Saturday, December 31, 2005

Joplin Daily will feature Turner columns

Several years ago, I hired a person whom I thought was the perfect person for the job, to be sports editor at The Carthage Press. I was so excited that this person was coming on board, and it was a person who had considerable name recognition in this area, that I printed a page-one story the day before she was scheduled to start announcing that she had joined the Press staff.
It never happened. To this day, I still do not know why, except I don't believe it had anything to do with me or The Carthage Press. I imagine she just did not want to make a change in career at that point and she has never done anything with her writing talent since that time, as far as I know.
That experience taught me a valuable lesson: Do not announce anything until you are absolutely certain about it, which brings me to the point of this post (and isn't it about time?).
While I have had nothing to do with the planning and launching of the Joplin Daily, other than being one of hundreds of people the planners asked for advice about the project, my name and my writing will be associated with the publication and with the website.
I am not being paid for my participation, except for the publicity which it gives this blog and my novel, and with the opportunity of being involved, in a small way, with the excitement that goes along with the launching of a new news source. As those of you who read The Turner Report regularly know, I have been involved with two such publications, an ill-conceived Jasper publication started by The Lamar Democrat in August 1989 and The Lamar Press which ran 49 weeks from August 15, 1996, through July 11, 1997.
Carthage Press Publisher Jim Farley asked me one time to draw up a plan for a Joplin weekly, which I did. I am happy to say that many of the things I thought would make a weekly successful in this market are being used by The Joplin Daily, as well as some great ideas that I would never have thought of in a million years. And, of course, when I drew up the Joplin plan, newspapers were still not into the age of the Internet.
This project though, is taking exactly the approach Jim Farley wanted with a Joplin weekly. It is stressing Joplin, Joplin, Joplin, with a heavy emphasis on school and community. It also is not overlooking the many positive things that are going on every day in Joplin. It also does not look at anyone who is in an official position as a crook or as an enemy, something which The Joplin Globe does on a regular basis.
Having known John Hacker for years, I am certain that if a scandal breaks out, he will get to the bottom of it, without blustering and bellowing as the Globe's editor does, about how powerful his newspaper is.
Turner Report readers will be familiar with the subject of my first column, the 15-year anniversary of the death of Nancy Cruzan. I ran much of the same material on this blog Dec. 26. The Joplin Daily also features an update on how Nancy's family is doing, and some photos of the family have been posted on the website.
This new project is not going to change the media criticism role of this blog. I will continue to write about the Joplin Globe...both its positives and well as the Joplin Daily, and any of other Joplin publications.
And I might add, the initial harsh criticisms I leveled at The Joplin Herald, all of which that publication richly deserved, were made long before the possibility of me writing a column for the Daily was ever considered.
As I have written several times before, if this works as it should, with the Daily providing a fresh approach to news and the Globe improving its product to meet the challenge, the big winners are going to be the readers.

Favorite of the Four States

I wasn't aware until a couple of readers mentioned it to me that The Turner Report was listed in the "Local Website" category in annual "Favorites of the Four States" printed in Section A of today's Joplin Globe.
Those selected were listed in alphabetical order, which is fine with me. I am perfectly content to share honors with (Even though the Globe managed to put the URL for its website in and failed to mention the address for The Turner Report.)
Nonetheless, I appreciate those who thought enough of this blog to vote for it. At this time last year, The Turner Report had a very small, but loyal, following, much of it centered around Lamar, Neosho, and Diamond. The site normally received between 30 and 50 unique visitors per day, according to the counter services I use.
My weekday totals have ranged from 350 to 700 over the past few months, with another 200 to 300 checking in on Saturdays and Sundays. If I recall, last year, the Globe's website was joined by, so again, thanks to all of the readers who voted for The Turner Report.
On the other hand, you have to love the nerve of the Globe to run a favorite of the four states listing for "Local TV News" then list the three winners in alphabetical order. If this is going to mean something, other than a method of generating revenue, list them in order and let the readers argue about the results. goes live

The traffic to The Turner Report is going to go down quickly since people who are looking for can actually go that site as of sometime today.
The site looks interesting and appears to be covering quite a few stories of a positive nature that rarely see the light of the day in the Joplin Globe. I eagerly anticipate the Sunday edition.
Great job by John Hacker, pictured, Kaylea Hutson, Michelle Pippin, and the rest of those involved with the launching of Joplin's newest news product.
Again, I will offer a bit of unwanted advice to the Globe: the best way of combating a new competitor is not launching a knockoff weekly of your own (and telling people your daily edition doesn't have enough room for Joplin news). The best way to fight the Joplin Daily is to improve the quality of your flagship newspaper.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Buffalo newspaper says Scott eyeing Skelton seat

State Senator Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, whose district includes Barton County, may seek the voters' approval for a trip to Washington, according to a speculative article in this week's Buffalo Reflex.
In an article examining what may be coming in 2006, Reflex reporter Pat Campbell writes, "The political scene will be interesting in 2006, particularly if longtime Democratic congressman Ike Skelton decides not to run again. Republican state senator Delbert Scott would probably jump into the race and could be the favorite. Dallas County Republican Alan Conner also plans to join the race."

Nexstar reaches agreement with Arkansas cable company

It appears KARK in Little Rock, Ark., will continue on the Wehco cable system after an agreement was reached between Wehco and Nexstar Broadcasting. The word has not been officially announced, but Arkansas TV News says the deal is imminent.
I am betting, as usual, that the terms of the agreement will not be announced.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Twelve years ago today

This time of the year is always a down time for newspapers and television stations, which makes it a perfect time for year-end retrospectives, top 10 lists, and interminable cutesy features on New Year's resolutions.
It was less than a month after I became managing editor of The Carthage Press in 1993 that this time of the year rolled around. I would have given anything if I could have put those kinds of stories in the newspaper.
We received word 12 years ago today that an eight-year-old second grader from Hawthorne Elementary was missing. The search was on for Douglas Ryan Ringler. Flyers were distributed; the Carthage Police Department did not leave a stone unturned. From the beginning, no one thought the story was going to have a happy ending.
On Jan. 2, 1994, Doug Ringler's burned body was found in a field near Fort Scott. He had been sexually abused, and then murdered. The Monday, Jan. 3, Press featured five page-one stories; most of them done in an effort to help the community get through something it had not faced at any time in recent memory.
Randee Kaiser and I shared the byline on the story about the discovery of the body. Randee's byline was also featured on an interview with John Godfrey, clinical director of Family Preservation Services at the Ozark Center in Joplin about how to tell children about something like this.
I wrote two other articles, one on the reaction of Hawthorne students to the death and another interviewing parents on how they were handling the news. The final article was the statement given by the boy's mother, Norma Ringler.
Ron Graber and I covered Doug's funeral at the BYKOTA Church later that week. I sat in a back row at the church, which was overflowing with more than 500 showing to pay their respects.
The church's minister Michael Banes said, "Though his years were short, we all know that Doug enjoyed life to the fullest. We will miss Doug very much. We will miss his smile and the bubbly joy that his presence brought, but our hope rests in the assurance that we will see him again."
More than 100 balloons had been placed around a photo of Doug...the same photo of a smiling second grader that had been seen in The Press and in the flyers as the search was conducted.
Some of the balloons were taken to Park Cemetery where they were buffeted about by a strong breeze before being released at the conclusion of the service.
The man who was arrested for Doug's murder was Terry Cupp, a family friend, who was a target of the investigation from the beginning after giving suspicious statements to the police.
Though Cupp made a statement to the police describing in detail what he had done, preparations were made for him to go to trial and Jasper County officials planned to seek the death penalty.
Norma Ringler stopped by The Press office on May 17, 1995, and told me that she had been contacted about how she would feel about a plea bargain for Terry Cupp, which would enable him to escape the death penalty. "This is the best thing," she told me. "Not just for my family, but for the entire community."
A trial would have been a nightmare, she said. "If Terry had received the death penalty, we would have to go through years and years of appeals. That would have been real hard."
But the thing that worried Norma Ringler the most was the evidence that would have been presented at the trial. "I didn't want to see the pictures of my Doug. I heard they were very gruesome.
"I wanted to remember Doug the way he was the last time I saw him. He was a happy little boy, so happy and so excited about life."
Mrs. Ringler's voice was barely above a whisper as she told me she often wondered how anyone could commit such a horrible crime. "How can there be any explanation for it?"
Vengeance, she said, would do no one any good. With the plea bargain, she added, "we can finally put Doug to rest."
Even though he was the one who pleaded guilty, Terry Cupp still made two efforts to have his sentence overturned, both of which were rejected by the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals.
I had not planned to write about Doug Ringler's murder again. This is not a five-year anniversary or a 10-year anniversary of the murder, one of those artificial dates that news media use to bring back major stories of the past.
Then I received an e-mail earlier tonight from Chris Gentry, thanking me for remembering his younger brother.
"It has been 12 years today since his death, and he is missed everyday," Chris wrote. "It is pretty cool that other people still haven't forgotten about him and what had happened to him on this tragic Day in '93. I guess I just wanted to say thank you."
I remember former Carthage Police Chief Ed Ellefsen talking about how the murder of Doug Ringler took away the city's innocence."
Innocence was always the word that was associated with Doug. On May 20, 1994, Hawthorne Elementary School paid tribute to Doug Ringler with a ceremony dedicating a bench inscribed with his name. The bench was placed under a tree, where it was surrounded by rosebushes and chrysanthemums. "Doug's Place," they called it.
A few years later, Hawthorne Elementary closed its doors forever and school officials debated what to do with Doug's bench. At first, they thought about moving it to Columbian Elementary where Doug would have gone had he lived, then at his mother's request, and with the cooperation of the Carthage Public Library Board, the memorial was moved to the E. L. Dale Memorial Library Gardens, where it sits today only a few feet away from Carthage artist Bill Snow's Alice in Wonderland statue in an area designed for children.
Doug's Place was moved where it would always be surrounded with children, so that Doug Ringler, forever eight years old, will never be forgotten.

They're already looking for Joplin Daily

You can't say too much about the power of television.
KSNF's piece on the new Joplin newspaper/website,, generated a lot of traffic...for The Turner Report.
Of course, that is because, other than the Joplin Independent and the KSN story, this has been the only place where any information at all about the project has been forthcoming. The wisdom of Liberty officials in choosing an easy-to-remember name for its publication and website is already showing since people have been searching for
That has been the most popular search term today by those who reached this blog through search engines, but it just barely beat all-time favorite Malorie Maddox, as people continue to research the former KODE anchor.
She is not the only former local television anchor who was the subject of a search today. Her current co-anchor in Omaha and former co-anchor in Joplin, Jimmy Siedlecki, was a search topic, as were Sarah Pierik, who recently left her morning position at KOAM to take a job in Wichita, and former KSNF morning show anchor Sheradee Hurst were both popular search topics today.
Other search topics included: ConAgra, Freeman Hospital, Jasper Mayor John Rodebush, Neosho R-5 Assistant Superintendent Charles Brazeale, Small Town News, Nexstar Broadcasting CEO Perry Sook, Cable One, my former East Newton High School classmate Ginger Knight and the late Doug Ringler, a Carthage boy who was murdered 12 years ago today at age eight.

Nexstar reaches another agreement

Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF in Joplin and de facto owner of KODE (for those of you who have written and said you love that expression), continued the momentum it started with its recent deals with Cox Communications and Cable One, signing an agreement with Antietam Cable in Hagerstown, Md., this week, according to an article in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

Cunningham bill would mean even more paperwork for schools

State Representative Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, has pre-filed two education-related bills that seem to have no purpose other than to continue her pro-voucher agenda.
Ms. Cunningham, unfortunately, does have pull in the legislature, since she is chairman of the powerful Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, a post she received after campaigning for it by noting the amount of campaign donations she has been able to bring to state Republicans from out-of-state voucher proponents.
HB 1196 would require an entire new system to be set up to notify parents about school-sponsored clubs and extracurricular activities and allow parents to withhold permission for their children to participate in these clubs.
Am I mistaken or haven't parents always had the option of not allowing their children to take part in any activity?
Ms. Cunningham's bill would require school officials to place the following in the annual handbooks:
-(1) For school-sponsored clubs, the name of the club, mission, or purpose of the club, the name of the club's faculty advisor, and a description of past or planned activities;
-2) For extracurricular activities, the mission or purpose of the extracurricular activity, name of the faculty advisor, and a description of planned programs or actions.
The next part of the bill makes even less sense (and that is saying a lot):
"Each school district shall comply with the written notification from a parent or legal guardian who has withheld permission for a child to join a club or participate in an activity, and shall not allow a child to join a club or participate in an activity in contravention of written notification from the child's parent or legal guardian forbidding such club or activity."
I was not aware that there was a big problem with school officials forcing students to join clubs or take part in extracurricular activities. On the contrary, I had always been under the impression that participation in such activities is considered to be a positive thing.
Ms. Cunningham's proposal would require more rounds of paperwork for school officials who are already inundated with it. According to the bill:
"All clubs, programs, or extracurricular activities occurring on school property or sponsored by schools, school staff, or students shall require written parental or legal guardian permission for membership in each specific club or activity."
Also, "Beginning with the 2006-07 school year, each school district shall obtain written parental or legal guardian permission for a student to participate in or be a member of a school-sponsored club or extracurricular activity. Each school district shall obtain such permission at the beginning of each school year."
This is an unnecessary bill. Unfortunately, it is not the only one proposed by Rep. Cunningham.
HB 1195 launches an attack on the Missouri High School Activities Association and, if passed, would open the door for schools to shop for students. The bill reads:
"No public school shall become a member of or retain membership in any statewide activities association that:
"(1) Maintains a bylaw that prohibits a tuition-paying student of a public school from participating in an activity of the public school to which the student's tuition is paid; or
"(2) Bars a resident student who meets the compulsory attendance requirements of section 167.031, RSMo, from participation in an activity of the public school."

Former KY3 anchor now NBC correspondent

One of the best local news anchor teams southwest Missouri has ever had was the pairing of recently-retired Tony Beason and Leanne Gregg at KY3 in Springfield. I am probably the only person who was not aware that Ms. Gregg is now an NBC correspondent.
KSN just ran a feature Ms. Gregg did on helmets for skiers.

Lamar Democrat unveils new website design

Cliche time.
I just looked at the Lamar Democrat's newly designed website and there's good news and there's bad news.
The good news is the design is excellent and the site is much easier to read and navigate.
Unfortunately, the new-look website has the same problem as the old edition...the news is stale. Today is Dec. 29, but the news on the website is Dec. 17. Oh well, one out of two's not bad.

Joplin Daily unofficially introduced to business community

The new alternative to the Joplin Globe, was introduced to the Joplin Chamber of Commerce earlier this month. The story is featured in Mari Winn's Joplin Independent.
In a related note, the newspaper the Globe started to combat the new weekly, the Joplin Herald, published its sixth edition Wednesday. As usual, there is nothing in it that even justifies its existence. The best thing the Globe could have done to combat the newcomer was simply improve its product, but it's hard to do that when it is bleeding away its young talent, misusing most of its veterans, and is still married to a "regional" concept of news. When it launched the Herald by telling Globe readers it needed the publication because the Globe did not have enough room for Joplin news...well, let's be charitable and say Globe management could use a few lessons in public relations.
As for the, as Mari Winn's article points out, the new publication is designed to turn around the normal way newspapers operate. Most newspapers have websites to try to direct traffic toward the print edition. The new newspaper, which launches Sunday, Jan. 1, is designed to direct traffic toward a constantly updated website, hence the name

NBC News still tops Nielsen ratings

After one year, the transition from Tom Brokaw to Brian Williams doesn't appear to have hurt NBC Nightly News at all, according to the Nielsen ratings.
According to Hollywood Reporter, NBC Nightly News averaged 9.8 million viewers in the fourth quarter, while ABC had 8.6 million and CBS 7.5 million. Williams, of course, got his start at KOAM.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jan. 18 hearing set for murder victim's widow

The next hearing in the felony drug case against Rebecca Kullie will be held Jan. 18, according to Jasper County Circuit Court records.
Ms. Kullie, whose husband, Jim John Kullie, was beaten to death with a tire iron (allgedly by her brother, Jim Edward Ryan) May 25 in Lamar Heights, is charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of chemicals with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance.
Ms. Kullie, 40, Seneca, also faces charges of misdemeanor DWI and marijuana possession in Jasper County.

KSN breaks Federline scoop

Even on days when both of the anchors are gone, KSN's 5 p.m. newscast cannot escape the spirit of Gary and Tiffany, or as they are so modestly described on the intro "the Four States' favorite pair."
The substitutes for Gary Bandy and Tiffany Alaniz, Lauren Hieger and Meredith Mitchell, were the only reporters on any of the three local five o'clock newscasts to note that singer Britney Spears' (and if that's not an oxymoron, I don't know what is) husband, Kevin Federline, has a new CD out, as well as a website. This was after the scoop that many of their friends are getting engaged during the holiday season.
This is not intended as a criticism of Ms. Hieger or Ms. Mitchell. Both women work hard and have done well on the station. It is just the atmosphere of the 5 p.m. broadcast since its change from news to a mixture of news and tabloid talk.
While KSN was leading with some talk and the weather (but not the aforementioned scoops, they came later), its sister station KODE and competitor KOAM led with the news that Governor Matt Blunt had ordered the closing of Renewable Environmental Services, the Carthage company which has produced an odor which has made living in that city a miserable proposition over the past several months.
While flipping back and forth, I noticed that KOAM's Daniel Ashley had comments from an out-of-state RES official, while KODE had a telephone interview with a representative from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. I did not catch who the reporter was on the KODE story. I also could not tell if KSN did a story on the situation, though I imagine I just missed it. (I need to get one of those arrangements where I have three televisions side by side.)

Blunt orders DNR to close Carthage business

This should teach a lesson to environmental violators. All it takes to invoke the wrath of Missouri Governor Matt Blunt is about three dozen citations.
According to a news release from the governor's office, Blunt has ordered the DNR to temporarily close Renewable Environmental Solutions "until the department reviews the company's operations and gives them the opportunity to determine what additional steps it can take to become compliant with state air quality rules and operate without producing a vile odor."
The vile odor isn't just what Carthaginians smelled in the air every day, it was also the state agency's reaction. Until the governor and his father, Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, became involved a few months back, there wasn't even any attempt by the DNR to get to the bottom of what the smell that was making Carthage anything but a great place to live.
"The people of Carthage have endured terrible odors from the plant for too
long," Blunt said in the news release. "I want the business to be successful but the concerns of the people who live and work near the plant is more important to me. If left unresolved, this one business will have a negative impact on the region by
hurting tourism and job growth. We simply cannot allow one company to bring down an entire community."
According to the news release,"Blunt has asked Doyle Childers, director of the Department of Natural Resources, to work with RES to review ways the facility can function in a community friendly manner. Blunt said ceasing operations during this interim time period will ensure that the citizens of Carthage are not subjected to a
public nuisance while the state looks for an appropriate long-term solution."
The news release continues, "RES produces oil from by-products derived from the nearby ConAgra Foods turkey processing facility. The plant currently produces 100 to 200 barrels of oil per day. RES has been cited for violations of Missouri state air
rules on six occasions, all in 2005. It was hoped that cooler weather and measures implemented by the facility would lead to substantially decreased odors. This has not occurred and additional measures are needed before spring when experts believe the nuisance will grow more acute due to warmer weather."

Bartlett featured in Nevada Daily Mail

Even when he was a teen, you could tell that Brent Bartlett was a special person. I can recall covering the Lockwood High School basketball team when Brent led it into the final four in 1986. He was selected to play in the annual Lions District 26-E All-Star Game at MSSC that summer. When the game was over, the referees actually waited for him to come out to wish him good luck. That was the kind of gentleman he was then and has remained so.
Brent, now a coach at Nevada High School, was profiled this week in the Nevada Daily Mail.

Former Globe reporter dies of cancer

Jud Dixon, a veteran UPI reporter who began his journalism career with the Joplin Globe, died of cancer at his Dallas home Monday at age 85. Dixon, whose long career included coverage of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, started working at the Globe in 1938 after attending high school and junior college in Joplin, according to the obituary posted by UPI. Dixon also worked for a time for the Springfield Daily News, before beginning his 41-year career with UPI in 1944.
Dixon always had his priorities right, the obituary noted. He missed out on what would have been one of the biggest stories of his career when he turned down his bureau chief's request to cover a tornado in Waco, Texas, that killed more than 100 people in 1953. His reason...his wife gave birth that night to his daughter Virginia.

Maddox, Siedlecki ripped by Omaha blogger

I've written before about Omaha TV News, the blog that in the past has attacked Jimmy Siedlecki mercilessly and has had nothing but praise for Siedlecki's co-anchor on the WOWT morning show, Malorie Maddox.
The blogger, who publishes anonymously, using the name of a character from the movie "Anchorman" and posting actor Will Ferrell's photo on the blog, turned on Ms. Maddox this morning with a vengeance.
Anyone who thinks I have been vicious with local TV anchors and reporters should read this blog. You have to search to find anything positive and hopefully considering the high esteem in which many of the Turner Report readers hold the former KODE co-anchors, this blog is not that powerful in the Omaha market.
In the past, the blogger has compared Siedlecki to actor Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle character, even running side-by-side photos of the two of them, which he claims look alike. (I did not see any similarities.)
Today, he launched the following broadside on Ms. Maddox: "Her predilection for fake fingernails cheapened her otherwise pristine appearance, and she had a somewhat nasal voice and, um, 'vowel issues.' At first we chalked it up to her southern Kansas upbringing; it seemed like a bad habit she'd outgrow. But after nearly a year of hearing her talk to 'Scawt' Akin about the cold 'timps' across the 'Heartlund,' it's clear that her pralking toblems aren't going anywhere."
Of course, his main target is still Siedlecki, whom he blames for all of Ms. Maddox's "problems."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sarah Pierik leaving for Wichita

The weather today is "unseasonably warm," which makes it a fitting day for the farewell newscast of KOAM's morning and noon anchor Sarah Pierik.
Unseasonably warm is a perfect description for the qualities Miss Pierik has brought to KOAM's first two news programs. It is a quality that is especially unnecessary for a morning program that relies more on a no-nonsense, give the people the news they need to know approach, and doesn't rely on Monday makeovers and pep rallies.
Miss Pierik said her goodbyes moments ago to the viewers, whom she said it had been "a privilege" to work for, and to her fellow workers at KOAM. She is taking a position at KWCH in Wichita. The station is lucky to have her.
Prior to last year's removal of KODE and KSNF from Cable One in Joplin, I had not paid much attention to the KOAM morning program since the days of Toby and Andy. As I have written before, it is apparent how much work Miss Pierik put into the program. It may seem like a contradiction, but you can't appear that relaxed and natural without putting in an incredible amount of work.
While it will take a while to get used to morning TV without Miss Pierik, I look forward to hearing of her successes in the future. The young lady is going to go far.

Nexstar competitor asks for retransmission payment

The apparent success Nexstar Broadcasting has had with its battles with cable stations over retransmission payments has inspired a Little Rock competitor to try the same tactic, according to an article in Arkansas Business Report.

Monday, December 26, 2005

A few media notes

-The Lamar Democrat apparently is about to unveil a new website, according to the message left on the current website.
-It looks as if the Joplin Globe is unveiling a new-look Sunday edition, according to the ad in today's paper. The biggest change appears to be a weekly stand-alone real estate section and a section where they will reflect on the news. Hopefully, someone will write some so they will have something to reflect on.
-The Joplin has its billboards out and the television advertising has begun. I have seen one of the prototype copies and it definitely has a much cleaner, attractive look than the Globe. Even better, it doesn't have a whole page of "News to Go" back on the back like the Globe. As of last week, the new paper does not have a full-time sports editor, but it does have some willing fill-ins for the first issue or two.
-Monday Night Football came to an end, at least on network TV tonight. I can remember the first edition 35 years ago and what a big deal it was at that time. Though Al Michaels and John Madden were a vast improvement over the Dennis Miller fiasco of a few years back, in my book, there was never a better crew than the original trio, Keith Jackson, Don Meredith, and Howard Cosell (pictured). They were informative and entertaining.
-The Webb City Sentinel reports that those wanting to follow the exploits of the Webb City High School Marching Band as it participates in the 117th Tournament of Roses Parade will be able to see daily photo updates on the school website.

Deposition set in deputy sex lawsuit

As reported earlier this month, it only took a Dade County jury to find former Stone County deputy Michael Blumenthal not guilty of having sex with an inmate, but he still is facing a civil lawsuit from his alleged victim.
According to documents filed last week in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the former inmate, Michelle Davis, will be deposed by Blumenthal's lawyers during a Jan. 10 session in the law offices of Richard Anderson in Branson.
According to the woman's petition, in July 2003, Blumenthal:
-Required and demanded she show him her breasts
-required and demanded she simulate masturbation and demanded that she "be loud about it."
-required and demanded she stand in the nude at a position where he could see her nude body
-required her to allow him to feel between, around and about her breasts
-required her to submit to "searches" in which he would require her to stand near while he placed his face about her panties, sniffed her panties, and then pronounced, "she's clean."
-required she cooperate and assist him in his attempts to commit similar abuses against other female inmates.
The woman said she submitted to Blumenthal's "sexual harassment, abuse and assault" because she received no help when she reported the conduct. "When plaintiff reported defendant's conduct to other officers," the petition said, "her complaints were turned aside, and she was told, 'You are going to make your time worse here,' 'we don't have time for these lies,' or 'that's not what Officer Blumenthal says.' "
The woman says Blumenthal threatened her by saying, "Give up, put out, or don't get out." She said she took that and other statements made by Blumenthal as threats, such as when he told her "of his prowess and ability with handguns, telling plaintiff that his nickname was 'Shooter' and 'someday' he would teach her 'how to shoot to kill.'
When she submitted to his demands, the woman said, she was given extra privileges, including "added telephone calls, soft drinks, candy, additional library cart privileges, scented shampoos, occasional releases from her cell, and, on two occasions, marijuana."
The woman is asking for "actual damages in such amount as will be deemed adequate to fairly and reasonably compensate her for all damages sustained; and for an additional judgment for punitive damages in such amount as may be determined" to keep Blumenthal and others from treating prisoners in that manner.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Near tragedy affects Missouri House speaker

In my last post, I talked about the death of Nancy Cruzan, which occurred after an automobile accident left her in a persistent vegetative state. Only a few minutes after I put the finishing touches on the post. I looked over the weekly column by Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton, whose wife was in a car accident last week. The column really puts the Christmas season into perspective and is reprinted below:


I was working in my office and didn't have my cell phone with me when suddenly there was a knock at the door. My office is only about 200 yards from the house, but I very seldom have anyone stop by after 6:00 pm. I thought it was odd and wondered who it could be.

When I opened the door a man asked if this was 713 High Street. I told him it was and he said my wife had just been in a car wreck a few blocks from the house and that it looked like she was hurt pretty bad.

As I heard those words my mind started to race. I quickly thanked him and ran out the door to my car. On the short drive over to the wreck I tried to stay calm as fears and worries about Cassie raced through my mind.

Approaching the accident it seemed my worst fears were realized. There were police and fire-truck lights flashing. Cassie's car was smashed up and in a deep ditch. Rescue workers surrounded the other car. Cassie was lying by herself in the street.

I immediately stopped the car and ran to where she was. Thankfully, she was alive and could move all her limbs. I used my Marine Corps First Aid training to see if she was OK. Of course, she was hurting, shook up and totally confused. Fortunately, it appeared she only had bruises and cuts with no serious injuries.

About this time, Shelley Keeney who is a good friend of Cassie's and the wife of Trooper Matt Kenney showed up and helped me calm Cassie down. The EMT workers brought a stretcher over and said she should go to the hospital and get checked for any internal injuries. She was complaining about a lot of chest pain and we still were not 100% sure she didn't have any broken bones.

I helped them get her over to the ambulance and planned on riding over with her, but they wouldn't let me. Shelley had called the kids and we got them all in the car and followed the ambulance over to Cape Girardeau. On the way there, I called my sister Lottie and Cassie's mom and dad.

When we arrived at the hospital the EMT said he thought she would be OK and that I could see her after they took x-rays. We had what seemed like the whole family there. I am sure it was only a few minutes, but it seemed like forever. Finally, they said I could go back and see her.

The doctor said all the x-rays checked out good, but that she would be very sore for a few weeks. She had some cuts and scrapes on her knees and hips. The seat belt had left a bruise on her chest and her neck and her shoulders were hurting her quite a bit. The doctor gave her some pain pills and I took her home.

After something like this your first response is to think "what a terrible thing to happen at Christmas." However, after seeing her there on the street and then learning that, with a little time and rest, she would be ok; I just had to count our blessings this Christmas.

Things like this really put life in perspective. I wish it wouldn't have happened, but things could have been a lot worse. I don't understand fate but am thankful there is a loving God in control of our lives.

Here is what happened. She was going to get Emily from a basketball game and was only four blocks from our house, which is in a quiet residential part of town. A young kid was going about 45 or 50 mph and ran a stop sign. He hit Cassie's car in the front driver's side, sending both cars into a deep ravine.

Cassie's car went into the ravine and almost flipped over. The front end hit a tree and the whole car flew up in the air until the roof of the car hit the tree and slammed it back down into the ground. Thankfully, that kept the car from turning over.

The other car landed on a very big rock and was balanced on the edge of it. Had it slipped off it would have flipped into the deep ravine. Thankfully, the driver and passenger of the other car were not critically injured. They had some serious cuts that required stitches and had to stay overnight at the hospital, but are home recovering now.

Both Cassie's front and side airbags deployed and thankfully she had her seat belt on. She couldn't get her door open and had to climb out the passenger door and up the ravine to the street. A gracious neighbor stopped and Cassie sent him to the house to get me. I don't know who he was, but I am so thankful he took the time to stop and to drive up to the house to get me.

The next day I went out and looked at her car. Seeing the wreckage reinforced how fortunate she was. Had the impact been three feet further down the car it would have hit squarely on the drivers door. Had that happened she would have been seriously injured or maybe even killed!!

This Christmas, I am not complaining about the traffic or the long lines at stores, or about that it's too cold or not snowing. I am not going to notice if the turkey is dry or if they don't have whipped cream for my pumpkin pie. Sometimes I spend too much time thinking about all the little stuff that in the end really doesn't matter.

This year Christmas is on Sunday. Instead of thinking about how going to church is messing up the normal Christmas day schedule, I am looking forward to spending a part of my day at church thanking God for sending His Son as a gift to mankind. I am also going to thank the Lord for protecting my family and keeping us safe. I want to say a special thank you to all the police, rescue and ambulance personnel who were out on a cold night taking care of my wife and making sure we are all safe.

There are a thousand different things that could have happened that would have allowed Cassie to avoid that wreck. Each day on the news I hear others stories where families were not as fortunate as us. I think about all these things and wonder why things like this happen. But in the end, I trust the Lord.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas. I hope you take time to enjoy your families and all the little things that make Christmas special. I also hope you take time to go to church and ask God to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and please remember to pray for protection for our military men and women fighting overseas to keep us safe!

One last thing I want to mention. I am thankful the Lord was watching over Cassie, but without her seat belt and those airbags it might not have turned out as well. Please remember to wear your seat belt. It just might save your life, even when you are only 4 blocks from home in a quiet residential neighborhood and not doing anything wrong.

(Thanks to the speaker for a well-written column that hopefully will make people think, and thank God Mrs. Jetton and the others in the accident are all right.)

Cruzan anniversary is Dec. 26

Each year I tell my eighth grade communications arts students at South Middle School the story about a foolish reporter who nearly missed out on the best story he ever wrote because he was too busy trying to be one of the crowd.
That reporter, unfortunately, has the same face I look at in the mirror every morning when I shave and that face didn't look appreciably better on that October day in 1990. At the time, I had been a general assignment reporter for The Carthage Press for six months. Mostly, I handled area assignments, going everywhere from Joplin to Sarcoxie to Lamar and everything in between. I normally was not assigned to cover hearings at the Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage, but this was the city/courthouse reporter's day off, and I became the Press reporter at a hearing of national importance, Jasper County Judge Charles Teel would hear evidence in the Nancy Cruzan right-to-die case.
I was probably the only reporter covering that hearing who had actually known Nancy Cruzan, though I had not seen her since she and I were both teenagers and my baseball team was playing games in her home town of Carterville.
The path to that Jasper County Courthouse hearing began on Jan. 11, 1983, when Nancy lost control of her car as she was headed home from working at Schreiber's in Carthage. Her car ran off the the road, and overturned several times, landing on its top. By the time CPR was administered to Nancy, her brain had already been deprived of oxygen for about 14 minutes; six is all it takes to cause permanent brain damage. She was left in what her doctors called a "persistent vegetative state." The cerebral hemisphere of her brain, which controlled her thining and her emotions, no longer functioned, the doctors said. All she had left were physical reflexes.
For five years she remained in that limbo, until her parents, Joe and Joyce Cruzan asked Judge Teel if they could remove the feeding tube, the only thing that was keeping their daughter alive.
After a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court, in which witnesses testified Nancy had indicated she would never want to be kept alive by artificial means, Judge Teel granted permission to remove the feeding tube, but his decision was appealed by the Missouri Attorney General's office. The State Supreme Court overruled Judge Teel's decision; the case was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear it...the first time the nation's highest court had ever heard a right-to-die case.
The court ruled that a person does have the right to die, but that decision did not necessarily apply to the Cruzan case, which was sent back to Jasper County to hear evidence and determine if Nancy really had said what she would want to have happen to her under such circumstances.
That brought the case to Carthage on that October day. Eight TV vans from all of the Joplin stations, plus Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis were filling up the inside parking places on the square.
Though I arrived a full hour before the hearing was scheduled to begin, the third-floor courtroom was already nearly filled...mostly with reporters. Since the case was going to be heard by Judge Teel once more and not by a jury, reporters were allowed to sit in the jury box so they could be a little closer to the judge, the attorneys and the witnesses. Even though I had already been a reporter for more than 13 years, I was caught up in my opportunity to be one of the big boys.
In that jury box, seated to my left was the stringer who was covering the case for the New York Times. Right beside him, was the Times' courtroom artist and behind them were reporters for Associated Press and the Kansas City Star. To my right was a young reporter from one of the Springfield television stations, sitting by a second sketch artist, whose newspaper or TV affiliate I never did learn.
During that morning session, I listened to the same testimony from the same angle, that all of the other reporters in that jury box did, and if something critical had not happened at about 11:30 a.m. I would have written the same story that all of them did. And there would have been nothing wrong with that, except that the Press was an afternoon paper, so we would have been the last to go with a story that everyone else had already read.
Thank God for lunch.
Judge Teel dismissed everyone for lunch a little after 11:30 and said the hearing would resume at 1:30. I returned to the courtroom at 10 minutes past one and the jury box had already filled...It was the best thing that could have happened.
With the jury box filled, I took a seat directly behind Joe and Joyce Cruzan, their lawyer, William Colby of Kansas City, Nancy's sister, Christy White, and Christy's daughters...Nancy's beloved nieces...Angie Yocum, a sophomore at Webb City High School at the time; and Miranda Yocum, a freshman.
My chair was directly behind Angie and Miranda and I could see that Miranda had a sketchpad open and was drawing a courtroom scene that easily rivaled anything the other two courtroom artists were doing. She paid special attention to detail, capturing everything from the courtroom decor to the bright red suspenders being worn by Colby.
I continued taking notes about the testimony, but in the margins, I was writing everything I could about Miranda and Angie. Everyone else was going to know about the testimony before The Carthage Press hit the streets, but no one was going to have this story about the tiny sketch artist.
One of the afternoon witnesses was a man for whom Nancy had worked when she lived in Oklahoma City. The Cruzan family listened attentively as the man began his testimony, clearly answering the questions that were posed to him by Colby and by Carthage attorney Thad McCanse, who had been appointed by the court to represent "Nancy's interests."
Nancy's former boss recalled the conversation he had with her when she had said she would not want to live as a vegetable because "vegetables can't hug their nieces."
I quickly looked at the two nieces. Angie began to cry almost immediately. Miranda's face was also reddening as she put her arm around her sister's shoulder and began patting her on the back. Through the tears, the two looked at each other and smiled. Despite the circumstances, it's always good to hear how much someone loves you.
A few moments later, Joe Cruzan, Nancy's father, stepped up and quickly left the courtroom without saying a word to anyone.
At this point when I am recounting the story to my eighth graders, I always ask, "Do you know why he left the courtroom?"
They always surmise that the testimony had become too emotional for him and he had to leave to collect himself. I shake my head and get the students angry with me, when I say, "He had to go to the bathroom," and I quickly add, "And I did something that no reporter should ever do."
There is always a sound of horror among my students. "You followed him to the bathroom," they say with a mixture of shock and disgust.
I nod. "I followed him to the bathroom." I always make sure the students know that I was at least polite enough to let him finish what he needed to do, providing no further details.
As he left the restroom, I stepped in front of him, introduced myself, and asked him if I could ask him a couple of questions. I will never forget the long sigh that followed that request. "Sure," he answered, though more questions from the press was the last thing he could have wanted.
"I have been watching your granddaughter," I said. "She really has a talent for drawing."
In a split second, the worry seemed to vanish from Joe Cruzan's face and was replaced by a smile. Without me even asking a question, he spent the next 15 to 20 minutes telling me about Miranda, her artwork, and how talented she was and how proud he and the family were of her.
It wasn't long after we returned to the courtroom that the testimony ended. Miranda jumped up from her seat and nearly ran to William Colby. "I drew this for you," she said, and the lawyer was caught completely off guard.
"That's really good," he said. I jotted down a few more details then rushed back to the Press, it was one of those nights when I couldn't wait to start writing.
I had opened up the Press newsroom so reporters from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Springfield News-Leader could type their stories and send them in. Earlier in the day, that would have seemed like a big deal, but I had learned my lesson.
What lesson is that, my eighth graders ask when I reach that portion of the story.
"You can't get ahead if all you ever do is follow."
Several weeks after the hearing, Judge Teel once again ruled that the feeding tubes could be removed. On Dec. 26, 1990, 15 years ago tomorrow, Nancy Cruzan died.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

APS Financial drops coverage of O'Sullivan Industries

One of the leading investment advisory companies, APS Financial Corporation, has discontinued coverage of O'Sullivan Industries, according to Market Wire.
Does the roster of stocks covered by Value Line change?
This is often done when the investment advisory firms believe investors have lost interest in a company due to a situation such as bankruptcy or mounting losses.

Nexstar reaches agreement with two more cable companies

The Hagerstown Morning Herald in Maryland reports that Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF in Joplin and de facto owner of KODE, has reached retransmission agreements with the Comcast and Atlantic Broadband cable companies.
The agreements concern cable systems in Maryland and West Virginia. Nexstar is still battling with Antietam Cable and Adelphia Communications in that region, according to the article.
Some interesting speculation from different trade sources about the nature of Nexstar's agreements with the cable companies. Broadcasting & Cable indicated that Cable One, owner of the cable system in Joplin may be buying advertising on the Nexstar stations. This would enable Nexstar to get the money it has been seeking and the cable companies would still be able to say (technically, at least) that they are not paying per customer for retransmission rights.
Nexstar officials have said they will have a separate place in their financial reports for money from the cable companies, according to print sources.

Second Neosho signing set for 'Small Town News'

I wasn't able to get to Neosho to try to set up a retail outlet for my novel, "Small Town News," as I had planned, but through a little phonework, I have set up a second Neosho signing for the book.
It will take place 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Neosho/Newton County Library. It will be the fourth signing for the book, following the initial one in October, which was also held at the library, the Joplin signing Nov. 12 at Hastings, and the other one I lined up earlier today, which is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Mary K. Finley Library in Lamar.
Anyone wishing to buy the book as a Christmas present can still pick it up at Hastings or the Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin or at The Carthage Press office.
And, of course, you can always buy it directly from the author or order it through, Barnes & Noble, the IUniverse website, or from numerous other internet booksellers. Check out the "Small Town News" website for more information.

Nexstar CFO resigns

Nexstar Broadcasting chief financial officer Robert Thompson has resigned to accept a similar position with another company, according to documents filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The resignation, which will become effective Jan. 2 "is not a result of any disagreement with Nexstar," according to the filing. The company Thompson will join is not in the broadcasting field, the filing said.
Nexstar will begin a search for a replacement immediately. Until one is found, CEO Perry Sook will serve as interim CFO, according to the filing.
Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and operates Mission Broadcasting stations KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Lamar signing set for 'Small Town News'

The third signing for my novel, "Small Town News," and the first in Lamar, has been scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in the Mary K. Finley Library. I hope to see some of you there.
Previous signings have been held at Hastings in Joplin in November and at the Neosho/Newton County Library in October.

Globe's Jasper story leaves unanswered questions

It took two Globe reporters, Derek Spellman and Chadwick Watters, to write it, but today's article on the controversy in the city of Jasper certainly leaves you wondering if one side of the story was completely missed.
As originally revealed Tuesday in The Turner Report, Jasper Mayor John Rodebush took out a restraining order against former mayor Jim McCorkle. The content of Rodebush's allegations was featured in the Globe article, as were quotes from McCorkle and council member Will Conyers, who is a Rodebush supporter.
Even though Rodebush did not speak to the Globe, he was able to get his point across simply through use of court records, which stacks the deck against McCorkle.
If my understanding of the Jasper situation is correct, both from reading the Globe accounts and what from readers have told me, the city council has been divided 2-2 on many issues with Rodebush casting the deciding vote. That would seem to indicate that might be two council members who might have provided a different perspective on the Rodebush-McCorkle feud than what Conyers provided. The Globe article does not indicate whether either of those councilmen (or anyone else for that matter) was contacted.

News-Leader's No Child Left Behind editorial right on the mark

An editorial in today's Springfield News-Leader notices, without using the word, what a hoax No Child Left Behind is and notes how sad it is that Missouri, a state which has rightly prided itself on higher standards is lowering them so it can meet No Child Left Behind benchmarks.
The editorial makes the point that President Bush and other devotees of No Child Left Behind cannot seem to make themselves understand:
"If there must be a federal law, we wish it could be written by someone like Republic Superintendent Pam Hedgpeth, who helped revise the state standards. She understands that students are not interchangeable parts; they all start at different levels. An absolute standard is not the best measure of an education."
Teacher and students need to be held to high standards, but No Child Left Behind is a joke conceived by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

An appreciation of Jack Anderson offered

This week's Village Voice offers an examination of the career of legendary muckraking journalist Jack Anderson, who died last week. I have already written about the influence Anderson played on my reporting career, but this article, written by Murray Wass, who worked for Anderson, has some particularly pertinent commentary about the state of investigative journalism today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Jackson's loans come due Tuesday

Unless something can be worked out in the next six days, the owners of the Carthage Press, the Neosho Daily News and the upcoming Joplin Daily may soon own a portion of the Beatles' song catalog.
Lawyers for the catalog's current owner, pop star Michael Jackson, are trying to renegotiate $200 millions in loans, which are held by Fortress Investment, which earlier this year bought Liberty Group Publishing, which owns the Press, the Neosho Daily, and the Big Nickel, as well as approximately 300 other publications.
If no agreement can be reached, Jackson's will default on his loans, which come due Tuesday, according to Reuters.

More O'Sullivan bills arrive in bankruptcy court

A judge will have to decide whether to pay a p.r. firm for reading The Turner Report, according to documents filed this week in the O'Sullivan Industries bankruptcy in Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
The report wasn't mentioned by name, but part of the bill submitted by public relations consultant Edward Howard shows that the company is asking to be paid for reviewing "blog coverage" as well as other media coverage of the bankruptcy.
The Nov. 9 billing included "discussing clients' need to keep up flow of positive news and communication." The company has certainly succeeded in that regard. (sarcasm alert)
As you recall, the Turner Report earlier noted that the judge approved paying the public relations firm, which had already been paid a $50,000 retainer.
Court documents indicate the judge granted permission to hire Howard, whose "professional fees for the services provided would be between $80 per hour and $420 per hour, depending on the staff member assigned to the project."
And that's not all. "The debtors would be billed for necessary out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with such services." Of course, those rates may go even higher, the documents said. "Edward Howard's rates are generally revised periodically and would be billed as necessitated by its computer software billing program."
Just in case any legal problems arise out of the Howard firm's representation of O'Sullivan Industries, the company would also be required to pay its legal costs, the documents indicate.
The company's bill through Nov. 30 was $16,148.76, far less than two other bills which were submitted Tuesday for the court's approval.
The law firm of Lamberth, Cifelli, Stokes and Stout, submitted a bill for $51,356.17, while another law firm aiding O'Sullivan through the bankruptcy, Dechert LLP, submitted a bill for $251,893.77 for Nov. 1-30, following a bill for October for $199,328.38.

Globe to feature article on Jasper mayoral feud

As mentioned yesterday in The Turner Report, Jasper Mayor John Rodebush took out a restraining order against former Mayor Jim McCorkle, who has been an outspoken opponent of Rodebush's policies.
The Globe will feature an article on it tomorrow. I anxiously await the Globe editors' thank-you note for providing them with a good story.

'Small Town News' available at Carthage Press

A few developments with the novel:

-As of today, "Small Town News" can be purchased at The Carthage Press.
-As I wrote earlier, I took 10 more books to Hastings in Joplin. They were put into the store inventory earlier today and were on the shelves as of this afternoon.
-Hopefully, I will have some news tomorrow about a retail outlet in Neosho.
-I also hope to have news tomorrow about a signing early next year in Lamar.
-I have spent some time over the Christmas vacation sending news releases and photos to southwest Missouri newspapers about "Small Town News."
-Copies of the book are also available at the Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin.

Return to Stone's Throw

Attending the Christmas program at Stone's Throw Theater in Carthage Friday night brought back fond memories of one of my early assignments after I left the Lamar Democrat to take a job as a reporter at The Carthage Press.
Lifestyles Editor Nancy Prater normally reviewed the plays at Stone's Throw, but she was unavailable for the first performance of the Noel Coward play, "Blithe Spirit."
"Blithe Spirit" had always been one of my favorite plays and I vividly remembered the 1945 movie starring Rex Harrison. So I was looking forward to the play. Unfortunately, the "Blithe Spirit" I saw at Stones' Throw only vaguely resembled the play and movie I remembered. For some unknown reason, someone had updated the play to the 1990s and as I pointed out in my review, the play was great, the acting was great, but the efforts to update the play were misguided to say the least.
I didn't think anything about it, until I discovered later that Henry Heckart, the director, had been the one responsible for the updating. He was not thrilled with my review, but I called it the way I saw it.
I attended the performance Friday night because one of my eighth grade students at South, Cheyla Navarre, was one of several talented area middle school students, including some from Carthage and Neosho, who performed. Cheyla's performance of "Oh, Holy Night, was one of the highlights of the show. It was a pleasure to be back at Stone's Throw after so many years. I won't wait so long before my next visit.

Barton County politicians won't seek reelection

One of the most lasting memories I have of my first stint at the Lamar Democrat was the election of November 1978 when incumbent County Clerk Cheryl Fanning narrowly won re-election, by about 50 votes if memory serves me correctly, over Democratic challenger Bonda Rawlings. The atmosphere at the courthouse was electric that evening and I enjoyed watching as county officials wrote the latest results on the long chalkboard that lined the main hallway.
Four years later, Mrs. Rawlings was elected county clerk and she has served in that position since January 1983. She has indicated she will not seek a seventh four-year term.
It appears that Presiding Commission Gerry Miller will also not run for another term, so the political season promises to be an interesting one in Barton County.

Last of old-time Mafia dons dies in Springfield

The last of the old-time Mafia bosses, Vincent Gigante, known as "The Oddfather," died Monday at the federal prison hospital in Springfield, according to an article in today's New York Daily News.
The hospital was the same place where the notorious John Gotti died.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Surprising results in Turner Report survey

From time to time, I check the statistics on the three counters I have set up to tally visitors to The Turner Report. It was just a little over a year ago that I was happy to have 35 readers a day. Now the number has recently climbed above 700 on two of the services, normally reaching between 550 and 600 per day. On the other one, the average has been at about 430. Whatever it is, it has grown to considerable more than 35 and page views are averaging about 1,100 per day, which means people are either going through the archives or leaving comments.
A reader recently commented that most of my visitors come from the Joplin-area television stations. Statistics show that the number one source of visitors to the Turner Report is KSNF, by a wide margin, with the Joplin Globe finishing second, KODE fifth and KOAM 11th.
In addition to those media outlets, The Turner Report receives multiple visits per day from the Springfield News-Leader, Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News,and Asay Publishing, and occasional visits from the Chicago Tribune, Kansas City Star, Arkansas Democrat, Jefferson City News-Tribune, and of course, a number from Jefferson City state government circles.
Many readers, of course, reach The Turner Report when looking for something on search engines.
Following are the 30 most popular search engine words (other than Randy Turner or The Turner Report) that lead people to this blog:
30. EaglePicher
29. Jarden
28. Rachel Hubler
27. La-Z-Boy
26. Gary Blankenship
25. Sarah Pierik
24. Martin Lindstedt
23. Braxton Wooden
22. Killeen, Texas
21. Nancy Cruzan
20. Moark
19. Newell Rubbermaid
18. Matt or Roy Blunt
17. Tiffany Alaniz
16. KSN
15. Jimmy Siedlecki
14. Marny Stanier
13. Brandon Kahl
12. Byron DeLaBeckwith
11. Ron Richard
10. O'Sullivan Industries
9. Karl Jobst
8. Micah Holman
6. Cox Health
5. Joplin Globe
3. Nexstar Broadcasting
2. Gary Nodler
1. Malorie Maddox
I am happy to see more readers searched for Malorie Maddox than for Gary Nodler, but what kind of a world do we live in when more people want to find about Martin Lindstedt than about Sarah Pierik?

There she goes again

While I appreciated Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton's recent e-mail explaining how state representatives have made a deal to use each other's writings as their own, I still don't buy it.
Apparently, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, does. I have written a couple of times recently how Ms. Ruestman and Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, have plagiarized, word for word nearly, columns that were originally written by Rep. Jetton.
As I was reading the Dec. 14 Newton County News today, I read "The Ruestman Report," which purportedly is Rep. Ruestman's weekly column detailing what goes on in the state legislature. As I read the column, I once again had the feeling of deja vu, so a quick check turned out an Oct. 7 column by Rep. Jetton, which is almost exactly the same as "The Ruestman Report."
While the earlier two that were explored by The Turner Report centered around the Medicaid issue, this column was a more general review of the 2005 legislative session.
Give Ms. Ruestman credit. She apparently wrote her own first paragraph, which reads, "The 2005 session was a great success, and many of the problems that have been our focus over the past several years have been dealt with."
After that, most of the column is either word-for-word or nearly word-for-word the same as Rep. Jetton's column.
After she reaches the portion of Rep. Jetton's column where he begins to talk about things that are germane to his constituents, Ms. Ruestman finally steers herself away, writing, "Currently, I am working on legislation that will focus on meth houses. We have strengthened our position on preventing meth labs from occurring in the state, and we now need to look at how to further protect our citizens from the effects of these labs.
"This legislation would require that a house, after being used in the production of meth, be properly reported and tested. It has been found that those who move into a former meth house are subject to adverse health effects, and this would ensure that the houses are properly cleaned and safe."
When Ms. Ruestman puts her name on a column, the same as any other columnist, reporter, or even someone writing a school report, she is saying that the column is her work and her work alone.
Again, if she wants to parrot the words of Rep. Jetton or anyone else, she needs to tell her readers that. They have the right to know.

Nodler co-sponsoring amendment proposal

State Senator Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, is again working toward eliminating the checks and balances system in the Missouri Constitution.
Nodler is co-sponsoring SJR 23, sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Kansas City, which proposes a constitutional amendment which would say that the "power to determine public school funding shall be exclusively the province of the people's elected representatives in the General Assembly and their Governor. The power to determine public school funding shall not fall within the province of the judiciary."
While on the face of it, that proposal sounds like a good thing, the wisdom of allowing any of the three branches complete power without a check on it goes against our system of government. If governors are not happy with the judges, they have the power to appoint ones that are more in line with their philosophy. The legislature has to approve those judges, while the voters have the ultimate power to turn out their elected officials if they are not happy with the way they are represented.
While I do not agree with every decision made by judges (some of them are downright outlandish), I still feel more comfortable knowing that someone will be able to examine laws to see if they are constitutional.

Wilson files bill permitting impoundment of vehicles in DWI cases

Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, has pre-filed a bill, HB 1160, which would order a person's vehicle to be impounded for up to one year as part of a penalty for a DWI conviction.
Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin is among the bill's co-sponsors.
Another Wilson bill, HB 1161 also co-sponsored by Ms. Ruestman, would create the crime of
"threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction and computer dissemination of information to promote a terrorist act."

August trial date for former Boys and Girls Club director

An August 26, 2006, trial date has been scheduled for former Joplin Boys and Girls Club Director Rob Clay, who is charged with embezzling at least $50,000 and possibly as much as $200,000 from that organization. He was the director for 15 years.
At Clay's preliminary hearing, a Joplin police detective testified that Clay had written checks totaling $41,080 on the club's account to his own bank accounts and wrote an additional $9,000 worth of checks for cash.

Hit-and-run trial pushed back again

The jury trial for a Joplin teenager charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident in connection with the Jan. 17 hit-and-run death of Joplin High School senior Jamison Alexander, has been delayed again, according to Jasper County Circuit Court records.
The new date for the trial of Travis Wyrick, 19, is now schedule for July 12, a month later than its last date. It initially had been scheduled for three months ago.

Hearing scheduled for former Southwest City clerk

A 10 a.m. Jan. 30 hearing has been scheduled in McDonald County Circuit Court for former Southwest City Clerk Dehonna Shields.
Ms. Shields, 26, is charged with three counts of forgery and two counts of theft for allegedly stealing city money. The missing money was uncovered during a state audit.

Jasper mayor files for restraining order against former mayor

The battle royal in the city of Jasper continued today when Jasper Mayor John Rodebush filed for a restraining order against former Mayor Jim McCorkle.
Rodebush, who was elected earlier this year, has been a lightning rod for controversy, with more than 30 city workers leaving their positions during the past few months, either on their own or at the request of the city council, usually by 2-2 votes, with the mayor casting the deciding vote.
McCorkle, who served as mayor between 1999 and 2001, has been outspoken in his criticism of Rodebush. According to reporter Derek Spellman's article in the June 2 Joplin Globe, McCorkle was removed from two city council meetings after trying to address the council and mayor.
"For those of you who do not go to the council meetings, you missed a good lesson in dictatorship," McCorkle wrote in one of the letters that he has distributed through Jasper, according to the Globe article.
A 1:30 p.m. Jan. 4 hearing has been scheduled for Rodebush's request for a full order of protection. Until that time, a temporary restraining order, signed by Judge Stephen Carlton, is in place, according to Jasper County Circuit Court documents.

Curless nominated for Court of Appeals post

Barton County Associate Circuit Court Judge Charles Curless is one of three men who have been nominated for the Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals, according to an item just posted on the Springfield News-Leader website.

Nodler plan threatens school officials who disagree with him

In a recent post, I quoted Diamond R-4 Superintendent Mark Mayo from his Cat News on the district's website as claiming that Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, was threatening to file a bill which would penalize school districts that continue to fight through the courts for a larger share of state education money.
If they continue with their lawsuit, they would face the prospect of having to consolidate with other schools.
That proposal was mentioned at Monday night's Carthage R-9 Board of Education meeting, which is chronicled by Carthage Press reporter Melissa Dunson.

Voucher proposals moving forward with Kansas State Board of Education

An Associated Press article from last week details how voucher supporters, including the Friedman Foundation, are making headway with the Kansas State Board of Education, though not with the governor or the state legislature as of yet.
You can expect a similar effort in Missouri from the Friedman Foundation, and undoubtedly it will receive the support of Governor Matt Blunt. Earlier this month, as revealed exclusively in the Turner Report as far as I can determine, the governor's brother, lobbyist Andrew Blunt, registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission as a lobbyist for the Friedman Foundation.
You can read more about that development in this post.

Paothong tabbed for Missouri Conservationist post

Springfield News-Leader photographer Noppadol Paothong, whom those in the Joplin area will remember as a staff photographer for the Joplin Globe and earlier for Missouri Southern State University's Chart, has been hired as the new staff photographer at the Missouri Conservationist, beating out 150 applicants for the position, according to information received by The Turner Report.
Paothong is one of the best photographers to ever work in this area and I had the good fortune of having him do some sports photography for me about eight years ago.
Paothong is replacing Jim Rathert, who had been the Conservationist's staff photographer for more than two decades.
Paothong, a native of Thailand, came to the United States in 1993 to study graphic arts before switching to journalism. He is a graduate of MSSU. Paothong and former Missouri Department of Conservation staff writer Joel Vance are collaborating on a book about the prairie chicken in North America.
Those interested in viewing Noppadol's work should go to his website. It is definitely worth a visit.

Windle subject of News-Leader feature

Former Lamar resident Linn Windle is retiring after 27 years in the Missouri Highway Patrol and is the subject of a feature in today's Springfield News-Leader, which focuses on his pie-baking hobby.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Neosho Daily calls Nodler on legislative games

Gary Nodler once again showed just how thin his skin really is when he pounced on the Neosho Daily News for its recent editorial which pointed out the political shell game being played by Nodler with the filing of his bill to strengthen penalties against CAFOs. I made similar points in a recent post.
Nodler adopted his normal superior tone in a letter to the editor printed in the Thursday, Dec. 15 Daily. "The editor expressed his suspicion of the timing of my announced legislation since the controversy had gone on for nine months. I will be happy to educate him on this." Nodler then noted that Senate bills cannot be introduced after March 1 and the Moark controversy started after that.
I thoroughly enjoyed it when Nodler wrote, "The newspaper also stated that this (his bill) was an attempt to get back in the good graces of Newton County constituents. The fact is that my constituent communications have never indicated that I was out of the good graces of voters in Newton County and I also know of no polling that would support that suggestion." If that doesn't indicate that the senator is out of touch with his constituents, nothing will.
Then Nodler comes to the heart of his letter. "I have said before and I will now repeat that it is unethical for a legislator to use his or her office to interfere with an ongoing regulatory proceeding. It is also unproductive because when a legislator does that, he or she makes it less likely that the position they favor will succeed. Most regulators will bend over backwards to avoid the appearance of yielding improperly to political pressure. Most Missourians do not want to live in a state where regulators obey the orders of politicians rather than the dictates of state law."
Well, no, Gary. Most of your constituents would appreciate your using your influence to help them. That is what good politicians do. At the least, an appearance at one of the meetings or an attempt to broker a compromise would have been well received.
But I will repeat what I have said earlier. It is easy to propose a bill after the damage has already been done. And the whole thing smacks of hypocrisy since Nodler has shown an inclination to get involved in other matters and throw his political weight around.
Case in point, the situation that occurred late last year when two Joplin police officers arrested and handcuffed an 11-year-old boy at an elementary school. The following was featured in an article written by Jeff Wells in the May 10 Globe:

"State Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, said Monday that in a telephone conversation last week, he told (Police Chief Kevin) Lindsey that he thinks the city needs to reveal what punishment was given to the officers.

" 'I believe it would be healthier for the community if the city's response to the incident was publicly known and understood,' Nodler said.

"Nodler said his comments are strictly as a private individual, and Lindsey said he thought Nodler was not speaking in an official role."

Nodler had no qualms about getting involved as a private citizen in that situation. So forgive me if I have trouble buying into his reasoning for avoiding the Moark controversy.
You can't have it both ways, Gary.

Multichannel News offers 'breaking' story

All right, correct me if I am wrong, but if another media outlet had a story four days ago, hasn't the time passed when it should be considered breaking news.
Multichannel News just sent out a "breaking news" notice saying that Nexstar Broadcasting and Cable One had settled their dispute over retransmission rights for Nexstar's stations, which include KSNF and KODE in Joplin.
That story was first broken in the Joplin Globe Thursday and has since been carried in the Texarkana newspaper, as well as, of course, on the Nexstar and Mission stations.
"We have changed the industry," Nexstar COO Duane Lammers told Multichannel News. "We are getting paid cash from a lot of operators, so from that standpoint, it’s mission accomplished. I can’t talk about any of our deals specifically, but I can just tell you that it has been a fruitful period for us."
Which still doesn't answer the question about whether Cable One, or Cox Communications for that matter, is actually paying Nexstar cold, hard cash for retransmission rights or if another type of agreement was reached. Apparently, whatever it was, and I have speculated that it could have something to do with carrying all digital signals developed by Nexstar stations, it was enough to satisfy Lammers and Nexstar CEO Perry Sook.

News-Leader editorial criticizes No Child Left Behind

I haven't been too shy about expressing my opinion that No Child Left Behind is a grand-sounding sentiment, but a terrible program. The Springfield News-Leader's editorial board obviously feels the same way, as it criticizes the program again in today's editorial.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Small Town News" restocked at Hastings

I hadn't had an opportunity to go to Hastings for a few days, so I was surprised last night when I dropped by and discovered that the copies of my novel, "Small Town News," which I had left there, had sold out. I took 10 more copies by the store this afternoon so they should be on the shelves in a day or two.
Having a novel published and promoting it has been an interesting experience, to say the least.
I was told today that Hastings will probably want to arrange for another signing after the beginning of the year. Apparently, they were caught slightly off guard by the success of the Nov. 12 signing, which the store manager described as the biggest signing that ever been held in the Joplin Hastings. The book has continued to sell steadily in the store since that time.
I also hope to have signings in a couple of area communities, and try during the next couple of weeks to set up retail outlets in some area communities.

Once again, media emphasizes the wrong obituary

I have always loved politics. I enjoy reading biographies of politicians, novels about politicians, and I have enjoyed "The West Wing" since it first went on the air. I was saddened to hear about the death of John Spencer who played Leo McGarry on the show.
His death received big-time attention in the media today. It deserved to be mentioned, but once again as in the overemphasis last week of Richard Pryor's death, as compared to the death of former Minnesota senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, the media has its priorities wrong.
The death which should have received the most publicity, was well publicized in print sources, but not as much on the TV channels. Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist Jack Anderson, a man who was breaking major stories long before anyone ever heard of Bob Woodward, died Friday at age 83.
George Clooney's recent movie "Good Night and Good Luck," made CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow out to be the journalist who brought down alleged Communist hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Murrow came into the fray after McCarthy was already on his way down, thanks to others who stood against him. At the forefront of that small group of courageous journalists was Anderson and his boss at the time, Drew Pearson.
Pearson and Anderson's book, "The Case Against Congress," was one of my early inspirations as a reporter. In the book, which was mostly written by Anderson, he detailed the way special interests were latching on to Congressmen. His reporting brought an end to the career of Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd.
Anderson also played a major role in bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon. It was Anderson who obtained transcripts of damaging grand jury testimony that brought to light for the first time just how far the Nixon White House was going to stonewall the Watergate investigation.
His Pulitzer Prize came as a result of his reporting on how the Nixon White House and national security advisor Henry Kissinger were tilting American support toward Pakistan in the ongoing battle between India and Pakistan.
Anderson was a showman, no doubt about it, but he never kissed up to the people in power. He made it a point of honor not to become part of the Washington circuit, partly due to his Mormon upbringing, but just as much due to his belief that you had to maintain your distance in order to be able to treat politicians fairly.
If you have a chance, pick up a used copy of one of his old books, "The Case Against Congress," "Confessions of a Muckraking Journalist," or his last memoirs, "Peace, War, and Politics."
I suppose I may have overstated the case about the lack of coverage of Anderson's death. After all, a quick check of Google News shows 280 articles, covering his life and his 57 years of public service journalism.
Of course, there were more than 500 articles about John Spencer.

Blunt continues moves against public education

The signs have been evident.
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt has been a keynote speaker at an event for "All Children Matter," a national group that promotes using public money for private schools. The governor's 65 percent plan is one that is being promoted across the country by public education opponents. Now another such sign has emerged, and this one appears to provide the clearest signal of the governor's intent.
On Dec. 7, the governor's brother, certified lobbyist Andrew Blunt registered as the lobbyist for the Friedman Foundation of Indianapolis, Ind.
The following is a letter written by the foundation's founder, economist Milton Friedman: which can be found on its website:

Letter from Milton and Rose D. Friedman
"This foundation is the culmination of what has been one of our main interests for more than four decades: improvement in the quality of the education available to children of all income and social classes in this nation, whether that education is provided in government or private schools or at home.

"That interest began in 1955 when we reached the conclusion that government financing of primary and secondary schooling is entirely consistent with private administration of schooling, and that such a combination is both more equitable and more efficient than the existing linkage of financing with administration. We suggested that a way to separate financing and administration is to give parents who choose to send their children to private schools "a sum equal to the estimated cost of educating a child in a government school, provided that at least this sum was spent on education in an approved school. ... The interjection of competition would do much to promote a healthy variety of schools. It would do much, also, to introduce flexibility into school systems. Not least of its benefits would be to make the salaries of school teachers responsive to market forces."

"Since then we have been involved in many attempts to introduce educational vouchers -- the term that has come to designate the arrangement we proposed. There is a distressing similarity to attempts made over three decades and from coast to coast. In each case, a dedicated group of citizens makes a well-thought through proposal. It initially garners widespread public support. The educational establishment -- administrators and teachers' unions -- then launches an attack that is notable for its mendacity but is backed by much larger financial resources than the proponents can command and succeeds in killing the proposal.

"We have concluded that the achievement of effective parental choice requires an ongoing effort to inform the public about the issues and possible solutions, an effort that is not episodic, linked to particular legislative or ballot initiatives, but that is educational. It requires also the cooperation of the many groups around the country who are devoted to improving the quality of our schools, whether governmental or private.

This Foundation is our contribution to that objective."
The Friedman Foundation is not the only new client for Andrew Blunt. Missouri Ethics Commission records indicate he registered as a lobbyist for Ticketmaster, West Hollywood, Calif., on Dec. 13, and AT&T Missouri on Dec. 1.

KSN promotion somewhat misleading

In an earlier post today, I noted that KSN anchor Jim Jackson is tops in my book as far as area news anchors go and has been for years.
The experience of KSN's top anchors, Jackson, Tiffany Alaniz, and Gary Bandy, has been stressed in a recent series of promotions, which is an excellent idea. All three have been major players in the Joplin TV market for years. Jackson has been on the job for more than two decades, grew up in southwest Missouri, and knows this area. That being said, the Jim Jackson promotion being run by KSN is misleading. It states that he has "covered" more than 65,000 news stories. That number is probably more than 64,500 short, even after you throw in election coverage.
There is a difference between "covering" 65,000 stories and reading 65,000 stories. Undoubtedly, Jackson writes and edits copy on many of the stories on KSN's news. He has also been out in the field and is a solid reporter. It is undeniable that his knowledge of the area is a great asset for the KSN news team, but that does not translate to covering 65,000 stories.
It would have been easy for KSN to promote Jim Jackson without offering this misleading statistic. Many good reporters actually covered most of those 65,000 stories. Anchors play important roles in the daily newscasts and they are the face of any local news operation, but when it comes to covering stories, it's the underpaid, overworked reporting staffs that do the lion's share of the work. Surely, KSN's promotional department can stress the experience of Jim Jackson, Tiffany Alaniz, and Gary Bandy, and also promote the rest of the news team.

Nexstar back to court in case of fired anchors

A summary judgment in favor of Nexstar Broadcasting in a lawsuit brought against the company by a fired husband-and-wife anchor team in Champaign, Ill., has been sent back for another hearing, according to a Friday
According to the article, Jerry Slabe and Maria Carreira-Slabe were told they would have to work more hours than were stipulated in their contracts after Nexstar bought the station. When they refused to work them, they were fired.
Nexstar, of course, owns KSNF in Joplin and is the de facto owner of KODE.

More coverage of Nexstar-Cable One agreement

It appears that the Joplin Globe had the scoop on the entire country when it came to the Nexstar-Cable One agreement, breaking the news Thursday, but the story is beginning to get around, including a story in today's Texarkana Gazette.

Anyone want to buy a used antenna?

Sitting on top of my television is an antenna, used for almost a year, still in excellent condition, but not of much use to me any more now that Nexstar Broadcasting and Cable One have finally reached an agreement.
According to the article in this morning's Joplin Globe, KSNF, the Nexstar station in Joplin, and its sister station, KODE of Mission Broadcasting, returned to Cable One's roster at 2 p.m. Friday. I first discovered the return in time for the 10 p.m. news.
I hadn't spent too much time critiquing the local newscasts recently; one reason being the amount of work I have been putting in to my other endeavors, but the main reason being I didn't want to go to the hassle of hooking up the antenna. I could still see the KOAM News and KSNF came in pretty well on channel 67 so that left KODE out in the cold, though I have made it a point to watch the station's newscasts once or twice a week. It is definitely great to be able to quickly flip through all three newscasts without the aid of an antenna.
As for last night's 10 p.m. newscast, KODE and KOAM led with the return of soldiers to Pittsburg, while KSNF led with a Southeast Kansas crime story. KSNF carried the soldier story later in its newscast.
KODE carried the story about the agreement between Nexstar and Cable One. I did not catch it on KSNF, but KSNF did have the story on its website the previous day, so I assume it was also on its newscast.
One thing I had not missed about KODE is the annoying crawl on the bottom of the screen. I will repeat what I have said before...on local television, the crawl should only be used for emergency-type announcements, such as weather bulletins, school and community closings, etc. When you have a news anchor team that is the third best of the three stations providing 5, 6, and 10 p.m. newscasts, you already have a strike against you without employing the crawl.
With no offense intended to Brian Hamman or Dowe Quick, Jim Jackson is still the comforting voice of authority for the four states, as he has been for more than two decades. Quick is right up there with him. Hamman has a ways to go, but he is young and the other two had to start somewhere.
As far as the women anchors are concerned, Tiffany Alaniz and Rhonda Justice elevate the newscasts at KSNF and KOAM respectively. They not only work seamlessly on-air with their co-anchors, but both of them have earned their spurs by reporting and not just reading the news. (Of course, there is always Live with Gary and Tiffany to consider, but I am not going to start that again at this point.) Tara Brown at KODE has not established her credentials at this point.
As far as the weather and sports are concerned, the weathercasters all provide the same information, but Gary Bandy at KSNF always appears the most comfortable on air and has an established personality in this area from his TV and radio work. I can't say I have paid too much attention to the local sportscasts on any of the stations. My newscast viewing usually ends with the weather forecast.
The newscasts at both KSNF and KOAM are smooth and professional. KODE's newscast is not bad by any means, but the crawl and the banter between the anchors, which seems forced and unnatural, put KODE a step behind its competition. (Of course, I would rather have less banter on all three stations, but that is never going to happen.)
That being said, the growth potential for KODE is far greater than it is for the other two stations, thanks to the Nexstar-Cable One deal. KSNF and KODE each suffered considerable viewership loss in Joplin, Miami, Parsons, and Chanute. No matter what anyone said during the year-long standoff, I doubt seriously that people will stay away from the two stations now that they are back on Cable One.
KODE's ace in the hole is the strength of ABC's prime-time schedule, at least according to national Nielsen ratings. While CBS is still number one overall. ABC has built strong 9 p.m. programming on Sunday, is a strong second to NBC on Tuesdays and to CBS on Fridays, and is in the competitive mix on Wednesdays, as well. CBS appears to have a lock on Monday, Thursday, and Friday nights, but KOAM has already had these viewers, since it has been on Cable One all along.
NBC on the other hand, only has one night, Tuesday, in which it wins the 9 p.m. prime-time battle, thanks to Law and Order SVU. It swaps back and forth with CBS and ABC on Wednesday, but the prime-time schedule is a bit weaker for NBC, otherwise. Of course, those are national and not local Nielsens, but the local Nielsens have been skewed recently due to the absence of KODE and KSNF on Cable One.
If KODE can establish its anchors' identities in the public mind, get rid of the crawl, and have the good sense to rely on solid reporters such as Gretchen Bolander and Shannon Bruffett, who are well established with viewers (probably only Brad Douglas at KSN and Lisa Olliges at KOAM are as well established locally as those two among reporters) the February sweeps could be interesting.
Now how about an offer for that antenna?