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Mr. Smith Goes to Leavenworth

August 26, 2009 Crime, Politics/Policy 11 Comments

Five years ago Jeff Smith came in second place out of 10 candidates in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress.  He was a rising star.  So much so a documentary was made about that campaign for Congress.  The film, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington, Anymore?, was released in 2006:


In 2006 Smith was elected to the Missouri State Senate in another crowded election.

But it turns out he had knowledge of  a campaign violation from the 2004 Congressional campaign .  He lied twice about his knowledge of the violation.  From his statement issued yesterday as he resigned his seat:

During my 2004 Congressional race, I became aware of an independent effort to produce two mailers to benefit my campaign. Federal campaign finance law prohibits specific coordination between a campaign and anyone preparing an independent expenditure.

When the independent operator requested funding, I authorized a close friend to raise money for the effort, and my press secretary provided public information about my opponent’s voting record. I withheld my knowledge of these facts during the Federal Election Commission’s 2004 investigation, misleading investigators and filing a false affidavit.  (Source)

The lie is often worse than the deed.  Just ask Martha Stewart.

Jeff Smith represented the 4th District in the Missouri Senate (green below):

I live in the 5th District, represented by Robin Wright-Jones who was elected in 2008, replacing Maida Coleman who had been term limited out of office.  So Jeff Smith was not my Senator.  Still, knowing him, I’m disappointed.

Will he go to Leavenworth?  Probably not, but it made for a good headline.  Smith will likely spend some time in a white collar prison.  We will know after he and others are sentenced on November 10, 2009.

The FBI press release has all the facts in a no-nonsense way you’d expect from the FBI.

– Steve Patterson


Going Postal, 23rd Anniversary of Edmond OK Postal Shooting

August 20, 2009 Crime 2 Comments

It happened as I was preparing to start my sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma in the Oklahoma City suburb of Norman.  On the other side of the region, in Edmond, postal employee Patrick Sherrill killed 14 & wounding others before killing himself:

He was a relief carrier. He would carry different routes on different days, and was making delivery errors. He also delivered mail later than the customers were used to getting it. When people called to complain, they spoke to supervisors. On the afternoon of Aug. 19, 1986, Patrick was reprimanded by two supervisors in a glassed-in office.

On the afternoon before the killings, he approached a female clerk who had been kind to him (while most people ignored him or hassled him) and asked her if she was coming to work the next day. She replied, “Of course.” He told her she should stay home.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Locally and nationally, everyone was in shock.  Such shootings have become too commonplace over the last 23 years.  Security measures have increased.

A few months shy of nine years later was the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (Wikipedia). By that point I had been living in St. Louis for nearly four years.

Every region has tragedy.  I think we tend to forget about older tragedies as new ones happen.  So today I remember those who died in Edmond Oklahoma 23 years ago today.

– Steve Patterson


Copia the same Nearly Four Months After Fire

On the morning of December 29th Copia Urban Winery went up in flames — ruled arson by investigators. The following message was posted on their website within days after the fire:

We regret to inform you that Copia Urban Winery and Market will be closed temporarily due to an unfortunate fire. The Copia family would like to extend their gratitude to all of you for your dedicated loyalty and support. We apologize for any inconveniences this occurrence may have caused. Plans to rebuild are already in motion, and updates will be posted regularly. We look forward to seeing you very soon.

Nearly four months later the Washington Ave restaurant remains boarded up with no signs of rebuilding taking place. The website is the same. To my knowledge there have been no arrests either. With so much good stuff happening on Washington Ave it is unfortunate to not see something happening here.


Fire Heavily Damages Downtown Restaurant

Earlier today an act of arson (per the Post-Dispatch) heavily damaged a downtown restaurant as well as adjacent living spaces. Thankfully, everyone was evacuated safely.


Just past 7:30am this morning a few fire trucks were still on the scene that started after 3am, according to news reports. Police had Washington Ave blocked in both directions. Copia was in the main floor of the lovely two story building in the center, above. The Vangard Lofts are to the left, a narrow building is to the right and finally The Meridian to the far right. Residents of all these buildings were evacuated. Unfortunately, The Vangard suffered some smoke & water damage.


From the back, above, we see the rear patio area. The front dining room seemed to have suffered mostly smoke & water damage, as the tables appear ready for dinner. However, the rear of the building was severely damaged.

The back of these buildings front onto St. Charles St., a narrow alley-like street. I’m not sure if parking is allowed on this section of the street. Still, a silver Mustang was parked at the end of Copia’s ramp at the back. The Fire Dept looks to have cut the railing apart to get access to the back entrance. Good thing they had that practice on Lou Hamilton’s diving board!


Above, St. Louis’ new fire chief Dennis Jenkerson changes shoes at the back of his car before leaving the site.


From the front, with the exception of the broken glass and debris, it doesn’t appear a 4-alarm fire just did the damage that it did. Again, the dining room was damaged by smoke and water, not fire.


Later crews were on the scene to board up the building and deal with damage at the Vangard Lofts as well.

Regular readers will note this is the same restaurant where I had my video-tapped confrontation with owner Eyad “ET” Tammas, over valets consuming too much public parking. Despite that, and the on-going valet problems, I would never wish arson upon anyone. Copia, like many other places, was an important part of the downtown scene. I wish them well in their rebuilding. The valet guys, and their tactics to take up more spaces than is fair, can stay gone as far as I am concerned unless they learn to play well with others.


How to Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police

December 23, 2007 Crime, Popular Culture 4 Comments

A very cute little video by the very funny Chris Rock offering helpful tips on ‘How to Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police.’   Warning, some strong language:

Maybe we should teach this in the schools?