Professors clash at political science gun symposium

College Republicans and Democrats pulled the trigger on gun control debate a symposium hosted by the groups on Thursday, April 10.

Jonathan Euchner, assistant professor of political science at Missouri Western, served as a monitor for the debate at in Spratt Education Hall.

Panelists Edwin Taylor, assistant professor of political science, Steven Greiert, professor of history, and City Councilmember P.J. Kovac sat in the front of the room as dozens of students filled the seats

The panelists gave their viewpoints on numerous questions, both prepared and submitted by the student audience. Each panelists was given two minutes to respond to questions over the true interpretation of the second amendment, permit processes and gun control effects on schools and mass shootings.

Taylor sided more liberally than the other two panelists. He tended to side with the Democratic Party and their belief that more guns did not mean more safety.

When asked if he believed guns should be allowed on campus, he responded with a firm “no.”

“You cannot shoot your way to a safe society. I think it is a terrible idea,” Taylor said. “I give out a lot of C’s, D’s and F’s, and it is a reasonable and legitimate fear that when I’m having a conversation with a student about grades, I don’t know if he’ll pull out a pencil or a gun.”

Taylor also did not believe that arming faculty and staff would be a good idea.

“In kindness, I think some of my colleagues are crazy, myself probably among them, and I don’t know if I would want them to have guns,” Taylor said.

Kovac disagreed with Taylor, and brought up the two shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.

“With that logic, it’s like Fort Hood, there have been two shootings. Those people are trained, that is their livelihood. Why in the world after one shooting, is Fort Hood a gun-free zone? It makes no sense, you can’t tell me that if they had guns that that guy wouldn’t have been stopped in a heartbeat,” Kovac said. “Same thing goes for a campus.”

Greiert, a Conservative, admitted whole-heartly that he disagreed with Taylor.

“The basis of the second amendment is rights versus powers. There is no parallel. This is an individual right,” Greiert said. “It is, as it’s said, ‘the right of the people.’ The militia are citizen soldiers. The well regulated militia is the people. So I believe it is the people who have the right to own a gun, not a militia.”

At-large candidates clear up campaign platforms

City Council candidates met on Tuesday, March 26, in Missouri Western’s Spratt Hall to hash out the issues.

The six at-large candidates -- Kent “Spanky” O’Dell, Jeff Penland, Ken Beck, Byron Myers, Donna Boyer and Kenneth Reeder -- were in attendance. Bill Faulkner, the only mayoral candidate on the ballot, also appeared.

Unlike the past forums, the Indoor Clean Air Act didn’t take up much time. This forum centered around the issue of poor street quality.

All of the candidates agreed that streets were in need of improvement and should be held high on the priority list, but no one knew exactly where the city would find the funding for such endeavors.

O’Dell started off the forum introducing voters to his blue-collar background. He claimed he was not a politician.

“I’m a blue-collar, old Irish boy,” O’Dell said.

He said the largest problem in the local government was its lack of communication with the people, and that’s what he aimed to fix.

Bill Faulkner expressed excitement for his second term. He informed the audience that much groundwork was laid in his previous term, and his second term should allow for progress and expansion. He’s proud of the work the council had accomplished, but they still had a lot to do.

“I’m eager to get going again,” Faulkner said.

Third at bat was Jeff Penland. Penland was an incumbent seeking his second term. He finished out 8 months of the previous term after the previous councilman passed away. Before taking his seat on the council Penland spent three and a half years in planning and zoning.

Ken Beck started his opening statement with his media background.

“I recently retired from the media where I worked for forty-five years. I was always involved in certain areas of the community at the city level, state level, and local level,” said Beck.

Beck emphasized the need to come together in order to look at what our city has been doing and figure out where we want to go.

Byron Myers is an incumbent seeking his second term on the council. His main concerns remained the same as stated in the previous election. He wants to maintain the 139th airborne wing her in Saint Joseph, he supports the new advanced research science center, and the streets. He expressed to his constituents his moral values.

“I have no hidden agenda. I accepted no outside funding because I will not be a dollar-taker or obligated to anyone especially string-pullers outside our community,” said Myers.

Donna Boyer sat as the only woman on the stage. Boyer is a retired educator, she taught at Benton High School in St. Joseph, and was a graduate of Lafayette High School. She’s currently finishing her fourth term.

“During the next four years, the council must invest in St. Joseph. Job creation and retention is an important concern,” Boyer said.

The last statement went to Kenneth Reeder. He claimed he’d worked as hard as anyone and his “heart is in this fight.” He gained experience in government as a lobbyist. He believes he can accurately represent the taxpayer on the most important issues.

No tuition increase?

Missouri Western’s Board of Governors on Thursday outlined a plan to either freeze -- or raise -- undergraduate tuition next year, depending on the budget adopted by the Missouri General Assembly.

In order to keep tuition rates the same as the current year, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s budget proposal, which would increase funding to Western by $534,000 and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) funding by $647,000.

State Representative Delus Johnson, who represents Western in the Missouri House, has estimated that Nixon’s estimate of sales tax revenue, 6.1 percent, is 1.7 percent higher than the prediction made by the General Assembly.

Cale Fessler, vice president for financial planning and administration, supports Nixon’s higher education goals, and hopes that Western’s tuition will remain unchanged.

“If the governor’s budget is approved, next year will be the fifth time in the last 11 years that Missouri Western will have frozen tuition for in-state undergraduate students,” Fessler said.

Ultimately, two proposals for in-state undergraduates on the St. Joseph campus were approved by the board. The first keeps resident tuition and fees at $216.60 per credit hour, while the second would mean a 1.55 percent rise to $219.95 per hour.

Brian Shewell, Western’s Student Governor, says time will tell whether or not students will see an impact.

“There’s really nothing to talk about until such time as it did go through the legislature,” Shewell said. “Very rarely has anything come out before -- let’s be honest -- May, so I would say Lionel [Attawia] would be the Student Governor by the time it officially happens.”

While tuition rates aren’t set in stone, next semester will see certain increased cost for both room and board. Housing costs will rise between 1.5 to 2 percent, which means a $42 to $59 increase per semester, depending on the hall.

The board rate is set to increase $67 per semester for all meal plans, or 3.6 to 4.5 percent, depending on the plan.

St. Joseph council candidates have final debate


By: Noah Green

The final debate between St. Joseph city council candidates on Thursday, March 27 proved the most aggressive of the series.

The forum, held at Missouri Western, featured general election challengers from District I, District II and District V. Each district race is between a challenger and the district’s incumbent, and will be decided by voters on Tuesday, April 8. The debate escalated from the start, as District II incumbent Joyce Starr and three-time challenger and Spring 2013 Western graduate Ellis Cross expressed drastically different views for their district. While other challengers avoided directly discussing their opponents, Cross made his position on St. Joseph’s current leadership known. “While it has gone downhill for the last eight years, not a single independent idea has come out of Joyce Starr’s head to help District II,” Cross said. Cross, in his opening statement, introduced a substantial change in property taxes focused on providing $1-for-$1 tax credit for property owners to help improve District II, which is full of historic homes in need of severe repair. “I’m proposing a dollar-for-dollar tax cut for anyone who has property in this city,” Cross said. “If you own property, you’re paying taxes. If you fix your property, it comes off your taxes. Very simple.” Starr put her foot down after Cross continually referred to District II as “the armpit of this city.” She took Cross to task, saying that, not only was District II a proud part of St. Joseph, but that she actively works in the community to clean up the area. She questioned Cross’ commitment to actual efforts to improve the area by pointing out that she’d never seen him during any District cleanup days. Another topic of discussion was the issue of St. Joseph street maintenance. District I incumbent Pat Jones, who faces challenger Dennis Adams next Tuesday, called for action to solve the problem. “We have 418 miles of streets in this city, and what people don’t realize is -- no, we don’t have the money to take care of our streets,” Jones said. “We don’t know if the use tax would be the best way to go, or if G.O. Bonds would be the best way to go. Nobody has that magic wand.” Cross felt that street maintenance was an issue solely prompted by bad weather. “By September, they’re all patched and smooth and everybody’s happy,” Cross said.

Starr disagreed with her opponent, claiming that more must be done to cover more ground with pavement.

“A total of $18 million is going for streets [from the CIP tax], and it is over a period of six years, but what does that mean? Instead of 4.5 miles every year, it’s like 11 miles,” Starr said. “I think we need a new revenue stream.” All candidates found common ground when Western professor Jonathan Euchner, the forum’s moderator, posed a question regarding charging churches and other tax-exempt properties a land use fee. None of the candidates favored the proposal. The candidates also agreed with one another when a theological question about representative democracy was asked. All council candidates emphasized that their roles as councilmembers was to fully represent the opinion of their constituency, regardless of their own personal opinions. District V candidates Barbara LaBass and Mary Attebury had many similar opinions on the majority of the issues facing their district and the city at large.

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