Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security which combined data from the most recent FBI reports, population data and its own research, these are the 50 safest cities in Illinois and Missouri.
In Illinois, Waterloo is the safest and in Missouri Greenwood holds the top spot. You have to scroll down the page for each state's link in order to see the entire 50 charted in one spot.
The Post Dispatch has a short editorial bemoaning a new piece of legislation a Missouri legislator has submitted which would reduce the minimum separation between billboards from 1,400 feet to 950 feet. That means it would be possible for there to be what the paper says 32 percent more billboards.
Anyone remember when Lady Bird Johnson worked to decrease what many felt was highway clutter with all the many billboards? She helped pass the Highway Beautification Act, the federal government has used the threat of withholding federal highway funds from states that fail to adequately control the size, spacing and lighting of billboards.
Now Missouri house bill 317, if passed, would reduce the distance between each billboard from 1400 feet to 950 feet. Many property owners in rural Missouri are for this since they derive some income from the advertising on their land.
I am one of those people who is not bothered by highway billboards and I actually enjoy them when I have to be in a car driving for miles and miles across the state or states with nothing much to look at. They give you an idea of what might be head, places to eat, places of historic or fun interest etc. When I was a kid our family used to drive to Florida every year to visit my grandmother and aunt and uncle. As an adult we've made the drive from St. Louis to Chicago to visit family myriad times. It was those billboards which made the long boring drive palatable.
If the Post Dispatch can clutter up its website with so many ads you can't find a story without moving video ads, loud audio, ads which slowly cover up a story just as you begin to read it, ads on the side, top and bottom of each page, then a few more billboards out in the middle of Missouri shouldn't be offensive.
Tomorrow night Illinois and Missouri will meet in the 47th basketball game known as the Braggin' Rights. Two teams from states sharing a border, and about equal driving distance to St. Louis, this has historically been a hard fought, fan favorite game. Of course the rivalry was more intense in past years than recently when both teams have had lackluster teams. But it is still one of those games to watch just for the fun of the two state competition.
From 1980-1993 the game was held at the old Arena and when that was demolished, it went to the Scottrade Center. Illinois leads in games won over these years, 30-16. This year so far Mizzou is 5-5 and Illinois is 9-3.
We've gone to a number of these games over the years and had lots of fun watching fans from each state rib each other. The game tomorrow night will begin at 6 pm on ESPN.
I was very surprised at the wealth of history found in St. Joseph, Missouri over Thanksgiving. The Pony Express began its routes in this city, Jesse James was shot and killed there, it was Missouri's second largest city during the Civil War and that war pit neighbor against neighbor in the worst way, and it was a major place for the manufacturing of dry goods and hardware.
The first thing that interested me was, of course, Jesse James, one of the most famous bank robbers in American history. He and his brother Frank robbed banks and trains for 15 years, robberies which occasionally led to people being shot and killed. He came to St. Joseph to hide from the law after a Minnesota bank robbery turned into such a botch all that every one of his gang was killed except Jesse and his brother. In the end, he was shot in his own living room by a member of his newly formed gang, Bob Ford. Jesse was 34. When you think about his age, he began his crimes at a very young age.
His father Robert was a Baptist Minister who founded William Jewell College in Liberty Missouri and some historians believe Jesse was religious (in his own way) but probably not a Robin Hood who gave his stolen money to the poor. No one really knows what he did with all the money he stole.
Here is the home Jesse James was killed in located near and above old downtown St. Joe.
This house is now part of a museum which also covers several of St. Joseph's founders.
Then there is the matter of the Pony Express which consisted of relays of men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail. If you are are old enough to remember western tv programs and movies, you'll remember the Pony Express. It was founded by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors. Plans for the Pony Express were spurred by the threat of the Civil War and the need for faster communication with the West.
The service opened officially on April 3, 1860, when riders left simultaneously from St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. "The first westbound trip was made in 9 days and 23 hours and the eastbound journey in 11 days and 12 hours. Eventually, the Pony Express had more than 100 stations, 80 riders, and between 400 and 500 horses. The express route was extremely hazardous, but only one mail delivery was ever lost. The service lasted only 19 months until October 24, 1861, when the completion of the Pacific Telegraph line ended the need for its existence."
There is a mural painted on a building wall a block from the museum which depicts the evolution of mail delivery and western travel.
And lastly in this same area above the old downtown are huge old stone homes built by the local captains of industry and trade back in the Victorian era of 19th Century St. Joseph. These homes are amazing and still being lived in by someone. A few are being restored, others just barely lived in and testifying to past vast wealth.
Leave it to Missouri to hold another election, this time for the major state and federal offices. Unlike other states like, say, Illinois, which hold one primary along with the presidential, Missouri spaces them out. In between we've had a local election and as I remember, one other one since January. Lots of money spent holding election here.
This time the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners will be testing out a different voting process which they hope will speed things up and hopefully be one which does not run out of ballots. 50 precincts will be part of the trial run.
Voters will sign in on an iPad then the system will print out a slip telling the election official which ballot is needed, based on the individual's registered address. It's supposed to be faster and more accurate. They hope to have it in all polling places this November.
I won't know til I go vote if our precinct will have this but I am already wondering if waiting for a slip to print out will speed things up.
Today is a municipal election for many counties in Missouri, a day to vote for mayor, aldermen, school board members and propositions. This is only a couple of weeks after the federal primary election. What's even more mind boggling is that there will be another primary, this time in August I believe, to choose party candidates for congress and senate and state and federal office who will then run in November.
It seems to me that Missouri could save some election money by doing what other states do and putting all the federal/state primary offices in one election.
One interesting proposition being voted on today is Prop B which will essentially preserve the existing sales tax on out of state and person to person vehicle sales.
This means that if a Missouri resident buys a car in Illinois they have to pay Missouri sales tax. In 2012 the Missouri Supreme Court struck down this sales tax on titling vehicles purchased out of state. Then in 2013 the state legislature "fixed" this ruling by allowing jurisdictions to continue collecting the sales tax, but said the tax must be approved by local voters on the ballot by the November 2016 election. If isn’t placed on the ballot or is voted down, the tax will be terminated.
So here we are voting to allow this tax to continue. We found ourselves in this position when we bought my Ford Sport Trac truck a couple of years ago. The only place we found this vehicle which we'd been searching for, was over in Illinois at Koetting Ford. Dale and I are trying to remember if we paid Illinois sales tax as well as Missouri. I know we had to pay Missouri when we titled it, did we pay both states? I'll have to dig out the records.
In Clayton there is no competition for the office of mayor, he's running unopposed which is fairly typical here. There is competition for school board seats.
There haven't been all that many polls taken in Illinois and Missouri this primary season, maybe because at the outset few pollsters believed there would still be any competitive races. But, here we are with competitive races. There are a few very recent ones at long last and here is how things look (if you believe this years polls).
Missouri--Rep 52 delegates Trump 36. Cruz 29. Rubio 9. Kasich 8 Dem 71 delegates Clinton 47. Sanders 40
This from Real Clear Politics March 3-10 which seems to be the polling area the Post Dispatch is using and some others.
A Missouri House committee endorsed legislation which would do away with red light cameras in the state. This comes after the Missouri Supreme Court struck down these cameras which operated in several cities and although the court did not specifically ban them, they found things wrong in the local ordinances.
The issue appears to be local municipalities using the ticket revenue as cash cows some call predatory. However, this legislation has a ways to go before it lands on the governor's desk. That's politics.