Tuesday, June 30, 2009

State has to approve MSSU medical school plan

If Missouri Southern State University is to have a medical school by 2011, it will have to receive state approval first.

A show of local support will be necessary for that to happen, which is why a collection of Joplin-area elite met at the university Tuesday to hear about the proposal:

Officials agreed that the biggest challenges to the project are obtaining approval from the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, creating an infrastructure of regional hospitals where students could do clinical rotations, and finding enough space on the MSSU campus for the program.

The first step in having the program up and running by the target date of fall 2011 is for the state board to approve the partnership. MSSU President Bruce Speck said via a prerecorded presentation that he has broached the issue with the board, and KCUMB is submitting the paperwork to have the program approved. Letters of community support like the ones handed out during the meeting Tuesday will be submitted along with that application.

Lobbyist provides Indianapolis 500 tickets for Tilley

House Majority Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville accepted $340 worth of tickets to the indianapolis 500 May 24, according to documents posted on the Missouri Ethics Commission website earlier today.

The gift, which came from lobbyist Joseph Piertle, representing the Missouri Primary Care Association, is just the latest in a long line of big-ticket gifts and contributions for Tilley, who also serves as the House's Ethics Committee Chairman.

As noted in earlier editions of The Turner Report, Tilley picked up $200 in entertainment tickets from Ameristar Casino lobbyist Wiliam Gamble March 10. And from the Jan. 17 Turner Report:

Missouri Ethics Commission documents indicate House Majority Floor Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, brought in the new year with a little help from his friend- Ameristar Casinos lobbyist Jorgen Schlemeier.

Schlemeier paid $1,742.28, $580.76 apiece in "lodging, meals, and entertainment" for Tilley, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau; and former Speaker of the House Rod Jetton to celebrate the ringing out of the old and the ringing in of the new at Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, the Gamble and Schlemeier client that footed the bill for the excursion, according to the Ethics Commission documents.

In addition to the lobbyists' gifts, Columbia Daily Tribune reporter Terry Ganey recently exposed how Tilley in his role as floor leader derailed legislation that would have kept his old friend, former Rep. Thomas Burcham, R-Farmington, from winning lawsuits against cities whose voters approved public safety sales tax. From Ganey's article:

The Missouri Municipal League sought passage of a bill to resolve a sales tax issue that had generated lawsuits against small cities around the state. Tom Burcham, the lawyer filing the suits, manages a political fund that contributed $110,000 in January to the “Friends of Tilley” campaign.

As majority leader, Tilley decides which bills come up in the House. Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, supported the Municipal League’s bill, but Richard said Tilley would not bring it up.

Thanks to Tilley's actions, lawsuits have been threatened against cities all over the state, including Joplin and Granby in the southwest corner.

Speaker of the House Richard picks up more lobbyists' gifts in May than other Joplin-area legislators combined

The self-proclaimed most powerful man in the state of Missouri, Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, continued to pile up the lobbyists' gifts during the final month of the 2009 legislative session.

Documents just posted on the Missouri Ethics Commission website show Richard collecting $350.95 in lobbyists' gifts during May...more than twice as much as his fellow Joplin area legislators Ed Emery, R-Lamar, Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, and Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, combined.

The big ticket item was a $100.70 meal paid for by Steve Carroll, lobbyist for the Home Builders Association of Missouri May 11. Richard also received a $53.81 meal from Rodney Gray, Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City, four meals costing $8.30 apiece from Patricia Strader, Empire District Electric Company and another from Samuel Licklider, Missouri Association of Realtors. The meals from Strader and Licklider came on May 28 with both lobbyists also chipping in $8.30 for meals for Richard's wife, Patti, according to the Ethics Commission documents.

Michael Reid, Missouri School Boards Association, paid for $36.46 meals for Richard and his wife. Mrs. Richard received $53.06 in meals during May, more than Emery, Mrs. Ruestman, and Stevenson combined.

Those three reported only $11.79, with each receiving a meal for that amount from Sarah Topp, Missouri Beverage Association.

Flanigan accepted two meals totaling $63.43, with Gary Burton, Missouri Association of Insurance Agents, paying $39.36.

Wilson's total was $63.51, with a $36.46 meal from Michael Reid, Missouri School Boards Association, and $27.05 from Burton.

For the first five months of 2009, Richard has received $1,481.82 in lobbyists' gifts, followed by Stevenson $1,025.36, Mrs. Ruestman $659.70, Wilson $485.11; Flanigan $454.27, and Emery $231.56.

Nodler to KY3: I've got substance

In a question-and-answer session with Dave Catanese of KY3, Sen. Gary Nodler,modestly characterized himself like this:

Asked about how he'll handle the perception that he has more enemies than Senate colleague Jack Goodman, Nolder responded, "I've got a lot more people that like me than Jack does too. It goes both ways." "I'm not too polarizing . . . People want to elect legislators to Congress. If the objective is to find a neutral or unremarkable person, or someone who doesn't have as much substance, that's probably not me," he said.

Nodler also told Catanese he has raised $100,000 during one month of campaigning.

Kinder sets up new committee, converts old one toward covering $600,000debt

The filings have not been scanned in by the folks at the Missouri Ethics Commission yet, but it appears Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has taken the first steps toward challenging Jay Nixon for governor in three years.

Kinder's former campaign committee, Friend of Peter Kinder, is now Friends of Peter Kinder Debt Committee, while he formed a new Friends of Peter Kinder today, according to the Ethics Commission filing. The filing indicates he will run for statewide office in 2012.

The Turner Report was the first to note, in an April 14 post, that Kinder's campaign committee was more than $600,000 in debt:

If anyone should identify with the mounting debt facing many U. S. business, it would be Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Documents filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission indicate Kinder's campaign committee, Friends of Peter Kinder, owes $606,771.

Ethics Committee chairman Tilley takes $6,000 from Anheuser-Busch

House Majority Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, is continuing to rack up oversized contributions.

A 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission indicates the Ethics Committee Chairman reported a $6,000 contribution from Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, today.

KOAM gives background on driver in crash that killed 10

KOAM reporter Jeffrey Smith did an admirable job checking with Missouri state officials about the driving record of Donald Creed, 76, Willard, who was driving the semi-truck that caused an accident that killed 10 people on the Will Rogers Turnpike Friday.

The officials noted that Creed had an impeccable record with no previous incidents. That was in Missouri.

I don't know if anyone has checked Oklahoma records, but Creed, who was driving far too fast, according to investigators, pleaded guilty Sept. 18, 1998, for driving 83 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone in Beaver County.

State auditor: Blunt did not document hiring of legal counsel

A state audit of Matt Blunt's operation of the governor's office from July 1, 2008 to Jan. 12, released today, shows problems with documentation of the hiring of legal counsel:

Additionally, documentation supporting the method/criteria for selecting legal counsel for the Governor relating to an open records matter was not prepared and retained. Invoices, totaling over $401,000, included attorney rates ranging from $110 to $300 per hour, legal counsel travel costs, and late charges. According to the Chief of Staff, the selection of this legal counsel was at the discretion of the Governor.

State audit finds no problems with Nixon's attorney general office

A state audit of the attorney general's office during the last two years under Jay Nixon showed no problems.

The report, issued today, also included follow-ups on the last audit.

Crowell offers views on Independence Day

In his latest Capitol Connection, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, offers these thoughts about Independence Day:

Our forefathers gave more than time and hard work to the cause of independence. Most of these men sacrificed everything they had, including their lives. The British charged some with treason, others fought and died in the Revolutionary War, and many witnessed their homes and livelihood taken from them and destroyed. Yet all stood proud and with determination pledged their devotion: “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance,” said John Adams.
We, as Americans should never forget why we have our freedoms and how they were won. Today, there are still those who are willing to give everything for their country. These brave service men and women remind us that the liberties we often take for granted are valuable and worth fighting for. We are not perfect, but we enjoy more freedoms than any other nation on the planet and our promise is perfect. The Fourth of July is just one day a year when we as a nation can stop and reflect on the free and independent life we all have and the struggles of those before us, among us, and in the future. This Fourth of July, I hope you will join me in reflecting, remembering, and thanking those American soldiers who are defending the freedom we celebrate. Only two have ever offered to lay down their life for you, one is Jesus Christ — the other is the American soldier.

Republicans continue to rip Nixon over fee offices

THe Missouri GOP has been having a field day ripping Gov. Jay Nixon for awarding lucrative ficense fee offices to contribuors and in the latest release from the party, a Democrat, Ray Salva, Kansas City, is quoted:

In today’s Kansas City Star, a legislator of Jay Nixon’s own party blasted the governor for rewarding his campaign contributors with lucrative license offices. Despite Nixon’s campaign promise to end political patronage, Ray Salva, a Democratic State Representative from Sugar Creek, has revealed the truth behind Nixon’s hyped bidding process: “It’s all politics. Don’t let anybody fool you.”

Salva’s candid disclosure comes after several high-profile Democrats have been rewarded with fee offices, including James Montee in Lee’s Summit (which earned Nixon a rebuke from the St. Joseph News-Press), Ken Kielty in St Charles, and Paul Wrabec in Sugar Creek.

“Jay Nixon can say whatever he wants, but he has clearly broken his campaign promise to end political patronage. The problem is so apparent that editorial boards and even his fellow Democrats have begun criticizing him for continuing to dole out lucrative fee offices to his friends and donors,” said Lloyd Smith, Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party. “We are glad that others, including Democrat office holders, have seen through Nixon’s ‘transparency’ charade and joined in the growing bipartisan chorus of condemnation for his shameless actions.”

To date, license office recipients are linked to $80,662 in campaign contributions to Nixon. This number includes donations from immediate family members and businesses. Absent is James Montee, an influential Democrat who has not donated directly to Nixon, but who is responsible for more than $100,000 in donations to various Democratic campaigns.

Four of the ten most lucrative offices have been awarded so far—Columbia, Lee’s Summit, Springfield-South Fremont, and St. Charles—and each one has gone to a donor linked to five figure contributions to Nixon or Democratic campaigns.

Republican Senatorial Committee decision to endorse Blunt examined

In a blog entry Monday, former Columbia Tribune reporter Jason Rosenbaum examined the National Republican Senatorial Committee's decision to endorse Roy Blunt for the Senate seat currently held by Kit Bond.

While I agree with Rosenbaum's prediction that the endorsement might dry up any funding for a possible Chuck Purgason run, after watching the effect Sarah Steelman's appearance on Glenn Beck had on audiences during her race for governor, I am wondering if she might not be able to land cash from sources other than the usual pipeline by running a campaign as a strict conservative.

McCaskill defends tougher regulation on financial institutions

In a television interview Monday, Sen. Claire McCaskill defended tougher regulations for financial institutions:

TV station report- Did Nixon break promise to Lee's Summit battery plant

A report on KMBC in Kansas City questions whether Gov. Jay Nixon broke a promise to a Lee's Summit battery plant when he withheld $25 million during last week's budget cuts. The report concludes the $25 million may still be available if certain circumstances present themselves.

Of course, the governor also withheld $25 million from the Eagle-Picher battery plant in Joplin:

Show this article to Cynthia Davis

An article in today's Washington Post examines the summer meals program in a Washington-area school district, and explains the need for it in a way that even Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, might understand it:

"Hunger doesn't take a summer break," said County Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring), chairman of the council's Education Committee, who spearheaded efforts to expand the program.

Although children from low-income homes are entitled to federally subsidized meals year-round, the free or reduced-price meals reach fewer than 20 percent of eligible children nationwide during the summer break. Millions of children pass July and August malnourished and idle, conditions that promote obesity and contribute to the well-documented learning gap between haves and have-nots.

Monday, June 29, 2009

MSSU president: We need $7 million for house for dead bodies

Missouri Southern State University is allegedly in dire economic straits, but that apparently is not going to stop university officials from pursuing a medical school that would require a $7 million building to house a lab for cadavers.

As first revealed in the June 15 Turner Report, Missouri Southern's plans to form a medical school in cooperation with Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences - College of Osteopathic Medicine will be explained to a carefully chosen group of elected officials, Freeman Health Care and St. John's officials, and college and business bigwigs during a luncheon today (June 30) on the university campus.

As far as I can tell, invitations have not been extended to college students, nor to the taxpayers who have been watching programs get cut and hearing at meeting after meeting of the Board of Governors how hard up the university is. No invitations have been extended to the faculty members who have gone without raises for two straight years during the "economic crisis."

Plans are moving full speed ahead for southern Missouri's first medical school to be established in Joplin.

Of course, the students, the taxpayers, and the faculty members do not have the big bucks needed to get this project off the road, while those on the invitation list do and University President Bruce Speck made it clear in his invitation letter what would be required.

"We have been presented with the extraordinary opportunity to establish a medical school in Joplin. During the past several months Missouri Southern State University, St. John's Regional Medical Center, and Freeman Health System have been working together to meet the requirements in the application process for a new medical school.

One of those requirements is to demonstrate community support. Because of your position as a community leader we hope you will support this important project. "

Any bets that the "support" Speck was referring to is not a show of hands on whether those in attendance want the medical school.

Hang on to your wallets, boys!

Gaming Commission Director accepted nearly $600 in travel, meals from Ameristar Casino lobbyists in 2004

During his final year as a state senator, Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, the new director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, accepted nearly $600 in meals, gifts, and travel from lobbyists representing Ameristar Casinos, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.

As I noted in the June 24 Turner Report, after being appointed to his new position by Gov. Jay NIxon, Mathewson made a point that he planned to treat the casinos better than previous directors. "It has been my opinion that the gaming industry isn't always treated by the commission in the most respectful way and I can change that because I always treat everyone with respect."

Mathewson treated the gaming industry with respect during his time as a legislator, being the most prominent legislator to propose the removal of Missouri's loss limits. He obviously had a lot of time to talk about such things with lobbyists from the powerful Gamble & Schlemeier firm, which paid for $594.01 worth of gifts for the senator in 2004, approximately three-fourths of the gifts he received from all lobbyists that year, according to the Ethics Commission documents.

Many of the gifts were attributed to Ameristar Casinos, including what appears to be two junkets to the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City. On Feb. 17, Mathewson accepted a meal from Gamble & Schlemeier lobbyist Betsy Morgan and travel expenses from another lobbyist, Matt Morgan, representing the I70-470 Coalition. At the times, the Morgans were married.

In all, Mathewson accepted 31 gifts from the firm in 2004, out of 41 gifts altogether.

During that year, Mathewson introduced a bill to remove the loss limits on Missouri casinos.

The total goes up further, if Mathewson staffers are included. Ethics Commission records show that on many occasions when Mathewson received gifts so did one or more of his staff members. Those figures are not included on Mathewson's record.

Nodler dissolves campaign committee, forms new continuing committee

Since he is moving from state office to an attempt at a federal post, Sen. Gary Nodler dissolved his campaign committee June 24, according to Missouri Ethics Commission records and documents announcing the formation of a new continuing committee, The Nodler Committee were filed today with the Commission.

The Nodler Committee, with the senator's wife Joncee once again serving as treasurer starts off with $75,968.45, courtesy of Nodler's campaign committee, according to the Ethics Commission documents.

The new committee's documents were filed in paper form, and not have yet been scanned into the database.

Nodler's campaign committee reported $6,959 in contributions since April 1 including:

-Eli Lilly, Indianapolis, Ind. $1,750
-MAPAC, Jefferson City, $300
-Conservative Committee of Southwest Missouri, Joplin, $300
-Dan Haney, Joplin, $300
-Embarq Employees PAC of Missouri, Jefferson City, $175
-Signature Health Services, Inc., St. Louis, $500
-J. Scott Marrs, Governmental Services Group (lobbyist), Jefferson City, $200
-Missouri State Troopers Association, Jefferson City, $500
-Missouri Insurance Coalition, $800
-Long Term Care Leadership PAC, $1,000
-Harness & Associates (lobbying firm), Jefferson City, $175
-AT&T Missouri Employees PAC, $375
-Missouri Cable PAC, $500
-Missouri Chamber PAC, $175

Among the expenditures reported by Nodler were a $300 contribution to Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, and $250 to Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage.

Accused Lamar Catholic Church arsonist withdraws change of venue request

Whatever happens with John Franklin Manco's case will happen in Lamar.

Manco, 19, the man charged with arson, two counts of burglary, and one count of tampering with a vehicle in connection with the Feb. 6 fire that destroyed St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lamar, withdrew his request for a change of venue and a change of judge during a hearing today in Barton County Circuit Court.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, July 13.

Granby white supremacist tries to have lawsuit against President Obama reinstated

Avowed white supremacist Martin Lindstedt, Granby, filed documents in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri today attempting to have his lawsuit against President Barack Obama reinstated.

The documents are being shielded from public view, as are all other filings in the case, but the docket, which is open to the public says Lindstedt filed a motion to "alter, abolish, or amend" Judge Howard F. Sachs' June 17 decision to dismiss the lawsuit. Defendants, in addition to the president, included Sen. John McCain, and various state and Newton County elected officials.

Though the documents are unavailable through the court website, Lindstedt posted his original petition on another website, where he stated his main reason for going to court:

"The main reason that Plaintiffs are filing this lawsuit is simply that it goes against Plaintiffs' religious beliefs to allow any non-white, especially a n-----, to be in any position of authority over any White man, no matter how degraded."

It appears more of our taxpayers' money is going to be used to deal with this frivolous action.

Carthage Press Kavandi story would have been better with old photos

Carthage Press reporter John Hacker did great work on his interview with astronaut Janet Kavandi, but it could have been better if Hacker or the people at The Press had access to the packages that were put together 11 years ago when Dr. Kavandi, a graduate of Carthage Senior High School and Missouri Southern State College, first went into space.

In the July 1998 package, Ron Graber took photos at the launch and Brooke Pyle shot the tense scene in the senior high school auditorium as her friends, former classmates, and teachers watched on a large screen as the countdown continued,

Unfortunately, those materials are no longer at The Press, which only keeps back issues for one year and gave away its voluminous files to the Jasper County Historical Society because there was not enough room in the little bandbox building where The Press is now located. (Former Press Editor Ron Graber received much grief from GateHouse Media officials for giving away the files. Not because the files meant anything, but GateHouse thought it could sell the filing cabinets.)

In a town that has such a rich historical background, it is a shame that The Carthage Press no longer has any institutional memory. The background information would have gone well for a sidebar to Hacker's package, and I have seen countless other occasions in the past few years when some historical perspective was badly needed.

If you armed the Press' hard-working staff with that kind of resources (back issues, photos, files) the value of the newspaper would be greatly improved. That, sadly, does not appear to be a real concern for GateHouse Media.

Detention hearing for white supremacist delayed

The detention hearing for white supremacist Robert joos of McDonald County, originally scheduled for today, has been delayed until 11 a.m. Wednesday, at the request of Joos' attorney, federal public defender Ian Lewis. Joos is charged with being a convicted felon in illegal possession of firearms. He was arrested in connection with a federal investigation of a racially-motivated 2004 bombing in Scottsdale, Ariz. National white supremacist leader Dennis Mahon and his brother Daniel were charged with that crime.

ATF agents executing a search warrant on Joos' property Wednesday found bomb-making materials, according to documents filed Friday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The government posted the information in its effort to prevent Joos from being released on bond.

The search uncovered "more than a dozen miscellaneous firearms," as well as "materials for constructing improved explosive devices, including blasting caps, gunpowder, and fuses."

In addition, the documents indicate, Joos provided undercover ATF agents with information on how to build a bomb.

The government wants Joos held without bond.

Star columnist: Cynthia Davis not worst person, just bad legislator

Kansas City Star columnist Barb Shelley has just come of the defense of Worst Person in the World Cynthia Davis. Well, not really, but she does say Mrs. Davis is not the worst person, just a bad legislator:

She wants to treat the "root cause" of impoverished families' problems, not acknowledging that said root cause just might be poverty itself.

Nor does Davis propose how she would go about treating the "root cause." Don't suggest food stamps, because she doesn't like that program either.

I wouldn't call Davis the worst person in the world. I just wish she didn't serve in the Missouri Legislature.

Joplin Globe flunks with page one coverage of Michael Jackson death

Give credit to the Springfield News-Leader.

In its Friday edition, the day after the death of pop icon Michael Jackson, the newspaper's lead story concerned Gov. Jay Nixon's budget. That was a story that obviously had a major effect on its readers. Two stories and a photo were included in the budget package. Michael Jackson's death was on the front page, which is a judgement that I wouldn't try to argue with, but it did not dominate the page.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch led with some enterprise reporting from its staff about a former police officer who runs a towing company ripping off customers. The budget cuts were also featured on page one, as well as Jackson. Again, the Jackson coverage was not overdone.

The Carthage Press did not have one word about Michael Jackson on page one and its readers were not shortchanged a bit, considering that The Press is an afternoon paper and it would have been hard to find someone who was interested in Jackson's death who had not already heard about it or been reading about it elsewhere.

While John Hacker was on vacation, The Press' page one continued to be dominated by Kevin McClintock stories. In the Friday edition, including the death of a Carthage woman in an accident a a major gift to the Humane Society.

The Neosho Daily News had its Jackson coverage on page three and once more, there is no argument from me with the stories that were on page one. The top story was mostly wire, but it was a story about a local topic- the arrest of white supremacist Robert Joos. Another story concerned how state budget cuts would affect Crowder College.

And then there's the Joplin Globe. As I noted in an earlier post, the Globe devoted the entire top of page one to Michael Jackson's death. Joe Hadsall's budget cut story did not even make it to page one, a ppor decision by Globe editors It appears everything was in the packaging and not the content. The Globe had a nice, pretty looking, but ultimately boring package on whether the sales of firecrackers would be affected by the economy. Of course, it had some of the items that Globe editors love, useless man-on-the-street comments and a nice-looking photo. All Hadsall had was a cut of a $25 million forgivable loan to Eagle Picher that could mean actual jobs for the Joplin area.

The Globe also ran the Robert Joos arrest and an article about the upcoming opening of a Joplin water park that had been closed following a child's drowning.

What would have been interesting if what would have happened if Michael Jackson had died the following day. The Joplin Globe had one of the strongest page ones it has had in some time in its Saturday edition.

Nine died in a crash in Oklahoma, Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White pleaded guilty, and the reopening The Swimmin' Hole was marred by a fight and arrest which the Globe's award-winning photographer T. Rob Brown captured in vivid detail. Now that is solid local news coverage. The second-day stories on Michael Jackson were pushed inside.

But what if Michael Jackson had died the same day. Would the Globe have bannered his death and pushed the deaths of nine people on the Will Rogers Turnpike to lower on page one. Would another potential award-winning photo by T. Rob Brown been pushed off the front page or shrunk to where no one could be recognized so Globe editors could put a lifesized photo of the self-proclaimed King of Pop on page one?

Would one of the other stories have been sacrificed. For instance, the guilty plea of a 16-year-old whose acts of two and a half years ago made everyone in Joplin realize that school shootings can happen anywhere?

We will never know what the Globe editors would have chosen, but I remember a few years ago when the Globe had a choice of putting a story and photo about Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction and the death of much-beloved veteran Globe reporter Gary Garton on page one.

The Globe opted for the Jackson package...even though the actual event had taken place months earlier and this story was simply about the FCC investigation. Globe editors sacrificed the one opportunity they had to pay a proper tribute to someone who devoted his adult life to the newspaper, so it could put a cheap tabloid story on page one.

I have no doubt about it. If Jackson had died a day later, that, not the deaths of nine unknown people, would have been the top story.

The coverage of Michael Jackson's death

Even Claire McCaskill is tweeting about it- the coverage of Michael Jackson's death has been overkill from the outset.

I can certainly understand the news value. Not only was Jackson a major recording artist and cultural figure from 1969 on, but he has also been a fixture in the tabloids and the courts. His name has never been out of the public eye for long. And let's say what most of the network commentators appear to be doing their best to avoid saying- the Michael Jackson coverage is not about the legacy of his music. That would have warranted considerable coverage but nothing like the 24-hour-a-day coverage we are getting now.

No, Michael Jackson is being covered because of his freakish behavior of the past two decades...and, of course, because he died at a relatively young age.

If it had just been about the music, then the 24 hour news cycle would have been dominated a couple of years back when Ray Charles died.

And it wasn't just Michael Jackson. The overkill was there, though to a lesser extent, for Farrah Fawcett. Her most newsworthy accomplishments were one year on "Charlie's Angels," (33 years ago at that) and a pinup that was the most famous since Betty Grable's in World War II. Otherwise, she has existed primarily on celebrity and tabloid coverage.

I wonder what would have happened if someone whose life was not a tabloid fixture, but whose life was marked with groundbreaking accomplishments had happened to die on the same day as Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Someone like Neil Armstrong, Henry Kissinger, John Glenn, or Colin Powell.

Sadly, I have no doubt that if any one of those people had died, we still would have heard and read far more about the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

Is that an indictment of our news media or an indictment of our society?

Show-Me Opinions questions the state of Ozarks blogosphere

With the recent departure of Life of Jason from the blogosphere and other blogs cutting down markedly on the number of post, Show-Me Opinions renders a bleak portrait of southwest Missouri blogging.

I would like to go in a slightly different direction and comment on the problems we have had with the Springfield News-Leader and Joplin Globe forming their own blogs. At first, I thought this was an excellent idea and would add more voices, and occasional citizen reporting, to the blogosphere. Unfortunately, it has done nothing of the kind. Instead of recruiting bloggers who can write authoritatively about local and state matters, our two biggest regional newspapers have added a number of people who comment on national matters, often mimicking the talking points of the conservative radio stations and Fox News Channel or the leftwing views of the national blogs and MSNBC's talking heads. When I want those views, that is who I will go to. I don't go to the Springfield News-Leader or Joplin Globe for national issues.

As far as the reporter/bloggers, I have always been impressed with the work of the News-Leader's political reporter Chad Livengood, who understands two key concepts of blogging- you have to update frequently and you have to give your readers something worth reading.

The Joplin Globe has one reporter/blogger, Scott Meeker, who understands that concept. Other staff-written blogs are seldom updated, and many times the only comments the blogs are receiving appear to be from other Globe bloggers.

National Republican Senatorial Committee supports Blunt

While there is still time for a challenger to sign on to face Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt in the GOP race for U. S. Senate, the national committee did not wait to makes its endorsement.

St. Louis Post Dispatch Political Fix reports the National Republican Senatorial Committee has given its blessing to Blunt's candidacy. Too bad, Sarah Steelman and Chuck Purgason. Whatever happened to the good old days when the national and state committees did not throw their weight behind a candidate until after the primary?

News-Leader readers not happy with Worst Person Cynthia Davis

The comments are flowing in rapidly to the Springfield News-Leader following its printing of Rep. Cynthia Davis' response to an editorial bashing her comments on hunger being a motivator for children (as well as Keith Olbermann naming her Worst Person in the World twice last week).

Nearly every one of the commenters criticizes Mrs. Davis, which would indicate this is not a matter of conservatives versus liberals as she and her dwindling number of supporters are trying to characterize it, but a matter of human decency.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Worst Person Cynthia Davis: If I run statewide, I'll learn to act like a hick

If Rep Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, elects to run for statewide office, she has a plan for how she will win votes in southwest Missouri, the Bootheel, and other rural areas.

Mrs. Davis, termed the Worst Person in the World twice last week by Countdown's Keith Olberman, revealed her plan Friday to KMOX listeners. This was her response to a question about whether she would run for a statewide office:

Well, you never know. All I know is I bought myself a pair of cowboy boots and I'm learning how to say Missour-ah.

Perhaps Mrs. Davis thought that was funny. The co-hosts of the talk program she was on, including Republican operative John Hancock, thought it was hilarious, according to the transcript, which is posted on the Show-Me Progress website.

To help Mrs. Davis' educational curve, I should explain that most people, even in southwest Missouri, pronounce Missouri with the "ee" sound. The large majority of people who pronounced it Missourah are politicians who think that is shows they have the common touch, and out-of-state news media, who have listened to those politicians and think Missourah is the proper pronunciation.

If this was the first time that Mrs. Davis made sport of this area and other rural areas in Missouri, I might feel inclined to write it off as as just another lame joke by a politician. But as was shown in the June 22 Turner Report, when Mrs. Davis thinks her audience is limited to city folks, or at the least those in the St. Louis area, she has no compunction about making disparaging remarks about poor rural folks who cannot be expected to have the grasp of state politics that someone as cosmopolitan and sophisticated as she is.

Toward the end of the accompanying video, Mrs. Davis makes one disparaging remark after another about rural people and the legislators who represent them. Those who view the video will discover the remarkable fact that we have low taxes in southwest Missouri and that the lion's share of the taxation in this state is in St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

But Mrs. Davis has a solution for that. She is going to educate us, according to the video, because we do not understand complicated matters like taxation.

GateHouse Media starts new daily in Massachusetts

GateHouse Media, owner of The Carthage Press and Neosho Daily News, is better known for shutting down newspapers and for eliminating Monday editions of its dailies (watch out Carthage Press), but it is headed in another direction in Massachusetts, where it is launching a new daily to compete with an existing one:

"The focus of Cape Cod Day is to produce fun, informative stories and resources for readers such as local news, things to do with the family, arts and entertainment features, and stories that highlight the people, businesses and natural beauty of the Cape environment."

"This is a paper produced by Cape Codders who call Cape Cod home and want to offer visitors and tourists a glimpse of the Cape through our perspective," said Mark Skala, publisher of GateHouse Media's Cape Cod region. "This new free daily will also be an affordable alternative to advertisers, and to readers who don't want to spend $1 a day for a newspaper."

The paper will be distributed free across Cape Cod at hundreds of locations with an average daily distribution of 25,000 during the summer until Labor Day.

Hopefully, GateHouse officials put more thought into this venture than they did when they started the Joplin Daily as a competitor to the Joplin Globe.

Joplin Globe features mild-hitting editorial on Memorial Middle School shooter plea

An editorial in today's Joplin Globe decries the length of time (two years and eight months and counting) that it has taken to find a resolution to the case of Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White, 16, who pleaded guilty Friday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The editorial board let us know that the case has taken too long (I wonder how long it took the board to reach that conclusion) and offered this powerful advice on preventing future such occurrences:

Once this case is put to rest, we strongly recommend a review by our local courts system to determine a better way to handle a juvenile offender certified to stand trial as an adult

Is it any wonder elected officials quake in fear at the Globe's hard-hitting editorials?

Carthage Press' Hacker interviews Janet Kavandi

Even on vacation, Carthage Press reporter John Hacker keeps working. The Sunday edition of the newspaper features Hacker's interview with Carthage Senior High School and Missouri Southern graduate and NASA astronaut Dr. Janet Kavandi, an interview conducted whlie Hacker was on vacation in Houston, Texas.

Most affecting in the story is Dr. Kavandi's references to the astronauts who died in the Columbia space shuttle on Feb 1, 2003:

“I became the lead casualty and assistance calls officer,” Kavandi said. “That’s a military term and it’s a person who takes care of the families of the fallen soldiers, or in this case, astronauts. I led the team that took care of the families of the Columbia astronauts.”
Kavandi said the job was complicated, but it was a labor of love.
“The loss of one is like a family member lost rather than just an associate lost and it’s so visible, so helping the families keep privacy is important,” she said. “We helped them decide what memorials and services they wanted to attend and so on, and what they felt was appropriate. Plus there the visits with the President of the United States, it included everything from visiting Arlington, to presidential visits to their own private ceremonies.
“Just dealing with the publicity and the aftermath and the investigation was huge. We still to this day, we keep close contact with most of the members and they’re doing well. They’re moving on but it took some considerable time, it was a very traumatic event.”

Does Joplin really need a third talk radio station?

Zimmer Radio is beginning to beat the drum for the conversion of 1230 AM from ESPN sports programming to talk radio. In fact, the station will be referred to as "AM 1230, The Talker."

Is this what we really need.

Judging from 1310 KZRG's weekly e-mail Listener Update, AM 1230, The Talker, will start with at least three program currently on KZRG, the syndicated talk shows of John Gibson, Dennis Miller, and Laura Ingraham.

The update mentions two of the replacements. It appears that the time slots currently filled by Miller and Gibson will be filled by Mark Levin, currently on 1450 AM, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Jason Lewis from 8 to 11 p.m. beginning Aug. 3.

Do we really need a third talk station in Joplin? It would be nice? That is the first question that comes to mind, but there are others. Will there be a local talk show on 1330? What will happen to the local sports programming and St. Louis Cardinals' broadcasts? Is this it for the sports format in Joplin or is someone else going to step in and fill the void?

Blunt in Cape Girardeau: A vote for Carnahan is a vote for abortion and against guns

The general election Senate campaign is well underway and there hasn't even been a primary yet.

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt ripped into the likely Democratic nominee for Senate, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan Saturday at a pig roast in Cape Girardeau:

Blunt, on the heels of endorsements from John Ashcroft and Kinder, attacked the Democrats on what he called an economically crippling energy and labor policy, attempts by the Obama administration to change the health-care industry and a weak foreign policy. A vote for Carnahan would be like a vote for "her friends that are pro-abortion, or anti-Second Amendment, or environmental extremists," Blunt said.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Steelman plays word association- Blunt = Washington; she also enjoys comparisons to Sarah Palin

The whole Republican establishment has lined up solidly behind Seventh District Congressman in the race to succeed Kit Bond in the U. S. Senate, but former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman does not appear ready to chip in for Blunt's coronation.

Jim Carrier has a fascinating interview with Mrs. Steelman in SEMO Times, in which she says she is still considering a Senate campaign, and in the word association with Carrier at the end of the interview, when he says "Roy Blunt," she answers "Washington," the same attack points she would use if she jumped into the race.

And while Blunt has the establishment behind him, the right wing of the party has not been happy with him for a while, and loves Steelman.

In another part of the interview, Mrs. Steelman says she is flattered by comparisons to former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin:

“I am flattered by that comparison and I have read that a couple places. I think it’s a great compliment. She is a reformer and very well grounded. We both strive to put people first.”

Appellate court upholds forcible sodomy conviction of Seneca man

The Southern District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Gerald Rayborn, 45, Seneca, this week.

Rayborn was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of forcible sodomy, felonious restraint, and two counts of armed criminal action following a four-day trial in August 2004. According to court records, Rayborn, while taking the 16-year-old daughter of a friend home following a New Year's Eve 2003 party, pulled a gun on her, forced to take off her clothes, and perform oral sex on him.

The trial was held in McDonald County Circuit Court on a change of venue from Newton County.

Hearing set in Lamar Catholic Church arson case

The next hearing in the case against John Franklin Manco, who is charged with arson in connection with the Feb. 6 fire that destroyed St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lamar, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday in Barton County Circuit Court.

In addition to the arson charge, Manco is also charged with two counts of burglary and one count of tampering with a motor vehicle.

News-Leader: MSU considering suing us

Missouri State University officials are considering suing the Springfield News-Leader because of the impression left that Student Welcome Packs including condoms, an ad for an erotic business, and an ad for Planned Parenthood were sanctioned by the university.

Today's News-Leader includes an account of the newspaper's involvement with Student Welcome Pack, as well as the information about the possible lawsuit:

The packets were sent out by Student Welcome Pack Inc., a Florida company affiliated with the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

To attract local advertisers, SWP worked with the News-Leader's advertising staff, which secured contracts and sent them to Florida. According to MSU, the packet was received in mid-May by about 4,000 college-age students in the area.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Photos posted of feds executing search warrant on white supremacist's McDonald County property

Thanks to a reader for pointing me in the direction of the Lucky Dog Blog, which has photos of AFT agents executing a search warrant on white supremacist Robert Joos' McDonald County property earlier this week. The photos can be found at this link.

Student Welcome Pack part of job description for Springfield News-Leader position

The Springfield News-Leader may try to distance itself from Student Welcome Pack following its denouncement today by Missouri State University officials, but a job ad placed on the Gannett website indicates it is part of the newspaper's plan to reach niche audiences.

Student Welcome Pack sent materials to prospective college students across Missouri, while making it appear that it was connected to Missouri State University. In fact, the News-Leader promoted Welcome Pack in an article...without divulging the company's connection with Gannett, the News-Leader's parent company, and the News-Leader itself.

The package included a condom and an advertisement for an erotic business.

Recently, the News-Leader ran this help wanted ad on the Gannett website:

Niche Audience Sales Manager

News-Leader Media Group (Springfield, MO)
Location: MO - Springfield Job Type: Sales
Base Pay: N/A Required Education: 4 Year Degree
Bonus: Required Experience: At least 3 year(s)
Other: Required Travel: Not Specified
Employee Type: Full-Time Employee Relocation Covered: Not Specified
Industry Newspaper, Printing - Publishing

Job ID:

This position will have the opportunity to fully integrate specialized product initiatives for both print and online platforms. As the News-Leader continues to expand its footprint and reach within the Springfield DMA, this position will have direct impact on the News-Leader Media Group’s ability to grow revenue, add new accounts and provide creative solutions to meet our customer’s needs. Each of these initiatives serves a specific niche; geographic territory and/or target audience that enables the team to implement various strategies and tactics to achieve revenue goals. This person will report to the Advertising Director and will play an important role on our Advertising Management team.

· This position is responsible for developing new clients and meeting the needs of existing clients through the use of the following:

- Custom publications like Signature and MomsLikeMe.

- Special projects like the Student Welcome Pack and other targeted initiatives

- Online sales management of MomsLikeMe.com and Metromix.com

- Sales responsibility in the Ad Division for Key events like Taste of Home and Kids Camp

- Other initiatives to be determined as marketplace changes and new opportunities develop

· Develops contacts and relationships with customers, leads the sales team dedicated to each product and actively works with the Advertising Division to sell clients across multiple platforms.

· Establishes goals for each publication and achieves the sales goals of each assigned platform.

· Develops professional sales presentations based on clients’ needs and delivers the presentations in a timely manner.

· Works closely with Advertising Sales Managers to actively prospect new business and develop presentations for each of their teams while attending needs assessments and presentation calls with Niche AE’s and other members of the sales team.

· Maintains an active customer list of major accounts for each product and manages the responsibilities of sales for these accounts that are shared with the general sales team.

· Works with support departments to ensure deadlines are met and that the workflow is meeting expectations for clients and our company.

Sept. 4 sentencing set for Memorial Middle School shooter

A final decision on the fate of Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White, 16, will be made during his Sept. 4 sentencing. White pleaded guilty this morning to two counts of assault and one count of armed criminal action in connection with the Oct. 9, 2006, incident in which he took an assault weapon into the school, fired it into the ceiling, then attempted to shoot Principal Steven Gilbreth. White was saved from a potential murder charge when the gun jammed.

With the guilty plea, White has a chance to get into a dual jurisdiction program:

His proposed plea agreement offers the possibility of being sentenced under the state’s dual-jurisdiction program or receiving a prison sentence that would be no more than 15 years.

To be considered for the dual-jurisdiction program, the youth must be younger than 17. White will reach that age in December.

The state’s Division of Youth Services will assess whether White qualifies for dual jurisdiction, a program that enables juveniles to receive education, vocational training and various forms of counseling, all of which would not be available in adult prison. If they are able to complete the program successfully, the court may choose to release them on probation. If not, the court may order the adult prison sentence imposed.

News-Leader in full damage control mode, over package that included condoms, sex ads

The Springfield News-Leader is in full damage control mode after the fallout concerning a Gannett-connected company that sent a packet containing condoms and ads for an erotica site to prospective students. The packet made it appear that it was endorsed by Missouri State University.

Dave Catanese at KY3 has been following the story. He was given this statement by the newspaper:

News-Leader executive editor Don Wyatt said, "Gannett didn't intend there to be any confusion over the origins of the Student Welcome Pack mailing. We intend to work with the university to make it right."

So far no mention of why the News-Leader ran an article about Student Welcome Pack without mentioning its connection to the newspaper.

Turner Report reaches 9,000 posts

The Turner Report, which started in 2003, but began moving toward its current news and commentary form in August 2004, has reached 9,000 posts.

This blog has moved from a point where it only reached three or four readers per day to where it now averages more than 600 and has had several instances in which it has had more than 1,000 unique visitors during a 24-hour period.

The high mark came last summer when more than 4,000 readers per day visited the blog during the initial days following Rep. Scott Muschany's arrest.

So thank you, readers for your continued support. It has been much appreciated.

Blunt speaks out against Energy Bill

The National Energy bill passed by a slim margin today. Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt was one of those who spoke against the bill:

Lindstedt defends fellow white supremacist Joos

Martin Lindstedt of Granby, whose recent lawsuit against President Barack Obama was dismissed, is defending fellow white supremacist Robert Joos, who was charged this week with the federal crime of being a felon in possession of firearms.

Lindstedt says there would be no way Joos would be involved with the Mahon brothers, who are charged with a racially-motivated 2004 bombing in Scottsdale, Ariz.:

An extremely reclusive, paranoid and close-mouthed man like Bob Joos isn't going to engage in any conspiracy with this loser and his brother. In fact, Bob Joos isn't going to engage in a conspiracy with anyone.

Lobbyists buy 12 meals, two gifts for worst person Cynthia

Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O-Fallon, termed the "Worst Person in the World" twice this week by Countdown's Keith Olbermann (and taking the bronze tonight), may not be in favor of government providing meals for children in the summer, but she has no problem with accepting meals from lobbyists who are only feeding her because of her elected position.

Missouri Ethics Commission documents show Mrs. Davis has had 12 meals paid for and received two gifts from lobbyists. That, of course, does not include the cases in which lobbyists paid for meals for the various committees on which Mrs. Davis sits.

The documents indicate that on Jan. 15 Ms. Davis received a $133 meal paid for by C. K. Casteel, lobbyist for the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association.

That $133 would certainly provide a decent meal for several kids, not just one legislator.

Latest Worst Person Cynthia Davis video posted

Cynthia Davis takes the bronze

Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, only took the bronze tonight in the Worst Person in the World, losing to columnist Morton Kondracke, who took the silver, and Ann Coulter, who suggested that she thought of the murder of George Tiller as terminating him in the 203rd trimester.

In the part of the segment devoted to Mrs. Davis, Olbermann quoted from a Kansas City Star reader who commented about Mrs. Davis allegedly taking food at lobbyist-financed dinners and stuffing it in her handbag.

Depositions ordered for Blunt Department of Revenue employees

Matt Blunt Administration Department of Revenue employees who may have been involved in the insertion of advertising in the envelopes containing driver's license renewal information will give depositions in a class action lawsuit questioning the since-discontinued practice.

Documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri indicate six employees have been ordered to give depositions.

The lawsuit filed by Emily Roberts, Jefferson City; and Sarah Smith, El Dorado Springs, against the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Source for Public Data and Shadowsoft is set to go to trial in October.

At issue is whether the Department of Revenue's decision to sell drivers' personal information to these companies violates the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ms. Roberts, Ms. Smith, and others whose privacy may have been violated. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are The Source for Public Data LP, doing business as publicdata.com, Dallas, Texas; Shadowsoft.com, Dallas, Texas; Omar Davis, director, Missouri Department of Revenue; and "Does 1 through 10. The "Does" are described in the petition as employees of the Department of Revenue who went along with these alleged actions.

The lawsuit says Public Data and Shadowsoft bought the personal information from the DOR and sold it over the internet:

Prior to February 20, 2008, co-defendant Shadowsoft acquired a large database of information from Mo. DOR on the pretense that the information would be used only for the legitimate business purpose of verifying the accuracy of information of individuals doing business with Shadowsoft.

The information database acquired by Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR contained “highly restricted personal information”, including social security numbers, belonging to hundreds of thousands of licensed drivers in the State of Missouri.

Upon information and belief, co-defendant Shadowsoft transferred the database
in totum to co-defendant PublicData.

PublicData then made the highly restricted personal information belonging to those individuals, unlawfully acquired from Mo. DOR, available for search and sale on its website, www.publicdata.com. In many instances, the information acquired by Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR and subsequently sold by PublicData on www.publicdata.com, included social security numbers.

The plaintiffs are asking for damages, costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees.

Cynthia Davis- Worst person for the third time"

In a few moments, Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, will make Countdown's Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person" list for the third time this week.

She's starting to move into Bill O'Reilly territory.

Feds find bomb-making materials on white supremacist's property

ATF agents executing a search warrant on white supremacist Robert Joos' property in McDonald County Wednesday found bomb-making materials, according to documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The government posted the information in its effort to prevent Joos from being released on bond.

The search uncovered "more than a dozen miscellaneous firearms," as well as "materials for constructing improved explosive devices, including blasting caps, gunpowder, and fuses."

In addition, the documents indicate, Joos provided undercover ATF agents with information on how to build a bomb.

Joos was charged Wednesday with being a felon illegally owning firearms. The arrest was made in conjunction with the arrests of white supremacist national leader Dennis Mahon and his brother Daniel in connection with a 2004 racially-motivated bombing in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Court documents also indicate Ian Lewis, an assistant federal public defender, will represent Joos.

News-Leader involved in sending condoms, erotica advertisements to prospective college students

Missouri State University officials are demanding an apology from the Springfield News-Leader for its involvement in sending a "Student Welcome Pack" to prospective college students across southwest Missouri that included a condom, advertisements for erotica...and making it appear that the project had the blessing of the university.

University officials claim that not only did the newspaper give the indication that MSU was okay with the pack, but it ran a news story promoting without mentioning the newspaper's involvement or the fact that Student Welcome Pack was connected with Gannett.

The university issued the following release today:

Missouri State University has learned that the Springfield News-Leader was involved in selling advertising for a “Student Welcome Pack,” which was mailed to thousands of recipients by the Student Welcome Pack, a company affiliated with the Gannett Corporation.

The mailing, which included the words “Missouri State University” in numerous locations, was done under the company name of “Student Welcome Pack,” or “SWP.” The mailing went to approximately 4,000 college-age students in the area, some of whom are Missouri State students, some of whom plan to become Missouri State students, and still others who are attending other universities or still in high school. Missouri State officials did not authorize the mailing or its contents, and the university did not provide the company with the names and addresses of students. The university first learned of the mailing after receiving scores of complaints from parents and recipients about the packet, objecting because it contained, among other items, a condom and advertising for a store specializing in erotica.

Missouri State has asked the Gannett Corporation, the parent company of the News-Leader, to take a number of actions to rectify the situation, including:

Send a letter of explanation and apology to the same mailing list that was used for the packet.
Send a letter of explanation and apology to the advertisers so they may respond as they see fit.
Publish and post on the News-Leader web site an explanation and apology.
Refrain from sending this packet, or any other version of a packet, now or anytime in the future.
“This was an inappropriate project for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was implying that the university had approved this mailing,” said Clifton Smart, general counsel for Missouri State. “We are hopeful that these corrective actions will help with the misperception that many had when they received the packet. And we trust it will not happen again.”

“This incident raises a number of questions,” commented Missouri State President Michael Nietzel. “First, how could anyone not comprehend that many people would find some of the contents of the packet objectionable and inappropriate? Second, why was the university never contacted by the publishers and distributors of the packet? And finally, why did the News Leader not reveal that it was involved in soliciting the advertisers for the mailing when it published a story about the packet a couple of weeks ago.”

Globe reports Memorial Middle School shooter pleads guilty

The Joplin Globe is reporting that Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White, 16, pleaded guilty this morning in Jasper County Circuit Court to two counts of assault and one count of armed criminal action.

White was a seventh grader at Memorial in October 2006 when he took an assault rifle into the school, fired it into the ceiling and then pointed it at Principal Steve Gilbreth and attempted to pull the trigger. Police reports indicate the gun jammed.

Globe leads with jackson story

No surprise.

The Joplin Globe led its print edition today with a banner headline declaring "King of Pop dies in L.A."

The death of actress Farrah Fawcett was played with a photo right over the Globe in Joplin Globe, a nice design touch.

Normally, I would have played the Jackson death in a similar fashion, referring readers to a story inside, and devoting considerable space to it there. Page one should be dominated by strong local stories. Unfortunately for the Globe, it had none. The strongest story, the arrest of white supremacist Robert Joos, was not a top of page one story, and the others on page one, the possible reopening of a water park and Fourth of July celebrations were probably not even worthy of being on page one.

If the Jackson story had to be at the top of page one it would have been nice if it had been limited to two or three columns.

The Globe has been running a television advertisement which includes some of the headlines from great moments in history. The first man on the moon, a declaration of war, the assassination of President Kennedy- these are events that are worthy of banner headlines. THe death of Michael Jackson, major story though it is, does not come anywhere near that importance.

Why is Burcham filing lawsuits?

Former State Rep. Tom Burcham, R-Farmington, is turning suing cities into a cottage industry, and no one seems to know why. Burcham has been suing cities in which the voters have passed sales taxes, saying the taxes are being illegally stacked. An effort by the self-proclaimed most powerful man in the state of Missouri, Speaker of the House Ron Richard, to make the taxes lawful never came to a vote, thanks to House Majority Leader (and Ethics Committee Chairman) Steve Tilley, who received $110,000 in contributions from Burcham-connected political committees.

Burcham said he is not doing it for the money, and in the towns where he has won, he has donated his money to charity. Burcham claims he is doing it for the taxpayers, but in a February 2008 report, St. Louis television station KMOV reached a different conclusion:

Burcham's contention he was fighting the gallant fight for "the little man" doesn't fit the facts.

As we showed in our report, none of the plaintiffs in Burcham's lawsuits are residents of the targeted cities. The plaintiff in most of the suits is a woman named Tonya Sheets... Burcham's law office secretary. The other plaintiff named in the suit is a woman named Andrea Penberthy. Burcham would only describe Penberthy as "an acquaintance."

In our discussions with the Missouri Municipal League and city leaders in several of the towns named in the lawsuits, we kept hearing the same thing -- the people who actually live in the targeted towns weren't complaining about the sales taxes!

All of these taxes had been placed on the ballot and approved by a vote of the people.

So we continued to press Burcham for answers. Where did the idea for these suits come from? Finally... 36 minutes into our intervew, the truth came out.

Steve Chamraz: "Who are these 'folks'?"
Tom Burcham: "These would be lawyers, city adminstrators and people who are generally concerned with city municipal matters... mainly table talk at seminars and conferences and over the telephone."
So there's your answer.

There is no grassroots movement out there started
by small town residents outraged over "illegal" taxes. As Burcham put it, this all started with "table talk" among "lawyers."

Thanks to the intervention of Ethics Committee Chairman Steve Tilley and the impotence of Speaker of the House Ron Richard, Burcham's lawsuits have reached Granby and are headed for Joplin.

And no, Burcham never really answered KMOV's question, Which special interests wants these taxes knocked off the books?

Arrest of McDonald County white supremacist hits national media

The arrest of white supremacist Robert Joos of McDonald County as a result of the investigation into a 2004 racially-motivated bombing in Scottsdale, Airz., has hit the national media. The main arrests in connection with the bombing were brothers Denis and Daniel Mahon. Dennis Mahon is described as a leader in the national white supremacist movement.

From the local newspaper, the Arizona Republic:

Also charged in connection with the bombing was Robert Neil Joos of Missouri. After a search of his 200-acre property, Joos, 56, was charged Thursday in U.S. District Court in Missouri with being a felon in possession of firearms.

Joos' arrest stems from the Logan bombing investigation. An undercover agent told authorities that Mahon described Joos as a "longtime white supremacist associate and an expert on weapons, explosives, bomb making and general survival skills," according to court documents.

Authorities were scheduled to hold a briefing today in Phoenix to discuss the arrests and indictments.

From the Associated Press story:

The Missouri affidavit says the Mahons told an undercover federal agent that white supremacists used Joos's remote property in southwestern Missouri's McDonald County for survival training.
One of the Mahon brothers described Joos as "an expert on weapons, explosives, bomb making and general survival skills," the affidavit said.
Joos himself told undercover agents who visited his property of the importance of having firearms "in several locations" and said he used 18 caves to hide weapons, according to the affidavit.
Joos is expected to be appointed a federal public defender. There was no answer at that office Thursday night and there was no home telephone listed for Joos in southwest Missouri.

Articles ran in newspapers ranging from the Washington Post and the Taiwan Times to the Joplin Globe and the Springfield News-Leader.

Globe: Eagle Picher funding cut by Nixon

One of the items that fell victim to Gov. Jay Nixon's budget ax Thursday was $25 million in a forgivable loan that was scheduled to go to Eagle-Picher in Joplin, according to the Joplin Globe:

EaglePicher Technologies in Joplin was slated to receive $25 million of that for a job-creation program. Nixon signed the bill at the company’s Joplin plant about two weeks ago.

(Senate Budget Committee Chairman Gary) Nodler said the withholding means that the Department of Economic Development will review the program to ensure it will net a profit for the state.

“And that’s not a bad thing,” said Nodler, who pushed for EaglePicher to receive that funding. “I don’t have a problem with another level of review, to make sure that it returns more dollars to taxpayers.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Worst person Cynthia: They loved me at the Fair Tax Rally

In her latest Capital Report issued Thursday, Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O-Fallon, termed the "Worst Person in the World" twice this week by Countdown's Keith Olbermann, ran the same response she put out Wednesday to respond to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial decrying her suggestion that hunger can be a powerful motivator for children.

But the column had a different opening, in which Mrs. Davis described the warm reception she received last week at the Fair Tax Rally in Columbia:

This was a very special event. When I said “Hi, I am Cynthia Davis from O’Fallon, Missouri”, the crowd broke into applause. It feels pretty good to be on the side of the taxpayer. While many of the details need yet to be worked out concerning a fair tax, we should all desire more fairness in our taxation structure. Having a retail establishment in O’Fallon, I understand the importance of having the same prices for everybody.

Government should be the same way. I am concerned about our national government because they have shown no discipline, nor any desire to protect the taxpayers. We have special interest groups clamoring for more money all the time, but up until recently it felt like there was no balancing voice in the debate. Recently I questioned one expenditure and was viciously attacked by those who were offended by the mere question. We will never get much in the way of fiscal responsibility if the rules are that nobody is allowed to have a civil and intellectual debate.

KODE only station to lead with non-Jackson story

Thank you, KODE!

KODE was the only Joplin station that led with something other than Michael Jackson's death. KODE led with the standoff that took place earlier tonight in Joplin.

KSNF and KOAM are following programs that were already telling the viewers about Michael Jackson's death with more packages about it.

KODE is now doing its second story, and again it is a local one, about the drowning of a child in Wyandotte. KSNF has just begun the story on the standoff. KOAM has just finished the national packaging and is now localizing the story.

KODE followed the drowning story with the first weather forecast and is just now going into the Michael Jackson story.

KOAM followed the Jackson packages with the standoff story, and then did the drowning story.

June 29 preliminary hearing set for white supremacist

A preliminary/detetion hearing for white supremacist Robert Joos of McDonald County, will be held 10 a.m. Monday in federal court in Springfield.

Joos is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Federal weapons charges filed against white supremacist Joos

Federal weapons charges against McDonald County white supremacist Robert Joos were unsealed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

An affidavit filed by Kevin Farnsworth, links Joos to two men charged with a 2004 bombing in which the director of diversity and dialogue for the city of Scottsdale, Ariz., Don Logan an African American, was injured.

The information against Joos was collected by a undercover ATF agents.

(2) Over the course of the past several years, ATF SA Tristan Moreland has engaged in an investigation into a February 26, 2004, bombing incident that injured the
Director of Diversity & Dialogue for the City of Scottsdale, Arizona. The injured director, identified as Don Logan, is a black male. The subsequent investigation
has focused on several persons involved in the white supremacist movements throughout the United States. Through this investigation, SA Moreland identified brothers
Dennis and Daniel MAHON as suspects in the Arizona bombing.

(3) In January 2005, SA Moreland initiated an undercover investigation of the MAHON brothers and others. To date, several ATF undercover agents (UCAs) as well as an ATF
cooperating individual (CI) have been used in an undercover capacity to conduct this investigation. The undercover investigation continues through the present time.

(4) Investigators reviewing telephone records of one of the Arizona bombing suspects, Dennis MAHON, found that Mahon’s phone made several calls on the morning the package
bomb was left at the library. The first call made in that string of morning calls was to a cellular telephone number registered to Robert JOOS at 7:11am CST.

(5) In February 2005, the ATF CI and an ATF UCA met bombing suspects Dennis MAHON and Daniel MAHON in Catoosa, Oklahoma. During this time period, the MAHON brothers told
the CI and UCA about a “retreat” location in Missouri that he and other members of the “movement” used as a survival training location. MAHON told the CI that this location is a remote 200-plus acre property occupied by an individual named Robert JOOS. MAHON further described JOOS as a longtime, white supremacist associate and an expert on weapons, explosives, bomb making and general survival skills. MAHON provided the CI with a map to JOOS’ property and a phone number to contact him. Over the course of calendar year 2005, through the present, the CI had several telephonic contacts with JOOS and visited him on three (3) occasions.

Most of the rest of the affidavit details a large amount of weapons located all over Joos' ranch. As a convicted felon (unlawful use of a weapon in McDonald County Circuit Court in 1997) Joos is not allowed to possess firearms.

Nixon budget eliminates 200 state jobs

Kris Hilgedeck of the Jefferson City News-Tribune offers an examination of Gov. Jay Nixon's budget, with proper emphasis placed on the fact that 200 workers will lose their jobs:

Among those withholds -- which the governor's office is calling expenditure restrictions -- is $60 million in "salaries, expenses, contracts and grants."

Nixon said about 200 additional positions will be eliminated across the state. That figure is on top of the 1,244 positions trimmed from the budget by the deliberations of the General Assembly last spring, and at the behest of the governor in January. Most of the 1,244 jobs were cut by attrition, either through planned retirements or other vacancies.

However, the 200 jobs are likely to be real people, not positions. "Many are real bodies throughout the state," he said, noting the governor's office will be meeting with state department leaders in the coming weeks to make those decisions.

Tony's Kansas City added to links

The popular blog, Tony's Kansas City, has been added to the links on the right side of this page.

I also took the opportunity to clean out a number of blogs that have not been updating. I eliminated my own Devil's Messenger and Room 210 for Teachers blogs, as well as Life of Jason which has shut down, the Gannett Blog, which is in the process of shutting down, the Gregory Holman Blog, CCP News, and a couple of others.

No editorial pages in Carthage Press for three days in a row

One of the key ingredients to a successful newspaper is a strong editorial page.

The Carthage Press did not even have an editorial page during its Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday editions. I have not seen today's paper yet.

A strong editorial voice is one of the keys to a successful newspaper. With a depleted staff, no publisher, and plenty of stories to keep the reporters busy, it appears that GateHouse frugality and ignorance of the importance of a newspaper having a strong voice in the community is damaging The Carthage Press.

On the other hand, with John Hacker on vacation, reporter Kevin McClintock has done yeoman work filling in, writing every page one article in both the Monday and Tuesday editions.

Lattimer back in the saddle for KODE

Just a few days after being injured in an accident in the nation's capital, KODE reporter Dustin Lattimer is back covering breaking news.

Anchor Brian Dorman just told viewers Lattimer was on his way to 26th and Indiana where a man has barricaded himself inside with a gun and a hostage.

Lattimer dislocated both shoulders in the accident, which occurred while he was on vacation.

Crowell concerned about "Caring for Missourians" program

In his latest Crowell Connection, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, expresses concerns about the "Caring for Missourians" program:

Recently, Governor Nixon has been promoting the “Caring for Missourians” initiative that he asked the General Assembly to approve this past session. The program diverts $40 million over 26 higher education institutions to address the ever thinning health-care professional shortage throughout the state, but places no specific requirement to Universities that the funds be used for “Caring for Missourians”. It is the sole discretion of our Universities and Colleges on how to use these one-time funds.
Funding for “Caring for Missourians” has been appropriated through Fiscal Year 2010 Federal one-time stabilization funds. Southeast Missouri residents will benefit by Southeast Missouri State University receiving $1,166,806, Three Rivers Community College receiving $363,924, and Mineral Area Community College receiving $338,100. Governor Nixon hopes of the additional money to eventually train and graduate more than 900 additional Missouri students in the field of health-care over the next five years; a very worthy priority.
It is no secret that our state is in dire need of more health professionals. According to the Nixon Administration, Missouri hospitals are facing a shortage of more than 7% for Registered Nurses, 6% shortage of pharmacists, 8% for both physical and occupational therapists, and a 7% shortage of medical laboratory technicians. The “Caring for Missourians” program stands to not only train and educate medical professionals to meet the drastically high demand for health-care; it also stands to bolster our struggling economy.
The logistics of the initiative will be to hold each individual college or university responsible for spending the increased appropriation on developing a specific plan to maximize the benefit of those funds for expanding healthcare training programs. According to Southeast president Dr. Ken Dobbins in a June 9th article in the Southeast Missourian, he has said that “the University will use the money, about $1.2 million, to hire two faculty members. An accelerated nursing program, which will accommodate 10 students, will be added for students who have already completed a science degree. They will be able to complete a nursing degree in 18 months. The money will also be used to enhance teaching labs and expand the nurse practitioner program to include six more slots.”

“Caring for Missourians” is clearly a commendable program. However, I am concerned with a few issues. The first being the potential lack of oversight and eligibility requirements. As of now, there are no measures to ensure that only Missouri residents will be selected to fill the increased educational slots. Missouri taxpayer dollars could very well be paying to help students from another state have increased access to education and training. The second issue of concern I have is that the program offers no safeguard from students leaving our state once they have obtained their education via “Caring for Missourians”. It does Missouri no good to use taxpayer dollars to educate individuals, only to have them go work in Kansas or Illinois immediately upon graduation. Lastly, I am concerned with sustainable funding for the program. It is the General Assembly’s position that the funding for “Caring for Missouri” comes from Federal one-time funds and is not intended to be recurrent in nature.
I raise these concerns because of the June 9th Southeast Missourian newspaper article, where Dr. Dobbins, is quoted as saying, “the University will not institute similar policies because they are not necessary”. He also said in the article, “The majority of students stay in Missouri after completing their education.” It is my opinion that the “Caring for Missourians” initiative should be targeted only to Missouri resident students and those who agree to stay in Missouri upon graduation but I want to know what you think. Do you agree or disagree? Please let me know.
Overall, I believe that the program is more than worthy of the one-time Federal funds. The money will go a long way in not only meeting our high demand for health professionals, but may also help move our economy forward. But should it benefit Missourians first and foremost?

Supreme Court rules 8-1 against strip search of Arizona youth

Drugs are a serious problem in our schools, but in their zeal to tackle this seemingly insurmountable problem, sometimes school officials take missteps. At least, that is what the U. S. Supreme Court said today in a convincing fashion.

The decision was made concerning a case in an Arizona school where principals conducted a strip search of a girl suspected of having ibuprofen. Today, the Court ruled the search violated the 13-year-old girl's privacy. The decision, which was written by departing justice David Souter, came by an 8-1 margin, with only Justice Clarence Thomas ruling for the administrators.

The issue here is whether a 13-year-old student’s Fourth Amendment right was violated when she was subjected to a search of her bra and underpants by school officials acting on reasonable suspicion that she had brought for-bidden prescription and over-the-counter drugs to school. Because there were no reasons to suspect the drugs presented a danger or were concealed in her underwear, we hold that the search did violate the Constitution, but because there is reason to question the clarity with whichthe right was established, the official who ordered the unconstitutional search is entitled to qualified immunity from liability.

I The events immediately prior to the search in question began in 13-year-old Savana Redding’s math class at Safford Middle School one October day in 2003. The assis-tant principal of the school, Kerry Wilson, came into the room and asked Savana to go to his office. There, he showed her a day planner, unzipped and open flat on his desk, in which there were several knives, lighters, a permanent marker, and a cigarette. Wilson asked Savana whether the planner was hers; she said it was, but that a few days before she had lent it to her friend, MarissaGlines. Savana stated that none of the items in the plan-ner belonged to her.
Wilson then showed Savana four white prescription-strength ibuprofen 400-mg pills, and one over-the-counter blue naproxen 200-mg pill, all used for pain and inflam-mation but banned under school rules without advance permission. He asked Savana if she knew anything about the pills. Savana answered that she did not. Wilson then told Savana that he had received a report that she was giving these pills to fellow students; Savana denied it and agreed to let Wilson search her belongings. Helen Ro-mero, an administrative assistant, came into the office, and together with Wilson they searched Savana’s back-pack, finding nothing.

At that point, Wilson instructed Romero to take Savanato the school nurse’s office to search her clothes for pills.Romero and the nurse, Peggy Schwallier, asked Savana to remove her jacket, socks, and shoes, leaving her in stretchpants and a T-shirt (both without pockets), which she wasthen asked to remove. Finally, Savana was told to pullher bra out and to the side and shake it, and to pull out the elastic on her underpants, thus exposing her breastsand pelvic area to some degree. No pills were found.

Savana’s mother filed suit against Safford Unified School District #1, Wilson, Romero, and Schwallier for conducting a strip search in violation of Savana’s FourthAmendment rights. The individuals (hereinafter petition-ers) moved for summary judgment, raising a defense of qualified immunity. The District Court for the District of Arizona granted the motion on the ground that there was no Fourth Amendment violation, and a panel of the NinthCircuit affirmed. 504 F. 3d 828 (2007).
A closely divided Circuit sitting en banc, reversed.

Justice Souter's opinion is not necessarily a defeat for school administrators. Much of the approach taken by the principal was legally correct:

This suspicion of Wilson’s was enough to justify a search of Savana’s backpack and outer clothing.3 If a student is reasonably suspected of giving out contraband pills, she isreasonably suspected of carrying them on her person and in the carryall that has become an item of student uniformin most places today. If Wilson’s reasonable suspicion of pill distribution were not understood to support searchesof outer clothes and backpack, it would not justify any search worth making. And the look into Savana’s bag, inher presence and in the relative privacy of Wilson’s office,was not excessively intrusive, any more than Romero’ssubsequent search of her outer clothing.

The strip search, however, was too much for the justices:

Here, the content of the suspicion failed to match thedegree of intrusion. Wilson knew beforehand that the pillswere prescription-strength ibuprofen and over-the-counter naproxen, common pain relievers equivalent to two Advil,or one Aleve.4 He must have been aware of the nature and limited threat of the specific drugs he was searching for, and while just about anything can be taken in quantities that will do real harm, Wilson had no reason to suspect that large amounts of the drugs were being passed around, or that individual students were receiving great numbersof pills.
Nor could Wilson have suspected that Savana was hiding common painkillers in her underwear. Petitioners suggest, as a truth universally acknowledged, that “stu-dents . . . hid[e] contraband in or under their clothing,” Reply Brief for Petitioners 8, and cite a smattering ofcases of students with contraband in their underwear, id., at 8–9. But when the categorically extreme intrusivenessof a search down to the body of an adolescent requiressome justification in suspected facts, general background possibilities fall short; a reasonable search that extensivecalls for suspicion that it will pay off. But nondangerous school contraband does not raise the specter of stashes inintimate places, and there is no evidence in the record of any general practice among Safford Middle School stu-dents of hiding that sort of thing in underwear; neither Jordan nor Marissa suggested to Wilson that Savana was doing that, and the preceding search of Marissa that Wilson ordered yielded nothing. Wilson never even de-termined when Marissa had received the pills from Sa-vana; if it had been a few days before, that would weigh heavily against any reasonable conclusion that Savana presently had the pills on her person, much less in her underwear.
In sum, what was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to thestudents from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear. We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable.

The justices said the school officials should receive qualified immunity for their role in the strip search.

Justice Clarence Thomas was clear about how he felt. The administrators should not be liable and the strip search was not unconstitutional:

Unlike the majority,however, I would hold that the search of Savana Redding did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The majorityimposes a vague and amorphous standard on school ad-ministrators. It also grants judges sweeping authority tosecond-guess the measures that these officials take tomaintain discipline in their schools and ensure the health and safety of the students in their charge. This deepintrusion into the administration of public schools exem-plifies why the Court should return to the common-law doctrine of in loco parentis under which “the judiciary wasreluctant to interfere in the routine business of school administration, allowing schools and teachers to set andenforce rules and to maintain order.”

Thomas continued:

For this reason, school officials retain broad authority to protect students and preserve “order and a proper educational environment” under the Fourth Amendment. Id., at 339. This authority requires that school officials beable to engage in the “close supervision of schoolchildren, as well as . . . enforc[e] rules against conduct that would be perfectly permissible if undertaken by an adult.” Ibid. Seeking to reconcile the Fourth Amendment with this unique public school setting, the Court in T. L. O. held that a school search is “reasonable” if it is “‘justified at itsinception’” and “‘reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified the interference in the first place.’” Id., at 341–342 (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1, 20 (1968)). The search under review easily meets this standard.School officials had found alcohol and cigarettes in the girls’ bathroom duringthe first school dance of the year and noticed that a group of students including Redding and Marissa Glines smelledof alcohol. Ibid. Several weeks later, another student, Jordan Romero, reported that Redding had hosted a party before the dance where she served whiskey, vodka, and tequila. Id., at 8a, 11a. Romero had provided this reportto school officials as a result of a meeting his mother scheduled with the officials after Romero “became violent” and “sick to his stomach” one night and admitted that “he had taken some pills that he had got[ten] from a classmate.” Id., at 7a–8a, 10a–11a. At that meeting,Romero admitted that “certain students were bringingdrugs and weapons on campus.” Id., at 8a, 11a. One week later, Romero handed the assistant principal a white pillthat he said he had received from Glines. Id., at 11a. He reported “that a group of students [were] planning ontaking the pills at lunch.” Ibid.
School officials justifiably took quick action in light ofthe lunchtime deadline. The assistant principal took the pill to the school nurse who identified it as prescription-strength 400-mg Ibuprofen. Id., at 12a. A subsequentsearch of Glines and her belongings produced a razor blade, a Naproxen 200-mg pill, and several Ibuprofen 400-mg pills. Id., at 13a. When asked, Glines claimed that she had received the pills from Redding. Ibid. A search of Redding’s planner, which Glines had borrowed, then un-covered “several knives, several lighters, a cigarette, and a permanent marker.” Id., at 12a, 14a, 22a. Thus, as the majority acknowledges, ante, at 7, the totality of relevantcircumstances justified a search of Redding for pills.1
B The remaining question is whether the search was reasonable.

Thomas said school officials had every reason to believe that the strip search was reasonable and necessary:

The analysis of whether the scope of the search here waspermissible under that standard is straightforward.Indeed, the majority does not dispute that “general back-ground possibilities” establish that students conceal “con-traband in their underwear.” Ante, at 10. It acknowledgesthat school officials had reasonable suspicion to look inRedding’s backpack and outer clothing because if “Wilson’sreasonable suspicion of pill distribution were not under-stood to support searches of outer clothes and backpack, it would not justify any search worth making.” Ante, at 7. The majority nevertheless concludes that proceeding any further with the search was unreasonable. See ante, at 8– 10; see also ante, at 1 (GINSBURG, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (“Any reasonable search for thepills would have ended when inspection of Redding’sbackpack and jacket pockets yielded nothing”). But there is no support for this conclusion. The reasonable suspicionthat Redding possessed the pills for distribution purposesdid not dissipate simply because the search of her back-pack turned up nothing. It was eminently reasonable to conclude that the backpack was empty because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one would look. See Ross, supra, at 820 (“Contraband goods rarely are strewn” about in plain view; “by their very nature suchgoods.

Thomas issued a sober warning to school officials that Redding would not have been the first person to hide contraband in her underwear "Nor will she be the last after today’sdecision, which announces the safest place to secrete contraband in school."

Reports: Nixon cuts $105 million out of budget

Missourinet and Virginia Young of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are tweeting that Gov. Jay Nixon cut $105 million out of the state budget. The announcement was made moments ago.

I don't have details on specific cuts.