How Jay Nixon Lost the Liberal Press

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“And then say what? say, ‘forget you’re hungry, forget you got shot inna back by some racist cop—Chuck was here? Chuck come up to Harlem—’ ”“No, I’ll tell you what—” “‘Chuck come up to Harlem and—’ ”“I’ll tell you what—” “Say,‘Chuck come up to Harlem and gonna take care a business for the black community’?” That does it. Heh-heggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! It’s one of those ungodly contralto cackles somewhere out there in the audience. It’s a sound from down so deep, from under so many lavish layers, he knows exactly what she must look like. Two hundred pounds, if she’s an ounce! Built like an oil burner! The cackle sets off the men. They erupt with those belly sounds he hates so much. They go, “Hehhehheh…unnnnhhhh-hunhhh…

That’s right… Tell ’em, bro…Yo…” Chuck! The insolent— he’s right there , right there in the front— he just called him a Charlie! Chuck is short for Charlie, and Charlie is the old code name for a down-home white bigot. The insolence of it! The impudence! The heat and glare are terrific. It makes the Mayor squint. It’s the TV lights. He’s inside a blinding haze. He can barely make out the heckler’s face. He sees a tall silhouette and the fantastic bony angles the man’s elbows make when he throws his hands up in the air. And an earring. The man has a big gold earring in one ear. The Mayor leans into the microphone and says, “No, I’ll tell you what. Okay? I’ll give you the actual figures. Okay?” “We don’t want your figures, man!”

Man, he says! The insolence! “You brought it up, my friend. So you’re gonna get the actual figures. Okay?”

“Don’t you shine us up with no more your figures!” Another eruption in the crowd, louder this time: “Unnnnh-unnnnh-unnnh…Tell’im, bro… Y’ on the

—Tom Wolfe. The Bonfire of the Vanities: A Novel
(Kindle Locations 125-129). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition.

A couple of years ago, Governor Jay Nixon seriously thought he’d be the next President of the United States. Now, he’ll be lucky to survive his final two years in office.

Bill McClellan: Nixon’s Cheerleader

Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan has been the de facto chairman of the Committee to Elect Nixon President since as far back as 2012.

In October, 2012, following Obama’s brutal first debate performance, McClellan wrote:

With President Barack Obama’s surprisingly listless performance in the presidential debate Wednesday night, the stars are coming closer into alignment for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

Most Missourians seem oblivious to the fact that Nixon is on the short list for potential Democratic nominees in 2016. Maybe it’s because we tend to think of presidents as larger-than-life characters, and we know Nixon too well to think of him that way. He’s been around forever.

Grab a bottle of Pepto-Bismal and read the whole fawning, slobbering, leg-tingling piece. That column set off a national wave of speculation among Democrats hoping for a mainstream alternative to Hillary in 2016. As recently as March of this year, McClellan continued to brag about Jay Nixon’s “smarts.”

It must have pained Bill to see Nixon’s political future turned into a looted, rioted, charred shell of its former self–like the QuikTrip on W. Florissant.

I won’t be too hard on Bill, though. He seems to have had a bona fide friendship with Nixon predating Nixon’s rise to the governor’s mansion. Friends can’t be objective.

Bonfire of the Democrats

When Lee Presser implored me to watch Nixon’s painful press conference last weekend in Ferguson, I thought of Tom Wolfe’s brilliant prologue to The Bonfire of the Vanities: A Novel.

In the prologue, a fictional New York mayor goes to Harlem and loses the audience. Here’s where Jay Nixon lost his political future.

That was it. Flash! Bang! Nixon’s career gone. (See the whole press conference here.)

Sure, he’d already come under fire for escaping the Ferguson situation at the Missouri State Fair. He tried to make up for his lack of leadership (cowardice, according to Maria Chappelle-Nadal) by appointing the Ferguson native Captain Ron Johnson as head of the Ferguson task force.

But Johnson’s moves might have made the situation worse. While Johnson moved some of the heavy military hardware out of sight, he also allowed looters free reign of Ferguson. Then Nixon imposed a curfew after Ferguson and Dellwood businesses had been destroyed.

That led USAToday to remind us that Nixon continued to leave the door open to a presidential run.

The St. Louis suburb has been in turmoil since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer on Saturday.  Nixon’s statement and announcement that he will be in North St. Louis County on Thursday came after the Democrat was criticized as missing in action as tensions escalated between protesters and Ferguson police.

The denunciation of Nixon comes as he is being mentioned as a possible presidential or vice presidential candidate on the 2016 Democratic ticket.

Washington in the Rear View Mirror

Nixon’s Washington ambitions are running away from him faster than he runs away from hard work and tough decisions. Like many white politicians, Nixon sees no win for himself in Ferguson. And there might not be a winning play in this situation, I admit.

But dealing with no-win games is the price of leadership. Real leaders don’t run from tough situations,. They just do the right thing. They make decisions and execute them and let the chips fall where they may.

Not Nixon, though. Instead, Nixon has tried to ameliorate all sides, particularly angry African-Americans. He’s tried to quell anger with mere words, and those words have been vacillating, irresponsible, and weak.

Last week, for instance, Nixon all but declared Officer Darren Wilson guilty of murder, demanding that St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch arrest the officer immediately.

As a former prosecutor, Nixon knows how the police shooting process operates. He knows that McCulloch will not violate that process simply to make Nixon look effective as an executive. By making an unrealistic demand, Nixon doesn’t look tough of (assumed) police violence—he looks out of touch and frightened.

The Leader’s Job

The leader’s job is not to play into people’s raw emotions. It’s to do the right thing, even if doing so causes temporary pain for the leader.

A real leader must be sensitive to those emotions without letting others’ emotions guide his actions. A leader reminds people of what is known and what is unknown. The governor, of all people, should point out that justice goes both ways. Like all police-involved shootings, St. Louis County must conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the incident and prosecute if warranted. And the offer involved must be presumed innocent until the process completes.

It’s understandable that Michael Brown’s family “knows” the officer was wrong. Their son is dead. They’re in pain.

It’s also understandable that Darren Wilson’s family “knows” he did nothing wrong. I’d worry about them if they didn’t.

What I don’t understand is the absolutely, unquestioning certainty so many people espouse on Facebook and Twitter. No one knows exactly what happened. No one. Witnesses, including the officer, have not testified under oath. No coroner’s autopsy has been released. Witness statements have not been formally aligned to physical evidence.

With so much unknown and so little known, statements like Nixon’s only make a bad situation worse. At some point, this case will be final and half the people talking about it will be wrong. They will never admit being wrong, though. If the officer is not indicted or he’s acquitted, Nixon and the “hang ’em high” crowd will say poor black men can’t get justice in America.

What Missouri and America need are leaders who do what’s right without regard for their political futures. Jay Nixon doesn’t even come close to that standard.

If anything “good” comes from this tragedy, Nixon’s political collapse might be at the top of that list.

 

 

**DOH!** ACTION: Tell Missouri Legislature Jay Nixon to Pass Tax Holiday for Ferguson

Reading Time: 2 minutes

UPDATE

Tim Jones let me know that I’m giving the legislature more power than it actually has.

Veto sessions are limited to overriding vetos. Thus the name. BUT the governor can call a Special Session to vote on a Ferguson Tax Holiday. That session can run concurrent with the Veto Session, saving taxpayer dollars.

SO > > > New Action: Ask Jay Nixon (via Twitter and Facebook) to call a Special Session concurrent with the Veto Session to create a Tax Holiday for Ferguson/Dellwood.

ORIGINAL

We’ve officially kicked off the #Ferguson BUYcott, but we’re far from done.

First, we’re asking people to keep the BUYcott going while we organize a bigger event for Labor Day Weekend.

Second, I texted Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones on Thursday with another idea: an emergency Sales Tax Holiday for Ferguson/Dellwood area. 

Please contact your Missouri House Rep and State Senator and ask them to pass an emergency Sales Tax Holiday for the riot-torn areas of St. Louis County during the upcoming veto session. 

I know this is tiny step, but tiny steps work better than big, grandiose schemes. If they complain about budge balances, tell them this: the won’t get any sales tax revenue from Ferguson if no one shops there, anyway.

Look, all the politicians are scared to death of this whole issue. That’s what’s great about the tax holiday. No one call cry racism, partisanship, or cowardice for helping affected businesses get back on their feet. Plus, it will save a little money for residents in the area.

I’m thinking the tax holiday should run from Black Friday through Christmas for Ferguson and Dellwood, the cities where I saw the most damage, either physically or commercially. But I’ll leave it to the Missouri legislature to decide what works best.

So PLEASE send your Rep and Senator a link to this post and ask them to get moving. 

 

Why St. Louis Tea Party Went to Ferguson To Shop

Reading Time: 3 minutes

You can’t change the world in your living room.

That’s why a small band of (mostly) white people from (mostly) West County drove to Ferguson (and Dellwood) to shop tonight.

We targeted the small businesses that were hit hard by violence–violence committed (mostly) by out of town agitators, criminals, vandals, and hooligans.

We drove to Ferguson to make two statements with our actons: 1) Ferguson is OUR community, and 2) Ferguson is open for business.

I met Dellena. Dellena owns the 911 Beauty Salon on West Florissant in Dellwood. Her landlord got foreclosed on, which meant she lost her home, just before the riots. So she moved all her inventory from her house to the store. Then the riots happened, and they took her inventory.

God bless Dellena.

I insisted on buying something–all the people in the salon were so happy and kind. She didn’t have much for white guy gray hair, but she took the time to pull together some gift bags. Then she didn’t want money, but I made her take it.

A gentlman (my age) in the salon (husband?) asked who we were with. I told him “St. Louis Tea Party.”

“Tea party?” he said. “You bad boys,” and chuckled. Then he looked at me, very serious. He said, “The tea party came up here to do this?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “we don’t want to see Ferguson go south.”

He laughed. And he looked at me. Then he was quiet, lost in thought for a minute. When he came out of it, he was like our best friend. Laughing, giving us crap about stuff, telling stories. He admitted baseball can be like “watching grass grow.”

In that moment of reflection, I’m sure he was trying to reconcile “tea party” with what he was seeing–four white people, ages 18 to 50, laughing, spending money, empathizing.

That moment made the whole event worthwhile.

In other shops, we’d get hard stares when we walked in and shopped. Once we told them “we’re with the tea party, and we’re here to shop,” these people actually shouted. “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.”

The greatest statement an organization or person can make is to say with actions, not words, “what unites us is stronger than what divides us.”

This wasn’t a big win in breadth, but it was monumental in depth.

Dellena rocks.

I don’t know, yet, how much money we spent. I don’t even know how many people participated, but it looks like about 40. It was the hottest day of the year (so far). And it was an area that’s now known for rioting.

But the Ferguson Buycott was more successful than I could have dreamed.

I have much more to say, but had to say this much before going to bed.

Why did we go to Ferguson? Because Ferguson ain’t goin’ anywhere.

Next Buycott is Labor Day Weekend. Ask your Missouri State Rep and Senator to pass emergency legislation for a Ferguson Sales Tax Holiday during the veto session.

Very special thanks to my friend Marty Bennett who was one of the first to put his boot down in Florissant tonight–and the last to lift his boot from W. Florissant. God bless you, Marty.

Thanks, too, to Dottie Bailey, the best PR specialist and getaway driver St. Louis Tea Party could ask for.

Ben Evans, who join the movement on September 12, 2009, in Quincy, Illinois, continues to make himself indispensible.

And Alex Cohen. He’s like 18. America’s future is cool if Alex is any indication of the Millennials.

Everyone who came to Florissant tonight, thank you, thank you, thank you. Include Senator Claire McCaskill who magnanimously join the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition’s BUYcott of Ferguson. Here’s the video.

The Export-Import Bank Story the Post-Dispatch Refused to Print

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Since the Post won’t run my reply a recent op-ed about the Ex-Im Bank, I’ll publish it here:

Huge multi-national corporations like to preach from the “small business” bible when it comes to the Export-Import bank. Unfortunately, most of the Ex-Im propaganda about how “small business” benefits crumbles under scrutiny.

Professor Stanford Levin of Southern Illinois University recently wrote an Op-Ed supporting reauthorization of the Export Import Bank. As the professor states, the Export-Import Bank provides cheap loans to foreign companies and governments with which to buy products sold by mostly large, multi-national companies with headquarters in the United States.
But the professor failed to mention the details of his various arguments for the bank. Here are some important details that might change Professor Levin’s view of the bank:
1. Stanford doesn’t mention the Export-Import Bank’s definition of “small business.” According to Ex-Im, a small business has up to 1,500 employee and revenue of $21 million. So the Ex-Im idea of small is relative. Yes, 1,500 employees looks small to AT&T and Boeing, but it looks enormous to the small business owners I know.
2. Stanford claims “90 percent of the agency’s transactions last year were for small-business exports,” but he doesn’t tell you that a “transaction” is an application processed, not the amount of financing provided. The distribution of applications to Ex-Im is a meaningless statistic that only an economist could like.
3. Stanford fails to disclose how Ex-Im allocates financing between large and “small” businesses, but I will. In 2013, “small businesses” received less than 20 percent of Ex-Im authorizations (source http://www.exim.gov/about/library/reports/annualreports/2013/FY2013-auth-summary-and-small-business-auth.pdf). As Heritage Foundation Research Fellow Diane Katz found: “Multinational corporations attract the largest proportion of Ex–Im financing, including the construction and engineering firm of Bechtel, ranked by Forbes as the fourth-largest privately held company by revenue, and Lockheed Martin, valued in excess of $50 billion. But the bank’s foremost beneficiary is Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company (with a market capitalization exceeding $91 billion). In the past five years, the company has profited from 197 Ex–Im deals totaling $48 billion. Last year alone, Boeing-related financing comprised 30 percent of all Ex–Im activity.”
4. Nor does Professor Stanford inform your readers that Ex-Im hurts American works. For example, Delta Airlines and the Airline Pilots Association sued Ex-Im last year for providing unfair competition through loans to foreign airlines for which US airlines are ineligible.
5. Sadly, Ex-Im provides a lot of funding to America’s adversaries. Last year alone, Ex-Im provided business assistance to Chinese companies worth $638 million and Putin’s Russia worth $630 million.
6. The Inspector-General of Ex-Im disputes Professor Stanford’s claim that “the Export-Import Bank exercises due diligence before issuing credit.” In its latest report to Congress, the Export-Import Banks’ IG says, “One of the consistent observations arising out of audits, evaluations, and investigations conducted by the OIG are weaknesses in governance and
internal controls for business operations.” (Source: http://www.exim.gov/oig/upload/OIG_Report_FA13_508.pdf.)
7. There is no evidence that Ex-Im creates American jobs, as the professor implies. According to Heritage Research Fellow Diane Katz, “the bank does not count actual jobs related to its projects but simply extrapolates numbers based on national data. This formula does not distinguish among full-time, part-time, and seasonal jobs. It also assumes that average employment trends apply to Ex–Im clients (who may not be typical).”
 
Clearly, the Export-Import Bank’s crony capitalist proponents like to play fast and loose with the facts. Just as clear the fact that the Ex-Im bank is a trough for feeding well-connected corporate welfare queens. It’s time to end the Export-Import Bank. 

Ferguson Shopping Ideas

Reading Time: 1
Here are some businesses people should frequent:

Eat at Sweetie Pies on W. Florrisant, or head to Paul’s Market on Elizabeth, Drive down N./S. Florrisant for Shop-n-Save, Chinese Food, local eats, bakeries, dollar tree, etc.  Ferguson also extends to New Halls Ferry and 270, where there is a Home Depot, another Shop-n-Save, Party store, UPS store, and more.
http://livewellferguson.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/FergusonMap5-1.jpg

Also, there is Ferguson Bike shop, The Whistle Stop,  and Sportsprint (where you might find an I heart Ferguson shirt).

So, besides the hard hit area I know you are planning on going to, there are other stores

http://www.sportsprint.com/contact.html
http://www.paulsmarketdeli.com/ (awesome meat/butcher shop and deli, with a mini store)
http://fergusonbicycleshop.com/wp/
https://www.facebook.com/CathysKitchenrestaurant
https://www.facebook.com/theflavorofmexico (El Palenque)
http://www.whistlestopdepot.com/index.html (Frozen Custard and food)
http://www.marleysferguson.com/ (bar and grill – cheap and good)
http://www.corkwinebarstl.com/ (upscale eating, great wine menu)
http://www.fergusonbrewing.com/ (local brew and good menu)
http://www.cose-dolci.com highly rated Bakery
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Faraci-Pizza-North/125001694200111?sk=info
http://vincenzosstl.com/
http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/28/322130/restaurant/St-Louis/Spencers-Bakery-Ferguson
http://www.andywurm.com/location.aspx (tire and wheel – not the looted rim store)
http://www.yelp.com/biz/drakes-place-ferguson
http://www.yelp.com/biz/sweetie-pies-saint-louis

And don’t forget!
Every Saturday Morning 8 am-noon – through October: http://fergusonfarmersmarket.com/

BUYCOTT FERGUSON!

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