Daily Dish: Aug. 13, 2012

Here’s a rundown of stories about city and county government that made the news over the weekend.

Proposed historic district rules cause property rights worries

Jacob Barker of the Columbia Daily Tribune reports on the fledgling debate surrounding city-initiated historic property designations.

Stream team volunteers clean up trash in East Campus

Jennah Sontag of the Columbia Missourian details a city-sponsored effort to keep garbage out of streams.

Construction on new Greenbriar Trail to begin soon

KOMU-TV8 reports on the latest trail project in Columbia.

Missouri School of Journalism news outlets collaborate on new election-related website

Project Open Vault, a cooperative effort of KBIA 91.3, the Missourian, KOMU-TV8, Newsy.com and the Reynolds Journalism Institute will aggregate election news and track spending on televised political ads in central Missouri leading up to the November election.





Boone County Policy Makers Breakfast

Folgers got it all wrong. The best park of waking up isn’t coffee. It’s a Policy Makers Breakfast at the Boone County Commission Chambers.

Dan Atwill, Presiding Commissioner of Boone County, opened the meeting by explaining the purpose of this breakfast is to have a dialogue to work smoothly between the different officials in Boone County and Columbia.

The three commissioners of Boone County were in attendance. Including Skip Elkin, Boone County’s District II Commissioner, who is back from serving on active duty with the National Guard.  The breakfast club also included Columbia council members, the mayor, and school board members.

Most of the communication at the meeting involved the construction of infrastructure surrounding Battle High School. The property is in the county but the city is heavily involved. A current issue is the stoplight, now installed but not functioning, at St. Charles Rd. and Battle Ave. The stop light, which is in the county, falls under their control but the county does not have any equipment to maintain a traffic light. No decision was reached how maintenance for the light will be paid for.

Other infrastructure projects include the intersection of Highway Z and St. Charles Rd. where there are plans for the construction of a roundabout with the help of state funds. There was talk of an eventual bridge over I-70 at Olivette. A lot of this presents peculiar problems for Boone County, which never builds roads but just maintains them.

The search for property for a new elementary school in Southwest Columbia continues. Due to storm water regulations the parcel of land would need to be about 30 acres.

City Manager Mike Matthes spoke of how all the parking spaces are now leased in the 5th and Walnut parking garage. He mentioned that since there is a demand it’s possible to raise prices. He also made a comment about the Columbia Regional Airport and how they are very close to some very exciting announcements. The members at the meeting concluded it would be a good idea to come try to make these meetings a quarterly occurrence.

Mapping 2012 City Council campaign contributions

Google Fusion Tables City Council campaign contributions 2012 map (link will open new tab)

Final campaign finance reports for the April 3 City Council elections were due to the Missouri Ethics Commission on Thursday. According to those reports, unsuccessful Sixth Ward candidate Bill Tillotson both earned and spent the greatest amount during the campaign, with totals of $33,519.50 and $27,245.51, respectively. His opponent, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, raised $26,272.16, including more than $8,500 in the final two weeks of the campaign, after Tillotson released ads accusing Hoppe of abuse of power in her involvement in a dispute between the East Campus Neighborhood Association and Beta Theta Pi fraternity over the height of their new house under construction on College Avenue. Hoppe spent $25,316 on her campaign.

In the Second Ward, which comprises the northwest part of Columbia, election winner and sitting Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp reported the greatest amount of contributions and expenses. His totals were $7,260.37 raised and $6,760.37 spent. Opponent Mike Atkinson raised $5,615 and spent $5,593.57. Bill Pauls opted for an austere campaign, saying at several campaign events that he was the “$3,000 dollar man” and would not spend a penny over that amount. Pauls met his goal, raising $2,885.27 and spending $2,536.27.

The Google map below, created using Fusion Tables and contribution amounts collected from the Missouri Ethics Commission, lists individual contributors to all campaigns, their address, their contribution amount and listed occupation. The “Filter” button that appears at the top of the map will allow you to limit results by these qualifiers. For more detailed instructions on how to use the filter tool, or any other questions about navigating the map, consult Google’s own guide.

The following key explains which color represents which contribution amount:

Green: $0 to $49
Yellow: $51 to $99
Red: $100 to $149
Purple: $150 or more

Click the map marker for more detailed information about each contribution.

View the termination reports, including final campaign contribution and expense figures, in .pdf form below. For more information, visit the Missouri Ethics Commission website or contact Missourian Public Life reporter Kip Hill via email. And, as always, thanks for reading!

Google Fusion Tables City Council campaign contributions 2012 map (link will open new tab)

Michael Trapp final report (.pdf)
Bill Pauls final report (.pdf)
Mike Atkinson final report (.pdf)
Bill Tillotson final report (.pdf)
Barbara Hoppe final report (.pdf)

How did we do that? Gathering data for our coverage of tax-increment financing

“There is terror in numbers. […] Perhaps we suffer from a trauma induced by grade-school arithmetic.”
-Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics

The Missourian has just published a report outlining tax-increment financing, its history in Missouri and plans to increase the practice in parts of the city, including the entire First Ward. This piece was painted, in part, by data obtained through an open records request to the Missouri Department of Economic Development for figures from annual reports filed by cities statewide between 2007 and 2011.

Cities are legally obligated to file these reports, and in 2009 the Missouri General Assembly attempted to beef up enforcement and transparency by instituting a five-year moratorium on creation of new districts for non-compliant cities.

The data cited in the story and provided below constitutes only those reports submitted to the state. We have converted the original Microsoft Access files provided from the department into Excel files, so that they can be opened by Mac and PC users alike. Click the link below to download the desired Excel file (.xls). Your download should open in a new window.

Download 2007 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2008 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2009 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2010 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2011 Local TIF Report (.xls)

If you do not have a copy of Microsoft Excel, the .xls files can alternatively be opened using the open-source (and free to download) program OpenOffice Calc.

To show you how we arrived at the numbers provided in the article, we have also created a Word file (.doc) of query statements used in the MySQL database manager software and the results those queries returned. That download is available below and should open in a new window as well.

SQL audit trail for TIF story (.doc)

If you have any questions about the process of investigating the data or difficulty downloading the files, contact Missourian Public Life reporter Kip Hill via email. As always, thanks for reading!

The Daily Dish–Feb.24

BY Jacob Kirn, Columbia Missourian: Columbia city officials organized a trip to Ames, Iowa last Friday to study the public transit system there. In Ames, the bus system known as CyRide covers campus and the majority of the city. Buses come more frequently and average wait time are shorter than Columbia Transit.The price for students to enjoy such transit system: Each semester, students at Iowa State University pay a $62.61 fee which goes to CyRide and gives students a bus pass without further costs.

By Andrew Denney, Columbia Tribune: Columbia citizens reacted to the City Council decision to announce part of the city as “blighted”. A not-for-profit organization was formed during a meeting at Parkade Center Wednesday night.Some citizens expressed their concerns, including the possible use of eminent domain in the blighted zone.

The Daily Dish — Feb. 16

Bicycle/Pedestrian Commission proposes Phase II of Windsor Ash Bike Boulevard by Amy Willsey, Columbia Missourian

Citing the positive reception of Phase I, which placed so-called bike boulevards on Ash and Windsor streets, Bike/Ped sought approval Wednesday to finance a $460,000 expansion with federal funding. Phase II, however, is one of several projects eligible to receive the grant money. City Council will decide which will get the go-ahead at a later time.

Boone County seeks authority to regulate rental property by Antony Lee, Columbia Missourian

Three area representatives took their case for Senate Bill 730, which would grant Boone County the authority to impose regulations on rental property outside city limits, before the state Senate’s Jobs, Economic Development and Local Government Committee on Wednesday. Similar legislation has historically failed to fly, but county reps expressed optimism for the new bill’s prospects.

Senate approves bill moving back Missouri primary date by Marshall Griffin, KBIA

Thursday dawned with the first-round approval of a bill calling for the postponement of filing deadlines for Missouri’s state and national officials. The legislation comes in the heat of a legal battle over the state’s new district boundaries and would shift the filing period back about a month. A single vote stands between the bill and a House vote, but legislators anticipate that it will be received by day’s end.

The Daily Dish — Feb. 14

Columbia School Board votes to approve new school attendance boundaries by Allie Hinga, Columbia Missourian

The Columbia School Board met Monday night despite weather-related school closures to discuss boundaries, budget parameters and air conditioning funding. After months of deliberation and significant resistance from citizens, the board voted to approve Scenario B, which will redraw attendance areas for local intermediate and high schools. The new boundaries will be made effective in Fall 2013.

Students Prepare to Face Legislators by Cidney King, KOMU

Members of the Missouri Students Association will deliver 6,000 letters to the Capitol today in response to Gov. Jay Nixon’s lessened but still significant cuts to higher education. Some students also plan to address the House Higher Education committee in hopes of persuading legislators to alleviate cuts before the budget approval deadline in June.

Legislators spar over Obama budget by Bill Raack, KBIA

United States Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt are butting heads over the viability of President Obama’s proposed national budget. The Missouri democrat said that while it must be managed, further spending is necessary for economic revival. From the right side of the aisle, however, Sen. Blunt dissented, calling the $3.8 trillion plan “more of the same reckless spending that has forced our nation’s record debt to skyrocket.”