Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Speaker of the House: Help us find Lynn Messer

In his latest report, Speaker of the House Tim Jones, R-Eureka, asks for help in locating the missing wife of longtime Missouri political activist Kerry Messer.

To my Capitol Report readers – and media friends in particular – we who work and serve at the Missouri State Capitol come from a very broad scope of backgrounds. It is only on rare occasions that we all agree on any particular issue. But when we step away from the battles over policy issues we find shared values quite often. This is one of those times.

For 30 years Kerry Messer has been a fixture here at the State Capitol. Kerry and his family have dedicated themselves to making Missouri a better State for everyone. His reputation among the capitol culture is one of unquestioned integrity and perseverance as a voice for Missouri families and he is known for his involvement on a wide range of policy issues. As a full-time volunteer lobbyist who relies solely upon the generosity of others through contributions, Kerry and his son Abram are respected by all. No matter how much a lawmaker agrees or disagrees with Kerry at times, his motives and passion are never in question. Kerry loves the people of Missouri and he demonstrates that love through the way he works with us at the Capitol.

Reader: Forget the ribbon; give us a soaring flame into the Joplin sky

A reader offered the following comment to last night's post featuring Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff's 6 1/2 mile long "Mission Accomplished" ribbon:

Instead of a ribbon, I think they should have purchased a giant cauldron. 

C.J. could have ran the 6 1/2 mile path of the tornado, Olympic-style torch held high above his head, finishing at the new high school.

 Along the route, nearly all of Joplin could line the streets, neighbor holding hands with neighbor to form a giant unbroken chain. Man, woman, and child would scream and chant, "C.J.!, C.J.!, C.J.!" as he passed, knowing how close to greatness each of them came.

 As he triumphantly finished the run, he would use the torch to light the giant cauldron, sending a soaring flame into the Joplin sky. All the little people gathered to celebrate would speak to each other about how the flame is like the light C.J. brought into the darkness that was Joplin before his arrival. 

It would be glorious. It would be glorious.

Burlingame backs off comments about teachers who testified at my hearing (sort of)

Blogger and frequent Joplin Globe columnist Anson Burlingame backed off today from derogatory statements he made on his blog Monday about the three teachers who testified for me at my May 23, 2013, termination hearing.

In a response to a comment on his blog, Burlingame referred to teachers who comment anonymously on the Turner Report as "whiners" and said the teachers who testified on my behalf, Mike Wallace, Kim Frencken, and Sheri Cornett, were "sore excuses for good teachers, the ones I saw and heard, to be sure."

His remarks were condemned in comments on his blog and today, Burlingame revised his opinion:

Let me be clear as to why I thought the teachers (actually one teacher and a cafeteria worker as I recall) that provided character witness testimony on behalf of Turner presented their views wrongly. Both were totally off the point of the hearing, presented themselves very poorly in both the manner in which they dressed, groomed and acted, as well as what they said at the hearing. No, not ALL teachers testifying met that criteria, but two of them stood out as young (in one case), very opininated and totally off point as to whether Turner should have published the book and the manner in which he communicated with students on that book. THAT is why he was fired, ultimately, at least in my view and there was strong justification for such action, again in my view.
And Carol Stark provides this man with a regular guest column?

Judge to decide whether 15 months of suicide victim's cyberactivities have to be turned over

During a telephone conference today, a federal judge heard both sides of a discovery dispute between lawyers for the Carl Junction R-1 School District and attorneys representing parents who are suing the school district for not taking actions that could have prevented their teenage son's suicide.

At issue is the request by the school district's lawyers that the parents, Jessica and Mika Nugent, turn over records of all of their son's internet activity and text messages between January 1, 2012, and his death on March 16, 2013.

The request includes the following:

-All photographs, images, documents, videos, websites, pages, website links, or files the teen saved between January 1, 2012, and his death

-Internet browser history or histories or copies thereof, for all the internet browsing he did from Jan. 1, 2012, to his death, including, but not limited to web pages, web history, lists of websites, URL addresses, web browser software and settings, bookmarks, favorites, caches, and cookies.

-All posts, tweets, and messages sent or received between Jan. 1, 2012, and his death

-All e-mails

-All text messages and multi-media messages

-All browsing history from any cell phone

The school district's attorneys say the information is vital since so many things could have played a part in the boy's decision to end his life, while the attorneys for the parents accuse the school district of going on a "fishing expedition."

The judge is taking the arguments under advisement and will issue a written ruling, according to court documents.

Details about the lawsuit can be found at this link.

Quapaw man who came to Joplin to teach 10-year-old about sex held without bond

A Quapaw, Oklahoma man who came to Missouri who teach a 10-year-old girl about sex will be held without bond as he awaits trial on charges of coercion and enticement of a minor female.

A federal judge Monday agreed with the prosecution's contention that Aaron Longanecker, 23, should remain behind bars.

In a detention motion filed last week in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri,prosecutors claimed they had "overwhelming evidence" against Longanecker, and there was no reason to believe that he would not flee if given the opportunity:

According to the motion, on July 20 Longanecker responded to "an advertisement soliciting individuals who were interested in incest between a mother and daughter. The defendant, upon learning that the advertiser was seeking someone to teach a 10-year-old child about sex, responded that he would like the child to s--- his c--- and perform a variety of sexual acts upon the child.

"On July 21, 2014, the defendant appeared at a pre-arranged meeting site and was arrested.

"The defendant confessed to officers that he had traveled from Oklahoma to Missouri to engage in sexual acts with a child."

Joplin mother charged with using daughter in child porn pleads not guilty

A Joplin woman accused of using her daughter in child pornography waived the reading of her indictment and pleaded not guilty this morning during a four-minute hearing in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

Gina Hajny and her husband, James, have been charged with child pornography activities involving their daughter and another child, according to court documents.

James Hajny's arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday in Springfield.

The probable cause statement for Gina Hajny can be found at this link.

Trial for accused Planned Parenthood arsonist delayed

The trial of accused Joplin Planned Parenthood arsonist Jedediah Stout, 30, originally scheduled for August 18 in U. S. District Court in Springfield has been pushed back to November 3.

Stout's lawyer asked for the delay for more time for discovery and investigation, according to court documents.

Stout admitted to law enforcement officers that he was involved, not only in the Planned Parenthood fires, but also that he was responsible for the arson fire that destroyed the Islamic Society Mosque of Joplin. At this point, no charges have been filed in that case.

The revelation about the mosque fires was first made public in a motion to hold Stout without bond filed October 21 in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

After being advised of his Miranda rights, the defendant confessed to the attempting set fire to the Planned Parenthood facility on October 3 and 4, 2013. 9. The defendant also confessed to setting fires at the Islamic Society of Joplin’s building on July 4, 2012 and on August 7, 2012. The building was completely destroyed in the August 7, 2012 blaze.

Monday, July 28, 2014

C. J. Huff- 6 1/2 mile ribbon won't cost taxpayers a cent; we're hitting up donors

A report from KOAM's Stacey Lindsay

Burlingame: Teachers who testified for Turner "sore excuses for good teachers"

Three teachers testified for me at my termination hearing May 23, 2013. None of them talked about their own philosophies or styles of teaching, but all of them were labeled bad teachers today by blogger and frequent Joplin Globe guest columnist Anson Burlingame.

That normally would not be such a big deal, considering that Burlingame's frequent blog posts on education have shown little understanding of what goes on in the classroom and even less understanding about what goes on in the Joplin R-8 School District.

The problem is that much of what Burlingame writes about the local school district is a parroting of what Superintendent C. J. Huff tells him. When Burlingame writes about the development of Joplin, it is based on what David Wallace of Wallace-Bajjali tells him. In the past, when he wrote about the friction in Joplin city government, it was based on what former City Manager Mark Rohr tell him.

If he states an opinion on anything that happens in the Joplin school district, it is a safe bet that at some point he has heard it from C. J. Huff.

By the way, I have never met, personally (as far as I know), any of the whinners on the Turner Report, other than Randy and only briefly. But I have seen some of them in action, particularly in the Turner hearing. They were sore excuses for good teachers, the ones I saw and heard, to be sure.

Three teachets testified for me, all veteran teachers who have served the Joplin R-8 School District well. Two of those teachers, Mike Wallace and Kim Frencken, left the district following the 2013-2014 school year. The third one is still teaching in the district.

Burlingame appears to be C. J. Huff's attack dog on the issue of low morale among district employees. In his most recent post, he suggests that teachers who have problems and do not receive satisfaction from their building principals should send a letter to C. J. Huff stating their problems, making sure to send a copy of the letter to the building principal.

Now that is a plan that would certainly aid C.J. Huff in getting a new list of teachers to drive out of the district, but it would do nothing to take care of the teachers' concerns.

Burlingame also insists that if he were a classroom teacher, he would take care of the discipline problems. After all, no one messes with Anson Burlingame, as he explained in this response to two comments:

Hell even Turner complained of being “attacked” by a student. Can you imagine a student attacking ME, or either of you and what would happen if that was the case!!! I don’t mean physical repercussions either. I mean that kid would get an ear and headfull of the strongest responses he might have every encountered and he would NEVER return to any class that I taught, ever again. And if some principal tried to …….., well talk about a hearing before the BOE. I would demand on in spades in about a day!!!

And if there is a problem with discipline that extends beyond the classroom, it has nothing to do with C. J. Huff, but with the principals and certainly, C. J. would be upset if he knew of such a problem:

I have had just such discussions on many occassions with the Superintendent in Joplin, how can teachers get their views heard? In my view the problem is not at the Superintendent level, it is at the Principal level. If I was a teacher that “had” to take a “hoodlum” back into my class based on direction from the Principal, I would be knocking on the Superintendent’s door that same day or emailing him a strong email. Of course if I did that, well I better be correct in my complaint as well. But I would NEVER let some “administrator” tell me to do something that was just WRONG, either. It would have to “come from the top” for sure.

Fortunately, most of Anson's misinformation about the local education scene has appeared on his blog and not in the Joplin Globe where he enjoys a much larger readership, but he has already declared that I was a bad teacher and now without missing a beat, those who testified for me are also bad teachers.

They have to be. C. J. Huff wouldn't lie about something like that, would he?

Peter Edwards named new Joplin city attorney

(From the City of Joplin)

Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert has announced that the Joplin City Council recently voted to hire Peter Edwards as the Joplin City Attorney.
“We selected Peter because of his strong knowledge and experience with municipal law, contractual law and ongoing work with the City of Joplin,” said Mayor Seibert. “Because of his longevity, he has a broad knowledge of numerous community projects completed in past years, and those proposed and in development as we continue to rebuild our city during the recovery process. He will be a great asset to the City and to the Council.”
Edwards has served as the Assistant City Attorney for Joplin since September 2002.
The position became open upon former City Attorney Brian Head’s resignation in May this year to take the City Attorney post in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Edwards was named as Interim City Attorney upon Head’s departure during the search for the City Attorney position.