Monday, April 30, 2012

New bill would allow Missouri casinos to loan money

Another bad idea.

Of course, I am probably worrying about nothing. After all, the Missouri Gaming Association's top lobbyist assures us this won't affect problem gamblers, just high end rollers like pro athletes who don't want to carry that much money around with them.

Carthage man sentenced to life in prison for murder of eight-month-old son

Duquesne officials hope to have tornado debris picked up by September

Another delay for Springfield teacher facing prostitution charge

For the second time, the arraignment of a Springfield elementary school teacher facing a felony charge of promoting prostitution.

Online Greene County Circuit Court records indicate that Friday's scheduled hearing was postponed at the request of Laura Fiedler. The case had also been set for arraignment on March 30.

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.
The new arraignment date is May 24. Mrs. Fiedler is free on $2,500 bond. 

Ribbon cutting set for new Joplin fire station

(From the City of Joplin)

The City of Joplin invites the public to join in a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House at the Fire Station #6, 5302 West 32nd Street,  at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 5.  Members of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors will join City officials, community leaders and the public in the ribbon cutting event. Refreshments will be served. The Open House will conclude at 11:30 a.m.
Construction of this station, located on the southeast corner of Central City Road and 32nd Street, was recently completed, with firefighters moving into the facility in mid-April. 
The Fire Station is a 9,600 square foot facility and includes a safe room for the on-duty crew. It has six bedrooms, an exercise room and a decontamination room. The facility has three double depth drive-thru bays. The Station was built to meet the LEEDS Silver requirements for energy efficiency and sustainability, and was designed with expansion considerations, if that is warranted in the future.
Fifteen firefighters will be assigned to Station #6, and work 24-hour shifts as crews of four. This brings the total of Fire Department personnel to 95, after the additional 15 firefighters are added  
The facility was funded by the Public Safety Sales Tax which Joplin voters approved in November 2006.

Tornado watch until 2 a.m. for Joplin area

(From the National Weather Service)




Three hundred attend We Are Women events in Jefferson City

(From War on Women Missouri)

Hundreds of Missouri men and women participated in “We Are Women” events for women’s rights in Jefferson City on Saturday, April 28th, which included a march to the Capitol grounds and a rally. Event organizers estimated total attendance to be 300 people.

Co-Organizer for the event, Paula Willmarth states, “This past Saturday Missouri women and men proved that they were ready to take action against this war on women! This is not the end of this movement, but only the beginning. We will continue to keep fighting and organizing here in Missouri until women have equal rights and we are protected.”

Across the country on this day, thousands of women and men participated in their own state Capitols. This movement began with two women, Karen Teegarden from Michigan and Desiree Jordan from New York, who were talking on the phone one night about all the record legislation that has been introduced in our country attacking women. Between themselves they realized ‘Enough is Enough’ and started a Facebook page gathering women who felt the same. The movement grew overnight and now has 21,000 members.

Participants drove hundreds of miles from all four corners of the state to attend. There were several elected officials who were in attendance, including Rep. Bert Atkins (D-75), Rep. Stephen Webber (D-23), and Rep. Judy Morgan (D-39). A number of candidates were also in attendance, including Paul LeVota (D-11), Sandra Reeves (D-17), Kevin Morgan (D-38), Deb Lavender (D-90), Nancy Copenhaver (D-47), Sen. Ken Jacob (D- 44), Rep. Rebecca McClanahan (D-3), Nancy Maxwell (D-54), Gary Grigsby (D-51), and Patty Johnson (D-56).

Both U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill sent letters of support. McCaskill’s letter spoke in detail about the Violence Against Women Act. Candidate for the 4th Congressional Missouri House of Representatives and current Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Hensley was present to speak to the crowd about domestic violence and how much this issue affects Missouri’s women.

“Last week the House Republicans and Vicki Hartzler voted to not renew the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. It’s unconscionable. Keep in mind in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act actually was bi-partisan. Over forty Republicans voted for that. And in fact, when it needed to be renewed, George W. Bush signed it back into law in 2000 and 2005. Yet this group, these House Republicans and Vicki Hartzler, played a political game,” Hensley declared.

During 1986 in Jefferson City there was a women’s rights march that drew thousands. In attendance was former Senator Ken Jacob, who spoke on Saturday to represent the men’s point of view and who was also a leader at the march in 1986. There were many men who came to support women’s rights, voicing that it’s not just women’s rights that are under attack, it’s human rights.

“This movement started online and is growing everyday. Social media is a powerful tool when used to connect, educate, and engage others for a particular cause. In this case, women and men throughout the state of Missouri saw the aggressive attacks taking place in our own state against women and rose to the call. I’m proud of the turnout and support that we’ve received throughout this great state and look forward to continuing this movement in the months ahead,” co-organizer Courtney Cole said.
For more information about this movement, please visit or join on Facebook at

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Meet Missouri's newest education lobbyist- Michelle Rhee

(The following is my next blog for Huffington Post.)

One of the most pernicious lies being spread by those who are opposed to public education is that teachers are in it for themselves and really don't care about students.

I have a hard time understanding why anyone would buy into that nonsense, but with certain people the message has taken hold.

For some reason, it is easier to believe, in the state of Missouri, that some of the lowest paid teachers in the United States are in it for themselves, and not because they genuinely care about the children in their charge.

It is easy for some people to believe that teachers with years of classroom experience are automatically inferior to those who are just out of college (and sometimes have never taken an education course).

And many people accept, without question, the idea that a teacher's pay should be based on the grades on standardized tests that are poorly written and never seen by the taxpaying public.

Some of those who have been most responsible for those lies, former head of Washington D. C. Schools Michelle Rhee and her crew at Students First have worked quickly to establish a stronghold in the Show-Me State. As of Feb. 8, Ms. Rhee is a registered lobbyist here, one of seven who can legally lobby for Students First. Registering the same day was the organization's legislative director (a synonym for lobbyist) Timothy Melton, a former Democratic representative from Michigan who joined the long list of those who jump immediately from elected positions to lobbying those who hold elected positions.

Students First indicated when it announced its intention to come to Missouri that it would lobby, make contributions to legislators' campaign accounts, and push its ideas of "educational reform."

One way it is pushing those ideas is through advertising that is being shown throughout Missouri (and which is shown in the video accompanying this post).

The irony about Students First, is that its leader is someone who has done nothing but put herself first since her dramatic entry as head of the schools in our nation's capitol. How else can you explain the infamous Newsweek cover which showed her with a broom ready to sweep out all of the "bad teachers."

Her time in Washington did not result in the kind of dramatic changeovers that she promises will take place in public schools that adopt her dangerous ideas. In Washington, the dramatic test improvements that took place in the schools she used as success stories appear to be the result of cheating, the same kind of cheating that is likely to become more and more prevalent in the future if standardized tests (always meant to be just one level of assessment and not the Holy Grail) are the only means through which teachers and schools are judged.

As for her other big push, stopping the practice of keeping teachers with seniority when cuts have to be made, it continues the conceit that education is the only profession in which people get progressively worse the more years they have been on the job. The idea that there are thousands of poor teachers across the U. S. who keep their jobs only because they have been in the classroom longer is ludicrous, but that is exactly what is being pushed by Ms. Rhee and the other snake oil peddlers who are gaining more influence in our state legislatures each year.

When cuts have to be made, it is likely that some good, young teachers will be among those let go. It is not evident to anyone, except Ms. Rhee and the anti-teacher "reform" contingent, that they are being let go in order for inferior veteran teachers to stay in the classrooms.

The saddest thing about organizations like Students First and opportunists like Michelle Rhee is that they keep the discussion from turning to the areas that need to be addressed before the failing inner-city schools are put on the right path.

Students First is not airing advertisements demanding that something be done about poverty, crime, drug abuse, or any of the other problems that play a major role in the failure of students.

You also hear no mention of families in which the parents take no active role in the children's education.

The target for Ms. Rhee and the other bullies of the so-called "reform" movement in education has always been the teachers.

When this shell game is over, if Ms. Rhee and the reformers are successful, the underlying problems of poverty, crime, and drug abuse will still be there and the classrooms will still include many students whose parents take no interest in their children's education.

Ms. Rhee could have done more good with her broom by using it as a symbol of cleaning up the inner-city neighborhoods. Now that would have been putting students first.

Of course, she probably wouldn't have made the cover of Newsweek.

Joplin, Tuscaloosa become sister cities of destruction

Today's Tuscaloosa News, observing the one-year anniversary of the tornado that wreaked so much destruction on that city, has an absorbing article on the Joplin Tornado. From the article:

Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr got his first look at the widespread damage about 9:30 p.m. through night-vision goggles.
He knew the devastation was extensive — in the coming days he would learn that approximately 30 percent of Joplin was destroyed or affected — but the scene he took in from a helicopter over the tornado’s path was numbing.
“I’m flesh and blood like everyone else,” Rohr said. “I was overwhelmed. But I could only allow myself to be overwhelmed for about 15 seconds.”
It is a long story and one well worth reading.

Former Kirkwood principal: In public schools, we take them all

The accompanying video, featuring Charles Jaco's interview with former Kirkwood Principal Franklin McCallie, offers some of the best arguments against HB 2051 and for the very concept of public schools. While I don't agree with him on everything, this is the kind of spokesman public schools need.

Cynthia Davis: Ed Martin and I are the dream team

Just what Ed Martin needed.

First, he is running for what, if memory serves correctly, is his third office in less than a year, attorney general, and against well-funded incumbent Chris Koster. And now, Cynthia Davis, the Constitution Party candidate for lieutenant governor, describes herself and Martin as "the dream team."

Judy Baker: Speaking out led to demise of HB 2051

Word has spread quickly that Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, chairman of the House Republican Committee, has indicated that HB 2051, the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would prohibit classroom discussion of  sexual orientation, is not going to receive a committee hearing during the 2012 session.

In the accompanying video, Judy Baker, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, talks about the impact that people speaking out had against this bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Alabama governor marks anniversary of Tuscaloosa tornado

In less than a month, Joplin will observe the one-year anniversary of the May 22 tornado that destroyed a third of this town and cost 160 lives.

The anniversary arrived this week for those who survived the Tuscaloosa tornado.

Moving gay students to the back of the school bus

As someone who spends a few weeks every year guiding eighth graders through a research project on the American Civil Rights Movement, I couldn’t help but experience a sense of déjà vu as I have followed the uproar over Missouri HB 2051, which would ban classroom discussion of sexual orientation.

Some of the 20 Republican co-sponsors of the bill are falling all over themselves to let people know they have nothing whatsoever against gays and lesbians.

If they had done any reading at all (and judging from the quality of the legislation they have written, or ALEC has written for them) they would have studiously avoided the quotes. Some examples:

It’s not anti-gay legislation because “some of my best friends are gay.”

Or this one- “These kinds of discussions should be taking place in the home, among families, not in our schools.”

It is almost like they are reliving the era in which politicians, on both sides of the aisle, fought the rising tide of desegregation and flailed helplessly against the onset of equal rights for African Americans.

Those officials, always noting that they had nothing against African Americans (as long, of course, as they knew their place and didn’t get uppity) were perfectly content to consign human beings to a permanent second-class status simply because of the color of their skin.

Sexual orientation today, like race during that not-so-long-ago era, is something that should not be discussed in polite society, according to these protectors of all that is “good and decent” in our society.

It saddens me that a former educator, Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, who spent decades as a classroom teacher, principal, and superintendent, is the one who authored this legislation, something that is designed to keep students enmeshed in cobwebs of ignorance.

Steve Cookson insists that his bill is not anti-gay.

The legislator released the following statement last week:

"Many of the recent articles on HB 2051 have shifted focus away from the true intent of my legislation, which is meant to protect the moral values that are most important to Missouri families. In a time when our public schools continue to struggle financially, we want their focus to be solely on core education issues such as math, science and reading; and not on topics that are better left for discussion in the home at the discretion of parents. It's also important to point out that my bill does not target a particular sexual orientation but instead says instruction or materials related to any sexual orientation should not take place in our public schools. This would not prohibit a student struggling with his or her sexual identity from talking to a school counselor or cause any of the other issues that have been misreported by the media. Instead it would simply ensure the focus of our public schools is on the curriculum parents expect their children to learn when they send them to school each day."

It would be easier to buy Cookson’s self-serving explanation if it did not fly in the face of one of his earlier actions- co-sponsoring legislation that requires discussion of sexual orientation- of the heterosexual variety, of course.

Cookson is the co-sponsor of HB 1631, which calls for providing "dating abuse information" to students in grades 7-12.

The bill includes this section:

3. For purposes of this section, "dating abuse" means a pattern of behavior in which one person uses or threatens to use physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse to control the person's dating partner. "Dating partner" means any person who is involved in an intimate association with another person that is primarily characterized by the expectation of affectionate involvement that includes casual, serious, and long-term dating partners
Now correct me if I am wrong, but even if this is limited to discussions of boys and girls dating, isn't heterosexuality a sexual orientation?

How in the world can Cookson recommend that such things be discussed in a public school classroom?

Cookson and the legislators, including Speaker of the House Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, and Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, who are co-sponsoring the bill, know full well that Missouri's classroom teachers are not providing graphic discussions of sexual acts in the classrooms. Classroom discussions of sexual orientation are nearly always centered around issues of bullying or political issues such as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," or gay marriage.

If the bill passes, Missouri's gay and lesbian students will receive the message that they, like those children from a previous generation who were born with different-colored skin, are considered second-class citizens by the people who are making our laws, people who should know better.

For Steve Cookson and the co-sponsors of his ode to ignorance, HB 2051, it appears there is only one place for gay students- the back of the school bus.

Willdabeast T-Shirt and Wristband Giveaway slated

In her latest Style Blog video, Sara Norton, older sister of the late Will Norton, explains the rules of a contest in which t-shirts and wristbands honoring her brother will be given away. Entrants must write about how Will Norton or his Willdabeest YouTube videos affected them.

Friday, April 27, 2012

MSBA lobbyist: Teacher tenure bills are dead for 2012

Of course, nothing is ever dead in the Missouri legislature until the final bell rings in three weeks, but in a weekly update video, Missouri School Boards Association lobbyist Mike Reed says teacher tenure reform is dead, in both the House and the Senate, for the 2012 legislative session.

The segment about teacher tenure comes in the second half of the video.

The closest the so-called tenure "reform" came to passing this session has been SB 806, sponsored by, who else, Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield. In her last hurrah before being put to pasture (at least for the time being) next month, the senator initially pushed the complete elimination of tenure protection for teachers.

It appeared the tenure talk had been put behind the Senate, when it approved the suggestion by Education Committee Chairman David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, to have a committee study teacher salaries. The attack on tenure resumed when Sen. Tom Dempsey sponsored a successful amendment increasing the time it takes tenure from five years, already one of the longest in the nation, to 10, which would been far more than any other state requires.

Even that fell by the wayside this week, when a number of senators, including Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, shot down the bill, primarily because Mrs. Cunningham had rammed it through her General Laws Committee, bypassing the Education Committee, which did not have time to even study the effects the changes would cause.

First families announced for Governor's Joplin Challenge

Cynthia Davis still against summer school meals: Children should not be institutionalized

As she continues her move toward becoming the Casey Stengel of Missouri politics, former Rep. Cynthia Davis, a candidate for lieutenant governor on the Constitution Party ticket, relived the moment that shot her into the national spotlight in 2009.

From Jason Hunsicker's article in today's Kirksville Daily Express:

Davis earned national attention in 2009 when, while serving as chairperson of the House Children and Families Committee, she attacked a government program coordinated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that provides food to low-income children during the summer.
Thursday, she said “people pushing the left-wing ideology will use children as human shields to protect more government spending. But, I’m a big champion of the family, and I believe children are best served when they have their mom and dad feed them meals, not when they’re institutionalized.”
Asked to explain what she meant by “institutionalized,” Davis said these programs weakened families by pulling children away from the home for food and was “treating them like a herd of cattle.”

Mrs. Davis still doesn't understand that not all children have loving families or families that can afford to provide them with three square meals.

Curbside Joplin Tornado debris pickup completed

(From the City of Joplin)

City officials are pleased to announce that the final pass of the curbside pickup of residential debris is now completed. The City appreciates all of the citizens and volunteers who have worked to move debris to the curb.
“We have seen such a cooperative spirit from our citizens, their families and the thousands of volunteers throughout this clean-up process,” said Leslie Jones, Finance Director. “We want to thank everyone for their efforts and appreciate their work as our City recovers.”
Joplin residents and Joplin residential landlords who still have debris that needs removal may utilize the drop-off option at the Allied Waste Transfer Station, 1715 East Front Street (Old Route 66) Galena, Kansas for a City-subsidized fee. Residents will need to take a copy of a current Missouri-American water bill or landlord dumpster rental bill and matching identification to use this option. Please call Allied Waste at 620-783-5841 or the City of Joplin at 624-0820 Ext. 501 for details. 
If a current water bill is not available, residents may utilize Allied Waste or Waste Corporation, 3700 West 7th Street, 623-6620 and pay the “gate rate.”  Call ahead for pricing and hours of operation.
Joplin residents may also use the curbside bulky item pick up for items such as televisions, mattresses, or furniture. Tree limbs and brush should be bundled and cut to four-foot maximum lengths and weigh no more than 50 pounds. Offered through the residential trash contractor, Allied Waste, residents need to call 800-431-1507 for specific guidelines.
If a water bill is not available and you have only reconstruction debris to dispose of, the City of Galena Landfill would be an option for you. It is located at 1101 East Front Street (Old Route 66) in Galena, Kansas.  Call 417-624-4444 for pricing and hours of operation. 
The Recycling Center is another option for some items. It is located at 1310 West “A” Street.  The summer hours run from April through October and include: Tuesday and Thursday 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
The recycling center is open to all regardless of residency.  There is no charge to drop off the following: Cardboard and paperboard;  newspaper, magazines, telephone directories, books, office paper ; Plastic #1 and #2 Bottles with necks, glass bottles, jugs, and jars (remove lids); Aluminum cans and tin/steel cans, all metal scrap; #2 plastic shopping bags, clean packing peanuts, bubble wrap; Ink jet and toner cartridges, electronic waste (computers, televisions, etc.), all batteries; Limited household hazardous waste including: insecticides, herbicides, acids, lubricants, pool/spa chemicals, cleaning products, and more. Motor oil, paint, and commercial waste are NOT accepted.  Please seek other means for disposal.

Missouri NEA issues action alert over Dieckhaus bill

(From the Missouri National Education Association)
The House Rules Committee approved House Committee Substitute/House Bill (HCS/HB) 1526 (Scott Dieckhaus) on April 26, and the bill may be debated in the House early next week. HCS/HB 1526 imposes detailed mandates on teacher evaluation, such as requiring at least 50 percent of evaluations to be based on student test scores and prohibiting districts and employees from designing evaluation systems within collective bargaining negotiations. The bill also revises reduction-in-force requirements and repeals the state minimum salary law for experienced teachers with master's degrees. Missouri NEA opposes the bill. 
Action Needed: Call, write of email to urge your state representative to oppose HCS/HB 1526. The following link will connect you to the MNEA Legislative Action Center Action Alert on HCS/HB 1526.
Type in your zip code and the alert will automatically be directed to your state representative. The Action Alert contains a brief summary and a brief, editable message box to help you send an email to your state representative on the issue. Your message will have a greater impact it you personalize the message and add your own concerns regarding the bill.

"Don't Say Gay" sponsor: They're threatening to kill me

Apparently, Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, has been receiving death threats since word began spreading about his "Don't Say Gay" bill, which would prohibit classroom discussion of sexual orientation.

In this video, Cookson claims his intentions have been misunderstood.

Newman: "Don't Say Gay" is the meanest bill of 2012

(In her latest update, Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis, talks about a number of bills, including "The Meanest Bill of 2012," Rep. Steve Cookson's proposal to outlaw classrom discussion of sexual orientation.)
 With only 3 weeks left to go in the 2012 legislative session, the House still hasn’t taken action on Real Issues:  job creation, fair funding for public schools and improving accountability & integrity of state government.
 What have we been doing?  Tacking the major issues…of the 19th century!   In the past 2 weeks we have passed... after hours of floor debate:
 * HB1534  - making it a state crime for federal employees to carry out federal law in MO (targeting the national health care law)
 * HB1637 – putting MO back on the gold standard (only legal in Utah at the present time)
 *HB2099 – would weaken legal protections for whistleblowers who report illegal activities by their employees
 Missouri GOP is not just focused on the War on Women but decided last week to target kids as who are most often bullied in schools.
 Rep. Steve Cookson (R- Fairdealing) filed HB2051 which would "prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation in public school instruction, material, or extracurricular activity except in scientific instruction on human reproduction".
 GOP co-sponsors include House Speaker Steve Tilley, John Diehl, Ladue, Tim Jones, Eureka, Dwight Scharnhorst, Andrew Koenig, Lyle Rowland, Charlie Denison, Lindell Shumake, Kurt Bahr, Don Wells, Eric Burlison, Dave Schatz, Doug Funderburk, Jeff Grisamore, Mark Parkinson, Paul Fitzwater, Bill Lant, Mike McGhee and Jay Houghton.
 As the Chair of the House Progressive Caucus, I quickly jumped into action.  Joined by other Democrats, we issued a letter Wednesday and a press statement to the 20 GOP male co-sponsors asking them to withdraw the bill:
 “HB2051 threatens to reduce the safety of many students throughout Missouri solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  We, along with PROMO, Missouri National Educators Association, MO Federation of Teachers and the Missouri Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics  earnestly hope that you will put compassion and student safety before political agenda.”
There are numerous serious ramifications of this proposal.  For example, the "no material and no extracurricular activity" clause would stifle the more than 80 gay-straight alliances that meet in Missouri high schools and are a tremendous resource for kids struggling with their sexual identity.  
 Bigoted legislation and leadership like this is exactly why Missouri needs strong anti-bullying legislation that protects all students. But there is NO effort to pass anything that actually aims to protect kids.
 Fact: Missouri LGBT students frequently hear homophobic, sexist, and offensive remarks regarding their gender expression.
 Fact: Most LGBT students have been victimized at school; reporting of incidents are limited and when reported, offending parties are not reprimanded.
 Fact: Most LGBT students in Missouri do not have access to support or resources.
 We need you to go to to post your statement, upload your video and sign the petition.  Read what the co-sponsors are saying and check out the state and national media on this mean bill. 
 In honor of National Pay Equity Day on April 17th, I spoke at the Missouri  State Capitol Rally recently hosted by AAUW (American Association of University Women) to promote equal pay for women in Missouri.
The rally in Jefferson City highlighted the wage gap issue as well as pointing out how women are treated in the workplace, the struggles they still face in this economy and their affected unemployment and pension benefits. 
 U. S. women on average earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man, which is true in Missouri as well.  It is unfair to women but it’s their families who pay the price.
Supported by the Attorney General’s office, this year I sponsored HB1862 which requires the MO Dept of Labor and Industral Relations to establish a Pay Equity Commission to study MO women’s pay in detail.  The bill was killed in the House Rules Committee, (chaired by Rep. John Diehl - Ladue) last month after passing unanimously by the Workforce Development Committee.

Joplin School Board terminates contract for demolition of high school

Tornado heroes, teachers recognized by Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce

Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce honored Joplin Schools Superintendent C. J. Huff, former Mayor Mike Woolston, City Manager Mark Rohr, and Chamber Executive Director Rob O'Brian Thursday night for their contributions after the May 22 tornado. The four were recognized during the annual Chamber banquet.

Jane Cage was named Person of the Year and four teachers received Golden Apple awards.

Street sign progress continues in Joplin

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Democratic House members give views on "Don't Say Gay" bill

The accompanying videos were uploaded by Progress Missouri with Democratic House members stating their opposition to HB 2051, a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, which would prohibit classroom discussion of sexual orientation.

McCaskill rallies support for renewing protections for victims of domestic violence

Hearing Friday for Springfield 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.

The hearing was originally scheduled for March 30.

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. 

Rupp: Activist judge made photo ID ruling

In the accompanying video, Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Harrisonville, a candidate for secretary of state, blasts an "activist judge" for tossing out the ballot language on the photo ID proposal.

Two thoughts:

1. An activist judge is one who disagrees with your opinion.

2. I am sick and tired of Republicans comparing voting with having to show photo ID to rent a movie. Maybe what we need is someone to push a bill banning the use of photo ID to rent movies.

Cycle for Joplin raising money for storm shelters

Tornado technology advanced after Joplin, Tuscaloosa

Joplin Rotary Clubs, Habitat for Humanity hold groundbreaking

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Akin: President Obama misquoted me

Congressman Todd Akin, a candidate for the U. S. Senate, claims that despite what President Obama says, he never said students loans are a cancer. Akin clarifies that he only means that the government helping students and poor people who need health care are a cancer.

Thanks for clearing that up, Congressman. The news release is printed below:

“With all due respect, the President misquoted me.  I was not saying that student loans are a cancer.  I referred to the policies where there is a government takeover of private industries.
“This is most evident in the government takeover of U.S. healthcare, the government takeover of student loans and the government’s attempts to shut down U.S. energy.
“I suspect the President was given a misquotation of what I actually said, but I am sure we have a fundamental disagreement on the role of government and what constitutes socialism regarding current public policy.”

Long: Tax Cut Act gives small businesses a chance to grow

In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long discusses the recently-passed Small Business Tax Cut Act:

Washington thinks they know best how to create jobs.  They think more government regulation and more taxation will lead to more jobs.   However, it’s really the people who create jobs, not Washington bureaucrats.

Small businesses are going to continue to struggle as long as Washington thinks they can tax and regulate our way to economic recovery.  That’s why, I voted for the Small Business Tax Cut Act on April 19th.  This bill would help small businesses reduce their tax burden and gives them more opportunities to create jobs.

The Small Business Tax Cut Act will give small businesses with fewer than 500 employees a tax deduction of 20 percent of their income, which will free up critical funds for them to hire new employees.  Currently, cash-strapped small businesses face federal tax rates as high as 35 percent.  It is estimated that 22 million small businesses will benefit from this tax cut.  

Right now the bill is stuck in the Senate where most good bills go to die. We need to make sure that now that the House has done their job, the Senate will do theirs.  

Expanding Opportunities for Small Businesses

As someone who was a small businessman for over 30 years, I know how hard it can be to run a business, especially during tough economic times.  Troubles are only made worse by the cost of government regulations, which are estimated at over $10,000 per employee per year.  

To help small businesses and startups, we need to remove the government from the process so that they can get back to what they do best, creating jobs.  That’s why, recently the House and Senate were able to come together and pass theJumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act.  The bill combines six previous bipartisan jobs bills that reduce regulations and fees on small businesses and startups.

According to the Small Business Administration, over 60 percent of new jobs are created by small businesses. At a time when new jobs are needed, bills like the JOBS Act will help them grow and expand, and that will help get our economy back on track.  

It’s time to get the government out of the way and once again make America the best place in the world to do business. I was pleased to see President Obama agreed and signed this bill into law on April 5th.

Work progresses on replacing Joplin street signs, signals lost in tornado

(From the City of Joplin)

Work is progressing in replacing over 2,000 street signs and the dozens of signal lights that were destroyed by the May 22, 2011 tornado.  These signal lights serviced 17 different intersections within the disaster area.

According to David Hertzberg, Public Works Director, much of the funding to replace these items is coming from a federal highway fund that does not offer the emergency replacement process.

“Because of the various regulations and specific guidelines in place, the City had been in a holding pattern after filing for the funding to replace these important markers throughout our community,” he said. “We have been notified that the process is now in motion and Joplin citizens should start seeing these in the near future.”

Immediately following the disaster, City crews identified roads for emergency crews and volunteers with a painted grid system at each intersection in the area. In addition, freestanding stop signs were placed at crossroads of intersections that received damage to their signals.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience throughout this time, and I know everyone will be pleased to see these signs resurrected and signals back in place – including our City staff,” he said. “When traveling, many people use landmarks for identification, and with these demolished, street signs are helpful.”

City crews have erected hundreds of temporary signs since the storm. These, along with the placed stop signs, will remain until the final replacement signs are in place.

Rebuild Joplin works to get residents into permanent housing

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Progressive Caucus calls on Tilley, Jones, Cookson to drop support of "Don't Say Gay" bill

(From the Missouri Progressive Caucus)

Today, the Missouri Progressive Caucus and other Democratic State Representatives
call on Speaker Tilley, Floor Leader Tim Jones, Rep. Steve Cookson and Rep. John Diehl to withdraw their support of House Bill 2051.

"Public outrage has shown us that we are not doing enough to protect all students in schools.  Students, teachers, administrators and those involved in the care of students all support being able to address sexual orientation and gender identity openly and compassionately,” said State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights), chair of the House Progressive Caucus.  

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students in Missouri commonly hear homophobic, sexist and negative remarks about themselves in schools.  These remarks come from both other students and staff members.  In fact most of these students have been victimized and bullied in school.  The majority of these incidents are not reported to adult authorities.

63% of students who were harassed or assaulted in school never reported it to school staff and 48% never told a family member about the incident.  Among students who did report incidents to school authorities, only 12% said that reporting resulted in effective intervention by staff.

Newman continued, "I applaud and join with 37 of my colleagues in the House in standing up for all students. We urge the bill sponsors to withdraw HB2051 which would have very serious ramifications if passed.”

Bullying or harassment of any student has no place in Missouri schools. Turning our back on Missouri students to advance a political agenda is mean-spirited.   HB2051 is simply wrong.

Spence ad: Jay Nixon's Missouri bounces along the bottom

Is this the best Dave Spence can do?

Missouri House passes bill prohibiting enactment of federal health care plan

Columbia, Springfield TV coverage of "Don't Say Gay" bill

Cookson aide: He doesn't talk to people outside his district

For someone who spent nearly his entire adult life in education, Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, certainly seems unwilling to educate others about his own legislation.

Huffington Post reports that Cookson's assistant said reporters are unlikely to receive comments from the representative about his bill, which would outlaw discussions of sexual orientation in Missouri public school classrooms:

State Rep. Steve Cookson (R-Fairdealing), the bill's principal author, was not available for comment. Cookson's assistant, Agnes Rackers, said Cookson rarely speaks to people from outside of his southeastern Missouri district.
"He will probably not get around to calling you back since you are not in his district," Rackers told HuffPost.
That is what I would call arrogance. But then again, there is not much way Cookson discusses this bill and does not come out looking bad.

Humphreys gives $50,000 to Ed Emery campaign

For the second time in two weeks, a member of the Humphreys family that owns Joplin's TAMKO has contributed $50,000 to the State Senate campaign of former Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar.

A 48-hour report filed Monday with the Missouri Ethics Commission shows David Humphreys contributed $50,000 to Emery's campaign.

The contribution came two weeks to the day after TAMKO Chairman Ethelmae Humphreys gave Emery $50,000.