What they're saying…

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Missouri newspapers:

Dec. 18

Springfield News-Leader, on higher education funding:

Gov. Matt Blunt's announcement that he will once again seek a more than 4 percent increase in higher education funding should be welcomed by parents wondering how they're going to fund their children's college tuition.

Blunt is following through on a two-year commitment he made to Missouri university presidents last year. And he's adding a proposal in his budget for $100 million for scholarships.

This is good news for parents and taxpayers.

It's also not enough.

Democrats have criticized the governor's proposal as being nothing more than an election year ploy.

They might be right. But, we say, if it takes an election year to get more money for higher education, so be it.

More money for education is exactly what this state needs. It's what the state needed when Democrats were in charge and higher education funding slowed or was cut. And it's what's been needed under Blunt, when the increases have barely kept up with inflation.

There's no way that in the contentious election year we're entering, Missouri is going to solve its higher education crisis.

Our state's funding levels for higher education pale in comparison to our neighboring states. By many comparisons, in both total funding and recent increases in funding, Missouri is one of the lowest-ranked states in higher education funding in the nation.

To climb out of this hole will take years of extended commitment. It will take the sort of big thinking that lawmakers seem to be willing to undertake as they consider all sorts of new taxes for highways, but won't consider to fund the future education of our young people. ...

The governor is on the right track this year. He needs a push to increase his proposals even more.

In the end, the General Assembly should make higher education funding the sort of priority that allows politicians of both parties to claim a victory.

Dec. 17

Southeast Missourian, on Nathan Cooper:

Former state representative Nathan Cooper was sentenced recently to 15 months in prison and a $6,000 fine for immigration fraud.

He had to forfeit $50,000 in legal fees and lost his license to practice law.

Cooper, a former immigration lawyer, set up shell companies to hide the true employers of foreign truck drivers.

Those drivers, many from Australia or New Zealand, were brought to the U.S. after Cooper obtained state certification of the need for foreign workers to take care of a seasonal surge in business.

Those workers actually took permanent employment with companies that had little seasonal variation.

Cooper also admitted purchasing visa approvals for seasonal workers in the hospitality industry and using the documents to provide work to the truck drivers. ...

The recommended sentence for such crimes is 30 to 37 months. It's unclear whether many letters written on Cooper's behalf swayed the judge. Regardless, this was a sad day in Missouri politics.

Cooper is a bright man who had a bright future. He disappointed many people with his illegal schemes.

We can only hope that he learns from this situation and finds a way to pick himself up again once his sentence is completed.

Dec. 17

The Joplin Globe, on charging daughter with kidnapping mother:

Charging 67-year-old Delores Forste with kidnapping her own 95-year-old mother, keeping Forste in jail for three weeks in California, and then extraditing her back to Jasper County steps over the lines of common sense.

Forste has bonded out of the Jasper County Jail and will spend her Christmas with relatives in Golden City, while her husband and mother are ''in hiding'' because there is also a warrant out for his arrest. Forste is scheduled to go before a judge on Dec. 26.

Forste's crime is that she took her mother to visit some relatives and her mother did not want to return to Missouri -- so Forste kept her.

Forste's mother, Emma France, was made a ward of the public administrator's office earlier this year when it was learned that she had lost a large amount of money in a lottery scam. ...

Sure, the letter of the law has been broken, but the aggression shown by the county in dogging this case sends up a number of red flags.

... (Public Administrator Rita) Hunter's charges are among the highest in the state for services to her wards. They also are many times higher than those levied by other public administrators in three similarly sized Missouri counties. ...

We believe that all charges against Forste should be dropped and that Probate Judge David Mouton should review this case to see if France indeed really needs the county to look after her best interests or if the woman should do as she pleases -- return to California with her daughter.

We also believe the court needs to review the amount of fees being charged by the public administrator.

The question that must be answered is: Who is the victim in this case?

Everyone involved here sees herself as a victim, but ultimately it will be the taxpayer who foots the bill for something that could have been resolved with as little as a phone call -- billed at $75 an hour.

Dec. 16

The Kansas City Star, on abortion regulations:

Missouri has one of the strictest laws regulating abortion in the nation, and further restrictions could be fatal to abortion rights that have been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, an out-of-state organization is pursuing a change that would outlaw abortions in virtually all instances, with no exceptions even for rape or incest.

The proposal, to be circulated as an initiative petition, should never make it to the ballot. It appears designed to give the Supreme Court an opportunity to change the historic 1973 court ruling that protects the right to an abortion.

The proposal in Missouri would prohibit abortions except when the life of a pregnant woman was in danger, or when a woman would suffer serious medical risks if the pregnancy continued.

In most instances, a physician would need to evaluate and document emotional, psychological and physical risks to the woman before an abortion could be performed.

Supporters of the proposed law would need about 90,000 signatures from six congressional districts to put it on the ballot.

The proposal's sponsor is the Elliot Institute, based in Springfield, Ill. In 2006, the same organization unsuccessfully tried to put a proposal against early stem-cell research on Missouri's ballot. The state's voters that year favored Amendment 2, which protects all research allowed by federal law.

Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri say they will go to court to challenge the latest Elliot proposal before the signatures are gathered.

If that legal challenge fails, registered voters who want to protect abortion rights have a simple option: Refuse to sign the petitions for the proposal.