Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The stabbings over the weekend at Club Miami in Joplin were reported thoroughly on the TV news. The club has made a name for itself in this area for the raucous behavior that goes on inside its doors. It was only two years ago that the club, owned by Entertainment Concepts of Joplin ran afoul of the State Liquor Control for having a simulated sex act.
According to state records, the entertainment at Club Miami on March 22, 2002, put on by Kirk Keller, formerly of Carthage, was called "What Would You Do for a Sea-Do?" The records indicate Keller arranged for a woman named Darla Jo Marquardt to be one of the contestants and fixed it where she would say she would be willing to commit an oral sex act with a member of the audience to win the prize. Of course, the person had been chosen beforehand. The two went behind a screen where the audience could only see them in silhouette. Once they were behind the screen, the audience appeared to be watching a sex act. In reality, Ms. Marquardt was simulating the act with a footlong rubber fascimile.
Sex acts and simulated sex acts are not allowed at places that hold state licenses to serve alcohol. State liquor control officers investigated Club Miami. First-time violators usually have their license taken away for a few days and are placed on probation.
While the liquor violation would probably be considered minor in the grand scheme of things, another case involving Club Miami may not be and though you haven't read about in the area newspapers or seen anything about on on the local television stations, it is part of a nationwide story.
In February, one of the two great music publishing businesses in the Unied States, BMI, along with Sheryl Crow, John Fogarty of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Kid Rock, among others, filed a lawsuit against Club Miami.
It was one of a number of lawsuits filed against nightclubs across the country. According to the lawsuit, Club Miami has been playing songs written or owned by these people without paying the licensing fees.
BMI made its decision to file the lawsuits based on information given to its officials by a team of verifiers who visited the establishments and documented how the music was being played.
According to federal copyright law, any nightclub or restaurant that plays recorded music, whether it is used as background music or in karaoke or otherwise, has to pay a licensing fee based on its size and dining capacity. The only exceptions are made for bars and restaurants that are smaller then 3,750 square feet that play the radio.
If the licensing fees are not paid and the laws are not enforced, then the writers would be robbed of the profits that are due them. According to published sources, most of these kinds of lawsuits are settled out of court.
No court date has been set.
Missouri school districts have received their MAP scores. The State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will allow school officials to release them tomorrow (Thursday). The Joplin Globe is scheduled to have a major story on the scores in its Sunday edition. I'll see what I can come up with before then.
The Bush Administration apparently tried to hide a recent study that showed that fourth graders in public schools had higher reading and math scores than those who attended charter schools, which are a centerpiece of what President Bush calls an education plan.
When the figures were crunched, even allowing for the fact that many charter schools are located in areas with poor families, fair comparisons showed the public school students leading.
Normally, when these studies are completed, the results are released immediately with much fanfare. This time, they were hidden where you almost had to have a magnifying glass to find the information. When confronted about this, an Education Department official told the New York Times that the department planned to release the information, but wanted to wait until it could put it in its proper perspective...sometime like after the November election, I'm sure.
The Bush Administration in particular and the Republican Party in general, have a long history of promoting private schools, religious schools, and unproven charter schools over public education. They always cite comparisons between scores from this country and scores from other countries. The simple fact is Americans receive a better education than any other country in the world. Scores are sometimes lower because we believe everyone deserves an education. The top students in other countries are being compared with all students in this country. It is time that education stopped being used as a tool for political demagogues. It is easy to say that education is broken and offer quick, unproven fixes. Education has problems and probably the biggest problem are the uneducated elected officials who keep using it as a political football.

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