Friday, April 29, 2016

My open heart surgery and a few announcements

You do not get to recover if you never entered the battle.

That is one of the old chestnuts I have unearthed as I try to achieve some normalcy in the aftermath of my latest battle with health issues.

Those who have read my Facebook page have known that on the early morning of Monday, April 17, approximately 2:30 p.m., I checked myself into the Freeman Emergency Room, not knowing I was in the process of having a heart attack.

Truth be told, it may have been a second one. I had a similar pain for a short time the previous evening. It went away quickly, but after a year that has seen me go undergo four stents, I decided I would go to the emergency room at the next hint of chest discomfort.

A quick procedure was done to implant a balloon which would stay in while my body was being drained of a blood thinner I had taken following the stents. The balloon stayed in for the next week, leaving me on my back in the Freeman ICU.

The procedure, a triple heart bypass, was conducted during a five-hour period the evening of Friday, April 21. I was told it was a success and now the hard part would begin- doing the necessary work to bring myself back to regular, ordinary life, as it is.

I did my best during this past week to do what I was told, not complain, and work toward being released as soon as possible. The hard-working people at Freeman have done so much for me over the past year, that I will never find a way to repay them.

The last thing they needed was some 60-year-old whiner, realizing that his life had taken a change for the worse and dragging everyone down into the mud with him. I won't say that I did not complain, but if I did, I quickly apologized for it and tried to do better the next time.

When it was time for four a.m. x-rays, three-times-a-day physical therapy, or having to take a dozen pills at a time when I was on a restricted liquid diet. (I have a hard time swallowing pills without plenty of water). I went along with it.

Finally, on Thursday, my last physical therapy session, took me into an area of the hospital where I could walk up and down stairs. I went up the stairs once and back down, but it was a big thrill when I was told, "You're ready."

Thursday night and Friday, I moved into my new home for the next month or so, though it is a home with which I am familiar, having lived there from 1956 through 1977. My parents, in their 80s, are stuck with me until I am freed from doctors' restrictions on my driving and traveling.

With the help of Freeman Home Health, we are not having to do this alone. Miracles truly have taken place in medicine over the past few decades.

Of course, my parents are stuck with someone who has a beard that should make people wonder if the rumors of Merle Haggard's death were not exaggerated.

As the hours passed, I put off writing this post. I was not sure what I wanted to say. During a brief period of this enforced separation from blogging, I read some of the comments that had been left on the blog and on my Facebook pages.

One woman as much as said that she hoped I had another heart attack and died. Others who were upset about posts I had written earlier, had similar comments, most referring to me as an unfeeling person who writes whatever he wants to do just to damage people's lives.

I would say the people who feel inspired to share such comments on social media are the ones who do not care about damaging lives.

I don't plan on dwelling on what those people say. I prefer to think about and humbly say thank you to all of you who have given me your prayers, your kind wishes, and your thoughts about the work I do.

I don't plan on overdoing it, but the Turner Report, Inside Joplin, Inside Joplin Obituaries, and whatever other blogs I am working on, will continue, I will keep writing books, and I am hoping to have a couple of surprises to announce in the near future.

Thanks again to the best support staff a recovering open heart surgery patient could ever ask for.

Seven Joplin R-8 teachers resign, one retires,

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education accepted seven faculty resignations and one retirement during the April 15, closed session.

Those resigning:

Christina Patterson
Julain Pock
Heather Shull
Shelby Sullivan
Mary Baum
Tobin Schultz
Edward Trumbell


Kristi McGowan

In other action, the board approved the hiring of building principals Christopher Bozarth, Shalley Lundien and Brian Olivera.

The board also hired the following certified personnel:

Jennifer Hancock, 
Rachael Sachs 
Elizabeth Shannon
Shelly Tarter 
Kasondra Turley.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Anatomy of a merger: SEC document details Empire District Electric sale

A preliminary proxy statement filed by Empire District Electric Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission March 30 details the decision to offer the Joplin-based company for sale, the steps that were taken to arrange for bids, the bidding process, and how Canadian company Algonquin eventually became the successful suitor.

The information, though it makes for mind-numbing reading in some places, includes how Empire District Electric reacted when its sale plans were leaked to the media, the late entrance of an alternate bidder, the departure of other bidders who initially showed interest, and just about everything except why the company's management and board of directors thought a sale/merger was necessary.

The Board and management of Empire regularly review and assess Empire's long-term business plan and strategic alternatives available to enhance shareholder value, including potential business combination transactions.
On October 29, 2015, the Board held a meeting that was also attended by certain members of senior management, representatives of Moelis and a representative of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP , which we refer to as Cahill, Empire's outside legal counsel. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

C. J. Huff to go beyond bake sales at Missouri PTA Convention

Former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff will present two sessions a week from today, Saturday, April 23, at the Missouri PTA Convention in Columbia.

The sessions are described below. The second one, a panel discussion, will feature the current head of Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA), a member of the board for Bright Futures USA that hired Huff as a paid consultant.

Beyond Bake Sales …A Framework for Higher Levels of Parent/Community/School Engagement
Presenter:  Dr. C.J. Huff, Retired, Superintendent, Joplin Schools
Are you ready for a new approach to support your schools? You shouldn’t have to do it alone. In this motivational session, attendees will learn specific strategies on how to more fully engage their school community to better serve children and teachers.   Dr. Huff is an educator that has 20 years of experience of working in public schools and recently retired from the Joplin School district where he served as superintendent since 2008.  

Building a Winning Team – a panel discussionPresenters:  Dr. C.J. Huff, Retired, Superintendent, Joplin Schools; Melissa Randol, ESQ., Executive Director Missouri School Boards’ Association; Jennifer Case, Vice-President, Blue Springs R-IV School District Board of Education; Lori Prussman, Missouri PTA Treasurer and School Board Member, St. Joseph School District
Description:  What is the best way to approach my principal?  Is it ok to ask for a meeting with the superintendent?  Should PTA be represented at school board meetings?  How much should/can PTA be involved in the decision making for the district?  Often PTA leaders are unsure about how to work with their district’s different levels of governance.  Bring your questions and join  Dr. C. J. Huff, Melissa Randol, Jennifer Casey and Lori Prussman in a lively panel discussion.  Let’s share ideas about building good working relationships that benefit our children, parents, staff and community.

After the PTA Convention, Huff's next public appearance seems to be his presentations as part of panel discussions during events during the five-year anniversary of the Joplin Tornado observance.

Parents upset about R-8 attorney's romance with superintendent

The controversy surrounding the romantic relationship between the $400,000 a year superintendent of the Lee's Summit School District and the school district's attorney continues.

An angry group of parents attended the Board of Education meeting this week demanding that the district sever its relationship with the Guin Mondorf law firm because of Superintendent David McGehee's romance with attorney Shellie Guin.

Guin Mondorf has worked for the Joplin R-8 School District on two recent high profile cases. During the summer of 2015, the firm represented the district against a lawsuit filed by three Joplin residents seeking to overturn the Jasper County Commission's appointment of Sallie Beard, Ron Gatz, and Gary Nodler to the Board of Education.

In May 2013, Guin served as the prosecutor in my termination hearing.

The Lee's Summit board intends to retain Guin Mondorf. The district spent $13,000 to hire two outside law firms to conduct an investigation into whether there was a problem. Unbelievably, the investigators said there was no problem since the school district was using other lawyers in the firm to conduct its business and not Guin.

Of course, Guin being a name partner in the firm would still be profiting from the school district's business.

The board voted 4-3 to keep Guin Mondorf.

(KZRG photo of Guin taken at my hearing May 23, 2013)


Billy Long speaks out on House floor against internet regulation

Friday, April 15, 2016

Campaign finance reports: Koster has $7 million in bank

Candidates for governor filed their financial disclosure reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission Friday and the big money was in Attorney General Chris Koster's campaign account.

Koster, the only Democrat in the race to succeed term-limited Jay Nixon, collected $2,169,808 during the past three months and has $7,446,359.80, nearly as much as the four major Republican candidates combined.

Topping the cash game for the GOP was former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens with $1,015,988.85 during the quarter. Greitens has $4,130,296.79 in his account.

Businessman John Brunner raised $158,057.54 and has $3,235.814.60, while Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder picked up $328,295.53 and has $624,521.52.

Former Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway, who hasn't picked up a big check from retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield in quite some time, raised $254,251 and has $1,581,464.54 in her campaign account.

$1 million for Greitens, but more than $600K from out-of-state sources

Former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens cracked the one million dollar barrier with his first quarter fundraising, but more than 60 percent of his money came from out-of-state sources.

Greitens' financial disclosure report, filed Friday with the Missouri Ethics Commission, showed $1,015,988,85 in contributions, with $654,380 coming from outside of Missouri's borders.

Greitens' contributors included bankers, hedge fund owners and venture capitalists, as well as a few notable names.

Chicago Cubs owner Marlene Ricketts contributed $25,000. Ricketts is the wife of T. D. Ameritrade owner Joe Ricketts.

Linda McMahon, head of McMahon ventures (and wife of WWE front man Vince McMahon) contributed $10,000.

One of the larger contributors was Michigan Republican Party chairman Ronald Weiser, who gave $50,000. Weiser was ambassador to Slovakia during the George W. Bush Administration and was one of the primary architects of Michigan right-to-work legislation.

Cleaver: We must close the wage gap between men and women

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

On Tuesday, we marked Equal Pay Day, the day when, more than three months into the year, women’s wages finally catch up to what men were paid in the previous year. Once again, I call on all Members of Congress to come together in support of the passage of the critical Paycheck Fairness Act. More must be done to close the wage gap that still exists between women and men.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, the women in our state of Missouri still earn only 77.4 cents for every dollar earned by men. And nationwide, women earn only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, putting Missouri behind the national average. The Equal Pay Act was passed in June of 1963, but a new study finds that women won’t see pay equity with men until 2059, based on the rate that the pay gap has been closing since 1960.
Today, women make up about half of the workforce, and it is wrong that on average they are still being paid less than men. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. While women’s role in our economy has changed dramatically, America’s workplaces have simply not kept up.

I am a proud cosponsor, along with every other House Democrat, of the critical Paycheck Fairness Act, which is designed to help women finally achieve equal pay for equal work, by strengthening and closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers; require employers to show that pay disparity is truly job-related, not based on gender; strengthen remedies for women experiencing pay discrimination; and empower women in the workplace through a grant program to strengthen salary negotiation and other workplace skills.

We must do something real about closing the wage gap – by taking up the Paycheck Fairness Act for full consideration. Equal pay is not simply a woman’s issue – it is a family issue. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families. We should not rest until we achieve true pay equity for women – ensuring that all American women in the workforce are receiving equal pay for equal work.

Parents of Diamond teen killed in accident file wrongful death lawsuit

The parents of a Diamond High School honor student who was killed in a January 4 one-car accident filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver.

The action is to finalize a settlement with the insurance company.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Newton County Circuit Court by Gary and Christy Miksell, Diamond, parents of 15-year-old Jacee Miksell against Haylee A. Heidlage-Barnes, 16, a Diamond High School student.

The accident occurred 7:55 a.m. January 4 on Pelican Road, two miles east of Diamond. According to the Highway Patrol report, a 2000 Buick Regal driven by Barnes, ran off the right side of the roadway, struck a ditch and overturned, ejecting Jacee Miksell, who was not wearing a seat belt. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Barnes suffered minor injuries and was treated at Freeman West Hospital, Joplin.

Online court records indicate Barnes insurance company is represented by St. Louis attorney Michael D. Mayes.

The action was filed 19 days after what would have been Jacee Miksell's 16th birthday.

(Updated to note that the lawsuit, which in these types of cases lists the driver as the defendant, is actually a matter of dealing with the driver's insurance company.)