Thursday, August 17, 2017

Judge rejects McDonald County white supremacist's motion for early release from probation

For a second time, U. S. District Court Judge Douglas Harpool has rejected a request from McDonald County white supremacist Robert Joos for an early release from his supervised probation.

In his August 14 motion Joos, representing himself, said he had "29 months of clean conduct" since his release from prison after serving six years on a weapons charge.

Joos probably did not do himself any favors by continuing to insist that the original charges against him were trumped up and that his sentence was "ridiculously long."

As he did in his first motion for an early release, Joos said he needed the freedom to help track down the people who had been vandalizing and stealing things from his church. The stipulations of his probation kept him from crossing the state line into Arkansas. "I can't follow them to their hideout and report them to the cops," Joos wrote.

In the earlier motion, Joos said he wanted to help the Joplin FBI office because it was too busy dealing with all of the meth in the area.

Joos was arrested in 2009 as part of an FBI investigation into a 2004 racially motivated bombing in Scottsdale, Arizona, which also resulted in the arrests of national white supremacist leaders, the Mahon brothers, Dennis and Daniel.

An Associated Press article in 2009 described Joos' operation:

The Missouri affidavit says the Mahons told an undercover federal agent that white supremacists used Joos's remote property in southwestern Missouri's McDonald County for survival training.
One of the Mahon brothers described Joos as "an expert on weapons, explosives, bomb making and general survival skills," the affidavit said.

Joos himself told undercover agents who visited his property of the importance of having firearms "in several locations" and said he used 18 caves to hide weapons, according to the affidavit.

Classroom Confidential available on Amazon

As of this evening, my new book, Classroom Confidential, is available on Amazon.com.

The book is a collection of my writings on different aspects of education. The photo on the cover should be familiar to some of my former students and teaching colleagues. It was taken in Room 210 at South Middle School, a room where I spent six years teaching eighth grade English.

The book features essays on problems in our public education system and the way public schools are being treated by our politicians, remembrances of teachers and former students who are no longer with us, thoughts on different aspects of teaching, memories of my classroom days, both as a teacher and as a student and much more.

The essays have been previously published, but many include updates and in one case, I admit I have changed my mind about what I wrote.

The book includes the following chapters:

The Girl Next Door- A high school student discovers her life work during a job shadowing experience, but that life is tragically shortened.

The School Where Cheating Does Not Exist- Student journalist Lauren Fetters discovers that her story was inaccurate and that cheating does not happen at Diamond Middle School.

A Few Words About Teachers- In this one, angered by someone who used that old saying, "Those who can do and those who can't teach," I write about the teachers who have influenced my life, beginning with my teachers at Midway, Triway, and East Newton all the way through my time in the Joplin School District.

The One With the Gun- This one was written following the 2006 shooting at Memorial Middle School in Joplin.

Improving Graduation Rates- This was one was written shortly after the Joplin R-8 School District hired C. J. Huff as superintendent. I offer my suggestions non how graduation rates can be improved.

Teachers and Facebook- In this one, I address the controversy over whether teachers should communicate with students over Facebook.and other social networking sites.

Remembering Dick Ferguson- A slightly embarrassing situation at Diamond Middle School when two of my students ask guest speaker Dick Ferguson some eyeopening questions.

Teachers Must Take the Lead in Removing Bad Apples- Teachers have a responsibility to police their own profession.

The Mythical Crisis in Public Education- You can probably guess what this one is about.

Blame It on the Teachers

A Time When All Things Are Possible- My thoughts on the first day of school

Reviving My Enthusiasm For Teaching- I was never a big fan of the pep rallies the Joplin R-8 School District held for all employees on the first day back, but at this particular one I had a chance to talk with one of my former Diamond Middle School students, Kristen Hicks, as she was preparing to begin her teaching career.

Remembering Brendan Garrett- A former South Middle School student who died far too young

The Murder of Rowan Ford- As Triway Elementary School fourth graders dealt with the rape and murder of their classmate, I remembered how much simpler life was when I was a Triway fourth grader during the 1965-66 school year.

Remembering Terry James- Thoughts about a longtime Webb City R-7 Board of Education member

Gov. Greitens' Latest Attack on Public Education- As you can tell, this is a recent one.

Young People Should Become Teachers

Football Coaches Don't Cry- A Seneca football coach develops a friendship with a six-year-old wheelchair-bound victim of a drunk driving accident.

The Death of Creativity in the Classroom- Too much testing and test preparation

Remembering J. R. Polen and South Middle School- My first year teaching in the Joplin R-8 School District and some of the students who made it special

Remembering Terri Byrd- A North Middle School teacher whose career was cut tragically short, but not without leaving many wonderful memories

Ten Signs Your Child Is In a Failing School District

Tornado Victim Should Be Able to Leave Joplin High School With His Classmates- One of two essays on the Zach Williams controversy

Zach Williams Controversy is About Community and Humanity- The other essay

Remembering T. J. Bowman and the Trailer Classroom- Some memories of my first year as a teacher

A Special Group of Seniors- My thoughts on the graduation of the students who were my eighth graders during the first year in the warehouse school after the tornado

Betsy DeVos and the Blunt Connection- What would a book on education be without some investigative reporting?

Remembering Spencer Nicodemus- Friends remember the life of a young man who contributed much during his short time here.

Remembering Larry Dixon- A Lockwood High School science teacher influences generations of students

The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time- In this one, I explain why charter schools and vouchers are bad ideas.

Trump Plagiarism Scandal Offer New Excuses for Our Students- I feel sorry for Melania.

No Amount of Data Can Replace a Good Classroom Teacher

Donald Trump Jr. Attacks Teachers in Convention Speech

Remembering Larry Augustine- Larry, a Diamond Middle School math teacher, helped me a great deal during my early years of teaching. He made math a go-to destination for students.

The Third Voice- Two Carthage students vie for a I rating at state with a duet that was originally supposed to be a trio until the third member committed suicide.

From First Kiss to Lasting Love- A basketball homecoming is the start of a wonderful life for a Lamar High School student.

A Warning to Young People: Don't Become a Teacher- I can never make up my mind.

Reflections on a Field Trip- East Middle School students take in a Springfield Cardinals game and see the magic of Oscar Taveras.

Forget Voter ID, We Need a Voter IQ Law- Isn't the time right for this?

Random Drug Testing of Students Sends the Wrong Message

Message to a First Year Teacher- As my former Diamond Middle School student Stephanie Taylor began her teaching career, I offered some advice to all first year teachers.

I Am Sick of Class Warfare- The effect class warfare is having on public education

Billionaire Links KKK with Public Education- There Rex Sinquefield goes again.

Obama State of the Union Sends Positive Message to Public Schools

Finding "Hi" in my Joplin Classroom- A special gift from eighth grader Sabrina Randles means even more after the tornado.

The Smackdown of Those Spoiled Teachers

Tribute to a Middle School Principal- Some thoughts about current East Newton R-6 Superintendent Ron Mitchell

Recovering From a Hate Crime- Joplin High School student Laela Zaidi works to bring the community together after an arson fire destroys the Joplin Islamic Community Mosque.

The book can be ordered as a paperback or as an e-book at the links below:

State Emergency Operations Center to open Friday to deal with traffic, eclipse

(From the Missouri Department of Public Safety)

In preparation for a large number of visitors to Missouri and the potential for increased traffic and eclipse-related issues, the State Emergency Operations Center will be activated beginning Friday morning and continuing through Tuesday, Aug. 22, to monitor conditions and respond to possible requests for assistance.

Just as Missourians have been preparing for the chance to witness the total solar eclipse that will span the Show-Me State, Missouri’s emergency managers and response agencies have been planning, too. The Department of Public SafetyState Emergency Management AgencyMissouri State Highway Patrol and other state response partners, including the Missouri Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources, have been working together on a coordinated response plan since March. 

“This will be a unique event, but we’re utilizing the experience gained from other major events that bring in large numbers of people, increased traffic and that have the potential to tax local resources,” Department of Public Safety Director Drew Juden said. “Preplanning and coordination with our state and local partners have been essential, and strong communication throughout the event period will continue.”

At the local level, many communities and businesses have been making adjustments to reduce traffic, including changing trash collections schedules, deliveries and work schedules. In Jefferson City, the only state capital in the 14 states in the eclipse path of totality, non-essential state offices will be closed to free up parking for an expected inflow of thousands of visitors to the Capitol Complex and to reduce traffic congestion.
Jefferson City will host a series of events, including NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow traveling exhibit. The Missouri capital city will also be one of seven cities from which the space agency will broadcast a live feed of the solar eclipse.

Here are key steps the public can take to reduce traffic and increase safety, particularly in areas of the state that are in the eclipse path of totality, a 70-mile-wide band stretching approximately from St. Joseph to Ste. Genevieve:

·         Plan ahead where you’ll view the eclipse and allow extra time to travel there. You don’t want to view a historic event stuck in traffic! Also, wait for traffic to abate before heading back onto the road. Consider carpooling to reduce traffic.
·         Follow news reports beginning over the weekend and especially traffic reports Monday morning for information about local traffic and events that could affect travel. The MoDOT Traveler Information Map is a good resource: http://traveler.modot.org/map/
·         Avoid unnecessary travel in and near the path of totality on Aug. 21. Consider taking care of routine matters that involve vehicular travel before or after Aug. 21.
·         Motorists should be alert and expect the unexpected. Expect additional traffic and avoid distractions. Remember, out of town visitors may not be familiar with traffic patterns or be looking for viewing sites. Watch out for cars on road shoulders and pedestrians. Remember, visibility will be reduced during the eclipse.
·         Think of eye safety and only use approved “eclipse glasses.” Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the very brief total phase of the eclipse, which will occur only in the narrow path of totality. According to NASA and other experts, the only safe eclipse glasses are verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Even the darkest sunglasses are not safe. Check NASA’s eclipse safety page:https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety for details.
The Department of Public Safety has created an eclipse safety webpage with recommended steps the public can take to get the most enjoyment out of the eclipse. The page is can be accessed from the DPS homepage at https://dps.mo.gov/ or directly here. The page includes an eclipse safety video.

The state of Missouri’s eclipse page can link you to local events planned across Missouri, transportation information, along with details on viewing areas at Missouri State Parks and Conservation areas. Find it on the state homepage: https://www.mo.gov/.

Senator who called for Trump's assassination, "It was inappropriate, but I won't apologize"

At the risk of offending many of my readers, Donald Trump has been a nightmare as president of the United States and at some point, the systems that were established by our forefathers- Congress, the courts, and a First Amendment that protects those who deliver the news and those who express their opinions- are going to decide the president's fate.

That process should be allowed to play itself out.

We should not have to wait that long in the State of Missouri.

It is time for Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal, D-St. Louis, to resign.

When she wrote a Facebook post calling for President Trump to be assassinated, she forfeited any right she has to serve in our state legislature.

She removed the post, but not until after it, quite understandably, created a stir and received nearly universal condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike, with many calling for her to resign.

In the accompanying video, Chappelle-Nadal says her comments were "inappropriate," but pointedly refuses to apologize to President Trump.

"I hate President Trump," she said. "He is causing mass chaos."

She adamantly insists, "I am not going to resign." Why should she have to resign, she said when there are people in the state legislature who smoke marijuana and cheat on their wives.

What world does she live in where calling for the president to be assassinated equates with smoking marijuana and having extramarital sex?

The reporters in the video give Chappelle-Nadal every chance to walk back her statements. Calling them inappropriate is a copout and it is obvious from the way she says it, that she really does not mean it.

We have enough people spreading hatred and violence without this self-serving senator doing so and claiming she is doing it in the name of the people she represents.

News-Leader: Charlottesville tiki torch carrier lives between Joplin and Springfield

The Springfield News-Leader is reporting that a man pictured in a photo that went viral from the Charlottesville rally is former Springfield resident Ted Von Nukem, formerly known as Ted Landrum.

Von Nukem told the newspaper that he now lives between Springfield and Joplin:

"The rally was not a racist rally. It was a rally to save our history," Von Nukem said, adding that he would also not like to see Union statues removed.

Von Nukem said he's a supporter of President Donald Trump and does not identify with some of the groups which attended the protest, including white supremacist, alt-right, neo-Nazi and pro-Confederate groups.

(Note: Nevertheless, I still tried to look up Von Nukem's current address on the White Pages.)

Agenda posted for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

COUNCIL AGENDA
Monday, August 21, 2017
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers
1.

Call To Order

Invocation
Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America
2.

Roll Call

3.

Presentations

1.

Rob O’Brian, President Of The Joplin Area Chamber Of Commerce To Give The Economic Development Update Report.

4.

Finalization Of Consent Agenda

5.

Reports And Communications

6.

Citizen Requests And Petitions

7.

Public Hearings

1.

Public Hearing Procedures

2.

Public Hearing For The FY 2017-18 Proposed Budget

3.

FY 2018 Proposed Budget Presentation

8.

Consent Agenda

1.

Minutes Of The August 7, 2017 City Council Meeting

2.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-006

AN ORDINANCE re-adopting Chapter 2, Administration, of the Joplin City Code, Section 2-107, "Financial interest disclosure", requiring certain officials and employees of the City of Joplin to file Financial Interest Disclosure Statements as described herein.
3.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-606

AN ORDINANCE approving the applications of Four-State Trucks/Chrome Shop Mafia, for Guilty by Association; Ozark Christian College, for 2018 Conference Series; Active Lifestyle Inc., for Joplin Memorial Marathon; Rufus Racing, for Summer Roundup Triathlon; Joplin Disc Golf Club for 13th Annual Four State Open; MSSU Alumni Association for Alumni Tracking Software; George A. Spiva Center for the Arts for a Veterans Art Exhibit; George Washington Carver Birthplace Association, for the Marketing the Park’s 75th Anniversary year; ProMusica for 2018 Concert Series; Alliance of Southwest Missouri for Hope Conference; Emancipation Celebration Committee for Emancipation Park Day Celebration; Downtown Joplin Alliance for 2018 Events Marketing; Central Christian Center for Joyful Hearts Conference; Carl Junction Chamber of Commerce for the 18th Annual Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival; Joplin Art Fest Committee for the Joplin Arts Fest, and Historic Murphysburg Preservation, Inc. for Heritage Homes Tour , for utilization of FY2018 Festivals and Celebrations support pursuant to Ordinance No. 2000-148, as authorized by the voters on November 7, 2000; authorizing the City Manager to execute appropriate agreements with each such organization for the utilization of such funds.
4.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-608

AN ORDINANCE approving a License Agreement with Tempest, Inc. for their Customer Relations Management software for the Convention and Visitors Bureau; authorizing the City Manager to execute said Agreement or Agreement in substantially similar form, for the City.
9.

Resolutions

10.

Ordinances - Emergency

1.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-005

AN ORDINANCE approving the reclassification of the Senior Clerk positions in the City Prosecutor’s Office in the Legal Department to become Legal Specialist – City Prosecutor’s Office; and, containing an emergency clause.
2.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-147

AN ORDINANCE amending Chapter 114, Traffic Section 114-822, Specific Speed Limits, of the Code of Ordinance of the City of Joplin, Missouri to amend the speed limit on Schifferdecker Avenue from 9th Street to 20th Street to 45 mph and on Zora Avenue from St. Louis Avenue to Range Line to 40 mph; authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin; and containing an emergency clause.
3.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-148

AN ORDINANCE approving an amendment to the Work Authorization with Allgeier, Martin & Associates Inc., in the not to exceed amount of Forty-Nine Thousand Six Hundred Twenty and no/100 Dollars ($49,620.00) for professional engineering consulting services for the ditch and culvert improvements, 4th and School Avenue project, and containing an emergency clause.
4.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-149

AN ORDINANCE approving a Work Authorization with Allgeier, Martin & Associates Inc., in not to exceed amount of Seventy-Five Thousand and no/100 Dollars ($75,000.00) for professional engineering consulting services for the 2018-2019 sanitary sewer rehabilitation toolbox and miscellaneous rehab assistance project, and containing an emergency clause.
5.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-452

AN ORDINANCE authorizing a Program Services Contract, by and between the State of Missouri, Department of Health and Senior Services, and the City of Joplin, Missouri, for the City of Joplin Health Department to receive compensation, for Thirty-Nine Thousand, Three Hundred Ninety-Eight Dollars, no Cents, ($39,398.00); and, authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, Missouri; and, containing an emergency clause.
6.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-453

AN ORDINANCE approving a Construction Agreement by and between Rio Contracting, LLC. and the City of Joplin, Missouri, for the amount of Fifty-Nine Thousand, One Hundred Eighty-Seven Dollars and no Cents ($59,187.00), for Modifications to the City of Joplin Health Department Storage Building; and, authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, Missouri; and, containing an emergency clause.
11.

Ordinances - First Reading

1.

AMENDED COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-270

AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and including in District M-2 property as described below and located (210 acres) north of Highway FF and east of Prigmor Road in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
12.

Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading

1.

COUNCIL BILL NO. 2017-269

AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-and including in District C-3 property as described below and located Northeast corner of I-44 and US Highway 66 in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri
13.

Unfinished Business

14.

New Business

1.

News From The PIO

2.

Vote To Go To Closed Session

Vote to go into closed session, which shall pertain to the hiring, firing, disciplining, or promotion of an employee or particular employees of a governmental body involving personal information; more specifically for the purpose of evaluating certain Council employees; as set forth in Section 610.021 (3) RSMo, as amended, 2016. This meeting, record, and vote to be closed to the extent provided by law. The City Council shall adjourn at the end of the session.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Five years ago- Todd Akin hands Claire McCaskill the U. S. Senate race

August 19 will mark the fifth anniversary of the day Congressman Todd Akin handed his Democratic opponent incumbent Claire McCaskill a victory in the U. S. Senate race.

Akin was answering a question on abortion when he gave an answer that was, to put it mildly, less than scientific:

Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

McCaskill had already manipulated the GOP primary by launching attack ads against Akin, claiming he was too conservative. That sounded all right to the Republican base, so it gave Akin the victory in a three-way race with businessman John Brunner and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.

In observance of the five-year anniversary of Akin's controversial statement, I once again offer my 2012 song, Akin Breakin' Heart.

Trial date set in lawsuit claiming Carthage elementary teacher abused autistic boy

A November 28, 2018 trial date has been scheduled in Jasper County Circuit Court for a lawsuit alleging that a Carthage Columbian Elementary special education teacher abused a six-year-old autistic child.

The lawsuit, which was filed in May claims Deborah Westmoreland, who is no longer working for the R-9 School District, stepped on the boy's fingers and rubbed his face in spit on the floor.

The petition says the situation was referred to Child Services, the lawsuit said, and paraprofessionals who worked with Westmoreland told investigators that the teacher had unusual methods for dealing with students who were not behaving as she wanted them to behave.
In the Children’s Division report, Exhibit “A,” a paraprofessional reported that, “If children were acting out and were on the floor, Ms. Westmoreland would step on their fingers and would say, ‘Oop’s that’s what happens when you throw a fit or you’re on the floor.’ With the most recent event occurring on[at that time] December 2[2015].” Further, this same paraprofessional stated that, “It [standing on the fingers] happened more than once and then she[Ms. Westmoreland] asked us to participate; she said when they are on the floor me and Ms. Whitten should step on their fingers too.”


The lawsuit was filed by the parents of J. W. M., an autistic child who is "non-verbal and unable to effectively communicate with those around him."

The parents had noticed that J. W. M., no longer enjoyed school and cried and acted out when it was time to go to class.

He had begun wetting his pants and his mother suspected that the problem might lie with J. W. M.'s teacher.

The mother said she saw Westmoreland "physically restrain J. W. M. in the hallway, but the mother was not allowed to observe what was going on in the classroom.

She finally reported the situation to Child Services, which initiated an investigation.

The lawsuit names Westmoreland, Columbian Principal Brian Shalleburger and former R-9 Superintendent Sean Smith as defendants.

Shalleburger told Child Services, "Mrs. Westmoreland can be aggressive."

Westmoreland said no one had ever told her she had been aggressive and that there had been times when she "accidentally" stepped on children's fingers.

The six-count action charges the teacher with battery and the R-9 officials with negligence.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, costs and fees and are asking for a jury trial.

Lawsuit response: Former Joplin city manager disruptive factor more interested in playing politics than working

In a lawsuit response filed Monday in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, League City officials claim former Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr spent more of his time playing politics than doing city work during his short stint as that city's city manager.

In his lawsuit, which was filed July 19, Rohr claimed he performed exceptionally during his time in League City.

The response said that was not true.

He was a disruptive factor who appeared far more interested in playing politics than in working for the city.

The city also denied Rohr's claim that he was fired because he filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Pat Hallisey, who is listed as a defendant.

Rohr was terminated for legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons having nothing to do with his alleged exercise of rights he claims he holds under the First Amendment."

The city is asking that Rohr's action be dismissed with prejudice and that the former city manager be required to pay to League City's attorney fees, costs and expenses.

League City hired Rohr March 31, 2014, a few weeks after the Joplin City Council fired him by a 5-4 vote. City officials cited his experience in economic development and his ability to launch the rebuilding of Joplin after the EF-5 tornado swept through the city May 22, 2011.

Rohr said when he left office 92 percent of the homes had been rebuilt or were in the process of being rebuilt, and 90 percent of the businesses were back on track. In addition, he said the city still had $190 million in aid to spend.

"League City may not have a natural disaster - hopefully - but it will be in a better position by having me to manage it," Rohr said. "I can be a manager under difficult circumstances and manage well. You can't imagine the disarray and anxiety in circumstances when a third of your city is destroyed. If you can handle that, you can handle any circumstance that comes your way."

Rohr came to national attention for his leadership in Joplin following the tornado, but his time here, just like at his previous city manager jobs, came to an end following battles with elected officials who did not agree with his method of operation.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

At least Nixon made it through six years

The headline is just one of the thoughts I had after watching President Trump's session with reporters today.

I may share some more later.