Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Nexstar Broadcasting's stock hit an all-time low last week, but it rebounded slightly, according to John Boyd's article in today's San Angelo, Texas Standard-Times. The stock has fallen from $9.23 per share at the first of the year to $4.52 last week, the article said.
It is back up to $5.59.
''Essentially, Nexstar is not a company that is profitable,'' Scott Marlar, vice president of Dreher Co., a San Angelo investment analyst firm, told the Standard-Times. ''The consensus is that they're not going to be profitable for the next couple of years.''
Nexstar owns KSNF and is the de facto owner of KODE in Joplin.
Boyd asked Nexstar Chief Operating Officer Duane Lammers if the stock's drop had anything to do with the battle with cable companies over retransmission rights. Nexstar has pulled its stations off Cable One in Joplin, Vinita, and Independence, and off Cable One and Cox Communications in a number of Texas and Louisiana communities.
''You'd have to talk to people buying or selling stock,'' Lammers told the Standard-Times. ''We had to learn what was going to happen when we went off cable. Nobody predicted that it was going to be good.''
Lammers told the newspaper all broadcasters were having a downturn, but the article indicated that Nexstar's was by far the steepest decline.
Who says Diamond R-4 school officials don't have a sense of humor?
After asking earlier this month for extra time, and receiving until May 31 to designate expert witnesses for their lawsuit against Edison Schools, attorney Paul Rechenberg of the Chesterfield firm of Doster, Mickes, James, Ullom, Benson & Guest, LLC, filed the district's expert witness list with the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Rechenberg must have needed the extra two weeks to look high and low for one lone expert witness...Diamond R-4 Superintendent Mark Mayo.
"Mr. Mayo will provide opinion testimony as to the calculation of the funds received by the district for the 2002 summer school program, what was owed by the district to defendant, and that all sums due and owing to defendant have been paid in full."
For some reason, Rechenberg informed the judge that Mayo is "not an employee of the district whose duties regularly involve giving expert testimony."
The school district brought suit against Edison Schools in 2004, claiming it charged too much when it operated Diamond's summer school in 2002. Other area school districts, including East Newton, Sarcoxie and McDonald County, have used Edison Schools for years and have made money with the district. Diamond is the only one that has had problems with it concerning the financial end of the deal.
In the lawsuit, which was initially filed in Newton County Circuit Court and then transferred to federal court, district officials claim they only owe Edison the $210,000 they had already paid the company, while Edison claims the district owes closer to $300,000.
The company contracted with Diamond on Feb. 15, 2002, to run the summer school. Edison used Diamond teachers, but paid their salaries and benefits. The company also supplied the curriculum, based on Missouri requirements, books, and materials. The district was allowed to keep all of the materials. Edison also paid for a number of incentives to encourage students to attend the summer session.
According to a Joplin Globe story following a Diamond R-4 Board of Education meeting, board members agreed with the position of Otto Shroyer, an Edison representative attending the meeting that "contracting with Edison was a good deal for the district because it generated about $284,000 beyond the $210,000 it paid Newton. That profit would be more than $200,000 even if the district paid Edison the disputed amount.
The dispute was featured on the editorial page of The Globe with letters from Larrie Reynolds, president of Newton Learning, the summer school division of Edison, and Diamond R-4 Superintendent Mark Mayo.
Reynolds responded to an earlier Globe article, in which Mayo had criticized Edison., claiming "There's no reason we should send them (Newton Learning) this kind of money."
Reynolds wrote, "Your readers should understand that Newton Learning's summer school actually brought more funding to the district because the program's popularity among children and families increased student enrollment dramatically." The state's reimbursement to school districts which provide summer school is based on enrollment.
Reynolds continued, "The increased enrollment provided the district with approximately $415,000 in extra funding to pay for the summer program."
He finished his letter by writing, "Your readers should be advised that Newton Learning was not, and would not be, a financial burden to Diamond. It is a high quality academic program that is a 'win' for the district, a 'win' for Newton Learning, and most importantly, a 'win' for the students of Diamond."
Not long afterward, Mayo responded, giving a completely different picture of the district's financial dealings with Edison than what board members admitted to at a later meeting. While the Globe article indicates board members agreed with Edison's figures that showed the school district making more than $200,000 from summer school, Mayo's figures indicated the district had not made any money, and in fact, had lost $4,805. Mayo's figures were apparently not addressed during the later board meeting.
Mayo concluded his response by saying, "We have maintained that the Edison program, as operated, was too expensive for this district. We are not alone in this evaluation of the Edison summer program," he said, though he never mentioned one school district whose officials agreed with him.
"Edison uses the local district facilities (and does not pay for custodial services), uses local district teachers and uses of the students of the local district to generate a profit for stockholders for the Edison business entity. Unless we see a change in the Edison billing structure, we see no need to send those revenues outside our district."
It would be interesting to know how much Diamond R-4 tax money is being used to pursue this lawsuit.
The parents of a Jasper teenager who was killed in a drunk driving accident near Carthage on March 23, 2001, will not have a chance to be heard by the Missouri Supreme Court.
The court, in a ruling issued today, said it would not hear the appeal of Steve and Anita Ritchie, whose daughter, Kelsey, a Jasper High School senior at the time of her death, was killed following a teen party at which alcohol was served.
The Southern District Court of Appeals' ruling on that case in March indicated that parents who serve teenagers alcohol on their property can't be held liable if someone dies as a result of that act. The weight of Missouri law is against the people who actually consume the alcohol then commit wrongful acts, the opinion said.
Though it won't do the Ritchie family any good, the Missouri State Legislature closed that loophole during its last session, but the law, of course, was not in effect at the time of Kelsey Ritchie's death.
The Ritchies' 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 Southern District Court of Appeals 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."
A Newton County sexual predator will remain behind bars.
The Missouri Supreme Court today said it will not hear Joseph M. Johnson's appeal of his commitment to a state facility under the sexual predator law.
This is the third time Johnson has been rejected by an appellate court. He was turned down twice by the Southern District Court of Appeals. Under the provisions of the Sexually Violent Predators Civil Commitment Act, those who are termed violent sexual predators may be kept for treatment after completion of their prison terms.
The civil commitment was initially approved by Newton County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Perigo. Johnson was committed after psychiatric experts testified that he was likely to commit violent sexual crimes again. He had two prior convictions for sexual offenses, according to the opinion.
In 1991, he was convicted of two counts of sodomy in connection with a situation involving his nine-year-old stepdaughter. Four years later, he was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree after using "verbal and physical force" on his 15-year-old niece to make her have sex with him.
At the time, Johnson was on parole from the first offense, according to an April opinion by the Southern District Court of Appeals. Each time he was convicted, Johnson was required to participate in a sexual offenders program. He failed to complete the program either time, the opinion said.
Johnson's illegal actions were not limited to those for which he was convicted, the opinion indicates. "There was evidence that Johnson had sexual contact with other underage girls besides (the two mentioned in the opinion)."
One such girl, a teenaged neighbor, became pregnant as a result of sex with Johnson. Another girl testified she had been sexually abused by Johnson. A psychiatrist testified that Johnson had told him that while behind bars, he was "missing teenage girls the most."
The Missouri Supreme Court today upheld a Joplin 911 operator's claim of qualified immunity from a lawsuit.
The unanimous decision means that Jerry Love, who filed a lawsuit after the 2002 death of his son, Wesley, will have to show that Diana Golden was guilty of serious negligence.
Ms. Golden was working as a 911 operator for the city of Joplin on March 31, 2002, when she received a call saying that a man was lying on the middle of the street on Hill Street, between High and Michigan streets, according to the court record.
Ms. Golden recorded the location as west of Hill and Michigan, even though Hill Street was actually one block east of Michigan Street. "The officer responding to the dispatch approached the intersection from the south, and as he looked west, the car in front of him turned east running over Wesley Love, who eventually died from the injuries he suffered.
After Jerry Love brought the wrongful death lawsuit, Ms. Golden's lawyer filed a motion for summary judgment, saying her client was immune from liability under law. Jasper County Circuit Court Judge William Carl Crawford denied the motion. After an appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a preliminary writ of prohibition, not allowing the case to be dismissed until it could take it under consideration.
Love will be given an opportunity to make a valid claim against Ms. Golden, the decision said. If no such claim is made, another motion for summary judgment can be made or a motion to dismiss can be filed.
There is an interesting piece of reading on the website for Nexstar Broadcasting's station, KAMR in Amarillo, Texas, which is also battling Cable One for retransmission rights. Whereas, Cable One in Joplin has been without Nexstar's KSNF and KODE stations in Joplin since Jan. 1, KAMR was removed from Cable One in Amarillo only about seven weeks ago.
As usual, in a letter to its viewers on the station website, Nexstar officials note that they are David to Cable One's Goliath. "CableOne is owned by one of the most powerful media companies in the United States -- The Washington Post. Ironically, the Washington Post also owns television stations and their broadcast division shares our viewpoint about being compensated for carriage by cable companies."
That does make for a definite conflict of interest...but so does a fact that goes unmentioned. Nexstar Broadcasting, as has been pointed out numerous times in The Turner Report, is owned by ABRY, which also owns WayOutWest, the 13th largest cable system in the United States, and Atlantic Broadband, the 16th largest cable system. That also provides a definite conflict of interest.
I haven't seen any instances of it occurring yet, but what is going to happen when Nexstar's stations contracts with those cable outfits run out. Or are there any Nexstar stations carried by those cable companies?

Monday, May 30, 2005

I wonder how the search for Jimmy Siedlecki's replacement is going at KODE. If anyone knows, leave a message on here or e-mail me at rturner229@hotmail.com
Bell County, Texas, prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Richard Lee Tabler, 26, in connection with the murders of four people connected with a Killeen strip club., Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Paul McWilliams told the Temple Telegram.
An Oct. 24 date has been set for Tabler's trial. Tabler is accused of committing two double homicides while his codefendant, Timothy Doan Payne, 18, an East Newton High School graduate, videotaped the murders. It is not known whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Payne, although he, too, is charged with capital murder.
No trial date has been scheduled for Payne, according to the Telegram.
I have never been able to understand why (although money may have a lot to do with it) KSNF and KODE have not been able to come up with superior female hosts for their morning shows.
Obviously, at one time they had them and they served as a training ground for Tiffany Alaniz at KSNF and Malorie Maddox at KODE. But the no-nonsense professional attitude that KOAM has with its morning show is a breath of fresh air. Yes, the news is important to people in the morning and I don't want to hear it over several hundred screaming kids at some artificial Friday high school pep rally (even though somehow Ms. Alaniz and Gary Bandy were able to make that work).
I like the work that Sarah Pierik and Dave Pylant do on KOAM and Ms. Pierik replaced another solid news reporter in Lori Prichard at that post.
Ms. Prichard, like former KSN morning host Sheradee Hurst (another one who did a good job in a tough position, though she never seemed quite as comfortable in those pep rallies) is a reporter for KJRH, Channel 2, in Tulsa, Okla., where she has been since January 2004. She serves as the weekend morning news anchor and a general assignment reporter.
Ms. Prichard originally comes from Joplin and is working on her masters degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Her work at KOAM landed her the position at KJRH. She received an award from the Missouri Broadcasters Association for investigative reporting in 2003. In her bio at the KJRH web site, she calls herself a political junkie and says she reads almost anything she can get her hands on.
We could use more people like that in both broadcasting and print journalism.
In the April 9 Turner Report, I wrote about the efforts of southwest Missouri legislators to destroy labor unions in the state. Three bills, all sponsored by Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, and co-sponsored by Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, Ed Emery, R-Lamar, and Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, would have crippled unions in this state and in the pro-business flurry of legislation the General Assembly passed this year, the passage of these bills would have not have come as much of a surprise. What does come as a surprise is who a St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist says is responsible for stopping those bills...pro-business Governor Matt Blunt.
House Bill 876 would have required that unions disclose the following information: Assets, including cash, accounts receivable, loans receivable, U. S. Treasury securities, investments, and other assets; liabilities including accounts payable, loans payable, mortgages, and other liabilities; cash receipts from sources including dues, fees, sales, interest, rent, and dividends; cash disbursements including negotiation, administration, organization, lobbying, political, benefits, overhead, gifts and contributions, membership status including active, inactive, associate, apprentice, retired, and others.
As I said on April 9, that bill smacked of 1950s McCarthyism.
On House Bill 877, the area legislators mentioned above were joined by Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, as a co-sponsor. That bill would have established "employee rights" according to the wording on the bill. It would have prohibited any requirements that people join unions, pay dues or fees to unions, and would eliminate any current agreements between unions and employers that violate those rights. This back-door approach would not only have made Missouri a right-to-work state (which does a lot for employers and not much for workers), but it would have enabled employers to get rid of contracts they have already signed, but do not like.
House Bill 878 would have required that no money be spent on political activities unless it comes "from a fund established for that purpose." As I said on April 9, under the provisions of that bill, unions would be required to notify members that they do not have to contribute and that nothing will happen to them if they do not. Of course, businesses would have been allowed to continue to contribute to any politicians or political causes they want to, especially to elected officials who continue to add to the businesses' profits by sponsoring this type of legislation.
Columnist Jo Mannies in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote: "State Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, a membership recruiter for Associated Industries, touched off a miniexplosion in labor circles when he submitted a right-to-work bill on March 30, right before the filing deadline. At labor's behest, Blunt's office quietly fired off a statement the next day - many news outlets didn't get it unless they inquired about it - that declared the governor would veto such a bill should the Legislature approve it. Hunter's action, and Blunt's swift response, electrified state labor leaders. Rank-and-file union activists roamed the Capitol's halls, lobbying against the measure while singing the governor's praises. Hunter's bill never made it to the House floor. A spokeswoman with Associated Industries said Friday that the group backed the bill and hoped to see supportive legislators resurrect the idea in future sessions."
Despite their love for Governor Blunt, no one should be surprised if Hunter and his fellow area legislators don't revive the bill in 2006. Hopefully, the governor's response will be the same if that happens.
Two days after her brother is arraigned for killing her husband, an area woman will face a judge herself.
Jasper County court records indicate Rebecca Kullie, widow of Jim John Kullie, who was beaten to death Thursday night in Lamar Heights, has a hearing June 16 before Judge Richard Copeland on a felony marijuana possession charge.
Mrs. Kullie's brother, Jim Edward Ryan, is charged with first degree murder in connection with Jim John Kullie's death. His arraignment is scheduled for June 14.
Jasper County court records also indicate Mrs. Kullie has another hearing June 28 in front of Judge Stephen Carlton on charges of driving while intoxicated and misdemeanor marijuana possession charges.
All of the charges against Mrs. Kullie were filed by the Webb City Police Department. The alleged offenses all took place on Feb. 10, according to court records.
The strongest reason against a major expansion of Moark's facilities in Neosho may have come from the company itself.
In its May 13 quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Land O'Lakes, which owns controlling interest in Moark, paints a bleak picture for the egg-producing industry.
For the three months ending March 31, egg prices were 74 cents a dozen, down from $1.21 a dozen for the three months ending March 31, 2004.
"We believe that egg market prices will remain depressed through the remainder of 2005 due to excess capacity in the industry and the diminishing popularity of high-protein diets."
Moark's problems wreaked havocs with Land o'Lakes bottom line, according to the report.
"Our net earnings were $24.3 million for the three months ended March 31, 2005, compared to $45.1 million for the three months ended March 31, 2004. Net earnings included income tax expense of $2.1 million and $17.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2005 and 2004, respectively. The primary reasons for the decrease in net earnings were a $15.5 million decrease in layers net earnings, excluding equity in losses of affiliated companies, which resulted from a steep decline in egg market prices, and a decrease in equity in earnings from affiliates of $11.2 million."
Now what reason would Moark have to increase its egg-laying capacity so drastically at a time when prices are down and the popularity of eggs in the diet has been decreasing steadily over the past several years?
This would seem to indicate that Moark might be planning to pull out of some other community and put all of its eggs in one basket, so to speak, in Neosho.
Another plug for the band:
Natural Disaster will perform at the Carthage Relay for Life approximately 8:30 p.m. Friday at Central Park. For those of you who do not know where Central Park is, it is right by the library on Garrison Avenue in Carthage or a couple of blocks from the square or from the school depending on what direction you are approaching it from. It's the park with the big statue of Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom fame.
We have been told we will play for about 45 minutes. It's for a good cause, so I hope we will see you there.
A former Jasper County prisoner will not be allowed to sue Sheriff Archie Dunn, but he is being permitted to refile a lawsuit in federal court against other Sheriff's Department employees.
Steven Coryell claims that he was mistreated by deputies during his 2004 stay in the jail while he was awaiting robbery charges.
"I was assaulted by a guard, his name is Schuster, who works at Jasper County Jail" Coryell said in his original complaint. "I asked if I could press charges. Lt. Hillenbrant refused me[.] I got very angry and was restrained. I was given a shot of Halodol which IÂ’m allergic to. I made them aware of this. The nurse who gave me the shot went on vacation and I was placed back in my cell and my throat swelled plus my joints locked up for three[and] one half days."
Coryell is asking for money. The initial lawsuit was filed pro se, meaning it was done without a lawyer, and Coryell was allowed to file as a pauper, meaning that the taxpayers foot the expense for the lawsuit.
The judge said Coryell needs to refile his case, naming the people who allegedly did him harm as the defendants and not Sheriff Dunn, who was the sole defendant in the initial petition. Because no case was stated against the sheriff, Judge Dean Whipple ruled, that petition was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that Coryell may not refile the suit against Dunn.
Coryell will be required to pay the filing fee for any further petition, Whipple ruled. Court records indicate Coryell iscurrentlyy in the state hospital in Fulton. Jasper County court records do not indicate that the robbery case has ever gone beyond the preliminary hearing stage.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Pittsburg Post-Gazette in Pennsylvania recently featured the sexual and age discrimination suit filed by former KODE personality Marny Stanier against The Weather Channel.
In a story that talked about how women over 40 run into a rough time in the television industry. Ms. Stanier, 41, is suing her former employer The Weather Channel in U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, claiming she was fired because of her age and her gender.
As has been noted several times in The Turner Report, Dr. Karl Jobst, a Grove family practice dentist, faces involuntary manslaughter charges in McDonald County in connection with a drunk-driving related accident which killed his girlfriend, Helen Chandler, in June 2003.
A lawsuit has been filed by AllState, the company that insured Jobst's car (partially over Jobst's claim that he bought the car and gave it to Ms. Chandler). That is not the only legal case facing the former Lamar man.
Delaware County, Okla. court records indicate Ms. Chandler's son is suing Jobst for wrongful death. That lawsuit is on hold until the federal lawsuit brought by AllState is completed, according to court records.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The jury trial for former Boys & Girls Club director Rob Clay may get underway next Wednesday in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Clay is charged with theft in connection with the embezzlement of more than $25,000 from the club.
According to the Joplin Globe's coverage of Clay's preliminary hearing, a police detective testified that Clay had written checks totaling $41,080 on the club's account to his own bank accounts and wrote an additional $9,000 worth of checks for cash. Globe coverage indicated police believe Clay embezzled more than $100,000 and possibly as much as $200,000.
Clay, 51, was director of the club for 15 years.
A backup date of Wednesday, June 16, has been set for the trial.
Stage Stores, which has affiliates in Carthage and Pittsburg, had record sales during the first quarter, according to a report filed May 19 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sales were up seven percent to a record level of $310.1 million, according to the filing, up from $289.7 million the previous year, with increases shown both in new stores and sales at existing stores. Sales at existing stores increased 4.9 percent, up from 4.5 percent the previous year, according to the filing.
The Joplin Globe continued its welcome change of policy today with its page-one story on the death of local cartoonist Nic Frising.
Frising, with his editorial cartoons in the Webb City Sentinel, and the cartoons and caricatures he left with thousands of area residents, made a big impact. As with the recent page-one story on the death of Granny Shaffer, the Globe is not only showing respect for people who had an impact, but it is also doing something that is much appreciated by its readers.
Dr. Ron Lankford put it in black and white.
LaStaysha Myers will be able to wear gay rights t-shirts to Webb City High School when the 2005-2006 school year begins.
In a letter dated Tuesday, May 24, and addressed to Ms. Myers' mother, Leda Myers, Lankford wrote, "This letter is concerning the restriction as to your daughter, Lastaysha's, wearing of t-shirts related to the recent controversy involving homosexual rights. You should be aware that the goal of the restrictions was to close the 2004-2005 school year without further disruptions to the educational environment. The district's actions in restricting LaStaysha's t-shirts, and those of approximately a dozen other students, was simply to refocus students' attention away from disruptive circumstances and toward our mission in the classrooms."
Lankford continued, "The Webb City R-7 School District has no position as to non-educational political issues, and specifically no position as to homosexual rights. This is evidenced by the fact that such t-shirts were worn without restriction prior to the outbreak of disruptive circumstances.
"Accordingly, the restriction as to LaStaysha's t-shirts will be lifted at the start of the 2005-2006 school year, and she may wear any clothing she chooses as long as it is in compliance with the Board of Education's policies."
The letter concludes, "If you have any questions, or would like to further discuss this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely, Dr. Ronald Lankford, Webb City R-7 superintendent"
The Pittsburg Morning Sun reports that former PSU football player Sean McNamara has a role in the Adam Sandler movie, "The Longest Yard."
In the movie, which is a remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds movie of the same name, McNamara wears number 68 for the convicts in their football game against the prison guards, according to the article. He does not have any lines.
McNamara is currently completing his fourth year with the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League, according to Jim Henry's article.
Coming up with a special gift for a special occasion isn't easy under any circumstances, and on a summer day in 1996, I was at a loss for a gift to commemorate one of those occasions for a dear friend.
I had hired Holly Sundy as a reporter for The Lamar Democrat in November 1987 when she was a sophomore at Lamar High School. From that point until I left The Democrat to work for The Carthage Press in April 1990, she did superior work. At first, it was just the typical stories that are assigned to high schoolers, education and sports, but it soon became apparent that Holly could handle anything that was thrown at her. She began writing her own column, Sundy on Saturday, which became one of the Democrat's most popular features and she eventually became the youngest sports editor in the state of Missouri, when she was only a high school senior.
After I left the Democrat, Holly graduated a month later from LHS and went on to Southwest Missouri State University. We kept in touch over the years and eventually Holly returned to the area as a student teacher at her alma mater.
She excelled at teaching, as well as at journalism, and she was hired as a full-time English and journalism teacher at Lamar High School beginning with the 1996-97 school year. And somehow, I had to come up with a gift that would commemorate the occasion.
That was where Nic Frising came in.
I had never had any dealings with the Joplin cartoonist, though I had seen and enjoyed samples of his work with the Webb City Sentinel and The Joplin Globe over the years. I called him and asked if he did cartoons for special occasions. It was a long shot, but I was pleasantly surprised when he told me he did.
After about a 10-minute conversation, I did exactly what he had told me to do. I mailed him a check, some photos I had of Holly and I jotted down a few things about her character and her personality.
A week later, I anxiously opened the manila folder that had arrived in the mail from Nic. I wasn't expecting miracles, but that was exactly what I had received. Nic had not only drawn a cartoon that looked like Holly Sundy...he had drawn a work of art that captured every facet of her personality and even her quirky smile exactly.
I called him and thanked him and he humbly accepted the thanks. Nic's miracles were the result of a good heart and a strong work ethic. Holly loved the gift. It was a story with a happy ending.
This morning, my thoughts returned to that day in 1996, after I read in The Globe that Nic Frising had died at the age of 62, after a bout with colon cancer.
I am sure there are hundreds of people who have similar stories about Nic...thousands and thousands of people that he reached with his distinctive artistic style. It's sad to know that no more new Nic Frising cartoons will be seen. Fortunately, he left a treasure trove of great work behind.
Jim Edward Ryan, 42, made his first appearance this morning in Barton County Circuit Court on first degree murder charges. Ryan did not have a lawyer with him, according to court records.
Ryan's arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 14.
For more information on the case see the entries on the May 26 Turner Report.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A federal appellate court panel will soon determine whether to reinstate a lawsuit by a former Nexstar Broadcasting employee who claims her firing was due to racial discrimination.
Initially, the panel, which met May 13 in St. Louis, was to hear oral arguments on whether a district court judge erred when he dismissed Lesa Davis' lawsuit against Nexstar and KARK-TV in Little Rock, Ark.
One week before the hearing, it was determined that no oral arguments would be held and the decision would be made based on the briefs filed by the opposing sides.
Ms. Davis was a production coordinator at KARK, creating graphics and backgrounds for news, weather, and sports, and other station functions, according to court documents.She had worked on the station's morning program since the 1980s and had been with the station since 1977. In August 2003, she was assigned to the nightshift, which interfered with her other job with UPS, which she had held for more than 25 years. She had to take a layoff from the company.
Ms. Davis claims that white employees who had been with KARK for far less time than she, were allowed to choose reassignment on a seniority basis. The U. S. District Court in Arkansas found in favor of Nexstar and dismissed the case on Sept. 30, 2004. Ms. Davis filed her appeal on Oct. 21. The appeal claims the U. S. District Court judge committed reversible error by "ignoring overwhelming disputes of material fact" that pointed toward intentional discrimination, by determining that her reassignment to the night shift was not discrimination, and by claiming there was "no genuine issue" for the racial discrimination claim.
Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and is the de facto owner of KODE.
Attorneys for former KODE weather reporter Marny Stanier and The Weather Channel have jointly asked for more time to conduct discovery in Ms. Stanier's lawsuit against the cable network.
According to the document, which was filed in U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia today, the two sides are asking to push back the discovery deadline from June 17 to Aug. 22.
The questioning of Ms. Stanier, who claims she was fired by The Weather Channel due to her sex and to her age, has begun, but has not yet been completed, the document said. Ms. Stanier's attorneys have already deposed one Weather Channel witness and have started, but not completed, questioning another one, the document indicated.
Other reasons given for asking for the new deadline included having to work with out-of-state witnesses and previous commitments made by witnesses and lawyers.
Dr. Karl Jobst, a Grove, Okla. family dentist and former Lamar resident, lost his long-time girlfriend, Helen Chandler, 47, to a drunk driver on June 14, 2003.
That drunk driver, authorities say...was Dr. Karl Jobst. He pleaded not guilty Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court to involuntary manslaughter charges.
"I was driving the vehicle," Jobst, 34, said, in a deposition taken in a lawsuit brought by the company that insured Jobst's car, a 1999 BMW he had bought only 11 days before the accident. He bought insurance for the car only one day before the accident. "I take responsibility for driving the vehicle."
In a motion for summary judgment filed by AllState against Jobst, the insurance company lawyers said "Ms Chandler lived in Tulsa and worked for a dentist in Owasso, but she often spent the weekends with Jobst at his home in Grove. Chandler had been romantically involved with Jobst for almost half a decade, living with him for several years before she moved to Tulsa and usually staying with him when she visited Grove on the weekends."
At one time, Ms. Chandler worked for Jobst at his Grove office, but she had taken the position with the Owasso dentist. On June 13, she returned to Grove to talk with Jobst about the possibility of her returning full-time to work for him.
They decided to talk it over at Club 609 in Joplin, according to the deposition, because Jobst wanted to remain anonymous. "It's just hard for me to go out to eat anywhere where I live," Jobst said, "because people know me and...you know, just like if you and I were to go out to eat there, our conversation would be interrupted several times by people. People would just come up and they would say 'Hi," and how's this and how's this' and 'when do you think you might get my daughter in?' "
At Club 609, Jobst said, the conversation revolved around how Ms. Chandler would give notice to her Tulsa employer. Since they had arrived in Joplin late, they were not able to finish their conversation at the club, he said. At the club, he added, he drank a "couple of glasses" of wine.
"It didn't affect you in your driving ability?" the lawyer for the insurance company asked.
"I don't believe it did."
When they left Club 609, and were headed back to Grove, "we heard a radio advertisement about a club called Shadow Lake in Noel. We decided to stop there on our way back to check out the Shadow Lake Club."
Betty Cartright, Ms. Chandler's sister, said in her deposition that Jobst told her, they had to put the top up on the car because the wind was blowing so hard on their return trip. "They couldn't hear each other talk."
Ms. Cartright said she was trying to find out from Jobst why they had gone to Noel. "As far as I knew, Helen had not been been to Noel. I didn't even know where Noel was."
When the two arrived at Noel, Ms. Cartright said, Jobst told her "They were having music or something and they didn't like the music, the band, and they didn't stay, but like five minutes. I think that he said they handed them each a beer and they didn't even stay long enough for one dance. And that's all he really remembered was leaving from there and then has no recollection of the accident."
At Jobst's deposition, the insurance company lawyer asked, "Then you were in the process of heading back to Oklahoma shortly thereafter, when the accident happened?"
"Yes."
"What was your blood alcohol as a result of what you had to drink that night?"
"I believe it was .10," Jobst responded. According to McDonald County authorities, Jobst's blood alcohol content registered that high when the test was administered...three hours after the accident.
The new owners of Liberty Group Publishing, which includes The Carthage Press, the Neosho Daily News, and The Big Nickel, have worked out a deal with troubled pop singer Michael Jackson to help him with his financial difficulties.
Associated Press reports that Fortress Investment, which bought Liberty Group Publishing for $550 million last month, has worked out an arrangement with Jackson that will give him "greater financial strength and flexibility," according to the article.
Fortress recently bought Jackson's considerable debt from Bank of America. Jackson put up the ownership of the rights to his own music and the rights to the Beatles' music as collateral on his loans.
Though no details of the arrangement were mentioned in the article, both sides said Jackson was never in danger of having to sell his Neverland home, which had been widely rumored.
Accused internet pervert Gary Reed Blankenship's next court date is June 20, according to The Neosho Daily News.
Blankenship, 55, a former O'Sullivan Industries official, faces 10 counts in connection with his alleged effort to hook up with a 13-year-old girl, who later turned out be Diamond police officer Jim Murray pulling one of his internet stings.
A 9 a.m. June 14 arraignment in Barton County Circuit Court has been scheduled for Jim Edward Ryan, 42, Lamar, who is charged with first degree murder in connection with the beating death of another Lamar man Wednesday night in Lamar Heights.
More information about the case can be found in earlier postings today.
A $500,000 bond has been set for Jim Edward Ryan, who is charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the beating death of a 38-year-old man in a Lamar Heights trailer park late Wednesday night.
As noted earlier in The Turner Report, Ryan was arrested following an extensive manhunt, which included the Barton County Sheriff's Department, Lamar Police Department, and the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Sources close to the Barton County Sheriff's Department indicate that murder suspect Jim Edward Ryan was intoxicated when he allegedly killed a 38-year-old Lamar man. The death reportedly came as a result of blunt force trauma.
Court records indicate Ryan has had previous difficulties with alcohol, including at least two DWI convictions in the last two years, one in Jasper County and one in Dade County.
Court records show Ryan was arrested March 6, 2002, in Dade County on the DWI charge and pleaded guilty on July 25, 2002. He was sentenced to six months in jail, the sentence was suspended, and he received two years of unsupervised probation, which court records show he completed successfully as of July 25, 2004.
However, Ryan was arrested May 21, 2002, by the Jasper County Sheriff's Department on a misdemeanor DWI charge. He was also charged with driving while revoked for failure to submit to a breathalyzer test. On Aug. 23, 2002, Ryan told Judge Joe Schoeberl that the public defender's office would not represent him. Five days later, he still had not found an attorney and on Sept. 10, Ryan was still without representation.
Finally, he hired Jared Thomas to represent him. A jury trial was scheduled before the trial took place, Ryan pleaded guilty. He failed to appear for his sentencing hearing, then failed to appear at the next scheduled hearing in April 2003.
His bond was forfeited and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On May 12, Judge Schoeberl received a certified letter from Ryan, who said he had mistaken the court date and thought it was supposed to be in May instead of in April, plus he had not been able to come because of "the bad weather."
On June 10, 2003, Ryan was sentenced to four days in jail and given credit for time served, and fined $300. Court records indicate Ryan had successfully completed an Oklahoma alcohol treatment program.
Jasper County court records show that Ryan did not complete paying his fine and costs until March 21, 2005.
Graham Packaging Holdings Company, which recently bought the Tetra Pak plant in Joplin, had a 138 percent gain in net sales for the first quarter and a 28 percent gain in operating income earlier this month, according to a company news release.
In the release, Graham CEO Phillip R. Yates said net sales for the first quarter were $620.5 million, an increase of $360.2 million from the previous year. Yates attributed much of the increase to the company's acquisition of a number of other companies, including Tetra Pak.
A rural Lamar man has been charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action following the beating death of another man Wednesday night.
No hearing date has been set for Jim Edward Ryan, 42, 23 NE 1st Lane, Lot 10, who was arrested following a manhunt late last night involving the Barton County Sheriff's Department, Lamar Police Department, and Missouri Highway Patrol.
Improved sales and a sharp increase in Internet business enabled J. C. Penney Co. which has stores at Northpark Mall in Joplin, and Meadowbrook Mall in Pittsburg, to quadruple its profits during the first quarter, according to Associated Press.
Quarterly earnings were up to $172 million or 63 cents per share, up from $41 million or 13 cents a year ago.
If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out the final item posted Wednesday on contributions Governor Matt Blunt received from lobbyists during the 2004 gubernatorial campaign.
Lobbyists have every bit as much right as anyone else to donate to the political candidate of their choosing, but at the same time, check out the special interests represented by these lobbyists, then check out the type of legislation railroaded through the recently-ended legislative session by Governor Blunt and the Republican leadership and there is obviously a direct correlation.
Being a lobbyist is perfectly legal, but apparently it is not something anyone wants you to know about, least of all Governor Blunt's campaign aides, since only one of the dozens of lobbyists who donated to the Blunt campaign is actually listed as a lobbyist. The others are listed either by one of the companies they represent or by such terms as "governmental consultant," "self-employed consultant," "homemaker," or "self-employed attorney."
It's a little bit late, but thanks to the organizers of the annual Relay for Life at Cardinal Stadium in Webb City Friday night and Saturday morning for allowing Natural Disaster to be a part of the proceedings.
It had been several years since I had covered one of these events for The Press. I had forgotten what a powerful emotional experience it can be. Watching cancer survivors walk a lap around the track never fails to touch the heart.
As for the group, the audience was receptive, even though our performance did not begin until 12:45 a.m. and ended at approximately 1:45 a.m.
We will be at the Carthage Relay for Life Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4. Hope to see you there.
It has to be a nightmare for Joplin Police Chief Kevin Lindsey.
From all indications, including the reports carried today by KOAM, Lindsey would love to open up with the public about the disciplinary measures taken against two officers who took an elementary student out of school in handcuffs following the boy's off-campus altercation with the son of one of the officers.
The Turner Report has noted that Lindsey was open with the public when he was police chief in Madison, Wisc. Unfortunately, he was in for a rude awakening when he took the helm in Joplin.
His bosses in city government have a long record of keeping the truth from the public, whether it be about the discipline meted out to police officers or the golden parachutes provided to fired city officials.
The Joplin Globe has been fighting the battle against this cloak of secrecy for years and appears to have the backing of a large majority of the public. That was evident from the response today to the Globe's weekly call-in show on KDMO.
Chief Lindsey needs to be able to tell the public how he handled the situation so the city can put this behind us. It is not the Joplin Globe or an anti-police faction that is keeping the situation boiling, it is the city officials who think they are the only ones who should be privy to how the taxpayers' money is being spent.
Though Governor Blunt will be in Joplin today to promote the passage of a budget that includes revamped funding for education, all but two of the school districts that brought a lawsuit against the state seeking equitable funding are continuing to pursue that action, according to an article in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In what appears to be bad news for our local legislators who have been trumpeting the passage of the educational package, the Post-Dispatch article says that administrators from 97 out of 105 of the 257 school districts that brought the lawsuit say the new legislation, which will be officially signed into law by Blunt on Friday, say it doesn't meet the needs of their students. The newspaper was citing a survey done by the Committee for Educational Equality.
The biggest problem most school administrators are citing is that the state came up with a funding plan, but has not come up with a source for that funding, according to the article.
Most of the school districts in this area are involved in the lawsuit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Much has been written about the amount of PAC money that was funneled into Matt Blunt's campaign for governor. Probably about the same amount has been written about the amount of people who donated to his campaign just to curry favor with his father, Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt.
Those contributions, no doubt, helped Blunt win by a razor-thin margin over State Auditor Claire McCaskill in the general election. But Blunt also had help from another source, which his crack fundraising team used to generate more than $60,000 (and possibly a lot more) to his war chest.
Close to 100 contributions were received during the 2004 calendar year from donors who are either registered lobbyists in the state of Missouri, the spouses of registered lobbyists, or who are connected with law firms which do extensive lobbying in the state.
Of that total, only two people have lobbyist listed as their occupations...and one of those is not registered with the state.
The figure does not include people who lobby the federal government, a group which a recent article in The Washington Post suggests has worked hand-in-hand with Roy Blunt to influence federal legislation. Only state lobbyists were included in this Turner Report investigation.
It should also be noted that the methods used by the Blunt campaign made a search of the donors as listed with the Missouri Ethics Commission difficult. For nearly half of his contributors, Blunt did not list an occupation as required by law. His campaign personnel also used unusual techniques in submitting their reports, such as filing any business which was incorporated under Inc., instead of the business's name in alphabetical order.
The lion's share of the lobbyist contributions, of course, came after the primary election, in which Blunt beat a group of no-name Republicans including current Newton County Jail resident Martin Lindstedt.
Once the fall campaign against McCaskill was in full swing, the Blunt forces began hitting up the same people whose job it is to influence government in favor of their companies and special interests.
In the final report filed 30 days after the November election, Blunt reported receiving:
-$250 from Dwight Fine, lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association, whose job was listed as that organization.
-$500 from Sharon Williams of the law firm of Shook, Hardy, and Bacon, lobbyist for Freedom of Road Riders, and the Missouri Probation and Parole Officers Association.
-$600 from Tom Atkins, lobbyist for the University of Missouri, which was listed as his workplace.
-$350 from David Bechtold, a lobbyist for Husch and Eppenberger, who is listed as a Jefferson City attorney
-$250 from Roy Cagle, Joplin, formerly a lobbyist for Enron, now a lobbyist for the Missouri Finance Institute, which is listed as his place of business.
-$150 from Health Clarkston, Jefferson City, lobbyist for the Home Builders Association and Aquila. Clarkston is listed as a self-employed consultant.
-$325 from Steven Sullivan, lobbyist for Ameren.
-$1,200 (the maximum amount) from James Deutsch, Jefferson City, lobbyist for Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys. Deustch was listed under his law firm, Blitz, Bardgett, and Deutsch
-$1,000 from Kenneth Dobbins, lobbyist for Southeast Missouri State University, which was listed as his place of employment.
-$1,200 from John Cozad, lobbyist for the Kansas City Police Department and Jackson County, whose business was listed as Cozad company.
-$1,200 from Cozad's wife, Linda Cozad, who had no occupation listed.
In documents filed eight days before the election, Blunt listed the following contributions:
-$1,200 from Steven Ahrens, lobbyist for Missouri Propane Gas Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$150 from J. Bechtold, Jefferson City, lobbyist for Husch and Eppenberger, which includes among its clients, 7-11, Bank of America, the St. Louis Cardinals, Missouri State Republican Committee, and the Missouri Health Care Association.
-$500 from Mary Becker, lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association. Ms. Becker is listed as a homemaker.
-$500 from Randall Boulch, lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$1,200 from John Craft, lobbyist for Harrah's Casino, whose place of employment was listed as Fridkin and Rhyne LLC
-$1,200 from Craft's wife, Karen, who is listed as a homemaker.
-$1,200 from Michael Dunaway, lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$150 from James Farrell, lobbyist for the city of St. Louis and St. Louis Zoo. No occupation is listed for Farrell.
-$1,250 from Charles Kruse, lobbyist for Missouri Farm Bureau, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$12,50 from Kruse's wife, Pam, listed as a farmer.
-$500 from Marc Smith, lobbyist for Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$150 from Gregory Upchurch, who works for Hursch and Eppenberger, though he is not a registered lobbyist.
-$200 from Thomas Vaughan, who also works for that law firm and who is also not listed as a lobbyist.
In the quarterly report for the third quarter, Blunt reported the following donors:
-$500 from Carla Ahrens, wife of lobbyist for the Missouri Gas Propane Association, no occupation listed.
-$300 in two $150 donations from J. David Bechtold, lobbyist for Husch & Eppenberger, listed as self-employed attorney.
-$1,200 from Lance Beshore, Joplin, lobbyist for Leggett & Platt, Carthage, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$1,200 from his wife, Sharon Cornell Beshore, listed as a homemaker.
-$1,200 from their son, Brent Beshore, listed as a Joplin student
-$1,200 from the governor's brother, Andrew Blunt, lobbyist for Ameren, Health and Management Systems, Kraft/Altria, Miller Brewing, Missouri Hospital Association, Phillip Morris, SBC, and United Parcel Service, among others. Blunt was listed by his law firm.
-$1,200 from Andrew Blunt's wife Jill.
-$1,000 from Mark Bobak, lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$500 from Burton-Liese, which is former State Representative Gary Burton's lobbying firm formed with Chris Liese, which represents Isle of Capri casinos, Missouri Riverboat Gaming Association, City of Joplin, and the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents, among other clients.
-$1,200 from the law firm of Armstrong Teasdale, which serves as the lobbying firm for a laundry list of clients, including Ameren, St. Louis University, and First Health Systems.
-$1,000 from Harvey Tettlebaum of Husch & Eppenberger, who is not a registered lobbyist.
-$500 from Robert W. Wilson, Jefferson City, a lobbyist for Brokers Insurance and Guaranty Land Title Insurance. Tettlebaum is listed as a governmental consultant.
-$1,200 from Brent Evans, lobbyist for Missouri Hospital Association, who is the only person listed on Blunt's campaign contribution list who is actually referred to as a lobbyist and who is registered with the state.
-$1,200 from Tony Feather, a Sarcoxie native who was once former Attorney General Bill Webster's right-hand man. Feather is a lobbyist for Advocates for School Choice and the Alliance for School Choice. He is listed with his business, Feather, Hodges, Larson and Synhorst.
-$1,200 from Kenneth Heineman of Husch & Eppenberger, who is not a registered lobbyist
-$500 from James Moody, lobbyist for the Coalition to Fund Excellent Schools, President Casinos, and Family Health. Moody's firm, Moody & Associates as listed for his employment.
In his filing 30 days after the August primary election, Blunt listed the following donors:
-$250 from Chris Anderson, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not listed as a lobbyist.
-$1,000 from John Bealick, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not listed as a lobbyist.
-$350 from Ann Buckley, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not listed as a lobbyist
-$1,000 from Frank Buerge, lobbyist for the City of Harrisonville, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$1,000 from Clark Cole, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not listed as a lobbyist
-$1,200 from Sherry Doctorian, lobbyist for St. Louis University, whose firm, Armstrong Teasdale is listed as her employer.
-$1,200 from David Martin, lobbyist for Empire District Electric Company, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$450 from Schreimann, Rackers, Francka, and Blunt- the law firm and lobbying firm which has the governor's brother, Andrew Blunt, among its partners.
-$500 from Stephen Jones, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not listed as a lobbyist
-$500 from Paul Kovacs, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not listed as a lobbyist.
-$500 from Kent Lowry, lobbyist for the Prosecuting Attorneys and Circuit Attorneys Retirement System, Doe Run Company, and the Williams Companies, among others. He was listed under his place of employment, Armstrong Teasdale.
-$500 from Edwin Noel, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$500 from Noel's wife Nancy
-$500 from Jay Summerville, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$500 from Thomas Vaughn, Husch & Eppenberger, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$250 from John Vering, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$1,200 from James Virtel, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$675 from Joseph VonKaenel, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist.
-An additional $325 from VonKaenel to make it a round $1,000
Only one person connected with lobbyists, Roger Walker of Armstrong Teasdale made a contribution, $150 during the filing eight days before the primary election.
In the July quarterly report, Blunt reported the following donations:
-$500 from Clark Cole of Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$25 from Tony Feather (see above)
-$250 from Dwight Fine, lobbyist for Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$25 from James Virtel of Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$25 from Andrew Blunt (see above)
-$1,175 from Andrew Blunt( see above)
-$1,200 from Jill Blunt, Andrew Blunt's wife
-$500 from Sherry Doctorian, lobbyist, (see above)
-$250 from Richard Wiles, lobbyist for Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$750 from Schreimann, Rackers, Francka, and Blunt, law and lobbying firm which has the governor's brother, Andrew Blunt, among its partners.
-$100 from Kelly Gillespie, lobbyist for Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which is listed as her place of employment
-$612.50 from Kenneth Heineman of Husch & Eppenberger, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$250 from Bruce Hillis, lobbyist for Americare Systems, Inc., and Missouri First, who is listed as a self-employed consultant.
-An additional $250 from Hillis
-$975 from Rhonda Ludwig, wife of Dale Ludwig, lobbyist for the Missouri Soybean Association. She is listed under her place of employment, Learfield Communications.
-$1,200 from Daniel Mehan, lobbyist for Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$500 from Chris Rackers of the law and lobbying firm of Hendren & Andrae, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$500 from Duane Schreimann, formerly of Hendren & Andrae, now with the firm of Schreimann, Rackers, Francka, and Blunt, and who was also recently appointed to the State Board of Education.
-$612.50 from Gerald Sill, lobbyist for Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
In the first report of 2004, the January quarterly report, Blunt listed the following donors:
-$250 from Randall Boulch, lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$250 from Ann Buckley, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$250 from Clark Cole, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$1,175.90 from Jean Feather, wife of Tony Feather, lobbyist for Advocates for School Choice and the Alliance for School Choice. Mrs. Feather is listed under her workplace, Collier, Gardner, Feather PC
-$500 from Edwin Noel, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$250 from Jay Summerville, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$500 from Joseph VonKaenel, Armstrong Teasdale, who is not registered as a lobbyist
-$500 from Rhonda Ludwig, wife of Dale Ludwig, lobbyist for the Missouri Soybean Association. She is listed under her place of employment, Learfield Communications.
-$589.50 from Gerald Sill, lobbyist for the Missouri Hospital Association, which is listed as his place of employment.
-$250 from Brent Hemphill, lobbyist for Argosy Gaming Company, AT&T, Kansas City Chiefs, Microsoft, Missouri Propane Gas Association, and Missouri Soybean Association. No occupation is listed for Hemphill.
-$200 from Gary Burton, lobbyist for Isle of Capri casinos, City of Joplin, the Missouri Association of Insurance Agents, and Missouri Riverboat Gaming. Burton's occupation as listed as "State of Missouri."
As you might expect, lawyers for Freeman Neosho are opposed to having a default judgment issued against their clients in the lawsuit brought by former employee Charis Seaton.
In a response filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, lawyer Daniel Boatright of Kansas City disputed the assertion by Ms. Seaton's lawyer, Donna Kitchen of Joplin, that Freeman had not responded to the petition on time.
Boatright said he had telephone conversations with Ms. Kitchen, who said she would withdraw the motion, but she has not yet done so.
Ms. Seaton is seeking more than $10 million from Freeman, claiming she was wrongfully fired.
She says Freeman Neosho Chief Operating Officer Janice Walker violated criminal law by obtaining and disclosing patients' health information. The patients to whom Ms. Seaton is referring allegedly "were having sex with the Freeman Hospital physician who was under investigation for allegedly abusing drugs," according to the lawsuit. The petition also says Ms. Walker used Ms. Seaton's private medical records for her own gain.
A June 20 meeting has been scheduled in U. S. District Bankruptcy Court in Cincinnati for final approval of a $50 million loan to EaglePicher as it continues to work its way through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
According to documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, the loan was arranged through Harris Trust and Savings Bank, UBS Loan Finance, and General Electric Capital Corporation.
The filing included a detailed budget. The creditor committee appointed earlier by the bankruptcy judge has until Aug. 18 to file any objections to the plan, according to court records.
EaglePicher, which has a plant in Joplin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy April 13. A federal bankruptcy judge authorized the company to continue paying wages, compensation and employee benefits
Eagle Picher Holdings' bankruptcy filing indicated the company owes $248.2 million to Wells Fargo Bank, Los Angeles; in excess of $20 million to Merrill Lynch Bond Fund, Inc., Plainsboro, N. J., in excess of $20 million to Tennenbaum Capital Partners, Santa Monica, Calif. The bankruptcy documents indicate Eagle Picher is 100 percent owned by interests with addresses in the Netherlands, with a Joel P. Wyler, Granaria Holdings, The Hague, The Netherlands, listed as owning 62.5 percent and ABN AMRO Participaties B. V. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, owning 37.5 percent. At the same time, the court documents say the "address for all of such shareholders is c/0 EaglePicher Incorporated, 3402 E. University Drive, Phoenix, Ariz. 85034.
That initial filing said the company had arranged for the $50 million financing.
It appears that the hearing originally scheduled for tomorrow for alleged internet pervert Gary Reed Blankenship has been cancelled.
Blankenship, 55, has 10 charges against him in connection with one of Diamond police officer Jim Murray's internet sting operations. According to the police, Blankenship arranged a meeting over the internet with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl named Cindy. He was actually talking with Murray.
No date is listed on the court website for the rescheduled hearing.
Seeing that a few people have been reaching my website searching for information on former Joplin Globe staff writer Dena Sloan, I did a little checking and it appears that she is now continuing her journalism career with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Va.
The details are sketchy, but Governor Matt Blunt will be in Joplin Thursday to promote increases in education spending included in the recently passed state budget.
Blunt is expected to sign the budget bill Friday.
A Lamar man's guilty plea to a federal arson charge was accepted Monday following a 14-minute session in U. S. District Court in Springfield.
Winston Holt, 59, admitted to being involved in a scheme to kill Landon Hackler, Lamar, by planting a pipe bomb in Hackler's truck. The scheme was purportedly concocted by Arvon Swanberg, 67, Lamar, who has already been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, and Swanberg's wife, Karen Cross Swanberg. The murder attempt came as the result of a child custody dispute, according to a news release from U. S. Attorney Todd Graves.
The change in plea came after an agreement was reached between Holt and the U. S. Attorney's office. Richard Monroe, the assistant U. S. attorney who is handling the case, will recommend a 10-year sentence for Holt. The judge is not bound to that recommendation.
A presentence investigation was ordered. Holt will remain in prison while awaiting sentencing.
More information about the case can be found in the May 23 Turner Report.
It may not be anything to be concerned about, but during his May 6 quarterly conference call, O'Sullivan Industries' million-dollar CEO, Bob Parker, did more than just offer the usual praise for the new executives, mostly from Newell Rubbermaid, that he has brought into the company.
Kelly D. Terry, O'Sullivan's new senior vice president, had one particular asset that Parker felt obliged to mention during the call. "He built a complete manufacturing facility in China," Parker said. Terry, 39, did that while serving as vice president, operations of Rubbermaid's Commercial Products. Terry was hired at O'Sullivan at a salary of $195,000 a year, plus an $8,000 automobile allowance, and a guaranteed bonus of $10,000 for 2005. He is also eligible for an additional bonus of $100,000 if he hits his target under O'Sullivan's incentive compensation plan. He has an option to buy 7,500 shares of O'Sullivan stock.
Federal regulations prevent Cable One in Joplin from shopping for an NBC or an ABC station from a different city (perhaps Tulsa or Springfield or Kansas City) and those regulations are putting cable companies at a disadvantage, one cable executive said at the recent American Cable Association meeting in Washington.
Jerald L. Kent, CEO of Cebridge Communications, which owns the cable system in Neosho, said the rule is having a particularly negative effect on cable franchises serving rural areas, according to an article in the May 16 St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Cebridge is the 11th largest cable distributor in the United States.
Kent indicated that the effects could be disastrous for cable companies. He said that the broadcast stations lose only a minimal number of viewers, but for the cable company whose customers "might not get to see a local newscast or catch the latest episode of a favorite program, the effects could be devastating."
Kent continued, "If nothing is done, it's going to get ugly, and the American people are going to look for someone to blame. Hopefully, it won't be us." The article indicated that the American Cable Association has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to allow cable companies to shop for other network affiliates.
"Let us shop for alternatives, just like our customers are allowed to do," Kent said, according to the Post-Dispatch article.
"We're playing a game of chicken to see who blinks first," Perry Sook told those attending his presentation at the UBS Leveraged Finance Conference in Las Vegas, Nev., May 12.
The Nexstar CEO broke little new ground in the presentation, patting himself on the back for his foresight in structuring the company's last deals for retransmission rights for two years instead of the usual three. This, he said, enabled Nexstar to test its proposition that cable companies should be made to pay for over-the-air broadcast stations.
If they don't, he added, "Cable operators will either adapt or they will have a decidedly inferior offering to their customers."
Cable One and Cox have seen a 15 to 20 percent loss to their customer base in Joplin and the Texas and Louisiana communities in which Nexstar has pulled its stations from cable lineups, Sook said.
"We have been a boon to satellite operators and satellite companies are paying us."
Sook said some advertisers stayed away from the Nexstar (and Mission) stations initially to see what would happen, but when the February ratings came out, and they did not drop much in Joplin or the Texas stations " and "actually increased" in Shreveport, La., the advertisers began coming back.
Sook's statements seem to be at odds with the Nielsen ratings printed in the March 25 Turner Report, which showed Nexstar's KSNF and Mission Broadcasting's KODE getting clobbered by KOAM. If that was staying about the same then those stations must have been particularly low during the November 2004 sweeps period.
A correction to an earlier posting: Cebridge Communications did not sell its Neosho cable franchise as far as I can determine. It did sell two franchises elsewhere in Missouri and most of its franchises in northeast Arkansas.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

No big surprise here.
Perennial candidate and perennial loser Martin Lindstedt claims the statutory sodomy charges filed against him in Newton County Circuit Court are bogus and says that he is being railroaded.
In a motion filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri today in an effort to get his lawsuit against Governor Matt Blunt reinstated, Lindstedt said his filing was handwritten because he was not given access to computers.
Lindstedt, a Granby resident, told the judge the story of how he came to be in captivity. "Plaintiff, since April 9, 2004, has had his four grandchildren taken from his long-time domestic partner's daughter. They lived across the street at 337 Rabbit Track Road. They were stolen by the Newton County Children's Division. After three months in captivity, a DFS therapist trained (my) small six-year-old grandson to claim (I) kissed him inappropriately."
Lindstedt said he and his partner have the case before the Missouri Court of Appeals in an effort to get their grandchildren back. "However, a Newton County deputy, on the basis of what this therapist told him (my) grandson said has had (me) arrested and is trying to railroad (me) for child molestation."
In the part of the document in which Lindstedt actually addressed his lawsuit against Blunt, Lindstedt makes no effort to curry the judge's favor in an effort to get him to reconsider his decision to dismiss the lawsuit.
"This court is biased in favor of defendant Blunt and it shows in every aspect of this case," Lindstedt said. He added that the judge had not addressed his complaint that Blunt had misused his position as secretary of state when he would not allow Lindstedt to be listed on the ballot with the nickname "Mad Dog" for the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2004. Plus, Lindstedt said, the judge never addressed Blunt's refusal to provide a link to Lindstedt's web site, something which was done for other candidates. Blunt's lawyers noted that Lindstedt's website was filled with hateful, racist messages.
"This court, in its absolute drive to let Defendant Blunt off the hook, has gone to elaborate rationalizations to get around the plain language of the Federal rules and case law.
Lindstedt attacked the judge's logic when the judge made the decision to remove Blunt as the defendant and replace him with Robin Carnahan since Blunt was no longer secretary of state. Carnahan, Lindstedt said, "cannot be lawfully a defendant as she has not abused her office against (my) civil and electoral interests and rights."
"This sock puppet charade is revealed for all to see," Lindstedt said. The Newton County Jail's best-known resident then continued to endear himself to the judge. "This court acts like the prostitute who discovers that men will pay for sex- that it has other purposes than procreation." He added that the judge is "making up the law as he goes along."
Continuing his apparent obsession with sexually-based remarks, Lindstedt said, "Yet Judge (Richard) Dorr acts like a squeamish virgin in his order of May 10 (which dismissed the case) whining that Plaintiff's sole basis for filing his original complaint so that on Day 21 after his April 19 order was to play politics and 'humiliate and embarrass Defendant Blunt.' Judge Dorr thinks he is the Republican Party's nanny, that he must protect his herd of Republican politicians."
As usual, Lindstedt's rant goes on for several pages, covering the same ground over and over. Las Vegas is not taking odds on Lindstedt's chances of getting his lawsuit reinstated.
Freeman Neosho officials and a former employee who is suing them for wrongful dismissal will meet 10 a.m. June 28 with a mediator, according to a document filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Charis Seaton, Joplin, is asking for more than $10 million in actual and punitive damages, plus an apology from hospital officials. In her petition, she said Freeman Neosho Chief Operating Officer Janice Walker violated criminal law by obtaining and disclosing patients' health information. The patients to whom Ms. Seaton is referring allegedly "were having sex with the Freeman Hospital physician who was under investigation for allegedly abusing drugs," according to the lawsuit.The petition also says Ms. Walker used Ms. Seaton's private medical records for her own gain. Ms. Seaton said she was fired after she brought Ms. Walker's activities to the attention of Alisha Asquith, human resources employee relations manager, and Deborah Chiodo, human resources director.
According to today's filing, the mediator will be Jane A. Smith, of Beetem & Card, L. L. C., in Jefferson City. No specific location was given for the session. The document says it will be "at a location to be identified in or near Joplin."
Diamond High School Football Coach Brad Hocker, the first coach to take a Diamond team to the state playoffs, has accepted the head coaching position at Pierce City, the Turner Report has learned.
That resignation should also be a topic when the R-4 Board of Education meets at 6:30 p.m. today in the high school hospitality room.
Reportedly, another top coach at the school is about to accept an out-of-state coaching position.
A Jasper County jury sentenced Gary Black to death. The Joplin man does not want to give Jasper County jurors another chance.
Black, whose earlier conviction was tossed aside by the Missouri Supreme Court earlier this year, is asking for a change of venue for his second trial. The request was filed May 19 in Jasper County Circuit Court. The prosecution has also filed arguments against moving the case, according to court records.
In another motion, defense attorneys are asking for information on any agreements reached between the prosecution and its witnesses and for the criminal records of the man Black is charged with killing, Jason Johnson, who was an MSSC student and athlete, and all witnesses.
Black is being represented by attorney Susan McCarthy, despite his desire to be his own lawyer. That request has been refused twice by Judge Jon Dermott, according to court records.
The Supreme Court decision came after an earlier court decision that delayed Black's execution. After that, for a long period of time, no executions were held in the state, until just recently.
Black allegedly stabbed Jason Johnson to death in October 1998 in a racially-motivated crime.
According to testimony at his trial, Black's girlfriend said she thought Johnson made a pass at her in a convenience store. Black and his girlfriend were both white, while Johnson was black.
The case was reviewed in the Aug. 23, 2004, and May 7, 2005, Turner Report.
A 1 p.m. Aug. 4 preliminary hearing has been scheduled for former Southwest City Clerk Dehonna Shields, 26, who is charged with three counts of forgery and two counts of theft for allegedly stealing city money.
The missing money was uncovered during a state audit.
Ms. Shields entered a not guilty plea during her arraignment Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court.
Grove dentist Karl Jobst entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Jobst, 34, a former Lamar resident, was charged in connection with a June 14, 2003, DWI-related death, in which a passenger in his car was killed.
The Diamond R-4 Board of Education will meet in special session 6:30 p.m. today in the high school hospitality room to consider the resignation of High School Principal Jim Cummins.
Cummins, who has only been principal for one year, resigned last week to become superintendent at Wheaton. Board members will either determine how to conduct a search for a new principal or promote from within.
The agenda includes a closed session.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A second guilty plea has been entered in connection with the attempted murder of a rural Lamar man over a child custody dispute.
Federal court documents indicate Winston Eugene Holt, 61, Lamar, has agreed to plead guilty to arson in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. Holt was represented by Springfield attorney Dee Wampler.
The same agreement had been reached with another defendant in the case, Arvon Swanberg, 67, Lamar, who entered his guilty plea during a 13-minute hearing Friday in U. S. District Court in Springfield. Swanberg will also have to pay $3,415 in restitution after he is released from prison, and when he is released he will be on probation for two years, according to court documents.
The crime was laid out by Assistant U. S. Attorney Richard Monroe in the plea agreement with Holt, which was filed May 23. "In 2000, Arvon M. Swanberg, Karen Cross Swanberg, and Winston Eugene Holt had discussions and agreed to kill Karen Cross Swanberg's former husband, Landon Hackler, by means of a bomb. Arvon M. Swanberg acquired materials to make a pipe bomb (from a Hobby Lobby store) and learned from Winston Eugene Holt how to wire it to a truck so that it would explode. Swanberg assisted Holt in the construction of the pipe bomb. Sometime prior to Oct. 28, 2000, Swanberg placed the pipe bomb under the truck of Landon Hackler at Hackler's place of employment in Barton County."
The bomb detonated in Lamar later that same day, the court filing said. It didn't work properly so Hackler was not killed, but he suffered a back injury and loss of hearing, and his truck was extensively damaged.
Swanberg and Holt were given up by Mrs. Swanberg, according to a news release issued by U. S. Attorney Todd Graves on March 3. Mrs. Swanberg kidnapped the child who was at the center of the custody dispute, according to the news release, and fled the state. She was arrested in Florida, waived extradition and was returned to Barton County, where she gave authorities the information that led to the filing of the federal complaint on March 26, 2004.
Webb City R-7 officials have several more reasons why LaStaysha Myers' First Amendment lawsuit against them should be dismissed.
Those reasons were outlined in a filing today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Attorney Sarah Lawrence of Doster, Mickes, James, Ullom, Benson & Guest, says Ms. Myers' attorneys' attempts to liken this case to the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District case are flawed. In the Tinker case, a principal heard that students were planning to wear black armbands as a symbol of opposition to the Vietnam War. He immediately established a rule against the wearing of any kind of armband. Three students defied the rule and were suspended. They sued the school, claiming that their First Amendment freedom of speech rights had been violated. In 1969, the U. S. Supreme Court decided in the students' favor.
"The Tinker decision provided that school officials need not await an actual disruption 'but rather the existence of facts that might reasonably lead school officials to forecast substantial disruptions.' "
The filing continues, "Here, past experiences at Webb City High School had already proven disruptive current events, including a confrontation between pro-homosexual and anti-homosexual groups, located literally outside the school doors, were undeniably influencing student activities and behavior necessarily including that of (Ms. Myers) herself; and based on previous instances of actual disruption, threatened disruption would have existed if the district administrators failed to address the very issues which, at that time, were detracting from the educational mission at hand."
Ms. Lawrence says that Webb City school officials did not do what the Des Moines officials did in the Tinker case. They did not come up with a policy just to address one particular situation and school officials in that case admitted their new rule had been put in place because they disagreed with the students' anti-war viewpoint.
Also, Ms. Lawrence added, "t-shirts in support of homosexual rights were worn without incident at the district prior to the outbreak of disruptions."
Without mentioning him by name, Ms. Lawrence then indicated that Brad Mathewson's behavior, not the shirts he was wearing, was responsible for the banning of the shirts in the first place.
School officials will allow the shirts during the 2005-2006 year, the filing says, barring "further disruptive circumstances." The kind of disruptive circumstances, which they attributed to Mathewson in filings in Mathewson's case, include "confrontation, picketing, tension, verbal solicitations, and physical displays of photographs of student sexual contact that preceded the previous disruptions at school."
Ms. Lawrence said school officials will not guarantee how they will respond. "The district's administrators, unfortunately, have no crystal ball upon which to determine what decisions and responses it will make to preserve an educational environment of the highest possible quality."
Ms. Lawrence asked that the lawsuit, which names High School Principal Steven Gollhofer, Assistant Principal Bruce Thornberry and Superintendent Ron Lankford as defendants, be dismissed with prejudice, meaning that it could not be refiled.
Attorneys for the Webb City R-7 School District say there is no reason to rush LaStaysha Myers' First Amendment lawsuit against school officials.
In their response to Ms. Myers' motion to speed up the process so it can be decided before the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year, filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, school officials claim Ms. Myers is not suffering "irreparable harm" by not being allowed to wear gay pride t-shirts. Ms. Myers was one of a dozen students who were sent home because they wore shirts supporting gay student Brad Mathewson. Ms. Myers is heterosexual.
The response says Ms. Myers is "free to wear any t-shirt she pleases during the upcoming months because the regular school year is not in session."
And though she will not be allowed to wear any clothes that are "reasonably forecasted to disrupt the district's educational environment," the response said, "(she) is also free to wear any t-shirt she desires both before and after school during every day of the school year."
And if there are not any disruptions, the response said, she is "free to wear any t-shirt, including the t-shirts at issue, that comply with board policy."
In the initial motion, Ms. Myers' lawyers, William Fleischaker of Joplin, and Kenneth Choe of the American Civil Liberties Union, asked that all written discovery be completed by June 3. The response says that is far too soon.
The motion also requested that all depositions be completed by July 1. "This is only 39 days from the filing of the instant motion," the response said. "Due to the high profile of this case, and the potential number of depositions that may be required, such a request is unreasonable."
Plus, the lead lawyer is far too busy, with depositions in other cases, hearings, a special education due process hearing "and a previously scheduled personal matter outside the country for 10 days during the month of June," the response said.
Ms. Myers wanted the trial to take place in August so a decision would be made before school starts. That, too, is much faster than district officials want to proceed, according to the response. "Additionally, in order to try this case, the district administrators anticipate that they will need to call numerous district faculty members as witnesses. During the summer months, such staff members are not under contract, and have prior commitments."
This would seem to indicate that school officials would prefer to wait and pull these teachers out of their classrooms to testify thus forcing the taxpayers to foot the bill for substitute teachers and depriving the students of their regular classroom teachers.
The school district's approach appears to have changed somewhat since Brad Mathewson initially filed a lawsuit late last year. That lawsuit was dismissed when Mathewson dropped out of school. When Ms. Myers filed the lawsuit, it was suddenly mentioned for the first time that school officials had "allowed" Mathewson to wear his gay pride t-shirts until they began causing a disruption. A close examination of the filings in the Mathewson lawsuit do not reveal any instance in which school officials said they permitted Mathewson or anyone else to wear such t-shirts.
School officials also created an uproar when they said in an earlier court filing that students would be allowed to wear clothes with these kinds of messages on them when school begins again in August. At the same time, they are claiming that they are not changing their policy and reserve the right to have the students change the shirts if they are termed disruptive.
Click on the link to the right of this blog for The Joplin Independent.
As is rapidly becoming the way of journalistic life for this area, the non-mainstream media is leading the way on the important investigative stories that need to be done. Mari Winn has been doing some digging into the Moark situation and provides her readers with information which should have Neosho residents worried.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has stood by and watched while Moark has violated one environmental regulation after another and now the state agency appears poised to reward the company for its transgressions by giving it carte blanche to increase its production and increase its pollution of the area.
Perhaps I was a bit hasty with my remarks about the non-traditional media such as The Joplin Independent, The Turner Report, Lamarmo.com , Neosho Forums, Seneca Forums, and area blogs leading the way in investigate reporting. After all, it was the Neosho Daily News that footed the bill for Managing Editor Buzz Ball to fly to Roggen, Colo., to check out Moark's state-of-the-art facilities there.
After all, if Moark had paid for it, then Ball came back and wrote a glowing puff piece about the facility, that would certainly call his reporting into question, wouldn't it? I have a hard time believing that is the case, though. If such a conflict of interest existed, Ball would most certainly give his readers full disclosure. Anything else would be less than honest.
Oh, to be young.
Anyone who said that was not referring to having that as your last name. It put Samantha Young on the end of the processional line at the opening of the College Heights Christian School graduation ceremony at Taylor Auditorium on the MSSU campus tonight.
It also put her pictures at the end of a video tribute midway through the ceremony, and...of course...Samantha was the last person to receive her diploma. The tiny blonde watched as each member of the class had his or her name called, moving one step at a time waiting for her turn to come.
After her name was called and she was handed the diploma, she posed for a picture with principal Randy Goldsmith, then returned to her seat.
That was the last time, Samantha would be at the end of the line, last name notwithstanding.
A few moments later, following the traditional turning of the tassels, led by newly-minted graduate McKenzie Watson, and it was Samantha Young's moment. She walked quickly to the lectern, where she spent several excruciatingly long seconds (for her, at least) searching for the prayer she had prepared for the benediction.
She began the prayer, speaking each word in a clear, lilting, musical voice. When the prayer was completed, she gazed out across the audience, taking a quick glance at her proud parents, James and Irene Young, seated about halfway back in the auditorium, then she gave the command signal she and her fellow graduates had been eagerly anticipating. "1, 2, 3," and on three, the black hats soared into the air, with the first one...this time she was number one...being thrown by Samantha Young.
***
I have always enjoyed personalizing events by focusing on one person. Normally, of course, this blog would not have anything about school graduations, other than critiquing how area newspapers handle them, but this was a special graduation, and Samantha Young is a special person.
She was one of the first students I taught during my first year at Diamond Middle School back in the 1999-2000 school year. Most of the year I had my desks arranged in a horseshoe fashion around the room with about eight chairs squarely in the middle in two rows of four. Samantha sat on the front row, and her writing sparkled from the opening assignment.
She was quiet in the classroom until it came time to write or until it was time for our discussions. Then she always showed poise and knowledge far beyond that of her peers.
Samantha was one of several students I featured when I wrote about Diamond's eighth grade graduation in May 2001 for Wildcat Central. That article featured just one short paragraph about her. My theme was the little voices that each of the eighth graders heard as they prepared for the ceremony:

The little voice Samantha Young heard was an echo of her parents' telling her what would be the proper posture for such a solemn occasion. "My parents have been telling me 'bring your shoulders back and keep your back straight.' " Samantha's parents proudly watched as their daughter followed the instructions to the letter.

She followed those instructions well tonight, also. Samantha will leave for a graduation trip to Florida tomorrow, then she will attend the University of Arkansas, where she will be a pre-med major.
Great things are in store for her. Congratulations, Samantha!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, pre-trial conference is scheduled in Newton County Circuit Court for alleged internet pervert Gary Reed Blankenship. Blankenship has told his former co-workers at O'Sullivan Industries in Lamar, in a series of e-mail messages, that he expects to have nine of the 10 charges against him dismissed.
Blankenship, 55, was arrested after falling for one of Diamond police officer Jim Murray's internet sting operations. According to the police, Blankenship arranged a meeting with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl named Cindy, who was actually Murray.
Blankenship is represented by prominent Springfield lawyer Dee Wampler.
A 10 a.m. arraignment is scheduled Monday in McDonald County Circuit Court for Dr. Karl Jobst, a former Lamar resident who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a June 14, 2003, DWI-related death.
Jobst, who is a family practice dentist in Grove, Okla., has hired St. Louis lawyer Travis Noble, who has a reputation for winning seemingly unwinnable drunk driving cases.
Former Southwest City Clerk Dehonna Shields will be back in court Monday for a pretrial hearing.
Ms. Shields is charged with three counts of forgery and two counts of theft for allegedly stealing city money. The missing money was uncovered by a state audit. Ms. Shields' attorney, Charles Rhoades of Neosho, has filed a motion to dismiss the case.
I am perplexed by Neosho Daily News editor Buzz Ball's column in today's paper.
In the column, he explained his reasoning for not running a story on writing in the Neosho High School bathroom that indicated a school shooting was going to take place. According to the column, the Daily and KBTN, Neosho's radio station, elected not to run the story, while the TV stations and the Joplin Globe (which Ball coyly refers to as "another area newspaper") publicized it.
Ball listed four reasons for his decision not to run the story:
1. Writing on a bathroom wall is not enough documentation. (Apparently, the Daily is a stickler for requiring threats to be notarized before they can be taken seriously.)
2. It could generate unnecessary panic and concern if it turned out to be a hoax.
3. "I was assured by school officials that every action necessary was being taken to keep the students safe. "
4. "A story is exactly what the writer of the threat wanted- exposure."
So let me see if I understand this: Rumors are flying around the Neosho R-5 School District that someone is plotting a school shooting, people are already worrying, and the paper of record does not take advantage of the opportunity to tell the people what is really going on and curb some of that panic because it might give some kid some publicity he or she does not deserve.
There are a number of reasons for running the story, none of which, judging from the column, ever occurred to Ball.
1. It was the most important news story of the day and the Daily let it be shaped by other media. It could have taken an evenhanded approach to the coverage and reassured the readers that everything was all right.
2. This was a perfect opportunity to show readers just how school officials and local law enforcement react any time a threat of school violence is discovered. Does the school have a workable plan? This was the first time new High School Principal Chuck Blaney has gone through this kind of thing at Neosho (unless, of course, the Daily is hiding other news from its readers). I have known Chuck Blaney for 27 years and I know he handled it professionally, but it might be a good idea to reassure parents and students of that. How did the Neosho Police Department react? It's a matter of peace of mind, as well as use of taxpayer money.
3. When the person who left the message is caught (and invariably, these people tell at least one other person about what they did), then the reader can be told what the punishment is (without revealing the name of the student). If the punishment is severe enough (and I am willing to bet it is) , that should discourage others from seeking publicity in this manner.
4. The statement "I was assured by school officials that every action necessary was being taken to keep the students safe." It's great that Buzz Ball was reassured. Why didn't he feel that his readers deserved the same reassurance?
The Joplin Globe appears to have bought into the erroneous argument that Newsweek magazine was responsible for the deaths of 15 people because of inaccuracies in its article about a U. S. interrogator desecrating the Koran during a session with a Muslim captor.
While there can be no doubt that the Newsweek article relied on only one faulty unidentified source (while claiming that it had multiple sources) and it was a poor piece of journalism, it was not responsible for even one death.
The problem is with people who feel the need to commit murder on the slightest provocation. These people are the problem. They are the ones who look for any excuse to kill. It had already been revealed that atrocities had been committed. This was not new news...it was just another excuse.
And it should be remembered that both Newsweek's faulty source and the government official with whom the magazine checked before it published the article believed that the story was true. The Globe is right about the media relying too much on unnamed sources. Newsweek need to reevaluate its thinking about the use of this kind of sourcing, because this kind of story seriously compromises its journalistic credibility, but for The Globe's editorial writer to say the magazine is responsible for 15 deaths is a stretch.