In a variation on the People's Choice awards, Missouri residents will begin voting on nominees they selected for induction into the Hall of Famous Missourians.
The Hall is a gallery of bronze busts in the third floor Rotunda area of the Capitol. It now contains more than 40 inductees, all selected by speakers of the House during their tenures.
In a departure from tradition, Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, invited Missouri residents to nominate and select two of three additions he intends to make.
His display of populism was, in a word, popular.
It also distanced Jones from a controversy sparked by his predecessor. The induction of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh by former Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, was denounced by some critics, primarily Democrats.
Their displeasure focused on Limbaugh's characterization of a law student - who testified for a requirement that birth control be included in health insurance coverage - as a "slut" and "prostitute."
The 10 nominees selected by the the public appear detached from similar controversy.
They include: Claude Smith, a music educator who composed "Flight"; Andrew Taylor Still, founder of the American School of Osteopathy; Rose O'Neill, creator of the cartoon Kewpie; former U.S. Sen. John Henderson, who helped write the 13th Amendment; Virginia Minor, an organizer of the suffrage movement in Missouri; John William "Blind" Boone, musician and composer; science-fiction author Robert Heinlein; former Gov. Kit Bond; former state Rep. Sue Shear; and Payne Stewart, professional golfer.
Missourians will be able to vote through Oct. 31 for two new honorees. A third will be selected, according to tradition, solely by the speaker.
Online voting may be done at www.house.mo.gov/FamousMissourianVoting.aspx
During a time when governments, from federal to local, are being vilified for not representing "the people," the Hall of Famous Missourians vote marks a welcome diversion.