Sunday, November 30, 2008

Casino lobbyist pays for Hunters to see Tina Turner

Steve Hunter is just a little more than a month from the end of his eight years as a state representative, but the Joplin Republican is still piling up the lobbyists' gifts up until the last moment. For the first 10 months of 2008, Hunter has picked up $2,466.69 worth of lobbyists' gifts.

Documents just posted on the Missouri Ethics Commission website indicate Hunter and his wife, Jasper County Public Administrator (for the next month) Rita Hunter, received $320 worth of tickets to R&B legend Tina Turner's Oct. 8 concert at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

The freebies were paid for by lobbyist William Gamble of the firm of Gamble & Schlemeier, which numbers among its clients Ameristar Casinos. Though Hunter's gifts from Ameristar have been noted numerous times in The Turner Report, Gamble's report indicates the cost for the tickets was split among the Missouri Beverage Association, Missouri Psychological Association, Missouri Dental Association, Missouri Beverage Association, Missouri Pharmacy Association, Missouri College of Emergency Physicians, and the Missouri Residential Care Association.

The video accompanying this post is a short snippet of Tina Turner's Oct. 8 performance:

Thomas for state auditor committee terminated

Sandra Thomas, the 2006 Republican nominee for state auditor, has shut down her campaign committee, according to documents filed Oct. 24 with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The committee, with Joplin CPA Nick Myers as treasurer, was formed shortly after Mrs. Thomas lost to Democrat Susan Montee.

Mrs. Thomas, who was Platte County auditor, was widely considered to be handpicked by Gov. Matt Blunt and Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves. Blunt's support was especially unusual since Mrs. Thomas was running in a crowded primary that included Sen. John Loudon and Rep. Jack Jackson. She eventually edged Jackson, though the race was close enough that a recount was required.

The Turner Report presented the case in a May 11, 2007, post that Mrs. Thomas' candidacy was all an effort to prevent close scrutiny from being paid to the operation of Missouri license fee offices, something which was extremely important to Blunt and Graves.

The second Thomas committee only had $2,072.64. Most of that money, $1,000, went to Michael Gibbons' unsuccessful candidacy for attorney general, according to Mrs. Thomas' eight days before election filing.

Obama, Don't Let Those Babies Grow up to be Dow Boys

Those vocally challenged animals Jiffy the Bear, Bobbette, and the Passage Penguin return with this musical commentary on the state of the U. S. economy (plus a rare penguin dance):

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Big Gun" Stevenson eying statewide office?

Missouri Ethics Commission records show Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City, who was re-elected earlier this month, has filed documents to amend his campaign committee organization to gear up for a run for statewide office.

The documents indicate Stevenson is considering a run for statewide office in the August 2012 primary. Term limits will keep him from running for state representative in 2010.

Stevenson let Jasper County residents know how he feels about the Second Amendment during a July campaign stop at the Carthage Senior High School Auditorium, which is shown in the accompanying video:

Cunningham fails to file 48-hour report on $8,000 contribution

it appears newly-elected Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, has violated Missouri election laws by failing to report an oversized contribution within two days of its receipt.

The contribution, which was finally filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission today, was reported two weeks late respectively.

Ethics Commission records indicate Mrs. Cunningham, who has been the legislature's leading proponent of educational vouchers during her time in the House, accepted an $8,000 contribution from Otis & Clark Properties, St. Louis, Nov. 15.

The first mention of the contribution came today when Mrs. Cunningham filed her 30 days after the election report with the Commission. Records on the Commission's website do not show any new reports from Mrs. Cunningham between the Nov. 4 report in which a 15,000 from billionaire Rex Sinquefield's Missourians Needing Educational Alternatives PAC was reported and today's filing. Her campaign did file two amended reports during that time.

Ninety-three Sinquefield committees shut down, more than $45,000 funneled to Koster

At least 73 of the 100 political action committees formed by retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield have been shut down over the long Thanksgiving weekend, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.

The termination process apparently began Thanksgiving today and continued Friday and today.

The process apparently began right after the election, with many of the committees sending what money they had left into the account of Public Charter Schools of Missouri PAC East on Nov. 4. The committee, in a report filed Nov. 20, indicated it has spent $45,590, with all of that money going to newly-elected attorney general Chris Koster.

In a report filed Nov. 26 with the Ethics Commission, Koster reported receiving that amount on Nov. 25.

Tribune's Heavin shifts to government beat

Janese Heavin's whose Columbia Tribune Class Notes blog has been a daily stop of mine since it began, is moving to the government/politics beat, according to a Thursday post.

Best of luck to her in her new position. Hopefully, the Tribune will find someone who can continue to do quality work on the education beat and blog.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Missouri Chamber presents legislative awards

Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph was presented with the Man in the Arena Award Nov. 20 by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Legislators who received the Spirit of Independence awards were Sen. Scott Rupp, Rep. David Pearce, Sen. Ryan McKenna, Rep. Rachel Storch, and Rep. Steve Tilley.

It was interesting to her master of ceremonies Daniel Mehan refer to the two Democrats on that list, McKenna and Ms. Storch, as bipartisan, a term that he apparently applies only to Democrats who support the Chamber of Commerce.

I also have a hard time understanding how voting down the line for the big businesses that supply the vast majority of your campaign contributions can be considered having a "Spirit of Independence."

Whitney Scott engaged during 10 p.m. news

KSPR sports anchor Whitney Scott received and accepted a marriage proposal during the 10 p.m. news Wednesdaty.

Best wishes to Miss Scott,, who I remember from her days as a Lockwood High School student:

McCaskill to appear on Fox News Sunday

Sen. Claire McCaskill continues to be popular with the media following her support of President-elect Barack Obama throughout the primaries and general election.
She will appear on Fox News Sunday this weekend.
Locally, the show airs at 9 a.m. on KJFX.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turner books on sale through, local outlets

If you are having a hard time figuring out what to get for that hard-to-buy-for person for Christmas, check out the ad on the side of this page, featuring my books, Small Town News, Devil's Messenger, and The Turner Report. I will be happy to make arrangements later to sign the books.

In Joplin, copies of Devil's Messenger and The Turner Report are available at Hastings, and Small Town News can be ordered there. All three books can be ordered at Books-A-Million, and all three are in stock at Changing Hands Book Shop and Always Buying Books in Joplin, Books N.Java in Neosho, Pat's Books in Carthage, and at the Lamar Democrat in Lamar.

I am in the middle of plotting the fourth book, which I hope will be out sometime in 2009.

A reason to fear the Christmas holiday season

If this video does not make you want to hibernate through the holiday season, I don't know what will:

Muschany hearing reset for Dec. 22

The trial date for former Rep. Scott Muschany, R-Frontenac, who is charged with felony deviate sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl, is expected to be set at a Dec. 22 hearing in Cole County Circuit Court.

Muschany's hearing was originally scheduled for Nov. 24, and before that was set for Oct. 27, so it remains to be seen whether anything will be done this time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gannett stock up 97 cents, small increase for Nexstar Broadcasting

Gannett, owner of the Springfield News-Leader, had another good day on the market Monday, with its stock price increasing 97 cents per share to $7.29.
After a string of several days in a row of dropping prices, this was the second straight positive trading day for Gannett, which had a 23 cent increase Friday


Prices were also up for Nexstar Broadcasting, owner/operator of KODE and KSNF in Joplin and KSFX and KOLR in Springfield. The closing price was 70 cents per share, up four cents from Friday.


Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX in the Joplin/Pittsburg market, had a 13-cent drop to $2.40 per share.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Globe reports Leggett & Platt layoffs, still no word on its own

At 1 p.m. today, the Joplin Globe posted news of a layoff of 40 workers at the Leggett & Platt plant in Carthage:

The layoffs impacted workers involved “in every kind of job in the office, from clerical to managerial, from one to three people in every department,” (John Hale, senior vice president for human resources) said.

It is a legitimate news story, no doubt, and an important one to the Globe readership. But once again, I point out, it appears the Globe reports on every downsizing but its own.

The posts The Turner Report has run on this subject since the Globe fired at least 15 employees, including veteran reporter Mike Surbrugg, can be found at this link.

Nexstar Broadcasting, Gannett stocks up

Stock prices for Nexstar Broadcasting and Gannett Co. were up at the close of trading Friday.

Nexstar Broadcasting closed at 66 cents per share, up seven cents from Thursday. Nexstar owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and operates KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Gannett, owner of the Springfield News-Leader reversed a recent downward spiral, closing at $6.32 per share, up 23 cents.

The stock price for Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX in the Joplin/Pittsburg market, fell 14 cents per share to $2.53.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What kind of a hearing is Ed Emery planning?

What it has to do with voice communications, I have no idea, but the agenda for the Dec. 11 meeting of the Joint Interim Committee on Voice Communications Regulation, headed by Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, makes it sound like it could be dipping into pornography:

Industry proposals and pubic testimony. Executive session will follow to discuss committee report

I can certainly see why the committee would not want to have any public comment on this.

Former Mexico Ledger publisher dead at 93

Robert M. White, former publisher of the Mexico Ledger died Thursday.

Though White spent most of his career in MIssouri, he achieved national journalism fame in the early 1960s when the New York Herald Tribune shocked everyone by naming the small-town Missouri newsman as its publisher. It was an experiment that did not work out well, as detailed in Richard Kluger's book, "The Paper," a detailed history of the Herald Tribune.

I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. White in the early '90s at a Missouri Press Association Awards Banquet. Though I did not get to talk with him for more than a few minutes, I still came away with the impression of him as an old-fashioned gentleman.

His obituaryis featured in a post on the Missouri Press News blog:

“I think there’s nothing I would like better than to be remembered as a newspaperman. Period. And I could put an adjective in front of that. As a good newspaperman. And not try to define it further than that,” White said in 2005 as part of an oral history project excerpted in the upcoming documentary. “Yeah. A good newspaperman. … I would be pleased with that. You got a stone here? Let’s carve it.”

Blogs removed from Turner Report links

Two blogs have been removed from the links list on the right-hand side of this page.

As noted earlier, Newsprint in My Blood has been discontinued by its author, Missouri Southern State University publications manager T. R. Hanrahan. Also gone is an old standby, Ozark Politics.

Sadly, both have simply removed their previous content from the web.

Rosenbaum leaving Columbia Tribune

I have been a bit slow on catching up on this one, but Columbia Daily Tribune political reporter Jason Rosenbaum is leaving the newspaper this week. He posted a farewell Thursday.

I have enjoyed reading Rosenbaum's information-packed posts. Despite all of the manpower available at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star (even after layoffs and buyouts), it has been Rosenbaum's blog, the KY3 Political Notebook and Chad Livengood's work at the Springfield News-Leader that have set the standard for political reporting and blogging from the traditional media sources.

Rosenbaum has taken a position with Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

Another Natural Disaster video posted

Not that anyone has been clamoring for this, but I have just posted another Natural Disaster video from our Nov. 15 performance at the benefit music show at South Middle School. In this one, we perform two of Creedence Clearwater Revival's songs, "Green River" and "Suzy Q."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

KODE anchor looking for new position

One day after the Nov. 1 Turner Report post which noted 5, 6, and 10 p.m. anchor Brian Hamman was leaving KODE and was being replaced by Brian Dorman, weekend anchor from WIBW in Topeka, Kan., Hamman posted a YouTube video saying he has "no contract" and is "available immediately." The description that accompanies the video notes that Hamman has "six years on-air experience."

Sources close to Nexstar Broadcasting, which operates KODE, told me Hamman was returning to his native Florida. I wonder if anyone told that to Hamman.

Koster's ex continues involvement in Missouri politics

The election is over and Democrat Chris Koster was elected attorney general, but that has not stopped his ex-wife's involvement in Missouri politics.

Missouri Ethics Commission records posted Thursday show that William Nassikas, Scottsdale, Ariz., the new husband of Koster's ex-wife Rebecca, contributed $35,000 to the Missouri Republican Party Tuesday.

Between the three of them, Mrs. Nassikas, her husband, and her father, Frank Bowman, contributed $240,000 to Koster's opponent, Republican Michael Gibbons, in the weeks just before the Nov. 4 election.

William Nassikas' $35,000 was among $153,350 in contributions reported Thursday by the state GOP. Others donating money to the cause were;

Peabody Investments, St. Louis, $25,000; Republican Sixth District Congressional Committee, $13,350; House Republican Campaign Committee, $80,000

It's time for MSSU Board to cut out retreats

I have never been able to understand this nonsense that governmental entities need to have "retreats" to discuss public issues.

The Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors held one such retreat, at the home of new president Bruce Speck, Friday.

Granted this is better than previous "retreats," which were held off-campus, at taxpayer expense, at resort sites, but the idea is still a poor one, particularly in these tough economic times.

If the board was meeting for hours every day, week after week, month after month, a break from the normal routine might be understandable, if still misguided. But that is not the case.

It sends the wrong message to the taxpaying public, when public business is discussed in such a setting.


I wrote the following post following MSSU Board's 2005 retreat to Branson:

The Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors continued to snub its nose at patrons, students, and employees by conducting business at a retreat in Branson.
Though it could be argued that nothing major was discussed at the meeting, which has become an annual tradition, that is beside the point. Public meetings should be held at a place that is convenient for the public to attend. It doesn't matter whether the public would actually attend, what matters is that it is afforded the opportunity to do so.

It is not easy for a civic-minded person who wants to know how the Board of Governors is running the university to drive from the Joplin area to Branson to attend a meeting. The reasons for having the retreat are sound...from a business standpoint. It makes sense for the board of directors of a business to head to some scenic spot for a get-together and to recharge the old batteries.

That being said, boards that conduct the taxpayers' business are different. Their meetings must be open and accessible. It doesn't matter if 1,000 people want to attend the meeting or just one, all anyone who wants to see the Board of Governors in action should have to do is drive to the college.

Today is 45th anniversary of Kennedy assassination

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I can clearly remember classes at Midway Elementary School being dismissed that day and then watching the coverage of the assassination on television.

It was one shock followed after another as I watched on live television as Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby murdered President Kennedy's accused killer, Lee Harvey Oswald.

A Joplin native played a major role in the media coverage of that horrific event as I noted in a Jan. 10, 2006, Turner Report post, which was originally written as a column for the Joplin Daily, but never ran in that publication. The column is reprinted below:

"Get your Joplin Globe, five cents. Get your Joplin Globe five cents."

The job didn't pay much, but the country was in the midst of a depression, and every cent counted. Even more importantly for teenager Jud Dixon, it was his entry into the magical world of news.

That road took Jud from the Globe street sales to reporting jobs with the Globe and the Springfield Daily News to a seven-decade career in journalism that ended last month with his death at age 85 at his Dallas home.

Jud Dixon spent the last five decades of his life in the Dallas area, and it was there on Nov. 22, 1963, that the Joplin High School and Joplin Junior College graduate had a brush with history.

Jud was in charge of the United Press International (UPI) bureau in Dallas when he received word that President Kennedy had been assassinated during a political trip to the city. Within seconds, with the cool demeanor that characterized his entire reporting career, he sat behind his manual typewriter pounding out the story that no reporter ever wants to write, but at times like that, when people absolutely have to know what is going on, that’s when reporters must be at the top of their game.

"He was completely stone-faced, pouring it out of that typewriter," Jack Fallon, who was UPI’s Southwest Division editor at the time, told the Dallas Morning News. "Just by his presence, he kept everyone else around him calm."

Within moments, it was Jud Dixon’s version of the death of President John F. Kennedy that went out over the UPI wire to radio stations and television stations across the United States.

Though Jud Dixon’s coverage of that watershed moment in American history was what led his obituary, he perhaps did his greatest service to journalism and to the public after his retirement from UPI two decades ago.

Jud spent the next 18 years of his life as editor of the newsletter for the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas fighting for the public’s right to know.

When Jud retired for a second time, Freedom of Information director Tommy Thomason praised his years of service. "Jud’s a journalist’s journalist. His entire career has been committed to open government as the basis of solid reporting of the issues and events important to his readers."

Jud Dixon knew the importance of a free and unfettered press serving as the public’s representative. He knew that when the workings of government were open to the public that this country could survive anything from unpaved streets to official corruption to the death of a president.

Former Hollinger CEO asks Bush for pardon

Former Hollinger International CEO Conrad Black, serving a six-and-a-half year sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice, is asking President Bush for a pardon.

During the 1990s, Hollinger International owned The Carthage Press and Neosho Daily News.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nexstar Broadcasting reaches agreement with former COO Lammers

Nexstar Broadcasting has reached a settlement with former chief operating officer Duane Lammers, ending a lawsuit filed earlier this year.

According to documents filed Sept. 29 in U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be filed again. Each party will pay for its own costs and attorneys' fees.

Nexstar Broadcasting sued Lammers for violating a non-compete agreement and sharing trade secrets with his new employer, Silver Point, which owns Granite Broadcasting and Communications Corporation of America, Nexstar competitors.

The lawsuit, filed in May, says Lammers is privy to all of Nexstar Broadcasting's information about potential acquisition of television stations, as well as the details and methods used in the successful negotiation of retransmission deals with various cable and satellite companies. Lammers countersued Nexstar Broadcasting.

The lawsuit says Lammers sent Nexstar CEO Perry Sook a letter on April 25 saying he was resigning his position as chief operating officer effective May 27. After that, he immediately entered into employment with Silver Point.

On June 27, the court ordered Lammers not to consult on any matters involving five areas in which Nexstar and his new employer are competing.

Feltner probation violation hearing postponed

The probation violating hearing for Eric Feltner, former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder has been pushed back a week, according to Cole County Circuit Court records.

The hearing, which had originally been scheduled for Monday, Nov. 24, will now be held Monday, Dec. 1. The postponement request was made by Feltner, according to court records.

Feltner pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to an amended charge of public display of explicit sexual material. The original charge against him was two counts of attempting to furnish pornographic material to a minor. records do not indicate what any potential probation violation might have been.

Gannett stock drops another 72 cents

Gannett stock, which has traded as high as $39.50 during the past calendar year, fell another 72 cents to $6.09 per share Thursday.

During the past two days, Gannett stock has fallen $1.69 in the last two days.

Gannett owns the Springfield News-Leader.

Steve and Barry's to liquidate

Steve and Barry's one of the anchor stores at Joplin's Northpark Mall, will liquidate, according to published reports:

Steve & Barry’s stores will liquidate by early 2009 after its new owners said they would not be able to find financing, Reuters is reporting.

The low-priced, casual apparel company filed for bankruptcy in July and was purchased earlier this year to the tune of $168 million by Bay Harbour Management and York Capital Management.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dorman to take over as KODE anchor in December

The Brians will change at KODE during the second week of December when Brian Hamman, the 5, 6, and 10 p.m. anchor for the past three years returns to his native Florida, and Brian Dorman moves into the anchor chair alongside Lauren Hieger.

Dorman is completing his work as weekend anchor at WIBW, Topeka, this Sunday. The comments on the goodbye post on his WIBW blog indicate Dorman made quite an impact at the station.

Media stocks continue to plummet

Gannett, owner of the Springfield News-Leader, continued a freefall Wednesday that has seen its stock drop from as high as $39 over the past calendar year to $6.81 per share.

Wednesday's closing share was down 97 cents from Tuesday's closing price of $7.78.

Things could have been worse. The stock rallied late in the day after falling as low as $5.

Things did not go as badly for Nexstar Broadcasting, owner of KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield. The company's stock fell only two cents Wednesday, to 59 cents per share. Its 52-week high was S9.56.

Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX in the Joplin/Pittsburg market, closed at $2.70 per share, down 17 cents from Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Former Kinder aide completes community service

Eric Feltner, former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, has completed the 100 hours of community service assigned to him by Judge Richard Callahan after Feltner pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to an amended charge of public display of explicit sexual material.

Cole County Circuit Court records indicate the notice that Feltner had completed his service was filed Tuesday.

A hearing to determine if Feltner will continue to be on probation is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 24.

Feltner was initially charged with two counts of attempting to furnish pornographic material to a minor.

Another stipulation of Feltner's probation was that he stay off the internet "except in the ordinary course of employment for a business purpose."

In preparation for his Nov. 24 hearing, Feltner has hired Jefferson City criminal attorney Shane Farrow, according to an entry of appearance filed Nov. 13 in Cole County Circuit Court.

La-Z-Boy reports $53 million loss

Things have not been going well for La-Z-Boy, according to the company's third quarter report:

La-Z-Boy reported a net loss of $53.7 million for the quarter ended Oct. 25 as sales tumbled 9.2%.

The company said sales were weak across all segments of its business as consumer confidence plunged in the wake of the global financial crisis.

"Over the course of the quarter, we experienced a progressive decline in sales, particularly in October, as sales deteriorated in conjunction with the turmoil in the global financial and credit markets," said Kurt Darrow, president and CEO. "The instability that continues to define the overall macroeconomic environment points to the likelihood of a protracted recession."

Sales for the period, the second quarter of La-Z-Boy's fiscal year, totaled $331.9 million. In the same period last year, the total was $365.4 million.

La-Z-Boy is one of Neosho's major employers.

It is time to end robocalls II

In a post Tuesday, I called for the elimination of robocalls.

Naturally, that brought a critic responding by pointing out the irony of a journalist calling for the abridgement of free speech.

Eliminating robocalls and placing other political phone calls on a do-not-call registry would not abridge free speech. The politicians and others who employ these tactics can go ahead and speak all they want; the First Amendment does not require that we listen...especially when the free speech comes uninvited into our homes.

Journalists have First Amendment freedoms and that is an important cornerstone of the American system, but newspapers do not have the guaranteed right to be welcomed into every home. If people are not interested in watching ABC News, for instance, there is no requirement that they do so.

If Americans want to receive robocalls or want to have dinnertime interruptions from politicians, then by all means, they should be allowed to do so. As for the rest of us, there is no reason we should have to put up with these unwelcome and unwanted guests...and it has nothing to do with the First Amendment.

Nexstar Broadcasting stock down another eight cents

Nexstar Broadcasting stock fell another eight cents Tuesday to 61 cente per share.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nexstar's Sook to be become million dollar CEO

Nexstar Broadcasting CEO Perry Sook has a new contract which will pay him a million dollars during its final year.

The contract, filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, will keep Sook with the company through Dec. 31, 2011.

Sook's base salary, set at $750,000 this year, will increase to $900,000 in 2009, $950,000 in 2010, and $1 million in 2011.

Of course, that total is just the base. Sook is also eligible for annual bonuses of $375,000, $450,000, $475,000, and $500,000 over the next four years, according to the contract.

Sook also received $350,000 for signing a non-compete clause.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns and operates KSNF and KODE in Joplin and KSFX and KOLR in Springfield.

It is time to end robocalls

(The following is my column for this week's Newton County News.)

In one of my early jobs in the newspaper business, I served as editor and reporter for the Lockwood Luminary-Golden City Herald. It was a job I enjoyed a great deal, but it only lasted for about a year, coming to an abrupt end when parent company Boone Newspapers decided to pull the plug on the newspaper in October 1979.
After a brief, unsuccessful attempt to land another newspaper job, I decided to return to Missouri Southern and get my teaching degree, but I had to find some way to bring in some extra money in the meantime.
A student loan helped, but I still needed money for gas, food, and other necessities, so I pitched an idea to Emery Styron, who was editor of the Newton County News at that time.
I told Emery I would sell subscriptions to the Newton County News and receive a percentage of each one I sold. He agreed, though he wisely required that the subscribers actually pay before I received my cut.
I did well selling over the telephone and had a steady supply of money for several months, during which time I gradually began doing some reporting and eventually replaced Emery as editor when he moved on to another newspaper in 1981.
That was an innocent time when you could actually call someone on the telephone, try to sell something, and be treated politely. Many of the people were even pleased that I called because I was selling a product they wanted.
Those days are just dim, distant memories.
In the years following, all types of businesses, legitimate and shady, jumped on the telephone sales bandwagon, and were eventually joined by politicians. The problem became so great that Missouri and other states, and eventually, the federal government put no-call lists into place.
Unfortunately, there were exceptions to the list, and the most egregious was political calls. Undeniably, political discourse is important to this country, but in election after election we are buried under a deluge of phone calls, always coming at the most inopportune times (key points in television programs, dinner, naps). And come to think of it, when is it opportune to receive an unwanted phone call?
One candidate for Missouri attorney general, whose name escapes my memory, actually made robocalls trying to convince people to vote for him by claiming he would do away with robocalls.
During October and the first four days of November, including election day, robocalls were coming right and left. I received one from Joe Biden, telling me to watch Barack Obama’s 30-minute infomercial. Unfortunately for Biden and Obama, the call came with only a few minutest left in the infomercial.
I am sure I am not the only one who received daily calls from people representing John McCain telling me every story about Barack Obama negatives ranging from Rev. Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers, to Obama’s stance on guns.
One of the most irritating calls came from Democratic legislator Maria Chappelle-Nadal of St. Louis who called offering her support for Republican attorney general candidate Michael Gibbons.
I don’t want to hurt Ms. Chappelle-Nadal’s feelings, but there was not one person in southwest Missouri who cared what she thought about Michael Gibbons or his opponent, Chris Koster.
And I was right in the middle of a nap.
It is time to end robocalls and establish a no-call list for politicians.

Nexstar Broadcasting stock falls 20 cents

The nation's financial woes continue to affect the broadcasting industry, including Nexstar Broadcasting.
The company's stock fell 20 cents in trading Monday to 69 cents per share.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Convicted strip club killer threatens senator, reporter

Death row inmate Richard Lee Tabler, whose possession of a cell phone brought about a lockdown at Texas prisons, is back in the news once more.

The Temple Daily Telegram reports Tabler sent a letter threatening a state senator and a reporter. Tabler was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2004 murders of two people connected to a Killeen, Texas, strip club. His partner in crime, 2004 East Newton High School graduate Timothy Doan Payne, was sentenced to life in prison:

The soap opera that is Richard Tabler continues to get messages out from death row even though his cell phone has been confiscated.
This week the message came in letter form.

Tabler, convicted of two murders in Bell County, made an indirect threat to a reporter and a state senator in a letter he sent to the official in charge of the investigation of how cell phones ended up in the hands of death row inmates.

“I took it serious,” Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said about the threat. “I’m not worried about him. I’m more worried about who he or the nine guys he let use the phone may know on the outside.”

The threat named an Austin reporter and inferred that he and Whitmire may need protection because they played a role in getting his cell phone taken away and having his sister and mother arrested.

VanGilder offers salute to Dick Ferguson

In his latest effort, Carthage Press columnist and former managing editor Marvin VanGilder offers a tribute to Dick Ferguson, who died last week at age 88:

Clearly, Richard F. Ferguson was a man of the 20th Century.

However, his productive life continued deep into the 21st and his legacy of performance, of devotion to high ideals and of creative skill certainly will endure through many centuries to come. Others have assembled greater wealth and bigger titles but no other man in the nation has matched the intensity of his patriotism and the superb exercise of citizenship to rise to his standard. No other has better exemplified the values, the patriotic zeal, the level of courage and determination and confidence in the worth of his chosen community of residence to more completely match the ideals of the Greatest Generation of Americans. Yes he was at Pearl Harbor during the “day of infamy” and in subsequent years he has done more than any other individual to make certain the events of that day and the worth of those who died in that moment but beyond that and beyond his devotion to fundamental Americanism he also did more to sell Carthage and its virtues to the world in a super Chamber of Commerce zeal unmatched in history.

Blunt e-mail release enlightening, but leaves a lot to be desired

Associated Press offers an examination of the 60,000 pages of e-mails released by Gov. Matt Blunt this week.

While the article details some enlightening information, it also notes three things that cause concern.

1. Blunt conducted most of his state business on campaign accounts that are not open to the public.

2. In spite of the 60,000 plus document release, the governor still held back thousands of pages.

3. An incredible amount of official government e-mail was used for patently political purposes.

Of course, that last one should come as no surprise, considering that the governor has often turned his official state news releases into political diatribes against Jay Nixon and the Democrats.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Benefit music show a success

When all of the proceeds are counted, including donations sent to Columbia Elementary by those who could not make it, tonight's benefit music show at South Middle School will have raised more than $1,000 to help custodian Leroy Wilson with medical expenses.

It was an enjoyable evening right from the start and Natural Disaster enjoyed taking part in the show.

Anyone who wants to contribute to the Leroy Wilson fund should send the money to the Columbia Elementary office.

The accompanying video shows Natural Disaster performing the Johnny Rivers classic, "Poor Side of Town." A big thanks to Karissa Dowell for handling the video work.

The event also included various singing acts, a dramatic performance by a Joplin repertory group, and the "Evolution of Dance" number by a number of South Middle School teachers.

The success of the benefit was made possible through the hard work of the South custodial staff and contributions from the other schools in the Joplin R-8 School District:

Joplin fire chief to interview for Iowa post

Joplin Fire Chief Gary Trulson is one of five candidates who will interview for the fire chief position in Cedar Falls, Iowa, next week:

The hiring committee has not described the five candidates as finalists, but they are the only candidates currently being called in for personal interviews.

“I think the best word to use at this point is that it’s open-ended,” said Richard McAlister, city director of administrative services. “These were the five the committee was interested in interviewing

Trulson has been Joplin's fire chief since April 2004.

Video provided of first Richard news conference

I missed this one last week, but fortunately, as usual, Jason Rosenbaum of the Columbia Tribune did not.

Rosenbaum has posted video on YouTube of new Speaker of the House Ron Richard's first news conference held Nov. 6 in Jefferson City:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Southern Watch added to links

Missouri Southern State University happenings are examined on a regular basis by those at Southern Watch, a blog that I have added to the links on the right hand side of this page.

The site has made a name of itself quickly with Joplin-area readers by its efforts to keep the spotlight on new MSSU President Bruce Speck, Board of Governors Chairman Dwight Douglas, and, last but not least, Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin.

"Newsprint in my Blood" blog bites the dust

Missouri Southern State University publications manager T. R. Hanrahan in a post today, announced he will no longer update his blog, Newsprint in my Blood:

This weekend this blog will cease to be active.
Another blog on another platform will take its place. When I began here, it was my intention to offer criticism and observation of media. I hope I have done some of that.
I know sometimes I do so with sarcasm and pointed language. I hope, however, that it was always about the issue or the content or the timeliness and not about the person.
Some of the comments on this blog have been hurtful to me personally. News people must endure personal attacks in silence and I will. But a few things annoy me and will draw a response.
This will close this blog.

I will let you follow this link to read about those few things that annoy T. R.

I will miss reading the media criticisms in the blog. And, as always, I hate to see another voice leaving the blogosphere. I look forward to reading his next blogging effort.

More information about Saturday's benefit music show

A full lineup of acts is slated for the benefit music show 6 p.m. Saturday at the South Middle School Auditorium.

Our group, Natural Disaster, will perform for about an hour at the beginning of the approximately three-hour program, which will conclude with a similar length performance by the renowned area southern gospel group, the Victorymen.

During the middle hour, numerous performers, most associated with the Joplin R-8 School District (teachers, support staff, students) will take the stage. One who is not associated with the district is Diamond High School graduate Casey Welch, one of my former Diamond Middle School students, who will sing three songs.

The proceeds will go to Columbia Elementary custodian Leroy Wilson, to help with his medical expenses. Wilson is battling cancer.

A silent auction for several gift baskets will also be held.

The price at the door is $5.

Those who cannot make the show, but who want to contribute can send their money to Columbia Elementary.

Remembering Rachel Blaser

Thursday would have been the 30th birthday of someone who was taken from us far too early.

This remembrance of Rachel Blaser of Lamar comes from the Oct. 6, 2004, Turner Report:

Her first open heart surgery came on Nov. 15, 1996, two days after her 18th birthday, but she was never in any danger. She was just a spectator watching the surgeons at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin helping sustain the miracle of life.
At that moment, she knew she had found her life's calling. She had already watched the doctors perform an aortic valve replacement. Now she was watching a quintuple bypass procedure. "We watched while they took the artery out of the leg to use in the operation," she said. "They showed us how they tied off all the veins."
She and a fellow high school senior watched each step, including the draining of the blood, the sawing open of the rib cage, and an up-close look at the actual heart.
"I had seen pictures of the heart," she said, "but I never thought I would see one like that. I could have almost reached out and touched it."
She didn't get to see the entire surgery, but she saw enough to know that she wanted to devote her life to medicine and to helping people. "It didn't gross me out at all," she said. "I thought it might. It made me want to go into medicine."
She had already been sure that was the direction in which she was heading. So sure that she gave up playing basketball her senior year so she could take an EMT class. "It was really hard to give up basketball," she said. "I've always enjoyed being a member of the team, but I knew I wasn't going to play college basketball and this is something that would help me with what I wanted to do."
As grown up as her decision-making process was as she went through her high school years, she felt more like a scared little girl when it came time for her to leave her high school and the hometown she loved. "I'm a daddy's girl and I'm scared of leaving to go to college," she said.
As she prepared to begin her college days at Drury College in Springfield, she had a hard time leaving behind the friends she had made while participating in DECA, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, yearbook, Student Council, basketball, and volleyball. It was those sports where the young blonde made a reputation for herself, as a never-say-die competitor who gave her all for her team. "I've always been competitive," she said. "It gives you an edge and helps you to succeed."
A week after she said those words, she crossed the stage and accepted her diploma, turned her tassel and joined the Lamar High School Class of 1997 members as they reached that moment when they turned from students into alumni.
"It's a turning point in my life," she said. "I'm finally growing up."
She eventually earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing and worked at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Pittsburg, Kansas, while she worked toward completing her degree as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
Rachel Ann Blaser, the daughter of Roger and Ann Blaser, may have been a daddy's girl, but she was the toughest little daddy's girl you'd ever want to see. Her last battle ended when she died at Mount Carmel Medical Center Monday a little more than a month shy of her 26th birthday.
She spoke her own epitaph seven years earlier, when she spoke of her philosophy of life. "You don't have to always win, but you always have to do your best or whatever you do isn't going to mean anything.
"When I have something I really want to accomplish, I try to reach down deep and give it a little extra."
A little extra was an understatement. Rachel was a shooting star, shining briefly...but our lives.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nexstar Broadcasting stock dips below $1

Nexstar Broadcasting continues to suffer from the same woes that have befallen the rest of the broadcasting industry.

The company's stock dipped 17 cents Wednesday to 85 cents per share.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ethics Commission plans no further investigation into Koster money laundering investigation

The Missouri Ethics Commission will not pursue money laundering allegations against newly-elected Attorney General Chris Koster.

A notation on the Ethics Commission website indicates there may have been some commissioners who were willing to look into the charges. "There were not four votes as required under Chapter 105 for further action to be taken."

No further investigation will be conducted of Koster, his campaign committee, the Economic Growth Council or its treasurer Chuck Hatfield, according to the Ethics Commission document.

The money laundering allegations were first noted in the April 15 Turner Report:

An elaborate money laundering operation established by former Jay Nixon aide Chuck Hatfield enabled Chris Koster to continue to far outpace his opponents in the Democratic race for attorney general.

Hatfield's Economic Growth Council, registered with the state on Dec. 23, funneled nearly half a million dollars into Democratic committees across the state, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents.

For instance, the 128th District Democratic Committee, Webb City, received $27,500 from the Economic Growth Council, and immediately sent half of that amount to Koster and the other half to LUC Media, Marietta, Ga., a firm that specializes in political advertising, apparently to be used on Koster's behalf.

The 12th and 14th Legislative District committees, two of many which have Mark Miles as treasurer, received $27,500 apiece from the Economic Growth Council, with half of the money going to the Koster campaign in cash and the other half reported as an "in-kind" contribution. It appears those "in-kind" contributions went to LUC Media.

The Economic Growth Committee made contributions of this kind to committees all over the state, and Koster's campaign disclosure form, filed today, shows sizable contributions from all of them.

The committee's funding comes from a wide variety sources, including an aging billionaire, but not the one who has been written about extensively in this blog over the past few days. Though Rex Sinquefield has contributed heavily to Koster's campaign through his political action committees, this time the billionaire is James Stowers, 84, of the Stowers Institute, who contributed $125,000 to the committee...the same amount he gave directly to Koster's campaign one year ago during the time when campaign contributions were not in effect. The Economic Growth Council also received $73,725 from the Supporters of Health Research and Treatments, an amount also nearly identical to what the group gave Koster one year ago.

Among the other contributors who circumvented contribution limits by giving first to the Economic Growth Committee, which then laundered their cash through the legislative committees were:

-Ameristar Casinos, St. Charles and Kansas City, $17,450
-Regional St. Charles County Leadership Fund $12,500
-Land Trust No. 12 LLC, O'Fallon $20,000
-McEagle Fund LLC, O'Fallon $5,000
-Carey & Davis LLC, St. Louis, $100,000
-Technology Drive LLC, St. Louis, $25,000
-Healy Law Firm, St. Louis, $25,000
-Hubbard for Senate, St. Louis, $30,000
-John F. McDowell, Boeing, $10,000

The type of activity that those who filed the complaint wanted investigated did not stop with the actions noted in the April 15 post. Just nine days ago, The Turner Report noted that it appears the Economic Growth Council was used to funnel payday loan contributions into Koster's campaign:

The Ecomomic Growth Council contributed $8,000 to Koster's campaign Sunday, according to a 48-bour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, and it appears most of that money came from the payday loan industry. The council's Ethics Commission filing shows it received $5,000 from Check into Cash, Cleveland, Tenn. and $1,500 from Axcess Financial, Albuquerque, N. M.

A few items to think about

This week's Newton County News column is a collection of miscellaneous items, including the newly-found freedom of Granby's Martin Lindstedt, the deaths of former East Newton High School basketball coach Gabby Gibbons and Dick Ferguson of Carthage, and a mention of the upcoming benefit music program this Saturday night in Joplin. (It should be noted that portions of the Dick Ferguson segment come directly from my post earlier this week:

In one of the first columns I wrote for the Newton County News, I noted that it was about time that the judicial system got moving and brought Martin Lindstedt of Granby to trial.
Lindstedt has been locked up, awaiting trial on statutory sodomy charges since March 2005.
Newton County Circuit Court records indicate he was released on bond last week. Lindstedt, who has become well known for suing everyone in sight and running for almost any and every public office (unsuccessfully), does not appear to have mellowed during his incarceration.
He has already responded to an item on my blog about his release, using the same vile, racist comments that have been his trademark for years.
It appears some things never change.
On a sadder note, former East Newton basketball coach Norman “Gabby” Gibbons died Monday at age 81.
During his tenure at East Newton, Gibbons served as both boys and girls basketball coach. When I was a reporter for the Lamar Democrat in the 1980s, Gabby gave me one of the more memorable quotes I ever received from a coach.
Asked what was the biggest difference he noticed in coaching girls basketball after so many years as a boys coach, he thought about the question for several moments, then responded, “It smells better in the huddles.”
Another death this past week was of Richard “Dick” Ferguson, 88, of Carthage, who was stationed at Pearl Harbor on that “day that will live in infamy” Dec. 7, 1941.
Dick spent a great deal of time over the past few decades keeping the story of that attack alive through presentations at schools and civic clubs.
I was lucky enough to have him come to one of my writing classes during my first year teaching at Diamond Middle School.
Dick kept the students spellbound with his tales of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When it was time for questions, one girl seated in the back of the room, raised her hand, and said, "Mr. Ferguson, your stories are so interesting. Who won that war?"

Naturally, I was mortified both for the girl and for Dick, since it appeared that one of my students was not aware of the results of the sacrifices he and his fellow servicemen had made to keep America safe.

My horror grew as another student chipped in and said, "I'd like to know, too, Mr. Ferguson. Who won the war?"

Thankfully, most of the students seemed to know the U. S. and the Allies won World War II. The two students' reaction did not faze Dick in the slightest. He calmly and politely answered their questions.

When the final bell rang at 3 p.m., I walked Dick out to his car and apologized to him for the two students. He laughed it off and said, "Don't worry about it. That happens almost everywhere I go."

That was why it was so important for Dick Ferguson and others like him to make sure the memories of those days were kept alive.

A world without Dick Ferguson is hard to contemplate, but it seems fitting that he was called home just in time for Veterans Day.

One last item: Our band Natural Disaster will perform 6 p.m. Saturday at the South Middle School Auditorium, 310 W. 22nd, Joplin. We will do the first hour of a benefit music show to raise money for medical expenses for Joplin Columbia Elementary custodian Leroy Wilson, who is battling cancer. The program will also include three numbers from Diamond High School graduate Casey Welch, and an hour from the nationally known southern gospel group, The Victorymen. The cost is $5. I hope to see you there.

No more free space for Lindstedt

I gave perennial candidate Martin Lindstedt, who is free after posting bond while awaiting trial on a 2005 charge of stautory sodomy, one free verbal shot at me in a posting yesterday. That will be all he will get.

While I am sure he will complaining anywhere that allows his ranting and raving, his hateful racist comments have no place on this blog. I debated whether to post his comment Tuesday, and decided to do so only because it gives those who are unfamiliar with Lindstedt, an introduction to his character.

If Lindstedt makes a valid comment to a post without resorting to his usual foul language and racial epithets, his views will be printed. I don't expect he will be able to do that.

For those new readers of The Turner Report who are unfamiliar with Lindstedt, he is a perennial political candidate who has lost in his efforts to be elected to every position from East Newton R-6 Board of Education to governor to U. S. senator, and he has sued everyone from Barack Obama (his latest) to Missouri Southern State University, to Gov. Matt Blunt, to Granby city officials.

Longtime coach Gibbons dead at 81

Norman "Gabby" Gibbons, longtime basketball coach at Purdy and at my alms mater East Newton High School, died Monday at age 81.

Gibbons was always one of those coaches who had time for the media, win or lose, and was a true gentleman.

Globe: La-Z-Boy cuts jobs

Firings at Neosho's La-Z-Boy plant are covered by reporter Andy Ostmeyer in an article in today's Joplin Globe.

Of course, the Neosho Daily News had this story several days ago and already filed an update before the Globe story made it to print and online.

Now didn't I hear something about the Joplin Globe firing employees? Since the La-Z-Boy story indicates only 12 people will actually lose their jobs (other positions are being eliminated through attrition or not filling current openings), it makes you wonder why Globe editors thought the story was even worth putting in print.

After all, it was just a couple of weeks ago that a Joplin company fired at least 15 people and not one word about it reached the pages of the Globe. Of course, when it comes to the Joplin Globe, if it happens to anyone else it's news.

If it happens to the Globe, it's none of your business.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lindstedt back to his old tricks

After spending more than three and a half years in custody, it appears perennial candidate (and perennial loser) Martin Lindstedt is back to his old tricks again.

Lindstedt has responded to the item I posted last week about his release from jail.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Benefit music show set for Saturday in Joplin

A benefit music program to raise money for Columbia Elementary custodian Leroy Wilson, who is battling cancer, will be held 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, in the South Middle School Auditorium, 310 W. 22nd, Joplin.

The program will begin with our band, Natural Disaster, performing rock and country oldies from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by several singers doing two or three numbers. The prominent southern gospel group The Victorymen will perform for the final hour.

The cost is $5.

A silent auction will also be held.

The event has been planned by R-8 School District support staff. I should be able to post information later today about a fund being set for up for Leroy Wilson at Southwest Missouri Bank.

Globe editorial praises the late Dick Ferguson

An editorial in today's Joplin Globe praises the contributions of the late Dick Ferguson of Carthage, who died Friday at age 88.
The time Mr. Ferguson, one of those who survived he Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, spent telling others about that event is noted:

Ferguson, also the last survivor of a local breakfast club of Pearl Harbor veterans, told the Globe in a 2003 interview:

“Dec. 7, 1941, was truly a dark day in American history, and we should have learned a lesson from the sneak attack, but I don’t know that we did. People need to remember that the threat of war is with us every day.”

We believe it is fitting that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the area will say goodbye to Richard Ferguson in a celebration of his life.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Two days after election, money still pouring into Nixon campaign

It's never too early to start raising money for re-election, even with the next election almost four years away.

A 48-hour report filed Saturday with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows Jay Nixon's campaign committee received a $10,000 contribution from Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark.

News-Leader article examines reasons for Hulshof loss

Perhaps the primary stripped away Kenny Hulshof's money.

Or maybe it was the fact that Missourians could no longer vote a straight ticket.

The Springfield News-Leader's Chad Livengood has an examination of what Republicans feel are the reasons for Hulshof's loss to Jay Nixon in the governor's race Tuesday.

The article even features one party official who thinks the elimination of straight ticket voting confused older people.

Or maybe they just were not thrilled with Kenny Hulshof.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Remembering Dick Ferguson

One of the first interviews I did after hiring on as a general assignment reporter at The Carthage Press in April 1990 was for a feature on the retirement of Dick Ferguson from his position as president at Financial Federal Savings and Loan.

Much of that story was based on the things he planned to do during his retirement. Turns out he was a bit premature. Richard Frazer Ferguson never reached a traditional retirement. In the 18 years since his "retirement," he kept working in one capacity or another right up until almost the time of his death Friday at age 88.

Dick Ferguson always put his community first as he proved when he stepped in two times after that initial retirement date to serve as interim director of the Carthage Chamber of Commerce. He also worked part-time for the Chamber for several years.

When Liberty Group Publishing ended my newspaper career in May 1999, one of the first people to contact me was Dick Ferguson, who sent me a much-appreciated card, saying he had noticed my name was no longer on the masthead and he wished me well in whatever I decided to do next. Having heard a few rumors about my departure not being voluntary, he added a postscript saying he thought The Press had made a mistake.

During my nine years at The Press, I had either interviewed Dick or had one of my reporters do so each year when Dec. 7 came around. Dick Ferguson was stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, "the day that will live in infamy," and over the next 66-plus years, he did his best to keep the memories of that day alive, attending reunions and speaking to school groups.

After I left The Press, I was one of those teachers who called Dick and asked if he could speak to my writing classes at Diamond Middle School. He spent the afternoon at the school and enthralled my students with his tales on Pearl Harbor and World War II.

After he spoke to one of my eighth grade classes, he asked if the students had any questions. A girl in the back row, raised her hand and said, "Mr. Ferguson, your stories are so interesting. Who won that war?"

Naturally, I was mortified both for the girl and for Dick, since it appeared that one of my students was not aware of the results of the sacrfices he and his fellow servicemen had made to keep America safe.

My horror grew as another student chipped in and said, "I'd like to know, too, Mr. Ferguson. Who won the war?"

Thankfully, most of the students seemed to know the U. S. and the Allies won World War II. The two students' reaction did not faze Dick in the slightest. He calmly and politely answered their questions.

When the final bell rang at 3 p.m., I walked Dick out to his car and apologized to him for the two students. He laughed it off and said, "Don't worry about it. That happens almost everywhere I go."

That was why it was so important for Dick Ferguson and others like him to make sure the memories of those days were kept alive. Dick did that, not just through his countless presentations for schools and civic groups, but also through his writing.

His book, "Look Back Once More," focusing on his memories of Pearl Harbor, remains to help make the past accessible to future generations.

A world without Dick Ferguson is hard to contemplate, but it seems fitting that he was called home just in time for Veterans Day.

(Joplin Globe photo)

Link provided to transcript of GateHouse Media third quarter call

Those wishing to read a transcript of the third quarter conference call for GateHouse Media can be find it at this link.

Nodler falls short in bid for majority leader post

The bid of Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, for Senate Majority Leader was thwarted this week as his colleagues elected to award the post to Sen. Kevin Engler of Farmington.

Nov 22 pre-trial hearing set for former Jasper County Drug Task Force leader

A Nov. 22 pre-trial hearing is set in federal court in Springfield for former Jasper County Drug Task Force chairman Frank Lundien, who is charged with bankruptcy fraud.

Lundien was formerly an officer with the Joplin Police Department.

The grand jury indictment, handed down Jan. 24, alleges Lundien and his wife Hayley concealed property, including two vehicles, and $1,785 from a joint checking account at Joplin Metro Credit Union from the bankruptcy trustee on March 12, 2004.

Plea change may be on tap for former Jasper County deputy

Former Jasper County deputy Milton Ganz, charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and unlawful use of a weapon, may be ready to change his plea, according to an entry on the Jssper County Circuit Court section of

A 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 14, hearing, described as "pre-trial motions and/or change of plea," is scheduled for Ganz.

Ganz was arrested Aug. 15 following a confrontation with Joplin police officers at his home. Ganz' wife called police saying her husband had a gun and was talking about committing suicide. When the police arrived, Ganz aimed the weapon at them before being shot.

Lindstedt freed

After more than three and a half years behind bars, perennial candidate Martin Lindstedt has been freed.

The felony charge of statutory sodomy remains against Lindstedt, but Newton County Circuit Court records indicate Judge John LePage reconsidered earlier decisions by county judges and granted bond on Oct. 22. The percentage bond was posted the following day.

Previous Turner Report posts on Martin Lindstedt can be found at this link.

Former Neosho kindergarten teacher pleads guilty to littering

Former Neosho kindergarten teacher Debra Scott still has a Nov.9 pretrial hearing scheduled on six counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, according to court records, but the case appears to have already been decided.

Newton County Circuit Court records indicate Ms.Scott, who resigned her teaching position just prior to the opening of the 2008-2009 school year, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of littering.

She was given a six-month sentence, which was suspended, and then she was placed on probation with the requirement that she perform 40 hours of community service- 35 hours of picking up trash and five hours speaking to prospective teachers at Missouri Southern State University "regarding the role of teacher as a role model."

Ms. Scott was accused of taking six high school girls to a home in Diamond, where the girls trashed the yard, leaving everything from a dead animal to a bathroom fixture.

Third quarter revenue up 6.4 percent for GateHouse Media

As a result of these trends in the industry and the company, management is implementing plans to reduce costs and preserve cash flow. This includes suspending the payment of the Company’s cash dividend, the issuance of preferred stock, the repayment of borrowings under the revolving debt agreement, the planned continued implementation of cost reduction programs, and the potential sale of non-core assets. Management believes these initiatives will provide the financial resources necessary to invest in the business and ensure the Company’s future success.

The company's news release accompanying the report was also filed with the SEC and included this passage:

Total reported revenues reached $171.6 million, an increase of 6.4% over the prior year. As Adjusted Revenues for the quarter were $174.6 million, a decline of 5.1% on a same store basis. Local advertising revenues continued to hold up well given the current economic environment declining only 1.1% on a same store basis. Classified revenues continue to be the primary driver of revenue declines with a 21.0% decline on a same store basis accounting for 97.0% of the Company’s total revenue decline. The classified advertising weakness was seen across all three major categories: help wanted, real estate and auto. Online revenues continued to grow, increasing 34.0% on a same store basis, consistent with the first half of 2008. Circulation revenues in the quarter increased by 4.0%. Commercial printing and other revenues declined 21.6% on a same store basis due to lower commercial printing projects, which is typical in a slow economy.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press Neosho Daily News, and more than 300 publications across the U. S.

Nixon receives $10,000 from Democratic Governors on election day

Governor-elect Jay Nixon's campaign already had plenty of money heading into Election Day, but a 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission Thursday indicates Nixon receieved $10,000 from the Democratic Governors Association on the day of the election.

Two Joplin legislators in House leadership

It has been known for months that Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, would replace Rod Jetton as speaker of the house, but after GOP meetings Thursday, another Joplin legislator also has a place on the House leadership team.

Rep. Marilyn Ruestman will serve as majority caucus secretary.

Post-Dispatch article: Richard will work across party lines

Ron Richard, R-Joplin, will work across party lines when he becomes Speaker of the House in January, according to a profile in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Proclaiming himself "a good listener," Speaker-elect Ron Richard said his mantra was to work with all sides. While he will hew to Republican principles, Richard said, his door is open to the new governor, Democrat Jay Nixon.

"We will bend and try to get along when we can," said Richard, a former mayor of Joplin, Mo. He even reached out to the capital press corps, saying he plans regular breakfast briefings.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Richard: We haven't forgotten we're Republicans

Governor-elect Jay Nixon says he is willing to work with Republicans, but naturally, some Republicans do not seem eager to help Nixon reach his goals. Incoming Speaker of the House Ron Richard expressed a willingness to work with Nixon, but said not to expect Republicans to change their basic beliefs:

"Unlike Washington, D.C., we haven't forgotten we're Republicans," Richard said. "We're here to stand for what we believe: low taxes, education, energy, economic development. We're going to stay true on some issues that we believe got us here."

Blunt: Obama much better prepared than Clinton

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt, who announced his decision to leave his post as minority whip, says Republicans should not assume President-Elect Barack Obama will immediately pursue a far left wing agenda:

But Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the minority whip, who announced his retirement from leadership yesterday, cautioned Republicans against presuming that Democrats will "overreach" with a liberal agenda. Blunt said Obama ran his campaign carefully enough to suggest that he will not fall into the Capitol Hill traps that snared President Bill Clinton in 1993.

"He's much better prepared," Blunt said of Obama.

Nexstar Broadcasting stock up 26 cents

Nexstar broadcasting stock, which has been climbing a few cents every day for the past several days, took a larger leap Thursday, increasing 26 cents to $1.62 per share.

Nexstar Broadcasting owns KSNF in Joplin and KSFX in Springfield and is de facto owner of KODE in Joplin and KOLR in Springfield.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Three new songs added to Natural Disaster MySpace

My blogging slowed a little today as our band, Natural Disaster, began preparing for the 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15 benefit at the South Middle School Auditorium.

At the practice in Granby tonight, I picked up a CD of our performance at the Carthage Relay for Life in June, and just added three songs to the Natural Disaster MySpace page- our covers of Dwight Yoakam's "Guitars, Cadillacs," Bob Seger's "Main Street," and Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side of Town," to go with three songs that were posted earlier, Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Suzy Q," Jay and the Americans' "This Magic Moment," and RIck Nelson's "Fools Rush In."

New speaker Richard interested in Nodler's Senate position

Though he is still two months away from starting his new position as speaker of the house, Ron Richard, R-Joplin, is well aware that due to term limits he is entering his final two years as a state representative.

Richard told The Joplin Globe he is interested in the Senate position currently held by Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, who also will be unable to run for re-election due to term limits:

Richard on Tuesday was elected without opposition to his final House term. He said he is interested in seeking the Missouri Senate seat that will be vacated in two years by Sen. Gary Nodler, of Joplin.

“And, I’ve had some people talk to me about statewide office, but I haven’t made any decisions there,” Richard said.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A few thoughts about Rowan Ford

(The following, a few thoughts on the one-year anniversary of the murder of Rowan Ford, is my column for this week's Newton County News.)

Justice does not appear to be coming anytime in the near future for those who loved nine-year-old Rowan Ford of Stella.

In a Pulaski County courtroom Monday, a judge set a March 2010 trial for Chris Collings, Wheaton, one of the two men charged with her brutal rape and murder.

The delay in justice was ironic since the judge's decision came on a day which marked the first anniversary of the Triway Elementary student's murder.

Collings, you may remember, is or was a friend of Rowan Ford's stepfather, David Wesley Spears, Stella, the other man accused of her rape and murder. Collings was the one with the MySpace site that proclaimed his mood as "horny" on Nov. 2, 2007.

For months, that MySpace page, which also featured a background of demons carrying skulls, remained open to the public, a mockery to the memory of Rowan Ford. Fortunately, thanks to the actions of Attorney General (now governor-elect) Jay Nixon, that page has been removed forever.

Justice for Collings and Spears, both of whom made statements to law enforcement indicating they had committed the crimes, will be a long way off both in time and distance.

Both men received changes of venue due to the incredible amount of pre-trial publicity, with one case moved to Pulaski County and the other to Phelps County. The Barry County prosecuting attorney is seeking the death penalty for both men.

When a person as young as Rowan Ford is murdered, it strips away the innocence of any town, the idea that something like this happens somewhere else, not here. Stella has still not recovered from that ordeal though a year has passed. An event this horrific is something from which a community never truly recovers.

The same thing happened in 1993 in Carthage when eight-year-old Douglas Ryan Ringler was raped and murdered by Terry Cupp, Diamond, a family friend. In that case, Cupp opted for a plea bargain rather than face the death penalty, and he still remains in prison without possibility of parole.

Though a decade and a half has passed, Doug Ringler's murder still haunts Carthage, as I suspect Rowan Ford's will continue to cast a pall over Stella.

Both Carthage and Stella made efforts to commemorate the lives, not the deaths, of these children who were taken far too young. In Carthage, Doug Ringler's former classmates at Hawthorne Elementary School worked to put a bench in Doug's honor at the school. When the school closed and was later torn down, that bench was moved to a children's garden at the Carthage Public Library, where it stands only a few feet from Carthage artist's Bill Snow's sculpture of Alice in Wonderland.

At Stella, the newly dedicated veterans' park includes a tribute to only one person who is not a veteran, Rowan Ford.

The students at Triway will likely remember Rowan Ford the same way the Hawthorne Elementary students remember Doug Ringler. When her birthday passes, they will wonder what she might have become, what a life she may have had.

But the picture that will remain in focus, is the Rowan Ford who will remain forever nine years old.

Joplin's Richard to be Speaker of the House

It was always almost a certainty, but with election results finally in, Rep. Ron Richard, R-Joplin, is guaranteed two years as Speaker of the House:

Missouri GOP chairman: We did all right

The following statement was issued this morning by Missouri Republican GOP Chairman Doug Russell:

Missouri’s performance in the face of a Democrat tidal wave that swept the nation was impressive. We re-elected our incredible Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. We were the only target state that Senator McCain won. We picked up three seats in the state senate and maintained our strong majority in the state house.

Tonight’s victories have proven that when we govern well, stick to our principles and focus on improving people’s lives we can win in any environment. Missouri Republicans remain committed to doing the people’s work and moving our state forward in a positive direction. We congratulate all candidates on a hard fought campaign and look forward to working together for the good of Missouri.

News-Leader parent company CEO takes voluntary pay cut

Craig Dubow, CEO of Gannett Co., owner of the Springfield News-Leader, has taken a voluntary 17 percent pay cut and has frozen pay for the company's top executives.

Don't feel bad for Dubow, however. Though he is forsaking $200,000 of his salary, with is bonus and stock awards, he will still make more than $7 million a year.

McCain wins Missouri by two-tenths of one percent

Final unofficial Missouri tallies show Sen. John McCain winning the state's wote by two-tenths of one percent.

McCain received 1,442,613 votes to to 1,436,745 votes for Barack Obama.

This is the first time in a half century that Missouri has not voted for the person who won the presidency.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

McCain increases Missouri lead to six-tenths of a percent

With eighty-one precincts uncounted, John McCain leads Barack Obama by six-tenths of a percent in Missouri, according to statistics posted on the Missouri secretary of state's website.

If McCain's lead holds, Missouri, for the first time in half a century will not have voted for the winning presidential candidate. McCain has 1,407,768 votes to 1,390,176 for Obama.

One point in Obama's favor- much of the remaining vote is in St. Louis County, which so far has been voting heavily in the Illinois senator's favor. Some Jackson County precincts, where the two candidates have split the vote fairly evenly are also out, as well as smaller areas in Pulaski and Christian counties, which have voted strongly in favor of McCain.

McCain leads Obama by four-tenths of a percent in Missouri

Missouri's tradition of always choosing the winning candidate for president is on the line.

The latest results posted on the Missouri secretary of state's website shows John McCain leading Barack Obama by four-tenths of a percent, 49.5 to 49.1 percent, with 3,309 out of 3,533 precincts reporting. McCain has 1,329,880 votes to 1,318,015 for Obama.

In third place, for anyone who really cares, is Ralph Nader with six-tenths of one percent, followed by Libertarian Bob Barr with four-tenths of one percent, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party with three-tenths of a percent, and Cynthia McKinney with one-tenth of one percent.

Proposition A will pass

Pouring millions into Proposition A will help Missouri casinos make more money.

With most of the state's votes counted, Proposition A, the pro-casino measure has passed with 55 percent of the vote.

The Yes on A Coalition poured more than $15 million into the passage of Proposition A, mostly in advertising efforts that apparently convinced Missouri voters that the measure was designed to put more money into education.

Actually, Proposition A eliminates Missouri's innovative loss limit rule, prevents people from having to show identification to gamble, and prevents any casinos from setting up in Missouri in the future, thus eliminating competition.

The Turner Report's previous posts on Proposition A can be found at this link.

Koster taking control in attorney general race

Democratic candidate Chris Koster, as I predicted earlier, appears to be taking control in the attorney general race.

With 3,285 out of 3,509 precincts counted, Koster, who trailed Republican candidate Michael Gibbons through most of the evening, is now leading with 52 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Gibbons.

In other state races, Jay Nixon appears poised to beat Kenny Hulshof by approximately 20 percentage points, while Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is likely to be the only Republican holding statewide office when the results are all counted.

Democrat Clint Zweifel has overtaken Brad Lager in the state treasurer race and leads by three percentage points, while Democratic incumbent Robin Carnahan holds a 26 percent lead in the secretary of state race.

Kinder leads Dr. Sam Page 1,296,416 to 1,213,840 or by about three percent.

Transcript of Obama acceptance speech: A moment in history

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.