Missouri State Education Commissioner  loses battle with cancer  House Speaker Ron Richards announced yesterday afternoon on the floor of the Missouri House that State Education Commissioner Kent King had lost his two-year battle with brain cancer earlier in the day.  King was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the fall of 2006 and underwent treatment while continuing his duties, even presiding over the MO BOE meeting last month.  The cancer took an especially aggressive turn recently, and he made the decision to discontinue treatment and  go home to be with his family.    Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

Too clever by half  Parts of the Consumer Protection Safety Information Act that were intended to protect children when they were passed last summer and will take effect on February 10 may shutter the resale shops that many parents depend on to make ends meet.  The new law requires stringent lead testing for all products – including clothing – sold to children 12 and younger. The standards also require testing for toxins found in some plastics.  Now that the enforcement date is looming, they are actually stopping to look at all the facets and are scrambling to remediate some of the unintended consequences of passing sweeping legislation in a reactionary manner after a slew of imported Chinese toys were found to have high lead content.  

Recycling takes a hit  It was only a year ago that I was awakened at about 4:00 a.m. to flashing lights in my bedroom as the cops surrounded the office across the street from my apartment. Thieves had broke in…not to steal the computers or office equipment, but to steal the plumbing.  Scrap metal prices were at an all time high.  Now the boom has gone bust.  On the plus side, scrap yards are a lot less aesthetically offensive than they were.  On the minus, it’s a dire economic indicator.  Things aren’t being made – and we didn’t have a lot of ground to give in that territory to begin with.    

Debbie Masten wants a new trial  Attorneys for the former Kirksville mayor filed another appeal on Tuesday alleging that video surveillance indicates a possible second suspect in the Jan. 1, 2005 fire that destroyed a bar and grill in Kirksville.  She is currently serving a 63 month sentence in federal prison after her May 2007 conviction on arson charges.  Her initial appeal was denied in June of last year.

Pink Slips in Jeff  Incoming Governor Jay Nixon sent out about 150 form letters yesterday informing the recipients that they will not have jobs as of noon Monday when he is sworn in.  The letters went to people in cabinet-level, senior staff and policy making positions.    Last month the Nixon transition team sent out letters to approximately 600 employees whose jobs were not covered by the state merot system asking them to justify their jobs, or lose them.  Employees were directed to submit their resumes and cover letters through an Internet site. The Web site also asked them to describe their current job duties, their qualifications and “the importance of your current position to the mission of your agency.”  The team then reviewed the letters and applications and factored those in when the decisions were made.