Flat income tax proposed to fund Missouri’s schools

Newly elected 24th District Rep. Ed Robb plans to wade right into the thick of the school funding controversy.

His proposal to shift the tax burden almost entirely off property taxes and onto a flat income tax has raised some eyebrows. But, more importantly, it represents an early entry in a long and heated debate over how Missouri’s schools should be funded.

Balancing act

They finish each other’s sentences, brag about each other’s families and laugh over inside jokes.

In the only job-sharing position at First National Bank and Trust, Jane Johnson and Mary Powell switch weeks as the downtown receptionist.

Concerns awaken memories of protests

For many MU student and faculty activists of the 1960s, recent talk of a possible resurrection of a military draft has illuminated some striking parallels with their experiences in that decade, when protest movements swept college campuses across the nation to demand an end to both the draft and the Vietnam War.

“They thought they could win with a smaller army that wouldn’t have to take in hundreds of thousands of people every month,” said MU sociology professor Clarence Lo, who was a student at Harvard University in the late ’60s. “They thought they could run this war, get it over with and not have huge draft calls.”

Flocking for flu shots

Hundreds of mid-Missouri residents braved long lines, gray skies and blustery winds for a shot at the limited supply of flu vaccines on Thursday, as the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health held its annual flu clinic. The department used the clinic as a practice run for its mass vaccination plan, organized in response to potential biological threats or disease outbreaks.

“It’s a practice run, but yet we’re actually really dispensing things so it’s much more realistic,” said Heather Baer, spokesperson for the department.

No P&Z nod for rezoning

More than 100 people filled the City Council chambers on Thursday night as the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission voted against a request to rezone 30 acres of land for a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at Broadway and Fairview Road.

The commission voted 6-3 against recommending approval of the developers’ request to rezone about 30 acres of land for planned commercial development. Despite failing to win the commission’s recommendation, the developers’ request will go before the City Council at its Nov. 15 meeting.

Check 21 slowly endorsed

A new law designed to speed up check processing and put an end to “the float” might worry check-writers, but banking industry representatives say not to expect a sudden change.

The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, or Check 21, that went into effect last week, has been described as the death knell for check-floating — writing a check before depositing the funds to cover it. Designed in response to Sept. 11, when stalled transportation caused problems for financial institutions, Check 21 allows banks to transmit checks electronically, freeing them from the obligation to physically transfer the paper check.

Video: Suspect in shooting changed story

A video interrogation of Taron Crawford aired in court Thursday shows Crawford changed his story about the shooting death of Charles Blondis when talking to police.

Crawford, charged with second-degree murder and first-degree armed criminal action, took the stand Thursday afternoon and said he did not kill Blondis. He said others, including Sam Hileman, testified untruthfully.

City to shoo geese from Stephens Lake

A new initiative by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department will attempt to control and reduce the goose population at Stephens Lake Park.

The swimming beach will be closed until April 15, allowing time for construction of a silt fence to prevent erosion and reduce the number of geese in the area. The department will also use artificial harassment techniques, such as simulated shotgun blasts from a propane-run cannon, and chemicals to keep geese away. The chemicals will not have any effect on humans.

Erickson pleads guilty to murder

A 20-year-old Columbia man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery Thursday in connection with the 2001 killing of Kent Heitholt, the Columbia Daily Tribune’s former sports editor.

Charles Timothy Erickson walked into the courtroom handcuffed, wearing a black and white jumpsuit from Boone County Jail, for a brief hearing with Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton.

Political ads factor in win

Potential voters were bombarded with TV ads for president starting in early March, when it became clear Sen. John Kerry would be the Democratic presidential nominee. Since then more than 630,000 ads have aired, according to the Nielsen Monitor-Plus and the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project.

That figure is almost triple the number of ads that ran in 2000, when TV viewers saw almost 245,800 ads, the project reported.

Man convicted in 2003 slaying of MU student

A jury Friday morning convicted Kansas City resident Taron Crawford of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2003 death of MU student Charles Blondis.

Blunt tells Missourians to expect change

JEFFERSON CITY — Transition is the new focus for governor-elect Matt Blunt as his camp prepares to move into the governor’s office. At his home in Springfield on Wednesday, Blunt discussed his plans.

He talked about turning from a campaign mindset into a governing mindset and some of the challenges and differences involved, said Blunt spokesman John Hancock.

Report details sanctions for MU

Now we know. Finally.

The NCAA has handed down its sanctions, and Missouri has accepted them. End of a chapter in MU sports history, for now.

Pierpont wins right to be village

A round of applause signaled the birth of a village Wednesday night when the Boone County Commission voted unanimously to approve the incorporation of Pierpont.

The vote followed a public hearing during which Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman, Pierpont residents and the commissioners debated the need for rational incorporation policy versus the right of residents to control their destiny. In the end, the people of Pierpont got their wish for protection against the possibility of annexation by Columbia.

Youth trumps experience for GOP

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House Republican Caucus appointed Rod Jetton, 37, as the next speaker of the house Wednesday. Jetton with Governor-elect Matt Blunt, 33, have begun a youth movement in state government leadership.

Jetton and Blunt will be the second youngest people to hold their respective positions in at least 40 years. The youngest governor and speaker of the house were Kit Bond and Dick Rabbitt respectively, who also began their terms in the same year.

High turnout at Boone Co. polls above expectations

Boone County residents broke the voter-turnout record on Election Day, with a full 86 percent of qualified voters packing the polls.

“I will be honest, it was 20 percent above my highest expectations,” Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren said Wednesday.

Witnesses identify shooting suspect

Two witnesses testified Wednesday at the Boone County Courthouse that they saw 21-year–old Kansas City, Kan., man Taron Crawford, pull out a handgun and shoot MU sophomore Charles Blondis three times at a party last November. Blondis died on the scene.

Sam Hileman and Peter Lassiter pointed at Crawford when asked by the prosecution who shot Blondis.

The day after, grass roots activists find hope in turnout

A week before the election, Lisa Smith, 39, was sitting on her porch with family and friends, watching their children play in their yard on Eighth Street.

When Stacy Small, an organizer with, came door-to-door making sure people were going to vote, Smith told her she wouldn’t miss the opportunity. It would be Smith’s first time voting, which was cause for excitement among the neighbors, some of whom were also planning to cast ballots for the first time.

Trial in shooting to begin

When MU student Charles Blondis was shot and killed in the early hours of Nov. 16, police quickly came to the conclusion that the shooter was a 20-year-old man from Kansas City, Kan. Officers arrested Taron Crawford later that morning at an apartment on West Worley Street.

But when Crawford’s trial begins today, his attorney could present some surprising testimony. Court records suggest that defense attorney Roderick Smith will call two witnesses who allegedly heard another man claim to be the one who fired the fatal shot. That man is also one of the five potential defense witnesses in the case.

Poplar Bluff students, parents upset about required identification badges

POPLAR BLUFF — A new policy at Poplar Bluff High School requiring students to wear identification badges has prompted one parent to withdraw his children and some students to put stickers on their badges protesting the policy.

The badges are identical to the IDs students were previously required to carry and use to check out library books. Students and faculty must now wear the photo IDs on campus from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. as a safety measure. School officials say the badges allow them to identify people quickly and make sure visitors have checked in.