Category Archives: Missouri Civil Rights Initiative

Out of state hypocrisy on MoCRI

Tim Asher of the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative points out in the Missouri Record that there are a number of out of state groups attempting to block efforts to end race and gender based discrimination by state government.

Other groups from outside the state are welcome to play a role, Asher says. In the end, it is Missourians who approve by petition initiatives and then vote the ballot measure up or down.

The problem here is that MoCRI opponents criticize the effort as one orchestrated by outside influences. In fact, it is their side that is more heavily influenced by outside forces, like the radical group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) from Michigan. Clearly there is some hypocrisy going on.

Living in Columbia at the time of last cycle’s petition drive, I had a chance to observe some of BAMN’s people. One young agitator was especially noxious –  he was clearly a ringleader, and he was from Michigan. I know because I asked someone who had traveled with him.

At an MU campus rally, this individual rallied dozens of students by yelling and repeatedly hurling racially-charged personal insults at Ward Connerly and anybody who supported the petition.

Later, I encountered this same person in front of the post office, where I was exercising my civic rights by inviting my fellow Missourians to sign the petition. This agitator confronted me and harassed anybody who even looked like they might want to learn more.

As I prepared to move to another spot, the activist approached me. We exchanged words. Fire flashed in his eyes, and I genuinely considered the possibility that I might be assaulted right in front of the post office. I don’t say that haphazardly. If you saw this guy behaving the way he did in a bar or on a street corner, you would instinctively be alarmed and stay away.

I was born and raised in Missouri. Have lived here most of my life and in a number of places around the state, and I love its people and places. I got involved because I care about the issue. This paid thug came from 600 miles away to intimidate Missourians and poison the public discourse.

So then, I loudly second what Tim Asher is saying: you can come from out of state to be involved with our democratic process here in Missouri, just don’t criticize the other side for that which you yourselves are guilty of.

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Filed under Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, Missouri Politics, Race

Principally Political to devote more space to Missouri, Kansas issues

Principally Political has featured something of an eclectic mix of topics in its months of operation, and it’s been a great ride. This month the site is set to shatter the previous all time high of unique daily visitors (more on that later in the month). I plan to continue covering a wide range of topics, because that’s what I’m interested in – just about everything.

However, I’m going to make a concerted effort to increase my coverage of Missouri, and to some extent Kansas, politics. I think more people will be interested in my take on those topics, given that there are less sources to go to for that type of content (as opposed, say, to the number of voices chiming in on national and international topics) and that I have experience in both states.

Furthermore, I think it will be advantageous to focus on a few key topics, providing a more stable, in-depth narrative to readers. Again, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to be riffing spontaneously and widely, but for the purposes of developing a bit of specialization and authority, and becoming a “destination” site, I’m going to dry to drill down a bit. The three topics that I plan to do this with are:

  • Missouri Civil Rights Initiative. If successful, the initiative would amend the state constitution to ensure that all Missourians, regardless of race, are treated equally by their state government. This is an important issue to me personally, and one that I believe would be strongly supported by the public if allowed on to the ballot. The issue deserves wide coverage, including the exposure of Robin Carnahan‘s shameful efforts to prevent Missourians a chance to be heard on this important issue.
  • Education. It will always be a vital issue at the state and local level, and it’s a policy area where new and vigorous debates are being had. Having worked on some school issues, I’ll be focusing on education in both Missouri and Kansas, with a particular emphasis on the rights of parents and broader access to high quality education in safe school environments. There’s no good reason (and a lot of bad ones) why more young people couldn’t receive a great education in this country. Real reform is going to take increased public awareness of the need for change and the alternatives that exist.
  • U.S. Senate Race/Missouri. Obviously, the contest between Roy Blunt and Robin Carnahan will be the hottest horse race story in state politics in the coming year, and there’ll be a lot of good coverage out there. I want to track developments, present analysis of both the policy issue debate and the campaign politics, and offer my views on same. If you happen to be associated with either of the campaigns, don’t hesitate to contact me. Your privacy is assured.

I reserve the right to modify this list over the next several days, but it seems logical. I look forward to writing this new chapter of the site’s history.

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Filed under 2010 Senate Elections, Education, Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, Principally Political, Racial Preferences

NAACP attacks Missouri Civil Rights Initiative

Relying on flawed logic and outright falsehoods, Kansas City NAACP president Anita Russell attacked the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative in the Kansas City Star on Tuesday.

In the half of the column that wasn’t an NAACP promo piece, Russell invokes much of the usual rhetoric, saying that “until we can remove all barriers that keep African-Americans from achieving the American dream, we still need the NAACP and affirmative action.”

She cites socioeconomic disparities between whites and blacks, but is unwilling or unable to point to specific barriers, in her words, that supposedly cause them. She confuses equality of condition with equality of opportunity.

But here’s the real kicker:

“Affirmative action is a tool to give qualified individuals equal access to opportunities. It does not impose quotas or preferential treatment or force the hiring of unqualified people.” (emphasis added)

WRONG. This is a factually inaccurate statement, and I’m surprised it’s too bad that the Kansas City Star let it stand.

Affirmative action does involve preferential treatment, and that’s exactly what MoCRI seeks to address. MoCRI would eliminate preferences in public employment, public contracting and public education on the basis of race (or gender). If affirmative action did not involve preferences, then Russell should not have a problem with eliminating such preferences as a matter of law, and thus no problem with MoCRI.

Instead, she labels MoCRI, which is anti-preferences, as “anti-affirmative action,” but then claims affirmative action does not involve preferences. This is intentionlly misleading, to the point of being dishonest.

Alas, I suspect this is only a mild preview of the irresponsible rhetoric, let alone nasty behavior, that we will see come from opposition in the next two years.

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Will new rules threaten the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative?

A Missouri state lawmaker is introducing legislation that would make it harder for citizens to put constitutional amendments to a vote of the people. Like many states, Missourians can place an amendment on the ballot if they collect enough signatures. As he did during last year’s session, Rep. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) will propose a bill in the 2009 session that would impose the following new regulations on that process:

  • Prevent signature-gatherers from being paid for every signature they collect.
  • Exclude non-Missouri residents from gathering signatures.
  • Prohibit petitioners from collecting signature for more than one petition at a time. 
  • Require gatherers to register with the Secretary of State’s office

Speaking to the Springfield News-Leader, Parson claimed the process needs changing to prevent out-of-state interests from paying non-resident signature gatherers to change Missouri’s constitution. The lawmaker said he would rather the General Assemblydecide whether to place an item on the ballot.

Those agreeing with Parson might also point out that we live in a Republic, not a Democracy. We elect public servants to represent us in legisative bodies, and do so in order that they may make decisions on our behalf. In doing so, we expect a certain prudence in the development of the code of laws by which we all must live.

That being said, there is a danger in limiting the means by which the people can democratically express their will. Especially when dealing with what can sometimes be a politically controversial issue like the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative. I suspect that the majority of Missourians support the notion that the state government should not discriminate on the basis of race in areas of public contracting, public employment and public education. However, the mainstream media and certain special-interest pressure groups have made the issue a volatile one to touch for many a politician. In cases like this, there is certainly something to be said for allowing the people to take matters into their own hands.

What would be interesting to know is whether Parson had (or has) any particular petition in mind when he first filed, and is now re-filing this bill. That is a matter I hope to look into in the coming days and weeks.

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Filed under Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, Missouri Politics