Jay Nixon says it’s not been unusual for motorists who spot him walking down a Jefferson City sidewalk to roll down the car window and yell out something like “Hey, I’m bringing chicken on Monday.”

I guess that’s what you get when you invite the residents of the entire state of Missouri to a giant potluck dinner.

That’s exactly how Nixon plans to celebrate after he’s sworn in on Monday as Missouri’s next governor. Nixon, the state’s longtime attorney general, is confident he will stay under budget with this plan.

“It going to be a lot of fun,” said Nixon, in a phone interview on Thursday. “There will be good bluegrass music. And in Missouri, potlucks are tradition. It’s something that Missourians can connect with, and we can still be frugal.”

Frugal is Nixon’s new mantra. The Democrat who succeeds Republican Matt Blunt, faces a $300 million budget shortfall. He maintains that he will keep his campaign promise not to raise taxes during the recession.

So, how does he think he’s going to do that?

“I’m a hard charger,” says the 52-year-old Nixon.

“Since, I’ve said I’m not going to raise taxes, I’ve got to get more jobs for our state. I’ve been given a unique opportunity in life. I’m going to get it everything I have.”

One of Nixon’s strategies for success involves Ron Richard, R-Joplin, the new speaker for the House of Representatives. Nixon made it pretty clear that while Richard is by far the better bowler, they are pretty evenly matched when it comes to getting a job done.

“Ron and I have a lot of shared principles. And, both of our No. 1 priorities is creating jobs. He’s very knowledgeable on that subject and he will be a big help to me and the state of Missouri as speaker,” Nixon said.

Richard has told us that he plans to put the politics aside and work toward a common goal. That will be refreshing after too many years of political posturing and good bills dying because someone decided to tack something onto the needed legislation just so it would get killed.

“This is not a game to Ron Richard, and it’s not a game to Jay Nixon. We’re both here to get something done, and I’m confident that we will,” Nixon says.

Nixon has yet to name a new director of the Department of Natural Resources to replace the Blunt-appointed Doyle Childers. I reminded Nixon that we were watching for that new choice. Among Nixon’s campaign promises was a focus on strengthening regulations on concentrated animal-feeding operations.

The governor-elect says he plans to announce a new DNR chief early in the week.

As for that potluck dinner, I’m anxious to see how that turns out. Who knows, covered dish may be on the menu for a long time given the state of the economy.

Readers speak

A number of readers have called in since Jan. 1 to tell me that they like having the Page 1 stories jump to the back page, BUT they weren’t happy at losing their morning “Jokes to Go.”

Honestly, I was surprised. Perhaps I’ve lost my sense of humor.

Most of them were quite nice about registering their displeasure. Notice, I said most. After about the 25th call, I got the message. So, Argus Hamilton can now be found on Page 2A of our paper next to the daily calendar. Thank you for letting me know how you feel.

And, did I mention ...

Indulge me here at the end of my column as I tell you about the arrival of my fourth grandchild. Samuel Franklin Stark arrived on Jan. 3, the day before his daddy’s 25th birthday. Joe told me this was the first year that he actually felt older. But, I’m thinking it was his wife Katy, who was the tired one.

Having grandchildren, I believe, is your reward for being a parent. Sam is my fourth grandchild. He joins his big brother, Garrett, 2, and his cousins. Austyn is a cool 9-year-old, and Evelyn (we call her Evie) is just about to celebrate her first birthday.

There, now you are all caught up.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, Mo. 64802 or e-mail cstark@joplinglobe.com.

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