Wednesday, October 22, 2008

James Trout is a Good Man to Put in Charge: He Brings People Together and Sends them off packing to work tirelessly for peace and justice.

Here's my buddy Jim Trout. He's running for State Senate in a district that has likely never elected a Democrat. I don't know that, but having grown up here, it's a fairly safe assumption.

Frank Popper, the award winning documentarian, has created this short film about Jim:

The thing that inspires me about Jim is bigger than his fine mind, his tireless energy, or his command of the facts and personalities at work. It's not his lone wolf court case to reinstate campaign donor limits in Missouri, it's not his command and commitment to green construction and renewable energy, and it's not in the way he treats his boys, eminent domain legislation, or his fun girlfriend. It's his basic goodness and heart.

As some of you know, I've been dealing with a disease that will one day take me out feet first. When all this was developing, I was writing for Jim--perhaps NOT writing for Jim is the more apt phrase. This hole in the team had to be filled, and they kept waiting for me to step up and get it done. He gave me every chance to do so until it became apparent to us all that I wasn't thinking or writing worth a hoot.

When we spoke, though, rather than nailing me to the wall about how I'd let him down, he sincerely asked how I was doing, anxious for all the details sick people love to dwell on. He took time he didn't have to talk to someone definitely not helping him at the moment. But that's how he is about everything. It's always about people. It's always about good grace, judgment, justice and doing things better than before.

Jim's opponent, Eric Schmitt, seems to have big bucks (Republicans love NO campaign finance limits so much they made a new law getting rid of them all over again!). The attorney has risen as far as local alderman, vaguely promises to bring business to Missouri, attend to healthcare and fix the "Hold Harmless" provision that gyps suburban school districts out of all kinds of money and is central to our property tax dilemma.

Never mind that he's never pushed through legislation, doesn't know the players in Jefferson City and the labarynthine process of gaining consensus and getting others on your band wagon to shake things up. That he's chosen to tackle "Hold Harmless" is as indicative of his inexperience as anything. It's a bad idea that will likely be with us forever as it's existence creates the financial backbone most rural school districts depend upon, and there are a lot more rural legislators than urban/suburban.

Mr. Schmitt is also distancing himself from Matt Blunt's slimy and opportunistic M.O. with its ethics-impaired who have run amock these last four years. But who will he caucus with?The same ones who gave license offices to cronies, cut 100,000 from Medicare and other things that served the legislators more than their constituency. Sen. Jeff Smith told me that the average person thrown off Medicare by Republicans is a single mom with two kids making about $11,000 a year. As lily white as he may be now, once Eric starts caucusing with these characters, how long before he joins the reelection club and loses his moral center?

While guilt by association can be a straw man, I thought it interesting that Eric Schmitt's name falls right under anti-feminist pariah, Phyllis Schlafley, in a Republican attorney's association list of members.

Other than that, he's got an agenda that isn't offensive at least. Well, huzzah Eric. You're not an evil doer. But if you want to get someone in Jeff City with the cojones to get these issues addressed for our district, vote Trout, Nov. 4.

Jim is an accidental politician whose experience poises him to tackle a wide range of important issues with the clarity of thought to make a difference.

Eric? Not so much, but then, his agenda is less ambitious than Jim's. How big you dare to dream is related to what issues you tackle. Jim's background will make this a big job. Eric's takes a nice picture, though.

A note on the video: this is our famous and award-winning local documentary maker, Frank Popper. He received worldwide acclaim for his 2006 film about Jeff Smith's uplifting campaign for Gephardt's seat against Russ Carnahan, Missouri's brand name boy. "Can Mr. Smith Get To Washington Anymore?" is a tonic to anyone wondering if grassroots efforts are still strong enough to get things done.

Frank, Sen. Jeff Smith and Jim Trout--of a piece.


Craig said...

"Slimy and opportunistic?" even though Blunt made brought our state budget back from running in the black to running in the red, improved more transparent health care coverage - coverage that was nearly destroyed by Bob Holden - and, on top of all of this, in this time of severe economic crisis, MO is the number one manufacturing state in the country? How is that "cronism?" All Blunt has done in his short term is to reverse the damage Holden brought upon our state, and that should be lauded.

Jill said...

Craig, bless your heart. With all due respect, I have just one word in response: