Some predictions for the Joplin R-8 Board of Education race:
-At some point, a forum for all of the candidates will be held, sponsored by the business community. The questions will be tightly managed to steer away from any controversial issues, except Common Core Standards. The rules, in what is claimed to be the only way to be fair to all of the candidates, will not allow any questions that cannot be asked of all candidates, which effectively prevents any digging into the heart of the various problems that face the school district. It also allows incumbents and those who have aligned themselves with the incumbents to have a clear advantage.
-At least one group that is not aligned with business and that group may not exist at this point, will try to hold a forum in which these issues will be addressed. The incumbents will not take part in this forum and it is unlikely that those who are aligned with them will be in it either. It will also will receive little, if any, coverage in the Joplin Globe.
-An incredible amount of money is going to be funneled through the Joplin Progress Committee,which was clearly created to promote candidates who support Superintendent C. J. Huff and City Administrator Mark Rohr.
-With that money, for the first time we are going to be inundated with television advertising telling us about all of the wonderful things that have been accomplished by the Joplin R-8 Board of Education over the past few years.
-We will also see a series of letters to the editor in the Joplin Globe and endorsements, perhaps in the form of TV ads from prominent members of the community.
-The people who are hoping to seat the incumbents are going to be smeared (it has already begun) as disgruntled ex-employees, naive people who have fallen under the sway of Joplin's resident Svengali (that would be me), or as people who have an ax to grind and are not running because they want to help the community.
-A series of photo ops and announcements will be timed to take place just before the election to help the incumbents remain in office. The Globe, the local television stations, and KZRG, will show up at every one of them.
-District employees will be subtly reminded that the law prevents them from becoming involved in school board campaign. However, that will not prevent some of them from being used in these vaguely disguised photo ops that will benefit the incumbents.
-C. J. Huff, top administration, and building principals will begin a non-stop wooing of the PTO organizations at each of the schools. This may very well include announcements of some wonderful things for each of the schools.
-Huff will work behind the scenes non-stop to get Jeff Flowers and Randy Steele and one of the other two candidates who appear to be aligned with his way of thinking elected to the board.In public, he will spare no effort to effusively praise the current board for its accomplishments, something he will have many opportunities to do at the photo-ops and events that will somehow all wind up being in the last few weeks before the election. In interviews with the media, if anyone asks, he will say he can play no role in the election and that he can work with whichever candidates are elected.
-The Joplin Globe will allow itself to be used by Huff and the incumbents. The type of scandals that have been noted (and documented) in the Turner Report will never see the light of day in the "newspaper of record," but any accusations made against opposition candidates will receive prominent play, either on the news pages or on the editorial page.
-The scandals that I have reported are far better known by district patrons than C. J. Huff realizes and are becoming known by more and more people every day. The outrageous spending, the unnecessary demolition of the original East Middle School, the pornographic photos of Joplin High School girls, disciplinary problems, violations of state and federal laws, and above all, the management style encouraged by the board which has resulted in more than 200 teachers leaving the district over the past two years, are all going to be topics of discussion for this election, no matter how hard C. J. Huff tries to push them under the rug.
-New scandalous activities by the Huff Administration will be revealed by the time April rolls around. It may come from my digging, or it may come as a result of the ongoing state and federal investigations into the school district.
-If Huff's candidates are beaten, the days of 7-0 votes on every issue are over.
-Voters are not as stupid as C. J. Huff thinks. This is the first time they have been given a real choice since he arrived in Joplin. Because of that, this will be the dirtiest campaign for school board Joplin has ever seen.