- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 2

Forecasting the future is not for the faint of heart. But Thursday’s announcement by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency that it will build its new western headquarters in north St. Louis could one day be regarded as a generational moment for the city.

By this we mean a critical point in history that defines how the city grows, or doesn’t. If the NGA decision reopens north St. Louis to large-scale commercial and residential development, March 31, 2016, will be the biggest day in 55 years.

On April 14, 1961, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee finally approved enough funding to build the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The site on the St. Louis riverfront had been cleared for a quarter-century. Eero Saarinen’s design for the 630-foot Gateway Arch had been chosen 14 years earlier. But the Truman and Eisenhower administrations had other priorities, and the new president, John F. Kennedy, wasn’t crazy about it, either.

But Appropriations Chairman Clarence Cannon, a Democrat from Elsberry, Mo., asked his colleague, Democrat Leonor Sullivan of St. Louis, “What do you want to do, Lee?”

“I want to build it,” she said. And so the Arch was built and St. Louis had its enduring symbol.

Two years before that, on Sept. 17, 1959, the Civic Center Redevelopment Corp. had been incorporated. Civic Progress, then a deeply engaged organization for the city’s top business executives, undertook a massive effort to remake 31 blocks on downtown’s southern edge. The centerpiece was a new multiuse stadium that opened in 1966.

Whatever downtown is today stems from that moment in 1959. The new stadium helped turn baseball into a civic religion. It was replaced in 2006, again on land in the original Civic Center footprint. The lovely Citygarden is on Civic Center land, along with the hotels and office towers on Market Street. It’s where St. Louis hangs out.

Critical moments in a city’s history don’t usually announce themselves, and when they do, they often disappoint. St. Louis has had a lot of “golden goose” ideas in recent decades - stadiums, retail centers and the like - that fell flat.

Critical moments tend to happen serendipitously, as at the turn of the 20th century when banker Robert A. Barnes’ heirs decided to build a hospital in his memory and Washington University’s Medical School and Jewish Hospital moved nearby. Or as when J.S. McDonnell got into the airplane business in 1939 as the world was about to need a whole lot of warplanes. Or as when, in 1876, the city of St. Louis decided to free itself from those mooching farmers in St. Louis County.

You just never know how things will work out. But the NGA in north St. Louis? This one holds real promise.

___

Springfield News-Leader, April 4

It appears it’s only a matter of time before Missouri’s “religious freedom” amendment appears on our ballots.

Senate Joint Resolution 39 would amend Missouri’s Constitution by adding language to keep businesses from being penalized for refusing service to people based on the businesses’ religious beliefs on gay marriage. If approved by the House of Representatives, it goes straight to voters.

A 39-hour filibuster in the Missouri Senate, and calls from chambers of commerce, clergy and the LGBT community haven’t stopped the bill as it races to our voting booths.

Legislators have made it clear - they won’t listen.

Today, the News-Leader adds its name to the growing list of organizations opposing this ill-conceived bill.

The resolution purports to protect religious freedom and business interests.

What its passage would actually do is discriminate against members of our community and put Missouri at a disadvantage economically.

We have seen what similar laws have done across the country. It wasn’t long ago that Indiana passed such a bill and set its economy back.

In January, Forbes reported Indianapolis officials estimated the city lost more than $60 million in future business because of the law.

The NCAA had threatened not to hold future tournaments in the state. Some companies stopped plans for development and others promised to boycott Indiana.

Soon after, Indiana legislators altered the bill, but the damage was done.

In Missouri, we have a chance to stop this before we likewise fall behind.

Other organizations in Missouri have already voiced their disapproval. Notably, the St. Louis and Kansas City chambers of commerce strongly opposed the legislation.

Springfield, of course, is not St. Louis or Kansas City. We tend to be more politically conservative. And that’s exactly why our community’s voice can be so powerful on this issue.

The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce has not yet taken a position on the resolution.

Chamber President Matt Morrow said that’s because the group’s typical procedure is to wait until an issue is officially on the ballot.

He said the chamber takes legislative positions before the session starts and can later react to issues that pop up midyear, like SJR 39.

While the board hasn’t yet taken a stance, Morrow said he’s heard from several people in the business community who are worried the resolution is “an unnecessary distraction from what the legislature needs to be doing.”

He said those business owners want lawmakers to focus on things that will grow the economy, add jobs, provide opportunities and educate the workforce.

If now is not the time, then we urge this of the chamber - when the time comes, stand with us against SJR 39. Stand with us for Springfield.

We don’t need this discriminatory bill to facilitate business in southwest Missouri. Our communities have a strong reputation for using economic incentives, limiting regulation and in all ways opening their arms to business.

We don’t need this hurtful legislation to protect our religious liberty. Springfield and the Ozarks are rich with religious devotion, and we show that through our passion for the community, our willingness to help each other and love for our neighbors.

We don’t need Jefferson City to gracelessly “help” us do what we already accomplish so effectively.

The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s voice on this matter is vital. But we encourage others to join us on this front.

This is the time for government leaders, businesses owners, religious groups and individual residents to unite for Springfield’s health.

Let’s stand together before this law tries to divide us.

___

Joplin Globe, March 30

Currently the public has access through Missouri’s Sunshine Law to registration data, animal identification data, environmental data and animal tracking data that farmers and ranchers are required to submit to the state in the federal Animal Disease Traceability Program.

That means that if you want to know about an outbreak of a reportable disease on a cattle farm, poultry farm, hog farm or other operation that raises animals, you have a way to access those records.

That could change if House Bill 1414 passes in the Legislature. This is the fourth year that Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg and chairman of the House Agriculture Policy Committee, has sponsored the bill.

Supporters of the bill believe that farmers would be protected from false accusations and say that if a health threat should exist, authorities would then release that information to the public.

Those opposing the bill, which includes the Missouri Press Association, of which The Joplin Globe is a member, say there is no need to hold this information confidential and that without access to the records there can be no accountability.

The Missouri Press Association worked with Houghton last year on language he incorporated in his bill, requiring the release of information in the interest of public safety when a disease outbreak occurs, but the association says the current bill still overreaches.

According to the group, the bill continues to exempt “environmental data” and “any data collected for the purpose of animal health or environmental protection.”

That would mean any data can be a closed record at the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Natural Resources, the University of Missouri veterinary school and elsewhere. We agree that the language in the bill is too broad.

We cannot condone laws that remove public records from the view of the public. If you live in Missouri, we urge you to discuss the legislation with your state representative before final action is taken on the bill.

___

Columbia Daily Tribune, March 29

In their effort to answer campus diversity complaints, you can’t say University of Missouri managers are failing to staff-up.

Their latest addition to the army is Kevin McDonald, the new chief of the genre for the system.

McDonald comes from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was vice president for diversity and inclusion. He says conflict resolution is the key ingredient when conflict arises.

Interim President Mike Middleton says McDonald is a “perfect fit” for UM. “Inclusion is vital to the success of all our students, staff and faculty,” Middleton said. “The UM System will benefit immensely from his experience as he plans to foster more inclusive campus environments that embody a true culture of respect.”

He will be paid $235,000 a year for these skills.

I can hear the murmur from the burbs already. Quite a few citizens will regard Middleton’s comments as gobbledygook and rankle over the salary paid to a brand-new officer in charge of same. “How did the university get along these nearly 200 years without a guru of diversity and inclusion?” they will ask.

Well, for many of those years there was no diversity challenge to monitor because there was no diversity. University presidents did not have to reconcile the experiences of black and white people on campus when blacks were forbidden to attend. Now the United States has one of the most diverse higher-education student bodies in the world, with problems and opportunities to match. Like it or not, campus managers must deal with nettlesome problems of social integration.

Whether this is best accomplished with a vice president in charge at a fancy salary is another question. Such an appointment “proves” top management takes the challenge seriously as shown on the organization chart. One can imagine enough work on hand to occupy a veep. If the situation will be markedly improved, the salary will be worth it.

How will we know? The university curators and their president are ordered to make such decisions. We boobs in the brush can and should second-guess, but we can’t claim to be better analysts of how to manage.

Certainly no criticism is due Kevin McDonald. We should welcome him to Columbia and pray for his success.

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