Gary Webb's meteoric rise to the top of the investigative reporting ranks was a thing of the past by the time he made his way to Carthage in July 1998.
He stood in front of a small audience at the Precious Moments Convention Center, relating information from his most famous investigative report...a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News that claimed that indicated the CIA was responsible for the crack cocaine epidemic in African-American neighborhoods in Southern California.
For a young man, (Webb was only 43 at the time), he had already accomplished much during his two decades in journalism. In 1990, he was a member of the Mercury News reporting team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of an earthquake.
For years, Webb had turned out one major story after another, some that ended up jailing crooked politicians, others that shed light on serious social problems. When the Mercury News first published "Dark Alliance" his series on the origins of the crack cocaine crisis, it appeared he was headed toward a Pulitzer of his own.
It never happened.
Major media sources, including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times wrote their own articles sharply critiquing Webb's series. Later, the Mercury News management withdrew its support of the reporter and by the end of 1997, he no longer worked in San Jose.
In only a few months, Gary Webb had gone from being a top-notch reporter on one of the up-and-coming newspapers in the U. S. to being a featured speaker on the conspiracy circuit. The event at which Webb was appearing was billed as the first annual American Heritage Festival with the events being held at Precious Moments and Red Oak II.
Apparently, our American heritage was believing that the government was out to get us. Besides Webb, other speakers claimed that the U. S. government created AIDS, and that Y2K was going to be the end of civilization as we knew it.
The organizer of the event was a man whose talks had become a staple on the conspiracy circuit, Carthage native Terry Reed, whose book "Compromised: Bush, Clinton, and the CIA," claimed that Bill Clinton, the first President Bush, Oliver North, and others had been involved in a conspiracy to run drugs out of an airport in Mena, Ark.
Webb never quite fit in with this group. He was a man who had built his reputation on detailed investigations. Despite the fact that many of his allegations were borne out in hearings conducted by Senator John Kerry, the remainder of Webb's career was similar to the path that brought him to southwest Missouri six and a half years ago.
He moved from job to job with his one success in the years after he left the Mercury News being the book version of "Dark Alliance."
The career of Gary Webb ended late last week when he shot himself to death at his California home. It's always a shame when the world is deprived of that kind of talent.
Negotiations for the sale of Liberty Group Publishing, the company that owns The Neosho Daily News, The Carthage Press, The Neosho Post, and The Big Nickel, have slowed to a crawl, according to newspaper industry sources.
The same sources have reported that only investment firms are still in the running for the newspaper company; newspaper companies have fallen off by the wayside. Liberty is expected to fetch $500 million at a minimum.
A federal judge has granted the Webb City R-7 School District's request to be allowed more time to respond to former student Brad Mathewson's lawsuit against the school district. The district has until Dec. 23 to file its response, according to a document filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Mathewson filed the lawsuit against the school after he was not allowed to wear gay pride T-shirts. The status of his case remains in doubt after his withdrawal from the school last week.
Details of former O'Sullivan marketing director Michael O'Sullivan's severance agreement were filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission today.
O'Sullivan, the last member of the company's founding family to hold a major position at O'Sullivan Industries, signed the severance agreement Dec. 10, the document indicated.
He will continue to receive his regular salary during each biweekly period through April 6, 2005. His automobile allowance will be continued through that same time.
He will serve as an independent contractor with the company through Dec. 31, 2005, and will continue to receive medical and dental insurance through that date. He will be allowed to continue to hold stock options.
He will have term life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance through April 6, 2005.
In return, O'Sullivan cannot sue the company for personal injury or property damage, breach of contract, defamation, libel or slander for anything published prior to the retirement date, or for a number of other reasons.
He cannot "make any disparaging or critical remarks" about O'Sullivan officials, he cannot go into competition with the company through the end of 2005, nor can he hire anyone who works at O'Sullivan prior to that time.
It appears the Atlanta connection has just about finished its mission to remove any remaining vestige of the family that created O'Sullivan Industries and made their extremely lucrative jobs possible.