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Jefferson City

My Letter to State Senator Dave Schatz

Reading Time: 2 minutes

You might have heard that State Senator Dave Schatz gutted ethics reform in Missouri. According to Ryan Johnson of Missouri Alliance for Freedom:

Cleaning up the practice of Jefferson City’s revolving door is the reason for Rep. Caleb Rowden’s House Bill 1979 (carried in the Senate by Sen. Bob Onder). It puts in place a one year cooling off period that will make legislators sit out for at least a year before lobbying. It passed the House early and with overwhelming support.

It was the Senate that gutted his bill. Senator Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, offered an amendment to strip out the one year cooling off period making the bill worthless. His amendment passed and for now the revolving door remains open.

Adding insult to injury the Senate played cute by allowing his amendment to have a vote by the practice of standing division. This means there is no written record of who voted to gut the revolving door bill except ours. It helps that we are in the Capitol watching.

Here’s what I wrote to my State Senator Dave Schatz:

Senator,

Why did you gut the the ethics reform bill?

I understand you pushed the amendment to remove the one-year cooling off period from HB 1979, making the law meaningless. Why would you do that?

Missouri is the wild west of revolving-door politics, as you know. By gutting a common sense ethics reform bill, you seem to say, “I like cronyism more than I like good government.”

As a voter and activist in your district, I find your position disturbing, and I look forward to your next appearance on the ballot. Then again, you probably do, too. With Missouri’s revolving door, win one time and you’re set for life. 

Sincerely,
Bill Hennessy

Other Republicans who supported Schatz’s amendment and opposed clean government include:

• Senator Ed Emery
• Senator Mike Kehoe
• Senator Doug Libla
• Senator Wayne Wallingford
• Senator Paul Wieland

Let’s give these Senators a swift kick through that revolving door. Maybe they’ll do less damage as lobbyists than as legislators.

 

Proud to stand with veterans supporting Eric Greitens

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Today I learned that I am not alone. I am not alone in my anger over a morally-bankrupt attempt to smear a great leader. And I learned that I am not alone in recognizing Eric Greitens’s singular ability to inspire and lead.

I also learned that Eric Greitens has some really stupid opponents. Cowardly, stupid weasels. Cowardly because Greitens’s opponents funded, produced, and promoted an anonymous video, packed with lies. Stupid because that video so infuriated Missouri’s 500,000 military veterans that Greitens is picking up new supporters. And his many existing supporters have upped our commitment to getting Greitens elected. Even Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, an opponent in the race for governor, courageously expressed his outrage over the disgraceful video.

Some of the 50 veterans who came out to support Eric Greitens at his campaign office in Crestwood on February 15, 2016
More than 50 veterans stood in formation to salute the former Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander at his west county campaign office this afternoon. I stood at attention and saluted the Bronze Star recipient along with veterans whose service was as distant as World War II and as recent as last year. It was the first time I’ve been called to attention to render a hand salute since 1996. I felt awkward and out of practice, but so proud of my fellow veterans, especially fellow veteran Eric Greitens.

The degenerate cowards who produced the promoted the video on social media deserve the scorn we reserve for traitors. And they will get that scorn from America’s military veterans, their families, an their friends.

Unlike the weaselly video promoters, we proudly state our names and our allegiances. Unlike the weaselly video promoters, we show our faces to the media, to voters, and to the public. Unlike the weaselly video producers, we want the world to know who we are and where we stand.

Eric Greitens earned my support for governor precisely because of his commitment to shine the light of truth on the cowardly, corrupt Missouri politicians, consultants, and special interests who live in the shadows and slither on their bellies. Missouri needs Governor Greitens to make the weasels’ lives living hells. Whoever you are, we will find you, we will expose you. You cannot hide in the shadows forever.

Today, the thousands of veterans who spit nails in anger over the cowardly video learned we are not alone. And Team Greitens is only stronger and larger because of that failed attempt to denigrate a great leader.

 

Continue Your Support of Good Local Government

Reading Time: 4 minutes

You have another chance to improve government and fight petty tyranny by supporting Senator Eric Schmitt’s latest bill to hold local government accountable.

Last year, Senator Schmitt became the champion of responsible local government with SB-5, a bill designed to end “taxation by citation” in local governments.

This year, Senator Schmitt is back to close a loophole that some cities are exploiting to suck more money out of residents who can least afford it. SB-572 applies caps to revenue raised through tyrannical enforcement of local ordinances and building codes, some of which written explicitly to generate revenue outside the state-permitted tax laws.

Before I post  my written statement to the Senate Committee, here are some of the things you can do to promote this bill

  1. Write your State Senator and Representative asking them to support SB-572. (Click here to look up your legislators)
  2. Promote the bill to your friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media
  3. Submit a witness form supporting SB-572 before the hearing on Wednesday, January 13. (Click here for witness form)

Here is my testimony:

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM T. HENNESSY, A RESIDENT OF EUREKA, MISSOUIR, IN SUPPORT OF SB-572 TO THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JOBS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT GIVEN JANUARY 9, 2016

To the Committee:

I strongly support SB-572, and I urge the Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government committee, the Missouri Senate, and the Missouri House of Representatives to pass the bill. I urge Governor Nixon to sign it.

Governments exist to promote the safety, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of those they govern, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Everyone understands these simple truths, but we sometimes ignore them when thinking about local government. But history shows that tyranny can happen at any level of government. Let’s call this “petty tyranny.” Here are a few examples:

* In Hazelwood, Missouri, two schoolgirls were cited for selling Girl Scout cookies illegally from a stand they had constructed outside their home. These aspiring Bonnie Parkers were in violation of a city ordinance that bans the sale of commodities from people’s homes.

* In Burnsville, Minnesota, a man named Mitch Faber was charged with a building code violation and placed under arrest for failing to finish a siding project on his house, a project that had been stalled by financial troubles. After receiving an ultimatum from the city, Faber spent $12,000 on a stucco façade to cover up the partial work that had been done, only to be told by a city inspector that this was not good enough. This visit was followed up by another from the police, and Faber was taken into custody and charged with the heinous crime of remodeling his home in an unacceptable manner.

* In San Juan Capistrano, California, a town that was founded in the 1700s as a religious mission, Chuck and Stephanie Fromm were fined several hundred dollars for holding private Bible study meetings in their homes without a “conditional-use” permit. The statute that was applied prohibits religious organizations from holding services in residential neighborhoods.

* Washington, D.C. resident Patricia White has so far racked up fines totaling over $2,000 for not recycling her cat litter, which she makes at home from newspapers and junk mail. District of Columbia laws require that cat litter always be put in a recycling bin, even though Ms. White’s homemade variety is not really suitable for salvage. Employees of the Department of Public Works have discovered her violations of the rule while picking through the trash in the waste bins outside her apartment building, which is apparently something they are instructed to do at random locations throughout the city as a part of their regular duties.

* In New Orleans, volunteers from the Hope Church in Metairie, Louisiana, were stopped from handing out free water bottles with the church’s name and address imprinted on them during the most recent Mardi Gras celebration. The reason? It was because they did not have an occupational license and had not registered to pay sales tax. An agreement was subsequently negotiated that allowed the church to distribute free hand sanitizer outside of temporary porta-potties instead.

* Three young girls in Midway, Georgia, were busted by the police for selling lemonade from a homemade stand without first acquiring a business permit. In justifying the crackdown on the nefarious activities of these aspiring arch-criminals, the chief of police stated that “we were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, and of what the lemonade was made.” Jack Webb as Joe Friday couldn’t have explained it more concisely.

The list of examples of petty tyranny could go on for  hours.

I understand the need for ordinances that promote safety, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But I also recognize that city governments are often seduced by the easy money from fines–taxation by citation, as Senator Eric Schmitt calls it. In our work in Ferguson and St. Louis County in 2014 and 2015, my friends and I discovered disturbing patterns of petty tyranny that drove a wedge between residents and the justice system. By treating citizens like ATMs for government, some cities in the area have built walls between government and people. People come to distrust all authority and determine to take back whatever they can. Petty tyranny kicks off an endless cycle of fines, resistance, and anger.

SB 5 was a major first step on the road to better government and freer people in Missouri. SB 572 is the logical and necessary next step on that journey.

I urge this committee to recommend SB 572 to the full Senate.

Sincerely,

William T. Hennessy

Thanks to Senator Schmitt for continuing his work for good government and against petty tyranny.

Missouri Statewide Right to Work Meeting Wednesday January 8

Reading Time: 1 minutes

Use your snow day to join the opening of the Missouri General Assembly

Speaker of the House Tim Jones • Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder

Representative Eric Burlison
and
Senator Ed Emery
*
State Capitol in the beautiful House Lounge next to room 308
201 W. Capitol Ave.
Jefferson City, MO

Wednesday, January 8th at 10am (be early)
Questions? Mary Hill mmdacushill@gmail.Missouri Statewide Right to Work Meeting

Afterwards in Hearing room 7 starting at noon!

Voter ID and Election Integrity
Shane Schoeller
MOGOP Executive Director

Common Core
Stacy Shore
Concerned Women of America

Basic Social Media & Beyond
Linda Ragsdale
Former Chair and National Committeewoman
Young Republicans

All the First day of Session at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City
Everyone on our side of the aisle is invited!!

Why the Missouri DOR’s Enhanced Interrogation Methods Should Make You Mad

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Pulled from comments, in response to TJ, you asked: “I am somewhat confused about the current outrage. Shouldn’t the DOR verify, to the greatest extent possible, that an applicant for renewal of any state issued ID be who they maintain to be, live where they claim to live and so on.”

If you’re buying beer at Schnuck’s, you expect the cashier to card you, right? That’s because the cashier is required to verify your are 21 or older.

Wouldn’t you think it creepy if the cashier took your picture and photocopied your driver’s license?

Missouri Department of Revenue - Prying Eyes
Missouri DOR (Department of Revenue) records your personal identifiable information in violation of Missouri law. Lawmakers in Jefferson City are working on legislation to force DOR to comply with existing laws.

When you ask him why he took your picture and copied your DL, what if he told you, “I’m going to forward this information to the federal government. I don’t know why they want to know that you bought beer today, but they do.”

There’s no difference here. A fee collection office is just a supermarket for licenses and permits. The DOR’s verification duties are set by Missouri law. So are its limits.

Missouri law prohibits DOR from recording, by any means, personal identifying information. Missouri law also prohibits Missouri DOR from sharing that information.

The DOR fee office employees are under orders from the state to violate the law.Fee office workers were the first contact Missouri Family Network because they knew that they were breaking the law by using the new equipment and process.

*****

I’m posting my reply to a comment on my first story about the Missouri DOR’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques on people trying to renew driver’s licenses and concealed carry permits. Thanks to commenter, TJ, for challenging me.

Breaking: Dem Appointed Director of Missouri Revenue Caught Lying to Senate

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“That is the third time you’ve lied to me!”

Those were the words of Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaefer to Director of Revenue Brian K. Long in a heated hearing at the Missouri State Capitol this morning.

Missouri Department of Revenue - Prying Eyes

Senator Schaefer and researchers at the Missouri Family Network, who broke this story, learned prior to the hearing that Long’s department has ordered Missouri fee office workers to violate state law by collecting and storing personal identifying information (PII) on everyone who renews a driver’s license, non-driver ID, or concealed carry permit in Missouri.

From Missouri Family Network:

DOR is in fact (confirmed beyond question) retooling fee offices and requiring scanning of citizens’ source documents in violation of32.091.7 RSMo and 302.183 RSMo, which according to 302.340 RSMo constitutes a class A misdemeanor for each day’s offense.  (see these laws reprinted below)

Source documents are being required and scanned for CCW endorsements or endorsement renewals beyond the background checks, certifications, investigations and other guidelines required under Missouri’s Concealed Carry laws, and appear to be in violation of 571.101 RSMo and related Statutes (due to volume constraints, not reprinted here).

A variety of Missouri laws prohibit DOR from collecting PII. Missouri law also prohibits any state employee, including Brian Long, from complying with the federal Real ID act. 

Long’s office, however, used three Department of Homeland Security grants to circumvent the law, by installing biometric cameras in Missouri fee office and ordering fee office to record birth certificate and family residence data on everyone applying for a driver’s license or concealed carry permit.

Later, Senators Schaefer and Brian Nieves took to the Senate floor to expose Long’s lies and illegal activity. Senate President Pro Tem Dempsey called on Attorney General Chris Koster to investigate DOR.  (Wish we had a real AG now.)

Fee Office Workers Admit They’re Feeding Your Data to Homeland Security

We called the fee office in Union, Missouri, today. They confirmed that renewal of either DL or CCW permits required that they copy your birth certificate, driver’s license, and proof of residency for use by Homeland Security. 

For months, Long and others at the Department of Revenue have maintained that the DOR was not collecting personal information and was not attempting to comply with Real ID. 

In meetings prior to today, Long had told Schaefer that the DOR was not using Homeland Security money to fund the purchase of biometric recording devices.

Missouri Family Network, however, uncovered clear evidence that Long’s statements were false.

What This Means To You

This means that Missouri is collecting enough information on you to identify you with facial recognition technology, like the technology used to kill terrorists with drones and satellite guided missiles.

It means that if you work at a Missouri license fee office, you could be subject to a civil suit by anyone whose personal information you collected and turned over the Homeland Security.

It also means that Jay Nixon and Brian K. Long are circumventing Missouri law to feed your information into a master federal database of gun owners, identifiable by facial recognition software.

What You Need To Do Right Now

1.  If you suspect that a fee office has photo copied any of your documents or used biometric photography, you could be the victim of a crime.  You can report it to the Missouri Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigation office cibmail@dor.mo.gov.

2.  Contact Governor Jay Nixon and ask him why his DOR violates Missouri privacy law. Phone: (573) 751-3222.

3.  Because this involves misuse of federal grant money, contact your US Representative and Senator and ask them to investigate.

4.  Contact your Missouri State Representative and Senator, asking them to pass legislation that requires removal of biometric imaging devices from DOR fee office and indemnifies DOR fee office workers from law suits.

How the RCGA Is Ruining St. Louis and What Businesses Can Do About It

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Everyone knows and accepts that government does stupid things. Sometimes it feels like people institute governments and delegate them certain powers just to give us something to complain about.

governmentdemotivator

Government stupidity, scandal, and corruption hits different people in different ways. Government hyperactivity keeps poor people poor by limiting opportunity and by building barriers to exiting poverty programs.  “If you take that job, you’ll lose your health insurance.” Compassion my non-qualifying asset.

Government induces moral complacency by telling otherwise decent people not to help their fellow humans.

Perhaps most insidiously, government steals opportunity from future generations for the benefit of generations that can and should take care of themselves.

Traditionally, business people, among others, watched and checked government.  They did this through local chambers of commerce, like the RCGA in St. Louis.

According to this article on Harvard Business Review:

Chambers of commerce are the oldest surviving business organizations. The earliest in the English-speaking world were set up in the 1760s in New York City and the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. Charleston (SC), Manchester and Liverpool (UK), Quebec, and Jamaica followed in the 1770s, with the chamber model diffusing to all major towns and cities by the 1920s.

Chambers of commerce organized out of anger against government stupidity and growth.

Their earliest business leaders were angry protesters against the Stamp Act, taxation of the colonies, and military coercion on America. They were responding to a period of extreme contention between economic and political interests. A chamber of commerce provided a new model to shape anger and protests into more effective, reasoned, and sustained economic lobbies to the imperial government in London.

Somewhere between Stamp Act protests and Aerotropolis, though, chambers of commerce switched teams. They become lobbyists who curry favor with politicians in order to win unfair advantages for certain members of the chambers. According to economist Stephen Moore:

The Chamber of Commerce, long a supporter of limited government and low taxes, was part of the coalition backing the Reagan revolution in the 1980s. . . . [M]any chambers of commerce on the state and local level have been abandoning these goals. They’re becoming, in effect, lobbyists for big government.

That certainly seems to be the case in St. Louis. 

The RCGA, which once helped revitalize areas of town like Laclede’s Landing, Soulard, and Dog Town, now focuses on transferring tax dollars from future generations or from tax payers in distant Missouri counties into the pockets of the RCGA’s favorites players.

In the process, St. Louis has fallen in almost every category.  Population is declining in both St. Louis City and St. Louis County.  City schools are a discredited shambles.  St. Louis County is shedding tax payers to adjacent counties thanks to its insatiable appetite for fees and taxes. The St. Louis region has fallen dramatically in job creation.

Instead of working to get government off the backs of businesses and improving the region, the RCGA is focused on growing government and shifting business risk to the tax payers.  That’s not only bad for business and bad for the region, it’s bad for the soul.

Stephen Moore says St. Louis’s RCGA is not unique:

In as many as half the states, state taxpayer organizations, free-market think tanks, and small business leaders now complain bitterly that, on a wide range of issues, chambers of commerce deploy their financial resources and lobbying clout to expand the taxing, spending, and regulatory authorities of government.

The reason I and many other Tea Partiers oppose the Republican Establishment is because we’ve seen how that Establishment has gutted American cities like St. Louis. The Republican Establishment is almost indiscernible from various chambers of commerce.  Neither advances limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility.

Conservatives like me have a knee-jerk tendency to defend all private businesses against all accusations.  But that’s a knee-jerk reaction, not a wise consideration of facts and consequences.

Big businesses are famously myopic.  We’ve all heard the woes of companies that look only to the fiscal quarter or year, not to the long-term value of the business.  Many conservatives have oversold themselves on certain aspects of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations without ever trying to square those ideas with his other work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

As a result, we on the right have become de facto enablers of big government, defending big business in their efforts to gain advantages through activist governments.

Stephen Moore found a small business owner in Maryland who’s had enough with his local chamber and the big businesses using it to destroy everyone else:

“I used to think that public employee unions like the NEA were the main enemy in the struggle for limited government, competition, and private sector solutions,” says Mr. Caldara of the Independence Institute. “I was wrong. Our biggest adversary is the special-interest business cartel that labels itself ‘the business community’ and its political machine run by chambers and other industry associations. [emphasis mine]”

Luckily, that Harvard Business School piece offers some solutions.  I’d like to responsible and serious St. Louis businesses start a rival chamber to advance these 7 principles of business-friendly government:

  1. Set an ambitious new vision for engagement with the deepest irritations among chamber members; involve non-members to aid recruitment.
  2. Build capacity among staff and volunteers to manage protest.
  3. Recognize that government “bads” and threats are usually a far more influential force on businesses than government “goods”: avoid the US “pork barrel” and do not be trapped by the UK or EU incentives to “chase the funding”. This just gets non-profits to follow politicians’ agendas.
  4. Focus on where threats, risks, and anger are highest; most businesses are not interested in the minor or trivial.
  5. Use new technology to expose contention and open new avenues to welcome protest. Take on the tough problems and avoid easy solutions. Use business networks, social media, and crowdsourcing to re-engage business communities at low cost.
  6. Prepare for long term and sustained campaigns; policy victories are rarely won quickly.
  7. Expose policy incompetence, look for public programs that do not work and press for termination; but celebrate policy successes, especially where businesses and chambers have contributed. Use blogs and networks to keep up to date and monitor feelings. [emphasis mine]

If you’re interested in starting such a chamber, please enter comments below.

Update:  Perhaps Joe Reagan will changes things.  I forgot that the RCGA recently replaced long-time CEO, Dick Fleming.

Why Did Jay Nixon Spit in Our Faces?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

When Jay Nixon decided to ignore the voters, ignore the Missouri Constitution, and ignore the power of the legislature, he spit in our faces. But why?

Maybe because his special session is failing

Maybe because, to save the centerpiece of that legislation, House Speaker Steve Tilley needed protection from the grass roots. 

Maybe because Jay Nixon is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg and doesn’t give a hoot about you, your state, your country, or the law.  (H/T to Ed Martin for pointing us to Kinder v. Holden, which makes Nixon’s action illegal.)

Maybe because Nixon believes he has no chance of losing re-election next year

Or maybe it’s a combination of these.

In this case, motives count. For that reason, I say we keep our focus on the Missouri legislature, demanding that Aerotropolis remain as the Senate left it. Here’s why.

Governor Jay Nixon is playing games with an Executive Order that would implement ObamaCare exchanges in Missouri without authorizing legislation. His timing seems intentional.  He wants to get the grass roots folks off Tilley’s back so that Tilley and restore Aerotropolis earmarks into the Economic Development bill pending in the Special Session.

This makes sense.  On Tuesday, we learned that Tilley was splitting the Republican House Caucus into 4 groups to use the persuasion of power over Aerotropolis.  (Apparently, Tilley likes to use some aggressive psychological techniques on Tea Party freshmen to get them to comply with his will—or, at least, the will Tilley’s donors.)  Tilley wants to shove into the bill the $300 million the Missouri Senate removed.   (If Tilley’s a conservative, I’m a Hottentot.) 

So, by overriding the Missouri Constitution (by violating Kinder v. Holden) and emasculating the Missouri legislature, Nixon gets $21 million in federal money to hand  out to friends, he gets Aerotropolis funding, and he gets a successful end to his Special Session.  Tilley gets even more mind control over his House reps and whatever goodies are promised to his campaign coffers from the Aerotropolis supporters. 

You and me? We get screwed, of course.