Is anyone else fed up with outsiders fighting their battles on our soil?  Last election cycle it was Ward Connerly grinding his anti-affirmative action axe here.  Now business interests have selected Missouri as one of five battleground states to fight the Employee Fair Choice Act, which would allow unions to organize without elections – commonly known as ‘card check,’ the EFCA would allow a union to form if a majority of the employees simply sign up.  In my career I worked in Union hospitals and non-union hospitals, and I lived through several bruising elections that harmed morale and  relationships among personnel long after the election was over, and that isn’t good for patient care – so if you think it doesn’t affect you, think again.  Hell, yes, I support EFCA!  But even if I didn’t, I am sick of right-wing outsiders with a hyper conservative, pro-big business agenda thinking that Missouri’s state Constitution is a suitable place for them to launch their battles against progress, the common good and fair play.  

A four-fold increase in the incidence of any communicable disease is a clarion call to action  The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports a significant increase in the incidence of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, with 424 cases confirmed in the state through December 6, compared with 102 cases in 2007.   Of the cases reported in Missouri this year, 41 (10 percent) have presented in infants 12 months of age or younger, the group most likely to suffer long term complications or death as a result of the disease.  Parents, especially mothers, have been identified as the most important and inadvertent source of spread of pertussis to their infants, even if the adult was vaccinated against pertussis in his or her childhood or had the disease as a child.  When any communicable disease has a four-fold increase, public health agencies step in and develop strategies to stop the spread.  The logical place to start battling the spread of pertussis in Missouri is to develop strategies with county health departments to make sure that the adults in households with infants get a booster shot and that other children in the home are up to date in their vaccinations.  

You know, as far as I’m concerned this guy didn’t do anything wrong  Joseph Roberts is in a hell of a lot of trouble, and his life got really complicated a couple of weeks ago when he got busted for growing his own weed.  What the hell?  He can’t go to the herb store and buy it loose or the smoke shop and buy a pack, and he isn’t consorting with drug dealers.  He was growing his own and paying the light bill, and apparently he was even consuming responsibly, doing his partaking out in the garage.   I know that the stuff isn’t evil and doesn’t start wrecking lives until the government steps in to assure that outcome.  As a medical researcher I have been privy to a lot of obscure studies that didn’t make the news.  I know that there is benefit to marijuana use for some people, but for that fact, I don’t have a problem with recreational use either.  I would rather live next door to a pot smoker than a drunk, and so would you, whether you have that conscious realization or not.  I know this from experience.   Before I was a scientist I was a first responder.  Let me tell you what I never had to deal with…a tragic car accident caused by marijuana consumption.  No stoner ever blasted down the eastbound lanes of I-70 headed west at 90 miles an hour and took out a minivan carrying a family of five to Chuck E. Cheese.  I can spot the guy driving stoned, tho.  He is creeping along about twenty miles an hour, scanning the landscape for a drive through.  Legalize it already and start collecting taxes on it, and get those offenders out of the system.  Free up those beds and P.O.s for the thieves from Wall Street.

A sign of the times  As the economy deteriorates, the incidence of employee theft is increasing dramatically.  The increase in thefts, frauds and embezzlements against employers is showing up in St. Louis County criminal warrants.  County police say embezzlement has been steadily rising over the last couple of months, and the economy is often cited by those arrested as their motivation.  “It’s always going on, but the amounts are picking up and the frequency is picking up,” said Sgt. Kevin Cavanaugh, of the county police computer and financial fraud unit. “And a lot of that has to do with the economy. … A lot of people are saying that, ‘I need the money to make ends meet.'”  St. Louis County police statistics reflect an increase in larcenise of nearly ten percent this year, totaling 246, up from 226 last year.  

Restoring our riverfront  The Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing a riverfront restoration on the south bank of the Missouri just below the bend that, when completed, will let those of us who patronize the River Market area see what it looked like when François Chouteau established Chouteau Landing nearly 200 years ago.  “You won’t recognize it,” said Vincent Gauthier, executive director of the Port Authority of Kansas City. “We’re reintroducing people to where the city started.”  The project will include a wetland surrounded by native trees and grasses, bisected by the heritage trail. A looping pathway off the trail will allow people to get deeper into the natural area, which will extend to and be visible from the Grand Boulevard viaduct.