Missouri Voters Approved Amendment 5 -- But It Took Jeffry Smith to Test Its Limits

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Photo by Theo Welling
Jeffry Smith: armed, but, he says, not at all dangerous.

It's just another day at the Saint Louis Zoo, a Saturday in June, and the air is thick with humidity, sweat and sunscreen. Children drag parents along winding pathways to see the new polar bear, to get another soda, to find a bathroom, to have their faces painted like tigers. But something is amiss outside the zoo's south entrance.

There, five police officers stand guard near the turnstiles. Just down the sidewalk a dozen people — nearly all women — wave signs reading "Animals not Ammo" and "Gun-Free Zone." The protesters stare daggers toward Jeffry Smith, a towering, pot-bellied bear of a man stuffed into a pink polo shirt and white shorts. He wears a maroon visor cap stenciled with the name of a Florida country club. He also wears a pistol holster on his waist, but it's empty. It looks like a chunky cell-phone case sold at a mall kiosk.

Smith, 56, has stationed himself in a patch of shade beneath a pedestrian bridge near the entrance, a slightly more comfortable spot to field questions from the gaggle of reporters on scene. He's surrounded by cameras and microphones.

"So, it's my understanding that you're from Cincinnati," begins a FOX 2 reporter. "Why come all the way here to Missouri to make this statement?"

Smith, who at six-foot-nine looms over the man, grumbles back, "I didn't."

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St. Charles, Jefferson Counties Not Ready to Marry Same-Sex Couples Just Yet (UPDATED)

Categories: LGBT, Missourah

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Photo by Sarah Fenske
St. Louis City Hall has been handling same-sex marriages for some time now. St. Charles? Not so much.

UPDATE: We heard from the ACLU of Missouri, which has been in touch with St. Charles County and believes the Recorder has made a commitment to start issuing licenses. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the latest.

Original post follows....

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal nationwide, barring states from refusing to perform or recognize LGBT unions.

But two Missouri counties aren't ready to start processing same-sex marriage licenses just yet. Jefferson County said it wouldn't be ready to do so until July 6. And St. Charles County said it could need as much as a month.

"We are working with our software providers and form printers to align our systems for it, so we will begin no later than July 20," a clerk told Daily RFT on Friday.

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Crotch-Rubbing Police Chief Triggers Two Lawsuits in Leadington

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Courtesy of Veronica Johnson
Attorney Veronica Johnson represents two women suing the city of Leadington.
Two women who worked for the tiny Missouri town of Leadington have filed lawsuits against the city alleging they were subjected to unwanted touching and coarse comments, and then retaliated against when they dared to complain.

The women, city court clerk Altha Burgess and former city clerk Cynthia Leimkuehler, allege they endured a host of inappropriate activity on the job in 2013, much of it from then-police chief Rick Pogue and then-mayor Troy Dickens. Leimkuehler claims she was subject to the police chief rubbing his crotch on her shoulder -- only to be later told "God, you women! You make such a big deal of everything!" when she complained. Burgess, meanwhile, was repeatedly mocked after she asked not to be touched -- and called both "paranoid" and "an emotional mess."

"These women were exposed to some pretty graphic sexual harassment in the workplace," says St. Louis attorney Veronica Johnson, who filed the lawsuits on behalf of the two women. "No woman should have to go through that. And when they did what was right, they suffered a great deal of retaliation for it" -- including, for Leimkuehler, termination, according to the lawsuit.

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Fake Cop Busted for Pulling Over "Irritating" Drivers

Categories: Crime, Missourah

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Photo courtesy of Flickr/robotpolisher
A southwest Missouri man was busted last week for failing to resist an urge common to most drivers: He pulled over other motorists simply because he found their actions on the road "irritating."

Jacob Trammell, twenty, was charged in Greene County for false impersonation of a law-enforcement officer and using a siren/blue lamp without a valid permit, court records show. The Springfield News-Leader reports that Trammell confessed to having the blue and reds installed atop his vehicle six months ago.

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Missouri Has the Most "Problem Puppy Mills" in the U.S., Humane Society Says

Categories: Animals, Missourah

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Courtesy of the Humane Society of the U.S.
This photo from a 2011 USDA inspection shows puppies in an overcrowded cage at Country Pets in Montgomery City, Missouri.
A Maltese that apparently froze to death, while other puppies shivered in the cold. Shih tzus that were so emaciated, their shoulders, ribs, hips and spines jutted out prominently. A cage holding multiple dogs where feces covered 85 percent of the floor space.

These are among the local lowlights from a new report by the Humane Society of the United States -- a report that finds, despite the 2010 ballot proposition that was supposed to clean up Missouri's puppy mill problem, the state still leads the nation in the number of "problem" dog breeders.

Of the 100 worst breeders identified by the Humane Society in its "Horrible Hundred 2015" report, 23 were based in Missouri. That's significantly higher than the next-worst state, Kansas, with its 16, and Nebraska, which had 14.

Eight of Missouri's problem breeders were identified as repeat offenders. And some of the details, listed in federal and state inspections and compiled by the Humane Society, are appalling.

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Missouri Smokers Lose $1.7 Million in Health-Care Costs, Lost Wages: Study

Categories: Missourah, News

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modi via flickr
Smoking: It'll cost ya!
Missouri may have some of the lowest cigarette prices in the country, but a new study says the hidden costs of smoking take a million dollars out of Missourians' wallets.

Personal finance website WalletHub calculated how much money smokers lose on health-care costs, income loss and increases in homeowner's insurance costs. The study even analyzes how much money smokers would earn if they invested in stock instead of dropping buckets on cigs.

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10 Things That Happen When Non-Missourians Write "The Top 13 Small Cities in Missouri"

Categories: Missourah

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ben_rea via Flickr
St. Louis, and especially St. Louis' county suburbs, have been taking a beating in the press since the August 9 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. When the national media do manage get St. Louis' complicated geography straight, it's often to tell stories about violence, crime, failing infrastructure and racism.

So the list "Top Thirteen Small Cities in Missouri" from City Described caught our eye this week when it painted a glowing, rhapsodic portrait of this Midwest metropolis that would fill us with pride for our city -- if it weren't full of lies.

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The Nine Distinct States That Make Up Missouri

Categories: Missourah

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Kevin Cannon
No matter the issue, Missouri has always been labeled as a state of two distinct camps: Yankee vs. Confederate, urban vs. rural, Blue state vs. Red, Calvin pissing on a Ford logo/Calvin pissing on a Chevy logo and — most divisive of all — "Missouri" vs. "Missourah."

In reality, though, the Show-Me State is much more nuanced than these polarizing issues suggest. Missouri is comprised of nine distinct states, each with their individual quirks and hangups that remain bonded together in uneasy harmony because, like mentally imbalanced siblings, they're kin. Dammit. (Also, no neighboring states would want them.)

So here it it is, a scientific breakdown of the true Missouris (or is it Missourahs?) based on geography, culture, politics, demographics and a healthy sprinkling of stereotyping.

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CNBC: Missouri Is the 3rd Worst State to Live In

Categories: Missourah

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Paul Sableman on Flickr
Illinois, you may want to stay on this side of the river.
Only Tennessee and Oklahoma are worse states than Missouri to live in, according to a ranking from CNBC.

The new ranking puts Missouri toward the top of a list of "quality of life laggards" struggling with high crime rates, few local attractions, poor healthcare and the environment.


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Missouri Rep. Wants to Criminalize Finding Out Where Your Diseased Meat Came From

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Thomas Bjørkan/Wikimedia
It's none of your business.
A bill has been proposed to the Missouri legislature that would make it illegal for anyone to obtain federal records about diseased cows, pigs, and other animals from all farms and factory meat producers in the state.

According to HB 2094, which was introduced by Rep. Jay Houghton, a Republican from Martinsburg, Freedom of Information Act or Missouri Sunshine requests pertaining to animal health or environmental protection data collected by state agencies under the federal Animal Traceability Program (ATP) would be legally denied.

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