Thursday, April 30, 2009

Emerson Electric contributes $10,000 to Missouri Democratic Party

Emerson Electric, St. Louis,contributed $10,000 to the Missouri Democratic Party April 28, according to a 48-hour report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Oversized Koster contribution may indicate "pay to sue" operation being contemplated in Missouri

A $25,000 contribution from a San Francisco-based personal injury law firm may indicate Missouri's Chris Koster is the latest attorney general being sounded out on a "pay to sue" operation, one of the newest wrinkles law firms have come up with to add to their bottom line.

A 48-hour filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission Wednesday shows Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein plunked $25,000 in Koster's campaign account April 27.

An article in the April 16 Wall Street Journal describes the "pay to sue" operation this way:

It's some racket. The plaintiffs attorneys come up with novel legal theories under which to sue companies or entire industries. They then solicit state AGs to retain them to bring cases on behalf of the government on a contingency-fee basis. Motley Rice and Lieff Cabraser are among the firms that have targeted drug companies as well as makers of cigarettes, paint and guns.

Former Senate leader lands new lobbying client

Former Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, added another client to his lobbying stable Wednesday.

Missouri Ethics Commission records indicate Gibbons now represents American Traffic Solutions, Scottsdale, Ariz. The Arizona firm is the 11th client Gibbons has signed up since going through the revolving door between legislating and lobbying.

Gibbons' clients include Associated Industries of Missouri, Coalition for Quality Medical Education, Missouri Health Care Association, Missouri Primary Care Association, Monsanto, Peabody Energy, and The Cordish Company.

Post-Dispatch: Richard offers "empty talk about an idle plan"

House Republicans' plan to use federal stimulus money for tax cuts was criticized in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial today. The editorial criticized Speaker of the Houes Ron Richard, R-Joplin, for neglecting Missouri concerns while going on Fox News to appeal to the "teabag crowd":

Ten days later, Mr. Richard wouldn't come to the phone. He had just stripped the Metro funding out of the bill. According to news reports, he was pursuing a new plan — one that his caucus would try to jam through without a public hearing or input — that would take the federal aid and use it to reduce the state income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.5 percent.

There's some doubt that federal rules would permit the state to use stimulus funds to reduce taxes. No evidence was offered suggesting a few bucks extra each week in Missourians' paycheck would stimulate the economy. Leaders in the state Senate were highly skeptical the plan would survive if it reached them.

We wanted to ask Mr. Richard about these issues, but his communications director said his schedule was full, that the speaker could not free even 10 minutes to explain the political about-face to St. Louisans struggling to get to and from work.

Indeed, the speaker was booked. He was readying himself to appear on Fox News. It was a devil's bargain. Mr. Richard and his caucus decided to throw stranded commuters under the bus. In exchange, they received 15 minutes of fame — playing to the tea-party protest crowd with empty talk about an idle plan.

Nixon gives details on first swine flu case in Missouri

Gov. Jay Nixon revealed Wednesday that a case of swine flu has been verified in Missouri. Capitol Calling blogger Jason Rosenbaum posted the video on YouTube:

KOAM owner stock leaps $2.27

Wednesday was a good day for Saga Communications, owner of KOAM and KFJX in the Joplin/Pittsburg market.

The company's stock price rose by $2.27 to $8.57 per share.

Nexstar Broadcasting stock improved by one cent to 75 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, April 29, 2009

Blunt speaks out against Hate Crimes Bill

Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt spoke out against the Hate Crimes Bill today, saying it would undermine religious freedom:

Emery testifies before Senate on Fair Tax bill

Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, testified before the Senate Ways and Means Committee today on his Fair Tax bill, which has already passed the House:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ironworkers Union contributes $25,000 to Missouri Democratic Party

The Ironworkers Political Education Fund, Washington, D. C. contributed $25,000 to the Missouri Democratic Party, according to a 48-hour report filed April 21 with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Marilyn Ruestman for state auditor?

Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, filed campaign documents April 14 with the Missouri Ethics Commission changing the "office sought" category to "statewide" for 2010.

The only statewide office up for grabs is auditor, a position currently held by Democrat Susan Montee. Mrs. Ruestman is serving her fourth two-year term in the House of Representatives and is prohibited by term limits from seeking a fifth term.

Of course, many politicians say they are seeking statewide office or thinking of running in order to continue raising funds.

Globe bloggers captivated by Natural Disaster video

What is it about Joplin Globe bloggers and their obsession with my rendition o"Secret Agent Man?"

For the second time, a Globe blogger has taken a shot at Natural Disaster's version of the Johnny Rivers classic. Today, it was Joe Hadsall, giving me payback for my post last week lamenting his use of the term "war chest" every time he mentions how much money a politician has in the bank.

Earlier, it was the Globe's booze blogger, Dave Woods, who even posted the You Tube "Secret Agent Man" video on his blog

Thanks for the publicity, guys. And thanks for inviting me to once again post "Secret Agent Man."

Bond: That's why I voted for Sarah Palin and her running mate

The Washington News Observer has an amusing clip of Sen. Kit Bond commenting on the November presidential election:

Local officials monitoring swine flu situation

The following news release was issued this afternoon by the city of Joplin:

Local community and public officials from area healthcare providers and agencies are monitoring the recent outbreak of Swine Flu in the United States and Mexico.

Presently, the state of Missouri has no confirmed cases. If and when swine flu cases are reported here, information will be provided to the public, as local officials are working closely with the Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are keeping response partners fully updated on this developing situation.

Dan Pekarek, Director of the Joplin Health Department, participated in a press conference with other representatives of local health agencies and providers to provide information to local news media in an effort to educate the general public in southwest Missouri.

Pekarek advises citizens to be aware of this situation and practice good personal hygiene habits. These are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* If you get sick with influenza, health officials recommend that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
* If your child experiences these symptoms, officials recommend that parents keep their children home, so not to infect classmates and others in the schools.

As of 9 a.m. on April 27, CDC has confirmed 20 human cases of swine flu in the U.S., including: California: 7; Kansas: 2; New York City: 8; Ohio: 1; Texas: 2. At this time, all the known cases in the United States have recovered and one has been hospitalized. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the infection and whether additional people have been infected with swine influenza viruses.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses. CDC has determined that this virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people. There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu, however there are two anti-viral medications that physicians may prescribe for treatment.

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

If individual experience these symptoms, and have recently traveled to area currently reporting swine flu cases, or have been in direct contact with someone who has, and believe you are becoming ill with influenza-like symptoms, contact your regular healthcare provider for guidance. If recommended to go to your physician’s office or emergency room, please notify registration personnel of your symptoms as soon as you arrive.

Local officials are continuing to watch this situation and will keep the public notified of any new developments. As a general practice, health officials conduct general exercises to rehearse the types of activities that need to be implemented in a widespread community illness. If this situation develops, these plans will be activated and more information will be provided to the public on how to respond.

Questions may be directed to your local health department:

Joplin City Health Department at 417 623-6122

Jasper County Health Department at 417-358-3111

Newton County Health Department 417-451-3743

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some thoughts about the East Newton Reunion

I have never been one of those who goes along with this nonsense that high school is the best time of your life. If that's the case, you haven't been doing much living.

That being said, I remember the excitement I felt in the summer of 1984 when a 10-year reunion was scheduled for my East Newton High School Class of 1974. I planned my entire vacation around it. I was looking forward to seeing old friends and renewing friendships with people whom I had not seen for a decade.

It would have helped if I had scheduled my vacation around the right date. Somehow, I misunderstood when the reunion was being held and when I showed up, I was one week late and I was the only one there. Classmate Randy Hopkins was the one who broke the news to me about my mistake.

I can't say I was devastated, but one reason for that was I held out the thought that I would definitely make sure about the next reunion and I would see everyone then. We would have even more news to catch up on.

A quarter of a century has passed and I am still waiting for the next reunion of the East Newton High School Class of 1974. I never quite found out what happened during that first reunion, but my understanding is there were some conflicts between some of the people who organized it and those conflicts have prevented us from having another reunion.

And that is a shame. Since that time, a number of our classmates have died and others have moved far away. Our class president, Terry Shepherd, died in an accident several years. Old friend Butch Fullerton died after a valiant battle against cancer. Patty Renfro, who handled my makeup for the productions of "Anything Goes," "Little Moon of Alban," and "The Mouse That Roared," died recently. To allow personality differences to fritter away our chances of renewing old friendships seems such a needless expenditure of energy.

Thankfully, another classmate decided something needed to be done. Penny Stewart was not one of our class officers. No one expected her to step in to fill the breach, but that is exactly what she did. Even better than that, her vision was not limited to a reunion of the Class of '74. She set out to bring together an entire generation of former Patriots.

For the last several months, Penny has done yeoman work to try to contact every student from the East Newton classes of 1969 through 1976. She has worked her telephone overtime, and used the technological marvels that have helped us to retain friendships even when the distances are enormous. She used e-mail and her Facebook account to contact all but a handful of those who received their diplomas (and even those who were in our halls for a few brief moments then graduated elsewhere) at East Newton during those years.

All of that preparation came to fruition Saturday when more than 400 former students, as well as teachers and administrators once again got their kicks on Route 86. I was a bit concerned when the clock showed only 15 minutes remaining before the scheduled 3 p.m. starting time and people were just trickling in, but that trickle turned into a steady downpour and soon the lobby was overflowing.

I saw my former eighth grade coach Kenny Shippy, who gave me my first (and last) shot at track and helped me letter that year.

I once again saw my Anything Goes castmates Jill Sears and Mike Camerer, Mark Knight, who was the ace pitcher on the first Little League team I coached, Teddy Johnson, who was Student Council president when I was vice president, Bill Dalbom, who was vice president when I was president, old Newtonia friends Brad and Tim Letts, Robin Robbins, and Paul Richardson, Granby friends Pete Babb, Pam Stipp Babb, and Randy Hopkins, Stark City friends Dwayne Dabbs, Sherry Dabbs, and Carla Biddlecome, and that was just for starters.

One classmate, whose name I will not mention (because she has exhibited much better taste since that time) reminisced about the fact that I was her first boyfriend (we were in first grade.

I saw Becky Hildebrand, who was my leading lady in "The Mouse that Roared," was my duet acting partner when we went to state my senior year, and also served on Student Council with me.

And there were so many more. I am sure everyone who attended has a lengthy list of renewed acquaintances.

Behind the scenes, people like Penny Stewart, Cindy Atteberry, Debbie Kruse, and Janice Haskins were working to keep up the sign-in book, and the refreshments.

In the gymnasium, two Class of '74 members, Richard Taylor and I, had a great time playing music with our group Natural Disaster.

When the scheduled end of the reunion came at 6 p.m. there were still large groups of alumni circulating in the lobby and talking in the parking lot.

The reunion was a resounding success.

Sadly, there were many members of those classes, people who live a short distance from East Newton High School, who did not take a few moments out of their time to stop by. Some, I am sure, had good reasons. Time does not stand still and family activities are the number one priority. Others, I am just as sure, just did not fit the event into their schedules.

Probably the one memory that nearly everyone who attended the reunion shares is the display in the center of the lobby, showing the long list of classmates who are no longer with us, old friends that we will never see again in this life.

Thankfully, we were all able to get together before more names are added to that list. A big thanks to Penny Stewart for giving us that opportunity.

Contractor contributes $10,000 to Kinder

Herzog Contracting Corporation, St. Joseph, contributed $10,000 to Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's campaign committee, according to a 48-hour report filed April 21 with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Post-Dispatch traces laundered contributions to developer

So much for the idea that allowing unlimited campaign contributions will serve to spread some sunshine in the dark corners of Missouri politics.

Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers a detailed article on how developer Jeffrey Smith has laundered money through 10 shadow committees to Democrats and Republicans.

Smith's donations, Messenger points out, include $10,000 to House Majority Leader Steve Tilley... who also serves as chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

And Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, says there is no time or need to discuss ethics during thie legislative session?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

McDonald County newspapers owner lays off nine at Springdale paper

Even the boom area of northwest Arkansas is not immune to today's economic problems.

Stephens Media has announced the elimination of nine newsroom jobs and mandatory furloughs at its Morning News paper in Springdale, Ark.

In a story published Friday, the newspaper said other departments had cuts as well. It also plans to start a limited furlough program for newsroom employees to cut expenses and will use a new smaller format for its print edition.

"We regret having to reduce our work force. Our hearts go out to our friends and colleagues at this difficult time," publisher Tom Stallbaumer said. "They all contributed to our success and they will be missed."

Stephens Media owns McDonald County Newspapers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Steelman about to jump into U. S. Senate race

It appears Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt is about to have competition in the race to succeed Kit Bond in the U. S. Senate.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Political Fix reports Mrs. Steelman is forming an exploratory committee, the first step toward entering the race:

Considering the effect Mrs. Steelman's campaign attacks on Kenny Hulshof had in branding him as a Washington insider, this can't be good news for Blunt, the ultimate Washington insider.

Natural Disaster to perform Saturday at East Newton Reunion

Our band, Natural Disaster, will be back in action Saturday afternoon during the East Newton School Reunion, scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. at the high school.

The event has been geared toward students from the classes of 1969 to 1976, but all who graduated from East Newton, Triway, Granby, Midway, Stella, and Fairview schools are invited.

Book signing tonight at Hastings

One last reminder:

A signing for my books, Small Town News, Devil's Messenger, and The Turner Report, will be held 5 to 9 p.m. tonight at Hastings Books, Music, and Video, 526 South Rangeline, Joplin.

This is the last scheduled signing for my first three books before the fourth one is published sometime late this year.

Comments continue on parting shot from Joplin Business Journal publisher

The kind words are not exactly rolling in for Joplin Business Journal Publisher Roger Asay, following his tirade against Joplin Tri-State Business, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and everyone else he feels wronged him and caused his publication to go belly up.

So far, the following comments have been left:

Anonymous said...
Asay mentions SBJ/JTSBJ 42 times and his own publication only 21 times!

12:51 PM

Anonymous said...
If Tom Murray hadn't been cruelly taken from us by cancer, this story would've had a much different outcome.

1:16 PM

Anonymous said...
Roger Asay has only himself to blame for his revolving door turnover and the crappy magazine that he published. If he wasn't such a tyrant, he wouldn't have had such tremendous turnover. But ultimately, if the JBJ had been a better product, Asay's problems would have been alleviated.

2:49 PM

Anonymous said...
Can't believe a so-called professional business person would send something like this out to the public.

Pretty stupid business move and just makes him look foolish!

2:53 PM

Anonymous said...
Wow. That's a pretty long laundry list of grievances from someone undone by the fact that they were simply in over their head from Day 1. It didn't help that Roger made some terrible hiring choices and didn't have much of a clue when it came to gathering news, much less writing it. His competitor had all that in spades coming out of the gate. In that respect it wasn't a fair fight.

6:15 PM

Anonymous said...
They tried to sell me a subscription to Joplin Business Journal, but the publication was just crap. It had such an amateurish look to it and the writing was very poor.

6:26 PM

Anonymous said...
Roger Asay is a classless SOB.

4:09 PM

Anonymous said...
Mr. Asay needs to take personal responsibility for his failure and stop blaming others.

7:38 PM

Interestingly enough, in one part of Asay's letter, he lists the accomplishment of his short-lived publication. He fails to list ay achievement that has anything to do with journalism.

Asay's letter can be found at this link.

What has happened to Neosho Forums?

It seems like I periodically have to ask this but...What has happened to Neosho Forums?

A click on the link on the right-hand side of this page indicates the domain has expired. If anyone has more information, please leave a comment.

Lawyer asks for accused Rowan Ford killers to be separated

What's going on in the Barry County Jail?

Documents filed in Phelps County Circuit Court April 14 indicate that public defender Cynthia Ann Dryden is asking that her client, David Wesley Spears, Stella, be separated from Chris Collings, his alleged partner in crime in the November 2007 rape and murder of Spears' stepdaughter, nine-year-old Rowan Ford.

Spears is scheduled to go to trial July 10, 2010, in Phelps County, where the case is being heard on a change of venue from Barry County.

The motion also asks that the court "prevent the creation of false snitch evidence," which would indicate the two buddies, both of whom admitted the crime, according to authorities, may have turned against each other.

An additional motion asserts that Spears will exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Previous Turner Report posts about the murder of the Triway Elementary School fourth grader can be found at this link.

Empire District Electric elects board of directors

Empire District Electric Company elected its board of directors Thursday. The following news release was issued:

At today’s annual meeting of The Empire District Electric Company (NYSE:EDE), stockholders re-elected D. Randy Laney and B. Thomas Mueller, and elected two new board members, Bonnie C. Lind and Paul R. Portney. All were elected to serve three-year terms. Retiring from the Board were Myron W. McKinney and Mary McCleary Posner. Stockholders also ratified the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as the Company’s independent registered public accounting firm.

At the Board of Directors meeting held today, Randy Laney was elected to succeed Myron McKinney as Chairman of the Board of Directors and the following officers were re-elected: William L. Gipson, President and Chief Executive Officer; Bradley P. Beecher, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer - Electric; Ronald F. Gatz, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer - Gas; Gregory A. Knapp, Vice President-Finance and Chief Financial Officer; Harold R. Colgin II, Vice President-Energy Supply; Michael E. Palmer, Vice President-Commercial Operations; Kelly S. Walters, Vice President-Regulatory and Services; Janet S. Watson, Secretary-Treasurer; and Laurie A. Delano, Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Corcoran DWI hearing postponed until after legislative session

The first hearing in the DWI case against Rep. Michael Corcoran, D-St. Ann, originally scheduled for today in St. Louis County Circuit Court, has been delayed until May 21, six days after the Missouri legislative session comes to a close.

News accounts indicate Corcoran was stopped Feb. 6 by the Missouri Highway Patrol for weaving on I-70. Corcoran refused a breathalyzer test. In addition to the DWI charge, he is charged with failure to drive in a single lane, and failure to signal.

Corcoran's driver's license was taken away after his refusal to take the breathalyzer, but that action was put on hold by a St. Louis County judge. The next hearing on that issue is scheduled for Thursday, April 30.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hearing set for legislator charged with DWI

The first hearing for Rep. Michael Corcoran, D-St. Ann, charged with driving while intoxicated, is scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

News accounts indicate Corcoran was stopped Feb. 6 by the Missouri Highway Patrol for weaving on I-70. Corcoran refused a breathalyzer test. In addition to the DWI charge, he is charged with failure to drive in a single lane, and failure to signal.

Corcoran's driver's license was taken away after his refusal to take the breathalyzer, but that action was put on hold by a St. Louis County judge. The next hearing on that issue is scheduled for Thursday, April 30.

Corcoran, who is in his fourth term as 77th District representative, has hired Paul D'Agrosa of the St. Louis firm of Wolff & D'Agrosa to defend him. D'Agrosa is one on the top DWI attorneys in St. Louis, and at one time served on the Governor's Commission on DWI and Impaired Driving.

Hearing for Memorial Middle School shooter moved up two weeks

A decision on whether Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White, 16, is able to stand trial may be made as soon as next week.

A 9 a.m. Friday, May 1, hearing has been scheduled, according to court records. The hearing had been set for May 15.

White faces two counts of assault, and single counts of unlawful use of a weapon, armed criminal action, and attempted escape. White, at the time, a 13-year-old seventh grader at Memorial, brought an assault rifle into the school in October 2006, fired the weapon into the ceiling, then pointed it at Principal Steve Gilbreth and attempted to fire, but the weapon jammed according to police.

White has been in custody since that day.

Leisha Beard named assistant news director for KSNF and KODE

It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that Leisha Maupin was a carhop at the Lamar Sonic.

Now Leisha Beard, who has been assignment editor at KODE, she has come a long way since those days. Today, she was named assistant news director for KODE and KSNF, replacing Tiffany Alaniz.

The news director for the stations is KSNF 6 and 10 p.m. anchor Jim Jackson.

Joplin Business Journal publisher rips everyone in final letter to subscribers

It is sad that the first time the Joplin Business Journal actually wrote anything other than a business fluff piece was in its pubilsher's letter to subscribers, which was included with its final issue.

The Journal, which ran more press releases verbatim than a White House correspondent, was saluted in a bitter three-page goodbye note from Publisher Roger Asay. The note attacks his competitor, Joplin Tri-State Business, that publication's parent publication, the Springfield Business Journal, this blog, the Joplin Chamber of Commerce, and all of those businesses who did not support JBJ.

Apparently, everyone but Asay was at fault for his publication's death. However, the letter made no mention of the fact that, for the most part, Joplin Business Journal avoided everything that resembled actual business news, including less of that commodity than Joplin Tri-State Business, The Turner Report and heaven help us, the Joplin Globe.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that since the first issue of the Joplin Business Journal was published, even the Joplin Daily has run more actual business news...and it published its last issue two years ago.

Asay closes his letter by saying the Joplin Business Journal could mount a comeback with the proper investors. Of course, this comes after he has spent three pages turning off any such potential investors.

Asay's letter is printed below:

Joplin's premiere business journal shutters

Owner cites ad revenue, adverse competitive advantage as causes

Dear Subscriber;

Thank you for your patronage of the Joplin Business Journal. We hope that you find our 2009 Meetings and Events edition a
useful resource guide for your planning of your next business extravaganza or special community event.

However, it is with deep regret that we must announce the closure of our doors effective March 31. This publication and the
release of the Health Care Heroes special edition represent the last products for the Joplin Business Journal.

• How it all started

The Joplin Business Journal (JBJ) began as the brainchild of the late Tom Murray, former Joplin Globe editor, who approached
me in August 2005 with the concept of developing a regional business journal. Murray was convinced that the idea could and
should succeed, so we proceeded to explore the market, develop the business plan, open up office space, hire staff, and purchased the Joplin Business domain name.

We established the 21-county area of Southeast Kansas, Northeast Oklahoma, and Southwest Missouri as the news target
because it filled an apparent gap between the larger metropolitan areas of Fayetteville, Kansas City, Springfield, Tulsa, and
Wichita. The selection of this underserved market was based in part upon more than 20 years of personal sales and business
experience in the region as an employee, business owner, and business broker.
Our objective was to promote business to business communications by connecting business resources in larger communities to
those offered by those in small cities and towns, and vice versa. While there was risk and a sizeable financial investment for start up, I was in a position to make it happen, so we moved forward.

• Early issues and surprises
We were aware that the Springfield Business Journal (SBJ) was making overtures into the region. Murray had conversations
with the SBJ late in 2005 and even introduced them to leaders in the community, but they gave him no clear indications that they would move into Joplin. As I recalled from our conversations, the SBJ wanted a show of support before they made a decision and that would require about $400,000 in contracts.

The JBJ introduced its premiere edition Jan. 30, 2006 to the market with plans to start weekly production in February.
However, to our surprise during the course of producing our first edition, we discovered that the SBJ announced Jan. 17 that they would launch their first edition of a new publication for Joplin by April 10. That was not an immediate issue because competition is good, except that unknown to us, the SBJ was in town selling advertising contracts, perhaps capitalizing on what they developed from Murray's introductions.

The SBJs new publication, Joplin Tri-State Business (JTSB), first edition boasted more than 20 businesses or organizations on
its back cover as supporters. The problem for JBJ developed when we went to sell advertising for our first edition and found our efforts blocked because many of the local companies had signed contracts earlier with the JTSB.

One could argue that SBJ got out of the starting gate faster, but we believe they used Murray to advance a hidden agenda.
Our second surprise came when we learned the new JTSB, which is owned and managed by the Springfield Business Journal,
had secured space in the Joseph Newman Innovation Center (JNIC). We had no idea that a 25-year-old company would be eligible to locate in a business incubator, which is where they have been for the past three years.

That move created a most uneven playing field for the JBJ. Based upon the information that I obtained from the Center's Web
site, the fundamental mission of the incubator is to give a start up business a foundation for growth for creating jobs. An incubator is designed to accelerate the successful development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services, developed and orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the incubator and through its network of contacts.
The typical "stay time" is less than three years. So why is the JTSB still there and not in their own place?

• Operational inequities
Another ditch in the playing field is simply cost of operation. According to my information, much of the operation of the
Center is subsidized by grants or other funding sources from local, state and federal agencies - I read that basically as taxpayer dollars. Those subsidies translate into reduced rent space for tenants, and with the addition of the "array of business support resources and services" such as high speed Internet at little or no cost to the tenant, that drives overhead down even further. Here at the JBJ, we don't have subsidy support; we paid for everything - leased floor space, all utilities, communication lines, housekeeping, and maintenance of common areas. We have to pay for a loading dock for delivery of printed product and mailroom personnel, which JTSB does not have locally because their publication is assembled and shipped from Springfield.

For example, based upon the commercial rent figures the JBJ researched for previous stories, a lO-foot by 10-foot office space
for a soft business located along the Range Line corridor could average $1,400 per month or about $14 per square foot. That same space in an incubator, because of the subsidizing, runs $200, plus a small percentage for access to common areas, such as entries, hallways, conference areas, and washrooms. These incubator costs may vary depending on the amount of subsidy, but the point is, the cost is far less than what a standalone business pays.

The JTSB publisher, Dianne Osis, went out of her way in an April 7-20, 2008 opinion to highlight the advantages of being in
the JNIC. Why not, she's getting it practically rent-free.

"This is a beautiful building and a perfect place for our headquarters. Although we only have two rooms, we have the use of
an impressive conference room and many other amenities most importantly being close to the heart of the rebirth of downtown and right next door to our friends at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce."

Speaking about employees and their cost, JTSB has 3.5 persons in its local office - an editor, a reporter, an account executive,
and part-time office person publishing a bi-weekly product. There is no production staff for layout and design, no marketing,
accounting or research director, and nearly all other work is handled in Springfield. The JBJ employed an average of 19 highly
skilled full and shared time individuals publishing every week to cover all of the bases.

Regarding the issues of sales and use taxes paid by both organizations, those arguments would take up more space than is available here. However, during our years of operation and as the climate for two business journals in one community became clearer, I became more convinced that the sales taxes, dues paid for Chamber membership, and a pledge of $5,000 to the JNIC were being used by the Chamber to our detriment.

Another perk for occupants of the incubator that I learned about is preferential treatment if they are members of the Chamber.
Part of this was evident from their editorial content, stories that could only have come from information passed to them directly from the Chamber. It seems that almost all of the news stories and advertisers are either Chamber members or supporters, or Chamber generated.

• Mixed message and perception
It is not surprising that this publication contains Springfield ads and news stories, and supports that city. In the 2008 Chamber
Expo, they featured the Springfield Cardinal mascot in support of their minor league baseball team. The Joplin Chamber cozied
up to this and a whole series of photos featuring this mascot was in the next JTSB issue.

If you examine their new Web site ( you will find one column with Springfield news and one with Joplin
news. They cover all of the Joplin area with that one column. It just seems that the parent company of the JTSB, the Springfield
Business Journal, considers Joplin an outpost of Springfield, just like they do Branson.

The other part comes from the fact that the JTSB had the foyer booth at the 2007 Chamber expo even though they hadn't been
a member for very long; yet the JBJ, who has been a Chamber member since 1991, had to stand in line at the Chamber office at 4:30 a.m. to get one of the last three booths for the expo.

Also of interest, during the 2008 and 2009 expos, JTSB was again in the forefront, while JBJ was relegated space deeper in the
show. This may seem childish to some, but is does raise questions as to how JTSB did it.

• Why the JBJ could not remain open and lessons learned.
First, it was difficult to keep a steady sales force. When a company has sales rep turnover, it is very hard to establish the kind of relationship with your customer and potential customers. Recruiting and retaining quality account executives was challenging.

When our account executives were making sales calls, it didn't take long for them to discover that the JTSB was like an arm of
the Joplin Chamber of Commerce. The best we could do was share the advertising dollars. Almost everyone that was a Chamber member supported the Chambers' endorsed publication, which was reflected in the JTSB editorial content.
It would be difficult to sell the JBJ business unit with the Chamber of Commerce being so aggressive in the support of the
JTSB, or perhaps by its new brand, Joplin Tri-State Business Journal, and having them continue in a subsidized location.
We are able to compete and welcome competition, but it needs to be on a level playing field, and we are no match for the
Chamber of Commerce. In addition to damaging my personal reputation, they have caused me great financial damage. I haven't
decided how I am going to deal with the two final issues.

• Reflections and accomplishments
All being said, I want to leave things on a positive note. Retrospectively, the JBJ accomplished a number of firsts that we felt
made the publication a news leader in our marketplace:

First to publish a weekly business magazine in our market and provide a companion Web site
First to publish a weekly comprehensive list of business interest and annual Book of Lists
First to present the 40 Under 40, an event honoring 40 upcoming business leaders under the age of 40
First to recognize the accomplishments of the dedicated group of people working in the expanding health care community with our Health Care Heroes
First to recognize the outstanding accomplishments and leadership of women in our communities with our Women of Distinction awards

First to recognize the growth of commercial construction in the region with our Landmark Awards, honoring the
outstanding achievements of the architects, engineers, financers, and construction management firms, that made these buildings possible

First to recognize the achievements of companies and individuals that have impacted the environment in our market
with their green practices

First to publish a comprehensive Meeting and Events Guide designed to assist corporations and area convention
and visitor bureaus in planning their next business or entertainment event.

All of our events were successful, and the event participants were the leaders in their fields. In addition to these firsts, the JBJ
was proud to be selected as a co-sponsor of the Kaysinger Buiness Conference at Cottey College in Nevada, Mo., and to participate in the Health Care Symposium at Miami, Okla.

• Testimonials
While local blogs and other print publications have in recent days been less than stellar with their remarks about our closure,
there are many readers that have expressed their appreciation of our magazine and its efforts to recognize the achievements of
business and its people, and were sadden to learn the news of our shutdown. Here are a few of the more recent comments:
For our coverage of the deactivation process at the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant in Parsons, Bill Gorman, manager of quality
assurance for Day and Zimmerman Inc., wrote, "Fantastic article! Your perspective is just what we the employees and community need to read and understand. The facility and D&Z are here to stay." His words of appreciation were echoed by Steve Kosman, director of engineering, in a similar email message to the Journal.
Joe Harding, president of Joe Harding Inc., wrote in a letter to two Journal employees, "I cannot thank both of you for the fine
business association between our company and the Joplin Business Journal. Your publication has been a great asset for us and
the entire Four State area."
"It was most meaningful to us to learn of all those persons engaged in the various aspects of health care in the four-state area," wrote Earl and Wilma Perry, volunteers at Freeman Health System who were recognized by the JBJ at the 2009 Health Care Heroes award banquet recently. "The award presented to us was most meaningful as I am sure it was to all of the other recipients of those honors,"

An avid follower of JBJ news and long time employee of Sen. Sam Brownback's office in Pittsburg, Kan., Anne Emerson said
she was sad to see such a great publication close.

"To have an opportunity to come to the Journal to see the quality of people and level of professionalism in the way you treated
customers or the people being honored was very impressive. It was a level of professionalism that you don't always see and I
was deeply appreciative of it. I think that your ability to honor different people in the community gives them incentive to work
a little bit harder for community development. The closure is going to be a devastating loss for the three state region."

• Outlook

In closing, we believe that the Journal has been a successful product for the Tri-State region because it has turned the spotlight of mainstream business from the metropolitan areas of the country to the heartland of America. The Joplin Business Journal, the region's first independent publication of its kind, has indeed provided an important voice not only for business and industry, but it has focused attention on the communities and its people that contribute tremendously to the economy of the region.

We do not believe the Joplin Business Journal is a dead issue. This project was exactly right and should still be published.
Despite the unusual obstacles that we could not overcome entirely, we were right on target. Attracting the right investors and resurrecting the Journal could once again restore a positive business focus to the region.

The JBJ has been proud to serve the business communities in the 21 counties of our market. It took a focused group of employees to develop relationships with people and business in each of the 45 communities we covered. We were able to do profiles of community leaders and gather business news from every community in our market.

For myself and the staff of the Joplin Business Journal, I thank you for your support of the publication and for opening the
doors of your business or organization so we could share your story of success with others around the region.

Roger Asay, president
Asay Media Network

Monday, April 20, 2009

Columbus Advocate no longer a daily

In 1978, I had the privilege of working as sports editor/general assignment reporter for the Lamar Democrat.

At that time, Lamar was the smallest community in Missouri to have a daily newspaper. Sadly, that status changed in 1981, when it became a weekly, then with Doug Davis as publisher, it became a twice-weekly in 1983, which it has remained ever since.

A reader tells me that Columbus, Kan., which had been the smallest Kansas community to have a daily newspaper, no longer has that title. The Advocate is now publishing three times a week. At least it is still in business, which in this day and age, is an accomplishment.

Poll: Nodler in the lead in Seventh District

It is still way too early to hand Gary Nodler the race (especially since he hasn't even officially announced he is in it yet), but a poll indicates Nodler has the advantage in the race to replace Roy Blunt as Seventh District Congressman.

Missouri Political News Service has the scoop. A poll puts Nodler, R-Joplin, ahead of Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon; and John Putnam of Joplin.

I suspect another candidate or two will jump into the fray by this time next year.

Leggett & Platt remains a Fortune 500 company

Carthage-based Leggett & Platt maintained its status as a Fortune 500 company on the list released today by Fortune magazine.

Leggett came in at number 493.

Also making the list at 446 was Jarden, which has a plant in Neosho.

Recalling the Carthage connection to the Oklahoma City bombing

The anniversary of America's worst act of home-grown terrorism, the Oklahoma City bombing, was observed Sunday with solemn ceremonies at the site where 168 people were killed on April 19, 1995. Each year on the anniversary, I recall the connection of the event to this area, though it was somewhat tenuous.
That connection is explored in a chapter of my book, The Turner Report, entitled "Two Drunks in a Motel Room."

I have always prided myself on my news judgment, but there was one time when it failed me completely.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, Publisher Jim Farley, back from his morning trip to the Carthage Police Department headquarters and coffee with Chief Ed Ellefsen, popped his head into the newsroom and said there was a major story, an explosion at a federal building in Oklahoma City. What my problem was, I cannot tell you, but it didn’t click me with me for some time that morning, that this was a major story. At first, before I saw the stories coming over the Associated Press wire, I did not realize that this was deliberately set, an act of homegrown terrorism. The Carthage Press did it give the story the full page-one treatment it deserved, but as Jim reminded me for the rest of the time we worked together, my judgment on that story was lacking.

I made up for that lack of judgment less than two weeks later when the Oklahoma City bombing story made its way to Carthage.
It was mid-afternoon May 1 when two men in a white Thunderbird with Arizona license plates wheeled into the Kel-Lake Motel parking lot, jumped out of the car and headed to the motel office. One of the men was in his 50s, a tall, slender gentleman wearing a dark red cap and a blue flannel shirt. The other man, was in his late 20s, and had a stocky build, long black hair and a thin mustache. He wore a dark blue polo shirt.

The men were smiling as they entered the office. Wanda Jackson, who owned the motel with her husband Norman, greeted them.

“We’re looking for a room,” the older man said.

“We have some rooms.”

“Great. We would like to pay for a week,” the older man said, “but we would like to see the room first.” The men introduced themselves. The older man was Robert Jacks, while the younger one was Gary Allen Land.

“Do you have cable?” Land asked.

Assured that the rooms had cable, Land asked, “How about HBO?”

“Yes, we have HBO?”

Land nodded.

As Mrs. Jackson led the men to a room on the far end of the property, she struck up a conversation with the men. “What brings you to Missouri?” she asked.

“We’re looking to stay somewhere for a spell,” Jacks said. “We’re hoping to buy a place somewhere around here.”

As they approached the room, the men were surprised to see ducks and geese strolling through the property as if they owned it.

“Do you have those all the time?” Jacks asked.

“They come over from Kellogg Lake,” Mrs. Jackson explained.

She turned the key and opened the room, a plain-looking room with two beds and a television. After they looked over the room for a couple of moments, they agreed to take it, returned with Mrs. Jackson, signed the register and paid for a
week’s stay.

A few moments later, the two jumped into the Thunderbird and drove off, returning about a half hour later with large boxes from Pizza Hut and what appeared to be enough beer to get them through the evening and maybe a few more evenings.

The next morning well before dawn, motel owner Norman Jackson glanced at the register and saw the names. “Gary Allen Land, Robert Jacks,” he said aloud,

and the names were immediately familiar to them. He told his wife, “These are the guys on CNN. These are the ones they are looking for about the Oklahoma City bombing.” The CNN report had not only included the names of Land and Jacks, but had also given a description and license number of the white Thunderbird with Arizona license plates, the same car that was parked in front of the motel.

Seeing a Missouri Highway Patrol car in the parking lot of the Flying W convenience store across the street, Jackson, taking extra care not to look like he was doing anything out of the ordinary, walked across the street and approached the trooper.

“I think the guys at the motel are the ones the FBI is looking for in the Oklahoma City bombing,” he said.

“What makes you think that?” the trooper asked.

After Jackson described the car and the names the men had written on the register, the trooper was convinced. The trooper checked the car, which was registered to Land. Two men in that same car had checked into a Vinita, Oklahoma motel the afternoon of the bombing, left the next morning, and returned later in the afternoon.

After the trooper called in, it was not long before state, federal, city and county law enforcement were in the area, using the Flying W as a command post.

The moment, the FBI arrived, it took charge and agents quietly went to the rooms of other guests to evacuate them and protect them in case anything went wrong with the arrest of Land and Jacks.

The agents did not rush making sure everyone was set up in their proper places before they even started the orderly evacuation of the other motel guests. George and Jacque Williams were sound asleep when two FBI agents knocked on their door at about 5:30 a.m. A groggy George Williams answered the door.

The agents flashed their badges and said, “You need to leave this room as quickly as possible.”

“What’s going on?” George Williams asked.

“I’m afraid we can’t tell you that, but you have to leave and you need to leave quietly.”

Williams said he would and in a few moments, he and his wife were on their way. One more guest was moved out of his room before the FBI contacted Land and Jacks. An agent called the motel room, where the men, surrounded by empty Bigfoot Pizza Hut boxes and beer cans that were just as empty, were wide awake, watching movies on HBO.

“You need to come out of the room with your hands over your heads,” the FBI agent said to Land, who had answered the phone. “Don’t make any sudden moves.”

More than 50 Missouri Highway Patrol troopers and federal agents were blanketing
the Kel-Lake Motel parking lot, aiming weapons at the motel room from every angle. It was a few moments before the door opened, and Land and Jacks exited the room, their hands over their heads.

FBI agents patted them down, handcuffed them, put them in a burgundy
patrol car, and they were back on their way to Carthage.

Though Carthage Press Publisher Jim Farley did not write any stories for The Press, he served up a consistent flow of scoops for his reporters, from the police department and from other sources in government and business during the seven years I worked with him.

On the morning of May 2, 1995, Farley called me at home. He had received a tip that suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing were being arrested in Carthage.

“You’re kidding?”

“No, I’m not kidding. This is on the level,” he said.

I told him I would be right there. I was already almost out the door anyway and I only lived about six blocks from The Press. Shortly after I arrived, Ron Graber, the staff photographer, entered the office. I explained the situation and told him to be ready. We were going to offer comprehensive coverage of this story. For once, we would have the advantage over the morning newspaper. A few moments later, Lifestyles Editor Mary Guccione, a former Joplin Globe reporter who had worked for the Press for about two months, came in. Mary was an ambitious reporter who always tried to work her way into big stories, even though those did not always come with her job description. I told her she was going to play a big part in this one.

That left me with one more person to call. “I need to call Kaiser,” I said, referring to our police reporter Randee Kaiser (now a Carthage policeman).”

“You can’t call him,” Mary said. “He’s on vacation.”

“If I don’t call him, he’s never going to forgive me. He’ll want to be in on this

When I called, his wife answered the phone and it appeared Randee was having a heck of a vacation. “He’s fixing the roof,” his wife said. She finally agreed to let me speak to him and either Randee’s scoop instincts immediately went into overdrive or he really didn’t want to spend his vacation working on the roof. I told him not to bother to come into the office. “Get out to the motel and work from there,” I said. “Have you got your camera and some film?”


I told Mary to get out to Kel-Lake and work with him. Ron was developing the rest of the film we had for that day’s newspaper, though we probably would not be using much of it. He and I stayed at the paper for the moment, while Randee and Mary worked the motel and the Flying W.

At that point, the men had not been brought into Carthage. I told Mary to make sure we had advance notice and we would have someone at the police station.

As you might expect, by this time The Carthage Press had company on this story, including representatives from just about every radio and television station
in the Joplin/Carthage area, and reporters from Kansas City, Tulsa, and Springfield
were on their way.

But we did have a jump on the competition and this was our home area. As Randee interviewed the motel owners and the other guests, Mary Guccione was across the street at the Flying W.

This was an odd couple of reporting if ever one existed. Randee stood well over six feet, with dark black hair and a fastidiously-groomed mustache, while Mary, a woman in her late 20s, stood only four feet 11 on tiptoes, spoke with an energetic Alvin and the Chipmunks type voice, and had an appearance of looking ready for the junior prom. It didn’t matter. They were both excellent reporters.

As Mary interviewed people at the Flying W, there was a feeling of relief that two of the Oklahoma City bombers had been captured, and astonishment that it happened in Carthage.

As Mary talked with everyone in sight, she was competing with the local television stations, which were passing their feeds along to the networks. The news of the arrests had people flocking to the convenience store. “It’s been a crazy morning,”
clerk Crystil Hawkins told Mary. “I had to sneak in the backroads to get to work. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The next stop for Robert Jacks and Gary Land was the Carthage police station and that created an immediate problem … the facility was far too small for the attention it was about to receive.

Jim Farley had enough information to let us know the stop would only be a temporary one and that federal officials were arranging transportation for the duo.

I used the computerized filing system Ron Graber had devised for the newspaper to look up information on progress on the construction of a new police station. One of the arguments for the facility was the limited capacity of the present station and nothing proved that point more than this situation. The Carthage Police Department was under siege from the media and the public.

For a while, until I asked the receptionists to hold the calls, I was dealing with reporters from Newsweek, Time, Associated Press, the New York Times, and many lesser outlets (at least from a circulation standpoint) wanting information about the two men.

Despite the limited size of my staff, I had some resources that many small newspapers did not have. In addition to having a publisher with an unerring nose for news, we also had veteran advertising salesman Stewart Johnson, who was an
excellent photographer. We were able to place two photographers, Stewart and Ron Graber, at the police station awaiting the departure of Land and Jacks. It was not going to be easy to get good photographs. Not only was the police station far too small, but the streets around it were already packed with people who were awaiting the departure of the Oklahoma City bombing suspects, or “material witnesses,” as they were being called.

More than 20 media organizations were represented, including all three Joplin television stations, area radio stations, statewide and national news organizations and Carthage resident Richard Bliss, who was videotaping it for his company, Blissful Memories, which normally sold videotapes of school events, weddings, and parties.

Mayor Don Riley told me, “I would say if anything shows the need for a bigger police station in Carthage, this does.” This was not the first experience the station had with a major media event. At the beginning of January 1994, only 16 months earlier, the station had not been big enough to handle the local-only media onslaught following the arrest of a Carthage man for the murder of eight-year-old Douglas Ryan Ringler. The police station was so small that older incident reports had to be kept in a trailer behind the building.

As we waited outside the station, most of the crowd was in the street, effectively keeping traffic away. I worked the crowd, doing something I have always felt was the most overused and overrated segments in newspapers and television— the man-on-the-street interview. This time was a definite exception to my philosophy.

Debbie Parker, Carthage, had been at the scene of the Connor Hotel collapse in Joplin in November 1978, when rescue workers saved a man who had been buried beneath the rubble. “Before this,” she told me, “that was the biggest thing I had ever seen in person. This is something that everybody is interested in. Nobody can believe that such a thing could happen in the United States.

“And who would ever think that someone who might be involved with it would be in Carthage?”

Ms. Parker had been keeping a watchful eye, she said. “I saw the FBI going in there with two big, green bags. I don’t know what was in them.”

Many of those in the crowd wanted to be somewhere where a piece of history was taking place. One of those was 19-year-old Stacey Wecker, a 1994 Carthage Senior High School graduate whose high school volleyball career I had covered (I also covered a considerable amount of sports for The Press, including Carthage High School volleyball and girls basketball games, some junior high games, and some area contests.) “I just wanted to see if they really had John Doe,” Stacey said. Despite the friendly conversations I was having with Ms. Parker and Stacey, there was a definite undercurrent of hate and resentment from this crowd. America had been angered by the deaths of 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing and two of the men who might be responsible for that brutal act were only a few feet away from the crowd.

As I was talking with Stacey, one of the onlookers shouted, “They’re coming out, they’re coming out! I can see them!” Whatever the woman saw, it was not the FBI with Land and Jacks. It was a false alarm. The crowd was growing impatient, especially those of us who were already past their deadlines, but also those who were supposed to be somewhere else. “I’ve got to go back to work,” Stacey said, but she didn’t move an inch. “I really want to see this.”

A few minutes after she said that, she received her opportunity. Everyone at 213 Lyon Street in Carthage thought they were seeing history in the making and perhaps they were.

FBI agents walked out of the building, with Land and Jacks in tow. The Carthage community, which like the rest of America had been stunned that something like the bombing could take place in our heartland, let the two suspects know what they thought of them in no uncertain terms.

“You bastards!” one man screamed at the top of his lungs, while others called them killers.
“I hope you die,” one mousy, brown-haired woman who did not look capable of such a statement, shouted.

A Carthage police officer on a megaphone shouted, “Get back.” His words were accompanied by the honking of horns from the federal agents’ cars. The agents quickly circled the suspects to keep the crowd from doing any harm to the men. At that point, my only concern, a selfish one, was that The Carthage Press capture that history in the making. The efforts to protect the suspects might keep us from getting the photos we needed … the photos which already had guaranteed that our paper would be at least two hours late in hitting the streets that afternoon … and if we did not get them, it would mean that might not sell enough papers to make that delay worthwhile.

I did not have to worry. Ron Graber and Stewart Johnson did not miss anything. Ron, the best photographer in southwest Missouri (and most other places), caught the photo that ran later that day at the top of page one of The Carthage Press—an FBI agent helping Robert Jacks into a car, surrounded by other federal agents.

It took a while for the crowd to clear enough for the motorcade to leave the station. Land and Jacks were the targets of more verbal attacks, obscene gestures, and waved fists, but no one approached the car. After the crowd was cleared to the point where the federal motorcade could pass through, The Carthage Press contingent zipped back to office, which was about five blocks from the station. We had the material, now we had to write, get film developed, and somehow get our paper printed.
In about a six-hour time period, The Carthage Press staff put together a newspaper that turned out to be one of our best-selling editions of all time. The entire front page was devoted to the story, with Ron’s photo, along with Mary’s story
about the scene at the police station at the top, above the banner. Randee Kaiser’s account of the capture was featured above the fold, as well as a photo he took at the motel of law enforcement officers at work. We had four more stories and a Ron Graber photo on page three, including Mary’s interviews at the Flying W, Randee’s interviews with the motel owners, my account of the reaction at the police station, and my background story on the problem with the size of the police station.

An AP account of the developing story, was also included, which featured some background on the bombing. We used the back page for photos by Ron, Randee, and Stewart Johnson, including a photo of Jacks in the car, covering his face with his cap, a picture of Land and Jacks’ identification, Carthage Police Chief Ed Ellefsen addressing the media, FBI agents searching Room 1 at the Kel-Lake Motel, and onlookers shouting derogatory comments and more than a few obscenities at Land and Jacks as they left the station.

It was one of the biggest stories to ever happen in Carthage … and it was also one of the biggest wastes of time.
As it turned out, neither Robert Jacks nor Gary Allen Land had anything to do with the Oklahoma City bombing, so there was no reason for them not to sign their real names on the register. The two were traveling across the country, mostly following old Route 66, staying in motels, drinking beer, and eating Bigfoot Pizza from Pizza Hut…all on the disability checks Jacks was receiving from the federal government.

Even though it turned out not to be as big a story as we initially thought it was, the capture of Land and Jacks at the Kel-Lake Motel turned out to be one of those days that remind reporters why they got into the business in the first place.

We had the chance to thoroughly cover a local story with national significance and the Carthage Press staff made the most of it.

(One ironic sidebar to the story, the only member of The Press news staff who was not able to participate in the coverage was our sports editor, who attended classes at Missouri Southern State College during the daytime. That sports editor was John Hacker, who has since become the best spot news reporter in this area of the state (and maybe in the whole state) working for The Joplin Globe, the Joplin Daily, and as of this writing, once more on the staff of The Carthage Press.)

Two years after Carthage’s brief brush with fame, a bizarre coincidence put the beer-guzzling, Bigfoot pizza eating dynamic duo back in the pages of The Press. National news sources printed a story about a man named Robert Jacques (pronounced Jacks), who had visited a Cassville, Missouri, real estate office with the two men convicted in the Oklahoma City bombing case, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. The Cassville real estate broker said he contacted federal agents after he saw the arrest of Land and Jacks on television. He also said that the Robert Jacks who was arrested in Carthage was not the man who was with McVeigh and Nichols.

The story was dropped soon thereafter, and so was Carthage’s connection tothe Oklahoma City bombing.

Book signing set for Friday at Hastings in Joplin

A signing for my three books, Small Town News, Devil's Messenger, and The Turner Report, will be held 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 24, at Hastings Books, Music, and Video, 526 S. Rangeline, Joplin.

This is the last scheduled signing for the first three books before the fourth book is published this fall.

Information about the books can be found at the following links:

Small Town News

Devil's Messenger

The Turner Report

Nixon campaign late in reporting $41,750 in contributions

Missouri law requires candidates to report all contributions of more than $5,000 within 48 hours, but two 48-hour reports filed by Gov. Jay Nixon's committee April 15 are for oversized donations made months ago.

One report shows a $6,750 in-kind contribution made by Empire Airlines, Lebanon, Jan. 14. Perhaps it was just overlooked, since Nixon received $100,000 in large contributions that day, according to Missouri Ethics Commission records, from such heavyweights as AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, IUPAT, and Kansas City Southern Railway, Inc.

The other report shows a $25,000 from contribution from Kansas City Power and Light made on Jan. 28, and a $10,000 conribution from Empire District Electric Company, Joplin, that dates all the way back to Dec. 22.

Roe blog attacks Tony's Kansas City

In its latest post, The Source, the blog written by Republican operative Jeff Roe, rips into the Tony's Kansas City blog for being far too liberal.

It appears the criticism is most directed at Tony's criticism of last week's "tea parties."

You would think that somewhere in his post, Roe would have mentioned that his business, Axiom Strategies, sponsored the protest at the Liberty Memorial.

It would appear liberalism wasn't Tony's Kansas City's big sin. He could have been as liberal as he wanted and it would not have mattered, but a few words about one of Roe's pet projects brings on the attack dog.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some thoughts about the Columbine anniversary

What lessons did we learn from Columbine?

When Klebold and Harris shot up the Littleton, Colo. high school April 20, 1999, I was in my final month as the editor of The Carthage Press and far removed from both the carnage and any personal knowledge of what goes on in the classroom.

My introduction to the classroom came less than four months later when I was hired as a creative writing teacher at Diamond Middle School. During the last 10 years, I have listened each time a shooting incident happens as know-it-all critics blame teachers every time a teenager picks up a gun and takes it to school.

The criticism came close to home in 2006 when Thomas Gregory White took an assault rifle to Memorial Middle School in Joplin, fired a shot into the ceiling, then aimed the weapon at Principal Steve Gilbreth. Fortunately, the weapon jammed, sparing Gilbreth and keeping White from forever being added to the list of young criminals such as Klebold, Harris, and Charles "Andy" Williams, whose murderous actions forever damaged their schools and communities.

On the Joplin Globe website, following an article on Thomas White's preliminary hearing, a reader commented, "Why did his teachers not notice anything was wrong with the kid?"

That comment angered me, especially since I knew his teachers were all asking themselves the same question.

I wrote the following response to that question in the March 8, 2007, Turner Report that day and I haven't changed my mind one bit.

Please do not put this off on the teachers. In the first place, teachers have 25 to 30 students in six classes or between 150 and 180 students per day. Don't expect them to be able to pick out one student who might eventually become violent when no one has yet determined what exactly leads to these incidents. (And we certainly try to keep our eye out for this type of student.)

In the wake of the Columbine shooting in 1999, the FBI released a 40-question survey, if memory serves me correctly, with a list of the traits that school shooters might (with an emphasis on that word) have. As I pored over that list, I discovered the items on it applied to nearly every student (and most of the teachers).

What is truly remarkable are the large number of students who are helped because teachers, counselors, and administrators reach out every day to students who have been bullied, students who until a teacher made an effort, thought that no one was in their corner.

Is there more that can be done to prevent bullying? Of course, and each year schools provide more training to teachers to help them deal with the problem. Bullying continues, but teachers are constantly working to lessen it.

We always hear about the students like Thomas Gregory White who slip between the cracks, but we never hear about all of the incidents that may have been prevented...because of teachers, counselors, and administrators who made the extra effort. Those are the stories that never get told."

Why do we never hear these know-it-all critics talk about the place where the intervention needs to be made- the home. Thomas Gregory White had ready access to guns even though his father, a convicted felon, possessed them illegally.

I have never read a story about a school shooting in which the parents of the shooter say, "I always know someday he was going to take a gun and shoot up the school." A teacher is with a child for 45 to 50 minutes a day, for 174 to 180 days a year. And we are supposed to be able to read minds?

Believe me, teachers are on the lookout for aberrant behavior. We take our responsibility seriously. We work every year to deal with any bullying incidents, and we take pro-active steps to stop them from occurring in the first place. Our methods of dealing with bullying are revised each year, and all personnel receive training for dealing with it. Yet none of us have any guarantee that someday violence will not touch our schools.

Despite all of this, every study shows that schools are the safest place for our children, Even in 1999, the year of Columbine, there were actually fewer incidents of school violence in the United States.

Again, this is because teachers, administrators, and counselors do not have their heads buried in the sand. Unfortunately, the media never writes about our successes.

Sadly, students receiving an education in a safe environment is not considered news. Yet that is what takes place every day in schools across the United States.

So tomorrow when the networks begin their anniversary stories on Columbine, remember why it still resonates with us. School shootings are rare. If teachers and administrators are going to be blamed every time an incident occurs, then shouldn't they receive the credit for maintaining the only safe, stable environment that some of these children will ever know?

All God's children have war chests

Apparently, Joplin Globe reporter Joe Hadsall is enthralled with the term "war chest," and needs a thesaurus intervention.

In his review of April quarterly disclosure reports filed by area representatives, Hadsall referred to each of them having a "war chest."

Let's help Joe out. If you have any suggestions on what phrases or terms he can use to keep lour local legislators from thumping their war chests, please leave a comment.

Rogers offers "State of the Daily" address

Some newspapers may be in crisis mode, but don't put the Neosho Daily News on that list, Publisher Rick Rogers says in a column that ran in today's Daily and is posted online:

As I reported during the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly luncheon in March, the Daily News experienced some positive trends in the past 15 months. In 2008, we welcomed 323 new subscribers to our family — folks who had never before had the Daily News delivered to their homes. This was the largest increase in the four years I have served as publisher. In all, we had a circulation increase of 52 subscribers in 2008. While you may not think that number is large, any circulation increase is against the national trend for newspapers. We were quite pleased.

Also, the editorial staff was honored with 18 awards in 2008 for journalism excellence. These awards were received for their work in 2007 — a year like no other in the Neosho region for major news stories such as the January ice storm, August church shooting and the missing person case of Rowan Ford. These 18 awards were the most received in one year at the Daily News in recent memory.

While we experienced circulation growth, our Web site — — also experienced growth. We are currently averaging more than 2,000 unique visitors a day, and continue to see growth, according to our third-party Web service

Ruestman gives credit to fellow legislator

As regular readers of The Turner Report are aware, I have written numerous times about the penchant of Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, to send out capitol reports under her name that apparently were penned by someone else.

In her latest column which ran last week in area newspapers, including the Neosho Daily News and Newton County News, Mrs. Ruestman ran a capitol report written by one of her colleagues. This time, however, there are no hints of plagiarism:

She begins the column:

"This week, I thought I'd share the Capitol Report of Rep. Joe Smith with you. He speaks about the Fair Tax and I concur with his assessment."

That wasn't that hard, was it?

This link will take you to the most recent post about Mrs. Ruestman's columns.

Post-Dispatch editorial: Missouri legislators want to keep things sleazy

Speaker of the House Ron Richard appears to be the top target in an editorial in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch decrying the lack of action on ethics reform proposals during the 2009 legislative session:

Our friends at The Kansas City Star asked House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, why he wasn't interested in any of the 18 bills kicking around the Legislature that would reform campaign financing or government ethics. Mr. Richard said the House was too busy to take up ethics reform. Besides, he said, the Senate wasn't interested.

"I don't need to make a statement just to butter up the press on ethics when it's not going to make it any farther than this," he said.

The editorial concludes with this note on the Missouri pay-to-play scandal:

One beneficiary of Missouri's laughable ethics laws is Mr. Richard's legislative director, Thomas W. Smith Jr. of St. Charles. As The Star reported last week, Mr. Smith, 34, is paid $64,000 a year for his efforts, but it's his side job that is raising eyebrows. He runs a "political consulting" firm that last year generated nearly $500,000 in income. He also runs several political committee money laundromats from an office in St. Charles.

The last speaker of the Missouri House, Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, ran his own political consulting business. This year it's only the speaker's top aide. Perhaps this is "reform."

Richard addresses controversy over legislative director

Former Columbia Tribune political reporter Jason Rosenbaum's blog Capitol Calling, is rapidly developing a well-deserved reputation as the place to go for videos of our state politicians.

At the end of the week, Rosenbaum posted the response of Speaker of the House Ron Richard to the brewing controversy over the sideline business of his legislative director, Thomas Smith, who also run a political polling service, Survey St. Louis:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bruce Speck's surefire method for raising money for MSSU

The latest edition of Missouri Southern State University's newspaper, The Chart, features the news that the university is conducting a nationwide search for an athletic director to replace the retiring Sallie Beard. University President Bruce Speck offered this comment:

"First of all we need someone who's going to be a good fund raiser. For the last 10 years the state has moved away from funding higher education and that means we have to be more pro-active in terms of external funding."

Last week, The Chart noted that the allegedly financially-troubled university is looking to hire a new administrator to raise funds. Now it is looking for a new athletic director who can raise funds. All of this time, I thought Bruce Speck was hired because of his fundraising abilities.

It appears Speck has found a surefire method to raise funds- hire other people to do it.

Decision on assistant news director for KODE, KSNF expected to be announced next week

KODE and KSNF should have a new assistant news director by the end of next week.

Seven applicants are in the running to replace Tiffany Alaniz. The news director for both stations is longtime KSNF anchor JIm Jackson.

KODE only Joplin station still transmitting analog signal

KODE is now the only Joplin television station still transmitting an analog signal.

As of midnight Thursday, KSNF is only sending a digital signal. KODE will eliminate its analog signal in about a month.

Thomas, Berry named to Regional Media Hall of Fame

KOAM General Manager Danny Thomas and Community Publishers Vice President Dave Berry were inducted into the Missouri Southern Regional Media Hall of Fame during a luncheon ceremony Wednesday.

The news release included the following information:

homas is a Missouri Southern graduate who has been with KOAM for 22 years.

He has also served on the CBS Marketing Board and as Chairman of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

Berry is a 1975 MSSU graduate who has incorporated and oversees the Community Publishers eight Missouri newspapers

All inductees are featured in the broadcast area of Webster Hall at Missouri Southern State University

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blunt getting ready for 2012

It's a bit early for the 2012 election, but former Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt may be looking toward that date.

Blunt's campaign committee quarterly report, filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission, shows a $5,000 contribution to the campaign committee of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal is considered to be a strong candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Contributors pay Emery's NRA dues

Contributors to Rep. Ed Emery's campaign committee, footed the bill for Emery's membership in the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners, Barton County Chamber of Commerce, and the Farm Bureau,according to his quarterly disclosure report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The dues for the organizations totaled $175.

Emery's $2,298.07 in expenditures also included $625 in mileage reimbursement and $341.47 for newspaper subscriptions.

Emery received $1,500 in contributions, with the biggest amounts given by Laclede PAC, $325; HSBC PAC, $300; and Missouri Association of Municipal Utilities, $300.

Emery had $2,259.86 in his account at the end of the reporting period, according to the report.

Ruestman reports $2,600 in contributions

Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, received $2,600 in contributions during the last reporting period, according to documents filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The largest contribution, $1,200 came from Empire District Electric Company, Joplin. She also received $500 apiece from Boeing and MoAHA PAC and $400 from AT&T.

Mrs. Ruestman had $6,573.23 in expenditures, including $4,025 to repay a loan she made to her committee.

Hunter committee starts with $7,714.66

Grassroots for Hunter, revived in February for a possible statewide office attempt by former Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, had $7,714.66 in his account at the end of the last reporting period, according to a disclosure report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

All of that money came from his own committee for a Carl Junction R-1 Board of Education candidacy that never occurred.

The documents show Hunter spent $3,434.86, with much of that money going for cell phone calls and $566.82 for a Washington. D. C. trip for Americans for Prosperity.

Party time in Jeff City: Wilson spends $1,041.88 on hotel and tuxedo rental

It must have been party time in Jefferson City as a new governor was inaugurated in January.

Rep. Kevin Wilson, R-Neosho, paid $1,667.91 on celebrations, during the last quarter, according to his disclosure report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

That total included $1,041.88 on "hotel/tux rentals," on Jan. 28, paid to "Kevin Wilson" according to the report, and $125.93 to Willis & Associates, Neosho, for "inaugural invitations."

Wilson made one contribution during the reporting period, $60 to the Newton County Republican Women's Committee.

The Wilson campaign committee received no contributions and has $11,443.76 in the bank.

Kinder campaign committee more than $600,000 in debt

If anyone should identify with the mounting debt facing many U. S. business, it would be Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.
Documents filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission indicate Kinder's campaign committee, Friends of Peter Kinder, owes $606,771.

Kinder received $164,375 during the last reporting period and spent $65,307.90.

The lieutenant governor's contributors include all of the usual suspects, including $10,000 from the Missouri Health Care Association, $5,000 from voucher supporter Charles Norval Sharpe's CNS, and $5,000 from Ameren.

From the Joplin area, Kinder picked up $1,000 from Neosho banker Rudy Farber, and $3,000, in two $1,500 contributions, from Con-Way Truckload, Joplin.

An atmosphere of corruption

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

Charges were quietly dropped a couple of weeks ago against two Missouri legislators and a casino lobbyist who were accused of breaking gambling laws.

Associated Press and a few state newspapers ran brief articles, but as they did during the 19 months since the charges were initially filed, the media missed the point of the story.

To refresh your memory (and that’s if you ever saw the story since it has never received major play), Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, at the behest of Isle of Capri lobbyist Lynne Schlosser, used the identification of Rep. Joseph Aull, D-Marshall, to gamble during a lobbyist-financed junket to the Isle of Capri casino in Boonville on July 31, 2007.

Those charges, which were filed on Sept. 25, 2007, were reported, but the full story of what happened that night was meticulously avoided by every newspaper in the state.

Smith, Aull, Aull's wife Candee, Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, and Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, were having a night out on the town at the expense of a lobbyist representing a special interest with a stake in numerous bills that were scheduled to come before the legislature during the 2008 session.

Chris Liese, a former state representative from St. Louis, and now a lobbyist for Isle of Capri spent $910 wining and dining the legislators and Mrs. Aull, according to Missouri Ethics Commission documents. A total of $130 was spent on "meals, food, and beverage" for each person, the documents indicate.

Shortly after Smith's arrest, I noted on the Turner Report blog that Smith had been a big-time recipient of casino industry contributions, many carefully laundered through other committees. I wrote:

“An examination of Missouri Ethics Commission records shows Smith received $2,600 which can be directly traced to casinos during 2006, as well as $5,400 from casino lobbyists or their clients.

“Another $4,800 appears to have come from Ameristar Casinos after being legally laundered through a Democratic Party committee. On Aug. 12, 2006, the 94th House District Democratic Committee received a $5,000 contribution from Ameristar Casinos. Three days later, the committee gave $4,800 to Smith. Oddly, Smith's own committee disclosure form says the 94th Committee contribution came Aug. 11...the day before the committee received the Ameristar Casinos contribution.

“Other casino or casino-related contributions for Smith include:

-30 days after general election 2006- Harrah's Operating $650, Isle of Capri Casinos $650
-Eight days before the election 2006- $500 contributions from Missouri Dental PAC, Missouri Pharmacy PAC, and Missouri Association of Nurse Anesthetists, all clients of Ameristar Casinos' lobbying firm Gamble & Schlemeier
-October 2006- John Bardgett and Associates, lobbying firm for Pinnacle Entertainment and numerous other clients, $650; Penn National Gaming $650
-30 days after primary- Two $650 contributions from Missouri Pharmacy PAC and $650 from MORESPAC, clients of Gamble and Schlemeier, $650 from Bardgett, $650 from Bardgett's lobbying firm
-94th House District, $4,800

All of the contributions to Smith, as well as the lobbyist-financed partying at the Isle of Capri in Boonville (with the possible exception of the actions taken by Smith, Aull and Ms. Schlosser concerning the identification card), were legal, but were they ethical.

In 2008, using virtually the same language that had been provided to legislators in 2007, the casino industry opted for placing a proposal on the November ballot which would eliminate loss limits for casinos, limit new competition for existing casinos, and…not so coincidentally, to remove the requirement for identification cards for gamblers, all on the pretext, of course, that money would go to education.

Minor charges against two legislators and a lobbyist were never the story, though they were obviously a part of it. This is just another example of the atmosphere of corruption that has enveloped Jefferson City.

Leggett & Platt schedules quarterly earnings call

Carthage-based Fortune 500 company Leggett & Platt will hold its quarterly conference call to discuss first quarter results 8 a.m. Thursday, April 23, according to a company news release.

The call will be webcast by Thomson Financial and can be accessed from the Investor Relations section of Leggett's website at, the release indicated.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arraignment scheduled Tuesday for accused Lamar Catholic Church arsonist

John Franklin Manco, charged with burglary and arson in connection with the Feb. 6 fire that destroyed St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lamar, will be arraigned 9 a.m. Tuesday in Barton County Circuit Court.

Manco is represented by public defender Joe Zuzul.

Flanigan reports $150 in contributions, $2,219.10 in expenditures

Rookie legislator Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, reported a $150 contribution and $2,219.10 in expenditures, according to documents filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The contribution came from AT&T Missouri Employees Fund, St. Louis.

The lion's share of Flanigan's expenditures, $999.34, were for office supplies, according to the report.

Star lowers quality, raises prices

The Kansas City Star, which has been constantly trimming its staff, and therefore its quality over the past several months, is now going to charge more for the diminished product.

Another example of why the newspaper industry is in such deep trouble.

Happy birthday, Amy Lamb!

In 22 years in journalism, I only hired one reporter three times.

The first time I hired Amy Lamb, who is celebrating a birthday today, she was a junior at Lamar High School. I never thought to ask her if she had a driver's license, just naturally assuming she was 16 years old since most juniors in high school are. Amy has always been a bit ahead of the game, however. Since she was only 15, she had to have her dad drive her to some of the events she covered. I did not know about that until later.

Amy was not limited to school events. Just like the other teen reporters I hired at the Lamar Democrat and Carthage Press, Amy was given opportunities to show her range and even at age 15, she had no limits.

After she got her driver's license, she did a feature on an unsolved murder in Jerico Springs that was both informative and insightful. She worked for me for two years at the Democrat.

When I was promoted to managing editor of The Carthage Press in December 1993, the first person I brought on board was Amy, by this time a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, to serve as lifestyles editor.

She worked two stints in that position between 1993 and 1998, turning in award-winning work both times. She redefined lifestyles coverage, adding a generous dose of hard news coverage.

Amy won awards for her coverage of those who sexually abuse children, including interviewing one such offender at state prison. She also earned honors for her coverage of the murder of eight-year-old Douglas Ryan Ringler of Carthage and for her in-person coverage of the execution of the man who murdered Harold and Melba Wampler of Jasper.

Amy left the world of journalism in 1998, if memory serves me correctly, and readers have been the poorer for it. I will always wonder if she ended up leaving because her editor was driving her crazy, but I would say it was more likely that she left for the reason that most reporters leave the don't make enough money to live on.

Amy is doing well now working at the Wal-Mart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. I was lucky enough to work with her three times. I worked with a number of excellent young reporters over my two decades in the business. None of them wrote better features than Amy Lamb.

Happy Birthday, Amy!