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5 IDEAS

What people should be talking about
Sunday, June 10, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:26 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

What qualities do you think make a candidate the “best man or woman” for UM System president?

UM SEARCH AT SQUARE ONE

Tell us what you think

E-mail your comments to news@columbiamissourian.com Or mail them to 5 ideas, P.O. Box 917, Columbia, MO 65205


The UM System Board of Curators’ first choice for system president turned down the offer in favor of a position in the private sector. Board chairman Don Walsworth said the curators will embark on a “complete new search” with the help of the search firm Baker-Parker. The board will seek new candidates as well as re-examine former applicants.

While the private sector may offer a higher salary, a potential president should appreciate the payoffs of working in higher education, said Frank Schmidt, chairman of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

“I would think that if we have a candidate who is not interested in (working in academia), we would not have the best person for the university,” he said.

The board has not set a timeline for finding a new president.

The three reported finalists all had business or political backgrounds and included U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who is no longer a candidate, Walsworth said. The board will continue to search for the “best man or woman for the job,” Walsworth said, regardless of whether his or her experience lies in an academic, business or social arena.

If you were to draft a new health care plan for the U.S., what would you include?

HEALTH CARE DEBATE

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama recently released a health care plan, which would include employer contributions, cost-saving initiatives and a requirement that all children be insured. The release made health care a central topic of last Sunday’s debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls. The topic also came up, for the first time, among Republicans at Tuesday night’s candidate debate in Massachusetts.

Obama’s plan isn’t completely universal. It calls for a national pool that people can buy into if they don’t have health insurance; people who can’t afford it would be eligible for government subsidies. Obama’s plan also emphasizes more preventive care and the use of technology to reduce paperwork and control costs, and catastrophic insurance to help businesses and families avoid bankruptcy. Obama’s plan does not yet include a requirement for individuals or employers to purchase health insurance, which health economists see as necessary to achieve universal coverage.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards unveiled a specific health care plan back in February and has been pressuring his rivals do the same.

Where would you draw the line between women’s health and safety and a woman’s legal right to an abortion?

REGULATING ABORTION

A recent state bill would hold abortion providers in Missouri to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and Columbia’s Planned Parenthood clinic would not be able to provide surgical abortions until significant upgrades are made to its facility.

Columbia’s clinic is only one of two places in Missouri where surgical abortions take place, providing 550 abortions in 2006, according to Peter Brownlie of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. If the bill is signed into law, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic would be the only place available for surgical abortions.

“The passing of the bill creates another obstacle in the way of a woman making her own decisions,” Brownlie said. “The bill sponsors are burdening a woman’s constitutional rights.”

Rep. Therese Sander, who sponsored the bill, said abortion in Missouri is unregulated and that putting oversight in place is to protect women’s lives.

Sen. Maida Coleman of St. Louis, minority floor leader, said the bill “not only hurts Missouri women, but hurts all taxpayers of Missouri when precious state resources are exhausted to defend unconstitutional legislation.”

What do you consider to be a humane form of punishment for committing serious crimes?

MISSOURI DEATH PENALTY

A federal appeals court has ruled that Missouri’s three-drug method of execution is not unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, paving the way for Missouri to execute inmates for the first time since February 2006.

The court reversed a ruling that ordered reforms to Missouri’s lethal injection procedures.

Missouri is among nine states that have put executions on hold as they grapple with whether lethal injection is inhumane. The debate centers on how three drugs are administered in succession. Opponents say they can constitute cruel and unusual punishment if given improperly.

If the initial anesthetic does not take hold, a third drug that stops a condemned prisoner’s heart can cause excruciating pain, it has been argued. But inmates would not be able to communicate the pain because of a second drug that paralyzes them.

Gov. Matt Blunt said he is directing the Department of Corrections to prepare execution procedures.

“Capital punishment is a vital deterrent to the most serious of crimes,” Blunt said.

In what ways do you think Columbia’s police department would benefit from a citizen review board?

POLICE REVIEW BOARD

Mayor Darwin Hindman will appoint a committee to investigate whether Columbia should create a citizen review board for its police department.

The Minority Men’s Network presented a resolution to the City Council last week, outlining the reasons for establishing a review board. The resolution cites that “the question of police use of their authority, including but not limited to the use of deadly force and racial profiling, remains an ongoing source of controversy between police and Columbia residents.”

Statistics given by Columbia police to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office last week showed that African-Americans stopped by police were searched almost three times as often as whites and were arrested nearly four times as often.

The mayor said he hopes the committee will include members of the police department, representatives of neighborhoods and other interested people in the community.

Most council members present agreed that the board would be beneficial to the community.

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser expressed reservations about the process. She maintained that citizens who rely on the department might not be the best people to review its actions.

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