Write State School Board Today To Support Elected School Board

The Missouri State Board of Education meets tomorrow morning (Tuesday, February 19th).

Governance of St. Louis Public Schools is on the Agenda.

Please write to the State Board of Education at sbe@dese.mo.gov and request that they vote to approve returning governance of St. Louis Public Schools to our elected School Board.

My letter to the State Board of Education:

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman





Are You Ready For 4 Years With A Republican License Collector?

August 3rd, I submitted a Complaint to the Missouri Attorney General against License Collector Mavis Thompson for releasing protected information for personal gain.

Nearly a month later, the Attorney General’s Office informs me that the Complaint is being sent to the Missouri Highway Patrol for investigation.

That’s significant because most Complaints receive a dismissal letter within a few weeks of filing.

This Complaint has legs. I know other similar Complaints have also been filed against Thompson. Blame me all you want, but the issues were going to get investigated. I was just the first, apparently, to the get things moving.

Mavis Thompson is the Democratic Party Nominee for License Collector. There is a Republican Candidate on the ballot. His name is Zachary M. Syberg. He has not filed a committee with Missouri Ethics Commission and did not reply to the League of Women Voters Survey.

The time to withdraw from the November 6th ballot is past. The time to file a petition as an Independent Candidate is past. If Thompson resigned today, she would still be on the ballot and she would win re-election. It’s safe to say that barring a unified Write-In Campaign, Mavis Thompson will be re-elected.

That should concern you because if  the Highway Patrol investigation finds criminal wrongdoing on the part of Thompson, the Attorney General then prosecutes. I say Attorney General because I really think the City’s Circuit Attorney would punt on this.

Charges would be filed. In the end, I think the Attorney General initiates Thompson’s removal by a Quo Warranto proceeding with the Supreme Court. If Thompson’s benefits are at risk, she would likely resign before the Court acted to remove her. Either way, there would be a new License Collector.

Under Missouri law, when a vacancy occurs in the License Collector position, the Governor appoints a replacement for the remainder of the term. There is no Special Election. There is no nominee chosen by political party Central Committees.

The current Governor being a Republican, the replacement will likely be a Republican. The replacement might also be someone who thinks the License Collector Office should be controlled by the Mayor. The replacement might be someone who would be an ally to Rex Sinquefield. In any case, the replacement will not be someone chosen by voters but instead chosen by a Governor no one elected Governor.

I do not see a way out of this other than A) convincing Thompson to announce she is no longer running despite being on the ballot and B) the Democratic Party launching a campaign to elect a Write-In Candidate.

The Deadline for Write-In Candidates is 5 pm Friday, October 26th. Here is the Declaration of Intent that would need to be filed with the Board of Election.

I think Dana Kelly certainly has the name recognition and organization potential to win a Write-In Campaign. Unfortunately, she is prohibited by law for running as a Write-In in an election she sought the Primary Election nomination.

My intent here is to warn everyone of the coming storm, not advance a particular candidate.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Complaint Filed With AG On License Collector Mavis Thompson

confirmI made the following online complaint on License Collector to Missouri Attorney Josh Hawley.

The I have used links in this post. The actual complaint has addresses following sentences.

I am writing in the matter of the breach of security, release of personal information, and violation of an ethics law by St. Louis City License Collector Mavis Thompson and requesting your investigation and prosecution.

License Collector Mavis Thompson is an agent of the State of Missouri for purposes of the State’s Merchants & Manufacturers Tax. As an agent of the State, she is subject to the provision of Section 150.090 RSMo prohibiting the release of Social Security Numbers.

License Collector Mavis Thompson released the Social Security Number of an election opponent, Dana Kelly-Franks, to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board in violation of Section 150.090.

7/31/2018 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial: Democrats should reject both candidates for St. Louis license collector

7/31/2018 Dana Kelly-Franks statement on the breach of security via Facebook

7/31/2018 Dana Kelly-Franks interview by KMOV-TV: St. Louis official accused of leaking sensitive information about election opponent

Further, Licenses Collector Mavis Thompson released the Social Security Number and other personal identification documents of election opponent Dana Kelly-Franks for personal gain, seeking the endorsement of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch toward re-election and continuance of salary and benefits of public office, in violation of Section 105.452 RSMo.

Marie Ceselski
1911 S 11th Apt C
Saint Louis MO 63104

Outstate Public Schools Are Not Problem Free

schoolaAnyone who thinks there is no drama in outstate Missouri school districts has not spent much time in outstate Missouri or on the State Auditor’s website.

Outstate school districts are just as likely as urban schools districts to benefit from team work or suffer from dysfunction, get caught up in financial intrigue, and have performance issues. The difference is, the more rural the district, the more likely there is no radio or TV coverage of what’s going on in the district, and the school board news in the local weekly newspaper may very well be the meeting minutes the school board secretary submits to the paper.

Outstate vs. urban school districts came up at the November 13th meeting at Northwest High School on the future governance for St. Louis Public Schools. Why do big districts have all the problems? The answer is they don’t. You just don’t hear or read about smaller districts very often. And the State is not forcing taxation without representation and replacing governance of those districts with appointed special boards.

Here are a few outstate school district stories you may have missed.

Hallsville, Boone County
9/27/2016 Columbia Daily Tribune: More than $500,000 in Hallsville School District bond projects performed without bids

St. Joseph, Buchanan County
2/16/2017 KCUR: St. Joseph School District Whistle Blower Resigns From School Board
6/2/2015 KCUR: Fired St. Joseph School District Superintendent Lands Job In Missouri Bootheel
2/27/2015 KCUR: Missouri State Auditor Rates St. Joseph School District Performance ‘Poor’

Nixa, Christian County
7/10/2016 Springfield News Leader: Credentials of Nixa Public Schools’ budget director questioned by audit organizer

Liberty, Clay County
7/27/2008 Columbia Missourian: Police investigate possible financial mismanagement in Liberty School District

Ash Grove, Greene County
9/30/2014 Springfield News-Leader: Ash Grove board attempts reboot with interim leader

Springfield, Greene County
2/15/2016 Springfield News Leader: Springfield Public School’s No. 2 finance official came from district blasted in audit

Lee’s Summit, Jackson-Cass Counties
2/23/2016 Kansas City Star: In Lee’s Summit school district feud, board member and superintendent trade calls to resign

Grandview, Jackson County
7/19/2017 St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Grandview School District officials say misplaced trust led to $1.6M embezzlement
8/27/2014 KSHB: Grandview superintendent accepted free tickets from district vendor, federal agency investigating

Joplin, Jasper-Newton Counties
3/2/2015 Joplin Globe: ‘Fair’ audit criticizes school district’s finances

Fox C-6, Jefferson County
5/26/2016 St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Audit suggests former Fox School District boss spent taxpayer money for own benefit

Eureka, Jefferson-St. Louis Counties
11/5/2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri Ethics Commission fines former Rockwood School Board member $10,000

Hannibal, Marion-Ralls Counties
11/24/2015 Missouri Times: Auditor Galloway releases Hannibal School audit, cites concerns with bond issue process. Audit also raises concerns with retirement incentives and electronic data security

Pleasant Hope, Polk County
8/12/2009 Boliver Herald Free Press: Overspending at R-6 likely due to construction of sports complex, audit says. Spending habits left Pleasant Hope school district close to financial stress


An Open Letter to State Rep. Shamed Dogan

vote-counts1Dear State Representative Dogan:

I read with great interest your 11/29/2016 guest column “How Missouri’s new voter photo ID requirement works” in the St. Louis American.

As a committeewoman, one of my jobs will be to assist voters in complying with the new law. Sadly, your guest column did not answer any of my questions. So, I am respectfully requesting that you write a follow up column on how one gets a copy of a Missouri Birth Certificate without having a Photo ID.

For example, the mail-in method for a Birth Certificate Copy requires a notarized signature. Perhaps you could provide a list of public notaries in each county and the City of St. Louis who notarize signatures without a Photo ID.

For example, the walk-in method for a Birth Certificate Copy requires a Photo ID of the copy applicant. The copy applicant may be an immediate relative. If the voter’s immediate relative with a Photo ID does not live locally, does the General Assembly plan on paying for transportation, lodging, and compensation for use of a vacation days or lost wages? What if there is no immediate relative with a Photo ID or the voter is not on speaking terms with any immediate relative with a Photo ID?

And how does the Free Supportive Documents work since reimbursement would still place a financial burden upon the voter? Requiring a fee of any kind to vote is a poll tax, as I am sure you are aware.

Counties, including the City of St Louis, pay the State of Missouri to access the State’s Vital Records database and the copy fees are deposited to county general revenue. The Hancock Amendment would prevent the General Assembly from forcing county Vital Records offices to give out free copies.

Or is the plan for voters to get their Free Birth Certificate copies from Jefferson City? Sir, try doing that as a citizen who is not an elected official. See how long it takes to get the copy or if you get the correct copy the first time. Then try helping someone with the surname Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Smith, or Williams get a correct copy from Jefferson City.

And has anyone considered the type of identity fraud and possible aiding of terrorism if the Missouri General Assembly lifts the Photo ID or notarized signature provisions for Birth Certificate copy requests and just lets anyone write in for a copy?

And then there’s the money for all this. But, for right now, I just want to know how you think this will really work.

I look forward to the answers.

Marie Ceselski
7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman
St. Louis City

Statewide Initiative Petition for NonPartisan Elections Is A Hot Mess

huxleyWednesday, Damien Johnson submitted four initiative petition drafts with the Missouri Secretary of State. Johnson works in the initiative petition industry, was treasurer of Democrat Dylan Hassinger’s recent state senate campaign, and previously a Republican activist and GOP candidate for 64th District State Representative.

Three of his petitions are marijuana related.  I have not compared them except to see that one is more of a right to grow petition and two are in depth legalization.

But 2018-003 is an initiative petition to replace political party August primaries and party label November general elections with November nonpartisan elections with runoffs to follow for some elected offices. Some.

These petitions are in the public comment phase. Later they could be approved for signature collection.

This nonpartisan elections petition is a hot mess.

The petitions covers U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Missouri Senate, Missouri House, and all statewide offices except State Auditor, which would remain a partisan primary and general election every four years. It also does not cover county offices, meaning they would continue to be elected by partisan primary and general elections. This amendment would set up a two tier election system for state offices, certainly one more costly than present.

Filing fee for these nonpartisan offices would be $100 or less and no signature collection would be required, meaning every Tom, Dick, and Harry would file and the ballots will be many, many, many pages long.

The November election for the nonpartisan offices would require a winner to earn 50% of the vote or there would be a run-off election. Given the time needed to certify the first vote and set things up for the run-off, the second vote would be between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s guaranteed to be lower turnout because of holiday season, let alone the possibility of the first snow complicating matters.

Let me also point out that this post-November election period is when newly elected legislators participate in freshmen orientation. This is when they learn the Senate/House Rules and procedures, get staffed, and receive introductions to agencies, before their swearing in and session begins the first week in January.

Most disturbing about this proposal is the part were we would still have August elections for ballot issues, most surely low turnout because the only other elections on the ballot will be county office primaries. While I can find no link between this petition and Rex Sinquefield, certainly he stands the most to gain from this proposal.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman