As 2013 comes to a close, we’ve looked back on this year’s crop of Intersection shows as a way to get a grasp on the top stories of the year. We highlighted them in a special hour-long year-end show that you can listen to here:
But if you don’t have an hour to spare at the moment, here are some the bits and pieces.
Crime in Columbia, an effort to get more police officers, and why some of the officers we have now are unhappy
Crime and public safety were on the minds of many Columbia residents this year, following a series of high profile shootings. That included the shooting death of slain teenager Tre’Veon Marshall, a homicide in a Conley Road shopping center in what’s believed to be a drug deal gone bad, and shots fired in Columbia’s downtown district in July.
In response, Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid announced a 6-point plan to tackle violent crime. Among the ideas: a 20 cent property tax increase to hire 35 additional officers. The mayor also announced the members of a task force charged with investigating Columbia’s crime problem.
The same day that Mayor McDavid announced those ideas in August he was a guest on Intersection.
The Columbia Police Officers Association later criticized Mayor McDavid’s income tax proposal on the grounds there was enough money in the city’s budget to hire additional officers. Shortly after, Mayor McDavid scrapped the proposal.
A few weeks later in August, we invited city manager Mike Matthes on the show to discuss his proposed 2014 city budget, which included funding to hire 3 additional officers (well below CPOA’s recommendation of 38 new officers). I asked him if that was enough, and about the likelihood of hiring more officers in the future. Matthes also talked about his confidence in Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton, amidst criticism from CPOA.
Another ongoing story regarding the police department and the relationship between Chief Burton and officers came to resolution (at least for now). Former officer Rob Sanders was not re-instated – he was fired after shoving a suspect against a wall in a city jail cell, and challenged that decision.
The Obama Rodeo Clown
One story that got a lot of national attention this year happened at the Missouri State Fair in August. A rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask mocked the president during a live show, sparking controversy as word spread about the spectacle. Video of the now-infamous incident show many in the crowd cheering as an announcer asks whether they want to see a bull run the clown over. Photos and reports of the event went viral, prompting criticism from many Missourians and politicians, with some calling it “racist.”
Intersection visited Sedalia a few days after the stunt, for a live show we actually had planned even before the rodeo clown incident happened. We spoke to the fair director Mark Wolfe.
There haven’t been any measures yet to actually pull funding from the fair due to the incident. The Rodeo clown – Tuffy Gessling – was banned from the fair and stopped performing for a while, but did re-emerge at a rodeo in Jefferson City later in the year.
Retirements at the University of Missouri, and a new chancellor
Another big, very local story this year involved significant change in leadership at the University of Missouri. After leading the University of Missouri’s flagship campus for nearly a decade, Chancellor Brady Deaton and Provost Brian Foster announced their retirement, and two other top administrators also announced their retirements shortly after Deaton’s. We invited the Deaton and Foster to our studio back in October, and asked Provost Foster what advice he’d give to his successor.
Earlier this month, the University announced Deaton’s replacement – former President of the University of Texas A&M Bowen Loftin. Loftin will start at MU on February 1st.
A veto-proof majority: Medicaid expansion, an income tax cut, guns and big business.
Of course it was a busy year in the state legislature – and an interesting one, politically. Republicans controlled a rare veto-proof majority in both the state House and Senate, pitted against a Democratic Governor. In his state of the state address in January, Governor Jay Nixon made expanding Medicaid one of his main issues for the legislative session. But that never got traction. Republican leadership DID spend a lot of time creating an income tax cut and gun control issues. Right after the legislative session ended, Republican Senator Kurt Schaefer, Republican House member Caleb Rowden and Democratic House member Chris Kelly joined us on Intersection to de-brief, and Rowden talked about one of the things he was proud of about the session.
Schaefer explained one situation that caused a controversy during the legislative session – surrounding information about concealed carry license holders in Missouri that was provided to the federal government.
The scrutiny did lead to some changes: Governor Nixon ordered that the Missouri Department of Revenue cease scanning source documents for conceal-carry weapons applicants and the Department Director Brian Long resigned. The legislature also passed a number of other gun-related bills, including one – House Bill 436. That would have made it illegal to enforce federal gun laws in Missouri. We asked Kelly his thoughts on these types of measures.
Governor Nixon vetoed House Bill 436 and the bill mentioned earlier – that would have created an income tax cut. But because of that veto-proof majority, Republican legislators had a good chance of being able to pass these laws anyway, by voting to override the veto at the veto session in September. Governor Nixon spent a lot of time in the months leading up to the veto session campaigning against the effort to override his veto – pointing out flaws in the bill. Republicans failed to get everyone on board, and while Republicans did override a record amount of vetoes, they did not override the crown jewel – the income tax, which was House Bill 253. The House sponsor, Republican TJ Berry joined us on the show a few days after the veto session ended, and talked through the issue with Democratic Representative Chris Kelly.
So while the Governor and Republican legislative leaders fought over strategies to attract businesses for much of the year, both sides came together in that exact effort earlier this month. Missouri lawmakers approved a package of tax credits aimed at attracting a new Boeing facility to the state. Missouri is one of about 15 states competing to house the new production site of Boeing’s 777X airliner.
Missouri’s bid offers the company up to $1.7 billion over 23 years, with the exact amount depending on the number of jobs created. The state is also offering assistance with job training and a pledge from union groups to work around the clock without overtime to build the facility as quickly as possible.
A few weeks ago on Intersection, we took a closer look at Missouri’s offer, and talked about ways the state could best attract business in the future. We spoke to MU public affairs professor Brian Dabson, Democratic state representative Chris Kelly, and Daniel Mehan. He’s the president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I started by asking Dabson if corporations now hold more negotiating power than states.
Boeing is expected to announce the location it is choosing for its production at the beginning of next year.
Ryan Ferguson is free
Finally, a story that has been one of the most followed in Columbia for more than a decade took a major turn last month.
A Missouri Court of Appeals vacated the conviction of Ryan Ferguson. You might recall Ferguson as one of the two men accused in the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune Sports editor Kent Heitholt.
In its legal opinion, the appeals court said the prosecution committed a Brady violation, that is, they violated Ferguson’s due process rights by withholding favorable information from his defense team. A week after his conviction was vacated, Ryan was released from prison. Scores of people packed into the Tiger Hotel for a press conference with Ryan and family hours after he was released.
Just the day before, it still wasn’t clear when Ryan would be released or if the state might even re-try him for the murder. Ryan’s father, Bill Ferguson, was on Intersection that day, along with former Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Roodhouse and MU law professor Rodney Uphoff. Bill Ferguson started with his reaction to Ryan’s vacated sentence, again, about 36 hours before his son would be released after almost a decade in prison.
Ferguson was featured on a number of national news programs after his release, and has expressed interest in moving to Florida. Meantime, Charles Erickson, the friend that took a plea bargain to testify against Ferguson, is still in prison.
Those were the top stories we were able to fit in to our show this week, but of course there was a lot more that happened, too.
This is a link to the archive of all of our past programs from this year and beyond.
Here are a few of the other shows related to some of the year’s top stories:
Amidst the Maryville rape case, a show on sexual assault reporting and prosecution in Mid-Missouri.
The implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act: Navigating the new online health insurance marketplace (September 30, 2013) and Medicaid expansion in Missouri (February 11, 2013)
If you’re not familiar with Intersection, it’s a local talk show that takes place live, for a full hour, from 2 to 3 every Monday afternoon. You can watch live streaming video of our program each Monday afternoon online at KBIA dot org. Alongside that video, you can submit your questions and comments, and take part in an online discussion with others in the audience
Intersection is produced by Rehman Tungekar, Janet Saidi and Reuben Stern. Travis McMillen is our technical director, with production assistance from Caleb Hoke, Casey Morell and Andrew Yost. Pat Akers is our audio producer. Executive Directors are Mike Dunn and Mike McKean.