Demand for state's manual exceeds supply

Saturday, February 2, 2002


"I'm going to issue a press release to let people know that I'm a Democrat." -- Rep. Rick Johnson of High Ridge

By Paul Sloca ~ The Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri secretary of state's office has ordered more state manuals to keep up with demand -- and along the way is correcting some errors.

An additional 2,700 copies were ordered at a cost of $39,000 to meet the flood of requests for the 2001-2002 Official Manual of the State of Missouri, also known as the "Blue Book," said Spence Jackson, spokesman for Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt.

The original order was for 42,000 books and, with the additional copies, the final cost to the state was about $529,000. Jackson said Friday that the cost was still well below the $600,000 set aside for producing the manual.

Fewer books were produced this year than in the past because of a tight state budget, "but due to the popularity of the books and the patriotic theme, we ordered more to meet the demand," Jackson said. "We were able to do a lot of the work in-house and ship it on to the publishers."

Those savings will be returned to the state's general revenue fund.

Published every two years since 1889, the manual contains detailed information about Missouri government, including election results, names of county officials and a list of state employees and their salaries. The latest volume, published in October 2001, runs 1,536 pages and includes a section of photographs depicting "Missouri's Patriotism: Then and Now."

Cook's spending

Jackson was quick to point out that former Democratic Secretary of State Bekki Cook spent $580,000 on the manuals two years ago.

Still, there were some problems with information in the manual that were being corrected in the latest run. In some cases, party affiliations and district information for some lawmakers were incorrect, Jackson said.

Take freshman Rep. Rick Johnson of High Ridge, for example.

Johnson, a Democrat, was identified as a Republican and his home address was incorrect. There also were problems with a description of two legal organizations to which he belongs.

"I'm going to issue a press release to let people know that I'm a Democrat," Johnson said Friday. "I understand the secretary of state's office has a lot of people and work, but party affiliation is kind of important."

Because of the mistakes, Johnson said he doesn't feel comfortable sending his allotment of manuals to constituents.

"They apologized and that sort of stuff," said Johnson, a Navy submariner during the Gulf War. "I told them I guess that kind of thing happens when the secretary of state is overseas."

Blunt, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is serving somewhere in the United Kingdom as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The newest manual is dedicated to the state's military veterans.

Under state law, members of the state Senate receive 200 copies of the manual and House members receive 100. Copies are also distributed free to state and county officials, members of the judiciary, every elementary school in Missouri and state newspapers.

The manual is known as the "Blue Book" because of its traditional binding color. Six editions actually were published with green binding and one with mauve binding.

Walsworth Publishing of Marceline and Brookfield printed the manual for the fourth straight time.

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