My name is Lauren Stenzel, I was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am currently a junior at the University of Missouri studying broadcast journalism. I am a reporter for KOMU 8 News, as well as a reporter for Missouri Digital News.
Newsroom blog: http://www.mdn.org/2009/BLOGS/STENZELL.htm
Posted December 8, 2009:
The morning started with heavy amounts of rain...and a forecast with snow in the near future. It turned out being an eventful day.
According to the Cole County sheriff, Jetton turned himself in on December 7 at 11:53 p.m. and was released about a half hour after he got to the jail at 12:25 a.m.
He was released after a bail bondsman posted $2,500 dollars bail. He was charged in Scott County.
An e-mail from Jetton's attorney released on the afternoon of December 8. Apparently, the statement said Jetton was dissolving his firm and leaving politics to be with his family.
This story broke less than 24 hours ago, and it has already become national news.
Some are speculating a possible S&M scandal. It is still unclear how Jetton and the woman filing charges originally came into contact.
For a comprehensive story about the charges with a link to the police report visit: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/former_house_speaker_charged_after_rough_sex.php?ref=fpb
Senator Rob Mayer, a former client of Jetton's, was interviewed by Missouri Digital News, and said that he has not used his services since January of 2009, and tried to get his name off of Jetton's client list.
Calls to previous clients of Jetton's and politicians he worked with were not immediately returned.
Jetton's current and past clients included senators Jason Crowell, Rob Mayer and Luann Ridgeway, Majority Leader Steven Tilley, Majority Whip Brian Nieves as well as Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
Jetton has not yet been arraigned. Scott County Circuit Clerk says that it is waiting for the return of service back on the warrant, at which time it will schedule a court date.
To follow the case live and see any updates, visit: https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/cases/header.do
Follow @MDNnews on twitter for Jetton's mug shot, and the latest updates the charges.
Until next time, be safe
Posted November 2, 2009:
Today was a beautiful day, but I spent it in the Capitol. St. Louis County was voting on a potential smoking ban that could lead to other smoking bans around the state. There are only six states nationwide that do not have any sort of smoking ban. I was able to interview multiple senators and representatives about their opinion's on the ban. Surprisingly, both Democrats and Republicans that I spoke with were against the ban. The ban, formally known as Proposition N, is expected to pass, despite low voter turnout. Here's a link to St. Louis coverage of voter turnout: http://www.fox2now.com/ktvi-election-preview-stlouis-county-110209,0,7895618.story
Posted October 27, 2009:
Once again, it's raining across the state of Missouri. According to the National Weather Service, there has been precipitation in 18 of the 27 days in October. That's a depressing statistic. Here's a story about how crops are being damaged by the amount of rain in the Midwest: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125656490009708113.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_markets
I was able to interview some local berry farmers' in the mid-Missouri area, and found out that the rain has actually helped their crops. Despite the detrimental effects on other crops, berry farms have been prospering because berries flourish in water. According to the farmers', they have saved money on irrigation. One farmer says he is done irrigating his crops for the year, and last year irrigation went through the month of November. This is how farmers' have been saving money. Look for my story later today on how the rain is helping these crops.
Posted October 13, 2009:
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield answered their phones! Should be getting a call back from PR person soon. Hopefully I'll be cranking out three wraps on this issue!
If you want the point of view of families with autistic children, check out: http://www.mofeat.org/
Posted October 13, 2009:
It's yet another cold, rainy day here in mid-Missouri. Fellow reporter, Becca Stephan, is reporting on whether or not the excessive rain and cool weather this fall, borderline premature winter, is effecting the leaves. She spoke with an MU forestry professor, and he says that the rain doesn't have anything to do with the change in leaves, but the cool weather does. I found this interesting so I did a little search...found it interesting that this same story has been covered in other parts of the U.S. http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/826115.html
I am currently covering House bill 357 dealing with autism being covered by health insurance. This bill is sponsored by Republican Representative Dwight Scharnhorst. I was able to speak with Representative Scharnhorst, and he says he strongly believes in this issue because he had a grandson that had autism. To see the bill visit: http://www.house.mo.gov/print.aspx?info=/bills091/bills/HB357.HTM
In the interview with Scharnhorst he said that everyone should be concerned for the well-being of autistic children, because if they do not get treatment in their developing years, they can become a distraction in schools for mainstream children. He says research directly from insurance companies shows that premium's would increase an estimated .8% if insurance companies were mandated to cover autistic children.
Some insurance companies claim that number to be higher. I am currently waiting for phone calls to be returned in order to get the other side of the story, and verify exactly how much insurance premium's would increase if this bill passes next session.
Representative Scharnhorst says he has the support of most democrats, it's his side of the aisle that he is having trouble convincing. Speaker Ron Richard has told Representative Scharnhorst that he will make an effort to bring the bill back this coming session.
Hopefully I get some response so I can finish this story. I believe it is an important issue to at the very least have some discussion about. This bill made national headlines! http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=7012116
Trying to stay warm,
Posted September 29, 2009: Today, I had the opportunity to interview Democratic Representative Talibdin El-Amin. Last week he was indicted on bribery charges, and now people are wondering when he will resign. I was able to ask him about some rumors flying around the capitol. His resignation is expected to come October 1, 2009.
The Governor's office could not confirm whether or not his paperwork had been submitted.
Posted September 22, 2009: Today I followed a worker union as they rallied around the state Capitol. ( http://www.afscme.org/ )
State workers from all over Missouri that work with veteran's, mental patients, state facilities and parks were represented. The workers I was able to speak with repeatedly said that they think there should be more workers because it has become hazardous to their health not having more. In some cases, workers are picking up extra hours and become exhausted and fear their patients are not receiving adequate care. Most of the workers expressed concern for their patients.
The spokespeople for AFSCME could not give me an exact amount of workers that were being asked for. This leads to the question...how much money would it cost to add more workers? I spoke with the Chairman of the Budget Committee, Republican Representative Allen Icet, and he said that our budget is in deficit, and $100 million dollars behind where we were last year. He says that if more state jobs are added, there will have to be cuts in other programs. Who is to decide which programs are more important?
The state workers rallying for AFSCME marched from the state Capitol across the street to the Truman building where negotiations between the union and the state began today.
Posted September 1, 2009: It's been awhile, but I'm back at the capitol. Today I covered the H1N1 virus that has invaded the University of Missouri-Columbia campus. Last week there were a reported 48 cases, but that number has since risen. While checking facebook periodically throughout the day, I kept seeing status' of friends saying, "Got sent home from class for coughing," or, "Home sick, those emails apply to me." The University sent out two emails last night to faculty and students about the virus and encouraged students to visit the health center.
I wonder how many students actually are sick, or are taking advantage of the situation? As well as, how many students actually have H1N1 virus, or if it's simply a placebo effect perpetuated by the culture of fear.
The University spokesperson, whom I got to speak with today, said there is no longer testing for the strain, and that everyone with flu-like symptoms is presumed to have the virus.
I also spoke with a Representative form the Missouri Health Department that was frustrated by complaints that there is insufficient information pertaining to the H1N! virus. He advised everyone to visit it's website: http://www.dhss.mo.gov/BT_Response/_H1N1Flu.html
For a powerpoint with specific information on the H1N1 virus visit: http://www.dhss.mo.gov/BT_Response/SwineFlu/SWINEFLUSchoolPowerpointprovidedERH.ppt#1
Until next Tuesday,
Posted May 6, 2009: Today I was covering the House. A total of thirteen budget bills are one step closer to moving on to Senate. An emotionally debated bill dealing with Medicaid has the budget at a stand still. The Senate will not move forward with House Bill 22 until the House finishes House Bill 11. The Republicans and Democrats spent the majority of the time exchanging words of this bill. Republican Representative Bryan Pratt created quite a stir when he accused the governor of bribery. It was a crazy day to say the least, and I wrote a summation story on everything the House covered today.
Posted April 29, 2009: Today was crazy to say the least. It is definitely getting close to the end of session. I wrote a story covering the money that the St. Louis Metro received, as well as the bill that would eliminate income taxes in the State of Missouri.
Posted April 15, 2009:
It's already been a week, and my how time goes by quickly. I was able to cover the house once again this week. The big debate was over a bill that would require DNA samples of those arrested for burglary and violent or sexual felonies.
This is a very complex issue that has many different stances. If you put the bill in it's simplest form, all politics aside, one could understand both positions. On the one hand it is understandable that people would want the most exact evidence to convict suspected sexual predators, or to keep sexual predators from continuing. On the other, it is understandable that innocent people could be arrested, and those people would want to have the right to refrain from giving DNA.
There are always stories about people being found innocent after so many years due to DNA, but what about people being found guilty due to DNA?
I found an interesting link...there is officially a reality show for everything.
Until next time,
Posted April 9, 2009:
It's entirely too late to be blogging, so this will be short. I covered a lot today. A house bill that could potentially allow concealed guns to be brought onto college campuses, and another that would put a cap on salaries for people with jobs that receive tips. So, to all my friends that waitress out there, ouch.
Wishing for more hours in the day,
Posted March 18, 2009:
Instead of sitting outside in the wonderful Missouri weather, I was inside the capitol working on my feature. I spent the day attempting to get statistics on how many inmates have AIDS in Missouri correctional facilities. A recent article gave me inspiration to keep pursuing the story, check out this story: http://www.theroot.com/blogs/browntable/hiv-dc-worse-west-africa?gt1=38002
I am waiting to have statistics emailed to me and hopefully it will turn into an amazing feature!
Looking forward to spring break in D.C.,
Posted March 11, 2009:
Today I learned first-hand how difficult it can be to get people to talk with the press. I went to cover a senate bill that would give the state veterinarian the ability to keep and treat animals that have toxins in the manner he chooses. The state veterinarian, Dr. Taylor Woods, testified in support of the bill. He repeated the information written in the bill.
I attempted to contact Dr. Taylor Woods after the meeting and my calls were not returned. I also attempted to talk with Senator Clemens, the sponsor of the bill, and was told that the senator was too busy to comment, and not in the "right state of mind" to discuss this particular bill.
At least there's an upside...I won't be at the capitol until 11 p.m. tonight!
I'm going to begin working on a feature story that deals with AIDS in Missouri prisons. Wish me luck!
Posted March 4, 2009:
Today I covered Senate Bill 41, which would require public schools to report sexual allegations against teachers to the state. Republican Senator Jane Cunningham is the bill sponsor.
If the bill passes it would be called "The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act." Amy Hestir testified in front of the Senate Education Committee, and told her story of being raped by a teacher in high school. Her mother was present to support her.
Opposition to this bill states that it is going against the right of innocent until proven guilty, and sees teachers as guilty if they are accused by students of sexual misconduct.
Today was a long day, but an interesting story. At least it's not tomorrow yet...
Waiting for Lifetime channel to make a movie about this bill,
Posted February 18, 2009:
Today I went to the Corrections and Public Institutions Committee hearing of House Bill 537. This bill, sponsored by Representative Bob Dixon, would allow the Missouri Department of Transportation to build a new interstate bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis.
I was able to speak with Representative Dixon after the hearing and ask more questions about the bridge. The bridge would be one mile North of the Martin Luther King Bridge, and would be four lanes. The bridge is expected to reduce congestion in the city by 20 percent. Click here to go to the Missouri Department of Transportation website for pictures of what the bridge might look like!
The bill will be voted on next week.
Today went by quicker than other days and was incredibly interesting. I want to find out more about the safety of the current interstate bridge in St. Louis.
Posted February 11, 2009:
Today I covered House Bill 242, which would allow school boards across Missouri to adopt four-day school. The House Education Committee approved the bill. It was referred by Chairman Maynard Wallace to Rules Committee. It is expected to pass rules and be on the House floor next week.
I interviewed Jim Morris from the Missouri Department of Education, Representative Maynard Wallace, and Representative Gayle Kingery.
Wishing for four day school weeks,
Posted February 4, 2009:
Today was my first day in Jefferson City, and I learned a lot. At 3:30 p.m. I attended the Senate Select Committee on Oversight of Federal Stimulus conference with National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL presented the federal stimulus bill that was being offered to Missouri. Michael Berg, a representative of NCSL, said that stimulus is currently 900 billion, and moving toward 1 trillion. There have been 110 amendments filed against the stimulus, and the NCSL expect more. All the numbers given are estimates, and nothing is final. The stimulus bill is currently in an open amendment process, meaning any member can add or change something. The NCSL representative's on the phone surprised the committee when they explained that the stimulus had two parts, pot one and pot two. The first pot 145 billion dollars for educational programs. The second pot is 4 billion for K-12 schools to be refurbished, and 6 billion for higher education. The second pot cannot be used for new buildings, or buildings that were new and halted for the stimulus. During this meeting senators kept filing in and out, and only two were vocal with the senators from Washington about the possible ramifications the stimulus could have. One of those people was Senator Crowell. He asked the NCSL representatives what happens after two years. This simple question led to the blunt truth that after two years the government of Missouri is going to have to make decisions to find funding for these programs set up by the federal stimulus. After the phone conference was over the Director of Budget and Planning spoke before the committee. Senator Pearce got upset with her when she said that, according to the Governor's budget and the rules of the federal stimulus, money could not be used for new or existing projects. Pearce asked the director for a commitment to fight for money to be allocated to this cause, and she responded by saying that it was the Governor's budget, not hers. This was the first semi-heated debate that experienced. The meeting ended at 5:30, and unfortunately there were a lot of senators that left immediately after the meeting. I wanted to speak with Crowell since he had been so candid and open during the meeting and he happened to be in his office. Joel and I spoke with him for about 45 minutes and he opened my eyes to perspectives I had not previously considered about the stimulus, and he was able to expand upon what he was voicing in the committee meeting.
Crowell said there should be more that 3.6% of the stimulus allocated toward transportation. He explained that more people could be hired if highways and bridges were being built, as opposed to hiring teachers, and that construction workers are used to having sub-contracted jobs. He also brought up an interesting fact that I want to look more into and said that MO DOT did a study and found 814 bridges throughout the state of Missouri that could potentially collapse like the 35-W bridge in Minnesota. On top of creating more jobs and making bridges safer, Senator Crowell wants to create a bridge in St. Louis over the Mississippi River to attract China to come build a hub off of Lambert International Airport. China has been looking at this location, but there needs to be a sufficient bridge to support exports out of St. Louis once they are brought into the city. Crowell has strong beliefs and firmly believes that the current federal administration is implementing more social programs on a larger scale than FDR. He used an anecdote to explain his feelings on spending the stimulus money on social programs. His younger brother was waiting for worker compensation money and the only way he could survive was to charge his credit cards. Once he got his settlement check he was considering buying a new truck instead of paying off his credit. Crowell convinced his brother to pay off his debt. Crowell explained that if Missouri spends the money on programs that won't be able to be supported in two years, we're like his brother wasting his money on a truck. He said that the federal government is giving us heroine, the public will get addicted, then the state government is going to have to try and find money that we don't have and can't print in the basement, from somewhere to keep these programs going. His perspective was different than I had heard before, and it was interesting to hear. I'm glad that I was able to go into a senator's office and have a long conversation without being intimidated or nervous. I wanted to hear a democrats reaction to the meeting, but no one was available. This is why I chose not to do a story, because it potentially could have been biased. I am going to continue to follow the stimulus bill and hopefully have a story to write very soon on the consensus. I also want to call the city of St. Louis and ask about the hub that China is potentially thinking about building onto Lambert, and call MO DOT and ask about the bridges that are in potential danger. I learned a lot today, and learned that you don't even have to ask a question, you can sit in silence and people will keep talking and give you information that you may not have otherwise gotten. If you listen you know what you know, and what they know.
Hope you enjoyed my novel,