Talking Politics | KBIA

Talking Politics

Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m.
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The local group Race Matters, Friends is calling for the resignation of Columbia Public Schools’ chief equity officer Carla London.

The group officially made the call last week in a letter saying, “The district has been unable to provide RMF with evidence that Ms. London’s equity training program is meaningfully addressing the racial disparities in out-of-school suspensions, harassment, bullying and attendance.”

From time to time I visit with two well-connected, well-informed, and well-respected local politicos, one a Democrat and the other a Republican.  We caught up even though it is way more than a year until the next national election, and a year in politics time is longer than the amount of time it takes light to reach Earth from the most distant observable galaxy.  Still, it’s good to check vital signs occasionally.


Commentary: The Angry Voter

Aug 7, 2019

When I attended the Midwest Political Science Association meeting in April I sat in on a number of good panels and brought back much good content for my classes at Columbia College and for these commentaries.  In a panel on the 2020 election one author made the case that the traditional metrics used to predict presidential elections may not apply in 2020, just as many of them failed in 2016.


In 1932 and 1933 Joseph Stalin deliberately starved between three and ten million residents of Ukraine – no one knows the number for sure – and he tried to keep it secret.  When a later official Soviet census showed a multi-million person decline in Ukraine’s population, Stalin did the only thing he could do.  He had the top officials of the census executed.

So the pollsters recently fired by President Trump because internal polling showed Trump was behind in several battleground states should consider themselves lucky.  But Trump has a point.  People: IT IS A YEAR AND A HALF UNTIL THE ELECTION.  


Commentary: History's View of D-Day

Jun 23, 2019

Seventy-five years ago this week my late father, Lt. H. Bruce Smith, went ashore on Omaha Beach.  He was an Army combat engineer and a demolitions expert – a sapper.  The unit he had trained with went ashore on D-Day in the first wave and suffered 80 percent casualties, but because of a training accident my father was hospitalized for three weeks and then attached to a different unit that didn’t arrive in Normandy until late June.

On today’s episode of Talking Politics, Terry Smith, a political science professor at Columbia College, joins us to discuss the shift in the way candidates participate in presidential primaries. You can read his full commentary below. Also on today’s episdoe, KBIA’s Will Robinson gives us a look at Cowboys at the Capitol, a day when members of the Missouri Cattleman’s Association walk the Capitol halls to advocate for agriculture-related issues.

Terry Smith's Commentary:

Seth Bodine / KBIA

In Marthasville, Missouri, the fire department is made up entirely of volunteers. Between its three stations, the department is responsible for covering 168 square miles including surrounding towns like Treloar and Hopewell.

Volunteer fire departments are common in rural communities. In fact, The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 65 percent of the nation’s fire departments are made up of volunteers.

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

On today's episode of Talking Politics, KBIA's Sidney Steele visits Mexico, Missouri to get to know Mayor Ayanna Shivers. Shivers is the first African-American woman to be mayor of Mexico. She discusses her concerns and goals for the community. You can see the full story here.

When I was a teenager growing up in St. Louis, professional wrestling was a big deal. Old smoke-filled Kiel Auditorium would be packed on Saturday nights and designated heroes and villains would duke it out in the ring, strutting, taunting and cheating. Even as kids we knew it was fake and a show, but that didn’t matter. It was pure primal entertainment. For an actual sporting event, we would go to old Sportsman’s Park to watch the Cardinals.

Sam Mosher/KBIA

By 2100, temperatures in Columbia are projected to rise by about 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a city report, and carbon emissions will be largely responsible. But the city has a plan to reduce its carbon emissions and prevent such a drastic rise in temperature.

The Columbia Climate Action and Adaptation Plan will take Columbia to 100 percent carbon reduction by 2060. The plan outlines steps to meet goals involving energy, transportation, building construction, food, water and waste.

Jamie Hobbs / KBIA

Dr. Andrea Benjamin is a political science professor at The University of Missouri whose research focuses on local elections and how community organizations can influence them. She joined us in-studio to analyze last week’s municipal election. She says Columbia is unique because of the level of civil engagement promoted by its citizens and public officials.

You can view the full interview below:

Commentary: Short Takes with Terry Smith

Apr 1, 2019

Every Saturday, instead of a lengthy editorial, the St. Louis Post Dispatch runs what it calls Short Takes: brief, unrelated news pieces accompanied by a thumb’s up or thumb’s down, depending on whether the content of the piece comports with the Post’s editorial policy. I thought I’d try short takes in this week’s commentary. You can supply your own thumb’s up or thumb’s down.

Missouri has long been a conservative state in its outlook, no matter the party in charge. So in January, when legislative leaders celebrated the 100th General Assembly and the 100th anniversary of the Assembly meeting at the Capitol building in Jefferson City, there were no fireworks over the Missouri River or a grand gala.

Instead, there was a special joint session of the General Assembly and a reception with a “massive” cake in the rotunda.

Jamie Hobbs / KBIA

Recently, I conducted a poll with my students at Columbia College. I asked 43 mostly-traditional age undergraduates four questions. The first three were:

Meiying Wu / KBIA

The Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and places of public accommodations based on certain protected classes including race, color, religion and disability.

A Roe v. Wade challenge could be coming. Will it come to Missouri?

Feb 25, 2019
Aviva Okeson-Haberman/KBIA

With multiple abortion-related bills on the table for the 2019 session, some are raising questions about the possibility of a future legal challenge or an eventual Supreme Court hearing.

“In order to get Roe versus Wade changed, we need to push it further than we’ve pushed it in the past,” Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, said.

Commentary: The 2020 Presidential Race

Feb 18, 2019

President Trump gave his State of the Trump Administration speech recently. As usual, I only listened so as to avoid the visual distractions. Evidently, I missed some cool stuff: Speaker Pelosi’s walrus clap and the female Democratic representatives decked out in white. The optics are the show but the words are the content, and President Trump’s words were the opener to his 2020 reelection campaign.

A bill that critics say would allow most government records in Missouri to remain closed to the public passed the House Thursday and now heads to the Missouri Senate. It reverses some of the transparency laws ushered in by voters in November.  It’s raising red flags among transparency groups, the press, and some citizen groups.

A refresher in civics:  why public records are important

Commentary: The Media and Politics

Jan 29, 2019

Earlier this month an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Who Will Win the Internet?” caught my eye.  The author, Kara Swisher, did not begin by making the question a multiple choice quiz, and it’s a good thing, because in her column she left out the obvious correct answer: Russia.  She restricted the competition to domestic contestants and argued that the two primary combatants are President Trump and his followers and freshman Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her followers.  

Commentary: The Realities of Clean Missouri

Jan 9, 2019

Missouri voters used to be in the news because we were the bellwether state for presidential elections.  For 100 years with one exception Missouri voted for the winner – until 2008.

Now we are in the news because we are a trending red state that votes for progressive ballot initiatives.  Republicans have super majorities in both houses of the state legislature, control all but one statewide office, including both Senate seats, and six of eight congressional seats.  Yet in 2018 voters defeated right-to-work, approved a state minimum wage, approved medical marijuana and passed the “Clean Missouri” amendment, strengthening ethics laws and changing the way state legislative districts are drawn.

Some of you might be interested to know that this coming Saturday is the 666th day of the Trump presidency.

How did your party and candidate and ballot issue do last week? I feel the same way: Could have been worse, could have been better.

If you are a Republican you like picking up seats in the U.S. Senate, with Missouri being a big contributor to that. You don’t like losing the U.S. House, especially by more than the average number of seats after a presidential election.

Kathryn Palmer

On Nov. 6, Missourians will have a chance to decide if they want to raise the state minimum wage. Proposition B would increase the current $7.85 an hour minimum to $8.60 by next year. It would increase the state minimum wage 85 cents each year until it reaches $12 hour by the year 2023.

So how might this affect Missouri’s low-wage workers and business owners?

Dave Elman, the owner of Fretboard Coffee in downtown Columbia thinks it would help.

Commentary: A Peak at Political Literature

Oct 24, 2018

I read about politics and I read about politicians. Three fascinating books I’ve read recently have been about politicians from New York. I read Shattered, which is the gruesome account of Hillary Clinton’s misbegotten campaign in 2016. In case you’ve tried to forget, Clinton was a senator from New York from 2001 to 2009.


Those of us with October birthdays always get two gifts. One is that we often get gorgeous weather. The other is that each of us has a personal police radio code. Police codes, which are law enforcement shorthand for various incidents or situations, start with the number ten; so does our birth month.

  

It’s after Labor Day, and the campaigns are heating up. I visited with two friends, who share respect in the community, integrity and political acumen, and who prefer different political parties.

Both see the local races playing out as the partisan leanings of their districts dictate. Incumbents should win and, as is always the case, some very able candidates such as Kelly Schultz a few years ago and Mikaela Skelton in the 50th house district this year won’t be able to overcome the conservative tilt of their districts.

Certain affordable housing projects in Missouri have until Oct. 31 to take advantage in $140 million in tax credits. But nonprofits and developers are concerned the state board charged with approving the tax credits won’t act in time.

The 2019 Fiscal Year is right around the corner for  Columbia and city council is working to finalize the budget. This includes major amendments to current city employee wages.

This week 5th Ward Councilmember Matt Pitzer sits down to discuss proposed wage changes for city employees and other budgetary concerns for the 2019 fiscal year.

What changes are being made to the fiscal year 2019 budget for wages?

Commentary: Missouri's Confused Political Culture

Aug 21, 2018

I am about to conclude that the reason we are called the Show Me State is because we Missourians are confused about our identity and need someone to show us who we are.  I’ve lived in Missouri most of my life and am as curious as anyone.

Commentary: Youth and Politics

Jul 31, 2018

My wife Jane and I have four adult children and eight grandchildren, all brilliant and talented, of course.  Both of us have fulfilling professional careers that we value, but our family is our priority, and it is a deeply child-centered clan.

Recently we saw the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?, about Fred Rogers’ wonderful PBS program for children.  We were both inspired by and nostalgic for the days when his vision of childhood was mainstream and also sobered by the knowledge of what too many children these days must endure.

Commentary: Trump and the Communications Revolution

Jul 11, 2018

Two of the marvels of the modern age have directly impacted the developing world.  One is the Green Revolution, using artificial fertilizer to dramatically increase crop yields and keep billions of people from starving.  The earth is severely overpopulated, but mass starvation is not currently a problem.

The second marvel is how cellphone technology emerged at a moment that kept the developing world from having to spend billions and billions of dollars to build telephone landlines and other infrastructure.  In Africa, Asia and South America cell towers and phones are making landlines redundant, if not obsolete.

This communication revolution made me wonder if another communication revolution that is the spawn of cell technology is an explanation for the Trump Phenomenon.  Before Barack Obama, presidents communicated with their publics through traditional media: televised speeches, news conferences, press releases – all of it mediated by professional journalists.  Obama was the first president to use social media, and he used it most effectively in his two election campaigns. 


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