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TWMP Column: Three first rate appointments, and needed first rate appointments

The past month has seen three first rate appointments to two situations that needed them.

First, Governor Parson appointed two of the finest statesmen to the Highway Commission in Warren Erdman and Brian Treece

Now I think the conventional wisdom is that MODOT is pretty well ran right now.

The caveat to that would be the lettered highways.

Call in one of Missouri’s top business leaders in Warren Erdman who I’m pretty confident will express to his fellow commission members the Governor’s and the legislature’s desire to put a little more focus on those lettered highways out in rural Missourah, even if the hipsters don’t end up with as many bicycle paths to smoke pot on. 

The other caveat could be be that MODOT Director Patrick McKenna might need a little public relations help. Look the guy is an engineer, from the top of his head to the souls of his feet. Don Draper he ain’t. 

Call in Brian Treece. He just completed two terms as one of the state’s most successful big city mayors and a man in the very business that the director could have a little need of. 

There is also this matter of this lawsuit the commission has filed against the legislature over how they appropriate money. It certainly seems ill advised. Hopefully the two new commission members can start to reign in that matter. Hard to see any lasting winners out of that pissin match. 

They are probably the two best gubernatorial appointments since Governor Nixon appointed David Steelman to be on the University of Missouri Board of Curators. 

Governor Nixon knew what the university needed, and today the fact that Mizzou is in the best position of my professional lifetime is proof of his wisdom. The university was fledging and in many ways spiraling. The day the trajectory went from the spiral of ten years ago to the incredible success of today was with the appointment of David Steelman. 

Now clearly MODOT isn’t spiraling. However, there are a couple things that can be addressed. Warren Erdman and Brian Treece are the absolute perfect picks to help address them, and keep MODOT on its positive trajectory. 

The third appointment is Chief Justice Wilson’s selection of Judge John Torbitzky of the Eastern District Court of Appeals to hear the Kim Gardner case.

This one is a much trickier matter. However, the appointment of Torbitzky has brought praise from all corners, with the reviews being that he truly might be the best prepared judge in the state to take on this task. 

Torbitzky is a St. Louis guy who went to St. Louis University Law, clerked for Judge Fischer and was Parson appointee in 2021. The Chief Justice who chaired his selection panel was Judge Draper, who was placed on the court by Governor Nixon.

But don’t let the facts confuse you, to be sure he will be called a racist before this is over with no matter how he conducts the case. 

However, the consensus seems to be that he will understand the varying and complex issues surrounding this most complictaed case, and either way he will live in the area after. 

Torbitzky was appointed after every judge in the circuit recused themselves from the case. At least two of those judges have mentioned that they are considering offering to testify against Gardner’s office. Not Gardner herself, but the perfromance of the office in their courts. 

This will be a defining moment for the new Attorney General Andrew Bailey. If he is able to win this case and assist a new prosecutor in establishing a more competent proseutor’s office he will have the gratitude of the St. Louis business community, legal community, and become a folk hero to the suburbs. 

The truth is that the move Bailey is making isn’t an easy one to pull off. The it takes quite a bit to remove an elected official from office. You know it should be difficult. Gardner has been twice elected by overwhelming margins. Further I figure if she ran again, she would win. The evidence should have to be overwhelming. 

The notion that they will gavel in, remove her, and adjourn is incorrect, and Torbitzky has a reputation of going by the book, so they will have to make their case. 

Another of the judges from the area told me of Torbitzky, “He is the best judge in the state to handle this case. He is familiar with the circuit, the community, and all of the players involved. Of course there are many who think that this this is a formality and she will be removed, but if Bailey and Corrigan don’t make their case I don’t believe  Torbitzky will remove her. I can count the number of republican appointees on one hand that I could unequivocally say that about.”

Sunday on This Week in Missouri Politics will be our annual episode from the Farm Bureau conference and feature our annual chat with the President of the Missouri Farm Bureau Garrett Hawkins.