Jeanette Mott Oxford for State Representative 2010

Thursday, January 29, 2009

JMO4Rep Update - Jan. 2009 Inaugurations Edition

Friends, Allies, and Contituents,

On Wednesday, January 7, 2009, I was sworn in to begin my third term as State Representative for the 59th Missouri House District. I am thankful to those of you who voted for me, put up yard signs, contributed financially, or helped me in any way to be re-elected. I am also thankful to my many supporters who worked hard for Sen. Obama, and I join you in joyfully anticipating his Jan. 20 inauguration.

New leaders were elected in both legislative chambers, which remain under Republican control. State Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, was chosen as House speaker, while state Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, was selected as Senate president pro tem.

As you know, I worked hard in the "Take Back the House" campaign in the November General Elections. I was disappointed to see only a three seat Democratic gain in the House, but I still rejoice that these freshmen Democrats did win seats formerly held by GOP members:

Jeanne Kirkton of Webster Groves -

Vicki Lorenz Englund of South County -

Kenny Biermann of St. Charles County -

Chris Kelly of Columbia -

The three seat net gain is because Democrats lost the District 3 seat that had been held by Jim Whorton who was term limited out. Republicans now hold a 89-74 majority in the House, and also picked up three Senate seats for a 23-11 advantage. Democrats hold five of six statewide elected spots for 2009, however, and I hope that the "split government" will create pressure for bi-partisan cooperation in this time of economic and environmental crisis.

My Committee Assignments

I requested the following committees and have been named to them:
- Ethics
- Energy and Environment
- Tax Reform

There's some political intrigue though around my number one choice for a committee. I asked to be on Children and Families since I have more than 20 years experience addressing childhood poverty and public health issues. I have served on this committee (which has had different names) during my first four years in office.

The Democratic leadership put my name forward to be on the committee and planned to name me as ranking Democrat. However, Speaker Richard's office took my name off the list for the committee and named Rep. Belinda Harris to it instead. Rep. Harris has told me that her plate is full with other committees, and she does not wish to serve on Children and Families. Democratic leadership is fighting for me to have a slot on the committee.

Presently none of the Democrats named to the committee have any experience serving on this committee so much institutional memory of what has happened for the past four years will be lost if I am not returned to the committee (or one of the other three Democrats who have served there, but none of them have an interest in serving this year due to other priorities, whereas I do). Stay tuned to see what happens.

Nixon Inauguration

Under the theme of "A New Day for Missouri," Jay Nixon was sworn in on Jan. 12 as the state’s 55th governor. During his brief inaugural speech, Nixon established job creation during the current economic downturn as his administration’s top goal.

My favorite part of the swearing in ceremony was the wonderful benediction by Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation in the Central West End. Rabbi Talve is surely a modern day prophet. She told the wonderful parable of the difference between heaven and hell. You can find one version of that story at:

Rabbi Talve charged Gov. Nixon and all elected officials to find a way, in the imagery of the story, to make long spoons so that we can feed each other. She reminded us that we can find a way to offer health insurance for all Missourians if we have the will to do so. Bless you, Rabbi Talve, and may it be so!

Newly elected State Treasurer Clint Zweifel and Attorney General Chris Koster took their oaths of office shortly before Nixon, as did returning Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (the lone GOP statewide elected official) and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, who both were elected to second terms.

At the inaugural ball that evening, my partner Dorothy and I made our third march down the Grand Staircase of the Rotunda (well, I toddled down it using my cane since stairs continue to be rough for my knee problems), along with other elected officials. This time it was a joy to be joined by Dorothy's sister-in-law Mary Ann Gannon, a neo-natal nurse from Jackson, MS, and Mary Ann's daughter Sarah, a theological student who has been doing wonderful work with women in Tunisia who have been victims of rape. I was also glad to have my in-district aide, DeAndress Green, with me for the day.

It was great to see so many other friends from St. Louis and throughout Missouri during the day's festivities: Terry Crow and Tom Peters and Terry's mom; Rita Ford and Dale Sweet of Gravois Park Neighborhood Association; Rea and Joe Kleeman; Glenn and Peggy Koenen; Dwaine and Karen Sell; Ben Phillips of the Eight Ward Independent Democrats; Melba Moore and Bruce Yampolsky of the City Health Dept. and Bruce's partner Terry; and many more.

Nixon's Cabinet

I am so encouraged to see the great choices that Gov. Nixon is making for his cabinet. I am especially pleased to see former state Rep. Margaret Donnelly, D-Richmond Heights, as Department of Health and Senior Services director. Margaret has the integrity and intelligence to do a great job in this role.

Here are some of Gov. Nixon's other picks so far:
- Kelvin Simmons of Kansas City, director of the Office of Administration
- George Lombardi, director of the Department of Corrections where he worked for 33-years until his retirement in February 2005. He spent his final 18 years as the department’s director of adult institutions. His substantial experience with the state’s prison system is in sharp contrast with that of his predecessor, Larry Crawford, a former state representative whom departing Gov. Matt Blunt appointed as corrections director in 2005 despite the fact that Crawford didn’t meet the statutory
qualifications for the post.
- Karen Mitchell of Columbia, director of the Department of Revenue
- Linda Martinez, a St. Louis attorney, as Department of Economic Development director
- Ronald Levy, a St. Louis health care executive, as Department of Social Services director
- Secret Service Agent John Britt of Chesterfield as Department of Public Safety director
- Kansas City attorney Lawrence Rebman as Department of Labor and Industrial Relations director
- John Hagler of St. James as Department of Agriculture director
- Yale Law School Associate Dean Mark Templeton as Department of Natural Resources director
- former state Sen. Steve Danner of Hollister as adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard
- Jeff Harris, former state representative from Columbia, policy director
- Jack Cardetti, director of communications

This Legislative Session

The biggest issue of this Legislative Session is apt to be the state budget. Gov. Nixon inherited an estimated $342 million deficit for the current fiscal year that will likely require midyear spending cuts.

Former state Sen. Wayne Goode, who is helping Nixon craft the state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, announced the problems with the current budget on Dec. 2.

Throughout his administration, former Gov. Matt Blunt claimed that when he took office in January 2005, he inherited a $1.1 billion deficit from his predecessor. That claim, however, is pure myth as the budget Blunt inherited was balanced from start to finish and required no midyear cuts.

What Blunt called a "deficit" was actually in the first budget he crafted, not the one he inherited, and wasn’t a deficit but a case of departmental requests, not actual approved appropriations, exceeding available revenue, which typically happens every year in both good times and bad.

To address the problem, Nixon plans to place a temporary freeze on new long-term contacts for goods and services and to consider delaying planned construction projects that are not yet underway. He will also require each state agency to submit a plan for cutting spending within the current fiscal year.

You can hear new Speaker of the House Ron Richard's opening address at as well as finding video footage. The speech was long on promises to stop any new taxes, protect the unborn, and protect the rights of gun owners, but it is not clear if those are legislative
priorities for the new Speaker or themes used to please the GOP-voting base. I have appreciated the bi-partisan tone of much that Richard has said to the media, and I will do my best to work with him in a constructive manner.

Celebrating Dr. King

I was asked to preach at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Webster Groves on Jan. 18 as part of their observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. If you'd like a copy of that sermon, request it at jmo4rep AT

The St. Louis American has a wonderful list of events to honor Dr. King as well as Black History Month celebrations at:

Surrounding Our Schools with Care Update

It was exciting to attend the rally at Roosevelt High School on Jan. 16, as we honored their Marine Corp ROTC Color Guard and Drill Team that was selected to march in the Obama Inaugural parade in Washington, DC. I am having a courtesy resolution drafted on behalf of the House of Representatives to acknowledge this accomplishment.

Congratuations also to Dr. Alice Roach of Carnahan High School for being selected as principal of the year for the St. Louis region by Teach for America.

March Primaries in St. Louis

I am pleased to announce my endorsement of Shane Cohn as the next alderman for Ward 25. Shane is an exciting young leader who has been working hard to improve the living conditions and business climate in the 25th Ward. I think he'll do a great job. You can read about Shane at:

I am studying the mayoral primary situation carefully and will probably have some thoughts to share with you later in this regard. In the meantime, please be active in the candidate forums for mayor. Prepare your questions and show up to ask them.

Happy New Year

I enjoyed a lot of family activities in late December and early January so failed to get out a Happy New Year message to you in a timely manner. Please know that I do wish you happiness, peace, and an adequate supply of life's essentials, plus a surplus of love. If you'd like to enjoy a satirical musical summary of 2008, see this link: