Nixon endorsed by one-dog Dog Caucus (AUDIO)

Press conferences don’t always go as planned — for those setting them up, those attending, or for the press.

Faulty wires, bad signal, insufficient lighting, folks running late or failing to show up at all, spring storms, ringing cell phones … “what IS that buzzing noise??” … well, whatever can go wrong will go wrong, right? Sometimes getting the story to you is harder than we make it look.

Then there are situations that catch everyone off guard, but in a good way. And who better than Gov. Nixon to roll with it when his speech gets interrupted? That’s what happened at the ground breaking ceremony for a new rail bridge in Osage City, when this little guy decided Nixon was hogging all of the attention, and he’d like to be the one who was up front and center.

Nixon was willing to share the spotlight with the dog for a minute, but made sure to tell him he’d take no flack from his four-legged friend that day. (Photo courtesy Julie Smith / Jefferson City News Tribune.)

AUDIO: Nixon, dog, exchange barbs. (:42)

Bike Day at the Capitol

Bike Day at the Capitol was Monday; sponsored by the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, it was a day for Missouri cyclists to petition their legislators for safer and more bike-friendly roads throughout the state, and to make them aware of cycling as part of a healthier lifestyle.

The main event was a ride on the new cycling and pedestrian access across the Missouri River to the Katy Trail—a joint effort between The state transportation department, the state parks division, the city of Jefferson City, and several other groups. Bikes were parked in the third floor rotunda and some legislators carried bikes through the halls and past the artwork of Jefferson City’s most famous landmark on their way outside for the afternoon’s ride. Students from a Columbia middle school, dressed in their best, handed out pamphlets to anyone who looked in the least official.

Why was this so important to me, a part-time, pinch-hit reporter/anchor for the Missourinet? Why did I beg my news director and managing editor to let me cover this?

Because I’m really proud of those Columbia kids, one of whom is mine. They’re part of the Bike Brigade, and the woman who got the grant and pulled the group together, Gina Overshiner, received an award for her work in biking to school with kids every day, rain or shine. She educated the students in proper city riding, correct signaling, and other safety issues. Not only do they ride well in Columbia, but they rode safely, carefully, and courteously on the 6-mile round-trip of the Legislators’ Ride.

As I listened to speeches by various individuals, and looked around at all the public officials—including the Lieutenant Governor—ready to ride, I kind of wished I had a bike with me; what a great day!! But it’s extremely hard to record sound and shoot pictures on a bike, so I returned to my car and drove down to the access to photograph the riders. Then I realized something.

The access is not an attractive architectural addition to this fair city.

Really. I’m sorry, but… well, it’s not.

It’s rather prison-like [PHOTO]. It encloses the riders and pedestrians in chain-link fencing as they make their way across the river, next to the vehicular bridge, which is separated from them by a massive concrete barrier. It makes the bridge look almost…attractive! Granted, it does the job it’s supposed to do– getting everyone safely from point A to point B–but with all the money spent, maybe someone could have worked a bit of aesthetic in there?

Ah well….it was a sunny day, legislators, staffers and officials ran away to play for a few hours before buckling down to business again, and a good time was had by all.

Get on your bikes and ride!

— Mary Furness

Adoption

As adoption legislation finds its way in and out of the legislative session for another year, I’ve watched carefully, but haven’t covered it. As a journalist, and as an adoptee, my objectivity would be compromised.

It was second grade when I started to figure out that people just didn’t talk about adoption.

As a topic, it seems to sit somewhere in between racism and homosexuality — People know it exists, but they don’t want to hear about it, see it or discuss it. They certainly don’t want to know what it does to a person’s insides.

My second grade class was given the assignment to go home and ask our parents what it was like the day we were born. Then next day, the teacher went around the room and asked everyone, one by one, what they found out. Some said it snowed. Some said there were thunderstorms that day. Others talked about how Grandma had come over to stay with their older brothers and sisters.

When she got to me, I told her I didn’t do the assignment. She did not look happy. (Let’s just say it wasn’t the first time I’d skipped my homework.)

“Why not?” she snapped.

“Because I’m adopted,” I said. “So no one knows what it was like the day I was born.”

The awkwardness that followed was one I soon learned would be a running theme in my young life.

No medical history. Filling out paperwork at the doctor’s office is pretty easy when all you have to do is write a big “N/A” on the forms.

A fragmented guess at cultural heritage.

Social weirdness. “Who do you look like, your mom or your dad?” “Neither. I’m adopted.”

And there it is again — that familiar awkwardness.

Being pregnant with no clue about health concerns, genetic defects, birth history or otherwise.

And just when I thought I’d gotten a handle on it all, it came full circle.

My daughter was in second grade when she was given an assignment to find out about her ancestry. Ironically, her dad is adopted too. So though she knows both of her biological parents, many mysteries remain.

She was not satisfied with the answer I gave her, which is, “Here is my educated guess. I’m pretty sure you’re English and Irish. Pick whichever one sounds most appealing to you and go with it.” And she didn’t just look dissatisfied, she looked puzzled, mad, hurt, frustrated. It’s a feeling I knew too well.

After so many years of being a genetic mystery … I even went through one phase where I told people I was from Mars … I said [you-know-what] the legal system and found other avenues to track down my biological mother. It took 17 years.

She said she always knew I would find her. Had counted on it. And despite all the good we’ve come to realize over the past few years of knowing each other, the hurt won’t ever go away.

I have talked to dozens of people either who have given up their children for adoption or who were adopted as children. I’ve read the stories of hundreds more and have yet to find a single situation where someone felt their privacy was compromised. So I’m wondering, by not overturning archaic laws that stand in the way of so many people’s physical and emotional well-being, who exactly is it that we’re trying to protect?

By the way, I found out I come from a long line of evil French elves.

The Missouri ones were milliners (hat makers) during the Depression.

No family history of cancer or heart disease, but the migraines are hereditary.

And it was cold and rainy the day I was born. My mother gazed out at the Liberty Memorial from her hospital window that day, utterly alone.