Area educators were probably somewhat astonished when Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, was chosen to head up the committee to rework the Foundation Formula, through which Missouri elementary and secondary schools are funded.
During the time three years ago when education funding was reaching a crisis situation, I attended a meeting at which Nodler's name was brought up. An area superintendent said Nodler had told school administrators that what they wanted did not matter. He was at Jefferson City to do what Leggett & Platt (the biggest contributor to Republican campaigns in Missouri and one of the biggest in the nation) wanted him to do.
I e-mailed Nodler at that time, told him of the comment and asked for a response. Three years have passed, Gary, and I'm still waiting.
What brought these fond remembrances of my state senator to mind was the article written by Max McCoy, Joplin Globe investigative reporter for today's edition. For those who have not read the article, Nodler apparently threw a fit when he was unable to enjoy the movie "Fantastic Four" because of noise created by a handful of developmentally disabled adults.
The caregiver who was responsible for those adults, Amanda Richardson, apparently got into a verbal clash with Nodler. Who was at fault depends on which person you believe. She claims Nodler said that "people like that shouldn't be allowed in places (such as movie theaters)," according to the Globe account.
Nodler claims Ms. Richardson used the "F" word in the conversation with him.
A close reading of the Globe article, and I guarantee a lot of people read the article closely, shows Nodler indulging in some highly questionable behavior, no matter whose account of the incident is closer to the truth.
There is absolutely no doubt that Nodler was trying to use his power as a state senator to have Ms. Richardson fired from her job at Skills Unlimited. He wants "a formal apology" the Globe said. To me, that smacks of someone who is in a position of power and wants to lord it over a college student who had the courage to speak out about the senator's behavior even at the risk of her livelihood. Let's face it, if she is fired from this position, who else is going to want to hire her and get on Nodler's bad side?
The article indicates that once Nodler gets mad, he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He contacted the Joplin Regional Center to tell the girl's supervisor, who, according to the article, is backing Ms. Richardson. Guess whose funds are going to be cut even more next year?
My favorite part of the article is where Nodler says he is willing to take a polygraph test and asks the Globe to pay for it. Now that's sad when a public official is so used to having everything bought and paid for by others that it doesn't even occur to him to spend his own money to protect his reputation.
You can find the article at: