Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nixon continues attack on HB 253 during stop at MU

KC bullying ordinance targets parents

A KMBC video

Text provided for Kansas City ordinance targeting cyberbullying


COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR ORDINANCE NO. 130569

Amending and adding a new section to Chapter 50, Code of Ordinances, by adding a new Section 50-244 prohibiting the bullying of a minor or the allowing of a minor to bully or cyber-bully another minor.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF KANSAS CITY:

Section 1. That Chapter 50, Code of Ordinances of the City of Kansas City, Missouri, is hereby amended by adding a new Section 50-244 prohibiting the bullying of a minor or the allowing of a minor to bully or cyber-bully another minor, to read as follows:

Sec. 50-244. Bullying a minor, allowing a minor to bully or cyber-bully another
minor prohibited.

(a)   Definitions.

(1)               Bullying” and “to bully,” as used in this section, mean the following acts that may occur, for example, in public places, parks, businesses open to the public and parking lots, near schools, at school functions and on sidewalks and walkways:

(i)                 Intimidation or harassment of an individual that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her physical safety or property; or,

(ii)               Creating an intimidating or hostile environment by engaging in persistent or pervasive contact with an individual after such individual has communicated in a way which a reasonable person would understand indicates that such contact is unwelcome; or,

(iii)             Persistent or pervasive intimidation or harassment of an individual because of such individual's race, color, sex, religion, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

(2)               Cyber-bully” or “cyber-bullying,” as used in this section, mean transmitting or causing a transmission with the intent to intimidate or harass someone by use of the internet, a cell phone or other device capable of sending or posting text or images, any of the following:

(i)                 Any image or language that relates to an act which a reasonable person would believe to be an act of a sexual nature and the recipient has not consented to the transmission of such image or language; or,

(ii)               A threat to inflict injury on the recipient, or on the property of the recipient, transmitted to such recipient or to any member of his or her family or household; or,

(iii)             Multiple transmissions made to a third-party for the purpose of instigating such third-party to harass or intimidate someone.

(3)               Minor,” as used in this section, means a person under the age of 18 years.

(b)   Bullying a minor prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to bully or cyber-bully a minor. No minor shall be prosecuted for a violation of this section. However, the police department and other law enforcement officials are authorized to detain any minor in violation of this subsection who is observed by the officer or official committing such violation in a public place until either released to such minor's parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of the minor.

(c)    Allowing the bullying or cyber-bullying of a minor prohibited; Penalty. It shall be unlawful for the parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of a minor to permit, or by insufficient control to allow, such minor to bully or cyber-bully another minor. Upon conviction of a violation of this subsection, a parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of the minor shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 and costs. In lieu of a fine, the court may impose probation provided that a condition of probation is attendance in an available anti-bullying program either provided by the school district wherein resides the convicted parent, guardian or other person having custody or control of the minor or provided by a group or entity approved by the court.

________________________________________________

Approved as to form and legality:


_________________________________
Alan L. Holtkamp
Assistant City Attorney

KC councilman: School bullying policies not enough

A Kansas City Councilman has proposed an ordinance that would enable the police to step in on bullying situations.

Former Joplin R-8 tech employee forfeits items involved in sex crimes

Ronnie Myers only had a short lunch break from his job in the technical department of the Joplin R-8 School District and he had things to do on the morning of Friday, February 15. He only had a half hour to drive to Northpark Mall, have sex with an underaged girl and get back to work.

When he arrived at the mall, instead of the girl, who had been a victim of this predator when he was living with her mother from the time she was eight until she was 12, he was greeted by the police.

Myers pleaded guilty in March to two child pornography charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Documents filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri indicate the judge in the case, David P. Rush, approved the forfeiture of Myers' laptop, tower computer, a handheld video camera, digital video recorder, and cell phone, all of which had been used in the commission of his crimes.

The events leading to Myers' arrest are spelled out in an affidavit from Charles Root of the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force:

On December 20th, 2012, the Affiant was contacted by Baxter Springs, KS Chief of Police, David Edmondson who asked for Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force assistance with an active child molestation investigation he was working.

Chief Edmondson advised Baxter Springs PD received a report from a 14 year old female child that her mother’s ex-boyfriend, identified as Ronny Justin Myers had forced her to perform various sexual acts on him including oral sex. The incidents occurred between the age of 8 and 12 years old, while Myers and the child identified only as “CA” in this affidavit to protect her identity while Myers and CA’s mother lived in Baxter Springs, KS and when CA’s mother moved to Pittsburg, KS, the abuse continued on at least one occasion. Chief Edmondson reported the CA received a private message on her Facebook page from Myers, attempting to re-connect. 

The Affiant offered to assume CA’s identity to determine the intentions of Myers. Permission was requested and received from CA’s family to assume CA’s identity. 

On Monday, January 28th, 2013, TFO James Smith with the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force assumed the Facebook profile of CA and began an online communication using Facebook private messaging service that have continued on almost a daily basis. While messaging back and forth, Myers begins asking CA for images of herself to be sent to him and several times during these messages, Myers instructs CA to delete her messages to prevent them from being discovered by her mother. 

5. On January 28th, 2013, during the first chat session with Myers, Myers quickly turns the conversation to a sexual nature and asks CA if she shaves just her legs or more? TFO Smith sent Myers the following, “some days lik all those. Im just crazy I gues. Idk… did u do it with “MA” too? “MA” is CA’s younger sister and will be referred to as MA in this affidavit to protect her identity. “I sometimes think you liked me more than her too but not sure. Was it cause I am prettier or just loved me? I thought you loved me more than mom. Sry so many questins I just don’t know what to think. Ty for talking to me”. Myers makes the statement, “Nothing with “MA”, only you. Both. You are a beautiful girl, never forget that. Ask any questions you want I have a question for you, how do you feel about me? Do you hate me, indifferent, miss me, like me, etc? Was any of what we did at least enjoyable for you? You 
seemed to like some of it.”

During this conversation, Myers began asking very specific questions related to the sexual abuse he reportedly committed against CA that she had disclosed during her Child Advocacy Center interview “CAC”. Specifically, CA reported during her CAC that Myers had put chocolate sauce on his penis and made CA lick it off. 

During one of the chat session with Myers, CA mentioned chocolate sauce and Myers made the statement that the last thing he put in her mouth was white not chocolate. This statement appeared to the Affiant to be related to Myers ejaculating in CA’s mouth as she had stated in her CAC. Myers also mentioned playing the “string game” with CA. The Affiant did not have specific information about the “string game”, so the Affiant contacted Detective Rebekah Lynch of the Pittsburg, KS Police Department and asked her to ask CA about the “string game”. Detective Lynch contacted CA and asked her about the “string game”. CA reported to Detective Lynch that the string game was played when Myers found a loose piece of string from a piece of clothing and would put it somewhere on his body and would make CA find the string using only her mouth. In a later chat, Myers states, “did you like it better when I hid the string, or when you did?” 

During the chat conversations, Myers indicated he was at home. Your affiant conducted a public record check for Myers residence and it revealed he resides at 415 East 42nd Street, Joplin, Newton County, Missouri 64804. On February 14, 2013, at approximately 7:20 a.m., your Affiant conducted surveillance on 415 East 42nd Street, Joplin, Newton County, Missouri 64804 and observed the suspect Myers leaving the residence. In the chats, Myers continues to discuss past sexual acts between himself and the girl. (Editor's note: I am editing out the next part because it is even worse than what has come before.)

On February 11th, 2013, while chatting with Myers was sent a message informing him that school is out on Friday, February 15th, 2013. (CA attends Pittsburg, KS schools) and CA would be at the Mall in Joplin, MO with some friends. Myers and CA discuss Myers sending CA a picture of a male penis. (More material has been edited out at this point.) During this conversation, Myers makes the comment, “you are there’s something I have to tell you though. If you ever tell anyone what we did, they would put me in jail other people don’t understand.”, “they just do. If you’re under 18, it’s not legal. But, it’s not like they try to find that stuff out you would have to tell someone for that to happen.” 

 Myers started making plans with CA to meet at the Joplin Mall outside JC Penney’s during his lunch break at 11AM on Friday, February 15th, 2013. Myers continues by saying they would only have about 30 minutes and the only thing they would have time for was for her to give him a “blowjob” while he drove his car and she would have to swallow the “white stuff”. Myers asked CA to wear a skirt so he could see her and can play with her while he drives. Myers also discusses bringing CA some Stride Sweet Peppermint gum. Myers ends the conversation by stating, “let’s plan on that then, at 11 Friday. We’ll talk more about it this week.” CA asks Myers to send her a map so she knows where to go and Myers agrees to send it to her. 

R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff told media that Myers' job did not require him to be around students.

C. J. Huff on politics: I lean to the right

The latest Joplin Schools Watch  blog post runs an article Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff wrote for the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce magazine explaining Common Core Standards.

In the article, Huff says Common Core Standards are a step in the right direction and he explains his political beliefs:

I typically stay out of politics. As a servant to all students and families regardless of political affiliations, it’s not healthy for a superintendent to engage in those debates. In my view, there is no place for politics in schools outside of teaching civic responsibility, the need to be well informed when voting for elected officials and on specific ballot measures. I think we would all agree that Southwest Missouri leans to the right, as do I. So when I first received word that our state, along with many others, was working on common standards with a common assessment I was excited. The conservative, competitive side of me said, “Finally, we are going to get the opportunity to see how our education system measures up to other states.” The playing field was about to be leveled. We were going to show them what we’ve got. The competition to see who could raise up the best and brightest students in the country was about to begin.

West Plains man pleads guilty to distributing K2

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a West Plains, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to distributing synthetic marijuana, commonly referred to as K2, while employed at The Man Cave in Springfield, Mo.

Kent C. Work, 54, of West Plains, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to a federal information that charges him with two counts of distributing a controlled substance analogue.

Work admitted that, while working at The Man Cave, he sold synthetic marijuana to an undercover Springfield police officer on several occasions.

By pleading guilty to the first count, Work admitted that he sold synthetic marijuana to an undercover officer on April 2, 2013. When the officer asked for “Scarface,” Work walked to the cash register, leaned under the counter, and looked through a box. Work stated they only had “Baby Face” in a green or strawberry color. The undercover officer asked for the strawberry. Work produced a bag of “Baby Face,” which the undercover officer purchased for $35.

The packaging included the words, “100% DEA Approved, Not for Human Consumption.” Work did not ring the transaction through the cash register and did not charge sales tax.

By pleading guilty to the second count, Work admitted that he sold synthetic marijuana to an undercover Springfield police officer on April 10, 2013. The undercover officer asked Work for “Scarface.” Work walked to the cash register and pulled out several packages of synthetic marijuana and said that he had “Baby Face,” “608 Triple Cherry,” “Scarface” and “Reload Plain.” The undercover officer asked to purchase the “Scarface” and the “Reload Plain” and handed Work $50.
The “Scarface” packaging included the words, “100% DEA Approved.” The “Reload Plain” packaging included the words, “Not Meant for Human Consumption, For Display Purposes Only” and “Does not contain any Federally Forbidden Ingredients.” No receipt was issued and the purchase was not taxed.

In addition to the criminal conduct for which he was charged, Work also admitted that he again sold synthetic marijuana to an undercover police officer on April 24 and May 8, 2013. Work was also observed selling these substances to other customers of The Man Cave. Those additional actions are considered relevant conduct and may be considered by the court when determining an appropriate sentence. Work sold a total of 17 grams of synthetic marijuana.

Under federal statutes, Work is subject to a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $2 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Springfield, Mo., Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Northpark Mall owner announces second quarter results

(BUSINESS WIRE)-- CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. (NYSE:CBL):
  • FFO per diluted share, as adjusted, increased 3.8% to $0.55 for the second quarter of 2013, compared with $0.53 for the prior-year period.
  • Same-center NOI increased 1.8% in the second quarter 2013 over the prior-year period, excluding lease termination fees and a one-time bankruptcy settlement included in the prior-year period.
  • Portfolio occupancy at June 30, 2013, increased 70 basis points to 93.0% from 92.3% for the prior-year period.
  • Average gross rent per square foot for stabilized mall leases signed in the second quarter of 2013 increased 12.1% over the prior gross rent per square foot.
  • Same-store sales increased 3.2% to $356 per square foot for mall tenants 10,000 square feet or less for stabilized malls for the rolling twelve months ended June 30, 2013, compared with the prior-year period.
CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. (NYSE:CBL) announced results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2013. A description of each non-GAAP financial measure and the related reconciliation to the comparable GAAP measure is located at the end of this news release.
    
Three Months Ended
June 30,
Six Months Ended
June 30,
2013 20122013 2012
Funds from Operations (“FFO”) per diluted share$0.51 $0.53
$1.04
 $1.02
FFO, as adjusted, per diluted share$0.55$0.53$1.08$1.02
 
“Favorable operating trends within our portfolio continued this quarter and have our Company well positioned for a strong second half of the year,” commented Stephen Lebovitz, CBL’s president and chief executive officer. “Occupancy, leasing and FFO performance were healthy, with positive NOI growth in-line with our guidance. At 97% leased and committed, the recent grand opening of The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta was a huge success, attracting overflowing crowds. This quarter's announcement of the acquisition of the Sears stores for redevelopment at two of our most productive malls and the commencement of construction of The Outlet Shoppes at Louisville are exciting growth opportunities as we look ahead to next year.
“Our hard work to improve the balance sheet has already resulted in the achievement of a second investment grade rating from Fitch (BBB- with stable outlook) in addition to the previously announced rating from Moody’s (Baa3). The Westfield Preferred is on track for redemption by the end of September, funded in part by over $240 million in equity generated from our ATM program and asset sales earlier this year. In addition, the closing of a new $400 million unsecured term loan this month provides additional capital to increase availability on our unsecured lines to fund new growth opportunities and retire secured loans as they mature.”
FFO, as adjusted, excludes nonrecurring items, impacting second quarter 2013 results. Nonrecurring items include a loss on extinguishment of debt of $9.1 million, primarily related to the prepayment of a loan secured by Mid Rivers Mall in St. Charles, MO, and a gain on investment of $2.4 million resulting from payment of a note receivable related to CBL’s investment in China that was previously written-down.
FFO allocable to common shareholders, as adjusted, for the second quarter of 2013 was $90,801,000, or $0.55 per diluted share, compared with $79,950,000, or $0.53 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2012. FFO of the operating partnership, as adjusted, for the second quarter of 2013 was $106,900,000, compared with $100,782,000, for the second quarter of 2012.
Net income attributable to common shareholders for the second quarter of 2013 was $501,000, or $0.00 per diluted share, compared with net income of $18,797,000, or $0.12 per diluted share for the second quarter of 2012. In addition to the nonrecurring items impacting FFO, net income in the second quarter of 2013 was impacted by a loss on impairment of real estate of $21.0 million primarily related to the write-down of the book value of Citadel Mall in Charleston, SC, to current fair value.
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Portfolio same-center net operating income (“NOI”), in the prior-year periods included a $1.5 million bankruptcy settlement. Excluding this one-time item and lease termination fees, same-center NOI increased 1.8% for the three months and 1.4% for the six months ended June 30, 2013, over the prior-year periods. Portfolio same-center NOI, excluding lease termination fees, for the quarter ended June 30, 2013, increased 1.0% compared with an increase of 2.7% for the prior-year period. Same-center NOI, excluding lease terminations fees, for the six months ended June 30, 2013, increased 1.0% compared with an increase of 1.7% for the prior-year period.
  • Average gross rent per square foot on stabilized mall leases signed during the second quarter of 2013 for tenants 10,000 square feet or less increased 12.1% over the prior gross rent per square foot.
  • Same-store sales per square foot for mall tenants 10,000 square feet or less for stabilized malls for the rolling twelve months ended June 30, 2013, increased 3.2% to $356 per square foot compared with $345 per square foot in the prior-year period.
  • The Company’s share of consolidated and unconsolidated variable rate debt of $1,214,826,000, as of June 30, 2013, represented 11.9% of the total market capitalization for the Company, compared with 9.6% as of June 30, 2012, and 22.8% of the Company's share of total consolidated and unconsolidated debt, compared with 17.2% as of June 30, 2012.
  • Debt-to-total market capitalization was 52.1% as of June 30, 2013, compared with 55.9% as of June 30, 2012.
  • The ratio of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”) to interest expense was 2.82 times for the second quarter of 2013, compared with 2.58 times for the second quarter of 2012.
PORTFOLIO OCCUPANCY
    June 30,
2013 2012
Portfolio occupancy93.0%92.3%
Mall portfolio92.7%92.4%
Stabilized malls92.6%92.3%
Non-stabilized malls(1)100.0%100.0%
Associated centers93.6%93.4%
Community centers96.4%91.1%
(1)
The Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City is the only property included in the non-stabilized mall category.
 
ACQUISITION ACTIVITY
In April, CBL completed the acquisition of the remaining 51% interest in Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck, ND. CBL had previously acquired a 49% non-controlling interest in Kirkwood Mall in December 2012. In conjunction with the acquisition of the remaining interest, CBL assumed the $40.4 million non-recourse loan secured by the property, which bears a fixed interest rate of 5.75% and matures in April 2018.
During the second quarter, CBL acquired two Sears locations at Fayette Mall in Lexington, KY, and CoolSprings Galleria in Nashville, TN. CBL plans to redevelop both buildings into additional stores and restaurants. Sears will continue to operate in both locations until closing dates have been finalized.
FINANCING ACTIVITY
During the second quarter 2013, CBL retired the $71.7 million loan secured by South County Center in St. Louis, MO, with an interest rate of 4.96% and a scheduled maturity date of October 2013, as well as the $88.4 million loan secured by Mid Rivers Mall in St. Charles, MO, with an interest rate of 5.88% and a scheduled maturity date in May 2021. CBL recorded a $9.1 million loss on extinguishment of debt, primarily related to a prepayment fee on the Mid Rivers Mall loan, which was included in second quarter income from continuing operations and FFO. Subsequent to the second quarter, CBL retired a $16.0 million construction loan secured by Alamance Crossing West.
In July, CBL closed on a $400 million unsecured term loan with a term of five years. Based on the Company’s current credit rating, the loan has a floating interest rate of 150 basis points over LIBOR.
CREDIT RATING
In May, CBL announced that the Company was assigned a Baa3 issuer rating from Moody’s Investors Service.
In July, CBL announced that the Company was assigned a BBB- Issuer Default Rating with a stable outlook and a BBB- Senior Unsecured Note rating from Fitch Ratings.
CAPITAL MARKETS ACTIVITY
During the second quarter of 2013, CBL sold 5.75 million common shares, at a weighted average price of $25.83 per share, under its At-The-Market (“ATM”) equity offering program, generating net proceeds of $147.4 million. Year-to-date, CBL has sold 8.4 million shares generating net proceeds of $209.6 million through the ATM program. The net proceeds generated from the ATM program were used to reduce outstanding balances under the Company’s unsecured credit facilities.
OUTLOOK AND GUIDANCE
Based on second quarter results, including the effect of new shares issued under the ATM program, and CBL’s current outlook, the Company is affirming 2013 FFO guidance in the range of $2.18 - $2.26 per share, after adjusting for the net impact of one-time items included in the second quarter 2013 results. Full-year guidance assumes same-center NOI growth in a range of 1.0% - 3.0%, $2.0 million to $4.0 million of outparcel sales and a 25-50 basis point increase in year-end occupancy. The guidance also assumes the pay-off of the Westfield Preferred Units in September using the Company’s unsecured lines of credit and cash on hand. The guidance excludes the impact of any future unannounced transactions. The Company expects to update its annual guidance after each quarter's results.
       
LowHigh
Expected diluted earnings per common share$0.63$0.71
Adjust to fully converted shares from common shares(0.10)(0.11)
Expected earnings per diluted, fully converted common share0.530.60
Add: depreciation and amortization1.551.55
Add: noncontrolling interest in earnings of Operating Partnership0.10 0.11 
Expected FFO per diluted, fully converted common share$2.18 $2.26 
 
INVESTOR CONFERENCE CALL AND SIMULCAST
CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. will conduct a conference call at 11:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, August 1, 2013, to discuss its second quarter results. The number to call for this interactive teleconference is (800) 736-4594 or (212) 231-2901. A replay of the conference call will be available through August 8, 2013, by dialing (800) 633-8284 or (402) 977-9140 and entering the confirmation number, 21646864. A transcript of the Company's prepared remarks will be furnished on a Form 8-K following the conference call.
To receive the CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., second quarter earnings release and supplemental information please visit our website atcblproperties.com or contact Investor Relations at 423-490-8312.
The Company will also provide an online web simulcast and rebroadcast of its 2013 second quarter earnings release conference call. The live broadcast of the quarterly conference call will be available online at cblproperties.com on Thursday, August 1, 2013, beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. The online replay will follow shortly after the call and continue through August 8, 2013.
CBL is one of the largest and most active owners and developers of malls and shopping centers in the United States. CBL owns, holds interests in or manages 159 properties, including 96 regional malls/open-air centers. The properties are located in 31 states and total 92.0 million square feet including 9.3 million square feet of non-owned shopping centers managed for third parties. Headquartered in Chattanooga, TN, CBL has regional offices in Boston (Waltham), MA, Dallas (Irving), TX, and St. Louis, MO. Additional information can be found at cblproperties.com.
NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES
Funds From Operations
FFO is a widely used measure of the operating performance of real estate companies that supplements net income (loss) determined in accordance with GAAP. The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (“NAREIT”) defines FFO as net income (loss) (computed in accordance with GAAP) excluding gains or losses on sales of depreciable operating properties and impairment losses of depreciable properties, plus depreciation and amortization, and after adjustments for unconsolidated partnerships and joint ventures and noncontrolling interests. Adjustments for unconsolidated partnerships and joint ventures and noncontrolling interests are calculated on the same basis. We define FFO allocable to common shareholders as defined above by NAREIT less dividends on preferred stock. The Company’s method of calculating FFO allocable to its common shareholders may be different from methods used by other REITs and, accordingly, may not be comparable to such other REITs.
The Company believes that FFO provides an additional indicator of the operating performance of its properties without giving effect to real estate depreciation and amortization, which assumes the value of real estate assets declines predictably over time. Since values of well-maintained real estate assets have historically risen with market conditions, the Company believes that FFO enhances investors’ understanding of its operating performance. The use of FFO as an indicator of financial performance is influenced not only by the operations of the Company’s properties and interest rates, but also by its capital structure. The Company presents both FFO of its operating partnership and FFO allocable to its common shareholders, as it believes that both are useful performance measures. The Company believes FFO of its operating partnership is a useful performance measure since it conducts substantially all of its business through its operating partnership and, therefore, it reflects the performance of the properties in absolute terms regardless of the ratio of ownership interests of the Company’s common shareholders and the noncontrolling interest in the operating partnership. The Company believes FFO allocable to its common shareholders is a useful performance measure because it is the performance measure that is most directly comparable to net income (loss) attributable to its common shareholders.
In the reconciliation of net income attributable to the Company's common shareholders to FFO allocable to its common shareholders, located in this earnings release, the Company makes an adjustment to add back noncontrolling interest in income (loss) of its operating partnership in order to arrive at FFO of its operating partnership. The Company then applies a percentage to FFO of its operating partnership to arrive at FFO allocable to its common shareholders. The percentage is computed by taking the weighted average number of common shares outstanding for the period and dividing it by the sum of the weighted average number of common shares and the weighted average number of operating partnership units outstanding during the period.
FFO does not represent cash flows from operations as defined by accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, is not necessarily indicative of cash available to fund all cash flow needs and should not be considered as an alternative to net income (loss) for purposes of evaluating the Company’s operating performance or to cash flow as a measure of liquidity.
As described above, during the second quarter 2013, the Company recorded a loss on extinguishment of debt of $9.1 million and gain on investment of $2.4 million. Considering the significance and nature of these items, the Company believes that it is important to identify their impact on its FFO measures for a reader to have a complete understanding of the Company’s results of operations. Therefore, the Company has also presented adjusted FFO measures excluding these items.

Former Frank Fletcher Ford manager pleads guilty to embezzling charge

Kathryn Stayton, the former manager of the Frank Fletcher Ford accounting division in Joplin, pleaded guilty this morning to one count of wire fraud after reaching a plea bargain arrangement with the government.

According to documents filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Ms. Stayton embezzled $88,070.06 from Frank Fletcher Ford between September 2009 and September 2011. She wrote 131 checks totaling $46,668.96 to herself or to family members, according to the court documents, and took $41,365.10 in cash. She also embezzed $13,079.34 from Credit Cars of Joplin, the place where she had worked before taking the job at Frank Fletcher Ford.

The original indictment charged Ms. Slayton with 10 counts of wire fraud.

Judge David P. Rush  accepted the plea at the conclusion of an 11-minute hearing in the federal courts building in Springfield.

Ms. Stayton's crimes were described in the plea agreement document:

The United States Secret Service, Springfield Resident Agency was contacted by Detective William Davis of the Joplin Police Department regarding a wire fraud and bank fraud scheme with a total loss of $101,309.40. The target of the investigation is Kathryn Stayton, who working as a controller at Fletcher Auto Group, in Joplin, Missouri, and Credit Cars of Joplin.

While working there, Stayton developed a fraudulent scheme in which she transferred company funds to her own personal bank accounts from business accounts, and disguised the transactions as legitimate. Stayton admitted to forging the names of co-workers onto documents and business checks, allowing her to fraudulently transfer money from business accounts. Stayton also admitted to stealing cash from the accounts receivable and attempted to disguise her activities by forging company documents from September 2009 until December 2011. 

From September 2009 until September 2011, Stayton was employed by Fletcher Auto Group, namely Fletcher Ford in Joplin, MO, as Controller to manage the accounting department, ultimately responsible for the financial activities of the Fletcher Ford Dealership. Stayton’s employment duties consisted of approving invoices, deposits, and disbursements, delivering deposits to the bank as needed, making journal entries, preparing monthly financial statements and all supporting reports, receiving bank statements, and preparing bank reconciliations. As Controller, Stayton had access to the dealership’s blank disbursement check stock and was an approved signor of manual checks. All payroll checks are issued from the dealership’s home office via direct deposit. However, the dealership allows employees to personally pay for authorized expenses and receive a manual expense reimbursement check for these expenses. The dealership’s policy requires two signatures on each manual check, regardless of amount. 

The Fletcher Auto Group does not have an annual audit completed by an independent accountant. 
On September 28, 2011, Stayton was terminated from Fletcher Ford for reasons unrelated to the fraudulent scheme. After an internal audit of the company’s accounting records was initiated by Stayton’s replacement, it was discovered that Stayton began embezzling monies from the dealership as early as September 2009.

In her scheme, Stayton utilized a variety of methods to disguise that she was embezzling funds. The first method involved Stayton generating checks from Fletcher Auto Group’s Bank of America account, made payable to herself or her mother, Virginia Killebrew, on an account shared with Stayton. 

A second method was the stealing of cash by receiving payments from vendors, keeping the cash payments, and falsifying entries in the company’s accounting system. Vendors were able to provide proof that their payment to the dealership was made in full as their checks had cleared the vendor’s bank account. Further review, indicated that the vendors’ checks were transposed for cash from the 
daily receipts and subsequently not recorded as paid in full on the vendors’ outstanding balances. A third method of embezzlement was the stealing of cash via a single cash transaction from a customer intending to use the cash as down payment. Stayton took the cash and never reported having received it.

A review of documents provided by an external audit, performed by RGL Forensics, reveals that Stayton generated checks from Fletcher Ford’s manual expense account, which she made payable to herself or her mother, Virginia Killebrew. Typically, the dealership authorizes expense report checks to employees for nominal expenses such as travel, conferences, supplies, and other authorized miscellaneous dealership expenses. Most reimbursable expenses are under $100 unless previously approved. Once an expense report is submitted and approved, a check to the requestor is printed on company check stock and must be signed by at least two approved check signors. As controller, Stayton was an approved check signor.

A review of checks payable to Stayton from the expense account of Fletcher Auto Group from September 2009 to September 2011 reveals that many of the checks did not have dual signatures. Also, many of the checks were for amounts in excess of normal expense reimbursements. Many of the expenses were for unauthorized costs. Upon further review of checks with the proper dual signatures, RGL Forensics noticed several of the signatures looked different from check to check, but appeared to be the same person’s name. Signature documentation was collected from the dealership of all approved check signors and an analysis resulted in RGL Forensics’ claim that several secondary signatures had been forged. Employees whose signatures were found on the checks were requested to review the checks and verify their authenticity. One employ, whose name was signed several times, was able to confirm that he had signed only one of the questioned signatures. The investigation confirmed that the other questioned signatures were forged. 

A total of seventy (70) unauthorized checks were written to Kathryn Stayton for a total of $19,895.72. A total of sixty-one (61) checks were written to Virginia Killebrew, Stayton’s mother, for a total of $26,769.24. The back of checks made payable to Stayton and Killebrew provided a routing number of XXXXX3641, which was later discovered to be the personal Southwest Missouri Bank Accounts of both Kathryn Stayton and Virginia Killebrew. In addition to the unauthorized checks, a total of twenty-three (23) undeposited cash receipts were illegally obtained by Stayton for a total of $36,365.10. These cash receipts were then cleared in the company books by Stayton via journal entries recording the receipt of new and used car inventory. Additionally, Stayton illegally obtained $5,000 related to undeposited manual cash receipts. Bays was able to confirm that the money was to be used as down payment on a vehicle purchased from the dealership but Stayton received the $5,000 cash, which was ultimately not deposited into the company bank account. A total of $88,230.06 is attributed to Stayton’s misappropriation of funds from Fletcher Ford.

A review of Stayton’s bank records, as well as those of her mother, from Southwest Missouri Bank in the name of Kathryn Stayton and Virginia Killebrew determined that a total of one hundred thirty-one (131) checks in the amount of $46,664.96, were drawn on Fletcher Ford’s account
(#XXXXXXXX2631) at Bank of America, and were deposited into Stayton’s personal account. Furthermore, forty-three (43) monthly payments were made from Stayton’s account to Santander Consumer USA, Inc. as payment on a vehicle loan in the amount of $23,042.65 during the same period of time as the deposits of fraudulently obtained funds.

On February 14, 2012, subpoenaed documents were received by Santander Consumer which confirmed that at least 43 payments had been made from Stayton’s bank account to pay for a 2004 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Cab, which was registered to Stayton. On 02/23/12, the reporting agent applied for a seizure warrant based on this information. The seizure warrant was issued by Judge England and, on 02/27/12, the vehicle was seized. 

On February 28, 2012, Stayton contacted the Special Agent Dan Allgeyer of the United States Secret Service and agreed to meet at the Joplin Police Station. At that time, Stayton handed in the keys to the vehicle voluntarily and removed her personal items from the vehicle. Stayton agreed to speak to SA Allgeyer about the case. SA Allgeyer reported the contents of the interview as follows:

Stayton stated that she knew why we wanted to speak with her, referring to her embezzlement from Fletcher Ford. She stated that “(the fraudulent activity) was all me.” She claimed to have no idea how much money she had stolen, but admitted to the possibility that it had reached more than $100,000.
When asked if she was ever scared of losing her job, she stated that she “knew it was coming for about two years (due to the fraudulent scheme).”

Stayton claimed that she began stealing money from Fletcher Ford because of her out-of-control personal bills. 

Stayton admitted to using the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme to purchase the Ford F-150 that the reporting agent seized on the same date of this interview. Stayton also claimed to have used the money for bills, gambling, and miscellaneous merchandise.Stayton claims that her husband, Glen, and her mother do not know anything about the fraudulent scheme and did not have direct access to any of the proceeds. Stayton, who is in charge of the family’s finances, stated that she mostly used ATM’s to receive cash, which she then used on her own without her family’s knowledge. Stayton also explained 
that, although she had written checks to an account in her mother’s name, the account is held by both her and her mother. No suspicion was raised because Stayton would remove the money from her mother’s account before her mother would recognize its presence.

Stayton also claims to have taken care of all of her mother’s finances.

Stayton admitted to having worked at Credit Cars of Joplin and to defrauding them using a similar fraudulent scheme. Stayton did not know exactly how much she had taken from Credit Cars of Joplin, but admitted that approximately $15,000 “sounded about right.”

When asked about how she carried out the scheme, Stayton explained that she took cash from Fletcher Ford’s new vehicle sales. When a sales person would give cash to Stayton as payment on a new vehicle, Stayton would take most of the cash and manipulate rebates to reconcile the account of the new customer, therefore, bringing the customer’s account to the expected balance.

When asked about the expense checks from which she had accumulated much of the fraudulent funds, Stayton admitted to having forged the checks in question, and stated that “a lot were passed.” Stayton would conceal the checks using the headers “We Owe” and “Rebates” as the reason for the checks.

Following the interview with Stayton, the US Secret Service received a Joplin Police report from Detective Ron Buchanan regarding Credit Cars of Joplin, the defendant’s place of work after being fired from Fletcher Ford. According to the report, Mark Hendren, co-owner of Credit Cars of Joplin, stated that on December 5, 2011, he was made aware of some discrepancies in the bank reconciliation for November 2011. Hendren called a meeting consisting of several managers, to include Stayton, the controller for the company. After approximately one hour of investigating the discrepancies, Stayton left the building and did not return. Several more discrepancies were found and, although many attempts were made to contact Stayton, she refused to cooperate. 

Credit Cars of Joplin conducted an internal investigation which concluded that between October 27, 2011 and December 2, 2011, Kathryn Stayton was responsible for taking cash from deposits which she made on behalf of the company to a Southwest Missouri Bank account. 

On November 01, 2012, SA Allgeyer contacted Mark Hendren, who described Stayton’s fraudulent scheme at Credit Cars of Joplin. Hendren stated that Stayton was responsible for making a deposit on behalf of the company for cash and checks received each day. The deposit slips were on file at the office with the correct distribution of cash and checks indicating the total deposit for the day. In her scheme, Stayton removed cash from the deposit that she was entrusted to make and replaced the loss with checks received from the mail or from walk-in payments to cover the difference, therefore matching the total that was expected to go in to the daily deposit. By doing this, Stayton was able to steal cash from the business and disguise her scheme. Hendren stated that Stayton’s scheme became more haphazard as she would sometimes not make a deposit to the bank at all, leaving several checks written to the business to go undeposited. The total loss to Credit Cars of Joplin due to Stayton’s embezzlement is $13,079.34.

Investigation revealed that Stayton was responsible for a loss of $88,230.06 to Fletcher Auto Group and $13,079.34 to Credit Cars of Joplin, for a total loss of 101,309.40, between September 2009 and December 2011. Stayton’s fraudulent scheme involved at least 131 transactions of wire fraud and 44 transactions of the stealing of cash and forging of documents.

Of the 175 transactions, the following 10 violations of fraud illustrate Stayton’s intentional fraudulent activity throughout her employment with the companies.

Judge Rush ordered a presentence investigation. No date has been scheduled for the sentencing.

Let Teachers Teach paperback available from Amazon

As of this morning, my book Let Teachers Teach is available at Amazon.

The book features 46 essays on education, including my Huffington Post blog on why young people should not become teachers and the one that was used against me during my termination hearing with the Joplin R-8 Board of Education. That essay, written a couple of days after the Sandy Hook murders, was about how the games administrators play with discipline and statistics could lead to more school shootings and violence. I have removed the reference to downloading my novel No Child Left Alive, which was originally included in the essay.

Let Teachers Teach also features other articles on standardized testing, the effect of billionaires like Rex Sinquefield on education, plus more personal essays, including those written following the Joplin Tornado.

The book can be purchased from the ad on the upper right hand corner of this page.

Tips to C. J. and Angie on saving taxpayers money on thank-you travel

After reading the explosive investigative piece on page one of Sunday's Joplin Globe examining the money spent by Joplin R-8 officials on travel following the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado, a couple of questions popped into my mind.

-Does the Joplin Globe really believe that is the extent of the school officials' travel costs during the months following the tornado? (I have some swamp land I would love to sell to Globe editors.)

-For a school district that has made such a big deal over the past few years about the importance of technology, why was it necessary for Angie Besendorfer and company to make personal trips across the nation to view these schools? Can we not use internet, Skype, telephone and e-mail to get information in a district where technology is the be-all and end-all of education?

Reporter Emily Younker's story was picked up by Associated Press and has been published in newspapers and on internet sites across the nation under the headline "Joplin school officials travel to say 'thank you.'"

Certainly that is a sweet sentiment and "thank you" did need to be said to all of the people who have helped the Joplin R-8 School District and the people of Joplin. It was important to do so.

In that spirit, I have some suggestions for C. J. Huff, Angie Besendorfer, and other R-8 officials on how they could serve as better stewards of the taxpayers' money.

1. Learn to write thank-you notes. You do not have to travel all over the nation (and the world). And you don't even have to use your own time to write the notes. Lord knows, you have enough people on the district payroll who can write the notes for you. There are people stumbling all around the Taj Mahal at 32nd and Duquesne, who would love nothing better than to write thank-you notes. It would be a welcome break from fetching coffee, updating their Facebook pages, and coordinating smears and insinuations to use at termination hearings. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to have thousands of thank-you cards sent and still not miss out on any meetings or speaking engagements.

2. Bake them a cake. They say (whoever they are) that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. In the Globe article, it was indicated that it was important to thank these people in person so that more money would be forthcoming. It is also true, however, that the way to a man's cash is through his stomach (though I would certainly clean that cash before I spent it). Put the proper frosting on that sucker and lay it on thick. And if there are any people who know how to lay it on thick it is the people who are in charge of the Joplin R-8 School District.

3. If you just have to go in person, pack your lunch- It will save on costs. That way, C. J. Huff could enjoy traditional brown bag bologna and his beloved white chocolate mocha (that's why God created the thermos).

I am all in favor of courtesy, but if we all work together, we can thank people and save the taxpayer money that will certainly be needed when we buy IPads for all of the kindergarten students.
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Billy Long: Obamacare threatens health care of all Americans

In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long says recent delays in the implementation of Obamacare are ample evidence that the whole thing needs to be scrapped.
Like death by a thousand cuts we keep hearing news from the Obama administration about delays and missed deadline after missed deadline regarding the implementation of Obamacare. 
The administration’s effort to suspend the employer mandate section of Obamacare illustrates just how troubled this law is.  Government intervention into any market reduces the quality and quantity of the product available to the public.  The tragedy is that when the government intervenes in the health care market the cost will not just be measured in dollars, but also in consequences to public health. 
The need for this action delaying the implementation of Obamacare further illustrates the need to repeal the law.  Obamacare’s complex mandates and increased costs threaten the health care of all Americans, especially hardworking Americans who like the coverage they currently have and will lose.  
We need a health care system that drives down the cost of care and incentivizes investment in new technology to increase the quality of care.  The free market is the only system that has been proven time and again to achieve the best outcome for the most people.  I believe Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with free market reforms that will make health care more available to all Americans through competition and innovation.

C. J. Huff to KZRG: After child porn arrests, R-8 District ramping up screening

The recent guilty plea of a tech department employee who tried to have sex with an underage girl and last week's arrest of a former South Middle School eighth grade science teacher who allegedly videotaped himself having sex with a minor have Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff thinking it is time to do something different in the district's hiring practices:

Joplin Superintendent Dr. CJ Huff tells News Talk KZRG they have ramped up their screening.
"Some of that was driven by state and federal laws, and some of that was just part of improving our practices. In addition to passing a background check by the Missouri Highway Patrol, we also do a search for sexual predators."
Huff says Joplin school employees keep their eyes open for anything that might be inappropriate, but adds that both employees in question had no prior criminal history.
Interestingly enough, the R-8 School District never felt the need to confiscate the computers of either of the two employees caught up in child sex crimes, but did take the computer of a former East Middle School eighth grade communication arts teacher who wrote a novel that was critical of superintendents like C. J. Huff.

A tip to C. J. Huff and R-8 Administration, there are no guarantees of what you are going to get when you hire a teacher, but when you have to hire 100 teachers each of the last two years, it makes it that much easier that someone unsavory will slip through the cracks.

Opening ceremony, ribbon cutting for Route 66 Festival set Friday at Joplin City Hall

Opening ceremony and ribbon cutting for the 2013 Route 66 Festival is scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. Friday at Joplin City Hall.
The ceremony will begin with the presentation of the colors.
A welcome will be given by Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean, and comments offered by author Michael Wallis and Rick Freeborn, co-founders of the Route 66 Alliance.
The ribbon cutting will be done by Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Two Route 66 murals will be dedicated.
The ceremony is free to the public.

Route 66 Cruise begins Thursday night in downtown Joplin

(From the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau)

  • Gathering point – the parking lot behind Joplin City Hall at 6th and Joplin Avenue
  • Departure – 5:45
  • Cruise route – Joplin, Webb City, Carterville, Carthage
  • Caution – Open course and this is at the end of rush hour
  • Activities at the Drive-in start at 6:30 but the movie does not start until 8:55
  • There is plenty of time to Cruise The Route
  • Please be safe and observe all traffic signs
  • You can stop anywhere along the Cruise you wish – enjoy yourself
  • If attending the SOLD OUT showing of CARS at the Route 66 Drive-In Theatre you must have a printed copy of your ticket confirmation to get into the movie
CRUISE IN (THE ROUTE):
At 6th & Main Street, Downtown Joplin turn left (north) to 2nd Street. At the corner of 2nd & Main is Cooper’s 66 restaurant (they are open if you want to eat before the Cruise). Turn right (to the east) onto 2nd Street. Going over the Vernon Sigars Bridge, 2nd Street turns into Broadway. Stay on Broadway to St. Louis. At St. Louis turn left (north). Passing over Turkey Creek bridge turn right onto Euclid through the neighborhood known as Royal Heights. As the road curves to the right (east) you will pass Ole Dale’s Barber Shop; a former gas station. Here the road turns into Utica and will intersect with Florida. At Florida turn left (north) a few blocks to Zora. Turn right (east) onto Zora to Range Line Road. Turning left (north) onto Range Line Road you will be leaving Joplin. Entering into the Webb City the road becomes Madison.
Remain on Madison (heading north) through the intersection of US-171 (MacArthur) until a 4-way stop at Broadway. Turn right (east) on Broadway heading into Downtown Webb City. The road will come to a “T” at Webb Street. Here turn left (north) for a half block then right back onto Broadway. At this jog in the road is the Webb City Visitors Center. They will be open for a visit. Back on Broadway, heading east cross Main Street (Downtown W.C.) continue ahead on to Carterville.
Route 66 becomes Main Street in Carterville. Just on the east edge of downtown at Pine Street is Stewart’s CafĂ©, turn left (north) here. Traveling for nearly a mile the road will curve to the right (east). The Carterville Cemetery will be on your left.
Go with the curve to the right, heading east for 2½ miles. Turning right (south) US-171 will be just ahead. This is turn not well marked. Crossing over US-171 there will be a slight hair-pin turn to the left. The Route 66 Drive-in Theatre is 1 mile down the road on the left (north) side.
Alternate route to avoid the Drive-in Theatre traffic:
Taking US-171 to the east will travel into Carthage and by the Boots Motel (now Boots Court) and the Jasper County Court House on the Carthage Square.
Follow US-171 into Carthage for just over 3 miles. Passing under the I-49 overpass (the road becomes Central) continue on another mile until Garrison Avenue. Turn right (south) and the Boots will be to the immediate right. The Jasper County Court House and Carthage Square are two blocks from the Boots and visible to the east. Cruise In for dinner and shopping.
From the Boots Court to get back on Route 66 for the return home or to the Drive-in, go south two blocks to Oak. Turning right (west) it is 3 miles to the Route 66 Drive-in Theatre. Along the way, just after crossing over I-49, on your right is the Powers Museum. It will open until 8:00 p.m. Thursday night.