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Thursday, June 12, 2008


After weeks of speculation, Belgian brewer InBev SA announced a $46 billion offer to buy St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos., the nation’s largest beer producer. Gov. Matt Blunt issued a statement opposing the deal, which he called “deeply troubling.”

The takeover of Anheuser-Busch at the very least would strike a heavy psychological blow to the St. Louis region, which has taken great pride in being the company’s headquarters for well over a century. From a financial standpoint, company employees and state and local leaders are concerned about InBev’s reputation for slashing costs. A-B currently employs about 6,000 people in St. Louis and has a tradition of providing high wages and good benefits. A-B is also known for generous investments in the community.

InBev offered a cash bid of $65 per share, a premium of $6.65 above Wednesday’s closing price of $58.35 per A-B share. The Anheuser-Busch Board of Directors must approve the deal. If the board rejects it, however, InBev could take its offer directly to shareholders with a hostile takeover attempt.


The Associated Press, Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch are seeking to join a lawsuit against Gov. Matt Blunt that seeks copies of potentially damaging e-mail records the administration allegedly tried to have destroyed. An independent investigator looking into possible violations of state open records and record retention laws by high-ranking administration officials originally filed the lawsuit in May.

The e-mail controversy began in September when reporters began looking into potentially improper political activities by Blunt’s then-Chief of Staff Ed Martin. Scott Eckersley, an attorney in Blunt’s office, later was fired for advising the governor that Martin and others were breaking state laws by deleting e-mails sought by the media. According to the investigator’s lawsuit, Blunt or top aides ordered the destruction of backup tapes containing the deleted e-mails but were thwarted when two information technology supervisors with the Office of Administration refused to comply because the e-mails were subject to pending open records requests.


The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled on June 10 that property owners may sue for financial damages when local governments declare property “blighted” in order to pave the way for a redevelopment that doesn’t occur in a timely manner. A declaration of blight is necessary step for government to use eminent domain to seize private property for redevelopment purposes.

The case involves a suburban Kansas City shopping center the city of Gladstone declared blighted in 2003 as part of a redevelopment plan that later fell through. With the threat of eminent domain looming for five years, the shopping center’s owners say they’ve lost millions of dollars from tenants not renewing leases and a resulting decline in their property’s value. The court dubbed the threatened use of eminent domain that never occurs but causes financial losses for the property’s owners as “condemnation blight.”

The ruling allows a lawsuit for damages brought by the shopping center owners to proceed and overturns a Clay County judge’s summary ruling in favor of the city. The case is Clay County Realty Co. and Edith Investment Co. v. City of Gladstone.


The U.S. Senate on June 10 unanimously confirmed President George W. Bush’s appointment of Missouri Supreme Court Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. to the U.S. District Court for eastern Missouri. Limbaugh’s elevation to the federal bench will give Republican Gov. Matt Blunt his second appointment to the state high court.

The Missouri Constitution gives the governor a limited role in appointing appellate judges by requiring him to pick a nominee from a list of three finalists selected by the Appellate Judicial Commission. When a vacancy opened on the Supreme Court last summer, Blunt publicly complained that his favored candidates didn’t make the cut before ultimately picking Patricia Breckenridge, then a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals Western District, from among the finalists chosen by the commission. The controversy sparked an effort to amend the constitution to give the governor more control over the nominating process. House Democrats, joined by a handful of Republicans, defeated the proposed amendment 69-83.

Limbaugh is completing work on pending cases and is expected to resign from the Supreme Court and begin his duties on the federal bench later this summer. The Appellate Judicial Commission likely won’t begin the process of replacing Limbaugh until he either steps down or announces a firm date for when he plans to do so.