Mike Huckabee Happy New Years to Branson

I'm blogging from the floor of a country club in Des Moines at a New Year's Party for Mike Huckabee.

A survey of local politicos found Mike Huckabee to be leading the hearts and minds of Branson as their presidential candidate of choice.

It's New Year's Eve and all I can think about is where I'd love to be. McCartney - If you're reading this - your daddy loves you - and though I may be hanging out with the future leader of the free world - there is no place I'd rather be tonight - I'd trade it in a minute to have you in my arms. Happy New Years Branson - Springfield - Missouri and most of all my precious daughter McCartney.

Being without you is living with a hole in my heart. I'll always love you....

To all my readers, God Bless you and may all your dreams come true this year ....Happy 2008!

Barack Obama Speech in Iowa 4 days bofore Iowa Caucus

(Videography by Darin Codon) The video clip above was shot from a Jr. High School in Des Moines, Iowa just a few hours ago videos photos and commentary on Senator Barack Obama's speech tonight will be posted on Caucus 2008

According to Federal Election Commission data Obama is the Branson area Democratic winner in terms of funding.

Here's my thoughts before hearing him speak tonight:

Live in Des Moines at a middle school which is filling up with spectators in anticipation of Barrack Obama’s arrival.

The crowd may be indicative of Iowa itself – mostly white – mostly middle class – mostly young.

This is it. A victory in Iowa could mean everything for Obama answering the question, “Can Obama gain traction with Mid-West White America.”

Yesterday at Obama’s headquarters, the phone banks were paused by the sound of local residents questioning the Senator’s record of accomplishment on defense, heritage and religious affiliation. Stewards of the phone bank are bombarded with questions about his father, his upbringing – pretty much anything other than the issues supposedly framing the debate about who should be the next President of the United States.

As the battle between Hillary Clinton and Obama continues to heat Edwards may have the opportunity to sneak in – a potential casualty of Obama and Clinton playing king of the hill early in the running.

I’m in the back row waiting for my back up to bring equipment left at the hotel. I’m left with the B roster of equipment and technical issues have dominated more of my time than I could have imagined. Murphy ’s Law is in full effect on this trip.

So far, I haven’t been able to cover what I’ve found to be one of the most interesting elements of the primaries to date – how will religion play into the race for president. But a Lesbian Unitatian ministere named Dee Graham may change all that.

8:50 PM
The press bus has arrived thus Obama is prepping to enter the house. The press platform is full and I’m lucky to have arrived early.

Jim Talent campaigning for Mitt Romney in Iowa

(Videography by Heather Turner)Jim Talent at a function for Veterans in Iowa five days before the Iowa Caucus.

This clip below is a great interview from KY3 correspondent Dave Cantonese.

Minuteman Vs. La Raza - A Kansas City Story

Immigration is in issue at every level of our government. Earlier this year Kansas City was a potential host for two different groups with opposing views on immigration. The city lost both conventions. La Raza moved their convention to San Diego and the Minuteman Project never scheduled a convention.
Minteman Project Founder Jim Gilchrist states he called Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser to convince him of the economic value his 20 to 40 thousand member group could bring.

In Branson immigration has been a topic of debate. Two alderman have been vocal on the topic. Alderman Stephen Marshall supports a strong guest worker program while Alderman Jack Purvis has been the most vocal on immigration enforcement.

Minuteman Founder Jim Gilchrist on Local Governments and Immigration

At a forum on immigration Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minuteman Project encourages local governments to work with the federal government to fight immigration.
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has chosen immigration as a primary issue while he campaigns for a second term as governor. Democratic hopeful and Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is promoting a "finders fee" for Missourians who find illegal aliens.

Live Blogging with Ron Paul

Good place for a young woman to meet men. Testosterone high.

We're blogging live from the second floor of the Marriot Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ron Paul just spoke to a highly charged group of young students called, "Operation Christmas Vacation". A group of three hundred students listened to Ron Paul share his message of economic freedom - which includes abolishing the IRS, ending the war in Iraq, reducing foreign aid and ending the war on drugs.

Paul is in good company tonight as an immigration reform group is sponsoring the attendance of a dozen radio stations downstairs.

With a tip from the Washington Post Online - we're going to try to beat the national press in delivering video from the speech that just concluded.

We'll be posting video and interviews from congressmen and civic leaders chiming in on the immigration issue later tonight.

Ron Paul is taking time to shoot photos with every member in attendance; however, attendees are not allowed to use their own cameras - perhaps, in an attempt to continue to drive traffic to his websites.

An study of presidential candidates performance with Internet social networking sites shows Paul as outranking every other candidate- a sign of the demographic his audience appeals to.

We'll be posting Full Coverage of the Iowa Caucus, including videos, photos and general information on our 2008 Caucus Blog.

To gear up for Ron Paul I took an opportunity last night to read Springfield Ron Paul enthusiast Perrie Campbell's website Area417 and listened to a great set of songs published on the Springfield Ron Paul site.

Taney County Ambulance District Candidates File


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Attorney Dee Wampler's Christmas Recap


The two pics above are from a document sent to the city by Springfield Attorney Dee Wampler.
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Iowa Bound - Presidential Caucus 2008

It's nearing 5:00 AM and I'm on my last edits before I leave Branson for a political tour of the presidential selection process in Iowa. Tonight was about research and development.

With nearly a year before the election; I'm noticing people are either burned out or fervent about their candidates.

Balance seems to be missing.

Throughout the night I've been creating a Website and strategy documents for a team I'll be working with covering the Iowa Caucus.

The team will be embedded in campaigns as volunteers and it's my job to accumulate and post digital assets. We have a good pool of equipment and should come up with some interesting content.

Good questions, ideas and contributions to the website are appreciated - after all - you're the home team.

Over the past several months I've been interviewing local politicos and studying the sentiments of the Taney County/Branson voter.

Anyone interested in contributing either with good questions, ideas or content is welcomed.

The site will most likely be forwarded to an established domain over the next two days but can be viewed at Caucus 2008.

Republican data sits to the right and Democrat to the left. The links on each side currently pull up the latest news about the candidates with a YouTube feed of the latest partisan Video Posts.

As we gear up for the caucus we'll be posting original photos, audio and video. The project is experimental and once again - any help is appreciated.

Tonight we studied and posted information about the Iowa voter before we arrive and are in the thick of it.

Merry Christmas from Queen Elizabeth II (Videos)

United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II delivered the YouTube Video posted above earlier today.

In the speech, we're reminded of the importance of taking care of the least of us.

The first television broadcast in 1957 is posted below.

Is this baby cute or ugly?

My athiest reporter friend says this isn't the cutest baby in the world. I believe Bratcher Brand Boys are the the cutest. What do you think? Is this baby hot or not?

Merry Christmas 2007 Happy New Year- The Future of Education Video

Top 10 of 1997 tomorrow as I prepare for Iowa. I've been asked to participate as a technical lead for a team of students headed for a study of the Iowa Caucus.

The video is a teaser and a segway into some features on the Branson School District.

Governor Blunt's Christmas Pardons (Details as distributed from Governor's Office)

Gov. Matt Blunt today announced his decision to pardon Alicia Allison-Brown, Jesse Barnes, James Birdwell, Sr., Craig Johnson, Robert Jordan and Carl Smart, who all were convicted of non-violent offenses years ago and have since become and remained law-abiding citizens.

“Ms. Allison-Brown, Mr. Barnes, Mr. Birdwell, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Smart have paid for their mistakes,” said Gov. Blunt. “It is my hope and belief that they will continue to be productive citizens."

In 1990, at the age of 23, Alicia Allison-Brown was convicted of stealing. She was sentenced to four years probation and 120-day shock incarceration. Ms. Brown applied for pardon in 2005. Ms. Allison-Brown is married with one child. She is a member of FEMA Missouri Task Force I, serving as a Canine Search Specialist and trained in Tech Rescue.

In 1961, at the age of 24, Jesse Barnes was convicted of 2nd degree arson. He was sentenced to three years in prison and paroled after serving five months. He successfully completed his parole. Mr. Barnes applied for pardon in 2006. Mr. Barnes is a self-employed and professional painter. He has been married for 40 years and has three children as well as grandchildren.

In 1963, at the age of 20, James Birdwell, Sr., was convicted of malicious destruction of property. He received a one year suspended sentence and two years of probation. Mr. Birdwell applied for pardon in 2003. Mr. Birdwell has owned a small construction business for nine years and previously worked for the Kansas City Star for more than 10 years. He has been married for 45 years and has five children and 17 grandchildren.

In 1985, at the age of 19, Craig Johnson was convicted of the crime of stealing. He was sentenced to three years probation. Mr. Johnson applied for pardon in 2004. Mr. Johnson is a minister and chaplain in the U.S. Army where he has achieved the rank of Captain. He served in the first Gulf War where he received numerous decorations and awards.

In 1990, at the age of 21, Robert Jordan was convicted of the crime of stealing. He was sentenced to two years probation. Mr. Jordan applied for pardon in 2003. Mr. Jordan and his wife have three children and serve their community as Emergency Medical Technicians.

In 1980, at the age of 28, Carl Smart was convicted of 2nd degree arson and deceitful stealing. He was sentenced to five years probation, which he completed successfully. Mr. Smart applied for a pardon in 2004. Mr. Smart is a Navy veteran and has worked for the United States Postal Service for 30 years. He is married with three children and one grandchild.

Missouri’s Probation and Parole Board unanimously recommended that a pardon be issued in all cases. Local law enforcement were not opposed to the six receiving a pardon. In addition each person receiving a pardon has support from their local community, including elected officials, religious leaders, community leaders or neighbors.

(This story is posted as it was issued from the Governor Blunt's Office)

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt's Christmas Card (Photos)


If you weren't lucky enough to recieve a Christmas card from Governor Blunt (don't cry I wasn't sent one) there are a couple shots of what the card looks like. Blunt took criticism for not saying Merry Christmas on the card. Though the card has neither the word Christmas nor Bible versus it is pretty clear who the governor is talking about when he says king. (Click the photo to enlarge)
Still, the card says Happy Holidays not Merry Christmas.

White House Press Pass (1 of 5) Public Communication




All politics is local and when it comes to competing media outlets the digital assets aquired were shared with other media outlets for use.
The top photo is a front page spread published last November in the Branson Daily Independent. If you look into the background of the other two you can find some a dozen Branson residents. Each media outlet found a different perspective and point of interest. When published the photos chosen are the photos most inclusive of local residents.
The bottom photo is especially interesting. Using the 800 number to the side a resident from another state faxed correspondence relating to concerns about Wayne Hicks whose media empire was on the verge of collapse. The woman is no other than the 1992 Libertarian Vice-Presidential Candidate Nancy Lord. Hicks was creating a television station which was dissolved shortly after this photo was shot. Along with being a former VP candidate Lord is a medical doctor, attorney and NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws). At the time she was representing Hicks in a dispute over MYICIS. The room got a little bit heated when she started questioning my data (which I shared), an irritating experience since my research was bulletproof. I've always known Hicks as a straight shooter and was after the truth - not what was provable in a court of law. I was after a story not a backroom trial.
Lord promised a lawsuit if I published the photo but since she's a press rights activist - I doubt she could withstand the political backlash of positioning herself as an enemy of the press.
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White House Press Pass (2 of 5) National Press




The photos above are of national press correspondents. The first is the press room immediately after the stage was emptied. The other two are of Fox and ABC reporters delivering commentary for their respective networks.
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White House Press Pass (3 of 5) Supporters




The top shot is to give you an idea of how large the crowd was and how far away the press platform was from the President. The 312 saved photos are scrolling in the sidebar of this website. It's the one shot that is going to make the front page of regional papers so my energy was focused on that perfect moment. Moving away from my photojournalist hat, I setup a second camera on the platform to take low quality video.
The entire 45 minute speech was captured so I could focus all of my energy on taking photos. The camera I used has incredible resolution so I can focus in on any area of the shot during editing. When I study the photos I still find new attributes of the crowd I've never noticed before.
If you want to be a real jerk - when the president invites you to sit behind him pull out a camera and ruin everyone else's photo journal. In my opinion, if you need to constantly take pictures of the president - you should be in the crowd - not behind as part of his team.
A local pastor, most hated by KY3 weatherman Dave Snider - led the prayer. Students voiced support for Jim Talent by painting their bodies.
The last shot was setup in the White House Press editing facility. Journalists from major news networks took turns editing video with shared equipment.

White House Press Pass (4 of 5) Bush Protesters




The five part photo-set I'm posting is in preparation for the Iowa Caucus. The first post (below) is of the Springfield Press. The photos above are of protesters. The majority of protesters were from MSU political clubs with a few scattered citizens who took the opportunity to voice their distaste for the war in Iraq, the Republican Party and President Bush.
The group of activists below were part of a sexual orientation focused group.
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White House Press Pass (5 of 5) Springfield Press


The series of photos were taken after receiving clearance for a White House Press Pass for an appearance in Springfield by President George Bush accompanied by District 7 Rep. Roy Blunt to support Jim Talent's senate bid, which he lost to Claire McCaskill.
One of the most interesting aspects of the experience was watching the interaction between the television correspondents and the dialogue with their technical support staff. It told volumes about bias, perspective and led to a greater understanding of where the individual media representatives stood in their personal politics.
The first photo is of KY3 political correspondent David Catanese followed by KOLR's David Oliver trying to tune into audio instructions. The bottom two are of an AP reporter who took an incredible shot of Talent handing Bush a Springfield Cardinals jersey (Click this Photo to see the full picture). The bottom shot is of the press platform with a photographer for the Springfield News-Leader in the foreground.

Taney County Ambulance District - Monkey Business?




Documents suggesting loose fiscal policies of the Taney County Ambulance district were presented to Taney County Officials earlier this month. Apparently a grass roots effort to shed light on the geo-political entities policies is underway - just in time for elections. An open position on the board represents the first position Taney County election hopefuls filed for last week.

Few people realize the effect local politicians have on their lives. For instance, the ambulance district has its own board, collects taxes on its own and the geo-political entities policies and procedures could be the difference in whether you or a family member dies during a medical emergency.
In America, the local politicians and their actions have a much more profound effect on your quality of life than what is happening in Iowa next week.
Unfortunately, I'll be in Iowa on a project studying the 2008 Presidential hopefulls as a technical advisor for a project next week. I'm often asked if I have ambitions to cover national politics. I don't look at covering national politics as a step up - but the same rules - same game - applied to different players.
Usually, national politics are less corrupt than whats happening in your back yard. Why? While millions of viewers tune into what Barrack Obama had for lunch, in between crotch shots of pop artists, someone in your community could be stealing millions from you and your neighbors. Chances are no one is watching.
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Branson Politicos (Photos)





1st Photo: Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley
2nd Photo: Alderman Stephen Marshall
3rd Photo: Alderman Jack Purvis (Rushed to event from doctor)
4th Photo: Alderman Bob McDowell

Charo at Andy Williams in Branson




Charo isn't at Andy Williams Christmas show - which is unfortunate. She took time for each and every fan that wanted to speak with her after hours at Andy Williams Moon River Grill nightly after performances. She's warm, friendly and one of the few women in Branson who know the difference between Chi-chis and Cha-Chas. (Photo by Darin Codon November 2007)
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Branson Adoration Parade Photo (1 of 5)

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