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St. Louis County

Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) chairs the House Appropriations Committee. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications) . Clipped from

Rick Stream Probably Didn’t Know I Knew His Old Career Counselor

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When people asked me to get behind Rick Stream, I first wanted to make sure that was the right thing. I remembered that I have a friend who helped Rick a while ago. So I asked her.

Rick Stream is “a quiet leader.”

“I didn’t see him as a politician,” she told me. We were talking about Rick Stream, the candidate for St. Louis County Executive.

Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) chairs the House Appropriations Committee. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications) . Clipped from
Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) chairs the House Appropriations Committee. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications) . Clipped from

The woman was a transition career counselor a decade ago. She was helping people transition from a Department of Defense organization to the civilian world when their operation shut down.

“I worked with Rick for a month, I think. He was sort of a quiet leader. Some of the guys were a lot more vocal and hard-headed, but even the loud ones would respond to Rick. They all looked up to him.”

I asked her what kind of County Executive Rick might be.

“Rick’s boss told me, ‘If Rick said he’d do it, it got done.’ So did the other people who worked with him. He is quiet with a dry sense of humor. Very detail oriented.”

Why did you not see him as a politician?

“Oh, it’s not that he wouldn’t be a great leader. He was definitely very senior with the government, and everybody looked up to him and followed his lead. But he was quiet and thoughtful. He wasn’t one to just jump up and give a speech like most politicians. And he is such a good man. He wanted to help people. I mean, really wanted to help, not just talk about it.”

Why a good man entered the nasty field of politics.

When the career counselor asked Rick Stream what he’d like to do, he told her “well, I’ve always been a history fan. I think I’d like to go into politics.”

“Why don’t you do that, then?” she asked.

So he did. He became a Representative in the Missouri House. He served as chairman of the House appropriations committee. Then he decided to run for St. Louis County Executive against my friend, Tony Pousosa. You probably know that I endorsed Tony.

It’s not easy to support a guy who beat your friend in a primary. So why am I doing this?

My conversation with someone from Rick Stream’s past mattered to me.

It’s one thing to hear political people talk about a candidate. It’s another to hear a report from a woman who knew the man 10 years ago, before he first ran for office. At the time my friend worked with Rick Stream, Rick was in no position to do anything for her.

Now, I know whatever I do to help elect Rick Stream, I’ll be helping a good man who wants to help people, who is a highly competent manager, detail oriented, and respected by everyone who works with him.

St. Louis County, after a decade of Charlie Dooley, is in danger. St. Louis County is in decline. Wages in St. Louis region are flat. Job growth lags most similar size cities across the country. Municipal courts and small town police departments have intimidated, impoverished, and alienated residents through obnoxious and corrupt courts. Ferguson has become a symbol of government failure. And many county school districts are failing.

Rick Stream may not be a flashy, glib politician like Charlie Dooley and Steve Stenger. Thank God. St. Louis County doesn’t need another corrupt narcissist who uses the power of government to transfer tax dollars to friends.

St. Louis County needs:

  • thriving new businesses,
  • more jobs with climbing wages,
  • more quality school choices for parents,
  • more trust in government, and
  • an end to rampant corruption.

In November, we will choose between  Dooley Light and a respected leader.

This right-leaning libertarian is voting for the respected leader, Rick Stream.

I hope you will, too.

Missouri Court Reform

Municipal Court or Kangaroo Court?

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Guest post by Lee A. Presser

On Wednesday, April 16, 2003, I was in Bel-Ridge, Missouri, Municipal Court to plead “not guilty.” The violation listed on the ticket did not match the reality of what actually happened on the road. In a file folder, I had documents and photographs to rebut the charge. The ticket stated that Court convened at 6:30 P.M. I arrived twenty minutes early.

Before 9:30 that evening, I had been tightly handcuffed twice, verbally abused by police, pushed into a depressing detention cell, and made an example of in front of seventy-five to one hundred people.

When I arrived by car at 6:10 P.M. to 8842 Natural Bridge Road, I spotted what looked to me to be a group of shabby buildings which made up the Bel-Ridge Municipal Complex. They had some parking spaces on their property but nowhere near the number of spaces for the amount of defendants their officers had netted for that night’s hearing. By that time the only parking available to me was on a nearby residential street which was a five minute walk from the Municipal Court door.

It was raining that evening. I was wearing a business suit. My umbrella was in my car but that night I was driving a rental because my car was in the shop. After walking the five minutes to where the crowd was lined up, we were made to stand in the rain for another ten minutes before the police officers processed us into the building. While in line, I was asked several times if I was an attorney.

Inside the door, I was told to empty my pockets into a small basket. This included my cell phone, which I had already turned off. The police officer ran a metal detector wand over me. When I went to collect my things from the basket, the police officer took my phone and put it on the floor with a large number of other cell phones taken from the seventy-five or more defendants already seated inside. I told the officer that I was concerned about making sure I got my phone back. He answered by saying, “That’s your problem.” At that moment my internal radar came on.

Again, I was asked, “Are you an attorney?” After stating that I was not, I was pointed to the check-in window. At the window I was asked again. Standing there in my suit, holding my file and a book, I said, “No.” The other defendants were in tee-shirts, slacks, and other casual clothes. They were mostly black, only a hand full of us were white. After check-in I moved toward a seat near the front so I could better hear the proceedings. One of the police officers stopped me and told me to “sit over there.” He directed me to a metal folding chair near the back of the room.

The room was long but very narrow. It had a low ceiling. I was sitting far from the judge, at least fifty feet back, maybe more. There were maybe twenty rows of eight chairs per row. The rows were divided into two sections. There were five seats in the right section, an aisle, then three seats in the left section. There were probably fifteen rows between me and the Court. Defendants filled almost every seat. There were maybe 120 people seated between me and the judge. I’m guessing there were 140 defendants in that small room.

As noted above, most of the defendants were black. We were surrounded by seven white police officers. They were not friendly, they were not helpful, and they treated the people in that room as if they were criminals. Many of the officers were verbally abusive to defendants.

When the Municipal Court proceedings were called to order by the judge, he spoke to this large crowd for about five minutes. We in the back could not hear what the judge was saying. Sitting next to me was one of the few white defendants in the room. He raised his hand, then waved it, but was not recognized by the judge. He then spoke out loud, “we cannot hear the judge in the back .” One of the officers shouted at him to “shut up.”

I brought a paperback book to read while I waited to plead not guilty. But, I was so disturbed by what I saw going on around me, I could not focus on the book. Quietly, in a voice that did not carry, I asked some of the people near me why they were there. One black man, Antonio D., stated that he had been stopped for speeding in a private parking lot. The white man from
St. Charles, Missouri, who was sitting next to me, stated that he had been stopped on the Interstate for doing 81 MPH. He said he was going fast but nowhere near 81 MPH. He immediately asked the officer to see the radar readout, the officer refused and wrote the ticket. An older black man was cited for driving without a license. He told me he didn’t know how to file the papers to get his driver’s license back after the suspension period ended and he did not have the money to hire a Traffic attorney.

Most of the people in the room did not look like they could easily afford an attorney. If they had hired attorneys, the attorneys would have settled most of the cases being heard that day. Instead a mostly black group of defendants was made to sit in metal folding chairs, some of them for hours, surrounded by seven white police officers, being judged by an all white Court.

A long time had passed since our first conversation. Finally, I quietly said to those near me, “I don’t like the police officers being so abusive to the people in the crowd. It’s not right.” I looked toward the seats behind us, and standing behind the last row, one of the officers was glaring at me.

Within a few minutes a different police officer approached me, asked my name, and walked toward the front. Everyone sitting near me was amazed. As far as we had seen, I was the only one in that room who was asked to supply their name. Later two officers approached and asked me to follow them. They told me to put my hands behind my back. They said I was being arrested for Contempt of Court. I asked, “for what?” One officer actually said I was being arrested for being a “disruptive influence because I was reading my book and talking to my neighbors.” In front of the remaining crowd, they roughly and tightly put handcuffs on me. While this was going on, I was looking at the people with whom I had been sitting. I said in their direction, “I’m being arrested for reading my book and talking to you.” The officer jerked my arms and growled, “shut up.”
I was taken out of that building by a side door and walked in the pouring rain to another building. My expensive suit was being soaked again. I said to the young man who was escorting me, “You know what they are doing is bogus.” He replied, “I only do what I am told.” Looking closely at his eyes, I said to him, “That’s what Saddam Hussain’s police say.” He shrugged but kept leading me toward a small, unpleasant looking building. Inside the lock-up building, the folder containing my documents was taken from me. I was told they were doing me a favor by allowing me to keep my book. He put me in a very small holding cell. It was three small steps long and one step wide. Being in there was shocking and depressing.

I saw no paperwork, no warrant, no nothing. No charges were read to me. I was not finger printed. “This couldn’t be legal,” I thought.

Time moved very slowly in that cell. I did not get any reading done. I was angry. I wanted to show them they could not get away with this. I wanted someone powerful to come and tell them to put a stop to this. After a while, I realized I was in their power and they could hurt me and keep me locked up in this terrible place.

Later, a different police officer came into the cell. I was being taken back to the Court building. He handcuffed me, this time squeezing them even tighter than the first time. The cuffs left marks on my wrist. Before we left that building, I told them to give me back my file. I could not see it on top of the file cabinet where the first officer had placed it before they put me in the cell. I refused to leave until they found it and gave it back. It was found and handed to the police officer escort.

Again, I was taken for a walk in the rain. Once we were back in the Municipal Court building, he removed the handcuffs and put me into a chair near the front, along the wall, where they make prisoners in jump suits sit. I asked for the folder. He refused to return it. Later I saw him and others looking through the papers in the folder. At one point I asked for some water. The answer was “no.”

Even at this late hour there was still a long line of defendants waiting to have their case heard by the judge. Now that I was up front, where I wanted to sit in the first place, I could hear how this Court conducted itself, and I wasn’t impressed. One hard-of-hearing older white woman was there because she had been cited for having trash in her yard. I believe she was told to pay $150 per citation. As she was leaving, I saw several of the officers laughing at her behind her back. Many other defendants were treated in what I considered an insensitive, if not abusive, manner.

When all the defendants were heard and out of the room, I was called before the judge. I was alone with the Court and the police officers. The judge said something to me which I can’t remember as I am writing this. My response caused him to tell me that he told this to the crowd at the beginning of the session. I told him that we in the back could not hear his comments. I said that the guy next to me had put up his hand, waved it, and then said out loud that we could not hear him. The judge stopped me, ignored what I said, and repeated for me the unheard statement.
The charges were read and I was asked how I would plead. “Not guilty,” I said. In reality, I wanted to say that I did not understand the reason the ticket was issued in the first place. But, being afraid for my well-being in this Court Room, I thought the best thing I could do was to say not guilty and ask for a jury trial. In that way, people other than this judge and this prosecutor would decide my fate. I told him that I wanted this case set for a jury trial. He said something legalistic that I took to mean that if I could not ask for it in the correct legal language than I could not have a jury trial.

I said to the judge that if he would take five minutes now to look at the documents and pictures in my folder, he would see that there was no need for this to go any further. Anyone looking at the material in the folder would immediately see that the ticket made no sense and that the charge should be dismissed. He again gave some legalistic answer that meant no. I had the feeling he did not want this settled. He wanted me in this room again.

After pleading not guilty, the judge proceeded to lecture me. He sternly told me that next time I was in his Court, I was not to fidget in my seat, make a nuisance of myself, or disturb the people around me. I wanted to respond but this was not the time. Rule 37.75(a) states that, “A criminal contempt may be punished summarily if the judge certifies that he saw or heard the conduct constituting the contempt and that it was committed in his presence.” If there were at least fifty feet and at least fifty people between the judge and I, could he have really seen me fidgeting in my seat or heard me talking to my neighbors? I believe the answer is no, he could not. I believe that he was told something by a police officer and then he allowed them to handcuff me and put me in the lock-up. Rule 37.75(a) does not say that police officers can report to the judge what they saw or heard. It says the judge must see or hear the conduct. In Bel-Ridge they have their own way of doing things.

After being dismissed by the judge, a police officer, acting as the Bailiff, handed me a notice which stated that my new court date was June 25, 2003.

I was in that courtroom because of a ticket issued on the afternoon of March 14, 2003. I was driving west on Natural Bridge Road. My intention was to turn left onto I-170 South. The light was green. I was driving in the left turn lane. As I was getting ready to make the left, I saw two east bound cars, one in each lane of approaching traffic, speeding toward the intersection. Had they not been speeding, I would have completed the left turn. Instead, I paused, waited for the cars to pass, and then proceeded through the intersection into the highway on-ramp. The light turned red before I was fully out of the intersection. Moments later the police officer stopped me. When he walked up to the car, he said I had been blocking the intersection. I did not understand what he meant. We talked. I still did not understand the violation. He asked for my driver’s license. I said, “You’re giving me a ticket! For what?” He came back with a ticket stating, “Impeded the flow of traffic by being in the intersection controlled by an electric signal.” The ordinance violated was listed as 300.010. Again, I said to him, “The light was green when I entered the intersection and I was gone the moment the two cars passed.”
After being in the Bel-Ridge Municipal Court, I have a better understanding of my traffic stop. In my opinion, that traffic stop was a moneymaker for Bel-Ridge, Missouri. In my opinion, the Bel-Ridge political establishment sends out its police force for the purpose of making money. Bel-Ridge police seek out every minor infraction and issue a ticket which helps pay the salary’s of all the public officials. Again, it is my opinion that Bel-Ridge and all other communities who use their police force as a moneymaker should be stopped. If they will not stop, these communities should be disincorporated, removing their ability to use police powers for that purpose.

In a small community like Bel-Ridge, I find it hard to believe there should be that many defendants sitting in Municipal Court. I believe my case should never have gone to court that night. But, as a result of being there, I have seen the shadier side of the Municipal Court system.

Editor’s Note: I stood for three minutes in furious disbelief when I first read this account of the abuse and degradation that Bel Ridge heaps on American citizens for minor ordinance violations. I can imagine one minor traffic or lawn violation could send an otherwise good person into a downward spiral. This story is not the tale of justice in America. It’s a nightmarish descent into psychological abuse. The police described in this story are not public servants but psychopaths. True psychopaths who get their jollies mentally and physically hurting innocent people. No one in America should endure this kind of abuse at the hands of judges and police officers.

Please see my previous story on the problems in North County


Ferguson is the Canary in the Coal Mine” for St. Louis County

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The next St. Louis County Executive better brace himself for this: poverty is exploding in the county.

I’m not saying poor people do bad things. I’m saying that, at some point, eliminating jobs and hope will drive people to take things. And they will take things by force. And they will show no mercy to anyone who tries to get in their way.

Right or wrong, it happens. And no militarized police force will stop it. As Zero Hedge notes:

We have warned all along that the Fed’s disastrous policies are splitting the nation in two, creating a tiny superclass of uber-wealthy oligrachs, and a vast majority of disgruntled, disenfranchised poor. It is the latter, whose life of squalor and poverty, has left them with little if anything to lose. Unless dramatic and rapid changes take place within the executive levels of the US corporato-banking oligarchy and its D.C. puppets, very soon “Ferguson-type” occurrences, where participants could care less if the S&P 500 closed at a fresh all time record high,  will become a daily, and very deadly, occurrence. All thanks to the Fed’s dual mandate of “maximum employment and stable inflation.”

How fast is poverty spreading through St. Louis County? Take a look, thanks to Zero Hedge.

Here’s a census map of poverty from 2000.

Poverty St. Louis County
Poverty in St. Louis County 2000 with Ferguson called out

So what happened in the next 10 years? Poverty spread like untreated cancer:

Poverty St. Louis County 2012
Poverty in St. Louis County 2008-2012 with Ferguson called out

OMG, is right. Ferguson went from a city with a pocket of poverty 2000 to a city of poor people in 2012. And look how many new poverty centers emerged while the Dow was breaking records. Here’s more detail on Ferguson’s economic collapse from the Brookings Institute:

But Ferguson has also been home to dramatic economic changes in recent years. The city’s unemployment rate rose from less than 5 percent in 2000 to over 13 percent in 2010-12. For those residents who were employed, inflation-adjusted average earnings fell by one-third. The number of households using federal Housing Choice Vouchers climbed from roughly 300 in 2000 to more than 800 by the end of the decade.

Amid these changes, poverty skyrocketed. Between 2000 and 2010-2012, Ferguson’s poor population doubled. By the end of that period, roughly one in four residents lived below the federal poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four in 2012), and 44 percent fell below twice that level.

From Zero Hedge:

The biggest concern, however, is that Ferguson is merely the canary in the coalmine. According to Brookings, within the nation’s 100 largest metro areasthe number of suburban neighborhoods where more than 20 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line more than doubled between 2000 and 2008-2012. Almost every major metro area saw suburban poverty not only grow during the 2000s but also become more concentrated in high-poverty neighborhoods. By 2008-2012, 38 percent of poor residents in the suburbs lived in neighborhoods with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. For poor black residents in those communities, the figure was 53 percent.

When you combine rampaging poverty with governments at all levels helping the haves get more and throwing welfare at the have-nots, you begin to understand why local police departments are buying equipment necessary to take down a city . . or to kill a lot of people in a hurry.

As Brookings’ Elizabeth Kneebone said:

And as concentrated poverty climbs in communities like Ferguson, they find themselves especially ill-equipped to deal with impacts such as poorer education and health outcomes, and higher crime rates. In an article for Salon, Brittney Cooper writes about the outpouring of anger from the community, “Violence is the effect, not the cause of the concentrated poverty that locks that many poor people up together with no conceivable way out and no productive way to channel their rage at having an existence that is adjacent to the American dream.”

So, to both Rick Stream and Steve Stenger, you have to answer this question: how will you reverse the remarkable economic and social damage done to St. Louis County during the the combined reigns of Buzz Westfall (D) and Charlie Dooley(Double D)? How will you restore hope of a better economic future?

And if your answer is, “city-county merger,” you might as well keep on walking. Nobody’s buying that crap sandwich here.


Tony Pousosa for County Executive

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Don’t you just love brash upstarts? People with verve and moxie?

I do. I like pesky guys full of gumption, like Vladimir Sobotka. I like energetic young political activists like Kenny Newhouse. And I like bold conservative organizers like Eileen Tyrrell. In fact, nothing pleases me more than seeing young, libertarian-ish Republicans making the establishment squirm.

Sometimes the squirming establishment is as small as a GOP township or a school district. Other times, the whole culture squirms.

Ken Newhouse is the young Wildhorse Township committeeman who upset the sleepy GOP establishment with an “underhanded” campaign that involved . . . wait for it . . . KNOCKING ON DOORS!

Eileen Tyrrell is the Eureka mother who organized a citizens group to expose the corruption and shenanigans within Rockwood School Board.

Tony Pousosa fits my definition of “gumption.” Another word that comes to mind is “moxie.”

And that’s why I love Kenny Newhouse’s endorsement of Mr. Pousosa for St. Louis County Executive:

It’s time for the Residents of St. Louis County to get the fiscally responsible County Executive they deserve. Not only is Mr. Pousosa fiscally responsible, he is also opposed to the City/County Merger. Tony is the right candidate for the job and I hope you support him come the Primary Election in August

Tony Pousosa stepped up to run for St. Louis County Executive when no one else would.  He didn’t wait for the filing deadline. And he didn’t wait until his Ellisville land-grap collapsed. I agree with Kenny Newhouse’s assessment of the County Executive race after the last of the filings:

Establishment Republicans have been clamoring for someone with ‘name recognition’ to jump into the race. I for one am sticking by Mr. Pousosa because he most closely resembles my beliefs and principals.

Yeah. The establishment appointed Bill Corrigan to challenge Charlie Dooley in 2010–the year the Tea Party led the GOP to 800+ legislative seat gain. But Corrigan failed to topple the troubled, scandal-plagued Dooley in a GOP wave election. Plus, the establishment that year chose to ignore South County, depressing votes for other Republicans in the area.

The establishment’s fund-raising skills don’t translate to critical elections. (Ask Mitt Romney.)

Tony Pousosa for County Executive

I met Tony Pousosa in September 2012. He was one of the first people to walk into our St. Louis Tea Party Election HQ in South County. He came in to welcome us to his neighborhood and offer his help, even though Mr. Pousosa, a Green Park, MO, councilman, was in a tough race for the Missouri House at the time.

Mr. Pousosa is right on every issue that matters in St. Louis County:

Tony on Issues

accept  YES Standing Up for Business and Residential Rights

accept  YES Making sure your Tax Dollars are Not Wasted

accept  YES Building Strong Families and Communities

delete  NO Eminent Domain Abuse

delete  NO City/County Merger

delete  NO Corruption

Mr. Pousosa’s energy, drive, and enthusiasm embarrass me. I haven’t accomplished in my life what Tony does in an afternoon. And St. Louis County needs every ounce of energy, verve, and moxie it can get its hands on.

Charlie Dooley and his band of crooks has bled the county dry. Not only is Dooley a Corruptocrat of the highest order, he’s incompetent, even at corruption. Dooley’s administration reminds me of the movie Gremlins. Don’t feed them after dark. And don’t vote for them EVER.

By contrast, Mr. Pousosa works for people, community, and country. As County Executive, Tony Pousosa will refocus on County government an improved business environment for all–not just for donors and cronies. He’ll focus on making St. Louis County a desirable home for people and families–not an escape route from the city to St. Charles, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties.  Mr. Pousosa might even reverse St. Louis County’s decade of lost salaries, lost residents, and lost jobs.

Tony Pousosa will fight against Mayor Slay’s land-grab of St. Louis County. 

I support, endorse, and ask you to vote for Tony Pousosa for St. Louis County Executive in August. And I ask you to help Tony financially in his battle for the nomination.

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.


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.

Give Me 5 Minutes, And I’ll Give You a New Friend

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I have to tell you about a man I know. He’s a good man whom I respect deeply. When I’m done, I hope you’ll have a new friend.

But first, I have tell you about microwave towers and optical illusions.

Microwaves and Curves

Has this ever happened to you?

When I was a kid, my dad worked for a company that owned a small resort for employees about 90 miles south of St. Louis, down Highway 21.

In those days, 21 was a twisty, hilly mess of a road. Those curves and hills created a cool optical illusions, though. At least if you were a kid in a car on a hot, two-hour drive. It was something like this. 

A microwave tower, visible forever, appeared, for miles to be on the east side of the highway.  Right up a few dozen yards before you passed the tower, you’d swear it was on the left as you passed heading south. 

Then, when you were just about on top of it, the road curved, the trees cleared, and the tower seemed to leap to the west side of Highway 21.

My sisters (older than me) made up a guessing game about landmarks along that road. First time players got the microwave tower wrong every time.  Until you were right there at the tower, you couldn’t tell where it stood.

A Long Way From New Jersey

When I read Dan Riehl’s hit piece on Ed Martin Jr. in Big Government, I thought about that microwave tower on Highway 21 in Jefferson County, Missouri.  I remembered that Dan Riehl lives in New Jersey, far from Missouri’s 2nd District. Clearly, Dan doesn’t know Ed. 

So let me introduce the Ed Martin I know in just a moment.

As I read on, I realized that Dan’s opinions come mostly from reading two anti-Martin blogs:  Bungalow Bill and “Fired-Up Missouri,” the Carnahan family blog.  Living in New Jersey, Dan probably didn’t realize he’s getting a distorted view of Ed Martin—a view intentionally tainted to make Ed Martin look bad, truth be damned. 

I’ll blame the leftist blogs, for example, for Dan’s confusion on the Eckersley affair.  Dan should have read the 4-part series on that case in (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).  There, The Editor refuted all of the major charges leveled against Ed and Matt Blunt in a detailed, documented series of reports, concluding correctly with Memogate Explained in 30 Words or Less:

Jay Nixon’s lawyer friends sued a Republican and his staff to help Nixon’s election bid.  The case was settled when Nixon was elected and the lawyers needed to get paid.

A View From Missouri

Ed Martin for CongressOn this side of the Mississippi, you get a much better view of Ed Martin. You’ll see the real Ed Martin that I know—unless you’re a liberal Democrat or an establishment Republican

If Dan spent some time in St. Louis with Ed, maybe he’d come to know the wonderful man I met about February 22, 2009. That’s when Ed saw my Facebook event for a Tea Party in St. Louis and asked if he could help. 

As I said before, Ed took a big political risk coming to that event, and he helped make that first Tea Party the success it was.  He helped steer the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition in its infancy, right up to the day he announced his candidacy for the U. S. House of Representatives in Missouri’s 3rd District.

Dan could learn even more by coming to St. Louis or reading some of our more conservative bloggers.  Dan seems surprised, for instance, that Ed Martin’s establishment opponent out-raised Ed in the last quarter.  Well, Ed doesn’t have a lot of DC Establishment friends to turn to for cash.  For Ed’s support, he relies on Tea Partiers and 9-12 Project patriots, Right-to-Lifers, and even some Reagan Democrats.

Had Dan been in St. Louis a few Saturdays ago, he might have seen about 600 typical Ed Martin people at a Trivia Night in Two Heart’s banquet hall, complete with mostachioli.  The place was packed on a night that was really too beautiful weather-wise to be inside. I was there, along with all my sisters  and old neighbors from Epiphany.  It was a classic St. Louis event.

That’s the way the Ed Martin I know raises money—by having fun with the people who vote, not sipping champaign with business executives and their lobbyists.

Ed Off the Record

Then there’s the Ed Martin that you’ll never see all the way from New Jersey—microwave links or not.  I’m talking about the unofficial Ed Martin. 

Here’s one story that tells a lot about the Ed Martin I know, the one who’s running for Missouri’s 2nd US House District in 2012.

Ed asked me to speak at his New Year’s Eve Party on December 31, 2009.  The event was in far South St. Louis County, at Orlando’s banquet center.  About 100 or so people enjoyed drinks, dinner, and a midnight toast.

Late in the evening, as I was getting ready to leave, I met a family from Illinois. The man was a pharmacist.  He wasn’t a political type; he seemed uncomfortable.  In fact, I believe he and Ed might be of different parties.

“I’d do anything for Ed,” the man told me.


“A few years ago, the state of Illinois tried to shut me down because I refused to dispense the Morning After pill,” he said.  “I’m Catholic.”

“No one would take my case because it was too risky and too sure to lose. That man,” he said, pointed toward Ed who was a few tables away, “was the only lawyer who stepped up and offered to represent me. He came to me.  I didn’t even know who he was.”

“Ed fought like a dog for me.  He was the only one with the courage and conviction to take on the entire state of Illinois and Governor Blagojevich.” 

Ed never told me that story. I never heard him tout it on the stump in 2009 and 2010.  Maybe he did and I missed it. 

Nor did Ed tell me about volunteering to represent a man who was wrongfully accused of threatening Russ Carnahan.  Again, when most lawyers were afraid to take on the (then) powerful Carnahan machine, Ed Martin stepped up and fought for what was right.

I could tell you about the Tea Partiers I know who love Ed because he’s “not like all the other politicians.” 

One man told me, “I know a lot of Republican politicians around St. Louis. I’ve asked them what I can do, and I told them I want to get involved.  But I’m just a regular guy. They brushed me off.  I wasn’t important enough for them. So I said, ‘the hell with you.’”

“Ed, though, treats me like he treats everybody else.  I feel like I know him.  He knows me. He’s right there in the neighborhood all the time, not in Washington or Europe.”

Straightening the Curves for Dan

So, I’m sorry Dan Riehl—normally a careful researcher—missed so much on this particular story.  (We all have bad days.)  Or maybe Anthony Weiner hacked into Dan’s Big Government account.

I was warned in May (and I passed along the warning) that the Missouri Republican establish was out to destroy Ed Martin and his Tea Party supporters. Had Dan read my piece, maybe he’d have checked his sources a little more carefully before posting the shabby, undocumented hit piece.

Here in St. Louis, we know where Ed stands.  He stands with us, people who can’t really help him. He fights the battles that others won’t.  

To this ordinary guy, Ed Martin is street, and his current battle is our battle: to fix the establishment, not romance it.

P.S.  If you’re a fan of Ed’s, send a donation to Ed Martin for Congress.

BREAKING: Zimmerman’s Sob Story Phony as a Football Bat

Reading Time: 1 minutes

PO’ed Patriot has the story.

Jake Zimmerman’s campaign rotates two themes:

1.  The St. Louis County Assessor should be a career political hack, not a seasoned real estate professional

2. His little old friend, Margaret, is in danger of losing her home.

But mostly St. Louis County government needs more Democrat political hacks.

Turns out that, just like Jake’s dad, his friend Margaret, a rather unsuccessful real estate investor, got a break on her property taxes.  Well, on her investment property, anyway.

I can’t believe anyone would vote for this guy.

Favoritism for Jake Zimmerman’s Dad?

Reading Time: 1 minutes

The Post-Dispatch says the County Assessor should be a political operative, not an expert in real estate values like L. K. “Chip” Wood. I disagree, and this story explains why Charlie Dooley’s regime needs fewer political hacks and more competent professionals.

Troubling Questions for Zimmerman’s Assessor Campaign:

  • Why did the Zimmerman campaign take screen shots of Zimmerman’s dad’s real estate values on January 13, 2011, the day he was selected?
  • Why did the Zimmerman campaign try to deny Stu Zimmerman’s property tax cut by forwarding those old shots?
  • Why did someone update property tax records on March 25, the day after questions about favoritism first appeared?

On March 24,  24th State blog broke the story:  Stu Zimmerman received a significant reduction in his home’s assessed value in 2011.

I’ve learned since that the Zimmerman campaign produced documents from January 13—the day Jake Zimmerman was selected by the county Democrat Central Committee as their nominee for assessor.  These document show that the 2011 assessment wasn’t out yet.

That might have been true on January 13.  The question is, did Stu Zimmerman receive a significantly larger property tax break than his neighbors? Well, Zimmerman’s response didn’t answer that question, but seems to have been an attempt discredit 24th State’s story.

In reality, Stu got 16.6 percent off his assessment while his neighbors in comparable homes ranged from 2-4 percent reductions to 2 to 4 percent increases in assessed values.

Here’s the screen shots provided by the Zimmerman campaign on Friday, March 25:

Jake and Stuart Zimmerman Appraised Value-1.doc - Powered by Google Docs

Here’s a screen shot taken March 25 about 7:30 p.m.

Real Estate Information

And here’s a screenshot taken on March 24:

Clearly, the Zimmerman campaign is trying to hide the dropped assessment for candidate Jake’s dad. The question is “why?”