Posted in C-Haze

Without freedom, there is no justice: Free Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson, left, and his accuser, Charles EricksonI was watching 48 Hours Mystery last night, and they were updating viewers on the case of Ryan Ferguson. Ryan, for those who don’t know, is a young man currently serving a 40 year sentence in Missouri for a murder he didn’t commit.

Ryan’s attorney has been trying to get him a new trial, and was granted a hearing in 2012. He needed to prove that there was new evidence not available at his original trial, for the murder of Kent Heitholt. Kent was a sports editor in Columbia, MO, who was beaten and strangled in his employer’s parking lot in the middle of the night back in 2001. There is no evidence that Ryan and his friend Charles Erickson committed this crime, or were even present at the scene.

Charles, a known drug and alcohol abuser came to the attention of authorities after receiving an anonymous call. They asked him to come in for questioning, and during the interrogation, proceeded to feed him details of the crime. Ultimately, Charles (known then as Chuck) confessed. Later, a convicted felon testified that he’d seen Charles and Ryan at the crime scene on the night in question.

It was the testimony of this man, Jerry Trump, combined with the false confession of Charles Erickson that landed both Ryan and Charles in prison for this murder. Charles, after agreeing to testify at Ryan’s trial, received a 12-25 year sentence for the crime.

Today, the two men have recanted, despite the fact that both could be charged with perjury for lying during the original trial. If Charles is charged with perjury, his original plea could be voided, and he could be resentenced to life in prison for the murder of Kent Heitholt. Clearly, he has no motivation other than that of his own conscience, for recanting his original testimony.

Jerry Trump has even gone so far as to claim the (then) prosecuting attorney talked him into saying he could positively identify Ryan and Charles as having been present at the crime scene that night. He now admits he saw no such thing.

The prosecutor, conveniently enough, is now a judge himself.

Today, Charles admits he has no memory of being anywhere near the crime scene. It’s likely Charles didn’t commit this crime either, but he seems to have accepted his fate as a convicted killer.

Ryan, however, is a different story altogether.

In November of 2012, the judge ruled against Ryan Ferguson, despite the fact that there are no longer any witnesses that can place him at the crime scene. There is no physical evidence of his involvement. To this day, the last person to see Kent Heitholt alive- a man who admits having seen him 5 minutes before the crime took place, in the same parking lot the murder occurred- has never been questioned. This man was Kent’s subordinate at work, and they reportedly had a rocky relationship.

In what universe is it appropriate not to question the last person known to have had contact with a murder victim?

Ryan Ferguson needs to be released. Justice cannot be served as long as he is behind bars, serving a 40 year sentence for a crime he simply did not commit. Were he to be retried, he’d almost certainly be acquitted. 

You can read more about Ryan Ferguson’s case here.

 

Posted in abduction, Busch Wildlife, Missing, St. Louis, True Crime, Unsolved

Who Killed Angie Housman?

In the St. Louis area, there is a child’s name that      everyone knows. When the name is mentioned, it  send shivers down the listener’s spine:

 Angie Housman

In 1993, Angie Housman was a fourth grader who  lived in St. Ann, a quiet suburb just outside of St.  Louis, MO. She was a trusting little girl, a child who  was unusually friendly.

“…Angie would meet you two or three times and you were her friend… she’d go up to people and say, `Hi. My name is Angie. Are you my friend?’ She was looking for attention.”

It was a cool November afternoon when Angie disappeared. She was at school that day, and the only episode of interest is that she told her teacher she was looking forward to a trip to the country with an “uncle”, scheduled for the following day. Angie was later seen on the school bus that afternoon, and she exited the bus at her normal bus stop. She had to walk past eight houses before making it to her own doorstep.

She never made it home.

It was a simple- yet terrible- coincidence that no one saw her walking from her bus stop that day. Usually, at least two people would have seen her: a woman that normally watches out her front window, and another lady who stands on her front porch as the bus drives by. Neither were present that fateful afternoon, and consequently, no one saw a thing. She had simply vanished, without a trace.

Angie was missing for nine days before her body was found in the Busch Wildlife Conservation area in Saint Charles County, a remote area near St. Louis. She was found by a deer hunter, and had been tied to a tree. She was alive when left there, and had died slowly of exposure. A small pile of ice chips had formed over her body.

It was later revealed that her abductor had kept her alive a full week, torturing and raping her, before taping her to the tree, abandoning her to die.

Law enforcement officials state they do have evidence in the case. They have the killer’s fingerprint from duct tape found at the crime scene, and they likely have his DNA. Still, almost 20 years later, no arrests have been made, no suspects announced. A sketch was issued years ago, depicting a bearded man in a long coat, thought to have been seen in the area of Angie’s disappearance two days prior to her abduction, but nothing ever came of that account. In addition, no one has ever identified the mysterious “uncle” Angie told her teacher about, and no member of the family had plans to take the child anywhere at the time of her disappearance.

Marking the longest-standing unsolved case in St. Louis’ Major Crimes history, no stone has been left unturned. Angie’s step-father was carefully investigated, as were countless others. Over the years attempts have been made to link Angie’s death to such characters as Michael Devlin (the kidnapper of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Owenby), John Wayne Parsons (an admitted child molester from Florida who spent time abusing at least one child in Missouri), Gary Stufflebean (a local child molester, charged with attempted kidnapping in another St. Louis-area case) and many, many others.

Law enforcement has looked into whether other cases could be related to Angie’s- for a time a link was sought between this case and that of Cassidy Senter, another St. Louis-area child who was abducted and murdered in the same timeframe, from the same area, as Angie’s disappearance. Cassidy’s case, however, has since been solved, and authorities do not believe the two are connected. Since that time, other children have disappeared, girls murdered. Locals will remember the still-unsolved disappearance of Bianca Noel Piper (missing since March 2005), and the unsolved murder of 12 year old Heather Kullorn in 1999. While nothing is certain, authorities do not believe the cases are linked.

Almost 20 years later, the question still remains:

Who killed Angie Housman?

Posted in ACLU, C-Haze, Current Events, Discrimination, Heather Ellis, KKK, Ku Klux Klan, Missouri, News, Police Officers, Race, Racial Profiling, Racism, Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart, the Heart of America and Racism’s Ugly Head

Ah yes…

The issue of race has again reared its ugly head… this time, at Wal-Mart.

In 2007 a black woman named Heather- then a college student from New Orleans- was in Kennet, MO to visit family. She took a trip to the local Wal-Mart with her teenaged cousin to pick up a few things, and after shopping, the two opted to stand in seperate check-out lanes. Heather realized at some point that her cousin’s line was moving faster than her own. She left the line she was standing in and joined him, butting in front of several patrons to do so.

The customers that Heather moved in front of were not happy that she wasn’t willing to wait her turn, and told her so. At one point, the customer directly behind Heather put her things onto the conveyor belt while the two exchanging heated words. Heather, in response, angrily moved the woman’s things off the belt, replacing them with her own merchandise.

Heather claims that while this was occuring, other customers began hurling racial slurs at her. Witnesses dispute this, saying Heather was the one hurling insults, and that she was so loud, patrons at the rear of the store could actually hear her. She went “ballistic”, they say.

Upon paying for her items, Heather became further enraged when the cashier refused to give her back her change, opting instead to call the police.

The officers, upon arrival, stated that they tried to escort Heather to the parking lot, asking that she leave the facility because she was causing a scene. They said she became extremely beligerent, and was cursing, yelling that she wasn’t going anywhere without her change. Heather states that while attempting to escort her to the parking lot, one of the officers told her she should “go back to the ghetto”.

The incident ultimately escalated to the point that the officers chose to arrest Heather. When attempting to place the handcuffs on her, it is alleged that Heather kicked one officer in the shin, and busted the other officer’s lip. She was booked on charges of resisting arrest, assaulting police officers and disturbing the peace. While being placed in the police car, Heather’s cousin claims he saw her getting her head, repeatedly, slammed against the vehicle. When asked why they were being so rough with her, the officers responded that “she cursed”.

If  convicted, she was looking at a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Heather has always claimed the charges were blown up, and disputes all of the allegations against her but two- she admits she did switch check-out lanes at the Wal-Mart to join her cousin in line, and she does admit to touching another customers merchandise after it was placed on  the conveyor belt.

She has always believed that she was the target of racism.

The incident has opened old wounds in Kennet, MO, a small town with a history of racial intolerance.

Minorities- mostly black and hispanic- have for years accused the all-white Kennet police department of racial profiling. The ACLU staged a peaceful protest in Kennet after Heather’s arrest. The KKK joined the crowd of onlookers during the protest, carrying signs with swastikas and Klan slogans. At the end of the march, officers reported finding business cards allegedly printed by The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan stating that the Klan had been there, and that the “next visit will not be social”.

Heather, this past week, finally stood trial for the charges against her. Her lawyer, the well-known Missouri criminal defense attorney Scott Rosenblum, did not use the issue of race in Heather’s defense. It is important to note, she has no criminal history, has graduated from college since the incident, married, and is a school teacher.

Just as the case was given to the jury for deliberations, Heather reached a deal with prosecutors. In exchange for their dropping the more serious felony charges against her, Heather has agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. She will do no jail time, instead receiving a suspended sentence, one year of unsupervised probation, and will attend court-ordered anger management classes. If she completes the class and breaks no laws over the course of the next 12 months, the conviction will be sealed, and will not be part of her permanent record.

So what really happened that day in 2007 at the Wal-Mart in Kennet, MO? Was a woman unfairly targeted because of her race? Or was the woman, who just happens to be black, at fault here?

Unfortunately, we will likely never know.

Racism is all too real, and sadly, small town America is not exempt from this ugly fact. In actuality, many would claim small town America is where racism is at its worst.

The problem with this particular case is that we wouldn’t even be having a racial discussion at all, had Heather behaved herself. Had she stood in line, not butted in front of anyone, simply paid for her things and gone home, none of  this- not her arrest or her subsequent racial allegations- ever would have come to pass. By her own recollection, no one had given her any trouble whatsoever until she jumped in line and was confronted for doing so. It’s not as if she had been harassed from the moment she came into the store… it wasn’t until after she began displaying inappropriate behavior that people began reacting and saying inappropriate things.

It is not in dispute that Kennet, MO has had racial problems in the past. It is important to note, however, that the ACLU has never gotten itself involved in that particular town until Heather graced the scene. 

Seems to me that the ACLU would have had more success in bringing this town’s racial issues to light had they chosen to protest on behalf of some of the many minorities that have been targeted in that town while they were actually obeying the law. People who were simply driving through the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time, and were stopped by racially profiling police officers. Not some half-crazed black woman who was being treated just fine- as just another customer- until she decided to raise a ruckus, cause a scene, and show her ass. 

As minorities, we must stop using racism as a defense to our own bad behavior. We cannot expect to be taken seriously when, by our own admission, we are treated badly after behaving badly.

We have to do better.

The ACLU and the NAACP both have picked some terrible examples of late in an attempt to showcase racism in America. Be it this particular case or the one in Cambridge, MA when a black Harvard Law Professor acted a damn fool and was consequently arrested by a white police officer.

In both cases, racism was never a factor until after the minority in question behaved completely inappropriately.

Heather committed a crime in Kennet, MO, and unfortunately, because of her bad behavior, that town’s legitimate history of racism will not be discussed. We have missed yet another opportunity to hold a responsible conversation about the ills of racial disparity in America today. Heather has given the people of Kennet, MO, an excuse not to have to analyse their own behaviors and prejudices. They can simply look to her outlandish behavior, shrug their shoulders and say, “Just another black person behaving badly”.

The sad truth is that in this case, and in too many others, they’re right.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Current Events, Cynthia Davis, Economy, Family, Hunger, Keith Olbermann, Missouri, News, Politics, Poverty, Recession, Single Parent, Stephen Colbert

Rep. Cynthia Davis, Hungry Kids and Marie Antoinette

Generally speaking, I don’t follow local politics too closely.

This little nugget, however, has made national news, shaming the state of Missouri, and helping to further cultivate the image of the backwards state so many people already perceive it to be.

Unfortunately, these people are not altogether wrong in their assessment, thanks in part to the recent contributions of such political gems as Cynthia Davis.

Cynthia Davis is a Republican currently serving in the house of Representatives.

She’s landed herself in hot water most recently due to the absolutely jaw-dropping comments she made regarding poor, lower-income, hungry children in the state of Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has a summer program that provides food for impoverished families throughout the state. For too many children, their only guaranteed meals came in the form of free or reduced lunch, during the school year. This program offers meals throughout the summer months, while school is not in session.

Rep. Davis has decided that the program isn’t warranted, and has even come up with a benefit to having hungry children.

Hunger can be a positive motivator.

Yep.

She really did say that.

Davis then goes on to ask, “What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals? Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.”

It is worth mentioning, Ms. Davis is the chairwoman of the state’s Children and Families Committee. Not only should she know better, she is charged with advocating on behalf of… well… children and families.

Wowsa.

I feel like I’ve been thrown back in time, to the days of Marie Antoinette and her famous quote, with a slight modern twist:

Let them eat french fries and a double cheeseburger!

Thank goodness McDonald’s stopped using trans-fat.

Otherwise her fast-food suggestion would have been downright unhealthy.

Nice Job, Cynthia.

I wonder if she’s aware of the fact that currently, in the state of Missouri, 1 in 5 children are hungry.

Or that Missouri has a whopping 9% unemployment rate.

If hungry kids really is a great motivator, Missouri ought to be gearing up for a heck of an upswing… we should see it any day now…

… Right?

Perhaps Representative Davis needs to be reminded that we are in a recession, a terrible economic downturn, and most people have already had the bright idea of  just “getting a job”… but have been unsuccessful in actually finding one.

Davis needs to drive to my neighborhood- located less than 15 minutes from hers. I live in a strong middle class area of the state where unemployment is slightly lower than, say, the City of St. Louis, and yet, there are no jobs here. Even McDonalds has a sign on its wall stating that they are not currently hiring… as does the grocery store down the street.

My neighborhood, in fact, is nearly a mirror image of Cynthia’s.

Many people who never in a million years thought they would find themselves needing to accept food from aid programs, have realized that in order to feed their families, they must do just that.

Our Cynthia claims to question the importance of a program that feeds hungry children because of its cost to regular citizens in the form of state tax dollars.

Unfortunately, Ms. Davis did not do her homework prior to shoving her big ol’ foot into her big ol’ mouth.

Most of the feed-the-hungry programs in MO are hosted by churches, funded by parishioners by way of tithes and donations.

Not at the expense of taxpayers.

In addition, the program offered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is actually funded by theU.S. Departmentment of Agriculture, not by way of state tax dollars from hard-working Missouri families.

Interestingly, it is Cynthia Davis herself, who in the past, has been observed stuffing leftover food into her purse at various committee and lobbyist dinners back in the capital city. One would assume she is taking the food home to feed her hungry children.

Perhaps that is what the hungry of Missouri should do…

Simply follow Davis’ lead and steal.

Why not?

Poor people are a bunch of unmotivated degenerates anyway, right?

The good news is that it does not appear Representative Cynthia Davis will be getting out of this mess unscathed.

Keith Olbermann has recently labeled her his “World’s Worst Person” for the second time.

Perhaps even better is Stephen Colbert’s satirical coverage of Davis’ very serious screw-up.

On a recent episode of the Colbert Report, he pretended to applaud her idiocy, through his “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger” segment.

According to Colbert, the fact that she never managed to rise above the level of state representative is due to her development of the anti-motivating habit of eating.

He asked that Missouri residents begin denying her food as often as possible so that she can gain her edge back.

Kudos to the nation for taking notice.

Posted in C-Haze, Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Missouri, Reggie Clemons, St. Louis

Justice For Reggie Clemons

The story begins late one night in 1991, and the scene is a run down bridge in the City of St. Louis, locally known as the Old Chain of Rocks bridge. A teen hang out, young people loved to come here to party, as it was isolated- the bridge had been closed for years- offering young partiers privacy and excitement.

On this particular night, seven teens were hanging out at the bridge. Two were sisters, Julie and Robin Kerry, and they were with their cousin, Tom Cummins. The other four teens (Reggie Clemons, Marlin Grey, Antonio Richardson and Daniel Winfrey) were unrelated.

No one knows for sure what exactly transpired, but before the night was over, Julie and Robin were missing, and a terrible tragedy was born- one that ripped countless lives apart- culminating in double homicide, police brutality, jury tampering, prosecutorial misconduct, witness intimidation and finally, death row.

Initially, upon the sisters’ disappearance, their cousin, Thomas Cummins was arrested.  He quickly implicated himself in what he admits were the brutal murders of his cousins. According to his initial statement, Cummins made an unwanted sexual advance towards one of the sisters, resulting in an argument between them- ending with Thomas Cummins pushing his cousin off the bridge, blacking out, and subsequently pushing her sister- his other cousin- off the bridge as well. He claimed he did not remember pushing the second woman off the bridge, and some have speculated she may have jumped voluntarily, in hopes of saving her sibling. Regardless, despite Cummins’ confession, Police were unable to get him to agree to have his statement video-taped, and in fact immediately hired legal counsel.

That’s also when his story changed.

Cummins suddenly began claiming his innocence- that he and his two beautiful cousins were actually victims of a heinous crime that night. He stated that not only did he have nothing to do with their murders, but was brutally beaten and robbed, his cousins raped, and was ultimately forced to jump off the bridge, after witnessing Julie and Robin being pushed. Miraculously, he survived, while his cousins, unfortunately, did not. The perpetrators were unknown. Skeptical of this new story, police administered a lie detector test, and Cummins failed miserably. His own father, upon learning the results of the test, stated he wasn’t surprised. It seems his son had a history of concocting wild tales.

There was other evidence of Cummins’ deceipt, besides the results of the lie detector test and his ever-changing stories. In addition to the failed polygraph, he had no bruises (despite claiming to have been beaten and then forced to jump off an 80 foot bridge into the river below), and his hair, upon testing, showed no evidence of river silt- it was also completely dry when he was brought into the police station that night for questioning, as were his clothing. In addition, one of the victims’ bodies was recovered from the river, and showed no sign of sexual assualt, despite Cummins’ claims that both of his cousins had been raped.

Thomas Cummins did eventually change his story one more time, claiming he didn’t actually jump into the river, but instead climbed down to the banks, entering the water at that point to try and save Julie and Robin.

With no evidence to corroborate Cummins’ changing accounts of what happened on the night in question, and no confession on file to disprove his claims of victimhood, police found themselves back at square one. They re-launched their investigation, returning the Old Chain of Rocks bridge, in search of clues. They found a flashlight that they were able to trace back to one of the other four teens present that night- Antonio Richardson- and immediately hauled him in for questioning. Richardson quickly implicated his three other friends that were also present on the bridge that night. Shortly thereafter, Thomas Cummins met with both investigators and the prosecuting attorney’s office, and all charges were dropped against him.

Police immediately charged the remaining four youths- Reginald Cummins, Antonio Richardson, Marlin Grey and Daniel Winfrey with the crimes committed on the bridge that fateful night- rape, robbery and murder. Three of the four charged, except for Daniel Winfrey, were black.

Police came to 19 year old Reggie Clemons’ house shortly thereafter, telling his mother Vera only that they needed to question him about a homicide. They had no warrant, but Vera, taking the police at their word (they promised to bring him right back home), didn’t think there would be a problem in allowing Reggie to answer the officers’ questions. She had noticed no strange behavior in her son, and knew he wasn’t capable of committing a murder. She only became suspicious when police refused to tell her which precinct they were taking her son to. In fact, she had to follow the officers out to their cars before anyone would give her any information at all.

Despite the officers’ promises to bring her son “right back”, Vera did not hear from Reggie again until the following week- and was told late on the evening that her son was taken for questioning, that he would not be returning- he had been charged with murder.

When Reggie was again seen by family, his face was battered, and he was badly bruised. Injuries, he claimed, were caused by St. Louis City police officers, determined to beat a confession out of him.

Unfortunately for Reggie, the officers succeeded.

While never able to get him to admit to the murders of Robin and Julie, he did ultimately succomb to pressure, and confessed to raping the girls. Police had no evidence to corroborate this statement, but Reggie was charged nonetheless.

Reggie’s injuries were so bad that during his initial court appearance, the judge, having noticed the bruises, ordered him to the hospital for treatment prior to being returned to jail. The judge even speculated that Reggie may some day require reconstructive surgery to fix his face. He took the allegations of being beaten by police officers to Internal Affairs, and filed a formal complaint, but nothing was ever done about his accusations, or the physical evidence he had to support them.

Despite the evidence of police brutality, Reggie’s criminal trial moved forward.

In the process, his bad luck never ran out.

Of the four teens who were originally charged in the murders of Robin Julie Kerry, only one, Daniel Winfrey, was offered a plea.

Winfrey, strangely enough, was also the only white person among the group. In return for testifying against Richardson, Grey and Clemons, Daniel Winfrey was sentenced to 30 years in prison…

… and is currently eligible for parole.

Both Winfrey and Thomas Cummins were tapped to testify at the defendants’ trials, though neither seemed to be the slightest bit reliable. Cummins, having failed a lie detector test when telling his version of events, and Winfrey for admitting to at least one witness while awaiting trial that he was willing to lie on the stand in exchange for leniency.

Reggie Clemons’ attorneys, in the meantime, were no more helpful than the police officers were. One of his lawyers, for example, moved to California to begin working another case, when he should have been preparing for Clemons’ trial. He also forgot to notify Clemons or his family of his departure, and was AWOL for an entire week before being located. His remaining lawyer was so incompetent that he neglected to request even basic reports from the prosecution, so that when the trial finally rolled around, Reggie’s mother was charged with coming up with many of the questions to ask witnesses on the stand.

If police and defense council didn’t pose enough problems for Reggie, there was the prosecution to contend with. Prosecutor Nels C. Moss, Jr. was a most corrupt man, and made it all-but impossible for Clemons to receive a fair trial. Ultimately, a non-profit group called The Center for Public Integrity labeled prosecutor Moss as the “leading example” of the nation’s top prosecutors known for prosecutorial misconduct. 

 The trial judge even held Moss in criminal contempt and fined him for his antics during Clemons’ court proceedings.

Some examples of the prosecution’s miscoduct include the fact that even though the crime was committed in the city of St. Louis, a city with plenty of blacks, Clemons’ jury consisted of ten white people and only two african americans- despite Reggie Clemons’ constitutional right to a jury of his peers. This was accomplished by Moss’ actively moving to strike minorities from the jury- and from his planting a St. Louis police officer in the jury pool, having this person dictate to potential white jurors how to answer the questions asked of them, so that they- the white people- would be the individuals picked to serve.

None  of which constitutes the most ethical of behavior.

In addition, Nels Moss was also accused of witness intimidation, scaring one witness so badly prior to the trial that they refused to testify at all.

Not surprisingly, Reggie Clemons and the three other defendants were found guilty of first degree murder, and all three were given the death penalty. Antonio Richardson’s sentence was ultimately commuted to life in prison.

Marlin Gray was executed by the State of Missouri in October of 2005.

Reggie is the only one left. He had a brief moment of hope, after his trial, when a judge overturned his conviction, siting incorrect selection of the jury. Unfortunately, an appellate court reinstated his death sentence, due to Reggie’s attorneys not filing their paperwork on time, according to the constraints of the law.

The date for his state-sanctioned murder was set for June 17, 2009.

Recently, he was issued a stay of execution due to a challenge questioning the state’s use of lethal injection.

For the moment, Reggie’s life is not in immenent danger, but that will not remain the case for long. It is important that we get the attention of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

Please.

Sign this petition, requesting clemency for Reggie Clemons.

We don’t know if he’s guilty or innocent at this point. What we know for sure is that he is a fellow American, a fellow human being, who has received anything but a fair trial. Not a shred of evidence has been produced to show that he murdered, or had anything to do with the murders of beautiful Julie and Robin Kerry. We don’t know what his role was, if any, in this heinous crime. We owe it to him, to any citizen of this great country, to be sure.

WE ARE NOT SURE.

Reggie Clemons, like any other person on this earth, does not deserve to die, and justice is not served for the family of Robin and Julie Kerry if we sanction the murder of a man, in retaliation for the murder of their beloved daughters. Robin and Julie cannot come back home.

Reggie, if innocent, still can.

Please get involved, as next time, it might be your brother, husband or father whose life is on the line.

Posted in C-Haze, News, Politics

Get Out and Vote!

Today is voting day in Missouri, so Missouri residents who are registered- which I know all of us are- please don’t forget to vote!

(Cough)

In addition to the obvious- Governor, judges, etc- there are a lot of other people as well as propositions on the ballot. If you’re like me, you can only follow so much… I’m sure I haven’t kept abreast of everything and expect to see a bunch of stuff I haven’t yet had a chance to research.

I say, when in doubt, vote democrat.

Just kidding.

Seriously, if you’d like to brush up on some of the issues/people you can expect to see on your ballot, I recommend this link. You’ll find good information there, broken down on both state and local levels.

Showing up to vote is our civic duty, so we all need to get out there and do it. This is a great time to excercise one of our fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.

If we don’t get our butts out to the polls, we honestly have no right to bitch about anything. 

Personally, I love to bitch about everything, so you know I’ll be there as soon as I get off work today with bells and whistles on. 

Unfortunately, it looks like there has been a relatively low turn-out so far, which officials are blaming on the heat.

Currently I’m stuck driving my brother’s 17 year old Honda, which has no air conditioning (in a moment of madness I let him take my car- which most definitely has A/C- out of town for the week).

So if my sweatin’ ass can make it to the polls, everyone else can too.

If you do decide to vote, as I hope you all will, but don’t know where to go, you can click here for a list of polling places. Don’t forget to bring some ID- it doesn’t need to have your picture on it, but they need to be able to verify that you are who you say you are (no bogus voting under the name of Chaze77, please!).

Yep, I think that about covers it…

Posted in C-Haze, Funny, Humor, Memories, Nostalgia

St. Louis, New Jersey

I’m originally from Charlotte, NC. I was born in a little coastal town on the outer-banks of North Carolina, and moved to Charlotte to live with my “new” family (I’m adopted) when I was a relatively young child. My family was upper middle class… we took the nice vacations every year to Disney World, Washington, DC, the Space Station in Alabama, etc. We were close enough to the ocean to make day trips (or at the very least, short weekend trips). I never imagined I would find myself anywhere other than North Carolina. It had everything- the ocean, the mountains, historical landmarks, big cities, small towns, and the weather was awesome year-round. Plus, my dad’s alma mater, UNC was there. No way was I ever leaving.

We lived in a large house in a nice little neighborhood. We had several cars, and my older brother was driving a nice new Cadillac- at 17.

I have 3 brothers, one of which is about the same age as me (like me, he was adopted). Another is older- he was getting ready to graduate high school as I was finishing up 7th grade; the other was 5 years my junior.

For the purpose of this story, it was the end of 7th grade. I’d been having some trouble in school… fell in with the wrong crowd, skipped class, stole a car, got kicked off the school bus for fighting, and was otherwise terrorizing my parents. I think I was technically failing the grade itself.

On this particular night, my parents decided to take us to dinner, which was rare on a school night, in the middle of the week. My oldest brother had to work, so it was just my 2 other brothers, my parents and myself that would be going. They took us to a nice place, and as soon as the waitress brought our drinks, my mom looked at my dad and said, “Well, should we tell them?”

Uh oh. Tell “them” what?

My dad smiles and says, “No, why don’t we let them guess?”

Immediately I said, “Oh no. You’re pregnant”

My mother says, emphatically, “I better not be”

Ok, so what is it? I was stumped… are they finally making good on their promise to send me to military school?

I decided to take another stab- “Are we moving?”

Mom says, “Yes, but where?”

I’m getting annoyed. That’s it? That’s the big news? We’ve moved 3 times in the past 8 years, so what else is new? We always go to a bigger house, in a nicer neighborhood, but our school district always stays the same. Who cares?

So I say, “I don’t know, where?”

That’s when she drops the bomb. “St. Louis”

Where the hell is that? I ask, “St. Louis, New Jersey?”

Mom laughs, and dad just sits there (likely pondering how he raised such a dumb daughter). She corrects me by saying, “No, no. St. Louis, Missouri”

I’m dumbfounded… really? Almost immediately, I realize that this could be my ticket. This could change my life; I’m moving far, far away, and no one will know one thing about me that I don’t want them to. How sweet is that?!?!

My brother, the one that’s about my age, seemed devastated by this news. He immediately, without saying a word, puts his head on the table and starts to sob. Wuss.

My other brother, my youngest, is the most excited of all. He smacks his fist on the table, yelling, “Holy shit!” (in a positive way). His hand hits his fork, sending it flying across the room, hitting our approaching waitress squarely in the face.

Finally, I think to ask… “Why?”

My dad takes over the conversation by saying, “I’ve been called”

I’m confused. “Called by who? Like on the telephone?”

“No” he says, “I’ve been called to the ministry”

Ministry? What the hell’s a ministry? Like church or something? My dad’s gonna be a nun?

Turns out, yes. Exactly like church (not so much like a nun though). My father, at 45 years of age, was giving up his lucrative job as the VP of Finance for a prestigious healthcare company to become a minister. I then learned that in just a few weeks we would be packing everything, and moving from our vast home in Charlotte, NC to a tiny 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment in St. Louis. In fact, it wasn’t a real apartment we’d be living in. It was a dorm, on campus at Eden Seminary. He would spend his days earning his Masters of Divinity- for 3 full years- and then become an ordained pastor. From there, he’d be assigned a church, and where we’d end up is anyone’s guess.

Well clearly, it was time to buckle up and hang on for dear life. We were embarking on a hell of an adventure…

Geez. Talk about your midlife crisis.