The Missouri attorney general’s office has released its annual list of the top consumer complaints. None come as a surprise.

No. 1 – by a mile – is the endless stream of phone calls with illegal telemarketing or violations of the state’s no-call list. The attorney general’s office fielded 43,566 complaints about that last year, which is four times as many as No. 2 through 10 combined.

Others on the list are solicitations for sweepstakes and lotteries, disputes with financial institutions, auto dealers and auto repair shops, and timeshares, timeshare-exit companies and travel clubs.

The last one on the list is identity theft, and the attorney general’s office advises consumers to “check their credit report, guard their Social Security number, shred receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, and anything else with personal information.”

If you have a complaint to file, go to or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222.

Quick hits

Prime Healthcare, which owns St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs, has named Mark Benz as a regional CEO over four hospitals – St. Mary’s, St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, Kan. He comes here from Tucson, Arizona, where he was a market CEO for Tenet Healthcare/Carondelet Health Network. … Quick – how many Taco Bells are there in the metro area? The answer is about 60, including one just opened at the rapidly developing northeast corner of Buckner-Tarsney Road and Interstate 70 in Grain Valley. The company says the typical Taco Bell has about 30 employees.

Slow growth?

One indicator of the Midwestern economy suggests growth has perked up again.

Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, drawn from surveys of manufacturers, earlier this month was reported at 50.6 for December.

That’s on a 100-point scale, and it’s barely on the growth side, but it’s an improvement. Creighton says the continued trade standoff with China will slow but not eliminate growth among Midwestern manufacturers in 2020. A second round of U.S. tariffs on China were delayed last month, but many from earlier remain in place.

Creighton looks at nine states – Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. Creighton says Missouri’s economic performance was sixth in that nine-state group in 2019 and will slip to seventh this year. GDP for the state will grow just 1.1 percent this year, the group forecasts.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at 816-350-6365 or He’s in Twitter at @FoxEJC.