Friday, September 30, 2011

Lights returning to Joplin after thousands of streetlights destroyed in tornado

Another look at Joplin High School security footage during May 22 tornado

Danny Craven put together this video for Joplin Schools, which begins with security footage from the high school and ends with a rousing cheer from elementary children.

$2,500 reward offered for Hanah, dog lost in Joplin Tornado

5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado on sale in Carl Junction Saturday

Carthage Press Managing Editor John Hacker and I will be at the Carl Junction Community Building tomorrow morning selling copies of our book, 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado. John will be there from 7 to noon, except for a short time when he will leave to cover an event for The Press. I will be there from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Hope to see some of you there.

McCaskill: Medicare and Social Security must be protected

In her latest report, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, says Social Security and Medicare must be protected.

I never need to go far if I need a reminder of how important Medicare and Social Security are to Missouri's seniors. My mom, Betty Anne, is one of millions for whom these services provide a reliable safety net.

Across the country, these protections are an integral part of sustaining the health and dignity of millions of seniors.

Unfortunately, there are some misguided politicians in Washington who don't understand the value of these protections.

Earlier this year, I helped put a stop to a plan that would have dismantled Medicare, turning it into a voucher program. That plan would ultimately have forced seniors on Medicare to pay more than $6,000 more each year just to sustain their current benefits, and would leave seniors to fend for themselves in the health insurance marketplace against large private insurance companies.

Their plan was reckless, and wrong for Missouri seniors. That's why I rejected it.

Missourians I hear from just don't buy the idea that the only way to tackle the national debt is to drastically alter Medicare and Social Security. We understand that small adjustments can be made to shore up these vital services without radically re-defining them.

That's why I opposed the effort to make Medicare a voucher program. It's why I'm helping lead an effort in the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to ensure the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share into the Social Security trust fund. And it's why I'm advocating some commonsense ways of getting benefits only to the folks who need them—because your tax dollars shouldn't be paying for Donald Trump's prescription drugs.

As a member of the Aging Committee, I'm no stranger to fighting for America's seniors. After holding hearings to get input from Missourians, I led the fight to pass legislation that protects seniors from predatory lending in the mortgage industry. I stood up against efforts that would make it harder for seniors to vote, and battled telemarketers bent on defrauding seniors.

And I voted to close the prescription drug doughnut hole and eliminate co-pays for preventative health services.

This week, I'm traveling the state, hearing directly from Missouri's seniors at town hall events. I look forward to hearing their input and ideas, and taking it with me back to the Senate.

My fight for Missouri's seniors is grounded in our Missouri values and our state's history. Medicare was signed into law at the library of our own Harry Truman. At the time, President Johnson told the nation that it "all started with the man from Independence," pointing to Truman's work on behalf of our seniors. Truman, Johnson said, had "planted the seeds of compassion and duty" that led to Medicare.

And with a signature from President Johnson, Harry Truman became the very first Medicare recipient in the nation's history.

I have the honor of holding Harry Truman's Senate seat today. And I'll continue fighting to make sure that the protections granted to him all those years ago are sustained for today's seniors and are still there for our kids, and grandkids, and for generations to come.

Akin unhappy with decision to allow gay wedding ceremonies on military bases

(From Congressman Todd Akin)

Congressman Todd Akin, Chairman of the Seapower & Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement in response to the Department of Defense’s decision to allow gay marriage ceremonies to be performed by military chaplains and take place on military bases. Akin was the author of an amendment to the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540) which makes it clear that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) applies to the Department of Defense.

“The Department of Defense has decided to put the White House’s liberal agenda ahead of following the law. The Defense of Marriage Act makes it clear that for the purposes of the federal government, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. The use of federal property or federal employees to perform gay marriage ceremonies is a clear contravention of the law.

“In May, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act carrying my amendment on this issue. My amendment, which is now the position of the House of Representatives, would make it clear that federal employees and federal property can only be used to support marriages that are consistent with DOMA.”

The Akin Amendment is section 535 of H.R. 1540 which passed the House of Representatives on May 26, 2011.

Steelman fund raising pitch: Let's send a message to that double talking Claire McCaskill

Today is the last day of the quarter, so State Treasurer Sarah Steelman sent out a last second pitch.

This is the last chance to contribute to the campaign for this quarter and send a powerful message to our double talking Senator Claire McCaskill that she is on her way out. Every dollar contributed helps ensure that Claire McCaskill will no longer be able to infringe upon our liberty and waste our taxpayer dollars in the most irresponsible ways.

As a Senator, my goals would be very different.

I would fight to create an economic environment that encourages job creation for Missourians, not job creation for Washington lobbyists.

We can’t afford to keep spending on our current path — it isn’t fair to future generations, and it shows a lack of respect for your hard earned dollar.

We need to cut taxes. Government takes too much of our money.

And while Senator McCaskill gives lip service to a balance budget amendment, when she had the opportunity to support one in the Senate, she said no.

Cutting spending, capping the size of government, a balanced budget amendment, a sensible energy policy, and throwing out the bloated and absurd tax code and replacing it with fairness and common sense — these are my goals.

And I will never compromise just for the sake of a compromise — I will lead.

Robin Carnahan: The time is right for me to return to private life

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced today she would not seek a third term. She issued the following statement:

I’m proud of the success we’ve had in the Secretary of State’s office by staying focused on things that matter for Missourians.

We’ve saved taxpayers money, while still providing terrific services to Missourians. We’ve cut red tape and costs for small businesses so they can focus on growing their businesses and creating jobs. And we have helped consumers and investors learn how to better protect themselves, and recovered more than $10 billion for victims of financial fraud.

We’ve made Missouri history come alive by making our state’s precious historical resources available on-line to hundreds of millions of people all around the world. And, despite the efforts of some to let politics interfere with Missourians right to vote, we’ve protected the rights of voters and the integrity of our elections so that we can all have faith in the fairness of the results.

Without question, serving the state and people that I love has been the honor of my life. Your friendship and support over the years have given me the strength to stand up to challenges, both political and personal. But after careful reflection, I’ve decided not to run for a 3rd term as Secretary of State.

Many who step away from public life cite a desire to “spend more time with family.” I’ve already learned to cherish every moment spent with family and friends, because I know that life is precious and unpredictable.

But I’ve also learned that service can and does take many forms, and elective office is just one of them.

I watched as my father moved regularly between elective office and private life…always devoted to his family and to making a positive difference in the community. He served on church boards, the local school board and helped the Red Cross and countless other causes--every day committed to helping a neighbor and making the community better. Dad always thought his experience as a private citizen helped make him a more effective public servant and a better governor.

After 8 years as Secretary of State, the time will be right for me to return to private life, to gather new ideas and experiences and a fresh perspective. But my commitment to public service won’t stop, because I know the challenges facing our country can’t be solved in Washington or Jefferson City alone. It will take ideas, energy and the daily commitment and determination of all of us.

So I plan to stay engaged and involved. And I ask you to do the same. For me, that could include running for elected office again, but it will certainly mean speaking out and working hard for the values we share and the candidates who stand up for them.

My term as Secretary of State continues for another 15 months. During that time, my terrific staff and I will stay focused on providing the type of outstanding service Missourians expect and deserve.

Thanks again for all your help and friendship. It means more to me than you will ever know. I’ll look forward to connecting with you soon.

Kander: I'm running for secretary of state

(From Rep. Jason Kander)

Rep. Jason Kander (D-Kansas City) issued the following statement today regarding the announcement by Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan that she won’t be seeking reelection:

“I want to express my deep gratitude to Secretary Carnahan for her years of service to Missouri. In a state full of accomplished public servants her achievements stand out. Her dedication to public service has made this state demonstrably better. From fighting aggressively to protect our senior citizens from fraud to ensuring fair elections year in and out, Secretary Carnahan has led from the front. I am confident that in her future endeavors she will continue to stand up for Missourians, and I look forward to continue working with her in the future.

“It is important that the next Secretary of State continues moving the office forward in the most efficient and effective manner. Our next Secretary of State must be someone who knows the difficulties small businesses face. Our next Secretary of State must be someone who has a record of fighting fraud and corruption in government. Our next Secretary of State must be beholden to no one but the voters. Our next Secretary of State must be committed to working every day to making Missouri stronger.

“I am the son of a cop and a juvenile probation officer. I am the husband of a small business owner. I am the product of an extended family of foster brothers. I am a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. I am running for Secretary of State and I look forward to talking with citizens from across Missouri about my vision for the office.”

Missouri Democratic Party issues statement on Carnahan's decision not to seek third term

(From the Missouri Democratic Party)

“Throughout her career, Robin Carnahan has been a dedicated and tireless public servant to the state of Missouri,” said Susan Montee, chairwoman of the Missouri Democratic Party. “Robin has been an incredible advocate for middle class families, promoting fair elections, protecting our seniors and making Missouri a better state for us all. We know Robin will continue to serve Missourians well.”

The Missouri Democratic Party is committed to fielding a competitive candidate who will be a strong advocate for Missouri’s families as Secretary of State.

Webb City Cardinal Pride Band raises $15,000 for Joplin High School Band

(From the Webb City Band Boosters)

Total funds raised for Joplin Band Tornado Relief Fund effort (A fund set up by Webb City Cardinal Pride Band for Joplin) was $15,000. $5,000 of that is for the music purchase. Additional monies from Joplin Band Tornado Relief Fund is being used to purchase the John Deere tractor later this week. Remaining funds after gator purchase will be disbursed based on Joplin band needs as they arise.

Also goods donations, not figured into that $15,000 cash figure, were distributed right after the tornado to band families.

The Joplin Band Tornado Relief Fund was set up at US bank by the WC Band Boosters shortly after the storm because Diana Williams. She started receiving contributions from all over to assist the Joplin Band. Besides financial contributions, over 30 truckloads (and some buses) delivered clothing and personal effects to the WC band room at the high school. Items were sorted and delivered to a receiving station in Joplin for distribution to families in need. Once the Joplin receiving station filled to capacity, clothing and personal effects were stored in the WC band room and 2 semi trailers until items were sold at 2 Buck-a-Bag rummage sales held in the WC band room in June. Proceeds from these sales were added to the Joplin Band Tornado Relief Fund.

No Republican primary in Missouri 2012: GOP opts for return to caucuses

(From the Missouri Republican Party)

After Jay Nixon vetoed the elections bill and the General Assembly failed to achieve final passage of the presidential primary bill prior to October 1, the Missouri Republican State Committee held an emergency meeting on Thursday to ensure our state is in compliance with the rules of the Republican Party. During this meeting, the committee voted unanimously to amend our call to convention and go to a caucus system for the 2012 election.

“The Missouri Republican Party is committed to ensuring that the Governor’s veto of the elections bill and the General Assembly’s failure to move our presidential primary will not disrupt the national nominating process,” said David Cole, Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. “A caucus will continue to protect the rights of Missourians to select the Republican nominee for president—and any self-declared Republican who is registered to vote in Missouri has the ability to participate in the caucus process.”

The delegate selection process, as agreed to by the state committee:

*The County Caucuses will take place on March 17, 2012. At these caucuses, which are open to any Republican who is registered to vote in that county, attendees will select delegates and alternates to the Congressional District Conventions and State Convention. No delegates to the national convention are selected at this time. The number of delegates and alternates per county is determined by the Missouri Republican Party based upon the number of GOP votes cast in the last presidential election.

* The Congressional District Conventions will take place on April 21, 2012. At each of these 8 conventions, delegates chosen at the county level will select 3 delegates and alternates to the National Convention and 1 presidential elector. The delegates and alternates will be required to declare allegiance to a candidate prior to the voting, and they will be bound to that candidate on the first ballot—unless they are released prior to the convention.

*The State Convention will take place on June 2, 2012. At the convention, delegates chosen at the county level will vote on 26 at-large delegates and alternates to the National Convention and 2 at large presidential electors. The delegates and alternates will be required to declare allegiance to a candidate prior to the voting, and they will be bound to that candidate on the first ballot—unless they are released prior to the convention.

In total, Missouri will have 52 delegates and 49 alternates to the Republican National Convention—24 selected at the congressional district caucuses, 25 selected at the state convention, and 1 delegate (but no alternate) for the state Party chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman.

This Party action does not require legislative approval.

New sponsor joins Ten for Joplin project

(From Tulsa Habitat for Humanity)

Habitat for Humanity International’s Women Build program is donating $100,000 and providing 30 women volunteers to construct a Women Build house during “Ten for Joplin,” a 10-house blitz build in Joplin, Mo., this fall. An effort of Tulsa Habitat for Humanity and Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, “Ten for Joplin” aims to build by Thanksgiving 10 Habitat houses in partnership with 10 low-income families affected by the May 22 EF-5 tornado that damaged or destroyed nearly 7,500 Joplin houses. Some 43 percent of these houses were uninsured. The build will take place from Oct. 29 - Nov. 13 in a neighborhood of Joplin that was in the tornado’s path.

Underwritten by Lowe’s, Habitat for Humanity International's Women Build program recruits, educates and inspires women to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable houses in their communities. More than 1,900 Habitat houses have been built by all-women construction crews since 1998.

“Women Build brings together women from all walks of life to create affordable housing in partnership with low-income families,” said Lisa Marie Nickerson, associate director of Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program. “Knowing the need in Joplin is so great and will require support from thousands of volunteers and donors, we are honored to sponsor a house on behalf of all of the women who support Habitat’s mission around the world.”

In addition to Women Build, “Ten for Joplin” sponsors include the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Arvest Bank, BKD CPAs & Advisors, Chase, Hilti, Samson, and TD Williamson, Inc. Advanced Industrial Devices, Inc. and Unit Corporation also signed up to sponsor half a house each. Gift in-kind donations have been provided by Cor-A-Vent, Hilti, and Thermal Windows, Inc. United Way contributed tornado relief funds to help with the purchase of the ten lots. Funding of $800,000 and gift-in-kind support is needed for the 10-house blitz build. To date, “Ten for Joplin” has secured $605,000 toward this goal.

To donate or volunteer, visit the “Ten for Joplin” website at For information on volunteering with Women Build, please visit

Day care situation in Joplin better than it was immediately after tornado

KOAM reports on how Joplin tornado relief donations are being managed

PSU students to help Extreme Home Makeover in Joplin

(From Pittsburg State University)

A few years ago when professor Justin Honey began thinking about how his students in the Construction Management and Construction Engineering Technology Department at Pittsburg State University could get some exciting, real-world experience, he sent a letter to producers at the ABC hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," offering their services should the show ever come to this part of the country.

Now nearly four months after the infamous Joplin tornado cut a swath of destruction through the city, the construction management students at PSU are getting their chance.

This October, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will film a show unlike any before: In one week, seven homes will be built. Producers have announced it will air as a two-hour special and will be the show's 200th episode.

A milestone for the Emmy award-winning production, the experience will also be like none other for more than 100 PSU students who will be playing a large role in the construction of those homes.

"To have been given this much responsibility is incredible," Honey said. "We had to show them that our students not only have the academic knowledge, but also the field experience to back it up. Right now we're laying the groundwork to make sure everything goes off without a hitch."

Pittsburg State's CMCET students will work in four primary areas when the show films in Joplin the week of Oct. 19-26: The students will supply all-around support teams (known as "Cobra" teams) for each home under construction; are solely responsible for on-site safety and OSHA compliance for all construction personnel and tradesmen; and will take care of material staging and handling, which means making sure material is brought up to the job sites as soon as it is needed.

For Honey and the eight construction management seniors who make up his project management team, this means performing countless interviews with other students who are interested in volunteering for the massive project and selecting the best. In total, more than 100 students will rotate 12-hour shifts during those seven days, working alongside professional construction companies from across the area. Nearly half of those students will be assigned to the Cobra teams, which give them a chance to be the "right hand" men and women working alongside professionals.

"The belief of our faculty in construction is that these students will gain more knowledge in that one week than they will sitting in any of our classrooms," said Honey, adding that faculty members and even Technology Dean Dr. Bruce Dallman will volunteer for those 12-hour shifts with students.

Although the seniors are using the mega-build as their main project for Senior Projects, their capstone course this fall, there is no extra credit being awarded for participation - they're all simply volunteering their time.

"Working on a project of this size and intensity is an experience like no other," said Kelsey Mullis, a senior construction management major and member of the PSU project management team. "When we put the word out that we were looking for students, we were flooded with offers to volunteer."

Honey is proud that the PSU team will comprise one of the largest groups to participate in the upcoming build, and that the program's outstanding reputation has led to an opportunity like this. "This is a tremendous challenge to make everything come together," he said. "But it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

For more information on PSU's involvement with the show, contact Honey at 620-235-6149,

Facebook Law fix still hasn't reached Gov. Nixon

If you are wondering why Gov. Jay Nixon has not signed the so-called "fix" to Sen. Jane Cunningham's Facebook Law, the answer is a simple one- the bill has yet to reach his desk.

MNEA, in a legislative update to its members, says that though both houses overwhelmingly passed the revision to the social networking portion of SB 54, Speaker of the House Steve Tilley has yet to sign the bill. Until it has his signature, it does not go to the governor.

Tilley was scheduled to sign the bill Thursday when the House met for a technical session, but did not, because the Senate was not in session. After Tilley signs it, the message is supposed to be read in the Senate concerning the House's action on the same day.

Both chambers are scheduled to be in session Monday when Tilley is expected to sign the bill. Whether Nixon will approve the legislation is another matter entirely. In his call for the special session, the governor asked that the Facebook Law be repealed, not revised. The revision, worked out by Sen. Cunningham, with teacher organizations MNEA and MSTA, drops the requirement that teachers drop all social networking communication with students, instead requiring each school district to come up with its own policy.

This compromise is being touted as a perfect solution because it supposedly puts the decision in the hands of local school boards so they can work out policy with the help of teachers.

In reality, most Missouri school districts are going to hand off the responsibility to the Missouri School Boards Association, which could easily come up with policies that are just as draconian as what Mrs. Cunningham originally suggested since the organization is notorious for constructing policy to avoid any possibility of being sued over anything.

MNEA says this legislative "solution" is the best route because the problem should not be settled in the courts. Challenges to the Facebook Law have been filed in both state and federal courts.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

AP coverage of wild card wins for Cardinals, Rays

Steelman: I'm armed and ready to go

(The latest sales pitch by former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman in her U. S. Senate race.)

He’s at it again… Barack Obama is coming back to Missouri for another campaign stop. He is attending a fundraiser in St. Louis hosted by Tom Carnahan (yes, the same Tom Carnahan that received $100 million in tax credits for his wind power company). Unlike in 2010 when he stopped in Missouri on behalf of then Senate candidate Robin Carnahan, we are less likely to hear “I need another vote!” from the President’s mouth, and more likely to hear “Thank you, Claire!” That’s because Barack Obama knows from experience that he can count on Senator Claire McCaskill’s continued votes for his failed, liberal policies.

Senator McCaskill can run from President Obama when he’s here in Missouri, but when she is in Washington she is his one reliable vote and has been since he was elected. McCaskill voted for OBAMACARE, TARP, the bailout, cash for clunkers, the $800 billion dollar STIMULUS, and raised the DEBT CEILING – spending money we simply don’t have. Now she is advocating tax increases in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

I’ve been all around this state listening to Missourians who are struggling to find jobs or make ends meet. They know that Washington is completely disconnected from them. We need to clean house in Washington and we need to start with Claire McCaskill. If you agree with these objectives, RESPOND to this email and let me know how you feel about the current state of Washington.

If you want a U.S Senator who isn’t afraid to rock the boat and stomp on toes then I'm the gal for you! As an economist and small business owner I understand how the economy works. As your former State Treasurer and State Senator, I fought for you. As a mother, I understand how worried you are about the future of this country for our kids. And as a conservative and your next U.S. Senator, I will fight until I drop from exhaustion to cut, cap and balance our budget, and help small businesses create jobs by eliminating regulations, cutting taxes permanently, and getting our country drilling for oil again. By the way, I believe that nobody, especially the government, should come between you and your doctor – Obamacare must go! My beliefs can be summed up in the words of Ronald Reagan: “Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

And just so you know - I am 100% pro-life; I am a proud gun owner and an unapologetic supporter of the 2nd Amendment.

Please help me by joining our campaign to restore freedom in our country. I need your prayers and your energetic support to defeat Senator Claire McCaskill. We can do this – we have to!

Please visit my website at and sign up to receive regular emails to keep you updated on my campaign. It is up to us to fight for our freedom, and I am ready to go!!

Video: Highlights of Cardinals' wild card win, Carpenter masterpiece

This video came before Philadelphia beat Atlanta to clinch the wild card for St. Louis.

Last phase of FEMA mobile homes open for Joplin tornado victims


Green Shirt volunteers go door to door helping tornado victims

St. Louis area volunteers help Joplin hospital workers find jobs


Stouffer: Governor considering executive order for health care program

In his weekly column, Sen. Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, discusses implementation of the federal health care program.

A new development has come to light in the federal health care debate, and it involves a potential executive order that would go against the will of the people and the Legislature.

Among the many elements of the president’s Affordable Care Act is one that provides funding for states in order to establish health insurance exchanges, which are designed to offer affordable health care choices for both individuals and businesses. Missouri is in line for anywhere between $13 million and $21 million to start its own exchange.

With this in mind, the Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges was formed to study the effectiveness of exchanges, and whether or not one is actually needed here. As they were meeting in Jefferson City in mid-September, word came that members of the Missouri Health Insurance Pool were gathering to enact the “Show-Me Health Insurance Exchange,” established by an executive order by the governor. It turns out that this was not the case. Swift actions taken by various lawmakers stopped this vote from happening.

Executive orders are used by governors and presidents to swiftly enact new laws without the consent of legislatures or the people.

States have until 2013 to either enact health insurance exchanges or face more federal government intervention, which is essentially putting Missouri between a rock and a hard place. Proponents of exchanges say these are necessary as the first steps toward getting coverage for more folks and driving down costs. However, opponents say exchanges would do the exact opposite, turning into a major unfunded mandate on the state, resting on the state’s shoulders in one year. By 2014, there is no more federal funding for the exchanges.

Unfortunately, there is not much to stop the governor from proceeding with an executive order to make this all possible. If this were to happen, it would mean no one in the general public or in the Legislature would have anything to say about how these health insurance exchanges are created, or allow any way to stop them from occurring. Our hands would be tied.

The whole purpose of the Senate interim committee is to study the need for an exchange. Committee members may find we would benefit from a health insurance exchange, or they may discover it would be a bad idea. It may be a good idea for Missouri to design the exchanges instead of the federal government doing it for us. Either way, can we justify one person signing an order, and undermining a legislative committee’s work, just in the hopes of getting more one-time federal money into the state?

There is not a lot of time before the Affordable care Act begins to take full effect. There are still a lot of unknowns about the proposal. We hear one day how broke we are, as a country. The next, we hear how billions of dollars will be spent on a plan fewer people support each day. We have to be extremely careful with how taxpayer money is spent, at every level. The Missouri Senate’s committee is helping to do this. I pray the governor will take this committee’s work into consideration before signing an executive order.

Cynthia Davis to announce run for statewide office Saturday in Springfield

No one requested it, but former state Rep. Cynthia Davis, she of the "hunger can be a great motivator for children" remark, is attempting to stage a political comeback. She issued the following news release Wednesday.

Former Republican and 4-term State Representative, Cynthia Davis, will be making an official announcement on seeking statewide office at 3 Missouri locations:

•Saturday, October 1, 2011, at 11:00 AM in front of the Greene County Court House (Boonville & Central Street) in downtown Springfield, MO

•Sunday, October 2, 2011, at 2:30 PM at the Pioneer Mother statue in Penn Valley Park, just south of downtown Kansas City, MO at Pershing and Main Streets.

•Monday, October 3, 2011, at 12:00 Noon at the statue of St. Louis in Forest Park in front of the St. Louis Art Museum.

Representative Davis chose these locations because she believes that just as it was during the battle of the Civil War, the state and nation again faces a great turning point in our history. It is time for Missouri to rise to the challenges we face and to make our voices heard throughout this nation.

The Kansas City statue of the Pioneer Mother is symbolic of the spirit of this campaign. Like the engraving on the monument, even if our future is fraught with hardship, may it be defined by our trust in God. We are trailblazing a new path for the State of Missouri.

The statue of the famed crusader, St. Louis, was chosen because it marks the beginning of a statewide crusade to make a difference and turn our state, nation and economy around.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

St. Louis fans celebrate as Cards win wild card

Cardinals move into tie for wild card

For some unimaginable reason, Associated Press leads this segment with the American League wild card race and the announcer cannot pronounce Cardinal infielder Ryan Theriot's name, but it is still great to see St. Louis wipe out a 10 1/2 game deficit and have a chance to move into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PBS NewsHour report: Art helps healing in tornado-stricken Joplin

BIlly Long on House floor: We should be reducing taxes, reducing spending and reducing regulation

In this video, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long offers his recipe for rescuing business.

Chris Christie to Missouri GOP: I see a different America

Judging from what he has done in New Jersey, Chris Christie's different America includes public schoolteachers and union members being treated as second class citizens.

A seventh grader's gift that keeps on giving

The most, ugly misshapen box I had ever seen was blocking my path as I walked down the hallway at Joplin East Middle School where I teach eighth grade English last month during the first week of school. As I executed what I thought was a crisp, evasive move to keep from tripping and falling flat on my face, our long-suffering secretary said, “Mt. Turner, you need to move your box.”
I started to protest that it wasn’t my box, but a quick glance at the recipient’s address showed that whatever this cardboard mutation was, it was most definitely mine.
I started to lift it and found that to be an almost impossible task- it was heavy beyond belief so I managed to get it onto a dolly through a series of contortions and wheeled it to my room. I opened it and saw it was a box of books, one of many such gifts my school has received since our building was destroyed in the May 22 tornado that ripped through more than one third of our city.

Since that time, the misshapen box has sat in a corner of my room, sadly fitting in with the rest of my d├ęcor- until this morning. As I was unpacking a box of dictionaries I had received through the Adopt-A-Classroom program, I decided it was time to dive into the box and put the books on the shelves.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the books were by some of the top authors for young people, and since I have my students do a third quarter research project on the American Civil Rights Movement, I was overjoyed to see eight copies of Rosa Parks’ autobiography.

I was just about to throw away what was left of that misshapen box, when I saw an envelope peeking out from under rolled up paper shopping bag that had been placed between some of the books. The envelope was addressed to “Mr. Turner.”
When I opened it, I was blown away by the message:

Dear Mr. Turner:
Hi! My name is Jane and I am from New York City. I am going into the seventh grade. When I heard about the tornado in Joplin, I felt awful. My mom thought it would be a great idea to help somehow. We found your blog about the damage to your school. The funny thing is that you are at East Middle School and I go to East Side Middle School. I thought that was a cool connection.
I put up signs in my building and left a box outside my door. Pretty soon, I received a bunch of books to donate to your school. I could not wait to send them. I hope that they help rebuild your library.
Have a good rest of the summer and a great school year.

Sincerely, Jane
P. S. I hope your class likes the books.

At the beginning of my classes today, my students will learn about the books seventh grader Jane Walsh contributed and learn a valuable lesson about what one person can accomplish when she sets her mind to something. In the not too distant future, Jane will receive thank-you letters from the people whose lives she has enriched through this simple, thoughtful gift.

For the last three months, the people at Joplin East Middle School and the rest of this community have seen over and over just how many good people are in this world. We have been overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity.

We have been introduced to thousands of people who have reached out their hands and hearts to this community. But for this teacher, in this eighth grade classroom, a seventh grader from New York City has catapulted to the top of the list.

Thank you, Jane.

Crowell: The Missouri House of Representatives is broken

In his latest Crowell Connection, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, criticizes the House of Representatives for not passing the Senate's economic development package.

When it comes to passing economic development incentives as well as tax credit reforms, the Missouri House of Representatives is broken. During the current Special Session, the Senate listened to you, the taxpayer, and passed a “Taxpayer and Missouri Jobs First” bill, but now is stuck waiting for the House to do something. After receiving the Senate’s bill, House leadership has refused to allow its members a chance to vote on the bill, yet contends the Senate is the one holding up the process. We are the Show-Me State, it is time for House leadership to stop complaining to the press about the Senate and show us something.
In my opinion, the reason for this holdup is the Error-tropolis kool-aid drinkers continue to push, through back-room tactics, for the subsidization of the importation of China-made goods. This is why House leadership is preventing a vote on the Senate’s bill that ties incentives directly to jobs created, because they want to protect handouts to special interests and campaign contributors. While the Senate has twice, both during regular session and again during special session, passed a bill with meaningful tax credit reforms and now passed economic incentives tied to jobs, House leadership refuses to vote on any jobs and reform bill. Your calls and emails are vital in making House leadership understand that now is the time to pass the Senate bill that ties incentives to jobs and protects your hard-earned tax dollars from becoming developer welfare for campaign contributors.

This jobs and reforms package is important because in the past, the state has subsidized activity because of promised jobs. The special interests worked hard and continue to work hard lobbying and giving to campaigns to convince legislators, especially House leadership, that their tax credits would create jobs and enhance economic development. This influence led to politicians giving out hundreds of millions of your hard-earned tax dollars to Low Income Housing tax credits, Historic Preservation tax credits and Land Assemblage tax credits. However, while the awarding of tax credits increased over the last 13 years by 430.8 percent, equaling $545 million in 2011, the promised jobs have never been created.

That is because subsidized activity not tied to job creation fails to create jobs. All those tax credits did was line the pockets of wealthy developers who, with the help of the politicians, conned the Missouri taxpayer. It is clear that instead of job growth, Missouri’s return on investment was 21 cents for every dollar spent on Historic Preservation tax credits and 11 cents for every dollar spent on Low Income Housing tax credits. “Give me a dollar and I will give you 21 cents or 11 cents back.” You would never do that with your own money, and you should not allow the politicians to do such with your tax dollars.

Yet this has been the state’s economic plan, and the House is trying to pass it again. For example, when redeveloping Schultz School Senior Housing in Cape Girardeau, we were told that if we subsidized the project, jobs would come and economic development would occur. However, after spending $373,000 an apartment unit in Low Income Housing and Historic Preservation tax credits, permanent jobs did not. Giving $16.7 million of your tax dollars to rehab 45 units for 11 – 21 cents on the dollar return is outrageous. Throughout the course of the special session though, there was an awakening that occurred with State Senators; they listened to your demands for responsible use of your hard earned tax dollars. “We must tie incentives to job creation, not activities that may or may not create jobs.”

The removal of $300 million in Aerotropolis warehouse tax credits from the special session is acknowledgement of this key principle. It is wrong, with our country facing massive manufacturing job losses to China, to make the central component of a “Made in Missouri” jobs plan the subsidization of the importation of China-made goods. Now though that the battle has moved to the House, where House leaders, who put their campaign accounts above Missourians, have said we must give $300 million to China importation warehouses and are working in the shadows of back rooms to craft a bill to do exactly that.

The bill that passed the Senate, which House leaders oppose, also included real tax credit reforms saving taxpayers $947 million over 15 years. It caps and sunsets both the Historic Preservation tax credit and Low Income Housing tax credit. The reforms also include clawbacks for failing to create jobs. We now would have the ability to recapture any tax credits given out for noncompliance with the requirements, which specifically include creating the new jobs promised. We have succeeded in the Senate, but your continued support and help is need so we can win the House and beat back the special interests and developers House leaders covet.

More stories told at first signing for 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado

(The following is my latest Newton County News/KY3-KSPR column.)

It wasn’t the first book signing I had ever held, but it certainly will go down as the most memorable.

As my co-author John Hacker and I were preparing for the first signing for 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, we quickly found out there were many more stories that are waiting to be told.

During the four hours we were at Hastings Books in Joplin Saturday, we heard terrifying stories, some sad, some uplifting of the May 22 event that forever reshaped the lives of Joplin residents.

“When the tornado was over,” one woman, who was in the 15th Street Wal-Mart when it hit told me, “there were only four of us. We couldn’t see anyone else.” After a while, they did find the others who had survived, but for a few agonizing moments they believed they were the only ones who had survived out of the 300 or so who were in the store at 5:41 p.m.

John Hacker arrived in the middle of the tornado-stricken area only moments after it occurred and after helping with rescue efforts, began collecting some of the stories that were included in the book. He did not have to ask questions. People were already volunteering what they had just lived through.

It was the same way Saturday. John and I shared the stage with a few of those who contributed stories. One of my former students, Laela Zaidi, managed to get away from a Joplin High School tennis tournament to sign a few copies of the book. Laela, whose family came to the U. S. from Pakistan, not only lost her house in the tornado, but most of her extended family also lost their homes and belongings.

Denton Williams, a high school freshman who was still in his eighth grade year when the tornado hit, was at a band competition and was unable to make it. His middle school, the one where I teach, was destroyed. Denton’s story, as well as some of mine about the school, is featured in the volume.

Kristin Huke, a Carthage artist, was visiting a family member at Freeman when that hospital began handling the brunt of the emergency work after St. John’s, just a short distance away, was struck by the violent storm. Her gripping story was also included in the book.

Gary Harrall, a Diamond High School graduate, and another former student of mine, told of waiting the storm out in a basement shelter as his house was blown away.

Joplin High School student Shaney Delzell, also one of my former students, lost her home in Duquesne, an area that has been largely forgotten by the media, but which was almost destroyed May 22.

Other contributors, including Rhonda Hatfield, Michael R. Sharp, and Andrea Thomas, were at the book signing.

Their stories I knew, though it was good to hear updates. Everyone who came through the line had another story. For some, it had happened to them personally; others related stories from friends and relatives.

Among those who came were the grandparents of Joplin High School graduate Will Norton, the YouTube celebrity who was killed only a short time after receiving his diploma during graduation ceremonies at Missouri Southern State University. Will is featured in a couple of the stories in 5:41.

As you might expect, the family has had a hard time dealing with the loss of one so young, with so much promise.

The signing reminded me of the book itself- a mixture of sad, humorous, and tragic, with an emphasis on survival and fighting back.

If there was one refrain I heard over and over again Saturday it was, “We’re not going to let this tornado beat us.” It was phrased different times in different words, but always with the same message.

The stories in the book, although representative of what happened during the tornado and its aftermath, are just a handful of the thousands that will be told for years to come.

Though I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share some of those stories in 5:41, the last thing I ever wanted this book to be was simply a recounting of horror stories.

Hopefully, the message that shines through will be the one that I received Saturday- Though the events of May 22 were devastating, it takes more than an EF-5 tornado to bring Joplin to its knees.

(Photos- Top, from left, Shaney Delzell, Michael R. Sharp, Randy Turner, Laela Zaidi, John Hacker, Kristin Huke, contributors to book; middle photo- Gary Harrall, Joe Thomas, Andrea Thomas, Randy Turner, John Hacker, bottom photo- the line close to the beginning of the signing)

Construction company has second Joplin rebuilding project underway

(From Midwest Quality Construction)

Midwest Quality Construction is pleased to announce that their second Joplin rebuilding project is underway at 2122 Park Place. Dubbed the “Spirit House” by MQC owners Shawn and Kim Kinnaird, the project is one of many that MQC plans to build in the area.

The home is under construction across the street from their first project, the Hope House. However, unlike the Hope House, which is being built on an existing foundation, the Spirit House is new construction from the ground up. Upon completion, the home will be 1300 square feet with a covered back porch, brick and vinyl siding on the front, and siding on both sides and the back. The home will also feature a three car garage and solid oak hardwood floors throughout, with the exception of carpeting in the bedrooms. With a large master suite, a gas fireplace, and a kitchen that features a huge pantry and island bar, as well as all stainless steel appliances, the Spirit House is the perfect demonstration of what Midwest Quality Construction brings to the Joplin market.

“This house is something we can make our own, and show Joplin residents how they can have an affordable 1300 square foot house with all of these amenities at a price point that hasn’t been seen in the area,” Shawn Kinnaird said. “Starting from the ground up, this house really allowed us to show the community what we can do.”

With the tagline, “We Believe”, Midwest Quality Construction has a strong belief in their friends and neighbors in Joplin, and have lined up fellow “Believers” to support them in their work, including Meeks, James River Landscaping, Flood Heating & Air, Coatney Framing, 3G Masonry, and more. “We all believe in Joplin, and know that Joplin can and will come back, and will be bigger and better than ever,” Kinnaird said.

Having made a name for himself in quality home construction in the Springfield area for a number of years, Shawn Kinnaird will continue his construction work in Joplin, while Kim will be busy selling the properties. An accomplished Realtor with a thriving business back in Springfield, Kim will represent MQC properties through her company, Team 24-7 Realtors, part of Murney Associates. MQC currently has six home lots in Joplin and Carl Junction, and plans to not only continue to build spec homes, but expand that to build and design custom homes. As a family owned and operated company, MQC is excited to play a part in Joplin’s rebuilding process, and looks forward to the next few years where they too will call Joplin home.

McCaskill poll: Millionaires and billionaires need to pay more taxes

In her latest fundraising pitch (the links mentioned in the letter below do not work), Sen. Claire McCaskill releases the results of a poll showing that the respondents believe working families should not be spending a higher percentage of their money in taxes than the rich.

The results are in, and 97% of respondents to last week's online poll agree with me: working families shouldn't pay a higher percentage of income in taxes than millionaires and billionaires to reduce our debt.

It's just common sense, especially at a time when we're fighting to save Medicare, Social Security, and other protections that many struggling families depend on. Knowing that so many people see it this way will be a big help in congressional negotiations.

But as we move forward in this fight, you can be sure we'll attract even more attention -- and attack ads -- from Karl Rove and the anonymous right-wing billionaires who support him.

We need a balanced compromise that includes the ultra-wealthy paying their fair share to reduce the debt. Rove and his cronies want a senator who the big special interests can count on to preserve unbalanced tax breaks and loopholes -- and that certainly isn't me.

To withstand their attacks, we need to stand together -- and an important deadline is fast approaching.

Click here to contribute $5 before our end-of-quarter fundraising deadline this Friday.

On September 30th, we reach the end of the fundraising quarter, and reports about how much I've raised are due. But after midnight on that day, I can no longer accept your contribution for this critical deadline.

Pundits will use this public report to judge how much support this campaign has. Reporters will use it to write stories about whether we have the support it takes to withstand the attacks. And Karl Rove will use it to determine whether or not to come after me with even more firepower.

So we've set a goal: 1,000 contributions by Friday at midnight.

It's a big number, but I believe we can reach it. We have to reach it to show our opponents and the voters of Missouri that we have the momentum to win. I need your support today.

Click here to contribute $5 now -- and help us reach our 1,000-contribution goal by Friday's deadline!

Thank you for standing with me,

City of Joplin outlines residential tree replanting program

(From the City of Joplin)

The City of Joplin’s Parks and Recreation Department is introducing the first round of the City’s tree replacement program to help homeowners gain shade and natural beauty to their repaired or new homes. Thousands of trees in Joplin were destroyed during the May 22 tornado.

The Parks Department will have trees available for homeowners, who are located in the storm-damaged area and have completed the rebuilding or repairs to their home. Homeowners will have the opportunity to receive up to two trees during this round. This is just the first round of trees to be donated, and the City will offer other opportunities in the near future as resources become available.

“We are happy to be able to offer this type of program, through the large number of generous donations that are being received for the replacement of trees,” said City Manager Mark Rohr. “Just as our citizens favor an urban forest, we at the City recognize trees as wonderful assets to our community, and as an integral part of the rebuilding process.”

To receive the donated trees, homeowners need to complete an application at the City’s Parks office, 3010 West 1st Street, located just west of Schifferdecker Avenue. The Parks office will contact the homeowners once the donated trees are accumulated and are ready to be distributed. The City anticipates the delivery date no later than the end of October.

“Our goal is to have 2,000 trees planted by the end of fall,” said Chris Cotten, Parks Director. “We have seen tremendous support from many who have donated trees and provided resources to purchase trees to help beautify Joplin and implement this replanting program. We are continuing to develop a comprehensive tree plan for the disaster area, as well as the entire City. ”

Citizens will need to verify their address in the storm-damaged area when completing the application and may also indicate on the form if they need assistance in planting their trees. Residents will be expected to be available when volunteers arrive to help with the planting, so as to direct the specific location of the trees. The City reminds residents that all tree location sites should be selected with utility lines and lateral lines in mind. Trees are expected to have a one and a half to two inches caliper.

The donated trees will be a species on the City’s Tree List included in the recent ordinance passed by the Joplin City Council. This ordinance will provide the basis for this project moving forward. The City’s Tree List can be found on the City of Joplin’s website at . This program is to help residents replace lost trees on their property. Information about plant in public rights-of-way in residential neighborhoods will be provided at a later date.

Two new sponsors sign on for Ten for Joplin project

The Ten for Joplin project is gaining momentum with two additional house sponsors signing up to help build 10 homes for tornado-impacted Joplin families before the holidays. Another $295,000 in funds and gift in-kind donations as well as up to 3,000 volunteers are needed before the project can become a reality.

The Tulsa and Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity teams, surrounding businesses and the City of Joplin are partnering on one of the most aggressive rebuilding efforts since May’s devastating EF-5 tornado. The Ten for Joplin project team plans to build 10 homes during a 16-day period beginning Oct. 29.

Ten for Joplin’s vision is to ignite volunteer efforts to rebuild Joplin by setting an example of what can be accomplished when businesses and communities come together to help one another.

Two additional businesses have joined the cause since the project was first announced Sept. 8. Arvest Bank has committed to a full house sponsorship while Unit Corporation has signed up to sponsor half a house.

“Arvest Bank is proud to partner with Habitat for Humanity and sponsor one of the ten homes to be built in Joplin. Our community is making tremendous strides in the rebuilding effort and is sure to be stronger than ever before. We certainly wouldn't miss the opportunity to be part of this amazing effort,” said Doug Doll, President/CEO Arvest Joplin.

“Unit Corporation is pleased to be part of the Ten for Joplin project with Tulsa Habitat for Humanity. Our employees are excited about rebuilding Joplin by helping the new Joplin Habitat families who were impacted by the tornado,” said Mike Earl, Director of Corporate Development, Unit Corporation.

Other companies sponsoring houses are The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, BKD CPAs & Advisors, Chase, Hilti, Samson and TD Williamson, Inc. Advanced Industrial Devices, Inc. has signed up to sponsor half a house.

“People and groups from across the country have been calling about volunteering. What we need now is to get the last two homes funded, plus the additional funds and gift in-kind donations to complete the project.” said Paul Kent, executive director of Tulsa Habitat for Humanity.

In addition to donating funds, volunteers can gain additional information about volunteer opportunities at the Ten for Joplin website at The site also features videos and news about the project as well as general information on the overall build as the project moves closer to its official onsite build kick-off on Oct. 29.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Randee Kaiser running for Jasper County sheriff

Carthage Police Captain Randee Kaiser, who joined the department about 15 years ago after working as sports editor at The Carthage Press, has announced his candidacy for Jasper County sheriff.

Kaiser was always a hard worker during the days he worked for me st The Press and the Lamar Democrat, who received regional, state, and national awards for his reporting and photography.

Annual Joplin cleanup focuses on areas not affected by tornado

Metropolitan Opera singer, Joplin native, gives back to JHS drama, theatre department

Metropolitan Opera singer David Lowe, a Joplin native, visited Joplin High School last week. Proceeds from Lowe's new CD are going to Bright Futures to help the JHS theater and drama departments.

Child care shortage in Joplin after tornado

Harmony Heights Baptist Church rebuilding after tornado

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Joplin High School Band surprised with donations from Webb City Band

Kander: Missourians deserves better than what legislature is giving them

The following report was issued this week by Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City.

Far too many Missourians looking for work can’t find it. We were called into special session to do our part to address that problem. People are counting on us to act. But if you’ve seen the paper this week about the special session in Jefferson City, I hope you’ll forgive me for admitting that I am, at this moment, frustrated.

We had a good chance over the last three weeks to add new tools to our development programs that will help us to defuse the economic border war with Kansas, make existing development tools more efficient, and save taxpayer resources so that going forward we can help keep college affordable, keep our streets safe and care for the most vulnerable.

Unfortunately, due to a small minority of extremists in the House and Senate, we appear to be at a standstill. Let me be clear, this is not a Democrat vs. Republican thing.

Republicans control 70% of the seats in the legislature and Democrats are in accord on most major components of the economic development legislation we’ve been debating. Rather, it’s a Republican vs. Republican thing. After months of talking they are still so busy fighting one another they can’t seem to close a deal. And so our state stands to suffer.

Like so often in the legislature, blustering personalities and weak political rationales block progress. That’s just unacceptable. You’re counting on us to act like adults, put petty differences aside, and do our jobs. I’m ready to work and I know a lot of you are too.

Missouri deserves better. The legislature still has time to act, but every day that passes is another day we lack the tools that could make a difference. I promise to keep fighting every day to move Missouri’s economy forward.

KOAM coverage of first signing for 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado

This isn't our book showing on the video below (this book is mentioned at the tail end of the segment), but the video shows KOAM's coverage of Saturday's first official signing for 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Video from today's first signing for 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado

Hartzler: Senate must not be allowed to play politics with the people of Joplin

In her weekly newsletter, Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartler, R-Mo. addresses the impending government shutdown:

As I write this newsletter, America is on the brink of a government shutdown – but it can be avoided. Early Friday morning, the House passed a bipartisan bill that doubles President Obama’s request for emergency disaster aid to Missouri and elsewhere and will keep the government running through November 18th. Sadly, Senate Leader Harry Reid allowed politics to get in the way of what is needed by declaring this bipartisan legislation dead on arrival. The Senate must not be allowed to play politics with the people of Joplin who are recovering from May’s devastating tornado, residents of northwest and southeast Missouri who have coped with devastating flooding, and Americans in other parts of the country that have been hit with hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has already said that its Disaster Relief Fund is dangerously low and will likely run out very soon if there is no new funding. Senator Reid and the Democrat majority in the Senate must not play political games with people’s lives. I call on them to take up this important legislation for a vote and to pass it!

America heard from President Obama, this week, as he promoted his latest debt plan in which he issued a call for higher taxes. Unfortunately, this proposal ignores our debt crisis, leaving Americans open to the possibility of further credit rating downgrades that will make it more difficult to create jobs and grow our economy. As the Joint Select Committee works to solve some serious problems, President Obama refuses to take a leadership role in efforts to preserve and strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. His insistence on raising taxes on job creators is unacceptable and shows he is not willing to take the steps necessary to address the issues confronting us. Any proposal to raise taxes on both small businesses and on private capital – the essential ingredients for job creation in our economy – cannot be taken seriously.

There can be no doubt that the only real solution to our budget problems is a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am leading efforts in the U.S. House to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. As part of the August debt limit agreement, the House and Senate will have to vote between October 1st and December 31st on a BBA and I am urging Representatives and Senators to approve what is truly the only effective way to get a grip on out-of-control Washington spending.

Just how out of control is Washington spending? Since President Obama took office in January of 2009, the national debt has increased by $3.7 trillion. Let me put that in perspective: It took the United States from 1776 until 1992 to accumulate the same amount of debt that President Obama accumulated in two and a half years! No nation can spend, tax, bail-out, or borrow its way to economic prosperity. President Obama tried this approach with his trillion dollar stimulus package and it only made things worse. The simple truth is that America has no more money to spend. If we want to revive our economy, create jobs, and save our country from bankruptcy, Washington must commit to a permanent fiscal solution.

It is time for Washington to live within its means as American families must do. Our national debt is higher than it’s been at any time in our history. We are currently borrowing roughly 42 cents of every dollar we spend and saddling our children and grandchildren with the debt. Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment would get Washington on the right track, help renew confidence among America’s job creators by restoring certainty in our economy, and keep America competitive. A Balanced Budget Amendment is a proven, effective tool to ensure sound fiscal action by governments. Missouri and 48 other states currently have some form of a balanced budget requirement – Washington needs to join the states in being responsible with taxpayers’ dollars. Our debt crisis is a legitimate threat to our nation’s future. America cannot afford to wait any longer – the time to act is now!

To pass Congress, this Constitutional amendment will require two-thirds’ majorities of both the House and Senate. The amendment would then be sent to the states for ratification, with approval of three-fourths (38) of the states required. Stay tuned as the weeks progress. Hopefully, with your support, we will be able to make history by passing a Constitutional amendment and saving our country financially while doing it.

Fox News lumps teachers with sexual predators

At about the five minute mark, this Fox News video begins discussing a law concerning sexual predators and somehow the Missouri Facebook Law is brought into the conversation, with panel members making no effort to distinguish between teachers and sexual predators.

Another not so subtle anti-teacher message.

Signing for 5:41: Stories of the Joplin Tornado at Hastings today

Carthage Press Managing Editor John Hacker and I will be at Hastings Books in Joplin 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today to sign copies of our book, 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado.

The first official signing will also feature some of those who contributed to the book.

We extend an invitation to stop by and talk with us.

McCaskill questions Pentagon on sustainability of U. S. involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan

Tilley: Senate did not live up to its part of the bargain

Nixon: General Assembly has fallen short on jobs package

City of Joplin participating in recovery roundup today

(From the City of Joplin)

Residents still facing questions about their insurance, building, or financial issues following the May 22 tornado are invited to attend the Recovery Roundup on Saturday, September 24 to visit with representatives from these areas. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Billingsly Student Center on the campus of Missouri Southern State University. The event is free and open to the public.

This recovery assistance program, offered by the Missouri Department of Insurance, will serve as a “one-stop shop” to help consumers with outstanding tornado-related issues. As stated in the Department’s recent press release, regulators from the Department of Insurance will be present at the Recovery Roundup to help consumers with issues relating to all types of insurance, including homeowners, auto, commercial property, life and health. Consumers will be able to utilize a new service from the Department of Insurance that can search for life insurance policies in the name of lost loved ones.

Members from the City’s Joplin Public Works and Finance Departments will be there to help residents with questions on rebuilding, city inspections, and demolition. In addition to the Department of Insurance, other state departments attending include:
•The Missouri Division of Finance, for home and car loan questions
•The Missouri Department of Economic Development, for financing assistance
•The Federal Emergency Management Agency
•Representatives from Consumer Credit Counseling

Insurance companies will also have representatives present to help state regulators address consumer concerns if necessary.

Entertainment and free refreshments will be provided at the Recovery Roundup. Louie the Springfield Cardinals mascot will be on hand, as will on-air personalities from KIX 102.5 with a live remote.

Consumers with complaints or general questions about insurance can contact the Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or online at

Nixon non-committal on whether he will sign Facebook Law "fix"

The Missouri House overwhelmingly passed the fix to Sen. Jane Cunningham's Facebook Law Friday, leaving only one obstacle in the way of it becoming law.

That obstacle, Gov. Jay Nixon, who must sign the bill in order for it to go into effect, is making no commitments on whether he will do so:

But Nixon was noncommittal Friday when asked if he would sign the new measure, saying he wanted to talk with teachers and local school boards before making a decision.

A judge placed Missouri's law on hold shortly before it was to take effect Aug. 28, declaring that "the breadth of the prohibition is staggering" and the law "would have a chilling effect" on free-speech rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Shortly after the judge's order, Nixon added the online communications law to the agenda of a special session that began Sept. 6. Nixon's written message to lawmakers specifically limited them to repealing the law, but lawmakers decided to also make districts develop their own policies. That's part of the reason why Nixon is pausing before signing the bill.

"It would appear that they've gone in a broader focus than what my intent was when we brought folks to town" for a special session, Nixon said.

With the new law stating that all Missouri school districts must have a teacher-student communication policy in place by March 1, 2012, the question appears to be, is this really putting the issue in the hands of local school boards, administrators, and teachers, or if it is turning the task over to the Missouri School Boards Association, which writes policy for most Missouri schools.

It seems hard to believe Mrs. Cunningham would have signed off on this "fix" if it really gave teachers input into the policies.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tornado survivor to paint mural inside storm shelter

(From Spiva Art Center)

Spiva invites the community to watch portrait and graphic artist as well as 2008 Picher tornado survivor Julie Lankford Olds as she paints a mural inside a Midwest Storm Shelter. The painted seven-foot, 13,000-pound shelter, will be given away as part of a special drawing during Spiva’s On the Other Side tornado-themed exhibit. Midwest Storm Shelters donated the shelter, delivery and installation in a continued effort to provide families with safety from area storms along with raising funds for George A. Spiva Center for the Arts, a non-profit exhibition, education and cultural art center.

The mural will feature an local nature scene detailing the four-state area. A sketch book identifying the various living creatures will accompany the shelter for a fun seek-and-find game, and a chalkboard will be included to allow the shelter-winner a chance to create their own artwork inside.

On the Other Side is Spiva’s fifth area artist’s challenge. The exhibit showcases a variety of art, some even created from tornado debris, in two-and three-dimensional works that reflect the depth of emotion surrounding the May 22 Joplin tornado. The exhibit was created to allow art to contribute in Joplin’s healing process for both the artists who create it and the people who benefit from viewing it.


Saturday, October 1, 2011; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

George A. Spiva Center for the Arts
222 West Third Street
Joplin, MO 64801


The painted Midwest Storm Shelter is on display in the Spiva parking lot through November 6, 2011, when the On the Other Side exhibit, sponsored by St. John’s Mercy Hospital, concludes. Tickets to win the shelter can be purchased at the Spiva lobby desk for $5 each or $20 for five tickets. The shelter winner will be drawn and announced on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

Joplin school officials tour Pittsburg technology facilities

As they look for ways to make the new Joplin High School a model 21st century school, Joplin officials toured technology facilities in Pittsburg this week.

Steelman: Dick Morris believes in me; he really believes in me

In her latest fundraising letter, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a U. S. Senate candidate, touts the good things Dick Morris is saying about her, criticizes Claire McCaskill, and naturally asks for more money.

Thank you so much for your continued support to my campaign. The Public Policy Poll released Wednesday showed me leading Congressman Akin 40% to 29%. I am very encouraged that our message is resonating and it shows how fed up people are with the current way Washington is doing business. I was recently mentioned by Dick Morris on “Hannity” and in an article on The Hill, stating that he thinks I am the best candidate to be your next United States Senator. Your strong support has made this possible. I am so grateful to you and I will continue to campaign tirelessly for all that we believe in.

Everywhere across Missouri and the nation people are rising up and making their voice heard; a voice Senator Claire McCaskill repeatedly ignores, and a voice that I want to spearhead into the heart of a leaderless Washington.

Senator McCaskill has continuously voted for the failed policies of Barack Obama. She voted for the unconstitutional Obamacare, which Missourians are overwhelmingly against, and the 800 billion dollar stimulus. This is the same stimulus package that gave 500 million dollars of your tax money to the now bankrupt Solyndra. And McCaskill claims to be a “fiscal hawk” and a “watchdog” – she is neither.

While our country desperately needs jobs, Boeing is attacked by bureaucrats from the National Labor Relations Board prohibiting them from building a plant in a right to work state, as Senator McCaskill sits quietly on the sidelines, unwilling to take a position on the NLRB and right-to-work. This is simply outrageous!

Despite all of Senator McCaskill’s bad decisions and incessant double-talk, she continues to raise money from wealthy liberal celebrities to fuel her war chest. She will not stop until we send her back home on her fancy airplane.

I want to thank you again for your support in my campaign. Every contribution directly combats Senator McCaskill and her dream-killing, job-limiting, anti-growth agenda. Please go to and help me put a stop to Senator McCaskill and fight to get Washington headed in a positive direction by contributing $50, $100, $250 or any amount that you can afford. I promise to continue to campaign tirelessly for you as we take on Washington.

Thank you for joining our Fight for Freedom!

Engler apologizes for inefficiency of state government

In his latest report, Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, reviews what has happened during the special session and criticizes the inefficiency of state government.

With the special session dragging on in its third week, I want to apologize. As your elected representatives, you should be able to expect us to move efficiently to pass legislation. I’m honored to serve the citizens of Missouri, but these last three weeks have demonstrated a level of government incompetence of which I’m not proud to be apart.

This special session was called with the goal of passing legislation to create jobs and trim our strained budget through tax credit reform. These are important, vital issues we must address.

In reality, though, a special session should never have been called unless there was complete confidence the legislation had a chance of passing. Instead, we have a session in deadlock, while the taxpayers foot the bill of nearly $25,000 a day for having us in Jefferson City. This is not money we can afford to spend, especially as our state continues to face a budget crisis.

The budget is the very reason the Senate is standing firm on its stance that tax credits must be capped, and in some instances, allowed to sunset, specifically the Low-Income Housing and Historic Preservation tax credit programs. When a sunset comes up, we can then review the tax credit and make sure it was effective.

Used reasonably with responsible oversight, tax credits can be a valuable tool for economic development. They should not, however, become government giveaways that return little of our investment, not when we have to make tough cuts to our budget in important areas like education and transportation.

In 1999, the state spent roughly $142 million on tax credits. This year, we spent $545 million. Next year, it’s estimated we’ll spend $639 million. We continue to issue these tax credits, more and more every year, and we’re losing money on them.
Over the last 10 years, Missouri has given away more than $1 billion in Historic Preservation tax credits. In 2011 alone, we spent $107 million. Maybe this could be justified if we were getting a solid return on our investment. Instead, for every dollar we spend on Historic Preservation tax credits, Missouri’s return was 21 cents, according to the Joint Committee on Tax Policy. And we rank No. 1 in the nation for giving these out.
Low-Income Housing tax credits are an even worse venture. Missouri gave $156 million in tax credits to developers for affordable housing, making us the second state in the nation for issuing the largest amount of Low-Income Housing tax credits. And yet these credits rarely reduce the tax liability of the developer. Often, they’re sold for cash to finance the units. Of every dollar we give to a developer to build low-income housing, 35 cents goes to development costs, and the remaining 65 cents goes to investors.
Worse, these tax credits are streamed to developers over 10 years, meaning if a developer receives $1 million in Low-Income Housing tax credits this year, we’re still obligated to pay an additional $1 million a year for the next nine years.
Currently, Missouri taxpayers are on the hook for more than $1.3 billion in not-yet redeemed Low-Income Housing tax credits and almost another $1 billion in other tax credits. And when the numbers come back, we get 11 cents for every dollar we spend on them.
If these tax credit programs were such great deals, other states would be adopting them, but Missouri remains at the top of the list for these giveaways. As we continue to struggle with a budget facing incredible short-falls, it is ridiculous to let these tax credit programs continue indefinitely unchecked. This is why the Senate’s legislation filed during the special session will reduce the amount of funding going to these tax credits, which could save Missouri taxpayers $947 million over the next 15 years. Every dollar in tax credits is a dollar away from other state funded programs such as education.
It is my hope that through compromise the House, Senate, and governor can reach an agreement to pass legislation that is fiscally responsible and will create jobs. If we can’t, these last three weeks have been pointless, and I am, as well as you should be, extremely disappointed in the lack of support for this legislation that will save tax payer dollars, reform an outdated program, and create much-needed jobs and economic development throughout the state.

Very rarely has the state been as inefficient as the federal government, but in this instance, we deserve the criticism. And I apologize.

Missouri GOP calls on senate to pass presidential primary legislation

(From the Missouri Republican Party)

Missouri Republican Party Chairman David Cole today enlisted the help of GOP activists across the state to win passage of the presidential primary bill that is currently being held without a vote in the State Senate. (Note: please find the Chairman’s memo below.)

Cole’s rare call to action on a bill being considered in the Missouri General Assembly comes as legislative leaders reportedly consider adjourning without passing a critical bill meant to ensure that Missourians’ voices are heard in the upcoming election.

In 2008, more than 1.4 million Missourians voted in the state’s presidential primary.

“Across the country, state legislatures are acting to ensure their presidential nominating contests comply with RNC & DNC rules. Now, the eyes of the national media have turned towards Missouri. Sadly, a few Senators may be willing to throw the entire national nominating process into disarray,” said David Cole, Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. “We are confident that the majority of Senators—Republican and Democrat alike—want this bill to pass, so we call upon the legislative leadership to bring it to the floor for an up or down vote.”

New rules jointly agreed to by the Republican and Democratic National Committees require that states move their presidential nominating contests later in the year. In Missouri, this is a change that can only be made by the General Assembly. Failing to do so has a variety of negative consequences—from the state’s loss of influence in the nominating process to a likely boycott of the state by the presidential candidates.

During the regular session, a bill to change the Missouri’s primary date from February to March was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the General Assembly as part of a larger elections bill—but the governor unexpectedly vetoed the legislation. The new bill, with language agreed to by the governor, has already been passed by the House by a 147-2 margin and is being held up in the Senate.

Joplin demolition debris right-of-way pickup to begin

(From the City of Joplin)

Residents traveling through the City should be alert in upcoming weeks as large hauling trucks will once again be moving throughout the City as residential clean-up of demolition debris continues. The Joplin City Council approved a hauling contract with Midland Wrecking at their September 19 meeting. The contractor is expected to begin picking up debris piles remaining at the curbside of residential properties early next week.

Those who are demolishing their own structure and foundation themselves can push the resulting debris to the public right-of-way for the city contractor to pick up. However, any private contractor hired by a property owner to demolish a structure or foundation must haul the debris to a proper landfill. Reconstruction material is also not eligible for pick up at the curb by the City contractor.

In addition, debris from recent demolitions completed by the Voluntary Organization Demolition Team (VODT) will be picked up by this contractor. Property owners who are still needing demolition work done on their structure or remaining concrete appurtenances (slabs, crawl spaces, footings, driveways, etc.) can contact the VODT to have the demolition work done free of charge by calling 417-625-3558.

The City reminds residents of the October 15, 2011 deadline for property owners who still have a tornado-damaged structure or any remaining slab, basement, crawl space or footing. This deadline means property owners need to either accomplish the demolition by then, have a provable plan in place for the work to occur shortly thereafter, or notify the City of your plans to rebuild on the existing foundation.

A provable plan for the demolition and removal of foundations means that a property owner has a signed contract from a private contractor to do the work OR a signed Right-of-Entry (ROE) form authorizing a voluntary organization to go onto the property and complete the demolition. Any ROE previously signed for the removal of loose, tornado debris is not valid for the demolition and removal of structures and foundations.

If you are rebuilding on an existing slab, basement, or footing, you do not have to remove your existing foundation, but you must notify the City of your plans by this deadline. Residents can call the City’s Tornado Assistance Information Line (Tail) at 417-627-2900 during regular business hours to notify us of your rebuilding plans.

The deadline pertains to the following situations:

Tornado-damaged structures that cannot or should not be rebuilt. This applies if the structure is dangerous or if it’s not cost-effective to rebuild.

Slabs, basements, crawl spaces or footings that aren’t safe to reuse because they are not structurally sound.

Slabs, basements, crawl spaces or footings that cannot be reused because the size of the replacement structure is different.

Driveways that are no longer needed.

Any other remaining appurtenances that are no longer needed.

Residents who have debris piles along their rights-of-way can contact the City’s TAIL at 417-627-2900 to report the location of the debris, if they have not already done so. The City has been keeping a list during the past few weeks, as the hauling contract and bids were being reviewed for award determination.

Extreme Home Makeover plans Joplin pep rally for October 4

(News release)

Today, executives with ABC’s Emmy-award winning reality TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition announced that the show’s upcoming build in Joplin will be preceded by a community-wide pep rally on October 4. The event will be held on Tuesday, October 4, at Calvary Baptist Church (600 E. 50th Street in Joplin). Watch for a full schedule of pep rally events, to be released closer to the date.

The pep rally will provide an opportunity for thousands in the community to come together and share in the excitement surrounding the program’s upcoming build and shoot in Joplin. The Joplin build will be one of the largest in the history of the wildly popular program. Led by Southwest Missouri home builder Sam Clifton, president of Millstone Custom Homes, the October Joplin project will build seven homes in seven days for families who suffered losses in the May tornado that destroyed much of the city. The weeklong Extreme build will begin in Joplin on October 19.

“Thousands of people in Joplin and from across the country have contacted us to donate, volunteer and support this massive effort to help rebuild Joplin,” Clifton said. “We are so grateful to Pastor Brad Gray and the generous members of Calvary Baptist Church, for their generous support so we can all get together and share in the excitement leading up to the actual build.”

Organizers also recently announced that the episode featuring the Joplin build will be featured, as the show’s historic 200th episode. Reaching 200 episodes is a major milestone in television, achieved by only those programs that stand the test of time. The emmy-award winning Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is now entering its ninth season on ABC.

To volunteer, donate, or learn more about the project, visit: or So far, more than fifty area businesses already have committed to supporting the Joplin EMHE project. A list of these companies and links to more information can be found at:

Clifton is the 2010 Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield Builder Member of the Year. Millstone Custom Homes is also a member of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Missouri in Joplin. This is Clifton’s second time to lead a build for the popular ABC television program. In 2009, Millstone Custom Homes successfully led a southwest Missouri build project for that provided a new home for the Hampton family in Ash Grove, Missouri.