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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of October 25, 2010

Police have captured a man suspected in connection with 3 killings and 1 injury in Holts' Summit Wednesday, the AP reports.

23-year-old Joshua William Maylee was arrested by police Thursday in Cooper County, Mo.

Police officials have yet to release a comment.

At a conference on higher education Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced he would give $100,000 to public universities during the next fiscal year.

He said he hoped the money would promote student performance and enthusiasm.

Professors at the conference said they appreciated the Governor's effort and desire to help higher education.

But because the funding represents only a miniscule part of Missouri's $23 billion budget, they still referred to it as a "token gesture" and "a drop in the bucket."

As the election nears, Republican Senate Candidate Roy Blunt pledges to visit 50 cities in one week, ending on election day.

Blunt touts his campaign as a referendum on Washington, according to the AP.

Democratic opponent Robin Carnahan reportedly compared her campaign to Harry S. Truman's campaign over Thomas Dewey, and urged her supporters to recruit people on election day.

The AP reports Blunt is in the lead, as evidenced by numerous polls putting him as the front runner.

A group of ministers and priests in St. Louis spoke against Missouri's Proposition A Tuesday.

The inter-faith coalition said they worried the legislation would hurt Missouri's poor, the AP reports.

Proposition A makes voters in St. Louis and Kansas City decide whether to uphold an earnings tax every five years and prohibits any other county from instituting the tax.

Clare Harris of Camdenton has an armadillo problem.

For the past two years they have created foot-wide holes in her yard as they dug up tree roots, cables and pipes.

The creatures have even made it difficult for Harris to walk around. "I can't even walk to my propane tank without just about twisting my ankle, falling in a hole. I have to have a certain path in the front on the side where I walk," Harris said.

As armadillos adapted to cooler temperatures, they started coming into Missouri in 1970s to avoid starving. Now they are in mostly every Missouri county, state Conservation Department Spokesman Jim Low said.

Camdenton Police spokeswoman Chasity Hodges has been receiving armadillo complaints in her area. "There is definitely a problem. We are having several- lots and lots and lots of calls on this problem," Hodges said.

Despite that, MU Fisheries and Wildlife Professor Robert Pierce believes armadillos will not cause widespread destruction. "They're probably more of a nuisance rather than a real economic loss because most of the damage is pretty localized."

So localized, friends of Harris see armadillos walk down the street, avoiding neighbor's lawns and going right to hers.

Her neighbor's yards are damage-free, but Harris will have a tree only a few feet away from her neighbor's property cut down because armadillos killed it.

Armadillos first invaded Harris' lawn when construction started by her house shortly after she moved in a few years ago.

Since then, she has spent almost $400 trying everything she can. Grub, anti-insect killer, fences, and traps have failed to deter the armadillos. Unique attempts at spreading human hair and urine over her grass have likewise produced no positive results.

The damage is so extensive Harris can only mow a quarter of her yard. The rest she has to weed whack by hand, turning what used to be a 45 minute project into a four or five hour ordeal.

As a result, Harris is considering alternatives. "There might be parts of my yard that I may have graveled because I'm tired of dealing with them. Nobody, nobody wants to help."

Harris has reached out for help to animal control, the Department of Natural Resources, and a damage control biologist who tested her soil, put up cages, and fenced everything off, to no avail.

No one is offering help, with the exception of a select few like Hodges, Harris said, and she "would just like someone to give a crap."

Although some are not sympathetic to her situation, Harris keeps a positive mindset. "It's at the point now to where you either cry about it or you laugh about it, and I choose not to cry."


Susan Montee has been State Auditor for the past four years and says she feels confident about elections because she's bringing a lot to the table with her experience.

Montee has continued to run audits through her campaign trail because she says it's her job and the campaign shouldn't keep her from doing it. She says she's been burning the candle at both ends and when elections are over, she just wants to relax at home for a couple of days.

Montee expects voters will vote in a non-partisan way, come election day. She says state auditor isn't a political office where policy decisions are made and for that reason she thinks people will vote based on who's right for the office.

The Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad reported three dead and one injured after a shooter opened fire in Holts Summit.

The victims have been identified as 46-year-old Jeffrey J. Werdehausen, 48-year-old Eugene Allen Pinet, and 57-year-old Jackie Lee Pinet. Werdehausen's wife, 41-year-old Gina M. Werdehausen, was injured and remains at Columbia's University Hospital.

The suspect, Joshua William Maylee, is still at large.

Hospital Director of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Dr. David Wilson says that they treat about six to seven hundred animals annually.

Wilson says the move to St. Louis is to make the trip to the vet easier for the pet owners in southern Illinois and eastern Missouri.

The Animal Cancer Care clinic will take the place of a vacant Wentzville building that was formerly a human oncology center.

Gov. Jay Nixon outlined his plan to spend Missouri's broadband money Tuesday in Jefferson City, and the plan involves a lot of government bureaucracy.

More than 80 rural counties in Missouri will see broadband expansion within the next few years, Nixon said at a broadband kickoff event.

The $200 million in federal funds will be used to create technology planning teams, which will work with a proposed statwide office to come up with the Internet expansion plan. Nixon said he wants an Internet "transformation" in the next few years.

About 51 percent of Missouri's registered voters will vote in the Nov. 2 general election, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said Tuesday.

There are more than 4.1 million Missourians registered to vote, and 105,000 first-time registered voters for next week's election.

For the first time, the state will e-mail absentee ballots to military personnel stationed overseas. Local election officials will oversee the process, which is secure, said Laura Egerdal, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office.

The e-mail system will cut down on half the time it would take military personnel to submit an absentee ballot, Egerdal said.

Deer season is in full swing and officials are searching for techniques to reduce deer-vehicle collisions. One technique the public frequently requests is to put up deer crossing signs.

MoDot's John Miller says according to research, the signs aren't doing much to prevent collisions.

Missouri Department of Conservation's Lonnie Hansen says studies are in the works for new deer crossing signs. He says the signs flash when they detect an animal's presence. Hansen says the signs are being tested out west.

Email alerts will be sent to Missourians who register to see where sex offenders are located in relation to their homes as of October 22.

The notification of a sex offender moving or changing addresses will be sent to neighbors within 24 hours.

Public Information director of the Missouri Highway Patrol, Lt. John Hotz says more than 1000 people have signed up for the new system.

Three men are still on the run after escaping from a Pattonsburg, Mo. jail late Sunday evening.

Authorities are still searching for Carlos Sarmiento, Nicholas D. McCleary and Timothy J. Baudour.

The convicts escaped Daviess/Dekalb County Regional Jail around 8 pm last night by crawling underneath the perimeter fence.

Sarmiento is a convicted murderer, and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 19th. McCleary was originally in jail for a property damage conviction, but received additional charges after a previous attempted jail escape. Badour was convicted of assault. McCleary is from Rayville, Mo. and Badour is from Mexico, Mo.

The three men were last seen in orange jumpsuits, with no shoes. Sarmiento is Hispanic with a woman wearing a sombrero tattoed on his right arm. McCleary is white with two lightening bolts near his left eye. Badour is white with a Tigger tattoo on his right arm.

The jail is located near to two major highways, Interstate 35 and Interstate 29.

Authorities say these men should not be approached if they are seen.

Last Week

The brother of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is facing drug charges after he was found unconscious outside of a Columbia, Mo. bar on Jan. 5, the AP reports.

46-year-old Will McCaskill was picked up by police having suffered cuts and bruises.

Columbia Police said they also found a paper bag filled with cocaine.

In August, McCaskill was charged with cocaine possession and was arrested in Holts Summit, Mo.

His bond is set at $4,500.

Sen. McCaskill, a former county prosecutor, has previously been the subject of a federal investigation into drug use.

After 12 years as a Missouri Supreme Court Justice, Judge Michael Wolff will step down next fall.

Wolff made the announcement Wednesday, saying he plans to take a position as a law professor at St. Louis University (SLU).

He previously taught at SLU until 1998, when he was appointed by former Gov. Mel Carnahan to Missouri's high court.

During his time as an attorney, Wolff served as a legal counsel to Carnahan.

Wolff says he will start the SLU position in the Fall 2011 semester.

Get the radio story

The Missouri Gaming Commission heard pitches from three company and community partnerships vying for the state's thirteenth and final remaining casino license Wednesday.

Representatives from Cape Girardeau, Sugar Creek, and St. Louis gathered in Jefferson City to present their plans for gaming establishments. A fourth proposal, from North St. Louis County, was pulled from the schedule after financing woes kept the group from moving forward.

Gaming Commission Chairman James Mathewson noted the group is not obligated to issue the license at all, and may not choose any of the presented sites.

Get the radio story.

A profile on Roy Blunt, candidate for Missouri Senate.

Leading the polls in the U.S. Senate race, Roy Blunt finds himself under attack for his some of his connections in Washington.

Missouri's Democratic Party took another jab at Republican candidate Roy Blunt, alleging that he used his position as Secretary of State to help a woman who illegally worked for his ex-wife twenty years ago.

The party released documents it claims prove that Blunt both hired and helped the woman, who was not authorized to work in the U.S.

However, it was unable to provide details about the work the woman may have done or whether any action followed from Blunt's letter to the immigration commissioner.

According to the Kansas City Star, Blunt's campaign said the woman never worked for the Blunts but had "simply helped out at a couple of church events."

Called "double taxation" by the amendment's proponents, Amendment 3 seeks to prevent the state from ever being able to instate a real estate transfer tax.

No such tax has yet been proposed in the legislature and no organized opposition to the amendment exists.

A profile on Tom Schweich, candidate for Missouri state auditor.

Schweich's experience, flaws and friends in his campaign to become the next auditor.

A profile on Missouri state auditor Susan Montee.  

A personal look at the incumbent, as well as a highlight of her past four years as Missouri's auditor.

The Missouri Children's Service Commission will make suggestions to the governor and state legislature to protect Missourians.

The Commission met earlier this week to come up with specific ways to develop a long term plan.

Over 100 children and adults in Western Missouri, alone, have been rescued from human trafficking.

Unemployment levels continued to hover below 9 percent in Missouri for the month of September, the Department of Economic Development announced Monday.

The rate of unemployment in the state was 9.3 percent in August and September. That number fell below the national unemployment rate of 9.6 percent.

During September, unemployment numbers fell in Kansas City and St. Louis, but rose in Springfield. Unemployment in rural areas of the state remained unchanged.

To its supporters, Proposition A is about giving local voters a say in how they're taxed. To its opponents, the measure is an effort to deny local voters that right.

This November, Missouri voters will have the chance to weigh in on the ballot measure, which seeks to limit the ability of cities to enact earnings taxes.

The tax exists in only two cities -- St. Louis and Kansas City. The cities levy a one percent tax on the incomes of businesses and individuals working or residing in the city.

If passed, Proposition A would ban any other city in the state from adopting an earnings tax.

For St. Louis and Kansas City, it would require a referendum on the tax every five years for it to continue. If voters in either city elected to repeal the tax, it would be phased out over a decade without the opportunity to resubmit the issue.

Proponents argue an earnings tax drives businesses out of cities were the tax is applied. Opponents argue it would deny cities revenue sources for critical city services.

Missouri's State Treasurer announced Monday (Oct. 18) that Missourian's can sign up for notifications about unclaimed property held by the state.

"This Missouri's Largest Lost & Found," as Treasurer Clint Zweifel described it on the state's Web site (http:///

Unclaimed property includes assets held by various financial institutes for which the actual owners cannot be found. It includes bank accounts, stocks, items in safe deposit boxes, insurance payments and government refunds.

Various financial institutions and other businesses are required to turn over to the state any such property for which there has been no contact with the owners for five or more years.

Constitutional Amendment 2 on the November ballot would provide a property tax exemption for a residence owned by a former prisoner of war who has a total service-connected disability.

The measure was approved by the legislature without a negative vote in either chamber last year.

The Veterans Administration estimates there are about 100 former prisoners of war living in Missouri who would qualify.

Last year, legislative staff estimated the cost for local government from lost property taxes would be less than $187,000. The figure was based an an estimate of 200 persons qualifying.

Supporters argue approval of the measure would indicate appreciation for the veterans' services. One opponent, however, questioned why others such as Medal of Honor recipients were not included.