Most nursing homes in KC area rank below average in Medicare rating system  Medicare has a new ratings system for nursing homes – think of it as a Zaggats Guide for long term care – that rates nursing homes with one through five stars.  None of the 82 rated nursing homes within a 25-mile radius of the city score five stars, while 72 percent score a below-average one or two stars.  The only five-star facility  within the greater KC area is a 17-bed nursing home in Olathe (Kansas) that specializes in short-term rehabilitation.  Nationwide, 22 percent of nursing homes scored one star, and 12 percent got five stars. But within 25 miles of Kansas City, 40 of 82 rated homes – 49 percent – got just one star.  A severe nursing shortage is a significant factor in this equation.  

FEMA approves nearly eight million dollars for St. Louis area following September storm damage  When the remnants of Hurricane Ike passed through the St. Louis area in September, it dumped more than five inches of rain in just a few hours and caused flash floods that damaged homes and businesses.  Three people were killed by the storm – two drowned and one was killed by a falling tree limb.  “FEMA’s been pretty responsive to people, from what I’m hearing,” said Sam Anselm, assistant to the city manager in Ferguson, one town where residents saw flood damage. “Of course, some people are looking for more help than FEMA is able to pay out. But they’re doing everything they can. From the city’s standpoint, we can’t complain.”

Child Exploitation convictions up in 2008  John Wood, the U.S. Attorney for Western Missouri, reports that his office secured convictions in 49 cases covered by Project Safe Childhood, a national Justice Department program focusing on child pornography and exploitation issues.  That number is up from 39 in 2007.  Wood, a cousin of Kit Bond, was appointed by the Bush Justice department after Brad Schlozman was found out and Todd Graves was forced out.  He hasn’t visited scandal on the local officer like his predecessors did, but will still likely be replaced by the Obama administration.  He also announced that his office had hired a new career prosecutor, veteran child advocate Beth Phillips, for its computer crime unit. She previously prosecuted sex crimes and child abuse cases with the Jackson County prosecutor’s office and served on the county’s Child Fatality Review Board. She also volunteered with the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault and is an executive board member of the Child Protection Center, which interviews children who have alleged sexual abuse.  “Beth was perfect in her experience,” Wood said. “It’s great for us to have someone who’s known in the community and has credibility on day one.”

On his way out the door..  Baby Guv is leaving his handprints on the sidewalk.  He has appointed his office’s general counsel, Lowell Pearson, to a spot on a national committee that drafts uniform legislation for state lawmakers.

Matty B takes a parting shot  Matt Blunt has appointed two of the most anti-Missouri Plan wingnuts in the state to positions that will influence judicial selections.  He appointed Sally Hargis to the body that will screen applicants for Greene County Circuit Court seats and nominate finalists to the governor’s office, and he nominated John Gentry, also of Springfield, to the seven-member commission that nominates candidates for the Missouri Court of Appeals and the Missouri Supreme Court.  Hargis and Gentry, like Blunt and most Republicans think Justice ought to be a partisan affair and a fungible commodity, and are therefore strong critics of the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan – the state’s widely-emulated process for selecting judges for appellate courts and some trial courts.