Missouri Judges and Constitutional Amendments – How I am Voting and Why

Missouri puts their judges up for election, and recently, there have been more and more constitutional amendments on the ballots. Here is how I am voting and why. Not that you will necessarily agree with me, but my thought process could help you make your decision. Feel free to let me know why you disagree. My mind can sometimes be changed.

St. Louis County Judges

The Missouri Bar Association reviews all judges up for election. Lawyers know the judges the best. This time around, they are recommending that all the judges in St. Louis County be retained. So I will vote yes on all of them. If you don’t live in St. Louis County – check here for your county.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 2

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that it will be permissible to allow relevant evidence of prior criminal acts to be admissible in prosecutions for crimes of a sexual nature involving a victim under eighteen years of age?

If more resources are needed to defend increased prosecutions additional costs to governmental entities could be at least $1.4 million annually, otherwise the fiscal impact is expected to be limited.

My vote: NO — Currently prior criminal acts are not admissible as evidence to show that the alleged is the ‘type of person’ to commit a crime. The State Supreme Court unanimously stated this in 2007 – hence the legislature’s attempt to get the people to change the constitution. This Constitutional Amendment creates an exception for one crime, treating one alleged criminal differently from all other alleged criminals. Even if one thinks this is the worst possible crime, in the US justice system, one is innocent until proven guilty. So all alleged criminals should be treated the same. To treat one class differently is a violation of the “Innocent until proven guilty” assumption. You are stating that the crime they are accused of outweighs their presumed innocence, justifying the removal of legal protections. I am unwilling to state this.

ETA: And, as the League of Women Voters point out – we already allow this evidence in sentencing hearings – after conviction.

I suspect this will pass, because the majority of voters will not realize the problems with this amendment, and will think ‘anything that helps convict pedophiles is a good thing.’

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 3

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
– require teachers to be evaluated by a standards based performance evaluation system for which each local school district must receive state approval to continue receiving state and local funding,
– require teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system,
– require teachers to enter into contracts of three years or fewer with public school districts, and
– prohibit teachers from organizing or collectively bargaining regarding the design and implementation of the teacher evaluation system?

Decisions by school districts regarding provisions allowed or required by this proposal and their implementation will influence the potential costs or savings impacting each district. Significant potential costs may be incurred by the state and/or the districts if new/additional evaluation instruments must be developed to satisfy the proposals performance evaluation requirements.

My vote: NO — No way am I voting for this. Basing teacher pay and retention primarily on student test scores only sounds good if you believe a student’s success is due solely to the quality of the teacher, with no influence from the parents or the students themselves. This evaluation system, and the three year contract system, will actually further encourage the better teachers to teach at private schools.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 6

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to permit voting in person or by mail for a period of six business days prior to and including the Wednesday before the election day in general elections, but only if the legislature and the governor appropriate and disburse funds to pay for the increased costs of such voting?

State governmental entities estimated startup costs of about $2 million and costs to reimburse local election authorities of at least $100,000 per election. Local election authorities estimated higher reimbursable costs per election. Those costs will depend on the compensation, staffing, and, planning decisions of election authorities with the total costs being unknown.

My vote: YES — Early voting is a good idea – the more people who have an opportunity to vote, the better for the system.
NO – I didn’t read the text of this carefully. The Missouri League of Women Voters discussion of the amendments clarified things for me. This isn’t a real Early Voting bill, but a distraction to prevent a real one from being passed. Note that all extra days are “business days” not weekends. And, if the legislature chooses not to fund it, nothing happens. Also, not included in the ballot wording, is that the only location for early voting would be the County Election Board. Early Voting is a good thing, but passing this would make passing a real solution less likely.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 10

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the governor to pay the public debt, to prohibit the governor from relying on revenue from legislation not yet passed when proposing a budget, and to provide a legislative check on the governors decisions to restrict funding for education and other state services?

State governmental entities expect no direct costs or savings. Local governmental entities expect an unknown fiscal impact.

My vote: No — This sounds like the legislature attempting to remove abilities from the governor that tick them off, because currently the legislature has a party majority opposite the governor. Instead of providing a legislative check, they are removing an executive check.

Hanukah Hay(na)ku

The Hay(na)ku form is a six-word tercet, with one word in the first line, and two words in the second line. Syllables are irrelevant. Multiple Hay(na)ku can be chained together.

I thought it would be appropriate to write some holiday-related Hay(na)ku.

Hanukah Hay(na)ku

Candles
flicker; families
sing Maoz Tzur.

Latkes:
With applesauce
or sour cream?

Celebrating
religious freedom:
Twirling toy tops.

Kids:
gelt given
for dreidel playing
becomes
Tzedakah when
the spinning stops.

The Hoover Award

Back in 2007 I came up with a term for a baseball statistic I had never seen anywhere else. I called it the Hoover Award. As one might guess from the name, if one is familiar with the brand of vacuum cleaners, it’s all about the greatest amount of suckage. The team each year that finishes dead last in their league, using the win-loss percentage.

I realized due to the World Series this year, it was time to head on over to the Baseball-Almanac, and update my statistical research, so I now have a list of the number of Hoovers each team has won between 1973-2013. (I originally researched back to 1973, as that is how far back I had to go until there was ‘one team left standing’ in each league. I then researched how far I’d have to go back until those two teams finished dead last. The results might surprise you.)

A few notes:

1) I don’t list the Montreal Expos, as they no longer exist. The two “Hoover Awards” for the Washington Nationals are post-1995.
2) I list the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League, as that is where they are currently, but I count their suckage in both leagues. They have finished last in both leagues (1984 and 2002) so that isn’t an issue.
3) I list the Houston Astros in the American League, where it is as of 2013, but I count their suckage in both leagues. They won the American League Hoover Award this year, so that isn’t an issue.
4) Some may notice there are 39 Hoover Awards for the National League – and not the expected 40. I skipped over 1981 because I didn’t know how to appropriately handle the strike-split year for this statistic. There are more than 40 American League Hoover Awards because there were some ties.

American League 1973-2013

Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6
Seattle Mariners 6
Minnesota Twins 6
Detroit Tigers 5
Houston Astros 5
Toronto Blue Jays 4
Cleveland Indians 3
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2
Baltimore Orioles 2
Oakland Athletics 2
Chicago White Sox 1
Kansas City Royals 1
New York Yankees 1
Texas Rangers 1
Boston Red Sox 0

National League 1973-2013

Pittsburgh Pirates 7
Chicago Cubs 5
San Diego Padres 5
Atlanta Braves 4
New York Mets 4
Philadelphia Phillies 3
Florida Marlins 3
Washington Nationals 2
Milwaukee Brewers 2
Cincinnati Reds 1
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
San Francisco Giants 1
Arizona Diamondbacks 1
Colorado Rockies 0
St. Louis Cardinals 0

I conducted single-team research on both the Red Sox and the Cardinals

  • The last time the Boston Red Sox finished dead last in the American League – 1933
  • The last time the St. Louis Cardinals finished dead last in the National League – 1918

The Rockies have only been around since 1993. Twenty years without falling victim to the annual vacuum cleaner is impressive, especially for an expansion team, but give them time.

Poem: Agitate

Agitate

A slightly overweight
middle-aged man
my weapon of choice
is my keyboard.

I write to agitate.

I hope my readers are entertained,
but I also hope their brains
get a little action in the process.
A slight jog,
maybe a few push-ups.
I’m not asking for a decathlon.

Sure, I’d like them
to share in my conclusions,
but I’m not delusional,
so I challenge those who disagree
to sheath their tongues.

(The mouth’s floppy mass
frequently ignores
messages from the skull.)

Convince me I’m wrong
with the written word.

Poem Found in My Drawers

I realize this poem is out of season. Found it on a slip of paper in one of my drawers today.

Explaining Only Ruins It

There’s probably something wrong
with the workings of my brain.

I’ve decided to eat antipasta,
while watching Lon Chaney
on the Sunday following Easter.
I’m not even Italian,
or Catholic.

I am a fan of Victor Hugo, though,
and I like Italian food,
so it seems appropriate.

radioactive, colorless, odorless, tasteless, noble

I believe only one or two of these adjectives at most appropriately apply to me.

All of them apply to the gas known as Radon (a byproduct of either Uranium or Thorium). Radon is everywhere – inside houses and outside. Average outside levels can be as high as 0.75 pCi/L. (Picocuries per liter. It’s nice that Marie and Pierre Curie have been memorialized forever with a unit of measurement) The national average outside is 0.4. The national average inside homes is 1.3. The average for homes in St. Louis County is 4.0. And the EPA recommends taking action on any home above 4.0.

The home my wife and I are buying currently has radon levels of 4.4. So we will be installing a Radon mitigation device upon moving in.

Here’s an interesting risk chart from the EPA

If 1000 people who never smoked were exposed to radon levels of 4 pCi/L over a lifetime – 7 could get lung cancer. Roughly equivalent to the risk of dying in a car crash. Not exactly a horrific risk level, but on the other hand, reducing the radon level is still a good idea.

The risk is higher for those who have smoked.

Have you checked the radon levels in your home?

We have normality

“…probability factor of one to one…we have normality, I repeat we have normality…Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.” - Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Caught up on sleep. Receiving the results of the Radon inspection today, and that should conclude the inspection phase. The house is very well-maintained, and assuming the radon levels are OK, we shouldn’t be asking very much from the owners. The rest of this should be as smooth as the smooth object of your choosing.

Well…except the packing. Why does there have to be packing?

The Inverse Relationship of Sleep and Blood

Wednesday Morning last week:

Basherte: Have you ever had insomnia?
Me: No

Wednesday evening: The Basherte and I put a bid down on a house.

I don’t think I have had a normal night’s sleep since.
I may have gotten close to a normal night last night, but not nearly enough to catch up.

The inspections are coming to an end today and tomorrow. We’ve been told the house is insurable, and the loan is approved. The things for me to be stressed about are being checked off one by one. Packing will be a pain, but that shouldn’t be as stressful, since the outcome is more certain.

Some people might wonder if I lied to my wife, or not. This isn’t really the first time in my life I have had issues with sleeping. But I don’t consider it ‘insomnia’ if the stress that is causing it is so clearly identifiable. The diagnosis for me is ‘stress’ not ‘insomnia,’ and it happens very rarely. (And it usually doesn’t last more than a day or two.)

My nose also bled this week for the first time in several years. I had several nose bleeds around the time I was initially dating my Basherte. She didn’t understand the cause back then, but now she finds that hilarious, and compares me to Stan on South Park.

 

All-Star Game Prediction – American League

As I posted last year, my whereabouts the evening of the All-Star game have correlated with the winner for nineteen years. The National League has only won if I was home. Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Nineteen times in a row? (I said 20 last year, but either I miscounted, or rounded up.)

This all began in 1996 when I joined a writer’s group that met on Tuesday nights, and the National League started losing the All-Star game. Of course, in 1994 and 1995 the National League won, and I am fairly certain I was home watching the game those two years. I don’t have evidence for this, but the odds are relatively certain.

In 2010, the Writer’s group switched to Mondays. And guess what happened? I was home, and the National League won! And they continued to win in 2011 and 2012. So, starting in 1994, and for 19 years, my whereabouts have correlated with the winner.

Alas, the group switched back to Tuesdays. I won’t be home tomorrow.

I am rooting for the National League for two reasons.

1) Because I always root for the National League. I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan; they are a National League team; I root for the National League.

2) If the National League wins this year, there is finally proof that my whereabouts are unrelated to the final game result. That will be a wonderful feeling. I will never again feel guilty that I wasn’t home on All-Star game night. Rationally, I know that there can be no real causation between my whereabouts and who wins. But irrationally, the evidence keeps piling up year after year that I am the cause.

But, alas, if I have to make a prediction, judging from past history, I’d have to predict the American League. Of course, my history of predictions hasn’t actually been very good. May that continue. (I need to update that 2005 post on my predictions, but I suspect my record hasn’t improved by much since then.)

Update: The American League won. 3-0. However, I decided to stay home and watch the game. Therefore, I am not responsible for the American League winning. I no longer live in an irrational world; my All-star Game Albatross has flown away and shall bother someone else in the future.