Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chiodo retires as Joplin Globe publisher

Dan Chiodo officially retired today as publisher of the Joplin Globe after a 17-year tenure.

In a recent column in the newspaper, Chiodo wrote the following words:

My tenure as publisher at this property has been very gratifying. The newspaper world has always been an exciting world to me. We are called to take all that is happening in the world and in our local communities to interpret, communicate and then sometimes take a stand on so that we both inform and then set the course for the community. But a newspaper is not a newspaper without its people. These team members are from all walks of life and they come together to create the story we tell the public.

And although the Globe has been a wonderful newspaper, much must also be said about the wonderful community it belongs to. Whether you are talking education, medical care, trucking or so many other industries, things have been progressing nicely over the years — both in Joplin and its surrounding towns.

Of course, many of us will remember that Chiodo was also the man who gave the go-ahead to start the free weekly newspaper The Joplin Herald, by saying there was not enough room in the Globe to print all of the Joplin news.

I will just leave it at that.

Newspaper Days top-selling book at Hastings in December

It's just one store in one city, but I was pleased to hear earlier this evening that my book Newspaper Days was the top-selling trade paperback at Hastings Books, Music, and Video in Joplin during December.

The store still has a few copies of the book on display at the book desk, as well as copies of my earlier book, Devil's Messenger in the local authors section.

Over a quarter of a million visit Turner Report in 2009

The most successful year in the six-year history of The Turner Report ended moments ago.

This blog received more than a quarter of a million unique visitors during the past 12 months and surpassed the previous high, recorded in 2008, by more than 30,000.

Thanks to all of you for continuing to visit this blog. I will do my best to keep The Turner Report rolling in 2010.

Remembering the departed

At this time of the year, many news outlets take a look back at those who died during the year. In The Turner Report, I write about people whose lives have touched mine. Following are some of those who were remembered in this blog during 2009:

January 2009

Bob Pyle
My condolences go the family of Bob Pyle, 54, Nixa, formerly of Carthage, who died Monday from brain cancer.

Though I never knew Bob, two of his children, Brooke and Matthew Pyle, worked for me at The Carthage Press in the late 1990s. Both were hard working, polite, and respectful, qualities which they obviously learned at home from Bob and his wife, Cathy.

Matthew handled film developing chores, and was one of a group of four led by Stacy Rector, who published a weekly section called Teen Tuesday in The Press. Matthew and Stacy were honored for their work in the fall of 1998 when they received the first place award for community service from the Missouri Press Association.

Brooke started out taking calls from customers whose papers had not been delivered on time. From there, she gradually moved into the news room. Though her primary interest was photography, she eventually wrote a number of features and was involved along with Ron Graber and me in the coverage of Janet Kavandi's first space shuttle launch. During the summer of 1998, Brooke, who was a 1997 Carthage Senior High School graduate, and Jana Blankenship, a 1998 Webb City High School graduate, helped Ron and me provide news coverage as we waited for the right people to become available to strengthen the staff. Eventually, in August of '98, we hired Jo Ellis, Rick Rogers, and John Hacker to fill out the news staff.

Brooke and Matthew, the two oldest of Bob and Kathy Pyle's four children, have gone on to success in their adult lives. Brooke is a lawyer in Springfield, and Matthew is stationed on the U. S. S. Ronald Reagan.

FEBRUARY 24 2009

Loren Lamoreaux

It is with sadness tonight that I read of the death of longtime Neosho Daily News photographer Loren Lamoreaux.

During my years at The Carthage Press, I had dozens of occasions to run into the Daily's sports tandem of Editor Dean Keeling and photographer Loren Lamoreaux at Neosho's home and away games. It is hard to believe that neither of them is with us any more.

At tournament time, I had many an occasion to see both of them enjoying the fare in the hospitality rooms. It still seems strange to see a Neosho bench without Dean Keeling sitting at the end of it, or the area underneath a Wildcat basket without Loren Lamoreaux's metal folding chair.

The folding chair, Neosho fans will remember, was to help Loren, who kept up a staggering pace with his photography well into his 80s. It was a matter of respect that the chair was provided for him, not only at Neosho, but also when he was at other schools in the old Southwest Conference.

The departure of Loren, following so soon after Dean Keeling left the building for the final time, and only a few months after the death of longtime Nevada Daily Mail Sports Editor Kelly Bradham has deprived this area of three of the last of the growling curmudgeonly type who provided southwest Missouri sports coverage with such distinctive flavor.

When you saw what Dean Keeling and Kelly Bradham wrote about Neosho and Nevada, respectively, or when you talked to Dean, Kelly, or Loren in one of the many tournament hospitality rooms they haunted for decades, you had none of this pretense of objectivity, and none of this homogenized, devoid of any heart, cookie cutter sports pages that dot the area map in 2009. Dean and Loren were Neosho Wildcat or Crowder College Roughriders fans through and through, and nothing was more enjoyable than to hear them going back and forth with Kelly Bradham over whether Neosho or Nevada was the better school.

Today's sports pages are undeniably what the journalism experts would consider more professionally done, but I miss their character, the human quality that you let you know that every word on the pages, and every photo provided by Loren Lamoreaux was placed on that page by someone who genuinely cared about Neosho and wasn't just picking up a paycheck.

With local newspapers continuing to bite the dust right and left these days, it makes you wonder when the people who ran newspapers forgot the value of hiring people who care.

Loren Lamoreaux will be missed.

MARCH 27, 2009
Johnny Blanchard

The Joplin Miners were the best team in the minor league Western Association during the 1952 season and the best player on that team was catcher-outfielder Johnny Blanchard.

Blanchard, only 19 at the time, led the league champs and the league itself that year with 30 home runs and 112 RBI.

It wasn't long before Blanchard graduated from the Joplin Miners to the parent New York Yankees to join the most famous player to ever play for the Miners, Mickey Mantle. With the Yankees, Blanchard has the misfortune of being a catcher on a team that already had future Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra and Elston Howard, but that did not prevent him from making an impact.

Blanchard, who died of a heart attack Wednesday at age 76, played enough to hit 21 home runs for the 1961 world championship team, a team some say was the greatest of all time. Blanchard hit two home runs in the World Series that year as the Yankees defeated the Reds in five games:

"Baseball was in his blood," his son Tim said. "He loved the card shows. He'd shake people's hand, ask their name and talk with people. He was the king of storytelling; that was his strength."

Blanchard enjoyed golf and was looking forward to seeing the new Yankee Stadium and participating in an old-timers' game this year.

"He lived a life people would dream of living," Tim said.

March 7, 2009
John Stockdale

The hardest working politician in Barton County died Friday morning.

Election results over the last three decades feature a long list of those who thought they could beat John Stockdale for Eastern District Associate County Commissioner. And who could blame them for getting their hopes up? After all, Barton County, once a Democratic stronghold, is now fertile territory for the GOP.

The former Democratic officeholders, people like Doug Haile and Doug Sprouls, eventually lost to Republican challengers. After serving as Barton County Clerk for a quarter of a century, Bonda Rawlings decided not to seek re-election...and that left John Stockdale.

There was no secret to John Stockdale's longevity in Barton County politics. He campaigned harder than anyone has ever campaigned in Barton County, not just to get elected into office the first time, but every time. Those who lived in the Eastern District of Barton County knew that they would receive a visit from John, maybe more than one, every time an election rolled around.

And for a long time, before Missouri law changed to allow associate county commissioners to be elected every four years, John Stockdale was knocking on doors every other year. Many of his opponents took the tried and true approach of submitting their names, attending party functions and shaking hands at community events. John Stockdale not only made personal visits, but he made sure to know what the concerns of his constituents were, and did his best to address those concerns.

John took his job seriously. Though the County Commission only met on Mondays, it was not unusual to see John in the office other days of the week, making phone calls or meeting with someone about a road or bridge issue.

And no one, absolutely no one, could ever enter the courthouse without a big hello and friendly greeting. If he spotted someone he knew across a room, he would cheerfully call out that person's name, and made that person, whether it was someone he had not seen in years, or someone he just talked to he day before, feel like he was the most important person in the world.

And that warm greeting, was always accompanied moments later by laughter. No one enjoyed his job more than John Stockdale.

In her moving tribute to John in today's Lamar Democrat, Editor Rayma Bekebrock Davis wrote, "Although he was an elected official, no one thought of him as a politician; he was a good man doing a good job."

If no one thought of him as a politician, that is a shame, because John represented the best of what politics is supposed to be. He was an elected official whose first thought was serving the people. Make no mistake about it...John Stockdale was a politician, and we could use more just like him.

The Barton County Courthouse won't be the same without him.

April 6, 2009
Don Kirkpatrick

Former Lamar Democrat publisher Don Kirkpatrick died March 29 at age 71. Kirkpatrick, the son of former Missouri Secretary of State James Kirkpatrick, owned the Democrat from 1972 to 1974.

When the Kirkpatricks bought the newspaper in 1972, it ended a historic era for the Democrat, which had been published for the previous 72 years by the legendary Arthur Aull and Aull's daughter, Madeleine Aull VanHafften.

May 27, 2009
Charles Rupp

ormer Diamond High School Principal Charles Rupp died Monday at age 78.

Rupp was principal at Diamond from 1965 to 1985. I remember how kind he was to me when I did my student teaching at Diamond in the spring of 1981.

May 9,2009
Jennifer Martin

In a perfect world, the obituary of Jennifer Martin would read "composing room foreman" at The Carthage Press. It was a job she loved more than anything except her family.

It was 40 years ago this month that Jennifer, fresh from her graduation ceremony at Carthage Senior High School, went to work for The Press as a typesetter.

"That was back in the linotype days," she told me in a 1994 interview commemorating her 25-year anniversary at the newspaper. "I was only going to work here one year. I planned on being a housewife." The hours were long and the pay was low, she recalled. "I made minimum wage. I think it was $1.30 and hour."

She had just mastered the art of setting type by Linotype when The Press went to offset printing in 1971. Jenny's duties expanded. In addition to regular typesetting, she began setting advertising copy.

In late 1986, she was promoted to composing room foreman, a position she held for 13 years before leaving in 1999 after cutbacks in her hours and benefits forced her to look for another job.

Jennifer Martin spent three decades doing a job that has never received enough credit. In the days when editors drew up pages on dummy sheets, it was Jennifer who made those pages come to life, and often made them work in spite of errors made by the editors who sent them to her.

With the advertising department, Jennifer could take a bare concept for an ad and turn it into a masterpiece that delighted both the salesman and the advertiser.

More than anything, Jennifer had an ability to work with the oversized egos that are prevalent in both the newsrooms and advertising departments of newspapers. Though she had to deal with several strong, at times, overwhelming personalities (Jim Farley, Marvin VanGilder, Rick Rogers and Randy Turner come to mind) I can't ever recall her saying a cross word about anyone.

When others left The Carthage Press in the 1990s, even people who spent considerable amounts of time there, Neil Campbell, VanGilder, Jack Harshaw, Jim Farley, and myself, the paper continued to roll along.

Jenny's departure was a different matter. Her last day of work at The Press, was the day the heart was ripped out of the newspaper.

My favorite memory of Jenny occurred over and over through the years. Someone would say something funny, and she would break up laughing, the kind of laughter that brought a smile to everyone's face no matter what the mood was.

Jennifer Martin died Friday morning.

I'm going to miss that laughter.

May 6, 2009
Ryan Baker

It was easy to lose track of Ryan Baker in a classroom. He invariably sat near the back of the cramped trailer I taught in during my first three years at Diamond Middle School.

When Ryan spoke, it was with a soft, halting voice, one which was rarely heard in my class unless he had something important he wanted to say. Most of the time he remained silent during our class discussions, but there were occasions when an issue struck a chord with him that Ryan leaped into the fray and took no prisoners.

Ryan was one of those students who fell behind with his work and had to finish with a flurry at the end of the quarter to make a decent grade, but those grades never reflected his intelligence. The B's and C's he recorded in my current issues and creative language arts at DMS were not an accurate portrayal of Ryan Baker. His intelligence was right at the top of his class.

After having him in my classroom for three years, we moved in different directions. Ryan joined the freshman class at Diamond High School, while I moved from the trailer into the old Diamond High School building when it became the middle school, to begin what turned out to be my final year in the Diamond R-4 School District.

I don't remember running into Ryan that year. At the end of the year, I signed a contract to return for a fifth year at Diamond, but the last day of the 2002-2003 school year turned out to be my last day as a Wildcat. I was informed by letter that I was being put on an unpaid leave of absence due to a budget problem for the school district.

Somehow the word spread quickly and I did nothing to hide the news. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I received from my former students and their parents. One of the first to contact me was Ryan Baker.

I was at a very low point, and Ryan, who had not always shown a high regard for meeting deadlines during his three years in my class, came through with perfect timing on July 11, 2003. His e-mail message was a powerful pick-me-up when I was at my lowest moment. It came at a time when I just been told, I was put on leave because I was the teacher whose absence would least affect the students:

Mr. Turner,

I just wanted to tell you that I have appreciated your classes. At first, I could really care less about politics, but somehow, your class made it fun. Going up and beyond the curriculum of the normal language arts class, your class has really taught me some important writing skills, while more than preparing me for high school grammar. Though I may not have been the best student, or tried as hard as I should have, looking back on it, I really missed your class while in high school for the first year. I just went to your site, and patiently read through all of the articles that you have posted, and felt that I should thank you for being one of the teachers that actually taught class as if it were a desire, and not as if it was merely a job. I just had to say thank you.

I shed more than a few tears after reading that e-mail from a most considerate young man.

I cried again earlier tonight when I read that Ryan Baker died, 17 days short of his 21st birthday.

I am thankful I had three years with Ryan. I wish things had worked out differently for him.

July 9, 2009
Jack Luce

No one would ever compare Jack Luce to Babe Ruth (though I am about to), but that was who was he resembled when he joined the Lamar Blue Jays men's baseball team for its doubleheader with my team, the Aroma Express, at the Granby ballpark that summer Sunday in June 1983.

Jack was a big man, and his ball shirt couldn't decide whether it wanted to be tucked in or remain outside.

Having dealt with Jack during my coverage of the Lamar High School girls basketball team he coached, I struck up a conversation with him as both teams warmed up before the game.

Warming up was not really necessary, since the temperature that day was in the low 90s and sweat was already dripping down Jack's face. "I didn't know you played for this team" I said.

"I don't normally. They were a couple of guys short and asked me if I wanted to play. They talked me into it. I thought it might be fun." Jack wiped off the sweat with his sleeve. "I haven't played in years," he said. "I used to love to play the game."

Somewhere in the boxes and baskets and drawers full of old news clippings, photos, scorebooks, etc., I have in my apartment is the scorecard from that day.

Jack only played the first game of the doubleheader. He batted three times, and if memory serves correctly, he only swung the bat three times. Each time, the ball soared out of our bandbox ballpark. Admittedly, the dimensions of the ballpark were closer to Little League than Busch Stadium, but no one else hit one out that day.

Since I was the Aroma Express' designated hitter in that second game, I took advantage of the opportunity to talk to Jack while my team was out on the field.

"Man, I'm tired," he said. "It's been a long time since I did this."

"You must have been a heck of a player," I said.

"Naw," he said with a hint of modesty. "I wonder what I could do if I could get back into shape." I looked at him to see if he was kidding, but his face was stone cold serious. Then a trace of a smile emerged and within seconds, he was laughing out loud.

I don't remember Jack playing for the Lamar baseball team the rest of the year, though he may have.I prefer to think he left the game with three swings and three home runs.

Jack Luce died Wednesday at age 61.

August 23, 2009
Harlan Stark

As I was growing up in Newtonia, one of the everyday rituals was heading to Gum's Store after school to await the arrival of the Neosho Daily News.

Back then, the newspaper was delivered to the store, which also served as the community's post office, and Postmaster Vernie Browning would put the newspapers in the mailboxes.

Depending on how early they arrived, I would either take it directly home or I would sit on the steps and read it from front to back. My favorite parts were the sports section, the editorial page, which always included the Washington Merry Go Round, first with Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson, then after Pearson's death, just Anderson, for all of the dirt in Washington, and I read the opinion papers where learned pundits told me that no one would dare run against President Johnson in 1968, George Romney was a shoo-in for the Republican presidential nomination that year, and Edmund Muskie was a cinch for the Democratic nomination in 1972.

I also read the national news items, many of them about the ongoing war in Vietnam and in later years about the Watergate investigation and subsequently, the resignation of President Nixon, and his pardon by President Ford.

And I read the local news items, nearly all of which, it seems through the dim recesses of memory, were written by two men, Bill Ball and Harlan Stark. Mr. Ball, who provided the coverage of local sports, as well as many as many straight news items, died many years ago.

I read moments ago of the death of Harlan Stark. Mr. Stark's obituary says he was with the Neosho Daily News for 23 years. It seems like it was longer, though the Daily has gone through many reporters through the years as it has transitioned from Harlan Stark and Bill Ball to such later mainstays as the late Dean Keeling, Anne Cope, Rob Viehman, and Bill Ball's son, Buzz Ball, to today's staff, including John Ford and my fellow Newtonia native Todd Higdon.

While it takes many hard working people to put together a newspaper, everyone from the publisher to the receptionists to the advertising salesmen and circulation workers, to the public the face of a newspaper is usually the people whose bylines grace the pages of each edition.

For nearly a quarter of a century, the face of the Neosho Daily News was provided by Harlan Stark and Bill Ball. They offered stability and integrity, two items in short supply in today's media climate.

September 14, 2009
Bill Pierson

People close to the Old Mining Town Days celebration in Granby told me there was some concern a couple of years ago about the kickoff musical act for the annual three-day celebration.

It had become a tradition for Bill Pierson, one of the last (and best) of the big band singers to open the program, backed by Jim Hunter's band. But the years had not been kind to Bill. Already an octogenarian, his hearing was starting to go, a sign that Bill Pierson's musical career, which had stretched more than seven decades, was on its last legs.

Even the billing for the performance was different. This time, it was Hunter's group that was advertised with special guest Bill Pierson, mainly because the organizers were concerned that Bill would not be able to make the performance.

They underestimated Bill Pierson's determination to go out on a high note. I was lucky enough to be in Dick Smith Memorial Park that Friday evening. Bill was not on stage when the entertainment began, but soon he was introduced, and it was like he had magically erased the problems that were forcing his retirement from his first love.

First, it was the trumpet. As he performed an extended solo on one number, he hit every note. And when he sang, whether it was one of the old standards from the 30's or 40's or his dead-on Louis Armstrong impersonation, both the listener and Bill Pierson were transported to an earlier bygone era.

Though Bill was not supposed to be onstage for more than a couple of songs, he finished out the show with Jim Hunter's combo. Too soon, the music ended.

Granby had seen Bill Pierson perform for the final time.

Bill, a lifelong supporter of the city and people of Granby, died Saturday at age 83. Services will be held 4 p.m. Wednesday at Parker Mortuary in Joplin. Visitation will be held 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the mortuary.

Over the years, I had the good fortune to hear Bill perform many times. I particularly remember his performance at the birthday party for Attorney General Bill Webster in September 1992, when Webster was running against Mel Carnahan for governor. That was the last time I talked to Bill’s late wife Willi. I also remember his 1988 performance at Lamar's Heritage Days celebration, but my favorite performances always came when Bill opened Granby's annual three-day festivities.

Old Mining Town Days will never be the same, but the music in heaven sure must sound sweeter.

(Photos: Ryan Baker, Bill Pierson, Harlan Stark, Jennifer Martin, John Stockdale, Johnny Blanchard)

Cynthia Davis: Ethics reform won't work

Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, doesn't think much of Gov. Jay Nixon's proposal for ethics reform, according to a report on KCUR:

Republican State Rep. Cynthia Davis from O'Fallon says ethics reform won't accomplish much since any rule will probably have a loophole around it.

Cynthia Davis: "If these legislators can't even get the ten commandments right, what makes us think if we add a whole other layer of 15 more rules we're going to make people more ethical?"

Mrs. Davis can be considered somewhat of an expert on this, since she was painfully unaware that she was not allowed to use campaign funds to pay her personal tax debts.

Billy Long makes final fourth quarter push

Midnight tonight is the deadline for political contributions to be counted in fourth quarter results, so naturally, candidates are making last minute appeals, such as this one from Seventh District Congressional candidate Billy Long:

As the election draws closer and the Career Politicians in Washington spin further out of control your support is now more vital than ever.

It takes a lot of money to be successful in getting our message out of sending real Statesmen to Washington and not more career politicians who have never signed the front of a check.

The most current and glaring example of Congress’ dereliction of duty is the unconstitutional health care bill that has now passed in some form in both houses of Congress. This bill is completely outside the authority of our national government to enact.

It violates the principle of enumerated powers. Our government was supposed to be one of limited and well defined powers, rather than plenary powers, in order to prevent the government from acting arbitrarily to usurp the liberty of the people. Congress’ powers are given to it in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution and dictating health care to the citizenry is not one of those powers granted.

No other part of the Constitution can justify the health care bill either. Some have argued that providing health care surely falls into the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution, but as James Madison explained in Federalist Papers No. 41, such an interpretation of that clause would give the Congress unlimited, rather than limited powers, and defeat the entire purpose of the Constitution, which is to constrain government. Likewise, the “necessary and proper” clause of the Constitution serves to limit the Congress’ power to legislate on its Article I Section 8 authority to only those acts which are actually needed for it to carry out its defined duties.

Finally, many in Congress will point to the “commerce” clause as a grant of general power to regulate all matters which touch commerce. This definition also explodes the purpose of the Constitution to limit government and it is not what the Founding Fathers intended. The Founders recognized the benefit of having commerce move freely between the states and so they wrote the commerce clause to empower the national government to keep states from interfering with commerce across their borders. They did not want, for example, Kansas placing a tariff on goods coming in from Missouri. Too many in today’s Congress, unfortunately, would have us believe that the same Founders who carefully separated and limited federal power wrote a clause that would allow Congress to regulate every aspect of a person’s life; because virtually all human activity impacts commerce in some way.

As long as we continue to persist in ignoring the Constitution we will never be safe from huge power grabs by our elected officials. Health care is just one particularly appalling example, but Congress is contemplating many more similar unconstitutional power grabs.

I want to help put an end to this kind of self-destructive behavior. America is great because individual people have been free to pursue their own lives and in so doing make America great. The protector of that liberty is the Constitution and as it protects us, we must also protect it. I want to protect the Constitution and I know that you do to.

One way you can help me today is by visiting my website at and donating to my campaign. You can also donate by sending a personal check to Billy Long for Congress, 1675-F E. Seminole St., Springfield, MO 65804. Please date checks and make contributions before midnight tonight, December 31, 2009 so that they can appear on this crucial 4th quarter.

In addition to making a last minute push for donations we too are making a push to get as many bumper stickers as possible on the back windows of vehicles in the 7th District. If you need bumper stickers please contact us today and we will send them to you. According to the professionals every bumper sticker has the impact of 200 yard signs – please consider supporting us in this way.

If you would like to further help out in my campaign effort please consider volunteering activities like walking in parades or hosting yard signs. It will take the individual effort of all of us to educate our neighbors about the Constitution, inform ourselves of the activities in Congress, and participate in this, the greatest system of government ever created, embodied in our Constitution. As Ronald Reagan once said, “…we are a nation that has a government, not the other way around.” It is time we reminded Washington of this truth.

PLEASE NOTE: Midnight tonight is the deadline for your donation to be counted in this crucial 4th quarter. Please donate online today or make sure your check is dated today, Dec. 31, 2009.

May you and yours have a prosperous and healthy New Year and, in the words of Tiny Tim, “may God Bless us, Everyone!”

Text of Tilley ethics bill posted

The text of HB 1482, sponsored by House Majority Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, has been posted on the Missouri House of Representatives website.

The legislation would eliminate gifts to legislators from lobbyists and would prohibit elected officials from serving as political consultants.

Of the bill's 38 co-sponsors, only one, Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, is from the Joplin area.

Nodler to serve as guest host on KZRG Monday

Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, a candidate for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Roy Blunt, will be guest host on KZRG's Morning Newswatch 6 to 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 4.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Colorado real estate developer gives $10,000 to Schweich campaign

Denver, Colorado real estate developer Larry Mizel contributed $10,000 to Republican state auditor candidate Thomas Schweich Tuesday, according to a 48-hour report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Mizel is CEO of MDC Holdings.

Globe readers pick media favorites

Today's Joplin Globes features its annual Favorites of the Four States. Following are those named in various media categories:

Newspaper Columnist- Cheryle Finley, Mike Pound, Wally Kennedy (all of the Joplin Globe)

TV Morning Show Personality- Dave Pylant, Phillip Mitchell, Shannon Bruffet, Stefan Chase

Radio Personality- Big Ben, Hank Rotten Jr., Mike

Radio Station- KIX 102.5, KKOW 96.9, MIKE FM


Local Website- (KODE/KSNF),,

Syndicated Radio Show- Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, The Bob & Tom Show, The Rush Limbaugh Show

Best Blog- Dave Woods Booze Beat,, Wally Kennedy Watching Rangeline

Best Place to Pick Up a Joplin Globe- Home Kum & Go, Wal-Mart

Cynthia Davis releases her Sovereignty Manifesto

In a column that appears to serve as the kickoff for her state senate run, Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O-Fallon, stakes out ground far to the right of her "liberal" Senate opponent, incumbent Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County.

Things must be bleak in Mrs. Davis' district since her column includes this gem:

"I hope at the end of your life you have as much joy as I do---joy that comes from knowing who I am and what I am supposed to be doing."

I hope that is a result of poor editing and not a sign of delusions of grandeur. Mrs. Davis' column is reprinted below:

What a marvelous opportunity to start all over again. I am so grateful to begin my 8th year as your State Representative.
Every year has a different set of surprises and challenges, yet all are instructive. 2010 will be better than 2009 just for the additional experience we have all gleaned from last year.

Some of the happiest moments of this year have come from constituents who I have helped. There is nothing more satisfying than to have someone walk up to me in the grocery store and tell me how my office made a difference in his or her life. I hope to always use my office to make Missouri a better state and to give our residents a sense of satisfaction from feeling well represented.

We were all made for a reason---to make a difference in this world. Some make differences for good and others for the worse. Everyone has a unique calling to discover who we are and to discover on what we ought to be spending our time.

One of my favorite philosophers said, “Time is life. Money is congealed life.” How we spend our time and money shows who we are and what we think is important. I hope at the end of your life you have as much joy as I do---joy that comes from knowing who I am and what I am supposed to be doing.

This is going to be a particularly great year because I am working on some of the best legislation filed thus far. With all the unhappiness people have over the economy and a general lack of responsiveness from our government, I have a resolution that really says everything on my heart and hopefully what is on the hearts of those who I represent.

That’s why I am filing the following declaration of Missouri’s sovereignty:

Whereas, the Declaration of Independence declared these United States bound by the tyranny of a government that was unresponsive to its citizens, as set forth in the following language: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed ... "; and

Whereas, some states when ratifying the Constitution of the United States of

America recommended as a change, "that it be explicitly declared that all powers not expressly and particularly delegated by the aforesaid are reserved to the several states to be by them exercised"; and

Whereas, these recommended changes were incorporated as the Ninth

Amendment, where, "The enumeration of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"; and

Whereas, the Tenth Amendment sets firm limits on federal power to that which is defined by the states and the citizens when it says, "the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"; and

Whereas, the Tenth Amendment assures that we, the people of the United States of America and each sovereign state in the Union of States, now have, and have always had, rights the federal government may not usurp which allow us to craft our own laws specifically tailored to reflect the values, public morals and fiscal benevolence of our own citizens; and

Whereas, the Constitution of Missouri expresses the powers of the people in Article I, Section 3, by declaring, "That the people of this state have the inherent, sole and exclusive right to regulate the internal government and police thereof, and to alter and abolish their constitution and form of government whenever they may deem it necessary to their safety and happiness, provided such change be not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States."; and

Whereas, the Constitution of Missouri expresses the independence of our state in Article I, Section 4, by declaring, "That Missouri is a free and independent state, subject only to the Constitution of the United States; that 11 proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States qualifying or affecting the individual liberties of the people or which in any wise may impair the right of local self-government belonging to the people of this state, should be submitted to conventions of the people."; and

Whereas, the founders of this nation rejected the principles of socialism, communism, and other forms of tyrannical governments that allow for

redistribution of the wealth, preferring instead to set up a constitutional republican form of government, based upon Judeo-Christian beliefs that encourage limited government, personal responsibility and respect for human life; and

Whereas, among these rights, the State of Missouri affirms and declares in our

state statutes, Section 1.205, RSMo, that:

(1) The life of each human being begins at conception;

(2) Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being;

(3) The natural parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child; and

Whereas, some policies coming forth from the national government appear to be in conflict of the rights of our citizens, specifically the rights of conscience which are gravely jeopardized by national policies that may compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions; and

Whereas, it is the role of the national government to protect our borders and to secure our liberty, especially safeguarding us against those who adhere to philosophies that conflict with our uniquely American and Missouri values of freedom and equality; and

Whereas, today, in 2010, the states are treated as little more than administrative agents of bailouts, government schools, healthcare, and welfare programs, none of which are constitutionally authorized functions of the federal government; and

Whereas, the national government is diminishing our future prosperity by

escalating the national debt at an unprecedented rate by squandering trillions of taxpayer dollars and demonstrating wanton disregard for protecting us and our posterity from insurmountable financial burdens, which in large part originates from spending beyond the legitimate authority derived from the United States Constitution; and

Whereas, the economic principles that allowed our country to flourish and prosper were based upon our trust in God, economic freedom, hard work, high moral standards, and private charity, all of which are suppressed in the socialist model; and

Whereas, federal judges are charged with the duty of adjudicating according to the dictates of the United States Constitution in a fair, just, and impartial manner and are not charged with crafting political preferences or interjecting their personal philosophies through their court decisions; and

Whereas, some of the most egregious usurpations of legislative power have come from appointed federal judges who craft rulings that strip our citizens of their constitutional right to religious speech, such as ruling to remove all references to God Almighty and suppressing our right to display the Ten Commandments in a public arena, declaring prayers in public places illegal, and forcing an atheistic culture upon our citizens:

Now, therefore, be it resolved that we, the members of the Missouri

House of Representatives, Ninety-fifth General Assembly, Second Regular Session, the Senate concurring therein, hereby declare that the people of this state have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state, and shall exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right pertaining thereto, over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States; and

Be it further resolved that this resolution shall serve as Notice and Demand

that federal judicial appointments be based upon the appointee's ability to uphold a strict interpretation of the language written in the United States Constitution, not personal philosophy, political patronage, or level of ignorance of the jurisdiction between the legislative and judicial branches of our government; and

Be it further resolved that the State of Missouri affirms and declares that it

is a natural and fundamental right of parents to direct the care, education, and upbringing of their children of which such right cannot be removed by the federal government, not any international treaty of any sort; and that the State of Missouri will be under no obligation to comply with any international treaties that undermine our inalienable rights to direct our families and our children in a manner consistent with our religious beliefs, dictates of our conscience, and heritage; and

Be it further resolved that this resolution shall serve as Notice and Demand

to the federal government that we will not tolerate our tax dollars being spent on abortion, drugs, research, or procedures that destroy unborn human life, nor any policies that disregard the freedom of conscience of any citizen of our country or any other; and

Be it further resolved that this resolution serves as Notice and Decree that

the national government has no authority to impose assisted suicide or euthanasia, nor to impose any rules purporting to force our state to acknowledge immoral sexual perversions as a marriage or the equivalent; and.

Be it further resolved that this resolution serve as Notice and Decree to the

federal government, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers, especially those based upon unproven science such as a global warming alarmism as well as mandates that show no regard for our state laws as they pertain to agricultural practices, manufacturing practices, motor vehicle operation and energy generation options; and

Be it further resolved that all compulsory federal legislation which directs states to comply under threat of penalties, sanctions, or financial manipulations or which requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed, especially those which pertain to education, health care, housing, and our highways when such federal funds are collected in any part from the tax-paying citizens or businesses of the sovereign State of Missouri; and

Be it further resolved that based on the above principles and provisions, the

Missouri General Assembly hereby declares by this resolution that any act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States, or Judicial Order by the federal courts which assumes a power not delegated to the government of the United States by the Constitution and which serves to diminish the liberty of any of the several states or their

citizens shall abridge the Constitution. The Missouri General Assembly further declares that any acts which would cause such an abridgment include, but are not limited to:

(1) Establishing martial law or a state of emergency within any state comprising the United States of America without the consent of the legislature of that state;

(2) Requiring involuntary servitude, or governmental service of persons under the age of eighteen other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law or other than a draft during a declared war;

(3) Surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government;

(4) Any act regarding religion, further limitations on freedom of political speech, or further limitations on freedom of the press;

(5) Further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, including attempts to put serial numbers in ammunition and acts that prohibit the types or quantities of arms or ammunition; and

Be it further resolved that the Chief Clerk of the Missouri House of

Representatives be instructed to prepare a properly inscribed copy of this resolution for Governor Jay Nixon; Barack Obama, President of the United States; the President of the United States Senate; the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives; and each member of the Missouri Congressional delegation.

Goodman makes last push for fourth quarter funding

Hoping to avoid two consecutive poor fundraising quarters, Seventh District Congressional candidate Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, sent out an e-mail plea this afternoon. Fourth quarter fundraising ends at midnight tomorrow:

President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have shown us their vision for America this year. They see an America that looks eerily like the former USSR, with tight controls on our economy, the way Americans do business, and which products Americans are forced to buy (such as health insurance). They want to redistribute the wealth from individual to individual through enormous tax increases and from one region of our country to others through their cap and tax proposal, while they spend future generations of Americans into a spiraling black hole of debt. They apologize for the greatness of America, while terrorists continue attempting attacks on Americans. All the while, Americans are clamoring to make the politicians in Washington, D.C., listen to the will of the people.

I don't know about you, but that infuriates me. Today's leaders need to be reminded they work for you and they had better start listening. Today's liberal, overgrown government is exactly what our Founding Fathers were trying to prevent. I simply cannot sit by and watch President Obama and Nancy Pelosi dismantle the greatness of America to usher in the new age of American Socialism.

I am running for Congress so I can help spread the new American Re-Awakening that is sweeping the nation. And that's why I need your help.

I need you to be one of 100 people to go to our website help us by contributing $10 or more by December 31st to our campaign to help save America.

The only way we can stop President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid from destroying the American Dream is to elect strong, conservative leaders who will stick to their principles without backing down.

I have never been ashamed to be called a conservative. During my time in the Missouri State Senate, I have resisted the pressure to compromise my beliefs, even challenging the Republican Party leaders when necessary. I have fought for fiscal responsibility, defended innocent life and expanded protection for our fundamental civil liberties...including the right to bear arms.

In Congress, I will fight to preserve the values that made America the "land of opportunity" the rest of the world looked to for guidance and inspiration. I will demand an end to the fiscal insanity that is bankrupting our nation for generations to come. I will work to make sure American families get to keep more of their hard-earned money and make more of their own decisions, free from the heavy hand of big government.

Most importantly, I will always listen to you.

But I can't do any of this if I don't win. That is why I need your assistance today.
With your contribution of $10 or more by tomorrow night, you will join our growing family of supporters determined to renew the American promise of freedom. You will help push us across the finish line.

I understand that these are difficult times. Any donation you can provide, be it $5, 10, $50 or more will be greatly appreciated. My campaign is dedicated to making the most efficient and effective use of our resources.

Thank you for reading this note. I still believe America is the greatest nation in the world. I look forward to working alongside you, fighting to restore and protect the America we know and love.

I pray God will bless our great nation in 2010.


Jack Goodman

Tilley pre-files ethics legislation

On the same day, Gov. Jay Nixon outlined his ethics reform proposal, which emphasizes the return of campaign contribution limits, House Majority Leader Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, prefiled his own ethics bill, which was first revealed in the Dec. 14 Turner Report.

Tilley's proposal to eliminate elected officials serving as political consultants is similar to Nixon's, but Tilley's bill, HB 1487, will not include the restoration of campaign contribution limits, Tilley said earlier.

At this point, the bill and the summary have not been posted on the House website.

Nixon campaign receives $25,000 from continuing committee

On the same day he issued a call for ethics reform that would include restored campaign contribution limits and the elimination of committee-to-committee donations, Gov. Jay Nixon received $25,000 from a St. Charles continuing committee.

A 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission today indicates the Lewis & Clark Regional Leadership Fund, St. Charles, gave $25,000 to Nixon's campaign fund, as well as $25,000 to the campaign fund of Nixon's most likely challenger in the 2012 campaign, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

Of course, there could be more to this contribution than meets the eye, since the management of the Lewis & Clark committee is handled by Strategic Communications, Cape Girardeau, a firm with ties to Kinder. That leaves open the possibility of a contribution aimed specifically at discrediting Nixon's ethics proposal.

Ethics Commission records for 2009 show the committee's largest contributions are those made to Nixon, Kinder, and Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, who received $25,000 on Sept. 21.

The fund receives its money from numerous special interests, most of them from the St. Louis area, including $12,000 from Holekamp Capital, St. Louis; $12,000 from Cole & Associates, St. Louis; $12,000 from Kiel Center Partners, St. Louis; $12,000 from Ameren UE, $12,000 from Paric, O'Fallon; $12,000 from Long Term Care Leadership PAC, Jefferson City, as well as contributions from the Missouri Hospital Association and retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield.

Nixon calls for return of campaign contribution limits

The cries for ethics reform continue to be sounded in Missouri political circles. In a letter sent today to state legislators, Gov. Jay Nixon outlined his ethics proposal. The letter is reprinted below:

Members of the General Assembly:

Recent days and weeks have seen a bipartisan realization emerge that a comprehensive ethics reform bill is needed to stregthen the credibility of Missouri's elected officials and the confidence of those they serve. The time to act is now; the people already have shown us the way, and a bipartisan commitment to this reform will lay an essential foundation on which we can build the solutions we need. Is is in that spirit I write to you today. As you prepare to gather for the 2010 legislative session, know that I am committed to working together to craft an ethics reform package that is worthy of that name.

While a broad array of ideas have been offered that merit discussion, meaningful ethics reform should be built around four core elements. First, I firmly believe we must start with real and effective contribution limits. Second, the current practice whereby funds can be transferred from committee to committee must end. Third, we must prohibit elected officials from receiving payment for political consulting services. And fourth, we must end the practice of legislators serving as lobbyists of the legislative branch immediately after their term in office.

In 1994, an overwhelming majority of Missouri voters spoke loud and clear- they want real and meaningful controls on the influence of money in politics. In that election, 74 percent of Missourians voted for tough campaign contribution limits. Defying the predictions of nealry all the experts, the United States Supreme Court upheld Missouri's limits and recognized the people's constitutional right to enact such limits. In 2008, those limits were repealed. No effort to reform the ethical culture of public service in this state- or the ethicsl stature of those of us who live that service day in and day out- can be true to the manifest will of those we serve unless it reinstates the previous limits on campaign contributions and closes the loopholes that would render them meaningless.

To allow any bill to become law that does not keep faith with the voters on this key issue risks deceiving Missourians by promising reform that such a proposal cannot and does not deliver.

Meaningful ethics reform must begin with contribution limits, but it cannot end there. Regardless of where each of us stands on the issue of contribution limits, Missourians are entitled to take us at our word when we say that voters are entitled to know whose money is financing with campaigns. The practice of transferring fudns using non-candidate committees is widespread. Such transfers between committees undermine transparency and weaken contribution limits. I believe that any meaningful ethics reform must, in addition to reinstating contribution limits, ban all committee-to-committee transfers. If we are serious about disclosure, then closing this loophole should be part of the non-negotiable foundation of any ethics reform legislation.

But we must do more than reform our campaign finance laws if we truly are committed to restoring and improving Missourians' confidence in us as public officials. We also must demonstrate that we have heard the voters' concerns about what behavior should- and should not- be allowed from officeholders once elections are over. Simple common sense demands that the practice of one elected official paying another official for "political advice" be outlawed completely and forever. Any effort to enact meaningful ethics reform must prohibit officeholders from taking money- either directly or indirectly- under the guise of "political consultin." And, to ensure such a prohibition is not circumvented, it should continue for a resaonable period of time after the official leaves office.

Finally, the ethics laws around the country, and even in Washington, D. C., have long recognized the danger of an unregulated "revolving door" between being an elected officeholder in the government one minute and and a paid lobbyist of that government the next. In fact, Missouri law already prohibits certain executive branch officers who leave the government from returning to lobbby in their former areas of responsibility for a reasonable period. However, Missouri law does not prohibit legislators from becoming paid lobbyists of the legislative branch the minute their successor takes office. Plugging this loophole is the kind of simple and effective reform Missouri voters have the right to expect from us.

In closing I reiterate that I am committed to working with you to make meaningful improvements, not only to Missouri's ethics laws, but, even more importantly, to the ways in which all of us- we who stand for election and hold those offices- conduct ourselves and the people's business. I have outlined above the four elements that I believe must be part of any such effort. There may be others, but I believe that consensus on these key reforms already has formed, and, therefore, they should be the foundation of our efforts. Each of us owes the Missourians we serve our very best effort toward this important goal, and I believe that the meaningful and bipartisan ethics reforms that we can and must achieve will generate the momentum we need to find bipartisan solutions to the many other issues that the 2010 legislative session holds in store for all of us.


Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon

Feb. 1 preliminary hearing set for Turnpike Killer

A 1:30 p.m. Feb. 1 preliminary hearing has been scheduled in Ottawa County District Court for Turnpike Killer Paul Wesley Murray, who was arrested Nov. 30 on numerous felony charges after being released early from state prison.

Murray waived the reading of the charges against him today during his arraignment.

Murray pleaded guilty in 1998 to second degree murder in connection with the Jan. 10, 1994, death of Sheila Mayfield, 25, Jasper, who was killed when a rock thrown from the Will Rogers Turnpike crashed through the windshield of the car she was driving.

His latest arrest came less than four months after his early parole. Murray is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond at the Ottawa County Jail after being arrested on charges of burglary, larceny, driving under the influence, and assault and battery

Murray, who was not scheduled to be eligible for parole until January, was released in August, according to Oklahoma Department of Corrections records. And this is not the first time, Oklahoma officials have released Murray even before his parole hearing was scheduled.

More information about Paul Murray's background can be found at this link.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A rockabilly break

In the accompanying video, Natural Disaster, with some shaky camerawork, performs the rockabilly classic, "Honey Don't" at the Newtonia Fall Festival in September:

Arraignment for former Neosho teacher set for Jan. 15

A former Neosho High School band teacher has been bound over for trial and will be arraigned in Ottawa County District Court Friday, Jan. 15.

Brian Rash was bound over following a preliminary hearing Monday.

Rash, who also taught for a time in Joplin Catholic Schools, is charged with first degree rape, attempted first degree rape, four counts of rape by instrumentation, and two charges of lewd and indecent proposals to a child. All of the charges involve Rash and teenage male students.

Long: Senate health care bill example of "deeply corrupted legislative system"

Seventh District Congressional candidate Billy Long criticized the Senate health care bill in a news release issued today:

The recently passed health care bill by the U.S. Senate has a significant number of special deals for specific states and interests designed to entice reluctant Senators into supporting the overall legislation. One such deal is a provision that would create tax exemptions for Blue Cross Blue Shield in Michigan.

"The health care bill recently passed out of the Senate is the unconstitutional product of a deeply corrupted legislative system. No one is even pretending to craft a solution to America's health care problems within the narrow confines of the Constitution. From day one, this bill has been nothing more than a grab bag of special interest payoffs for the allies of certain well connected Democrat cronies," Billy Long said.

"In Michigan, the state's largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, will be exempted from the health insurance premium taxes. Not only does this seem to be designed to gain the vote of a Michigan Senator, but it also appears to be favoritism directed toward Blue Cross Blue Shield itself. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform should investigate this suspicious award given to Blue Cross Blue Shield." Billy concluded.

Trial date set for former Barton County sheriff's wife

A Monday, Jan. 11, trial date has been scheduled for Susan Michelle Higgins, wife of former Barton County Sheriff Shannon Higgins who is charged with identity theft.

The trial is being held in Christian County on a change of venue.

Catanese interviewed on final day at KY3

KY3 Political Notebook offers this podcast of a Brad Belote interview with the station's political reporter David Catanese on his last day. Catanese will begin working for Politico Jan. 18.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ethics legislation tops Kander's New Year's resolutions

In a letter to supporters, Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, who is co-sponsoring, along with Rep. Tim Flook, R-Liberty, a bi-partisan ethics bill, listed his New Year's resolutions for 2010:

As 2010 approaches and everyone is thinking of their own new year's resolutions, I thought I should list mine.

Pass comprehensive ethics reform

Many important issues confront the state of Missouri in 2010, but I believe that we can more effectively address every issue if we make needed reforms to our political system.

In September, I wrote a thirteen-page memo to my colleagues on this topic. A few weeks later, the Kansas City Star ran a feature story about loopholes in the system.

On December 14th, I joined with Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty) in announcing House Bill 1434 which, should it pass, will substantially change Missouri politics.

Help to pass agile job creation tools and preserve important programs in a very difficult budget year.

In a previous newsletter, I wrote about the need for new economic development tools to help Missouri compete internationally. It is, obviously, one of my new year’s resolutions – and I know the majority of my colleagues share this same priority.

Since my last writing about the subject, the Governor weighed in heavily in favor of the bipartisan Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act. I enthusiastically supported last year’s bill and am hopeful that we can pass it in 2010.

While we work on creative ways to increase state revenue through job creation, I will work to preserve vital state services in one of the most difficult budget years in a long time. I trust that I won’t be the only member of the budget committee to work toward this goal.

Strengthen or preserve laws that protect Missourians at home and in court.

I am currently working with other lawmakers to draft Sam and Lindsay’s law, named in honor of Sam and Lindsay Porter, who died by their father’s hand in 2004. Their mother, Tina Porter, approached Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar about changes she felt were needed to protect Missouri’s children from parental kidnappings. Jim then approached me, Sen. Victor Callahan (D-Independence) and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharpe about the legislation. We announced the proposed changes last Wednesday during a press conference at the Jackson County Courthouse.

Also, I will re-file bipartisan legislation in 2010 that I first pushed in 2009 to strengthen domestic violence laws, and I will once again co-sponsor bipartisan efforts to mandate insurance coverage of autism treatments.

Next, although I was the only Democratic co-sponsor of the False Claims Act last year, I'm hopeful that it will receive support on both sides of the aisle in 2010.

Finally, I will continue to fight for the preservation of the Missouri non-partisan court plan.

Do the impossible: stay fit while living in Jefferson City.

This is a pretty big goal. Thanks to the ongoing requirements of the Army National Guard, I do manage to stay in pretty decent shape year-round, but the legislative session in Jeff City from January to May really presents a challenge. These last two months, Diana and I have been getting up early for some pretty serious “extreme” morning workouts and we feel pretty good about it. She can do A LOT of pull ups. It’s pretty impressive actually.

But my schedule in Jeff City is so insane and the junk food is so quick and easy . . . it’s going to be a real test.

Heading back to Jeff City, I feel kind of like those contestants on “The Biggest Loser” who have to "leave the ranch" for a few weeks and try to do it without their trainers or their helpful dietitians.

So if you’re reading this and you’re one of the people who works with me in Jefferson City, here’s how you can help me with this resolution. If you see me about to eat pizza or some other quick and unhealthy snack, please do your best to shame me and, if necessary, attempt to physically steal the food. If nothing else, I’ll burn some calories fighting for my junk food.

So those are my resolutions. As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you. Happy New Year!

(Photo: Kander and Flook(

Billy Long to co-host KZRG Morning Newswatch Wednesday

News Talk KZRG 1310 AM and 102.9 FM in Joplin will have Seventh District Congressional candidate Billy Long as a "special guest host" 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to one of the station's insider reports.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sinquefield goes on Christmas St. Louis spending spree

Retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield spread some Christmas cheer in the St. Louis area during the days right before Christmas.

Forty-eight hour reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission show Sinquefield made $50,000 contributions to St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley Dec. 23.

Sinquefield also contributed $5,001 to the 11th District Leadership Committee on the 23rd.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A few Christmas videos

Some Christmas cheer, courtesy of the JEMS (Joplin East Middle School) Choir, the East Middle School Sixth Grade Choir, and Natural Disaster:

Next hearing for Turnpike Killer set for Dec. 29

The next hearing for Turnpike Killer Paul Wesley Murray, originally scheduled for Dec. 15, has been reset for Tuesday, Dec. 29, according to Ottawa County, Oklahoma court records

Less than four months after an early parole from a state prison in Oklahoma, Murray, one of two juveniles responsible for the January 1994 death of Sheila Mayfield, 25, Jasper, on the Will Rogers Turnpike, ix being in held in lieu of $100,000 bond at the Ottawa County Jail after being arrested Nov. 30 on charges of burglary, larceny, driving under the influence, and assault and battery

Murray, who was not scheduled to be eligible for parole until January, was released in August, according to Oklahoma Department of Corrections records. And this is not the first time, Oklahoma officials have released Murray even before his parole hearing was scheduled.

More information about Paul Murray and the turnpike murder can be found at this link.

Accused killers of Carthage couple to be tried separately

Separate trials will be held for the accused killers of Bob and Ellen Sheldon, Carthage.

Judge Gayle Crane ruled Monday that the cases would be severed and that both will be held in Jasper County with out-of-town juries brought in.

The next hearing in the cases is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 25.

U. S. Senate passes health care reform bill by 60-39 vote

In a rare Christmas Eve session, the U. S. Senate, by a 60-39 partisan vote, approved a health care reform package. Missouri Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O-Fallon, referred to the bill in this fashion:

On top of it all, the current bill allows our youngest among us to be exterminated through taxpayer funding. The congressional plan will save money by “weeding out the undesirables”. That’s why they fought to make sure abortion was covered in the senate bill. When we go to a national healthcare system, the first step is for government to gain greater control of our lives. The second step will be to define who is worthy of medical services. Even if you think it is okay for parents to destroy their offspring before birth, we ought to be concerned about what will happen to the disabled and elderly.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Jan. 11 trial date set for McDonald County white supremacist

A Monday, Jan. 11, trial date has been set for McDonald County white supremacist Robert Joos, according to information filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri today. The trial will be held in Springfield.

A two-day trial is anticipated.

Joos is charged with being a felon illegally possessing firearms, two counts of unlawful transport of firearms and one count transporting explosive materials interstate.

Joos 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.

Lieutenant governor's op-ed addresses horrors of human trafficking

In an op-ed piece released today, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder addresses the problem of human trafficking:

As we prepare our homes and more importantly our hearts for this Christmas season, it is custom to reflect on holiday seasons from years gone by. We think back on the magic of Christmastime as a child, and we fix our thoughts on the sights and sounds of the holiday season. One of the most moving parts of the Advent season is the singing of Christmas carols.

“Oh Holy Night” was written in 1847 by French composer Adolphe Adam, the words taken from a French poem. Eight years later, John Sullivan Dwight, an American minister, would translate the song into English.

As Dwight translated the chorus of “Oh Holy Night,” he penned what would have been a radical verse for that time. When the song was published in 1855, America was embroiled with rising tensions between northern and southern states over the issue of slavery. At the time, there were nearly 4,000,000 slaves on record in the United States.

A verse of that Christmas hymn would be a magnificent foreshadowing for millions held captive by slavery:

“Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;

And in His name all oppression shall cease.”

The literal French translation may be even more moving; “He sees a brother where there was once only a slave.”

Eight years later, in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln would order the freedom of all slaves in Confederate States. Two years later, nearly all slaves would be freed. In 1865, Congress outlawed the practice of slavery.

Today, we live in a world still marred by the blemishes of racism, bias and persecution. Nearly 150 years later, we still live in a society that is often blinded by the comfort of our freedoms. Right now, slavery persists in the form of human trafficking even here in America.

This is a problem that many are unaware of and, even worse, many are unmoved by. Although human trafficking may seem like an issue that is confined to Asia or Africa, it is estimated that over 15,000 people are trafficked into the United State for the purpose of slave labor – each year.

Last week the Kansas City Star reported that more alleged traffickers – 36 in the past three years – have been prosecuted in western Missouri than anywhere else in the nation. Two years ago, a Chinese woman was arrested in Columbia for alleged prostitution only to later be identified a victim of human trafficking.

As a nation – as a people – we have progressed from the days of indentured servants, only to find ourselves trapped in an oblivion while mankind is facing one of the greatest social injustices of all time.

This holiday season, may we reflect on the oppression many in this world still face today. Let us pray for the victims of human trafficking and their safety. Let us intercede, as advocates, for the families who have been ripped apart by this horrific crime. And may we hope the eyes of justice find the captors who so willing desecrate the freedoms of mankind.

While advocates, lawmakers and authorities do what must be done to raise awareness of this horrible crime and to seek out the offenders, it is my hope that the men, women and children held by the grasps of human trafficking find hope and peace this Christmas in the loving arms of their creator.

For more information on human trafficking, visit:

Cynthia Davis: Federal healthcare proposal designed to "weed out undesirables"

In her weekly column, Rep. Cynthia Davis says the federal healthcare legislation is designed to weed out the undesirables, whether it be through abortion or getting rid of the sick and elderly.

You may be wondering why I would write about healthcare right before Christmas. Certainly those in congress seem to be focused more on their healthcare bill than Christmas. It makes us wonder why they want to stay in Washington on Christmas Eve, casting votes during the Sabbath days and into the midnight hours. This Health Care Bill has some parallels to the story behind the federal reserve act which was also passed during the Christmas week. The Federal Reserve Act

As we approach the Christmas season, I am reminded of a story about a baby who was baptized. The family returned home from Church and put the sleeping infant on the bed in the master bedroom. As all the guests arrived, they laid their coats on the bed as well. After awhile people started wondering what happened to the baby. He was found under all those coats. The guests were having such a great time that they didn’t notice what happened to the main attraction. (Don’t worry. The baby was fine, butgrossly ignored.)

Many have told that story to illustrate how we treat Jesus at Christmas. The holiday originated as a way to commemorate the birth of the Savior of the world, yet we are so busy with baking, shopping and social events, we can leave the story of the Savior under all our coats and forget He is the reason for the celebration.

That’s how I feel about the healthcare bill. With all the wrangling, the folks in Washington D.C. are leaving out the most important part of the debate -the citizens. They are so busy beating up those insurance companies and trying to calculate how far into socialism and expansion of the national debt we ought to go, they forgot the real question: How are they going to control inflating costs and the accompanying fraud?

I am not against reforming health care, but I am against the way the congress is doing it. Nobody wants to risk losing his home and life savings on a medical event, but the real problems with our current system appear to be missing from the latest proposal—ideas like competition, accountability and price transparency.

The best way to reduce prices is to allow our free market system to work. People need to shop around. Providers need to have an incentive to market their advantages over other choices. People had health care before insurance was invented and without any governmental intrusion, health care would continue.

On top of it all, the current bill allows our youngest among us to be exterminated through taxpayer funding. The congressional plan will save money by “weeding out the undesirables”. That’s why they fought to make sure abortion was covered in the senate bill. When we go to a national healthcare system, the first step is for government to gain greater control of our lives. The second step will be to define who is worthy of medical services. Even if you think it is okay for parents to destroy their offspring before birth, we ought to be concerned about what will happen to the disabled and elderly.

Amid all the debate going on in Washington D.C., it is critical that we take steps to protect our citizens from further economic damage. I love a good debate, but those debating our health care in the nation’s capitol apparently are neither interested in the opinions of citizens nor considering objective outside ideas.

(Photo- Cynthia Davis and her family, described in her weekly column as the "First Family of District 19)

Anheuser-Busch gives $25,000 to Nixon

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch contributed $25,000 to Gov. Jay Nixon's campaign committee Tuesday, according to a 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Ethics Commission documents indicate Nixon has received $36,000 from the brewery in 2009.

Speck: Child pornography violates MSSU computer policy

With the shocking news that Missouri Southern State University art professor Val Christensen has been arrested on a felony charge of possession of child pornography comes a bit of reassuring news.

University President Bruce Speck tells KOAM that child pornography violates MSSU's computer policy. That should set the record straight for all of those who thought it was okay to view child pornography (or any kind of pornography, for that matter):

Speck says there will be some disciplinary action because there was a violation of the school computer use policy.

"The computers on this campus, contrary to some people's thinking, are owned by the state," Speck told us. "My computer's owned by the state. This office is owned by the state. The campus is owned by the state. So sometimes people believe their offices are their offices and they can do what they like there or it's their computers - that's not the case and we do have computer use policies. There's been a violation of that."

Smith will serve sentence in Kentucky

Former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for obstruction, will serve that sentence in Kentucky.

St. Louis Riverfront Times has details from Smith's Tuesday interview with KDHX. The interview includes the tidbits that Smith plans to write a book about his experiences and that when he found out his friend and co-defendant, former Rep. Steve Brown, had worn a wire to gather incriminating evidence against him, it felt "kind of like a sucker punch."

N. Y. Times: Skelton expresses doubts about closing Guantanamo

The New York Times is reporting that Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton has "privately expressed doubts" about the Obama Administration's plan to close the Guantanamo prison.

KY3: Florida officials upset with fugitive's release on bond

KY3 reports that Florida officials are ticked off that Oscar Richardson, who has been a fugitive since his 1979 prison escape, was released on bond, and a low $25,000 at that:

Officials in Florida don't think the last 31 years erase prior errors.
"The state of Florida requested he be held on ‘no bond’ because he was an obvious flight risk,” said Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell, who argued to no avail for Florida’s position on Monday.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey issued the following statement:
“I am shocked and extremely disappointed by the irresponsible decision of Judge Tony Williams to allow Oscar Richardson to post bond. Richardson is a violent felony offender who was serving time in Florida for an armed robbery conviction when he fled after serving only a fraction of his sentence. Allowing this fugitive to walk out of a courtroom after hiding from authorities for 30 years diminishes the seriousness of his crimes and shows a lack of sensitivity for those he victimized and a disregard for the safety of the citizens of Taney County. We are working closely with Missouri authorities to aggressively pursue Richardson ’s extradition to Florida . His debt to our state remains unpaid.”

Wampler: Fugitive will return to Florida on his own

Fugitive Oscar Richardson, on the run after a prison escape 30 years in Florida, will return to that state, his attorney Dee Wampler told Springfield News-Leader reporter Kary Booher:

However, Richardson will not fight extradition, a process that would have dragged on for several weeks, Wampler said.

Wampler pointed out Richardson plans to pay for his own return to Florida, adding that there would be no need for, say, a pair of law enforcement officials to go with the fugitive.

Wampler said he would be on the trip, at a time to be determined.

"It will save time and money, and you can imagine how much (money) that would take," Wampler said

Richardson is free after posting $25,000 bond. He was arrested Monday in Taney County.

Newspaper Days available in Lamar, Carthage

My book, Newspaper Days, recollections of my years as a reporter for various Southwest Missouri newspapers, is now available at three more locations as of Tuesday.

It can be found at my old place of employment, the Lamar Democrat, at Pat's Books, 1250 South Garrison, Carthage; and at the Changing Hands Book Shop, 528 South Virginia, Joplin.

It can also be found at Hastings and Always Buying Books in Joplin, and is available on numerous online sites, including , Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

Koster outlines importance of fighting Medicaid fraud

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, in this column from the Missouri Democratic Party newsletter issued today, addresses the importance of fighting Medicaid fraud:

One of the key issues I spoke to voters about during the election was detecting and prosecuting Medicaid fraud. If elected I promised to make it one of my top priorities. I am pleased to report that during our first year in office not only was it a top priority, but the results have been record breaking.

I am pleased to tell you today that Missouri had a record year in Medicaid fraud recovery, recovering more than $75 million on behalf of Missouri taxpayers. We received a $1.8 million judgment against a licensed clinical social worker who had falsified patient records and submitted untrue claims to Medicaid. We also settled with a pharmacy owner for $3.9 million after he allegedly double-billed Medicaid and submitted false claims. A pediatric dentist pled guilty to 13 charges of fraud, which is likely to land him in prison. In September, Missouri was part of the largest nationwide Medicaid fraud settlement in history. The historic settlement with Pfizer returned $22 million to the state of Missouri for paying kickbacks and engaging in off-labeling marketing campaigns that improperly promoted numerous drugs they manufacture.

All of these cases and many more, helped to push the total recovery from Medicaid fraud since Jan. 1, 2009 to $77 million. This is an all-time record for Medicaid fraud recovery in Missouri. The previous high total was almost $34 million in 2008. We took an aggressive approach in 2009 in investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud, and it paid off for the state and those who have legitimate health care needs. Our approach in 2010 will not change, we will work to aggressively find and prosecute Medicaid fraud.

We could not have done this alone, many state and federal agencies, including the Missouri Department of Social Services work diligently with my office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which has five Assistant Attorneys General, ten investigators, three auditors and a computer analyst, to identify and investigate possible fraud.

Another important player in stopping Medicaid fraud is the public. Many of our successful Medicaid fraud prosecutions are prompted by tips from the public. People can call our Medicaid fraud hotline anonymously to report suspected fraudulent activity. The hotline number is 800-286-3932.

With the current economic times, every dime of taxpayers' money must be used for its intended purpose. This Attorney General’s office will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute Medicaid fraud, sending the message to any would-be Medicaid cheaters that they will be caught and punished to the full extent of the law.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodman: Season of hope was rewarding

In his latest Capitol Report, Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, a candidate for the Seventh District Congressional seat currently held by Roy Blunt, talks about a project for feeding poor families in his senatorial district:

Yesterday, we finished distributing Christmas Dinners for my Season of Hope food drive with stops in Lawrence, Barry and McDonald Counties. We distributed meals to Ozark, Taney and Stone County last Friday.

We launched Season of Hope in November and began receiving donations the week before Thanksgiving. During the last six weeks, we collected food from over 50 locations throughout the 6 counties of the 29th Senate District.

By any measure, Season of Hope has been a great success. We were able to provide a Christmas meal to about 2,000 people in the 29th Senate District, including small children, adults, and seniors. Thanks to the generosity and compassion of people throughout the district, many families throughout the district will not have to worry about hunger on Christmas Day. I feel truly blessed to share a little bit of the hope Christmas is really all about. Now, the challenges remain to support the local organizations who continue to provide needed help and, equally importantly, to improve opportunities for those in need so they may find employment and self-reliance again in 2010.

Throughout the Season of Hope food drive, I benefitted from the guidance and work of a dynamic steering committee composed of community leaders in every county of the 29th Senate district and chaired by Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley. Steering committee members brought critical experience to the effort and helped to foster many important contacts in our communities.

In addition to the steering committee, Season of Hope partnered with a number of hunger relief organizations throughout the 29th Senate District. These affiliates helped collect groceries, identify families in need of assistance, and coordinate distribution days. Our local food pantries and faith based organizations do an outstanding job of meeting needs every day in Southwest Missouri. I am very grateful they agreed to help with Season of Hope, and am humbled by the good work they do year round.

As part of Season of Hope, every family received either ½ of a turkey, a whole chicken or a 6lb bag of chicken filets, a box of stuffing, a 15 lb bag of potatoes or boxed mashed potatoes, canned sweet potatoes, canned vegetables, boxed macaroni and cheese, and a variety of other groceries.

The time spent distributing meals directly to those in need was humbling and rewarding. It provided an opportunity for me to have one on one contact with many constituents who never imagined their jobs would disappear and they would be relying on neighbors for help. In fact, some who needed assistance this year had been donors to similar efforts last year.

One little girl had a particularly strong impact on my son and I. Jack Elliott and I were giving out meals Friday when a woman and her granddaughter came through the line. They told us they didn’t have any food on Thanksgiving and they were very grateful to be able to have a Christmas meal. The little girl was so grateful that she tried to give me her teddy bear. It was heartbreaking to see this situation. It was inspiring, though, to see that she wanted to do what she could to give value for her meal, even if it meant giving up her teddy bear. Even young Missourians have pride and want to make it on their own. We must work together to be sure this little girl and every child has the opportunity to reach his or her greatest potential.

As many parents and grandparents find themselves fighting the masses and grumbling about the crowded malls and toy stores as we search for the perfect gift to place under the tree for our children, we should remember that many families have much more vital struggles on Christmas and every day. As Christians and caring neighbors, the people of southwest Missouri come to each other’s aid time and time again to help when times are tough due to natural disaster, personal loss, spiritual hardship or economic trials. This compassion and generosity in our communities does much more good than any government program ever will.

Season of Hope was rewarding for my family and an unforgettable reminder that anytime we may start to complain about something, we should instead count our blessings and get to work trying to make things better. My family and I pray all of you will have a Merry Christmas and abundant opportunities in 2010.