Saturday, March 31, 2012

Big money heading Democrats' way in Missouri

On the final day of the reporting period, the big money was almost exclusively headed toward Democratic candidates, according to 48-hour reports filed today with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Gov. Jay Nixon received $81,000 for his re-election effort, while Attorney General Chris Koster banked $52,500. The top Republican total was $2,500 by Koster's likely November opponent, former Matt Blunt chief of staff Ed Martin.

Of course, since there are 48-hour reports, they may well be some posted Sunday and Monday.

MSSU athletic director aware of new coach's recruiting violations

Sometimes it takes the local newspaper to ask the questions that need to be asked.

One such question- Was Missouri Southern State University Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman aware of the recruiting violation committed by former MSSU basketball standout Jaime Green when she was hired as an assistant coach for the women's basketball program?

“Did we have reservations? No. Did we talk about it? Certainly.” Bruggeman said. “We talked about all of these things with her … she’s a heck of a coach, a Missouri Southern alum … she was always interested in coming back here, it’s not like we’re recruiting coaches from other schools.”
Sadly, the local newspaper that pinned Bruggeman down with that question was not the local paper of record, the Joplin Globe, but the newspaper that covers Green's employer, Newman University, the Wichita Eagle.

The details of Green's recruiting violation, her punishment for it, and the arrest of two of her players, including her top recruit, on charges of dealing cocaine can be found at this link.

(Note: I should have checked out the Southern Watch blog earlier today and it might have saved me some trouble. Southern Watch was the first area blog to note the MSSU athletic director's comments on the hiring of Jaime Green.)

Read more here:

Proposed Joplin master developer company to pay back $1.2 million to investors

Earlier today, the Turner Report noted that David Wallace, CEO of Wallace Bajjali, the Texas firm recommended by the city of Joplin's Citizens Advisory Recovery Team to become the city's master developer in its tornado recovery, had made his final payment of a $60,000 fine for an SEC fraud violation.

Wallace and his partner, Costa Bazzali, neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing, but their deal also includes paying back approximately $1.2 million to investors.

From the Amarillo Globe-News:

The settlement approved Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas ends claims that receiver Thomas L. Taylor asserted against Wallace Bajjali Development Partners entities in relation to an SEC investigation of Albert Fase Kaleta, Kaleta Capital Management, Daniel Frishberg Financial Services and BusinessRadio Network, Taylor said.
The settlement sets Dec. 31 as the final deadline for three Wallace Bajjali real estate investment limited partnerships to repay $879,176 in loans they got from Kaleta Capital Management, plus interest.
Under the agreement, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners also said it will pay an additional $350,000 to $400,000, with interest, from the firm’s private earnings from an Amarillo downtown revitalization project.
The SEC sued Kaleta, Frishberg and their businesses in 2009. The SEC appointed Taylor to trace money investors sank into Kaleta and Frishberg’s network of affiliated companies that allegedly commingled and misappropriated investors’ money, according to court documents in the ongoing SEC case and a related bankruptcy case.
Much of the investment capital allegedly misdirected by Kaleta and Frishberg went into the radio network, dubbed BizRadio, which “broadcast programming designed to attract clients” to a Frishberg financial services company and a Frishberg and Kaleta investment advisory business, according to a Feb. 11 status report in the bankruptcy case.
The SEC investigation extended to David Wallace and partner Costa Bajjali, who in May agreed to each pay about $60,000 in fines for exposing investors in struggling BizRadio to excessive risk, a situation Wallace blamed on the media company.

New MSSU coach says recruiting violations had nothing to do with her leaving Newman post

Former Missouri Southern State University basketball standout Jaime Green, who was hired this week as an assistant to women's coach MaryAnn Mitts, says her troubles as Newman University head coach, including recruiting violations and players who had to be kicked off the squad after being arrested for dealing cocaine, had nothing to do with her decision to come to Southern.

"Absolutely not," Green said in an e-mail interview with the Wichita Eagle. "I am returning home to my alma mater. I have the opportunity to learn from (my) mentor and be less than an hour away from my family in Arkansas. Moving from a head coaching position in the Heartland (Conference) to an assistant coach in the MIAA is not a step backwards or a lateral move, but in my opinion, a step forward. The MIAA is the best D2 conference in the nation and the fact that my it is my alma mater and so close to my family was a no-brainer."

Things would have been difficult for Green had she stayed at Newman, according to published reports. University officials had stripped her of two scholarships and limited her recruiting visits to eight, as well as requiring her to attend a seminar in recruiting regulations compliance in May. She also was suspended for one game.

And those punishments were just the ones that came from the university after it was determined that Green had talked one of her players into using her credit card to pay parking fines for two Division I recruits so their transcripts could be released.

Green asked the player to keep mum about the deal, the player told the Eagle. "She (Green) told me to keep quiet about it. She said she'd pay me back in cash, but I shouldn't say anything because it could get her in trouble."

The university self-reported the violations to the NCAA, so the possibility of further sanctions remained.

The Turner Report's first post on Green's problems including more information can be found at this link.

Read more here:

CEO of proposed Joplin master development company paid $60,000 fine in SEC fraud case

As of Friday, David Wallace is free and clear as far as the Securities and Exchange Commission is concerned.

That was the day Wallace, CEO of Wallace Bajjali, the company expected to be hired as master developer for the city of Joplin's tornado recovery efforts Monday by the City Council, made his last payment covering his fine for fraud.

It was Wallace's fourth payment of $15,006.72, covering his $60,000 fine plus interest. His partner, Costa Bajjali, also made his final payment for that amount Friday, according to U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas documents.

Both men entered into agreements May 24, 2011, to pay the fines, though neither admitted to any wrongdoing.

Joplin city officials say they are fully aware of the SEC fines and have corroborated Wallace's claim that others were at fault.

In its complaint, which was filed May 20, 2011, the SEC alleged that between November 2006 and December 2008, Wallace and Bajjali "offered and sold securities in two real estate funds they controlled in Houston, Texas, called the Wallace Bajjali Investment Fund II, L. P. and the Laffer Frishberg Wallace Economic Opportunity Fund, L. P. In written disclosures relating to the securities offerings, Wallace and Bajjali represented to investors that they would limit the Funds' investment in any one business or project to certain percentages of the money the Funds raised- no more than 33 percent for the Wallace-Bajjali Fund and no more than 20 percent for the Opportunity Fund. Contrary to their written representation, Wallace and Bajjali far exceeded these limits by heavily investing the Funds' money in Business Radio Networks, L.P, doing business as BizRadio, a struggling media company. As a result, they subjected the Funds' investors to substantially greater investment risk than the Funds' written materials disclosed."

The statement of facts filed by SEC says that by May 2007 the Wallace-Bajjali Fund had received more than $16 million and had invested more than $6.5 million in BizRadio. The ratio was even higher with the Opportunity Fund, where $7 million was raised and $4 million went to BizRadio, far more than the 20 percent limit.

Court documents indicate Wallace and Bajjali entered into an agreement with a company called Investment Adviser in Houston to handle the securities funds. It would appear that the two are casting the blame on that company for violating SEC regulations.

Wallace is scheduled to be in Joplin Monday night to make a presentation before the council.

New MSSU coach's background includes recruiting violations, cocaine-dealing players

Former Missouri Southern State University women's basketball standout Jaime Green's return to her alma mater as an assistant coach has been lavishly praised in MSSU news releases and echoed in the Joplin Globe's barely rewritten versions of those releases.

The Globe's article in Thursday's edition begins like this:

Jaime Green, who directed Newman University to a 42-14 record during the past two seasons, is returning to Missouri Southern as a women’s basketball assistant coach.
The rest of the article features praise for Newman from her new boss and former coach, MaryAnn Mitts, as well as her impressive won-loss record at Labette Community College before she took the Newman University job.

The news article/press release contains no mention of the controversy that surrounded Green during her two years at Newman.

There was no mention of the recruiting violations that caused her to be suspended for one game last season and cost the basketball program two scholarships and limited its recruiting visits from unlimited to eight. (The punishments were inflicted by the university, which sent a report on the incident to the NCAA.)

And nowhere can you find the news that two of her recruits had to be booted off the Jets' squad after they were arrested for dealing cocaine.

And nowhere is it reported that Green got into trouble for a Facebook post she made which indicated the accusations against her were false.

Published reports on the recruiting violation say that Green, not wanting to leave a paper trail that would lead back to her, asked one of her players to use her credit card to pay $368 worth of parking fines incurred by two players she was trying to recruit from Division I schools. The fines had to be paid before the universities would release the players' transcripts.

Though later quotes attributed to Green after the violations had been revealed indicated that she was not completely versed in NCAA rules, quotes given by the player she asked to help her to the Wichita Eagle indicate Green knew full well she was violating rules.

"She (Green) told me to keep quiet about it. She said she'd pay me back in cash, but I shouldn't say anything because it could get her in trouble."

The two players did not turn out to be worth it for Green or Newman University. One of them left before ever playing a game, while the main target, 6-1 Kellindra Zackrey blew out her ACL during her first season and then during her second season was one of the two players kicked off the team after being arrested for dealing cocaine and marijuana.

After Green issued statement taking responsibility for the recruiting violations, she turned right around and called them "false accusations" on her Facebook page.

She left this comment, which was later removed:

No matter what the false accusations, no matter how hard they throw their stones, at the end of the day the ONLY feelings I have in my heart are grace and forgiveness. This business is a rough one. BUT the players, the fans, the recruits, and the lives that I get to touch and the lives that impact mine are always worth it in the end. This, too, shall pass. I refuse to cast the first stone. GO JETS!!!!!
Apparently, that statement did not go over well with Newman officials. From the Wichita Eagle blog:

Here’s the statement from the school, via Newman director of communications Kelly Snedden, regarding the FB post:
“Coach Green apologizes for using the words “false accusations” on her personal Facebook page. The University stands by the women’s basketball coaching staff as they, the Newman University Athletic Department, and the entire university community continue to learn the NCAA’s compliance processes.”

Read more here:

Jane Cunningham: Evil men forced me out of office

In this appearance before Americans for Prosperity. Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, is greeted warmly as she rails about the federal health care program and whines about Gov. Jay Nixon and "the men" on his redistricting committee who apparently committed the greatest crime ever committed against mankind when they kept the senator from having an easy path for re-election.

"it's not because I am being booted out by the voters, but by 10 men..."

Sen. Cunningham, you almost sound like you think you should be able to stay on because you have tenure.

City of Joplin orders property owners to show progress in cleanup

Friday, March 30, 2012

American Journalism Review: Flunking the Test

It came as a surprise when I was reading an American Journalism Review article on the media's coverage of educational issues and came across quotes from a Joplin, Missouri, English teacher, taken from a Huffington Post article.

AJR's article, which is well worth reading, examines media coverage of educational issues and the criticism, which I have leveled from time to time, that the media has jumped on the "reform" bandwagon without any real evidence that the suggested reforms- firing "bad" teachers, opening more charter schools, approving educational vouchers, and limiting the power of teacher unions, would do anything at all to help students learn.

My quote comes in a portion talking about NBC's regular Education Nation programming:

Some teachers, on the other hand, can't help feeling that the network has stacked the deck in favor of the "reform" agenda. NBC's approach "is beneficial to those who promote privatizing schools, those who peddle tests and tests to prepare for tests, and curriculum based on tests to prepare for tests," wrote Randy Turner, an English teacher in Joplin, Missouri, on The Huffington Post last fall, as he watched the network cover its own summit. "It is also beneficial to those whose chief goal is to eliminate unions of all kinds, including those representing teachers."
This portion of the article noted some of the problems reporters face in providing an accurate picture of what is going on in our classrooms:

"School systems are crazed about controlling the message," says Linda Perlstein, author of two books about schools and, until recently, public editor of the Education Writers Association. "Access is so constricted." As a result, she says, "There's great underreporting of what happens in classroom, and it's just getting worse."
Perlstein spent three school years in classrooms to report a series about middle school for the Washington Post in 2000, and for her books, "Not Much Just Chillin'" (about middle schoolers in Columbia, Maryland) and "Tested" (about high-stakes tests). But Perlstein says other reporters were never able to gain similar access to other schools, including those in Washington, D.C., where the reform efforts of former Schools Chancellor Rhee attracted national attention.

Even with a cooperative principal or school superintendent, few reporters could make the lengthy commitment that Perlstein did in her reporting. That means journalists don't get to see the very thing they're reporting about. Imagine if sportswriters never got to see athletes play or political reporters never attended a campaign rally. Some districts even forbid teachers from speaking to the media on the record outside the classroom.

What to do? "You rely more and more on talking heads and less on what a school looks like," Perlstein says. She adds, "That matters." Ironically, superintendents and administrators "always tell me that the media gets it wrong. Well, how can we get it right when they won't talk to us?"

Crowell: Governor's budget based on gimmicks, one-time funds

In his weekly report, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, examines the state budget, which will be the focus of Senate action next week.
Last week, the House sent its version of the budget to the Senate. Shortly thereafter came the press releases and statements from House members claiming they’d succeeded in passing a “balanced” budget. But, nothing could be further from the truth.
     The House’s budget is flawed and not even close to being truly balanced.  Neither was the
Governor’s proposal and, unfortunately, in all likelihood neither will the Senate’s. Instead of making the decision to craft a fiscally sound budget for our state, the House and governor and probably Senate too, chose and will choose to throw together a spending plan based on gimmick assumptions and questionable one-time funds, resulting in a budget that’s far from being balanced.
     Part of the problem stems from using proposed revenue-increasing legislation that may or may not pass this year to prop up the budget revenue numbers. It’s been done in years past, and it’s being done again this year. The House and governor are accounting more than $70 million to come from a “tax amnesty” program and enhanced tax collection methods that have yet to be approved by the General Assembly. In my opinion, counting on these changes before passage is just gimmick accounting and wrong.
     Additionally, we should all have concerns with more than the $40 million Missouri will supposedly receive as a result of a national settlement over illegal foreclosures. Governor Nixon announced last month his desire to allot $40 million of this settlement to General Revenue to reduce his proposed cuts to higher education. The House went ahead and included the funds into their version of the budget when the only information we’ve received about this money is a press release from the State Attorney General’s office. And not even Attorney General Koster knows when Missouri will receive this money. We should not appropriate according to press releases. Moreover, why should we take money intended to make whole Missourians who were illegally foreclosed upon and give it to higher education?  What about the people who lost their homes and shouldn’t have?
     This week in the Senate, we’ll begin our discussion of the state’s FY’13 budget. I believe it is critical we start having an open and honest conversation about how our state is going to move forward. If we continue upon our present course of recklessly spending taxpayer dollars and supporting bloated, flawed programs, we’re going to face even larger budgetary issues in the future.
     There are three areas I believe we need to focus our attention upon. The first is governmental retirement systems—pensions. If you compare the public sector to the private sector, you’ll see the amount of money the state spends on retirement benefits is astronomically higher and unsustainable.
The second area we need to examine is our state’s criminal code. The state of Missouri spends approximately $20,000 a year to house a state prisoner. Criminals should be punished; however I think it is reckless to spend $20,000 to keep people in jail for victimless, nonviolent crimes.  In my opinion, these individuals could be better handled with civil penalties and various probationary measures like house arrest and ankle monitoring.
     Finally, we have to reform our state’s tax credit system. Missouri will spend almost $700 million this year on tax credits, another double digit increase. Missouri is and has been #1 in the country for Historic Preservation tax credits, and #2 in Low-Income Housing tax credits. We spend over $250 million a year on these two programs alone. Yet, our state is 45th in the country for higher education per capita funding, and ranks in the low 30s for K-12 education funding. We must reform tax credits. If we go with the governor and House’s budget plan, we’re going to cut healthcare access for blind people so we can maintain tax credits that go to a few very wealthy, well-connected developers.
     The decisions we make today prepare us for the future, but too often the politicians in Jefferson City are focused on their next election instead of working to make tomorrow better than today. We, as a state, have to decide what our priorities are. Do we value providing our children access to a world class education, or do we care more about lining the pockets of wealthy campaign contributing tax credit takers? If our current budget is any indication, the answer is unfortunately pretty clear—tax credit takers are valued over education.  Tax credit allocation is growing by double digits while the K-12 formula is under funded by over $400 million and higher education is allocated fantasy revenue.

Virtual tour provided of new Joplin High School

Hartzler: Health care law has negative effect on women

In her weekly report, Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, for the umpteenth time, attacks the federal health care law.

The budget for the 2013 fiscal year was a major issue this week as the U.S. House passed a spending plan to address America’s $15.5 trillion-plus national debt. Our responsible spending plan reduces the national debt and cuts government spending to protect America’s taxpayers while promoting policies to grow our economy. Our budget cuts more than $5 trillion in spending from the President’s budget over the next ten years and makes our tax structure fairer, flatter, and more competitive. It reduces debt as a share of the economy and puts the nation on a path to paying off our huge national debt. With real unemployment topping 15 percent we must focus on policies that encourage significant economic growth. We do that by promoting energy independence, repealing the President’s costly health care takeover, and keeping taxes low for all taxpayers.

Elsewhere, a good deal of attention this past week was focused on the U.S. Supreme Court as it held three days of hearings on the constitutionality of the Obama health care law, with a ruling expected in June or July. I have been a staunch opponent of this intrusion into the lives of Americans and pray the Supreme Court will strike down this law.

With the Supreme Court engaged in its historic review of the controversial health care law, I joined nine other House Republican women for a press conference highlighting the negative impact of the law on American women.

I am going to continue to focus on the issues that really matter to women – creating jobs, unleashing the economy, reducing the national debt, repealing the health care law, promoting energy independence to lower gas prices, and ensuring our children have a prosperous and secure future.

On another matter, I met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta this week to discuss a possible new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and to make him aware of my concerns regarding further cuts to military facilities across the country. The 2005 BRAC cost $39 billion and won’t break even in cost savings until 2018. With our nation’s limited defense dollars and emerging serious threats around the world, I told him now is not the time to subject our communities and our country to a lengthy BRAC process. I am pleased that he was receptive to what I had to say and will continue the discussion on how best to preserve a strong national defense.

As a closing note, I am pleased to tell you I was honored this week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which presented me with its Spirit of Enterprise Award in recognition of my pro-business stand during the current session of Congress. I am committed to championing ideas that promote economic growth and job creation for the good of Missouri’s Fourth District and the good of our country.

  (Photo: Vicky Hartzler receives the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.)

Bond issue calls for community safe rooms

This Bright Futures video examines the community saferooms that will be placed in Joplin schools if the bond issue passes Tuesday.

Hearing postponed for elementary teacher faced with prostitution charge

A hearing for a Springfield elementary teacher facing a felony charge of promoting prostitution, originally scheduled for this morning in Greene County Circuit Court has been postponed to 9 a.m. Friday, April 27.

Online court documents indicate the postponement request was made at the request of Laura Fiedler.

Mrs. Fiedler has been on leave from the Springfield schools since a March 2011 sting at the Landmark Hotel in Springfield led to her arrest and the arrest of her husband for allegedly running a prostitution ring.

Billy Long: It's time to end Obamacare

In his latest report, Seventh District Congressman says it is time to end the federal health care plan and rips into the administration's energy policy.
Last Friday was the two-year anniversary of Obamacare.  It is now entering its terrible twos, and things are only getting worse. 
Nancy Pelosi said, “We have to pass [Obamacare] to find out what is in it.”  Well, we have seen it and we don’t like what we see.  Just recently the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, commonly known as the CBO, changed their cost of Obamacare to $1.76 trillion – almost twice the original estimate.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare this week and hopefully, they will agree with the almost two-thirds of Americans who think Obamacare is unconstitutional.  But this battle isn’t just being fought in the Supreme Court.  
We have done our best in Congress to stop this expensive and unconstitutional government takeover.  Last week the House of Representatives voted for the 26th time to destroy, defund, and defang Obamacare.  From ending senseless taxes and increased paperwork to repealing Obamacare’s board of unelected bureaucrats who will ration care to seniors, we're doing what we can to end this terrible legislation.  It is time to end Obamacare and let people, not the government, control their own healthcare. 
Gas Prices
It’s no secret that this President has not been helpful when it comes to our energy policy.    
He caters to the environmentalist instead of supporting bipartisan, privately funded projects that create thousands of good paying jobs like the Keystone XL pipeline.  He opposes new drilling - but yet loans money to Brazil to drill, stifles innovative methods like fracking, and wastes money in boondoggles like Solyndra.  It is no wonder that gas prices keep going up.
The President likes to talk about alternative energy, but we don’t need alternative energy, we need an alternative President.  We need a President who understands a smart energy policy, a policy that supports an all-of-the-above approach, instead of a none-of-the-below approach that rejects all oil, coal, and natural gas. 
Now I do not oppose viable alternative energy solutions, but blowing billions of dollars on the Solyndras of the world and stopping pipelines that use North American oil is not the right approach.  That is why we need commonsense, bipartisan solutions like more drilling, more fracking, and more domestic solutions that will give our country energy, while reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  

What the Joplin Schools bond issue will fund

A Bright Futures video

Wells Fargo donates $30,000 to Joplin Habitat for Humanity

Joplin superintendent breaks down funding for construction project

In this Jet 14 video from the Feb. 28 Joplin Board of Education meeting, Superintendent C. J. Huff breaks down funding for the district's building project. The vote on the $62 million bond issue is scheduled for next Tuesday (April 3).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Video provided for pro-life rally in state capitol

Video provided for Jefferson City rally against Rush Limbaugh

Camdenton tea party leader upset over settlement in gay website lawsuit

A Camdenton tea party leader is not happy over the settlement between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Camdenton School District over student access to gay websites.

From today's Kansas City Star:

Camdenton tea party leader Cliff Luber doesn’t think it is over. He told fellow members of the Lake Area Conservative Club in an email that he hoped they were as outraged as he was, and that they needed to learn which board members voted to settle and “Vote them out!”
He went on to warn them that the ACLU wasn’t done — they’d next come after prayer at graduation and the Christmas manger scene on the town square.
“Folks, this is where the battle is, right here, right now, in our community,” Luber wrote.
All this because a 16-year-old girl didn’t think it right that the school’s web filter blocked gay-friendly sites, but allowed those that offered counseling on how gays and lesbians could convert to being straight.

Read more here:

Hearing tomorrow for elementary teacher on prostitution charge

A 9 a.m. hearing is scheduled tomorrow (Friday) in Greene County Circuit Court for Springfield third grade teacher Laura Fiedler, who faces a felony charge of promoting prostitution.

Fiedler and her husband Mark were arrested after a sting last year at the Landmark Hotel. The Springfield News-Leader reported it this way:

The officer arrived in the room and negotiated for a massage and oral sex for $150, the documents said. He then gave officers listening in on a recording device the signal to enter the room.
The woman, who was nude when officers knocked on the door, agreed to speak with police and told them that the Fiedlers arranged her meetings with clients. She said of whatever she charged, $35 went to "the house." The woman said she had been instructed to leave the money in the room, the search warrant said.
Another woman was in another room at the time of the sting, documents said. She also told authorities the Fiedlers arranged her clients for her, according to the search warrant.
Mrs. Fiedler is free on $2,500 bond. 

Big money pours into Koster campaign

A total of $123,500 in contributions of $500 or more was reported today  to the MissourI Ethics Commission by Attorney General Chris Koster.

The largest contribution, $25,000, came from Davis, Ketchmark, McCreight, & Ivers, PC, Leawood, Kan. 
Koster also received $20,000 from Kansas City Power and Light 

City of Joplin to help Duquesne residents get weather radios

(From the City of Joplin)

City of Joplin officials recognize the importance of weather radios as a tool to help keep families informed of approaching storms.  Combined with warning sirens that are designed to alert residents outdoors of severe weather, these radios will help alert residents indoors to take shelter.

The city recently distributed nearly 4,000 weather radios to Joplin citizens, but during the effort it became apparent that although the radios provided by the Tornado First Response Fund were restricted to Joplin citizens, our fellow survivors of the May 22 tornado in Duquesne were facing these same needs. City Manager Mark Rohr announced today that by working with members of the Unity for Joplin fund (managed by the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas) and the City of Duquesne, radios for Duquesne residents could be available soon.

“We realized that due to the structure of the First Response Fund bylaws, which specifically state donated funds are to assist citizens of Joplin, we needed to find another funding source to help our friends in Duquesne,” said Rohr.

Joplin and Duquesne officials are working to complete the grant funding application. It will be presented to the United Way’s Unity for Joplin board for their final decision as soon the application is finished. If approved, these funds, along with Duquesne contributions, would allow purchasing radios for the safety of Duquesne residents.

Residents are also encouraged to visit to learn other ways to be prepared for all types of severe weather.

Former GateHouse Media official trades in Big Nickel for 14 Little Nickels

Longtime Turner Report fan Gloria Fletcher, formerly GateHouse Media regional vice president for this area, will take over as President of Sound Publishing in the Puget Sound area of the state of Washington.

At GateHouse, Ms. Fletcher was responsible for dozens of publications, including The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, Pittsburg Morning Sun, and the Big Nickel.

At Sound Publishing, she will be responsible for 38 newspapers and 14 Little Nickels.

She will take up her new position in April and will be relocating her family over the summer.
“I’m honored to join Sound Publishing and Black Press,” Fletcher said. “I’m anxious to be on-site to learn about the area, the plethora of print and digital news products and really get to know the many talented people who produce them. My family and I are very excited to get there.”

Settlement reached between Camdenton School District, ACLU

A settlement has been reached between the Camdenton School District and the American Civil Liberties Union ending the lawsuit filed after students were not allowed access to informational gay websites.

The only thing left is for the judge to sign off on the agreement.

Details have not been provided about the agreement, though news accounts indicate the school's filtering system has been tweaked so that informational sites are available to students.

The following account of the lawsuit is from the Feb. 19 Turner Report:

Thanks to a ruling by a federal judge today, the school district has 30 days to eliminate an internet filtering system that allowed students access to explicit sexual sites…but effectively blocked nearly every website that offered a positive viewpoint of gays and lesbians.
 The order noted that the websites that were positive about gays were blocked for “sexuality,” but religious sites that were critical of homosexuality were allowed and were categorized as “religious.” This did not apply, however, to religious sites that did not condemn gays. Those sites were blocked because of “sexuality.”
 In her order granting the temporary injunction, Judge Nanette Laughrey wrote, “The board has used its power to perform an act clearly indicating that the ideas contained in the files are unacceptable and should not be discussed or considered. This message is not lost on students and teachers and its chilling effect is obvious.”
 The lawsuit was filed last August by the American Civil Liberties Union representing a student referred to as “Jane Doe” in court files, plus four organizations whose websites were blocked by URL Blocklist, the filtering service used by the school district, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Dignity USA, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and Campus Pride, Inc.
 As hard as it is to believe in these days when much attention is being paid to the high rate of suicides among gay teens, Judge Laughrey’s order indicates that the system set up by the school, intentionally or not, served to stigmatize gay students.
 The school has a system in place for students and teachers to “anonymously” request that a site be unblocked. However, Judge Laughrey said it was obvious from the system that school officials would have access to the names of those who made the requests. Even if they were not able to know who it was, students’ fears that they might would serve as enough of a deterrent. Judge Laughrey noted that “Jane Doe” had testified she was “afraid” to request to have a site unblocked because “it would draw attention to her and make her the subject of further taunting.”
 The judge also noted comments from board member John Beckett who indicated he did not want students to have access to such sites because it would “be saying it is okay to be gay.”

Cynthia Davis: Government turning our bedrooms into a free-for-all

In her latest report, Cynthia Davis, lieutenant governor candidate for the Constitution Party explains why she believes the government should not be requiring that insurance cover birth control.

Yesterday, I went to the capitol for the Religious Freedom Rally.

It was a thrill to be joined by so many others who understand the importance of preserving our religious freedom.
Insurance is designed to help the policy holder recover from a catastrophe.  We buy homeowners insurance in case a fire destroys our home.  We buy life insurance in case the chief wage-earner of the household dies.  We buy car insurance in case we have a car accident.  We don’t buy car insurance in case we need an oil change or our wiper blades replaced.

First, some ground rules:

1.)    The word “insurance” is not interchangeable with the word “health”.

2.)    The word “health” is not interchangeable with the word “contraception”.

3.)    The word “access” is not interchangeable with the word “free”.

4.)    The word “contraception” is not defined as a medical crisis any more than the words “braces”, “lasik surgery” or “tummy tuck”.
Therefore, it seems odd that questions of what ought to be covered by private insurance are making
 headline news

This struggle is over a philosophy.

This is about government forcing insurance companies to pay for abortifacients, sterilizations and contraceptives. Most proponents of the Obamacare mandate are accusing the other side of trying to “block women’s access to health” (i.e. not offering free contraceptives for all).   Without Obamacare, routine maintenance would continue as it is today, but the heart of the matter rests in what should be ordered by the government.

Curiously, those in favor of abortion have said for years that it is none of the government’s business what happens between a woman and her doctor.  Now that they want insurance to pay for their behavioral options, they want big government in charge. 

The private insurance industry is at a crossroads.  Either it will remain a free market entity or it will be turned into another branch of our national government, managed by a new gang of bureaucrats who are allowed to make unlimited profits off a citizenry forced to buy whatever they sell.

The Economic Realities:

 It is a fallacy to believe that birth control insurance coverage would be any bargain.  If the insurance companies were free to write insurance policies for any amount of coverage the individual desired, those who wanted birth control would buy it, and those who didn’t want it wouldn’t.  The people who wanted birth control, insurance would pay about an amount equal to the cost of the birth control plus an administrative handling fee.  They might figure out that it costs them more than what they would spend were they to make their own direct purchases. 

The true purpose is to force those who don't want birth control to subsidize it for others.  We are already doing this by  all the governmental programs that offer
 free birth control.  

Perhaps if these envelopes were marked, "Here is the free birth control, lubricant and instructions you ordered", the parents would handle it differently.

Why should insurance companies have to pay for birth control when government is already doing this?  
After being in the legislature for eight years, I understand the motivating force behind this effort.  People are afraid we will bring more children into the state needing taxpayer support, and they believe that birth control will lessen the numbers needing government help.  However, the studies don't show this to be true.  If you ask unmarried mothers why they had a baby, the last excuse you will hear is that she had no access to birth control.  Many single mothers wanted to have a baby or intentionally didn't use birth control. 

The new pricing structure would reflect higher prices for all.  Because the direct transaction is replaced by third parties, there would be a lack of cost constraints.  Mandated birth control is no bargain for anyone.  Additionally, some women may try experimenting with birth control, since it is now “free for all”.
The higher price of insurance prompts consumers to over consume to “get their money’s worth”.   As this new structure creates the appearance that it is a better deal to consume more insurance benefits, some will become infected with STDs and will increase abortion rates.  This will put further demand on other health care services.

We have many reasons to be concerned anytime government tries to dictate a "one size fits all" requirement because it leads to a loss of our freedom.  

This is not about insurance.  It is about your government turning what happens in the bedrooms into a "free for all".  If it were truly designed for "free essentials", why doesn't it include free eyeglasses, hearing aids and braces?

Ultimately, an insurance mandate is the same as a tax---one that doesn’t belong in a free market society.  As your next Lieutenant Governor, you will have someone in office who is willing to "Call Their Bluff".

Steelman fundraising pitch: Help me win the horse race

In her latest fundraising pitch, U. S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman asks for money to help her build momentum.

Help me send a message to Claire McCaskill, Washington,D.C., Barack Obama – and the news media!

In just a few days, I have to report my campaign fundraising for the first three months of 2012. Based on these filings, reporters produce “horse race” stories about who is winning – or losing – the fundraising race.  These quarterly reports are important to building momentum for the tough race ahead.

Help me win the fundraising race for this quarter!

Please donate $10, $25, $50, or whatever you can, so we can send a message to the media, McCaskill and her friends in Washington -- including President Obama.

Missouri needs a fighter in the Senate, someone who can appeal to grassroots Missourians like you who are fed up with Washington, D.C. and the failed agenda of Obama and McCaskill.

This fundraising report is important. My campaign treasurer told me today that we are $11,350 away from meeting our quarterly fundraising goal.  Your contribution today will help us meet this important goal and ensure we have the resources to defeat Claire McCaskill.

Please send your donation today. I promise they will get the message!

Thank you so much for your support. 
Sarah Steelman

P.S.  All the latest polls show me in the strongest position to defeat Claire McCaskill.  Your contribution is important, and can go a long way to ensure that we win the election and send a strong conservative to the U.S. Senate.  Please donate today!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Long Term Recovery Committee available to help with aftermath of Joplin Tornado

Virtual tour provided for proposed Irving Elementary School

Joplin's Bright Futures provided this virtual tour of the proposed Irving Elementary School. Irving was one of the schools destroyed in the May 22 tornado. The bond issue proposal will be determined by voters next Tuesday.

Former Joplinite opens online shop for tornado survivors

(From Cedar House Keepsakes)

A year ago, Angela Smith could not have predicted that she would soon be opening a business tailored specifically to disaster survivors. But the course of Smith’s life, like that of countless others, was forever changed by last year’s tornado.
While Smith feels extremely fortunate that no one in her family was injured in the disaster, her mother’s home on Ozark Avenue sustained major damage. In addition, the storm destroyed the extensive gardens designed and nurtured by Smith’s father--gardens that had become a “living legacy” cherished by the family after his early passing at the age of 47.
“I grew up in Joplin and will always consider it my hometown,” says Smith. “It has been devastating to see the destruction to my childhood home, church, high school and many other places I held dear. My heart aches for all the families who lost loved ones and for the numerous individuals who suffered serious injuries. It will be a long road to recovery for the people of Joplin, but I have faith that the city will emerge from this tragedy.”
Smith spent several months after the storm helping her mother pick up the pieces, and during this time, she realized that disaster survivors needed a way to memorialize their losses. To meet this need, she opened Cedar House Keepsakes, an online shop featuring a collection of items produced by artists and craftspeople from across the country.
“This isn’t a profit-making venture for me--it’s more a labor of love,” Smith explains. “Preserving our memories is important, and I believe it’s a crucial part of the healing process for disaster survivors and for the entire city of Joplin.”
Smith’s web shop includes a number of handcrafted items intended to memorialize survivors’ homes, their loved ones and their pets. For those who were able to salvage photos of their previous homes, custom “house portraits” can be created in watercolor or pen and ink.
MSSU professor Chad Stebbins, one of Smith’s first customers, had this to say after commissioning a watercolor painting of his mother’s house on Wisconsin Avenue that was destroyed by the storm: “My mother lived in that house for 37 years, my sister and I both grew up there, and it really was the place that we all called home. She loved the painting of her house, and it was also a big hit with the rest of our family. The painting resides in a prominent place in her new home.”
In addition to house portraits, the keepsake collection includes handmade memory quilts, photo ornaments, personalized memorial jewelry and hand-painted garden stones. Customers will also find a selection of items to show their community support, as well as gifts of appreciation for those who assisted after the disaster.
Knowing that funds are limited for many people affected by the storm, Smith provides free tips on her website for creating inexpensive keepsakes. For additional information, visit

Akin: Obamacare will saddle our children with debt

Congressman Todd Akin, a candidate for the Republican nomination for U. S. Senate, issued the following news release about the Supreme Court hearings on the federal health care program:
Congressman Akin, a senior member of the House Budget Committee, released this statement in response to today’s closing arguments before the Supreme Court regarding the President’s unconstitutional, so-called, health care plan:

 “I am hopeful the Supreme Court will strike down the individual mandate as being blatantly unconstitutional.  In the 111thCongress, the Democrat controlled Congress could not fulfill their constitutionally mandated duties and pass a budget, but they instead focused their energies on forcing the Administration’s liberal health care plan through Congress and down the throats of the American people.
 “I voted for the full repeal of Obamacare at the beginning of this Congress and have supported meaningful tort reform and the repeal of the bureaucratic Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  Obamacare makes health care a burden that will further shackle our children with debt and exacerbates the problem of high health costs.  I hope the Supreme Court’s decision will result in striking down the individual mandate.  American taxpaying citizens have responded overwhelmingly that they want choice, and if reason and justice prevails they shall have it.”

Post-Dispatch owners announce hefty bonuses for officials same time as layoffs

It is almost reaching the point where this is not news anymore.

Stop me if you have heard this before. A newspaper publishing company awards its top officials hefty bonuses at the same time it is sending long-time, loyal employees packing.

Recently, The Turner Report noted that Gannett, owner of the Springfield News-Leader, awarded bonuses at the same time it was requiring its employees to take week-long unpaid furloughs.

GateHouse Media awarded more than $1.3 million at the same time that it is trumpeting new centralized design and copy editing stations for The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, Pittsburg Morning Sun and its other newspapers that will eliminate workers in its more than 300 newspapers.

The latest news comes from Lee Enterprises, owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. At almost exactly the same time the troubled company was laying off workers in Montana, it awarded three quarters of a million in bonuses to its two top officials.

The following is taken from the company's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

On March 21, 2012, the Lee Enterprises, Incorporated (the “Company”) Board of Directors’ Executive Compensation Committee (“ECC”) approved  discretionary bonuses for Mary E. Junck, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, and  Carl G. Schmidt, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, in the amounts of $500,000 and $250,000, respectively, related to the Company’s successful completion of its refinancing initiative.
 Apparently, Lee has a different way of measuring success than the rest of us.