Thursday, April 24, 2014

Craig Michael Wood pleads not guilty to rape, sodomy charges

Former Springfield Pleasant Valley Middle School coach Craig Michael Wood pleaded not guilty this morning in Greene County Circuit Court to the new charges of rape and sodomy that were filed against him earlier this week.

The charges were added over the objection of Wood's lawyer.

Wood's preliminary hearing on charges of first degree murder, kidnapping, and armed criminal action in connection with the February 18 death of 10-year-old Hailey Owens, originally scheduled for today was postponed until 1 p.m. May 22 at the defense's request over the objection of the prosecuting attorney.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is this really how Joplin should advertise for kindergarten teachers?

These are the qualifications that a kindergarten teacher in the Joplin R-8 School District must have, according to an ad posted today on the district website. It is a shame that the district does not have the same kind of requirements for those whose jobs are situated at the Administration Building.

Highly qualified Missouri teacher for a kindergarten class.
Missouri Certification required or ability to obtain.

Job Title:                    Teacher
Department:              Instruction
Reports to:                 Principal
Classification:            Exempt
Term:                         9 Months

Teachers are responsible for providing direct instruction to students and maintaining an environment conducive to learning

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily.  The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skills and abilities required.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions.

General Expectations:
  • Supports the mission of Joplin Schools
  • Supports the value of education
  • Complies with the privacy rights of students
  • Safeguards confidential and/or sensitive information
  • Communicates effectively with all the members of the school district and community
  • Provides excellence in customer service both internally and externally.
  • Reacts to change productively
  • Keeps abreast of new information, innovative ideas and techniques
  • Maintains accurate records and filing systems for accountability and audit purposes
  • Ensures that all activities conform to district and state guidelines

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
An individual who holds this position is required to:
Provide instruction to students
Create and implement a classroom disciplinary plan
Create lesson plans and activities to implement and supplement instruction
Participate in building, grade level and subject area committees
Participate in professional development activities
Maintain accurate student records including attendance, grades and discipline
Complete and submit forms and required reports in a timely manner
Communicate regularly with parents regarding progress and other educational concerns
Participate as a member of an IEP team, 504 team or other student assistance teams as requested
Implement special educational plans such as 504 plans, individual educational programs and individual health plans
Report suspected abuse, neglect, discrimination and harassments as directed by Board policy
Prepare lesson plans for use by a substitute teacher

Subject area teachers may have additional duties and responsibilities

Supervisory Duties
Supervise students at all times

Bachelors Degree
Certificates, Licenses, Registrations
Valid Missouri Teaching Certificate

Skills and Abilities
An individual who holds this position must have the ability to:
Read, analyze and interpret professional journals, Board policy, administrative procedures and forms and governmental regulations and guidance 
Complete forms, write reports and engage in written correspondence with parents
Present information effectively and respond to questions
Write clear and complete lesson plans
An individual who holds this position must have the ability to:
Work with mathematical concepts such as probability and statistical inference
Apply concepts such as fractions, percentages, ratios and proportions to practical situations
An individual who holds this position must have the ability to:
Solve a variety of problems in many different situations
Interpret instructions presented in written, oral, diagram or schedule form
Apply knowledge of current educational theory and instructional techniques while presenting subject matter to students
Other Skills and Abilities
An individual who holds this position must have the ability to:
Identify needs and abilities of individual students and to adapt instructional methods accordingly
Establish and maintain effective relationships with students, peers and parents
Perform multiple tasks simultaneously
An individual who holds this position must have the ability to:
Perform basic computer functions such as word processing and internet use
Use district software for recording grades and finding student information
Utilize smart boards, projectors and other instructional technology provided by the district

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions.

Physical Demands
An individual who holds this position must have the ability to:
Speak and hear in an environment where numerous conversations and activities may be taking place simultaneously
Move around the classroom
Read handwritten or printed material
Consistent and regular attendance is an essential function of this position.

The work conditions and environment described here are representative of those that an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions.

Conditions and Environment

The individual who holds this position will regularly work in a school environment that is noisy and active.  Occasionally the individual will be required to work outdoors for short periods of time to perform such tasks as loading and unloading students from district transportation and supervising recess.

Billy Long report: Nearly $19K in meals, multiple trips to Las Vegas, Florida

Billy Long has not found the time to schedule a town hall meeting in the more than three years since he became Seventh District Congressman, but thanks to his campaign contributors he has been able to spend plenty of time in Las Vegas and Florida and spend nearly $19,000 for meals during the first three months of 2014.

One of Long's Las Vegas trips was well publicized as the congressman, a friend of Las Vegas casino owner and heavy-hitting GOP money man Sheldon Adelson, had the privilege of introducing former Vice President Dick Cheney Friday, March 28, during a cattle call for potential presidential candidates seeking Adelson's support. The event was held at Adelson's Venitian Hotel and Casino.

Whether Long had any other political business during the Vegas trips is not clear, but he reports paying $283.50 for a meal at the Southwest Steakhouse in Vegas on January 9, a $24.17 meal at the same establishment February 11 and an $819.05 stay at the Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel and Casino in Vegas which was listed for February 12.

It appears, though it was not mentioned in the disclosure report, that Long was at the hotel for the Safari Club International Hunters' Convention, which was held February 5-8, with Long and several of his colleagues attending.

Though Long's appearance at the Adelson event was on March 28, he is listed as spending $345.28 for "hotel-travel" at the Venitian on March 31.

Not all of the congressman's trips were out west. He spent a considerable time in Florida, according to the disclosure report, with stops in Naples, Sarasota, and Tampa, between February 18 and February 21.

On February 18, the report shows $1,143 for the Westin Tampa Harbour Island Hotel in Tampa and $484.58 for the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota, and $203.01 at the Ritz-Carlton.

The February 19 tab shows $1,388.06 at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, and a $563.66 meal at Stoney's Steakhouse.

Nothing is shown for February 20 in Florida, but Long rushed back to Washington and spent $1,303 for meals at Carmine's in Washington and another $323.18 at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, then returned to Florida on the 21st, Long spent $314.92 for a meal at the Waterfront Grill in Naples, $909.42 at the Ritz-Carlton, and $870.56 at the Ritz-Carlton.

During the first quarter of 2014, the disclosure forms show Long spent $18,906.72 for meals, $8,146.44 for air travel, and $6,166.52 for hotels.

The meals included the following:

-$1,325.77 at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington January 24
-$296.65 at Keen's Steakhouse in New York on January 14
-$201.33 at Bobby Van's Grill in Washington on January 16
$283.50 at the Southwest Steakhouse in Las Vegas on January 9
$563.66 at Stoney's Steakhouse in Naples, Fla. on February 19
-$1,303 at Carmine's in Washington February 20
-$314.92 at the Waterfront Grill in Naples, Fla. on February 21
-$323.18 at the Capitol Hill Club
-$409.50 at the Capital Grille in Washington February 7
-$588.50  at Monocle in Washington March 27
-$4,953.90 for an event meal at the Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield March 24
-$1,302.46 at Carmine's on March 25
-$233.88 at Capitol Hill Club on March 21
-$686.99 at Capitol Hill Club on March 20
-$573.24 at the Prime Rib in Washington on March 12
-$298.60 at the Capital Grille on March 17
-$200 at Johnny Half Shell in Washington on March 24
-$3,537.60 at the Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield on March 6

When he first ran for Congress in 2010, Billy Long's slogan was that he was "fed up." It appears that three years in Washington may have left Billy Long overfed up.

State executes convicted killer William Rousan

A report from KOLR News

Americans For Prosperity- Nixon using fuzzy math on tax claims

(From Americans for Prosperity Missouri)

Americans for Prosperity – Missouri drew attention today to Governor Nixon’s false claims that Missouri is a low tax state while advocating for higher taxes at a Columbia school.

While Nixon claims Missouri has the 6th lowest taxes in the nation, a recent study from the non-partisan Tax Foundation shows that Missouri has the 14th highest combined state and local taxes in the nation. If the Nixon-supported proposal to increase the Sales Tax by one percent passes, it will vault Missouri all the way to the 6th highest combined rate in the nation.

“Once again, Governor Nixon is using fuzzy math to propel the false notion that Missouri is a low tax state when in reality Missouri families and businesses are struggling to keep up with the tax and spend policies supported by our Governor,” said Patrick Werner, Missouri State Director for Americans for Prosperity. “Americans for Prosperity – Missouri calls on Governor Nixon to defend his statement instead of using scare tactics. We urge him to review the numbers for himself and present the facts instead of pulling numbers of out of the air to support his misguided argument that Missouri is a low tax state.”

Werner added, “Missourians are nickeled and dimed at the cash register as Governor Nixon and his tax and spend friends continue to ratchet up the tax burden on hardworking Missourians while he travels around telling tall tales of low taxes. The truth is Governor Nixon’s has traveled the state the last two years in opposition to lowering the tax burden while supporting big government programs like Medicaid Expansion which will cost Missourians $515 million dollars between 20014 – 2022.”

Governor Nixon, show us where you find the number 6?

Missouri has the 18th highest top marginal personal income tax rate

Missouri has the 39th highest top marginal corporate income tax rate

Missouri ranks 13th in personal income progressivity

Missouri has the 23rd highest sales tax

Missouri ranks 18th in overall tax burden

Missouri has the 20th highest individual income tax

“If Governor Nixon has his way, Missouri will join the ‘top ten’ of highest tax states in the nation,” Werner continued. “We will have a higher combined tax rate than notorious high tax states like New York and California. All while he travels the state claiming we have a the 6th lowest tax burden.”

Missouri, which has had hundreds of proposed local tax hikes each year in recent years, is identified by the non-partisan Tax Foundation as having the 14th highest combined tax burden in the nation. The Tax Foundation study also notes that 5 states don't collect a statewide sales tax and 12 states don't allow local governments to levy sales taxes.

Video- New Georgia law allows guns in churches, schools, bars

How long before this kind of idiocy reaches Missouri? This is not about gun rights; it's about gun wrongs.

Probable cause statement: Webb City teacher had 3-month sexual relationship with student

An after-hours sex act with an 18-year-old high school student led to criminal charges being filed Tuesday against former Webb City High School choir instructor Carrie Njoroge, according to a probable cause statement filed in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The act allegedly took place Tuesday, April 15, in her office at the school. Two days later, school officials placed her on paid administrative leave. She resigned the following day, according to a statement from the school district.

The probable cause statement says that April 15 was not the first time Mrs. Njorege had sex with the student. He says that the relationship began three months earlier.

The probable cause statement, written by Webb City Police Department Cpl. Josh Smith, is printed below:

On April 15, 2014, between the hours of 19:30 and 21:30 hours at 621 N. Madison, Webb City, Jasper County, Missouri, 64870 (Webb City High School), Carrie Njoroge, a Webb City High School choir teacher, had consensual sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old male student in her office. The student stated they participated in an ongoing relationship for approximately three months involving oral sex on multiple occasions and sexual intercourse on April 15, 2014.

No new trial for killer of Carthage couple

Jasper County Circuit Court Judge David Dally has rejected a motion from accused killer Darren Winans for a new trial.

In a decision handed down Tuesday, Dally wrote that the argument of Winans, who is serving consecutive life sentences for the brutal 2008 murders of Bob and Ellen Sheldon, owners of the Old Cabin Shop in Carthage, that his lawyers were ineffective did  not hold up.

Winans pleaded guilty February 28, 2011, to two counts of second degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and one count of burglary. The murder charges had originally been first degree. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for armed criminal action and 15 years for burglary, with the charges to run consecutively with the life sentences.

His co-defendant, Matthew Laurin, Springfield, pleaded guilty earlier and then committed suicide in the Jasper County Jail.

In his motion, Winans, who was represented by a different public defender than the two who represented him earlier, offered three arguments as to why his guilty plea should be set aside.

Winans claimed that his lawyers did not tell him that his sentences would be running consecutively and that he was under the mistaken belief that some of them would run concurrently. Dally found that that claim was not accurate.

Winans' second claim was that his lawyers had told him that "premeditation of his codefendant could be attributable to him." Dally wrote, "This court finds it hard to believe that experienced counsel from the capital defender unit would have made any such statement to him and, in fact, they deny saying any such thing."

The final claim by Winans was that his lawyers did not file a motion to suppress the statement of Dr. Tammy Neil, to whom he made an incriminating statement while he was in the Jasper County Jail and Dr. Neil was serving as a mental health consultant. Dally noted that there was no reason to file a motion to suppress at that point and that one certainly would have been filed had Winans elected to stand trial instead of entering a guilty plea.

From July 15, 2009- Flaws in the System May Have Led to Murder of Carthage Couple

Webb City teacher charged with sexual contact with student resigns

Webb City High School choir teacher Carrie Njoroge, who was charged Tuesday with sexual contact with a student, a felony, submitted her resignation April 18, one day after being placed on administrative leave, according to a statement issued by the Webb City R-7 School District.

School officials contacted the Webb City Police Department, which led to the filing of charges against Mrs. Njoroge.

Probable Cause Statement: Webb City Teacher had 3-Month Sexual Relationship with Student