The first of the year brought a fare increase to Metro riders  St. Louis residents who rely on public transit are now paying more for the service.  Individual rides on both trains and buses increased by $.25 per ride, to $2.00 for the bus and $2.25 for the train, and the price of a monthly pass jumped from $60.00 to $68.00.   People who use the Metro are grumbling because the fare increase precede deep service cuts that will take effect the end of March.  Officials with the transit authority say that the fare increase and service cuts are necessary to avert a budgetary crisis.  

If he turns out to not be a braying jackass like his last two predecessors it will be a stunner  Incoming house speaker Ron Richard of Joplin has met Jay Nixon exactly twice, and if he was sincere in what he told the Springfield News Leader, we may get some things done for the good of the state.  “I said, ‘you’re not going to have a problem with me,'” Richard recalls telling Nixon. “I said, ‘I’m not going to be backbiting you and calling you names. I just don’t deal like that. I’m going to do what’s best for the state of Missouri. I assume you are too.'”  Near the end of the conversation, Richard said he told Nixon: “As far as I’m concerned, the 80 percent we agree on, I’ll be your best friend.”  That’s nice, but I am from Missouri.  You can’t just tell me, you have to show me.  I wasn’t born yesterday, after all.  I know full well that it’s not known how a termed-out guy with a big gavel will wield that power once that gavel is in his hand.

Missouri’s Minimum Wage increased by 40 cents yesterday  Republicans in the state lege don’t like it, but tough.  I don’t particularly like them.  State Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau  is in knots over it, convinced that putting more money in the pockets of consumers is a bad thing in a down economy.  “I do not believe that a minimum wage in Missouri which is higher than the national minimum wage is good for our state’s economy because it puts us at a disadvantage relative to other states that have tied their minimum wage to the national minimum wage” – yeah.. Having workers get paid more sure does hurt our economy. Amazing how guys like Crowell don’t think much of the rights of Missourians to have a $7.25 minimum wage.  Of course, if he can manage to isolate and ignore the fact that businesses earning less than half a million bucks a year are exempt, he can convince himself of anything.  Sing that tune to someone who hasn’t been paying attention.

If we really apply ourselves we can break that record this year!  Kansas City ended the year with 126 homicides, one shy of this decades record set in 2005.  Our worst year ever was 1993, when the crack wars were still raging and we had 153 murders.  Of course there is a fine line between a homicide and an aggravated assault and which column the data point ends up in is determined on other factors, like EMS response time, proximity to trauma services, even who is working when the patient presents.   Most of the murders were in the East Patrol Division and most were gang related.  Across the city, self-defense shootings more than doubled in 2008. Police categorized 15 shootings as self-defense, including five police shootings. The remaining self-defense shootings involved store clerks or homeowners protecting themselves, or shootouts in which the surviving gunman claimed the victim fired at him first.

I believe that this is commonly known as a ‘blessing’  A Blue Springs church that helps the needy got a pleasant surprise recently when a linens company donated a tractor-trailer full of linens.  “There was everything in that truck,” Bryan Couch, a deacon and member of First Christian Church of Blue Springs, said. “It was unbelievable. The only thing we may not use are the hospital gowns, but maybe we can find some use for those.”  Three years ago when the church did their first blanket drive, they fell far short, so they came up with the idea of walking a mile in the shoes of their less fortunate brethren and organized sleeping outside in cardboard boxes.   After that, their pile of 300 blankets multiplied and they ended up with over 1000.  Last year they collected over 5000.  This year, a truck load.