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CAPITOL REPORT
April 28, 2001

CORPORATE WELFARE OR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?
By STEVE HUNTER
127th District State Representative
Several of the heavy-hitters from the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team traveled to Jefferson City recently to lobby the Governor and legislators for our support for a bill to give them tax dollars to build themselves a new stadium in St. Louis. They want the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the State to chip in. St. Louis City and County have not agreed to the deal.
The Cardinals have plans to build a new $370 million stadium to replace Busch Stadium and a nearby Ballpark Village which will include entertainment facilities, retail shops and some housing. (No developer has committed to this project yet.) The Cardinals want you to pay about half of the cost for their new stadium, i.e., between $8 million and $9.5 million per year for the next 35 years. They are willing to kick in $100 million plus the land that Busch Stadium currently sits on, which they own. They want the State to sell bonds for them to build the new stadium and then help pay off the bonds for the next 35 years with your tax dollars.
In very simple terms, bonds are like a mortgage.
This stadium scheme would be like you using your neighbor's credit line to qualify for a mortgage to build a new home.
Then after you get your new home built, your neighbor would also be responsible for paying half your mortgage payments for you. What a deal! Supporters of this corporate welfare package say it will revitalize the City of St. Louis and provide economic development. The owners of the Cardinals say that the team's performance will suffer if they don't get a new stadium.
The owners say they need a new ballpark to generate enough money to keep up with players' multi-million dollar salaries.
Furthermore, the Cardinals hint that if they don't get their new stadium they just might leave town. In some situations, this could be seen as blackmail or manipulation at the very least.You should also know that you are currently paying off the bonds on the TWA Dome in St. Louis, which is just a few blocks from Busch Stadium. Since 1991 when the State entered into a contract on your behalf, Missouri taxpayers have paid $109,500,000 for principal and interest payments on the bonds as well as maintenance on the Dome. You will continue paying $12 million per year ($10 million per year bond payments plus $2 million per year for maintenance) through the year 2020. The City and County of St. Louis contribute $5 million per year for bond payments and $1 million for maintenance. The amount of the original bonds authorized to build the TWA Dome was $153.2 million. By the time the Dome is paid for you will have contributed $337.5 million in State General Revenue tax money.
Kansas City is not about to be left out of this taxpayer largesse. In fact, the Senate bill now includes $6.5 million for Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums and $1.5 million each for Municipal Auditorium and Kemper Arena. Missouri taxpayers currently contribute $2 million of General Revenue taxes each year to Bartle Hall. Since 1991, you have spent $20 million on Bartle Hall. According to the agreement, you still owe an additional $28 million to Bartle Hall until 2015 when the contract expires. Arrowhead Stadium receives $3 million per year from the State's General Revenue Fund.
Arrowhead Stadium has received $22 million since 1991 and you still owe an additional $42 million on this contract through 2015.In fact, over the past ten years, you have spent $151.5 million on the TWA Dome, Arrowhead Stadium and Bartle Hall.
You are still obligated for another $298 million to these three entities. By the way, in the Cardinals bill there is another $35 million in bonds to build a new $75 million basketball arena at the University of Missouri, Columbia and $3 million for the Savvis Center in St. Louis.
We began this year with reports from the Governor of a budget crisis and a revenue shortfall of over $307 million for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2001. We have used $127 million of tobacco settlement money to bail out the State budget and made cuts in State spending. State employees will not receive a cost-of-living pay raise this year.
Furthermore, the Governor issued a press release last week announcing an additional $50 to $100 million revenue shortfall before this June 30 because of the slowing economy. Maybe the Cardinals owners and players ought to dig a little deeper into their own pockets or ask the National League to chip in. While I love baseball, in my opinion, Missouri taxpayers are pretty well tapped out already.
Late note: During the Wednesday afternoon session, we voted to build Missouri University a new basketball facility. The total cost will be $75 million. The University has $40 million in donations and the state will pay $35 million. The debt service will be over 20 years. It will cost approximately $3 million out of the treasury each year. I voted against this bill.
I am a huge Tiger fan, but I can't justify building a stadium at a time when we can't take care of core responsibilities, i.e., state employee's raises roads and bridges. Missouri Southern built a multipurpose building without state help. Maybe other colleges should follow Southern's lead.
Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments at Room 103B-B, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

HOW DID THEY EVER GET NEWS IN CARTHAGE
BEFORE RICK ROGERS ARRIVED AT THE PRESS?

The biggest joke around Carthage since the day officials at The Carthage Press decided I was too old and made too much money for their publication is that outside of the improvement no one has noticed a difference in The Carthage Press.
Unfortunately, that's all that is, is just a joke. And I had been content to leave that as is since I love my job teaching at Diamond Middle School and have no desire to get back into the world of daily journalism...especially since solid daily journalism seems to be a thing of the past.
The most recent article to emerge from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has convinced me it is time I set the record straight before the next chapter of Ego Illustrated is written. In a page-one article in Tuesday's Carthage Press, Rick Rogers wrote, "The editorial and advertising staffs of The Carthage Press garnered 15 awards- up one from last year's total of 14 (telling us it was up one would have given most of us a clue that The Press won 14 last year) at the 2000 Missouri Press Association's annual awards ceremony held Sept. 9 at the Regal Riverfront Hotel.
There is nothing wrong with self-promotion. The Carthage Press earned that many awards and should be recognized for it and should be given congratulations. As the article pointed out, only four other newspapers, The Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Springfield News-Leader and Columbia Daily Tribune, received more awards.
The entire tone of the article would lead you to believe that the paper did better in its first year under Mr. Rogers than it did during my last year. And perhaps it did. I'll leave that to the judgment of the readers and not the contest judges.
But the Missouri Press Association's Better Newspaper Contest Gold Cup Award is not chosen by the number of awards a newspaper wins, but by a formula that gives the most points for first place finishes, followed by second, third and honorable mention.
In most categories, the first place winner receives six points, second place five points, third place four points and honorable mention two points. The photographic categories receive four points for first place, three for second, two for third and one for honorable mention.
The winners in the categories of general excellence and community service are given more points. For general excellence, it is 12 points for first place, 10 for second, eight for third and six for honorable mention. Winners in the community service category receive 10 points for first place, eight for second, six for third and four for honorable mention.
Under this formula, The Carthage Press finished extremely well this year, placing fifth with 54 points, behind The Kansas City Star 178, St. Louis Post-Dispatch 97, Springfield News-Leader 63, and St. Joseph News-Express 59. The Press has every reason to feel proud of those results. It finished ahead of such newspapers as The Cape Girardeau Southeast-Missourian, The Columbia Tribune, The Joplin Globe and The Sedalia Democrat, as well as the other 17 newspapers that entered the contest. But was it the best record The Press ever posted in the MPA Contest? Not by a long shot.
Last year, the newspaper collected a record (for The Carthage Press) 63 points, including first place finishes in investigative reporting and community service for the drunk driving series and finished in third place, the best finish ever for the paper, behind the two biggest newspapers in the state, The Kansas City Star and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. By the time the awards were announced, I had already been fired, but I was still shocked when The Press failed to acknowledge the third-place finish, instead saying it had received the fifth highest number of awards. And mind you, if you notice the first line in The Press story, this year's finish also includes three awards won by the advertising department.
I was also surprised last year when The Press story emphasized the first place finish in sports coverage (Mr. Rogers was sports editor) and page design (Mr. Rogers is responsible for the design of the paper) and moved two team efforts, the community service award and the investigative reporting down several paragraphs in the article. It also pushed to close to the end of the portion that was on page one the information that Stacy Rector, who is now lifestyles editor, won first place for feature writing, making her the youngest person to ever receive a first-place award in the MPA Contest. In fact, the accomplishment of being the youngest ever was not even mentioned, nor was the fact that The Press had won the community service award for the second consecutive year. In 1998, the newspaper took top honors, thanks to Miss Rector, with her Teen Tuesday page. Her first place feature writing award and the community service award were captured thanks to work the multi-talented young writer did while she was a senior at Carthage Senior High School. That was not mentioned either. All information about Stacy was buried in the avalance under the fact that The Press had won awards for design and sports.
The byline on the story on the award winners from 1999 was given to Ron Graber, but you will never convince me that Mr. Rogers, who is responsible for the page one content each day in The Press, did not do a major rewrite on that story. I didn't expect to receive a big mention in that article. Since I had been fired, it would not have been a major surprise if I had been left out totally, but the accomplishments the staff made in my last year there should have been recognized properly and the awards presented the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime story about Stacy Rector...one that unfortunately will never be written.
The fifth place finish The Press had this year is incredible and should be hyped, but The Press finished fifth four times in the 1990s, twice under Managing Editor Neil Campbell and twice under me, as well as last year's third place finish. The paper is much better designed now, but it should be remembered that in the 1990s, The Press received top honors in investigative reporting five times from MPA, and finished second twice. It won the community service award three times and received top honors for best news content. A lot of people put a lot of effort into those awards. Some of them Ron,Rick, Jo, Glenita and Stacy are still with The Press. Others, including Brian Webster, Randee Kaiser, John Hacker, Nancy Prater, Marvin VanGilder, Jack Harshaw, Amy Lamb Campbell, Mary Guccione, Brooke Pyle and Cait Purinton, also helped The Press establish a record that can be envied by larger newspapers across the state. The leadership that began that rise started with Neil Campbell and former publisher Jim Farley.
I have always been one of those who believed that you have to have a lot of ego to constantly write columns about yourself. So I avoided it at The Press and I try to avoid it at The Turner Report. A lot of people are far more interesting than I am. But in this case, I felt an exception had to be made, not only to set the record straight about my work, but about the work of people who worked with me and for me during the past decade.

IN SUPPORT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS
By Randy Turner

The recent shooting death of teacher Barry Grunow in Lake Worth, Fla., on the heels of school shootings in Littleton, Colo., and Jonesboro, Ark., has brought out a herd of so-called experts who will tell you with absolute certainty that these deaths would not have happened if school officials had taken this action or that action.
You can keep the guns and pipe bombs out of the schools and stop the Trenchcoat Mafias from cropping up if you require all children to wear uniforms. It's always nice to hear someone suggesting that the way to improve America is by making all Americans the same.
Then there are the school-voucher proponents who jump on every incident of school violence and claim that these things only happen in public school systems. You don't see crimes of violence in private schools, these self-proclaimed experts say. And they keep saying these things in spite of statistics that show violence in American schools is not on the increase, but rather has been decreasing over the past few years. Of course, it is an election year.
Certainly violent incidents are going to happen more often in public schools that in private schools. Public schools have accepted the challenge and mandate of educating every student. School officials do not have the ability to pick and choose their students as private schools do, whether it be done through scholarships or through parents who have enough money to pay tuition fees.
There is nothing wrong with private schools being able to do that. Freedom of choice is important in this country. Just don't use their ability to screen out the Trenchcoat-Mafia types as an example of the superiority of private schools.
In the United States, every child is entitled to an education. No other country in the world takes that proposition as seriously (most of them would not even consider it) as the U. S. does. With every child guaranteed an education, it is virtually impossible to keep some of the evils that have seeped into society from reaching into the school systems.
You are going to have children whose parents are abusers and drug users. You are going to have children whose intelligence ranges all the way from educable mentally retarded to genius. You are going to have children who are devil worshippers and you are going to have children who are deeply religious, sometimes sitting side by side in the same classroom. Every type of person in any given community is going to be reflected in the makeup of that community's public school system.
It's the same anti-public school argument that voucher advocates and private school proponents have been trotting out whenever test scores are released that show that our public schools "are failing our children."
Of course, the test scores are often higher in private schools. Part of the reason is because the students are receiving a good education, no doubt about it. The main reason public school test scores are so negative, in many cases, is because public schools have the responsibility of dealing with every child in every community. These include the well-behaved children and they include the disruptive children.
Contrary to the political rhetoric, our nation's schools are not failing. If test scores from Japan or France or Germany are higher, then see what happens to those same test scores if those countries were to follow the American example and offer every child an education. See what would happen if those countries made laws that guaranteed equal opportunity and access to education to children who are mentally or physically disabled.
Unfortunately, there will continue to be Littletons and Jonesboros. There are going to be places where a small element manages to slip through the cracks in the system and causes irreparable harm. And when these incidents occur, and they will, the network news crews and the 24-hour cable news operations will be there with wall-to-wall coverage, hour after hour until they have long exhausted what news value may exist.
What the network news and the 24-hour cable news operations are not telling you, are all the incidents that take place every day in our nation's school systems from Los Angeles, Calif., to New York, N. Y., to Diamond, MO., in which trained teachers, counselors and administrators have caught these potential problems before they reached the crisis level.
You don't hear about the meetings that take place daily in which dedicated professionals make decisions that make public school campuses safer and that help straighten the path of those who may be in danger of slipping away.
You don't hear about these things because there are not hordes of television cameras and microphones descending on places where the business of education happens day after day, usually without incident.
Our public schools are not perfect, but they are not the cause of all the problems that society faces and they are not the miserable failure that many politicians, with the aid of the media, make them out to be. For many troubled children, the public school system is the only place where there are people who care about them and their problems.
This is the time to offer support to the public schools, not to jump on the bandwagon and criticize them for society's problems.

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