Monday, November 30, 2009

Treasurer in Jeff Smith's 2004 campaign will not appeal sentence

Nicholas Adams, treasurer of former Sen. Jeff Smith's unsuccessful 2004 campaign, will not appeal his sentence for obstruction.

That is not surprising since Adams, like another of his co-defendants, former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis. cooperated with the federal government and did not receive any prison time.

Adams' notice of his intent was filed today in U. S District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Sinquefield makes another oversized contribution

Missouri Ethics Commission records show retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield is continuing his spending spree.

Sinquefield, the state's leading supporter of educational vouchers contributed another $5,001 to Sen. Brad Lager, R-Savannah. So far in 2009, Sinquefield has given more than half a million dollars to favored politicians and party committees as detailed in the Nov. 27 Turner Report.

News-Leader editorial: Law protecting child witnesses is good; Judge's decision to close Pete Newman case was not what law intended

In an editorial in today's edition, the Springfield News-Leader defends the new law protecting child witnesses, but notes that what Judge Tony Williams did recently when he decided to close the preliminary hearing for former Kanakuk director Pete Newman (a decision which turned out to be unnecessary when Newman waived the hearing) was not what the law intended:

It took two legislative sessions, but a compromise was reached earlier this year. Now, specific measures exist in the Child Witness Protection Act to make a child more comfortable on the witness stand.

Unfortunately, that progress was threatened last week when a prosecutor in Taney County Associate Circuit Court tried to use the new law in a way never intended, and a judge did not stop him.

Tuesday's decision to improperly close a courtroom off to the public -- although briefly -- did nothing to help the cause of children who find themselves in the tough, at-times agonizing role of child witness, or victim.

In fact, if this kind of overreaching continues, it could result in the protection act being overturned.

Fortunately, the maneuver was short-lived and did not create a major problem. However, it should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone trying to become too aggressive in their zeal to protect kids.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ruestman: Congress has no authority to pass health care law

In her latest column, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman rips into the out-of-control federal government and explains what she plans to do about it during Missouri's next legislative session:

Last Saturday the United States Senate made an historic vote to debate the Senate’s version of healthcare reform. What is striking about such a vote is that Congress has no constitutional authority to pass such a law.

The federal government has very limited and specific powers granted to it by the Constitution. All powers not listed in the Constitution belong to the states or the people. Healthcare is not listed among those powers. In all truth, many programs of the federal government do not lie under its authority including (but not limited to) education, labor, energy, parks, housing and agriculture.

Since World War I, Washington has been led by a progressive movement that would have appalled the Founding Fathers. They created our federal system out of necessity and feared an overly powerful central government. Each of them considered themselves citizens of their respective states first. One of the primary goals during the drafting of the Constitution was to protect states’ rights. They would not recognize the United States today.

In the coming legislative session, I plan to offer a House Concurrent Resolution which I hope to pass through the House and Senate. This resolution will send a strong message to Washington that we retain those rights reserved for the states in the 10th Amendment! It will demand that the federal government cease and desist mandates that are beyond the scope of its constitutionally delegated powers.

Several other states have already passed such resolutions and I believe it is time Missouri join their ranks to send a message to Washington.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What an incredible coincidence!

This item was posted about four hours ago on the Neosho Daily News website:

By staff reports, Neosho Daily News
McDonald County white supremacist Robert Joos is seeking some $23 million in damages from the federal government for alleged constitutional rights violations.

In a letter mailed from the St. Clair County Jail in Osceola and filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Joos said his rights are being violated as the government will not allow him to possess firearms as secured by the Second Amendment. Other violations include protecting himself and his property from unreasonable search and seizure, as outlined by the Fourth Amendment; possessing explosives and firearms, a right he said was guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment; and violation of his Tenth Amendment right to exercise power over his environment by activities such as protection, hunting, excavating, demolition, and others.

Joos, a convicted felon, said the government does not have a right to prevent him from having firearms while allowing other people to do so. He said that not knowingly possessing firearms and explosives is not relevant to his right to do so.

Joos asks for the return of all weapons he did not knowingly possess, as well as $100,000 per day in actual damages for each day he has been held, as well as $100,000 a day in punitive damages for each day held. So far, the amount adds up to $23 million.

Joos is slated to go to trial in late January on charges of being a felon in possession of firearms, two counts of unlawful transport of firearms and one count of transporting explosive materials interstate.

He was arrested in late June as part of an investigation into a 2004 mail bombing in Scottsdale, Ariz., that injured a black city official.

And from three days ago on The Turner Report:

In a letter mailed from the St. Clair County Jail in Osceola, filed Tuesday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, McDonald County, white supremacist Robert Joos demanded more than $23 milliion (and counting) from the government for violating his constitutional rights.

Joos has been held without bond since June 24 on federal weapons charges.

In his letter, Joos writes, "I am being punished for (a) possessing firearms, a right of all citizens as secured by the Second Amendment, (b) exercising a right necessary to protect myself and property from unreasonable search and seizure by any criminal with a firearm or other weapon, as secured by the Fourth Amendment; (c) possessing explosives and firearms, a right secured by the Ninth Amendment; (d) exercising my right to exercise power over my environment (e.g. protection, hunting, excavation, demolition, etc. (as secured by the 10th Amendment)."

Joos claims that the government has no right to prevent him from possessing firearms, while allowing other people to do so. Despite this declaration, Joos does not admit that he is guilty of the crime for which he is charged, adding, "That I did not knowingly possess firearms and explosives is not relevant to the issue of my right to do so under the law."

Later in the letter, Joos asks for the return of all of the weapons he did not knowingly possess, as well as $100,000 per each day he has been held in actual damages and $100,000 per day in punitive damages, which at this date would add up to approximately $23 million with the amount increasing every day.

In addition to a charge of being a felon illegally possessing firearms, Joos also faces two counts of unlawful transport of firearms and one count transporting explosive materials interstate.

Joos was arrested in connection with a federal investigation of a racially-motivated 2004 bombing in Scottsdale, Ariz. National white supremacist leader Dennis Mahon and his brother Daniel were charged with that crime.

A few new Natural Disaster videos

The accompanying videos come from Natural Disaster's performance Saturday, Nov. 21, at the benefit show in the East Middle School Auditorium:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Newspaper Days restocked at Hastings after it sells out

Now that I have chastised the local media for running the usual Christmas shopping stories I will hypocritically provide one of my own:

When I stopped by Hastings in joplin about an hour ago, I discovered all copies of my new book, Newspaper Days, had sold out (I checked, no one had hidden them; they were actually purchased). I supplied some more, so the book should be back on the shelves by now, or at the latest by tomorrow morning.

The first signing for Newspaper Days is scheduled for next Saturday, December 6, 1 to 4 p.m. at Hastings. Call the store at 417-659-9828 to reserve a copy. Copies of my previous books, Small Town News, Devil's Messenger, and The Turner Report, will also be available that day.

For those who are not able to make the signing, books can be obtained through or other websites, or by sending a $22 check (to cover the book and shipping) to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801.

KSNF: Broyles admitted to "a very big mistake"

The words DUI have still not been used by KSNF as it just had its sports anchor tease the next segment by saying that Pittsburg State University Coach Chuck Broyles has "admitted to a very big mistake."

Though it is good that Broyles has owned up to what he did, that phrasing makes it appear far less serious than saying the Galena Police Department arrested Broyles on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Broyles, of course, is host of the Chuck Broyles Show on KSNF.

At the beginning of the sports section, anchor Morgan Vance did note that Broyles had been arrested for DUI and read Broyles' statement. "We will have more on this story when it becomes available," Vance said.

Apparently, KSN contacted no one from the Galena Police Department, and relied solely on news releases from the university for its coverage.

KSNF downplays PSU Coach Chuck Broyles' DUI arrest

While KOAM and KODE led their newscasts with the DUI arrest of Pittsburg State University football coach Chuck Broyles on a charge of driving under the influence, KSNF led with three stories about the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Those in charge determined that viewers would be more interested in hearing residents talk about shopping, about beginning the day at midnight at Toys R Us, or about the reopening of a kiosk at Northpark Mall.

Finally, just before the end of the news segment, anchor Jim Jackson noted "shocking news from an area university," but did not tell viewers which area university (most of us are accustomed to all of the shocking news coming from Missouri Southern State University) and told viewers they would find out about it during the sports segment.

Of course, KSN is also the home of the Chuck Broyles Show.

Media jumps all over DUI arrest of Pittsburg State coach

It did not take long for the area media to jump on the DUI arrest of Pittsburg State University football coach Chuck Broyles, once the story was broken"

Pittsburg Morning Sun

Joplin Globe story on arrest

Joplin Globe story on Broyles statement

Four States Home Page



Sinquefield celebrates holiday by spreading good cheer

Add another $50,000 to the money provided by retired billionaire educational voucher supporter Rex Sinquefield to his favored politicians and political groups.

According to 48-hour reports posted today on the Missouri Ethics Commission website, Sinquefield contributed $25,000 to Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, and $25,000 to the Majority Fund, Inc., which works for election of Republican senators.

In addition that $50,000, as I noted Thursday, in recent days Sinquefield has given $10,000 to Rep. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County, $5,001 to the Senate candidacy or Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis, $5,001 to Sen. Victor Callahan, D-Independence, $10,000 to Rep. Ted Hoskins, D-St. Louis; and $10,000 to the Missouri Republican Party.

So far during 2009, Sinquefield has contributed more than a half million dollars, according to Ethics Commission documents.

Dec. 28 preliminary hearing set for former Neosho teacher charged with rape

A Dec. 28 preliminary hearing has been scheduled In Ottawa County, Oklahoma District Court for former Neosho High School band teacher Brian Rash, who is charged with rape.

Rash was arraigned Tuesday.

Rash, who also taught for a time in Joplin Catholic Schools, is charged with first degree rape, attempted first degree rape, four counts of rape by instrumentation, and two charges of lewd and indecent proposals to a child. All of the charges involve Rash and teenage male students.

Skelton spends Thanksgiving with troops in Germany

Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton spent Thanksgiving with recovering troops in Germany:

“The morale seems to be good and I just want to let them know that we appreciate them,” Skelton tells the Missourinet. “They are a grand bunch of young people and the care they are getting here (Landstuhl) is just first class.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Skelton: Congress must find ways to generate job growth

In his weekly column, Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton outlines what Congress must to do generate jobs:

As we celebrated Thanksgiving last week with family and friends, many families in Missouri and across the United States were experiencing a less bountiful holiday due to the greatest American recession since World War II. Despite some positive financial news, times remain tough for many Americans. Enacting common sense, bipartisan policies that generate jobs must remain a top priority for the Administration and for Congress.

On December 3, 2009, the White House will conduct a Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth. The forum will bring together financial experts, small business owners, and economists to identify viable means of rebuilding our economy and creating and saving American jobs. This conference is a good idea. It will allow people to put their heads together and formulate policy ideas that can be enacted through the executive branch or presented to Congress for consideration.

Yet, as important as this jobs summit is, Congress must immediately identify ways to generate job growth while remaining mindful of the deficit. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the engines of real growth in this country. This is especially true in Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District, where small businesses dominate the economic landscape.

Cutting taxes for small businesses and expanding the lending capacity of the Small Business Administration (SBA) are two practical means of spurring economic expansion. Just this year, Congress provided tax relief to hardworking middle-class families, authorized $650 million to support small business lending, and enacted a homebuyer tax credit that has rejuvenated a stagnant housing market. The House of Representatives has passed legislation, which I cosponsored, that would increase the size of loans offered by the SBA and encourage banks to lend to rural entrepreneurs. To further aid new businesses, I signed onto a bill that would increase the tax deduction limit on start-up expenses from $5,000 to $20,000.

I have also cosponsored bills in the House designed to aid veterans and farmers. H.R. 2672, the Help Veterans Own Franchises Act, would help veterans become small business owners by incentivizing franchisors to offer discounted franchise fees to veterans. And, to assist farmers and family-owned businesses, I have cosponsored the Estate Tax Relief Act of 2009.

I urge House leaders to bring forward bipartisan legislation to spur job growth. A bill to provide more tax incentives to small businesses, incorporating some of the ideas from the legislation mentioned above, would be a good step toward generating additional jobs. Congressional leaders may also wish to consider extending the highway bill for six months to ensure road and bridge construction continues as planned through the Spring.

In the days ahead, Congress and the Administration will continue searching for ways to defeat the fiscal challenges facing our nation. Fixing these problems will be neither quick nor easy. But, Americans have never wavered in the face of adversity; together, the Administration, Congress, and the American people can build a better tomorrow.
- 30 -

Hearing for accused killers of Carthage couple delayed

A motions hearing in the case of two men accused of killing Bob and Eileen Sheldon of Carthage in October 2008 has been delayed until Dec. 21, according to online Jasper County Circuit Court records.

During the hearing, originally scheduled for Dec. 7, Judge Gayle Crane was expected to make a ruling on whether the trials of accused killers Darren Winans, 22, Jasper, and Matthew Laurin, 20, Springfield, will be held together or separately.

Steve Hunter ends lobbying career

As of Nov. 10, former Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, is no longer a registered lobbyist with the state of Missouri, according to Missouri Ethics Commission.

Hunter's lobbying career lasted only nine months. His only clients were AASP, St. Charles; and Consumer Funeral Alliance, Chillicothe.

On Feb. 10, the same day Hunter registered as a lobbyist, he formed a new Grassroots for Hunter campaign committee, with documents indicating he plans a statewide race, but subsequent filings have shown limited activity.

Sinquefield priming the pump for 2010

Retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield is once again showing his willingness to spend to realize his legislative goals.

Forty-eight hour reports filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission indicate that Sinquefield, a supporter of educational vouchers, has stepped up his $5,00o+ contributions in recent days, including $10,000 to Rep. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County, on Tuesday.

Other recent oversized contributions by Sinquefield include $5,001 to the Senate candidacy or Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis, $5,001 to Sen. Victor Callahan, D-Independence, $10,000 to Rep. Ted Hoskins, D-St. Louis; and $10,000 to the Missouri Republican Party.

Arkansas residents share thoughts on Pete Newman

In this report from KFSM in Northwest Arkansas, residents express their thoughts about former Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Newman, who is free on nearly half a million dollars bond after being charged with seven felony sex crimes involving underage boys:

Many who know Newman say they are shocked. Fayetteville's K-Life Director Richard Cole used to work closely with Newman, and says he never suspected anything. "I've just been around him often, so truth be told, he was a guy I admired a ton. It's hard. It's really hard. Their policies have always been very tight on how we interact with kids, especially on a physical level. I mean, it's no nonsense." Former camper and camp photographer Barkley Beers says, "it was actually a shock when I heard that. I loved the counselors. They were energetic and fun, and just great influences." Abbie Walden is currently a counselor for Kanakuk in the summer. She says, "people have been so hurt by this, because they've put, they've seen him as the Lord, almost, as God, and he's not God." Former counselor and Neuman's friend Lee Morton says, "I did work with Pete ten years ago. It was a positive experience, and so when I heard about this, it was devastating to me. I know that God has used Kanakuk Kamps in the lives of many children, and I think he will continue to do that despite the situation. It's sad that it had to affect so many people before it came into the light." But some like Beers still plan on sending their kids to Kanakuk. "Even with this coming up, I'll still send her. I mean, I had so much fun there. It was just a great experience, and I want her to have that experience." Former camp counselors say they hope that these allegations don't cast a negative light on Kanakuk Kamps, a camp they still feel is trustworthy. Kanakuk officials say they are tightening their already strict hiring policies, background checks, and personal interviews.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Neosho council hides public business behind shroud of secrecy

If you look at Neosho Mayor Jeff Werneke's quotes in the article in the Tuesday Neosho Daily News, it's not hard to see that city officials are doing their best to keep the extent of the city's financial problems from the public by taking them behind closed doors and pretending that it can be done because it all revolves around that umbrella catchall word for public officials who want to hide from the public- personnel:

After an emergency closed session Saturday, Neosho Mayor Jeff Werneke said he and Mayor Pro Tem Richard Davidson would further research the city’s financial condition as it relates to personnel over the next week and a half, and present their findings to the council at the next meeting, slated for Dec. 1.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Werneke said these findings will likely be presented to the council during a closed session on Dec. 1, as they pertain to a personnel issue.

Sorry, Mister Mayor. When it comes to personnel, the Sunshine Law gives you the right to close a meeting for hiring, firing, promoting, or disciplining. It does not offer a blanket excuse to go behind closed doors, just because personnel is involved. If that were the case, you could take any piece of public business, shut the doors, and never have to face public scrutiny.

And what most public officials seem to forget is the Sunshine Law does not obligate a public body to go behind closed doors. It merely allows it that option. Sadly, most city councils, school boards, and other governmental units use every conceivable excuse to put as much of their meetings as possible out of the reach of the public.

The problems in the city of Neosho have come in large part because so many things have taken place in secret.

The odds against a successful Sarah Palin run for president

In his latest commentary for KBIA, Capitol Calling's Jason Rosenbaum takes a trip through history to examine the possibility of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin mounting a successful campaign for the presidency:

Nixon speaks at Missouri Chamber meeting

Missouri Chamber of Commerce posted this YouTube video of Gov. Jay Nixon speaking at the Nov. 19 Chamber meeting:

Missouri Chamber honors legislators

Missouri Chamber of Commerce honored several legislators Nov.19 for their contributions to business:

Rita Hunter, state officials sued for wrongful death in Anderson Guest House fire

Another big scoop for The Fuse Joplin: The blog broke the news today that former Jasper County Public Administrator Rita Hunter and former Anderson Guest House owner Robert Dupont are being sued for wrongful death in connection with the Nov. 27, 2006, fire that killed 11 people.

Other defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed today in McDonald County Circuit Court, include Dupont's wife Laverne, Joplin River of Life Ministries, former head of the Department of Social Services Jane Drummond,and the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

Filing the lawsuit was Mary Frances Joyce, whose son was killed in the fire.

The petition says Mrs. Hunter and the other state officials did not do enough to ensure that her son was placed in a safe facility. She is asking for damages in excess of $25,000 for each of more than 50 defendants, including a number of "John and Jane Does."

Insurance interests kick in $10,000 to Speaker of the House Richard

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City PAC contributed $10,000 to Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, Tuesday, accordig to a 48-hour report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

As has been noted numerous times in The Turner Report, insurance interests have sunk a lot of money into the speaker's campaign account, and have been richly rewarded for their efforts. During the 2009 legislative session, RIchard put a stop to efforts to provide insurance help for families dealing with autism. He explained it in an op-ed column in August:

I will not abandon my standards for popularity. I seek principled, pragmatic solutions and consensus. Unfortunately, last session we were unable to bring everyone together in agreement on Senate Bill 167. Designed to assist families affected by autism, this legislation would have impacted small businesses as well as taxpayers and Missourians with private health insurance. As House speaker, it is my job to be sure we have a strong consensus. My committee will help us build that consensus so that we may move forward to pass a bill that benefits families who suffer from autism.

This emotionally charged issue deserves our full attention and I implore all of our state leaders to use their power and resources to work for a real solution. I am urging the governor to leave politics out of this sensitive issue and directly engage with House leadership.

Nowhere in his column did the speaker note the big contributions he has received from the insurance interests. Those were noted in the July 20 Turner Report:

June 2 was a big day for Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin.

On that day, insurance interests delivered $13,150 in contributions to the most powerful man in Missouri's campaign committee. Richard's quarterly report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows he received the following contributions:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield $2,500
Liberty Mutual $2,500
Missouri Insurance Coalition $2,500
FEAPAC of Missouri $3,000
Missouri State Farm PAC $650
American Insurance Association $500
Shelter Insurance $500
General Anerican Associates $500
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies $500

Since the amount is far more than what the insurance companies have put into his account earlier this year or in 2008, it appears they are gearing up for a big year in 2010.

Parents file federal lawsuit against Avilla School District

The Avilla School District failed to provide help for a child diagnosed with ADHD, according to a lawsuit filed this week in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Tom and Faye Williams claim their 12-year-old son has ADHD and that the Avilla School District failed to determine his eligibility for services, failed to evaluate his need for occupational therapy and failed to provide the family with a notice of the boy's rights.

The family is asking for damages, attorneys' fees, and "compensatory education accommodations."

McDonald County white supremacist demands $23 million+ from government

In a letter mailed from the St. Clair County Jail in Osceola, filed Tuesday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, McDonald County, white supremacist Robert Joos demanded more than $23 milliion (and counting) from the government for violating his constitutional rights.

Joos has been held without bond since June 24 on federal weapons charges.

In his letter, Joos writes, "I am being punished for (a) possessing firearms, a right of all citizens as secured by the Second Amendment, (b) exercising a right necessary to protect myself and property from unreasonable search and seizure by any criminal with a firearm or other weapon, as secured by the Fourth Amendment; (c) possessing explosives and firearms, a right secured by the Ninth Amendment; (d) exercising my right to exercise power over my environment (e.g. protection, hunting, excavation, demolition, etc. (as secured by the 10th Amendment)."

Joos claims that the government has no right to prevent him from possessing firearms, while allowing other people to do so. Despite this declaration, Joos does not admit that he is guilty of the crime for which he is charged, adding, "That I did not knowingly possess firearms and explosives is not relevant to the issue of my right to do so under the law."

Later in the letter, Joos asks for the return of all of the weapons he did not knowingly possess, as well as $100,000 per each day he has been held in actual damages and $100,000 per day in punitive damages, which at this date would add up to approximately $23 million with the amount increasing every day.

In addition to a charge of being a felon illegally possessing firearms, Joos also faces two counts of unlawful transport of firearms and one count transporting explosive materials interstate.

Joos was arrested in connection with a federal investigation of a racially-motivated 2004 bombing in Scottsdale, Ariz. National white supremacist leader Dennis Mahon and his brother Daniel were charged with that crime.

Brown pays $40,000 fine

Former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis, who was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $40,000 after pleading guilty to a federal obstruction charge, has paid the $40,000 fine, according to information filed in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Brown was placed on probation after helping the government with its case against former Sen. Jeff Smith. D-St. Louis, who was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. The crimes were committed to cover up illegal activities in Smith's 2004 Congressional campaign against Russ Carnahan.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Newspaper Days available at Hastings

Copies of my new book, Newspaper Days, are on sale at Hastings in Joplin.

The first signing for the book is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at Hastings.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Benefit raises more than $1,000 for new books for EMS Library

Thanks to those of you who attended the benefit variety show Saturday night in the East Middle School Auditorium.

We raised more than $1,000 toward new books for the library, with a portion of the money going toward equipment for a special education classroom.

The audience heard the East Middle School Band, Show Choir, Cheerleaders, Drama Class, saw performances from teachers Clara Ervin and Randy French, the cast of the Stone's Throw Dinner Theatre production of "Godspell," Natural Disaster, and a series of student entertainers.

The evening concluded with music from the talented mother-daughter team of Tammy and Hannah Cady.

Thanks again to all of the entertainers, the people who worked behind the scenes to make the benefit a success, and all of those who came to watch the program.

Anyone who wants to help the cause, but who was unable to make the benefit, can send a check to East Middle School, 4594 E. 20th Street, Joplin, MO 64801. Donors will be acknowledged in the new books.

(Photos- The cast of Godspell, Hannah and Tammy Cady)

Mural pictures the Newtonia we remember

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

Though illustrations of the Civil War are featured prominently in the newly created Newtonia mural, other scenes, more quiet scenes, are the ones that make Carthage artist Sherry Pettey’s work so appealing to me.
After the work is officially unveiled during a 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, ceremony in the Newtonia Community Building, not only will the community’s Civil War heritage be preserved, but so will the memories of the last half-century, the Newtonia where I grew up.
Thanks to the artist and those who commissioned the mural, I can see the wizened face of Ted Arnall, standing outside his barbershop, a small wooden building that was town down three decades ago.
I can remember sitting in the wooden chairs, waiting for my turn to be sheared and listening to the adults swap stories, while reading from his stack of comic books. And when I finally climbed into the barber’s chair, I would find out that miraculously, Ted was able to find a nickel in my ear that had somehow escaped my attention when I was taking a bath.
Ted’s was also a favorite spot of mine three times a year when Billy Johnson would park the Bookmobile in front of it and I would check out my 10 books and read them within about three days.
The Bookmobile was always scheduled to arrive at 11 a.m., but Billy would generally pull in a half hour earlier, and I was always one of the first ones to look over the extensive collection of books he and his wife managed to shoehorn onto the shelves.
And next door to Ted’s Barber Shop, was Gum Mercantile with its owner Carroll Gum, the place that stood at the center of Newtonia’s social life for decades. I vividly remember sitting on the steps outside the store after school, drinking a 13-cent bottle of Dr. Pepper, while waiting for the Neosho Daily News to arrive.
Thinking of Carroll’s store (I don’t know of anyone who called it mercantile, despite the prominent sign above the door.), reminds me of that horrible day when Carroll decided to beginning charging deposit on pop bottles. The extra two cents drove the boys of Newtonia into a protesting frenzy. We grabbed some old wood out of a building behind my house and made picket signs, then rode our bicycles to the store, circled it for 10 or 15 minutes and made our opinions clear. The signs read “No Deposit, We Won’t Return,” ‘Charging Deposit is Unfair,” and my favorite, Danny Hilton’s contribution- “Bring back the days of seven-cent pop.”
Carroll knew just how to end the protest. He emerged from the post office (which was in the east side of the building) with a camera and asked us to get off our bicycles and pose for a picture so he could put it in the Neosho Daily.
We dutifully climbed off the bicycles and posed and that ended the picketing. The pictures never appeared in the Daily, but we were never charged deposit again.
The mural also features the Baptist and Methodist churches, the Ritchey Mansion and the Civil War, Newtonia’s famous gunfight, the school building and a couple of businesses from early in the 20th century.
My favorite parts of the mural are those devoted to my parents, Bill and JoAnn Turner.
Mom is featured next to a picture of the Community Building, which is fitting, since she has helped keep the building a central force in community life for years. She is also in a group picture of the Newtonia Battlefield Protection Association, which partially commissioned the mural.
The scene with my dad comes from an earlier day. He is shown working on his bicycle so he can complete the rounds on his paper route. Behind him is a loyal dog. Considering that Dad has always had dogs and has been the fix-it-man for Newtonia for the past 40 years, that depiction is fitting.
The upper right-hand corner of the mural features an important modern event in Newtonia history- the May 2008 tornado that destroyed City Hall and many houses and severely damaged others. The house shown being smashed by the tornado is the one across the street from where I grew up- a house that I remember as the home of Doc and Bernice Hailey.
The mural, which is on display in the Community Building, shows that Newtonia is a town where the citizens have faced many challenges, a war, a Depression, and a tornado among them, but they have always come through those challenges stronger. The proof is in Sherry Pettey’s art.

Smith disagrees with prison sentence: I'm no threat to society

In an interview with the Washington University newspaper, former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, who was sentenced last week to one year and one day in federal prison for his part in a coverup of violations of election laws, says things are going to be tough, but he has overcome obstacles before:

“Surely it won’t be a picnic,” Smith said. “But I’m a strong person, and I’ve overcome things before…so I’ll get through it, with the help of friends and family and a great support system.”

For those asking for the reason for the one day on Smith's sentence, it is explained in the article- all federal sentences of one year or less have to be served completely. The extra day increases the possibility that Smith could be released early. While Smith says he appreciates that move by the judge, he still does not think he should be serving any time in prison, according to the article:

“I’m obviously not a threat to society, and I was no threat to re-offend, given that I will not be running for office in the future,” Smith said. “So I think the community would have been best served by having me remain here and continuing the community service-type things I’ve done for 20 years.”

Smith's prison sentence will begin in approximately six weeks.

Judge unseals letters supporting Jeff Smith

A federal judge unsealed letters asking for leniency for former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis Friday.

The letters, which might have had some sway over the judge since Smith did not receive the maximum sentence for obstruction, included appeals from colleagues on both sides of the aisle and from three statewide elected officials- Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Attorney General Chris Koster, and State Auditor Susan Montee.

Smith was sentenced to one year and one day in prison.

The government filed the request to unseal the letters Thursday, noting that neither federal officials nor Smith objected to the move.

Chart editorial decries Speck efforts to eliminate MSSU's international mission

Any doubt that Missouri Southern State University President Bruce Speck has targeted the international mission for elimination are erased each time Speck opens his mouth.

In an editorial in its latest edition, The Chart, MSSU's newspaper, tackles the issue

The editorial notes Speck's misleading use of the terms "data" and "benchmarking" to apply to the international mission turning it into a drinking game in which a drink is taken each time one of those two words is mentioned:

And what about benchmarks? (Drink.)

Speck said when he came to Southern he asked what about the international mission was benchmarked (drink), and that the concept was foreign to the University.

Well, we checked with the University's Institute of International Studies and learned that Southern sends more students abroad each year than the University of Central Missouri, Pittsburg State University and West Texas A&M (despite Dr. Brian Chapman's claims). Southern offers more foreign languages than most Universities our size. Southern is the only institution in the nation to have a themed semester program.

Students who attend this University have a great opportunity to learn about and be exposed to other cultures and people. How do you back that up with data (drink)? The problem is the numbers show the international mission is worthwhile, and is working, and it seems Speck doesn't want to hear that.

And, like asking a person to quantify love, will we now ask how much "football"or "basketball" or "cross country" is every student receiving? Are you getting enough Greek life? It can't be measured. And it shouldn't be

The editorial ends with the comment that Speck is determined to drive the students to drink.

The attacks on the international mission are at the core of the reason why former Board of Governors Chairman Dwight Douglas brought Speck to MSSU. Speck, at the behest of President Sherry Hoppe, also targeted international programs at Austin Peay. That alone was probably the reason why the decision was made to interview only one person for a position as important as the presidency of Missouri Southern State University.

Read Marilyn Ruestman's lips- no new taxes

In her latest column, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, promises not to vote for any tax increase during her final year in the state legislature:

Looking back, I’m proud to say that I’ve been able to keep campaign promises. One of the most important was NO NEW TAXES! My colleagues and I in the Majority have kept our word to you.

I am opposed to increasing taxes of any kind. I will not vote for a tax increase, nor will I encourage my constituents or colleagues to vote for one. I believe there are far more taxes than are necessary. The problem isn’t that government doesn’t have enough money. The problem is that it squanders the money it has on bureaucratic waste and massive social programs. In Missouri, we were able to balance our budget and offer tax decreases and tax credits with NO NEW TAXES!

I am disheartened and angry that, after fighting for the Missouri taxpayer for seven years, the “misleadership” in Washington wants to pass federal taxes for the citizens of my district and this state!

Here is a list of the tax increases and new taxes in the recently released Senate Health Bill being offered by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada:

Individual Mandate Tax – Starting in 2014, if you do not buy a “qualifying” health insurance plan, you will be taxed.
Health Savings Account Withdrawal Tax Increase – If you must withdraw money from your HSA for any reason other than healthcare, the tax will be raised from 10 to 20 percent. This discourages people from investing in HSAs rather than an IRA.
Medicine Cabinet Tax – You will no longer be able to buy over-the-counter medicine tax free by using your HSA, flexible spending account or health reimbursement account.
Excise Tax on Comprehensive Insurance Plans – A 40% tax will be created for the “Cadillac” insurance plans which annually cost in excess of $8500 for an individual or $23,000 for a family. Note that in the seventeen most expensive states, health insurance already exceeds this cost.
Employer Mandate Taxes – For each employer who does not offer coverage, if just one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, that employer is taxed $750 for each full-time employee (applies to employers with more than 50 employees). There is also a tax for requiring a waiting period to join employer-based insurance plans.
Employers will have to report insurance premiums (even though you don’t actually receive that money) on your W-2 for the IRS. There is only one reason to report health premiums on individual tax returns: taxes. With this new reporting requirement, you can bet a tax will later be added.

Who ultimately pays these taxes? The employers? The rich? NO. You do! Companies are not just going to absorb these costs; they’re going to pass them along to you. It seems like common sense, but the progressives who are running Washington simply do not care.

I want to renew my promise to you. I will not vote for any new taxes in my final session. I will continue to fight for tax decreases. We should all remind our Senators of where we stand on taxes. I urge everyone to contact U.S. Senators Bond and McCaskill this week at and .

Reports: Dorman to solo on KODE News

KODE anchor Brian Dorman, who has been performing solo since co-anchor Lauren Hieger left, apparently will continue to do so.

Reports are that as a cost-cutting measure KODE will not replace Miss Hieger.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Skelton: Patriot Act important to war on terrorism

In a column issued last week, Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton emphasized his support of the Patriot Act:

The PATRIOT Act passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was intended to enable law enforcement officials to track down and punish those responsible for the terrorist attacks and to protect against any similar strikes against our nation.

In the years following 9/11, the PATRIOT Act has proven to be an important law enforcement tool and has enhanced our national security. The U.S. and our allies are fighting a war like no other. It is an unconventional war that must be met with unconventional tools used by law enforcement professionals to protect the American people from those who would do us harm.

The Act provides federal officers greater powers to trace and intercept terrorists’ communications for law enforcement and foreign intelligence purposes. It reinforces federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations in an effort to deny terrorists the resources necessary for future attacks. It tightens laws pertaining to seaport security. And, it creates several federal crimes, such as laws outlawing terrorists’ attacks on mass transit and increases penalties for many other violations of the law.

Currently, Congress is reviewing legislation to amend and extend the PATRIOT Act. Provisions within the Act are set to expire on December 31, 2009. As is true of any law that empowers the government to collect security-related information domestically, evaluating the PATRIOT Act requires Congress to weigh a wide range of competing interests, like the ability of our government to detect and thwart terrorist attacks and the constitutional rights of the American people. Of course, proper oversight of the PATRIOT Act by our courts and Congress is essential to guaranteeing our constitutional rights are not trampled.

As the debate in Congress moves forward, we must ensure law enforcement officials have the tools at their disposal to protect the American people against any future terrorist strikes against our nation. That is why I supported the PATRIOT Act in 2001 and its reauthorization in 2005. In the days ahead, I will work with my colleagues to ensure we provide real security to the American people. We owe it to those who lost their lives on 9/11 and we owe it to those who are currently serving at home and abroad to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act before it expires at the end of the year.

Skelton breaks with Obama on trying terrorist suspects in U. S.

Fourth District Congressman Ike Skelton is highly skeptical of the Obama Administration's plan to try terrorist suspects in the United States:

Mr. Skelton, Missouri Democrat, said the decision "raises many serious questions" and said Congress set up military commissions specifically to handle the judicial cases of detainees from the war on terror.

"As a former prosecutor, I am not yet convinced that the right decision was made in these cases, nor that the presumption in favor of federal criminal trials over military tribunals for these detainees should continue," Mr. Skelton said in a letter to Mr. Holder and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. He asked for a full briefing on the decision.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Benefit for EMS Library a success

A big thank you to those who attended our benefit to buy new books for the East Middle School Library tonight. We were able to raise more than $1,000 with more money coming in.

We are planning to turn the variety show into an annual event.

Branson Tri-Lakes News runs second story on Pete Newman

It took a while, but the Branson Tri-Lakes News, after running only one story about the arrest of former Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Newman on felony sex charges involving underage body, has another story posted today.

Blunt sells Georgetown home for $1.53 million

The D. C. Block Shopper reports Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt and his wife Abigail sold their Georgetown home for $1.53 million on Nov. 4.

Friday, November 20, 2009

News-Leader: Judge in Pete Newman case ignored law with decision to close hearing

When he was using a new law to close a preliminary hearing for former Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Newman, Taney County Circuit Court Judge Tony Williams did not even check to see what the law said.

Williams told the Springfield News-Leader:

"They agreed to do it, so I never did actually get the book out" to review the new law, Williams said.

Told of the controversy generated by the attempt to close the hearing, he said: "My concern is children. If that is no one else's concern, then that's their problem."

It is sad that it is so easy for Williams to make decisions that close the workings of the judicial system to the public and open the door to all kinds of possible mischief. What he should have considered are ways in which the children could have been protected without closing the courtroom doors to the public and to the press. These types of procedures are used on a regular basis in cases in which people are testifying who might be in danger if their identities are revealed, such as confidential informants. Why couldn't the same methods be put to use in this case?

It turned out to be a moot point since Newman waived his preliminary hearing at the last moment.

The News-Leader story indicates the Taney County prosecutor never asked for the closed courtroom and offered other options. It was the judge who immediately suggested the public and press be removed. That kind of hair-trigger reaction should concern people.

No one wants children to suffer when testifying about evils that have been committed against them, but at the same time, when you start closing public court hearings you are starting a dangerous precedent. Once it has been done for a case like this, soon it will be done for all cases involving children, and then it will spread to other cases where people have been victimized and soon we will have no way of knowing what is going on in our courts.

MSSU Board of Governors chairman blows off Chart

The Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey production being provided by the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors and President Bruce Speck shows no signs of subsiding.

In the latest edition of the campus newspaper, The Chart, Speck says he does not know what to do now that the search for a vice president for academic affairs has been scrapped following the decision of two candidates to drop out of the process:

When asked afterwards what the next step would be, Speck said he didn't know. He also declined to offer a timetable for any decision.

"I don't know," he said. "I've got to think about it. I don't really have a time."

In his "Notes from the Prez" for today's Board of Governor's meeting, Speck said he was contemplating the next step.

"There's been a huge amount of effort put in by the search committee," Speck told The Chart. "They spent many hours and were very dedicated to it. We spent institutional money to bring these people on, so it's a costly process and I think when you invest those types of resources, especially the resources of those people on the committee, it's discouraging when you have a failed search."

If you follow Speck's reasoning, and in this case it is hard not to, that would indicate that you would have a failed search if you have three finalists and only one does not drop out. In other words, the same scenario pretty much that occurred when Speck was hired. In this case, Speck broke with precedent by not offering just one candidate to the board.

Board of Governors Chairman Rod Anderson continued to show the kind of arrogance the board showed when it thumbed its nose at the university's immediate future by extending Speck's contract for two years when the president was the cause of turmoil on the campus. In this case, he showed disdain for the university's students by refusing to talk to the Chart:

Rod Anderson, president of the Board of Governors, refused to comment on the failed search when reached Wednesday afternoon, calling it a personnel matter.

"I'm through talking," Anderson said.

When questioned further about his reaction to the failed search, Anderson responded: "I run a business here. I don't work for you," and hung up.

Yes, Mr. Anderson, you do work for them, as well as for every other student on the campus and for every student who might consider taking classes at the university.

Anderson later called back, apologized, and offered a comment.

And the merry-go-round continues.

Stevenson among those writing letters of support for Steve Brown

The St. Louis Riverfront Times prorides a list of those who wrote letters urging leniency for former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis, prior to his sentencing Tuesday. Among those is Rep. Bryan Stevenson, R-Webb City.

The publication provided a sampling of those letters, as well as letters supporting Brown's co-defendant, former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, at this link.

Brown was placed on probation for two years, while Smith was sentenced to one year and one day in prison.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Government asks court to unseal letters of support for Jeff Smith

Acting U. S. Attorney Michael Reap filed a motion in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri today asking that letters of support for former Sen Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, who was sentenced to one year and one day in prison Tuesday, be made public:

1. Attached as Exhibit A to defendant Smith’s Sentencing Memorandum were a number of letters for the Court’s consideration relative to defendant’s sentencing.

Additionally, defendant Smith filed a number of additional letters in a separate pleading entitled Supplement to Defendant Jeff Smith’s Sentencing Memorandum. Both Exhibit A to defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum, and the Supplement to defendant’s Sentencing Memorandum were filed under seal, and these letters remain under seal.

2. The United States has received numerous inquiries from various news and media
organizations requesting access to the above-referenced letters. Ordinarily, while sentencing memoranda are filed under seal as they may reference matters contained within the Presentence Investigation Report, letters in support of a defendant are not under seal, just as the courtroom would be open to the public if the letter writers appeared in person before the Court at sentencing and addressed the Court.

3. Defendant Jeff Smith, through counsel Richard Greenberg, has advised that defendant
has no objection to unsealing the above-referenced letters in order to make them public.

Smith resigned from the Senate Aug. 25, the same day he pleaded guilty to obstruction charges involving a coverup of illegal activiity during his unsuccessful 2006 Congressional campaign against Russ Carnahan.

Leggett & Platt contributes $10,000 to Speaker of the House Richard

Carthage-based Leggett & Platt dropped $10,000 into the campaign account of Speaker of the House Ron Richard, R-Joplin, according to a 48-hour report filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Richard has received at least $22,750 from Leggett this year, according to Ethics Commission documents.

Stouffer: Skelton losing touch with needs of rural Missouri

In response to a report that discovered numerous problems with dispersal of stimulus funds, Fourth District Republican Congressional candidate Bill Stouffer issued the following statement today:

“Missourians need real jobs, not made up numbers on a website,” said Stouffer. “Ike Skelton is losing touch with the needs of rural Missouri. Ike and his liberal House Leadership friends like Nancy Pelosi promised the American people millions of jobs from this stimulus plan. We all know now that the only thing Ike and Pelosi have stimulated is more wasteful spending and irresponsibility in Washington. What Ike Skelton and Nancy Pelosi fail to understand is that the only way to really stimulate the economy is to reduce taxes, cut spending and encourage growth in private businesses – not growth in government.”

Palin media stance reminiscent of Ashcroft's gutless deal with MSU

My prediction was right about the groundswell of protest when I dared criticize mavericky conservatiive icon Sarah Palin this morning.

Along with those who think the media is evil, and think that it actually took courage for Sarah Palin to go on Oprah (oh, that took courage) I had one persistent commenter who had to point out every time Al Gore made a speech and did not allow the media to cover it.

And there was another one who thought that a news blog shouldn't indulge in opinion.

In the first place, I quite clearly note that this blog is news and commentary. My readers are normally intelligent enough to know one from the other.

As for Al Gore, I will be happy to write about him banning the media...the first time he does so in southwest Missouri. While I have written about a few national stories, and the blog features news and commentary about Missouri state politics, the primary focus of this blog is southwest Missouri.

And the record clearly indicates I have written about such an occasion when a national leader barred the media from a speaking appearance. The following comes from the Sept. 12, 2007, Turner Report:

As I have noted in two earlier posts, former Attorney General John Ashcroft is speaking tonight at Missouri State University and the gutless wonder who formerly served as our state's governor, has it in his contract that no videocameras or recording devices can be used.
He has graciously deigned to allow the university to make an official recording, which as Professor Andrew Cline points out on his Rhetorica website, doesn't help the hard working folks in Springfield's broadcast media much, or for that matter, any print reporters who would like to back up their notes with the recorded version of the speech:

Restricting and avoiding the press are popular tactics of message control. What we too often forget is that any tactic that restricts the press also restricts citizens who may wish to gather information for themselves.

So Ashcroft will speak tonight on the MSU campus, but the press may not use electronics to capture the speech. The (incredibly silly and condescending) reason given: He and the promoters don't want a "media circus" to mar the event.

(BTW, how will this restriction be enforced? The N-L story says part of the money raised for this event pays for security. Are we talking campus police? On duty? Off duty? City police? State police? Local goons? What?)

I claim this restriction has nothing to do with any circus and a lot to do with the need for plausible deniability as part of effective message control. Want to avoid a circus? Don't take questions from the press. And Ashcroft says he won't. I have no problem with that. But why deny print reporters the use of digital recorders? What is it about this small, hand-held device that would cause a media circus?

Perhaps Ashcroft is attempting to avoid any of the YouTube type problems so many politicians are faced with these days. After all, at this point he has been plagued with several, including the many appearances of the Singing Senators since one of Ashcroft's fellow performers, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, had his bathroom incident in Minneapolis.

Quite frankly, the type of "wide stance" taken by Ashcroft during his MSU visit has the capacity to do more damage to our open way of government than anything Senator Craig did and the hypocrisy is just as great.

Hartzler: Federal government can't run health care

In her latest campaign news release, Fourth District Republican Congressional candidate Vicky Hartzler said the Obama Administration is incapable of running U. S. health care:

Republican congressional candidate Vicky Hartzler said today that false job claims and gross errors by the Obama Administration demonstrate what most people already know, that the federal government is incompetent to run U.S. health care or control energy production and use.

Hartzler is challenging 17-term incumbent Democrat Congressman Ike Skelton for the Fourth
U.S. House district in western Missouri.

Hartzler stated: "The revelations of shocking incompetence in handling the failed 'stimulus' spending supported by Ike Skelton are a preview of the mess we will have if the President and Congress succeed in their plans to take over health care and energy production and pricing. Report after report is finding grossly inflated employment claims from the failed stimulus bill, and absurd reports of spending in congressional districts that don't exist. This is our hard-earned money being trashed, with the help and support of Congressman Skelton.

"When Rep. Skelton and the other Pelosi supporters voted a $787 billion spending spree with our money, they said the so-called economic 'stimulus' would keep the jobless rate from exceeding 8 percent. Joblessness now has surpassed 10%, with tremendous suffering for millions of workers and families in Missouri and the nation. Now we learn from news reports that the big-spenders don't even know where billions went, and that job claims have been grossly inflated time after time.

"What this tells us above all is that it's time to change from the failed policies of big spending, borrowing and debt favored by Rep. Skelton. To get new jobs, we need to cut taxes for small businesses, where real jobs are created. We need to put the government on a diet. We need to send a very clear message to Rep. Skelton, Speaker Pelosi and President Obama that the government is grabbing for power it shouldn't have, doesn't rightly have, and can't be trusted to exercise competently. Most people in our district know how to fix this runaway liberal Congress. It starts with voting for proven, common sense policies and conservative principles."

Hartzler strongly favors market-oriented policies for U.S. energy production in place of the huge tax hikes and vast government economic controls supported by Skelton and others who passed the so-called "cap and tax" bill for global warming. This huge bill would impose major price hikes on all carbon-based energy, including electricity and transportation fuel.

On the health care issue, Hartzler began her campaign with open-door town meetings on health care throughout the district. In line with comments from citizens and health care providers, she supports numerous steps to make care more affordable and accessible, including reforms in coverage and greater competition for insurance providers, and lawsuit reform to improve access and reduce costs to patients.

Cynthia Davis: I'm immune to swine flu

In her latest column, Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon shares her thoughts on the H1N1 virus:

I like my school district. Here I am standing in front of their sign that announces the anticipated vaccination event was cancelled. The school district was going to host a flu shot clinic, but could not get the vaccines. Some of my constituents are asking me questions about the process. Beyond this being an interesting study of supply and demand, here are my thoughts:

I think I’m one of those who are immune to the virus. That’s good because I shake a lot of hands. I never really worried about getting either the flu or the vaccine, although I realize many of my constituents are very concerned. People have been getting sick since sin entered the world. Germs spread far and fast. This one was remarkable because of media attention received. Usually we don’t know from where a virus originated, and complications are simply treated with antibiotics.

Here are some facts to consider:

1.) Don’t worry about what you call it. We all know that it is referred to as both “The Swine Flu” and “H1N1”. I am not at all concerned that the readers of my report go out and shoot their hogs or will think they can get the swine flu from eating pork.

2.) While it is true that this flu is highly contagious, it is not virulent. Experts are saying it is actually milder than the regular seasonal flu. You can scare a lot of people with statistics, but the reality is that people die in our country every day from many different causes, so those numbers are deceiving. It would be more helpful if the statistics were broken down by the complications from which they die rather than just calling it the flu. The majority of those who have died had underlying high-risk medical conditions before they got the flu.

3.) It is not the job of the government or the schools to provide vaccines. Schools are educational institutions, not health institutions. The ones that have offered vaccinations were trying to be helpful, but ultimately this decision should be worked out between you and your doctor. The Fort Zumwalt, Francis Howell and Wentzville School Districts have been helpful in offering their facilities as vaccination clinics. Link here to read what our school districts are doing to secure H1N1 vaccines.

4.) A lesson in reverse psychology: Since they acted like there would not be enough vaccines, there was more demand than usual. If the government had implemented a mandatory vaccination program where everybody would be forced to get it, fewer may have wanted one. I will not join those who are bashing our government or calling them inept because of the availability impediments. The drug companies are doing all they can to make these vaccines.

5.) If you get the flu, it will most likely give you more immunity when a similar virus comes around again. The reason I didn’t get the flu while everyone around me was getting it probably was because I had the version that went around in the 70’s. I am going to pass on my vaccination so that someone elderly or with a weaker immune system can have mine.

6.) Plenty of the vaccine is on its way, although many states are reporting to be past the peak of people coming down with this flu. The State of Missouri has set up a toll free phone line to answer your questions: 1-877-FLU-4141.

Gutless Palin bars media from College of the Ozarks appearance

I am sure this post will bring out the legions of Sarah Palin acolytes who believe the Alaska governor can do no wrong, but the agreement between Mrs. Palin and College of the Ozarks to bar the media from her Dec. 2 speech is indefensible and shows that for all of her legendary "mavericky" tendencies, she is simply a politician who plays too fast and loose with the truth (when she has any idea what that truth is).

College of the Ozarks is a private institution and has every right to bar whomever it wishes from its premises, but For Mrs. Palin to set such guidelines is a clear sign that she is still unable to cope with the media, so she takes the next best approach- demonizing it to try to cover all of her shortcomings.

It would be nice if Mrs. Palin relented and agreed to let reporters cover the event, but that would require Mrs. Palin to admit she was wrong about something and that day will probably never come.

Deposition set for former DOR director in class action lawsuit

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against former Department of Revenue officials will take the deposition of former DOR Direcdtor Trish Vincent, according to documents filed Wednesday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The deposition is scheduled to take place in the Broadway State Office Building.

In the lawsuit, filed by Emily Roberts, Jefferson City, and Sarah Smith, El Dorado Springs, the issue is whether the Department of Revenue's decision to sell drivers' personal information to Source for Public Data and Shadowsoft violates the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act.

The lawsuit was certified as a class action earlier this week.

More information about the case can be found at this link.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No mention of Pete Newman story in Branson Tri-Lakes News

The Branson Tri-Lakes News website (formerly Branson Daily News) updated today, and despite the major developments in the Pete Newman sex case, not one word was mentioned.

A school principal who eats fried worms made the homepage, and on the inside local news page, residents were urged to be prepared for winter weather.

Since Newman's arrest only one story made the newspaper's pages and that was a week after the arrest.

Accused killer of Carthage couple admits to probation violation

Darren Winans, one of two men accused of the October 2008 murder of Bob and Ellen Sheldon, owners of the Old Cabin Shop in Carthage, admitted that he violated the terms of his probation on a 2006 Barton County conviction.

Winans was not in court during the probation violation hearing, according to online court records, but admitted the violation through his lawyer, public defender Brandi McInroy. Winans' conviction was for stealing a vehicle.

The final disposition of the case is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 16.

The next hearing in the murder case against Winans and his co-defendant, Matthew Laurin, is set for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 7.

Seventeen defendants to be dismissed from class action suit against Department of Revenue

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the newly certified class action lawsuit against the Department of Revenue filed a motion today to dismiss 17 defendants, all lower-level DOR employees.

If the judge approves the motion, the remaining defendants would be former Source for Public Data, Shadowsoft, former DOR Director Trish Vincent, and state employees Omar Davis, Julie Allen, Ruth Otto, and Karen Dudenhoeffer.

In the lawsuit, filed by Emily Roberts, Jefferson City, and Sarah Smith, El Dorado Springs, the issue is whether the Department of Revenue's decision to sell drivers' personal information to the two companies violates the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act.

Government accepts El-Amin pre-sentence investigation

The government has accepted the pre-sentence investigation for former Rep. Talibdin El-Amin, D-St. Louis, today, according to a document filed in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

El-Amin pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges Sept. 24, the same day he resigned from the House. El-Amin's sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14.

Brown waives right to appeal

This should come as no surprise, considering he received no prison time, but former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis, filed a waiver of his right to appeal today in U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Brown was sentenced to two years of probation and a $50,000 fine Tuesday. His co-conspirator, former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and fined $40,000.

Latest poll; Carnahan, Blunt in virtual tie

A new Public Policy Polling survey gives Secretary of State Robin Carnahan just a one point lead, 43 percent to 42 percent over Seventh District Congressman Roy Blunt in the battle to replace retiring U. S. Senator Kit Bond.

The margin of error is 3.6 percent, meaning Ms. Carnahan and Blunt are in a virtual tie.

Smith: I squandered what I loved the most

In a note of contrition before he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison Tuesday, former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St Louis, said his desire to do anything he could to win his Congressional race against Russ Carnahan, brought about his downfall.

"I was raised better than that, but I thought the ends justified the means," Smith said. "I squandered my reputation and my political career. I squandered what I loved the most."


(Randy Turner's new book, Newspaper Days, is available at

Class action suit against Department of Revenue certified

It is official. Thanks to an order issued by U. S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey Tuesday, a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Source for Public Data, and Shawdowsoft has been certified as a class action.

In the lawsuit, filed by Emily Roberts, Jefferson City, and Sarah Smith, El Dorado Springs, the issue is whether the Department of Revenue's decision to sell drivers' personal information to the two companies violates the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ms. Roberts, Ms. Smith, and others whose privacy may have been violated. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are The Source for Public Data LP, doing business as, Dallas, Texas;, Dallas, Texas; Omar Davis, director, Missouri Department of Revenue; and "Does 1 through 10. The "Does" are described in the petition as employees of the Department of Revenue who went along with these alleged actions.

The lawsuit says Public Data and Shadowsoft bought the personal information from the DOR and sold it over the internet:

"Prior to February 20, 2008, co-defendant Shadowsoft acquired a large database of information from Mo. DOR on the pretense that the information would be used only for the legitimate business purpose of verifying the accuracy of information of individuals doing business with Shadowsoft.

"The information database acquired by Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR contained “highly restricted personal information”, including social security numbers, belonging to hundreds of thousands of licensed drivers in the State of Missouri.

"Upon information and belief, co-defendant Shadowsoft transferred the database
in totum to co-defendant PublicData.

"PublicData then made the highly restricted personal information belonging to those individuals, unlawfully acquired from Mo. DOR, available for search and sale on its website, In many instances, the information acquired by Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR and subsequently sold by PublicData on, included social security numbers."

The plaintiffs are asking for damages, costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees.

Smith's treasurer placed on probation

While former Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis, received one year and one day in prison following a one hour, 10 minute court session Tuesday, his co-defendants will not serve any prison time.

As noted in The Turner Report Tuesday, former Rep. Steve Brown, D-St. Louis, was placed on probation for two years and fined $50,000. Smith's campaign treasurer in his unsuccessful 2006 Congressional campaign against Russ Carnahan, Nick Adams, received two years probation and a $5,000 fine.

The three men were charged with lying to the government during the investigation of an illegal campaign mailing.

Affidavit: Newman, underage boys played naked Truth or Dare, had sex at spiritual locations

Investigative reports filed in Taney County Circuit Court indicate former Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Mewman indulged in naked truth or dare games with an underage boy at the Big Cedar Lodge in Taney County, and had mutual masturbation sessions with a 12-year-old at the K Dome, a place of worship for Kanakuk Kampers.

The reports were placed in the court record this week as new felony sex charges were filed against Newman.

According to a report, a signed statement was received from a father Sept. 28, including the following information told to the father by his son:

"In March 2004, he and Pete were at the Kamp (in the off season) and went to the condo on the grounds where they engaged in mutual masturbation." The boy was 12 years old.

In March 2005, following a Kanakuk event, Newman talked the boy into going to his home and using the hot tub jets to "stimulate themselves," according to the report.

In December 2006, the report says, the boy met with Newman at another camp director's home and when they were alone "they would get naked in front of each other and engage in mutual masturbation. During the same time, they went to stay at the Big Cedar Lodge where they would play 'Truth or Dare'and run around naked in front of each other." The report said they would stimulate each other with the water jets in the hot tub and then masturbate each other. The boy was 15 at the time.

"Pete would always tell him what they did together was ok because they were together and not thinking about females. Pete would always remind him not tell anyone, especially his parents."

In another report, taken at the Child Advocacy Center Oct. 2, a 14-year-old told investigators that in 2008 when the boy was 13, he and Newman engaged in mutual masturbation and Newman tried to convince the boy to perform oral sex on him.

"Pete would always remind him not to tell anyone and would often call him weeks or months later to see if he had told anyone about what they did and then would ask if he was ready to do it again.

The report indicates sexual activities took place even when Newman was staying at the boy's residence.

On another occasion, during a father and son retreat, "Pete took him from the cabin where he and his father were staying in and went to a vacant cabin where they engaged in mutual masturbation."

Another report taken at the Child Advocacy Center describes Newman taking a 12-year-old boy to the K Dome, a place of worship for Kanakuk Kampers, for a mutual masturbation session. Newman allegedly also had oral and anal sex with the 12-year-old in a motel room during a spiritual retreat.


(Randy Turner's new book, Newspaper Days, is available at

Newman waives preliminary hearing, charged with new sex crimes

Former Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Newman waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday and will return to court Dec. 17.

Meanwhile Taney County prosecutors filed new charges against Newman, bringing the total to 10. Judge Tony Williams increased Newman's bond by half a million dollars to $650,000.

With the new charges, all involving sex with underage boys, the complaints against Newman now include four counts of enticement of a child, three counts of first degree statutory sodomy, and four counts of second degree statutory sodomy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Former Neosho band teacher waives hearing on sex charges

Former Neosho High School band teacher Brian Rash waived the reading of charges against him Monday in Ottawa County Circuit District Court. His arraignment on felony sex charges is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Rash, who also taught for a time in joplin Catholic Schools, is charged with first degree rape, attempted first degree rape, four counts of rape by instrumentation, and two charges of lewd and indecent proposals to a child. All of the charges involve Rash and teenage male students.

Pete Newman charged with additional felony sex crime

An additional count of enticement of a child, a felony sex offense, was filed today against former Kanakuk Kamp director Pete Newman, according to online Taney County Circuit Court files.

Newman is also charged with two counts of statutory sodomy, another count of enticement of a child, and sexual misconduct.

Ruestman issues report to Missouri Women's Council

In her latest capitol report, Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, reprinted the report she wrote for the Missouri Women's Council. The text is featured below:

Missouri had its first “hit”!
I couldn’t be more excited and proud. I was the House sponsor of House Bill 152 which was signed into law this July. This will keep my promise that we would locate felons who are a threat to our young women and children. Let me explain!

I recently attended a press conference held by the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department to honor this legislation. House Bill 152 led to its first arrest of a burglar. (While this event may seem insignificant, it is indicative of something much more important. House Bill 152 is working!)

House Bill 152 is the result of some simple research I was doing a few years ago on the number of rapes and assaults in the State of Missouri. It shocked me to learn that the average rapist commits 8-12 rapes before being caught. In 2007, 1,496 rapes were reported in Missouri. Two-thirds of those rapes were committed against children under the age of 17. Those numbers astounded and appalled me. As we began to search for answers, we discovered Katie’s Law.

Katie Sepich was brutally raped and murdered in 2003. Law enforcement ran the DNA evidence found on her body through the database, but found no match. Three months later her attacker was arrested for another crime and released. No DNA was taken upon his arrest. Had it been taken at that time he would have immediately been matched to Katie’s death and taken off the streets. Instead, he was not charged with the murder of Katie until three years later when he was convicted of other crimes. For three years he was free and able to perform other crimes, even rapes.

When we spoke with Katie’s mother, Jayann, she was already involved in assisting states working on this concept. She believed rapes would be prevented and violent criminals locked up if DNA were taken upon arrest instead of conviction. She lobbied her home state of New Mexico and was able to get it passed fairly quickly. After I filed this legislation two years ago she offered to travel to Missouri to witness at my hearing in Jefferson City.

This year, after a two year fight in the General Assembly we were able to pass Katie’s Law. I am most proud of this accomplishment as a legislator because it is a huge leap forward in protecting the state’s women and children. Unlike other crime prevention measures, you can see tangible results in the number of “hits” in the database. It’s working as I predicted.

Nationwide, Missouri was the 21st state to sign DNA profiling of arrestees into law. It has been fought in courts and repeatedly upheld as constitutional. Recently, John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted joined the fight to prevent these brutal crimes and help pass Katie’s law in the remaining 29 states. I was honored to be given the “Katie’s Heroes” award by Sepich and Walsh. I truly appreciate the recognition, but above all am thrilled to know House Bill 152 is already doing its job here in Missouri and will save lives.

Missouri college tuition to stay at same level

A deal has been reached between Gov. Jay Nixon and Missouri's higher education institutions to keep undergraduate tuition level for the next school year The following news release was issued:

ST. LOUIS - For the second year in a row, in-state, undergraduate students at Missouri's four-year, public colleges and universities won't see tuition or academic fees rise by a penny.
That's the good news Gov. Jay Nixon announced today during visits to the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Missouri State University in Springfield.

"To turn this economy around, Missourians must be trained, educated and ready to work, and that's why it was vital that we kept tuition flat for Missouri families," Gov. Nixon said. "As tuition skyrockets by double digits in other states, university leaders, faculty members and my administration have worked together to put Missouri students first and protect them from tuition spikes for the second year in a row. By helping keep higher education affordable, we are taking bold steps to prepare the workforce that will move Missouri forward."

Under a new agreement with Gov. Nixon, Missouri's public, four-year schools have agreed not to impose a tuition increase on in-state, undergraduate students for the 2010-2011 school year. Despite economic challenges that are requiring difficult cuts throughout state government, Gov. Nixon has agreed to maintain higher education funding at approximately 95 percent of the current fiscal year's appropriation. This works out to be a reduction of 5.2 percent, or $42 million. This agreement is subject to approval by the General Assembly and the institutions' governing boards.
If approved, this will be the second consecutive year Missouri students have benefitted from a tuition-freeze agreement between Gov. Nixon and leaders of the state's public four-year institutions. Under a similar agreement for the 2009-2010 school year, Missouri's four-year, public colleges and universities froze tuition in exchange for stable funding in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. Prior to last year's freeze, tuition at Missouri's public, four-year colleges and universities increased by an average of 7.5 percent a year over the past decade.

This innovative partnership among higher education leaders, faculty members and Gov. Nixon's administration is helping prevent the dire situations emerging in many other states, where tuition has jumped by an average of 6.5 percent nationally in the past year. In some states, that increase has been as much as 17 percent.
"Higher education is one of the best ways Missourians can ensure their competitiveness for the jobs of the 21st century," said Carolyn Mahoney, president of Lincoln University and president of the Council of Public Higher Education. "To turn this economy around, we must help more students access our programs and learn at our institutions. This agreement will help keep higher education affordable for Missouri students and families, and it will help our institutions fulfill their missions even during these challenging economic times."

Gary Forsee, president of the four-campus University of Missouri system, said the state's universities share Gov. Nixon's desire to ensure that Missouri's families continue to have access to quality education.
"The governor's action today strikes the best balance in a difficult and fiscally challenging time for our state," President Forsee said. "This agreement mitigates the magnitude of the cut that higher education would otherwise have received and enables us to hold undergraduate tuition flat for one more year. Our dedicated staff, faculty and administration will continue to be part of the solution as they focus on our long-term role to prepare the state's future workforce, do groundbreaking research, and create jobs through economic development."
Michael T. Nietzel, president of Missouri State University, said that this continued partnership will have real benefits for Missouri's students.
"First and foremost, higher education is about our students, and we must ensure that a four-year education remains as affordable and accessible as possible," President Nietzel said. "I am pleased that our institutions have been able to partner with Gov. Nixon once again to make sure tuition remains flat for Missouri students, while funding for higher education remains strong. During these difficult economic times, we must all be willing to compromise and do our part to help move Missouri forward. We appreciate Gov. Nixon's commitment to higher education, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to do what's best for Missouri students."
Under the agreement with Gov. Nixon, the institutions may put a tuition increase on their books for next year, but will not charge in-state, undergraduate students for that increase. This agreement will take effect upon approval of the Fiscal Year 2011 appropriation, as long as the approved appropriation at least matches the Governor's recommended budget.
"I thank the leaders of Missouri's four-year colleges and universities, the faculty members, and all those who came together to make this agreement possible," Gov. Nixon said. "We've all had to make tough choices about ways we can become more efficient and maximize our limited resources. By working together, we have been able to preserve our shared priority of making higher education as affordable as possible for Missourians. That's something that should make us all proud."