Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BEAT BYTES: Columbia residents draft local attorney for mayor

1)  COUNCIL TO DRAFT:  Major change in city hiring policy
2)  NEW ALLEGATIONS HIT:  Troubled non-profit group
3)  EARLY BIRD CANDIDATE SURVEY:  Paul Love for Columbia Mayor
4)  CITIZENS DRAFT:  Local attorney Ehrhardt (right) for Columbia Mayor
5)  "SHAVE OR SAVE":  Fund raiser helps breast cancer patient
6)  NEW HIGH-TECH CAR THEFT:  Rocks Jefferson City
7)  MIZZOU RESEARCHERS:  Major new breast cancer findings
9)  HOUSING NEWS:  From Bank of Missouri's Tom Stone 
COUNCIL TO DRAFT:  Major change in city hiring policy

COLUMBIA, 12/22/09 (Beat Byte) -- The Columbia City Council last night agreed to draft an ordinance that would rewrite a major power reserved for the city manager in the City Charter -- Columbia's "constitution." 
The Charter change would create a new "advise and consent" role for council members similar to that exercised at the Federal level.  The process would involve "the hiring of department heads only," Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala (left) told council members, and commence with "the nomination of a final candidate or a slate of candidates by the city manager, and final confirmation of a candidate by the city council," he explained. 
It would also require a city charter amendment, similar to "five amendments put before us by the city manager at our pre-council meeting," Skala added.   
Federally, the U.S. President appoints candidates for certain high-level positions, e.g. Supreme Court, and the Senate, through a series of often highly-charged public interviews, either confirms or denies the appointee.  The process "advises" the President and the nation, and "consents" if the appointee passes muster. 
Locally, Columbia's city manager has sole discretion over the hiring of senior level administrators.  Mere attempts to "advise" can cost council members their seats, as Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala learned last year, when he attempted to advise city manager Bill Watkins on the hiring of police chief Ken Burton and Kraig Kahler, the former Water and Light director recently accused of murdering nearly his entire family.
Watkins warned Skala that he could lose his seat should he press the issue.   
But pressing on last night, Skala suggested the "advise and consent" role reversal.  "This, I suspect, will be somewhat controversial," he said toward the conclusion of last night's regular council meeting.  He cited a question in the Columbia Heart Beat's Early Bird candidate survey from Columbia Missourian columnist George Kennedy -- What do you see as the proper relationship between the council and the manager?  -- to show increased community interest in this issue. 
4th Ward councilman Jerry Wade agreed.  "This is probably a discussion we need to have," he said, just before a long and uncomfortable pause -- and an unusual exchange between Watkins and city attorney Fred Boeckmann.
"He [Skala] can request, right?  He can request legislation be drawn," Watkins asked Boeckmann.  
"As long as it's not, ahem, too time-consuming, is the general rule," Boeckmann answered.  
"It shouldn't take too long," Skala replied.     
"I guess I'll find out tomorrow," Boeckmann laughed. 
Council members voted 6 to 1 to draft an "advise and consent" Charter change "to get the issue out for discussion, and before the public," Skala reiterated several times.   5th Ward council woman Laura Nauser voted against. 

NEW ALLEGATIONS HIT:  Troubled non-profit group
COLUMBIA, 12/22/09 (Beat Byte) -- The subject of a recent financial audit that found numerous trouble spots, the non-profit Columbia/Boone County Community Partnership (BCCP) -- which annually receives about $1.2 million from taxpayers and donors -- filed a false 2009 report with Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, claim new allegations forwarded to the Columbia Heart Beat.
The report was allegedly designed to show a BCCP bylaw-required quorum of five board members, when at the time only three persons were actively serving.  
But BCCP board member Brian Colwell, an MU sociology professor, had resigned well before the August 27, 2009 annual report filing date, and only three persons are currently listed as active "board officers" on the BCCP website:  Chair Khesha Duncan; Vice-Chair William McKee, Jr.; and Secretary/Treasurer William Crum.  
Signed by BCCP Executive Director W. Lolita Lucas on 8/27/09, the 2009 Annual Registration Report also includes Colwell on a "revised list" of BCCP directors as of August 10, 2009.   Colwell said he resigned in July.  A second board member, MU law professor S. David Mitchell, said he resigned in September, though the written complaint delivered to the Heart Beat claims Mitchell also resigned prior to the August filing. 
"The undersigned understands that false statements made in this report are punishable for the crime of making a false declaration under Section 575.060 RsMo," reads a disclaimer above Lucas' signature.
EARLY BIRD CANDIDATE SURVEY:  Paul Love for Columbia Mayor
This time, Mayoral candidate Paul Love answers questions from:
George Kennedy, professor of journalism and columnist, The Columbia Missourian
Tyree Byndom, Host, Kore Issues, KOPN radio
Mary Daly, Managing Editor, The MU Maneater
Jonathan Sessions, columnist/blogger, Columbia Business Times
Paul Love's answers are below each question. 
George Kennedy asks:

1.  What does “smart growth” mean to you?

Smart growth is about long range sustainability with growth around a city center to avoid urban sprawl.  
It is designed to maximize city resources and use mixed used development to reduce transportation requirements.  It is designed to promote a sense of community and tolerance for other people and cultural values. 
It will require education to promote the advantages of the system.  There are aspects of the system that I believe would be beneficial to Columbia, and in certain areas it would work well.  
But I believe trying to implement smart growth city wide would generate significant initial resistance -- it would have to be something that was gradually worked toward.
2.  What should be the top 3 priorities for the next council?

1)  Crime prevention.  The citizens of Columbia should be safe in public and in their homes.
2)  Fiscal responsibility.  We need to make sure we are spending our dollars wisely and not overspending
3)  Expansion of the Columbia job base.  We need to develop new business and industry opportunities to provide jobs for residents and retain our student population.
3.    Should council members be paid?

Depends.  It is a lot of work, and the time commitment restricts who can or will run for office.  
However, a paid position opens it up to professional politicians (leaving a regular job for 3 years is pretty much a career change after all).  
I understand the Boone County Commsioners are paid.  If the decision is reached to pay the council, it would probably require a change in the city charter delineating additional responsibilities to the Mayor and Council.
4.  What do you see as the proper relationship between the council and the manager?
Currently the City Manager handles the day to day running of the city and does so under the guidance of the ordinances of the City and the direction of the Council.   This allows experienced management to be separated from the cyclical change of the council. 
According to the city charter, the only person the council can directly impact is the City Manager, and simply because he serves at their pleasure. 
My understanding is that this has caused some conflicts with members of the current council during requests for some information and questions raised with various decisions and policies.  Ultimately however, power rests in the people and the authority of the elected officials of Columbia, as it does in the State and the Nation.  The division of duties and responsibilities might also be altered if the Council and Mayor were to be paid by the city. 

Tyree Byndom asks: 

1.  If elected Mayor of Columbia, Missouri what will be your main priorities? 

My goals if elected mayor of Columbia would be to reduce the amount of crime, particularly violent crime, in Columbia.
Additionally, I'd like to increase fiscal responsibility to make sure we are spending our money wisely and only spending money we have.   Currently the city has a projected 2-2.5 million dollar shortfall between projected expenses and revenue for the next several years, and it is simply not sustainable.
2.  How will you implement your plans/vision to better our city?                         
With regard to crime, it won't/it can't just be more police.  We need to encourage more community involvement, and the new geographical policing model implemented by Chief Burton is only part of that. 
We need more citizens involved in neighborhood watches, to raise the risk level for criminal activities and prevent crime rather than simply reacting after the fact. 
With regard to fiscal responsibility, we need to look critically at every dollar we spend and ask how much value we receive from that expenditure.   With regard to the budgetary shortfall, did you ever see the movie Dave?   You sit down with those involved set your targets and work your way through the projects to reduce expenses until you reach your goals. 
Will it be pleasant?  No.  Will it be hard?  Yes.  When someone asks for something, yes is easy, no is hard.   I'm willing to take the heat for making hard decisions.
3. What type of legacy would you like to leave behind?
I'd like it to be an unfortunate day to read about violent crime in Columbia rather than a weekly/daily occurrence.   I'd like to leave a fiscally sound city with clear cut goals for the future and a well thought out plan for how to provide the services necessary to all our residents. 
Jonathan Sessions asks:

1.   In this voluntary position, what are your expectations of necessary time commitment?  

It's like picking up a second job.  In my case, rather than being paid in cash, I'll be paid in the opportunity to make an impact on the City -- hopefully making it a safer place to live and work, and to make sure my tax dollars are well spent.
2. How do you plan to keep up with a demanding city council?

As a single individual, I don't have a family to occupy my time.  Rather than taking little Timmy to soccer practice or Sara to swim lessons, I'll be working with community leaders, planners and various civic organizations.
Additionally, I have some flexibility with scheduling as long as I'm willing to put in the work.   My job as a Network Administrator at CARFAX operates under a work environment similar to a practice called ROWE (results oriented work environment), which means do your job and do it well, but you're not locked into a regular 8-5 job timeframe.    

Mary Daly asks:  
How do you view students living in the city of Columbia as part of your plans for mayor?

I'd like to see students take a larger role in our community.  The students currently put in a lot of volunteer hours for the community providing valuable services.   However, frequently this is done as a requirement rather than as a deliberate process of improving the community.
This is somewhat the failure of the community, which provides relatively few opportunities to continue in Columbia after graduation.   Students are often transitory residents, which leads to a somewhat predatory attitude, as they are sometimes viewed as a revenue source to be harvested before they leave.
If Columbia were to utilize the phenomenal resources of these well educated and civic minded individuals, to provide them the means and incentive to stay in Columbia after they finish their education, Columbia would experience an unprecedented explosion of growth and prosperity.   Unfortunately, the vast majority are often here just long enought to get their degrees and leave for greater opportunities elsewhere.
CITIZENS DRAFT:  Local attorney Ehrhardt for Mayor
COLUMBIA, 12/22/09 (Beat Byte) -- A move to draft prominent local attorney Glen Ehrhardt for Columbia Mayor includes Columbia Tribune columnist J. Scott Christianson and Columbia Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Kristi Ray.
Ehrhardt, who apparently supports the effort but has yet to formally declare, has joined a Facebook group called Glen Ehrhardt for Mayor.  A self-described Republican who has donated to the Missouri Republican Party and the congressional campaigns of Senator Jim Talent and Representative Kenny Hulshof, Ehrhardt received degrees in political science, economics, and law from the University of Missouri, Columbia.   
He currently practices law with Rogers, Ehrhardt and Weber in Columbia.  He is, or has been, a member of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce executive board, the Boys and Girls Club board of directors, and in 2006, served as a member of the Columbia Public Schools high school site selection committee.  
Shortly after Cumulus Broadcasting terminated controversial radio talk show host Fred Parry, Ehrhardt wrote a letter in support on a Bring Back Fred Parry Internet petition.
"I respect Fred because he has never been afraid to ask the tough questions that other 'elite' media ignore," Ehrhardt wrote.  "Imagine if he had the chance to ask Obama, Biden, et. al. to explain how someone who pays no taxes can get a tax cut????   Now, that would be real journalism." 
Glen Ehrhardt for Mayor
SHAVE OR SAVE:  Fund raiser helps breast cancer patient

COLUMBIA, 12/22/09 (Beat Byte) --  To raise medical expense and travel money for her aunt, recently diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer, Anastasia "Stacie" Pottinger has promised to "shave my hair into a pink mohawk" if voter/donors on her website vote to "Shave" instead of "Save" her hair. 
Pink is the color of breast cancer awareness, and hair loss is the most noticeable effect of virtually every type of cancer chemotherapy. 
Pottinger, a local photographer and mom of two boys who attend Grant Elementary school in Columbia, says her favorite aunt "has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer for the 2nd time.  Five years ago, she went through chemotherapy and a single mastectomy.  I shaved my hair to be in solidarity with her." 
Being "quite vain," Pottinger this time decided to let voters decide -- and raise some much-needed money for medical and travel expenses.  Not every hospital offers the targeted chemotherapy breast cancers now demand, and even with insurance, expenses can mount.  For instance, a good wig can cost $300, while deductibles and co-pays mount. 
For more information and to vote or donate, visit: www.shaveorsave.blogspot.com 
HIGH-TECH CAR THEFT:  Rocks Jefferson City
MIZZOU, 12/22/09 (Beat Byte) --  Jefferson City residents are complaining about a new type of high-tech car larceny in which thieves use remote controls to unlock electronic car doors. 
"This happened to my boss this week," emailed Gina Thoenen, an employee of FHC Properties in Jefferson City.  "He was at the YMCA, left his wallet in his locked vehicle, and the thief stole 3 credit cards." 

Calling it the "latest robbery tactic," police in other cities describe "a device robbers are using to 'clone' your security code when you lock your car doors using a key-chain electronic locking mechanism."   
Would-be thieves supposedly stake out vehicles, watching people leave -- and lock -- their cars.   Hitting the door lock on a remote-control sends a code through the airwaves that -- like a Wi-Fi Internet signal -- can be intercepted.  Police advise "manually locking" car doors by hitting the lock button on the door or inside the vehicle. 

"This happened last Monday at the Helias High School football game," said Paula Benne, President of Jefferson City-based C & S Business Services, Inc.   "There were something like 6-8 cars broken into, some by this technique." 
MIZZOU RESEARCHERS:  Major new breast cancer findings
MIZZOU, 12/22/09 (Beat Byte) --  Known as lymphedema, swollen lymph nodes are a major byproduct of breast cancer surgery and can last far longer than previously thought -- well past one year -- Mizzou researchers announced this month. 
"These preliminary findings provide additional evidence that breast cancer survivors are at a risk for developing lymphedema beyond the first year of treatment," Sinclair School of Nursing researcher Robin Shook said during a poster presentation.
Describing outcomes in 211 of 300 participants in the NIH-funded study, the report assessed the women over 30 months.  48% of participants had mastectomies; 39% had lumpectomies (tumor removal); and 115 women had both.  Rather than using one method to identify swollen nodes, the MU researchers used 4 different methods, and found that after one year, 41% of study participants experienced lymphedema using the most conservative criteria while 91% experienced lymphedema using the most liberal criteria. 
Previous reports showed lymphedema in 31% and 72% of women after one year -- much lower numbers -- using the respective criteria. 
Sycamore, at 800 E. Broadway in Columbia's downtown District, has gradually become a Columbia favorite, offering casually-fine dining in a cozy atmosphere that's chic enough to entertain out-of-town guests and non-pretentious enough to have a regular local following. 
Yesterday for lunch, I had the fried oysters on warm focaccia while my seven-year-old enjoyed a grilled organic cheese sandwich.  The food was delish, but the service was slow.   Sycamore serves good, just-this-side of pricey lunch fare and for restaurants open on Mondays in Columbia, business often booms because so many other places close.   The place was packed. 
I've dined at Sycamore many times over the years, and bellied up to their bar more than once.   I had some bad experiences when Chef Mike Odette and his partners first opened, but it seems like the kinks were long ago worked out. 
Other diners share my opinion.  "I officially have a new favorite restaurant in Columbia," writes Melissa at business review site Yelp.com.   "When I'm looking to impress someone from out of town, this is where I bring them," adds Mike. 
But a lack of vegetarian dishes caught flack from some diners. 
"For what it does and how much it costs, I think there's room for improvement.  There were no vegetarian entrees the night we came and my friend was left to pick and choose among the appetizers," writes Annee from Santa Cruz. 
"As a vegetarian, I did not enjoy this restaurant," writes Anne K. from Columbia.  "Since they use local ingredients, it would be easy to make some awesome veggie options." 
I'm not a vegetarian, so I didn't notice whether or not Sycamore is light on veggie dishes. 
HOUSING NEWS:  From Bank of Missouri's Tom Stone
"ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END..." Or so the popular saying goes. And last week, the Fed reiterated once again that their Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) purchase program -- the program that has helped keep home loan rates low for much of the last year -- will end on March 31, 2010 as previously stated.  Here's the lowdown on what this means, and all the latest news impacting home loan rates and the markets.
I hope all will have a very Happy Holiday.  This will be my last report until after Christmas.  Taking a little time to spend with the family.  I am hoping we get some snow, so I can play with the kids!
Tom Stone
The Bank of Missouri
Asst. Vice President

Mike Martin
Editor in Chief
The Columbia Heart Beat


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