Friday, December 26, 2008

Gov. Blunt Grants Pardons, Allows Parole Hearing


Missouri Governor's Office Press Release Issued Dec. 24, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt today announced his decision to pardon Scott Flentge, Joy Howard Marshall, Sharo Shirshekan, and Joseph Siebrasse who all were convicted of non-violent offenses years ago and have since become and remained law-abiding citizens. In addition, the governor announced action to allow a parole hearing for Gregory Naeger.

“Scott Flentge, Joy Howard Marshall, Sharo Shirshekan and Joseph Siebrasse have paid for their mistakes,” Gov. Blunt said. “It is my hope and belief that they will continue to be productive citizens.”

In 1979, at the age of 20, Scott Flentge, was convicted of forgery. He was sentenced to five years probation and has had no subsequent offenses. Mr. Flentge applied for a pardon in 2001.

In 1997, at the age of 22, Joy Howard Marshall, was convicted of passing a bad check. She was sentenced to two years probation, which she completed without incident. She has made restitution and remained a law abiding citizen. Ms. Marshall applied for a pardon in 2007.

In 1980, at the age of 29, Sharo Shirshekan, was convicted of stealing. He was sentenced to three years probation, which he completed without incident. He has made restitution and remained a law abiding citizen. Mr. Shirshekan applied for a pardon in 2008.

In 1996, at the age of 20, Joseph Siebrasse was convicted of stealing. He was sentenced to five years probation, which he served without incident. He remains a law abiding citizen who serves our country in uniform. He applied for a pardon in 2007.

As governor, Matt Blunt has granted a total of 14 pardons, including those announced today, and denied nearly 1800.

Additionally, the governor took action to allow Gregory Naeger a hearing before the Board of Probation and Parole. In 2001, at the age of 24, Gregory Naeger, was convicted of second degree burglary, attempted felony stealing and attempted escape.

Mr. Naeger was sentenced to seventeen years, but the Board of Probation and Parole recommended to the governor that his sentence be shortened to twelve years because of legal issues with the seventeen year sentence. Mr. Naeger’s application was supported by nearly 30 Missourians who advocated for him.

Missouri’s Probation and Parole Board unanimously recommended that a pardon/commutation be issued in all cases.

Missouri Department of Transoportation (MODOT) Down to 5 Finalists For Name that Train Contest


Five Finalists Selected in Name the Train Contest
Voting Begins Today and Runs Through Jan. 23, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY and ST. LOUIS - One of five finalist names will soon provide the moniker for Amtrak®'s passenger rail service between St. Louis and Kansas City. Those names are Missouri Rail Blazer, Missouri River Runner, River Cities Corridor, ShowMeMO and Truman Service. Online voting begins today and goes through Jan. 23, 2009.

Contest judges selected five finalist names from a pool of more than 8,300 name submissions. In cases where duplicate names were submitted, a random drawing was held to choose a finalist. The finalists are:

· Missouri Rail Blazer - Betty Crancer of Sunset Hills

· Missouri River Runner - Keith Kohler of Glendale

· River Cities Corridor - Richard A. Chenault of Webster Groves

· ShowMeMO - Kerry Simmons of Independence

· Truman Service - John Fernandez of St. Louis

Each of these individuals will receive two round-trip coach tickets to any Amtrak destination in Missouri and a gift basket from one of five participating cities located on the passenger rail line. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, the Washington Chamber of Commerce, the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce and the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association are providing the gift baskets.

You can cast your vote online at http://www.morail.org/ or mail your favorite finalist name, along with your name and address to MoDOT, Name the Train Contest, P.O. Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Only one vote per person will be accepted. To be counted, a vote must be received online or in the mail by 4 p.m. Jan. 23. The new name will be announced by Jan. 30, 2009.

"I am amazed and owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the people of Missouri and others all over the country who submitted names for the contest," said Rod Massman, MoDOT's administrator of railroads. "The sheer amount of name submissions went far beyond our expectations. Furthermore, the breadth of names related to Missouri - from Lewis and Clark to Harry Truman to Laura Ingalls Wilder and beyond - showed a great amount of interest in the train service and its future."

The Missouri Department of Transportation and Amtrak are sponsoring the "Name the Train" contest in celebration of 30 years of state-supported passenger rail across Missouri, as well as major service improvements in the works.

Missouri Budget - Weekly Report by Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman's Office



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 23, 2008
State Treasurer Sarah Steelman’s
Weekly Report
JEFFERSON CITY—Below is a weekly accounting of the activities and performance of the three divisions of the Missouri Treasurer’s Office.

Investment Division (12/11/08 through 12/17/08)
Interest Earnings: $ 1,943,926.74
Avg. Portfolio Book Value: $ 3,882,301,359.96
Avg. Yield: 2.611 %

Unclaimed Property Division (12/11/08 through 12/17/08)
Amount Returned To Owners: $ 321,348.20
Number of Accounts Returned: 1,172

Banking Division (12/11/08 through 12/17/08)
State Receipts: $ 306,341,866.84
State Disbursements $ 326,300,013.30
Electronic Transfers: 75,804
Checks Issued: 32,344
Checks Cleared: 30,242
As of close of business on 12/17/08, cash balances were:
Budget Reserve: $553,323,108.71
General Revenue: $389,620,499.21

Note:
On December 15, the state paid state employee semi-monthly payroll and MoDOT contractor payments.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Missouri Department of Education on Supreme Court Decision to Disband St. Louis Education Board

Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Decision on

St. Louis School District’s Loss of Accreditation


(Press Release Missouri Department of Education)

In a unanimous decision yesterday (Dec. 16), the Missouri Supreme Court upheld last year’s decision by the State Board of Education to classify the St. Louis Public Schools as unaccredited.

“This was a significant case for the children served by the St. Louis Public Schools and for the State of Missouri,” said Peter Herschend, Branson, a long-time member of the State Board of Education. He was president of the board last year when it voted to de-accredit Missouri’s largest school district.

“The Supreme Court ruling clearly upholds the standards used to evaluate the St. Louis Public Schools and all other school districts in Missouri. It reaffirms the accreditation process that state education officials used in reaching this difficult decision. It solidifies the authority of the special administrative board that is now working to move the St. Louis Public Schools forward,” he said.

In March 2007, the State Board of Education voted to drop the St. Louis Public Schools to unaccredited status, with an effective date of June 15, 2007. That decision cleared the way for a three-person “special administrative board” to take over the governance of the St. Louis Public Schools on June 15, replacing the elected board of education.

Some members of the elected school board challenged the validity of the State Board of Education’s decision and the constitutionality of the special administrative board. These challenges were first rejected by the Cole County Circuit Court in a January 2008 decision.

Yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court came in the appeal of that circuit court decision.

“The decision to uphold the statutes permitting state intervention in the St. Louis School District is a victory for the students and educators in that district. The State Board appreciates the steady governance currently being provided by Rick Sullivan and the members of the special administrative board,” Herschend said.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kansas City Murder Map 2008


View Larger MapKansas City will rank in the top 10 America's most violent cities this year with an alarming murder trend this summer. The map above charts murders that have occured in the city this year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Director of Missouri Department of Natural Resources to resign


JOPLIN, Mo. | Doyle Childers, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for the past four years, says he won't continue to serve under Gov.-elect Jay Nixon.

He says he'll resign by the time Nixon becomes governor.

Childers says his time at the department was consumed by fights with Nixon over a proposal to tear down the Katy Trail railroad bridge that crosses the Missouri River near Boonville and the cleanup of Johnson Shut-ins State Park after a dam holding back the Taum Sauk Reservoir burst in Southeast Missouri.

He said it's "no secret" that he and Nixon had been at odds.

Oren Shur, spokesman for Nixon, declined to comment.

Gov.-elect Nixon Announces Overhaul of License Office System: Ending Political Patronage, Moving Renewals Online


Jay Nixon recently released the following press release regarding free offices:

Gov.-elect Nixon Says Competitive Bids, New Technology Will Boost License Office Transparency, Save Money and Time for Taxpayers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov.-elect Jay Nixon today announced his plans to end Missouri’s patronage system for motor vehicle and driver’s license offices, and use technology to overhaul the system and make it more efficient and responsive to taxpayers.

Under Gov.-elect Nixon’s administration, the state will take two steps to reform the license office system. First, the Missouri Department of Revenue will request competitive bids on every contracted license office in Missouri, and all license offices will undergo a transition as new contracts are awarded, inventory is conducted and staff members are trained. Second, Gov.-elect Nixon also will increase efficiency by moving as much of the license-renewal process as possible online.

“The era of license office patronage in Missouri is over,” Gov.-elect Nixon said. “When I take office, we will put every contracted license office in the state up for bid, and we will award new contracts to those who will offer the most efficient and effective service for the people of Missouri. In addition, by moving as much of the renewal process online as possible, we will streamline the license system and save money for Missourians. Other states have had tremendous success with online license renewals, but Missouri hasn’t taken advantage of all the opportunities the Internet affords. Beginning in January, we will end archaic political patronage and bring Missouri’s license offices into the 21st century.”

Gov.-elect Nixon said his administration would take the following steps to end the patronage system for license offices and improve service for Missourians:

Timeline: Within 24 hours of Gov.-elect Nixon’s inauguration, the Department of Revenue will begin the process of issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) on license offices throughout the state. The Department’s objective will be to issue RFPs and award contracts for about six license offices a week and to avoid any significant disruption of service for Missourians.

Contracts will be awarded on a point scale: The decision to award contracts to a particular bidder will be determined by the bidder’s score on the following point scale.

* Points will be awarded for efficient operations and customer service;
* Points will be awarded for personnel qualifications, financial stability and past performance/experience;
* Points will be awarded for commitment to remain open to the public beyond normal business hours;
* Points will be awarded for being a civic organization or not-for-profit;
* And points will be awarded for MBE/WBE participation;
* Additional points will be given to bidders that agree to send a small percentage of their office’s gross income to the Missouri Department of Revenue for managing the license office system. This will serve as an incentive for bidders to help the state offset costs.

Using technology to make government more efficient: Gov.-elect Nixon’s ultimate goal is to move as much of this business as possible online. Bringing the license-renewal process online will save money and time for Missourians and reduce overhead expenses for the state. Over the coming months, Gov.-elect Nixon’s administration will announce more detailed plans for enhancing these online services.

Other states are effectively using the Internet to process license plates and renewals. The state of Arizona completes 45% of eligible transactions online and Virginia completes 28.8% of eligible transactions online. However, the state of Missouri currently only completes 0.5% of eligible transactions through the Internet.

Transition period: All license offices will undergo a transition process. As the Department awards new contracts, all offices may close for a brief period to conduct inventories and train new staff. Again, the Department will award new contracts on a timeline to ensure continuity of service for Missourians.