November 17, 2014    8th Edition
First and foremost I want to thank everyone for your support at the polls.
I won with 59% of the vote.

Your help in working the polls and hosting yard signs is sincerely appreciated. If by any chance, we missed retrieving my campaign sign from your yard, please let me know and we'll come and get it.
It has been a very busy time. If I have not yet answered your email or note, I want you to know I will get back to you. Sometimes it takes time to get the information and other times, like during campaign season (particularly the last weeks of October and into November), it has just been really, really busy. However, I did learn a lot while knocking on approximately 5,575 doors during the fall and summer.
The Challenge for the Next Session:

With only 45 Democrats among the 163 members of the House of Representative, our legislative power is limited. My plan is to keep expressing opinions, stating facts and asking a lot of questions. Lecturing the House on why one side of an issue is right and the other wrong has little impact, and does not change anyone's mind. My strategy is to make everyone give some thought to the proposal and consider what is actually being proposed.

Following the elections, with offices being vacated and new people coming in, my office location may change. I will keep you posted so that you can find me if you come to visit Jeff City.
Constituent Feedback - Surveys

My constituent survey will be coming to you in the 1st or 2nd week of December. If you choose to participate online, that is fine, however in my short experience it does not work very well. I receive a nice summary of the scores, but do not receive your additional comments (the most important stuff!). We have tried, but to no avail. If you encounter any problems with the online survey, rather then get frustrated simply use the paper copy and note that the online method did not work for you.
BJC at Cortex

My visit to BJC's Cortex project was fascinating. This is the growing bio-technology complex located just east of the BJC hospital complex in the Central West End. The focus here is on encouraging start up businesses in the field of bio-medical research. We were fortunate to receive a presentation of some of the work being done in Alzheimer's research.

Cortex is more than just a research incubator, it is a community; so much so that they will soon be getting a new Metrolink station to assist commuters.

BJC Candidate Forum

BJC also held a candidate forum with candidates from the St. Louis area, allowing each of us to share our views on a number of topics. This was broadcast to several of their locations to help the employees learn more about the candidates.

Delta Gamma Center

The Delta Gamma Center is a wonderful facility for families with visually impaired children. Pre-school age children and their families are helped to learn how to navigate safely in the world when they have vision disabilities.

Charter Schools

I met with a representative of charter schools, as I feel we need to look at all sides of an issue regardless of where we stand, to better understand different viewpoints. As a strong proponent of pubic schools, this was a little hard for me. I have always believed we should support our public schools. If a parent chooses to send their children to private schools that is their choice. As a state we should provide public schools for all the children of the state using public funds. Charter schools are an alternative choice to attending the St Louis City Schools. In visiting one or two schools, I'm still not completely clear on how this helps all students. This is an area I am continuing to investigate, particularly with the situation emerging in our north county area. They did not win me over but there might be a place for them. I will need to look further at this issue.

Lutheran Family and Childrens Services

I visited an open house that showed off the expanded offices of the Lutheran Family and Childrens Services. It was an enjoyable visit that included presentations on the new services that their expanded space will accomodate.


Carpenter Apprentice School tour

I had the privilege of touring the Carpenters Apprentice School. I was not really aware of the versatility of our carpenters. I think of carpenters working with wood, but have since learned they, in addition to using wooden studs in private residential buildings, also use metal studs for commercial buildings and learn to weld Most of us are aware of apprentice programs, but I was not aware that the average age of incoming apprentices is 28! They come to apprenticeships after discovering they are not well suited for college or graduated and could not find a job. Maybe they went to a trade school and jobs did not materialize or they discover they like to build things.

I firmly believe our high school students need to have the opportunity to explore colleges, job opportunities, including those in our trades. There is a big wide world out there and we need to make sure our students know there are alternatives that offer a multitude of ways to earn a respectable and fulfilling living; and they don't have to wait until the age of 28 to get started. A starting apprentice earns well over the proposed minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.

Job Corps  

The Job Corps is a great program. After listening to the students discuss where they came from and how they are reaching their goals, it was truly inspiring. I always say we should help people pull themselves up by their boot-straps and these students are doing just that. They are gaining the tools to be productive, independent, self-supporting adults.

Parkway's Spark! Incubator

On another front (same goals/different starting point) the Parkway School District has a special program geared toward the entreprenuers of the future. Spark! gives a select group of high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to be innovative, discover ideas for a new product, develop a business plan and possibly start a business. They are housed in a store front on the second level of Chesterfield Mall. Some of the ideas for products and business are very clever and some have even gone so far as to find ways to develop and bring products to market.

It was a treat to meet Annalise Ruzicka and Marisa Hacker, the two entrepreneurs behind the Popcorn Straw, a product that will evenly distribute butter through your movie popcorn. Remember, you saw it here first. Great job Annalise and Marisa!

ParaQuad

The St. Louis area legislators were invited to an open house at Paraquad. We had the opportunity to visit with those using Paraquad services. The purpose and goal is to help people be part of a society as a productive independent adult.

I was particularly struck by a nonverbal young man confined to a wheelchair. He showed me how he could operate his wheelchair and computer to communicate and get around. He is a minister, and using a piece of headgear he can touch a screen to form what he wants to say. Then the the computer verbalizes for him. It is quite the ingenious system and helps him be part of society rather than sitting on the sidelines of life.
Cop For a Day

I was excited to participate in a Cop For a Day Program. Especially with the happenings in St Louis lately this seemed like a good way for me to get a better understanding of what is like for a cop on the street doing their job. First we watched several videos (taken by dashboard cameras in police cars) of car stops, house calls, and various situations where a cop was killed. My idea of shoot to stop, not necessarily to kill was completely debunked. When the adrenalin is speeding though one's system and someone is shooting at you, just get them down, if you don't they will get you. That came as somewhat of a surprise to me, but completely logical.

After the videos and some conversation we were given the opportunity to role play in simulations. We were each given a disabled handgun similar to those used by the police. The officers had us drive a police car to the scene (it was all done in a parking lot) and try to act like we were the police officers. Needless to say our training was minimal. The first scenario I was in had to do with dealing with a prostitute fighting with her pimp. My partner and I managed to talk them down and get the situation under control. In the second scenario it was two drug dealers hiding drugs in the bushes. I have never been party to a pat down, so I was unsure of just how to proceed. The bottom line is we did capture the suspect, I did find the gun on one of them, retrieved the gun and got him safely into the police car. No shots were fired.

I was the only one in the whole group (of 18 public officials and press representatives) to find the gun. Some shot the perpetrators and one of ours got shot (figuratively) because he did not find the gun. I was kind of proud of myself for getting the gun. For more, check out this video from KMOV (that's me finding the gun near the end of the story) and this story from the Post-Dispatch.


St. Louis County Police Ride Along

If you want to know what it is like to be a police officer, do a ride along. I just rode with the St. Louis County Police this week. It was slow and quiet and just cruising the neighborhoods from 6:00 to 8:00pm. For my 8:00 to 10:00pm shift I was with a young woman officer. We did back up for another officer who was interviewing a woman who said she came home to find some of her jewelry missing. We just drove there quickly and I listed to the conversations.

While we were there a call came in for a burglary in progress. We had lights and sirens and were moving along quickly, well over 90mph on Page. It was interesting how the drivers responded. Most just got out of the way. Two decided they could make the light before we got there, so we had to slow down. Racing an emergency vehicle with sirens is not recommended under any circumstances. I stayed in the car at this scene holding a microphone just in case someone approached the car or I saw someone sneaking around. It was a most interesting and enlightening evening. It is slow, quiet and calm; or fast, loud and lots of adrenalin pumping. Quite the experience!

Last but definitely not least — on a personal note, our youngest daughter got married on November 8! It was a lovely event that capped a very busy week.

Everyone please have a happy and safe holiday season. Thank you for your support, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to represent you in Jefferson City.

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Paid for by Friends of Sue Meredith, Pam Crowley - Treasurer