Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Judge refuses to stop Medicaid cuts

U. S. District Court Judge Dean Whipple refused to take action to prevent Medicaid cuts from taking place, according to Associated Press.
Whipple, of course, is the same judge who has recently allowed two people charged with sex crimes in connection with Internet stings free, saying that they did not try to have sex with actual underaged girls, but only police officers pretending to be underaged girls in chatrooms.

Meerwald won't be at October hearing

Edward Meerwald, the drunk driver who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in connection with the July 2004 accident that took the lives of James Dodson, 68, Neosho, and his eight-year-old granddaughter Jessica Mann of Joplin, will not attend the Oct. 4 pre-trial hearing in his attempt to have his conviction overturned.
McDonald County Circuit Court records indicate it is not considered necessary for Meerwald to be at the hearing since no evidence will be offered. He will be represented by Anne Wells, who was appointed to serve as his lawyer.

Hearing set in child-killing case

The next hearing in the involuntary manslaughter case against Brandon Wayne Kahl, 25, Lamar, is set for 1 p.m. Sept. 19, in Barton County Circuit Court.
Kahl was charged in connection with the June 7 death of two-year-old Alexander Cole. Kahl is free on $15,000 bond.

March 2006 trial set for former Joplin Boys and Girls Club director

A March 8, 2006, trial date has been scheduled for former Joplin Boys and Girls Club Director Rob Clay, who is charged with embezzling at least $50,000 and possibly as much as $200,000 from that organization. He was the director for 15 years.
At Clay's preliminary hearing, a Joplin 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.

Hearing for murder victim's widow delayed

A hearing in the marijuana possession case against Rebecca Kullie, 40, Lamar, originally scheduled for today has been rescheduled for Sept. 14, according to Barton County Circuit Court records.
Mrs. Kullie, is the widow of Jim John Kullie, who was allegedly beaten to death with a tire iron by Mrs. Kullie's brother, Jim Edward Ryan. Ryan, 42, Lamar, faces murder charges in Cedar County Circuit Court, where the trial will be held on a change of venue from Barton County.

Hearing set in rape case against former Carthage R-9 Board member

A Sept. 9 hearing has been scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court for former Carthage R-9 Board of Education member and Carthage police officer Michael Lloyd Wells, who is charged with forcible rape, sexual assault and two counts of incest.
The case has been languishing since it was refiled in October 2004. Wells is charged with forcible rape and incest in connection with an incident that occurred on Sept. 1, 1994, and sexual assault and incest in connection with an incident that occurred on April 1, 2001.
No court date has been set for another charge against Wells, who is accused of violating a protection order on March 31 of this year.

Lawsuit against Freeman,disgraced doctor settled

Another malpractice lawsuit against Freeman Neosho Hospital in connection with its association with disgraced doctor Jeffrey Wool has been settled, according to Newton County Circuit Court records.
The Turner Report noted on July 6 that it appeared that the claim filed by Billie
Aschentrop, 61, Neosho, had been settled. The defendants in that case, in addition to Wool and Freeman Neosho, were Freeman Health Systems, Neidra DePuy, and Margaret Bond. Court records at that time indicated the case had a "satisfaction of claims" and "satisfaction of costs by plaintiff." The case had been scheduled to go to trial Aug. 14 and 15. The official dismissal with prejudice was filed Aug. 25.
Wool pleaded guilty last year in Newton County Circuit Court to a Class D felony of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance. He received a suspended sentence and four years of supervised probation.
During the past two years, the Wool situation has been a nightmare for Freeman, which has faced at least eight malpractice lawsuits against the doctor, with some who filed lawsuits claiming that he practiced medicine on them while he was addicted to painkillers.
One of those cases went to trial with the plaintiffs Jessee Eastburn, Tim Zengel, and David Zengel awarded $300,000 plus $1,457.80 in court costs on April 9, 2004.
Undisclosed settlements were reached in two other cases.

Edison, Diamond schools reach settlement

The waste of time lawsuit filed by the Diamond R-4 School District against Edison Schools has been settled. Both sides filed a joint motion today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.
Even though The Joplin Globe has yet to write a story on the lawsuit, I would hope the Globe would think enough of Diamond R-4 taxpayers that it would look into the terms of the settlement, plus how money the district spent, especially how much it is paying its lawyers.
As I have pointed out numerous times, even though I am not a big fan of Edison Schools and the whole running schools as businesses (considering the way some American businesses operate, Edison would eventually have to outsource its students to China), Edison has made a considerable profit for every school with which it has operated summer schools, including Diamond. Only Diamond claims to have been cheated, despite its sizable profit. This could be another one of those lawsuits that was settled just to avoid the cost of defending against a frivolous claim.

Nexstar, Mission drowning in red ink

Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield, and Mission Broadcasting, owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield, had a combined debt of $422 million as of March 31, according to a prospectus filed June 28 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In an area of the report reserved for possible risks the companies faces, Nexstar officials said, "We and Mission have a history of net losses and a substantial accumulated deficit.
We had consolidated net losses of $20.5 million, $71.8 million and $99.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2004, 2003 and 2002. In addition, as of March 31, 2005, we and Mission had a combined accumulated deficit of $422.8 million. We and Mission may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability."

Congressman: Katrina will be top legislative priority

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt today issued a news release saying that aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina will be the top priority for the House of Representatives. You can read his remarks at:
http://www.blunt.house.gov/default.asp

Agencies to receive bulletproof vests

The Newton County Sheriff's Department, and police departments in Joplin, Neosho, Monett, Sarcoxie, Webb City, and Lamar, will have half of the costs of new bulletproof vests provided by the U. S. Department of Justice, under the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program, according to a news release issued today by Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt.
The dollar amounts and the vests they will pay for are listed below:
Newton County Sheriff's Department, 25 vests, $7,475.25; Monett 11 vests, $2,745; Neosho, six vests, $900; Sarcoxie, 3 vests, $900; Webb City, 10 vests, $2,800; Lamar, four vests, $1,250.

Nixon to investigate gasoline price gouging

When I left Joplin to attend a Natural Disaster practice Tuesday afternoon, the price of gas was $2.49 a gallon. By the time I returned, it had increased by more than 30 cents and this afternoon it was $2.99. That still pales in comparison to the $6 plus being charged in the south, according to news reports.
Attorney General Jay Nixon will investigate whether we are seeing an epidemic of price gouging. Governor Matt Blunt issued a news release today saying he had "directed" Nixon to conduct the investigation. While it is good to see Blunt taking strong, decisive action to benefit the taxpayer instead of big business, it is safe to assume that Nixon would have conducted the investigation anyway, even if he had not been directed to do so.

Missouri school districts told to prepare for Katrina refugees

Missouri public school administrators were told today to prepare to enroll children who are displaced refugees from Hurricane Katrina.
In a memo to administrators, D. Kent King, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education commissioner said, "The number of such children seeking to enroll in Missouri schools undoubtedly will grow in the coming days and weeks."
King said the children qualify as homeless children and should be enrolled promptly. They will automatically qualify for free or reduced price lunches and are eligible for Title I services. The students will not be required to have all of their immunizations before being enrolled, King said.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Lindsey finalist for Nebraska job

Joplin Police Chief Kevin Lindsey is one of three finalists for the Grand Island, Neb., police chief position, according to today's issue of the Grand Island Independent.
If Lindsey is chosen, he will immediately have to soothe some hurt feelings in the department. The requirements for chief established by the city officials appear designed to keep veteran Grand Island police officers from being eligible to apply.
The other applicants, according to the article, are Steven Lamken, 56, director of the Grand Island Law Enforcement Training Center, and Michael Smitley, a writer, who is seeking to return to law enforcement where he had a 30-year career. Lamken might have the upper hand since he was police chief in Kearney, Neb., from 1987 to 1996, where his boss was Gary Greer, currently Grand Island's city administrator.
It is not surprising that Lindsey is looking at other opportunities, considering the onslaught of negative publicity the Joplin Police Department has received during the past few months.
Lindsey, 48, had a reputation for openness and honesty in dealing with the public at his previous position, has been hamstrung in Joplin by the policies of city leaders, including City Manager Mark Rohr, who have not allowed him to reveal the discipline administered to two officers involved in the handcuffing and browbeating of an 11-year-old at a Joplin elementary school.
Lindsey successfully used a different approach during his days as police chief in Madison, Wisconsin, as revealed in the May 21 Turner Report. In Madison, two police officers tried to cover up an incident in which one of them kicked a handcuffed man. One officer received a six-day suspension for kicking the man and not reporting what he had done. The other officer received a one-day suspension for dishonesty and for not reporting a minor injury he had received during the struggle. The man who was kicked did not need medical attention, according to the newspaper that carried the story, the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison. The date on that article is March 22, 2001.
All information came from Lindsey, who showed no hesitation in sharing the information about the discipline he meted out to the officers with the media and the public. He found out that's not the way things are done in Joplin.

Appellate panel rules for Nexstar

A panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeal today upheld a lower court ruling favoring Nexstar Broadcasting in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee.
Lesa Davis, a former production coordinator at KARK in Little Rock, claimed that racial discrimination led to her being fired from her job as a production coordinator. Ms. Davis created graphics and backgrounds for news, weather, and sports, according to her lawsuit. She had worked on KARK'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.
The Eighth District appellate panel disagreed with that reasoning. "Nexstar did not create an intolerable work environment," the opinion said. "There is no indication Nexstar acted with the intention of forcing Davis to resign or that she intended to do so as a result of Nexstar's actions."
The opinion put a large portion of the blame for Ms. Davis' problems on Ms. Davis. "Davis quit work rather than work with KARK-TV to find a solution that resolved her concerns," the opinion said.
Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Zobel sues Greene County sheriff

One of the problems with the American judicial system which should be addressed at the federal and state levels is the deluge of frivolous lawsuits that have made the legal system a nightmare.
One such case was filed in Greene County Circuit Court Friday when William Zobel, Republic, filed a lawsuit seeking a restraining order to keep his confiscated horses from being sold. Zobel is currently awaiting trial on 38 counts of animal abuse for his treatment of those horses. While awaiting the final outcome of the legal proceedings, the Carthage Humane Society has had to foot the bill for the care and feeding of 28 of those animals.
Meanwhile we continue to have one frivolous lawsuit after another filed by people such as Martin Lindstedt, who continues to fight these lawsuits even while awaiting trial in Newton County Circuit Court on felony statutory sodomy charges.
Taxpayers have to foot the bill for the time spent dealing with Lindstedt's lawsuits, as well as for the defense of the people who are targets or who have been targets of his legal actions, such as Governor Matt Blunt, Jasper County officials, city of Granby officials, and Missouri Southern State University officials.
I speak from experience about the damaging effects of these frivolous lawsuits. When Terry Reed sued me for $750 million in 1998 it was obvious right from the beginning that the suit had no merit. He was also suing the Kansas City Star, KMBZ Radio in Kansas City, Jasper County commissioners, Jasper County Sheriff Bill Pierce, State Representative Mark Elliott and others, all for similarly outrageous amounts.
The Carthage Press, the newspaper I worked for at the time, was also a defendant in the case and had to spend $10,000 of its money before the deductible on the libel insurance kicked in.
Reed's cause against me was thrown out by the judge, who pointed out that the column I wrote about Reed's ill-fated far right-wing American Heritage Festival, in which I said, "They were here on Friday, they were here on Saturday and those nuts were sprinkled on our Sunday, as well," was constitutionally-protected opinion. Reed had only entered that line and a couple of others, including my opening sentence that a "blanket of white descended on Carthage over the weekend," in his lawsuit and left out the portions of the column which specifically noted that I was referring to some of those who attended the event and not to Reed.
Still, I had the threat of that lawsuit hanging over my head for about 10 months before it was thrown out, something that should have taken place right at the beginning. The Press was out $10,000 and I am sure its libel insurance premiums went up after that since that is the way the insurance business operates.
We have a large number of lawsuits filed because lawyers know that no matter how weak their case is, they have an excellent chance to get a settlement simply because it costs so much to pay for the legal help to go to trial.
The actions taken by the Missouri General Assembly this year had some merit, but they were the wrong actions. Putting a cap on jury awards is not the solution and only serves to hurt people who have legitimate lawsuits.
The best option, though it has some flaws, is the English system. If you lose, you pay the costs for the other side. It is hard to believe Terry Reed would have filed his lawsuit if he knew he would have to pay for the costs if he lost or if the judge threw the case out of court. It might also prevent people like William Zobel from wasting the taxpayers' money.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Cable One chief: 'They need us more than we need them'

Cable World reports that Cable One Chief Tom Might said the company lost subscribers when Nexstar Broadcasting pulled KSNF and KODE off the cable at the beginning of 2005, but he says Nexstar has been hurt far worse.
"Broadcasters need us more than we need them," he said at the recent National Cable Television Cooperative meeting in San Diego.

Wyrick targeted in personal injury lawsuit

Travis Wyrick, the Joplin teenager who was charged earlier this year with felony leaving the scene of an accident in connection with theJanuary hit-and-run death of Joplin High School senior Jamison Alexander, appears to have had previous problems while driving.
Denise Brooks, Joplin, filed a vehicular personal injury lawsuit against Wyrick Friday in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Wyrick's trial on the felony charge is scheduled for Sept. 19.
The widow of a Missouri Department of Transportation worker who was killed during a November 2004 crash while working on I-44, is suing the passenger in the van that hit him, as well as the estate of the driver who also died during the accident.
The lawsuit was one of many filed Friday in Jasper County Circuit Court during a last minute flurry to beat the Aug. 28 deadline. On that day, the "reforms" passed by the Missouri General Assembly went into effect, making it far more difficult to file lawsuits or to win huge monetary awards.
Filing is the suit is Patricia Vanatta, widow of MoDOT worker Bert L. Vanatta, who was only 44 when he was killed. The defendants are the driver, the late Anna A. Lukosius, 78, Camdenton, and her passenger, Michael B. Cravatta, 80, also of Camdenton.
The accident took place four miles east of Sarcoxie in broad daylight.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Public benefits from Elliott's legislation

Though there were times when I skewered him in print, I always had an appreciation for Mark Elliott, R-Carl Junction, during his days as a Missouri state representative.
Shortly after he left the office, he was kind enough to drop by my trailer classroom at Diamond Middle School and give a lesson on how the House operates, which if I recall, centered around a fictitious bill which would make vanilla ice cream the state ice cream for Missouri. By the time he left, the sixth graders to whom he spoke had a much better idea of how state government operates.
Mark was always good for a quote and never sidestepped a question, something which you can't say about very many politicians, Democrat or Republican. When I asked him a question, he gave me a straight answer.
And for those who recall that I ripped into him in the pages of The Carthage Press for accepting so many campaign contributions from lobbyists and their spouses, that is absolutely true, but one person who never complained about that coverage was Mark Elliott.
Saturday's Joplin Globe did not have any mention of Mark, but it was his legislation that enabled Globe reporter John Hacker to reveal how much ($7,400) Southwest City paid out to its former Police Chief Ron Beaudry to settle his wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the city.
Elliott pushed for that revision of the Missouri Sunshine Law after the Diamond R-4 Board of Education fought to keep from revealing to the public just how much it had to fork over to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against a school superintendent and the district by a former secretary.
Elliott felt that taxpayers had the right to know how their money was being spent and thanks to him, Southwest City taxpayers are not in the dark about the actions that were taken by the people who they elected to represent them.

MAP scores enlightening

I really haven't looked too closely at the listings of MAP scores in today's Joplin Globe except, of course, for seventh grade communication arts since I teach eighth grade at South Middle School in Joplin.
Joplin had more seventh grade students in the advanced and proficient areas than any other school in the area except for Mount Vernon, and South's scores (they weren't broken down in the newspaper) were higher than those for Memorial and North middle schools.
First, I hate to admit it, but I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with those scores. I just have to make sure I keep those students headed down the right path now that they are in eighth grade.
The people who are primarily responsible are South's seventh grade reading teacher Linda Weaver, who is also head of the school's reading department, and our communication arts teacher Angel Mense, as well as a strong crew of special education instructors.
They were the ones in the trenches and their hard work paid off. Every sixth, seventh, and eighth grade student at South (and the other Joplin middle schools) has one hour of reading and one hour of communication arts (writing, grammar, etc.) every day. Mrs. Weaver and the reading teachers also work on numerous promotions throughout the year to keep reading at the forefront.
All teachers, though, play a part. Each Friday, the first 20 minutes of school, the homeroom or TA period, is spent in silent reading. Students are required to keep a library book with them at all times, in case they finish work on a class assignment and have time. It wouldn't be the truth to say that all of those students spend every spare minute reading, but you would be surprised at how many of them actually do that.
In an environment where so many students do not have access to books or newspapers at home, Linda Weaver and the rest of the reading department teachers, indeed all teachers and administrators at South, have done a great job in encouraging these young people to read.
***
Sadly, the lowest scores I noticed in seventh grade communication arts belonged to my former place of employment, the Diamond R-4 School District. It would be self-serving for me to say that the seventh graders who took the test were the first ones who did not have teaching them either writing or reading, but that is a part of the truth.
However, it is not I who made the difference, but the fact that during the first three years I was at Diamond, the district had a sixth, seventh, and eighth grade writing teacher. During my fourth and final year at Diamond, I had every student in the middle school for at least one quarter. I taught writing classes for all three grades, and reading classes for seventh and eighth graders. When Superintendent Mark Mayo decided he wanted me gone, he eliminated the writing and reading classes for seventh and eighth graders, then had the nerve to say that I was put on an unpaid leave of absence because I was the teacher whose loss would least affect the students.
Diamond students survived quite nicely without me, but not without the writing and reading classes. The dramatic drop in the MAP scores proves that.

McCaskill poised to run for Senate

I am not thrilled with the idea of State Auditor Claire McCaskill running for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Jim Talent.
It's not that I don't feel she would make a capable U. S. Senator. The question that needs to be asked is: Is it good for the state if she wins a U. S. Senate seat?
Sure, it provides the Democratic Party with a strong candidate, most likely its strongest, to unseat Talent, but if McCaskill goes to Washington, who is going to ride herd on state officials who seem determined to push every ethical boundary possible?
Consider the current ethical quagmire Department of Revenue Director Trish Vincent is in with her failure to take legitimate bids for office equipment at the time state license fee offices were privatized.
You can't blame Ms. McCaskill for wanting to run for higher office or the Missouri Democratic Party for wanting her to do so, but the state of Missouri has benefited by having Ms. McCaskill in the state auditor position during the administrations of Bob Holden and Matt Blunt, two politicians who, from all appearances, prefer to use any method other than common sense to run the state government.

Helicopter parts to be made at Joplin plant

LaBarge, Inc., announced Friday it has been awarded more than $9 million worth of contracts to build parts for UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. according to today's Springdale Morning News.
Some of those parts will be made at LaBarge's Joplin plant.

'No Child Left Behind' criticized

"No Child Left Behind" poses many dangers for American education and perhaps the biggest one is pointed out in today's Boston Globe.
When the United States led the march toward a true public education, the primary purpose was to make sure that the populace was educated enough to be able to participate in our democratic system.
That is no longer the case.
The drive for higher test scores in math and reading and judging that by using standardized tests has pushed nearly everything else out the window. Civics or citizenship, as it was called when I attended East Newton High School, is not a primary concern any more. The main reason appears to be because a knowledge of how our political system works and our role in it is not as important to our elected leaders as what skills will help big business. And you will get no argument from me about the importance of reading or math, but there are other skills that are also important and No Child Left Behind is shortchanging those.
With the emphasis on those two subjects and on measuring them through the use of standardized tests, the goal purportedly is to improve the lot of minorities. That is a laudable goal, but we may also be permanently consigning them to second-class status.
Again using civics as an example, how can we assimilate the hundreds of thousands of immigrants into our society if they have no knowledge of how its political system works and how they can become involved and change it if they so desire?
As long as we continue this unholy reliance on standardized tests, we increase the risk that students will leave school as nothing more than cannon fodder for big business interests that want a low-paid workforce with few fringe benefits.
The purpose of education has never been to prepare students to be workers, though that certainly is part of it. Education is designed to make students productive members of society.
When we forget that, we put this country in danger of always being led by a privileged few.
***
Continuing along that line, the constant push toward a voucher system, always accompanied by claims that public education is failing, may be the most dangerous trend we have seen, and it is coming to Missouri big time. Governor Matt Blunt has come out in favor of a plan (though he doesn't call it a voucher plan) that would offer education tax credits and scholarships to low-income students which could be used at either public or private schools.
Blunt recently spoke at a meeting of leaders and activists for All Children Matter, in Silverthorne, Colo. All Children Matter is a pro school choice organization that poured more than $400,000 into Missouri political campaigns last year and is increasing its efforts in the state. The chairman of the House Education Committee, Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis County, was appointed to that post after writing a letter to House Speaker Rod Jetton declaring that one of her primary qualifications for the post was how much campaign money she was bringing into this state from All Children Matter. Apparently, that convinced Jetton that she was an expert on education, although he insists it had nothing to do with her subsequent appointment.
Experts, and I use the term loosely, such as Rep. Cunningham, can point to numerous examples of private schools and charter schools that are providing quality education. They also point out, almost with glee, that many of the teachers at private schools are not paid as well as those at public schools. Therefore, it must be the public school system that is failing the students.
While I would be the last person to say that public education is blameless, the voucher-proponents conveniently fail to mention other reasons why the private-school educations seem to be so much superior. So let's take a look at a few of them:

-At private schools, nearly 100 percent of the students who are there are there because their parents have a strong belief that a quality education can improve their children's chances for success. A majority of the parents of children at public schools feel the same way, but there is a sizable minority that do not and their children are often the ones who create classroom disturbances and who post low scores on standardized tests. Many remarkable teachers are in private schools, but let's face it, any capable teacher will achieve success when every student is interested in learning.
-Another problem is that we are facing generations of children that don't have the same reverence for reading or learning that we did when we were younger and have so many more options for things to do when they are not at school. With the added distractions of video games, cable and satellite programming specifically aimed at children, and the ever-increasing number of sports teams, both school and club, that practice ever later into the evening, the time and inclination for reading have decreased. And in many of those homes, the parents do not have an abiding interest in reading either. That can be seen in the decline of book sales and newspaper circulation. Nearly all of the students at private schools have parents who instilled in them a strong reading habit, many of them before they ever set foot in a classroom. Many public school students have the same love of reading, but the public schools also get nearly 100 percent of those who have never been taught its importance. If those children reach school without a love of reading, the teachers really have their work cut out for them. That is why people should be talking about the remarkable work being done by public schoolteachers who have managed to increase test scores in reading despite this major obstacle.
-The public schools are handling an overwhelming majority of students who have severe learning disabilities, are mentally handicapped, or who speak English as a second language, or do not speak English at all. No Child Left Behind expects those children to succeed, and while that is the right goal, nearly all of these students are in public schools. The private schools not only do not deal with these children, most of them have no desire to do so.
-Society's ills play a big role in many of the failures of education. The Joplin R-8 School District, for which I work as an eighth grade communications arts (English) teacher is requiring its teachers to attend seminars on how to deal with children from poverty. I attended the two-day seminar this summer and it was enlightening. Some of it goes back to what I wrote earlier about the lack of books and newspapers in many of these homes. It is hard enough for some families to put food on the table. But poverty is not the only evil that has plagued our children and put extra strain on public education. So many children come from broken homes, have parents who physically or sexually abuse them, or are living with parents addicted to alcohol and drugs. The epidemic of methamphetamine addiction plays a major role in whether children are going to succeed in school.
***
The simple fact is the politicians, Republican and Democratic, overwhelmingly passed No Child Left Behind, immediately declared that public schools were the source of the problems in today's education, but never did anything to address the social ills that have increased public schoolteachers' challenges over the past few decades.
I have written before on several occasions that I am offended, and many of my fellow teachers are offended, by the name "No Child Left Behind'; not because we don't believe in that goal, but because it leaves the impression that until George W. Bush became president in 2001 teachers were content to leave children behind; to let them fail. That has never been the case.
We now have a mandated goal to have all children succeeding in math and reading by 2014. It won't happen. I only wish it would, but there is no way No Child Left Behind can reach its eventual goal.
As long as we have families devastated by divorce, physical and sexual abuse, poverty, alcohol and drug addiction, and parents who do not instill the love of reading and learning in their children before they come to school, we will have children left behind.
***
The Boston Globe article I mentioned at the beginning can be found at:
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/08/28/in_schools_we_trust/

Teaching children from poverty poses challenges

The Joplin R-8 School District has placed a major emphasis on teaching children who come from poverty. All teachers are being required to attend seminars on economic diversity.
The seminars are based on the teachings of Texas educator Ruby Payne, and according to today's Washington Post, Ms. Payne's seminars are also being used to address poverty in our nation's capital.
The article may enlighten you about the challenges of teaching poor children. You can find it at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/27/AR2005082700081.html?referrer=email

Friday, August 26, 2005

Story is beginning to get old

Let me get this straight.
Newspaper reporters find out that the Missouri Department of Revenue is giving away or selling without bids equipment that was used by state-owned license fee offices before they were privatized by the Blunt Administration. So all of a sudden bids are taken (though only fee office operators appointed by the governor are able to bid), but the DOR spokeswoman says it had nothing to do with news accounts or admonitions by State Auditor Claire McCaskill.
Now the governor's campaign committee, for a second time, has filed paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission acknowledging an "oversight" in reporting use of a Ford Explorer from Mike Kehoe Ford in Jefferson City. The first time the campaign filed an amended statement came when a forgotten use of a tour bus from the same Ford agency was added in April, one day after the Democratic party filed an ethics complaint about it. Coincidentally Kehoe was appointed to the State Highways and Transportation Commission. But Blunt's people were quick to say that the filing had nothing whatsoever to do with the ethics complaint; they just happened to come across this oversight while they were looking through campaign documents.
The pattern is obvious. If someone catches the Blunt campaign or Blunt's appointed state officials in an ethical quandary, suddenly action is taken...but not because they were caught.
Missourians grew used to inept leadership during the Holden years, so Matt Blunt's administration is just more of the same in that regard, but the apparent attitude that they can do anything until they get caught, then they can claim they were the ones who found out about the problem and corrected it (albeit poorly) and no one will notice is an insult to Missourians.

The Associated Press article on the Ford Explorer fiasco can be found at:

http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050826/NEWS01/508260374/1095

News Leader confirms Cox Health under investigation

Federal investigators have targeted five former and current Cox Health administrators according to an article in today's Springfield News-Leader.
The investigation was first mentioned in the June 8 Turner Report story on a lawsuit filed against Cox officials. That story can be found at:
http://rturner229.blogspot.com/2005/06/lawsuit-cox-subject-of-federal-probe.html
The News-Leader article can be found at:
http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050826/NEWS01/508260402/1095

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Globe editorial board jumps into controversy

You have to hand it to the Joplin Globe Editorial Board. In Friday's edition, the board, which is the same panel that endorsed Roosevelt in 1944 because FDR was easier to spell than Dewey, will come out in favor of having children buckled up in cars.
Sensing that a rising tide of people who are leaving their kids unbuckled or strapping them to the roof, the Globe editorial says, "Parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances should make certain that a car doesn't move until children are safely buckled."
Reportedly, part of the original editorial was removed, One Editorial Board member said, "What are the odds of an accident happening if people leave their kids unprotected in the backseat?"
Another board member said, " Let's call Gary Nodler and see what he says about it."
Sources indicate the senator said, "If those kids can't behave themselves they shouldn't be allowed in backseats."
Other sources insist that never happened, so it appears to be just another he said/she said situation.
On tap for Saturday, The Globe Editorial Board examines the phenomenon of Paris Hilton. Editorial Page Editor Clair Goodwin in a personal column will write, "I checked into the Paris Hilton and the rooms were filthy."

Franks named to Missouri State post

Governor Matt Blunt appointed Mike Franks, Neosho, to be on the first Board of Governors for the newly rechristened Missouri State University. Franks currently serves on the Southwest Missouri State University board. He is vice president of marketing for O'Sullivan Industries and was a former president of the Neosho R-5 Board of Education.

Blunt appointees receive goods at bargain rate

The Columbia Tribune's Josh Flory has been a roll lately uncovering one story after another detailing troubling ethical problems involving Governor Matt Blunt and his appointees.
The latest involves the sale of office equipment from formerly state-operated license fee offices...offices which now are under the control for the most part of people who contributed to the Blunt election campaign.
Apparently, after State Auditor Claire McCaskill criticized the unloading of the equipment without bids, The Department of Revenue put up the items for bid...but did so without advertising the bids and only opened up the bids to the people who were appointed to operate the revenue offices.
In one instance, a television, three fax machines, 15 calculators, eight step-stools, dozens and chairs and numerous other office items including bulletin boards, telephones and desks sold for a grand total of $151, according to Flory's article in today's paper.
The story originally broke in the St. Joseph newspaper on June 21 that state equipment was being sold cheaply to that city's new fee agent without any bids being taken. Now Department of Revenue officials are saying that was not the case and that fee agent placed a successful bid on Aug. 7 for those items.
Ms. McCaskill says these revelations are "troubling." She is being kind.

AP reports judge blocks Internet access law

A law requiring the removal of addresses and telephone numbers of public officials from the Internet will not go into effect Aug. 28 as scheduled.
According to Associated Press, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brown issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday, along with a preliminary and permanent injunction. A hearing was scheduled for this afternoon.
This law, which essentially said that public officials should not be accessible to the people who pay their salaries, would have resulted in the removal of nearly all public information from the internet since there would be little way officials could tell who is a public official and who is not.
Instead of vetoing the law, Governor Matt Blunt signed it, then told government officials responsible for placing these items on the Internet to ignore it, something many of them did not feel comfortable doing. The governor asked the state legislature to fix the problem with the law during the upcoming special session.

Southwest City settles with former police chief

Former Southwest City Police Chief Ron Beaudry has settled his wrongful dismissal lawsuit against city officials, according to a filing today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
The document, filed by Beaudry's lawyer, Kirk D. Holman of Kansas City, says, the lawsuit "has been settled in its entirety and accordingly, the Court may make and enter its order dismissing this action." Both sides will handle their own costs, the document said.
No mention is made of what the amount or nature of the settlement was, though city officials will be legally required to reveal that information since the Missouri Legislature passed a law a few years back that requires any such settlement to be revealed since it involves taxpayer money. The bill was proposed by former State Rep. Mark Elliott after a case in which the Diamond R-4 Board of Education paid off a woman who was suing a superintendent for sexual harassment.
Beaudry brought his lawsuit against Southwest City after he was fired June 2, 2004, who was fired June 2, 2004, after he made an unsuccessful effort to fire police officer Toi Cannada.
Defendants in the lawsuit were the city of Southwest City, Mayor Al Dixon, and council members Farley Martin and Mildred Weaver. Beaudry noted in his petition that Ms. Cannada is Martin's stepdaughter.Beaudry was hired as police chief in June 2003, according to the petition. Ms. Canada was hired on a part-time basis last November. She was promoted to full-time status after a closed council meeting in March 2004, the petition says.
At that point, Beaudry conducted a background check and uncovered alcohol-related offenses, he said. "On March 12, 2004," the petition says, "(Beaudry) received a fax from Angela Heckart, a representative with Beimdiek Insurance Agency, regarding the insurability of Ms. Cannada." Ms. Heckart said Ms. Canada could not be insured because she had an alcohol-related driving offense in the three years before she was hired.On March 30, the city received a fax saying that Ms. Cannada was prohibited from using any city vehicle. At that point, Beaudry fired her. "On or about April 13, 2004," the petition said, "the city council refused to fire Canada, rehired her, and allowed her to operate her own vehicle to conduct police business."
On May 14, the council suspended Beaudry after he went public about his concerns about Ms. Canada, the petition said. On June 2, he was fired.In the petition, Beaudry claimed his First Amendment free speech rights were violated by the city officials.

Sportsman's Friend dead at 92

I never cared much for "The Sportsman's Friend' as appointment television, but there was something comforting in knowing that it would be on Channel 7 every Saturday night at 6 p.m. (later moved to other time slots).
That folksy voice made you feel like you were spending a half hour with a friend, even if you didn't care much about the show's subject- fishing, and sacreligious though it may be, I never did. And who could ever forget the show's signoff with the organ playing the catchy theme.
Chad Stebbins at MSSU was kind enough to provide me with some background material on Mr. Ensley, who was born and raised in Healy, Kan., just north of Dodge City and began his half-century broadcasting career as a salesman for WMBH radio in Joplin.
He provided his first fishing reports on WMBH. The show caught on and he moved on to KIMO radio in Independence, where he started "The Sportsman's Friend." The show moved to television in 1953 with Ford Motor Company as a sponsor. At first, it was syndicated regionally, carried by KOAM, KTTS in Springfield, and stations in Wichita, Topeka, Kansas City, and St. Joseph. By 1973, it was shown in 70 markets across the U. S. and in Canada.
I was lucky enough to have met Mr. Ensley a couple of times, once in Joplin and once at East Newton High School. Though our meetings were brief, you always left a conversation with Harold Ensley feeling as if you had talked to an old friend.
Harold Ensley was 92 years old and reportedly had not been in good health for a while. It's hard to think of the world without someone who was such a fixture in it while I was growing up and through my adulthood, but it gets a lot easier when you realize that Mr. Ensley has probably just gone fishin', instead of just a-wishin'.

Globe finally corrects Nodler misinformation

It took nearly a week but the Joplin Globe finally admitted it was wrong in its Gary Nodler editorial last week when it said that both Democrats and Republicans voted for the Medicaid cuts, when in fact it was a straight party line vote.
In today's edition, the Globe correction reads:
"An editorial Friday, Aug. 19, stated that members of both political parties in Missouri voted for cutting Medicaid. That was incorrect. No Democrats voted for the Medicaid bills."
This is one of those times where readers also need to know the source of that misinformation. Earlier in The Turner Report, I questioned if the information came directly from Nodler and his supporters. If that is the case, and what other logical explanation would account for such a flight from reality, then the Globe not only let its editorial policy be dictated by the senator, but it also failed the Journalism 101 credo to doublecheck your information.
Even worse, the Globe editorial board had no qualms about using this outright lie to discredit its own reporters' hard work.
It is a shame that Max McCoy, the Globe reporter who initially broke the story of Nodler's meltdown, cannot be assigned to investigate his own newspaper's editorial board.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Stefanick voted to cut others' healthcare, but not her own

The gesture by Rep. Trent Skaggs, D-Kansas City, was a small one, but a symbolic one. On April 13, Skaggs offered an amendment to House Bill 5, which would have reduced health care coverage for Missouri legislators.
As I noted in the April 14 Turner Report, Skaggs submitted an amendment to trim $281,602 from the appropriations bill for legislators' insurance. The amendment was defeated by a vote of
78 to 75, with those voting to keep the benefits for lawmakers, including area legislators Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, and Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City. The only two area legislators to vote to cut their benefits were Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, and Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar.
Among those who opted to keep the benefits was Rep. Jodi Stefanick, R-Ballwin, who resigned as a state representative this week to take a post in the Blunt Administration as senior health care policy advisor. Ms. Stefanick, it should be noted, not only voted to cut Medicaid benefits for poor Missourians, but also was a major player when it came to the crafting of that legislation. As mentioned earlier in The Turner Report, she also has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from medical, health and insurance special interest groups.

Blunt appointment rolled in health care dough

Matt Blunt's decision to appoint Rep. Jodi Stefanick, R-Ballwin, as his senior health care policy advisor is yet another gift to the health and insurance special interests that shaped so much of the 2005 legislation.
Ms. Stefanick's campaign coffers were filled with special interest money from doctors and health care and insurance companies...and, of course, she donated $1,200, the maximum allowed under state law, from that campaign money to Blunt's campaign.
In her last few days as a legislator, Ms. Ballwin went out in style, accepting nearly $400 in money from health care lobbyist James R. Moody in June, well after the 2005 legislative session had concluded, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.
Moody's report indicates that he spent $368.40 on June 15 for travel for Ms. Stefanick, while representing Schaller Anderson, a national health care management and consulting company. It is not clear from the online Ethics Commission documents who Moody was representing when he paid $25 for meals, food and beverage for Ms. Stefanick on June 28, but it was either for Family Health Partners or Missouri Care.
Ms. Stefanick's campaign finance disclosure forms for 2004 cement her reputation as a handmaiden for the health care special interests. While she was played a well-recognized role as a chief architect of the Medicaid Reform plan and voted for so-called reforms that helped pad the pockets of the medical and insurance interests, Ms. Stefanick supplied more than two-thirds of her campaign funds with money from the same people.
Her campaign committee's October 2004 quarterly report shows that she received at least $8,350 from health-related interests during the three-month period, including:
Missouri Hospital Association PAC for Health, $300; Missouri Hospital Association Southeast District PAC, $300; Missouri Hospital Association St. Louis District PAC, $300; Midwest Radiological Associates PC, $300; Missouri Medical PAC, $300; Missouri Association of Health Plan, $200; Dr. Jeffrey Thomasson, $300; Professional Athletic Rehab Center, $250; Michael Neidorff, chairman of Centere Corporation, $300; Golden Rule Insurance Company, $300; West County Radiological Group, Inc., $300; Dr. Charles Fuszner, $300; American Family Insurance, $300; SSM Health Care, $300; Devereaux Chiropractic and Acupuncture, $75; Jim Moody (lobbyist) and Associates, $300; The Affton LeMay Chiropractic Center, $100; Dr. Donna Manello, $100; Eric Fink, Missouri Assisted Living Association, $300; Missouri Podiatry PAC, $300; someone listed as Dr. Crosby, $100; West County Care Center, $300; Missouri Insurance Coalition, $200; Whispering Lane Health Care Center, $300; Firsthand Health Center, $100; Deanna Mueller, therapist, $100; Gerald Grimaldi, Truman Medical Center, $100; Doral Dental USA, $300; Chiropractic and Sports Injury Center, $100; Midwest Imaging and Prevention, $100; Metro Heart Group of St. Louis, $300; Group Health Plan, $300; Donna Checkett, listed in one news story as director of Missouri Division of Medical Services, which administers the state Medicaid program, $200; Dr. Joan Pernaud, $150; Midwest Cardiovascular Center, $100; Abbel Chiropractic Arts, $75; Missouri Dental Hygienists PAC, $300.
Another huge batch of health-related donors kicked in to Ms. Stefanick's campaign in the second quarter of 2004, according to her committee's quarterly report. Among those listed:
Balanced Care for Women of St. Louis, $300; Eric Fink, Missouri Assisted Living Association, $300; Health Care Association Missouri Good Government Fund, $300; Health Care Leadership Committee State Account, $300; Joan Pernoud, $200; MD Pharmacy, Inc., $300; Missouri Orthopaedic Sports and Trauma Clinic, $300; Missouri Residential Care Services, Inc., $100; Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists PAC, $300; MOPLAN Missouri Psychologists, $300; Missouri Physical Therapy Association PAC, $100; Pharmacy Solutions, Inc., $300; United Healthcare Corp $150; and Whispering Oaks Health Care Center, Inc., $300.
Three hundred dollars, of course, was the maximum that could be contributed to state representative campaigns under Missouri law.
Even during the first quarter of 2004, before the campaigns really kicked in, Ms. Stefanick's campaign was already depositing checks from health care interests, according to the campaign disclosure form, including $300 from Sunrise Senior Living Services, $300 from Physicians for Sound Health Care Policy, $300 from Johnson and Johnson, and $200 from the Missouri Physical Therapists Association.
It should be remembered that while Ms. Stefanick was working to cut thousands off the Medicaid rolls, she was also helping pass and craft legislation which enriched those people who supplied the bulk of her campaign finances.

Trial set for accused hospital embezzler

The embezzlement trial of Kimberly Schlup, 41, Deerfield, former chief financial officer of Barton County Memorial Hospital in Lamar has been rescheduled for Oct. 13 in Cedar County, where it is being heard on a change of venue. The trial had originally been set for this week.
Ms. Schlup allegedly stole $77,735 from the hospital between March 15, 1999, and Oct. 7, 2003. An assistant Missouri attorney general will prosecute the case, assisted by Barton County Prosecuting Attorney Steven Kaderly.

Columnist addresses Blunt-McCaskill squabble

Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks has an excellent essay on the controversy brewing over Governor Matt Blunt's refusal to allow State Auditor Claire McCaskill to do performance audits of state departments and agencies.
Hendricks does not say that Blunt is necessarily wrong with his contention that the auditor does not have the legal right to conduct such audits, but he raises a valid point: Does Matt Blunt have any public relations skills whatsoever? His refusal to allow Ms.McCaskill to do the same kind of audits she conducted when the Democratic administration of Bob Holden was in power simply looks like the actions of a spoiled child with something to hide.
You can find the column at:
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/12458206.htm

Pre-trial conference set in Meerwald lawsuits

After a long period of inactivity, a Nov. 1 pretrial conference date has finally been set in Jasper County Circuit Court in the wrongful death lawsuits filed by Betty Dodson, and Amy and Michael Mann against the drunk driver who killed their loved ones.
Meerwald is serving a 14-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He was driving drunk when his car left the roadway and killed James Dodson, 68, Neosho, and Dodson's granddaughter, Jessica Mann, 8, of Joplin. Mr. Dodson's widow and Miss Mann's parents filed the lawsuit.
Meerwald is scheduled to be in McDonald County Circuit Court for an Oct. 4 hearing on the appeal of his conviction.

Fox Sports coming to WMBH

After a brief experiment with standards by singers like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, the Lettermen, etc., the new owner of WMBH, 1560 AM in Joplin is switching back to a sports talk format, according to Missouri Radio Forums.
The station was already boxed in by Carthage's KDMO, which has had great success with the standards.
Before switching to the standards format, WMBH had been affiliated with ESPN Sports. When it returns, it will be with Fox Sports. The move may have been made as a preemptive strike since Zimmer recently bought two Joplin AM stations, including 1230 KWAS, which has been running ESPN sports and Chicago White Sox baseball directly from a Chicago radio station feed.
The only sports programming WMBH had been running since dropping its previous sports talk format has been St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

La-Z-Boy first quarter sales down

First quarter net income for La-Z-Boy Inc., which employs more than 1,000 at its Neosho plant, were $451 million, down from $455 million during the same period last year, according to PR Newswire.
CEO Kurt Darrow said results were down due to a "weaker-than-expected retail environment," and costs from the 21 La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries stores the company bought in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005.
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Cebridge to offer TiVo

TiVo services will be offered to all Cebridge Connections customers, including those in Neosho, according to the Tuesday St. Louis Business Journal.
TiVO creates television services for digital video recorders.

More sales coming at J. C. Penney

Shoppers at the Joplin and Pittsburg J. C. Penney stores will save some money in the near future.
The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday that the Texas-based company has finished the comeback portion of its strategy and has now entered the financial growth stage. A key component of the growth plan will be a number of sales at every J. C. Penney store across the country.l

Carthage Humane Society horses can be adopted

The former owner of more than 100 abused horses will not receive an opportunity to get the animals back.
According to an article in today's Springfield News-Leader, Greene County Circuit Court Judge Don Burrell rejected the request of William Zobel, Republic, for a temporary restraining order.
The Carthage Humane Society will be allowed to adopt out the horses, 28 of which have been kept there since they were confisicated from Zobel after being found mistreated and malnourished.

Beverly to accept NASC bid

After a brief flirtation with Formation Capital, Beverly Enterprises Inc., which formerly owned several nursing homes in southwest Missouri and still has one in Anderson, has agreed to a $13 per share merger bid from North American Senior Care, Inc., according to Arkansas Business.
Two weeks ago, Beverly officials agreed to sell to NASC then Formation Capital, which had attempted a hostile takeover earlier this year, came in with a higher bid. The most recent bid by NASC was 20 cents per share higher, Arkanaas Business said, and is approximately $1.9 billion.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Audit shows $4.1 million in child support never reached children

You would think that a state audit that showed that the Missouri Department of Social Services had not paid $4.1 million in child support, some dating back to 1997, because it couldn't find a current address for the intended recipient would be considered big news on the state website, but that is not the case.
The state publicity machine saw fit to include the department's response to the audit in the headlines on the state website's homepage, but not the news release on the audit itself.
The audit indicates not much of an effort was being made to find the addresses, but of course, the official response from the department pointed out that this amounted to less than one percent of child support.
While that is probably true, what difference does it make. It's still $4.1 million that did not go to children who needed it. I would much preferred to have had the spokesman say, "We are working to improve on this," or something of that nature, rather than "Hey, $4.1 million really isn't that much money."

Rudolph sentence brings back 1996 memories

The news that Eric Rudolph has been sentenced to life in prison for the 1996 Olympic Park bombing reminded me of yet another one of those young people who worked for me at The Carthage Press and who made that time so enjoyable.
When we heard that there had been a bombing in Atlanta, our first concern was about our teenage reporter Keegan Checkett from Carthage, who was at the event with her family. As soon as she had a chance Keegan called to let us know she was nowhere near the park, but she was able to offer The Press something that few small daily newspapers had that year, live, on-the-spot coverage of an Olympics that was even more newsworthy than usual.
Keegan worked for The Press for two summers, teaming with Lamar's Cait Purinton to provide us with an infusion of young talent during that time. Even after she left Carthage to attend Dartmouth University, she continued for quite some time to write a well-received column.
The last I heard from Keegan, she was back in Missouri. She was one of those former Press teen reporters who did not make the leap into professional journalism, but don't worry about Keegan, we hear that doctors do pretty well in this country, too.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Globe offers another hard-hitting editorial

For those of you who are on pins and needles waiting to see how The Joplin Globe's editorial board will top its recent kiss-up to Sen. Gary Nodler, the wait is over.
In Tuesday's Globe, the editorial writer is back to boldly attacking the evils that face our society. You'll have to wait to read it, but the Globe is saying that the BTK killer will not find forgiveness.
Reportedly, in an editorial slated for later this week, the Globe will declare that Hitler was a bad man. (Of course, the editorial board firmly believes that the Holocaust was just another he said/she said story.)

Parker: Agreement will keep O'Sullivan factories open

Just a couple of days after reaching a forbearance agreement with its debtors, O'Sullivan Industries has amended its revolving credit agreement with General Electric Capital Corp., staving off imminent financial peril.
The company filed the agreement with GE with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission Friday. GE will not force O'Sullivan to default even though the Atlanta-based company, still the biggest employer in Lamar, failed to make its July 15 interest payment on $100 million worth of senior subordinated notes.
Million-dollar CEO Bob Parker says the agreement with GE will enable O'Sullivan Industries to keep its factories going.

Moark, Hudgens waive formal arraignment

Moark and its regional manager Dan Hudgens waived their formal arraignments on animal abuse charges today in Newton County Circuit Court.
Hudgens' pretrial conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 7, while Moark will have a pretrial conference 10 a.m. Aug. 31, according to court records.
Lawyers for both have filed motions to dismiss.
Charges were filed after Rick Bussey, who owns adjacent property to Moark videotaped the disposal of live chickens in a dumpster.

No Child Left Behind criticized

"No Child Left Behind" is a lofty, but unrealistic goal, as I have pointed out in earlier postings. All you have to have to keep from reaching the 100 percent success rate that American schools have to have by 2014 is one set of parents who don't care about their children's education, or one student who simply does not care.
Or it could be one teacher who is not qualified, or more likely, one student who is feeling under the weather on the day the high-stakes test is given.
An article in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that some states are challenging the provisions of the law and some are questioning the absolutely ridiculous grading system under which a school can fail if a small percentage of students comes up short.
For instance in the St. Louis area, one of the best schools did not meet the federal standards because its special education students' scores went down. In every other area, the school improved and, in fact, had higher test scores than many that were considered to be passing by the federal government.
Of course, No Child Left Behind is a winner for President Bush no matter what happens. If there are dramatic improvements in student scores, the president can take the credit. If the program fails, it is because those lazy, good-for-nothing public schoolteachers are not doing their job and the U. S. should consider installing an educational voucher system.
I can't recall ever meeting any lazy, good-for-nothing teachers, but don't get me started on the politicians who use teachers as punching bags to get elected or re-elected. Maybe if they had paid more attention when they were in class, we might be getting better legislation.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Remembering LeRoy Hughes

For a 49-week period, beginning on Aug. 15, 1996, and ending on July 11, 1997, I was the managing editor of what I still believe was the best weekly newspaper this area has seen- The Lamar Press.
If you have read this blog for the past several months, you have probably come across a mention of it from time to time. It was a complete local newspaper with coverage of city government, county government, school, sports, and maybe the best stable of columnists a small-town weekly has ever had.
The newspaper featured general columns from Kim Earl, Katie Jeffries and Cait Purinton, a cooking column by Susan Davis Mabe, a religious column by Doug Oakes, and occasional guest columns by Amy Lamb.
Three people contributed columns to each edition of The Lamar Press. I wrote regular columns each week, and usually had a sports column, as well. Marvin VanGilder wrote historical tales of Lamar and Barton County.
But the most popular column by far in that short-lived but fondly remembered newspaper was the one Nancy Hughes wrote- and what a great sport her husband, LeRoy, was for he was a featured player in many of her hilarious columns about the Hughes family life. Other men might not have appreciated being a regular feature in the community newspaper, but LeRoy took it with a grain of salt. He knew his wife loved writing the column and that was good enough for him.
I never knew LeRoy Hughes that well and sadly, I will never have that opportunity. He died this week from a heart attack at age 56. I only had brief conversations with him when I ran into him and his wife at various ballgames and other school functions.
From what I knew of him, both from Nancy's columns and from talking with her, it was obvious that LeRoy provided the foundation upon which a wonderful family was built. He provided support for Nancy as she not only served as Lamar R-1 school nurse, but became a widely-respected proponent of abstinence-based sex education. She also helped start the highly successful Hi-Step program at Lamar High School.
LeRoy and Nancy also had great success with their three children, Tyler, Leigh and Lindsay, all of whom I had the pleasure of working with during their school days. Tyler takes after his father and is the quiet, hard-working type. The daughters inherited the hard-working part, but inherited their mother's infectious, outgoing personality.
I can remember the battles Leigh fought to restore the pre-game prayer at Lamar High School football games, and how when it was finally restored the year after Leigh graduated, it was Lindsay who said that first prayer over the stadium loudspeaker.
LeRoy Hughes was one of the few fathers who had the opportunity to see his daughter receive her first kiss and her marriage proposal. In fact, there were over 1,000 of us who saw that first kiss, since it was given to her by Brent Swearingen when Leigh was crowned Lamar High School Basketball Homecoming Queen in February 1993. Two years later, Leigh's boyfriend, Doug Kirkpatrick proposed to her in front of a homecoming basketball crowd, since he knew how much that first kiss, my story about it and the overwhelmingly positive reaction she received from it (after she got over the initial embarrassment) meant to her. The two were married in June 1997, (a wedding which I covered for one of the last issues of The Lamar Press.)
I just finished rereading the 49 columns Nancy wrote for The Press. Sometimes she had me laughing, and there was almost never a time when I didn't feel my face curling into a smile. From what I read in those columns and what was obvious when Nancy and LeRoy were together, I don't know if I have ever seen two people who still so obviously enjoyed each other's company after three decades of marriage.
What a wonderful example to pass on to their children and grandchildren.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Globe reporters angered by Nodler editorial

At most newspapers, from time to time the editorial page content differs from what is seen on the news pages.
Very seldom does the editorial page undercut the editors and reporters of a newspaper as blatantly as The Joplin Globe did this week with its editorial on Gary Nodler's confrontation with a 20-year-old caregiver at a local movie theater.
It was the Globe that first brought the matter to the public's attention in a page-one story by written by investigative reporter Max McCoy, and kept it alive with follow-up reports. The issue obviously resonated with the public, considering all of the letters to the editor and comments on the Globe's website.
Then the Globe editorial board entered the picture and said it was not a story after all. It was just a he said/she said situation.
As you can imagine, Globe reporters are angered about this and some of them believe that the editorial was spoon-fed to the Globe editorial page editor by Gary Nodler and his supporters. Consider some of what was put in the editorial:

"It would be informative if he were to confirm Nodler’s contention that others in the theater asked for refunds because of the noise level." This indicates that the Globe editorial board is 100 percent certain that Nodler's version of the story is the complete truth.

"Legislative members of both parties voted for reducing Medicaid to bring under control the spending that threatened to take ever-larger chunks out of a resource-limited state budget," the editorial said. That appears to some Globe reporters to come directly from the Nodler camp since it would have only taken a few minutes for editorial writer to double check his facts. Though some are trying to show that in preliminary votes, Democrats also voted for the Medicaid cuts, the simple fact is the cuts were made totally on a party-line vote. Not one Democrat voted yes.

Morale is low at the Globe, as you can imagine. Editors and reporters have been shown that there are sacred cows that cannot be written about truthfully and Sen. Gary Nodler is one of them.
Now they are wondering who else is on that list.

Preliminary hearing set for Jobst

A Nov. 4 preliminary hearing has been scheduled in McDonald County Circuit Court for Grove family dentist Karl Jobst, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the June 14, 2003, accident in which his girlfriend, Helen Chandler, was killed. Authorities believe Jobst was driving while intoxicated.
The court date is set for less than three weeks after a federal lawsuit filed by AllState Insurance against Jobst concerning this incident is scheduled to go to trial in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Jobst is a former Lamar resident.

Friday, August 19, 2005

DNR issues demand letter against RES

If Renewable Environmental Solutions (RES) does not solve its odor problem in Carthage by Sept. 5, its violations will be reported to the Missouri Air Conservation Commission.
Carthage residents are getting a bit tired of the hand-slapping being done by the DNR. Despite putting an office in Carthage and repeatedly earning headlines with its threats against the company, the odor remains and the only win Carthage residents had was that the company shut down its odor-creating apparatus for the Carthage Senior High School graduation and the annual Fourth of July Celebration.
The DNR press release says the company has been issued five Notices of Excess Emissions, with the first coming on March 31, followed by notices on April 15, April 20, June 10 and July 22. And remember, these notices came months after the odor problem began and only after the DNR consistently said it could not find anything wrong. The notices were not issued until Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt took an active interest in April and passed along his concerns to his son, Governor Matt Blunt.
According to today's news release, "The demand letter offers RES an opportunity to discuss and negotiate an acceptable and reasonable resolution.The department documented the excess emissions during its ongoing investigation into odor complaints in the area surrounding the Carthage Industrial Bottoms. The department upgraded the five Notices of Excess Emissions to Notices of Violations after RES's documentation failed to justify the excess emissions.If the department and RES are unable to reach agreement or schedule a meeting by Sept. 5, 2005, negotiations will cease and the department will place the matter before the Missouri Air Conservation Commission. At that meeting, the department's Air Pollution Control Program will request authorization to refer RES's unresolved violations to the Attorney General's Office for appropriate legal action."
I suppose it's better years late than never.

Beverly considers second buyout bid

Just two days after it announced it was being bought out for $1.9 billion by North American Senior Care, Inc., Beverly Enterprises, which at one time owned nursing homes across southwest Missouri and still owns one in Anderson, said today it is entertaining another offer.
Arkansas Business says the company is considering a new officer from Formation Capital LLC, the company that attempted a hostile takeover of Beverly earlier this year. The company is offering $12.90 per share, 10 cents per share higher than what North American is offering, the Arkansas Business article said. The North American deal was not scheduled to go into effect until Aug. 23.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Joplin Globe shows hypocrisy in Nodler editorial

In Friday's Joplin Globe, the newspaper's editorial board, an august group of thumbsuckers if ever one existed, says too much has been made of Sen. Gary Nodler's theater meltdown and that it was just a he said/she said situation.
First, a history lesson. We would not even know about Nodler's rude treatment of a 20-year-old caregiver and remarks about developmentally disabled adults and the caregiver's use of the F-word had it not been for the Globe splashing it across page one.
Part of the reason this story has continued to simmer long after the incident is that quotes from reader comments have remained on the homepage of the Globe's website. Plus, the newspaper has printed follow-up stories.

This is that the Globe editorial writer has penned for tomorrow's edition:

The "incident" has sparked letters, e-mails and telephone calls, mostly from people who are upset with state Sen. Gary Nodler’s handling of what might be best described as a run-in over the noise being made by a group of disabled people in a Joplin theater. What should have been nothing more than a brief vocal exchange between Nodler and a caregiver, Amanda Richardson, for the five disabled clients attending the movie has escalated into a political circus, with critics suggesting that the senator’s comments about the group making too much noise and the appropriateness of people who are disruptive to attend a movie somehow comport with cutting Medicaid and the plight of those with disabilities.
This isn't a Republican and Democrat or liberal and conservative issue or about Medicaid cuts made by the state, although there are many who would like to make it so. Legislative members of both parties voted for reducing Medicaid to bring under control the spending that threatened to take ever-larger chunks out of a resource-limited state budget. The fact that a caregiver thought that Nodler was disrespectful to her clients with his comment about the noise to his brother as they were leaving the theater simply was that person’s opinion. The senator says that the caregiver was rude and used the "f-word" toward him and that he informed the theater manager of the incident involving the alleged obscenity. He did not, he says, request that the group be asked to leave.
Unfortunately, the theater manager has remained quiet. It would be informative if he were to confirm Nodler’s contention that others in the theater asked for refunds because of the noise level. This is a "he-said, she-said" issue that has taken on an undeserving life of its own. It never should have happened and it never should have gotten beyond an "I’m sorry for the misunderstanding" early on.
***

Now, of course there is allegedly a church-state type separation between a newspaper's reporting staff and its editorial board. That may fly with The New York Times. It does not fly with The Joplin Globe.
"The fact that a caregiver thought that Nodler was disrespectful to her clients with his comment about the noise to his brother as they were leaving the theater simply was that person’s opinion." If that's the way the Globe's editors believe, then why was this story written in the first place?
And the Globe's editorial board is dead wrong about this issue not being connected with the Medicare cuts. Both seem to show a disregard for people who do not have the lofty station that Sen. Nodler has reached.
If this story was so unimportant then why did the Globe follow up on Springfield blogger Ron Davis' initial report (later confirmed by Associated Press) on Nodler receiving free movie tickets. It appears that Nodler's powerful friends have exerted some political pressure on The Joplin Globe. The editorial was a slap in the face to the caregiver, the disabled, and to the Joplin Globe reporters who uncovered a very revealing story about one of the most powerful men in the Missouri Senate.
Fortunately, this story appears to have a life of its own and nothing that the cowards who make up the Globe's editorial board do can make it disappear.

ConAgra agrees to pay fine

ConAgra, the driving force behind Renewable Environmental Solutions, the company that has made people hold their noses in Carthage for more than a year, has agreed to plead guilty in U. S. District Court of the District of Minnesota to violating the Clean Water act at its food ingredient and flour mill in Hastings, Minn., according to a news release from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The company will pay a $138,513 criminal fine and $1,487 in restitution to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and provide $55,000 in community service to the National Park Foundation and $55,000 in community service to Friends of the Mississippi River
ConAgra officials admitted they negligently failed to report and maintain proper documentation of discharge water temperature readings as required by its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit, according to the EPA.
Those readings were higher than what was allowed according to the company's permit. The company logged the readings, but never gave them to pollution authorities, the EPA said.

Abramovitz featured in Monett Times article

Longtime East Newton teacher Teresa Abramovitz, who is the new principal at Central Elementary School in Pierce City, is profiled in today's Monett Times. You can find the article at:
http://www.monett-times.com/NF/omf/monett/news_story.html?[rkey=0020005+[cr=gdn

Nixon considers challenging Blunt

At a time when the late Richard M. Nixon might be able to beat Matt Blunt, another non-related Nixon, Attorney General Jay Nixon, is considering mounting a challenge against Blunt in 2008, according to an article in today's Springfield News-Leader. You can find the article at:
http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050818/BREAKING01/50818001

Alaniz covers vice president's visit

As I have written before, I like it when TV reporters are able to take the time to talk about their jobs, not necessarily about how tough they have it, but in a way that gives the viewers some insight into the story.
KSN anchor Tiffany Alaniz, covered Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Springfield today. The visit wasn't too exciting (we are talking Dick Cheney here), but I was interested in Ms. Alaniz' conversation with 5 p.m. co-host Gary Bandy about the security at the visit. Since this is the kind of thing that any viewer would run into while attending a visit by the president or vice president, it is useful information.
I also appreciate KSN's wisdom in putting Ms. Alaniz out in the field, especially on a hard news story.
I wasn't that thrilled by the Mariah Carey/Eminem conversation that followed. Oh, well, one step forward, two steps back.

Brother's letter ratchets up Nodler firestorm

The reactions to a letter written to The Joplin Globe by Charles Nodler defending his brother's movie meltdown has provoked an avalanche of response, nearly all Nodler negative. Remaining quiet would have been a wiser option for both Nodlers. You can find the letter and the responses at:
http://www.joplinglobe.com/story.php?story_id=201770&c=96

McBride competent to stand trial

Webb City businessman Keith Erwin McBride pleaded not guilty today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on a federal arson charge. McBride is charged in connection with the April 14 fire that destroyed his business Coin-Op at 302 W. 4th, Webb City.
The issue of whether he was competent to stand trial was removed from the table by the defense, according to court records. McBride was released on bond.

Jury finds in favor of Joplin police officer

It only took a little over two hours for a federal jury to find in favor of Joplin Police Officer James Kelly Wednesday in a lawsuit brought by a man who says Kelly violated his rights during an arrest four years ago.
It would have been a shot in the arm for the beleaguered Joplin Police Department, which is still reeling from a civil rights investigation into two officers' interrogation and handcuffing of an 11-year-old at a Joplin elementary school. The emphasis is on "would have" since The Turner Report has been the only source for information on this lawsuit.
Today's proceedings began with testimony from Kelly, followed by testimony from officers Carl Francis and Greg Batson, who backed Kelly's version of what happened the night Kelly went into the home of James Keener to arrest him after he failed to stop after Kelly turned on his emergency lights.
At the close of all evidence, the defense again made a motion for a directed verdict, which was again denied by Judge Richard E. Dorr. After closing arguments, the case went to the jury, which found in favor of Kelly.
More information about the case can be found in the Aug. 17 Turner Report at:
http://rturner229.blogspot.com/2005/08/motion-for-directed-verdict-in-joplin.html

Pierik back on KOAM Morning News

One of the risks Nexstar Broadcasting took when it pulled KSNF and KODE off local cable outlets is that people would sample the competition and find out they like it.
I had not watched the KOAM morning show since the concept was first introduced to the area by Toby Cook in the early '90s. I had grown accustomed to watching first, Gary Bandy and Tiffany Alaniz on KSN and later Alan Matthews and Malorie Maddox on KODE.
Once I had to put up an antenna to watch KSNF and KODE, I tried KOAM's Morning Show with Sarah Pierik and Dave Pylant and found it to be a genuine treat.
I know I am going to hear the news and weather done professionally (and there have been days especially when the anchors were starting on the other morning programs that the words were mangled and mumbled). Miss Pierik gives the appearance (and I am willing to bet it is an accurate appearance) of someone who does an incredible amount of preparation each day. She speaks clearly and pronounces words correctly. How in the world KOAM has managed to keep her on the morning show for so long I have no idea.
I also do not have to worry about the news being overshadowed by remotes at places that I don't find remotely interesting, or read in the middle of a pep rally at some local high school.
That was why I was so disappointed when the school year started Monday. I had to start getting up early again and there was no Sarah Pierik on the morning news. Anne Bassett and Lisa Olliges were doing a fine job, but listening to Miss Pierik read the news was one of the few things that made me look forward to having to get up at 5 a.m. (And I appreciate the job Pylant does with the weather, also.)
She was back on the air today, so until she is snatched up by some larger station, all is right in the morning once again.

Nursing home company sells

Beverly Enterprises, which once had nursing homes throughout southwest Missouri and still has one in Anderson, entered a merger agreement with North American Senior Care, according to a news release issued Wednesday. The deal was worth $1.9 billion.
Beverly is based in Fort Smith, Ark.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Motion for directed verdict in Joplin Police trial denied

The lawsuit against Joplin police officer James Kelly continued today after U. S. District Court Judge Richard E. Dorr denied a defense motion for a directed verdict at the end of the plaintiff's case.
Kelly is being sued by James Keener, who says the officer violated his civil rights during a drunk driving arrest on April 1, 2000.
According to court records, Keener was driving at 30th and Main on that date when "a Joplin police officer began following (him) without (his) knowledge." Keener drove the remaining two and a half blocks to his home, pulled into the driveway and parked his car in the carport. He turned off the car and went into his house through the rear door.Shortly afterward, Officer Kelly "entered the residence and began assaulting plaintiff." It wasn't long before other officers arrived and joined in, the complaint said. The other officers are listed as "John Does" in the complaint. The Joplin Police Department was initially listed in the complaint but the judge dismissed the department as a defendant.Keener was sprayed with Mace "injuring his face and eyes and damaging the carpeting in (his) residence so that it had to be replaced."The door to Keener's house was also damaged, the complaint said, as well as a personal computer, glassware and other personal property. The police had no arrest warrant and no search warrant, facts which have been stipulated by both sides.
After Keener was subdued, he was handcuffed and taken to the Municipal Jail, where he was placed in a cell "with no running water or toilet facilities for a period of over eight-and-one-half hours while his wife tried to post a bail bond for him," according to the complaint.
Keener says the officers' actions were a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and "unlawful and unreasonable use of force incident to an arrest."Keener is asking for compensation for his injuries and for his "emotional distress," damages for his property and punitive damages.
In his response, Kelly said he began following Keener because of his "erratic driving" and was using his emergency lights. "Plaintiff failed and refused to stop." Any injuries Keener suffered, the response said, "were brought on by plaintiff's resisting arrest, becoming combative and his drunken condition."An exhibit list filed today by the defense indicates evidence presented will include the DWI ticket, an April 1, 2000 mug shot of Keener, his Missouri and Kansas rap sheets, the use of force report, the alcohol influence report and the dispatch log.
According to court documents, Keener denied committing any traffic violations and disputed Kelly's claim that he activated his emergency lights before Keener was in his home.
Keener claims Kelly violated his Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search or seizure while Kelly claims he had every right to enter the home and arrest Keener due to the doctrine of fresh pursuit, which previous court rulings say is permitted following traffic violations and previous rulings that have said suspects may not avoid an arrest by retreating to a private place.

Technicality gives baby killer shot at freedom

The system failed Trey Crawford during the five months he spent on his earth.
Now it appears it is failing him even after his death.
Twice during his brief life, Trey had to be taken to the emergency room, once for bruising, and another time for a fractured skull. Finally, his father, Justin Sardeson, the man who should have been protecting him, rolled over on the baby, suffocating him. News accounts of Sardeson's trial indicated the earlier incidents were never investigated...until after Trey Crawford was dead.
Webster County Prosecuting Attorney Cynthia Black charged Sardeson with first degree murder. The trial was held in March 2004 in Dallas County on a change of venue. The jury found Sardeson guilty of the lesser crime of second degree murder and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
At the time of Sardeson's conviction, Ms. Black wrote, "As a result of Trey's death, I challenge all agencies to educate and train their people about protecting children. It is not enough to look back and say Trey Crawford fell through the cracks. We must take action."
Unfortunately, the most recent action in the case was taken today by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals which tossed out Sardeson's conviction and sent the case back to Dallas County for a new trial...because prospective jurors were seated according to age instead of at random.
In its opinion, the appellate panel said its job was to determine whether that "jury selection process was a substantial failure to comply" with the law.
"We find that it was and are forced to reverse and remand for a new trial."
The circuit clerk's error in seating the jury was not discovered until after the trial, according to the opinion, even though Ms. Black had told the judge it appeared the prospective jurors were seated according to age.
"The clerk assured the trial court that the jury panel was not seated by age, that it was indeed a random selection. Admirably, the prosecuting attorney pressed the issue a second time because she was 'afraid that the court of appeals is going to look at this and say any idiot would have seen that they were seated from oldest to youngest" prior to trial, but was again assured that the jury panel was randomly seated." So the trial started. The defense attorney did not know until after the trial when it was discovered that the jury panel was indeed seated by age, thanks to the computerized list used by the circuit clerk.
The lawyers had already exercised their challenges to potential jurors well before the pool got anywhere near jurors who were close to Sardeson's 22 years. The jury panel that was seated ranged from 44 to 72 years old, according to the opinion.
"Such a practice defeats the very purpose of the jury selection process," the opinion said. "A system has been established by statute that provides, insofar as is practical, for a random selection of jurors from a cross-section of the community and from various locations in the county."

McBride indicted on arson charge

Webb City businessman Keith McBride, 51, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Springfield on an arson charge today, according to U. S. Attorney Todd P. Graves.
McBride was the owner of the Coin-Op business, 302 W. 4th Street, Webb City, which he allegedly burned to the ground April 14, the same morning he also allegedly burned his home in Duenweg to the ground.
According to the affidavit filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, several firefighters were injured while working to extinguish the fire and had to be transported to a local hospital and treated for burns and other injuries.
McBride was arrested later in the day following a stand-off at a warehouse that lasted for several hours. According to the affidavit, McBride had a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol and threatened to kill himself. He claims he did not do so because the gun failed to work. Eventually, the police used tear gas and McBride surrendered.
The indictment was filed after McBride underwent a psychiatric examination in Springfield.

News-Leader investigates lobbyists' influence

The influence of lobbyists on southwest Missouri legislators is explored in an article in today's Springfield News-Leader. As you might expect, first and foremost among those profiled is Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin. And for the first time, a media outlet other than The Turner Report makes note of gifts Hunter has received from casino lobbyists.
The only fault I can find with the article is that it does not get into one of the more insidious ways that lobbyists can give gifts that are not put on the disclosure forms that are filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. All they have to do is to make campaign contributions to the legislators, where their lobbyist jobs are usually disguised as something else, a practice I have been detailing on this blog for the past several months.
The article also notes that the legislators do receive expense money which is designed to cover the cost of meals.
You can find the article at:
http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050817/NEWS01/508170354/1095

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Charles Nodler gives version of theater incident

In the Wednesday Joplin Globe's letters to the editor section, Charles Nodler gives his version of the July 22 confrontation between his brother, Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, and a 20-year-old caregiver at the Northstar Theater in Joplin. Nodler writes:

"I rarely write any opinion letters, I am responding to Max McCoy's recent article that sought my comments. I will give my recollection of this event. My brother (Missouri state Sen. Gary Nodler) and I went to a movie on my day off from work. We arrived just before the start of the movie.
"During the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film, there were continuous noise and distractions from the back of the theater. It was too loud to permit us to hear and enjoy the film. At this point, my brother said, 'Do you want to stay or leave?' I said I wanted to leave because I wasn't able to enjoy the film. There was a woman near the opposite door as we left the theater, my brother said to me that the noise was too loud.
"The young woman said, 'You should have either more compassion or consideration for these people.'
"My brother then said, 'Excuse me? It has nothing to do with compassion. The noise was preventing other people from being able to watch the film.'
"During this short exchange, the young woman used profanity, at which point we left. When we got to the lobby, a group of other patrons from the same film were asking for refunds. My brother confirmed to the manager that there was noise in the theater and that one person was using foul language. The manager asked him to point this person out. We did, and the manager then said he would monitor the film and if any more distractions occurred, the group would have to leave.
"When we exchanged our tickets, the cashier said that she had exchanged several for this movie. I was never contacted by anyone since the event happened to ask my recollections, even though I was the only witness to the entire event."

Judge Dorr kicks Lindstedt lawsuit again

Accused child molester Martin Lindstedt lost again in federal court today.
For the umpteenth time, U. S. District Court Judge Richard Dorr said no to Lindstedt's lawsuit against Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. Lindstedt's motion for reconsideration "raises no new arguments or legal theories which have not been or could not have been raised at an earlier time," Dorr wrote. "Moreover, the motion does not introduce new evidence."
Dorr was far kinder considering the waste of time and money Lindstedt has been to the taxpayers. The perennial candidate, who has run for every office from U. S. Senator to dogcatcher, is currently staying in the Newton County Jail awaiting trial on felony statutory sodomy charges. Newton County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Selby also slapped him with 660 days in jail for contempt of court.
All through this, the avowed racist and alleged minister has continued his quixotic lawsuit against Blunt, whom he claims wrongfully kept him from using his nickname Martin "Mad Dog" Lindstedt on the ballot when he ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2004. Blunt was Missouri secretary of state and was also running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination at the time. Lindstedt also said Blunt violated his rights when he refused to put a link to Lindstedt's garbage-filled website (a site which features one hateful, racist comment after another) on the Missouri secretary of state's website.
When he initially filed his lawsuit, Lindstedt asked that Blunt be forced to use the nickname Matt "Runt" Blunt on the November 2004 ballot. For some reason, the judge did not go along with this idea.
After Lindstedt's initial lawsuit was tossed out, he has tried multiple times to get the judge to overturn the decision, but he has not been exactly the sole of discretion in his efforts nor has he remained peaceful during his all-expenses paid stay in Newton County facilities.
In a letter last month to Neosho Forums, www.neoshoforums.com, Lindstedt said the actions taken against him by Newton County officials have made the county "a prime target for biological warfare."He also says, ".Â… "I don't build bombs. I build bombers. Not just one or two bombers. And not armed with just one little truck bomb. I build bombers who know how to make their own biological weaponry and who do not get caught."

Nevada school district responds to lawsuit

In a response filed earlier today, Nevada R-5 School District officials denied they wrongfully fired teacher Lisa Hubler and just about everything else she claimed in her lawsuit filed last month in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
The school officials denied they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against her because she suffers from depression.
According to Ms. Hubler's lawsuit, she was hired by R-5 Superintendent Ted Davis on April 14, 2000. to teach first grade students in the district's Reading Recovery program. Previously, she taught fourth grade for 10 years in the North Kansas City School District.
From Oct. 9 to Oct. 20, 2000, the lawsuit said, Ms. Hubler was given two weeks of paid sick leave to deal with the onset of depression symptoms. The school offered her a reduced work schedule for three weeks after her leave, then she returned to working full time.
On Feb. 20, 2001, the lawsuit said, the principal, Debbie Spaur, and director of special services Geraldine Johnson "confronted plaintiff with allegations that she had abused her sick leave in October of 2000." Ms. Hubler was told that her trainer from Southeast Missouri State University Carrie Kleinsorge had reported that Ms. Hubler was not doing well in the reading recovery program. "Plaintiff was told that there was concern about her medical condition and her ability to do the job.
"At the end of that meeting, Ms. Hubler was told she needed to decide whether she wanted to continue at Bryan Elementary. "The implication was clear that Principal Spaur and Director Johnson wanted her to resign. She asked if she was being told to quit." She was told it was up to her and that if she stayed job target goals would be set for her.
The next day, Ms. Hudler called Ms. Kleinsorge who told her that she was doing fine and expressed surprise about what the school officials said.
Ms. Hudler then spoke with the superintendent who told her her absences had "hurt her chances for a contract renewal.
"The principal had also told Ms. Hudler there had been a parent complaint about her, according to the lawsuit. After talking with the parent, she said, it became apparent that was not the case.
On March 2, 2001, Ms. Hudler's psychologist prepared a request for medical leave for the rest of the school year. Ms. Hudler's husband told school officials she could return to work with proper accommodations and that she could not work due to the hostile work relations with the principal and Ms. Kleinsorge.
On April 12, 2001, Ms. Hudler received a letter telling her her contract would not be renewed.Ms. Hudler claims that she was discriminated against because of her disability and that her civil rights were violated. She is asking for lost income, benefits, interest, and costs.

Tire jack killing trial moved to Cedar County

The first degree murder trial of Jim Edward Ryan, 42, Lamar, charged with the May 25 tire iron slaying of his brother-in-law Jim John Kullie in Lamar Heights, will be moved to Cedar County. The decision was made during a hearing before Judge James Bickel Monday in Barton County Circuit Court.
The trial has been scheduled for March 14-17, 2006.

What's new? Second quarter profits up at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart reported a 5.8 percent increase in second quarter profit, according to Arkansas Business News. Net income was $2.8 billion, compared to $2.7 billion during the second quarter last year.
The company disappointed analysts by anticipating lower-than-expected earnings during the third quarter, the article said.