St. Louis Post-Dispatch. February 13, 2021.
Editorial: Parson once again points the finger of blame elsewhere for his own failings
Missouri Gov. Mike “Dang Mask” Parson, who spent most of the pandemic discounting science and diminishing the importance of basic safety measures like mask-wearing, is now accusing a real scientist and medical expert of spreading misinformation and trying to “spread fear and panic” about the state’s slow rollout of vaccinations in the St. Louis region. Given the governor’s repeated flubs regarding the pandemic response, versus the consistent professionalism of Dr. Alex Garza, director of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, we recommend St. Louisans put their trust behind the latter. At least he knows what he’s doing.
Parson has shown increasing irritation in recent weeks toward anyone who dares challenge his leadership. He blasted House Speaker Rob Vescovo for shutting down the House chamber during a coronavirus outbreak among members, forcing Parson to deliver his State of the State speech in the Senate chamber instead. He blasts news media coverage of his pandemic response, as if reporting the facts about coronavirus cases and maskless Parson campaign events constitutes bias against him.
But the facts speak for themselves. Parson refused to lead in the early days of the pandemic and instead punted authority to local officials for issuing unpopular shutdown orders and restrictions. He let them take the heat while he focused on his election campaign. Parson pooh-poohed the significance of mass gatherings and maskless parties like the superspreader event at a Lake of the Ozarks swimming pool/bar that garnered national headlines.
Garza, by contrast, has been steadfast in his insistence that Missouri’s most populous region remain vigilant with safety measures as coronavirus cases mounted. Parson reacted angrily to reports that the St. Louis region, with 2 million inhabitants, was getting short shrift on the state’s vaccine distribution. This area, known as Region C, received around 15,600 doses, mainly via major hospitals and local health facilities, the Post-Dispatch reported last week.
Garza and one of Parson’s fellow Republicans, Franklin County presiding commissioner Tim Brinker, complained Tuesday that a region with 37% of the state’s population was not receiving a proportional distribution of vaccines.
“Dr. Garza is now spreading information — false information — about the vaccine administration in the St. Louis area to once more spread fear and panic,” Parson complained on Thursday.
Parson can complain all he wants, but his track record tells the true story of his gross mismanagement. If Garza and Brinker were so off base, why is the state suddenly doubling to 33,200 the number of doses to be distributed to the region this week?
The pandemic has presented huge challenges for all leaders. Missteps were to be expected. True leaders know when it’s time to conduct an honest self-appraisal and admit that things could’ve been done better. But for Parson, the finger of blame always seems to point to someone else.
Jefferson City News Tribune. February 10, 2021.
Editorial: Legislature rightly pursues school choice
We’ve long been supportive of school choice.It’s basically the philosophy of supporting parents in their quest to find the best educational option to fit their children.
We’ve long been supportive of school choice.
It’s basically the philosophy of supporting parents in their quest to find the best educational option to fit their children. That could be public schooling or it could be charter public schools, magnet public schools, online public schools, private schools or home education.
School Choice Week recently ended, but legislative work continues that would promote school choice.
One such bill is the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program, sponsored by Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, and Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester.
Under Koenig’s bill, Senate Bill 23, taxpayers who donated to “educational assistance organizations” could receive a tax credit of up to 85 percent of their donation, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Koenig told the paper the program would empower parents to customize their children’s education. Public schools work well for many children, he said, but some are failing and others might not be a good fit.
The Post-Dispatch said frustrations with education during the COVID-19 pandemic have added urgency to some Missourians’ calls for increased school options.
It reported Ashland parent Stephanie Bell said she reluctantly moved her family from Jefferson City seeking better schools.
“There are other parents who are in my position who are unsatisfied and feel like they’re not getting a quality education and don’t have the option to just pick up and move,” she said at a Tuesday meeting of a Senate committee considering school choice legislation.
Charter schools have the flexibility to experiment; to constantly try new methods to identify what works. Lawmakers should continue to pursue legislation that encourages their presence in Missouri.
Joplin Globe. January 15, 2021.
Editorial: Make small sacrifices to save power
The Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization, took the unprecedented step Monday of asking member utilities to implement “controlled interruptions of service” amid extreme cold weather gripping the Midwest.
The emergency order was a result of electricity demand exceeding available generation, officials said. The directive applies to all members of the Southwest Power Pool, including Joplin-based Liberty Utilities.
Some companies, including Liberty, City Utilities in Springfield, Kansas City-based Evergy and the Grand River Dam Authority in Northeast Oklahoma, began announcing rotating power outages and shut-offs to commercial and industrial customers.
Liberty officials also asked its customers to reduce energy consumption through at least today.
No one wants rotating power outages or rolling interruptions. The temperature outside is worse than cold — it’s life-threateningly cold, the kind of cold that seeps through the cracks of your home and chills you to your bones. It’s the kind of cold that keeps everyone indoors — where, by the way, laundry has to be washed, dinner has to be cooked and cellphones and computers have to be charged for us to be able to work or complete schoolwork at home.
A power outage, even a temporary one, only adds to the misery. But the alternative, the Southwest Power Pool says, is potentially longer-lasting, more widespread outages.
So what can be done? There are plenty of little things, amounting to fairly minor inconveniences compared with what could happen otherwise:
• Turn down the thermostat setting to 65.
• Limit the use of plug-in electric space heaters.
• Avoid using high-energy appliances.
• Turn off and unplug computers and TVs when they’re not in use.
• Turn off nonessential lights, and postpone all nonessential energy use.
Unless we take the steps listed above to reduce our energy consumption, then rotating power outages could be what we’ll get. We’re all in this together, so let’s hang in there, grit our teeth and make some small sacrifices to prevent major problems.
Kansas City Star. January 14, 2021.
Editorial: Blunt, Hawley, Marshall and Moran side with Trump, making future sedition more likely
All four senators from our region — Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri, Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall of Kansas — voted Saturday to acquit Donald Trump of the impeachment charge against him.
Their votes were fundamentally wrong. Yet they were not a surprise: Anyone who expected Hawley or Marshall to approach the impeachment with an open mind was asking for disappointment.
Hawley’s mind is permanently closed, open only in the service of his ambition. He will say or do anything to further his prospects, whether it’s the White House or a bottle of wine from the top shelf. The man who raised his fist in support of the mob that raided the Capitol on Jan. 6 was never going to vote against his coconspirator in the Capitol riot.
Marshall, too, has just one thing in mind: Do whatever Hawley does. The junior senator from Kansas is quickly establishing his lapdog credentials in Washington, and Saturday was no exception. Asking Marshall to express an original opinion was always a bridge too far.
The votes of Sens. Blunt and Moran, on the other hand, seem somehow more disturbing. Their long service gave us reason to hope both would put their country over their party. They failed the test.
Both issued statements Saturday criticizing the seditious riots at the Capitol, but exempting Trump from any sanctions for his obvious role in them.
“Because former President Trump is no longer in office, I voted to acquit,” Moran’s statement said. “Impeachment is not a tool that should be used to settle political scores against a private citizen,” Blunt claimed.
Blunt once taught history. He should know Trump was impeached by the House before he left office. The Senate vote was whether to convict him for igniting the riots. The evidence of that incitement was unambiguous to anyone who knows insurrection when he or she sees it.
And hundreds of scholars have said conviction of a former office holder is constitutional. The Senate voted to adopt that view. Blunt and Moran now seek to justify their vote on a weak technicality. They should not be allowed to duck responsibility so easily.
Both must face voters in two years, and are favorites to win. Perhaps they voted to acquit because they fear primary challenges from the Trumpistas in their party. If so, their votes are not only wrong, but also display a troubling political cowardice we should never forget.
This is true in narrow terms. During the impeachment debate, the Senate voted to approve a Congressional Gold Medal for Eugene Goldman, the Capitol Police officer who courageously diverted rioters away from senators and staff on Jan. 6.
Asked to demonstrate similar courage, Blunt and Moran demurred.
But it’s true in a broader sense, too. The American republic, we now know, faced an unrelenting assault from Trump and his supporters over the past three months as they sought to overthrow a free and fair election.
The idea of self-government survived only because of the steely courage of hundreds of election workers, secretaries of state, judges, lawmakers and governors of both parties who resisted, often at great political and personal risk, the former president’s theft.
The republic survives because of their bravery. But it was a close call. Had one or two judges, or a governor or two joined in Trump’s piracy, the American democratic experiment might well have died over the last three months.
Next time, we may not be so lucky.
And there will be a next time. The votes of Hawley, Moran, Blunt, Marshall and their cowardly colleagues ensure it. They have said, in clear language, that corrupting an American presidential election — and then provoking a riot to stop the count — is perfectly acceptable, merely the settling of a “political score,” as Blunt put it.
When the next riot comes, who will stand for democracy? Not the senators from Missouri and Kansas.
They will not see it that way, of course. They’re already trying to change the subject. But we should not let them do so. The stain of their votes must remain affixed to their names as long as the republic survives, which, given their actions Saturday and over the past four years, may not be much longer.