Monday, June 11, 2007

HAMRA'S HUBRIS

Springfield developer Sam Hamra is at it again. It wasn't enough that an April report showed Hamra wanted tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission, and he wasn't above threatening Gov. Matt Blunt -- in writing -- that no tax credits might mean no political (and financial) support from Hamra come election time.

Hamra wrote the governor to remind him that he had raised $400,000 for Blunt, but if the tax credits didn't flow Hamra's way, the developer might have to support Jay Nixon, the Democratic attorney general running for governor. Many local political watchers remain astonished at Hamra's hubris; it's one thing to grouse about helping pols and getting the cold shoulder, but quite another to actually put the complaint in writing.

Sunday, the Columbia Tribune joined the media coverage with a piece detailing how Hamra got the stiff arm from Blunt:
Blunt rejected Hamra’s letter, saying it was "the most offensive and improper communication I have ever received." In a written response, the governor said the letter asked him to do things "I would never consent to do."

Blunt wrote that if he and Nixon were opponents for the same office, "I suggest you support him."

"I am not for sale," Blunt said. "Perhaps he is."

In an interview, Hamra said he later apologized to Blunt. "I didn’t intend to cast any adverse reflections on anyone," Hamra said.
The News-Leader's Tony Messenger picked up on the Trib story, writing Monday that the paper "continues to lead the way" in reporting on the Hamra-Blunt dust-up.

Unmentioned by Messenger is the unfortunate lack of local print coverage on this story. Both the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Columbia Tribune have each devoted dozens of column inches to the controversy. The News-Leader has not, even though the story is about a local developer, a governor from Springfield -- and another developer making plenty of money from the tax credits. That developer happens to be the mayor of Springfield.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Harpool contronted Hamra a couple of years ago over antoher ethics issue when Hamra snet out a fundraising letter for Holden. He basically told contributors they could ignore campaign fiance limts. He later claimed his secretary wrote the letter and he didn't have time to proofread it. I wonder who he will blame for this one. Right now it seems like neither party wants Hamra's support.

Ken said...

Why would the News-Leader start doing any "hard news" local coverage now? What a concept.

Anonymous said...

speaking of proof reading...

MrsThurstonHowell said...

If the News Leader wants to devote increased space to a lot of the same old nickel and dime reader letters, that's fine but I can't begin to keep up with them so I just skip it. By the same token there ought to be an increased focus on indepth investigative journalism particularly in the area of politics, with actual follow-up. What an innovative idea. What we get are copies of posts from Randy Turner Report. He is very thorough especially considering he has another full time job. If he can do it then way can't the News Leader staff?

How about a real investigation into the immediate jeapordy sanctions at Greene Haven Nursing Home where Aunt Norma is involved? She went on about a relatively insignificant issue for the media when folks there reportedly died due in part to lack of care. Those citations are big stuff folks, particularly the failure to provide nursing care which resulted in death of residents. There could be civil litigation and folks losing their licenses.

And there's got to be other politicians besides Champion involved.

Anonymous said...

"She went on about a relatively insignificant issue for the media when folks there reportedly died due in part to lack of care."

Funny ... as someone who actually interviewed her that day ... she didn't say anything even remotely like that.

Now the management for the nursing home said something a whole lot like that...

MrsThurstonHowell said...

anon 6:30-Assuming you are Mr Slight with the News Leader.

From your May 12 article: A state senator, calling conditions at the home "horrific," on Friday questioned whether the state Department of Health and Human Services is hamstrung by state statute when it comes to stronger alerts [Immediately the reporter jumps to what really concerns Aunt Norma]

She was pleased with the quality of care she observed during an hourlong, unannounced trip to the non-profit home Friday.

Champion said she will ask the governor to have DHSS review its procedures for notifying families of residents when problems are found.

"When it is an accusation that the patients are not getting proper care, then we need to be able to respond [to the families?]very quickly," she said.

David Durbin, director for the Division of Regulation and Licensure, state Department of Health and Senior Services, defended the notification procedure but also said it could improve.

Champion "and I had ... conversations about what to do in the future to better notify residents and family members in a facility," he said.

"At this time," he said, "there's no current legal requirement that we go around informing residents and family members and say the facility was cited" for specific deficiencies on a given day.

"Having said that, certainly that's something we can take a look at. One of the questions would be, 'What's the threshold for making that notification?'"

_______________
Aunt Norma presents herself at Greene Haven a facility in legal jeapordy because they failed to assess, moniter and provide interventions to residents resulting in death and ALL she can talk about, or at least all the reporter focuses on, is her concern regarding the fact that there is no regulation to require notification of family members of the problems. Now keep in mind, these would be family of other residents, not the ones who died. Those targeted residents would have been contacted by the Department immediately during inspection to be interviewed for input. Chances are Champion got a call from one of those other family members (a constituient)wondering why they weren't in the know.

That in my opinion is a relatively insignificant issue compared to the huge harm that was done to the residents already. Especially when the reporter states Champion's issue and then continues to dog it throughout the article with no further comments from Champion regarding what was really "horrific" except to say there was nothing wrong when she did an unannounced one hour walk through. That was a stupid, uninformed comment on her part because of course a state senator isn't going to be exposed to anything bad in the duration of an hour. Goes to show how little she knows about nursing home care.
So was it "horrific" that families weren't notified or what?

Sorry for taking up this space, Ronnie.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Ron Davis for helping breaking a really important story that needs to be told---it has been going on for a long time and local and national media needs to chime in!

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Anonymous said...

I don't think their is an election this year.

Anonymous said...

um..there, maybe.

Anonymous said...

A story also hit the Saint Louis Business Jornal today:

Hamra clarifies contribution
Developer says he gave Blunt $400,000.


By TERRY GANEY of the Tribune’s staff
Published Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Sam Hamra, a housing developer based in Springfield, insisted yesterday that he was responsible for raising about $400,000 for Gov. Matt Blunt after Blunt was elected in 2004.

Hamra said he has records and letters to prove he was directly responsible for events on Dec. 21, 2004, and June 27, 2006, that altogether combined to raise $366,075.

He said the amounts included "in-kind" contributions such as the cost of food, beverages and valet parking associated with events.

Subsequent contributions, including a $5,000 check he sent to Blunt’s campaign last week, brought the total to about $400,000, Hamra said.

John Hancock, a spokesman for Blunt’s campaign committee, said Hamra had raised about $100,000 for Blunt.

"I really want that corrected," Hamra said after Hancock’s remark appeared in Sunday’s Tribune. "That’s a wrong statement. I’ve got documents of every contribution I’ve sent up there."

Hancock said the Blunt campaign had no reliable way to measure contributions in the way that Hamra has claimed.

"The best that I can tell you is that we really don’t have a mechanism to track what Mr. Hamra has claimed," Hancock said. "The best guess was that it was about $100,000, but I’m not going to argue with him.

"Multiple donors will take credit for multiple donations," Hancock added. "It makes no difference to the bottom line or the reporting requirements."

Blunt is a Republican, and Hamra, for years, has supported Democrats. Hamra and his partner, Ken Hamilton, own and operate H & H Development Co., a builder of housing projects for low- and moderate-income residents and seniors.

The company relies on state subsidies issued by the Missouri Housing Development Commission to carry out its work.

Last December, Hamra wrote Blunt complaining about MHDC decisions that overlooked two of his projects. That he was a Blunt supporter should count for something, he said. Blunt responded by rejecting Hamra’s approach as being entirely inappropriate.

Hamra has since apologized for the letter.

But Hamra was also concerned that Hancock had not given him credit for what he said he had raised for Blunt.

"I’m sorry if he does not feel properly appreciated," Hancock said. "We appreciate everybody who supports our campaign."

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you a story about money, power, the Mayor, and a Springfield media cover up?

Anonymous said...

Has world news wrote all over it!

Anonymous said...

The truth will set you free!