On August 7, Springfield voters will determine the fate of the â€śpit bullâ€ť ban, passed by City Council last year.Â Because of a successful referendum petition, City Council was put in a position to either reverse their original decision or put the issue to a public vote.Â They decided 5-4 to uphold the ban, thereby sending the issue to the ballot.
A recent Opinion piece by a self-proclaimed national advocate revealed a very flawed argument in favor of â€śpit bullâ€ť bans, the most restrictive of all breed-specific legislation (BSL). The opinion relied on research findings, which have been widely criticized as unreliable.
More to the point are the findings of the most comprehensive multifactorial study of dog bite-related fatalities.Â (see Patronek, G.J. et al, (2013) Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite-related fatalities in the United States (2000-2009), Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 243(12), 1726-1736).Â These researchers identified a number of controllable factors, responsible for DBRF (dog bite-related fatalities) with significant co-occurrence of multiple factors. The authors reported that the breed(s) of the dogs could not be reliably identified in over 80 percent of the cases, concluding â€śMost DBRFs were characterized by coincident, preventable factors; breed was not one of these.Â Study results supported previous recommendations for multifactorial approaches, instead of single-factor solutions such as breed-specific legislation, for dog bite prevention.â€ť (Ibid)
Organizations that do NOT endorse Breed Specific Legislation include the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the National Canine Research Council, the Humane Society of the United States, American Bar Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, Best Friends Animal Society, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the American Kennel Club.
It is widely accepted by these organizations and others, and confirmed by science and research, that breed-specific laws, while aimed at public safety, fail miserably in that regard.Â The common sense and less costly approach encompasses accessible, affordable spay/neuter programs; breed-neutral laws aimed at responsible pet ownership (such as licensing/registration); education programs directed at dog owners, and the public at large; and enforcement of dangerous dog/reckless owner laws, and animal abuse and fighting laws.
Vote No on Question One.Â Springfield can do better.
Kathleen Larkin, Springfield
I have known Ron Cleek since 1976. During the years that my wife and I raised our children in Christian County (Ozark), Ron served as the Christian County prosecutor. He served selflessly during those years, and for a good amount of that time he received a part-time salary for what was already a full-time workload. He is a longtime Christian County resident, having spent the bulk of his career there. He has been involved in public service in Christian County for decades, a community leader, a volunteer who has served Christian County in a wide variety of community service activities. Ron Cleek is not a Johnny-come-lately to serving the people of Christian County.
Ron Cleek is also the only candidate in this race with the necessary experience and knowledge in courtroom law to hit the ground running as an exceptionally qualified judge. He is broadly and deeply rooted in the courtroom, keenly knowledgeable and experienced in courtroom practice, both criminal and civil, and in the law as it is litigated in courtrooms. This is far different than other areas of legal practice, although those specialties are also valuable. Ron has specialized in courtroom litigation in his private practice, as well as in his public service as the Christian County prosecutor. The people of Christian County deserve a judge of the caliber of Ron Cleek.
Personally, I know Ron to be a seasoned legal mind, but also to be a seasoned, even-tempered person with a strong deposit of common sense, which is not so common these days. He is a committed family man, a man of strong faith in God, and a person with strong loyalty to the people of Christian County. In all these decades, Ron has shown himself over and over again to be a person of integrity and wisdom.Â
Ron Cleek is the highly qualified person that Christian County needs in the courthouse. Elect Ron Cleek Christian County judge!
Dr. Doug Oss, Springfield
For eight of the 15 years that I served as editor of the Headliner News, Ron Cleek served as Christian County prosecutor. The relationship between a newsroom and a prosecutorâ€™s office cannot be underestimated. For me, it was especially important because I knew that the newspaper and the prosecutor shared a common goal: the truth.
But to get at the truth and report on it to our readers, I had to develop a level of trust with the prosecutor. Sometimes that is possible and sometimes it proves challenging. But Ron trusted me and I counted on him. While he never divulged information that would have been prohibited by the laws that governed his position, he was always forthcoming and helpful.
Ron understands the vital role the press plays in our democracy, even in a small town. He appropriately balanced, in my opinion, the rights of the state and defendants with the right of the people to know.Â He was available, responsive and informative. When I asked him a question, he answered it and he always made information available to me that I, or any other member of the public, was entitled to have without forcing me, or my staff, to jump through a series of hoops.
When electing a judge it is necessary that candidates have the necessary education and experience. What is also necessary, in my opinion, is that candidates have a level of humanity and empathy. Very often things are not just black and white.
Because of Ronâ€™s longtime law experience, his years in the prosecutorâ€™s office and his role as a husband and father, that is never without its challenges, I believe he has not only the tools for the job but the necessary empathy to fairly sit in judgment of othersâ€™ circumstances.
I cannot vote in Christian Countyâ€™s elections and I would not presume to tell readers for whom they should vote. But I did want voters to know what kind of man Ron Cleek is should they chose to vote for him.
Donna Osborn, former editor, Christian County Headliner News
Last November, Greene County voters approved a new Â˝-percent sales tax.Â County officials promised animal control services if the tax was approved.
Effective July 1, full animal control was implemented within an arbitrary â€śUrban Animal Control Boundaryâ€ť (UACB), a narrow, irregular one-to-three mile area surrounding Springfield.Â Outside the UACB (almost all of the county), animal control officers will only respond to dog bite incidents.
County commissioners say we canâ€™t afford to have full animal control services countywide. They have allocated only $200,000 for animal control services from the more than $7 million expected to be generated by the new tax in 2018. A 20-year projection prepared by the county shows that animal control services will always be a very low priority.Â Less than $300,000 is projected for animal control services from the nearly $50 million expected to be generated by the new tax in 2037.Â (Source:Â Resolution of the Greene County Commission, October 2, 2017.)Â This is absurd given the likely growth of Greene County over the next 20 years.
The new sales tax is being collected countywide.Â Yet the county is arbitrarily limiting full animal control services to the UACB.Â Those living outside the UACB are partially subsidizing full animal control services within the UACB while not receiving full services themselves.Â Would this unfair policy survive a legal challenge?
Aside from any fairness and legal issues, the policy of only responding to dog bites outside the UACB does not make sense.Â If an aggressiveâ€”perhaps rabidâ€”dog is causing mayhem and fighting with resident dogs, we are required to wait until a person is bitten before we call for help.Â What about feral cats? They can also be very difficult and dangerous to deal with. Under current policy, the county will not respond to cat injuries of any kind outside the UACB.
What if the county sheriff arbitrarily decided not to respond to domestic violence calls or drunk driving incidents more than 3 miles from Springfield unless someone was injured?Â What if a rural fire protection district arbitrarily decided not to respond to fires more than 3 miles from the closest fire station unless someone was injured?Â No one would stand for such nonsense.
Outside the UACB, there are significant animal control problemsâ€”aside from injuries caused by dogs and cats.Â These include lost animals, dumped animals, injured animals, feral cats, roaming â€świldâ€ť dogs, and residents who refuse to care for and control their own animals.
The Greene County Commission has arbitrarily decided that those of us outside the UACB will still have to deal with these problems on our own.Â This includes protecting our own property and animals, paying veterinarians to treat injured animals, paying fees to animal shelters for lost or dumped animals, dealing with uncooperative neighbors, and disposing of road-killed animals that might have been saved had we, too, had full animal control services.
Despite the self-congratulatory lofty talk from county officials, we still donâ€™t have (and apparently never will) the countywide animal control services we really need.
Roger Leonard, Republic
I have the right to work.
It is a right I have exercised from the time I was 16 years old, often while attending school, until I retired.
Now Republicans and their corporate backers are pushing so-called but misleading â€śright-to-work,â€ť also known as Proposition A.Â They are using claims, easily proven false, to try and convince Missourians that we will be better off if it passes on August 7.
The facts, which proponents of right-to-work know and they hope you donâ€™t, are that right-to-work is wrong for Missouri.Â We only have to look at states that have passed similar laws to see the results.
Missouri wages and benefits will go down.
Missouri will lose jobs.
Missouri infrastructure and institutions will suffer.
Recently I received a mailing in support of right-to-work, falsely stating that it is about holding union leaders accountableÂ and that unions donâ€™t represent their workers.Â The fact is that unions are responsive to their workers and they represent everyone in the union fairly and equally.
Defeating Proposition A is not just about unions.Â It is about the right of every Missourian to fair wages, good benefits, job opportunity and training, a safe workplaceÂ and good roads and schools.
I exercised my right to work for 50 years.Â I oppose so-called right-to-work because I want workers today and in the future to enjoy what I had: a good job with good benefits.Â That is what is at risk.
Right-to-work is wrong for Missouri. Vote NO on Prop A.
Gene Davison, Springfield
On August 7, I will vote No on Proposition A because unions support my family.
In 1978 I was a young, single mother, working hard to make ends meet rather than looking for handouts. I was lucky to become a postal carrier. It was a hard job â€” I walked miles in all sorts of weather.Â It was thanks to my union that I was able to have that job, take care of my family, and make a decent wage.
It is thanks to unions and my husbandâ€™s 30 years busting his back on the railroad that we have any retirement. My son-in-law does back-breaking work as a union carpenter. He does this work because he can make a decent wage for a hard dayâ€™s work. This allows him to take care of his family.
The threat of Proposition A has my family scared for our future. Prop A will force all Missouri families to accept lower wages. My son-in-law will not be able to provide for his family.
If someone does not want to pay union dues, they should work for a non-union employer. Not expect to freeload off hard working union employees
This is a clear attack on workers and our way of life. Prop A will hurt women and families. Do the right thing for Missouri, our economy, and our kids. Vote No on Prop A on August 7th.
Dorothy Moore, Springfield
Sen. Roy Blunt has long been a champion for medical research, and I was thrilled that he recently pushed for a $2 billion funding increase for the National Institutes of Health. Thanks to his hard work, this is now part of the Senate budget bill.
Since the economic downturn in 2009, the U.S. has lagged in medical research funding. But thanks to our lawmakers, weâ€™re getting back on track.
If passed by the House of Representatives, the proposed funding will go to the National Cancer Institute, childhood cancer research and programs through the Centers for Disease Control that both prevent and detect cancer. We need this investment to support new cures and treatments for cancer, but also to keep it from occurring in the first place.
Sen. Blunt, thank you for looking out for cancer patients, survivors and their families. I urge Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer and the rest of the House to follow the Senateâ€™s lead and pass these crucial funding increases.
Mark A. Runyan, Eldon
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