Friday, March 23, 2018

From October 2016: Joplin city employees resent money poured into Joplin Chamber, O'Brian projects

With Wednesday's entry of Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian into the 32nd District State Senate race, it seems an opportune time to revisit an October 2016 Turner Report post.

The post was published during a time when Joplin city positions were being eliminated and employees were facing an increase in their insurance rates and were getting nowhere with city officials, despite those same officials' willingness to spend money in areas that failed to benefit the city.

There is also a growing resentment that the City Council continues to rubber stamp a quarter of a million dollars a year to the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce for economic development. 
Though the money comes from a different part of the city budget, the big buck giveaway to a private entity with a president, Rob O'Brian, who pulls in a salary of more than $175,000 a year, continues to bother some employees. 
One city employee told the Turner Report the anger over the way money has been spent with city employees being given short shrift has been growing for a long time and has boiled over with the announcement of job cuts and the insurance increase. 
City employees have watched over the past few years as city officials have shown a willingness to throw away millions of dollars in taxpayer money on renovating Joe Becker Stadium in the pursuit of a professional baseball team, and on a shady master developer.
It should be noted that that O'Brian was responsible for serving the pursuit of a professional baseball team, predicated on a faulty study and that shady master developer to the City of Joplin and the taxpayers.

The information on O'Brian's salary I found in a Form 990 filed by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce with the Internal Revenue Service from 2015.

The most recent Chamber 990 does not provide O'Brian's salary.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rob O'Brian files for 32nd District Senate seat

Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian has filed for the 32nd District State Senate seat, currently held by term-limited Ron Richard.

O'Brian will face Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin, in the GOP primary.

Conon Gillis, Joplin, has filed on the Green Party ticket.

No Democrats have filed for the seat.

Hartzler introduces bill enabling departments of Justice, Homeland Security to counter drones

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) introduced H.R. 5366, the Safeguarding America’s Skies Act, which would allow the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to detect, track, and engage with drones that pose a security risk to agency facilities and assets.

“Over the last several years, advances in drone technology have provided efficient and effective ways for industries across the board to conduct everyday tasks. However, drone technology is also being exploited to advance crime and threaten our national security. Drones serve as a mode of transportation for illegal drugs crossing the border as well as contraband into prisons. On the other side of the globe, militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have used weaponized consumer drones to target U.S. and coalition partners. It is only a matter of time before similar acts are executed here at home to target U.S. citizens. The Safeguarding America’s Skies Act will provide our federal law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools to mitigate and prevent drone crimes from occurring.”

Due to constraints imposed by federal law, federal agencies are prohibited from engaging with drones to prevent criminal or accidental incidents from happening. Under Title 18 of the United States Code, it is illegal to willfully damage or destroy an aircraft, and drones are considered “aircraft.” Title 18 also prevents federal agencies from using tailored jamming or protocol manipulation to interdict drones because it is considered intruding on a “protected computer.” The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 provided the Department of Defense with relief from Title 18 restrictions in order to protect certain military installations and assets. Unfortunately, federal agencies like the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security continue to have their hands tied preventing them from interdicting a drone that poses a reasonable threat, such as those carrying drugs across the border.

The Safeguarding America’s Skies Act will provide Title 18 relief to allow these agencies to use counter drone technology to detect, monitor, and engage with unauthorized drones that pose a reasonable threat to the safety and security of certain facilities and assets, including those related to operations that counter terrorism, narcotics, and transnational criminal organizations.

Specifically, the Safeguarding America’s Skies Act will:

  • Amend Title 18 to allow the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to detect, track, redirect, confiscate, or destroy a drone if it poses a security threat to a covered facility or asset.

  • Require the agencies to coordinate with the Department of Transportation, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in developing the rules and guidance to carry out this new authority.

  • Require the Secretary of Transportation to issue a final regulation requiring remote identification and tracking of drones within one year.

  • Require the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to submit an annual report to Congress outlining actions taken to implement and carry out this new authority.

“This is a common sense bill that will provide much needed relief to the agencies tasked with protecting the homeland. Left unchecked, the nefarious use of drones and drone technology can drastically alter the laws regulating this burgeoning industry, levying burdensome and unnecessary restrictions on drone use. As is typical with government intervention, the pendulum often swings too far. It is necessary to get ahead of this by instituting smart, effective measures to protect against crime while encouraging the future growth of drone technology and availability.”

March For Our Lives to be held Saturday in downtown Joplin

(From the Green Alliance of Southwest Missouri)

Join local students, parents, teachers and community members at the Joplin March For Our Lives taking place on Saturday the 24th of March between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in Downtown Joplin. This event was organized to stand with the victims families of the Parkland shooting and stand against school schootings and gun violence.

With Neosho, Carthage and Jasper all going on “lockdown” due to shooter threats in the wake of the Parkland shooting local students are also feeling the effects of gun violence abroad. This event was organized to give local students, teachers and concerned community members a platform to speak out against gun violence and call for sensible gun laws here in Missouri.

“We're honored to be following the lead of our nations youth. Moms Demand Action volunteers in Missouri will be marching alongside these incredible students and our entire community, in hopes that we can create lasting change so our families can live without fear of gun violence.” - Amanda Webb Dickerson / Moms Demand Action Joplin Leader.

“The Green Alliance fully supports the rights of all Americans including students, to stand up and speak out whenever there is injustice. We are humbled to be able to give our area students a platform to call for sensible gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting and threats here at home.What happened at Parkland and at other schools across the country is a travesty. We must do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of people that would do harm to others, while defending the Second Amendment rights of lawful responsible gun owners.” - Ron Burch / CO-Coordinator, Green Alliance of Southwest Missouri

Guest Speakers include Webb City High School students (Natally Starr & Derek Cole), Joplin High School students (Courtney Kissee, Emma Simon, & Zoe Brown), Neosho High School Students (Lynn Marroquin, Colby Lane & Mercedes Mayfield) and Amanda Webb Dickerson with Moms Demand Action – Joplin.

We will gather on the corner of 7th and Main Street on the sidewalk in front of Creative Car Audio. March will begin promptly at 1:15pm, traveling North on the East sidewalk that runs alongside Main, ending with speakers in Spiva Park.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Trial date set for Florissant man charged with shooting Jasper County deputy

An August 8 trial date has been scheduled in McDonald County Circuit Court for a Florissant man charged with the March 1, 2017 shooting of Jasper County Deputy Nolan Murray. The case is being heard there on a change of venue from Newton County.

E. F. Fitchpatrick, 43, is charged with first degree assault, armed criminal action, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Fitchpatrick was arrested after a two-hour standoff at the Econo Lodge on Range Line in Joplin. He was only a few months removed from his last stay in a federal penitentiary.

Fitchpatrick's arrest was detailed in a news release issued by the Joplin Police Department:

On March 1st, 2017 at 3:48p.m. officers with the Ozarks Drug Enforcement Team were attempting to serve a search warrant at the Econo Lodge Hotel, 3510 South Range Line Road. As officers attempted to make entry into the second floor room a gun shot (s) was fired at the officers through a window striking Jasper County Deputy Nolan Murray. Deputy Murray, who was wearing a bullet resistant vest suffered injury from the gun shot and was transported by EMS to Freeman Hospital. Officers on scene requested assistance through Joplin Dispatch. 
Officers with the Joplin Police Department arrived and a SWAT operation was activated. After failed attempts to establish contact with the suspect in the room, officers deployed chemical munitions into the room. EF Fitchpatrick Jr (43) of St. Louis, exited the room and was taken into custody and transported to Mercy Hospital by EMS.
When Fitchpatrick was arrested, he was only a few months out of prison.

Court records show Fitchpatrick was sentenced to 37 months on prison in 2012. He was released early and placed on probation for one year, but was not able to make it stick.

On two different occasions, the latest on July 6, 2016, Fitchpatrick's probation was revoked and he was returned to prison. Each time he was sentenced to six months. After the second stay, he was free and clear.

A motion for a detention hearing filed November 18, 2010, in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri offers a breakdown of Fitchpatrick's felony convictions:

The defendant has prior felony convictions for Tampering with Service Utility, Burglary, and Possession of an Illegal Weapon in March 1991, Possession of an Illegal Weapon in March 1995, three counts of Forgery in November 1998, and two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance in May 2005. The defendant is presently incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corrections as a result of a parole violation predicated on this pending case, and is therefore not eligible for pre-trial release.
Online court documents also show Fitchpatrick being charged numerous times with domestic assault and on two occasions, in 2000 and 2005 had protection orders entered against him.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Motion: Jalen Vaden statement should be tossed because he asked for Judd McPherson

In a motion to suppress filed Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court, the attorney for Jalen Vaden says her client's statements should be tossed out because he asked for a lawyer.

Vaden, 22, Carl Junction, who is charged with second degree murder and felony child abuse in connection with the death of three-year-old Jayda Kyle, signed a waiver of his rights at 12:55:18 a.m. December 6, according to the motion, but immediately afterward asked, "Is Judd here?"

Vaden was referring to Judd McPherson, who besides being Jayda Kyle's maternal grandfather is also a  lawyer.

When he asked for McPherson, attorney Tracey Martin said in her motion, he was "invoking his right to counsel during the interrogation."

Martin pointed out that the officers were fully "aware and familiar with Judd McPherson and his status as a criminal defense attorney, therefore defendant's request for his attorney was not equivocal or ambiguous."

Martin said Vaden did not "voluntarily and knowingly waive his right to counsel" since he immediately indicated he wanted McPherson there.

Vaden is being held in the Jasper County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond- $750,000 cash or surety and $250,000 cash only.

The abuse that led to Jayda Kyle's death took place November 30 in the home shared by the child's mother, Devyn Kyle and Vaden at 405 Meadow Lake Drive, Carl Junction. The child died December 2 at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

In the motion to suppress, Martin asked that a hearing be held 9 a.m. Monday, April 2. Online court records indicate at this point the next hearing in the case is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, April 16.

Judge David Mouton has scheduled the trial as the second case out on the June 25 docket. If it is not held then, it will be the first case on the July 9 docket.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Previous posts

Bond set at $1 million for Jalen Vaden, trial may be as soon as June or July

Despite social media claim, Judd McPherson was not at daughter's home the night Jayda Kyle was abused

Recordings of interviews with Jaden Valen, Devyn Kyle among items turned over to defense during discovery process

Gag order expected in Jalen Vaden case

Reporter/Carl Junction City Councilwoman threatens Jayda's Beat founder, says Vaden guilty, McPherson not involved
Press conference claim: Jalen Vaden confession to Jayda Kyle murder was coerced

Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney outlines evidence against Jalen Vaden
Jalen Vaden to Jayda Kyle's father: I pray that you know I didn't do this to her

Family of accused Jayda Kyle murderer suspects outside manipulation as SMB, GoFundMe shut down accounts

Explosive court documents claim Jayda Kyle's mother turned her death into a social media event

Jayda Kyle's mother to answer questions under oath; defense to add Judd McPherson as a witness

Dankelson refuses to recuse from Jayda Kyle murder case, says he does not have a close relationship with Judd McPherson

Jalen Vaden's lawyer asks for change of judge, cites Dankelson's close relationship with Judd McPherson

Jalen Vaden bond decision delayed, preliminary hearing waived
Accused killer of Jayda Kyle to waive preliminary hearing
Bond motion filed for accused killer of three-year-old Jayda Kyle

Jasper County Sheriff: We are still investigating Jayda Kyle's death

Children's Division documents: Grandfather attempting to manipulate Jayda Kyle murder investigation

Juvenile Office documents: Jayda Kyle suffered bleeding from brain, severely torn retina, probably already brain dead when she arrived in K. C.

Some thoughts on the Joplin Globe's article on the Jayda Kyle murder investigation

Probable cause: Carl Junction man abused three-year-old, left her on the floor bloody, unconscious

Jayda Kyle obituary

State audit to focus on Department of Revenue timeliness in issuing tax refunds

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

After an audit released in January showed state income tax refunds to Missourians have been increasingly and deliberately delayed, Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today announced a new audit of the Department of Revenue’s timeliness in issuing refunds. The Auditor said citizen feedback again will be vital as she continues efforts to determine if the administration is complying with the law mandating timely refunds.

“When we released the audit in January, we found the administration was balancing its checkbook on the backs of working Missourians. Taxpayers were rightfully frustrated because they waited months to receive their tax refunds from the state,” Auditor Galloway said. “This audit will look at whether the administration is addressing these concerns and getting taxpayers the money they are owed. If citizens run into issues again this year, I encourage them to file a complaint with our Whistleblower Hotline, so that information can be part of this latest audit.”

Feedback from taxpayers can provide valuable information as the Auditor’s Office reviews compliance with the law. Missouri law requires any personal income tax refunds issued after 45 days past filing be paid to taxpayers with interest. Individuals may file a complaint with the State Auditor’s Whistleblower Hotline by calling 800-347-8597, by emailing, or by using the online submission form at

The previous audit found that delays in issuing refunds worsened considerably in 2017 with 155,000 refunds paid with late interest, an increase of 86 percent over the previous year. That is in addition to the number of refunds paid late with no interest, which was at least 400,000.

Auditor Galloway also said the audit revealed refunds to taxpayers have been increasingly delayed at the direction of the administration in order to pay other state expenses first. Additionally, the state’s decreasing cash balance results in less money to pay Missourians what they are owed.

The report found Missouri taxpayers pay a significantly higher interest rate when making late tax payments than the state is required to pay on delayed refunds, and taxpayers are not compensated for late refunds unless interest exceeds $1. Auditor Galloway is supporting legislation sponsored by state Rep. Lauren Arthur, of Kansas City, to address the glaring inequity between the interest rates taxpayers are charged and what they are given. House Bill 2165would require the state to pay the same interest on late refunds as taxpayers are required to pay on late payments, and require interest to be paid on all refunds issued after 45 days.

Auditor Galloway issued her recent report on the timeliness of tax refunds last month despite unprecedented attempts by the current Governor’s administration to obstruct audit work. Throughout the audit process, auditors faced repeated delays and unwillingness by the administration to provide the requested documentation.

KGCS to air Joplin City Council candidate forum live

(From Southern News Service)

Candidates in the upcoming Joplin City Council election will be featured in a live candidate forum program airing at 6 p.m. Monday, March 26, on KGCS-TV. The forum will be broadcast from the council chambers at Joplin City Hall.

Nine candidates are on the ballot for the April 3 election. Two are seeking the seat in Zone Four: Diane Reid Adams and Morris Glaze. One candidate is on the ballot for Zone One: Gary Shaw. The General Council race features six candidates seeking three seats: Joshua Bard, Harvey Hutchinson, Douglas Lawson, Anthony Monteleone, Ryan Stanley and Steve Urie.

Judy Stiles, general manager of KGCS at Missouri Southern State University and host of the “Newsmakers” interview program, will serve as host. Candidates will have an opportunity to address what they see as key issues facing the city.

“KGCS has a long history of covering city government, and this is another way we can help with communications with residents,” says Stiles.

In addition to airing live, the program will be rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 27; 6 p.m. Thursday, March 29; and 7 p.m. Sunday, April 1. It will also be posted on the station’s YouTube channel.

KGCS operates as a service of the Department of Communication at Missouri Southern. Programming may be seen over the air on channel 22 and on regional cable television systems.

State treasurer launches initiative to help small businesses, agricultural operations grow

(From State Treasurer Eric Schmitt)

Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt was joined by business and finance leaders today in Springfield to launch Missouri FIRST (Financing Investment in our Rural, Small Business and Technology communities), a new initiative aimed at helping small businesses and agricultural operations grow and expand.

Schmitt has spent much of the past year gathering feedback from small business owners, farmers and community banks about how to improve Missouri’s linked deposit program, which works with lenders to provide low-interest loans to small businesses and agricultural operations. Schmitt leveraged that insight to identify opportunities to improve the program and make it stronger than ever before.

The Missouri FIRST initiative launched today implements those changes with a focus on cutting red tape, expanding access and modernizing the linked deposit system.

“Small businesses and farms are the backbone of our state’s economy, but many that were set back by the recession have been struggling to grow ever since,” Schmitt said. “Missouri FIRST will create jobs for hardworking Missourians and revitalize Main Street by encouraging investment in our state’s economy. This program is about expanding opportunity and reaching our fullest economic potential as a state.”

A few of the changes implemented to the linked deposit program include the elimination of a single-use restriction on borrowers, the expansion of eligibility criteria for agricultural loans and a streamlined application process. Existing linked deposit partnerships mean nearly one-third of Missouri lending institutions are already qualified to participate in the program.

“By cutting red tape in Missouri’s linked deposit program and launching Missouri FIRST, Treasurer Schmitt is empowering local lenders to spark new investment in Main Street Missouri,” said Max Cook, President and CEO of the Missouri Bankers Association. “This program will allow lenders to better serve their customers while helping small businesses and agricultural operations grow and expand.”

The Missouri FIRST initiative reflects a renewed prioritization of economic opportunity in the state’s investment portfolio. Treasurer Schmitt is authorized to invest up to $720 million through the linked deposit program.

“At a time when small businesses are still struggling, Treasurer Schmitt has stepped up to the plate and delivered a solution for kick-starting our economy,” said Dan Mehan, President of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Missouri FIRST gives our state a new competitive advantage when it comes to creating and retaining jobs.”

In addition to job creation and retention, another goal of Missouri FIRST is to encourage rural economic development by increasing linked deposit participation among farmers and ranchers.

“Farmers often struggle with securing reasonable financing for starting or expanding their operations,” said Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau. “Treasurer Schmitt is addressing that problem head-on with Missouri FIRST, which is an important new tool for spurring economic development in rural Missouri.”

There are approximately 115 qualified Missouri FIRST linked deposit lenders with 350 branches throughout the state. A list of lenders and program eligibility guidelines can be found online at

Monday, March 19, 2018

Former Neosho Chamber of Commerce president files for state representative

Former Neosho Chamber of Commerce President Angela Thomas filed for 160th District state representative today, becoming the first candidate to file on the Democratic ticket.

Thomas is the owner of Angela's Salon and Day Spa.

Filing earlier on the Republican ticket were Neosho Mayor Ben Baker, former Mayor Richard Davidson, Seneca businessman and rancher Raleigh Ritter and David Osborn, Neosho, a retired military man who works in agriculture.