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Missouri Government News for Week of Oct. 30

This week's news summary was prepared by Candyce L. Clifft from reports prepared during the week by staff of Missouri Digital News.

Governor's Chief of Staff Announces Resignation

Marc Farinella, Chief of Staff to Governor Mel Carnahan, announced Oct. 31 that he is resigning to return to full-time politics. Farinella managed Carnahan's winning 1992 campaign.

Farinella's resignation is effective Dec. 1. He plans to run his own political consulting company, Farinella and Associates, and Carnahan's re-election campaign will be one of their top priorities.

"This is about finding new challenges for myself and also playing some crucial role in re-electing the governor," Farinella said.

Carnahan promoted his deputy chief of staff, Roy Temple, to succeed Farinella. Temple is a veteran of Carnahan's office and political campaigns.

Audit Questions Tax Credits in Missouri

State Auditor Margaret Kelly questioned tax credits awarded by the Missouri Economic Development Department.

Kelly's audit found that some businesses received tax credits twice as large as the law allowed. Kelly's audit also charged that the state's return on the investment was a 32 percent loss.

[119K WAV file - kelly] Kelly's information officer Frank Ybarra said Kelly said the Department of Economic Development should ask for reimbursement for the excess credit granted.

Kelly's audit also charged that members of the board who granted the tax credits also served on the board of the company receiving the credit.

Chemicals Threaten Quality of Missouri Water

Federal environmental experts say Missourians should be concerned about the quality of the water they drink.

"Our major concern is the impact of farm chemicals and agricultural chemicals," said Bill Landis, spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency. High levels of these chemicals were found over the summer in the drinking water of 10 northern Missouri communities.

Chemicals aren't the only problem. Cities with older sewere systems have experienced a combined sewer and discharge overflow that goes directly into the water without being treated, according to Larry Shepard of the EPA. Shepard said such runoff spots exist in the Missouri River, and it would not be a good idea to swim in those areas.

In addition, six hog-waste spills in northern Missouri in early October decimated the aquatic habitat in the two streams affected by the spill. Ken Midkiff, Ozark Chapter Program Director for the Sierra Club, said hog farms could cause long-term damage to water quality if they are built near a community's water supply.

In southern Missouri, lead mining companies are under investigation for discharging waste into the Black River. Midkiff said the Natural Resources Department has turned the case over to the Attorney General's office.

Highway Department Asks State for Power to Issue Bonds

The Highway Department has asked the state for the power to sell bonds to raise money for unfinished projects.

Although the Highway Department promises no tax increases to fund its projects, some legislators are skeptical. The highway department has asked the legislature for the power to sell bonds to obtain the $500 million needed to complete their projects. The bonds will be paid for with existing department revenues, in addition to $250 million in interest.

St. Louis County Representative Joan Bray chairs the committee that has examined the department's proposal. Bray said there is speculatation that there will be a tax increase in three years to keep projects going at a fast rate.

Bray said legislators are examining the proposal carefully, and it is not a foregone conclusion that the proposal will pass.

Jefferson City to Vote on Riverboat Gambling

Jefferson City voters will decide Nov. 7 whether to repeal their approval of a gambling boat three years ago.

The city recently elected Duane Schreimann, an anti-gambling mayor, who made gambling a key issue in his campaign.

[110K WAV file]Schreimann expressed no doubt that a city rejection of gambling will result in a lawsuit by Becker Gaming or Jefferson City gambling supporters.

A Jefferson City court fight would have statewide implications. If Jefferson City is allowed to get rid of its riverboat casino, no casinos in the state would be safe from shiftng public attitudes about gambling.