- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Kansas City Star, Sept. 27

Josh Hawley needs full authority to investigate the Catholic Church in Missouri

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has promised a thorough investigation of sexual abuse allegations lodged against priests and clergy in the Catholic Church.

Missourians should expect such an investigation, comparable to the recent investigation in Pennsylvania that exposed decades of abuse and maltreatment by priests.

If Hawley needs the power to subpoena church records, he should seek it - and get it.

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a news conference Wednesday imploring Gov. Mike Parson to provide Hawley with such authority. The group thinks a full investigation should not rely on the voluntary cooperation of the institutions being investigated.

Church officials have promised to cooperate with Hawley, who announced his investigation in August. All four Catholic dioceses in Missouri, including the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, have agreed to an independent review by the attorney general.

David Clohessy, a former SNAP director, said Wednesday that isn’t enough. “Bishops have worked very hard for a long time to keep these church documents hidden,” he said.

To date, investigating authorities have spent far too much time placing the responsibility for the probe in someone else’s hands. Hawley, for example, has said he lacks criminal jurisdiction in the matter, and any actual cases he finds will be referred to local prosecutors.

It turns out that there are ways for Hawley to assume prosecutorial responsibility in this investigation. Those steps should be taken as quickly as possible.

Prosecutors should step forward. Parson should accept the requests quickly and exercise any needed authority to provide the attorney general with full subpoena power. Hawley should then seek the information he needs, using that authority.

A full, transparent investigation is in the best interest of abuse victims, of course. And Missourians have every right to hear the full story of the church’s involvement in covering up abuse and misbehavior.

But a complete investigation would help the Catholic Church, too. Faith in the mission of the church and its credibility continue to erode, a trend that will continue until all Americans believe they’ve heard the unvarnished truth about decades of abuse and criminal behavior.

The attorney general is in the best position to seek that truth, and to make it public. Missourians should demand a full, independent examination of the record, and a complete report based on whatever papers, documents and testimony are needed.

If criminal charges are warranted, they should be pursued.

The time for obfuscation and misdirection by prosecutors and government officials is over. Missourians want to know the facts, and their government should provide those facts as quickly and thoroughly as possible.


The Jefferson City News-Tribune, Sept. 30

Parson should sign STEM bill

We encourage Gov. Mike Parson to sign a bill that will position our state better to compete in the ever-growing technology field.

Parson called a special legislative session in September, in part to fix a flawed version of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) bill that passed during the regular session. The Legislature delivered, passing House Bill 3.

The measure deals with computer science, expanding course opportunities for high school students, creating a certification process for teachers, establishing a fund for any future public and private financial support, and developing curriculum standards.

It also would create a STEM awareness program for middle school students.

On Tuesday, we reported the bill has widespread support from business and education interests.

Code.org’s “2018 State of Computer Science Education - Policy and Implementation” report notes, “Universities in the state did not graduate a single new teacher prepared to teach computer science in 2016.”

That’s true for other states as well, according to the report.

If Parson does sign HB3, the Legislature must follow up with increased funding to hire teachers qualified to teach in the different areas of technology, plus funding for professional development for those teachers.

Getting tech teachers in rural areas is particularly a challenge. The report notes 37 percent of urban schools in Missouri teach computer science, but only 26 percent of rural schools do.

Gender, geographic, racial, ethnic and economic disparities also exist.

Code.org’s report found just 20 percent of advanced placement computer science exams were taken by females in 2017, and only 10 percent were taken by minorities.

Among other things, the legislation would allow high school computer science credits to count toward a math, science or practical arts credit needed for graduation. The legislation also would create an online course intended to boost career awareness for science, technology, engineering and mathematics professions.

Katie Hendrickson, director of state government affairs for Code.org, said Missouri doesn’t have nearly enough computer science graduates to fill the 10,130 computing job openings in the state.

We urge Parson to sign the bill, which we believe will keep our state competitive in STEM jobs, while also increasing opportunities for our youth to enter technology careers.


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 30

GOP rhetoric on the economy is misleading, as wage earners are left behind

You can hardly blame President Donald Trump and other Republicans for crowing about the economy. The stock market regularly hits record highs lately. Gross domestic product is soaring. Unemployment is effectively as low as it can go. These facts are undebatable.

But Republican rhetoric on this topic is stunningly misleading. No, Trump and tax-cutting Republicans didn’t turn things around, as they claim. President Barack Obama inherited an economy in freefall and, eight years later, handed Trump a recovery in progress. Today’s positive trends were already well in place before Trump arrived. That, too, is undebatable.

Yet happy days aren’t here for everyone. As the rich are getting richer via those higher stock prices, the buying power of wage-earning Americans has remained flat. As Missourians head to the polls this fall, they have an opportunity to somewhat remedy that with a state ballot measure to raise the minimum wage. And all Americans this election season should hold Republicans accountable when they promote false narratives about the economy.

America’s humming economy was already humming when Republicans passed their massive, deficit-funded tax cuts last year. That’s why, even if you accept the premise of supply-side economics, the move made so little sense. The economy needed no stimulus. What emergency was so dire it required us to go further into debt for those cuts?

One part of the economy that, then as now, wasn’t humming was wages. They have long been rising at rates so modest they’re barely keeping up with inflation, which means real wage growth has been virtually flat.

Boosting those stagnant wages was a big Republican selling point for the tax cuts, which were top-loaded so that most of the immediate benefits went to corporations and the wealthy. No problem, the GOP assured us; when corporations are flush with cash from their lower taxes, they will use that money to pay their workers more, so everyone will benefit.

It hasn’t worked out that way. Some companies spread around temporary bonuses to their workers, but much of the tax cut - which, remember, all Americans and our descendants are paying for via rising deficits - was used by corporations to buy back their own stocks. Stockholders, not workers, are the beneficiaries. Since the tax-cut windfall rolled in, U.S. companies have used hundreds of billions of dollars of it for buybacks. In some cases, they’ve laid off workers while doing it.

In Missouri, voters on Nov. 6 will get the chance to do for wage earners what the GOP tax plan so glaringly hasn’t. Proposition B would raise the state’s current $7.85 an hour minimum wage to $12 by 2023.

When Republican candidates try to hoodwink us with claims that their tax cuts created this humming economy and have helped everyone in it, voters everywhere should arm themselves with the facts and vote appropriately.

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