After a few days back east, I'm back in the Show-Me State to clean up a few items before we ring in the New Year:
- SOUR PURPLE POWER: Northwestern came oh-so-close to knocking off big ole' once-national-title-bound (psych!) Mizzou in the Alamo Bowl. It was gut-wrenching to watch them fall short. An explanation why: The Wildcats let in smarter kids. (Disclosure: I went to journalism school at NU.)
- KOSTER TAPS JUDGE: Attorney General-elect Chris Koster has selected Cass County Judge Joe Dandurand as his Deputy A.G. "Naturally, in our roles as judge and prosecutor, we have not always agreed on all issues. Through the years, however, we have developed a strong mutual professional and personal respect," Dandurand said in a statement.
- AMENDMENT HAPPY: State Sen. John Loudon held a press conference earlier this week to announce a ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment to protect "the secret ballot." If at first you don't succeed . . .
- BOND BACKS ISRAEL: Fresh back from his trip from Israel, Sen. Kit Bond is defending the country's recent relentless assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He wants the U.S. to provide Israel with an anti-missile defense system. "Israel has every right to defend its borders, and protect its people," said Bond. "With their unprovoked attacks on Israel, Hamas is demonstrating their true commitment is violence, not peace."
- KEY NIXON APPOINTMENT: Governor-elect Jay Nixon appointed St. Louis health care official Ronald Levy to be his Director of Social Services. Nixon said Levy would begin transforming Missouri's health care system by helping to increase access for children. The 58-year-old Levy was the chief executive of SSM Health Care in St. Louis before retiring last year. Levy's appointment requires Senate approval.
- SPEAKING OF HEALTH CARE: The Missouri Foundation for Health is urging lawmakers not to help make up a projected $340 million dollars shortfall by cutting Medicaid reimbursements. The group says it will be tempting to make up money there, but that lawmakers should resist. "They would be strongly cautioned against doing so, as it will reduce access to health care services for lower-income Missourians, increase inefficiencies in the delivery of care . . ." said MFH president Dr. James Kimmey.
- BLUNT GETS (ANOTHER) JOB: The auto board thing just sounded odd to people. Downright strange. Now, outgoing Governor Matt Blunt says he'll be a senior adviser to a private equity firm in Massachusetts (A Romney connection?). Blunt is signing on with Solamere Capital on January 13th. The release says Blunt will "help evaluate opportunities for Solamere, while also helping to grow its investments and portfolio companies." The Notebook wishes the Gov. the best of luck in his new non-political endeavor. He'll need it to help "grow" anything in this economy.
- NIXON'S CHALLENGE: You may have noticed Nixon's Challenge hasn't been updated since I've been on holiday. We'll have a fresh batch of entries for you tomorrow on our political page at ky3.com.
- BLOG MOVE: Oh, and about that blog move we told you about a few weeks ago. It's still likely to happen, but after some smart suggestions and feedback from you, we're still working out the exact software to make our transition as blog-worthy as possible.
Happy New Year!