Tag Archives: Jonathan Sessions

Chadwick’s Ninny Pulpit

“Ginny State + Nanny State = Ninny State,” wrote one Facebook user upon learning of Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick’s latest proposal. At the most recent council meeting, Ms. Chadwick started the ball rolling toward an ordinance that would change the legal age for the purchase of tobacco from 18 to 21 and also place tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes within the city limits of Columbia.

Ginny Chadwick

Ginny Chadwick

Her latest proposal comes fresh on the heels of her astoundingly racist and seemingly defunct push to ban alcohol consumption in Douglass Park, a popular gathering place for Columbia’s African-American community. Couple these two overtly overprotective prohibition propositions with her unwavering support of the Opus student housing development and her willingness to completely ignore her constituency on all issues and Ms. Chadwick is a contender for Columbia’s most hated councilperson. There have even been rumblings of recall on social media.

There is, however, one constituent to whom Ms. Chadwick will lend the royal ear. School Board Member Jonathan Sessions, the young entrepreneur and politician rumored to be a Democrat favorite for state office, has taken credit for proposing the new tobacco age restrictions and, according to city insiders, was the man behind the original plan to ban alcohol in Douglass Park when it was first proposed by Chadwick’s predecessor Fred Schmidt.

Jonathan Sessions

Jonathan Sessions

So, what’s so wrong with changing the legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21?

In a town the size of Columbia — i.e. not very big — this change would likely move tobacco sales to just outside the city limits. Unlike the few suburban cities that have made the change, Columbia’s outskirts are relatively under-developed and ripe for a burgeoning tobacco trade. In Columbia, migration of the 18 to 21 tobacco trade is inevitable.

Speaking of suburban cities that have made the change, Ms. Chadwick touted the successes seen in Needham, Massachusetts. The problem is, Needham is  the ONLY city where the change has been made and any success has been seen. The leading organization behind this push, Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, on their website Tobacco21.org, lists only Needham, MA while offering no other evidence regarding tobacco and age limitations. The rest of the evidence is loosely extrapolated from data based on alcohol, a completely different and unrelated drug. And let’s not forget, Columbia is not a densely populated suburb of Boston. Columbia is a small, unique, and independent Midwestern city with a large, transient student population between the ages of 18 and 21. Columbia is the apple to Needham’s orange.

And, there is really no reason to make the change since smoking is already trending down. Read the CDC report HERE. 

Statistics aside, the philosophical problems with the proposal are almost too many to list — but I’ll give it a shot…

Eighteen is the universally accepted, legal age of adulthood in the developed world. It’s the age at which we allow our men and women to join the military so we can send them across the globe to kill and die on our behalf. It is the age that we force all young men to register for the Selective Service so that our government can force them to join the military to kill and die on our behalf (or at least on behalf of the corporatists who run our government). We’ll ask and/or force these adults to kill and die, but Ginny Chadwick thinks that they can’t be trusted to buy cigarettes.

People between the ages of 18 and 21 can choose to have sex with another consenting adult of any age. People under age 21 can even have children and we allow them to be responsible for the health of these children, but Ginny Chadwick thinks these same people cannot be trusted to make their own health decisions regarding tobacco.

People under 21 are allowed to work in Columbia restaurants an be certified by the Health Department to handle food. Ginny Chadwick thinks that these people are a danger to themselves and must be stopped from buying cigarettes, yet they are trusted with the health of restaurant patrons.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates how many people between the ages of 18 and 21 are employed. Take a look at the healthcare and social services statistics for under 21 employees. Wow! We trust these young adults to work in these industries, but Ginny Chadwick doesn’t trust them to buy cigarettes. What’s next? Will she outlaw babysitting for anyone under 21?

And, let’s not forget that 18 is the voting age. We trust 18-year-olds to help choose our leaders, yet Ginny Chadwick doesn’t trust these same citizens to make their own decisions regarding tobacco.

What is Chadwick’s Game?

There has been a great deal of speculation, some rather well-educated speculation, regarding what might be driving Ms. Chadwick’s ninny-nanny behavior. Some have suggested that she merely enjoys all forms of attention, both good and bad. Some have suggested that her belief that she is more intelligent than everyone around her has morphed into some sort of frightening, yet common, elected narcissism. Some have suggested that she is using her elected position as a résumé builder for a future career in the public health field. What is clear is that in spite of her tortured campaign slogan, “The key to the city is the voice of the people,” Ms. Chadwick has completely ignored her constituency, the very citizens she was elected to represent.

Comments posted to her Facebook page, a page which she floods with anti-smoking propaganda, even posting updates during Council meetings, go unacknowledged.

vernon to chad

When she does take the time to answer a constituent, her answer is best described as a ‘non-answer.’ Ms. Chadwick is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Health and Strategic Communication. Here is an example of a strategic non-answer that will curl the hair of staunch grammarians. Did I mention that she studies in the Missouri School of Journalism?

chad qStrategic communication indeed.

When listening to Ms. Chadwick discuss the Opus student housing agreement, it became clear that she was part of “The City” and not part of the First Ward. She often projected a tone of us (The City) vs. them (the people). During an interview on Steve Spellman’s Mid-Missouri Freedom Forum on KOPN she often referred to the City as “we” and called Mayor McDavid “Bob” and City Manager Matthes “Mike” as if they were old friends. She seemed to relish her insider roll, hobnobbing with Opus attorneys and high-ranking bureaucrats.

In the footnote on page 6 of the lawsuit filed by the anti-Opus petitioners, it is noted that Ms. Chadwick seemed to be working with Opus while ignoring her constituents by passing information from the City Manager to one but not the other.

chad law

Click HERE for a news report on her Opus press conference that further demonstrates the us vs. them mentality she holds. She literally thinks she needs to educate her ignorant constituents.

But really, for the narcissist in a seat of power, isn’t it all about “me” and the attention “me” gets? Take this Facebook exchange for instance. Note how Ms. Chadwick talks about her smoking age restriction and how it is an issue that is important to her, not to her constituency. The comment from her Facebook comrade is also quite telling as the friend and citizen pleads with her benevolent overlord to stop the unwashed poor from stinking up the town with their smoking. This is the very arrogance that has come to characterize Ginny Chadwick’s policy making. Birds of a feather flock together.

chad q1

Besides the ego-boosting attention she is receiving, what’s in it for Ms. Chadwick? For one, she’s seeking a degree, and one would assume a career, in the Public Health field. Is this all just a means for Ms. Chadwick to bolster her professional résumé? Why else would she undertake such unpopular crusades while ignoring more pressing issues important to her constituents like gun violence and crumbling infrastructure?

Perhaps she has her sites set on higher office. She does seem to be taking her marching orders from the local establishment Democrat up-and-comer Jonathan Sessions. Is G-Chad just trying to please J-Sesh? He does seem to be the anointed one among local, big-money Dems like Chris Kelly and John Wright. jsesh 1

Who knows what her angle is? Maybe it’s all of the above. What’s clear is that in less than six months from taking her oath of office, Ginny Chadwick has made three extremely unpopular and very public displays of poor political judgement. Sadly, this is par for the course with First Ward representation. It is high time that this community figure out how to get good, trustworthy candidates to run for local office. Many promising candidates cannot afford to donate the time (yes the Council receives a small salary that won’t even cover the gas it takes to drive to the top of a parking garage) required to serve adequately, leaving the job to those with residual or retirement incomes. It is likely time to pay our Council a meaningful salary like our county officials receive. Sadly, it also takes money to be elected. It is time for people to pool their resources and support good candidates. If a First Ward recall were to be undertaken, there is little doubt that the 200 or so signatures could be gathered in only a few days. The real question is — who will take Ms. Chadwick’s place?

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Fred Schmidt Targets Blacks With Prohibition

During the final comments of the Columbia City Council Meeting on Monday, February 18th, [see video above] Councilman Fred Schmidt made some alarming remarks regarding alcohol in Douglass Park. Councilman Schmidt announced his plan to pursue an ordinance prohibiting alcohol consumption in Columibia’s premier inner-city park — a park frequented by Columbia’s vibrant African-American community and a popular meeting place for area residents.

Did Fred Schmidt intentionally make this proposal during Black History Month?

Schmidt made it clear — well, sort of clear considering he stammered through his rambling and rather confusing monologue — that he was singling out Douglass and was not interested in prohibiting alcohol consumption in other city parks.

FredSmall_000

Councilman Schmidt

It is important to note that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in some of the smaller downtown parks due to the presence of vagrants and panhandlers. Douglass Park, however, is not known for drunken panhandlers. Alcohol is allowed in all other city parks.

Schmidt claims that he decided to take on this task after, “some back and forth with some people in the neighborhood.”

Sources tell me that this plan is actually being spearheaded by none other than Jonathan Sessions, darling of the Democrats and Columbia School Board member. There is some question about whether or not Mr. Sessions is a member of the Douglass Park Neighborhood Association, although he has given the impression that he is a member while pitching the idea to Parks and Rec staff. He and Carrie Gartner, bought a house on Aldeah, far from Douglass Park, about a year ago. Mr. Sessions may have once lived in the trendy North Village Arts District that buffers “The District” from the low-income neighborhoods to the North and may still own property there.

Jon Session hugs Barb Hoppe

Jon Session hugs Barb Hoppe

I’d venture a guess that neither Mr. Sessions nor Mr. Schmidt has spent much time in Douglass Park if they’ve visited the park — ever.

Many in Columbia’s central Black community have rightfully labeled this move as racist. For sure it smacks of the white, liberal paternalism that Columbia has endured for the last several decades, especially in the First Ward that surrounds Douglass Park.

Perhaps these two progressives hatched their plan to ban the consumption of alcohol in Douglass Park over a mojito on the patio of Bleu, just a few blocks southeast of the park. I guess Fred and Jonathan just don’t trust Black folks with dangerous fire water. I wonder if they trust Black folks to sit in the front of a FastCat bus.

Here is another related video from a last year’s discussion about upgrades to the government surveillance system in the Douglass Park. It struck me as sadly funny how the city politicians seem to view the people of the Douglass area as “others” when we all live in the same community. Heck, the City Council Chambers are literally only 4 blocks away from Douglass Park. Listen as Mayor McDavid and Councilwoman Hoppe praise their brave bureaucrats for venturing into the Douglass neighborhood to peddle surveillance.

Written by Mark Flakne

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Beata of Blight

The recent push by the City, Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI), and Downtown Community Improvement District (CID) to label 60% of our fair city “blighted“in order to offer tax abatement to select businesses has more than a few Columbia citizens ready to fight. A new, loosely knit, coalition of local groups and individuals has emerged, calling itself Citizens Involved and Invested In Columbia (CIVIC). Keep Columbia Free is a proud to be part of this new coalition.

Columbians from all points of the political spectrum are represented among the ranks of CIVIC. From the far left to the far right, Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, white people, black people, environmentalists, neighborhood leaders, community leaders, anarchists, tea partiers, landlords, developers, real estate agents, teachers, preachers, attorneys, and the list goes on, have taken issue with the EEZ plan. The broad base of CIVIC lends credence to its mission.

The EEZ, Enhanced Enterprise Zone, in a nutshell works like this. An EEZ board is appointed (not elected) by the City Council. Wide swaths of the city are then declared blighted under a loosely worded state statute. Once blighted, specific businesses are awarded property tax abatement and tax credits for expanding in the zone. The unelected EEZ board can override any regulation or zoning requirement that impedes commerce. It’s market-distorting, crony capitalism at its worst.

Among the concerns of CIVIC regarding EEZ and blight are the following:

  • Blight designations can harm property values.
  • Tax abatement schemes erode the tax base.
  • When one business is given a special tax break, other businesses and individuals must make up the difference.
  • Tax abatement schemes have been proven not to work and are only a means for a few connected businesspersons to pocket public funds.
  • Blight designations open the door for eminent domain abuse for private gain.
  • Columbia is not blighted. Portraying Columbia as such is fraud.

One of the more alarming aspects of the local situation is how effectively the well funded proponents of the plan have launched their propaganda juggernaut, spewing half-truths and outright lies.  Preying on the ignorance and short attention span of the general public is par for the course in today’s political climate. A shiny website and a pretty face are all you need to gain public support in this country.

Leading the charge for the EEZ  is ‘Beata of Blight’ Carrie Gartner, hired gun of the CID. Carrie, a noted central planning addict, has blogged extensively on the subject, spoken publicly, and has even recently turned her personal Facebook page into a clearinghouse for public EEZ discussions.

From her Facebook page:

I’ve turned over my personal facebook page to this issue to ensure that people know what’s going on. Photos of my family have gone by the wayside!

Wait a minute Carrie. Which people? You started this open and public discussion only after banning anyone who might offer resistance to your arguments and plans. That’s not ensuring “that people know what’s going on.” That’s ensuring that people hear only one subjective side of the issue.

The half-truths and outright lies Carrie presents on her Facebook page and on her personal “Central City” blog are somewhat overwhelming and ultimately frightening. Does she believe this stuff or is it all simply a nefarious means to an end?

For instance, she claims that 118 other communities in Missouri have EEZ‘s. Almost true, but not quite. There are 118 EEZ’s in Missouri, but some larger municipalities are home to several zones, making the total number of EEZ cities far less than 118. But who’s counting? It’s propaganda after all.

Most alarming is Ms. Gartner’s attempt to marginalize those among us, including myself, who fear the possibility of eminent domain abuse stemming from a blanket blight designation. The argument against such fear has changed several times during the discussion, but has never been truthful.

Carrie is not alone in her propaganda crusade on the subject. Even Mayor Bob McDavid laughed off my concern when I challenged his assertion that eminent domain had never been and would never be used to take private property for private gain in Columbia. He made the statement during an appearance on the Gary Nolan Show a few weeks ago. His quip must have seemed to Columbia’s Black community like a slap in the face from the gloved hand of a white slave master, as he conveniently forgot how in the 1950’s and 60’s, The Sharp End, a thriving black business community and several residential neighborhoods, was condemned an bulldozed to make way for public housing, our post office, and several private businesses including the Columbia Daily Tribune. Yes, Mr. Mayor, eminent domain has been abused for private gain in Columbia.

Nolan went on to ask the mayor if he would amend the EEZ ordinance to include verbiage stating that the blight designation would not be used for eminent domain. The Mayor snickered at the idea. If there is no plan to use the EEZ blight designation for eminent domain takings, why not amend the ordinance?

Many real estate speculators have surmised that 20 or 30 years down the road, the now predominantly black neighborhoods adjacent to Downtown will become prime real estate. It has long been the case that the lion’s share of the funds allotted for 1st Ward infrastructure are absorbed by Downtown while the low-income 1st Ward neighborhoods are left with dilapidated sewers and crumbling sidewalks. Is this area being allowed to dip into true blight so to be ripe for the taking? That’s what happened to the Sharp End. Basic public infrastructure like sewers and paved streets were denied the area leaving it unsightly and unclean.

It happened before. Will it happen again? Former Councilwoman Almeta Crayton thinks so as evidenced by this statement  made to journalist and blogger Mike Martin.

That’s the whole point. Let the neighborhood blight out, then take it. They did it before, and they’ll do it again. –Almeta Crayton

Repeatedly, when EEZ proponents are challenged with the fact that blight designations open the Pandora’s Box of eminent domain abuse they respond that the EEZ plan will not be used to abuse eminent domain. It’s as if they didn’t hear the question. Of course the EEZ has little to do with eminent domain. It’s the overarching blight designation that leads to eminent domain abuse. Here is an example of the ol’ switcheroo from Carrie Gartner’s blog on the subject.

Does an EEZ lead to eminent domain?
No. An EEZ and eminent domain are not connected. In fact, the city can condemn property right now for public use. An EEZ will make that neither more nor less likely.

Also, Missouri passed a law a while back in response to Kelo v. City of New London that prohibits condemnation for solely economic development purposes (ie, the shopping mall in Kelo) and also requires a parcel by parcel designation of blight rather than an area designation of blight for any condemnation.

I agree with the first part, “an EEZ will make that neither more nor less likely.” But Carrie, it’s that derned blight designation that is required for the EEZ that will open the door for eminent domain.

Wait. What’s that you say in the second paragraph? Missouri passed a law to protect us from eminent domain abuse? Wow, I feel better. Wait. No I don’t. Let’s examine it a bit closer.

Missouri passed a law that says eminent domain condemnation cannot be used for “solely economic development purposes.” Guess what. Since Kelo, all eminent domain abuses, attempted or successful, have contained small public purpose alongside a large private purpose.

If your neighborhood is declared “blighted” by the appointed EEZ board and the city figures that a new shopping mall would bring in more revenue and create more jobs than you and your neighbor’s residential property, all they have to do is park a fire station on one corner of the block and they are within the law. Even without the fire station, the city can fall back on the notion that cleaning up “blight” is a “public purpose.”

According to Bruce Hillis of Missouri Citizens for Property Rights:

House Bill 1944 was a joke. The use of Eminent Domain is never “solely” for economic development – it always includes the “public purpose” of cleaning up blight.

This tactic used here by Ms. Gartner reminds me of  Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a classic tactic of the politically astute. Ms. Gartner and her cohorts have used it with great skill during their pro-blight campaign. The truth is right there in front of everyone, yet they confidently tell us it means something completely different.  (Thanks to Mike Hagan for turning me on to theories of NLP.)

Support for the the EEZ is also coming from local school board member and mate to Ms. Gartner, Jonathan Sessions. Jon posted a heartfelt endorsement of the EEZ plan on his blog. It all seems so strange. Two devout establishment Democrats, Gartner and Sessions, are now aligning themselves with the business community and embracing the trickle-down economics of crony capitalism. It’s statism run amok. 

National policy analyst Eapen Thampy penned a well written response the Jon’s piece. Read it here.

Perhaps we can guess at the motives of Jonathan Sessions. Sessions is on the School Board and REDI endorsed the school tax levy. Dave Griggs, Chair if REDI and flooring provider for IBM, also landed a lucrative flooring contract with the Columbia Public Schools. Is Sessions caught up in the good ol’ boy, backdoor back patting that has plagued this community for decades? Heck, REDI board member and local entrepreneur Brent Beshore  financed all of the marketing for the last J-Sesh election campaign. I was at the party when he made the pledge. Is anyone surprised that Sessions is in bed with REDI?

And how about old Hank Waters? He’s never been a stranger to eminent domain abuse, in fact, he supports it. He’s come out in favor of the EEZ. Why? Well, his wife, Vicky Russel, Publisher of the Columbia Daily Tribune is Vice Chair of REDI

It’s time that the public step up and speak out. We’ve all been kept in the dark on this issue and they’ve only turned the lights on at the last minute. Call your City Council Representative today! Come to the next City Council meeting. 

 

 

 

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