Thursday, April 30, 2015

Joplin R-8 officials decline to participate in KSN Common Core report

(KSN has asked me to correct this report, saying that the district did not refuse to cooperate.C. J. Huff was gone and others were too busy to do a television interview. One of my sources for the story was someone in the R-8 administration who told me the district has refused this and other requests to talk about Common Core. I have also been told by local media sources that other stories have been done on Common Core on television, but had to do without any cooperation from Joplin. The last time the administration addressed Common Core was during a special extended Morning News Watch on KZRG several months ago, in which C. J. Huff took questions from listeners and ran into numerous problems. I have changed the wording since I do not want to cause any problems for KSN, but not making someone available for a report on the first time Common Core tests have been given in Missouri schools seems shortsighted and strange, since there are few R-8 officials who have ever passed up a chance to be on television.)

Since C. J. Huff and Joplin R-8 officials refuse the use the term Common Core, it's no wonder they declined to participate in this KSN report by Carla Pesono on Common Care.

This year is the first time Missouri school districts have had to take Common Core standardized tests.

Agenda posted for May 4 Joplin City Council meeting

May 4, 2015
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers
Call To Order
Pledge of Allegiance
Roll Call
Finalization Of Consent Agenda
Reports And Communications
Citizen Requests And Petitions
Public Hearings
A RESOLUTION granting a Special Use Permit (First Request) to DHH Investments for a parking lot located at 3101 South Delaware Avenue, in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and District C-1 and including in District C-3-PD property as described below and located at the northwest corner of 15th Street and Range Line Road in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
Consent Agenda
Minutes Of The April 20, 2015 Meeting
Documents: APR 20, 2015.PDF
AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City of Joplin to amend an Agreement with Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity dated on the 28th of July, 2010 to provide additional developer services related to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), authorizing the City Manager to execute said agreement on behalf of the City.
AN ORDINANCE amending Section 86-5, Fees at Schifferdecker Golf Course, of Article I, In General, of Chapter 86, Parks and Recreation, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Joplin to implement certain fee changes; and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.
AN ORDINANCE requesting the review of the Final Plat of THE WOODLANDS located at John Duffy Drive and Cottage Circle in the City of Joplin, Newton County, Missouri.
Ordinances - Emergency
AN ORDINANCE approving the purchase of property near 29th and Arizona Avenue, a 5.908 acre tract located in the Southwest Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 13, Township 27 North, Range 33 West, in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri and authorizing the payment of Three Hundred Thirty-Five Thousand and 00/100 dollars ($335,000.00) and containing an emergency clause.
Approval of a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Joplin and Empire District Electric Company to have Empire make modifications to their facilities in close proximity to the construction of a new regional detention basin in the vicinity of 30th and Arizona.
Ordinances - First Reading
Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading
Unfinished Business
New Business
1702 South Connecticut Avenue - A request to review the site plan for a residential duplex development - Mayberry Construction.
Vote to go into closed session, which shall pertain to legal action, causes of action, or litigation including a public governmental body and any confidential or privileged communications between a governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys andconfidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body and its auditor, including all auditor work product; however, all final audit reports issued by the auditor are to be considered open records pursuant to this chapter—more specifically, for a Pre-Exit Status Report from the State Auditor’s Office, as set forth in Section 610.021(1) (17) RSMo, as amended, 2014.  This meeting, record, and vote to be closed to the extent provided by law. The City Council shall adjourn at the end of the session.

C. J. Huff attempted to influence 2014 election by slipping Fort information to Joplin Globe columnist

C. J. Huff's vicious attack on Debbie Fort at Tuesday's Joplin R-8 Board of Education was the first time he has attacked her in such a public forum, but it was not the first time Huff has attempted to smear Fort through the use of carefully selected test scores:

Well folks, look at MAPS scores on the DESE web site for all Joplin schools, alone. Then do the math to figure the changes in such scores, up or down, in Irving Elementary School alone for the last three years. What you will find, in public information is that the proficiency level of performance of 3rd, 4th and 5th grades students in Irving Elementary School have DECLINED by 12.8% in MAPS reading scores, 28.0% in Science MAPS scores and 23.6% in Math MAPS scores in that one school alone, a school under the leadership of, yep, Debbie Fort.

Not only has Debbie Fort failed to improve student achievement as measured by the State of Missouri over the last 3 years of her term as a principal. Nope, her students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade have DECLINED (by double digit percentages) in terms of student achievement of just proficiency in the areas mentioned over that three year period. Is that the kind of leadership anyone wants on our BOE in Joplin for the next four years?

Improving academic achievement (not to mention behavioral changes for the better on the part of students) is one of three legs of Debbie’s platform. Yet she as a leader in one school achieved a DECLINE of double digit percentages in such achievement. She led her school in the wrong direction.
The three paragraphs above come from an April 2, 2014, post on the personal blog of frequent Joplin Globe guest columnist Anson Burlingame.

It was an unusual column for Burlingame since it is the only time I can recall that he has done any digging into public records to find information for one of his posts.

As he explained:

It has taken me a while to get such numbers. I have been told some wrong numbers as well, but chose not to publish them until I ran the matter to ground. But I am now comfortable that the percentage DECLINE in student achievement during Debbie’s watch at Irving Elementary over the last 3 full years of academic measurement, to publish such information herein and let the fray continue BEFORE the election.

Burlingame's post came six days before the election and, as you might expect, it had the same effect Burlingame's posts usually have- Fort received more votes than any of the seven candidates on the ballot. Burlingame's favorite candidate, C. J. Huff protege Shawn McGrew, finished sixth out of the seven candidates.

The post would not be worth revisiting, except it shows a pattern of C. J. Huff attempting (and failing) to influence elections by leaking carefully selected information about female candidates that he fears.

Of course, Huff took it to a new level Tuesday night, referring to Fort as "the worst principal in the district and making other comments about her performance that Jennifer Martucci, the candidate Huff savaged this year, correctly labeled "inappropriate."

The blowup was not only inappropriate, but appears to be the final straw as it has helped launch a movement to have C. J. Huff fired.

It should also be mentioned that not only have the test scores for the Joplin R-8 School District fallen for each of the seven years he has been here, but that his streak runs into double digits, since his scores fell all four years he was at his previous job as superintendent of the Eldon School District.

Citizens respond favorably to drawings of new Joplin Public Library

(From the City of Joplin)

Citizens and interested stakeholders viewed the plans for the new Joplin Public Library as progress continues in the relocation and development of this facility to the northeast corner of 20th and Connecticut Streets. Two Open House meetings were held Wednesday, April 29 at the current Library location, 300 Main Street.

Library Director Jacque Gage and others on the Library and City staff attended these meetings to talk with citizens and discuss the plans for this new facility. Representatives from the project team, including architect for the project, SAPP Design Associates (SDA), also were at the meetings to provide insight on the ongoing design work. The team has held a series of meetings with stakeholders to solicit the community’s ideas and requests which has focused on an adaptable, accessible and vibrant facility for Joplin. Information about this process was displayed at the open house, depicting the collaborative efforts that have taken place as the architectural elements of the Library and its surrounding grounds area are designed.

SDA of Springfield, Mo., is also working with OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids, Iowa which has been added to their team for this project. SDA officials noted OPN brings added depth to the planning process, as well as their special appreciation for a city in recovery, as OPN was selected for the planning and design of the new Cedar Rapids library after it was destroyed by devastating floods in 2008.

The Library project is a partnership with the Economic Development Administration, which awarded the City a $20 million grant to assist in the redevelopment of the 20th Street area following the 2011 disaster. The project will include site infrastructure repairs and improvements, as well as the new facility. It is a matching grant from EDA of 80% to 20% City resources, the City will fund $5 million of the project, which includes the land value of property that the City owns at 20th and Connecticut.

TriState Engineering of Joplin is currently working on civil site design, and construction is planned for fall 2015.

A work session with the Joplin City Council to discuss the plans of the Library is scheduled for May 11, 2015.

Former Springfield police officer sentenced on child pornography charge

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

 A retired Springfield, Mo., police officer was sentenced in federal court today for possessing child pornography.

Steven Robert Magruder, 60, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to four years in federal prison without parole. The court will issue a separate order for Magruder to pay restitution to one of his victims.

Magruder retired as a corporal from the Springfield Police Department in 2005. He worked part-time from 2006 to 2014 as a security officer for Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield and as a bailiff for the Greene County Circuit Court in 2013.

On Oct. 7, 2014, Magruder pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

A detective with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department identified Magruder’s computer on Jan. 7, 2013, as sharing child pornography over the Internet. The detective downloaded 12 videos of child pornography that Magruder was sharing via a peer-to-peer file-sharing program during a 42-day period in January and February 2013. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Magruder’s residence and seized his computer, which contained child pornography. A detailed forensic analysis was conducted on Magruder’s computer and indicated that Magruder had been collecting child porn for the past year.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Abram McGull, II. It was investigated by the FBI, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force, the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Joplin Globe columnist/blogger: Randy Turner's supporters need to have their heads examined

I sometimes wonder if blogger and frequent Joplin Globe columnist Anson Burlingame has only four sources for information on education- his time as a substitute teacher, whispered conversations with C. J. Huff, the Turner Report, and his favorite book The Bell Curve.

Burlingame appears to believe that the only people who agree with him are those who post anonymously on this blog. If he would broaden his reading material and look at what people have written about Huff in other places since the Jennifer Martucci Facebook posts and last night's blowup at the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting, he would know that others are putting their names to thoughts about Huff's boorish behavior that are similar to what I have written.

A few moments ago, Burlingame lashed out at me, Turner Report readers, and Ben Field, a frequent commenter on Burlingame's blog in a post..

But then I turned to this morning’s Turner Report to find a scathing article accusing Dr. Huff of abusing women and numerous anonymous supporters agreeing with him. Sickening to say the least and if any member of the BOE believes Turner and his gang have any real contributions to make to our public schools then you are as nuts as this jerk Ben Fields that continues to hang around this blog.

As far as I am concerned, any Turner supporter, be they teachers, students, BOE members or people in the administration simply need to have their heads examined and if his voice is used to promote change in our public schools then I will resist such changes as best I can, all the time.

So the BOE in its entirety, to move forward you must earn my trust at least that you have no relationship with Randy Turner or his anonymous supporters be you teacher, student, parent, administrator or for sure a member of the BOE or a wanna-be member as well, Jim Kimbrough. Turner has accused Dr. Huff of cheating on his taxes, now being an abuser of women, a liar, a cheat of all sorts, and the list goes on. If people that support such positions have any significant voice in how our BOE conducts business then this BOE will NEVER unite this community, period.

I will correct Burlingame on one thing. I have never accused C. J. Huff of cheating on his taxes. Some comments on my blog have speculated about that, considering the secrecy and evasions which have surrounded his paid speaking engagements, but I have never written that.

As far as the other things Burlingame has mentioned, I have not only written about those things, but I have provided substantial evidence to prove them and C. J. Huff has provided the evidence for what I wrote this morning with his behavior both in and out of board meetings when dealing with Debbie Fort and Jennifer Martucci.

Burlingame concludes his long tirade with this:

One other point. The BOE should NOT have to endure another 3-3 split to fill the vacant seat. That is the first challenge for the team of Koch and Banwart, two people I really want to learn to trust, to make sure that does not happen. Jim Kimbrough is very much an AHA (Anti-Huff Administration) and he garners support from the Turner gang as well. Add him to the BOE and you will have a 4-3 split and all manner of harm may well come the way of public education in Joplin if either an AHA or a SR8 (Support R-8) majority is set in place. We need another Banwart as the 7th member of our BOE but I don’t know anyone able right now to fill that role.

Burlingame appears to be one of C. J. Huff's last lines of defense and appears to have stuck to Huff's talking points in the excerpts above.

He also appears to have no clue whatsoever about what is going on in education, locally or nationally.

Online petition seeks firing of C. J. Huff

An online petition seeking the firing of Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff was starrted today on

The petition comes in the wake of Huff's verbal attack on R-8 Board of Education member Debbie Fort and his recent Facebook attacks on another board member, Jennifer Martucci, prior to the April 7 election.

The petition, which is directed to new Board of Education President Jeff Koch says the following:

It's time to take action. C J Huff has performed gross misconduct in his role as Superintendent. He is a detriment to our kids, the parents of Joplin's school children and the taxpayers of Joplin, MO.

In addition, a new Facebook group called C. J. Huff Has Got to Go started today.

Winners and losers from Tuesday night's Joplin R-8 Board meeting

I would have written this sooner, but I have been too busy filing a Sunshine Law request for transcripts of all text messages between Jennifer Martucci and her children.

Of course, I am joking about that, but unfortunately Superintendent C. J. Huff wasn't when he showed his lack of knowledge of the Sunshine Law by claiming that those text messages were public record.

It was five hours full of drama, discussions on issues and maybe one of the most revealing exchanges we have seen in a Joplin R-8 Board of Education as Lynda Banwart and Debbie Fort exchanged their reasons for wanting to become board president.

A lot has been made of the five hour length of the meeting. As someone who has covered more than 1,000 school board meetings since 1977 I am no stranger to board meetings that lasted until 3 a.m. and many more that encroached upon midnight.

The length of a meeting means nothing, especially when you consider that Joplin has had many two and three hour meetings in which considerable time was devoted to fluff presentations and entertainment and items that the public needed to know about were buried in the consent agenda.

I am not expecting many five hour meetings, but for those of you who watched Tuesday night's meeting, it may have been long, but it was interesting throughout. It was the first time I have ever seen a discussion on insurance that held my attention.

A few winners and losers to consider (including some who are in both categories):


Jeff Koch- Not only was this new board member elected president at the end of the contentious meeting, but he had just spent five hours showing why he was the right person for the position. He not only acted as a peacemaker, but his questions were sharp and showed that he had done an incredible amount of research that was not just limited to what was in the board packet.

Jennifer Martucci- One quote from Jennifer Martucci would have been enough to put her in this category- "This is a board meeting, not a superintendent meeting." It is sad that it has taken seven years for someone to tell C. J. Huff what most superintendents already know.

Ryan Jackson and the Public- As Jeff Koch pointed out early in the meeting, it did not make any sense to have the public comment portion of the board, where the public is restricted to talking about items that are on the agenda scheduled after those items had already been discussed and voted on. For the first time in recent memory several members of the public addressed the board and were polite and well-spoken. When C. J. Huff was throwing his extended temper tantrum, Ryan Jackson spoke out. "How is it appropriate for a superintendent to criticize a board member?" he began. Of course, it is against the rules for Jackson to speak out like that and he shouldn't have done it, but I am glad he did.

Columbia Elementary Parents- The decision to move the safe room from a side of the building where previous mining activity has been detected to the other side and to get moving on the project is a win-win for parents, students, and taxpayers.

Jet 14- It is no stretch of the imagination to say that Jet 14 probably had the largest viewership for a school board meeting and perhaps for any program that it has ever had. Between the Cable One station, Jet 14's YouTube channel, the Jet 14 Live page on the district website and the embedded video on the Turner Report, people were caught up in a dramatic display of government in action. At one point last night, more than 1,000 people were watching the video on the Turner Report and I am certain the numbers were much higher on Cable One and the other online venues. As usual, Danny Craven and his crew captured the meeting, not only in a functional way, but also in a cinematic fashion. The close-ups of Lynda Banwart and Debbie Fort as they explained why they wanted to be board president were excellent choices.

Randy Steele- Two small moments in a five-hour session and it would be easy to lose them in all of the outrage over C. J. Huff's behavior, but they stood out to me as two of the most important moments of the meeting. One was the long wait before Jeff Koch voted when Lynda Banwart's name was submitted for president for the final time. It was one of the most suspenseful points of the meeting. It appeared that Koch might be planning to change his mind and vote for Banwart. His eventual "no" vote set up the final compromise. The second moment came and went in an instant. After Lynda Banwart nominated Koch for president, Randy Steele almost immediately seconded it, giving a clear indication that the board was going to have a new president.

Lynda Banwart- Banwart's decision to drop her pursuit of the presidency and agree to serve as Koch's vice president was the right decision at the right time.

Debbie Fort- I tried to put myself in her position. What would I have done if I were serving on the board of education and my employee, the superintendent, were to launch into a prolonged verbal attack on me. Then I realized that if I had been the one on the board, C. J. Huff would most likely not have resorted to that kind of boorish behavior since he seems to reserve that for women. Debbie Fort's quiet, measured response showed class and manners.

KZRG- The Zimmer station offered strong coverage of the meeting, both last night and today on Morning News Watch. An audio of the exchange between Huff, Fort, and Martucci (with a guest appearance by Ryan Jackson) has been posted on the station's website.

Anson Burlingame- The blogger and frequent Joplin Globe guest columnist has been asking for discussion of educational issues at board meetings for a long time. He got it last night.


Mike Landis- If C. J. Huff took the arrogance award at Tuesday night's meeting, he won it in a photo finish. Landis spent a great deal of the time squeaking about how "we" do things. Mikey, there's a new sheriff in town and it's not Randee Kaiser. The people are fed up with the attitude that you showed. That's why Jeff Flowers and Anne Sharp were shown the door. Consider this- Landis, as the sitting vice president, was the man who was in charge of the meeting, yet he did nothing to curb Huff when the superintendent launched his attack on Debbie Fort. A leader would have put a stop to it. A decent human being would have put a stop to it. And Landis continued with the tired, "The only person we hire is the superintendent." No, Mikey, that is not the way it works. The board is responsible for hiring every employee in the school district. When Jeff Koch replied, "That's the way it's done now,"  with an emphasis on the word "now,"that should have sent a message to C. J. Huff about creating jobs that are not needed and promoting unqualified people to positions they are not capable of handling.

Joplin R-8 Teachers- The one misstep by the board was its decision, by a 6-0 vote, to approve spending $300,000 for the NWEA testing system. It received glowing reviews from a number of teachers who were at the meeting (as if any teachers are going to come to the meeting and speak out against what C. J. Huff wants), and the prospect of using it in place of other tests sounded appealing,but there were facts that were never brought into the discussion. This testing system (you can call it assessment all you want, it's a test) is designed to prepare students for Common Core testing. The board just committed us to three years of this without any guarantee that Common Core will be around in one year, much less three. School districts across the U. S. have dropped this testing package. This was never brought up and I plan to write more about that. No one asked why NWEA should be a help to teachers and students when the similar Acuity was used for years and test scores fell every year after the district bought Acuity. Standardized testing of students in grades K-2 is also a problem, though apparently none of the elementary teachers or principals who spoke last night are aware of the research showing that this kind of testing is counterproductive. Finally, student results are going to be used in the evaluation of teachers, a dangerous practice, especially in the hands of a district and an administration that has many inexperienced and unqualified administrators who don't know the first thing about evaluating teachers, with many of them having little experience in the classroom.

Lynda Banwart- C. J. Huff's rant against Debbie Fort was not the shocker of the meeting to me. That came when Lynda Banwart blamed Fort for asking tough questions of C. J. Huff and his administrative team. That was what provoked Huff's strong responses, she said. That is not a leader speaking; that is a follower and an enabler.As I wrote last night, Banwart might have become president if she had stood up for Fort during Huff's verbal barrage. Instead, she apparently thought Fort had it coming.

Randy Steele- When Steele said, referring to the speakers at the beginning of the meeting, that what the public said didn't matter to him, it certainly explained a lot about his last seven years on the board.

Columbia Elementary Parents- The good news- it will be late but you are going to get a safe room. The bad news- Mike Johnson's in charge of it.

Joplin Globe- The Globe did not even place the news about the board election on its Facebook page until three hours ago and I am hearing that all comments have been removed. This could be a show of solidarity with Randy Steele to show that the Globe doesn't think the public matters either. In the print edition, the Globe put the story at the top of page one, exactly where it belongs, but then featured a dry account of the early votes for president. What most people saw as a major story coming out of last night's meeting, the bizarre behavior of C. J. Huff, did not make page one. It was relegated to one paragraph on the page seven jump.

C. J. Huff- Contrary to his press clippings, the Joplin Tornado was not a test of C. J. Huff's character. The last two years, in which his long list of questionable financial, academic, and moral decisions have been questioned have offered a true test of his character. And he has failed miserably.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

C. J. Huff- a coward who bullies women?

The increasingly bizarre behavior of Superintendent C. J. Huff was on display tonight at the Board of Education meeting as Huff went on an extended rant against board member Debbie Fort, questioning her ability during her time as Irving Elementary principal and claiming her school had the lowest test scores in the district.

Earlier in the meeting, Huff accused Fort of lying to the public during board meetings.

The attacks on Fort followed his attacks on successful board candidate Jennifer Martucci prior to the election when he released the contents of a private e-mail sent to him by Martucci during redistricting of the R-8 middle schools.

Huff tried to brand Martucci as an elitist who only cares about kids if they live on the right side of the tracks.

The attack backfired on Huff as Martucci collected more votes than her two opponents, Nancy Good and Melinda Campbell, combined.

Though there was a brief verbal attack on Fort early in the meeting, Huff's latest temper tantrum occurred after Fort had noted the district's declining test scores.

"Here's our charge," Fort said. "Every student learns in every subject every day no matter what and we're not doing that. We've steadily gone downhill in the last five or six years."

Huff lashed out. "I've got to intercede at that point. You were principal in that building (Irving Elementary) for a lot of years and the last 10 years of your career, you were the poorest performing principal in our district."

While Fort sat stoically and did not respond, the newly-elected Martucci said, "That is inappropriate."

Huff condescendingly responded, "Jennifer, I need to talk."

"That's inappropriate," Martucci again said.

"It's a fact," Huff snapped.

"You need to be respectful. Please be respectful."

Huff did not heed her advice. "I've watched the district be tore (sic) down for the last two years through comments she has made that are not true. Absolutely not true."

As he usually does when he is the one who is being criticized, Huff tried to make Fort's comments sound as if they were attacks on teachers and principals. "I want to defend our hard working teachers and staff who have done the right thing. I've got the best team of principals I have ever had since I've been here and it's all about teamwork."

Huff proceeded to continue his attack against Fort, accusing her of "doing the same thing" when she was a principal and being a troublemaker.

"It's a fact," Huff said, apparently believing that if he said it was a fact that people might think it was so.

Martucci asked the question that most of those at the meeting or watching it on TV or online wanted to ask. "What are you talking about?"

"What I'm talking about," Huff said, again adopting a patronizing tone toward a women questioner, "is the same type of things we're seeing here. It's behind the scenes work."

"For example?" Martucci asked.

"Like right now, text messaging. You've been reading text messages all night. From whom? This is a public meeting, it's a public record." Huff did not seem to see the irony in taking the same stance that he had taken in his ill-advised Facebook attack on Martucci when he claimed her two-year-old personal e-mail to him, which included information about her children, was public record.

"I think the news media in this room has a right to ask who's running the meeting here."

Though he never said the words, Huff appeared to be implying that these little women couldn't be causing him problems. They had to be taking their orders from some man via text messages.

Fort did not respond, but Martucci, attending her first meeting, noted that she had exchanged text messages with her children about what they were going to have for dinner.

Huff didn't back down. "That's an open record."

When he finished the prolonged verbal assault, Fort responded, speaking calmly in direct contrast to her accuser.She said that what Huff had said about her test scores "wasn't true. I can show you the scores."

Turning to Huff, she asked, "If I was such a horrible principal, why did you allow me to run summer school? Every summer I had to set up a school of 3,000 students."

Huff did not respond.

Fort began citing statistics of the changes that have occurred since the days when the Joplin R-8 School District was accredited with distinction four years in a row. Scores have fallen since that time.

Huff blamed the tornado, noted that he and his team had other things to worry about other than standardized test scores. "Our leadership has been focused where it needed to be focused."

At that point, Ryan Jackson, who was seated in the audience, asked, "How is it appropriate for a superintendent to criticize a board member?"

Huff responded, "This is a conversation that needed to be held."

Martucci replied, "It didn't need to be held." The back-and-forth had occurred during a discussion on who would be board president. Martucci reminded Huff, "This is a board vote, not a superintendent vote."

The third female board member, Lynda Banwart, might have become board president, if she had simply stepped in and told Huff something similar to what Martucci said, but she failed to stand up as Huff badgered her female colleague.

For anyone who may think this is recent behavior, Huff's problems with Fort started when she first decided to run for the Board of Education.

In the May 17, 2014, Turner Report, I wrote the following:

Right before the election, .C. J. Huff paid a visit to the Jasper County Collector's office where he checked on any records having to do with Debbie Fort. She had to be hiding something.

She wasn't.

She received more votes than any other candidate.

"I can't work with that woman," C. J. told a board member, who has been a solid supporter of the superintendent since he arrived six years ago.

"You are going to have to work with her, C. J. You need to man up."

As he heard those words coming from an unexpected source, C. J. Huff's face turned beet red.

One year has passed and the treatment that C. J. Huff has displayed during that time to both Fort and Martucci and his efforts to manipulate two straight elections, including some face-to-face confrontations in public settings (not board meetings) with the two women, would seem to indicate that Huff is uncomfortable with strong, assertive women.

During the past year, former board member Jim Kimbrough asked several pointed questions of Huff and his administrative team during board meetings. Not once did Kimbrough go through the type of bullying tactics that Huff has tried on Fort and Martucci.

It must be easier to attack women when it's "for the kids."

Jeff Koch elected board president, Banwart to serve as vice president

After proving for more than five hours, that he could bring people together, newly-elected Joplin R-8 Board of Education member Jeff Koch unexpectedly found himself as the new board president.

The election of Koch as president and second-year board member Lynda Banwart as vice president came near the conclusion of a five-and-a-half-hour open session which featured three 3-3 votes for Debbie Fort for president and three for Banwart.

Randy Steele, who has been on the board since 2008, had originally said he was interested, but indicated he changed his mind over the weekend. After word of that got out, Banwart said she received phone calls asking her to seek the position.

In what turned out to be a riveting exchange, both for those who were in the audience and those who watched it on television or online, Fort and Banwart presented their views on why they wanted to be president.

Fort stressed her educational experience and her ability to work with people as teams. Banwart described herself as "a mediator.:

In an effort in that direction, Banwart suggested that a temporary president be elected, a position in which she was willing to serve, so that whoever is selected to replace Lane Roberts, whose resignation was officially accepted tonight, will have a voice in selecting the president. The other five board members said they thought it was important to choose a president tonight and not leave the public thinking that the board of education was going to be dysfunctional.

In the midst of the back and forth, Board Attorney Norman Rouse, a long-time Jasper County assistant prosecuting attorney, said, "I feel like I'm back at a jury trial and we have a hung jury."

In a revealing exchange, Fort asked Banwart, "What can I do to make you have confidence in me?"

Banwart responded, "I see you not being able to work with other people." She said she had problems with times when Fort was questioning Superintendent C. J. Huff's top administrators and that Fort had forced Huff into attacking her because he is "very protective of his leadership."

With each vote, Randy Steele and Mike Landis sided with Banwart, while Koch and Jennifer Martucci sided with Fort.

Koch, who served in the mediator role during the discussion, said it was going to need to be either Fort or Banwart who stepped aside.

In the end, it was Banwart who suggested Koch as president with herself as vice president. She made the motion for Koch as president, which was quickly seconded by Steele, and then passed 6-0.

Seconds later, the same vote was repeated for Banwart as vice president.

(Photo: Jeff Koch takes his seat as president of the Joplin R-8 Board of Education.)

Joplin R-8 Board deadlocked- 3-3 tie for president

After a brief period Monday when it appeared that former Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts was going to join the board after all, then backed out, the battle that has been going on ever since Jeff Koch, Jennifer Martucci, and Roberts were elected continued at the beginning of today's Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting.

In a surprise move, it was not Randy Steele's name that was put up for board president by what could reasonably called the C. J. Huff contingent, but that of Lynda Banwart, who was thought to be the only possible swing vote.

The name of former Irving Elementary Principal Dr. Debbie Fort was also submitted.

Both Banwart and Fort said they could bring factions together and create a working board. Fort noted that the public "has spoken very clearly" during the last two elections. "They want some change."

"I am really good at bringing a team of people together. I'm ready for us to move forward and not look back."

Banwart said, "I have had a lot of experience bringing groups together.

The vote was 3-3 with Steele, Banwart and Mike Landis voting for Banwart and Fort, Jeff Koch, and Jennifer Martucci voting for Fort.

A vote for temporary president has been delayed until later in the meeting, which is continuing at this point and can be seen on an earlier Turner Report post.

Banwart's name had been placed in nomination before it was decided to delay a vote.

Koch asked Board Attorney Norman Rouse what would happen if no president was elected at this meeting.

"You have to have a president or we don't do business." If a president is not elected, Rouse indicated that as the sitting vice president from last year's board, Mike Landis would serve as acting president.

Landis (pictured) is conducting the meeting as this is being written.

The board voted to move public comment to earlier in the meeting. Some spoke about the need to move the safe room, which has not been built yet, at Columbia Elementary from the east side of the building to the west due to evidence of former mining activity on the east side. A few moments ago, the board voted unanimously to make that move.

Others spoke in favor of Debbie Fort as board president.

(More to come)

Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live at 4 p.m.

Agenda posted for today's Joplin R-8 Board meeting

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will meet 4 p.m. today at the Administration Building at 32nd and Duquesne:

Meeting Agenda

A. Call to Order

1. Roll Call

B. Pledge of Allegiance

C. Board of Education Organization

1. Nominations for BOE President - Action

a. Nomination for Temporary President if Necessary - Action

2. Nominations for BOE Vice President - Action

a. Nominations for Temporary Vice President if Necessary - Action

3. Authorization of Checking Account Signatures - Action

4. BOE Vacancy - Letter of Resignation - Action

5. Appointment Process for Board Vacancy Pursuant Policy BBE-1 - Action

D. Approval of Agenda - Action

E. Public Comments Regarding Agenda Items *

F. Consent Agenda - Action

1. Approve Minutes - Action

2. Personnel Recommendations - Action

3. Certification of April 7, 2015 Election Results - Action

4. Summer School Application - Action

5. Furniture Purchases for JHS, Performing Arts Center and Soaring Heights - Action

6. Out of State Overnight Field Trip - School year 2014-15 - Action

7. enVision Math Materials for 2015-16 - Action

8. JSAB Memorial Move Network Cable Upgrade - Action

9. Fuel for District Vehicles - Action

10. Health Insurance and Dental Care Insurance Reports - Info.

11. Financial Statements - Info.

G. Regular Agenda

1. Columbia Safe Room Relocation - Action

2. Certification of Results from the First Secret Ballot Election, Selection of Second Election Date and Approval of Second Election Ballot Language - Action

3. NWEA Measure of Academic Progress interim Assessment - Action

4. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) - South Main Street - Info.

5. Health Insurance Bid - Action

6. Accounts Payable - Action

H. Discussion Items

1. Enrollment - April 2015

I. Closed Session - RSMO.610.021 (1) Legal and (3) Personnel

Graves: It is time to hold the IRS accountable

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

Every April 15, Americans are forced to comply with a 70,000-page tax code, and we are reminded of the desperate need for tax simplification in this country. Making matters worse, the agency responsible for enforcing the tax code – the IRS – has recently proven that it should not be trusted by the American people.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives considered legislation to inject some transparency into the IRS and hold the agency accountable for its outrageous behavior – including the politically-motivated targeting of nonprofit organizations.

One of the main issues at play in the IRS political targeting scandal was the use of personal email accounts to conduct agency business. H.R. 1152, the IRS Email Transparency Act, will prohibit IRS employees from using personal email accounts for any official purposes. This will ensure IRS employees are held accountable for their behavior and will protect taxpayers against instances of targeting in the future.

H.R. 709, the Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act, will force the agency to fire anyone who engages in political behavior while executing responsibilities as an employee of the IRS. This includes delaying, threatening to delay, or failing to perform an audit in order to benefit a political cause or extract a personal gain.

Finally, H.R. 1295, IRS Bureaucracy Reduction and Judicial Review Act, will allow social welfare organizations to more easily apply for and receive tax exempt status, eliminating red tape that complicates this process and enabled the IRS to target political groups in secret.

I was proud to support each of these bills as they passed the House in a bipartisan manner. Please know that as your representative I will continue to push for reforms that hold federal agencies like the IRS accountable to the American people.

Open houses to view new Joplin Library plans being held Wednesday

(From the City of Joplin)

Citizens are invited to view the plans for the new Joplin Public Library as progress continues in the relocation and development of this facility to the northeast corner of 20th and Connecticut Streets. Two Open House meetings are set for Wednesday, April 29 at the current Library location, 300 Main Street. The first session is set for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the second will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will have the Library plans displayed for the public to view.

Library Director Jacque Gage and others on the Library and City staff will be attending these meetings to talk with citizens and discuss the plans for this news facility. Representatives from the project team, including architect for the project, SAPP Design Associates, will also be at the meetings to provide insight on the ongoing design work. The team has held a series of meetings with stakeholders to solicit the community’s ideas and requests which has focused on an adaptable, accessible and vibrant facility for Joplin. Information about this process will also be displayed at the open house, depicting the collaborative efforts that have taken place as the architectural elements of the Library and its surrounding grounds area are designed.

The Library project is a partnership with the Economic Development Administration, which awarded the City a $20 million grant to assist in the redevelopment of the 20th Street area following the 2011 disaster. The project will include site infrastructure repairs and improvements, as well as the new facility. It is a matching grant from EDA of 80% to 20% City resources, the City will fund $5 million of the project, which includes the land value of property that the City owns at 20th and Connecticut.

TriState Engineering of Joplin is currently working on civil site design, and construction is planned to begin in fall 2015.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Lane Roberts: Forget what I said earlier, I will not serve on Joplin R-8 Board

After a few hours of being back on the Joplin R-8 Board of Education, Lane Roberts has decided to go ahead with his original plan and resign his position.

An article posted moments ago on the Joplin Globe website included the following passage:

But after news broke Monday that Roberts planned to serve in both capacities, he said numerous people familiar with the state directorship position contacted him to tell him that trying to adequately fulfill both roles would be difficult, if not impossible.

"The fact is, I've spent time with people who know the nature of what I'm doing and the level of government I'm involved in, and they've convinced me this is a mistake" to serve on the school board, he told the Globe later Monday night. "I'm just going to have to accept the embarrassment (of the earlier announcement) and withdraw from what I've said. The truth is, I love this community, and I wanted to help; I just maybe overestimated my abilities."

So it is back to 3-3 again and Roberts' resignation will be acted upon by the R-8 Board during its 4 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

If elections matter, Randy Steele should not be Joplin R-8 Board president

 Elections don't matter.

Joplin R-8 Board of Education member Mike Landis uttered this contemptuous comment last year when the board opted to select Shawn McGrew to replace Dawn Sticklen, though Jeff Koch had hundreds more votes than McGrew in the April 2014 election.

It has been that kind of attitude, the public be damned, this board is going to do what it wants no matter what the public thinks, that has resulted in the election of five new members in the past two years, and with the announcement earlier today that former Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts plans to withdraw his resignation, it appears that only two members remain from the board that was in place before April 2014.

The number that was replaced should have been six.

Randy Steele opened his 2014 campaign telling KZRG that the district had a spending problem. It sounded like Steele had finally seen the light and he realized C. J. Huff was leading the district on a downward spiral.

Steele's voting record had never shown any such concern about spending, but nonetheless the words had an impact.

A bigger impact probably came from the inexplicable decision of the Joplin NEA chapter to endorse Steele. Not only did it have years of Steele's votes supporting C. J. Huff's decisions without question, but it also had a candidate, David Guilford, who had been a member and leader of the NEA chapter for classified workers.

Elections do matter, though they do not always turn out the way you want.

Steele, it should be remembered, was the third top vote-getter among seven candidates. At the top was Debbie Fort, with Lynda Banwart placing second.

Board President Jeff Flowers finished a weak fifth and C. J .Huff clone Shawn McGrew sixth. The voters clearly wanted change even in April 2014.

Think about the things that have happened in the past year. Here are just a few:

-The district spent millions in a frantic effort to get Joplin High School open by August. That has resulted in a lawsuit and the P1 company filed plenty of documents in its countersuit showing that it was full speed ahead, no matter what it cost, during the last few months before the high school opened.

-The district has had to borrow $74 million to stay afloat as it awaits FEMA and SEMA payments that are not guaranteed. Yet during that same time, it was adding millions in overtime and extra costs to get the new building ready, adding the infamous $8 million in "might-as-well' spending for frills, and continuing to spend unnecessary money on big and small items alike, ranging from the more than $115,000 that has been spent on a Common Core consultant, the trips to Las Vegas and Atlanta that are included in the board bills for Tuesday night, and the couple of hundred that was spent on a party for the former technology director when she left.

-As C. J. Huff pushed for the high school to open on time, he told the public that the building had not failed a city inspection until he was confronted with a copy of the inspection which clearly had the word "failed" stamped on it. After that, he said he didn't know that they graded those inspections. This was not the first time C. J. Huff had gone through this process. He just wasn't used to people checking to see if he what he was saying was the truth.

-C. J. Huff mounted a vicious smear campaign against candidate Jennifer Martucci during the last days of this April's campaign. One of those who liked Huff's Facebook attack was Randy least until he had second thoughts and removed his "like," apparently not realizing there are things called screenshots.

-C. J. Huff allowed a teachers' professional development meeting to be used for a campaign video, an act which appears to be a clear violation of board policy. Among the bills to be submitted to the board Tuesday night are bills amounting to $32,674.38 for "contracted services" for "adult program advertising" to Storm Stanley, the same ;public relations and advertising firm that did that controversial Anne Sharp video.

-In the haste to open the high school building on time, the Huff Administration installed gymnasium seats that were the wrong color. These were replaced at an expense to the taxpayers of $100,000.

-Teachers continue to leave and every few months C. J. Huff has another implausible explanation as to why this is happening. First, it was the tornado, then it was the sexist concept that the little women were having to leave because their husbands found jobs in other communities, and finally, Huff insisted that some teaches just weren't cut out to teach in Joplin.

-A state audit ripped the district for its low reserves, its reckless spending in the rush toward completing the high school, its symbiotic relationship with Bright Futures USA, one in which the not-for-profit was not charged a cent for rent or utilities, and for hiring unqualified people for top level positions.

- The Joplin School District has had three lawsuits filed against it this year and settled another one with a former employee who accused Buildings Program Director Mike Johnson of sexual harassment and Huff of firing him after he reported that harassment.

During Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, some important, normally just symbolic votes, will take place. A board president will be elected. For those who watch the meetings on Jet 14, this position appears to be ceremonial.

In fact, it is much, much more. The board president works with the superintendent to create the agenda for the meetings. In the past, the board presidents have buried costly spending and controversial proposals on the consent agenda, items that are not discussed by the board for public consumption, but simply voted on as one item.

Control of the agenda is also critical because of the people who have been left out. Current board rules require those who wish to speak to the board to register in advance, a reasonable request, but to limit their remarks to items that are on the agenda, something that is not so reasonable. The public needs to have access to its elected board. The Board of Education would be wise to adopt the practice of the Joplin City Council, which allows people to be added to the agenda with the vote of the council if they are not able to register in time, or if something of importance arises.It also does not limit their topics as the Joplin R-8 Board does.

Under the current system, which was put into place during the first year Randy Steele was on the board (the same time C. J. Huff arrived), all information that is provided to the board comes through C. J. Huff or his administrative team, board members are discouraged from addressing the concerns of the public. Instead of being accessible to the people, the board tells those people to go through a series of hoops, a process that is frustrating and usually does not achieve the results the people are wanting. Steele has served as president under these rules for one year.

The people have shown that they want a change from business as usual. They elected Debbie Fort, Lynda Banwart, Jeff Koch, Jennifer Martucci, and Lane Roberts to provide that change.

Two board members,  Randy Steele and Debbie Fort, have submitted their names for board president. Tomorrow, we will find out which one will set the board agenda for the next 12 months. If Steele is selected, that would certainly be an indication that at least four board members are not concerned about what their constituents want.

The public will find out tomorrow which board members think elections do matter.

Lane Roberts: I will serve on Joplin R-8 Board

The roller-coaster ride that has become the Joplin R-8 Board of Education took another sharp turn (no pun intended) today when former Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts announced that he would withdraw his resignation letter and serve his three-year term, according to an article posted online by the Joplin Globe.

The letter is one of the items on the agenda for Tuesday's 4 p.m. Board of Education meeting.

Roberts was the second leading vote-getter,finishing behind Jeff Koch in the April 7 election. Former Board President Anne Sharp finished third.

Roberts was recently confirmed as head of the Missouri Department of Public Safety and will continue to serve in that position.

Six arrested for DWI during Joplin Police checkpoint

(From the Joplin Police Department)

On Saturday April 25th 2015, the Joplin Police Department along with members of the Southwest Missouri DWI Task Force and the support of MADD held a DWI checkpoint at 1111 N Main St.

The goals of the checkpoint were to:

1. Detect and apprehend impaired drivers
2. Raise Awareness to the dangers of driving while intoxicated or impaired.
3. Encourage people to plan events and prepare for alternate transportation accordingly.

The check point was in service from 9:30 pm to 2:00 am Sunday morning. 953 drivers were contacted. Twenty field sobriety test were conducted on subjects.

 6-DWI Arrests
 29-total tickets
 9-total arrests

This checkpoint was funded through a grant provided by the Missouri Department of Transportation Highway Safety Division.

Hearing delayed for former JHS teacher on sex charge

The prosecution, the defense lawyer, and defendant Jessica Low were in Jasper County Circuit Court this morning, but no action was taken.

At the request of Low and her attorney, the hearing, which could result in a guilty plea from Low, has been pushed back for a second time, this time until May 18.

Low, 33, faces felony rape, sodomy, and pornography charges, in connection with sexual encounters with a student. She was arrested shortly after the school day ended at the 9-10 Center (the former Memorial Middle School) May 29, 2014. Low had taught at JHS for two years.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An update on my health and my new book

Since so many of you have been kind enough to ask questions about the status of my health and my book, I thought I would provide a brief update.

Friday marked two weeks since I had three stents and a balloon put in to open up some blockage that had crept in during the years since I had my pacemaker installed.

I had my follow-up appointment with the heart doctor Friday and he gave me the welcome news that my heart had not suffered any damage whatsoever. The problem had been caught before it had progressed too far.

After the procedure, as I noted in an earlier post, I cut down on the number of hours I was working on the Turner Report and my other blogs, and stopped working on my book, Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, entirely, except for a few hours of research.

I began working on the book again last week and, at last, I see the end in sight. So many things have happened during the past few months that needed to be included to provide a better understanding of the events that have happened in Joplin since the May 22, 2011 tornado that it has pushed back the publication date some, but I am hoping you will agree it is worth the wait.

Sometime tomorrow, I will remove the preview edition (the first 100 pages) of Silver Lining from Amazon, so anyone who wants to purchase that before it is removed for good should probably do so before Monday afternoon. The advertisement for the preview is on the upper right hand side of the page.

One thing I promise you- No matter how closely you have been following the news in Joplin during the past four years, there will be things in this book that will surprise you- they surprised me. I have learned a lot while researching this book.

Now back to my health for a moment- I arrived at Freeman about 15 minutes before my 9:30 a.m. appointment Friday and parked in one of the first parking lots I came across since I knew how difficult it was to get a parking space by the Heart Institute and I didn't want to drive around looking for one.

As it turned out, I parked further away than I had thought, I walked through three parking lots before I noticed that I had gone one parking lot past the Heart Institute, so I walked back, got there just in time for my appointment and after all of that exercise, when they checked my blood pressure it was 120 over 80.

That's not what convinced me I am OK, however. After my appointment, I left the Heart Institute and realized I had no idea where my car was. I walked around for more than 20 minutes and wondered if I was ever going to find it. At that moment, I noticed that I had just walked past it.

As someone who 20 years ago found a pair of socks in my refrigerator and suddenly realized that I would find the bologna in my socks drawer, this is a sign that everything is back to normal.

The 3-3 Joplin School Board split and the arrogance of the Joplin Globe

Is there any end to the arrogance of the Joplin Globe?

On Friday's opinion page, the Globe's Editorial Board let readers know it was keeping a watchful eye on the Joplin R-8 Board of Education.

The editorial board was disgusted that there appears to be a 3-3 split on the board. "How did this happen only weeks after the election?" the writer moaned. "Not only is it unacceptable, but it is a slap in the face to taxpayers who expect more from our elected officials. It is an insult to our students who have had to endure losing loved ones, losing their homes and moving from school to school."

Let me see if I understand this. The same newspaper that two days before the election told us that former Board President Anne Sharp was virtually assured of election because Lane Roberts said he would not serve if elected, is now telling us that a 3-3 split on the board is horrible and just like C. J. Huff, invoking the tornado to let us know how awful it is that people can't agree.

What the Globe fails to understand is that the voters knew they were going to be getting a 3-3 split and they overwhelmingly voted in favor of it. The people who cast ballots for Jeff Koch, Jennifer Martucci, and Lane Roberts were not insulting those who lost loved ones and those who had to travel from school to school, and only an out-of-touch elitist writer would phrase it in that fashion.

The next thing we will hear from the Globe is that Koch, Martucci, and Debbie Fort are forming  a voting bloc, the same accusation the newspaper leveled at five Joplin City Council members (the majority, I might add) who voted to fire City Manager Mark Rohr, who could do no wrong in Editor Carol Stark's eyes.

 In another segment of the editorial, the writer offers the following:

"We expect well-run schools, improved test scores, improved graduation rates, and fiscal responsibility."

The Globe must have been happy to have managed with one out of four during the past seven years because it is has done almost nothing to serve as the public's watchdog as far as the Joplin R-8 School District is concerned.

Even the one thing that C. J. Huff has accomplished, the improved graduation rate, is marred by some serious concerns about the educational shortcuts that have been used to achieve that success.

At the end of the editorial, the writer or writers use the imperious "we" by stating, "So far, we are not impressed."

Oddly enough, that is the same feeling I have whenever I have finished reading a Joplin Globe editorial. The Globe abdicated its responsibility to report the news to Joplin R-8 taxpayers as it became a public relations tool for the C. J. Huff Administration.

When a newspaper that has sat comfortably on the sidelines and watched as hundreds of people have left the school district, as test scores have decreased every year since C. J. Huff has arrived, and as the district has been driven into a crippled financial state suddenly says "we are not impressed," it has a certain empty ring to it.

The changes that are taking place in the school district appear to be beyond the Globe's comprehension.  Everything has been done without the area's newspaper of record.

The people voted out Anne Sharp after the Globe assured her of re-election.

People were incensed about the use of taxpayer-financed facilities and district teachers to make a campaign video, but they never read a word about it in the Globe. They had to rely on KZRG and the Turner Report for that information.

When CFO Paul Barr talked about $8 million of "might-as-well" spending, the Globe reporter totally ignored the phrase, The public didn't.

The Globe had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the story of how the Huff Administration planned on slipping $100,000 to replace wrong-colored gymnasium seats through by putting it on the consent agenda. It was well-reported here and on KZRG beforehand.

So when the Globe says "we are not impressed," we don't care.

New judge to be assigned to former Webb City principal's double murder case

Former Webb City High School Principal Mark Porter still has the same lawyer, but he is getting a new judge.

A decision on whether Springfield attorney Dee Wampler can withdraw as Porter's lawyer because he has not been paid has been delayed, but the judge in Porter's double murder case has recused himself because he is retiring this summer, well before Porter will come to trial.

Porter is charged with killing Gary and Jan Tyrell of Springfield. on April 30, 2014. Tyrrell was the assistant superintendent of the Mountain Grove school district when Porter was superintendent.

The accompanying video is from KOLR News.

Killer of MSSU coach wants new trial

With sentencing scheduled for June 15, Charles Rhoades, the attorney for Jeffrey Bruner, 40, who was found guilty of first degree murder and armed criminal action following a four-day trial, has filed a motion seeking a new trial.

Bruner shot former Missouri Southern State University offensive line coach Derek Moore to death November 1, 2013, in front of the  Northstar 14 Theatres.

From an earlier KOAM report:

Witnesses who were at the theater that night testified that Bruner shot Derek Moore several times. Prosecutors say Moore's lung was bruised by the bullets, his diaphragm was torn, a major artery was broken, and his spinal cord was damaged, leaving him paralyzed while dying. Witnesses say while Moore was not able to move, Bruner kicked him several times.

But Bruner's defense says Bruner felt Moore was reaching for a weapon, and that Bruner shot in self defense. Bruner's defense claims Bruner had no intention of harming anyone. The defense also says Bruner suffered a mental defect, acute stress disorder, from all of his wife's affairs.

Witnesses testified that after Bruner shot Moore, Bruner said, "They posted it all over Facebook. What's a guy supposed to do?"

Trial of former principal's lawsuit against Huff, Besendorfer delayed

The trial of a lawsuit that accuses Superintendent C. J. Huff of conspiracy and lying to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education will be pushed back three and half months.

The new trial date for former Royal Heights Principal Larry Masters' wrongful discharge lawsuit against Huff and former assistant superintendents Angie Besendorfer and Steve Doerr is November 30, It was originally scheduled for August 13. Masters alleges the administrators conspired to ruin his character and cost him his job.

 Masters charges Huff, Besendorfer, and  Doerr with "making false representations about plaintiff and plaintiff's character to the Joplin Schools Board of Education."

These allegations, the lawsuit says, caused the board to rescind the contract it had already offered for Masters to be Royal Heights principal for the 2010-2011 school year.

The four-count petition, includes individual counts of tortious interference against Besendorfer, Doerr, and Huff and a civil conspiracy count against all three.

The civil conspiracy count reads as follows:

"Defendants knew that the Board of Education had voted to offer Plaintiff continued employment as a principal.

"Defendants intended for the Joplin Schools Board of Education to rescind its offer of continued employment as a principal to the plaintiff.

"Defendants had a meeting of the minds on the aforesaid object.

"Defendants knowingly made false and injurious statements to the Board of Education about Plaintiff's conduct and character.

:"As a result of the defendants' actions and statements, the Board of Education rescinded its offer to Plaintiff.

"As a result of defendants' actions, Plaintiff has suffered damages, including lost wages, mental and emotional distress.

"Defendants' actions were willful, wanton, and made with the knowledge that they would cause damage to the plaintiff."

Masters is asking for "damages, including lost wages, mental and emotional damage, punitive damages, the costs of this action, and to grant such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper."

The lawsuit was filed as a replacement for an earlier action in which only Besendorfer was named as a defendant. That action was dismissed by Judge David Dally at the request of Masters' attorney, Raymond Lampert of Springfield.

The first lawsuit was hampered by interference from the Huff Administration, which had Board of Education Attorney John Nicholas intervene, requesting that he be permitted to be at all depositions and that no witnesses be allowed to talk about anything that happened during a closed board session.