Were they glazed, were they chocolate? Did they have a raspberry filling? One thing is certain...Judith Stanley never had the chance to finish them. The doughnuts she shared with her daughter on April 3, 2001, were the last ones she enjoyed before she was shot to death by her son-in-law.
Thanks to the Missouri Supreme Court, her son-in-law will continue serving his 22-year prison sentence.
The high court ruled Tuesday that it would not hear Don Paul Rhodes' appeal of his conviction. Rhodes felt the jury should have been instructed that it could have convicted him of involuntary manslaughter. Rhodes said his lawyer never told him that was possible or he might have gone to trial and not entered a guilty plea. The court rejected that argument, as the Southern District Court of Appeals and Lawrence County Circuit Court had done earlier.
According to court documents, Judith Stanley was trying to borrow some money from her daughter, Wanda Rhodes, at the Rhodes home in Miller to buy a house. Mother and daughter were scarfing the doughnuts and downing them with coffee (the court files contain no references to dunking) when an argument broke out between Rhodes and his mother-in-law. He accused her of taking his wife's money and not doing any work. He threatened to kill her, then left the room and went into his bathroom to get his .38 caliber pistol, which he kept in the bathroom along with his toothpaste and toilet tissue.
He only wanted to scare her, he said, but things went horribly wrong. First, Ms. Stanley shoved him and caused the gun to go off, wounding her. Then Rhodes fell, hit his hand on the railing of the porch and the darned thing went off again. (Don't you hate it when that happens?) The second bullet also hit Ms. Stanley.
Wanda Rhodes called 911, but when they arrived Ms. Stanley was already dead.
The doughnuts remained uneaten.
The Joplin R-8 bond issue was defeated Tuesday and former board member Benjamin Rosenberg understandably took it hard. Rosenberg was co-chairman of the committee that came up with the plan, which called for construction of a new middle school on 50th Street, renovation of North Middle School and construction at Stapleton Elementary.
This morning's Joplin Globe quotes Rosenberg as saying, "The voters have said they do not like where things are going as a district. I guess Accreditation with Distinction means nothing." He was referring to the top status the district received from the state during its last evaluation.
I would imagine that if Rosenberg were asked the same questions a few days from now, when he has had time to reflect on the vote, he might feel a little better about things.
First, more than 50 percent of the voters approved of the bond issue, though that fell short of the 57.4 percent needed for passage.
Second, I am quite sure that Accreditation with Distinction means a great deal to a large majority of people in this school district. People have been pleased with the improvement in test scores and the efforts that have been made to provide their children with a quality education.
This vote had nothing to do with a dissatisfaction with quality of education.
My vote was solidly in the yes column for the proposal. I see the effects of overcrowded classrooms, students having physical education classes on the auditorium stage, loading and unloading buses on city streets, and buildings that are not designed to handle the technology of the 21st century.
But there were other considerations.
First, you are always going to have a percentage of voters who simply won't vote for any tax increase. Someone took care of their education, but they do not feel the responsibility to take care of the next generation. That has to be taken into account in any bond issue or tax levy proposal.
Second, there was concern about the location of the new middle school. 50th Street is not exactly in the center of town. Also, some voters noted that they didn't believe the roads in that area were equipped to handle the added traffic that a new middle school would bring. There were also a few who kept hammering on the flood plain issue, even though issue proponents kept pointing out that the school itself was not located in a flood plain.
Third, some voters did not buy the two middle-school concept and believe that three neighborhood-type middle schools would be more conducive to learning. The new concept of pods within a school did not come across to some of these voters from comments I heard. When I explained what the school officials planned to do, the people who had not previously understood the concept did not necessarily say they would support the issue, but it made more sense to them. You still have a sizable contingent who feel that combining Parkwood and Memorial high schools a couple of decades ago to make one high school has been a failure. It will be hard to convince those people that a reduction in the number of Joplin middle schools would be a good thing.
The fourth problem is one any school board faces when it tries to pass an issue. School administrators have to make decisions all of the time and some of those decisions are going to displease people. There is no way of getting around it. Those people are going to cast negative votes against anything that is proposed and use the excuse that they won't pass anything as long as "those people" are running things.
I hope that after some reflection Benjamin Rosenberg does not take the election results personally, though it is easy to understand why he would do so. People were not voting against him. R-8 officials did a great job of coming up with a proposal and pushed it hard and effectively, though the results were not the ones they had been hoping for.
Important decisions lie ahead. Should the issue be resubmitted in the same form. Do modifications need to be made? Will the changes in the makeup of the R-8 Board of Education lead to a new proposal?
One thing is certain. Another proposal will have to go before voters. The problems remain the same and will only grow worse with time.
Wal-Mart's public relations blitz continued yesterday at a news conference in Rogers, Ark.
The company's stock has suffered recently following an $11 million deal with the federal government to pay for costs associated with the use of illegal aliens by contractors who cleaned Wal-Mart stores.
CEO Lee Scott told the reporters that Wal-Mart represented what was good and right in the United States, according to today's Arkansas Business.
He said Wal-Mart is good for the U.S. and helps raise the standard of living for all Americans, according to the article.
About criticism of the corporation, which ranked first on the recent Fortune 500, the article quotes Scott as saying, "In some cases, I think some folks would like to hang on to a status quo that doesn’t exist in most of America today — the notion of the general store, which started to disappear in the 1950s with the first shopping mall. The thing is: innovation and competition tend to change the status quo. We were, at one time, a small store ourselves with big competitors. We grew because people needed what we offered.”