mo. (AP) - Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to not immediately visit Ferguson after an initial wave of violent protests that followed Michael Brown’s shooting death made him a target of critics, who called Nixon “silent Jay” and toted an oversized cardboard cutout of the two-term Democrat’s face to demonstrations.

Now, north St. Louis County regularly appears on the governor’s planner, with Nixon rolling out a succession of economic, educational and political initiatives aimed at the racial and social divides laid bare when Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. The unarmed 18-year-old was black; the officer is white.

Nixon appeared at a job training center Thursday to tout a program meant to provide jobs to as many as 2,000 low-income youths next summer in greater St. Louis.

“We’re building a foundation for the future here,” he said. “This is another brick in that foundation.”

It was at least the seventh time Nixon has visited the northern part of the county since late August after 10 such trips in the early days of the crisis. Nixon’s other recent Ferguson-related trips to the St. Louis region included a late August introduction of former St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom as the new director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, a news conference the following day with state Treasurer Clint Zweifel highlighting a state loan program for small businesses damaged in the protests, a September announcement by Centene Corp. of a new Ferguson claims processing center that will employ 200 people, and last week’s rollout of an independent Ferguson Commission to examine broader social and economic conditions affecting the region - from failing schools to white flight.

The jobs program will be led by former state Sen. Maida Coleman, a St. Louis Democrat tapped in September by Nixon to head a new state Office of Community Engagement to better connect state government with low-income and minority Missouri residents.

“We have a lot of work to do to solve racial disparities in St. Louis,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who attended Thursday’s announcement.

The program will tap $5.9 million of existing federal block grants under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and other federal workforce training efforts. The state community engagement office will work with private employers and local employment service agencies to link prospective workers with hiring companies. The jobs will pay $8 an hour.

Nixon said state officials are prepared to respond to protests that could come once a grand jury decides whether to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, on criminal charges. A decision is expected by mid-November. The governor declined to elaborate on specifics, including whether he would again summon the National Guard or declare a state of emergency.

He also would not discuss possible changes to the Ferguson police force in advance of the grand jury decision. A government official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that there are discussions among Missouri officials about having Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson step down. The official was not authorized to discuss those talks by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. A Ferguson police spokesman said Thursday that Jackson has no plans to resign.

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at https://twitter.com/azagier

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