Crime in Douglass Park
The suspect identified in a homicide that took place at Douglass Park on Tuesday turned himself in this week. The man was arrested in connection with the killing of Miles Heard, who was shot in the chest and the thigh in the Douglass Park parking lot and died later at the hospital.
It's not an unfamiliar tale to those familiar with the park's recent history. Besides this most recent shooting, there were drug arrests on June 30, a fight that broke out June 12, an assault with a knife that was reported on May 23 and another shooting that took place on April 16. It's enough to make the 8 acres of recreational space a high-profile crime location in the minds of many Columbians.
Yet, as a place for people of all ages to gather, nothing in the way the park was built inspires crime. You can't blame the swing sets, the basketball courts or the monkey bars for what transpires at 400 N. Providence Road. With the recent homicide, Columbia's fifth murder in 2008, the focus is back on this central city gathering spot. Although the violent crime rate has decreased in Columbia, the Columbia Police Department created the Street Crimes Unit this past summer to target "career criminals," according to a Missourian article.
What else can be done to increase security at Douglass Park?
So much for bellwether status
Instead of proclaiming the winner in this year's presidential election, Missouri acted more like the black sheep rather than the bellwether compared to other key battleground states.
Claiming the title "The bellwether state of the Midwest," Missouri has picked the president-elect for the better part of half a century up until this election, which showed John McCain over Barack Obama by an unofficial margin of about 5,000 votes in the swing state. Although most news outlets have called Missouri for McCain, it is still an unofficial prediction. This was the first time in more than a century that a Democrat has won the presidency without winning Missouri.
In fact, Missouri was the only battleground state in a list of five states that also included Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Ohio appeared to vote for the Republican ticket.
In national elections, is Missouri moving toward the red rather than middle-of-the-road purple?
Bipartisan state government?
In a landslide victory, Democrat Jay Nixon was elected governor of Missouri in a decision that might convey citizens' distrust and disillusionment with the Republican Party as a whole, if it weren't for the state choosing a Republican lieutenant governor with Peter Kinder's victory over Democrat Sam Page.
It could lead to a tipping of the balance on either compromise and bipartisan participation or further stalemate and party division in state government. There hasn't been a bipartisan combination of governor and lieutenant governor in Missouri since Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, and John Ashcroft, a Republican, were elected in 1989.
In the legislative branch of Missouri state government, the General Assembly is still very Republican in both the state Senate and House of Representatives. But at least in the immediate aftermath of the election, state officials are sounding a bipartisan tone, as evidenced in meetings Thursday in Jefferson City.
Do you think this could be an opportunity for more bipartisan cooperation, or will it cause more turf wars?
Low turnout for superintendent search
Despite high turnout for the controversial third high school location, parents and citizens didn't show up when it came down to selecting a new superintendent for Columbia Public Schools.
At a superintendent search forum Wednesday, the school board and administration didn't just outnumber the public attendants, they were the only ones there. With a position as important as school superintendent under consideration, it's surprising that the number of people actively interested is so much smaller than the number of people who came out to comment when the school board made a controversial move to pick a location for the third high school.
Does there need to be a problem for people to care? Or, as the school board and administrative staff worry, are they the ones to blame for the lack of public participation? The indirect effect of no one showing up is no one will be aware if something is wrong until it affects them or their children personally. At that point, the situation is more difficult to change.
What could the school district do to encourage people to participate in the process of selecting a superintendent?
It's not the first time the Missourian wrote about a high-profile couple, but something was different about a story Friday that focused on MU quarterback Chase Daniel's girlfriend, Blaire Vandiver.
Many readers critiqued the article for being fluff, being sexist or being just plain bad journalism. Others said the Missourian should dedicate its resources to more investigative stories.
Was the relationship of a high-profile college couple newsworthy? The answer is maybe. In some arguments, citizens were outraged that the story, which included the couple's first date and how their relationship developed, could have made it on the front page of the Web site. Others read the entire article start to finish, engaged with the insights into a person they have only seen in the shadow of a high-profile football player.
In 2006, The Missourian published a feature article about football coach Gary Pinkel's wife, Vicki Pinkel. It was well liked and received praise from many citizens who were curious about Vicki Pinkel's life outside of football. It could be a sign of ageism that no one challenged an article about the spouse of a high-profile football coach but were in an uproar about a feature on a young high-profile couple. One noticeable difference is that in the article about Vandiver, her relationship to Daniel is essential to the content of the story, whereas the story about Pinkel's wife focused more on her own achievements as a mother, outside of her husband's status.
What do you think about the decision to run a story about a college-aged, high-profile relationship?