Thursday, March 31, 2005

They call them jailhouse lawyers and it appears that the Jasper County Jail has one.
For the second time in two months, a lawsuit has been filed against the jail in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri with inmate Sean Harris acting in that capacity. He is listed as pro se attorney in a lawsuit filed today by inmate Donald Lesley Tunnel and Harris.
Each of the men is seeking $250,000 after claiming they were victims of a racially-motivated beating. "I went through the grievance procedure Jan. 20,2004, with no responses," one of them said. The lawsuit doesn't make it clear which one. "The facility doesn't give back responses when it's in the wrong."
It doesn't get any clearer in the part where the beating allegation is made. "Each defendant had the opportunity to prevent the racial attack on me," the petition said. "The detention officers monitored the pad, that's their job, they've neglected to do. After the attack on the defendants, (they) could have got me (apparently Harris) medical attention or treatment for me. The administration knew of the racially-motivated attack and did nothing. The sheriff supervisors and correctional staff. On Jan. 20, 2004, there were no guards in the tower. I didn't get to go to the hospital for three weeks. (I) broke my foot right and I had to have pins."
Harris and Tunnel are asking the court to investigate the sheriff's department and "serve justice for me being victimized by these men and reward me the relief I seek for the center's deliberate indifference and cruel and unusual punishment which violates my rights."
In another lawsuit, filed Feb. 17 in the same court, Harris and James Bailey asked for half a million dollars. The complaint read, "Feb. 12, 2005, I've been attacked by three racist white men, names unknown, knots on head, black eyes, cheek swollen, face bruised, body beat up. Every night I suffered racially motivated slurs, nigger, coon, darkie for example.
"Racism has not been forgotten and should be abolished."
While Missouri Department of Natural Resources officials are looking into an odor in Carthage that might have been created by a ConAgra company, another Con-Agra plant has run into problems in Twin Falls, Idaho, according to the Twin Falls Times-News.
A $13,841 fine has been levied against the company for accidentally releasing nearly 600 pounds of anhydrous ammonia into the atmosphere in Twin Falls, the article said. The company failed to report the release in a timely basis. It also has to buy $65,000 worth of equipment, the article said. The amounts were decided as the result of an agreement between the company and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Add 15 to the number of ConAgra employees who have lost their jobs this week due to company decisions to close plants. Earlier this week, we noted a report in the Montgomery, Ala., Advertiser that ConAgra was closing its food processing plant in that city, eliminating 365 jobs.
The Rapid City S. D. Journal reported today that ConAgra closed its flour mill there Monday, with almost no advance notice, costing 15 people their jobs.
"We would like to have provided more notice, but it was impossible," ConAgra spokesman Bob McKeon told the Journal. "We discovered the mill was at some competitive risk. We studied alternatives to the closure, but the need to optimize efficiencies in our operations and align production with customer needs led us to conclude that we should no longer operate from this facility."
The cuts may have something to do with ConAgra's filing last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, first reported on this blog, that it was going to have to restate its financial results for last year and the first half of this year due to income tax errors, which may amount to between $150 million and $200 million.
A 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 19, arraignment has been scheduled for former Carthage R-9 Board of Education member and former Carthage police officer Michael Lloyd Wells, who is charged with violating a protection order. The hearing will be held in Jasper County Circuit Court in Carthage before Judge Joseph Schoeberl.
Court documents indicate Wells, 52, violated the protection order on Nov. 1, 2003.
Wells is already awaiting trial on two charges of incest, one charge of forcible rape, and one charge of sexual assault. The incidents are alleged to have occurred on Sept. 1, 1994, and April 1, 2001.
No hearing dates are scheduled in those cases, according to court records.
Liberty Group operating, Inc., a subsidiary of Liberty Group Publishing, owners of The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, Neosho Post and The Big Nickel, officially borrowed $180 million from a syndicate of financial institutions led by Wells Fargo March 29, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
On March 30, the documents indicated, Liberty used the money, together with cash it already had. to redeem in full all of its outstanding senior subordinated notes which had been due 2008.
Liberty's total financial package, amounting to $330 million, according to earlier reports, enabled the debt-laden publishing company to be able to continue operations for another seven years.
Initially, Liberty officials had tried to sell the company, putting it up for auction, but the expected $500 million price reportedly did not materialize and company officials opted for refinancing.
Shares in J. C. Penney were higher Thursday following the emergence of rumors that Cerberus, a private equity firm, is interested in buying the department store chain, according to the Associated Press.
Saga Communications, owners of KOAM-TV will release first quarter 2005 results at noon Tuesday, May 3, according to PR Newswire.
The decline of the Precious Moments collectibles continues to affect the bottom line at Enesco.
Revenues were down only slightly, according to the annual report filed March 30 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, from $71.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2003 to $69.7 million in the fourth quarter of last year.
The company said the decline was due to lower sales for Precious Moments and Cherished Teddies. Sales of Heartwood Creek and the addition of the Walt Disney Classics Collection helped offset the losses.
The report showed that Enesco had a net loss of $40.7 million in the fourth quarter, primarily due to two non-cash charges of $36 million.
For 2004, Enesco reported $269 million compared to $256.4 million in 2003.
The Precious Moments collectibles have helped contribute considerably to the tourism business in Carthage with the Precious Moments complex, created by artist Sam Butcher, a former Carthage resident.
CBL & Associates, the Chattanooga-based owner of Northpark Mall in Joplin, is offering an audio simulcast of a presentation to the business community 9:45 a.m. local time Wednesday, April 6, according to Business Wire.
The live broadcast can be heard at the company website, A replay will be available 24 hours after the broadcast and will stay on the website for 30 days, according to the article.
Nicole Lehman went out a winner a few minutes ago.
The former all-state basketball player from Lamar was one of the Southwest Missouri State University Lady Bears who just won the Women's National Invitational Tournament by beating West Virginia.
The Lady Bears reached the semi-finals by defeating the University of Iowa, a team which included Stockton High School graduate (and a former Lamar High School player) Jenna Armstrong. The semi-finals and finals were both played on the SMSU home court.
As I watch, Nicole is smiling ear to ear as she was the first player to get to cut down the net at the Hammons Center. It's a wonderful image. I had the opportunity to watch Nicole play several times during her years on Coach Richard Marti's Tigers and I interviewed her several times, devoting a few Sports Talk columns to her.
Nicole is now a part of a historic game. She was a valuable participant in the last basketball win in SMSU history, since the university will be Missouri State University next year.
It couldn't happen to a nicer young woman.
Earlier today, I wrote about an article I wrote many years ago about bureaucrats who would not bother to go the extra mile. My reference was to people from the state's Division of Labor who would not do anything other than the bare minimum necessary to find out what the prevailing wage was for a county.
Apparently, some county officials don't go the extra mile to find the truth either.
The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Jasper County Collector Stephen Holt jumped the gun when he handed over the deed to a piece of Joplin property without requiring the new owner who bought it at a tax sale to make a legitimate effort to get in touch with the former owner.
The decision reversed the one made by Jasper County Circuit Court Judge William Carl Crawford who said Stephen Bullard was given due process during the sale of property at 2704 Jackson, Joplin. Bullard sued Holt and the woman who bought his property, Teresa M. Schirmer-Johnson.
According to the appellate opinion, Bullard and his wife, Brenda, bought the land as rental property in July 1983. Bullard never lived there and the mortgage company paid the real estate taxes throughout the 15-year mortgage.
Bullard became the sole owner of the property in June 1989 after his divorce. In 1992, Bullard moved to Wisconsin, filing a change of address with the post office. His property was managed and rented by Manard Realty. Bullard moved to Minnesota in 1995. After his mortgage was paid in full three years later, he no longer received tax statements because they were sent to his former Joplin address.
In August 2000, Teresa Johnson bought the property at a tax sale for $3,100. Manard Realty was still managing the property, according to the opinion. Ms. Johnson contacted Manard about buying the property from Bullard, who was still receiving rent from the tenants.
In May 2001, Manard sold its assets to Broshears Realty. Bullard listed the property with Broshears, "which placed a for sale sign in the yard; the property listings ranged from $50,000 to $59,000," the opinion said. "The sign remained on the property until after Broshears was notified of Johnson's interest."
On Aug. 2, 2002, after she had conducted a title search, Ms. Johnson sent notice by certified mail to his former Joplin address. Eighteen days later, the letter was returned to Ms. Johnson unopened. That December, Holt gave the deed to the property to Ms. Johnson, according to the opinion.
Bullard filed suit in April 2003. He said the law that requires that notice be sent to the "last known available address" had not been followed since she knew he no longer lived at the Joplin address. He pointed out that Johnson knew from her conversations with Manard Realty and Broshears Realty that renters were making payments to Bullard. "Bullard produced evidence that his correct address was contained in the real estate company's records and a representative of the real estate company testified he would have notified Bullard immediately had he received any notice."
Judge Crawford agreed with Ms. Johnson's contention that she only had to send a letter to Bullard at the last address listed with the county collector's office.
The opinion said, "The purchaser, Johnson, had actual knowledge that the tax records did not have an accurate address for the titled owner when the notice was returned to her. She had actual notice that two different real estate companies were working for the owner and the property had been listed for sale. She knew that the property was continuously being rented and was not abandoned."
How the Jasper County Collector could not have recognized that also, as well as Judge Crawford, seems a bit questionable. The case has been remanded to Jasper County Circuit Court.
Fairs and carnivals have always been among the major attractions in rural areas of southwest Missouri. Among the sites that always greet fairgoers are the long lines to the rides....rides that spin at fantastic rates of speed...rides that dangle screaming children dozens of feet in the air...rides that make fairs and carnivals a special time in a young person's life and a fond memory for those who remember them from their youth.
These beloved rides may provide memories, but they also may be accidents waiting to happen, according to a report issued today by the Missouri state auditor's office.
As usual, one of the reasons cited by public officials who are charged with protecting the public is, "we can't do it because we don't have enough money."
The report said, "Auditors found 15 amusement ride companies operating rides (including go-carts, bumper boats, and a ferris wheel) without permits. Company representatives told auditors they did not know about the state permit law or failed to renew ride permits. Division of Fire Safety staff said they have not received adequate funding to more fully monitor for rides operating without a permit."
The audit checked laws in 28 states and found 13 of them require rides to be checked each time they are set up at a new location. In Missouri, rides only have to be inspected once a year. The audit says that 830 rides operated in the state last year.
If accidents are happening on rides in Missouri, the law may not require that anyone be notified. While the auditors found 17 states which require notification if an accident on a ride requires the use of first aid, Missouri only wants to know about it if a death or hospitalization is required.
If you are looking for independent inspectors to evaluate rides, you may find it in other states but not in Missouri, according to the audit. "One amusement company owner inspects his own rides," the audit said, and he is doing so legally.
Safety inspectors are also looking at some things that the average person might consider to be essential. "The division's inspection check list does not include evaluating ride operator and passenger requirements, such as the location of an operator when a ride is in use, or enforcement of passenger weight and height requirements. Division staff said they had not considered including ride operation issues in their inspection until fall 2004. " Surprisingly, rides at the Missouri State Fair were found to have operation violations last year, according to the audit.
"The public's safety has not been adequately safeguarded," the report said.
Tonight's edition of The Carthage Press featured an article on my fellow East Newton High School graduate Ronna Patterson, who has been named principal at Pleasant Valley Elementary School.
Of particular note to me in that article, which was written by Lifestyles Editor Kaylea Hutson, was the man Ronna cited for inspiring her entry into education, the late James Payne, who taught English at Crowder College.
"He installed in them (his students) a love of literature and a desire to learn," she explained. "I was amazed by the skills he used. He was a gifted teacher.
"I thought, I want to do that some day. I want to reach people and get them excited about learning."
That reference gave me the opportunity to reminisce about the one class I was fortunate enough to have under Mr. Payne while attending Crowder in the fall of 1975. I never had the opportunity to have an English class with him, but I did take his basic speech class. I can never hear the Captain and Tennille sing "Lonely Night," without thinking about Mr. Payne's hatred of that song and its much-repeated phrase "cain't gitcha out of my mind." It drove him up the wall.
My favorite memory of that class came from Mr. Payne's reaction to one of his students when we made our first demonstration speech. Some people demonstrated how to cook certain dishes, I did an extremely poor magic trick, but our student with the background in the state penitentiary showed everyone how to make a shiv (a homemade knife valuable in prison confrontations). Mr. Payne's facial expressions during this speech were priceless, but you could also tell how pleased he was that this man was able to communicate clearly how to make a shiv and even spoke with proper English.
That's been almost three decades, but with apologies to Mr. Payne, "I cain't git it out of my mind."
Two Joplin residents were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury for counterfeiting money. The indictment names Wendy Ann Mabry and Roger Roy Perry. The first count says they counterfeited money on Feb. 7.
The second count says that from January to Feb. 7, the two conspired with someone else to counterfeit money, distribute it.
Also indicted by the grand jury were Juan G. Limon-Gonzalez, also known as Jose Lopez-Lopez, and James Scott Powers on sixteen counts involving manufacture and sale of methamphetamines. Limon-Gonzalez was also charged with using a .357 Smith and Wesson revolver in connection with his other alleged criminal activities.
A federal grand jury Wednesday indicated a Mexican citizen who was arrested in Joplin March 12 after he was charged with transporting illegal aliens in the back of a van.
The Joplin Police Department was responsible for the arrest of Yovani Diaz-Cruz on March 12, when JPD officers came across a 1995 GMC Safari Van parked at the corner of Main and F. Officers saw Hispanic men sitting in the driver and front passenger seats. Cruz was the man in the driver's seat, according to court documents.
Twelve other Hispanic men were found hiding under a nearby bridge. Believing them to be undocumented aliens, Joplin Police called the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Springfield. All 12 men admitted to being Mexican citizens illegally in this country, according to court documents.
"They claim to have paid between 1,000 and 2,000 dollars for transportation from Phoenix, Ariz., to Georgia or Kentucky," Special Agent James Webb said in an affidavit filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. "Three of the 12 claimed to have paid 5,500 pesos as their fee for transportation. The group identified (Diaz) as the driver of the vehicle."
On March 14, according to the affidavit, Diaz said he was "hired by an unidentified person he called 'Mario' to transport the group from Phoenix, Ariz., to various locations in Atlanta, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He claimed that on March 11, 'Mario' gave him the van with the group of illegal aliens already loaded in the van. A check with the FBI database determined that Diaz had been deported from this country twice, on March 10, 2003, and April 20, 2003, both times from Nogales, Ariz.
Cruz' first appearance on the indictment was held Wednesday afternoon in the federal courthouse in Springfield. He pleaded not guilty.
The merry-go-round of departures for O'Sullivan Industries officials continues.
The Atlanta-based firm continues to sever ties with officials who were here before the Newell Rubbermaid clan came into power.
Under a severance agreement signed on March 24, Stuart D. Schotte, former vice president of supply chain management, was released from a $350,000 debt to the company, which he had as a result of a note dated Nov. 30, 1999.
In exchange, Schott gave to O'Sullivan his shares of Class A common stock and Series B junior preferred stock in O'Sullivan Industries Holdings, Inc. The company will not have to pay Schotte $49,000, as originally required under an agreement. Schotte also released the company from any obligations it had under its deferred compensation plan.
O'Sullivan Industries will continue to provide health insurance at employee rates and other benefits through June 30, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Administration.
Viewers of MSNBC's "Hardball" last night had the opportunity to see William Colby, the lawyer who helped Joe and Joyce Cruzan during their court battle to remove the feeding tubes from their daughter, Nancy, who had been left in a persistent vegetative state after an automobile accident near Carthage in 1982.
See him was about all viewers had the chance to do since as usual the program degenerated into a shoutfest between people on the various sides of the Terri Schaivo situation. To his credit, Colby did not get involved in that shoutfest, but he was given little opportunity to get involved in the conversation.
I am not a big fan of "Hardball" and that type of program, but when I was flipping through stations right after I got home last night, I saw Colby's name and decided to watch. Issues like the right to die (and just about anything else that is important) deserve better than these programs full of shouting and interrupting.
The March 9 Neosho Daily News featured a page-one article about plans to honor the Neosho High School Debate Squad at the first Excellence In Education Award Banquet Thursday, April 28. The speaker at the event will be Missouri Governor Matt Blunt.
The selection of the award-winning squad was richly deserved, but there was another part of the article I found troubling. In order for the parents of squad members to have the opportunity to see their sons and daughters being honored, they have to buy tickets at $40 a pop.
The article says that proceeds from the ticket sales go to the foundation's drive to fund major technology improvements at Neosho High School and the Neosho Alternative School, so there's no issue about the use of the money. The only problem is that some of these parents cannot really afford to spend $80 (for mother and father) to see their children being honored. They are having a hard enough time making ends meet and hoping to have enough money to send their children to college. Maybe the foundation has already come up with a solution to this problem.
I hope so. The people who involve themselves in foundations and fund raising events usually have a bit more money than the average person and what would be a small amount for them could be considered a staggering amount for others.
Nevertheless, here's hoping the foundation has a successful fund raiser.
This morning's Joplin Globe indicates that DNR Director Doyle Childers actually found a possible source for the odor that has been plaguing Carthage while investigating ConAgra's Renewable Environmental Solutions plant last week.
That probably would not have happened if the Blunt family, both Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt and his son, Governor Matt Blunt, had not stepped in.
The operation of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has been a problem for some time. I remember covering stories on the Lamar East Landfill and on Atlas while I was at the Lamar Democrat and Carthage Press and remembering how little concern these bureaucratic types seemed to have about the problems facing ordinary citizens.
The DNR's lament has always been that it does not have enough money to investigate the things that need to be investigated. That usually means that instead of investigating things one at a time, that the agency simply does not investigate any of them.
Though this has nothing to do with the DNR, it reminds me of a story I did one time on Missouri's prevailing wage law, which is again being threatened by state legislators. The idea behind the law is basic. Firms that are hired to do governmental projects must pay workers whatever the prevailing wage is in that area. Obviously, if the law was enforced properly, that would mean it would cost more for building projects in St. Louis and Kansas City than it does for projects in this area.
As usual, when government bureaucracy was involved, that was not the way it worked. Instead of having employees pick up the phone and call contractors and find out what the prevailing wage was, the person in charge send out paperwork forms for contractors and unions to send in the prevailing wage in their area. Usually, the only ones that were returned came from the big unions in Kansas City and St. Louis, which meant that those figures were used to determine this area's prevailing wage. That led, quite naturally, to complaints about the large amount of money that the prevailing wage added to local projects.
During one interview, I asked the man in charge of collecting prevailing wage statistics why he didn't just pick up the phone or have one of his employees pick up the phone and call contractors and get accurate figures for this area's prevailing wage.
"We don't have the manpower for that," he said.
I have to admit, I kept badgering him. "If you called five contractors, and each conversation lasted about five minutes, that would take less than half an hour."
"We don't have the manpower for that," he said.
In many government agencies that is the mantra for every situation and it is one of the reasons why people distrust bureaucracy so much.
Fortunately for Carthage residents, Roy Blunt took charge of the matter. Unfortunately for all of us in the world of government bureaucracy, there are far, far too many situations for even a congressman with Blunt's power, or any other elected official to take care of.
We're the ones who don't have the manpower for that.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005, the host server for this blog, has been having a few technical problems, so this is the first post I have been able to publish since early yesterday.
The technical problems, combined with a quiz bowl practice session, a quiz bowl competition and a practice of our band, Natural Disaster (named for my singing voice), has slowed the writing a little bit lately. I will try to get caught up later tonight.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Webb City Sentinel Editor Bob Foos addressed the connection between the Terri Schaivo case and the groundbreaking Nancy Cruzan case in his newspaper's March 25 edition.
Foos' thorough, well-written article featured a brief review of the Cruzan case, as well as quotes from Cruzan lawyer William Colby and others connected to the case.
I have been a bit surprised there hasn't been more in The Joplin Globe about the Cruzan case. Of course, many of the reporters who worked there during that time are no longer on the job, but one valuable living resource is former Globe reporter Jo Ellis, who later worked with me at The Carthage Press.
Jo covered the Cruzan case from its beginning and an op-ed piece by her would be well worth reading.
I won't go into another long tirade about the way area newspapers treat coverage of the death of prominent people, but why on earth didn't the Neosho Daily News offer page-one coverage to the deaths of Andrew Barker and Pat Versluis?
Rev. Barker died last week after battling cancer and his obituary ran on page two for "a small fee," according to the Daily's obituary policy.
One reason some newspapers don't get into the business of running stories about deaths on page one is that they might leave someone out and bring a torrent of complaints. Hey, that goes with the job of being a newspaper editor or publisher. Decisions have to be made every day on what news is printed and what news gets left out. Err on the side of running too many page-one obituaries rather than too few.
Is the death news. Sometimes it is because the people have been active, productive citizens. Sometimes it is because of the way a person died, a murder victim, a teenager who dies in a traffic accident, etc. Sometimes it is a person who was involved in some type of news story a long time ago. All of these are the kinds of stories that build valuable, loyal readership.
On the same day the Rev. Barker's obituary was featured on page two, half of the front page was devoted to two stories on two large photos of Congressman Roy Blunt's visits to Neosho and Pineville. I hate to see this, but...Congressman Blunt visits here a lot and he will visit here again. His stories could have been jumped, maybe even one of the photos. We also were treated to a page one story about the recycling center no longer accepting trash. Is that worthwhile news? Of course, it is. Does that belong on page one instead of the death of a prominent citizen?
I don't think so.
Let me know what you think.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I normally find the so-called "Progress" editions of newspapers to be boring, useless, and primarily designed for generating advertising during the slow winter season.
The Lamar Democrat's most recent "Progress" edition, on the other hand, is a fascinating document, both in what it says and what it doesn't say.
Unbelievably, the paper devotes one full page to a story on Taylor Quarries in Lockwood, complete with color photos, but only devotes one small story to anything from the Lamar R-1 School District.
In the past, high school writers turned out stories about all of the good things that are happening in the school district. Apparently, the lack of stories must be due to one of three things:
1. Nothing progressive is going on in the Lamar R-1 School District. I am pretty much inclined to discount this one, since I have known and worked with many of the teachers in the district for years.
2. The Lamar Democrat no longer covers the school unless someone brings in material, and then only if there is enough room left over after the Greenfield articles are published.
3. No one at the school will work with the Democrat because of its coverage over the past few years.
I suppose there are other possibilities. Maybe someone from the school missed a deadline or maybe more material will be featured later, but this "Progress" edition did include a "Health and Education" section.
The section features considerable material about Barton County Memorial Hospital, which has always been heavily covered by the newspaper (and rightfully so, it is the major health care provider, a large employer, and is partially taxpayer-funded). In fact, most of seven pages are devoted to the hospital.
The education portion of the section devotes more space to Lamar Head Start, the Arts Council of Barton County, Southwest Missouri State University, Missouri Southern State University and Crowder College than it does to the R-1 Schools.
The only Lamar R-1 story is headlined "Lamar East Primary School continues improvements." It is about four column inches, with a total of four paragraphs.
The Democrat Progress Issue used to always be filled with up-to-date information about the schools. More people are affected by the Lamar R-1 School District than anything else that was featured in the issue. The school district is a major employer, is supported by taxpayer funding, and last I remembered, one of the ways for a newspaper to be successful was to heavily cover schools and school activities.
Apparently, I have been out of the business too long.
Besides coverage of the Lamar R-1 School District, the "Progress" issue also lacked a couple of features that had become staples over the years. One of them I was happy to see go, the other I will miss.
One of the things that people most looked forward to each year was the two-page spread with the babies that had been born to O'Sullivan Industries employees over the years. Apparently, either the company is not making enough money to buy two pages any more or it no longer cares about fostering the kind of community spirit that O'Sullivan stood for when Tom O'Sullivan and his family were in charge.
This year, the company had a rather generic one-page ad. It simply says, "50 years, O'Sullivan Industries, Inc. " Then repeats "O'Sullivan Industries, Inc. celebrates 50 years of progress in the furniture industry." Of course, the ad fails to mention that little of the progress, if any, can be credited to the people who are in charge now.
Also revealing was the article written by O'Sullivan official Rowland Geddie.
The article begins with a lengthy tribute to the late Tom O'Sullivan, concluding it by saying, "The company and the entire Lamar community will miss Mr. O'Sullivan."
Then immediately the article forgets the people who made the company a success and concentrates on the people who were brought in and pushed Mr. O'Sullivan's family out. It starts with the listing of officials, led by million-dollar CEO Bob Parker who came to Lamar from Newell Rubbermaid.
Let me correct that. They came to O'Sullivan Industries from Newell Rubbermaid. They never had any intention of coming to Lamar, at least not for long. "The board also decided that O'Sullivan would move its headquarters to the Atlanta area, feeling that a large metropolitan area would make the company more accessible to its customers and enable the company to attract a broader pool of talent for sales, marketing and management positions."
Then Geddie finally came out and said what I have been saying for a long time in The Turner Report. The decision to move Atlanta did not come because of that wonderful city's close proximity to O'Sullivan customers (though the tax breaks offered by the state of Georgia certainly didn't hurt). "The Atlanta area was selected because Parker, (Rick) Walters, and (Michael) Orr already resided in the area."
It's amazing that for one million dollars, the O'Sullivan board couldn't find an executive willing to move to Lamar. After all, I have noticed that Leggett & Platt doesn't have trouble finding people who are willing to live in Carthage (and Lamar doesn't even have that foul smell coming from ConAgra.)
The rest of Mr. Geddie's article explained how the company was still losing money, but moving the corporate headquarters to Atlanta and the wonderful things the new management team is doing are going to right the ship.
Also missing from the issue besides the O'Sullivan babies was the full-page ad the city of Lamar had always bought. I could never see how that kind of advertising could be justified to the taxpayers.
Lamar can thank God for Thorco and Epoch, both of which received big writeups in the progress edition. On the surface, these appear to be solidly-run companies that are providing steady employment to many in the Lamar area.
Nothing in Mission Broadcasting's annual report, filed Friday with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission would lead anyone to belief it is actually a viable media company.
The filing suggests that Mission, the listed owner of KODE-TV in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield, is a company that exists only to allow Nexstar to operate more than one television station in several markets under joint agreements.
Mission Broadcasting has one stockholder, its CEO David S. Smith, who received a $330,000 salary in 2004, up from $248,987 in 2003, and $176,447 in 2002. Smith's wife, Nancie J. Smith, listed as vice president and secretary in the filing, received $6,240, about the same amount she received each of the previous two years.
In January, The Turner Report explored just how Mission Broadcasting operates, taking information both from SEC filings and from the Jan. 11, 2004, edition of the Akron, Ohio, Beacon Journal. Rev. David Smith is pastor of the St. Paul Lutheran Center in Akron, according to the article. It describes the home of Mission Broadcasting as "the tidy white house on a quiet street. It doesn't have transmission towers in the back yard. From the sidewalk, it looks like an ordinary house."
That's because, as the article points out, it is an ordinary house. Mission doesn't run TV stations, it holds station licenses and enters into agreements with Nexstar to run those stations, including the Joplin and Springfield stations.
The article described the operation of the Nexstar-operated stations in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., which are similar to the way the Joplin stations are run. "The two stations have separate news anchors and reporters, but they share camera operators, live-satellite trucks, editors and engineers, and sometimes producers and directors.
"This system has enabled Nexstar to dominate smaller markets, where owners are only allowed one station according to FCC rules," the article said.
It quotes Nexstar CEO Perry Sook as saying that David Smith "and his people" make all of the programming decisions for Mission and that he and other Nexstar officials have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Despite the fact that Friday's SEC filing says Smith pulled down a $330,000 salary last year, he told the Beacon Journal in January 2004 that he has "no day-to-day responsibilities" with Mission. He did not know how many employees Mission had and couldn't explain his own company's business plan.
Friday's filing outlines how the arrangement between Nexstar and Mission works.
"Mission’s sole shareholder (David Smith) has granted Nexstar purchase options to acquire the assets and liabilities of each Mission television station, subject to FCC consent, for consideration equal to the greater of (1) seven times the station’s broadcast cash flow as defined in the option agreement less the amount of its indebtedness as defined in the option agreement or (2) the amount of its indebtedness. These option agreements are freely exercisable or assignable by Nexstar without consent or approval by Mission’s sole shareholder." That would seem to solidify Smith's puppet status.
The report features a brief overview of the retransmission issue, noting that KODE is no longer carried on Cable One in Joplin and other communities.
The filing also indicates that Mission's primary reason for existence is to buy more television stations for Nexstar to operate, though it doesn't phrase it in exactly those words.
The good news for Mission last year was that its financial outlook was better. The bad news is that's because the company lost only $5.5 million, instead of the $13 million it lost the previous year.
"We have a history of net losses and a substantial accumulated deficit," the report said. "We are highly leveraged, which makes us vulnerable to changes in general economic conditions. Our ability to repay or refinance our debt will depend on, among other things, financial, business, market, competitive and other conditions, many of which are beyond our control. Based on current operations, anticipated future growth, and the continuation of the various service arrangements with Nexstar, we believe that our available cash, anticipated cash flow from operations and available borrowings under our senior credit facility will be sufficient to fund our working capital, capital expenditure requirements, interest payments and scheduled principal payments for at least the next twelve months."
And God help Mission if there is another terrorist attack against the United States. The scenario was outlined in the report. "Foreign hostilities and further terrorist attacks may affect our revenue and results of operations. We may experience a loss of advertising revenue and incur additional broadcasting expenses in the event the United States of America engages in foreign hostilities or in the event there is a terrorist attack against the United States of America. A significant news event like a war or terrorist attack will likely result in the preemption of regularly scheduled programming by network news coverage of the event. As a result, advertising may not be aired and the revenue for such advertising may be lost unless the broadcasting station is able to run the advertising at agreed-upon times in the future. There can be no assurance that advertisers will agree to run such advertising in future time periods or that space will be available for such advertising. We cannot predict the duration of such preemption of local programming if it occurs. In addition, our broadcasting stations may incur additional expenses as a result of expanded news coverage of the local impact of a war or terrorist attack. The loss of revenue and increased expenses could negatively affect our results of operations."
The filing also clearly spells out that Mission is only holding ownership papers until the Federal Communications Commission allows Nexstar to buy KODE. "In Joplin, Nexstar has an option agreement with us and David S. Smith, dated as of April 24, 2002, as amended, to acquire the assets of KODE," the filing said.
Alternate Fuels, Inc., a Barton County mining outfit, will have to pay the state $40,000, according to a ruling issued by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals March 25.
The action was initially brought against AFI in Barton County Circuit Court by the Missouri Land Reclamation Commission, according to court documents. The Commission brought the action against AFI and its owner Larry Pommier, claiming they had not lived up to a consent agreement reached in 1998 after the company had been cited for several violation notices. The Commission levied a $75,000 fine against the company, but suspended $40,000 of the amount, with the stipulation that AFI had to install erosion controls.
Under the schedule AFI agreed to in August 1999, the company had to install the control structures by Dec. 1, 1999, and "respond to all staff comments and have an approved plan and map" no later than Jan. 1, 2000.
"On Jan. 11 and 12, 2000," the opinion said, "Inspector Bret Geger toured AFI's facility, known as the Blue Mound Mine" to see if the work had been done. It had only been partially completed, Geger said and no plan or map had been submitted for approval.
By March, the structure was finished, but no plan had been received. In a letter dated March 30, 2000, Larry Coen, Land Reclamation Commission director, notified AFI that it still had a problem and specified how it could correct the problem. After another 13 months passed and nothing had been done, the Commission filed suit to recover the $40,000.
After the trial, Judge James R. Bickel ruled in favor of the Commission.
In its opinion, the appellate panel said the evidence indicated AFI had not lived up to its part of the agreement and upheld Judge Bickel's decision.

KOAM viewers won't have to worry about CSI or Without a Trace or Cold Case being interrupted by pre-empted by news of Terri Schaivo's death.
According to , top officials at CBS were anxious to prevent a repeat of the recent incident in which CSI: New York was interrupted just before its conclusion with the announcement that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had died. The network received hundreds of complaints.
To keep that from happening again, the following message was sent to the affiliates last week:
"If Terry Schiavo dies during daytime hours, CBS News will do a brief special report. If this should happen during prime time, we will do a crawl only. On the weekend during sports, we will do a crawl first, followed by a brief special report. Once again, we will only do a crawl during primetime hours."
It's nice to know how seriously CBS takes its public service responsibilities.
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt was in Joplin today to celebrate the signing of legislation that will limit the amount Missourians can win in lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. Some of the parts of the bill are unquestionably long overdue, no matter what trial lawyers say. A company or a hospital or anyone else who is only one percent responsible for an injury should not end up having to pay the whole amount just because someone else cannot afford it. Maybe that keeps people who did nothing wrong from being able to collect for their suffering, but collecting it from people who played very little role in causing that suffering is not right either.
The process of venue shopping, or trying to find a sympathetic county to file a lawsuit in, was also wrong. Lawsuits should be filed where the damage was done.
After that, this Blunt-promoted legislation is a handout to big business and the medical community. The Republicans have used the buzzwords "frivolous" and "excessive," and, of course who among us wants to come out in favor of frivolous and excessive lawsuits. The only problem is that Republicans are actually characterizing all lawsuits as frivolous and excessive and trying to make their campaign contributors almost lawsuit-proof.
As I have pointed out earlier, we will not see an immediate decline in insurance rates, even though the insurance industry is well aware of the legislation. In fact, the example from other states where this type of legislation has been enacted is that more lawsuits are filed before the law goes into effect. The insurance companies use this as an excuse to raise everyone's rates, then when the law goes into effect, those rates do not go down because of the decreased number of lawsuits...they are locked in for life.
Big businesses and hospitals are not going to absorb the rate increases just because there allegedly won't be any more coming down the pike. They will pass them on to the customers and patients, including those who can least afford them.
If the state legislature truly wanted to benefit the taxpaying public, it would take steps right not to limit the price gouging the insurance companies will do, but that will not happen, not when the insurance oversight group appointed by the governor is made up primarily of representatives of the industry and not when the legislature's insurance committees are a collection of representatives who are also insurance agents.
Plus, insurance companies are heavy contributors to the Republican party.
Former Lamar High School basketball standout Nicole Lehman will have a chance to end her collegiate career on a winning note Thursday night when Southwest Missouri State University plays host to West Virginia in the Women's National Invitational Tournament championship game.
Lehman's Bears put an end to the basketball career of another former Lamar High School standout, Jenna Armstrong, when they beat the University of Iowa in the semi-finals earlier tonight.
Lehman and Armstrong played together as freshmen for Coach Richard Marti's Tigers before Armstrong transferred to Stockton, where her dad, Tony Armstrong, former Lamar High School boys coach, later coached her team to the Missouri state championship.
Lamar R-1 Board of Education member Mark Piley is featured in today's Springfield News-Leader in a story about the increased interest in running for local school boards in Missouri.
Piley, maintenance manager at Epoch Composite Products, is one of 10 candidates for three seats on the R-1 Board.
Canadian officials have blocked one of former Hollinger International CEO Conrad Black's efforts to avoid prosecution on charges of bilking the company out of millions of dollars.
Crain's Chicago Business reports today that the Ontario Securities Commission issued a cease trade order to prevent Black from taking the holding company Hollinger Inc., which has been the basis of many of the accusations private. Black was attempting to buy the 21.7 percent of Hollinger Inc. stock which he does not already own, then take the company private, according to the article.
Black is being investigated by Canadian and U. S. authorities in connection with the alleged fleecing of parent company Hollinger International, which at one time was the owner of The Carthage Press and The Neosho Daily News.
Investment firm Morgan Stanley issued a warning Friday that it might have to set aside more money to cover the cost of its court battle with former Coleman CEO Ronald Perelman, according to an article in the Friday Wall Street Journal.
Perelman is suing the company for more than $2 billion he says he lost when the Morgan Stanley did not let him know that Sunbeam was about to go belly up.
Perelman sold his 82 percent of Coleman to Sunbeam in 1998 for $1.5 billion worth of Sunbeam stock. Shortly after that, the company declared bankruptcy.
The judge in the case, which is in the jury selection process now, ruled last week that she will tell the jury that Morgan Stanley participated in the fraud against Perelman. Florida state judge Elizabeth Maass was reportedly irritated with the inability of Morgan Stanley or its law firm to produce documents.
The Wall Street firm says it, too, was a victim of Sunbeam and lost more than $300 million.
Sunbeam, now a part of the Jarden Corporation, has a plant in Neosho.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

It remains to be seen what effect the purchase of the Tetra Pak plant in Joplin by York, Pa., based Graham Packaging will have on local workers. The plant, based in Joplin's Industrial Park, makes plastic bottles for beverages.
The March 11 PR Newswire said the deal involved "the transfer of all contracts, fixed assets, inventories, and plant employees." Financial terms were not released.
Graham Packaging produced approximately 20 billion units at 90 plants in 16 countries last year and had worldwide net sales of $2.1 billion over the 12 months ending June 30, 2004.
The good news for Joplin workers is that this is the second such deal Graham has made in the past five months. The first, the purchase of the plastic container business of Toledo, Ohio, based Owens-Illinois, actually resulted in the hiring of an additional 65 workers.
An advantage for the Joplin plant is that it produces containers for plants that are also located in the Joplin Industrial Park, part of the strategy Graham has been emphasizing in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The bad news appears to be for workers at Graham's St. Louis plant, which reportedly is being shut down this month. The announcement was made in January that the plant would be shutting down at about this time, according to the St. Louis Business Journal. Missouri's Rapid Response team was called in two months ago to help the 135 workers who are losing their jobs.
The Springfield News-Leader reports today that the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon stands to lose $1 million out of an already lean operating budget, as a result of cuts recommended by Governor Matt Blunt.
The center was the place where Nancy Cruzan was cared for until her feeding tubes were removed in December 1990, a case that has been revisited by the media since the Terri Schaivo case returned to prominence this week. The Center was described by Republican Representative Jack Goodman in the article as "a facility of last resort for a lot of Missourians who are not otherwise covered by Medicaid or other programs."

Friday, March 25, 2005

KOAM-TV's local and syndicated programming swept the local Nielsen ratings in February. This may be news to the Nexstar stations, KSNF and KODE, which have stopped paying for Nielsen ratings, as well as for Associated Press news coverage, and a lot of other items that are staples at television stations across the country.
KOAM had been the leader during the November sweeps period, but solidified its lead in February, undoubtedly in part due to Nexstar's decision to remove its signal from cable franchises in Joplin, Miami, Parsons, and Independence.
The ratings would also seem to indicate that closer attention should be made to any future claims that the Nexstar stations have not lost much advertising income since I am certain KOAM salespeople are going to be trumpeting these figures across the area.
The only local or syndicated show to hold off the KOAM juggernaut was KODE's "Oprah," which pulled a 7 share during the 4 to 5 p.m. time period, tying KOAM's Judge Judy. A 7 share means seven percent of the households in the area are tuned to that station.
Channel 7's dominance starts first thing in the morning with Sarah Pierik and Dave Pylant on the morning show, pulling an 8 share, compared to 3 for KODE and 3 for KSNF.
Dr. Phil has an 8 share for KOAM in the 3 to 4 p.m. time slot, beating the ratings of "Everybody Loves Raymond", KSNF (2), "The Insider," KODE (2), and "Divorce Court" KFJX (1) combined.
KOAM's 5 p.m. news with Dowe Quick and Rhonda Justice pulls a 12 share, building on its "Judge Judy" lead-in and, once again, beating the three other local stations combined. Following the KOAM news are: KODE News with Jimmy Siedlecki and Tara Brown (5), KSN News with Jim Jackson and Tiffany Alaniz (4) and KFJX's "Becker" (2).
Those numbers continue to build for KOAM throughout the evening. After the CBS News (then with Dan Rather as host) picked up a 13 share in the 5:30 p.m. time period, KOAM's 6 p.m. news increases to 16 percent, with KODE earning a 6 share, KSNF a 5 share and "King of the Hill" on KFJX a 2 share.
"Wheel of Fortune" perks up to an 18 share for KOAM in the 6:30 slot, followed by 4 shares for KFJX's "That 70s Show" and KODE's "Seinfeld." "Friends" on KSNF has a 3 share.
The KOAM 10 p.m. news beat all comers with a 16 percent share, building on the 13 share the station's CBS prime-time programming received from 9 to 10 p.m. KSNF's news bounces back to post an 8 share, which is more than its 6 p.m. newscast, but down from the 9 share the station gets from its NBC prime-time programs. KODE's 10 p.m. newscast pulls a 5 share, down from 7 for ABC's programming.
The news was also good for KFJX's fledgling 9 p.m. news, which had a respectable, if not awe-inspiring 2 share, which could grow with the increased popularity of Fox programming and as more people get used to the concept of a 9 p.m. newscast.
The Fayetteville, Ark. School Board has elected to try for a tax increase in May, according to last Sunday's Northwest Arkansas Times. If the measure passes, beginning teachers will receive a salary of $38,000 a year, up from the current $34,420.
This is Arkansas, remember, the state which until recently was at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to funding for education.
Fayetteville officials said they had to raise the beginning salaries to compete with Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville schools. The Greenland School District, on the other hand, said it couldn't compete with Fayetteville now. Greenland starts its teachers at $29,108 annually. The statewide minimum beginning salary is $27,500, according to the article.
There are veteran teachers in the state of Missouri who don't receive what beginning Fayetteville teachers receive now. My beginning salary at Diamond six years ago was $21,450 a year, if I recall correctly. And that is not Missouri's minimum.
As state legislators struggle to fix the foundation formula under which Missouri public schools are funded, one problem has not been mentioned.
Many of the schools whose officials are suing the state claiming the funding system is inadequate are not spending the money they are getting. Missouri State Teachers Association's "School and Community" magazine's March edition begins an article called "The Hoarding Mentality" by saying, "More than half of Missouri school districts are accumulating excess reserves."
Schools can be penalized by the state for having an end balance of less than three percent, but "more than 20 percent isn't playing fair with students, teachers, and taxpayers," the article said. The article noted that it is wise for districts to hold some money aside for "avoiding financial stress," "gaining interest revenue," "avoiding interest costs for capital projects," and "covering unexpected costs and revenue shortfalls."
The MSTA released a list of school districts with ending fund balances of more than 20 percent and the list included most of the districts in the Turner Report area. Some districts, such as Joplin and Carl Junction, were only slightly above the 20 percent and had been below it for the past three years. Others, such as Carthage, Jasper, Lamar, and Liberal, were below the 20 percent, with Lamar getting dangerously close to the three percent threshold during 2002-2003.
McDonald County, which has been used as the poster child for funding inequity had an ending fund balance of 37.75 percent, while Sarcoxie had 33.8 percent, 34.45 percent, and 45.19 percent over the past three years.
Diamond stayed within the less than 20 percent, but comfortably more than 10 percent ending fund balance while the late Dr. Greg Smith was superintendent, but began hoarding money during the reign of superintendent Mark Mayo.
MSTA's figures show the school with an ending fund balance of 27.3 percent in 2003-2004 and 22.2 percent during the 2002-2003 school year. I found the 22.2 percent ending fund balance for 2002-2003 particularly enlightening since that was the year Mayo suddenly decided in June that two teachers had to be cut to save $66,000, even though the MSTA figures indicate Diamond had an ending fund balance of $1,115,000. (I should mention in the spirit of complete disclosure that both of the teachers whose positions were eliminated already had signed contracts for the next year and I was one of them. I should also mention that the decision turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for me.)
During that time, Mayo and the Board of Education eliminated the vocal music program, the middle school reading program, all full-time counselors except the high school position, increased classroom numbers, began charging fees to participate in athletics and forced the Booster Club to cover the cost of the wrestling program.
You would think the district was on the edge of financial catastrophe. But according to the MSTA figures, the Diamond R-4 School District had an ending fund balance of $1,239.399 in 2003-2004. But finances were still so bad that the position of Middle School Principal Denise Mounts had to be eliminated. Ms. Mounts was making $48,000 a year. Her replacement, Danny DeWitt, was recently rehired at about $7,000 per year less than that, so apparently the board felt that 7 or $8,000 out of more than $1.2 million was enough of a reason to eliminate a person's job.
I have been quick to criticize some of the decisions made by Missouri's newly-minted governor Matt Blunt during his first three months of office, so it is only fair to give him credit when he does something right.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' sudden interest in the Carthage odor situation comes as a direct result of the governor's intervention. Undeniably, the efforts put forth by the governor's father, Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, plus U. S. Senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent were also helpful, but a quick examination of the article about the situation that will be featured in the Saturday Joplin Globe gives no doubt who is responsible for Friday morning's closed door session between DNR head Doyle Childers and ConAgra officials.
"Gov. Blunt called us and asked us what was going on," Childers is quoted as saying in the article written by the Globe's John Hacker. "We prepared a briefing paper for him based on the reports we had, and he asked us to get this meeting together."
Apparently, it takes the personal intervention of the governor to get the DNR to do its job.
The Globe quite rightly noted the fact that the meeting was closed to protect "proprietary secrets."
This appears to be more of the type of concession to business that Missouri politicians seem to be doing more and more of these days. After all, who wants to steal a proprietary secret that makes things smell so bad?
Pre-trial motions for an East Newton High School graduate accused of four murders in Killeen, Texas, will be held Friday, April 1 in Bell County Circuit Court.
The trials of Timothy Doan Payne, formerly of Granby, a soldier at Fort Hood, and his codefendant Richard Lee Tabler, are expected to be held sometime before the end of the year.
Payne and Tabler were indicted by a Bell County grand jury last month in connection with the November 2004 deaths of four people connected with Teazers, a Killeen strip club.
In a December interview with the Dallas Morning News, Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith described the deaths as coming as the result of a "sinister and gruesome plot" to kill Teazers employees who had wronged Tabler.
The Morning News reported that Tabler had been fired from the nightclub for dealing drugs and fencing stolen property. Those allegedly shot to death by Tabler while Payne videotaped the murders, according to printed reports were: Tiffany Dotson, 18, a blond dancer from California; Amber Benefield, also known as Zoe, 16, a runaway from Louisiana; Mohamed Amine Rahmouni, the bar manager and a native of Morocco; and Haitham Zayed, who was described by authorities as most likely being a bystander who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Payne had been assigned to Fort Hood for less than a month, according to the Morning News. Payne and Tabler could receive the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted. Tabler is being held in lieu of $8 million bond, while a $4 million bond has been set for Payne.
A Mexican citizen stopped in Joplin with a truckload of illegal aliens faces a March 30 arraignment and scheduling hearing in U. S. District Court in Springfield.
The Joplin Police Department was responsible for the arrest of Yovani Diaz-Cruz on March 12, when JPD officers came across a 1995 GMC Safari Van parked at the corner of Main and F. Officers saw Hispanic men sitting in the driver and front passenger seats. Cruz was the man in the driver's seat, according to court documents.
Twelve other Hispanic men were found hiding under a nearby bridge. Believing them to be undocumented aliens, Joplin Police called the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Springfield. All 12 men admitted to being Mexican citizens illegally in this country, according to court documents.
"They claim to have paid between 1,000 and 2,000 dollars for transportation from Phoenix, Ariz., to Georgia or Kentucky," Special Agent James Webb said in an affidavit filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. "Three of the 12 claimed to have paid 5,500 pesos as their fee for transportation. The group identified (Diaz) as the driver of the vehicle."
Diaz and the passenger, who is not identified in the court documents, also admitted to being Mexican citizens in the U. S. illegally. All 14 men were arrested and taken to the Christian County Jail in Ozark.
On March 14, according to the affidavit, Diaz said he was "hired by an unidentified person he called 'Mario' to transport the group from Phoenix, Ariz., to various locations in Atlanta, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He claimed that on March 11, 'Mario' gave him the van with the group of illegal aliens already loaded in the van. A check with the FBI database determined that Diaz had been deported from this country twice, on March 10, 2003, and April 20, 2003, both times from Nogales, Ariz.
Lawyers for the Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn and the Jasper County Commission have already jumped on the order issued earlier today (see below) by U. S. District Court Judge Richard E. Door giving convicted child molester Martin Eck 20 days to answer their questions or risk having his $10 million lawsuit dismissed.
A 10 a.m. April 8 deposition has been scheduled at the Jefferson City Correctional Center.
Convicted child molester Martin Eck has been given 20 days to answer questions from lawyers representing Sheriff Archie Dunn and the Jasper County Commission or his $10 million lawsuit against them may be dismissed.
The order was issued today by U. S. District Court Judge Richard E. Dorr. The county officials' lawyers went to Jefferson City to interview Eck at his prison Jan. 28 and were told that he would not answer questions without his lawyer. He said his mother was trying to hire a lawyer for him.
Eck is suing the county officials because he did not receive proper dental care during his stay in the Jasper County Jail.
A closed-door session is scheduled for later this morning between Missouri Department of Natural Resources Doyle Childers and officials of ConAgra to discuss the odor coming from the company's Renewable Environmental Resources plant, which changes the waste from ConAgra's butterball turkey plant into oil.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that the meeting will be closed because company officials will talk about technology that is owned by the company. Obviously, this will prevent other companies from learning how to make an entire area smell like sewage. State Senator Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, is also scheduled to attend the meeting.
Childers will take questions from the public after the meeting, the article said, but no time frame was given for when the meeting will be over. The state agency has been under pressure from Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt and U. S. Senators Kit Bond and Jim Talent to do something about the odor.
Carthage city officials have said they are considering taking legal action against ConAgra.
The News-Leader article notes that when ConAgra was considering building the plant, Blunt and Bond helped secure $15 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to help.
The Montgomery, Ala. Advertiser reports that ConAgra is closing its food processing plant in that city, eliminating 365 jobs. Company officials blamed the age of the plant, which was built in 1961 and the projected renovation cost. The article speculated that it might have more to do with the company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reported first in The Turner Report Thursday, that ConAgra will have to restate its financial results for last year and the first half of this year, due to income tax errors, which may amount to between $150 million and $200 million.
The Eastern Jasper County Laubach Literacy Council and the Carthage Crisis Center will be among the entities receiving grants from the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Regional Grant Making Program, according to an article in today's Springfield News-Leader.
The program holds fund volunteer training, buy property, teach reading, educate parents, house homeless and introduce kids to the arts, according to the article.
The Laubach Literacy Council will share $32,282 with two other literacy programs coordinated through Southwest Missouri State University, the article said.
The Carthage Crisis Center will receive $14,500, which will go toward buying and remodeling a new, larger facility.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

"It was all a big misunderstanding," Audrey Norton told Joplin Globe reporter John Hacker Tuesday. She was referring to her accusation that Southwest City Police Chief Toi Cannada had assaulted her daughter in November 2004. That accusation led to Ms. Cannada's arrest Monday on misdemeanor assault and felony burglary charges.
The charges were dropped Tuesday by McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Geeding, who said he had come across new information.
Mrs. Norton told the Globe. "She (Cannada) didn't grab my daughter, and I didn't want anybody to get in trouble for something they didn't do."
But on the same day the charges were dropped...the same day Mrs. Norton told The Globe it was all "a misunderstanding"... she filed a request for a child protection order in McDonald County Circuit Court. The request was rejected by Circuit Court Judge John LePage, according to court records.
Something appears to be missing here.
Ms. Cannada has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since she joined the Southwest City Police Department. According to articles by Globe reporter John Hacker, she was initially hired on a part-time basis. When her status was changed to full-time, the police chief at the time, Ron Beaudry, ran a background check and discovered that she had been arrested for driving while intoxicated in 2001 in Callaway County.
Beaudry fired her, but she was reinstated. By this time, her stepfather, Farley Martin, had been elected to the Southwest City Council. Eventually Beaudry was fired. Mayor Al Dixon said it was due to insubordination and that Beaudry had not cooperated with Martin when he was trying to find out about police procedures.
Ms. Cannada was promoted to police chief after Beaudry's dismissal. Meanwhile, Ms. Cannada was facing disciplinary charges from the Missouri Director of Public Safety. A complaint was filed against her on March 30, 2004, by the director. Ms. Cannada, in a letter received June 29 by the director, waived her right to a hearing.
The director said Ms. Cannada committed an offense under state statute which says, "A person commits the crime of 'driving with excessive blood alcohol content' if such person operates a motor vehicle in this state with ten-hundredths of one percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person's blood."
The state's Administrative Hearing Commission, during a July 26, 2004, meeting, found that Ms. Cannada drove with 1.14 blood alcohol content "because her guilty plea to that charge is an admission of those facts."
The Commission gave the Public Safety Director authorization to discipline Ms. Cannada.
According to state law, hearings must be held within 30 days after the Administrative Hearing Commission makes its decisions. Records from that hearing are not readily available, but it appears that Ms. Cannada did not not have her peace officer's license revoked or suspended, since she has continued to be on duty since her promotion to the chief position.
Former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, the biggest fish netted by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr during the Whitewater investigations, will try to convince a panel of the 8th District Court of Appeals next month that his conviction should be tossed out.
In a hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 14, in the Thomas Eagleton Courthouse in St. Louis, Tucker's lawyer will argue that his client, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges, should be set free because the law he is accused of breaking was not in effect at the time of the offense.
Court records indicate this argument has been tried unsuccessfully by Tucker, but a certificate of appealability was given.
Tucker was governor of Arkansas when a grand jury issued a three-count indictment against him on June 7, 1995. Also indicted were Tucker's business lawyer John Haley and a former business associate William Marks.
The indictment alleged that between October 1987 and October 100-, Tucker and the others conspired to evade taxes through a fraudulent bankruptcy proceeding for a cable television company that Tucker partially owned.
Tucker claims the government misrepresented the charges, and that he is actually innocent of what the final charges turned out to be. He says his conviction should be thrown out. Both sides will be given 20 minutes to argue their cases.
Desperation must have hit the Springfield chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The chapter is playing host for the Region 7 Conference April 1 and 2 at the University Plaza in Springfield.
A number of panel discussions will be held 9 a.m. Saturday, April 2, including one on "The Blogging Boom," moderated by Andrew Tangel and featuring Greg Matthews, online editor of the Springfield News-Leader, Andrew Cline, assistant professor of journalism at Southwest Missouri State University and some guy named Randy Turner, editor and reporter for something called The Turner Report (see what I mean about desperation).The program indicates the discussion will "explore the background (of blogging), how to blog and how media outlets are using blogging to connect with readers." Other than the claustrophobia problem I suffer from when I am driving in the city, I am looking forward to the panel discussion.
I won't be the only person from Joplin participating in the 9 a.m. session, according to the program. Chad Stebbins, executive director of the International Society of Student newspapers and former advisor to the Chart,Missouri Southern State University's newspaper will participate in a panel discussion on improving college newspapers.
Thanks to Robert Leger, the editorial page editor of the Springfield News-Leader, for the invitation.
The word "productive" was out in full force on the opinion page of Tuesday's Neosho Daily News as State Senator Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, and state representatives Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, and Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, were effusive in their estimation of how the state legislature has been doing during the 2005 session.
I will go into more detail later about some of the things being proposed and actively moving through the legislature which stand as particular threats to the public, but let's mention two that have passed through the Senate and are expected to be approved by the House:
-The Senate approved an agriculture bill that would eliminate the need for the public to be notified or to have any say about agricultural expansion. It would also prevent counties and cities from being able to enact laws and ordinances that are any more stringent than those the state has in effect. This is a "productive" measure?
-Also, the House is likely to pass a bill that sailed through the Senate that would allow utilities companies (namely Empire District Electric) to pass along their fuel and environmental costs to their customers (namely higher utility bills). This is a "productive" measure?
The U. S. House of Representatives appears to be heading toward the same sort of show hearings that made the state of Oklahoma look bad a few years back.
KOAM reported today and the Tulsa World had a page-one article Tuesday about Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, R-California's plan to convene a new round of hearings on the Oklahoma City bombing as we are now less than a month away from the 10-year anniversary of that horrific event.
Rohrabacher believes that other people beside Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols may have been involved. Apparently, according to the World article, he is relying at least partially on a book written by former Oklahoma City television reporter Jayna Davis, which claims that a number of Middle Eastern men, including some Iraqis, were involved.
The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building killed 168 people.
For those who had the misfortune of attending author Terry Reed's so-called "American Heritage Festival" in Carthage in the summer of 1998, one of the speakers was Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key, who claimed that the bombing was part of a much-larger conspiracy. (Everyone at that get-together claimed everything that was going on in the U. S. at that time was part of a much-larger conspiracy.) Key received quite a bit of publicity for his efforts, but never uncovered any information that would indicate the bombing was actually a conspiracy, did not impress his constituents with his obsession with the topic, and eventually lost his bid for re-election.
The former financial advisor for the Sunbeam Corporation, the Morgan Stanley investment firm, suffered a strong setback in the ongoing lawsuit filed against it by financier Richard Perelman, first mentioned in the Feb. 20 Turner Report.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the judge in that trial, Elizabeth Maass ruled that the jurors, who are being selected this week, will be told that Morgan Stanley had a role in helping Sunbeam conceal accounting problems that reduced the value of Perelman's investment in the firm. The ruling increases the probability that a jury will find in Perelman's favor, the article indicated. The trial is scheduled to begin April 14.
Perelman sold his 82 percent stake in the Coleman company to Sunbeam in exchange for $1.5 billion worth of Sunbeam stock. Shortly after the transaction was completed, Sunbeam collapsed due to the accounting scandal that led to the company's bankruptcy declaration in 2001. Perelman is seeking $2.7 billion in damages. Morgan Stanley claims that it, too, was a victim of Sunbeam, and lost more than $300 million.
An article in the Monday Journal indicated that Morgan Stanley faces other problems besides the Perelman lawsuit. The Securities and Exchange Commission is asking for more information on what Morgan Stanley knew or should have known about Sunbeam's problems.
The Sunbeam Company, now owned by Jarden Corporation, has a plant in Neosho.
The trial of former McDonald County sheriff candidate and Seneca police officer Randy Hance on federal weapons charges will be postponed until at least Aug. 1.
U. S. District Court Judge James C. England granted the continuance that Hance and his attorneys had requested. Springfield lawyer Shawn Askinosie cited three reasons for the continuance:
-Hance and federal officials have been negotiating a plea in the case.
-The government has not turned over the complete case file.
-Askinosie is involved in another case in U. S. District Court on April 25, the day on which the trial had originally been scheduled.
Sales for ConAgra were up slightly during the third quarter, but operating profit continued to decline, according to information filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission today.
The decline was caused by increased input costs and challenges in the packaged meat operations, according to the filing.
The report contained bad news for investors, as company officials said they made a mistake involving tax matters which would decrease the company's after-tax profits between $150 million and $200 million. The mistakes will be addressed in ConAgra's quarterly report.
The SEC may file charges against former U. S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle in connection with the alleged looting of Hollinger International by its CEO Conrad Black and his partner David Radler. The information was reported today by Bloomberg News.
Perle was a member of Hollinger's Board of Directors.
Today's Wall Street Journal indicated that the U. S. attorney's office in northern Illinois has confirmed that is conducting a criminal investigation into the allegations against Black and Radler, though it mentioned nothing about Perle.
No word yet on whether other members of the board, in addition to Perle, during that time are being investigated, but one of them was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Hollinger at one time owned The Carthage Press and The Neosho Daily News.
Various news sources are reporting that Kmart stockholders approved the acquisition of Sears today. The merger will create the third biggest retail giant in the U. S. behind Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Negotiations are underway between the federal government and former McDonald County sheriff's candidate and Seneca police officer Randy Hance, according to a motion filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Hance's lawyer, Shawn Askinosie, Springfield, asked for Hance's trial, scheduled for April 25, to be delayed until Aug. 1, saying that negotiations were ongoing, and while the two sides have not agreed on anything yet, there is a strong possibility they will.
Askinosie also said the government has yet to provide him with a complete case file, and that he and his partner, Stacie Bilyeu, are involved in another case scheduled for April 25.
Hance has waived his right to a speedy trial, according to the motion.
Hance is being held without bond while awaiting trial on a weapons charge.
I always appreciate the opportunity to speak highly of the kids who worked for me in the past and talk about some of their triumphs in the world of journalism and writing. Of those who worked for me at The Lamar Democrat, Peggy Brinkhoff went on to write for Country Music News and for Focus on the Family, Holly Sundy (now Willhite) is journalism teacher at Lamar High School, Cherie Thomas writes grant proposals for public school systems in Kansas and Missouri, and there were others.
At The Carthage Press, Michelle Reagan is a staff writer for the Jefferson City News-Tribune, Cait Purinton reports for the Topeka Capitol-Journal, and Stacy Rector is a reporter for a weekly newspaper in the Dallas, Texas, area.
Two young reporters worked for me at both The Democrat and The Carthage Press. Amy Lamb followed up her successful work at the Democrat, with a series of hard-hitting pieces while serving as lifestyles editor of The Press, including a study of sex offenders and in-person coverage of the execution of the man who murdered Harold and Melba Wampler of Jasper. The last I heard Amy was responsible for publications for Wal-Mart.
The other reporter who worked for me at both places was a young man whom I first met when he was a student at MSSC. Randee Kaiser, a Liberal High School graduate, mostly wrote sports during his time at The Democrat, though he also covered meetings of the Barton County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees and other non-sports news. We were reunited at The Press when Managing Editor Neil Campbell hired him as sports editor in late 1991 after Randee graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He was still sports editor when I was named managing editor in December 1993. He moved from the sports desk to city government coverage.
I don't recall the exact date he left The Press, but he made a decision to enter an entirely new field and began working for then Chief Ed Ellefsen as a Carthage police officer. He has been there ever since. Randee was featured in an article in today's edition of The Mornin' Mail, the daily newsletter published by H. J. Johnson.
According to the article, Randee, who has risen in the ranks of CPD to detective, was the lead officer in a Jasper County Drug Task Force investigation that recently netted 15 arrests for sale of narcotics. One arrest was for the sale of Oxycontin, with the other 14 coming for the sale of methamphetamines.
The announcement of the success was made by CPD Chief Dennis Veach at Monday night's meeting of the City Council's Public Safety Committee.
Hugh McVey, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO naturally disagrees with the Missouri General Assembly's decision to severely limit workmen's compensation, but he is right on the money with his guest column in today's Kansas City Star.
Despite the proclamations of our area Republican, pro-business at the expense of everyone else, legislators, there never was a crisis in the workmen's compensation program. As McVey points out, the fraud and abuses that legislators who supported the law gave as reasons for that support were already against the law.
Our local legislator also did not note, as McVey did in his article, that worker's comp claims have actually been on the decrease in the state. Perhaps having a strong worker's compensation program actually makes employers take extra care in providing their workers with a safe workplace.
And while I'm at it, I might as well address another area that our local legislators considered to be of vital importance...tort reform. Apparently, if you believe them...and as you might guess, I don't, there has been a crisis of doctors leaving their practices in this state because of large jury awards that have increased malpractice insurance.
So a tort reform bill was railroaded through the legislature. What will happen in the meantime is an increase during the next few months before the bill takes effect in lawsuits being filed to get in under the deadline. Even knowing that this will stop in August will not keep the insurance industry from raising its rates.
And when the new law goes into effect, don't expect the insurance industry to lower those rates. We're stuck with them. The insurance industry has always been a big contributor to the Republican party and its profits have been protected at the expense of the consumer.
The Republicans were absolutely correct in their criticisms of joint and several liability, in which someone who is only one percent responsible for something can be forced to pay the entire cost simply because another defendant does not have any money. They were also correct to limit so-called venue shopping in which lawyers seek jurisdictions where juries have given plaintiffs large awards. These reforms were on the money.
The other parts of this "tort reform' were simply about the money.
The Canadian government has placed a lien on former Hollinger International CEO Conrad Black's Palm Beach Mansion, according to an article in today's New York Post. Black owes $11 million in back taxes.
Black is under investigation in the U. S. and Canada for allegedly bilking Hollinger out of millions of dollars. Hollinger is the former owner of The Carthage Press and The Neosho Daily News.
An Associated Press story that just came over the wires indicates that Governor Matt Blunt has spent more than $120,000 in renovating and equipping his office...during the same time he has been recommending cuts that would hurt the most vulnerable of Missouri's citizens.
The article indicates the governor spent about $75,000 for new computers and phones, including 28 desktop computers with flat-screen monitors, nine laptop computers, nine printers, four Blackberry wireless e-mail devices, and two fax machines.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The groundbreaking Cruzan vs. Missouri Department of Health case, the first right to die case to reach the U. S. Supreme Court, was among the cases cited in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejection of Terri Schaivo's family's attempts to have her feeding tubes rejected. The panel's decision was announced a few moments ago.
The text for the opinion can be found at
The Joplin Globe came through.
Its Wednesday morning edition includes a well-done feature on the late Don "The Entertainer" Clements by Jeremiah Tucker. I'm sure the Clements family and Clements' many fans will be pleased.
Former Globe staff writer Jim Suhr, now with The Associated Press. filed an informative feature on the late Carl Dewayne Graham, Jr., the Missouri Highway Patrol trooper who was murdered Sunday. The piece includes an interview with Graham's father. I have never been a big fan of interviewing the relatives of the deceased. I always believed there were other ways you could get a story, but Suhr handled it tastefully.
Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt will be faced with protests during three area stops Wednesday to discuss President Bush's Social Security plan.
The congressman is scheduled to be at Carthage at 11:30 a.m., Neosho at 1:30 p.m. and Joplin at 5 p.m.
As regular readers of The Turner Report know, one of the subjects to which I return time after time is the way our local newspapers treat the deaths of well-known people.
The Springfield News-Leader ran a fine article about the death of Joplin musician "Don "The Entertainer" Clements today. Mr. Clements was a fixture at Joplin and area nightspots almost right up until his death. Maybe I just missed it in the Monday Joplin Globe, but I sure didn't see any article about Mr. Clements in today's paper. And since the Monday Globe death notices on the website don't include one for Mr. Clements, that would seem to indicate there were not any stories in the print edition.
The Globe did run an obituary today which was paid for by the family.
How difficult would it have been for The Globe to have run something similar to what the News-Leader ran. For example:
"Don Clements — a talented, self-taught musician from Joplin who billed himself as The Entertainer — succumbed to cancer Sunday night. He was 65."
A little more from News-Leader staff writer Matt Wagner's article:
Clements played his first gig at Jim Bowen's bar in Joplin when he was 15, said Genene Clements, his wife of eight years and longtime friend. "He was walking by the bar and heard a guy singing, and he told his brother, 'Well, hell, we sing better than that,'" Genene said with a chuckle Monday.
A nice article in The Globe would probably have been a comfort to his daughter, Shyla, who herself has been suffering from cancer during recent months.
Funeral services for Mr. Clements will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Joplin Elks Lodge, 1802 W. 26th St. Burial will follow at the Osborne Memorial Cemetery.
Parents who serve teenagers alcohol on their property can't be held liable if someone dies as a result of that act.
That's basically what the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals said in a ruling issued today in a lawsuit brought by the parents of a Jasper High School student who died in a 2001 auto accident near Carthage.
The weight of Missouri law is against the people who actually consume the alcohol then commit wrongful acts, the decision said.
The lawsuit was filed by Steve Ritchie and Anita Ritchie, the parents of the late Kelsey Ritchie, a Jasper High School senior at the time of her death. The lawsuit was filed against Kelly Goodman, Jeremy Shumard, Frank Shumard Jr., Sue Shumard, Danny W. Mers, and Johns Does 1 through 5.
According to the decision, Jeremy Shumard held a party at the home of his parents, Frank and Sue Shumard on March 23, 2001. Those in attendance included Adam Tomblin, 18, Toby Waters, 17, Noah Heath, 18, Aaron Anderson, 18, Kelsey Ritchie, 17, Anna Isles, 16. Most of the students at the party were high schoolers and none of those attending was over 21, according to the opinion.
"Prior to that evening's party, several of the minors collected money from their friends and obtained a keg of beer, which they set up in the Shumards' backyard near a shed. On that evening, in addition to consuming beer from the keg, the partygoers built a bonfire, which they ran through and danced around; passed around a bottle of vodka, and listened to music."
At some point, according to the opinion, Anderson, Heath, Miss Isles and Miss Ritchie left the Shumard home in Heath's Ford Mustang. Heath and Anderson were in the front seat with the two young women in the back. After they had gone about a mile, Anderson asked Heath to stop the car so he could go to the bathroom. Heath parked the car, but left it in the roadway to wait for Tomblin and Waters, who they knew were coming behind them. "Shortly thereafter, Tomblin, who was legally intoxicated and driving at a speed of approximately 82 miles per hour, crested a hill and struck the rear end of Heath's parked vehicle."
Miss Ritchie and Miss Iles were pronounced dead at the scene. The others suffered serious injuries.
According to the decision, the lawsuit was based on three principles:
The first was "a public policy argument which would extend joint liability to social hosts who provide alcoholic beverages to minors. Based on the fact that (the Shumards) provided alcoholic beverages to the minors in the present matter, (the Ritchies) allege 'it was reasonably foreseeable that those minors would then negligently operate motor vehicles upon public highways while under the influence."
The second principle was that the Shumards were "negligent in failing to supervise the minors attending the party upon their premises," since the intoxicated minors left the party in cars and were not prevented from doing so.
The third principle was that the Shumards were responsible for "the conduct of the various minors that attended the party at their home."
The case was dismissed by Jasper County Circuit Court Judge William Carl Crawford, who agreed with the defendants' claim that their actions were not "the proximate cause or the cause-in-fact" of Kelsey Ritchie's death.
In the appeal, the Ritchies' lawyer claimed Crawford had erred by not recognizing public policy and common law in Missouri which provide that social hosts such as the Shumards "who allow minors to drink alcohol on their property and then operate motor vehicles should be jointly liable for the negligence of the minors in the use and operation of the motor vehicles."
The appeals court judges said they did not see a reason to make new law and they would not extend the provisions of the law to provide the basis for the Ritchies' case.
The decision said the Ritchies could not establish that the defendants caused their daughter's death and the death of Anna Iles. "As case law clearly sets out, based on the common law, it was the consumption of alcoholic beverages by Heath and Tomblin and not the furnishing of the alcoholic beverages to them by respondents that was the proximate cause of the untimely death of Kelsey and Anna."
One of my favorite people, Ronna Patterson, was named principal of Pleasant Valley Elementary School by the Carthage R-9 Board of Education Monday night. Ms. Patterson, the former Ronna Cook of Granby, is an old friend who attended East Newton High School during the same time I was there (though she has done a far better job of weathering the last three decades than I have).
Ronna is nearing the completion of her first year in the Carthage R-9 system. She is currently assistant principal and reading coach at Steadley Elementary School.
KODE's Alan Cavanna explored the connections between the Terri Schaivo case in Florida and the Nancy Cruzan case. It is a good story for print or broadcast journalists and a welcome decision by KODE's news team to re-examine the local story that had such a great national impact. Sometimes journalists have a tendency to go from one story to the next, over and over again, without revisiting the stories of the past that help put today's stories in context.
Though there are major differences in the Cruzan and Schaivo cases, the Cruzan case paved the way for the courtroom battle that is taking place now.
It doesn't seem as if it has been 15 years since Nancy Cruzan, lying in a persistent vegetative state in a hospital in Mount Vernon, was named one of People Magazine's 25 most influential people of 1990.
As far as I can determine, KFJX, the Joplin Fox affiliate, during its 9 p.m. news, was the first to run the story that Southwest City Police Chief Toi Cannada had been arrested on burglary and assault charges. While all four local broadcast stations have run today's news that the McDonald County prosecuting attorney has dropped the charges against Ms. Cannada, KFJX's website and the website of its sister station, KOAM, are still leading with the story that she has been arrested and the news that the charges were dropped was released several hours ago.
*** reports that Golden City native Kevin Baldwin has been hired to replace Marcia Bary as Lamar High School principal. Ms. Bary resigned recently and will leave her position at the end of June.
An interesting line of comments has been posted in the education section of Seneca Forums at regarding the wearing and display of the Confederate flag, a group of high school wrestlers causing a commotion at the state tournament by wearing hats adorned with that still-controversial symbol. Apparently, the situation has become just as heated on the high school campus with some racial tension existing at the school, which until recently had been pretty much lily white.
Directly in the line of fire there is High School Principal Ron Wallace, who I worked with for quite a few years when he was Carthage High School girls basketball coach and I covered the team's games for The Carthage Press.
This one could develop into a big story during the next few weeks.
The charges against Toi Cannada have been dropped, but the investigation continues. KOAM reported moments ago.
Ms. Cannada's law enforcement career, which has been marred by charges of DWI, which occurred before she joined the Southwest City police force, as well as the latest charges, also include another court filing which had gone unnoticed until now.
An adult abuse/stalking complaint was made against Ms. Cannada on Jan. 13, according to court records. Tennie Jean Longdon asked for a protection order. The case was dismissed without prejudice the following day by Judge John LePage.
Ms. Longdon also asked for a protection order against Southwest City Mayor Al Dixon the same day, court records indicate. That was also dismissed the following day.
A month after the cases were dismissed, on Feb. 14, Ms. Longdon was charged with violating numerous city ordinances. Court records indicate the violations dated back to Jan. 2. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 28 in that case.
The recent Florida controversy has brought to light a bill signed by President Bush when he was governor of Texas which gives spouses top priority in making decisions over ending medical treatment in situations such as the one involving Terri Schaivo.
Bush apparently has changed his mind in the six years that have passed since he signed that bill, judging by his rapid trip from Texas to Washington to make sure he was there to sign a bill to save Ms. Schaivo.
According to a Cox News Service article, the Texas law says that in cases where the patient has not made a clear decision on whether life-prolonging care should be given the spouse, unless there is a court-appointed guardian, makes the decision, followed by adult children, and parents.
''This is a complex case with serious issues,'' the president said, referring to the Schaivo situation, ''but in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life.''
That apparently was not the way he felt six years ago.
The Missouri legislative victory for the big agricultural factory operations appears to be part of a concentrated effort by these companies to gain ground on the state level.
The March 18 Tulsa World features an article on the Oklahoma House's 57-42 approval of a bill that would reduce Attorney General Drew Edmondson's power to sue poultry companies for polluting waterways.
The condition of the state's water does not appear to have worked its way into the equation as far as some of the representatives are concerned. Rep. Fred Morgan, a proponent of the bill, said Edmondson and others had "overstepped their authority and gone after industries. We shouldn't give one person the power to destroy any industry through litigation. That is government lawsuit abuse."
The Springfield media seems to be picking up on the connection between the current Terri Schiavo situation in Florida and the Nancy Cruzan case in southwest Missouri.
Sunday's Springfield News-Leader featured an op-ed piece by William Colby, the lawyer who represented Joe and Joyce Cruzan as they worked their way through the courts trying to receive permission to have the feeding tubes removed from their daughter, who was left in a persistent vegetative state following a 1982 automobile accident near Carthage.
Colby, who published a book on the Cruzan case and now works for the Center for Practical Bioethics based in Kansas City wrote about the wisdom of preparing a living will, a document which will ensure that doctors and family members follow your wishes if you are ever put in a situation similar to the one that faced Nancy Cruzan.
KYTV in Springfield followed up on the Colby column with a piece last night, according to the station's website.
The Cruzan case was the first so-called "right-to-die" case to go all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. The court agreed that the right does exist, but the decision did not necessarily apply to Nancy's case unless there was clear evidence that having the feeding tubes removed would have been what she would have wanted.
Another hearing was held in Jasper County Circuit Court in Carthage in October 1990. After hearing a handful of witnesses, Judge Charles Teel ruled on Dec. 12, 1990, that the feeding tubes could be removed. Nancy Cruzan died two weeks later.
Beverly Enterprises announced this morning that it will go through an auction process to sell the company.
According to a statement released on Business Wire, the Fort Smith, Ark. based company has directed its financial advisors, Lehman Brothers and J. P. Morgan to immediately begin contacting prospective bidders. Beverly at one time had nursing homes throughout southwest Missouri, including in Neosho. It still operates one in Anderson. The company operates 347 nursing homes.
The company has been the target of a takeover attempt by Formation Capital.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Ontario Securities Commission's investigation of the scandal involving Hollinger International, former owner of The Carthage Press and The Neosho Daily News, has revealed that former Hollinger CEO Conrad Black and his partner David Radler "diverted tens of millions of dollars" from the company and failed to properly disclose the payments. The amount given in the Journal article was $16.55 million.
The Press and the Daily News belonged to Hollinger's U. S. subsidiary, American Publishing, until most of the smaller American newspapers were sold as part of the formation of Liberty Group Publishing in 1998.
The former chairman of the board of Bank of Minden in western Barton County died Friday at Mount Carmel Regional Medical Center in Pittsburg. Rudolph N. "Rudy" Simoncic was 90. Mr. Simoncic owned Bowlus School Supply & Sporting Goods for years. He was the grandfather of former Lamar R-1 teacher and coach, Rick Simoncic.