Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vonder Haar receives top honor

Washington Missourian reporter Craig Vonder Haar, a Missouri Southern State University graduate has received recognition from the Prestigious National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. The following article is reprinted from the Missourian:

The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters
Association has once again cast its spotlight on The

Craig Vonder Haar of The Missourian has been named
the 2005 Missouri Sportswriter of the Year by the organization.

Vonder Haar, a graduate of Pacific High School and Missouri Southern
State University in Joplin, has been with The Missourian since
September of 1996. He has been nominated for the NSSA award before.
This is the first time he has won the award.

Craig beat out an all-star lineup for this year’s award. Others on the
ballot included St. Louis Post-Dispatch writers
Bernie Miklasz and Jim Thomas and Kansas City Star
writer Joe Posnanski.

Vonder Haar will go to Salisbury, N.C., April 29-May 1 to attend the
47th Annual Awards Program. NSSA is headquartered in Salisbury, N.C.,
with its hall of fame in the city.

This is the second year in a row that The Missourian
has captured the top prize for sportswriters as awarded by NSSA. Last
year, Missourian Sports Editor Bill Battle received
the top award.

Vonder Haar is being honored with Frank Cusamano of KSDK Channel 5
from Missouri. Cusamano is the sportscaster of the year from Missouri.

National award winners are Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated and Jim
Nantz of CBS Sports. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame this year
are Phil Rizzuto of the New York Yankees Network and W.O. McGeehan of
the New York Herald-Tribune.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Globe releases documents on Ward firing

The Joplin Globe continued its role of rock-solid journalism, publishing documents on its website pertaining to the firing of former Joplin police officer Charles Ward.
This may be the first time the Globe has really taken advantage of the internet to break a story. Of course, the story is getting a little moldy, but there is still plenty of interest among the public.

Article explores Andrew Blunt's lobbying techniques

Andrew Blunt says he does not lobby his brother, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, but as this St. Louis Business Journal article suggests there are ways of getting around that.
The article also says some lobbyists are perturbed at how the inexperienced Blunt reached the top of the lobbying game because of his family connections.
The only question not raised by the article was "If you think Andrew Blunt is exploiting his family connections, how do you think Matt Blunt became governor?

Daily provides addition, not alternative

As the Joplin Globe's Sunday edition proved, if the venerable newspaper is at the top of its game (and the Globe was close, though not quite there), the Daily may have to settle for a niche as a feel-good addition, an extra read for those who still enjoy the Sunday newspaper habit.
The latest print edition of the Daily (which I picked up at the 15th Street Wal-Mart, since once again my area of town was not selected for delivery) was a pleasant read, but nothing really stood out.
The sports pages were down to a more realistic three and the writing and photos were serviceable.
The non-sports coverage, on the other hand, was professionally done, but nothing that would really have people talking around the water cooler today.
I would guess that traffic is increasing for the Daily's website and that was the stated goal in the first place. The website has broken some stories, including being the first, by one hour, to release the unfortunate information that International Paper in Joplin was going to close costing 48 people their jobs. The Turner Report had the item second, posting an hour later when I had my lunch break, while the Globe was three hours behind the Daily, an eternity in these days of up-to-date information.

A return to the Sunday Globe of old

Sunday's paper was a welcome change of pace for the Joplin Globe. As I have written before, at one time readers could expect some in-depth local reporting in the Sunday newspaper. Sadly, that has not been the case for a long time.
Sunday was a return to the Globe of old. The edition featured the beginning of an investigative series by Max McCoy on meth in the area. It also included a welcome return to page one from Andy Ostmeyer, an editor/reporter whose talents have been sorely misused for years (i.e. the regular Wal-Mart watch column). Ostmeyer took a detailed look at the proposed sale of MOHELA to Sallie Mae (though Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, insists that no buyer has been chosen yet). Ostmeyer has been the only local reporter to examine the money trail between Sallie Mae and Missouri Governor Matt Blunt and his father, Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt. Though area print and broadcast media have noted that there is a possibility that the sale could drive up the cost of student loans (though MSSU does not participate in the program as University President Dr. Julio Leon was quick to note), that view has been hidden behind the possibility of a brand new sciences building for the university.
Another article noted that the city of Joplin has still not released what the punishment was in the case of the two police officers involved in the arrest of an 11-year-old boy at a Joplin elementary school. Some of the readers who responded to the article on the Globe website accused the newspaper of overdoing this story. While I disagreed with some of the methods used by the paper in its search for the information, the information should have been made public a long time ago. Stopping the pursuit of the facts is extending an invitation to city officials to do it again.

Storch bill would curb gifts from lobbyists

A bill filed by Rep. Rachel Storch, D-St. Louis, would limit gifts from lobbyists to Missouri legislators, according to an article in this morning's St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
I would suggest we go even further. Why set a limit at $50 for lobbyist gifts. Can anyone give me a good reason why legislators should accept any gifts at all from these people. Stopping the gift gravy train would do nothing to prevent lobbyists from coming to legislators' offices and making their case.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Executive pensions on the rise, while workers are left behind

A Los Angeles Times investigation shows that at a time when companies across the United States are eliminating employee pension plans, they are offering bigger and bigger pensions for their executives. As usual, they point to two lame reasons: They have to do it so someone else won't hire them away, and everybody else is doing it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hearing set in former principal's lawsuit

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, in former Seneca Elementary Principal Ann Laudwig's breach-of-contract suit against the R-7 School District.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 30 in Newton County Circuit Court.

Andrew Blunt completes perfect year

Talk about your perfect lobbyist.
Andrew Blunt, baby brother of Missouri's governor, did not buy any meals or gifts for legislators during 2005, according to disclosure forms filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Of course, if you are the governor's brother, you don't have to spend much. The doors are open for you and your calls are going to be returned. Blunt filed 12 consecutive no-expenditure reports during 2005.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Neosho man charged with manslaughter

A Neosho man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after an auto accident Thursday in which his father was killed and his son was injured.
According to Newton County Circuit Court records, Darren Prater, 33, was allegedly driving intoxicated 9:10 p.m. Thursday when his northbound 1977 Lincoln ran off the road at Old Scenic Drive four miles north of Neosho. The car ran off the road and overturned. Sammy Prater, 55, was dead at the scene, according to Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges, and Hayden Prater, 10, was taken to Freeman West in Joplin for treatment of moderate injuries.
Darren Prater has also been charged with assault in the second degree in connection with his son's injury.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cable One violation no longer 'egregious'

Cable One has paid the $20,000 fine it received from the Federal Communications Commission after that body ruled that the company illegally aired a Tulsa NBC station in Miami, Okla., after Nexstar Broadcasting's NBC affilite KSNF was pulled from the air at the end of 2004 during the retransmission dispute.
Though the payment brings to an end to the situation, the FCC ruled Wednesday that it no longer considers the violation to be an "egregious" one.

IP to close Joplin poleyard; 48 will lose jobs

International Paper officials announced this morning they will close the Joplin poleyard, causing 48 people to lose their jobs, according to an article in the Shreveport, La. Times. The company is also closing two poleyards in Louisiana, eliminating 23 workers.
The closures will take place at the end of March, according to the article.

Two more voices silenced

Teachers who incorporate technology into their lesson plans will be the first to tell you that the students are often light years ahead of them when it comes to these wondrous new advancements.
When I was at The Carthage Press in the late 1990s, it was my young reporters who introduced me to the marvels of the internet. Not wanting to admit that I didn't know anything about it, I waited until one night when everyone had left the Press building, then figured out (after a number of failed efforts) how to get on the world wide web and how to use it. That night, I found information for three stories that wound up on page one of the next day's Press.
I thought this new technological marvel was going to supply me with an endless stream of stories (and so it has), but what I failed to take into consideration was that those stories had been out there for a long time and I quickly found that you didn't come up with three page-one stories every day.
Though I quickly picked up on the research possibilities of the internet, I was still far behind when it came to some of its other aspects. That was driven home to me during my last year teaching in the Diamond R-4 School District.
I had a number of talented students in my writing and reading classes and I suggested to two of my top eighth graders that they should keep a diary or journal of their high school years. With the enthusiasm of the young, they did not wait until they reached ninth grade. They started their journals that week (maybe even that night, I don't recall) and they were eager to tell me what they had done.
I pictured them sitting at a desk at home, opening their notebooks and slavishly writing away. I soon discovered how far out of date I was. That was when my two students introduced me to the world of blogging.
Their blogs were quite a mixture in those days. Some of the posts were insightful, extremely well-written and exactly what I had envisioned when I first suggested the journal idea.
Some of them, of course, were more juvenile in nature, and every once in a while there would be a bit of language that would make me cringe, but in taking the step to write every day they were improving their writing skills and helping them in every one of their classes.
It did not take long for these blogs to come under the scrutiny of the school officials. The blogs did not contain anything libelous or anything that should have made them targets, even for superintendents attempting to foster the fiction that everyone in the school was operating on the same wavelength.
At the time, I was operating a website for the school called Wildcat Central. To encourage those two students and others who had started writing blogs (though most of those quickly fell by the wayside when the student realized just how much work was involved in keeping blogs updated) I provided links to the blogs on the Links page of my school-oriented website Wildcat Central.
I have told this story before, but it bears repeating. I received an e-mail from the superintendent telling me that he had some concerns about the links since the district had no control over what was put on those sites. (Even though Wildcat Central was my personal website and I had never been paid a cent for it by the school district.) In the e-mail, he said something to the effect (it's in the Wildcat Central archives) that he knew I might have some First Amendment concerns, but he felt the links should be removed. (Of course, it was never mentioned that the superintendent had no control over the content of any of the other websites to which I linked, either.)
To my everlasting regret, I immediately removed the links. Even though I did so the same day, the superintendent sent a letter to the board president five days later telling him about the links, which no longer existed, making it appear that the links were still there. I fired off a letter saying I did not appreciate that (again, the content of those e-mails is available in the Wildcat Central archives) and that I did not appreciate the methods that the superintendent had used.
Shortly after that, though it was already mid-summer and I had a signed contract for the next school year, the superintendent convinced the board that the district was in dire financial straits and had to eliminate two jobs, one of them, of course, being mine, using a state law that permits school boards to reduce workforce for budget reasons, though it does not require the board to justify those reasons. (In fact, an MSTA report issued last year shows that the Diamond R-4 School District had a $1.1 million surplus that year, plenty enough to retain me and the elementary counselor who also lost her job.)
Things worked out extremely well for me. If the superintendent and the Diamond R-4 Board of Education had not taken the actions they did, I would still be struggling to make ends meet on a Diamond teacher's salary; this blog would not exist (for obvious reasons) and I would never have had the ability to write and promote "Small Town News."
Yes, things worked out well for me. Unfortunately, my former students, those same eighth graders whose discussions inspired my novel, and whose enthusiasm helped lead to this blog, remained in that district and their blogs have remained a target to this day.
Yesterday, after three years, one of those blogs apparently was written for the last time.
As I surfed the net last night, I came across this post. I will keep the name out of it since that is what this young woman has attempted to do for the past few months:

"The simple fact that this bit of personal expression exists, seems to be causing a little trouble for me.

"To make things easier for everyone who has a problem, I'll just take the thing down for you.

"I apologize if ".ck." from the "United States" and the personal writings of ".ck." have cast an unflattering shadow on a certain school district that has never been and still remains be identified.

"There were posts made from the school's computers, but nothing negative about the school or its personnel was stated, nor anything personally identifying the author.

"Technology Use Agreement: On-line Safety and Electronic Mail:

"1. Students are prohibited from using district technology resources to send or to receive electronic mail unless authorized by the district. Student authorized to use electronic mail for a specific purpose must limit their use to only that purpose.

"Guilty here as charged; I received an email from the biology teacher concerning links to an on-line assignment. I also used my email account to email a draft of an essay for my college english class to myself, as I thought this was preferrable to using a floppy disc and potentially infecting the system with a virus.

"2. Student users are prohibited from sharing personal information about themselves or others over the Internet, unless authorized by the district.

"Alas--I go to school, live in a town that has a Gringo's, Subway, Wal-mart, hospital, and gym, and read Camus. Everyone who didn't know me, knows me now, thanks to the information I posted while at school.

"I disagree with the way the situation was handled, but for this past week I have had significantly larger things on my mind.

"Nothing I've done before, be it a blog or email has distracted from my education; I would go so far as to say it supplements it. Being in an online English class, a business tech class, and a heavily research-based dual credit biology class and being told I'm not allowed access to any technology, on the other hand, has been a bit of a distraction.

"At any rate, the point of the "blog" is to let a handful of friends that I don't always talk to about everything know how my life's going along, to remember things as they happen, and to sometimes get the input of the close friends. The privacy settings are as high as they can be--you can't find it by googling my real name or even the blog URL. My real name is not used, my location is nowhere to be found, and the photo that was up there for awhile was taken down just to be consistent with the anonymity.

"My apologies to the principal/teachers/system admin and whoever else I've inadvertently caused grief to.

"Hopefully, now, will stop checking in twice a day." (That is the IP address for a school adminisrator, by the way.)
CK's blog (and those are not her real initials) is not the only Diamond student blog that has been erased from existence. Another student, who had just started blogging, and who had not written anything that could remotely be considered offensive, has shut down her blog after being pressured by school officials and after having the same punishment, deprivation of the school's technology resources for a month.
While there may be other student blogs that were affected by this crackdown, I know of only three; two of them, two young voices that have attempted to say something, have been silenced.
I am sure that school officials will point to the numerous articles about the dangers of student blogging. And yes, there are dangers. According to articles in USA Today, the Washington Post, and other newspapers, there are teen bloggers, as young as 13 or 14, who are posting revealing photos of themselves for everyone on the Internet to see. Some are making libelous comments; spreading poisonous gossip, and revealing information that could make them targets for the insidious snakes who prowl the world wide web.
Don't let school officials tell you that's what this was about. Two of the three bloggers that I read have criticized the current school administration, though not recently. Usually, it was over the lack of challenging class offerings for intelligent students who want to make something of themselves. That would appear to be a topic that would be protected by the First Amendment. These young women were not only exercising their freedom of expression, but they were doing so in a responsible fashion.
Only one of those blogs remains intact, Michelle Nickolaisen's, which I wrote about earlier this week. No one is saying that these girls should not be punished if they violated the technology agreement, though that agreement appears to be written with such elasticity that it can mean anything the administration wants it to mean.
Depriving them of the means of keeping up with their class, when their sole offense appears to be that they have spoken and written critically about the administration in the past, appears to be an attempt by an insecure administrator to send the message "If you say anything bad about me, you will be crushed."
Students like Michelle Nickolaisen and the two whose blogs no longer exist should be cherished, not punished. These young women are writing and reading when other students are hypnotized by television and video games.
When some students' major concern is where the next party is going to be held, these are the students who are devouring 500-page books, praying for a school in which they can learn Latin and take other upper-level classes, and begging for a curriculum that will enable them to spread their wings and fly. These are all topics the girls have broached on their blogs.
Don't let this story be turned into school officials who are protecting children from the dangers of the Internet; that is not what this is about. Plain and simple; this is school officials who are protecting school officials from student dissent.
And these are the people who should be teaching our students about the values of living in a free society.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A few thoughts on recent blog comments

I didn't have much of an opportunity to look over the posts on this blog today, but after just reading through them, it appears we have some great discussions going. Allow me to make a few comments.
To elaborate on what I wrote earlier in a comment on the post about KODE reporter Dan Tordjman: I am not trying to make light of the job an assignment editor has, either in broadcast or print journalism, but the most important thing is not what the assignment is but making sure you have the right person there. After that, the reporter has to do the work, which is exactly what Dan Tordjman did with his interviews with fired Joplin police officer Charles Ward Tuesday.
I can think of dozens of times over my years with the Press and the Democrat when I assigned the right person to cover a story and the readers were rewarded with excellent reporting. The first example to come to mind was my former lifestyles editor at the Press, Amy Lamb. I have never been one of those who believed that lifestyles should be limited to stories about club gatherings and feel-good features. Two of Amy's best remembered stories, both of which I assigned to her, were her coverage of the execution of Richard Oxford, the man who murdered Harold and Melba Wampler of Jasper; and her detailed account of the preliminary hearing for Terry Cupp, the man who murdered eight-year-old Doug Ringler of Carthage. In both of those, Amy brought her prodigious feature-writing talents to stories that normally would have been covered by a courthouse reporter. Amy wrote her first story about a murder when she was in high school, working for me at the Lamar Democrat, when she followed up on an unsolved murder of a Jerico Springs liquor store. I made the assignments, but Amy was the one who did the work and she was the one who deserved the credit.
While a newspaper editor or a television assignment editor has to make choices in what is covered, to take away from the reporter's work would be like saying that firefighters and police officers don't deserve credit for the work they do because dispatchers tell them where to go.
I am heartened by the uproar over the elimination of the state capital reporting job at Missouri Southern State University's newspaper, The Chart. I am not sure The Turner Report has ever had a post that has elicited more comments.
And while I do appreciate the anonymous commenter who praised my reporting abilities in comparison to others who have emerged from MSSU, I cannot agree with his assessment of Neosho Daily News publisher Rick Rogers' forming a blog to address the current state of the Chart. I don't see it as an attempt to steal The Turner Report's thunder, but simply as an effort to restore his former college newspaper to its former glory. Obviously, from the responses from Rick, John Ford, and the others who have written in, there are a host of former Chart staff members who feel the same way. And I have never claimed to have a "scoop" with this story; it was passed along because this blog does regularly feature media criticism and, as far as I am concerned, this is a major local media story.
Besides, I have a feeling that the people would prefer this story be written about by as many sources as possible to increase the chances that some action will be taken to correct the problem.
I received one comment asking about a rumor that Asay Publishing is starting a business newspaper for Joplin. I have heard the same story, and the people I have heard it from have indicated that the new publication may feature Joplin Globe Editor Edgar Simpson's predecessor, Tom Murray, as the editor, and might have former Globe editor/reporter Gloria Turner involved, as well.

Schlup to be sentenced, but does not admit guilt

Barton County residents have waited two years for Kimberly Schlup to take responsibility for her actions.
It's not going to happen.
Ms. Schlup, 41, Deerfield, former chief finance officer at Barton County Memorial Hospital in Lamar, entered an Alford plea Tuesday in Cedar County Circuit Court in Stockton, meaning that she acknowledges that there was enough evidence to convict her, but she does not admit that she was guilty. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, March 27.
Ms. Schlup stole $77,735 from the hospital between 1999 and 2003.
She has waited two years for this case to come to a conclusion, but as I reported last August, Ms. Schlup has managed to keep busy. At that time, a reader sent me a web page, which featured Ms. Schlup attempting to interest people in something called Liberty League International. You've all heard of operations like Liberty League. Someone starts them and makes money from investors who are supposed to make money by enticing more people to join with the original founders continuing to get a percentage of each one.
As I wrote then, it didn't look right when Mr. Ponzi first introduced the scheme to the United States and it doesn't look right now.
Better Business Bureau does not come right out and call Liberty League a pyramid scheme, but it does everything but. According to the bureau's website, "This company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to a pattern of complaints. Specifically, complaints allege misrepresentation of the products or services offered by the company. Complaints also concern requests for refunds."
It's also a bad sign when the Bureau requests information from Liberty and it doesn't bother to respond. According to the bureau's report, "Prospective investors should carefully examine a multi-level sales program to be reasonably certain it is not a pyramid scheme which emphasizes recruitment of distributors rather than retail sale of the product."

McCorkle files as write-in candidate

Former Jasper Mayor Jim McCorkle, the subject of a protection order obtained by current Mayor John Rodebush, filed Tuesday as a write-in candidate for the Jasper City Council East Ward seat. McCorkle served as mayor between 1999 and 2001.
The full protection order, which is in place for six months, was issued Jan. 4 in Jasper County Circuit Court by Judge Steve Carlton. Rodebush claimed he had been harassed by McCorkle, who has been critical of Rodebush's actions as mayor.
The restraining order would not have any effect on McCorkle's ability to sit on the council since Carlton's order clearly differentiated between contact connected with Rodebush's governmental activities and what happens outside of City Hall.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tordjman lands big interview

Fired Joplin police officer Charles Ward was interviewed on camera by one reporter today as far as I can determine and that one reporter was KODE's Dan Tordjman. For a lot of viewers, it was the first time they could actually put a face on Ward, whose name has been a fixture in the media for the better part of a year.
Ward was allowed to present his side of the story, and while it was not particularly convincing, it made for compelling television. KSNF, KODE's sister station, of course, piggybacked on Tordjman's triumph, using KODE's footage during its 10 p.m. newscast. Of course, there have been many times when it has been KODE that has used KSNF footage. That's the problem when you have four local television stations, but only two news operations between them.
While I am still warming up to KODE's anchor team of Brian Hamman and Tara Brown (though I am beginning to see the wisdom of the choice of Hamman as Jimmy Siedlecki's replacement) KODE has a reporting staff that gets better all the time.
And tonight, that news team was at the top of its game.

Daily one-ups Globe on Ward coverage

The news was big for Joplin, and especially for the Joplin Globe, since it was the newspaper which pursued the story behind the handcuffing and arrest of an 11-year-old boy at a Joplin elementary school.
The Globe ran one story after another about the case, and also offered columns and editorials. Ironically, when it came to the final denouement, the Personnel Board's decision to uphold the firing of Officer Charles Ward, it was the Joplin Daily's government reporter, Michelle Pippin, who put the information out on the web first, striking in the wee hours this morning. She also had a more thorough account than that offered by the stodgier Globe.
The Globe bounced back this afternoon, sending out e-mails at 11:09 a.m. to readers who have signed up for the bulletin service. The decision was announced in four terse paragraphs followed by this sentence: "For more on this story see Wednesday’s edition of the Joplin Globe or go online at www.joplinglobe.com."
Those who went to the Globe's website to find out more actually found no additional information. In other words, Globe editors wasted their readers' time. In the meantime, Ms. Pippin's concise recap of the story appeared shortly after 2 p.m.
So in a brief assessment of the newspaper wars today.
-Globe sends out four-paragraph bulletin, tells readers to see complete story in Wednesday edition.
-Daily posts complete story at 2 p.m. approximately 10 hours before a complete version appears on the Globe website (if Globe editors follow their normal procedure), 18 hours or more before those who wait for the print edition get to read about what happened.
While it is understandable that the Globe wants to protect the sanctity of its print edition, the presence of the Daily should be forcing the Globe to go more in depth on its stories. Consider that not only did the Daily pound the Globe on this story, but before it hits the streets in the print edition of the Globe, it will have already aired on the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. local newscasts.
Speaking of the broadcast media, the three local stations acquitted themselves well in their coverage of the Ward announcement, with all three leading their 6 p.m. newscasts with the story. For once, it appeared that both KODE and KSNF assigned reporters to the same event, with KSN's Lauren Hieger and KODE's Dan Tordjman offering reports. Anne Bassett reported for KOAM.
The most telling quote I heard came in Ms. Hieger's report when she quoted Ward's characterization of the Personnel Board as civilians who did not understand why a police officer might need to use extra force.
Ward's comment was an insult to nearly all of his former co-workers at the Joplin Police Department. Not only do they not find it necessary to resort to force and the use of stun guns as much as Ward, but not one of them would ever violate every ethical canon of police work by participating in the interrogation of the 11-year-old who allegedly spit on Ward's son, as Ward did.

Plea hearing set In BCMH embezzling case

Thanks to "Dreamer" on the Lamarmo.com site for the information that a plea hearing is scheduled today in Cedar County Circuit Court in Stockton for former Barton County Memorial Hospital finance director Kimberly Schlup. The case had been set to go to trial tomorrow.
Ms. Schlup, 41, Deerfield, is charged with stealing more than $77,000 from the Lamar hospital.

Bankruptcy court judge approves O'Sullivan expenses

A federal bankruptcy court judge has approved a request from O'Sullivan Industries officials for up to $180,000 in expenses for financial institutions that might provide the beleaguered company with the money to bring it out of bankruptcy.
According to documents filed Monday in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia, company officials say the expenses are necessary so they can negotiate a $50 million credit facility that would enable O'Sullivan to emerge from bankruptcy in a few months.
The financial institutions with whom O'Sullivan is negotiating are requiring upfront expense money to come to conduct field/collateral audits, according to documents filed Friday.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A little more on sports coverage

As I anticipated, I have come under attack for my remarks on the sports coverage offered by the Joplin Daily. I will amend my remarks to say that the coverage is obviously better than that provided by the Joplin Globe, which is not saying much.
It is when I notice that the games from the smaller Joplin high schools are being covered by Daily staff sportswriters while most of the other Joplin R-8 coverage, other than high school varsity (I repeat, most) is "from staff reports."
I stand by my suggestion that more in-person coverage (and not just photos) of some of these sports, along with less in-person coverage and more "from staff reports" on the private schools, and even MSSU and Ozark Christian College, would benefit the paper in the long run. Those schools should all be covered and some in-person coverage should definitely take place, but the bread-and-butter of a Joplin-only newspaper should be the largest school in this town and the one to which taxpayer money is going.
One of the sports people from the Daily was quick to point out that six wrestling pictures were featured in the Sunday print edition. I haven't seen Sunday's paper. As I noted in my post yesterday, I have yet to receive one of the free papers.
And uhfortunately for the Daily, I am far from being alone in that regard.

This is the 2,000th post for The Turner Report

When I first started this blog, I wondered if there would be anything to write about. As it turns out, that has not been a problem and this post marks number 2,000. Actually, there have been more than that, but as those of you who read this blog during its early stages will recall, for a long time I did not have a separate headline for each post, electing to just use asterisks between them. That makes it hard to find some of the early posts on some major topics that we are still discussing.
I suppose I should reflect on what the major accomplishments of this blog have been. I don't know if there have been any, but here goes:
-Because of this blog, the traditional media have covered some stories that in the past would have remain uncovered, especially in the areas of courts and business.
-The blog has served as a place where print and broadcast media sources can be criticized and praised. Viewer feedback on those critiques has also provided a snapshot of how people feel about their local news sources.
-The Turner Report was emphasizing the devil's dance between lobbyists and lawmakers long before the Jack Abramoff scandal hit. Though the Joplin Globe and Springfield News-Leader have touched on the topic, these traditional news sources need to dig deeper. Hopefully, with the situation in Washington, we can begin examining the influence lobbyists have in Jefferson City, as well.
-Campaign contributions, including those given by lobbyists and other special interests have been a regular focus. They do not indicate necessarily that a politician is on the take, but armed with this kind of information voters can make more informed judgments on their elected officials.
-The business dealings of companies have been examined more closely than they would have been in the past. The primary example, of course, is the situation at O'Sullivan Industries in Lamar which has been covered extensively in this blog since million-dollar CEO Bob Parker and the Newell Rubbermaid cabal took the reins. The blog's focus has also been put on other companies including Nexstar Broadcasting, Leggett & Platt, La-Z-Boy, and Precious Moments that have a major impact on the area's economy.
-The blog has been able to focus attention on articles from newspapers and websites across the United States that pertain to this area.
-Personally, the blog has enabled me to be one of the few people who do investigative reporting as a hobby. I enjoyed it when I was doing it for a living, I still enjoy it, and newspapers and broadcast media need to be doing a lot more of it.
-I also have been able to keep my promise to my students that if they had to write everyday (and they do), that I would do the same.
-The Turner Report has also helped me make a profit from my novel, "Small Town News," and to make plans for writing a second book.
Some predictions for the future:
-I expect to continue chronicling the ongoing newspaper battle in Joplin, which will have another entrant in April when the Joplin/Tri-State Business Journal arrives on the scene.
-I have a few plans for more in-depth coverage of the broadcast media than I have done in the past.
-The blog will continue to explore the insidious effects of lobbyists and special interests on state and national politics.
-One last prediction: Taking into account the large staff of the Joplin Globe, the smaller, but hard-working staff of the Joplin Daily, the staff of the Business Journal, and that of any other news source that pops up in 2006...when all is said and done, The Turner Report will break as many big stories as any of them...and I will smile as those stories then appear in other media with no mention of the blog that originated them.
Thanks to the readers of the blog, which depending on which of the meters I use, have been ranging between 450 and 700 a day on weekdays for the past several weeks (it was around 35 to 50 as recently as December 2004).
Now I'm going to look for post number 2,001.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The evils of blogging

First, to correct the outlandish rumors that have been circulating in the Diamond area.
It is not true that a priest was called in to perform exorcisms on five Diamond High School students, even though apparently the administration in the R-4 School District must believe that anyone who blogs has been possessed by the devil (and considering the fun I have had at their expense, that belief might be understandable).
Last week, five students were called into the principal's office and charged with violating the district's technology policy. And, in fact, they did. Thank God, Superintendent Mark Mayo and the other school officials don't have lethal injection as one of the punishments at their disposal or it might be curtains for my former students, including Michelle Nickolaisen. They weren't looking at pornography; they weren't playing ultra-violent games; they weren't even indulging in on-line gambling (though from what I hear, gambling is not considered to be a sin by some of those in the administration).
Apparently, they were reading blogs, getting around the blocks set up by the district's technology coordinator. I doubt if The Turner Report was one of those blogs, though I am sure it was one of the reasons why the blocks were put in place.
Even worse, Michelle actually did some blogging.
On her blog, Victim of Reality, she detailed her conversation with the high school principal:

"Have you done anything that violates the technology user agreement?"
"Yeah, I used a website to go around the school blocks and look at some blogs, that in my opinion didn't contain any inappropriate for school material."
"Did you make any posts on your blog?"
*thought - oops, maybe this isn't all that simple*
"Yes, I did."
"Did you say anything bad about the school or its teachers?"
"How would you like it if someone said things like that about you?"
"I don't care."
"Well, Michelle, if you have a problem with this school or a teacher here, you should tell me about it rather than posting it on a website. You know that's defamation of character, right?"
"Saying bad things about someone?"
"Yes, that teacher - and I haven't told her - could sue if you she wanted. I'm not threatening to sue you, but in the real world[how I love it when they use that phrase] you could get hauled off in handcuffs for something like that. Does your mother know that you say things like this, and use profanity in your blog?"
"My mom reads my blog."
"Do you really think the class is that bad?"
"Yes, I do."
"Is it so bad as to be 'killing brain cells'?"
"Then you need to tell me about it instead of posting it behind her back. How would you feel if someone did that to you?"
"I don't care."
"Well someday you will! This isn't a bad school..."

When I read Michelle's account, I thought, "Wow, she must have said something really bad." So I read that post. I will admit what she said would probably not make the teacher happy, but opinion is protected by the First Amendment, something that the administration at Diamond seems to forget about. Also, while I am not thrilled with the word, I was unaware that "crap" is considered to be profanity. If she violated their rules, then she will have to take the punishment, no matter how asinine the rules are, but attempting to browbeat and threaten students by stretching the truth about their rights is unforgivable.

It also appears, though the principal denied it when she talked with Michelle's mother, according to the blog, that Michelle was warned about further critical blogging...even if she does it from home.

I do not know this principal; I do not want to know this principal. However, I do know Michelle Nickolaisen. She will not suffer fools or bullies and she tells the truth.

Long-time Chart tradition comes to an end

One of the things that has always set the Missouri Southern State University newspaper, The Chart, apart from other college and university newspapers, has been its well-established tradition of sending a reporter to cover the Missouri State Legislature.
The Chart will not send anyone to Jefferson City, and it has nothing to do with the budget. It appears that no one wants to do it this year. The list of excellent reporters who covered the state capital for The Chart includes many who have gone on to journalism careers, including Joplin Daily Editor John Hacker.
At times over the years (many times, in fact) the coverage offered by The Chart was more extensive and of a better quality than that provided by the Globe.
Hopefully, this will just be a one-year break and once again The Chart will have a presence in Jefferson City for the 2007 legislative session.

Pippin story is exactly what the Daily should be doing

The tragic death of Joplin High School student Jamison Alexander in a hit-and-run accident one year ago this week is still having ramifications and those were examined in a moving feature written by Michelle Pippin in the Joplin Daily.
I can't tell you if it made the print edition since four editions have passed and I have yet to receive one at my apartment which is smack in a heavily populated area of the city.
I can tell you that it is exactly the kind of story that can set the Joplin Daily apart from its competition. It is not just a cutesy feature, though there is nothing wrong with those. It is a feature connected with a story in the news, and it is one that shows the paper has a soul, which sometimes seems to be lacking in the Globe.
The Pippin story is not the only good thing that has been happening for the Daily lately. It has been updating the website on a regular basis and has shown an ability to update on breaking stories with the kind of complete details that the Globe is unwilling to offer, fearing that it will drive readers away from the print edition.
The news is not totally good for the Daily, but it can make up for it in the future by giving blanket coverage of the new league that is going to offer great possibilities of local sports coverage.
And no, I'm not talking about the pie-in-the-sky minor league hockey team, but the beginning of youth league football in the city. It took me a long time to realize something that the late Dean Keeling, long-time Neosho Daily News sports editor, understood instinctively: If you want to develop long-term reader loyalty, you don't do it, by covering high school varsity teams and college teams and neglecting everyone else; you do it by offering coverage (and not just a photo or an occasional feature, but legitimate coverage) of youth sports starting from third grade on. If you wait until athletes are in high school to begin your coverage, many of those athletes have already quit or have moved on to other school pursuits and you have lost the opportunity to connect with them and with their parents.
Most newspapers not only make that mistake, but compound it, by limiting themselves even further by just concentrating on varsity and leaving out junior varsity and freshman results.
I did the same thing when I was at the Lamar Democrat years ago. I did not come to realize the value of covering the youth sports until I was at The Carthage Press, where my sports coverage included eighth grade, ninth grade, junior varsity and even third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade football, in addition to the varsity sports.
During this time period is when the Daily sports staff should be covering middle school basketball games in person, as well as freshman and junior varsity. The middle school season will end soon and then more attention can be paid to the teams like College Heights, Thomas Jefferson, and McAuley.
That kind of coverage would set the Daily apart from the Globe.

Lammers: We changed the industry

Nexstar Broadcasting COO Duane Lammers told the San Angelo, Texas, Standard-Times that his company's battle with cable companies over retransmission rights had a dramatic impact.
"I think a lot of people have taken notice," Lammers told the newspaper, "and we're going to get credit for changing the industry."
Lammers did not go so far as to declare victory over the cable companies, but told the newspaper, "We accomplished our mission. We wanted to accomplish a substantive revenue stream and we did it."
An article in Multichannel News last week said the company would receive $40 million over the next five years and estimated that Nexstar will receive approximately 11 cents per customer per month from the cable companies, down from the 30 it first demanded, but more than the zero the cable companies offered.
Of course, one of those battles over retransmission rights took place between Nexstar's Joplin stations, KSNF and KODE, and Cable One in Joplin.

Leggett & Platt closes South Carolina plant

Carthage-based Fortune 500 company Leggett & Platt is closing its Andrews Wire Company plant in Georgetown, S. C., according to an article in the Georgetown Times.
The move will cost 35 people their jobs, the article said. The plant will close by the end of February with production moved to other Leggett facilities.

Missouri lobbyists also contributed to Blunt campaign

As I noted in the Jan. 18 Turner Report. lobbyists on the state and national level contributed at least $30,000 to Governor Matt Blunt's re-election campaign over the last three months, according to disclosure documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Of course, as usual, not one of those registered lobbyists were listed as lobbyists on the disclosure form. In order to determine which ones are lobbyists, you have to check them with lobbyist lists or Google them to discover with what companies they are associated. That means there could be even more lobbyists who contributed to Blunt that I failed to uncover.
Some of the federal lobbyists who contributed to the Blunt campaign were listed in the Jan. 18 post. Among the registered state lobbyists contributing to the governor during the past three months were:
-John Hancock, Freeman Health, Leggett & Platt, $500
-Partnership for Leadership, John Hancock, treasurer, $1,200
-Sherry Doctorian, Armstrong Teasdale $1,200
-Husch & Eppenbarger, law and lobbying firm, $1,200
-Franc Flotron, Edison Schools, Missouri Charter Public Schools
-J. Lowry, Armstrong Teasdale, $250
-Dale Ludwig, Missouri Soybean Association, $1,000
-DK Govermental Solutions, lobbying firm, $350
-Armstrong Teasdale, law/lobbying firm, $1,200
-Joseph Kanel, Armstrong Teasdale $1,200

Among other interesting contributors to the Blunt campaign during the past three months were:
-Recently fired O'Sullivan Industries executive Mike Franks, $1,200
-Nodler Leadership PAC, Sen. Gary Nodler's PAC, $1,200
-Hollis Osborne, MOARK executive, $250
-Jerry Wells, Joplin, MOARK executive $1,200

One national lobbyist whom I neglected to mention in the Jan. 18 post was former Attorney General, U. S. Senator and Missouri Governor John Ashcroft, who donated the maximum $1,200. Ashcroft, who was at one time a key player in our nation's security, now lobbies for companies who want a piece of that security pie.

Prisoner claims three 'honkies' beat him up

Brant Lee Bailey, 38, Joplin, has spent almost as much time in the courtroom as some lawyers over the past five years and it looks as if his act is headed toward federal court.
Bailey, who has been charged with everything from burglary to assault to driving while revoked to stalking, claims Newton County jailers should have prevented "three honkies" from beating him up last year.
In a lawsuit filed Jan. 6 in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Bailey says, "I was beaten severely by three other inmates." The inmates were supposed to be in lockdown, but "broke out," he claimed.
These three inmates, Bailey claims, are members of a gang called the Joplin Honkies. "I told the administration not to put me with any Joplin Honkeys. They did anyway." Bailey claims the honkies beat him twice.
He says he wants to be compensated for physical and mental damages. Of course, he is wanting the taxpayers to foot the bill for his lawsuit.

Blankenship hearing set for Thursday

Alleged internet pervert Gary Reed Blankenship will be back in court for a pre-trial hearing 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, according to Newton County Circuit Court records.
Blankenship, 56, Neosho, a former O'Sullivan Industries official, was arrested in January 2005 on charges of possession of child pornography, promoting obscenity, and enticement of a child. Blankenship was arrested after another of Diamond police officer Jim Murray's Internet stings. Blankenship allegedly thought he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl and not a middle-aged man. He arranged to meet her for sex and was arrested when he showed up in Diamond for the meeting, according to the police.

Hearing scheduled for former tax preparer

A 9 a.m. Wednesday hearing is scheduled for Carrie Ann Shafer, 37, Oronogo, on two misdemeanor bad check charges. The charge dates back to checks written Sept. 24, 2004, and March 16, 2005, according to court records.
The hearing was originally scheduled for Dec. 28, but was postponed when Ms. Shafer failed to show. She appeared in court the next day after a warrant had been issued.
Ms. Shafer, you may recall was the subject of a federal investigation which determined she had been preparing fraudulent income tax returns. Judge Gary Fenner ordered her out of the tax preparation business.
Judge Fenner issued his order that Ms. Shafer stop preparing tax returns after U. S. Attorney Todd Graves submitted documents indicating she had claimed "fictitious or inflated itemized deductions for various expenses, including medical and dental expenses, charitable contributions, and unreimbursed employee business expenses."
Graves said that with one customer Ms. Shafer claimed "an inflated child-care expense credit based on child-care services that Shafer knew had never actually been provided to, or paid for by, the customer."
Graves also said Ms. Shafer had encouraged one of her clients to lie to the Internal Revenue Service.

Legislative leaders won't support livestock bill

The legislative roundup in today's Springfield News-Leader indicates the leaders of the influential agriculture committees in the Missouri House and Senate have said they will not support a bill to keep counties from enacting stronger restrictions on large livestock feeding operations.
The legislation almost made it through last year.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bills totaling more than $1.2 million submitted to bankruptcy court

There's big money in bankruptcy and if anyone should know that it is the people at FTI Consulting. Bills totaling more than $1.2 million for the month of December were submitted Friday to the judge handling the O'Sullivan bankruptcy and more than half of that total, $614,818.96 came from FTI.
In just two and a half months, the company has charged more than $1.2 million for its services. They had already charged the company nearly a quarter of a million dollars before the court even officially approved their hiring, according to court documents. The company was hired to offer restructuring advice.
At the time when O'Sullivan officials first petitioned the court to allow them to retain FTI, they had already paid the company a $75,000 retainer.
The deal approved by the bankruptcy court includes a clause which would give FTI a 10 percent incentive fee if it comes up with "specific efficiency improvements, cost reductions or revenue enhancements."
The December bill showed 34 FTI employees, with pay ranging from $65 an hour to $625 an hour, worked on the O'Sullivan restructuring, including numerous billings for a "timeline for new product development."
Among other bills filed with the court Friday:
-$131,426.65 from Lazard, Freres & Co., mostly for preparing the financing plan to enable O'Sullivan to climb out of bankruptcy.
-$216,000 from the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors
-$27,427.46 from Lamberth, Cifelli, Stokes & Stout, another company offering legal advice
-$8,227.50 from Edward Howard & Company, which among other items, as noted in an earlier post, came up with a strategy to deal with media coverage of the firing of numerous employees and paid someone $330 per hour for keeping up with The Turner Report.
-$334,985 from Dechert LLP for the work of 12 people whose per hour pay ranged from $150 to $750. The bill also included $1,260 for "staff overtime."

Bankruptcy filings show where the money really is

I discovered much to my dismay Friday that I once again have missed out on the big money.
For the past few years I have been blogging and receiving no dollars and no cents per hour for my efforts, mainly because this enables me to keep my hand in at journalism, something I have always loved, and at the same time fulfill my promise to my students that if I made them write everyday, I would do so also.
It appears, however, that the real money is not in writing the Turner Report, but in reading it. Documents filed Friday in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia, indicate that Patrick F. Gallagher, who works for the public relations firm of Edward Howard & Company is being paid $330 an hour to read this blog.
Fortunately for anyone trying to hold down costs in the ever ballooning bankruptcy of O'Sullivan Industries, Gallagher, a senior vice president with the company, only put in a half hour of work, charging $165 to "review court docket, Turner Report, and other media." All right, I will admit, if it weren't for the fact that a lot of my friends in Lamar are facing a fight for their economic future because of what is going on with O'Sullivan, I might be a little pleased that the documents mention The Turner Report by name and apparently link The Joplin Globe with other media, but this is ridiculous.
The public relations firm's bill was included in the documents filed Friday. It was for $8,227.50 for 24 hours of service done by four people, whose hourly salaries ranged from $330 to $420 per hour. (Apparently, one of the cheaper ones was assigned to read this blog.)
The item about The Turner Report was dated Dec. 9. The Howard firm also spent some of its time preparing to deal with the media on the firings of numerous workers at the Lamar and South Boston plants, according to the documents. On Dec. 30, the company met to "review draft of document outlining talking points for potential media interest in Lamar and South Boston re workforce reduction." More work on preparing for dealing with the media on the firings was held Dec. 31, meaning that a P. R. firm knew that these people were going to lose their livelihoods and was working on the best way to make the O'Sullivan officials come out looking good.
If that was their assignment, whatever their strategy was certainly doesn't work. Maybe O'Sullivan should have hired a more expensive firm to handle its PR.

Business Journal advertising for editor, reporter

The Joplin Tri-State Business Journal, scheduled to begin publication in April, is searching for an editor and top reporter.
Ads placed this week with the Missouri Press Association seek the following:

"EDITOR: Springfield Business Journal will in April launch a sister publication, Joplin Tri-State Business, a biweekly business newspaper. We seek an editor with excellent organizational, editing and communication skills. This individual must be proficient in copy editing, assigning, reporting and writing, and will personally represent Joplin Tri-State Business to the regional business community. Knowledge of the region and its economy is a major plus, and photography and design abilities are desirable. Send cover letter, resume and clips to Clarissa French, Springfield Business Journal, PO Box 1365, Springfield, MO 65801. 1/16"

"REPORTER: Joplin Tri-State Business, a biweekly business newspaper that will debut in April, is seeking a full-time reporter. This position requires a communicator with excellent reporting, writing, photography and proofreading skills. Knowledge of the region, the business community and the area economy is a major plus. Send cover letter, resume and clips to Clarissa French, Springfield Business Journal, PO Box 1365, Springfield, MO 65801. 1/16"

Friday, January 20, 2006

Neosho man latest victim of O'Sullivan bloodbath

Mike Franks, Neosho, is the latest O'Sullivan Industries official to be fired, according to a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He had been serving as vice president/marketing.
"Under the agreement," the document said, "we agreed to pay Mr. Franks' salary through April 3, 2006, and to continue his health insurance through Jan. 31, 2006." The document was signed by Rick A. Walters, interim CEO.
The agreement contained the usual requirements that Franks cannot say anything bad about the company, which probably means he won't ever be able to mention the company's name again.
He also will not be able to sue O'Sullivan for wrongful dismissal or for any other reason, the documents indicate. Franks still has three weeks to decide whether to sign the agreement and seven days after signing the agreement to revoke it if he changes his mind.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Go to Joplin Independent for the complete version

Friday's Joplin Globe features a report on an assistant attorney general's visit to Neosho to investigate odor complaints against Moark. Nothing wrong with the Globe's story, but for a more complete version check out the article on Mari Winn's Joplin Independent site.

McCaskill proposes lobbying reforms

State Auditor Claire McCaskill, a candidate for the U. S. Senate seat currently held by Jim Talent, is proposing a series of reforms in the wake of the Washington lobbying scandal, according to an article in the Columbia Daily Tribune.
It's a shame we are not seeing a similar effort in the state of Missouri. The reforms she suggests are reasonable and workable on the state level, as well as on the federal level:
-Ban trips paid for by lobbyists.
-Ban meals and gifts paid for by lobbyists.
-Increase the amount of time before former legislators or their senior staff members can become lobbyists.
-Increase the reporting requirements.

I would go even further. If people want to make their living as lobbyists, they should not be allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of the people they are lobbying. They should not also serve as conduits between their clients and legislators when it comes to the clients' political contributions.

Registered lobbyists should conduct their business with legislators in the legislators' offices, not in swanky restaurants or at country clubs. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution protects the lobbyists' role of petitioning the government, it says nothing about plying them with meals, gifts and booze.

I would love to see the state's majority party, the Republicans, take the lead on this issue. It would be a prudent move, since sooner or later, I am not going to be the only one writing about lobbying abuses on the state level. There is going to be an Abramoff trickle-down effect at the state level and the Missouri General Assembly should take the lead with some stringent regulations.

O'Sullivan hearing set for Monday

It's full speed ahead for a hearing for O'Sullivan Industries' request to approve up to $180,000 in expenses for financial institutions that might provide them with the funding to bring the company out of bankruptcy.
The quickness with which this hearing has been arranged is unbelievable since the first request for the expedited hearing was filed just this morning in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
The request comes according to the documents "following a lengthy series of negotiations," in which O'Sullivan officials, the ad hoc committee of senior secured creditors and the unsecured creditors committee "reached an agreement in principle regarding various disputed issues."
That agreement will apparently be spelled out in the near future when O'Sullivan filed a second amended bankruptcy petition.
In the documents filed today, O'Sullivan officials said they "anticipate emerging from bankruptcy in the next several months," once they get exit financing.
Their plan calls for negotiating a $50 million exit credit facility, which they say is "critical." In order to so do, they said, they have to pay the expenses of several potential lenders. These lenders, however, are not dummies. They are requiring that O'Sullivan pay them up front before they do anything. "Specifically, potential lenders have indicated that they will only initiate field/collateral audits once they have received deposits."
Leave it to the O'Sullivan officials not to wait for approval before doing this, The court documents say that these field/collateral audits have already been scheduled to being early next week, hence the reason for having the hearing on Monday.
If they don't receive approval to pay these lending institutions' expenses, the documents say, it could delay the company's emergence from bankruptcy. The documents also indicate that $180,000 is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $50 million they could receive if the exit credit facility is approved.

Jasper County pervert to remain behind bars

The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals today rejected a Webb City man's efforts to get a new trial in his statutory sodomy case.
This is not the first time Frank Shifkowski, 64, has been rejected by an appellate panel and probably won't be the last. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2000 after a jury found him guilty of having sexual relations with his 13-year-old stepdaughter from the time he had married her mother when she was about six years old.
If there is still anyone out there who doubts the value of public education when it comes to these cases, the Shifkowski case should allay those doubts. Shifkowski was one of those predators who had the girl believing that what he was doing was normal. It was during a discussion in her health class that she realized what had been going on was wrong, according to the court record. After that, she told her paternal grandmother, who called the Division of Family Services.
The girl was taken to the Children's Center in Joplin, where she was examined by a doctor who said what he found was consistent with the sexual abuse allegations.
When Shifkowski was brought to the Webb City Police Department, Detective Jaryl Beckett told him what the girl had accused him of doing and Shifkowski "started laughing," according to the court opinion.
"Beckett then told (him) that this matter wasn't funny but involved serious accusations." Beckett told Shifkowski about the medical findings and other evidence that had been collected through interviews. At that point, Shifkowski said, "I'm thinking about talking to an attorney." Earlier, he had waived his rights. Beckett told him he had every right to call in a lawyer. Shifkowski was arrested and then made an incriminating statement, according to the court file. His appeals have centered around poor defense and the use of that statement, which Shifkowski cames through "psychological coercion" and a violation of his Miranda rights.
Those claims were rejected along with Shifkowski's claim that his lawyer did not properly advise him that he should have accepted the plea bargain that was offered by the Jasper County prosecuting attorney's office.

Opponents say Blunt dodging debate

Washington, D. C. magazine "The Hill" is reporting that Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt's two opponents for the Majority Leader position, Rep. John Boehner, Ohio, and Rep. John Shadegg, Ariz., have accused Blunt of dodging them.
The two have challenged Blunt,the front runner for the position, to a debate, the article said, and in a letter issued to media, said Blunt had turned down joint appearances with them on NBC's "Meet the Press" and "Fox News Sunday."

Retransmission deals rake in $40 million for Nexstar

Nexstar Broadcasting CEO Perry Sook told investors that his company lost several million dollars during its year-long battle with cable companies over retransmission rights, but says it was worth it.
During a conference call with the investor firm of Bear Stearns & Co., Sook said his retransmission deals would net Nexstar, owner of KSNF and de facto owner of KODE in Joplin, would bring in $40 million over a five-year period, according to an article in Multichannel News. The two Joplin stations were kept of Cable One for nearly a year during the dispute.
The article indicated it is unclear just how much is coming to Nexstar in the form of cash. Sook referred to it as "contracted cash," according to the article, and it appears that nearly a third of it, or around $13 million is in advertising.
"Some of the recent retransmission-consent deals also involve Nexstar stations licensing some of their local news to be used by cable operators for local video-on-demand, Sook added." the article said.
Nexstar also owns KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KOLR.

Hunter's annual attack begins

Big business' man in the Missouri House of Representatives, Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, is beginning his annual assault on labor unions. He has filed two anti-union bills. The one I enjoyed the most, HB 1465, would require that unions open their books and publicly disclose information about their finances.
Perhaps Mr. Hunter should do the same and make public just how much he is being paid by the lobbying firm, Associated Industries of Missouri, which he works for as a membership recruiter.

Lamar "Small Town News' signing goes well

Thanks to those of you who came to the Lamar signing for my novel, "Small Town News" Monday at the Mary K. Finley Library. Library personnel were great and had everything set up nicely for me when I arrived.
And while I readily admit that I enjoyed selling 20 books in a couple of hours, the best part of the signing was the opportunity to see many old friends from the nearly 28 years since I first started to work for the Lamar Daily Democrat in May 1978.
Russell Pierson, the composing room foreman at the Democrat for more than three decades was there with his wife Imajean. Russell spent a considerable amount of time helping a 22-year-old reporter learn the ropes.
When I first arrived in Lamar, I ate many of my meals at a little restaurant right off the square. Geyne Shoff was one of those who worked there and I later worked with Geyne for years when she assisted Jerry Moyer in the Barton County circuit clerk's office.
Many of the Lamar people with whom I worked while I was with The Carthage Press and The Lamar Press were there also, including two of my favorite columnists with the Lamar Press, Nancy Hughes and Katie Young.
Kari Worsley (formerly Wegener) who worked for me at the Lamar Democrat in the late 1980s when she was a high school student dropped by. Kari and Peggy Brinkhoff won a second place award in investigative reporting in the Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest as high schoolers for a series on city council members who suffered problems with their businesses due to their government service. Later, Kari and I did "The Murder at the 71 Motel" story which won first place in both general and investigative reporting at the Kansas City Press Club Heart of America Awards in 1989. We investigated a murder that had taken place in Nevada (the trial was originally scheduled to be held in Lamar) with Kari profiling the murder victim, while I profiled the accused killer.
Kari's parents, Ron and Karen Wegener, were also there, as well as Jill Purinton, who bought a copy of the book for her daughter, Cait, who proved her mettle as an investigative reporter during summer internships with The Carthage Press when she was in college. Cait became the only award-winner for the Lamar Press in its brief existence, taking a third place in investigative reporting in the Kansas City Press Club awards.
Old friend Lou Rix Scroggs and her husband, Dick, regular Turner Report readers, were kind enough to stop by as were three favorite Bettys, Betty Kuhn, Betty Gideon and Betty Gilkey, who was First Lady of the city of Lamar for nearly 40 years, when her husband Gerald, who died late last year, was mayor.
Other visitors included Barton County Prosecuting Attorney Steven Kaderly, Jerry Marti, County Treasurer Frances Cato, former Lamar High School English teacher and counselor Marilyn Selvey and Ron Bergman.
I apologize if I left anyone out. It was great to see everyone.
The next book signing for "Small Town News" is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Neosho/Newton County Library.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lack of hands-on management hurt Global operation in Hidalgo

Over the last couple of days, The Turner Report has been examining some of the past dealings of Global Entertainment, the company that wants the city of Joplin to put up more than $40 million to build a hockey arena.
The involvement of Global in a number of lawsuits over the past few months, including one in which he city of Hidalgo, Texas, is a co-defendant, is worrisome. But that wrongful death lawsuit, chroncicled yesterday in The Turner Report, is not the only problem Global has had with its operation in Hicalgo, according to an article in the McAllen Monitor.
The company Global selected to handle the day-to-day operation in Hidalgo, Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum LP, ran into major problems operating the 5,500 seat arena, the article indicated.
City officials were upset with Global Spectrum (which apparently is not a part of Global Entertainment) for the way the company dealt with customers and with its accounting practices, according to the article.
Correspondence between city officials and Global Entertainment CEO Rick Kozuback indicated a concern about the Global Spectrum's "lack of professionalism," "apparent lack of pride in the building," and "lack of commitment to improving the level of cleanliness within he venue," the article said.
The letters also slammed the company for its service, food pricing, and slipshod accounting practices, which included having deposit slips did not reconcile with funds deposited, according to the article.
The biggest concern was "lack of security after performances," which led to "various problems with theft," the article said.
The papers, which dated back to 2003, were obtained as part of the court record in a lawsuit brought by Global Spectrum against Global Entertainment and International Coliseums Co. for breach of contract. The case was settled in the spring of 2005, the article indicated.

Star: Coleman may drop out of state auditor race

Today's Kansas City Star reports that State Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, is considering dropping out of the state auditor's race, citing lack of support from the party. Of course, this is the same party that put Ms. Coleman in a prime-time spot last week, responding to Governor Matt Blunt's State of the State message.
More likely, Ms. Coleman has been caught off guard by articles in the Star and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noting that at one time she had declared bankruptcy.
Earlier this week, Ms. Coleman was named to the Turner Report's Hall of Shame as one of the 10 state senators who received the most gifts from lobbyists in 2005. She ranked second on that list, with more than $3,000 worth of gifts, trailing only Sen. David Klindt. R-Bethany.

National lobbyists pouring money into Missouri campaign

The timing couldn't be worse for Roy Blunt.
At the same time, that Blunt is attempting to position himself as a voice for lobby reform following the Jack Abramoff scandal, the latest disclosure form filed Tuesday with the Missouri Ethics Commission by his son Matt Blunt's campaign committee shows federal lobbyists with ties to the Seventh District Congressman are continuing to funnel money into his campaign.
The younger Blunt's campaign document shows he has already raised $1,634.927.87 for his re-election campaign, with three years to go before he runs again. That total includes more than $900,000 during the past three months, according to the report.
At least $30,000 of that money came from people or firms with federal or state lobbying connections, including several from Cassidy & Associates, the Washington lobbying firm that employs Roy Blunt's former chief of staff Gregg Hartley and until a few days ago, employed another of the Congressman's former staff members, Jared Craighead, who recently left the lobbying firm to become Matt Blunt's chief of staff.
Among the donors with federal lobbying connections were:
-Ali Amirhooshmand of Cassidy & Associates, a former Roy Blunt assistant, donated $500.
-Steve Gordon & Associates, Washington lobbying firm, maximum $1,200
-Wayne Berman, lobbyist and co-sponsor of the Tom DeLay defense fund, $1,200
-Jordan Bernstein, Alexandria, Va., lobbyist for Cassidy & Associates, and former administrative assistant to Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, $1,200
-Craig Fuller, former lobbyist and assistant in the Reagan White House, now head of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Both Fuller and his organization donated the maximum $1,200.
-Gregg Hartley, former chief of staff for Roy Blunt, now with Cassidy & Associates, $1,200
-Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld, a Washington lobbying firm whose top officials include former Democratic National Committee Chairman Robert Strauss and former Clinton advisor Vernon Jordan, $1,200
-Richard Hohlt, a lobbyist for Altria, J. P. Morgan, SBC, and other interests, $1,200
-Integrated Legislative Strategies, the firm that lobbies for Daimler Chrysler, $1,200.
-Hecht, Spencer & Associates, a lobbying firm which represents among other R. J. Reynolds.
-James Hirmi, Cassidy & Associates, $500
-Matt Jessee, former special assistant to Bush-Cheney Â’04 National Finance Vice Chairman Jack Oliver and more recently an assistant to Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who replaced Roy Blunt as Senate Majority Whip.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Globe experiment in blogs promises to be interesting

The Joplin Globe appears to be throwing itself wholeheartedly into the blogging phenomenon, setting up a number of blogs in recent days. You can check them out in the upper right-hand corner of the Globe website.
One which has not started, but which I eagerly anticipate reading, is editor Carol Stark's blog dealing with her cancer. I was surprised when I saw the advertisement in the Sunday newspaper saying what her blog would be about.
Good luck to Carol in dealing with the cancer and hopefully, her blog will serve to inspire others dealing with similar circumstances.

Global Entertainment, Texas city hit with wrongful death lawsuit

When Maura Quintanilla gave birth to her seventh child in early November, for the first time her husband was not with her. Florentino "Tino" Quintanilla had been with his wife when each of their first six children had been born over a 15-year period, but he was not there this time...and he would never be there again.
The blame for that, Mrs. Quintanilla said in a lawsuit filed in November in 332nd State District Court in Hidalgo County, Texas, goes to Global Entertainment Corporation. Mr. Quintanilla, 46, was working for Global's subsidiary, International Coliseums Company, Inc., when he was killed at the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo on Oct. 31.
According to the McAllen, Texas, Monitor, Mr. Quintanilla died after "some heavy-duty glass panels removed from the hockey rink's dasher boards fell on him." The police investigation indicated as many as 13 glass panels weighing 2,700 pounds fell on him "leaving him covered in blood fro his face and arms," according to the police incident report.
At the time, he and other workers were converting the arena from being used for hockey to prepare for a Lluvia deEstrellas concert scheduled for the next day.
Global, which is interested in managing a similar facility in Joplin, is not the only defendant in the case, according to a Jan. 13 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also named as a defendant is the City of Hidalgo Texas Municipal Facilities Corporation, which was set up by the city as the official owner of the arena.
As noted in yesterday's Turner Report, Global Entertainment is the defendant in at least two other lawsuits filed over the past few months.

Lamar book signing is tonight

One last plug for tonight's book signing for my novel, "Small Town News." It will take place 5 to 7 p.m. at the Mary K. Finley Library in Lamar. As I have noted before, this signing is particularly nostalgic to me since I lived in an upstairs apartment above the library when it was at its previous location, in a building owned by O'Sullivan Rentals.
It was always handy to be able to go downstairs during library hours and conduct research or just to check out a book. When I first lived in Lamar back in the summer of 1978 when Democrat editor Lou Nell Clark hired me as the newspaper's sports editor, I could not afford a television so I spent much of my time checking out books, primarily non-fiction and mysteries, to get me through the summer. I finally was able to get a second-hand black-and-white TV set, but I still spent much of my time in the company of books from the Lamar Library.
If you get a chance, pop by today's modern version of the library and say hi.

Internet expanding the availability of historical material

One of the things that students in my eighth grade communication arts classes dread (besides having listen to me) is the third quarter research project, which we began last Monday.
During this project, which lasts much of the quarter, the students immerse themselves in a topic, eventually turning out a 1,000-word minimum research paper, an oral presentation, and a multi-media presentation (powerpoint, video, audio, art, or some type of media).
The students spent last week in South Middle School's computer lab, researching whichever topic they selected. All topics this year had to deal with the civil rights movement.
One of the things I most eagerly anticipate each year is seeing the reaction of students when they dig up some of the items that were not available to students even a decade ago. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet I was able to watch as one girl began waving frantically and saying, "Mr. Turner, Mr. Turner, look at this." The girl, who was researching the murder of Emmett Till, was researching in the National Archives when she discovered a letter that Emmett Till's mother wrote to President Eisenhower urging him to do something about her son's murder.
Other students found their way to FBI files concerning the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, photos of the bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and was arrested, the arrest warrant in that case, Dr. King's letter from the Birmingham Jail, first-person accounts of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the freedom rides, and much, much more.
Some students, unfortunately, found themselves bored stiff even when mining such historical treasures, but those students are few. Most of the others were surprised when they were still turning up information on their topics on the fifth day of our five days on the Internet.
There are many bad things about the Internet, but each year that I have done this research project, the last three at South and the previous four at Diamond, I have been amazed at how much this medium has made available to student researchers that they could never have accessed before. In this way, these subjects can come alive to students as they never could before.
Now for the tough part. Today the students will organize the material they came up with last week, then beginning tomorrow we will spend some time researching in South's library, using the sometimes forgotten medium of books. The students must have at least two books in their bibliographies.
I can't wait for the moans and groans to begin.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hockey promoters target of lawsuits

Joplin city leaders may need to ask Global Entertainment officials some serious questions before they move forward with a proposal to build an arena and put a minor league hockey team in the city.
Documents filed Jan. 13 with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that Arizona-based Global has been the target of multiple lawsuits, including one in which the city is a co-defendant, and another in which the plaintiff is asking for $4.5 million.
One suit was filed in November in the 332nd Judicial District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas. "Global is named as a defendant, along with the local municipality, in a lawsuit filed by the family of an employee of the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo, Texas," according to the filing. "The suit asks for unspecified damages related to the death of the employee resulting from an accident at the arena."
Global officials say they intend "vigorously defend this action. Although the outcome of this matter cannot be predicted with certainty, we believe that we have valid defenses to the alleged claims."
Global is also the defendant in a lawsuit filed in August in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona, in which a Central Hockey League franchisee (Global owns the league) sued for breach of a protected territory clause which prohibits the league from locating teams too close geographically to its teams. Global has filed a countersuit.
The SEC filing also indicates a lawsuit has been filed against Global by Nustadia Developments, Inc., and PBK Architects. "The suit arises out of certain contracts between Global and the plaintiffs, pursuant to which Global agreed to use architectural design and development management services of the plaintiffs with respect to certain arena development projects," the filing said.
"The suit asks for direct damages of $4,500,000 and other unspecified damages for alleged breach of contract, tortious interference with business expediency, and breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing," according to the SEC document.
That lawsuit was filed in December and is pending in Maricopa County, Arizona, the SEC filing indicated.

Judge in Advantage Waste case grants stay

Judge James C. England has granted a request to stay all deadlines in a lawsuit filed by American Disposal Services of the Ozarks and BFI against Advantage Waste, the company that wants to buy and operate the Southwest Regional Landfill in Jasper County.
According to documents filed Jan. 10 in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, since the issue may be settled by mid-February, "thus allowing for a motion to dismiss to be filed in the case," the stay was granted.
As revealed in the Jan.8 Turner Report, it appears that the settlement in this case has everything to do with whether Advantage Waste can get a quick approval to open the landfill since that stipulation was made in the original contract between Advantage, its owner Craig H. Post, and his company, CHP Environmental. The plaintiffs in the case say that Post and his companies owe them $463,857.65, but indicate that negotiations for a settlement began at nearly the same time as officials from Post's company began contacting Jasper County residents about the possibility of buying and running the landfill.
As noted earlier in this blog, the whole situation appears to have started with the July 20, 1999, federal court order requiring Allied Waste (owner of BFI) to divest itself of certain properties, including its option on the Southwest Regional Landfill, as part of its purchase of BFI.
Allied's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate the company still owns the landfill property, but cannot legally operate it without violating the court order.
Incorporation documents filed with the Missouri Secretary of State's office indicate Post's companies were created shortly after the final ruling was issued in the antitrust case.
The Turner Report investigation into Advantage Waste can be found at the following links:
Jan. 8 Turner Report
Second Turner Report Jan. 8 entry

St. Louis senators top 2005 Hall of Shame

Five St. Louis senators are among the top 10 on the 2005 Hall of Shame, an honor I present to the 10 senators who received more gifts from lobbyists than their colleagues.
The top 10 featured five Democrats and five Republicans.
The list was topped by Majority Whip David Klindt, a Bethany Republican, whose $7,262.68 in gifts was more than number two Maida Coleman and number three Pat Dougherty, both St. Louis Democrats, combined.
Ms. Coleman, a candidate for state auditor, finished comfortably in the number two position with $3,481.55. Dougherty had $2,701.52.
Rounding out the top 10 were:
4. Chuck Gross, R-St. Charles, $2,523.19
5. John Cauthorn, R-Mexico, $2,167.21
6. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia $1,957.26
7. Timothy Green, D-St. Louis, $1,919.70
8. Luann Ridgeway, R-Smithville, $1,795.70
9. John Loudon, R-St. Louis, $1,747.39
10. Harry Kennedy, D-St. Louis $1,705.61
Southwest Missouri senators did not even come close to the top 10. Out of 34 senators, Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, placed 19th, with $1,020.33; Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, was 21st with $906.05; and Norma Champion, R-Springfield, finished 28th with $349.47.
The late Larry Gene Taylor would have finished slightly ahead of Nodler in 21st place. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, would have placed 15th, counting the amount of gifts he received, $1,302.27 as a state representative and as a state senator during the calendar year.
On the Nov. 29 Turner Report, I wrote about some of Sen. Klindt's amazing feats.
On March 15, Klindt accepted gifts of "meals, food and beverage" from five lobbyists: $18.75 from Datra Herzog of the lobbying firm of Herzog & Rhoads; $46.05 from her partner, Mark Rhoads; $76.33 from Mary Strate of the Missouri Beer Wholesalers Association; $46.20 from Richard Wiles of the Missouri Soft Drink Association; $30 from Guy William Black, representing Transcanada Corporation.
During a three-day period when the Senate was not in session, Aug. 16-18, Klindt received more $2,100 in gifts. The spree began Aug. 16 with Klindt receiving $421.77 for meals, food and beverage, $589.56 for travel, another $681.90 for travel, and $21.34 for a gift from William Shoehigh, lobbyist for the Microsoft Corporation, for a total of $1714.57.
In addition to the meal that was paid for by Shoehigh, even with all of that traveling, Klindt managed to have four more meals paid for by lobbyists: $141.27 from David Christian, lobbyist for Kansas City Power & Light; $11.69 from Drue Duncan, Ameren UE, $10 from Black, and another $20 from Black, for a total of five meals, costing $604.73.
On Aug. 17, Klindt had meals, food and beverage from four more lobbyists, totaling $158.06, and on Aug. 18, he had meals, food and beverage from three more lobbyists totaling $64.45.
Klindt, who serves on the House's Energy and Environment Committee also received $157.70 for travel on Sept. 12 from Barry Hart, lobbyist for the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives; $60 for entertainment and $37.30 for meals, food and beverage from Drue Duncan of Ameren on Sept. 17, the same day he received an additional $60 for entertainment and $37.30 for meals, food and beverage from Larry Pleus of Ameren.
In October, Klindt picked up $102.47 for entertainment from Steven Bledsoe, lobbyist for Blue Cross Blue Shield and $220 for entertainment from Stephen Knorr of the University of Missouri.
The Missouri Ethics Commission documents also show $315.32 for meals, food and beverage on June 3, split evenly between Duncan and Charles Caisley of the Missouri Energy Development Association.
Ms. Coleman's exploits have been chronicled numerous times in The Turner Report, beginning Nov. 21, when I noted some of the lobbyist gifts the state auditor candidate had received:
"She has received gifts totaling $3,395.55, according to the Ethics Commission documents, including $912 for entertainment (for a total of four occasions) and $977.38 overall from John Bardgett, lobbyist for John Bardgett & Associates.
Other items on Ms. Coleman's list include $200 for entertainment from John Sondag of Southwestern Bell on Feb. 5, $124.27 for meals, food and beverage from Steven Carroll, lobbyist for the St. Louis City School Board, $161.11 for Kent Gaines, lobbyist for the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District, Monsanto, and the Kansas City Chiefs, among others, on March 16, an additional $357.40, including $170 for entertainment and $187.40 for meals, food and beverage from Sondag on April 2, and $235.22 for travel from Richard Doherty, lobbyist for Harrah's Casino on Aug. 23.
Though Gary Nodler comes nowhere near the top 10 on this list, he has found a different method of getting value from lobbyists that does not show up on the lobbyist disclosure forms, which are filed monthly with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
For more information, check the following links:
Jan. 14, 2006 Turner Report
July 16, 2005 Turner Report
Oct. 13, 2005 Turner Report

New Arkansas publication to extend into McDonald County

While it has not received the attention of the Joplin Globe/Joplin Daily battle, there is a journalism war going on in McDonald County, as well, and a new publication is about to enter the game.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has announced plans to launch a Spanish-language newspaper this spring, according to an article in the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.
The new publication will go head to head with rival Stephens Media, owner of the Springdale Morning News, which has Spanish-language publications in northwest Arkansas and McDonald County, the article said. The newspapers will be distributed free.
The new publication will be named Noticias Hoy Del Noroeste de Arkansas or Today's News of Northwest Arkansas.
The startup comes at a time when the Joplin Globe is reportedly planning to eliminate much of its coverage of McDonald County. Other newspapers competing in the area include the string of McDonald County Press weeklies, the Neosho Daily News, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Springdale Morning News English-language editions.

'Small Town News' shipment arrives

I received a shipment of copies of "Small Town News" for the book signing Tuesday night at the Mary K. Finley Library in Lamar. I have had several people e-mailing me that they will be bringing copies they have already purchased by the library, so it promises to be a great evening.
I am scheduled to be there from 5 to 7 p.m.
Apparently, two or three people must have bought the novel through Barnes & Noble over the past week or so since it has jumped in the rankings from 449,000 to 109,000. It has been languishing at about 1,100,000 on Amazon.com after topping out at 43,000 a few weeks back. For some reason, "Small Town News" was ranked briefly at number 12 among young adult books in France, according to the Amazon ratings. That one boggles the mind.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Creditors accuse O'Sullivan officials of hiding assets

In filings in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the committee of unsecured creditors has accused O'Sullivan Industries officials of hiding assets in Australia and England and doing their best to squeeze out any creditors other than the small handful that are secured, primarily the Bank of New York. The documents indicate the committee believes the assets are not part of those that are pledged to secured noteholders.
The committee says O'Sullivan has "four wholly-owned subsidiaries that are located in Australia," and that those subsidiaries "are not debtors in the bankruptcy cases and have not filed any insolvency proceedings in Australia." The stock in those subsidiaries is not pledged to the secured noteholders, the committee claims.
The same claim is registered for O'Sullivan assets in the United Kingdom. "No documents were filed in jurisdictions outside of the United States" which would give the senior noteholder interest in those assets, the committee said.
The committee also questions the secured noteholders' connection to O'Sullivan's Canadian interests.

Ruestman campaign chest passes $55,000

Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, does not appear to have any worries as far as fundraising is concerned.
According to documents filed this week with the Missouri Ethics Commission, Ms. Ruestman collected $20,870 in the past three months, bringing her total to $55,556.06. Much of her money came from legislative district committees, which do not have to abide by the $300 contribution limit.
On Dec. 29 and 30 alone, Ms. Ruestman received $1,500 contributions from the 19th Legislative District Republican Committee, the 18th Republican Legislative District, the 23rd Senatorial District Republican Committee, and the 89 Legislative District Republican Committee, the 17th Legislative District Republican Committee, the 15th Legislative District Republican Committee; the 16th Legislative District Republican Committee, the 12th Legislative District Republican Committee, the 14th Legislative District Republican Committee, and the 2nd Senatorial District Republican Committee, for a total of $15,000. All of those districts are listed with an address of 320 Monroe Street, St. Charles.
Ms. Ruestman received an additional $1,420 from the 29th Senate District Republican Committee, P. O. Box 68, Gainesville; $1,500 from the 128th District Legislative Committee, 2020 Trenton, Joplin; and $450 from the 126th District Republican Legislative Committee, P.O. Box 69, Liberal.
Other contributions came from:
Missouri Bankers Association State PAC, Jefferson City, $300; Golden Rule, Lawrenceville, Ill., $300; H-PAC-Missouri, Prospect Heights, Ill., $300; J. W. Stout Enterprises, Joplin, $200; HBAM PAC, Jefferson City, $200; Missouri State Chiropractors Association PAC, Jefferson City, $150; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City PAC, $300; Coca Cola Enterprises, Atlanta, GA., $250; Nick Myers, Joplin, $200; and Committee for Political Action of Missouri Certified Public Accountants CPA, St. Louis.