Saturday, February 12, 2005

A convicted child molester who is suing Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn and the County Commission for $10 million because he did not receive adequate dental care while he was in the county jail refused to answer questions from the county's lawyers during a Jan. 28 deposition.
Martin Anthony Eck, 42, gave his name and age and that was about it. When asked if he had a lawyer to represent him, Eck said, "My mother is in the process of getting me one as we speak.
"I do not know at this time who it is. But she is getting me one."
After attorney Peter Lee said, "Before we begin this deposition, one of the--," Eck interrupted him saying, "I'm not gonna make any statements until I have a chance to talk to my lawyer," according to the deposition."
Under questioning by Lee, Eck said he had not been contacted by any lawyers and had not received any correspondence from lawyers.
County attorneys have asked the judge in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to compel Eck to give a deposition within 30 days or to throw the case out of court.
The new media is beginning to play an important role in getting the news out. Neosho Forums' administrator broke another story Friday in the ongoing circus surrounding former Newton County Sheriff Ron Doerge.
Jack Dickens, who goes by the name Admin on the website, broke the story that a federal Hatch Act complaint has been filed against Doerge with the Office of Special Counsel. Hatch Act violations take place when elected officials participate illegally in politics.
Using Doerge's recent admonition by the Missouri Ethics Commission as a springboard, the complaint claims he improperly influenced the election of current Sheriff Ken Copeland.
The documents, which are featured at claim that Doerge "directly or indirectly" coerced Sheriff's Department employees to endorse Copeland.
The complaint, which had the name of the complainant redacted, notes the July 28, 2004, political ad in the Neosho Daily News in which Doerge endorsed Copeland. "Ken Copeland won the primary election and afterwards he publicly announced that he would not have won if Sheriff Doerge had not endorsed him as a candidate," the complaint said.
That July 28 ad listed supporters of Copeland's election including: Doerge, Chris Jennings, chief deputy; Lt Bob Loudermilk, reserve deputy; Larry Kenn, detective; James Defrates, deputy; Rico Engberg, detective; William Pike, detective; Dwayne Allen, detective; Keith Mills, deputy; C. A. Davidson, deputy; Bill Hayes, deputy; Frank Harris, major; Richard Leavens, captain patrol commander; N. Trevor Williams, detective; R. Scott Whitman, detective; Donn Hall, deputy; Dan Cooper, deputy; Randy Scott, detective; Henry Stout, detective; Roger Koren, evidence officer; David Trimble, deputy; and Richard Geller, detective.
TV ads that aired on KSNF and KODE with Doerge endorsing Copeland were also cited, as was an endorsement by Major Frank Harris on Copeland's website.
"As a citizen and voter of Newton County," the complainant said, "this upsets me as the sheriff and some of his deputies endorsed a candidate which not only influenced the elections, but did so while having received federal funding in the past and possibly presently." The federal funding is what makes Doerge's actions a possible violation of the Hatch Act.
The Ethics Commission sent the letter of admonition to Doerge after determining that taxpayer funds were used to support a candidate.
The full complaint and comments on it can be found at Neosho Forums.
Another new media source that has played a key role in keeping a watchful eye on government is , which has thoroughly publicized the audits of the city of Nevada, the last of which was unveiled by the state auditor's office last week.
I am sure the Nevada Daily Mail covered the information in its print edition, but for some reason it has not shown up on the newspaper's website. Anyone wanting information about the audit has to go to either Nevada Revealed or to the state auditor's website.
The Diamond R-4 Board of Education may have as many as four new members after the April election, but those new board members will be stuck with Mark Mayo through at least June 30, 2007.
The R-4 Board, reportedly voted 7-0 to extend the superintendent's contract an additional year, even though he already has a contract that would take him through the next school year.
The board also voted unanimously to rehire High School Principal Jim Cummins and Middle School Principal Danny DeWitt and voted 5-2 with Janice Stirewalt and Steve Johnson casting the dissenting votes to rehire Elementary Principal Deanna Yokley.
As my former student Michelle Nickolaisen pointed out in her blog, school officials did not place the agenda for the board meeting on the district website until sometime during the day the meeting was held, Thursday, Feb. 10. Not posting an agenda more than 24 hours a day before a meeting would be a violation of the Missouri Sunshine Law, but as was noted in The Turner Report Feb. 10, Diamond school officials post their agenda on a window at the door at the high school, where students and school employees might see it, but no other district patrons.
The agenda placed on the website, the only vehicle through which it is available to the public, contained no mention that any of the hirings were to be voted on Thursday night.
While I'm mentioning the work being done by the new media, Michelle Nickolaisen and another former student of mine, Alicia Bradley, who is also a sophomore at Diamond High School, provide interesting and insightful commentary (as well as occasional nonsense, but hey, they are students) on their blogs. Alicia's can be found at . Both of them would be great writers for the high school newspaper or for the school website, but so far this year there has been no high school newspaper (at least not the last time I heard which was sometime last month) and after using the website for school news updates last year, that practice has been discontinued during the 2004-2005 school year.
Though journalism no longer seems to be a necessary item at the high school, all is not lost on the intellectual front. Thanks to the guidance of Superintendent Mayo and his new high school counselor, who also used to work for the Southwest R-5 School District, Diamond now has a barbecue team which will travel across the state looking for new frontiers to conquer.
That alone is certainly worth an extra year on the old contract.
Cox Communications, owners of cable franchises in Carthage and Lamar, were hit with some unfavorable publicity Friday when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil insider trading charges against Frank R. V. Loomans, the company's former manager of investor relations.
According to the Associated Press story, the SEC alleges Loomans made at least $285,505 illegally by using "sensitive information about Cox not available to the public to trade the stock options in a brokerage account in the name of his father, Luc F. Loomans, between July 2000 and July 2001."
He also is alleged to have illegally made money on Concurrent Computer Corp. stock.
The Neosho Daily News reported in its Friday edition that McDonald County Associate Circuit Court Judge John LePage will oversee the newly-refiled involuntary manslaughter case against Edward Meerwald, 51, Noel.
Meerwald allegedly was intoxicated when the car he was driving killed James Dodson, 69, Neosho, and Dodson's granddaughter, Jessica Mann, 7, of Joplin.
The case was moved back to Newton County earlier this month after County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Watson tired of delays in Judge Joseph Schoeberl's court in Jasper County, where the case had been moved on a change of venue.
When the charges were refiled, Watson added a resisting arrest count.
KSNF's 10 p.m. coverage of the annual Lincoln Days gathering at the Ramada Inn in Joplin today featured an interesting note from weekend anchor Courtney Cullor.
"KSN's own Jim Jackson was emcee at Lincoln Days," Ms. Cullor said.
The Lincoln Days event is a partisan Republican get-together, which tonight featured Governor Matt Blunt, and U. S. Senator Kit Bond as speakers. The Nexstar station's willingness to have Jackson participate in the event and even publicize his participation is questionable. It certainly doesn't give area Democrats (the few that exist) any reason to be confident in KSN's coverage of their activities or of Republican activities.

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