Senator Claire McCaskill Live in Springfield (Courtesy of Springfield News-Leader)

Senator Claire McCaskill is holding her town hall meeting in Sprinfield. The event is being streamed live courtesy of the Springfield News-Leader.
12:34 The tenth of ten town hall meetings has begun with McCaskill opening up with a health care discussion after being introduced by Springfield's mayor.
12:47 "I will not vote for a bill that isn't deficit neutral'
12:49 McCaskill comments on audience "booing"
12:52 Applause recovered when question about "tort reform" addressed.
12:54 "It's an equal opportunity feeding trough" - McCaskill encourages citizens to donate money to their candidate stating small donations, encouraging citizens to donate ten dollars to their favorite candidate is a way to fight big money which flows to both sides of the aisle.
1:00 Second time McCaskill begs the audience, has your health care gone down.
1:03 Sneaky tax - McCaskill notes that everyone who has insurance pays for people who don't and use the emergency room.
1:23 McCaskill nubs Missouri Congressional members for the second time saying they should have town-hall meetings

Evel Knievel's Car Lands in Branson

The Branson Car Museum opened this year on the Branson strip. As one of Branson's newest attractions the facility serves a dual purpose, not only can you tour a living history of the automobile, many of the cars are for purchase.
In the video above proprietor Stewart Howden shows a vehicle in the rotating collection that once belonged to Evel Knievel himslef.

Taney County Health Department Finds Two Cases of Swine Flu

The Taney County Health Department confirmed two cases of swine flu in the area. The Branson based health department issued a press release last week, but didn't mention what city the two teenagers lived in. Surrounding counties and area school districts are preparing for worst case scenarios this school season.
The West Nile Virus resurfaced again as well with three mosquitoes identified with the disease in the area just two weeks ago.

Western Taney County Commissioner Jim Strafuss (Video)

1. What are some of the challenges you've faced early in office?
change in general has been the hardest. Lack of reputation, people are very scepticle. There is tramidus potential, and untapped resources.
Jim was approached in 06 to run for the office, and he said it wasnt ready. Being in the front run was not something he was interested in.

2. What was the issue with tax assesments and how were they resolved ?
How many people challenged there assessments through the Board of Equalization
from the board- the board felt that the increase was too much burden for the citizens to handle in one year. The werent disputing the accuacy. the ability to handle the increase
when you taxes go up 45% in one year most cant handle it, they wanted to phase it in.
Jim-felt way too much emotion in the meeting, when the board is in place to help oversee and fix things, once the vote is done you move on,
the sesson is over, it is resolved, they have their orders. Jim voted against the whole thing because they removed the increase last minute.

3. How has the controversy over tax assessments affected your relationship with your fellow commissioners?
For Jim personally, it hasnt, "I departmentalize and move on, BOE is a small part of my job, I keep emotion out of my job".
There is definately conflict in the office, there is times of tention. I go in do my job and go home. I never stood around the water cooler and talked.
Alot of backbiting. Im there because I want to make a change, if people dont like me they wont vote for me again. You have to ask why are they there.
There is still and east county and west county way of thinking. I dont fault their possition, if they feel passionate about it, my job if im passionate about something I try to get a majority vote
Its about getting the job done.

4. What issues do you plan to tackle over the next few months?

starting the budget process for next year.
I think theres alot of waste, better efficenties.
Focus on grants and stimulus money, big milestones coming up on that.
east west coridore, from the tiger grant money. vote tomorrow to file an app for the grant, if they are successful they will get about 75% for the east and west coridor
They are spending 50,000 to apply, 25mil, project which if they get it they will get up to 75% of that project.

5. You've been in office for about 9 months now, what do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?
stop the steeling, saving money, restructuring the county, some people have moved on since hes been in office, but it has allowed a more professional invirnment
promoting from within, just changing the way things are done. becoming more fisclally responsable, and the level respect from outside community is gaining.
Communication is better.

6. What do you feel is the greatest struggle you have faced?
Old traditional thinking and reasoning.

7. I understand you took some heavy fire from another commissioner a couple of weeks ago, what was that about? Has it been resolved?

alot of people are saying there is a conflict of intrest in the two brothers, that it is an elthics issue,.
the only place that ive heard over and over again, is it ethical for one commissoner to vote on a brothers project?????

(Interview by Vanessa Dawn Adams)

James Strahan - Taney County Tax Assessor Invterview.

Taney County Tax assessments always provide vibrant debate and tension among leadership. The interview posted above was shot during a break in the Taney County Board of Equalization meeting last week where citizens can challenge the assessed values and corresponding tax rates for their property.

Tax Assessor James Strahan was belligerent in his battle with Missouri's Tax Commission over assertions that rates weren't in compliance with increasing property value in the county. The battle made headlines as Strahan asserted, "I am not a puppet of the state" - who withheld nearly $750,000 in funds.

Taney County sued the state to recover the funds in the 32nd Circuit which covers Taney and Christian Counties but the suit was moved to Cole County in Jackson County where Missouri's Judicial ruled in favor of the state.

During the controversy Strahan accused among other things that Taney County Commissioner Chuck Pennel gave special treatment in the form of reduced taxation to personal friends stating:

"During the 2007 Taney County Board of Equalization Taney County Commissioner Chuck Pennel vigorously battled for lower assessed values for specific friends and individuals. Immediately following the Board of Equalization, Commissioner Pennel constantly supported an additional 15 to 30 percent increase equating an approximate $3,000,000 to $10,000,000 increase to the citizens of Taney County. Commissioner Pennel and Commissioner Herschend decided not to fund the Assessor’s office and would send the employees home cutting services to the citizens of Taney County id the Assessor did not cut a deal. "

The full text of Strahan's article was published on Tech Trends - "James Strahan “Two County Commissioners actions support higher property tax issues.”

As Taney County failed to receive funds from the state the Taney County Commission voted to withhold funding for Strahan's office on two separate occasions leaving his personnel without employment during the holiday season in 2007.

As aroused citizens gathered at a recent Taney County Commissioners meeting to protest property tax increases, the rhetoric continued with heated language passing between the three person commission that runs the county government.

The interview above is with James Strahan between heavy fire at the most recent Board of Equalization meeting.

The Board of Equalization voted to cut recent tax increases by 50 percent for 15,000 of Taney County taxpayers.

Misouri Supreme Court Drafts Decision on Branson Theater Taxation

"To tax or not to tax" was the question posed to the Missouri Supreme Court by Music City Center who asked for more than $83,000 plus interest on taxes paid for tickets they claim were subject to the "retail exemption".
The opinion published by Missouri Supreme Court Judge Patricia Breckenrige was without a dissenting opinion.
Music City Center, a theater on Branson's 76 strip, partially won a battle with Missouri's Director of Revenue who denied a tax refund on tickets sold to timeshare and discount repackaging agencies.
The court identified three distinct types of Branson theater ticket transactions and ruled that two were not subject to taxation. The two cases in which Music City Center is due a refund involves tickets re-sold to Branson tourists and tickets re-sold as a bundled product with other Branson services such as restaurant vouchers.
The court maintained that Music City Center was required to pay the state's 4 percent sales tax in the event tickets were used as a freebie for tourists participation in a timeshare tour.
The full Missouri Supreme Court opinion is archived on Branson Agent.
Missouri Supreme Court Opinion Regarding Branson Theater Taxation - Music City Center

Regularly Scheduled Blogcasts to Resume Shortly

Branson Missouri Blog to resume broadcast later today unless fishing continues to be spectacular.