Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Tornado watch issued for Jasper, Newton, Barton counties

(From the National Weather Service)

TORNADO WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WT 383
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
600 PM CDT WED JUL 1 2015

TORNADO WATCH 383 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1200 AM CDT FOR THE
 FOLLOWING LOCATIONS

MOC011-013-015-029-033-037-039-041-047-053-057-059-077-083-085-
089-095-097-101-105-107-109-141-159-165-167-175-177-185-195-217-
225-229-020500-
/O.NEW.KWNS.TO.A.0383.150701T2300Z-150702T0500Z/

MO
.    MISSOURI COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BARTON               BATES               BENTON
CAMDEN               CARROLL             CASS
CEDAR                CHARITON            CLAY
COOPER               DADE                DALLAS
GREENE               HENRY               HICKORY
HOWARD               JACKSON             JASPER
JOHNSON              LACLEDE             LAFAYETTE
LAWRENCE             MORGAN              PETTIS
PLATTE               POLK                RANDOLPH
RAY                  SALINE              ST. CLAIR
VERNON               WEBSTER             WRIGHT

Police: Steadley Elementary tutor used phone to take nude photos

A 9 a.m. July 14 arraignment has been scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court for a Carthage teen charged with invasion of privacy for multiple individuals, a felony.

Carthage Police say Colin Clubb, 17, used his cell phone to surreptitiously record naked women using a tanning bed at a 24-hour fitness center in Carthage and also set up his phone to take video in a bathroom at Steadley Elementary. From KOAM's report:

The gym's co-owner and police say the three women who were recorded and were customers have been identified and ere notified of the incidents.

The same day Clubb allegedly recorded his second and third woman at the gym, police say Clubb then hid his cell phone inside a faculty bathroom at nearby Steadley Elementary School. Police say the phone was found by a woman underneath a sink. Officials say they found a 33 minute video on the phone, showing partially naked women. There were five women involved. Only one woman, the one who found the phone, has been identified by police.
  

Clubb was a summer tutor at Steadley.

Thunderstorms, hail may be on tap for Joplin area tonight

(From the National Weather Service)

HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPRINGFIELD MO
1251 PM CDT WED JUL 1 2015

KSZ073-097-101-MOZ055>058-066>071-077>083-088>098-101>106-021800-
BOURBON-CRAWFORD-CHEROKEE-BENTON-MORGAN-MILLER-MARIES-VERNON-
ST. CLAIR-HICKORY-CAMDEN-PULASKI-PHELPS-BARTON-CEDAR-POLK-DALLAS-
LACLEDE-TEXAS-DENT-JASPER-DADE-GREENE-WEBSTER-WRIGHT-NEWTON-
LAWRENCE-CHRISTIAN-DOUGLAS-HOWELL-SHANNON-MCDONALD-BARRY-STONE-
TANEY-OZARK-OREGON-
1251 PM CDT WED JUL 1 2015

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR PORTIONS OF THE MISSOURI
OZARKS AND EXTREME SOUTHEAST KANSAS.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.

WEATHER HAZARDS EXPECTED...

  LIMITED TORNADO RISK.
  ELEVATED HAIL RISK.
  ELEVATED THUNDERSTORM WIND DAMAGE RISK.
  SIGNIFICANT FLOODING RISK.
  SIGNIFICANT LIGHTNING RISK.
  LIMITED EXCESSIVE HEAT RISK.

DISCUSSION...

  THUNDERSTORMS FROM OVERNIGHT AND THIS MORNING BROUGHT FAIRLY
  WIDESPREAD 3 TO 5 INCHES OF RAINFALL OVER CENTRAL AND SOUTH
  CENTRAL MISSOURI WITH ISOLATED HIGHER AMOUNTS. THIS HAS CAUSED
  SOME SIGNIFICANT FLOODING TO OCCUR WITH NUMEROUS ROAD CLOSURES
  AND WATER RESCUES DURING THE MORNING. WHILE THE WIDESPREAD RAIN
  HAS DIMINISHED...SCATTERED SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE OVER THIS AREA
  DURING THE AFTERNOON.

  ADDITIONAL THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ALONG OUTFLOW
  BOUNDARIES ACROSS THE AREA BY LATE AFTERNOON INTO THE EVENING
  HOURS. STORMS MAY INITIALLY BE SUPERCELLULAR WITH LARGE
  HAIL...DAMAGING WIND AND ISOLATED TORNADOES ALL POSSIBLE.

  STORMS ARE EXPECTED TO EVENTUALLY FORM INTO ANOTHER THUNDERSTORM
  COMPLEX WHICH IS EXPECTED TO AGAIN AFFECT CENTRAL AND SOUTH
  CENTRAL MISSOURI OVERNIGHT INTO THURSDAY MORNING...BRINGING AN
  ADDITIONAL ONE TO TWO INCHES OF RAIN. ISOLATED HIGHER AMOUNTS
  WILL BE POSSIBLE. THIS WILL LEAD TO ADDITIONAL FLASH FLOODING
  TONIGHT.

  IN ADDITION TO HAZARDS POSED BY THUNDERSTORMS TODAY AND
  TONIGHT...AFTERNOON HEAT INDEX VALUES IN THE MIDDLE TO UPPER 90S
  WILL OCCUR ACROSS PORTIONS OF WESTERN MISSOURI AND EXTREME
  SOUTHEASTERN KANSAS.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY.

  AFTERNOON HEAT INDEX VALUES IN THE MIDDLE TO UPPER 90S CAN BE
  EXPECTED ACROSS EXTREME WESTERN MISSOURI AND EXTREME
  SOUTHEASTERN KANSAS AGAIN ON THURSDAY.

  MULTIPLE ROUNDS OF THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE INTO EARLY
  NEXT WEEK...INCLUDING THE FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND. STRONG TO
  SEVERE STORMS WILL BE POSSIBLE AGAIN FROM THURSDAY AFTERNOON
  INTO THURSDAY EVENING...MAINLY ACROSS SOUTHERN MISSOURI AND
  EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN KANSAS. THERE WILL ALSO BE AT LEAST A
  LIMITED RISK FOR FLOODING TO END THE WORK WEEK.

.SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...

  SPOTTER ACTIVATION MAY BE NEEDED LATER TODAY OR TONIGHT OVER
  MOST OF THE MISSOURI OZARKS AND EXTREME SOUTHEAST KANSAS.

Joplin man charged after ramming pedestrians at 15th Street Wal-Mart

(From the Joplin Police Department)

On June 30, 2015 at 11:36 PM, the Joplin Police Department responded to 1501 S. Range Line in reference to a vehicular assault.

Officers determined that there had been a verbal disturbance between the occupants of a vehicle and a small, but of indeterminate number, group of teenagers. After a brief verbal exchange, the group of teens entered Walmart. Shortly thereafter, the teens returned to the parking lot and the vehicle was seen circling the lot and ultimately it was driven directly at the group of pedestrians.


Two victims were struck by the vehicle. Calen M. Goad, 18, Seneca, suffered serious physical injuries and was transported by private vehicle to Freeman. Goad is in stable condition. Tavis Beaver, 17, Neosho, was injured and transported to Freeman by private vehicle.

The suspect vehicle fled the scene.

Witnesses described the suspect vehicle as a maroon Chevrolet Silverado extended cab-truck driven and occupied by two Hispanic males. A Police Dispatcher was able to identify a possible suspect vehicle from accumulated CAD data and sent officers to 2211 West B St. in Joplin. Officers located a maroon truck, consistent with a detailed description, at that location.
Joplin Police Investigators responded. Paulo Omar Lopez-Nanclares, 23, 2211 West B St., Joplin, was identified as the driver of the vehicle. Nanclares was arrested and has been charged with Assault - 2nd Degree and Leaving Scene of Motor Vehicle Accident--Injury. His bond is set at $3000.00 surety.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud available at Pat's Books in Carthage

As of this afternoon, Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado is available at Pat's Books in Carthage.

For the first time, Pat's Books is now carrying my earlier book, Let Teachers Teach.

It is also the only place left that has copies of my novel Devil's Messenger, which means that right now it is the only store that is carrying all of my books.

Silver Lining is also available locally at Always Buying Books in Joplin and can be purchased through Amazon. com and other internet sources.
***

Business Journal publisher: How can you force out a hero like C. J. Huff?

Over the last few years, I have spent so much time writing about the shortcomings of the Joplin Globe that I have shamefully neglected the other newspaper in Joplin, the weekly Joplin Regional Business Journal.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Business Journal, oh, what am I saying, to nearly all of you out there, it is published every two weeks and is designed to appeal to the business community.

In the most recent issue, Publisher Larry Warren devoted a rare column to praising departing Superintendent C. J. Huff and ripping into R-8 Board of Education members Jeff Koch, Debbie Fort, and Jennifer Martucci.

It is also obvious that Warren has not paid much attention to what is going on in the community his publication is supposed to be covering. But then again,some of those in the audience for which his publication is intended have never been too interested in hearing the truth about things that have occurred in the Joplin city government or in the Joplin R-8 School District:

How in four short years can you take a man who was recognized on the world stage for extraordinary accomplishments of leadership, who was People Magazine's Hero of the Year and still do what you can to force him out?

Could it be, Mr. Warren, because he has spent the district into a horrendous financial state and has run off more than 300 teachers in a three-year span, leaving the district overloaded with inexperienced teachers? Or perhaps it is because he has consistently misled the public on one issue after another during his entire time in Joplin. Or what about declining test scores year after year after year dating back to his time as superintendent of Eldon?

As for his awards, it should be noted that most of his recognition came as a result of people who worked for him submitting his name for the honors at his direction.

Warren continues with this gem:

The current Joplin School Board has demonstrated what power in the wrong hands can do.

It appears that when the people choose board members that do not fall into line with what the power elite in Joplin want then the board is in "the wrong hands."

And this:

Whenever people who do not get paid to sit on a board receive death threats just because of how they vote, our society is in a very bad place and one I hoped we would never see here.

I am not convinced that Randy Steele ever received death threats. If they were written, then it is time he produced them. In fact, I cannot remember him saying he received death threats. His story was changing each time he spoke. One time people were threatening to come to the board meeting; another time he was concerned for his safety. It did not make much sense then and it does not make much sense now.

What does make sense and what Warren has conveniently neglected to mention is that Mike Landis and Lynda Banwart conspired to put the appointment of three board members, all approved by Warren, of course, in the hands of the Jasper County Commission, and out of the control of the voters of the Joplin R-8 School District, who made it clear they wanted change. Landis contacted Commissioner Darieus Adams the night before Landis resigned saying what he intended to do. Banwart made it clear during the May 26 board meeting that she wanted the Commission to make the decision. And the fact that she had  a conflict of interest with Adams was never mentioned. I suppose Warren feels all is fair when the board has fallen into "the wrong hands."

The C. J. Huff era has been a nightmare for every segment of the Joplin R-8 School District except for the Joplin Regional Business Journal's target audience- the same people who want to make sure that Huff's legacy continues unchecked.

Cynthia Davis compares gay marriage ruling to Dred Scott decision

(From former Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, now an internet radio host)

As we prepare to celebrate our Independence Day, it may seem hard to maintain our optimism when we consider how much of our independence we have given away.

You may ask, "How have we have given it away?" By giving the power to govern to the Supreme Court, and by giving so much power to the national government, and by giving away jurisdiction over education to state and federal governments. Yet there are some reasons for optimism.

Can good come out of bad? YES!

Many of you may be wondering about how we can understand the impact of the latest opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Here are some positive lessons that have emerged from the US Supreme Court OPINION on marriage.

Some of the efforts of the homosexuals were aimed at passing laws that will allow them to feel better. They will find out that no man-made law can replace natural laws or God's laws. Those who worked so hard to seek legal affirmation will find that their consciences still feel guilty.

Just like the Dred Scott decision, history will prove that the US Supreme Court is wrong again. The five justices who crafted the majority opinion cost the court a lot of credibility and turned the court into a legislative body without an election by the people.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops calls the Obergefell decision a “tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children.”

“Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable,” said USCCB president Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky. ”Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and, as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.”

In many Archdioceses across the country, I'm very thankful for Bishops and priests. I wish we knew how many protestant pastors made a statement on the wrongness of homosexuality from their pulpits Sunday morning. Let me know if your pastor guided your church in the correct understanding of this Supreme Court decision. If he was a faithful shepherd, name names. These pastors deserve our applause.

Here is a comment one of my Facebook friends wrote on Sunday:

"Hallelujah! This morning, every Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Palm Beach was required to read a letter from the Bishop unequivocally stating that homosexual marriage and homosexuality, in general, is a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church and that they can never be reconciled with Catholic Belief."

The American churches would have had a whole lot more credibility in their stance against homosexuality if they had not softened the Biblical stance on divorce, re-marriage, fornication, or adultery.

God has a plan. He is not surprised by our Supreme Court. We will stay the course and see what He does next.

Seven R-8 administrators made $100,000+ during 2014-2015

Seven Joplin R-8 administrators made six figure salaries during the 2014-2015 according to information the district filed with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Twenty-six people listed as working in the Central Administration office received more than $50,000.

The descriptions of the employees' jobs, which were provided by the school district, indicates that the district is making it appear as if it is paying its teachers more by listing the teaching/learning coaches, many of whom make more than $50,000 a year as teachers, despite the fact that they generally serve as an arm of administration in their buildings, and many of them serve as the eyes and ears for upper administration. The positions have also been used as a steppingstone into administrative positions in the district.

Those receiving the most pay in the school district during the past school year were the following:

1. C. J. Huff, superintendent, $177,125
2. Kerry Sachetta, Joplin High School principal $114,661
3. David Rockers, Franklin Technology Center director $104,267
4. Mark Barlass, executive director of student services $101,501
5. Jason Cravens, executive director of secondary education $101,198
6. Lisa Orem, student services program coordinator $100,952
7. Jennifer Doshier, executive director of elementary education $100,580
8. Jeff Starkweather, athletic director, $96,948
9. Steven Gilbreth, South Middle School principal $95,213
10. Bud Sexson, East Middle School principal $89,315
11. Brandon Eggleston, North Middle School principal $89,051
12. Steven Reed, Franklin Tech assistant director $85,825
13. Greg Boyd, Joplin High School assistant principal $85,606
14. Darrell Hueller, Joplin High School assistant principal $82,761
15. Sandra Cantwell, Joplin High School assistant principal $79,455
15. Matt Harding, Joplin High School assistant principal $79,455
17. Teresa Adams, Soaring Heights Elementary principal $78,020
17. Julie Munn, Kelsey Norman Elementary principal $78,020
17. Nila Vance, Irving Elementary principal $78,020
20. Heather Surbrugg, Eastmorland Elementary principal $77,844
21. Amanda Boyer, early childhood coordinator $76,849
22. Jarrett Cook, Jefferson Elementary principal $76,848
22. Jill White, Royal Heights Elementary principal $76,848
23, Terri Hart, McKinley Elementary principal $73,311
24. Gayle Hennessey, Cecil Floyd Elementary principal $74,260
24. Sarah Mwangi, Columbia Elementary principal
26. Bret Ingle, West Central Elementary principal $73,311
26. Karen Secrist, Stapleton Elementary principal $73,311
28. Eric Pitcher, director of technology, $73,011
28. Sarah Stevens, director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment $73,011
29. Shally Lundien, South Middle School assistant principal $72,669
30. Sabrina Davis, Central Office, occupational therapist $70,123
30. Mary Lowry, Central Office, physical therapist $70,123
30. Lisa Shallenberger, Central Office, occupational therapist $70,123
33. Kayla Spencer, Central Office, physical therapist $69,923
34. Jeff Williams, teacher/coach Joplin High School $69,558
35. Susan James, director Beacon School $68,795
35. Jason Weaver, East Middle School assistant principal $68,795

Not on the list provided to DESE were the names of Tina Smith, chief operations officer, Mike Johnson, building program director, or any of the people who hold positions such as events coordinator, director of alumni relations, or anything to do with Bright Futures Joplin.
***
How did the Joplin School District get into the mess it is in today?  You can find out that, as well as background on Joplin City Government and Wallace-Bajjali in the new book, Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado.

Ten signs your child is in a failing school district

(The following is my latest blog for Huffington Post.)

In these days of Common Core State Standards and continuing attacks on public education by billionaires and their bought-and-paid-for legislators, parents need a few guidelines on how to tell if their child is in a failing school district.

It has nothing to do with low scores on state-mandated standardized tests and more to do with the culture in the school district.

Here are 10 signs that your child is in a failing school district:

1. The large majority of your teachers have less than five years of experience- The best schools have solid veteran teaching forces, mixing in talented newcomers each year as teachers retire or move into administration or other job opportunities. When you run off your veteran teachers, you not only do not have teachers who can mentor the younger staff members and help them reach their full potential, but you also are increasing the odds that you are going to hire some less gifted teachers just to fill the vacancies. That makes it that much harder to understand why so many state legislatures are appropriating millions for inexperienced Teach for America instructors instead of spending that money to keep their best teachers in the classroom.

2. Teachers are overwhelmed with requests for data- Any time teachers are spending more time providing data for the bean counters in administration, it is a good indication that your school has gone astray. Most of that data is supplied through the use of one practice standardized test after another. In recent years, the situation has grown worse with many school districts adding costly practice tests given multiple times during the year. These not only take away from instructional time, but they also strip the children of any love of learning and they provide overly generous fees to the testing companies. What is worse, the expensive practice tests, whether students do well on them or not, provide no guarantee of success on the high stakes test at the end of the school year.

3. Teachers receive no support from administrators on discipline issues- In our ravenous quest for more and more data, one of the worst things that has occurred was the decision to measure a school's safety by its numbers of incidents, referrals, and suspensions. It was a natural progression for administrators, both at upper and lower levels, to find ways to game the system and avoid climbing statistics. In some schools, this has been done by encouraging teachers to handle every kind of situation in their classrooms and not involve the principal's office. Teachers receive the message that they are the ones who will suffer if students are given referrals. Because of that, behavior that would have been met with an instant office referral only a few years ago, is allowed to continue in the classroom and creates even more distractions for teachers and students.

4. Professional development is limited to indoctrination and data- An alarming trend the past few years has been the transition of professional development from learning techniques that will help the teacher to improve teaching and classroom management techniques to attempts to forcefully install a culture that would seem more desirable in a business than in an institution of learning. Much of this has come from the proliferation of consultants and motivational speakers who latched on to public schools after the implementation of No Child Left Alive and have yet to loosen their grip.

5. The message is tightly controlled, eliminating constructive criticism- At one time, the top administrators in public school districts were invariably educators who worked their way through the system, spending years in the classroom before going into administration. Nowadays, many top administrators have only spent three years or less in the classroom and are more like CEOs and executive vice presidents than educators. This had led to a culture shift with an overemphasis on public relations. Anyone in the school district or in the community who dares to question a decision is accused of trying to "hurt the children" or "attack teachers."  When administrators surround themselves with yes-men and strictly control the message, it makes it much more likely that mistakes are going to be made, at a cost to the children and to the taxpayers.

6. School Board members serve as rubber stamps- Over the past few decades, the role of boards of education has changed dramatically. In many communities, the board of education acts more like the board of directors of a Fortune 500 company, rubber stamping whatever the superintendent or top administrator does without question. That is not what voters expect when they elect school board members. Obviously, you do not want to have board members looking over administrators' shoulders every minute of every day, but when the board of education places blind trust in anyone it increases the odds that something disastrous will happen. One of the major criticisms lodged against board members is that they "have an agenda," as if that is something bad. If the agenda is to stop out-of-control spending, or place more emphasis on education, what is wrong with that? When boards serve as rubber stamps for any administrator, they are effectively taking away local control of our school districts.

7,. The community is not involved in its schools- In many school districts, the community is kept at arm's length until it is time to pass another bond issue or tax levy increase. Or the community involvement is restricted to a carefully selected group of business and civic leaders or the spouses of those leaders. A successful school district is one in which the involvement is organic and comes from all segments of the community, not just the ones who are needed when it comes time to ask for money. In some school districts, the community is asked for its input and then guided to give the input the administrators are seeking so they can say whatever initiative they have has the support of the community. That is not community involvement; that is pure spin.

8. The district is top heavy with administrators- While there is certainly a need to have strong, capable administrators directing a school district, administration tends to grow far more than is necessary, using funds that could be spent much better in the classroom. Rule of thumb, the more executive directors of anything that you have, the more problems your school district is going to have.

9. An overemphasis has been placed on technology- While it would seem that the more emphasis placed on technology in this day and age the better, that is simply not the case. With many schools adding laptops, iPads, and other devices that students can take home with them, districts have begun a push to incorporate the technology into every lesson, complete overkill that works against the student in the long run. While it is vital that students are able to handle technology, it is just as important that they are able to participate in discussions, listen to lectures (schools are eliminating these and that creates a problem for students when they go on to higher education), and take notes. If your school district is pushing the idea that everything can be learned by consulting Google then your child is being shortchanged.

10. Not enough emphasis is being placed on civics and citizenship- In the push to make sure everyone is "college and career ready," many schools are depriving children of some of the most important knowledge they should receive- how to participate in their society as an informed voter, who has the understanding of what this country is all about. While it is important that students be ready to work, the idea that they should be doing so during their high school years at the expense of learning about government, history, and the things they need to know to be a full participant in our society is ludicrous.

This list leaves off other important factors- poverty, crime, and how many billionaires you have who are trying to force privatization of education down your throat, but for those who want to make a difference at a local level, these are the danger signs that your district is failing.

MU pays Chelsea Clinton $65,000 for speech, raises tuition

(From the Missouri Republican Party)

Less than a year after Chelsea Clinton charged the University of Missouri-Kansas City $65,000 for a 10-minute speech, University of Missouri curators raised tuition at all four campuses in the UM system.

The Washington Post reported this morning that university administrators originally approached Hillary Clinton about speaking at the February 2014 event but balked at her $275,000 fee—with one university official exclaiming ‘Yikes!' Instead, they agreed to pay Chelsea $65,000.

The speech came amid rising tuition rates, with increases approved in 2012 and 2013. A year after the speech, the Board of Curators voted again to increase tuition across the University of Missouri system. From the Columbia Daily Tribune, 2/6/15: "Under the approved hike, undergraduate resident tuition at all four campuses except the University of Missouri-St. Louis will increase by 0.8 percent. In St. Louis, it will increase by 6.2 percent. Nonresident undergrads will pay 3 percent more in Columbia and at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, 0.8 percent more in Kansas City and 2.9 percent more in St. Louis."

This is not the first time the Clintons have come under fire for charging excessive speaking fees at a time of rising tuition. Last year, the Washington Post reported that students and teachers at universities across the nation had criticized and threatened to protest Hillary Clinton's on-campus speeches, for which she was charging as much as $300,000.

“It's hard to take Hillary Clinton seriously when she claims to be committed to reducing student debt while simultaneously charging six-figure fees to cash-strapped universities. The truth is, the Clintons profit while students go deeper in debt," said John Hancock, Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. "To their credit, university officials balked at the excessive speaking fee, but this illustrates once again just how disconnected Hillary Clinton is from ordinary Missourians."