Friday, March 31, 2006

Younger Blunt continues thrifty lobbying

Lobbyists' monthly reports were added to the Missouri Ethics Commission website today and Andrew Blunt, younger brother of Governor Matt Blunt and son of Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, once again did not spend a dime to try to influence legislators. That lack of spending on their behalf doesn't seem to be driving away Blunt's roster of important clients, including Ameren UE, United Parcel Service, the Friedman Foundation, AGP, AT&T, Kraft Foods, Miller Brewing, Missouri Hospital Association and Phillip Morris.
It definitely pays to have a brother in the governor's mansion. Blunt has not reported providing gifts to any legislators during 2005 or 2006.

Leggett officials: Proposal would open door for gay agenda

Leggett & Platt officials are recommending that shareholders reject a proposal for a policy prohibiting discrimination against company employees due to their sexual orientation.
The proposal, sponsored by Walden Asset Management, a minority stockholder, will be voted on at the 2006 annual shareholders meeting, scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 10, at the Cornell Conference Center at Leggett's facilities in Carthage.
In a definitive proxy filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, company officials said the proposal was unnecessary. "In our policies and practice, Leggett is already an equal opportunity employer with a firm and long-standing
commitment to preventing discrimination in the workplace," the statement said.
"Our policy states, 'We are committed to equal opportunity in all aspects of employment, including hiring, promotion, training, compensation, termination and disciplinary action.' "
Company officials said their record supports Leggett's "commitment to nondiscrimination."
"For over 20 years Leggett has provided every employee with access to a national hotline for anonymous reporting of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Our hotline records do not include a single claim of discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation. Moreover, in a company with 33,000 employees, we are not aware of a single charge of discrimination based on sexual orientation filed with any city, state or federal agency, nor has the company received notice from any employee, customer or supplier that its employment policies or practices jeopardize its relationship with them,' the statement continues.
Company officials expressed fears that approving this proposal could open the door for a gay agenda.
"We believe adding sexual orientation to the list of prohibited forms of discrimination may be a first step in a more expansive agenda. During our prior conversations with Walden Asset Management, we asked whether they would later seek to add domestic partner benefits if they were successful in their efforts regarding sexual orientation policies. The Walden representative indicated they could not guarantee this would not occur. We believe other shareholders may later seek to add domestic partner benefits, which would add significant costs to the company."
The proposed resolution is printed below:

WHEREAS: Leggett & Platt does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its written employment policy;

According to a September 2002 survey by Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs, 41% of gay and lesbian workers in the United States reported an experience with some form of job discrimination related to sexual orientation; almost one out of every 10 gay or lesbian adults stated that they had been fired or dismissed unfairly from a previous job, or pressured to quit a job because of their sexual orientation;

National public opinion polls consistently find more than three-quarters of the American people support equal rights in the workplace for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals; for example, in a Gallup poll conducted in June 2001, 85% of respondents favored equal opportunity in employment for gays and lesbians.

San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle and Los Angeles currently have in effect legislation restricting business with companies which do not guarantee equal treatment for lesbian and gay employees; and such legislation will come into effect in the state of California in 2007;

Sixteen states, the District of Columbia, and more than 140 cities have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation; Our company has operations in, and makes sales to, institutions in states and cities that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;

Leggett & Platt is increasingly alone in its position, as 98% of Fortune 100® companies, and more than 80% of the Fortune 500® companies, have adopted written nondiscrimination policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF);

Other manufacturing companies, such as Baldor Electric, Deere, Donaldson, General Electric, General Motors, Herman Miller, HON Industries, Illinois Tool Works, Teleflex and United Technologies do explicitly prohibit this form of discrimination in their written policies;

Other major corporate employers based in Missouri including Anheuser-Busch, Emerson Electric, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hallmark Cards, Monsanto, and Sigma-Aldrich also explicitly prohibit this form of discrimination in their written policies;

We believe that the hundreds of corporations with nondiscrimination policies that reference sexual orientation have a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining employees from the widest talent pool;

RESOLVED: The Shareholders request that Leggett & Platt amend its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and to substantially implement that policy.

STATEMENT: Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation diminishes employee morale and productivity. Because state and local laws differ with respect to employment discrimination, our company would benefit from a consistent, corporate wide policy to enhance efforts to prevent discrimination, resolve
complaints internally, and ensure a respectful and supportive atmosphere for all employees. Leggett & Platt will enhance its competitive edge by joining the growing ranks of companies guaranteeing equal opportunity for all employees.
Leggett officials disagreed with the Walden Asset Management Group's assessment of the situation. In the proxy statement they said, "We believe that, contrary to comments in the proponents’ proposal, Leggett suffers no competitive disadvantage in recruiting and retaining employees. We have seen no evidence that our policy, which reflects our commitment to equal opportunity in all aspects of employment, places us at a competitive disadvantage."

Globe writers Lehr, Malashock, Spellman capture multiple APME awards

With all of the criticisms I level at The Joplin Globe on a regular basis, there is no doubt that some excellent journalists work at the newspaper though their talents are often sorely misused by their editors.
Staff writer Jeff Lehr has been turning out quality work for years and his skills were rewarded by judges from North Dakota and South Dakota today when he picked up four awards, including first place in spot news among medium-sized newspapers at the annual Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors Convention in Branson.
Lehr's award was for "Trail of Slayings," according to the AP article. He also took third place in that category with his coverage of storm damage in Fort Scott, Kan.
His coverage of the shooting of eight-year-old Braxton Wooden by Wooden's foster brother won third place in the community affairs/public interest category while he also took second in feature writing for "I Knew What I Had to Do."
Lehr was not the only multiple winner on the Globe staff. Talented young sportswriter Ryan Malashock, who surely is headed for greener pastures sometime in the near future, captured first place in spot sports for "Cubs Earn Emotional Victory," and he finished second in sports feature writing for "Renewed Appreciation."
Derek Spellman finished first in sports feature writing with "The Season" and also topped the feature writing category with the same story.
Other Globe winners included: Jim Fryar, second place in spot sports for his coverage of the death of Missouri Southern State University's football coach; Jeff Wells, second place, community affairs/public interest for his reporting on two Joplin police officers harassing and intimidating an 11-year-old.

Daily's Moark investigation captures APME honors

Neosho Daily News writers Rick Rogers, Buzz Ball, John Ford, Todd Higdon and Wes Franklin captured first place in community affairs/public interest reporting for smaller newspapers during the annual Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) awards presented today in Branson.
The Daily's coverage included a special section detailing both sides of the argument over whether Moark should be allowed to expand its facilities near Neosho.
It was an impressive performance for the Daily in its first year under Rogers' guidance. The newspaper not only took first place in the community affairs/public interest reporting, but swept the category.
Kay Hively, Michelle Pippin, Rogers and Ball took second place for "Survivors" while Franklin garnered third for "Medicaid," according to the Associated Press news release.
The Daily also took first place in spot sports for Sports Editor Cody Thorn's article "Lions Lose their Leader,"

McKitterick deposition set in Catholic Church sexual harassment lawsuit

The woman who is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau will be grilled by its attorneys during a two-day deposition scheduled to begin 9 a.m. Monday, April 17, at the law offices of Millington, Glass & Love in Springfield.
The information was included in a document filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The document indicated Ms. McKitterick will be questioned about "all matters which are relevant to the discovery and/or subject of the (lawsuit)." The deposition will be videotaped.
Ms. McKitterick claimed she was fired from her job with the church after she refused to submit to Father Phillip Bucher's sexual advances. In addition to Bucher, defendants named in the lawsuit include the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Archbishop John J. Liebrecht, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, and Our Lady of the Ozarks Catholic Church.
Ms. McKitterick was the sole proprietor of Discipleship Ministry Resources when she was hired by the church on July 1, 2002 for a two-year term as a pastoral associate, according to her lawsuit.
Her responsibilities, she said, were training coordination "for an evangelization program and model for the church and its parishes." Bucher was the pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church and served as Bishop Liebrecht's vicar general.
Shortly after her employment, Ms. McKitterick claims, she began having to fend off Bucher's unwelcome advances, which included"
-"Unwelcome questioning by Bucher about plaintiff's personal sex life and her intimate sexual likes and dislikes.
-"Bucher's regular recounting to plaintiffs of his own personal sex life and details of his intimate sexual likes and dislikes, including his sexual dislikes with his then 'girlfriend,' (whose name is given in the lawsuit, but which is not going to be listed here. The alleged girlfriend later told the Springfield News-Leader that Bucher is just a friend.).
-"Plaintiff being 'hushed' during business meetings in the parish offices, so plaintiff would not be overheard by Bucher's girlfriend when Bucher and the girlfriend were talking on the telephone.
-"Plaintiff being invited to 'business' dinners with Bucher, which he began conducting like personal dates.
-"Plaintiff being subjected to Bucher's unwelcome comments about his personal preferences 'as a man' regarding plaintiff's makeup, etc., to which plaintiff objected.
-"Numerous uncomfortable private 'hugs' by Bucher which he defended as 'pastoral' and which he repeatedly attempted even after being rebuked by plaintiff.
-"Regular telephone calls by Bucher to plaintiff at her home in the evening about personal matters.
-"Regular romantic and sexually suggestive remarks and advances by Bucher."Ms. McKitterick says Bucher's actions created "a hostile work environment."She claims that Liebrecht and other church officials had been warned about Bucher's problem and they should have known he was likely to sexually harass her.
Ms. McKitterick was fired after she made a written complaint against Bucher in a letter dated Jan. 12, 2004, one of a series she had made, according to the lawsuit.
After the Jan. 12 letter, she received a call from the church's lawyer who said, "Bucher has terminated you." Her last day of work was Jan. 16, 2004, five and a half months before the end of her contract. The firing, she said, "was retaliation against plaintiff for her reporting and complaining about the sexual harassment and hostile work environment."
Ms. McKitterick is asking for "lost earnings and employment benefits; for such punitive damages as are proven at trial; for reasonable attorneys' fees; and for such other relief as may be appropriate."
She is also suing church officials for misrepresentation, saying they had told her that "if she became employed by the church, Bucher would not sexually harass her nor would he create a hostile work environment for her."
An additional count charges church officials with copyright infringement, claiming that Ms. McKitterick owns the rights to her work, "Discipleship: An Old Model for a New Day," registered Aug. 3, 2001, with the U. S. Copyright Office. "Since Jan. 16, 2004, the Church, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church and Our Lady of the Ozarks Catholic Church without the consent or permission of plaintiff; have claimed a copyright interest in plaintiff's work and have distributed and collected the benefits, revenue and profits from the work and from derivatives of the work."
She claims Bucher and Liebrecht supervised the infringement of her work. She is asking for $150,000 for each copyright infringement, attorneys' fees, and interest. Ms. McKitterick now serves as president of LAMPS, a national group that is seeking reform in the Catholic Church.
Bucher claims that the court should not get involved in the case because that would put it in the unconstitutional position of interfering with church decisions. "Plaintiff should clearly be considered clergy" for this case, the motion for dismissal said.
"As a clergy member, her claims are prohibited by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."
The motion also says, "Lastly, Missouri has only recognized two theories upon which a church may be liable for sexual misconduct: (1) intentional failure to supervise clergy and (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress. Neither claim is made by plaintiff in this case."

Ruestman, colleagues playing fast and loose with columns

I was fascinated by an item on the opinion page of The Daily apologized for running an incorrect byline on a political column that awent online Wednesday.
The apology, placed at the top of the republished column, read:
"The following report published Wednesday, March 29, on and was listed as a report by Marilyn Ruestman, when, in fact, it is the weekly joint report submitted by all four Joplin state representatives. apologizes for the confusion."

Perhaps the Daily should not have been so quick to issue an apology. The column which Ms. Ruestman claims was a collaborative effort with her fellow Republicans, Bryan Stevenson, Webb City, Steve Hunter, Joplin, and Ron Richard, Joplin, was posted Monday on Ms. Ruestman's website as "The Ruestman Report" and no mention whatsoever was made of any role played by Stevenson, Hunter or Richard in its writing.
The column on Ms. Ruestman's website begins: "Hard Work Pays Off, Ruestman Report-March 27, 2006, From the Office of State Representative Marilyn Ruestman
At the column's conclusion, it says, "There are only six weeks left in the 2006 Session and still much to be done. I truly appreciate the opportunity you have given me to serve you in the State Capitol. I hope that you will take the opportunity to send us your thoughts at"
This blog has written numerous times over the past several weeks about columns apparently written by others that Ms. Ruestman and other legislators have been passing off as their own.
Now that Ms. Ruestman has an opponent, it is time that local newspapers that run her columns should take one of two steps; either eliminate her column completely or offer equal free space to her Democratic opponent Ben Carnahan of Joplin. The same thing should apply to Hunter's opponent, Steve Daniels, D-Carl Junction; and Rep. Kevin Wilson's opponent, John Felder, D-Neosho.
Incumbency has its advantages, but newspapers have no business adding to them. These prominently placed columns are nothing but free political advertising.

Nodler ready to protect Missouri from terrorists

Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, reveals his thoughts on federal and state immigration legislation in a column posted today on

Newspaper photographers maintain access to NFL games

News Blues for TV Insiders, a television business blog, reports that the NFL's new rules prohibiting local television stations from shooting footage from the sidelines at NFL games, will not apply to still photographers, such as those who shoot Kansas City Chiefs games for such southwest Missouri publications as the Springfield News-Leader, Neosho Daily News, and The Carthage Press.
The ban on television photographers was decried by Alicia Wagner Calzada, president of the National Press Photographers Association, according to the blog.
"By denying local television stations access to the sidelines," Ms. Calzada said, "they are in essence denying the viewers in the area the type of sports coverage to which they have become accustomed. The bottom line is, it's not the photographers who suffer from this decision but the local viewer, a move that could ultimately backfire by alienating the very people the sports franchise depends on for financial support: the sports fan."

Wilson opposes HB1783

Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, has told Neosho, East Newton, Seneca, Westview and McDonald County school officials he opposes HB1783, the tuition tax credit proposal, which many opponents see as an attempt to open the door for educational vouchers.
The stance puts him at odds with some of his area colleagues. The bill, sponsored by Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, is co-sponsored by several Republican representatives, including Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, and Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City.
In an e-mail sent Wednesday, Wilson wrote:
"I have received several emails and inquiries regarding my stance on HB 1783 (tuition tax credits). Please let all your staff know that I am steadfastly opposed to this legislation. Last year it was my privilege to serve on the Special Committee on Education Funding which as you know was tasked with rewriting the foundation formula. The results of that work will bring millions of dollars each year into the school districts in Newton and McDonald counties. I have worked hard on behalf of public schools and will oppose efforts such as this which could ultimately take away needed resources from our kids."
For more information on the bill and the special interests backing it, check the following link.

"Phone Sex Grandma" star drops out of House race

Opal Dockery, Lamar, writer and star of the independent movie, "Phone Sex Grandma," told The Turner Report she is abandoning her candidacy for the Sixth District Congressional seat currently held by Republican Sam Graves.
Ms. Dockery sent the following e-mail earlier today, "Randy, I want to let you know that I have dropped out of the election for U.S. Congress. You can put that on your web site if you want. I have discovered that it is going to take too much time and money than I can afford."
More information about Ms. Dockery's brief candidacy can be found at this link.

Local TV stations barred from shooting footage at Chiefs games

Apparently, we will not see locally-shot footage from Kansas City Chiefs' games (or any other games) any more.
The NFL ruled earlier this week that photographers for local television stations will not be allowed on the sidelines at any NFL games to shoot footage for news and highlight shows. While there was some talk about the ruling being to ease congestion on the sidelines, it appears the main reason for the new rule is the use across the nation of unauthorized footage on TV station websites.

Times editorial criticizes lack of lobbying reform

Today's New York Times features a strong editorial deriding the lack of true lobbying reform in the U. S. Senate.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Change requested in lawsuit against Alba foster parents

Brandie McLean will not be the one whose name is on the wrongful death lawsuit against the foster parents who were caring for her son, Braxton Wooden, when he was shot to death by their son Ethan Gordon on June 2, 2005.
According to documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the new plaintiff is Rhonda Stone, the great aunt of Braxton Wooden, acting as next friend for Braxton's four brothers and sisters.
The basics of the lawsuit have not changed much. It was originally filed Aug. 26 in Jasper County Circuit Court by Ms. McLean. Braxton was in the care of the Gordons, Alba, when he was shot to death by their 15-year-old son, Ethan. Ethan Gordon is also a defendant in the lawsuit, as are Social Services caseworkers John McGinnis and Mickey Morgan. A notice or removal to federal court was filed last week.
According to the petition, "Ethan Gordon knew or should have known that the gun was loaded with ammunition."
Mark and Treva Gordon owned the 38 caliber Smith and Wesson gun that killed Braxton Wooden, as well as other weapons and ammunition, the petition said. "Weapons, specifically firearms, were accessible to the children in the foster home in violation of state foster care regulations and Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division policy."
The petition continues, "Mark and Treva Gordon knew or should have known the location in which they kept the gun was accessible to the minor child," and that Ethan Gordon "was not mature enough to exercise the proper degree of care in the use and control of the gun."
Ms. Morgan and her McGinnis, who was her manager and supervisor, were also responsible for Braxton Wooden's death, the lawsuit said, because they failed to determine "that Mark and Treva Gordon were unfit persons to act as foster parents."
The caseworkers also failed to "monitor" and to provide "adequate supervision and caseworker services to Braxton Deshawn Wooden," the petition said.
It also said the caseworkers failed to investigate whether hazardous items were accessible to children. The petition says, "Braxton Deshawn Wooden was subject to physical and emotional deprivation" and he suffered "severe and violent injuries," and was "subject to extreme emotional and psychological distress in that he suffered and endured an unstable family environment, humiliation, mental anguish and fear."
The state workers were "negligent, careless, grossly negligent, imprudent and reckless and totally without thought as to the safety and welfare of others and with complete indifference to or conscious disregard for the safety of others," the petition said.

Another big bill submitted in O'Sullivan bankruptcy

Chanin Capital Partners, the financial advisor for the Committee of Unsecured Creditors in O'Sullivan Industries' Chapter 11 bankruptcy submitted a bill for $128,053.99 today, according to documents filed today in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Since the company was hired in October, it has submitted bills totaling more than half a million dollars.

Blankenship trial moved to McDonald County

A Sept. 12 trial date has been set for Accused internet pervert Gary Reed Blankenship. The case will be heard in McDonald County Circuit Court on a change of venue from Missouri.
A pre-trial conference is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 11.
Blankenship, 56, Neosho, a former O'Sullivan Industries official, was arrested following one of Diamond Police officer Jim Murray's internet sex stings. Murray entered a chat room pretending to be an underaged girl. Police say Blankenship propositioned the "teen," arranged for a meeting with her to have sex, then was arrested when he arrived on Jan. 27, 2005.
Blankenship faces eight counts of possession of child pornography, one count of enticing a child, and one count of promoting obscene material to a minor.

Street Talk audio available at website

The audio from my appearance this week on the Springfield cable show "Street Talk" can be heard at the show's website.
Thanks again to Ron Davis and the crew for making it a most enjoyable afternoon.

Religion columnist dead at 82

One of the most important tasks the editor of a daily newspaper has is to select the local and national columnists whose work will be featured on the opinion pages.
You have to find just right mix, the kind of writers who consistently provide thoughtful, sometimes provocative prose. I like the depth and insight of AP political columnist Walter Mears, the outrageousness of Charlie Reese, the astute observations of Mort Kondracke and the First Amendment writings of Nat Hentoff. One of my favorite columns was "Saints and Sinners" written by George Plagenz, which appeared regularly in The Press while I was editor.
Plagenz wrote a weekly religion column, one which sought to educate and stimulate thought rather than to preach. He explored religious issues in a fair and evenhanded way. He wrote the column right up until his death Sunday at age 82 in Columbus, Ohio.
Religion is a vital part of most Americans' lives, yet it is vastly undercovered in our newspapers unless there is some sort of scandal. George Plagenz' columns were a breath of fresh air and they will be missed.
His obituary ran in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Business newspapers topic of Joplin Daily story

Anyone interested in learning more about Joplin's two new weekly business publications can do so by reading Michelle Pippin's article on the Joplin Daily website.

Nexstar stock cracks $5 barrier

It wasn't that long ago that the stock of Nexstar Broadcasting was coming perilously close to dipping below the $4 mark. Another 11 cent increase in trading Wednesday lifted the stock back up to $5.02 per share. It's still a far cry from the $10 plus it was recording a couple of years back, but it still appears to be a positive sign for company stockholders.
Nexstar owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.
Wednesday was also a successful trading day for Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX in Joplin. The stock was at $9.47 per share, up 43 cents from the previous day.

Senate passes watered down lobbying bill

In the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, the U. S. Senate Wednesday passed a watered down lobbying bill which emphasizes more disclosure rather than true reform.
As I heard some pointing out on the evening news shows, if this bill concerned lobbyists any more than it did, there would have been an uproar about it. All that met it was silence.
More disclosure sounds good, but most media outlets are not going to spend much time poring over lobbying records, no matter how voluminous they are. And the few who do usually find themselves too distracted by whatever tabloid scandal story of the week is taking place.
I don't remember the exact quote, but on one of the evening news programs I heard Senator Trent Lott talking about how some of the earlier proposals would have kept him from going out to lunch with lobbyists, but Sen. Russell Feingold answered that it would do nothing of the sort. All it meant was that each of them would have to pick up their own check.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

White supremacist sues for spot on August ballot

Frazier Glenn Miller, the white supremacist whose candidacy for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Republican Roy Blunt was rejected by the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties, has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan asking that he be placed on the August ballot as a Democrat. News of the lawsuit is featured in an article in today's Springfield News-Leader.
If successful, Miller would join a crowded Democratic primary field that includes Ron Lapham of Bolivar, Charles Christup of Cape Fair, and director of "Phone Sex Grandma" and the upcoming "Son of a Stripper" Jack Truman of Lamar. If Miller is unsuccessful he will likely file as an independent in the November general election.
Blunt also has opposition in the Republican primary from transgender candidate Mitchell "Midge" Potts, Clendon Kinder of Joplin, and Bernard F. Kennetz, Jr. of Nixa. Kennetz filed on Tuesday.
Kevin Craig, Powersite, was the only Libertarian candidate to file before Tuesday's deadline.

Nexstar stock continues to do well

After nearly falling below $4 just a few weeks ago, the stock of Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield is about to break the $5 per share barrier.
The company closed Wednesday's trading at $4.92 per share, up 20 cents over the previous day.

Missouri Senators split on outside ethics office

By a 70-30 margin Wednesday, the U. S. Senate rejected a bipartisan measure that would have created an office of public integrity, which would have overseen Senate rules. The office was proposed following recent lobbying scandals.
One of those voting for the measure was Sen Jim Talent, R-Mo., while his Missouri colleague, Sen. Kit Bond, cast a "no" vote.
More information can be found in this Washington Post article.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Joplin MO and Beyond bites the dust

Mister X, the blogger who began the "Joplin Mo and Beyond" website just a few short weeks ago, made his last post today. "A situation has arisen that will demand the attention of most of my waking hours," he wrote. "Because of this, I will not be able to regularly post to Joplin MO and Beyond. Because I don't want the blog to be infrequently updated, I am discontinuing the blog."

I have enjoyed having the blog as one of my daily stops and hope Mister X can resume it at some later time. I will try to have the link removed later today.

Challenges mounted against four of six area representatives

Three final-day challengers promise to spice up this year's November general election for area state representative slots.
As of 3:30 p.m. today, candidates who had filed were:
127th District- incumbent Steve Hunter, R-Joplin; challenger Steve Daniels, D-Carl Junction
130th District- incumbent Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho; challenger John Felder, D-Neosho
131st District- incumbent Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin; challenger Ben Carnahan, D-Joplin
On Monday, Rich Meyer, D-Buffalo, filed to oppose incumbent 126th District State Representative Ed Emery.
With less than two hours to go until the filing deadline, no one has filed to run against 128th District Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, or 129th District State Representative Ron Richard, R-Joplin.
As far as state senate races are concerned, 32nd District incumbent Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, is still unopposed following Roxie Fausnaught's decision to change from running from state senate to U. S. Senate, and incumbent Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, is still unopposed in the 28th District.
A race that should be a good one is shaping up in the 30th Senatorial District where incumbent Aunt Norma Champion, R-Springfield, former host of KY3's Children's Hour during the 1960s and 1970s, is opposed by former State Representative Doug Harpool, D-Springfield.

'Street Talk" appearance set for this week

My appearance on the Springfield-area cable TV talk show "Street Talk" is scheduled to debut Wednesday, according to the Lost Chord blog.
According to that site, the show will be aired 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. Thursday, and 12:30 p.m. Sunday on Mediacom Connections. For those unable to access that program, a "Street Talk" podcast will be available at the program's website sometime Thursday.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Globe editorializes on O'Sullivan Industries' news

The Joplin Globe's editorial board has come out in favor of O'Sullivan Industries' emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Tuesday edition features this hard-hitting editorial. Rumors are it will be followed up by an editorial proclaiming that apple pie is tasty and another saying that puppies are adorable.
Seriously, the part of the Globe editorial that caught my attention was the mention of O'Sullivan's Lamar workforce of 600. It was just a couple of years that the company employed more than 1,200.
Perhaps this would have happened if the Newell Rubbermaid Mafia had not been placed in charge and the corporate headquarters moved from Lamar to an Atlanta, Georgia, suburb. Somehow, it is not difficult to believe that things would have been handled better, and in a far more humane fashion, by the people who preceded Million-Dollar Bob Parker, Rick Walters, and their fellow Newell Rubbermaid expatriates.
Unfortunately, the timing of the Globe editorial could not have been worse, since the message boards at have been lighting up with comments about another layoff at O'Sullivan, which supposedly took place earlier today. Hopefully, things are not as bad as they seem

Dismissal of Advantage Waste lawsuit sought

Sure as clockwork, Advantage Waste completes its purchase of the Southwest Regional Landfill in Jasper County and a lawsuit filed against it by American Disposal, BFI and Allied Waste appears to be on the verge of being dismissed.
The connection between the Jasper County landfill and this lawsuit were previously explored in two Jan. 8 posts.
In documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Douglas M. Weems, attorney for American Disposal and BFI (BFI is an affiliate of Allied), asked for the case to be dismissed with prejudice with the costs assessed to the plaintiffs.
In the lawsuit filed June 1, 2005, American Disposal Services of the Ozarks and BFI claimed Advantage Waste, its owner Craig H. Post, and two other companies owned by Post, CHP Investments, Inc., and CHP Environmental, Inc., owed them nearly half a million dollars. They sued Post for breach of contract.
Court records indicate Post and his companies entered into a contract with American Disposal and BFI Sept. 29, 2000. "In exchange for the payments to plaintiffs," the records say, "CHP investments and its affiliates were able to dispose of up to 700 tons per day of certain waste at plaintiffs' landfills and transfer stations.'
The disposal began almost immediately after the papers were signed, but the lawsuit alleges Post and his three companies owe $463,857.65. American Disposal and BFI sought that amount, interest,and fees.
Documents filed Dec. 22 indicated both sides asked that court action in the lawsuit be put on hold due to "ongoing settlement efforts."
"On or about Nov. 30, 2004, plaintiff American Disposal Services of Missouri, Inc., and defendant CHP Investments, Inc., among other parties, entered into an agreement regarding certain transactions between the parties. The closing date of the proposed transactions is currently contemplated to be Dec. 30, 2005. This agreement provides that the debt which is at issue in this case will be paid by mid-February 2006." If the deal works out, the documents indicated, the lawsuit would be dismissed.
As noted in the earlier Turner Report posts, the entire deal seemed to coincide with the renewed interest in and eventual purchase of the Southwest Regional Landfill by Advantage Waste.

'Phone Sex Grandma' and 'Son of a Stripper' file for U. S. House seats

A "Phone Sex Grandma" and the "Son of a Stripper" filed today to run for two U. S. House seats.
Opal Dockery, Lamar, star (and only cast member) of the nine-minute movie, "Phone Sex Grandma," has filed on the Democratic ticket to oppose incumbent Rep. Sam Graves in the Fourth District, while her son, Jack Truman (formerly Jack Kerney, but if you're from Lamar Truman has to sound attractive), director of "Phone Sex Grandma" and star and director of the upcoming film "Son of a Stripper," filed today on the Democratic ticket to make his second effort to unseat incumbent Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt.
"Phone Sex Grandma" was featured recently at the Slamdance Film Festival in Los Angeles. According to the festival website, it was produced by Truman and Ms. Dockery, written by Ms. Dockery, edited by Truman, scored by Truman (to prevent any misunderstandings, that means he wrote the music) and stars Ms. Dockery. The film's description says it is about a "60-something grandma working a phone sex line in a small Southern ghost town."
According to one online critic, the movie featured "nine minutes of an older, homely looking woman (Opal Dockery) sitting around performing sex calls for work to various callers while she goes about her chores." According to the critic, the film includes a scene in which Ms. Dockery tells a caller about her vagina while reading "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin.
"Son of a Stripper" apparently will be an autobiographical story, according to an article in the Feb. 3 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in which Ms. Dockery said she had worked more than 20 years as a stripper. "And she did it while raising a son, who just happens to be the filmmaker, Jack Truman," the article said. 'They are now trying to develop a feature film based on their life together, called "Son of a Stripper.' "
Ms. Dockery has already immortalized her earlier career in her book, "Thoughts of a Stripper: A Mother's Story," which details her career as "Melissa St. John: The Upside-Down Girl." The book is described this way on the Dixie Publishing website:
"Thoughts of a Stripper: A Mother's Story, by Opal Dockery, is an inspirational, spiritual and autobiographical journal of a burlesque dancer traveling across the country in the 1970's. In the 1970's, the Burlesque industry was thriving. Nudity and pornography was a public and political outrage. And people across the country were flocking to burlesque theaters to see Melissa St. John: The Upside Down Girl. Little did they know she was a single Mother, alone, on the road, with her two children in boarding schools in separate states. Over a 6 year period while traveling on a burlesque circuit across the country, she was searching for a way to come face to face with her true spirit. Through writing her innermost thoughts on paper, she found herself in the most unconventional way."
The site describes Ms. Dockery as a "writer, counselor and speaker, a vegetarian, and says she has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in criminal justice. She is a founding member of the Universal Equalitarian Church, the website says.
Truman is one of three Democrats who have filed for the Seventh District seat. Also filing today was Charles Christup of St. Fair, who is making his second run. Filing earlier was Ron Lapham, Bolivar, who is running for a fourth time.

Chairman of Mel Carnahan PAC files against Emery

While one area legislator lost his opposition, another one now has a race.
Rich Meyer, Buffalo, chairman of the Mel Carnahan Democratic Political Action Committee, has filed on the Democratic ticket to oppose 126th District incumbent Ed Emery, R-Lamar.
Meanwhile, Roxie Fausnaught, common law life of accused child molester and perennial candidate Martin Lindstedt, has dropped her candidacy for the 32nd District Senate Seat held by Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, and has instead emerged as a Republican primary candidate against U. S. Senator Jim Talent.
Unopposed as of this evening with one more day to file are: Nodler, Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City; Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin; Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City; and Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho.

Radio forum discusses KBTN change

A thread on the Ozarks section of Missouri Radio Forums is devoted to the recent switch of Neosho's AM station from country to talk radio. Considerable space is also devoted to the station's change in call letters from KBTN to KQYS.

Four months in the slammer for hospital embezzler

Former Barton County Memorial Hospital finance director will spend four months in prison.
At least that's the way it usually works when a judge holds for a case for a 120-day callback, which Cedar County Circuit Court Judge Theodore Scott did during the sentencing hearing today.
Ms. Schlup, 41, Deerfield, was sentenced to four years in prison, but will likely be released July 26. Court records indicate she will have to pay back $100,085 and pay $46 in court costs.
Ms. Schlup stole the money from the hospital between 1999 and 2003.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Area legislators co-sponsoring voucher legislation

Rep. Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, is behind a bill which is designed to thrust the door wide open and allow school vouchers into Missouri.
Though the wording on Bearden's bill, HB 1873, limits it to the St. Louis, Kansas City and Wellston areas, no one is expecting things to end there. The bill was voted out of the Special Committee on Urban Issues March 16, the final day before the House's spring break, by a vote of 7-3.
And though Bearden is the bill's sponsor, its 23 co-sponsors include Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, and Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City.
The bill would establish the Betty L. Thompson Student Success
Scholarships Tax Credit Program, and would authorize tax credits for those who donate money to the program, with the funds going toward $5,000 (approximately) scholarships.
The criteria for schools is mentioned in the bill summary:
"Eligibility standards for students receiving scholarships include a grade point average of 2.5 or less; residence in the St. Louis,Kansas City, or Wellston School District; attendance at a public school for the semester before a scholarship is granted or starting school in the state for the first time; and a family income of 135% of the level which qualifies the student for the reduced lunch program. Scholarship-granting organizations must meet requirements for fiscal soundness, percentage of revenues devoted to educational scholarships, and public reporting.
Private schools qualify to accept scholarship students by meeting requirements which include employee background checks and student assessments, among others. The substitute specifies how scholarship checks will be distributed. Scholarships may also be used at public schools outside the eligible school districts. If the scholarship student attends another public school, the accepting school must take the
educational scholarship funds instead of state funds owed to the accepting district."

I continue to be amazed that our politicians are willing to inflict rule after rule and requirement after requirement on public schools, but are willing to accept the notion that private schools offer a better education without requiring them to meet the same standards.
In an article in the March 22 Columbia Tribune, Kyle Farmer of the Missouri School Boards Association made the point perfectly. To quote from the article:
"The lack of accountability is one problem with using state funds for private education, Kyle Farmer of the Missouri School Boards Association told the audience.
Private schools are not subject to the stateÂ’s Open Meetings and Records Law, nor do they have to open their board meetings to the public, Farmer said. Students in private or parochial schools do not have to meet Missouri Assessment Program or No Child Left Behind Act standards. Private schools are not subject to independent or state audits, he said. 'When I pay taxes, I want to know where my money is going,' he said. 'Private schools spend money how they want and donÂ’t have to tell you about it.' "

However, it's not just private schools that spend money; it's also the lobbyists hired by the pro-voucher groups. Missouri Ethics Commission records indicate more than $1,000 was spent on wining and dining members of the Special Committee on Urban Issues during the 2005 calendar year when similar legislation was proposed, including:
-$420.40 for meals on Feb. 16 from Kent Gaines, lobbyist for K12, which advertises itself as an organization that "provides a solid home-based education."
-$180 for meals a week later from Cheryl Dozier, who represents the Alliance for School Choice and the Milton and Rose Friedman Foundation. That foundation added a more high-powered lobbyist this year who doesn't have to spend a cent to get what he wants, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt's younger brother Andrew. The Friedman Foundation, founded by theconomistst Milton Friedman, first began the voucher movement in the 1950s.
-$340.50 for meals on March 9 from Edward R. Martin Jr., lobbyist for Advocates for School Choice and Alliance for School Choice.
The lobbying for the 2006 legislative session began in the fall when Francis Flotron, who represents Edison Schools bought $162.35 in meals for the committee on Oct. 11.
Two other lobbyists with connections to Wal-Mart, whose owners are known to be among the biggest financial backers of vouchers spent more than $1,200 on meals, food and beverage for the committee during a two-day period, Oct. 25-26, according to Ethics Commission records, though no expenses were shown for Wal-Mart on their disclosure forms.
William A. Gamble paid $1,053.30 for meals on Oct. 25, with another lobbyist at his farm, Gamble & Schlemeier, Sarah Topp, spending $175.71 for meals the next day.

Nexstar looking at Indiana duopoly

Nexstar Broadcasting, with duopoly arrangements in place in Joplin (KSNF and KODE) and Springfield (KSFX and KOLR), as well as several others, may be ready to latch on to a second station in Evansville, Ind., according to an article in Friday's Evansville Courier and Press.
I'm pretty sure the Bill Medley who wrote the article has never been a member of the Righteous Brothers.

The truth about our glowing economy

We keep on hearing great things are happening in America's economy, but it appears those great things are limited to the select few who own businesses or who invest in them and make a profit when jobs are eliminated or are sent overseas.
Whenever we hear of layoffs, we hear of job training to help people land different or better jobs. That invariably does not happen, according to an article in today's New York Times.
When politicians talk about all of the jobs that have been created, they almost never mention that those jobs come at a lower wage, with fewer benefits.

Are schools overemphasizing math and reading?

A result of No Child Left Behind which should have been foreseen, but apparently was not, is the movement by some failing schools to eliminate everything except reading, math and physical education classes.
An article in today's New York Times explores this growing movement, which threatens to destroy the foundation of American education. Consider that public education began in an effort to enable American citizens to be able to participate in their government. With this new emphasis on math and reading, learning about the history of this country and how its government functions are no longer considered to be important.
When all is said and done, perhaps the U. S. will be able to compete in a global marketplace, which seems to be the goal of No Child Left Behind, but the only Americans who will be able to effectively participate in democracy will be those with wealth and privilege.

News-Leader package explores illegal immigration

The effect of immigration on America and Mexico is studied in a revealing package in today's Springfield News-Leader.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A little bit of irony

The Joplin Globe website has added some television-type ads to accompany articles.
I hadn't noticed these before tonight, but I was amused to see that an ad for the Stables Casino accompanied capitol reporter Sadie Gurman's article on new features at the Missouri Ethics Commission's website.
The Stables Casino is not a big player in Missouri politics, as far as I know, but as regular readers of The Turner Report know, casino interests pour thousands and thousands of dollars into this state and their lobbyists are particularly active.
I just returned to the site to get the link and notice that the Stables Casino ad has been replaced by an advertisement for Freeman Health System. Need I say anything more?

Daily obit updates helpful in small communities

The new website for the Lamar Democrat has been a success, judging from comments I heard about it during a visit to the city Monday.
When the Democrat went from daily publication to weekly 25 years ago, one of the biggest complaints readers had was that sometimes by the time they knew someone had died, the funeral had already taken place.
Even when the newspaper went to twice-weekly publication in 1983, the problem didn't completely vanish. Now, thanks to the miracles of the Internet, the Democrat has been able to serve its readership with a daily updating of obituaries, as well as any major events that take place that cannot wait until the next updating.
Those are moves that put the Democrat ahead of most weekly newspapers, most of which either only update whenever the next print edition is published, or do not have websites at all.

Ruestman co-sponsoring bill to take away local school control

Count Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, among those who would like to take the decision away from local school boards on when to start school.
Ms. Ruestman is co-sponsor of HB 1933 fronted by Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, that would mandate a later start for schools, something which has been advocated by the tourism industry and by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce among others. As noted earlier this week, a similar bill, SB 1114, sponsored by Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, is also backed by those same interests, including the Branson Area Chamber of Commerce.
Bearden has good reason to feel beholden to that organization. According to Missouri Ethics Commission records, a Citizens for Bearden fundraiser was held Nov. 8 in the Saturn Room at the Tower Club in Springfield, with 15 participants. The cost for the reception was $300 for a sponsor, $150 a couple and $75 per individual. Bearden collected $1,100 during that fundraiser.
Among those kicking in to his campaign to the tune of $300 was former representative Jerry Burch, now a lobbyist for among others, the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. The food and drinks for the reception cost $469.30, according to the Ethics Commission documents. Of that amount, $300 was paid for by J. Scott Marrs, lobbyist for the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. The other $169.30 was paid for by Trisha Darrough, you guessed it, a lobbyist for the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.
Bearden reported contributions from Reginald McElhannon, $50; James P. Ferguson, $75; Committee to Elect Dan Scott, $75, Al Penny, $75, Terry Meek $150, James Bureman $75 and Carlson Gardner $300, in addition to Burch's aforementioned contribution.
Interestingly enough, on Bearden's campaign contribution disclosure forms, the event is not listed as a Citizens for Bearden fundraiser, but as "Marrs Burch Reception."
Apparently, that is not one of the items lobbyists have to list in their disclosure forms since Marrs, Burch and Ms. Darrough reported no expenditures during November 2005.

Talent, McCaskill fundraising apparatus in full swing

Senator Jim Talent and his opponent State Auditor Claire McCaskill are ratcheting up the fundraising machinery as they prepare for the Feb. 15 of their quarterly financial disclosure documents.
Though most of their fundraising is taking place in Missouri, today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch talks about Talent's picking up donations in the Virgin Islands, while Ms. McCaskill is raking in the bucks in Texas.

Blunt's transgender opponent profiled in Post-Dispatch

Mitchell "Midge" Potts, a Republican primary opponent for Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, is profiled in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Potts is making waves as the first transgender candidate in a prominent election in this state.

Contribution limits may be thrown out in Missouri

The Missouri Senate voted recently to eliminate campaign contribution limits, instead opting to put limits on how much money can be put into these legislative district committees which I have written about extensively in the past few months.
Today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines the effort, which now goes to the House. One of the selling points behind this proposal is full and immediate disclosure, but that in itself creates problems.
You can have every donation made to every candidate put on the worldwide web for everyone to see, but if the media is not willing to go to the work to make sure readers and viewers know who is receiving money from whom then it does not do much good.
Besides, if you allow a major donor to give $100,000, which is then used to mount a major television push during the last few days of a campaign, people are not going to be paying much attention to who financed the ads.
It appears this effort at campaign finance reform is simply another sop toward special interests.

Friday, March 24, 2006

American Idol contestant to perform at mall

Christian recording artist and former American Idol contestant Joanna Martino will perform in concert 7 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at the Old Navy Court at Northpark Mall.

Meet the candidates get-together set in Jasper

Candidates opposed to Jasper's current city administration will have a get-together 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at 1st and Grand in downtown Jasper, a reader e-mailed to let me know.
Voters will have a chance to talk with former Mayor Jim McCorkle and Vic Crazybear during the session. Free hot dogs and pop will be provided.

Assault charges filed against Wyrick

Felony assault charges were filed today against Travis Wyrick, 19, Joplin, according to Jasper County Circuit Court records. An arrest warrant was issued today.
The charges come less than five weeks before Wyrick's April 26 trial date on a felony leaving the scene of an accident charge in connection with the Jan. 17, 2005, hit-and-run death of Joplin High School senior Jamison Alexander.
Court records indicate the assault for which Wyrick is being charged took place March 19.

The problem with drug testing

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read this blog on a regular basis that I am opposed to drug testing of students. Over the past few years, one southwest Missouri school district after another has hopped on the bandwagon and has opted to test students who participate in extracurricular activities (and for full disclosure, my employer, the Joplin R-8 School District, is one of those schools that tests students).
I have never questioned the sincerity of those who have voted to employ these measures. Drugs are a major problem in today's society and in today's schools. Something has to be done and the courts have not allowed random testing of all students, but they allow testing of students who participate in activities that are not a part of normal schoolwork, such as sports, band, academic teams, etc.
My opposition to the testing has always been based around the students' right to privacy and their Fourth Amendment right not to be searched without a warrant and without probable cause.
I have also questioned the cost of drug testing. School districts which cannot afford to spend this kind of money are investing tens of thousands of dollars which could be put to better use in the classroom. (Hmm, I wonder if drug testing falls under Governor Blunt's 65 percent plan.)
Now thanks to Al's Morning Meeting, a daily e-mail message designed to provide journalists with ideas for stories, I have a third reason to oppose this invasion of student rights.
A University of Michigan study published in 2003 examined 76,000 students in eighth, 10th, and 12th grades in hundreds of schools between 1998 and 2001 showed virtually no difference in drug-use rates between schools which employed drug testing and those which did not.
The study was criticized by the Bush administration, which noted that random testing was not included in its findings, so it was republished later in 2003, taking random testing into account.
The study says, "The two forms of drug testing that are generally assumed to be most promising for reducing student drug use -- random testing applied to all students, and testing of athletes -- did not produce encouraging results."
The march to drug testing fails to take several factors into account:
-Many students will simply avoid participation in extracurricular activities, the same type of activities that might provide a lifeline for some of them to quit using drugs.
-Some young people have a firm belief that they will never be caught and they continue breaking laws and doing drugs even though testing is in place.
-If drug testing is ever expanded to include the entire student body, schools are taking the risk of further increasing dropout rates that are already far too high. If that happens, crime will increase, and taxpayers will shoulder the burden.
Maybe it's time for school officials to consider taking the money used for drug testing and investing it in after-school programs that can increase involvement and cut down on drug use. School should be a positive experience for students, not a place with an atmosphere of fear and mistrust.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

When in doubt, run the press release

The Lamar Democrat, after showing some initiative on a couple of recent stories concerning the O'Sullivan Industries bankruptcy reverted to form in its Saturday, March 18 edition.
The news that O'Sullivan is going to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy was quite rightly placed in a prominent position on page one. Unfortunately, all the editor did was to run the company's news release verbatim. The article did not feature any reaction from city officials or anyone from the Barton County Chamber of Commerce, or most importantly, no reaction from workers.
No background was provided, and no timeline was given of the events leading up to the announcement. And in a situation in which many of the company's moves have been detrimental to the city (including its welching on city utility bills and on bills owed to numerous local businesses), leaving the writing up to some paid flack for the Newell Rubbermaid Mafia smacks of dereliction of journalistic duty.

City of Lamar allowed to hold $21,878.24 as O'Sullivan deposit

The city of Lamar didn't get much help from U. S. Bankruptcy Judge C. Ray Mullin in his ruling filed today in U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
The city will not be allowed to cut off O'Sullivan Industries' power even if the now-Georgia based bosses refuse to pay the bills. The judge also turned down the city's request for a deposit totaling an average two months' utility bill. However, the judge relented slightly, ruling the city may hold $21,878.24 as a deposit.
That deposit won't do the city much good since it does not even cover the cost of two weeks of electricity for the company.

Goodman deals with critical issues

It's all about protecting families.
That's how Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, describes Senate Bill 1114, which he authored. No, this is not one of those anti-gay marriage bills or legislation designed to keep evil influences out of the lives of Missourians.
According to the bill summary, "This act asserts that the opening date for all public schools shall not be earlier than the Friday prior to the last Monday in August. However, the act allows school districts to establish an opening date that is prior to the aforementioned date by a majority vote of the voters of the district, the procedure for which is delineated in the act."
In a news release, Goodman said the bill "protects families' ability to take summer vacations, be involved in sports and summer camps and take advantage of other important non-classroom learning opportunities."
Goodman continues, adding that this simple maneuver will increase student attendance "as parents are relieved of the burden of choosing between their children's education and these other vital activities."
These things may all be true, though I am inclined to doubt it, but even if they are, Goodman left out one important reason why he sponsored this is a pet bill of the state's tourism industry, and if anyone is beholden to that special interest segment, it's Senator Goodman.
A check of campaign disclosure forms filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows Goodman received at least $10,550 from Branson interests during the special election in which he succeeded the late Larry Gene Taylor.
In the disclosure form filed eight days before the election, Goodman received the following contributions:
Starboard Corporation $600 (the maximum at that time), Mark Still, Still Construction, Branson, $150; Kanakuk Camps $600, Raeanne Presley (of the Presley Theater) $150, Peter Herschend (Silver Dollar City) $300; American Council of Travel, $600; Ozark Travel Service Network LLC $600, Market Source LLC $600, Branson Hotline $600, Vacation Services of America, Inc. $600, Travel More Now, $600,Jack Herschend $300.
The October disclosure form shows Goodman receiving $600 from Grandvista LLC (Branson Yacht Club), and an additional $600 from GV 248 LLC at the same address as Grandvista; $600 from Kelly Swanson of What's Up Dock Marina; $600 from HCW LLC and $600 from HCW Development Corporation LLC at the same address.
On the form filed 15 days after his nomination, Goodman received $600 from Silver Dollar City BACPAC and $500 from the What's Up Dock Marinma, as well as $150 from Burch and Associates, the lobbying firm run by former State Representative Jerry Burch. The firm's clients include the Branson Area Chamber of Commerce.
This bill is a total kissup to the special interests who poured money into Goodman's campaign coffers. Decisions on when school opens should be left to each local school board and not be mandated by the big bucks of Branson.
The committee hearing on Goodman's bill was held March 14.

O'Sullivan reorganization plan filed

O'Sullivan Industries officials filed their amended plan of reorganization with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday.

Baltimore Sun article shows what Missouri students might face

The ever-growing power of Sallie Mae is explored in a Baltimore Sun article that notes, among other things, that students who take out loans with Sallie Mae may be signing away their lives, thanks to special favors that have been granted the company.
Of course, those special favors might have something to do with the incredible amount of money Sallie Mae has been pumping into elected officials' campaigns.

Democrats fined $104,000 for campaign violations

Associated Press reports the Missouri Ethics Commission has fined the Missouri Democratic Party $104,000 for violations of election laws committed during the 2002 election.

News-Leader offers information on Cox Medicare fraud probe

Today's Springfield News-Leader offers a wealth of information and documents on the ongoing federal investigation into alleged Medicare fraud at CoxHealth.
That investigation was first revealed in the June 8, 2005, Turner Report.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Daily broadens its horizons

The idea of an all-Joplin newspaper to compete with the Globe is an attractive one, but in reality the concept has its limitations.
By broadening its horizons, Liberty Group Publishing's Joplin Daily can turn itself into a more effective challenger to the stodgy Globe. That process started in Sunday's print edition with Michelle Pippin's page-one article about Operation Iraqi Freedom.
By remembering that Joplin is not an isolated island, but connects with the rest of the world, the Daily turned out one of its best print editions. Pippin's story and the photos that were provided to accompany it marked the first time that the Daily has grabbed my attention since it began.
If the page one story had been the only contribution Ms. Pippin made to the issue, it would have been more than enough. She topped it with her page-four column, as she personalized the news. Note, I said she personalized it; I did not say she made herself the story as some Liberty columnists do on a regular basis. By personalizing it the way she did, Ms. Pippin was able to hook the reader immediately and she never let go. This is the kind of column that should be a staple for the newly-minted competitor, rather than a rarity.
Ms. Pippin was not the only one who shined in Sunday's edition. Levi Payton had two well-written sports features, with the standout being a feature on Jonna Brothers, a McAuley High School soccer player who has returned to competition following brain surgery.
The newspaper still has a long way to go, but this one has been the best advertisement for yet.

In Missouri, you can legislate morality

The Kansas City-based magazine, The Pitch, has an in-depth study of attempts by Missouri legislators, including such area politicians as Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City; and Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, to impose their own morality on their constituents.

Sex allegations cost former Neosho man Moberly principal position

Though his lawyer points out that all of those who accused his client recanted their testimony, former Neosho resident Richards Boyce was suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2005-2006 school year Sunday night.
Boyce had been on paid administrative leave for more than a year, according to a Columbia Missourian article.
Boyce was placed on leave following accusations by students that he had improperly touched them.

MSSU grad takes news reins at Coffeyville paper

David Mink, a 2004 Missouri Southern State University graduate has been named managing editor of the Coffeyville Journal. Mink previously served as a reporter for the publication.

Joplin decision featured in Ohio publication

The Joplin City Council's decision not to pursue an arena and a minor league hockey team for Joplin was featured in an article in Monday's Youngstown, Ohio, Daily Business Journal.
Most of the information in the article came from the Joplin Globe's coverage. Youngstown, of course, footed the bill for Global Entertainment to field a minor league hockey team and build an arena.

Push to begin for 1-49 completion

The 1-49 Coalition, a group working for the completion of the interstate highway, will begin a major push during the next few months, Rob O'Brian of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce told the Nevada Daily Mail.

Former Blunt aide lands top lobbying contract

The Hill, an influential Washington magazine, reports David Hebert, former chief of staff for Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, will be one of the top lobbyists for the American Health Care Association.
Susan Feeney of the Association tells the Hill reporters exactly why the group wanted Hebert.
"He's established a great number of relationships on the Hill that will remain very beneficial to us as we fight our battles on Capitol Hill.Congressman Blunt is still a very influential member on Capitol Hill, even though he is the whip as opposed to the majority leader."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Globe, CNHI websites made out of cookie-cutter mold

Every time the Joplin Globe introduces something new, Globe officials somehow manage to say just the wrong thing and they do it such an amusing fashion.
You might recall when the announcement was made that the Globe was offering a new weekly, the Joplin Herald, Publisher Dan Chiodo said it was necessary because there wasn't any room for Joplin news in the Globe. (So far, the Herald has lived up to the Globe's tradition by not including much Joplin news in its pages either.)
Today was the big day for the introduction of the Globe's revamped website. Quoting from Globe internet editor Dave Woods' article introducing the changes:

"It's been over a year in the making. Members of every department at The Joplin Globe have offered their views, ideas and technical expertise. Now, the newspaper's Web site - - is changing.
"On Tuesday, the Globe will debut a redesigned Web site featuring new community-discussion forums; a growing blogs section; streaming video and audio reports; expanded coverage of local, state, national and international news; more options for digital information delivery; and greater opportunities for the Globe's online advertisers to touch base with established customers and make connections with new ones."

It is amazing that for all of the Globe editors' exhaustive research, they came up with a website design that is virtually identical to the designs of such newspapers as the Corsicana, Texas, Daily Sun, the Norman Daily Transcript, the Cushing Daily Citizen, the Enid News and Eagle, the Ada Evening News, the Palestine Herald-Press, the Athens News Courier, the Oskaloosa Herald, the Niagara Falls Gazette, and, well, you probably get the idea. All of the above listed newspapers are owned by the same company, CNHI, that owns the Globe.
The Globe has maintained its highly successful reader comment form, which it does not appear is being used by the other CNHI newspapers, but for the most part, what Globe editors have characterized as months of extensive discussions to give Globe readers a website specifically designed for their needs, has been a master plan by someone at CNHI to have all of its websites come from the same cookie-cutter mold.
Even worse, Dave Woods' article contained no mention of the redesign of CNHI's websites, making it appear as if this was a Globe project.
The only mention of this in any Joplin publication came from this blog on June 16, 2005, when I printed information from a Market Newswire article in which Michael Reed, at the time CNHI CEO, described the upcoming changes.
Ironically, Reed is now the CEO of Liberty Group Publishing, owner of the Globe's competitor, the Joplin Daily.

Magazine's sexiest newslady poll includes Maddox, DeNardo

Twenty female newscasters, including the current and former co-hosts of KODE's Good Morning Four States, are included a poll by FHM magazine to determine who is TV's sexiest newslady.
A reader sent me the link, and the FHM page features photos of current Good Morning Four States co-anchor Antonia DeNardo, along with one of her predecessors, Malorie Maddox, currently the morning show anchor at WOWT in Omaha (where he co-anchor is her former 5, 6 and 10 p.m. co-anchor at KODE Jimmy Siedlecki).
The two are featured along with other local and network anchors.
I am not sure this is something that should be treated as a positive, since the idea of this contest seems to add to the concept of television news as a triumph over style over substance.

No opposition for GOP representatives

With only one week remaining before the filing deadline, no one has emerged to challenge any of the six Republican incumbents for area state representative seats, according to the Missouri secretary of state's office.
While a challenger, albeit not a serious one, filed this morning to oppose Sen. Gary Nodler, representatives Ed Emery, R-Lamar; Steve Hunter, R-Joplin; Ron Richard, R-Joplin; Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin; Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City; and Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho; still face no opposition.

GOP challenger emerges for Nodler

For quite a while during the beginning of the 2006 political season, rumors were circulating that a Republican challenger for Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, would emerge, and the challenger would come from Newton County.
The challenger being touted in the political equivalent of the Hot Stove League was Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho. The talk died down when Wilson filed for re-election.
Instead, the challenger come from Granby. At exactly 10:23.13 this morning, Roxie Fausnaught, the common-law wife of perennial candidate Martin Lindstedt, filed on the Republican ticket. Lindstedt, of course, will have to help her with her campaign from behind bars, while he awaits the outcome of felony statutory sodomy charges that were filed him against last year.
Ms. Fausnaught has been in the courts for the past two years, trying to regain custody of her grandchildren, who were taken away from her and placed in foster care following a protective custody hearing April 22, 2004, 13 days after the Division of Family Services took them from the home in connection with the felony charges against Lindstedt.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Getting young people involved

My favorite blogger (and Small Town News publicity director) Michelle Nickolaisen, a high school junior, makes some strong statements in today's Victim of Reality blog entry about the need for younger people to get involved in the world around them.
That is something that has never been a problem for Michelle. That makes me even angrier about the heavy-handed efforts by officials at her school to censor her blog...though nearly all of her items are posted from her home. Good writers should be encouraged and should be appreciated.

A face made for radio

The headline describes how I have always viewed the nightmare that I see in the mirror when I shave each morning, but that face will be on television next week in the Springfield area.
Today,I taped a half-hour segment of "Street Talk," a cable access program devoted to discussion of Springfield and southwest Missouri issues. It was my first opportunity to meet some of Springfield's top bloggers, including the program's host, Ron Davis, the one-time ace investigative reporter for the Springfield News-Leader, whose Chatter blog scooped area media (including this blog) last summer with the information that Sen. Gary Nodler was watching "Fantastic Four" for free at Northstar Theater, when he had his infamous meltdown with the caretaker for a group of developmentally disabled people.
In addition to Davis, I met Larry Burkum, Amy Sholtis, Ryan Piotrowski, and Gerald Fowler, whose efforts make "Street Talk" possible.
The program, which will be available at the Street Talk website sometime next week, included a discussion of the woeful state of affairs for Democrats in southwest Missouri, the influence lobbyists have over state officials, and of course, a plug or two for my novel, "Small Town News."
All in all, it was a pleasant way to spend the first weekday of my spring break. Thanks to the "Street Talk" folks for inviting me.
Speaking of the Chatter blog: Ron Davis notes this year is the 50th anniversary of Charlie Brown's election as Seventh District congressman, the last time a Democrat was elected to that post. Davis also talks about the apparent decision by Jim Kreider not to seek the post, and he criticizes Roy Blunt's dealings with special interests. It's a thoughtful, provocative column.

More bills submitted in O'Sullivan bankruptcy

It's bill time again and six companies involved in O'Sullivan Industries' restructuring efforts during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy submitted their documentation to U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia today.
I am not going to break it down, but the bills added up to more than three quarters of a million dollars, just for February 1-28.
The bill since the company filed for bankruptcy in October is already in the millions of dollars. Nice work if you can get it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Nexstar debts accumulating rapidly

In an earlier post today, I noted Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and Mission Broadcasting, alleged owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield, owe more than $646 million, according to the annual report filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A little less than a year ago, in a prospectus filed with the SEC, Nexstar officials said Nexstar and Mission had a combined debt of $422 million, indicating the company has added $224 million to its debt load, or an average of approximately $19 million per month.
In the area of the prospectus reserved for possible risks the companies face, Nexstar officials said, "We and Mission have a history of net losses and a substantial accumulated deficit. We had consolidated net losses of $20.5 million, $71.8 million and $99.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2004, 2003 and 2002. In addition, as of March 31, 2005, we and Mission had a combined accumulated deficit of $422.8 million. We and Mission may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability."
The rapid accumulation of losses may have been exacerbated by Nexstar's battle with Cable One and Cox Communications over retransmission rights, which shrunk the company's advertising profits during 2005. Since the company has signed agreements with those two companies and numerous other cable companies, opening up a new revenue stream, it should reverse some of those losses.

Globe website makeover to debut Tuesday

The Joplin Globe plans to unveil its new website Tuesday, according to an article in today's edition.
The newspaper plans to continue the comment items which have set the Globe apart from most newspapers in the state. Discussion forums are also planned, according to the article, and it appears an expansion of the Globe's blogs is also on the way.
It would be easy to say this makeover is a result of the creation of the Joplin Daily on Jan. 1, but I recall posting an item quite a while back revealing the Globe's parent company, CNHI, was planning on redoing all of its websites.
The interactive aspects of the Globe's website have been what has set it apart from Globe articles sometimes bring dozens of comments. While I have seen spots for comments on Daily articles, I don't know whether those articles have received no comments or whether Daily editors are the only ones who can see them. The guestbook on the Daily's website is almost hidden. The same problems appear to exist with Liberty Group Publishing's new websites for the Neosho Daily News and Carthage Press, though the Press does have an easy-to-find guestbook on which to leave comments.
Hopefully, when the Globe unveils its new design, it will also have its archives up and running, and easy to use for the first time. The Globe's archives have been a mess for a long time.
And as for the Globe's blogs, hopefully an expansion will also bring a dedication to bringing new voices into the mix. No one has asked, but I will offer a few recommendations:
-A capitol blog from staff writer Sadie Gurman would be a welcome addition. The idea has worked for Tony Messenger at the Columbia Daily Tribune and Jo Mannies at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
-How about adding my favorite blogger, Michelle Nickolaisen, a junior at Diamond High School, and turning her loose on teen issues. I guarantee she would generate feedback, positive and negative, quickly.
-How about an Ed Simpson blog? Why should we have to wait until Sunday to disagree with the Globe's editor? Seriously, his column is a major drawing card for the Sunday Globe and it would not water it down to have some thoughts appear from time to time throughout the week.
-I would like to see a blog focusing on the area's rich past. Am I the only one who misses Charles Gibbons' "Angling in the Archives" column from the past?
-A blogger covering the area sports scene would be a welcome addition. Not just MSSU, the Cardinals and the Royals (though I will read anything about the Cardinals that anyone writes). Let's have someone who also looks at area high school and even middle school and junior high sports.
-How about an education blog from someone within the public schools? (And no, I am not interested in doing it.) I enjoy the occasional Sunday columns by Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School headmaster Leonard Kupersmith, and often agree with him, but the vast majority of children in the Globe's reading area attend public schools and that kind of perspective would be welcome.
-Finally, how about blogs from Democrats, Republicans, and independents, designed to foster discussion of the issues facing all of us?
The Globe has an opportunity because of the vast expanse of the internet as opposed to the daily newspaper to bring a large number of new voices into the mix and broaden its reach.
I might add, that the same opportunity exists for the Joplin Daily, which thus far, unfortunately, has squandered its opinion segment on self-serving capitol reports (not all of them, but most) from our elected representatives, press releases from a who's who among the city's upper crust, and non-Joplin columns about family issues. The columns by the elected officials might work well in the mix (if they are writing their own columns or not combining three or four bylines on one column), as long as opposing and supporting points of view are included, as well.
The Globe and the Daily have a golden opportunity to forge ahead of other state news outlets by making their websites marketplaces of ideas. It will work for the readers, and if it is handled right, it will also add to the companies' bottom line.

KSN adds the crawl

KSN has followed KODE's lead and has now added a crawl at the bottom of the screen, providing a distracting presence to its newscasts.
I don't know when the crawl was added, but I first noted it Friday night. Some readers had warned this was coming since Nexstar Broadcasting runs the operations for both stations, but I was hoping KSN would take the high road and keep the nonsense from the bottom of the screen.
Most viewers of local news have been accustomed to crawls telling us when there are severe weather problems or giving information about a legitimate breaking news story. Now, this will get many out of the habit of checking the bottom of the screen for that type of information. Of course, that will mean our local stations will have to find a different way to grab our attention, some loud noise or bright, blinking light or something.
On the other hand, a crawl could provide a welcome distraction during KSN's 5 p.m. newscast, "Live with Gary and Tiffany," when the hosts begin one of their conversations on items that have nothing to do with the news.
Hopefully, KOAM will continue to run its newscasts without these distractions.

Nexstar more than $646 million in debt

Nexstar Broadcasting officials trumpeted a new income stream when they reached retransmission deals with Cable One, Cox Communications, and other cable systems. Nexstar's annual report, filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, indicates much of that money will go toward paying off debt.
According to the report, Nexstar, which owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of Mission Broadcasting stations KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield, says, "As of December 31, 2005, Nexstar and Mission had total combined debt of $646.5 million, which represented 111.4% of Nexstar and Mission’s combined capitalization. Our and Mission’s high level of debt requires that a substantial portion of cash flow be dedicated to pay principal and interest on debt which will reduce the funds available for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions and other general corporate purposes."
Meanwhile, as the troops on the ground are being told to trim expenses as much as possible, down to for all intents and purposes combining the news product at KODE and KSNF, Nexstar increased its corporate spending by 6.6 percent or $800,000 during 2005, according to the report.
Corporate expenses were $11.7 million, compared to 10.9 million in 2004. "The increase during 2005 was primarily attributed to higher payroll related costs associated with an increase in corporate personnel necessary to effectively support our growing television station portfolio, along with an increase in regulatory compliance and financial reporting costs, partially offset by a lower amount of bonuses accrued in 2005," the report said.

Op-ed column criticizes 65 percent solution

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has dropped his idea of forcing CEO Patrick Byrne's 65 percent idea in which schools are required to spend at least 65 percent of their money for what is termed as "classroom" usage. Though now it has been watered down to a bill recommending that the 65 percent be followed and schools that do be called the governor's special schools, it is still a troubling idea.
The idea is addressed by Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the new book "Tough Love for Schools," in an op-ed column from the Washington Times.

More information about state lobbying expenses coming

More details about the gifts provided by lobbyists to Missouri officials will be available beginning in May, thanks to action taken last week by the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, speaks about the changes in a section of her latest capital report. She writes:

"Starting in May, lobbyists will have to provide more details about the gifts they provide to Missouri's elected officials, their employees and families.

"The state Ethics Commission voted Tuesday to try to close loopholes in lobbyist expenditure reports that have allowed some public officials to attend ball games and other events without their names ever appearing on lobbyist disclosure reports. Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution requiring lobbyist reports after May 1 to specifically identify the person receiving their gifts and that person's relationship to an elected official.

"The new reporting forms also will require disclosure of loaned items and entrance fees to sporting events, museums and other venues, regardless of whether the public official or staff member is going strictly for recreation or also to participate in a ceremony or meeting."
I would still recommend a simple elimination of gifts from lobbyists. They already hold an advantage over everyday taxpayers, simply by their proximity to elected officials. Letting them add to it with any kind of gift is unreasonable, especially when we are already paying them salaries which are far above what most of their constituents make.

Post article: Lobbyists expect business as usual

Federal efforts for lobby reform are not expected to slow the problem down, according to the lobbyists themselves. Lobbyists tell the Washington Post they may have to change the way they do things, but they anticipate spending as much as ever to influence legislation.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Outside money helps buy Jasper County election

Those who are familiar with Missouri politics know the story of the politician who convinced several of his representative colleagues to contribute money to a relative's campaign. That relative also benefited from campaign contributions from lobbyists and money legally laundered through committees.
That, of course, is the story of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt and those contributions were provided by his father, Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt. Nothing new there.
However, the Blunt story is not the only case in which those same elements occurred. Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter's campaign committee is called "Friends for Rita Hunter." An examination of Missouri Ethics Commission records indicates Mrs. Hunter, wife of Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, has friends in high places.
It also shows that Republican elected officials and the 127th District Legislative Committee had no problem taking sides in a primary race in which no incumbent was running. And the side they took belonged to the woman who served as Jasper County Republican Committee chairman, Rita Hunter, pouring money into her campaign, though there was no reason to support her over other candidates, especially since no Democrats filed for the position.
During the 2004 Republican primary, Mrs. Hunter and four others, Susan Butler, Gretchen Long, K. C. Brockman, and Thomas Sandt, fought for the Republican nomination. Only one of Mrs. Hunter's opponents, Gretchen Long, was able to outspend her, thought most of that was done by taking out loans. Ethics Commission documents show Ms. Long spending $21,033.15, while Mrs. Hunter spent $17,078, Brockman $5,172.77, Ms. Butler $4,165 and Sandt apparently did not spend enough to have to file a report.
Mrs. Hunter was able to spend about $15,000, nearly all of her money, during the last month, with most of it going toward a television campaign, something rarely seen in a county public administrator race.
Where did Mrs. Hunter's money come from?
State Representatives
A close examination of Missouri Ethics Commission records indicates her husband lined up 20 state representatives to contribute $2,700. Those contributing were: Hunter $575; Bob Behnen, Kirksville, $100; Bryan Stevenson, Webb City, $100; John Quinn, Chillicothe, $100; Tom Dempsey, St. Charles, $100; Ed Emery, Lamar, $50; Rex Rector, Harrisonville, $100; Charles Schlottach, Owensville, $100; Shannon Cooper, Blairstown, $200; Jerry Bough, Nixa, $100; Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, Marble Hill, $250; Robert Mayer, Dexter, $100; Bill Deeken, Jefferson City, $100; Brian Munzlinger, Williamston, $100; Larry Gene Taylor, Shell Knob,$100; Robert Schaaf, St. Joseph, $25; Carl Bearden, St. Charles, $100; Ron Richard, Joplin, $200; Blaine Leutkemeyer, St. Elizabeth, $100; Marilyn Ruestman, Joplin, $100.
Of those representatives, only one, Stevenson, donated to any of Ms. Hunter's opponents. He contributed $100 to the Long campaign.
A small portion of Mrs. Hunter's money, $400, came from registered lobbyists with $200 coming from Bill Waris and Associates, Kansas City. Waris pleaded guilty in U. S. District Court last year to making a false statement to the FBI during a corruption investigation. He represented numerous Kansas City interests. Mrs. Hunter also received $100 from Joplin lobbyist Gary Burton and $100 from Leggett & Platt lobbyist Lance Beshore.
Service Vending
The Aurora business, Service Vending, can be linked to $4,800 with $600 apiece coming from Jerry Sumners, Toby Sumners, Talbert Sumners, Tyler Sumners, Brian Fronabarger, Tisha Fronabarger, Theresa Sumners, and Service Vending Company itself.
Legislative Committees
The money laundering came courtesy of the 127th District Legislative Committee. The committee donated money to committees across the state and it came back to Rita Hunter and her husband in the form of contributions to their campaigns. Usually, this kind of money is designated to help candidates facing Democrats in the general election, but in this case the district committee used it to take sides in a battle between Jasper County Republicans.
For instance, on Feb. 12, 2004, the 127th District Legislative Committee contributed $1,500 to the 3rd Senatorial District Committee. That money came back to the county April 16 in the form of a $1,000 contribution to Hunter and $500 to Mrs. Hunter.
In the disclosure report filed eight days before the Aug. 3, 2004, election, Mrs. Hunter listed a $400 contribution from the Republican 18th Legislative District Committee and $1,000 from the 120th District Republican Committee in Clinton. That committee contributed an additional $500, for a total of $1,500, to Mrs. Hunter on July 28, according to the report filed 30 days after the primary election. That total matched the amount contributed to the 120th District Committee by the 127th District Committee.
A group called Citizens & Businesses United, also based in Clinton, contributed $500.
In addition to the contributions listed above, Mrs. Hunter contributed $6,190.57 to her campaign.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Democrat challenges Blunt in Seventh District

It's not Jim Kreider or Doug Harpool or any of the big names Democrats have been urging to jump into the Seventh District Congressional race, but the Democrats have finally fielded a challenger to incumbent Roy Blunt.
Ron Lapham, Bolivar, filed this afternoon for his fourth try to unseat Blunt. He has not been a major factor in any of the previous three, the last two as a Democrat and the first as a member of the Freedom Party.
Lapham, 63, was a naval combat photographer in Vietnam and a general contractor in California before moving to southwest Missouri.
Lapham is the second person to file as a Democrat, following in the footsteps of white supremacist Frazier Glenn Miller, who filed first as a Democrat, then as a Republican, then as a Libertarian, and found no one would accept his filing fee.