- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 11

Gov. Eric Greitens has spent less than six months in his new job, so it would be unfair to expect major results from his promises to boost the state’s dismal employment and wage picture. But it is fair to expect him not to lead the state in the opposite direction. Instead of creating jobs or even stabilizing employment, Greitens has made things worse for Missouri workers.

At some point, his blue-collar supporters must start to ask what they got for their votes. His campaign website still posts Greitens pledge: “As Governor, my top priority will be jobs; to help build an economy that creates more private sector paychecks and bigger private sector paychecks.”

Greitens has devoted an extraordinary amount of time to beefing up his campaign’s financial profile during his short tenure, helped in large part by the electric utility Ameren. And Ameren’s payback came in the form of a special legislative session that helped ease the utility’s regulatory burdens. But the theme of the special session - jobs - yielded only a still-distant prospect of 500 jobs in New Madrid County should a smelter and steel mill open for business, enticed by a promise of lower electricity rates. It’ll take a while for the stars to align on all that.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis area has seen its job picture worsen considerably. As the Post-Dispatch’s David Nicklaus reports, the area lost 13,900 jobs in March and April. Statistics show an overall increase in jobs from this time in 2016, but on Greitens‘ watch, they’ve plummeted.

Greitens told Fox2 News on May 31 that corporate leaders from around the world are calling him about Missouri. He specifically mentioned the proposed New Madrid project and a plan for an outdoor-products distribution center near Columbia, which could create 300 jobs in the next several years.

Creighton University’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index, a monthly survey of business supply managers, listed Missouri dead last among nine Midwestern and Plains states on overall economic conditions and prospects for growth. Virtually all indicators pointing toward new orders and business activity showed a slump for May. Missouri’s employment picture ranked well behind the other states in the survey.

Greitens promised not just jobs but better wages. Awaiting his signature is a bill from the regular legislative session, House Bill 1194, that would kill prospects for better wages in Missouri’s two big urban centers - St. Louis and Kansas City. The Legislature considered a separate “prevailing wage” bill denying cities the right to impose union-level wage standards in public construction projects. It didn’t pass.

The least Greitens can do is help urban workers boost their incomes, as promised, by vetoing HB 1194. Missourians will just have to wait for the governor to work his magic on jobs.


Kansas City Star, June 12

Missouri’s constitution allows the governor to call legislators into special session for “extraordinary” reasons.

We’ve looked and looked, but we can’t find “political self-promotion” mentioned anywhere in that document.

Yet Missouri’s lawmakers will gather in Jefferson City again Monday, at the call of a governor whose self-serving approach to politics is increasingly a cause for concern across the state.

Gov. Eric Greitens wants legislators to talk about abortion. He wants them to discard a St. Louis ordinance protecting women who’ve had an abortion from housing discrimination. And he wants them to enact new restrictions on abortion.

Those subjects are serious and worthy of debate. In fact, we expect the legislature to address these issues thoughtfully and purposefully in the days ahead.

But a serious approach to pressing issues seems to be the farthest thing from Greitens‘ mind. He’s in such a hurry to become president of the United States that he’ll seize on any headline-grabbing issue to promote himself.

A statewide anti-abortion tour with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee confirms that suspicion.

Greitens says he is pro-life. Yet Missouri Right-to-Life PAC refused to endorse Greitens in the Republican Party primary last year because its members couldn’t confirm his commitment to their cause.

They just needed to wait for the wind to blow.

Now, Missouri taxpayers will be forced to pony up $60,000 or so for an unnecessary session devoted to an issue that should have been settled during the spring.

Missouri is grappling with several challenges that deserve attention: the opioid crisis, crumbling highways, the lack of ethics reform. Asking lawmakers to devote time to those concerns would make sense. Sending the legislature into overtime for political reasons does not.

This special session isn’t extraordinary at all, but another example of Greitens‘ political ambitions driving his decisions.


St. Joseph News-Press, June 9

A new Missouri state law can be seen as getting tough on agricultural producers who do not strictly follow the rules when applying herbicides.

It is this, but more.

The law, passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Eric Greitens, already is in effect thanks to an emergency clause. Violators who knowingly use a herbicide on a crop for which its use isn’t approved, or in an unapproved manner, could face a penalty up to $10,000 per each occurrence.

The penalty is triggered when the herbicide drifts or comes into contact with another person, another person’s field or another person’s property.

A chronic violator could potentially receive penalties of up to $25,000 from the state Department of Agriculture. Refusing to provide records on use of a herbicide could bring a $5,000 civil penalty.

State Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron, contributed to the passage of the new rules as a co-sponsor of the legislation. It was introduced after multiple complaints were lodged of the herbicide dicamba being sprayed in southeast Missouri and drifting away from the sprayed fields.

We are moved by the obvious concerns for not allowing careless, unlabeled uses of herbicides to impact adjacent landowners and producers.

We also put great stock in the need to demonstrate how labeling, proper application and state oversight work together to ensure these chemical formulations remain available for agricultural uses.

In the words of the Chris Chinn, agriculture director: “It is imperative that producers use the appropriate tools as they are intended, for the protection of our industry as a whole.”

The Missouri soybean crop - at an average annual value of $2.4 billion - is among those most imperiled by drift of hazardous and illegally applied herbicides.

Northwest Missouri, as much as any other place in the state, should have an appreciation for what it means to simultaneously produce an abundant crop and also preserve that ability through careful attention to responsible use of agricultural chemicals.


Joplin Globe, June 11

America needs an “ah-ha” moment.

Democrats have moved to the left and Republicans to the right. Compromise has become a dirty word seen as evidence of weakness and a failure of ideological purity. Factionalism and division are crippling our democracy.

We’ve become so divided that many take in only information that bolsters their existing views. If something fits a preconceived notion, it is believed without question. That is how a group of youths from Macedonia were able to make money in the last election cycle by pumping false stories into the social media sphere. If the stories seemed to back our beliefs, users jumped to share them without checking their veracity. If they contradicted users’ ideas, they were often deemed false.

We need a rebirth of moderation. The day of the single-issue voter must fade. We all have interests, opinions and allegiances to causes, parties and groups. Those allegiances have become blinders. We must verify our information and listen to competing ideas. We must stop demonizing the other side. Whatever side we are on, we must insist that the primary allegiance of those who seek national office be to our nation’s well-being.

The reaction to former FBI Director James Comey’s public testimony Thursday revealed our tribal mindset. Watching social media responses to the testimony, one wondered if viewers on the left watched the same hearing as those on the right.

Democrats saw Comey’s testimony as slam-dunk proof of President Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said: “The president pressured him (Comey) to drop an investigation into the White House and gave him the impression that if he didn’t, he would fire him. To me, that’s the definition of obstruction of justice.”

Republicans saw the hearing as providing vindication that Trump was never under investigation. They focused on Comey’s testimony as evidence that he was disloyal by leaking information and too weak to stand up to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said: “His (Comey’s) testimony verified a lot of what the president has said and I think was generally more helpful to the president than not.”

Democrats are surprised Republicans aren’t abandoning the president. Republicans are shocked that Democrats aren’t up in arms over Comey leaking information about his memos on Trump. Democrats think Republicans are defending the indefensible. Republicans say the Democrats are sore losers who have created a fantastic narrative in response to Hillary Clinton’s surprise defeat in November. Neither side seems to be able to step away from its partisan stance.

George Washington warned in his farewell address that this could happen: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension … is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. … Sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.”

We need to break out of our bubbles. If a foreign power meddled in our election, and it looks like Russia did, our primary concern should be securing our democracy against such an intrusion. Let the investigation play out before drawing conclusions. Our primary focus in the future should be electing leaders who will put the nation and our Constitution above themselves and their party.

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