Friday, September 30, 2005

Reader says Edison payoff was $50,000

I neglected to mention this earlier, but in case you missed it, a reader noted on the comment section of the blog that the Diamond Schools ended up paying Edison most of the money the company said it was owed for operating the R-4 School District's summer school in 2002.
This is what the reader wrote:
"I believe that Diamond paid $50,000 and Edison wrote off about $20,000. Several years of haggling, bad press, and continual staff morale problems due to this moron's actions."
I believe the reader may have been referring to R-4 Superintendent Mark Mayo, who led the push to file the lawsuit. As far as I have been able to determine, the Diamond school district is the only one to ever express dissatisfaction with the financial end of having Edison run a summer school.

Hearing held in former KODE personality's lawsuit

Associated Press reported earlier this week that the age discrimination lawsuit filed by former KODE weekend weathercaster Marny Stanier may be decided by whether the Weather Channel is news or entertainment.
Ms. Stanier claims she was fired at age 41 in 2003 because the Weather Channel wanted younger, sexier on-air personalities.
Weather Channel officials apparently believe viewers will not tune in to their programming if they have older women reporting the weather. The same viewpoint apparently does not apply to older men.

Is Moark meeting an exercise in futility?

A public meeting set for 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at Neosho City Hall will be the final opportunity for new information to be presented regarding Moark's expansion plans, according to a news release issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
While it is encouraging to know that DNR Director Doyle Childers will conduct the meeting, holding it at 10:30 a.m. on a weekday doesn't seem to offer the public much chance to attend.
Hopefully, this will not be just a show of concern. The DNR has a long history of going through the motions, then simply permitting activities that it knows are harmful to the environment.
Moark has a long record of environmental violations. Why anyone believes the company will change its ways now is beyond me.

DeLay staff divided between Blunt, Dreier

Following a meeting between Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Seventh District Congressmen Roy Blunt and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., DeLay's former staff was divided between Blunt and Dreier, according to The Hill, a political newsmagazine.
Meeting are expected to continue all weekend with the three men and select staff members to define leadership roles in the wake of DeLay's indictment.

Blunt likely subject of ABC news program

The immediate future of the Republican party following the indictment of Majority Leader Tom DeLay will be discussed during the roundtable discussion in the final segments of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolos Sunday morning on KODE.
The discussion will undoubtedly address the new Majority Leader Roy Blunt. The panel will feature Stephanopolos, and Terry Moran. Linda Douglass, and George Will of ABC News.

Globe column is not the way to attract women to sports

It appears, based on this morning's edition, that The Joplin Globe is trying something new to attract women to its sports pages.
Today's edition featured a column by Rachel Kubicek, Joplin, who is referred to as "a news assistant" for the newspaper. I like the idea of a feminine point of view on the sports pages. As old-time Lamar Democrat readers will remember, Holly Sundy, at the age of 17, was promoted to sports editor and did a wonderful job. I later had a great deal of luck with female sportswriters such as Kim Stahl, Stacy Randolph, and Michelle Dixon. I also had sports features written by other female reporters.
So I commend the Globe for its effort to expand its sports horizons.
That being said, Ms. Kubicek's column, though well-written, is an insult to female sports fans if that is what the Globe thinks they are wanting. The column begins, "We all know, or at least we football fans, that the Chiefs were beat down on Monday night so I won't bore everyone with a recap of the game highlights and downfalls. Besides, I missed most of the game anyway while I was making cookies for all the boys in the living room. Burnt cookies are almost as bad as a loss in my book."
The column goes from burnt cookies to football fashion. There is not much to appeal to any sports fan. That column might have worked if Ms. Kubicek had written a few previous columns (and maybe she has and I just haven't noticed them) establishing her sports credentials. I don't mean that she has to reel off meaningless statistics, or even meaningful statistics, I would just like her to prove she can write credibly about sports.
The way to bring more female readers to the sports pages is not complicated: better writing, more features, and more coverage of women's sports. It was a formula that worked well for me at The Lamar Democrat and The Carthage Press. It has worked well for other papers. I would love to see the Globe give it a try.
When it comes to sports coverage, give me the beef now, and save the burned cookies for dessert.

New deal is blow to Nexstar

Cable One has inked a deal to keep KOAM and Fox 14 on its system, according to this morning's Joplin Globe.
That definitely puts a kink in Nexstar Broadcasting's strategy of holding the possibility of the loss of all local affiliates over Cable One's head.
Maybe someone is seeing something I don't see in this, but as far as the Joplin market is concerned, it appears Nexstar's gambit of pulling KSNF and KODE from Cable One has failed. Nexstar CEO Perry Sook keeps telling people that other local stations are going to back his company's strategy of demanding payment for retransmission rights, but so far it simply has not happened.
Undoubtedly, Cable One took a hit when many of its customers unhooked their cable and opted for satellite, but nearly all of that traffic came during the few weeks after Jan 1 when the KSNF and KODE programming was pulled off Cable One. Some people bought antennas or were given antennas by Cable One so they could continue to watch the stations, while others found they could live quite nicely without them.
Nearly everyone who is going to leave cable has already done so.
Therefore, what has happened to the local stations as a result of the Nexstar-Cable One standoff?
-KODE and KSNF took an initial hit on their credibility for their shameless slanting of the news as far as the Cable One situation was concerned and their constant promos for satellite television that masqueraded as news. This was something that lowered morale among the stations' news departments because they knew full well they were not providing their viewers with balanced coverage. The news programs have bounced back nicely since that time and appear to be back on an even keel.
-Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of viewers who never watched KOAM's news, had the opportunity to sample it and many of them were happy with what they saw and have remained with the station at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. Even if Cable One and Nexstar, were to reach an agreement today, some of those people are not going to return to KODE or KSNF. I was one of those viewers, as I have admitted before. I did not watch KOAM because I was under the mistaken impression that it spent considerably more time covering Kansas news rather than Missouri news. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was mistaken. I liked the news with Dowe Quick and Rhonda Justice, and even though I have an antenna and continue to watch the other stations, on nights when I am working on something else or simply don't feel like using the antenna, I end up watching KOAM. I also had never watched the KOAM Morning show since the days of Toby and Andy, when it was the only morning show. I had been content with Tiffany Alaniz and Gary Bandy on KSNF and Malorie Maddox and Alan Matthews on KODE. I had already lost much of my early affection for those morning programs when many of the replacements for the aforementioned reporters turned out to be lacking in a number of areas, but I had continued to watch KODE or KSNF. Now that I have sampled the smooth, professional job that Sarah Pierik and Dave Pylant do on KOAM's morning show, it is going to be hard to get me back to the other stations (I almost guarantee you that if KSNF were on still on Cable One, I would be watching Toni Valliere and Lucas McDonald on KSNF and missing the one person in local TV, Miss Pierik, whose horizons appear to be limitless.
-Nexstar has already lost advertising revenue and I doubt if that situation gets any better. If the situation continues into 2006, it will be interesting to see if there is a different distribution of political advertising since KODE and KSNF cannot be seen on Cable One's systems in Joplin, Independence, and Miami, and will likely disappear from local Cox Communications systems, as well.
The upside would be great for Nexstar if it developed that much-desired second stream of revenue from selling retransmission rights, but it appears the odds are against that happening in the Joplin market.

Update given on 'Small Town News'

As those of you who read the earlier post know, my novel, "Small Town News" became available yesterday. At the moment, it is only available through the publisher's website or by calling the company's toll-free number, 1-800-AUTHORS or 1-800-288-4677.
A link to IUniverse's "Small Town News" page has been added on my "Small Town News" website. The link to that site is in the links bar on the right-hand side of this page. The IUniverse page includes the cover art, a plot synopsis, other details about the book, and the first chapter.
The book will show up on websites for the major bookstores and within the next few weeks, with probably Books-a-Million's website having it first. (That is what the publisher said usually happens.)
Anyone who wants to save on shipping costs will be able to order it through the local bookstores, such as Books-a-Million, Hastings, or B Dalton in Joplin (perhaps others, I am still new at this), or from places like Barnes & Noble, Borders and Walden Books in other communities.
A link to the IUniverse website, as well as links to some of the major booksellers, are featured on the Small Town News website. The link for that site is featured on the links bar on the right hand side of this page.
Thanks to all of you who have sent encouraging words. They have been much appreciated.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

O'Sullivan Industries extends forbearance agreement

O'Sullivan Industries officials have bought more time to negotiate with the company's creditors, according to an article on PR Newswire.
An additional extension of the forbearance agreement through Oct. 15 was announced today.
"We are pleased to announce this additional extension of the Forbearance Period," million-dollar CEO Bob Parker, is quoted as saying. "This is a reflection of the positive progress that is being made in the ongoing financial restructuring negotiations."

Remembering Gerald Gilkey

Mr. Mayor.
That was what I always called Gerald Gilkey. I never even thought about calling him by his first name. When I first arrived in Lamar in May 1978 as sports editor of the Daily Democrat, he was already serving his 14th year as mayor, after serving five years on the city council.
When I returned to the Democrat, a weekly by this time, as the editor in November 1982, he was in his 18th year, having served nine two-year terms. I wasn't paid much at the Democrat, though it was more than I had ever made in my life, but one month after I returned to Lamar, Gerald Gilkey and the City Council helped me make ends meet and even have money left over to buy Christmas presents by making a decision that was publicized across the United States.
Thanks to the sound management of the city's electrical system and the deals which the city had with Southwest Power Administration (SWPA) at that time, city residents were given a month without utility bills. Residents did not have to pay for electricity or trash pickup.
When syndicated radio personality Paul Harvey heard about this, the news of the city with the unusual Christmas gift for its residents spread across the nation.
Lamar city officials repeated the gift a few years later.
When I left the Democrat in March 1990 to take a job with The Carthage Press, Gerald Gilkey was still mayor. Nine years later, when I became a teacher, Gerald Gilkey, the body beginning to fail but the spirit ever vibrant had served as mayor for 34 years and was still growing strong. After 38 years, he finally stepped down and enjoyed the fruits of his accomplishments.
Mayor Gilkey, 83, died today, his place in Lamar history secure.
His granddaughter Katie Young, wrote about him in The Lamar Press when he reached his 75th birthday on April 14, 1997. "I never thought I would get this far," he said.
Katie wrote, "Not only has my grandfather aged gracefully, but he has accomplished more in his lifetime than I could even dream about."
Katie's brother, John Gilkey wrote the following history of Gerald Gilkey when his grandfather was named Lamar Chamber of Commerce 1990 Man of the Year on Jan. 28, 1991. It was slightly updated when it ran in the April 18, 1997, Lamar Press:

Gerald William Gilkey was born April 14, 1922, in Sheldon. His father was a carpenter and his mother was a housewife. Gerald respected both parents greatly and learned through them that hard work can get you anything. During the Great Depression, Gerald's father was one of the few to have a job and helped out many of his friends that couldn't even afford food. Through his father's generosity, Gerald learned his strong work ethic.
I always get a kick out of asking my grandfather about some of his boyhood memories of Sheldon. He always mentions his good buddy, Floyd, and as he starts telling me all the mischievous things he and Floyd did his dark brown eyes light up and he has an incredible smile from ear to ear.
Gerald graduated from Sheldon in 1939 and his parents gave him a chance to go to college. He went to Kansas State Teachers College in Pittsburg for a year and decided that education really didn't float his boat. He was young, ambitious and ready to make a fortune. So Gerald and three of his buddies headed out to California to strike it rich. They found jobs as hop pickers and were paid by every pound. Since hops are as light as feathers, being hop pickers didn't really pan out. Gerald then went to Oregon and found a job at a grocery store. After making a little bit of money, he decided he was ready to move back home.
Behind every successful man there is a successful woman and that successful woman in Gerald's case was Betty Jo Medlin. He met this pretty girl around the time World War II broke out. They got married before telling their parents June 18, 1942. The secret of their marriage was revealed the next day when Betty's parents read about it in The Joplin Globe. Marrying Betty was Gerald's happiest moment. Little did both of them know that five months later Gerald would be drafted by the Army Air Force.
Gerald was stationed in the barren Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Including boot camps and training school, Gerald did not see his wife for the next three years.
Being in charge of air base operation which entailed incoming and outgoing flights, Gerald had 90 soldiers under him. Even being a busy "boss" figure, he desperately missed his inspiration and soul mate, Betty. He wrote her once a week and in return Betty wrote back and send photos of her and her friends for a morale booster.
Even during the war Gerald was thinking about a future business of his own. He started cutting hair and started a photography lab right on base. The extra money that he earned was sent back home to Betty to save. This money would later be used to start a business.
Gerald requested a 45-day R and R pass after spending 37 months on the Aleutian Islands. Gerald was home for only a couple of days when he heard on the radio that the war was over. Besides being married, this was one of his happiest moments.
Moving back to Sheldon, he used the money he had saved from the Aleutians and bought Marshall Auto Supply. During this period, one son was born. I remember Papa telling me that he got to knock out my grandmother for the first and last time. What he was referring to was the ether he helped apply to my grandmother during delivery.
After two years, the auto parts business wasn't doing well, so he sold the business and started working for his brother-in-laws, Jewell and Gerald Medlin, at an Oldsmobile dealership at Fort Scott, Kan. The day he started he sold the highest priced car that Oldsmobile made, the Olds 98. To this day, Gerald still drives the make of car that broke him into the car business.
Business was very good, but Jewell and Gerald wanted to relocate back to Lamar where their family was from. They bought the Ford dealership in Lamar and left Gerald to sell the remaining 14 cars before closing out the dealership. Gerald took out a full page ad in the local newspaper and advertised on the radio and sold all 14 cars at retail price that same day.
Working for the Ford dealership in Lamar, Gerald met all new people to sell to. Meeting people and making friendships was something that just came naturally to Gerald. To him the friendships he had made were more important than just selling cars. Gerald established many customers in town and became very reputable for his honesty and hard work. The local newspaper publisher and an insurance agent, both prominent figures in Lamar, approached Gerald to run for city council. They had faith in him that he would work for the people, not against them. He ran for city council in 1959 and won by a decisive margin.
In 1960, the Chevrolet dealer in town offered to sell his agency to Gerald, but Gerald would have nothing to do with it because of his loyalty to his brother-in-laws to go into competition with. Given the opportunity of owning his own car dealership overwhelmed him. He found a dealership in Abilene, Kan., and was getting ready to buy it; but when his brother-in-law Jewell found out what Gerald was about to do, he offered to sell the Ford dealership so Gerald and Betty wouldn't have to move away from the family.
Immediately after buying the dealership, he also obtained the Oldsmobile franchise. He started out with five employees. Things were tough at first. The facilities weren't adequate, there were few customers and the dealership was short on operating capital. He was away from home seven days a week, 12 or more hours a day. Just to make payroll on Friday, he had to go to auction on Thursday night to sell cars. All his hard work and dedication would finally pay off. He hired experienced mechanics and brought the company up month by month. In 1962, with the motto that read "Putting you first...keeps us first." People believed this because they now knew him as a business and political leader.
Car sales started to go up and so did his reputation. He brought his son, Steve, into the business while he was still in high school and taught him everything from washing a car to financial statements. The mayor of Lamar in 1964 approached Gerald and asked him to run for his office because he was wanting to retire.
Running a new business and the town would be a lot of work; but with encouragement from both his family and friends, he ran for the office and won.
With all the contributions the community had put into his business, Gerald began to give back being mayor. In 1980, he had a big hand in getting a desperately needed water plant. In 1982 and 1986, he gave a Christmas gift to the city of Lamar on behalf of the city- free utilities for the month of December, which made national news. After 32 years of being mayor, he has helped by getting a nice auditorium and aquatic park that has added dramatically to our city of less than 4,200.
As far as business, in 1984, he became the first dealer in the nation to have both a General Motors and Ford dealership. He opened the idea of "autoplexes" in the four state area.
After all his business accomplishments, he has given up most of the operating of his business to Steve. He has accomplished passing his work ethic to his son.
Dad is sometimes at the business seven days of the week. He showed a little of his father in him when he acquired the GEO franchise in 1989 and today he is remodeling the business that has been there for 36 years to better accommodate his sales force and customers.
Today Gerald is known as a husband, father, grandfather, mayor, boss, and friend or fatso according to his good buddy Jim Allen. Gerald rides his exercise bike five miles a day and is still as sharp as ever. I've never heard him complain or say a bad word about anyone. I feel very fortunate to have Gerald Gilkey as my grandfather and I hope someday I will be as well liked and successful as he is.
Responding to a question I asked at him at one of the candidate forums the Lamar Democrat held in the 1980s, Mayor Gilkey said what it took to hold that position and to be successful. "You have to be progressive and broadminded. Most of all, you have to be available to the people. You have to love Lamar and the people and be interested in their futures to do this."
That was the secret of Gerald Gilkey's success in politics and in business. It would have been easy for him to coast on his accomplishments in both fields, but he never did. When he could have been looking back, he always had his eye on the future.

"Small Town News" has been published

I just checked the Iuniverse website and "Small Town News" is available. If you go to the Small Town News link on the right-hand side of this page, you will find a link to the IUniverse bookstore. Just type in Small Town News in the search field and the information on the novel will come up, including a link to the first chapter of the book.
You can buy the book directly from Iuniverse or it can be ordered through any of the other bookstores which have links on my "Small Town News" website.
If you want to save shipping costs, I would suggest you stop by or call Books-a-Million, Hastings or B Dalton here in Joplin or Walden Books or Borders or Barnes and Noble in other communities and order the book through the store. Since it is a print-on-demand book, it will likely take a week or two for delivery.
The book costs $14.95.

Lindsey survives Springdale candidate cut

Joplin Police Chief Kevin Lindsey is one of 11 candidates still in the running for the Springdale, Ark., police chief position, according to this morning's Arkansas Democrat. The reduction from 24 candidates to 11 was made during a Civil Service Commission meeting Wednesday.
The Springdale Civil Service Commission pared its list of police chief candidates to 11 during an hour-long private meeting Wednesday. The article said acting police chief Rick Hoyt has been asked to conduct background checks on Lindsey and the other 10 candidates.
Lindsey recently was one of three finalists for the Grand Island, Neb., police chief position. That job was given to another candidate.

Governor's press office issues inappropriate news release

For those who saw the headline and thought maybe there was some foul language and sexual references in a news release from the governor, sorry to disappoint you.
The inappropriate news release was issued as a result of the governor's irritation with a Democratic blog started by former Carnahan advisor Roy Temple.
The Temple blog, "Fired Up Missouri" at has posted one entry after another criticizing the Blunt administration and other Republicans in office, sometimes hitting the nail right on the head, and sometimes stretching things a bit to make a point.
Naturally, it has raised the ire of the governor and his aides. Last week, the following news release was issued:

Carnahan Hate Blog Posts Another Lie about Blunt Administration (This is the exact headline that came from the governor's press office.)

JEFFERSON CITY-A left-wing blog site created at the behest of former U.S.
Senator Jean Carnahan and best known for posting scurrilous attacks on Gov.
Blunt, his wife and infant son, has posted yet another lie about the
governor and his administration.

Carnahan's hate site inaccurately claims that the "Blunt administration" is
seeking to purchase a new state airplane. The truth is that the state, under
Gov. Blunt's direction, is in the process of selling two airplanes and one
aircraft hanger owned by the state.

The bid referenced by "Cole" and "Jefferson Thomas" two of Carnahan's
Internet hit men who are too frightened to give their real names, has been
put forth by the Department of Conservation which is governed by a
commission appointed, with one exception, by Blunt's predecessors.

As governor, Blunt has never flown on state owned airplanes and has
discouraged his cabinet directors from doing so as well. This cost savings
move has saved taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Other independent
agencies, like the Missouri Department of Transportation, have responded to
Blunt's call to cut transportation expenses in the midst of serious state
budget challenges.

The Blunt administration discussed with the Department of Conservation its
plans for reducing the state aircraft fleet several months ago but the
department elected to pursue other options.

"The Carnahan family's twisted obsession with attacking the governor is
bordering on being clinical," said Blunt spokesman Spence Jackson. "For the
good of their own legacy and public reputations they should set aside their
visceral hatred of the governor and his family and start engaging in
positive discussions on how best to move Missouri forward." (This concludes the news release.)

To me, this is a completely inappropriate use of taxpayer money. I am not suggesting that the governor and the Republican party should roll over and allow themselves to be attacked day after day without some kind of response. Set up a similar blog, have releases issued by the Missouri Republican Party, but I am offended when my tax dollars are used by Spence Jackson, the governor's press aide, at the behest of the governor, to play petty politics.
An apology should be issued to every Missouri taxpayer and it should never happen again.

KOAM, KSNF delayed news of coach's death

Sources tell The Turner Report that despite the fact that the word was already out Tuesday morning that Missouri Southern State University football coach John Ware had died, KOAM and KSNF agreed to a request from university officials not to release the information during their noon news reports.
This, of course, was not a problem at KODE which shows "All My Children" at noon.
University officials also asked the television stations not to come to the campus to conduct interviews until late in the afternoon. While this was obviously a traumatic situation for everyone at MSSU, and you can understand the request, giving in so quickly to the request and allowing the university to dictate the content of news programs is less understandable.
Since my understanding is that family had already been notified, there seems no legitimate reason why the stations could not have at least run a brief bulletin on Coach Ware's death.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Price gouging charge leveled against Snak Atak 14

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon today announced legal action is being taken against the owners of 10 gas stations, including Snak Atak at 10th and Rangeline, Joplin, for price gouging in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Nixon's investigation began Aug. 31, two days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, according to a news release from the attorney general. The owners of the gas stations will have to pay fines into the local school fund.
Snak Atak agreed to pay a $500 fine.
Nixon filed a lawsuit in Greene County Circuit Court against Express Lanes, 2959 N. Grant, Springfield, saying that station increased its profit margin on gas by more than 400 percent in the days after Katrina hit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

LaBarge lands new contract for Joplin plant

LaBarge Inc. landed a $2.2 million contract from Kaman Aerospace Corp. to provide parts for Black Hawk helicopters, according to today's St. Louis Business Journal.
Under terms of the contract, cockpit wiring harnesses for models of the UH-60 Black Hawk will be manufactured at the Joplin plant through August 2006.

Aquila execs earn bonuses for sale to Empire Electric

The Kansas City Business Journal reports KC-based Aquila will give executives involved in the sale of its regulated properties earlier this week to Empire District Electric Company of Joplin and three other companies bonuses amounting to 25 percent of their annual salary.
The article said this is the first time executive bonuses have been awarded since 2002, when Aquila lost $2 billion during the collapse of the energy trading market.
Empire District bought Aquila's natural gas operations in Missouri, according to an announcement made Sept. 21.

Area newspapers win state press awards

Area newspapers picked up a few awards during the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest Banquet held Saturday at the Lodge of the Four Seasons, Lake of the Ozarks.
Southwest Missouri newspapers earning awards included:
General Excellence, Class 1- 1. Neosho Daily News
General Excellence, Class 3- 2. Joplin Globe (Cape Girardeau won)
General Excellence, Class 4- HM- Springfield News-Leader (1. KC Star)
Best Newspaper Design, Class 1- HM- Nevada Daily Mail (1. Columbia Missourian)
Best Newspaper Design, Class 2- 2. Joplin Globe (1. St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Best Front Page, Class 2- HM Springfield News-Leader (1. St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Best News Story- Class 1- HM Nevada Daily Mail, Steve Moyer
Best News Story- Class 2- 1. Joplin Globe- John Hacker, Aaron Kessler, Nammi Bhagvandoss
Best Feature Story- Class 2- 1. Joplin Globe- Jeremiah Tucker and staff
Best News or Feature Series- (All Papers) 1. Joplin Globe- Jeremiah Tucker and staff
Best Editorial- Class 1- HM Neosho Daily News, Buzz Ball
Best Editorial- Class 2- 3. Springfield News-Leader
Best Columnist- Humorous- (All Papers) HM Springfield News-Leader, Sarah Overstreet.
Best Feature Photograph- Class 1- HM Nevada Daily Mail, Ralph Pokorny
Best Photo Illustration- Class 2- 3. Joplin Globe, T. Rob Brown
Best Photo Package- Class 2- 3. Springfield News-Leader, Bob Linder
Best News Contest- Class 2- 3. Joplin Globe (behind St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star, which tied for first)
Best Editorial Page- Class 1- HM Neosho Daily News
Best Editorial Page- Class 2- HM Joplin Globe
Best Sports Page- Class 1- 3. Carthage Press, Jason Peake
Best Sports Page- Class 2- HM Springfield News-Leader
Best Sports News Story or Package- Class 1. 3. Carthage Press, Jason Peake; HM Branson Daily News, Wiley Hendrix
Best Sports News Story or Package- Class 2. 2. Springfield News-Leader, Kary Booher
Best Sports Feature Story- Class 2- HM Joplin Globe, Ryan Malashock
Best Sports Column- (all classes) HM (tie) Carthage Press, Jason Peake; Springfield News-Leader, Scott Puryear
Best Coverage of Young People- 3. Springfield News-Leader
Best Special Section- Class 1- HM Neosho Daily News, Michelle Pippin
Best Special Section- Class 2- 1. Joplin Globe, Jeremiah Tucker and staff
Best Special Section- Class 3- 2. Springfield News-Leader
Best Investigative Reporting- Class 1- HM Neosho Daily News, Michelle Pippin
Best Investigative Reporting- Class 2- 2. Joplin Globe, Roger McKinney
Best Local Business Coverage- 1. Joplin Globe (all newspapers)
Best Business Story, News or Feature- Class 2- 2. Joplin Globe, Andy Ostmeyer; 3. Joplin Globe, R. C. Balaban; HM Springfield News-Leader, Didi Tang
Best Coverage of Government- (all sizes) 3. Carthage Press, Dennis W. Sowers
Best Page Design- (all sizes) HM Joplin Globe
Best Newspaper Design- Class 1- HM Nevada Daily Mail
Best Newspaper Design- Class 2- 2. Joplin Globe, Gary Castor
Best Front Page- Class 2, HM Springfield News-Leader
Best News Story- Class 1, HM Nevada Daily Mail, Steve Moyer
Best News Story- Class 2- 1. Joplin Globe, John Hacker, Aaron Kessler, Nammi Bhagvandoss
In the weekly category, former Joplin resident Craig VonderHaar, twin brother of Joplin High School teacher and former KODE sports anchor Bruce VonderHaar, picked up an honorable mention in best sports news story or package for his work with the Washington Missourian.
The Springfield Business Journal finished second only to the St. Louis Business Journal in best local business coverage, while the McDonald County Press' Joyce Haynes captured third place for best newspaper in education program.

Monday, September 26, 2005

'Small Town News' website set up

The publication of my novel, "Small Town News" is only a few days away. Those wanting to find out more about it can check out the new Small Town News website at . A link has been set up at the top of the links panel on the right hand side of this page.
To review some basic information that is not on the website:
I was inspired to write "Small Town News" after the death of Dr. Greg Smith, the superintendent who hired me to teach creative writing at Diamond Middle School in August 1999. I was always disturbed by the ease with which some local media linked Dr. Smith's disappearance and the robbery at the Diamond bank, which occurred on the same day...even after it was proven that he had nothing to do with that robbery. I was bothered by the way Dr. Smith's family was treated and I decided in the spring of 2002 that I would write a novel based on those events.
I have always loved to write murder mysteries, so the story has been heavily fictionalized, taking only the basic premise, then sending it off in some different directions than what happened in reality.
The book has considerable differences from the e-book version that circulated three years ago.
The publisher is IUniverse and yes, that is a print-on-demand company and I am paying a small amount to have it set up. This is not a John Grisham or J. K. Rowling deal. I had five publishers and two agents tell me that the book was good, and encouraged me to keep trying to get it published, but it is almost impossible to get published they told me, unless you are one of the two authors named above, or someone with the notoriety of a Paris Hilton or a Pamela Anderson. The reaction surprised me, since the last time I tried to sell a book, 26 years ago, all I received from publishers were form rejection letters. This led me to believe that I might have something a little more substantial on my hands.
My hope is to sell enough to make the novel a viable project for a larger publishing company, and my deal with IUniverse permits that step to be taken at any time that an offer is made to me.
I will update everyone, both on this page and on the Small Town News website when the book is officially available.
Thanks to everyone who has asked me for more information on the book. Your support has been much appreciated.

Power grab could open the door for vouchers

If the recommendations of Governor Matt Blunt's Government Review Commission are followed, it could open the door for governmental support of private schools via vouchers.
As Turner Report readers know, last week the commission, which was primarily made up of big time contributors to Republican candidates, recommended that Missouri's Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, as well, as the head of the Department of Higher Education be appointed directly by the governor. Currently, both positions are appointed by a board whose members are appointed by the governor. The rationale for this recommendation is that it would overcome inertia and resistance to making change in education. A governor could put his man or woman in charge and get things done immediately.
This proposal is particularly scary to me since we have already seen that Governor Blunt has made efforts to garner state money for private schools. In addition, the governor and many of the majority party (Republican, for those of you who have not been paying attention), have received sizable campaign contributions from a group which promotes vouchers for private schools.
Too many times in recent memory we have seen politicians try to gain votes through posturing about the sorry state of education. This has led to ill-considered programs such as No Child Left Behind, which I have written about numerous times.
Undoubtedly, there are things that could be done which would improve education for Missouri students. Allowing Matt Blunt to appoint one of his major contributors to education commissioner post is not one of them.

It is the last thing that any of us in education wants, but if the recommendations
of Governor Matt Blunt's Government Review Commission are followed, the heads of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education will be appointed by the governor. Currently, both positions are selected by commissions whose members are appointed by the governor.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Commission member Charles McClain of Columbia, who made the recommendation, said the move would help give the governor the power to bring about changes in education.
Considering our governor's track record, that is exactly what worries me. I am sure whatever changes he came up with would be designed to help Missouri businesses (and his campaign donors).
The commission's recommendations also included a recommendation to take away the secretary of state's ability to regulate securities and put it under a new agency whose head would be appointed by the governor. Nearly every state has its securities regulated by the secretary of state, an elected official. This change would appear to benefit the governor's pals, but not Missouri taxpayers.
The Post-Dispatch noted that the commission is primarily made up of Republicans who donated more than $100,000 to party candidates during the last election

Jetton makes no mention of Alzheimer's vote

Add Missouri House of Representatives Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, to the list of those who are not publicizing their vote not to override Governor Matt Blunt's veto of $227,000 that had been earmarked for Alzheimer's research.
Sunday's Turner Report commented on a column written by Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, and printed in The Newton County News and Neosho Daily News, in which Wilson skirted the issue of his decision to stick with the governor and not attempt to override the veto. In this area, Wilson was joined by representatives Ed Emery, R-Lamar; Steve Hunter, R-Joplin; Ron Richard, R-Joplin; and Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin. Only Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, broke from the governor to cast a vote for restoring the funds for the Alzheimer's research.
As I mentioned earlier, Emery did not try to dodge his vote when asked about it by Seth Jackson. He appears to be the only one taking that approach.
Jetton's column made no mention whatsoever of either that specific vote or any attempts to override the governor's veto.
If these public officials are so proud of their governor and their votes, they need to be telling their constituents about it. I am not anticipating that happening any time soon.

Mediaweek article covers retransmission battle

A Mediaweek article online today indicates the battle for retransmission rights which has kept KODE and KSNF off Cable One in Joplin will be expanded to other markets in the near future.
Cable operators expect to be left without network affiliates in some areas next year, the article said.
The article quoted Duane Lammers, Nexstar COO, though he did not say anything he has not said before. "We are asking for compensation; they refuse to pay. Hence, no cash, no carriage."
To which Tom Basinger, Cable One vice president, repeated his company's mantra, "As long as Nexstar says, 'Pay me to carry my station,' I would say there is no chance of resolving the dispute."
The article indicates the same battle will take place all over the country next year as retransmission rights expire.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Wilson offers no surprises

The headline placed over Rep. Kevin Wilson's column in Thursday's Newton County News read "No Surprises," and the headline was certainly accurate.
It did not surprise me that Wilson mentioned nowhere in his considerably lengthy column that he had cast a vote to uphold Governor Matt Blunt's veto of $227,000 that had been designated for Alzheimer's research.
The word Alzheimer's did not appear anywhere in the Neosho Republican's column. This is what he had to say about the attempts to override the governor's vetoes. "The vetoes that even raised any eyebrows related to line item budget items and given the financial scenario of the state we need to work with the governor to keep the budget balanced. In most instances, items that were vetoed were redundant programs, research programs that did not provide actual services, or funds were transferred from other areas to fill gaps. I think that this is what you expect your government to do- think outside the box and get the most out of your tax dollars."
Wilson says at the beginning of the column that there were "no serious attempts to override any of the governor's vetoes," yet every Democrat and 20 Republicans, including Bryan Stevenson of Webb City, voted to override the Alzheimer's research veto. I would call that a serious attempt.
After that, Wilson briefly reviewed other items that came up for a vote, then ended his column with several paragraphs about the recent U. S. District Court decision in California keeping schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance because of the words "under God."
While, I agree with Wilson that the attempt to ban the Pledge of Allegiance by a California publicity seeker is ridiculous, I would have liked to have seen him tackle head on why he felt the need to back up the governor's veto of such important research. The past General Assembly has provided numerous financial gifts to big business,while cutting services for those who most desperately need them (but who will never have the ability to donate to the legislators' campaigns).
Believe me, Rep. Wilson, most of your constituents did not consider workmen's compensation reforms and lawsuit reforms to be pressing needs.
Wilson ended his column with a famous quote, "The only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." He added a postcript, "I believe that it is high time for good people to speak out and I know that you will."
Allow me to be the first, Rep. Wilson.

Nexstar CEO: It's just a matter of time

KODE and KSNF have been off Cable One in Joplin since Jan. 1, but it won't stay that way, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said during a breakout session at the Banc of America Securities 35th annual Investment Conference Wednesday.
"It's just a matter of time before the discussions turn more constructive," Sook said. Nexstar, which owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield, and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield, pulled its programming off Cable One after the Washington Post-owner company refused to pay for retransmission. Traditionally, local channels have fought to be put on cable, but the territory changed with new rules that prevent the cable companies from offering network programming from another station. If Cable One wants to provide NBC and ABC programming in Joplin, it has to deal with Nexstar.
"Cox and Cable One have forced us to learn how to live without them," Sook said. "We have not lost anywhere near what they've lost." The Nexstar CEO said his company can be "a major catalyst" in forcing cable companies to pay for local content.

National group calls for investigation of Roy Blunt

A national watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has called for ethics investigations of Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt and 12 other members of Congress, according to an article in today's Los Angeles Times.
The list also includes Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, the article said.
Blunt was cited for: "trying to insert provisions into bills that in one case would have benefited a client of his lobbyist son and, in the other case, the employer of his lobbyist girlfriend, now his wife."
The report is called "Beyond DeLay: The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress" and is based, CREW said, on news articles and other documents. The 13 named in the report include two Democrats and 11 Republicans.

AP reports new driver's license requirements

Associated Press is reporting that Missourians will be undergoing even more scrutiny when they apply for a driver's license or renew one.
Now the state Department of Revenue will be required to check with the National Driver Register and the Commercial Driver License Information System to check on a driver's status in other states. If problems pop up, the article said, a license will not be issued.
I really do not have a problem with these requirements. They might keep a habitual drunk driver off the road and who knows, maybe we will be able to latch on to a terrorist that way, though that seems doubtful.
It is the requirements placed on Missourians by DOR head Trish Vincent and our Republican-dominated General Assembly that still bother me the most. Missourians should not have to prove they are Missourians in order to receive or to renew their driver's licenses, except for perhaps the first time they apply for a license.
State officials know when licenses are coming due. All they would have to do is conduct a brief check. If someone has had a driver's license in this state for a considerable amount of time with no problems, there would be no need to check further. If any red flags came up in the search, a more thorough background check could be made.
This would be a common-sense approach. Asking people to provide documentation to prove they belong in this country, when we already have several ways of checking that without inconveniencing them, is nonsense. I cannot understand why people are not up in arms about this.
State officials have said that the federal government is requiring us to do this. That may be true, though it doesn't appear that the feds are requiring as much from the citizens as Missouri is. Other states are fighting the requirements and not just rolling over for whatever President Bush asks.
How anyone can claim this will help put a stop to terrorism is beyond me. All it does is give the appearance that Missouri is doing something.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Priorities in education coverage are wrong

The Joplin Globe kept area readers fully informed as Joplin R-8 officials sought a head football coach to replace Jesse Wall.
When Doug Buckmaster, Carthage's head coach, was hired, the Globe had wall-to-wall coverage (or more accurately Wall to Buckmaster coverage). Readers knew everything about Joplin's new coach, down to the fact that he, like Wall, had made the jump from Carthage to Joplin.
The Globe offered sports enthusiasts, particularly Joplin and Carthage football fans, thorough, complete coverage...of something that when you come right down to of little importance in the grand scheme of things.
Obviously, Buckmaster's hiring affected the football programs of two schools, and more than 100 high school football players, few of whom will make the transition from high school to college football, and probably none of whom will go on to make a living at football, unless it is as a coach.
If Buckmaster, or any other coach, does a poor job, it does absolutely nothing to hurt society. If he does a great job, except for the indefinable quality known as school spirit, it really doesn't make that much of a difference, and no doubt coaches can make a difference in steering children in the right direction.
However, every year, the Joplin R-8 School District and the Carthage R-9 School District hire math teachers, science teachers, history teachers and English teachers to man the battlelines against ignorance. If a football coach has an 0-10 record, students can still succeed in life. If these other teachers fail the students, the results can be devastating.
Yet, when new teachers are hired in the Joplin R-8 School District, the Globe, Joplin's paper of record, usually only announces the number hired and not who they are- definitely nothing about their backgrounds- and sometimes does not even write a word about the hirings.
Education coverage tends to be limited to coverage of school boards and test scores. Coverage of what goes on in the classroom is not easy, yet it is that part of education which determines the direction in which our society will go.
I took pride in my newspapers' coverage of education when I was at The Carthage Press and the Lamar Democrat. We featured stories on what was going on in classrooms, we interviewed teachers constantly; we interviewed students constantly. I will be the first to tell you that I, just like the Joplin Globe editors and the editors at just about every other newspaper, emphasized sports far too much. And yes, we had blanket coverage when a coaching change was made...but we made darned sure that the hiring of classroom teachers was also considered important.
Parents deserve to know about the people to whom they have entrusted their children, not just who will be coaching their football teams. The media has a key role in keeping the public informed about education. It should be the number one story in our newspapers, but you have to get into the classroom to do it. You can't cover education solely by printing test scores and going to school board meetings.

Letter shows effect of media on small town news

Sometimes I wonder why I keep my subscription to the Lamar Democrat.
Of course, I spent nearly 10 years working for the Democrat, working for the company from May 1978 to October 1979 and then again from November 1982 through March 1990, and I covered the city of Lamar off and on from May 1978 through my time at The Carthage Press and again with The Turner Report.
If it were just the paper's coverage of news, I probably would not be inclined to renew my subscription every six months, but there are other segments of the newspaper that I like. I read the records material, the weddings, engagements, and anniversaries, and nothing is better than a good letter to the editor, even though the Democrat went years without running any that were even slightly critical of the newspaper's coverage and still runs only a handful.
The Democrat editor has always been happy about running letters that are critical of other media outlets and one of the best of that kind of letter ran in Wednesday's edition.
Beverly Holub, the sister of David Alan Inman, the prisoner who hanged himself in the Barton County Jail recently. She refers to an article, which I somehow overlooked. Since the newspaper was not mentioned, I will assume that it was most likely the Joplin Globe, though it could have been the Springfield News-Leader. "In the article, it states that the individual was 'identified as David Alan Inman, according to family members.' What the article did not say is that this information was received from the family after multiple phone calls from the media to the family home less than 24 hours after David was laid to rest and the family had not even had time to mourn him. The name was not intentionally released."
She then goes on to make the point that the media focused on the manner of his death and a few court filings without also mentioning that Mr. Inman was also a member of the Missouri National Guard and that "he served overseas in Kuwait and served his country with honor and integrity."
She makes valid points about what is wrong with the news media today, but her eloquent, heartfelt letter naturally lacks some perspective because of her closeness to the situation.
First, Barton County Sheriff Shannon Higgins should never have made the agreement with the family not to release the information about Mr. Inman's death. He had no legal right to do that, as I have written in earlier editions of The Turner Report.
When he refused to say which prisoner killed himself in a taxpayer-supported facility, he immediately made it look as if there was something to hide and as much as told the media, you are going to have to get your information from somewhere else.
If the sheriff had simply released the information (which was not a secret in the community anyway), the story probably would have been buried in a back section of the newspaper, with very little additional information added. The conversation about it would have quickly passed.
By no means does that absolve the media of any blame in this matter. Family members should simply not have been called. How can the media be surprised that many people would like to see limitations on the First Amendment right to freedom of the press when they cannot even show a shred of common decency?
It appears to be a case of lack of sensitivity and lack of training. The public's right to know has to be balanced with other considerations. The public has a right to know who died in the jail and has a right to know if that death occurred because of negligence by the sheriff's department. It does not have a right to a graphically detailed description of what happened and it does not require or even want the family to be bothered either during its time of mourning or thereafter.
As for the lack of training, it was not as if the information was not available from other sources. County jails have to maintain a prison roster, which is a public record. Admittedly, just because something is a public record does not guarantee you will be given access to it, but it is a place to start.
On those occasions when some public official tried to shut me out of information, I would get on the phone or go see anyone who might have some details for me. This might be one of those occasions where an unnamed source could have been used. Of course, these days, reporters do not take the time to develop sources. If you can't get someone with the sheriff's department to confirm the information, talk to other public officials or other people who know the sheriff and deputies. I guarantee you the only people they did not talk to about this situation were representatives of the media. I also had some luck in the past with getting simple confirmation on matters (not private information necessarily) from people connected with the coroner's office or the funeral home.
And there is always the following approach, which may not have worked but could have been used. The sheriff had already released the information that the prisoner who died was a 37-year-old male. Simply check the death notices, find a 37-year-old male who died that day, get your information confirmed through secondary sources, then call the Sheriff's Department and say, "We are planning on running a story that David Inman was the man who committed suicide in the jail," then ask if he has any comment. If he does not have a comment, at least he was given an additional opportunity to make sure that the story comes out with as little damage to the family as possible.
If it takes an extra day or two to get the story, then that's the way it has to be, but I would never, never have contacted a family member.
Ms. Holub was absolutely on-the-mark with her criticism of the media's performance.

Friday, September 23, 2005

McBride asks for continuance

Webb City businessman Keith Erwin McBride is asking to have his next hearing on a federal arson charge delayed.
McBride, 51, is scheduled to go to trial in January 2006. His next court hearing is set for Oct. 5. In a motion filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, McBride's lawyer, Shane Cantin of Springfield, offers the following reasons for the delay:
-McBride is on bond and is in no hurry for a trial.
-Cantin has vacation scheduled from Oct. 4 through Oct. 14.
-Additional time is needed to investigate the case.
McBride was indicted by a federal grand jury in Springfield on an arson charge today, according to U. S. Attorney Todd P. Graves. McBride was the owner of the Coin-Op business, 302 W. 4th Street, Webb City, which he allegedly burned to the ground April 14, the same morning he also allegedly burned his home in Duenweg to the ground.
McBride was arrested later that day following a stand-off at a warehouse that lasted for several hours. According to an affidavit filed in federal court, McBride had a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol and threatened to kill himself. He claims he did not do so because the gun failed to work. Eventually, the police used tear gas and McBride surrendered.
The indictment was filed after McBride underwent a psychiatric examination in Springfield.

Panel recommends that governor appoint education chiefs

It is the last thing that any of us in education wants, but if the recommendations
of Governor Matt Blunt's Government Review Commission are followed, the heads of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education will be appointed by the governor. Currently, both positions are selected by commissions whose members are appointed by the governor.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Commission member Charles McClain of Columbia, who made the recommendation, said the move would help give the governor the power to bring about changes in education.
Considering our governor's track record, that is exactly what worries me. I am sure whatever changes he came up with would be designed to help Missouri businesses (and his campaign donors).
The commission's recommendations also included a recommendation to take away the secretary of state's ability to regulate securities and put it under a new agency whose head would be appointed by the governor. Nearly every state has its securities regulated by the secretary of state, an elected official. This change would appear to benefit the governor's pals, but not Missouri taxpayers.
The Post-Dispatch noted that the commission is primarily made up of Republicans who donated more than $100,000 to party candidates during the last election.

Northpark Mall owner to announce results

CBL & Associates, owner of Northpark Mall in Joplin, will announce third quarter results after the market closes on Oct. 27, according to Business Wire.
A conference call will be held the following day at 913-981-5532, with a replay available later at

ConAgra earnings more than doubled

ConAgra's first quarter earnings more than doubled, according to a company news release. The company, which has a plant in Carthage, reported net income of $352.1 million or 68 cents per share, in the three months ending Aug. 28, up from $134.7 million, or 26 cents per share a year ago.
Company officials attributed the gains to selling its shares in Pilgrim's Pride Corp., and improvements in performance in several areas.

La-Z-Boy Canadian production to shift to Neosho

Furniture Today reports La-Z-Boy is closing its Canadian upholstery factory in Waterloo, Ontario, and putting 413 people out of work.
"The plant has been operating as less than optimal capacity for some time and represents a small portion of La-Z-Boy’s total production," the article quotes Kurt Darrow, president and CEO, as saying.
"This action will result in increased efficiencies in our remaining manufacturing facilities, enabling us to be more productive in less square footage."
The production currently done by the Canadian plant will be shared by La-Z-Boy facilities in Neosho and Dayton, Tenn., the article said.
“We regret the impact this will have on the lives of those employees working at the Waterloo facility, but this action is necessary for La-Z-Boy to remain competitive and improve our remaining operations,” said Darrow.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Stark City woman's killer to go before Supreme Court

The Missouri Supreme Court has scheduled a Dec. 1 hearing for the latest attempt for convicted killer Alis Ben Johns to prevent his execution. Johns is on death row for the murders of Wilma Bragg, Stark City, and two others.
Johns' attorney Donald Catlett has a long record of working with defendants who have mental problems or who are alleged to have mental problems.
A thorough breakdown of the crimes Johns committed can be found in the June 30 Turner Report.

Effort made to exclude racial motivation from murder trial

A Jasper County jury found Gary Black of guilty of a racially-motivated murder during his first trial. If Black's attorney, Susan McCarthy Elliott, has her way, that motive will not be mentioned during his retrial.
Ms. Elliott filed a motion earlier this month in Jasper County Circuit Court, to exclude "evidence and argument of racial motivation" from either the regular, or if he is convicted once again, the penalty phase of the trial.
The motion is one of several filed by Ms. Elliott as the case nears its Nov. 28 trial.
Wednesday, Ms. Elliott filed a motion for an order that the prosecution provide the complete criminal history for all eyewitnesses and another motion asking that the amount of physical restraints used on her client be limited.
The retrial of Black would be a moot point except for an earlier Supreme Court decision that delayed Black's scheduled execution and a recent moratorium on executions, which just recently ended.
Black was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the racially-motivated October 1998 stabbing death of Jason Johnson. According to testimony at his trial in Jasper County Circuit Court, Black's girlfriend said she thought Johnson made a pass at her in a convenience store. Black and his girlfriend were both white, while Johnson, a Missouri Southern State College student athlete was black.
The case was reviewed in the Aug. 23 Turner Report entry, which is reprinted below:

It wasn't the first time Jason Johnson had heard the names. When you're African-American and live in southwest Missouri, the unfortunate fact of life is there are going to be times when you're going to be called every vile racial epithet in the book. But this time was different. This was the last time anyone would ever call Jason Johnson by that evil name, that six-letter word that starts with the letter n.
The fountain of red spurting from his throat spelled the end of the line for Jason. In a few moments, he would pass out due to lack of oxygen. After he was rushed to Freeman Hospital, it was determined quickly that he had suffered brain damage. Within a couple of days, Jason Johnson, a student at Missouri Southern State College, was dead. He had drowned in his own blood, the victim of a fatal stabbing. The man who stabbed him, Gary Black, 44, Joplin, was arrested shortly afterward in Oklahoma. An officer attempted to give him the Miranda warning. Black snarled, "F--- the Miranda warning. You tell that m-----f----- Dankelson (Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson) that I never attempted to kill anybody. The people I've attempted to kill, I've killed. Remember that, remember that." He pointedly added, "Cops, too."
Gary Black was no stranger to crime long before he ever met Jason Johnson. At the age of 21 in 1976, he robbed a Newton County man and shot him in the back. He was sentenced to prison where he did not make any friends.
At the sentencing phase of his trial in Jasper County Circuit Court, a Department of Corrections official noted that Black had committed assault five times during his decade-long prison stay. Black received a new three-year lease on life in November 2001 when the Missouri Supreme Court stayed his execution. Now his attorneys are throwing everything into their appeal and hoping that something sticks.
The details of Black's crime are laid out in documents filed with the Missouri Supreme Court. The road to Gary Black's execution began Oct. 2, 1998, in Joplin. Jason Johnson finished his work at a store at Northpark Mall in the later afternoon and joined his friends, Andrew Martin and Mark Wolfe, at Garfield's for a few beers. They left at 9:30 p.m. and stopped at a convenience store, according to the court records. Johnson bought some more beer and some tobacco. He stood in line with a woman named Tammy Lawson, Gary Black's girlfriend. It was that fateful coincidence that ended up costing Johnson his life. Court records indicate that Ms. Lawson went to Black's car and told him that Johnson had said something "perverted" to her while they were standing in line. She pointed him out as he left the store. Johnson opened the passenger-side door on Martin's pickup and they drove away, followed by Wolfe in his Camaro, and though they didn't know it, by Black and Ms. Lawson.
Johnson, Martin, and Wolfe were headed toward the Dolphin Club. When Martin stopped at the light at 5th and Joplin, Black pulled alongside him in the right lane. The cars stopped in front of the club. Black and Johnson shouted at each other. Martin testified at Black's trial that Black leaped out of his car, reached through the passenger window of Martin's pickup, and stabbed Johnson in the neck, severing his jugular vein and nearly severing his carotid artery. Before he left his car he told Ms. Lawson he was going to "hurt that n-----." As he walked away after stabbing Johnson, he said, "One n----- down."Johnson was able to get out of the pickup and came at Black with a 40-ounce beer bottle. He managed to throw it at him. Black got back into his car and drove away. Blood was flowing everywhere. Bystanders did what they could to help Johnson, using towels and clothing to attempt to stay the flow. Paramedics arrived and did what they could, but it was too little, too late. Black had effectively executed Jason Johnson.
At the trial, prosecutors convinced the jury that the murder was premeditated. By following Johnson, then killing him, Black had shown cool reflection. It was the first time in nearly four decades that a Jasper County jury had handed out a death sentence.

McLean jury trial postponed

The jury trial for Brandie McLean, Joplin, has been postponed, according to Jasper County Circuit Court records. This is the second cancellation of the trial, which had originally been scheduled for July 26 and then was pushed back to Sept. 12.
When Ms. McLean goes to trial on forgery and endangering the welfare of a child charges, she will be tried as a prior offender, according to Jasper County Circuit Court documents. No further specifications were given in the files available on
The child welfare charges came after she allowed her two-year-old on the roof of her Webb City home. After her children were taken away from her, her eight-year-old son Braxton Wooden was shot to death by his foster parents' son.
Ms. McLean initially pleaded guilty to her charges, but was allowed to withdraw her plea after she learned that she would most likely not be able to get her children back if she pleaded guilty.

Oct. 12 hearing set for murder victim's widow

A 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, hearing has been scheduled in the DWI case against Rebecca Kullie, 40, Joplin, whose husband, Jim John Kullie was beaten to death with a tire iron May 25 in Lamar Heights.
Court records indicate Mrs. Kullie was arrested Feb. 10 by the Webb City Police Department. She also faces a felony marijuana possession charge in Jasper County.
The hearing had been postponed last month following the death of Mrs. Kullie's husband. Her brother, Jim Edward Ryan, is charged with the murder/

Trial date set in Joplin hit-and-run case

The trial date for a Joplin teen charged with the hit-and-run death of Joplin High School senior Jamison Alexander has been pushed back to May 24, 2006, according to Jasper County Circuit Court records.
The backup date for the trial of Travis Wyrick, 18, is Wednesday, June 7. Judge David Dally will preside. Wyrick is charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident.

Jury trial set for former Carthage cop, school board member

After a long wait, it appears that former Carthage R-9 Board of Education member and Carthage Police officer Michael Lloyd Wells will finally be tried for four sex crimes.
The jury trial is set for Nov. 7 in Jasper County Circuit Court, with a backup date of Nov. 21.
Wells is charged with forcible rape, sexual assault and two counts of incest.
The case has been languishing since it was refiled in October 2004. Wells is charged with forcible rape and incest in connection with an incident that occurred on Sept. 1, 1994, and sexual assault and incest in connection with an incident that occurred on April 1, 2001.
Wells' next court date is Sept. 27, when he will be arraigned on a charge of violating a protection order.

New hearing scheduled for Lindstedt

The nature of the hearing wasn't recorded on the Newton County Circuit Court website, but Martin Lindstedt will have the next court appearance in his felony statutory sodomy case 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, before Judge Kevin Selby.
Lindstedt, who seems intent on making the Newton County Jail his permanent address, has not been arraigned yet, having created disturbances each time an attempt was made to determine if he had representation.
Judge Selby slapped him with 660 days for contempt of court.
During his jail stay, Lindstedt, who has run losing campaigns for just everybody available political position, from U. S. senator to governor to East Newton Board of Education member, has mounted an appeal for the lawsuit he filed against Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, claiming Blunt wronged Lindstedt during the latter's unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination for governor in 2004 by not allowing Lindstedt to have his name recorded as Martin "Mad Dog" Lindstedt and not putting a link to Lindstedt's website on the secretary of state's site because of its inflammatory racist content.

Holman preliminary hearing scheduled

The preliminary hearing for accused double murderer Micah Joel Holman, 32, Carthage, will be 1:30 p.m. Sept. 28 in Jasper County Circuit Court.
Holman is charged with the June 4 murders of Marvin and Peggy Steverson of Carthage. He also faces two counts of armed criminal action and one count each of arson and burglary.

PSI completed on former Jasper councilman

A presentence investigation has been turned into Newton County Circuit Court where it will be used to help determine the sentence for former Jasper City Councilman Nicky Crews.
Crews is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 29 after pleading guilty July 28 to marijuana possession charges. He originally also faced charges of possession of child pornography after being arrested at a Newton County truck stop.

Former Southwest City Clerk waives preliminary hearing

A 10 a.m. Oct. 31 arraignment is scheduled in Newton County Circuit Court for former Southwest City Clerk Dehonna Shields, who was bound over for trial after waiving her preliminary hearing this morning in the court's lower division.
Ms. Shields is charged with three counts of forgery and two counts of theft in connection with embezzlement of city funds. The theft was discovered during a state audit.

Jumpin' Joe has left and gone away

In the spring of 1998, I received a call from a Webb City High School counselor asking me if I would have any internships open for graduating high school seniors. He had a number of students who were looking for work, and at the least, wanted each of them to go through the interview process. I was looking for fill-in help for the summer, since this was a time when we were losing our lifestyles editor Amy Lamb Campbell and our sports editor Brian Webster, so I jumped at the opportunity.
And that was when I first met Jana Blankenship, a tiny blond who played a huge role in keeping our news staff afloat during those trying summer months. I can't recall what question I asked that brought the response, but at one point, Jana said she would even be willing to clean the bathrooms to get the job. Fortunately for Jana, we already had someone to clean the bathrooms, but her resume was excellent, she had written some strong stories for her high school newspaper, and she had previous work experience, so a couple of days later I hired her, knowing that she was willing to try to write anything except for sports.
That changed on June 16 when The Press threw blanket coverage on the reunion of the KOM (Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri) League, which gave Carthage a taste of minor league baseball in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Our interim sports editor, a stopgap fill-in who I was forced to hire to make sure we got the pages out, was ostensibly the point man for our coverage, but I made sure the important stories were being done by the people whom I trusted.
On the day of the oldtimers baseball game, Marla Hinkle, an MSSC student who was also interning for us that summer, covered the effect the reunion was having on the Carthage economy; Ron Graber provided photographic coverage, while Jana and I handled the features.
Jana conducted an interview with a KOM wife, Delores Liston and I loved her lead, "It was a scorching hot morning Tuesday as Delores Liston sat in the stands of Carl Lewton Stadium to watch her soon-to-be 72-year-old husband play baseball. She whooped and hollered at all the players and cheered when they made a good play. "I'm not really on either side. I like to cheer for all of them," she said. "The game reminds me a lot of our grandson's games."
Jana smoothly guided the reader through the Listons' courtship and how they celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary at Carl Lewton Stadium the previous day. As with most good feature writers, Jana saved the best for last:
But throughout the years, he continued to play baseball. He played until he was in his 50s and then continued to play softball until he was 61.
"In fact, he played for so long that he even played on the same team as his oldest son, Mrs.Liston said, 'One day my son came to me and he said, 'Mom, how do I tell dad that I'm too old to play ball anymore?' " She simply told him, 'That's between you and your father.' "
After Jana interviewed Mrs. Liston, she tagged along with me as I did the remainder of the feature coverage. That included an interview with 77-year-old Jumpin' Joe Pollock, who was described in John Hall's classic book, "Majoring in the Minors," as the fastest man in the KOM League, and Mr. Pollock's wife.
Pollock at one time had been in a race with legendary Olympic champion Jesse Owens. He lost, but he kept up with him for a little bit. On that June day in Carthage, Jumpin' Joe Pollock made what was probably his last appearance as a ballplayer...despite having had knee replacement surgery on both knees.
He just shook his head when I asked him about that. "I guess we still love baseball," he said.
Jana, who was not a big baseball fan, was entranced as Joe Pollock began describing his days in the KOM league, including a time when he stole six bases in one game (including home twice) and the fans passed the hat and collected $150 for him. "And the players were paid $150 a month at that time," he said.
He then talked about his coaching days after baseball, with his players including two Miami, Okla. greats Steve and Tinker Owens.
When the interview was over, Jana told me, "I could have listened to him all day." I fully agreed.
Those boys of summer are vanishing and until a few days ago, I was unaware that one of those boys who was no longer with us was Jumpin' Joe Pollock. He died in 2003. John Hall, in his regular KOM update, wrote a few days ago about the dedication of a field to Mr. Pollock in his beloved Miami.
That is a wonderful tribute to a man who played and coached for the love of the game...and who for one pre-summer day at least, shared that love and taught some lessons in life to young Jana Blankenship.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Happy birthday to two former colleagues

Sept. 21 is the birthday of two of my favorite former co-workers, Cait Purinton, who worked for me as a reporter at The Carthage Press when she was a teenager and former Press Advertising Manager Sharon Kinman.
I don't know if either of them reads this blog, but if they do...Happy Birthday! If they don't, pass my birthday wishes along to them if you see them.
Empire District Electric Company of Joplin bought Aquila's natural gas operations in Missouri, according to an announcement made today.
Aquila is keeping its power plant in St. Joseph, an Associated Press article said. Aquila was one of several energy traders that began having financial problems following the Enron scandal.The announcement of the sale was made in conjunction with the announcement of sales of other portions of the company to other energy businesses.

More about that annoying crawl

If memory serves correctly, it was in early 1997 that a meeting took place in Carthage Press Publisher Jim Farley's office that reminded me of what today's journalism is really all about.
I can't remember exactly who was in the room, but it seems to me that in addition to Farley and me, that Ken and Randy Cope of the Neosho Daily News and our new owner at the time American Publishing were also there. If I took notes over the conversation (and I am sure I did), they have long since vanished, either left in the cardboard boxes I abandoned in the Press basement in May 1999, or tossed away when I moved from Carthage to Joplin in August 2004.
The topic was the plan to add page one advertising to The Press. It seems to me that it was Ken Cope who asked me if I had any objections to page one advertising. Never being one to play the political game, I quickly answered that I had many objections. Page one advertising to me was an indication that our news product was for sale. Though history shows that the newspapers of the 1800s and early 1900s had front pages that were filled with advertising, that almost totally vanished as the 20th century wore on. Only the worst newspapers put ads on their showcase news page.
I was too stupid to realize (or maybe I did and just had to say it anyway) that the decision had already been made. Words to the effect of "We have decided to try it anyway," ended my portion of the meeting, I was summarily dismissed and before too long, page one of The Carthage Press was a new home for advertising.
It wasn't just The Press, newspapers all over the United States have returned to page one advertising, some of them even trumpeting the idea they were doing it to return to the good old days.
Some newspapers even did the unthinkable (to me, at least, and put political ads on page one, which certainly either lends the notion that a newspaper is either supporting the candidate or for sale to the highest bidder.
But what rankled the most was the idea some newspapers tried to sell that these page-one ads were actually a part of some great journalistic tradition.
Those memories came rushing back as I watched a portion of the 6 p.m. news on KODE tonight. I wanted to get another look at the infamous crawl the station has added and after watching it I have completely changed my mind about it.
Hopefully, regular readers didn't collapse from shock after reading that last sentence. I still hate the crawl, but it was naive of me to think that it had anything to do with KODE trying to differentiate its news product from its competitors. It's the bottom line, plain and simple.
The news crawl, and along with it the news, is just another means to make a buck. I did not notice when I wrote my last post about the crawl that it was paid for by an advertiser. I was trying to determine the quality of the news items that were crawling across the bottom of my screen.
This isn't the first time advertising has crept into local news programs. Nearly every health spot on all of the stations has a hospital advertising it. KODE already runs the fake Aaron Sachs interviews (You'll never see Sachs and his interviewer in the picture at the same time and amazingly interviewers at the Springfield station that carries the Sachs segment ask the exact questions, word for word, that KODE asks and get the same answers, word for word.), and who can forget the Dish Network ads KODE and KSNF disguised as news during the initial stages of the Cable One-Nexstar battle?
Newspapers, radio, television, everyone does it. You can almost justify it by considering how much revenue they have lost to the Internet and other media outlets over the last few years. The sad thing, though, is that even if they were making money hand over fist, they would still jump at the chance to add a few more bucks to their take.
In 1997, I was hopelessly naive to think that anything I might say would change American Publishing's plan to add page one ads to The Carthage Press. My old fashioned romantic ideas about the role of newspapers in society probably contributed to my departure from the business two years later, but I wouldn't take back that stand or any others I made to try to uphold the concept of journalism as a public service.
Once you sell your integrity, you can never get it back.

Monett officials respond to corruption allegations

Monett officials, as expected, are denying corruption allegations leveled against them by former public works superintendent Mark Blackwell.
In documents filed Tuesday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, city officials denied nearly everything Blackwell alleged except his charge that they did not give him any written reprimands before they fired him. They said they did give him oral reprimands.
Blackwell filed his lawsuit in August, alleging that Monett City Councilman Jerry Dierker has misused his position to pad his pocketbook.
Blackwell, who was fired from his position in October 2004 after working eight years for the city, a dismissal he attributes to his attempts to blow the whistle on Dierker. In addition to Dierker, Councilman Don Roberson and Mayor Jim Orr are listed as defendants.
In his petition, Blackwell said Dierker:
-"used city funds and employees to further his own private construction and development projects, including the use of stormwater pipe purchased by the city, in Dierker's private construction projects, using employees paid by the city
-"used his position to improperly prevent or discourage construction and development projects which competed with his private projects
-"improperly utilized his position to coerce private developers and contractors to utilize the services of specific providers who were Dierker's friends or business associates.
Blackwell says that on or about June 1, 2004, "in response to Plaintiff's efforts to discover whether budgeting and accounting problems existed with respect to city projects, City Council member Jerry Dierker ordered the reassignment" of Blackwell's administrative assistant and failed to replace the assistant. After that time, Blackwell was not given access to accounting records to determine whether "proper budgeting and accounting procedures were being followed," according to the lawsuit.
On June 18, Blackwell met with Mayor Orr to discuss those concerns, as well as his concerns about what he considered to be improper activities by Dierker. The same concerns were discussed during a July 20, 2004, meeting with Orr and Dierker, the petition said.
On Aug. 17, 2004, Blackwell met with Roberson, going over the same concerns. He also took those concerns to others, including "retired public officials, leaders of the business community," and with other city employees," according to the lawsuit.
The situation came to a head at a meeting called by the mayor on Oct. 5, 2004. Others attending the meeting, the petition said, were Roberson, Dierker, and City Clerk Janie Knight. "At the personnel meeting on Oct. 5, 2004, Commissioner Roberson claimed that he was unable to reach (me) by phone on Sept. 15, 2004, and that therefore the commissioners and mayor determined that (I) had taken off work without reporting the absence."
At that point, Blackwell was given the option of signing his name to a resignation letter that was typed and ready for him. Blackwell refused. The mayor handed Blackwell another pre-arranged letter telling him he was fired.
Blackwell says those actions were not allowed under city policies, since he had never received any written reprimands or any other type of formal discipline and besides, the petition said, the "purported justification for terminating Plaintiff's employment was a pretext" and had nothing to do with the reason he was fired.
Blackwell says the firing was retaliation and violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Monett city officials say Blackwell "had no legitimate expectation of continued employment, that (he) was an at-will employee" and that he "was not terminated for any improper reasons."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Globe police chief editorial off the mark

The editorial in today's Joplin Globe suggesting that the city of Joplin begin its search for a new police chief since Chief Kevin Lindsey has applied for similar positions in Grand Island, Neb., Springdale, Ark., and who knows where else would, at first glance, seem to be the proper approach, but it is not.
As a reader mentioned in the comment section on the Globe website, it is far more important to find out just why Lindsey is so anxious to leave the city, to the point of applying for a Springdale job that would pay less than what he receives in Joplin.
I have noted that Lindsey, who has been ripped locally for not revealing the discipline that was used on two police officers involved in the interrogation and handcuffing of an 11-year-old boy at an elementary school, handled that situation differently than he handled similar situations at his last post in Madison, Wisconsin. The problem appears to be that Lindsey is an aboveboard, honest guy who is not being allowed to run his police department the way he sees fit due to interference from City Manager Mark Rohr.
As expected, some Joplin residents are ticked off that Lindsey is seeking other employment, and the Globe editorialized that the city should begin its search for a replacement for Lindsey. I will agree that the city should have the machinery in place to begin such a search, when and if, Lindsey leaves, but to do it now would be premature.
Lindsey is still the chief and to have members of his force jockeying to be his replacement would be a bit unseemly. It would also take away from any authority he does have and would have the effect of immediately turning him into a lame duck leader, though some will counter that he already is.
Such an approach would be disastrous down the road. You will not attract people with any ambition since they can see how someone is treated who is looking to improve his position...or you will encourage people to lie about their intentions and leave the city at a loss when they do leave.
When I was at The Carthage Press, our approach was never to hire reporters who would guarantee they would stay in Carthage. That approach would have limited the pool of applicants. We wanted reporters who would see The Press as a place where people go who wanted to learn the profession and move on to bigger markets. In that way, we would have the chance of attracting some top talent. If those people ended up liking Carthage and wanting to stay a while, so much the better.
That approach brought The Press such talented reporters as Cait Purinton, John Hacker, Amy Lamb, Brian Webster, and Rick Rogers, who have gone on to success at other publications. It also brought Ron Graber, a young photographer from Freeman, S. D., who liked the area so much he stayed, worked his way up to managing editor and has been in Carthage for just over 13 years.
So it is important for Joplin to establish itself as a place where talented administrators come for either a productive stop or a long stay. One of the readers who commented on the Globe article said the next police chief should be hired from within.
I will agree with that reader to a point. The hire should be made from within if that person is the best person for the job. If not, city officials should continue their approach of seeking the best person for the job. In that way, if you use good judgment in the person you hire, you either will get a person who can do a solid job for a few years and then move on to better things, leaving Joplin with a reputation as a steppingstone for talented people (and there's nothing wrong with that) or you might hit the jackpot and find someone who loves the city and the area so much, he or she will decide to stay for years.

Pat Graham strikes out again

The Missouri Supreme Court dealt another blow to Lamar swindler Patrick Dallas Graham's attempt to get out of his 15-year prison sentence for fraud.
The court ruled today that Graham's motion for a writ of mandamus was moot and dismissed his appeal without prejudice, meaning he can always file it again and most assuredly he will.
Graham was convicted after pleading guilty to 1997 to fraud charges in connection with swindling 500 investors,
including pop singer Pat Boone, the Herschend family that owns Silver Dollar City, and the Braschlers of Branson fame, out of more than $5 million.
Graham was the CEO of Conquest Labs, Inc., a company that he claimed was developing a vaccine for the AIDS virus. The only problem was the vaccine didn't exist.
A more complete account of Graham's exploits can be found in the May 2 Turner Report.

Globe stories leave questions unanswered (and unasked)

Today's Joplin Globe featured two articles that left me with questions:
One featured the news (broken on the local TV stations last night) that the Carterville Police Department is having to eliminate two full-time officers. The TV reports and the Globe article made it appear that the city would be left wide open for all kinds of murderers, rapists, and thieves.
Then I noticed in the Globe that the cuts would reduce Carterville's police force to five full-time officers. Was there really a need for seven full-time officers for a city of 2,000? While I was a firm believer in the concept of the COPS program when it started in the 1990s, it did have the effect of adding extra officers in some communities that might not have needed them. Now that the federal funding for the program has been reduced, some cities may return to a manpower total that is less, but more than adequate for their needs.
The effect of the COPS program locally would make an excellent investigative piece for the Globe, or some other enterprising news outlet.
The other story that had me asking questions was the story on student drug testing. I have made no secret that I am not a supporter of this and consider it to be an invasion of students' privacy, but the reporting in today's paper left some questions unanswered, such as:
-How many students are not participating in activities to avoid drug tests? These would appear to be students who will not be reached by these programs, and be in danger of dropping out or making possible life-threatening decisions.
-Is there any student opposition, organized or not, to these programs?
-Were any other options considered before schools opted for drug testing, or is this simply a matter of one school did it, so why don't we until everyone was on the bandwagon?
-What is the exact cost of these drug-testing programs? And please, don't give me that stock answer of "If one life is saved, then it is worth the cost." If that were the case, we would already have seatbelts on school buses.
Drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities, as I have noted several times on this blog, runs the risk of keeping the very students from getting involved who need these types of positive activities the most.
Parents and educators have understandably been frustrated by the continuing use of drugs, but these programs are too important to let them continue to expand by just asking softball questions and not asking for hard evidence. As of yet, there is no evidence that the programs work. Yes, we have only a small number of kids who are testing positive for drugs on these tests, but how many others are we leaving behind because we can't offer them the glimmer of hope that extracurricular activities has offered students for generations?

KODE goes for Headline News approach

Obviously, I am too old fashioned, but I hate KODE's decision to have a crawl at the bottom of the screen during its newscasts. I realize the station must feel a need to do something different, to set it apart from its sister station, KSNF, as well as KOAM, but this is not the right move.
KODE has assets. Its young reporters have done well in recent months, and it has managed to hold on to two veterans who have added stability in Gretchen Bolander and Shannon Bruffett, but all this new crawl does is reemphasize the point that the station has the least interesting anchors of any of the local stations. (And is there anyone who has not noticed that whenever Gretchen Bolander substitutes on the morning show, it improves immensely?)
While KSNF has the dean of area anchors, Jim Jackson, and veteran Tiffany Alaniz, whose stock has been helped by her recent forays into the field; and KOAM has rock-solid Dowe Quick and Rhonda Justice, who has impeccable investigative reporting credentials; KODE has two anchors, Tara Brown and Brian Hamman, who have little experience (at this level) and who are really not doing much to distinguish themselves.
KODE should be applauded for trying something different, but area viewers are used to seeing crawls at the bottom of the screen only in emergency situations, such as inclement weather. Those are considered to be a service. This new use is just a nuisance.

Stevenson votes to restore Alzheimer's funding

Thanks to Brad Belote of KY3, we now have the information on which area representatives voted to restore the $227,000 for Alzheimer's research that Governor Matt Blunt vetoed from the state budget.
Only one of the six area representatives, Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, voted to restore the funding. As we have already mentioned in one of yesterday's posts, Ed Emery, R-Lamar, voted with the governor. Thanks to Brad Belote, who discovered that the vote was grouped in with information from the past session, rather than with the veto session, we now have the information that our other local legislators, Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, and Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, voted to sustain the governor's veto.
First, they nailed the poor with their Medicaid votes, and now they apparently have no qualms about eliminating the money for Alzheimer's research. Let them talk all they want about the need to balance the state's budget; we all agree with that. What we don't agree with is the set of priorities the governor has. After all, he did spend about the same amount of money to upgrade security for himself and his family and to renovate the governor's mansion.
I am sure all will be well, now that we have made the state more attractive to business.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Maintaining the official record

I still have been unable to find anywhere in the official record of what took place during last week's Missouri House of Representatives session, a detailing of the unsuccessful vote to override Governor Matt Blunt's veto of $227,000 worth of funding for Alzheimer's research.
According to printed reports. Democrats who were trying to override the veto managed to corral 22 Republicans into voting with them, but I have found no article, and nothing in the record, saying how each legislator voted.
It appears many of them do not want it on record that they opposed the restoration of funding for Alzheimer's research. It seems odd that an official record which includes the word-for-word reprint of the prayer that opens each session, does not include a vote which holds such importance for many Missourians.
Again, if I have simply overlooked the vote record, please let me know. If anyone has information about it other than what has been printed, leave a comment, or send an e-mail to

Katrina brings out coaching sharks

Natural disasters seem to bring out the best and worst in people.
We have heard numerous reports about how Americans are working together to help those who have been displaced by Katrina. Unfortunately, there are some people, namely opportunistic coaches who are helping themselves to top-notch high school athletes who have been displaced. The New York Times featured an article Sept. 16 about coaches who have been using highly suspect tactics to lure all-state athletes to their teams after the athletes' schools were washed away by Katrina.
You can find the article at:

Lindstedt pays filing fee under protest

Perennial candidate and loser Martin Lindstedt, currently in the Newton County Jail awaiting trial on felony statutory sodomy charges, paid the $255 filing fee for the appeal of his federal lawsuit against Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. The information was filed Friday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
In his rambling, four-page description of his adventures, Lindstedt continues to maintain his innocence on the local charges and indicates he is conducting guerrilla warfare on his jailers. "I have vowed to torture and destroy the spawn of regime criminals," he wrote. "Consequently, I am in solitary confinement."
Lindstedt sued Blunt for actions Blunt took while he was secretary of state and Lindstedt was running against him in the Republican primary for governor. Blunt refused to allow Lindstedt to use his nickname, "Mad Dog" on the ballot, and refused to provide a link to Lindstedt's website because of its racist content, while providing links to other candidates' websites.
"If Appellant (Lindstedt) is correct," he wrote, "then Defendant Blunt must be removed on the basis of corrupt election from the current office of governor of Missouri by which himself and a corrupt corporate cabal conspired to have (him) enthroned."
Lindstedt says Blunt is "less legitimate than Saddam Hussein as president of Iraq, but rather than have a regime change of regime criminal by means of invasion, artillery, and civil warfare, Appellant proposes to give this federal regime a chance to take out its trash and remove the more idiotic of its regime criminals."
Lindstedt indicates he hopes his $255 filing fee is reimbursed by "patriots and Al Qaeda."
Lindstedt's lawsuit and his first attempt to appeal the decision were rejected by Federal Judge Richard E. Dorr.

More information about 'Small Town News'

I have finished going over the proofs of my novel, "Small Town News," and it is appearing that it may be out two or three weeks earlier than I had been anticipating.
It was an indescribable feeling to see the front and back covers of the book, though I wasn't thrilled with having to look at my face on the back cover. I only found a couple of typos in the book copy, so I will send that information to the publisher today and should have the final product to review in a couple of weeks and the book should be available for purchase sometime late next month.
For those who have not read my earlier postings on "Small Town News," it was inspired by the Oct. 31, 2001, occurrences in Diamond when the bank was robbed and R-4 Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith disappeared on the same day. Dr. Smith's body was found the following week at the bottom of a pond just outside the city limits.
This is a fictionalized version of those events, centering around media coverage and what happens when the media descends upon a small town to cover a tragedy.
The characters are not meant to resemble anyone from real life, but I am sure that people in any small community in the United States will recognize some of the media people who are portrayed.
I don't have many specifics on where the book will be available locally, but those who go to Books-A-Million or B Dalton will be able to order it through those outlets, and I believe it will be available through Hastings, as well.
As I receive more information, I will pass it along.