The biggest obstacle in the American Civil Liberties Union's efforts to make Brad Mathewson into a First Amendment martyr turned out to be the former Webb City High School student himself.
According to documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Mathewson's lawyers tried unsuccessfully for more than a month to contact him to see how he wanted to proceed.
"Since December 9, 2004, Plaintiff's counsel have made repeated efforts to communicate with (him) regarding how to proceed in this matter, all to no avail," a court filing by Mathewson's attorneys said. " When they weren't able to get hold of Mathewson, the lawyers asked for an extension to the Jan. 6 deadline to file a response to the school district's motion to dismiss the case.
When the attorneys missed a deadline because one had an illness in his family, the order to show cause why the case should not be dismissed was filed Jan. 7 with a Jan. 19 deadline scheduled for a response. It didn't take that long.
After the lawyers received the show cause order, lawyer Terrence J. Sexton, of the Kansas City firm of Shook, Hardy and Bacon took steps to have the case dismissed, according to the filing.
When he was finally able to talk to Mathewson earlier today, the 17-year-old agreed to drop his case. Sexton said that Mathewson's decision to drop out of Webb City High School left his request for an injunction to allow him to wear gay pride t-shirts to school a moot point. "Not surprisingly," Sexton wrote, "this factual change has transformed the nature of the case."
Mathewson filed the lawsuit against the school district and High School Principal Stephen Gollhofer after he was required to either change his gay pride t-shirts or go home.
Sexton asked that the case be dismissed voluntarily without prejudice, meaning that it could be refiled if circumstances change.
The Mathewson motion led the 10 p.m. news on KOAM, but was the second item on the twin towers of local broadcasting, KODE and KSNF. The lead story was a scam being perpetrated on local consumers by fake satellite dish salesmen. Who can blame the stations for leading with that news item since every actual dish sale is a few more cents in the pocket for Nexstar Broadcasting, the company that owns KSNF and operates KODE. Another example of Nexstar's willingness to sacrifice the integrity of its local newscasts to further its business interests.
The longest item on the satellite dish fraud ran on KSNF. During the time, Channel 16 was through with its elongated tribute to those hard-working legitimate dish companies, KOAM had already run an in-depth report on Mathewson's decision, and a report on earlier than expected completion times for the Rangeline Bypass and for construction on Highway 71 to the Arkansas line.
The only thing I can think of that would be more ludicrous would be to devote the first couple of minutes of a newscast to an editorial ripping into Cable One...oh, wait a minute, they already did that.
Cable One has permanently removed KODE and KSNF from two of its franchises.
"In Vinita, Okla., and Independence, Kan., the Nexstar stations will never come back," Tom Basinger, vice president of Cable One's central division, told Multichannel News. The stations will be replaced by WB and UPN stations, according to the article.
Those two franchises are considered to be in the Tulsa market, so Cable One was already carrying NBC and ABC programming from Tulsa stations.
Cable One doesn't have that option in Joplin due to FCC regulations.
Nexstar will change the call letters of another station it owns in Springfield. Beginning Monday, KDEB, Fox 27, the Springfield Fox affiliate, will become KSFX, Ozark Fox, according to a news release from the station.
KDEB was carried on the Cox Communications Cable franchises in Carthage and Lamar before the Joplin Fox station went on the air. Surprisingly, Nexstar actually handles operations for KOLR, the CBS affiliate, which is allegedly owned by Mission Broadcasting, the same company that allegedly owns KODE.
As usual, H. J. Johnson, the famed Just Jake of Carthage's Mornin' Mail brought a little perspective to everything, noting "The first TV I had used a coat hanger for an antenna." The Mornin' Mail link is featured on this page.
Kansas City Business Journal reports that Joplin-based Empire District Electric Company has shown interest in joining with Kansas City Power & Light to buy an 800 to 900 megawatt regulated coal-fired plant near Iatan, Mo, 38 miles from Kansas City. The KC company would own about 500 megawatts with Empire owning the rest, the article said.
Lamar High School graduate Nicole Lehman missed her first collegiate double-double by one rebound during a Southwest Missouri State University Lady Bears win. Lehman, a former two-time all-state player for Coach Richard Marti's Tigers, had 18 points and nine rebounds.
Another Lamar High School graduate has been doing rather well for herself. Jennifer Lenz, daughter of Andre and Vicki Lenz, has picked up a bachelor's degree, a master's degree...and it seems like there was something else.
Oh, yes, she was crowned Miss Arizona USA in 2002, winning the interview, evening gown, and swimsuit competition, and competed in the Miss USA Pageant. She now lives in Dallas, Texas, where she works in banking and has begun a thriving consulting business designed to help young women who want to compete in pageants. You can check out Jennifer's website at http://www.jennlenz.com/index.html
Jennifer is also active in charity work to combat breast cancer.
Associated Press reports that Hollinger Inc., the company that used to own The Neosho Daily News and The Carthage Press, will place the money from its sale of The London Telegraph into escrow while it is being investigated by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
The federal agency is investigating accusations that Hollinger's former CEO, Lord Conrad Black and his chief deputy, David Radler, defrauded the company of millions of dollars.
The AP article said the company could use the money for limited purposes, including interest and dividend payments.