The gauge

For years and years The Missourinet has gotten a monthly economic report called The Rural Mainstreet Economic Index. The survey contacts dozens of purchasing managers who fit in the middle of the supply and demand cycle and bank CEOs in rural areas who keep an eye on local financial trends. It covers several Midwestern states but it also provides breakouts on a state-by-state basis. The index measures whether the strength of the economies in each state and has been useful in reporting on the strength of Missouri’s economy that cannot be measured only by looking at the monthly employment/unemployment reports from the state.

The index is compiled by Creighton University economist Ernest Goss, who heads the school’s Institute for Economic Inquiry.  He’s also worked with the Congressional Budget Office and NASA—among others.

Ernie Goss’ index is a nonpartisan gauge but it’s only one of the gauges used to measure the economic status of Missouri.

Your friendly observer has seen numerous proposals made, and many passed, that promise big economic improvements and job growth. Some have focused on preventing companies from moving to other states. Some have focused on making Missouri a more welcoming climate for industries IN other states.  Some have aimed at keeping people in certain professions from fleeing to other places where they won’t face big lawsuits. Some are tax incentives. Some of these issues and their accompanying justifications are before the legislature again this year.  Economic development is, after all, a highly competitive business and Missouri needs to be a force on this playing field. People here do have to work and they prefer to work at good jobs.

In all the years of watching these mostly well-intended efforts we have never seen a nonpartisan assessment of the results. Is Missouri an any greater magnet for jobs because of these efforts?  Are the jobs being created actually improving the economy?  Why is this or that working or not working?  Do some efforts need to be repealed because they’re ineffective instead of getting new programs layered on top of them?  Various interest groups have persuaded or tried to persuade the legislature to pass laws that will allow them to flourish—or so they claim.  Have those programs actually allowed them to flourish?  Or have they just protected those groups from competitors? Is passing economic development legislation without taking steps to finance the infrastructure system to support economic development enough?

We need more than Dr. Goss’ surveys to gauge whether all of the things passed have worked or whether familiar ideas are realistic.  We have competing groups offering competing evaluations and assessments. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Budget Project see economic growth and funding for public programs through distinctly different lenses, for example.

But suppose the heads of the economics departments at our state and private universities formed an informal Council of Missouri Economic Assessors that could regularly release studies indicating how well various initiatives of the state are working. Not a council of advisers.  A council of economic assessors. 

There is no question Missouri must be competitive.  But could we reach a point where the value of new initiatives is less than their costs to public services and programs?  When everybody else is doing the same thing Missouri is doing, are promises of positive results of a new policy hollow?

Economic development initiatives are seldom intended to produce instant results.  We recall that the special incentives offered to Ford to keep its production lines moving at Claycomo did have a pretty immediate impact.  But most of the others envision something long-term.   How long is long enough?

How many times have we heard how many governors say in one way or another what Governor Greitens says in his first state budget message: “Missouri’s budget is suffering from reduced revenue due to poor economic growth.”  How many times have we heard governors say, as Governor Greitens says in his message, that the governor “is committed to making the budget cuts necessary to balance the state’s budget and retain Missouri’s AAA credit rating.”

Underlying all of this are the questions of whether these job-growing efforts are really beneficial to working Missourians, creating employment or opportunities for meaningful employment for those without jobs and whether these steps wind up undermining other capabilities citizens should be getting.

Maybe a Council of Economic Assessors isn’t the unaffiliated body we need to tell us if all of these efforts are paying off and to what degree.  But an educated non-affiliated review of these efforts could be a gauge of where we are, where we might be going if we maintain this course, and whether there are additional facets of the issue that need support, too.

We’re just tired of hearing year after year the repetition of the phrases “job creation,” “withholding,” “triple-A bond rating,” “job-killing tax increases,” “cut,” and “poor economic growth.”  And we’re pretty sure a lot of the people at the capitol on both sides of the aisle are fatigued, too.  Isn’t it time a governor didn’t have to worry about retaining Missouri’s AAA credit rating?

We’ve thrown an idea out there. You might have a better one and we hope you share it.

A thankless job

Here’s an accurate but fictitious job description for a real position in state government:

WANTED:  Twenty-one people to spend sixteen to twenty hours every two years on a project likely to result in nothing being done.  Position is available for only four years and will require two meetings of two to three days each.  No salary or fringe benefits but expenses are paid. Expect no gratitude for a job well-done.  Scorn and public rebukes entirely possible for the results of your work.  Certain qualifications for employment will apply.  Apply to Governor of the State of Missouri.  If hired, you might be interrogated or rebuked by ungrateful beneficiaries of your work.

No, it’s not state executioner. It’s being a member of the Citizens Commission on the Compensation of State Elected Officials, established in law more than twenty years ago so legislators would not be accused of feathering their own nests.

There is some feeling among taxpayers that public servants who create, evaluate, and administer laws, programs, and services should do so out of the pureness of their hearts with no hope of financial gain or reward.  That might be extending things a little but probably not much

So here’s a question for those who think refusal is the only course:  How much would you want to be paid for a critically-important job that requires you to be away from home and family for four days a week for more than four months of the year, that requires broad general knowledge on hundreds of subjects of high public impact, that involves incredible pressures for action and favorable consideration from dozens of sources, that involves days that begin early and might last around the clock more times than you would like?  Furthermore, it would be a second job.  Your main job would continue.  If you were a farmer, you’d be away from home at least four days a week during planting season or farrowing season.  You wouldn’t be around your furniture store, your grocery store, your law office, your—-well, whatever is your main source of income—very much for more than four months each year.

Then, even while you are at home, your fellow townsfolk regularly call your home or stop you on the street asking pointed questions about what you’ve done or not done for them in your second job.

Or what do you think is the proper salary of the CEO of a, say, $27-billion corporation?   Or the salary of the other top officers of the corporation including the Chief Financial Officer or the corporation’s Chief Counsel?

You realize we’re talking about the legislature and the Governor and other members of the executive and judicial branches of government.  Because legislators are subject to the whims of public popularity, they long ago realized the political unattractiveness of setting their own salaries and those of other top officials.  But they retained the power to reject the recommendations of the 21 citizens because they fear the public thinks almost anything they are paid is too much.

The Citizens Commission on Compensation for State Elected Officials compared the salaries of Missouri officials with salaries and workloads of counterparts in other states. It looked at what people doing comparable work in the private sector made.  It went through numerous sheets of statistics and evaluations. It found those top public officials in Missouri are “substantially underpaid” for the responsibilities of the offices they hold and should get eight percent more. Additionally, the commission recommended 2.5% more for legislators.

These twenty-one people knew they probably wouldn’t get any thanks for their responsible efforts. They took some shots from some legislators before lawmakers voted on their recommendations. Governor Greitens, who continues to capitalize on distrust by the people of those the people elect, called their recommendations “outrageous.”

The commission, however, just did the its job.

The internet site Ballotpedia says legislative salaries range from zero in New Mexico (although those lawmakers get $163 a day in per diem) to $100,133 a year in California.  New Hampshire has the lowest legislative salaries of states that do pay salaries–$200 per two year term. Missouri legislators get almost $36,000 a year plus $112 per diem tied to the federal rate.  Sixteen states that pay salaries to their legislators pay more.  Several states pay a daily or weekly rate during sessions only.

Our governor makes about $134,000 a year which ranks 28th among all governor salaries.

The Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court makes about $180,000 for a two-year term then drops back to the $172,000 salary as a member of the court.  The CJ salary is 36th among all state chiefs, and the judge salaries ranks 38th.  The last time the Missouri legislature let pay raises go into effect was for the 2008-09 fiscal year.  Republicans controlled the legislature and the governorship then, as they do now.

The legislature rejected the work of the commission this week. It’s the right decision.  And it might not be incorrect to say it’s the wrong decision.

The public’s increasingly growing distrust of the people the public elects to most of these positions and the recent electoral climate in which “corrupt career politicians” became a rallying roar for thousands of voters made it unlikely from the beginning that the commission’s recommendations would be adopted. Added to that is the often-repeated fact that the worker bees in state government, the people who deserve something better than being dismissed with the derogatory term “bureaucrat,” are among the worst-paid state workers in the entire nation.  We don’t know if their situation was a public discussion matter in rejecting the commission’s suggestions, but surely it was privately acknowledged that accepting the proposed raises at a time when the state budget is so tight that the governor wants to lay off thousands more of those low-paid state workers would fly poorly in several different ways.

So it was the right thing to do.  Politically. And out of respect for the worker bees.

But it also was the wrong thing to do. And here’s why.

First, the citizens commission.  This group of people, citizens, did not take their responsibility lightly. Their job was to examine the issue as dispassionately as possible.  Had they been strictly motivated by today’s politics they might have recommended big pay CUTS.  But that consideration was not part of their responsibility. Their phrase “substantially underpaid for the responsibilities required” is not to be dismissed out of hand. We do not elect our lawmakers and our statewide officials to come to Jefferson City for a five-month or four-year marshmallow roast.  Their important decisions might be laudatory or highly-suspect but they are not made easily. And what they say or do on the floors of the House and Senate is only part, perhaps a small part, of their jobs.  The broad range of constituent services they are expected to perform consumes much of their time—and that part is a year-around labor.

So if you believe someone should be paid fairly for the work they do, the citizens commission was right and the lawmakers were wrong.

It could be viewed as wrong on the “you get what you pay for” scale. If you want an amusing assessment of that phrase, take a look at the Urban Dictionary website (R-rated for some language).  We heard that phrase used to justify pay increases for lawmakers in the pre-commission days.  We don’t recall hearing it used much in discussions of worker bee pay increases.  Should have been if it wasn’t. And maybe the phrase has a different meaning in an era when term limits devalue the expertise that long experience provides. But last year’s campaign raised the YGWYPF by inference if nothing else.

It could be argued, too, that they were wrong because there is no citizens commission on the salaries of state employees that would give legislators the chance to adopt recommended higher pay scales for the worker bees as well as for themselves.  Would it change anything?  In truth, probably not for those who have to face voters at home but maybe for the people who spend their lives in cubicles.

Friends, we have to have government.  And government cannot be an agency of the United Way and the people who bear the multitudinous responsibilities of being government deserve to be treated better than the hamburger flipper at the drive-through window.

The hamburger flipper, the cubicle dweller, the senator, the representative, the governor, and the judge all have responsibilities.  We wish we knew of a way to fairly measure and properly reward each one for the work they do and the responsibilities they bear.  In some ways the marketplace makes the determination.  In other ways, citizens commissions try to do the same.

A thankless job?  You bet.  Outrageously thankless.  But somebody had to do it.  And this fellow citizen, for one, appreciates their willingness to do it.

Erasing History in the Missouri House

The daily journals kept by the Missouri House and the Missouri Senate are bare-bones records of their proceedings.  Eloquence and folly voiced during floor debate have no place in them.  This is not, after all, Congress, where the daily Congressional Record captures every word, even words never spoken (Members are allowed to “revise and expand” their remarks).

Reading the Missouri legislature’s journals reveals some things, though.  The journals tell us that the order of procedure used today are pretty much the very same order of procedure used in our earliest legislative sessions.  There is an official structure to the making of laws that is honored every day.  Titles of bills and texts of amendments give us some indication of the thinking of the participants and thus an indication of the standards of Missouri society through time.  Resolutions, too, reflect often contemporary issues, events, and causes.   Only in recent years have debates been archived by, among others, the Secretary of State.

Today, however, we are going to tell you about a House Journal that does not reflect what happened that day because the House deliberately erased the record.   It was an extraordinary event.  We cannot say it was unprecedented because it will take someone with weeks or months of time we do not have to learn if it was.

We go back to Sunday night, January 25, 1903, when the young firebrand temperance-promoting preacher at the Christian Church about four blocks down East Main Street (Capital Avenue today) charged city officials and the people of Jefferson City had allowed Jefferson City to have a lower moral standard than any other small city in Missouri. Crayton S. Brooks charged the arrival of legislators that month had not helped.  His sermon caused great unrest in the capital city and a week of give-and-take in the local press kept the issue hot.  Legislators watched events with interest.

Now let’s look at the House Journal:

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TWENTIETH DAY—Tuesday, February 3, 1903. House met pursuant to adjournment. Speaker Whitecotton in the chair. Prayer by the Chaplain. Journal of yesterday read and approved. Mr. Kirkham offered the following joint resolution, which was read and adopted: JOINT RESOLUTION. Whereas. Hon. Dorsey W. Shackietord, Congressman from the Eighth Missouri district, has introduced into the National House 0f Representatives a bill to create a national park at the famous Ha-Ha-Tonka region, in Camden county, Missouri; and Whereas, Lake Ha-Ha-Tonka, and the Niangua river, adjacent thereto, with the surrounding natural scenery and phenomena, have been pronounced by scientists and naturalists the most interesting and beautiful spot on earth; now, therefore, be it Resolved, That it is the sense of this House, the Senate concurring therein, that the same should be preserved to the people for all time as a national park, and to that end, we urgently request our Senators and Representatives in the National Congress to co-operate with Congressman Shackleford in his efforts to secure the passage of said bill; and be it further Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions, duly authenticated, be forwarded to each or our Senators and Representatives at Washington.

Mr. Dolan presented a communication from the “Brotherhood of Daily Life,” condemning the passage of any legislation discriminating between the races; Which was read and referred to Committee on Railroads and Internal Improvements. Mr. Dolan presented a petition from the citizens of Jackson county to prohibit the sale of cigarettes to minors; Which was read and referred to Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.

—-

But that’s not what happened at all when the House came into session that day.

The legislature in those days designated an official newspaper that would publish and bind the official journals at the end of the session.  It wasn’t that difficult at the end because the paper also published the daily journals and all the editors had to do at the end of the session was take all of that type that had been saved and print the bound volumes.

The House Journal for Tuesday February 3 had been published by the Jefferson City State Tribune on January 4 before the House approved the journal for the official record. THIS is what the journal said in the newspaper:

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TWENTIETH DAY—Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1903  (the newspaper had the date wrong)

House met pursuant to adjournment, Speaker Whitecotton in the chair.

Prayer by ________,

On motion of Mr. OFFICER, further reading of the House Journal was dispensed with.

MR COLDEN introduced the following resolution concerning the removal of the state capitol:

“Whereas, the pulpit and the press, the two recognized regulators of public morals and the public conscience, condemn Jefferson City, the seat of government of the state of Missouri, as a place where gambling, vice and immorality flourish without protest from the citizens or the officers of the law; and

“Whereas the seat of government was located at its present site in the days of stage coach and steamboat, and is without adequate railway facilities, and is unreasonably inaccessible to a majority of the people of the state, and is further unable to furnish ample accommodations for a capital city; and

“Whereas, the state of Missouri is practically out of debt and will soon be compelled to erect a new capitol commensurate to the needs of the state; therefore be it

“Resolved, That the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Permanent Seat of Government be and is hereby instructed to prepare a joint and concurrent resolution, providing for the removal of the capitol to some point at or near one of the great railway centers of the state, to be determined by a commission to be appointed by the Governor, and to be submitted to the qualified voters at the next general election of the state of Missouri.”

Mr. TICHACEK offered an amendment naming St. Louis as the place to be selected as the railway center named in the resolution.

Mr. GARDNER offered an amendment to the resolution as follows:

“That said commissioners specially consider the practicability of using the buildings to be constructed by Missouri on the World’s Fair site for capitol purposes.”

Mr. WILLIAMS offered an amendment, providing for one million dollars to be raised by the city of St. Louis.

Resolution, with all amendments, was adopted.

—-

The reaction from Jefferson City was immediate, strong, and pointed.  The State Tribune immediately editorialized, “After all Jefferson City is not such a bad place to live in….Jefferson City has the best streets and sidewalks, the best telephone system, the best railway station; one of the best county court houses in the state. Its waterworks and sewerage are unsurpassed.”

The competing Cole County Democrat the next day dismissed Colden’s effort as a “Scare-Crow Resolution,” saying it was “gotten up to scare the people of Jefferson City” and was not taken seriously by any of the representatives who voted for it.

The State Tribune argued that St. Louis was hardly the place to move the capitol if the lawmakers’ aim was to go somewhere lacking in “intemperance, gambling and licentiousness…cheap theatres or other places of seductive character” to lure them from the paths of rectitude.

Representative Colden was beating a fast retreat by Thursday.  “Just a joke,” he proclaimed.  “I am surprised by the seriousness of the people of Jefferson City on the capital removal proposition,” he said.  In fact, he fully supported Reverend Brooks.   So did Lieutenant Governor John A. Lee, the President of the state senate, who said he would not favor moving the seat of government away.

Then on Monday afternoon, February 9, Colden brought his resolution back to the House, noting city officials had taken action, that the charges made against the city had been hurtful, and that his resolution had accomplished its purpose. He moved that his resolution be expunged from the journal.  Another representative moved that the resolution and all of the amendments be expunged.  The House voted 55-16 to do that.

The Journal for that day contains no reference to that discussion or to that vote.

And that is why the original journal for February 3, 1903 indicates Representative Colden never offered a resolution. Nobody offered any amendments to a resolution, and no resolution on removing the seat of state government to St. Louis ever passed.  And since the official journal for February 3 says no such thing ever occurred, the Journal for February 9 contains no record of the House expunging something that never happened—but did.

We know these things happened because the newspaper published them.  And only because the newspaper published them.

We never saw anything like this happen in all our years of covering the legislature.  We hope it is never repeated.  Thanks to a newspaper, the historical record is clear even if the official record is not. That’s why we have a free press with which you can agree or disagree.  But as long as we have media that is free to record events that become history, we will know.  And in knowing we will remain free.

Notes from a quiet street  2017-I

(Miscellaneous musings of more than 140 characters, usually, but not enough words to be fully blogicious.)

We found ourselves wandering through an otherwise unoccupied mind one recent day when ice or the threat of ice was limiting more fruitful occupations or ambitions.

An observation after two years of retirement:  If you put on slippers instead of shoes when you get dressed in the morning, the chances are above average that you will not step outside your house more than three times during the day and you will stay outside no more than two minutes each time.  One of the trips will be to get the morning paper. Another will be to get the mail.

We are reminded of the closing lines of the movie “Patton,” a quote from the general read by George C. Scott:  “For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”

NASCAR sent us a note the other day that now is the time to load up on 2017 driver merchandise—everything from baby clothes to pull-along coolers with your favorite driver’s colors and numbers.  We thought it would be interesting to look at Carl Edwards’ stuff, which went from merchandise to memorabilia pretty fast.  Hats and t-shirts are about ten to twenty dollars off.  Jackets are forty dollars off.  And so it went with other items that became examples of the truth of Patton’s remark that “all glory is fleeting.”  Superstar today, clearance table tomorrow.  Such is life.

We were headed to Nevada, in southwest Missouri, a few weeks ago to deliver a couple of copies of our Capitol art book to Cavender’s Book Store when we came upon a large crowd of black birds somewhere near Preston clearing the road of remnants of an unfortunate creature, bite by bite.  As we neared them, the birds all took frantic flight—except for one, a much bigger bird that seemed to just spread its wings and gracefully elevate. As he lifted off, I spotted the large fan of white tail feathers and then a white head.  I swear he looked back over his shoulder, perhaps to see if my car did any damage to his snack. It’s kind of a gruesome story, I suppose.  But I’ll remember the Eagle I saw a few days before Christmas long after I’ve forgotten the rest of the long trip on a chilly, rainy, December day or even Christmas itself.

Our state has a new chemistry set in an old box.  About one-fourth of the members of the Missouri House are brand new.  The governor, as we have noted several times, is fresh to the world of political office-holding.  Five of our six top state officeholders are new to those offices.  The chemistry in our Capitol is entirely different.  It’s going to be interesting to see how the elements mix.

More than a dozen years ago, someone suggested the Missourinet start using Twitter.  The example of Twitter that was given to us was a series of twits, tweets, toots—whatever they are (perhaps depending on the sender)—from a former colleague who was telling the world he was at an airport, then that he was waiting to board his plane, then that he was in his seat, then that he was waiting to take off.  We all thought Twitter was silly and superficial, an attitude borne out a few weeks later when another friend send a message that she was on her way home from work but had to stop at a store to get a sump pump.  Your observer started calling Twitter, “The Theatre of the Inane.”

Well——?

—-

We are reminded by all the discussion about punitive tariffs on American-company vehicles made in and imported from other countries of a talk we had a long time ago with Kenneth Rothman, a two-term Speaker of the House who was Missouri’s first Jewish statewide elected official, Lieutenant Governor, 1981-1985.  He bought a little farm near Jefferson City during those years and wanted to get a little American-made pickup truck to use out there.  But he learned Ford’s compact pickup was made by Mazda; Chevrolet’s little truck was made by Isuzu, and Dodge’s compact truck was made by Mitsubishi.  He finally found an American-made small pickup truck that was manufactured in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania.  A Volkswagen.

We have friends who flee to Arizona and Florida during these months. We pity them for the loss of their sense of adventure.

121 characters.  Including spaces.

 

Speaking of—

Speeches

Speechifying is an important element in starting a new legislative session and getting a new governor in place.  Making speeches at the start of things is always the easiest part of the job.  Hope is always its highest in the early hours or days of service in the pressure cooker we call the public arena.  High hopes often are worn down by the grit of real life and the grinder of competing ideas.  Noble words printed at the start often become nostalgic yearnings at the end.   But let’s talk about the optimism of talk when things are new in Missouri government, beginning with the opening day remarks from legislative leaders and then doing a reprise of an outsider’s warnings and pledges on his inauguration day.

Senate President pro Tem Ron Richard has started his second, and final, term as leader of the state senate.  He’s the only man in state history to lead both chambers of the legislature. Nobody will ever accuse him of being a political windbag.  There sometimes would be pauses during our news conferences while reporters waited for a second sentence. It was kind of fun.

His opening was pure Richard: “I know it’s a tradition that the new President Pro-Tem gives a big speech on the first day and sets the agenda. But I’m not big on long, windy speeches.”

Richard believes the words “Senator,” and “Senate” have values that deserve more respect than they sometimes get from his fellow senators.  “What we do here matters and how we do it matters,” he told his colleagues. “Why is it that Missourians—who are not unnecessarily extravagant people—decided more than one hundred years ago to build such a wonderful capitol?…I think Missourians then—and Missourians now—want us to feel the weight of what we do here.”

He urged his colleagues to pledge to teach other to “conduct the business of the Senate in a way that rises to the grandeur of the great state of Missouri.”  He spoke at length of history and the hope that “we are remembered for respecting the institution of the Senate and each other; for restoring civility to the chamber; and that we were able to be passionate about our convictions without being combative with one another.”

In the House, Speaker Todd Richardson—starting his second term in that job—spoke at greater length and did lay out the majority party’s agenda.  But he cautioned members of his own supermajority party not to overplay their power.  “With this greater power comes even greater responsibility—a responsibility to make this legislative process deliberative.  That means we must respect the voices and viewpoints of every Missourian…Inevitably we are going to disagree, both in our caucuses and across the aisle.  This is the people’s House and we are a body that is supposed to have spirited discussion, but those discussions and that disagreement should stay professional and mindful of our fellow legislators, and the constituents we serve.”

He pointed to several economic and societal changes in which he felt Missouri was lagging behind as he discussed the Republican agenda for the session. “Government does not create jobs,” he said. “Real people do. Government’s role is to lay a stable foundation upon which entrepreneurs and hard-working Missourians can do the job-creating.”  Minority Democrats already have served notice that they’ll noisily oppose Right to Work, don’t much like Republican tort reform ideas, charter school and private school voucher programs, right to life and LGBT positions, and the like. There’s general agreement on strengthening lobbyist controls including a ban on gifts to elected officials.   Richardson says the gift ban will be the first bill out of the House this year. He called for an end to “half measures” and a commitment to “bold action.”

Governor Greitens’ inaugural speech fit into those themes. He cited history and the character that it has built for our state and that binds all of us together.  But, he noted, that does not mean we have to agree with one another.  “Sometimes the purpose of our opponents is to be our teachers,” he said. Further, “Even as we fight for our convictions, we resolve that the greatest conviction is to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

But, he said, “I come as an outsider, to do the people’s work.”  He promised to be tough on crime and to be resistant to special influence.  He mentioned, as others before him have mentioned, that government cannot fix every problem, that people carry a heavy responsibility as citizens to care for one another and to take advantage of opportunities government provides.  “Let’s get to work,” he said at the end.

Three speeches.  Three venues.  Common themes in the beginning days of the legislature and of an administration.

Another thing Senator Richard said in his brief remarks added realism to the next few months. “We’re human, and we make mistakes, especially in the passion of the moment…How will history remember us?”

The way history remembers the participants in this annual drama will be determined in the next four months or four years.  One thing is sure:  They will make history.

Wrapping up the 2017 inauguration

Governor Greitens has been in office for a week.  We’ve had time to absorb and assess the events of his big day last Monday and assemble a postscript of sorts to our long series about inauguration history to bring that series up to date and for reference by those who want to add to it for inauguration 2021:

Eric Greitens, the first governor of Missouri without previous elective office experience since Lloyd C. Stark eighty years previously, was inaugurated on an overcast blustery day with the temperature in the upper thirties and gusty winds that sometimes drove the wind chill index into single digits.  The sun fought its way through the clouds early in the afternoon and warmed the then-empty Capitol south lawn into the forties.  

Some different things were done by a governor who had promised in his campaign, and in his inaugural remarks that he would be a different kind of governor.  There was no parade.  None had been scheduled.  It had been twenty years since there had been no parade. Governor Carnahan called off the 1997 parade and was inaugurated for his second term in the rotunda because of the severe cold. Governor Teasdale had cancelled his inaugural parade because of even more severe weather in 1977 although he held his ceremonies outside. Greitens said in 2017 the parade focused on politicians and he wanted his event to focus on people. Ceremony organizers said there wasn’t time to hold one because the incoming governor had as busy morning schedule that began with an interfaith prayer service across the street from the capitol at St. Peter Catholic Church.  A reception in the rotunda, called Honoring Our Heroes, recognized about 150 teachers, law enforcement officers, veterans, farmers, and families of the fallen. They also had a special spot on the inaugural platform.  After the swearing-in ceremonies, the new governor, as Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard, reviewed the troops—something not done in previous memory of these events.  

The swearing-in ceremony had an emcee for the first time in memory who was not a legislative leader—Rodney Bullard, the Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A foundation, a personal friend of Greitens.  Although Senate President pro tem Ron Richard convened the joint session of the House and the Senate, and concluded the event with the adjournment of the session, Bullard handled all of the introductions. 

The other constitutional office-holders elected in November were sworn in ahead of the new governor (long ago, they were sworn in afterwards), including Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson, who had had bypass heart surgery just before Christmas. The National Guard Band from Springfield played a couple of numbers to fill the time between the inauguration of the Lieutenant Governor and the high noon inauguration of the Governor.  Everything seemed to be on time for a change. 

As Greitens completed his oath, a B-2 Bomber flew over the crowd, flying from east to west. 

Christopher Bond, Missouri’s oldest living former governor, was among those in attendance.

Security was tight.  This reporter went through three separate wandings before the ceremony.  The day after the event, metal detectors were in operation inside the building at two location. 

Greitens’ inaugural address grew out of his military background, his interest in history, and his previous lack of involvement in politics.  He promised to be a governor of the people, not of the political system, urged his fellow Republicans in overwhelming control of the legislature to listen to the other side (“Sometimes the purpose of our opponents is to be our teachers”) and concluded, “Let’s get to work.”  

—which he did when he went into the governor’s office as the person in charge of it for the first time.  He signed an executive order banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the executive branch of government. 

About that same time, private citizen Jay Nixon and the state’s former first lady drove to their home in St. Louis County.

(Photo credits:  Your faithful observer)

Addresses

Three addresses are important on inauguration day in Missouri.

The ceremony usually is held on the lawn of 201 West Capital Avenue.  Afterwards, the new governor and his family become residents of 100 Madison Street.

Then there is the inaugural address of the new governor in which themes of the coming administration are usually laid out in general terms although there have been times when governors have been pretty specific. And as we look back at some of those remarks, we find some that could be spoken today.

The address of our first governor, Alexander McNair, was delivered September 19, 1820—in St. Louis.  Congress gave Missouri permission in 1820 to elect a state governor and a legislature and to write a Constitution.  Missouri did not become a state, however, until August 10, 1821 after some problems with the Constitution were worked out.  McNair signed the bill on November 25, 1820 moving the seat of government from St. Louis to St. Charles until a permanent location could be picked. The legislators met there for the first time on June 4, 1821.  McNair’s first address after becoming governor is notable for its brevity—only 443 words.  He talked of the “happy change which has taken place in our political affairs,” meaning the transition from Territory to eventual statehood. And he told the lawmakers, “We shall adopt and put a new government into operation, to act with a degree of prudence and deliberation, comporting with the importance of the duties to be performed, as the future character and prosperity of our country in a very great degree depend upon the measures of the first General Assembly.”

McNair’s successor, Frederick Bates told the legislature on November 18, 1824, only about three weeks after his election that the confidence of the people was clear but, as he put it, “I must acquire the confidence of the general assembly before I can, with decent propriety, or with fair prospects of success, submit to them my views of the leading subjects of legislation.” He put forth a few principles, namely that “Justice should be accessible to all…and delays beyond the due forms and deliberations are denials.” And he warned against political manipulation of the judiciary, saying, “The officers of that department…should be placed, if possible, beyond the reach of those temporary excitements, so often discoverable in other classes of our fellow-citizens. An able and upright administration of the laws, is among the first and greatest of political blessings.”

Frederick Bates died before the seat of government was moved to Jefferson City.  The first inaugural address in Jefferson City was delivered by John Miller, who finished Bates’ term and was elected to a full four-year term.  Miller began the practice of combining his inaugural address with what we would today call the State of the State Address when he spoke in what was called “The Governor’s House,” on November 18, 1826.  His speech was 5,537 words long. It was not unusual for future governors’ inaugural speeches for several decades to continue that trend of combining the two occasions.  The continued population growth of the state led him to comment, with pride, that state government revenue was as much as $55,000 to $60,000 a year without any increases in taxes.

Another part of his speech jumps out of the long text because of the election these 190 years later.  Miller said, “The propriety of proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, relating to the election of the President and Vice President, [is] a subject which imperiously demands the consideration of the legislature. That the will of the people shall control the choice of the…Chief Magistracy of the United States is a principle supported by the spirit of the Constitution and held sacred by a large majority of the citizens of the Union.”   But, he said, “it must be admitted that the Constitution in in its letter, in this particular, defective.”  He called on the legislature to urge Congress and legislatures in other states to amend the constitution to make a vote of the people elect the President and Vice-President, and “preventing in any event, an election being made by the House of Representatives.”

He was speaking in the wake of the 1824 election in which neither Andrew Jackson nor John Quincy Adams got a majority of the 261 electoral votes. Two other candidates combined to get 78.   The election was decided by the House of Representatives in favor of Adams although he got 38,000 fewer votes than Jackson, 31 percent of the total to Jackson’s 41 percent.  Missouri had given Adams only four percent of the vote; Jackson 34 percent, and Henry Clay 59.

The day of the terribly-long inaugural address/legislative address ended with James T. Blair on January 14, 1957.  He announced several days ahead of the event that he would speak for only fifteen minutes and would make no recommendations to the legislature in an effort to hold the ceremony to forty-five minutes.  He planned a legislative address a week later and supplemental addresses after that. The practice of separate State of the State and budget messages continued through several succeeding administrations.  Today, the State of the State and the budget message are combined into one address.

With that historical foundation laid, let’s launch a long reflection on more recent and not-so-recent speeches.

Four years ago, Governor Nixon called for cooperation between his administration and the overwhelmingly-Republican legislature, recalling that in his first years in the state senate, there was a Republican governor when the legislature was Democratic and “it was possible to disagree while continuing to advance the common good.’  He hoped his second term would be one in which, “We will put our shared principles ahead of our small differences, and work together…”  But the legislature became even more partisan and their disagreements grew even sharper.  He leaves office as the governor with far more vetoes overridden than any governor in Missouri history.

Nixon’s speech in 2009 was called “A New Day for Missouri,” and was delivered as the country was headed toward the depths of the recession.  He noted Missourians were “united by the common uncertainty of our future.”  But he proclaimed his inauguration marked “a new day for Missouri.  He committed his administration to improving the economy by “making Missouri a magnet for next-generation jobs,” and he promised the state would invest in new technology.  He talked of implementing new policies although he did not get specific.  His speech was filled with generalities, the wording intended to encourage an audience during discouraging times.

Matt Blunt’s speech in 2005 focused on change. “Change begins today, at this hour, in this place,” he said.  Blunt and fellow Republicans had attacked Bob Holden for withholding money from public education during his term to balance the budget in tight economic times.  Blunt had promised he would never balance the budget as Holden had done, proclaiming government was “morally bound” to serve Missouri’s children and their families.  He promised to push for an entrepreneurial climate where good family supporting jobs could be created.  He told the audience the work was beginning to improve the lives of all Missourians, that government had to do a better job of serving the people while remaining frugal and wise.  A few days later he announced in his state of the state speech that he was changing the Medicaid program in ways that cut tens of thousands of people out of it.

In his speech in 2001, Governor Holden called on Missourians to “reach new heights” during the first administration of the 21st century.  His “one Missouri” theme pushed for finding the character to improve health, education, respect for others, job training, better transportation and an improved environment.  But he noted “the greatest barrier we have to building one Missouri is ourselves.”   He noted the state could no longer think of itself as divided by geography (the urban-rural split), by race, by partisan politics—“It’s time Kansas City and St. Louis realize they live in the same state,” he said.  He went on, “The goal of my administration is to unite all Missourians in forging a bright future that holds maximum opportunities for each of us.”

In 1997, Governor Carnahan recalled that in his first term, the state had started reforming its education system, cutting the crime rate and moving people from welfare rolls to payrolls–as he put it.  In addition the state was recovering from its worst flood in recorded history.  “Let there be no doubt,” he said that day, “this administration will vigorously promote education, not just with words, but through plans and hard work that translate into achievement.”  He set a goal of making every youngster computer literate by age 12, and a goal of making sure no company would leave Missouri because of a lack of trained employees. He urged a new partnership between government, business and communities to improve education and education opportunities.

Four years earlier, in 1993, Carnahan said the measure of his time in office would be, as he put it, “How far did he take us toward the next century?  And how well did he help us prepare for the challenges that lie ahead?”

“I want to leave behind tangible achievements–things we can touch and measure–things that will endure–things that will make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. His focus would be on education.  He said he would make it the real test of his governorship.  Carnahan said it would take a revolution with tougher standards for children, teachers, and others.  And he said money must be provided to make it all happen.  Later that year, the legislature passed the Excellence in Education Act, which raised taxes for education.  He wanted a high school graduation rate of 90 percent by 2000, which proved to be unattainable.

He said his second mission would be economic development and promised the state’s first comprehensive economic development plan.  He said it was time to get serious, and smart, about economic development.  “I am convinced that we have the heart and the will to make great progress and do great things,” he said…”Together, if we try, we can claim the future. Let’s take the risk of trying.”

In 1989, John Ashcroft titled his speech, “Independence and Responsibility, Declarations for the 21st Century.”  He called on Missourians to declare independence from ignorance, declare ourselves free from dependence on government, declare independence from a contaminated environment, and declare independence from degrading drugs and pornography.

In 1985, Ashcroft called for a partnership between state government and the people of Missouri to attract new industry, improve education, solve problems of prison and rehabilitation, and fight child abuse.  He pledged the state to improve teacher salaries but called on teachers to improve the standards of our schools.  He said government cannot solve all problems by itself, but government can lead people to work together to solve problems and meet the challenges of the future.

In 1981, Christopher Bond was returning to office saying the nation had seen government that offered many solutions that raised people’s hopes and expectations had grown.  But promises had been broken; confidence in government was weakened.  He called for renewed pioneering efforts in education, crime-fighting, help for the elderly and poor.  It was a short speech, just over three double-spaced, large-type, typewritten pages.

In 1977, Joseph Teasdale promised breaks with tradition, bemoaned lack of public confidence in government and pledged that elected leaders would be servants, not masters.  He told the audience it was the will of God that he be elected Governor. His speech was also relatively short, although longer than Bond’s 1981 speech.  He said in his inaugural he had a comprehensive legislative program he would announce later.  He did, in a speech in the House chamber that lasted one-hour-17-minutes and 46 seconds, the longest State of the State message on the recent record. I timed it.

In 1973, Christopher Bond’s first inaugural speech was longer than Teasdale’s speech.  He recalled his campaign had been based on an issue of trust, rather an explicit promises for explicit policies.  He spoke of trust, integrity, pride, compassion and confidence.  His speech in 1981, though much shorter, was considerably more specific—in general areas.

Warren Hearnes said in 1969, although not directly, that Missourians would probably face a tax increase during his second administration.  He had made good on a promise of no tax increase in his first four years.  But he could not make a similar promise for his second term.   “To do and be better,” he said “is a goal few achieve. To do it we are required to make sacrifices.  Sacrifice in the sense of the giving of a part of those material things which we enjoy in abundance.”   1969 became the year of his battle with Senator Earl Blackwell.  At the end of that fight, Hearnes tasted political defeat on a major issue for his first time.  He noted then that inauguration day might have been the only day in the whole year that the sun shone on Warren Hearnes.

In 1961, John Dalton promised to gear his administration to strict law enforcement and high ethical standards.  He promised a strong study of Missouri’s tax structure, frankly saying, “We will require additional income if we are to make necessary expansions in our services and I strongly feel that these increases should be levied on non-essentials and not on the necessities of life.”  He promised to formulate legislation for increased industrialization of our state, and stronger laws on traffic safety.

Governor Phil Donnelly called for the state to look forward to the obligations and opportunities of a post-war world when he was sworn in for his first term in 1945. Donnelly, who had been in the legislature for twenty-two years before becoming governor, also knew the state faced challenges when the war ended in an American victory.  He knew it would take “hardheaded resistance” by the governor and the legislature from pressure groups wanting the state to spend an eighteen-million dollar surplus generated by a wartime economy. He said it was a “moral obligation” to set the money aside to take care of “some of the damage this war will inflict on Missouri.”  He knew the state’s unemployment compensation fund would be stressed when war industries closed and laid off thousands of Missourians.  He also knew the war had given “immense impetus to the development of peacetime aviation and called for actions to insure development of airports.

Missouri and the nation were well into the Great Depression when former Congressman Henry Caulfield urged the legislature on January 3, 1929, to practice a “rigid economy,” saying, “It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to conduct the state government properly within present revenue, yet it is our duty not to permit our expenditures to exceed the expectant income.  The practice of over-appropriating the estimated revenue on the theory that the Governor will withhold portions of the sums appropriated is not to be commended. I urge you to limit strictly your appropriations in the aggregate to the amount of the estimated revenue. If, not withstanding the amount of the estimated revenue is not sufficient to meet the stat needs, then I respectfully suggest that you should make provisions for an increase in revenue.”

The 1921 inaugural address of Governor Arthur M. Hyde is notable for the history it observed and for a message that might resonate these ninety-six years later. Hyde was the first governor inaugurated in the rotunda of the new capitol.  The first line of his speech noted a historic chance in Missouri: “The men and women of Missouri have spoken.”   Hyde was the first governor elected after women got the right to vote.

He continued: “Their voice was no uncertain one. The pluralities given to the Republican party were the largest ever given to any party in the history of the State. To the party has come complete control of the Legislature. Every elective official is a Republican.”  But he cautioned against self-congratulation or exultation because of the promises made during the campaign. He said, “We have duties to perform, pledges to redeem, work to do. The largeness of our pluralities measures only the greatness of our opportunities and the solemnity of our duty.”

Joseph W. Folk, inaugurated in 1905 after a populist campaign against corruption, was preceded in the inaugural ceremonies by William Jennings Bryan, who was brought to Jefferson City from his Nebraska home to praise Folk’s victory. Folk, in his address, urged the legislature to pass a number of reform bills. One would allow witness immunity in bribery cases (the state had just been through a legislative bribery scandal in 1903), and an extension of the statute of limitations in bribery cases. He said the state should vigorously prosecute the issuance of railroad passes to political figures (the railroads, as the dominant means of transportation, used the passes to exercise considerable influence on lawmakers).  He favored creation of statewide primary elections to end control of the process by bosses and their machine, and direct election of U. S. Senators instead of the then-present system of legislative elections of them.  And he shook up the “business as usual” concept in the capitol by proposing lobbying be made a crime unless the lobbyists registered with the state and did not stay in the capitol for more than thirty hours.

And Folk, a Democrat with a Republican legislature, reminded lawmakers, “Partisanship is a good thing, sometimes, but Patriotism is a better thing all the time…Some of you are Democrats, some are Republicans; all are Missourians. In the discharge of official duties let us be Missourians before we are anything else. Do not forget that you will be aiding the party you may belong to most by giving the public the highest service. You cannot help your party by injuring the public.”

We find an interesting set of circumstances when we go all the way back to January 5, 1857 when Governor Trusten Polk told the audience in the House chamber of the old capitol, “it will be a never-failing source of gratification to me if I shall be able to contribute in any degree towards inspiring a more sacred reverence for the Constitution of Government under which the several peoples of all the states are united as one people…Fellow citizens: I may often go wrong, even while doing the best I can.  When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground.”

A few weeks later Trusten Polk resigned as governor to become a United States Senator.  In 1861, this governor who promoted reverence for the Constitution was expelled from the U. S. Senate for disloyalty.  He spent the Civil War on the Confederate side.

Eight years later, Governor Fletcher knew the war would be ending in a few months. In his speech January 2, 1865, he proclaimed, “Henceforth Missouri shall be an asylum for all nationalities and races and peoples; the repository of wealth, and a theater for the development of the labor and enterprise of the hand and spirit of Industry; and the home of free thought, free speech and a free press, where the prejudices of caste and class have no legal embodiment or political encouragement. She shall be a central mart for the interchange of the products of the North and the South, the East and the West, through the rivers of her great basin and the system of railways centering in her metropolis. She shall be a highway for the commerce of the two oceans, borne by the inland transit lines that carry the freights between Europe and Asia. She shall proffer a secure and guarded repose to all consciences and all religious beliefs, un-tied by any secular control, yet upheld and encircled by a public sentiment upon which faith in God has taken a new hold from the experiences of an unparalleled national preservation.”

Some inaugural speeches resonate through the decades.  Some become just speeches.

The feeder offices

If you want to be the Governor of Missouri someday, is there a stepping-stone office you should hold first?   Pretty clearly, Eric Greitens has shown it’s not necessary.  But which of the other four who will be sworn into office next week is in the best job to move up as a potential successor to Greitens?   Let’s look at the statewide officers who have made the leap. 

Lieutenant Governors who have become Governor:  Daniel Dunklin, Lilburn Boggs, Meredith Miles Marmaduke, Hancock Lee Jackson, Willard Hall, Albert Morehouse, James T. Blair, Jr., Mel Carnahan, Roger Wilson.  Marmaduke, Jackson, Hall, Morehouse, and Wilson moved up when the governor’s office became vacant through death or resignation.  (Thomas C. Reynolds was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1860.  His office was vacated when he and Governor Claiborne Jackson fled to the Confederacy at the start of the Civil War.  When Jackson died, Reynolds became the Confederate Governor of Missouri.  Supporters of the Lost Cause chafe at the refusal to list him as a legitimate governor of the state although for some of that time his “capitol” was a house in Marshall, Texas and he never had any administrative authority in the general state government.)   Nine.  

Secretaries of State: Hamilton Gamble, John Edwards, Warren Hearnes, Matt Blunt.  Four

Auditors: Forest Smith, Christopher Bond, John Ashcroft.  Three

Treasurers: Lon Stephens, Mel Carnahan, Bob Holden.  Three.

Attorneys General: Thomas Crittenden, Herbert Hadley, Elliott Major, John Dalton, John Ashcroft, Jeremiah Nixon.   Six

Only John Ashcroft and Mel Carnahan held two of the top six offices before becoming Governor.

Twenty-three men have moved from one of those six offices into the governorship.  Thirty have had other origins. 

Some sources—the state’s Official Manual, for instance—say Jay Nixon is Missouri’s 55th Governor.  Actually, he is our 53rd but he has run Missouri’s 55th gubernatorial administration.  Governors Phil Donnelly and Christopher Bond served two separate terms, Donnelly because the Missouri Constitution at the time prohibited a governor from succeeding himself and Bond because he lost a re-election to Joe Teasdale in 1976.  Eric Greitens, by the way, will become the first Governor since Teasdale, forty years ago, with no previous experience in one of the six statewide offices.

If being in one of those offices is not an automatic stepping-stone to the governorship, what might be? 

We’ve looked at the careers of all of the other thirty governors and here are some of the results.

Some served in the U. S. House before becoming Governor: Price, McClurg, Phillips, Stone, Dockery, Caulfield.

Some were in the U. S. Senate before becoming Governor: Stewart, Brown

State House of Representatives: Reynolds (Speaker), King, Price, C. F Jackson (Speaker), Brown, Hardin, Morehouse, Donnelly

State Senate: Williams (Pro Tem), Hardin, Donnelly.

Some had been county or city prosecutors, or the equivalent: Polk, Stone, Folk, Donnell, Teasdale.

Some had been mayors: Francis, Dockery, Hyde, Caulfield, Blair.

Judge: Bates (Michigan), Reynolds (Illinois), King, Park.

U. S. Marshall: McNair

County official: Fletcher

State School Superintendent:  Baker

No political office held: Woodson, John Marmaduke, Gardner, Stark. (and soon, Greitens)

We’ve compiled some thumbnails of the political careers of the thirty and we attach them for whatever interest you might have.  If you have none, you can consider your reading of this entry complete.

                                                           

Alexander McNair, our first governor, was a former U. S. Marshal and was on the St. Louis Board of Town Trustees for two terms. He also commanded the First Missouri Mounted Militia during the War of 1812.

Frederick Bates was a Justice of the Supreme Court in Michigan Territory before he became the Secretary of the Louisiana Territory and recorder of land titles. He was the acting Governor when William Clark was out of the territory and in the interim after Benjamin Howard resigned to accept a military commission and before Clark was appointed to succeed him.

Abraham J. Williams was the President Pro Tem of the Senate when Bates died. Since Benjamin Reeves had resigned as Lt. Governor to go survey the Santa Fe Trail, Williams became acting governor until a special election selected John Miller who had been the Registrar of the Howard County Land Office at a time when Howard County was huge (several counties were divided away from it) and settlement in the area was booming.

Thomas Reynolds was a former Supreme Court Chief Justice in Illinois then a member of the Illinois House. He was the Speaker of the Missouri House before becoming a circuit judge, a position he held before becoming governor.

Austin King was a former circuit judge (he presided over the trial of Mormon leader Joseph Smith), and a former two-term member of the Missouri House.

Sterling Price was a former member of the Missouri House and served part of a term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trusten Polk had been the city counselor in St. Louis and was a delegate to the Missouri Constitutional Convention of 1845.

Robert Stewart was a state senator for ten years. 

Claiborne F. Jackson was in the House for twelve years, four as Speaker. He served two terms in the Senate and then was state banking commissioner when he became Governor.

Thomas Fletcher, our 18th governor was the first one born in Missouri. He was a circuit clerk in Jefferson County and was a temporary Brigadier General in the Union Army.

Joseph McClurg, Union Army Colonel and three-term member of Congress before becoming governor.

Benjamin Gratz Brown was a former member of the Missouri House and a U. S. Senator during the Civil War. 

Silas Woodson was a trial lawyer whose only other attempt at public office was an unsuccessful candidacy for the legislature.

Charles Hardin served in the Missouri House and was elected to the Missouri Senate before the Civil War.  He served in Missouri’s Confederate Senate-on-the run and was the only senator to vote against secession, then was elected after the war to the state senate again before becoming governor.

John S. Phelps served nine terms in the U. S. House, was the Military Governor of Arkansas during the Civil War.

John Marmaduke was on the first State Railroad Commission and was a highly-respected Confederate General during the War of Northern Invasion/War of Southern Rebellion (depending on where you stood in those days).

David R. Francis is the first mayor elected to the governorship. He was the Mayor of St. Louis when he was chosen as governor.

William Stone was a county prosecutor for a couple of years and a Congressman for six more.

Alexander M. Dockery was a town council and Mayor of Gallatin before serving sixteen years in Congress and then becoming Governor.

Joseph Folk was the circuit attorney in St. Louis (the prosecutor) who made his reputation prosecuting corruption in the city government and the Baking Powder Scandal in the legislature.

Frederick Gardner was a coffin and hearse-maker in St. Louis who never sought office until he won the governorship in 1916 and never sought office again after his term.

Arthur Hyde was a two-term Mayor of Princeton, a lawyer and a car dealer.

Sam A. Baker was the State Superintendent of Schools, at the time an elective position, before becoming Governor.

Henry Caulfield was a one-term member of Congress and later the city counselor for St. Louis.

Guy B. Park was a relatively obscure circuit judge in Platte County when the Democratic candidate for Governor died a few weeks before the election in 1932.  Boss Tom Pendergast of Kansas City “suggested” he be the replacement.

Lloyd Stark had held no elective office before being elected governor although he did chair the state’s 1928 road bond campaign.

Forrest Donnell had been the city attorney of Webster Groves.

Phil Donnelly served two years in the House and twenty years in the Missouri Senate.

Joseph P. Teasdale was the youngest person elected Jackson County prosecutor.

I’ll be around

(This is the fifth in our series recounting the history of inaugurations.  It includes a lengthy list that is here for the historical record.)

When Eric Greitens becomes Governor of Missouri, there will be six living former governors: Nixon, Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, and Bond.

In 2009, when Jay Nixon took office for his first term there were seven living former governors: Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, and Hearnes.  Hearnes died later that year and Teasdale died in 2014.  The last time there were that many living former governors was when Arthur M. Hyde was inaugurated in 1921.

But has there been a time when there were more than seven?

We’ve combed some records to see if there ever was a time there were more than seven living former governors at the start of a new administration.  And the answer is yes.

John Sappington Marmaduke (inaugurated in 1885) had eight living former governors when he took office, including John Cummins Edwards, who was the youngest governor in state history when he took office in 1844.  His predecessor, Thomas Crittenden, also had eight living predecessors when he was sworn in in 1881.  Charles Hardin (1875) had eight living predecessors.  When Hamilton Gamble took over at the start of the Civil War after Claiborne Jackson fled to the Confederacy, there were eight predecessors including Jackson.

In 2009, when Jay Nixon took office there were seven living former governors: Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, and Hearnes.  Hearnes died later that year and Teasdale died in 2014.  The last time there were that many living former governors was when Arthur M. Hyde was inaugurated in 1921.

Here’s some miscellaneous information about governors as we get closer to getting a new one

Governors before age 40:

Bond (first term) 33 years 10 months 2 days   Born 3/6/1939   Inaugurated 1/8/73

Blunt  34 years 1 month 21 days    Born 11/20/1970  Inaugurated 1/10/2005

Folk 35 years 2 months 12 days     Born 10/28/1869  Inaugurated 1/9/1905

Hadley  36 years 10 months 20 days   Born 2/20/1872 Inaugurated 1/9/1909

Fletcher  37 years 11 months 11 days  Born 1/22/1827  Inaugurated 1/2/1865

Stephens  38 years 22 days      Born 12/21/58   Inaugurated  1/11/1897

Edwards  38 years 4 months 26 days   Born 6/24/1806   Inaugurated 11/20/1844

Bond, Blunt, Folk, and Fletcher are the only governors to complete a term before they were 40.  Fletcher’s term was only two years under the constitution then in effect and Bond was defeated in his first re-election before winning a second term four years later.

Most Living Governors at time of governor’s inauguration:

8–John Marmaduke 1885, Crittenden 1881, Hardin 1875, Gamble 1861, C. F. Jackson 1861

7—Nixon 2009, Hyde 1921, Gardner 1917, Phelps 1877, Woodson 1873, Brown 1871, McClurg 1869, Hall 1864

Fewest living governors at time of inauguration:

0—McNair 1820 (first state governor)

1—Bates 1825, Williams 1825, Miller 1828

2—Bond 1973, Bond 1981. Dunklin 1832, Miller 1825

Governors living to see the most successors:

*15–Edwards 1844

10—Fletcher, 1865, McClurg 1869

9—MM Marmaduke 1885, King 1848, Major 1913

8—Polk 1857, Crittenden 1881, Park 1933, Hearnes 1965 (Greitens will be the eighth successor to Christopher Bond’s first term)

*Edwards’ remarkable record included 1857 when Trusten Polk resigned to go to the U.S. Senate after less than two months in office and Lt. Gov. Hancock L. Jackson served long enough to call the special election that put Robert Stewart in office; Claiborne F. Jackson’s abdication when he fled to the Confederacy after a year in office, the post-Civil War period when Governors had only two-year terms, the death of John Marmaduke and the succession of Albert Morehouse

Here’s a complete list if you’re up to reading all the way to the end:

Living Former Governors at each inauguration:

Greitens 2017—Nixon, Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond  6

Nixon 2013—Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale (d. 2014)   6

Nixon 2009—Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes (d. 2009)   7

Blunt 2005—Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  6

Holden 2001—Wilson, Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes   5

Wilson 2000—Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  4

Carnahan 1997—Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  4

Carnahan 1993—Ashcroft, Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes   4

Ashcroft 1989—Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes   3

Ashcroft 1985—Bond, Teasdale, Hearnes  3

Bond 1981—Teasdale, Hearnes  2

Teasdale 1977—Bond, Hearnes, Donnell (d. 1980)  3

Bond 1973—Hearnes, Donnell  2

Hearnes 1969—Dalton (d. 1972), Donnell, Stark (d. 1972)  3

Hearnes 1965—Dalton, Donnell, Caulfield (d. 1966), Stark  4

Dalton 1961—Blair (d. 1962), Donnelly (d. 1961), Smith (d. 1962), Caulfield, Stark   5

Blair 1957—Donnelly, Smith, Caulfield, Stark   4

Donnelly 1953—Smith, Donnell, Stark, Caulfield  4

Smith 1949—Donnell, Stark, Caulfield, Major (d. 1949)    4

Donnelly 1945—Stark, Caulfield, Park (d. 1946), Major, Hyde (d. 1947)   5

Donnell 1941—Stark, Caulfield, Park, Major, Hyde    5

Stark 1937—Caulfield, Park, Major, Hyde  4

Park 1933—Caulfield, Major, Hyde, Gardner (d. 1933), Baker (d. 1933)    5

Caulfield 1929—Major, Hyde, Baker, Gardner      4

Baker 1925—Major, Hyde, Hadley (d.1927), Dockery (d. 1926), Francis (d. 1927), Gardner  6

Hyde 1921—Major, Hadley, Dockery, Francis, Folk (d. 1923), Stephens (d. 1923), Gardner   7

Gardner 1917—Major, Hadley, Dockery, Francis, Folk, Stephens Stone (d. 1918)  7

Major 1913—Hadley, Dockery, Francis, Folk, Stephens, Stone   6

Hadley 1909—Dockery, Francis, Folk, Stephens, Stone, Crittenden (d. 1909)  6

Folk 1905—Dockery, Francis, Stephens, Stone, Crittenden   5

Dockery  1901—Francis, Stephens, Stone, Crittenden  4

Stephens 1897—Francis, Stone, Crittenden, McClurg (d. 1900), Fletcher (d. 1899)   5

Stone 1893—Francis, Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson (d. 1896), Fletcher    5

Francis 1889—Morehouse (d. 1891) Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson, Hardin (d.1892) Fletcher   6

*Morehouse 1887—Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Edwards (d. 1888)  6

John Marmaduke 1885—Crittenden, McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Phelps (d. 1886), Brown (d.1885) Edwards   8

Crittenden 1881—McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Phelps, Brown, Hall (d. 1882), Edwards  8

Phelps 1877—McClurg, Woodson, Hardin, Fletcher, Brown, Hall, Edwards  7

**Hardin 1875—McClurg, Woodson, Fletcher, Brown, Hall, Edwards, Polk (d. 1876), H. Jackson (d. 1876)   8

**Woodson 1873—McClurg, Fletcher, Brown, Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson   7

**Brown 1871—McClurg, Fletcher, Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart (d. 1871)  7

**McClurg 1869—Fletcher, Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King (d. 1870)   7

Fletcher 1865—Hall, Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King, Price (d. 1867)  7

*Hall 1864—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King, Price. MM Marmaduke (d. 1864) 7

*Gamble 1861—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, King, Price, C. F. Jackson (d. 1862), MM Marmaduke, Stewart  7

C. F. Jackson 1861—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, Stewart, King, Price, MM Marmaduke, Boggs (d.1860) 8

Stewart 1857—Edwards, Polk, H. Jackson, King, Price, Boggs, MM Marmaduke   7

*Hancock Jackson 1857—Edwards, Polk, King, Price, Boggs, MM Marmaduke   6

Polk 1857—Edwards, King, Price, Boggs, MM Marmaduke   5

Price 1853—Edwards, King, Boggs, MM Marmaduke 4

***King 1848—Edwards, Boggs, MM Marmaduke 3

Edwards 1844—Boggs, MM Marmaduke, Dunklin (d. 1844), Miller (d. 1846)   4

*MM Marmaduke 1844—Boggs, Dunklin, Miller  3

Reynolds 1840—Boggs, Dunklin, Miller   3

Boggs 1836—Dunklin, Miller, Williams (d. 1839)  3

Dunklin 1832—Miller, Williams   2

Miller  1828—Williams   1

*Miller 1825—Williams, McNair (d. 1826)  2

*Williams—1825—McNair  1

Bates—1824—McNair   1

McNair—1820—First state governor (Missouri admitted to the Union August 10, 1821)

*Morehouse succeeded John Marmaduke, who died in office

*Hall succeeded Hamilton Gamble, who died in office

*Gamble was installed in office July 31 1861 after Governor Jackson fled to the Confederacy

*Hancock Lee Jackson was Lt. Governor when Polk resigned in 1857 after serving the shortest term of any Missouri Governor to become a U. S. Senator. Jackson served until October, 1857 when Robert M. Stewart was sworn in after a special election.

*Meredith Miles Marmaduke succeeded Thomas Reynolds, who committed suicide Feb. 9, 1844.

*John Miller succeeded Frederick Bates, who died in office, and Abraham J. Williams, who became acting governor because Bates’ Lt. Governor, Benjamin Reeves, had resigned to join a surveying party for the Santa Fe Trail.

*Senate President pro Tem Abraham J. Williams served only long enough to call a special election to replace Frederick Bates, who had died.

**The 1865 Missouri Constitution limited governors to two years in office. The 1875 Constitution restored four-year terms

***King was elected on November 7, 1848 and sworn in thirteen days later, serving more than four years before Price’s term began with the now customary January inauguration.

The governors club

(This is the fourth in our series—we don’t know how many there will be eventually—leading to the inauguration of the state officials.)

January 20, 1953 was the day the nation’s most prestigious club was founded.  One claim says it’s the WORLD’s most exclusive group.  It has no clubhouse. No golf course.  No tennis courts. No swimming pool.  Today it numbers only four members.  A potential fifth member is weeks away from becoming qualified.

The club’s founding began on the day Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated President.  Harry Truman met former President Herbert Hoover on the inaugural platform and Hoover said, “I think we ought to organize a former presidents club.”  Truman responded, “Fine.  You be the President of the club and I will be the Secretary.”

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy have written in The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, “Truman was a mortal enemy of Hoover’s, but he also knew that only Hoover had the experience and stature to overhaul the executive branch to meet the challenges of the nuclear age. As a result of their partnership, the Hoover Commission, which Congress created, Truman sanctioned, and Hoover chaired, produced the greatest transformation of the presidency in history…Every president who followed would have reason to thank them.”

When President Trump takes office in less than two months, there will be only five people alive who bore the burdens of leading the world’s greatest nation.  They are bound together by history.

Today the club includes two Bushes, a Carter, and a Clinton.  The most members it has ever had is six, when it had two Bushes, a Carter, a Clinton, a Ford, and a Reagan. Congress has passed legislation giving the Presidents Club formal recognition, with certain privileges.

Presidents, regardless of their differences with their predecessors, often have called on members of the club for advice and sometimes for specific missions. Some have grown close—Clinton and George H. W. Busch, for example.  Truman and Hoover for another.

When Eric Greitens becomes Governor of Missouri, there will be six living former governors: Nixon, Blunt, Holden, Wilson, Ashcroft, and Bond.

A Missouri Governors Club exists only as a list of men who have held the office.  We know of no suggestion that the six living former governors would be interested in some kind of formal recognition of their shared executive experience. But they share a great deal in common.  Leading Missouri government, whether it has been for a few weeks, or for eight years has given them a perspective on power, opportunity, and obligation that no one else has. Would Governor Greitens profit from recognizing them, even calling them together from time to time, or simply calling them individually?   Only he will know if such a thing would be useful.  Only he will decide if there is value in a Missouri Governors Club, unofficial though it might be.

Our recollection is that it’s a tradition for the incoming governor to invite all former governors to take part in the inauguration but we do not recall a time when all of them did.  One special inauguration does come readily to mind—when Christopher Bond was sworn in for his first term in 1973, he invited the last previous Republican governor to be part of the event. And Forrest C. Donnell, who was sworn in later than usual in 1941 because of a dispute about the certification of the election, was there and stayed up real late for the celebration.  He was 88 by then, 95 when he died in 1980.

History awaits the governor Missouri will inaugurate on January 9.  But history remains in six men who have sat behind the desk Eric Greitens will sit behind.  And history is a useful thing to call upon in making decisions that will shape the future.