Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mold spores feel vindicated by judge's order in Neosho lawsuit

(My latest Newton County News column)

Times have been tough for mold spores in Neosho for the past three years since Jan Blasé blamed them to every mistake he made during his three years as city manager.

Those hard times may finally be over, thanks to a decision handed down by U. S. District Court Judge John T. Maughmer Tuesday.

Maughmer flatly rejected Blasé’s contention that the city of Neosho owed him nine months of severance pay, even though he sided with Blasé on the other part of the lawsuit and said the city’s employment agreement with Blasé guaranteed one year’s worth of health insurance for Blasé and his family.

The Jan Blasé saga made Neosho and Blasé laughingstocks in late 2009 and early 2010 when Blasé told the Joplin Globe that the poor decisions he made regarding the moving of earmarked money from one account to another to cover financial shortfalls was due to mold spores.

“I believe that excessive mold spore levels at City Hall severely affected the health of the finance director and the city manager, and that the exposure to high levels of mold spores affected overall performance. The vents in the city manager office were not hooked to distribution system and that forced all air in the attic directly unto the city manager every time any unit turned on at the request of a thermostat.”

And Blase told the Globe's Derek Spellman, “everybody (at City Hall) was sick” because of the mold, that he himself suffered from allergies, that he was “ill” for “many” months, and that he suffered from a “compromised” immune system.

As I wrote at the time, the mold spores were angered by Blasé’s allegations.

"Jan Blase makes us sick, too," one mold spore told me on condition of anonymity. "First, he blames us for misusing grant funds and now he wants to raise our property taxes." The spore was referring to Blase's use of state funds specifically earmarked for airport purposes to cover city budget shortfalls.

Reportedly, a group of leading spores is considering a defamation lawsuit against Blase."We probably won't do it," the anonymous spore said. "Even if we won, who knows what fund our money would come from?"

The defamation lawsuit was never filed, but the fiercely proud folk from the spore side of town still feel vindicated by today’s decision.

“Jan Blasé didn’t deserve one penny from the city of Neosho,” the same mold spore told me, again on condition of anonymity. “Ever since he gave that story to the Joplin Globe, we have had a hard time holding our heads up in Neosho and it’s spreading. My daughter and son-in-law were evicted from a house in Seneca back in August.

“There was a time when being a spore meant something in this town. There was a time when it meant plenty.”

The anonymous spore was not pleased with the judge’s decision that the city should foot the bill for one year’s worth of health insurance for Blasé and his family. “I suppose he didn’t have any choice since the city signed that foolish employment agreement, but my family and the families of other hard-working spores don’t have anywhere to turn for our health.

“Have you ever seen one of us in an emergency room?’

I had to admit that I had not.

“See what I mean.”

The proud spore’s final words during our conversation provide a hint that this story has yet to be completely played out.

“One more thing, Randy,” he said, as I was leaving.

“What’s that?"

“Would you happen to have a forwarding address for Jan Blasé?”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Then the city should do just as the judge says and pay for one years coverage and not one penny of cash for him to live on instead of coverage. Not one penny to that son of a bitch to live on.