Monday, June 08, 2015

Available now: A complete breakdown of Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud

As of this morning, my book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado is available for purchase online.

The book ended up being 532 pages and could have been much longer. It would have been available a couple of weeks ago, but I revised the final chapter following the "retirement" of C. J. Huff.

I have ordered books, which are supposed to arrive Monday, June 22, but most likely will reach Joplin several days before that, judging by past experience. I am hoping to schedule the first book signing shortly after that Always Buying Books.

Since many of those first books were pre-ordered by those who made contributions to the Turner Report a couple of months back, I might suggest purchasing one online at the book's page on the Create Space website (it will be a few days before it is available on Amazon and a few weeks before it is available on sites like Barnes and Noble and and bringing it to the first book signing or a later one. Your book will likely arrive before mine get to Joplin since I am ordering in bulk.

As for information on what is included in Silver Lining. The following description comes from the book's back cover:

When an EF-5 tornado destroyed one-third of Joplin, Missouri, and killed 161 people on May 22, 2011, the eyes of the nation were focused on the small city of 50,000. Its leaders, including men such as City Manager Mark Rohr and Superintendent of Schools C. J. Huff, received nationwide attention as they sought to return normalcy to a town that had suffered the worst tornado in the United States in six decades.

Behind the scenes, however, the story was entirely different, as Rohr and Huff worked with a group of well-connected business interests to hijack the recovery effort and turn it into a way of obtaining everything they had always wanted for Joplin.

That path led to the hiring of a master developer from Texas, David Wallace, with a long history of bankruptcies, SEC investigations, and accusations of fraud.

Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud is the story of the rise and downfall of City Manager Mark Rohr, amidst allegations of bullying and domestic abuse, Superintendent C. J. Huff, indulging in out-of-control spending that left the school district in a perilous financial situation, and Wallace, who left town in the dead of night, after never fulfilling any of his lofty promises.

Silver Lining also tells the story of ordinary citizens who battled to reclaim their city and school district, battling not only the moneyed special interests, but also a newspaper that fought them every step of the way.

Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud tells the story of the Joplin Tornado heroes who were created by the media and the real heroes, the people of the community who never lost sight of who they were and what it means to be from Joplin, Missouri.

The following is a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what is included in Silver Lining:

1. May 22, 2011- The tornado experiences, in their own words, of Mark Rohr, C. J. Huff, and Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer

2. Disaster Response- How Mark Rohr and C. J. Huff reacted to the tornado and their first dealings with the media

3. The Tornado Mayor- Mike Woolston's story, David Wallace learns about the tornado, Mark Rohr and Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Director Rob O'Brian begin thinking of the city's future beyond tornado recovery

4. Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud-  Angie Besendorfer's story, including her turbulent time as superintendent of the Reeds Spring School District, her arrival in Joplin, and her reaction at being passed over in favor of C. J. Huff

5. We Will Have School- C. J. Huff makes his famous declaration, first in front of his administrative team and a silent board of education, then to a national audience in an event that was purportedly for the "school family. Huff takes steps to control all media coverage, I return to tornado-stricken East Middle School and go into areas of Joplin that have been devastated by the disaster and return to my home to find a threatening message from Huff.

6. A Presidential Visit- Barack Obama and the Westboro Baptist Church arrive in Joplin for a memorial service one week after the tornado. Mark Rohr sets the city's sights on the future.

7. Bright Futures-  The teaching experiences that led C. J. Huff to create Bright Futures, what Angie Besendorfer really thought of Huff's pet project, the truth about Joplin's improved graduation rates

8. Finding Temporary Schools- Even as Angie Besendorfer is doing the work to make sure school opens on time, C. J. Huff is taking another approach, something he has never mentioned in any of his speeches. MODOT offers use of its building in Joplin, but not for the purpose of housing administration

9. Enter Wallace-Bajjali- The beginnings of what led to CART and the Joplin Progress Committee,  David Wallace arrives in Joplin. Mark Rohr and the Jane Cage-led CART stack the deck in Wallace's favor as a master developer is hired, the background of Wallace-Bajjali that they conveniently overlooked.

10. The $794 Million Plan- David Wallace reveals his plan for the City of Joplin, David Humphreys and his family step in to help the city and the school district,

11. The Mall High School-  Angie Besendorfer holds "dream meetings" to plan new schools for Joplin and incorporates some of the ideas into the mall high school, C. J. Huff's assistant Kim Vann arranges for the United Arab Emirates to donate $1 million worth of laptops to Joplin High School, C. J. Huff has his picture taken with kindergarten students, Ron Richard praises Huff.

12. Citizens Advisory Recovery Team- Jane Cage talks about CART, David Wallace runs for Congress and attacks bloggers, Wallace abandons Corpus Christi, Texas

13. The $62 Million Bond Issue- Besendorfer begins her dream tours of schools across the U. S.,  C. J. Huff makes his first tornado speech, Duenweg and Duquesne get the shaft as plans emerge for a giant-sized East Elementary, Lynda Banwart is placed in charge of the committee to promote the bond issue, which is spending money right and left and not telling anyone where that money came from, Huff puts the teachers to work selling the bond issue, Huff tells how he is going to get FEMA to give him anything he wants, the bond issue passes thanks to voters who will never have to pay one cent of taxes

14. The President Returns- The Huff Administration begs Obama to return for the 2012 JHS Graduation, the graduation

15. No Child Left Alive- East Middle School Principal Bud Sexson covers up the attack of a teacher (me) by a student, I write No Child Left Alive, the Huff Administration's removal of previous EMS Principal Ron Mitchell, the scripted interviews that led to Bud Sexson's hiring, Larry Masters is pushed out as Royal Heights principal

16. Wallace-Bajjali and the Tornado Mayor- Mike Woolston pushes property owners in the tornado area to sell, Councilman Ben Rosenberg discovers that people are upset with Woolston, Woolston, Charlie Kuehn, and Wallace-Bajjali become big players in the 20th and Connecticut area.

17. Fun with German Furniture- A German furniture company pays for a junket for Angie Besendorfer and others and is rewarded with single-bid contracts, C. J. Huff begins his speaking tour, Wallace, Rohr, Rob O'Brian, and Jane Cage promote the largest TIF District in the city's history,

18. Escorted from My Classroom by the Police- The Huff Administration pressures me to stop writing about politics and MSSU President Bruce Speck on the Turner Report, I contact a board member about the things that were going on in the Joplin R-8 School District, my computer is confiscated, I am "interrogated" by HR Director Tina Smith and escorted from my classroom by a police officer, I receive the charges against me. The Huff Administration takes action to make sure that I am not hired by other schools and forces me to ask for a hearing.

19- Lockdown- Bud Sexson puts East Middle School on a lockdown after someone posts a message about me on the PTO website, NEA tries to deal with C. J. Huff, Joplin High School students Laela Zaidi and Rylee Hartwell battle to save my job, I learn what Tina Smith has been up to

20. A Potential of Grooming- My hearing begins with Huff Administration members accusing me of things that were not included among the charges and had never even been hinted at.

21. The Tears of a Clown- C. J. Huff testifies against me and says that the district has hotlined me and turned my case over to the Joplin Police Department, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the U. S. Attorney's office.

22. The Setup of Kim Frencken- C. J. Huff and Bud Sexson set up a false accusation against a teacher who testified for me, my hearing ends, I am fired.

23. Carol Stark Reality- How Carol Stark became editor of the Joplin Globe, a public official is accused of arranging a $100,000 plus government job for his girlfriend,

24. Rohr on the Warpath- The conversation that led to the firing of Mark Rohr, the first unsuccessful attempt to fire him, Carol Stark and the Joplin Globe launch an attack against the council members who tried to fire Rohr, especially Bill Scearce. a city employee finds a sticky note,

25. Rosenberg Fights Back- Mike Woolston calls for an investigation of Scearce; Rosenberg leads Woolston into a trap, investigator Tom Loraine is hired, leading citizens pressure Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean to drop the investigation

26. Joplin Schools Watch- Joplin High School students Laela Zaidi and Rylee Hartwell begin an investigative blog about the Joplin R-8 School District and reveal information about C. J. Huff's speaking engagements, a "massacre" takes place at McKinley Elementary, Huff shouts at three visitors and cries for them, Debbie Fort decides to retire as Irving Elementary principal and run for school board, Jim Kimbrough's frustration with the board increases

27. Kim Frencken's Story- A nightmare school year for East teacher Kim Frencken who continues to suffer for testifying for me, including a brutal face-to-face showdown with C. J. Huff as she fights false accusations that she was providing information to the Turner Report

28. The Loraine Investigation- Highlighted by Loraine's cat-and-mouse game with Woolston

29. No Access to Children- The divide between Huff and Besendorfer grows, teachers are leaving the district in droves, a tech employee is arrested with pornographic photos of 10 Joplin High School girls on his laptop, Buildings Project manager Mike Johnson is being sued left and right,

30. Showdown with Mark Rohr- The Joplin Progress Committee is formed, Rohr reprimands Parks and Recreation Director Chris Cotton for successfully bringing a minor league baseball team to Joplin, Rohr talks about his relationship with Carol Stark, his two interviews with Tom Loraine.

31. Slumber Party- The race for Board of Education begins with a slumber party at the administration biulding, Debbie Fort raises questions about district financial problems, Jeff Koch decides to run, Besendorfer leaves, Larry Masters files a lawsuit against Besendorfer, Tina Smith receives a promotion, a board member is arrested for drunk driving,

32- Out of Control- Huff's anger toward Debbie Fort grows, Huff verbally attacks Fort (this is one year before the board meeting tirade), Fort is elected, NEA costs Jeff Koch a seat on the board.

33.- The Loraine Report- Mark Rohr fired, Bill Scearce cleared, accusations leveled against Woolston, Wallace-Bajjali, Woolston attacks the report, Rohr calls Scearce a liar, Globe, Anson Burlingame launch attacks on those who voted to fire Rohr, Globe goes to court to find out what report says about Rohr

34. Mark Rohr's Farewell- Mark Rohr condemns those who voted against him to hell, Globe fails to mention Rohr's similar problems in places where he had worked,

35. City Election- Joplin Progress Committee pours money into municipal elections, the Miranda Lewis story, the Ryan Stanley story, allegations of domestic abuse against Mark Rohr, Carol Stark buries accusations against Woolston, Wallace-Bajjali, Scearce attacks the Joplin Globe.

36. Taking the City Back- Rohr and Woolston launch a public battle to get the 10 missing pages of the Loraine Report revealed.

37. Ten Missing Pages- Carol Stark receives national praise for battling for release of complete Loraine Report, more of what the pages included

38. C. J. Huff and That Woman- Huff's anger continues to grow as Debbie Fort begins asking questions at school board meetings, Michael Brown was killed and riots begin in Ferguson (and yes, it is connected to Joplin), Fort presence restores the enthusiasm of Jim Kimbrough, Dawn Sticklen resigns, Shawn McGrew is appointed, Mike Landis says elections don't matter

39. Might-as-Well Spending and the Six-and-a-Half-Mile Ribbon- David Humphreys calls for audits of the school and city, Globe leads charge in accusing Humphreys of using political influence over state auditor, the truth about how close C. J. Huff is to Gov. Nixon and President Obama, the ribbon, the spending, C. J. Huff pushes for the high school to open on time, the district takes out massive loans to stay afloat. Huff lies about the high school inspection report, Huff warns all schools and staff members that Randy Turner is attacking them and that I may prevent them from being able to get a levy increase passed.

40. Waiting for Wallace-Bajjali- Criticism of the master developer grows both in Joplin and in Amarillo, Councilman Rosenberg is stopped by police with his poodle in his lap and the Globe turns it into a page one story months later, Scearce cancels his subscription

41. Dedicating a 21st Century School- Joe Biden reveals that 161,000, not 161 people died in the Joplin Tornado, the vice president consoles a tearful C. J. Huff, the six-and-a-half-mile ribbon is cut and then quickly forgotten and abandoned, students make out in the audience,

42. One Hundred Thousand Dollar Gym Seats- C. J. Huff applies for Commissioner of Education, the $100,000 wrong-colored gym seat debacle, Jeff Koch holds his own slumber party in 30 degree weather outside the administration building with snow spitting down as he waits to be the first on the board of education ballot,

43. The Collapse of Wallace-Bajjali-

44. State Audit- Thomas Schweich wants to talk with me 48 hours before the state audit is released, but kills himself before that time. Spence Jackson reveals what Schweich wanted me to know, Spence Jackson kills himself, C. J. Huff spins the audit results, Huff misleads public by saying audit showed there was no problem with the way donations were handled after the tornado, the district borrows another $28 million,

45. An Awesome, Positive Video- Lane Roberts tells me his plans if he is elected to the school board, Joplin Progress Committee weighs in on school board race, Huff and Anne Sharp uses teachers in making Sharp campaign video, Gov. Nixon appoints Lane Roberts head of the Department of Public Safety, a campaign for Roberts begins to keep Sharp off the board,

46. C. J. Huff Makes It Personal- Huff launches a Facebook attack against board candidate Jennifer Martucci, the Globe declares Anne Sharp the winner, Koch, Martucci, Roberts elected; Roberts, who had said he would not serve, says he will serve, hours later, Roberts who had said he would not serve, then said he would serve, said once again he would not serve, Fort and Banwart oppose each other for board presidency, C. J. Huff attacks Fort during meeting, Koch elected board president

47. Endgame- Kim Frencken hands documents to board members, C. J. Huff, Randy Steele, and Mike Landis resign.


Anonymous said...

(Please don't approve this posting if I'm wrong, or for some reason you want people using Create Space right now.)

Create Space is a unit of Amazon, and in fact their overwhelmingly preferred Print On Demand vendor. sure claims they've got it "In Stock" and that they'll be getting me a copy Thursday (normal Amazon Prime 2 day shipping; I went with Amazon because I already have an account with them): Here's the page to order it.

Randy said...

No problem at all. When I posted that this morning, I had been told it would not be available on Amazon for three to five days. On a whim, I checked it out and saw it was already on there, so I put the Amazon ad at the bottom of the post and told people on the Inside Joplin Facebook and my personal Facebook that it is also available at Amazon. I just want people to read the book wherever they buy it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Is a kindle version available?

Randy said...

Not at the moment, but it should be available soon.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, when Create Space didn't accept my Amazon account info to buy the book, I too checked Amazon on I guess less of a whim and found it there.

Thanks for putting the print version first in priority, and be assured that I'll be reading it starting Thursday. Although at 532 pages it will take a little while....

Anonymous said...

Who is Kim Frencken?

Anonymous said...

I read the book cover to cover. It was fantastic! An outstanding chronological narrative of what happened in the last four years. I am anxiously awaiting what will have to be a sequel, at the rate things are going.

Thank you, Mr. Turner, for shedding light on the actions and decisions of our leaders following the tragedy of May 22, 2011. The exploitation of the city and the district will not be forgotten any time soon.

Anonymous said...

An error exists in Chapter 30, Chris Cotton did not successfully bring minor league baseball back to Joplin, it took several city agencies pooling resources to bring an independent professional baseball team to Joplin.
By labeling the Blasters as Minor League Baseball, it implies the team is an affiliate of a Major League Baseball team, and it is not. Yes, they are professionals, yes they are getting paid, but more of them than not are on the downward slide of their career vs. on their way up.
Don't let facts get in the way of telling a story, or in this case, selling more books.

Randy said...

I have seen that same explanation about the independent and minor league baseball teams given for the past few months, but it is simply not correct. Please check through the long history of minor league baseball. There have always been teams that have been considered minor league even though they did not have an affiliation with a major league team. In fact, there were times in decades past, when leagues included teams affiliated with major league teams and independent teams. The baseball is far above the level of the so-called semi-pro teams of past eras and there have been a number of occasions in which major league teams have purchased players from independent minor league teams. Minor league teams have always been a combination of people on the way up, people on the way down, and those who will never be anything but minor leaguers. As for Chris Cotton, while he did not singlehandedly bring the team to Joplin, he was the coordinator of the effort and the one who received the reprimand because he did not take the project through Wallace-Bajjali. I don't recall Mark Rohr placing any reprimands in anyone else's personnel files.

Steve Holmes said...

I believe the group governing affiliated baseball tried to trademark the term "Minor League Baseball" in a dispute with independent leagues, but I don't think it got its way. I don't think of the minors as either affiliated or independent, but as everything below the major-league level. The Blasters play good ball. They could probably beat most low-level affiliated teams, though the "ceilings" (potential) of some of the younger, affiliated players are much higher.
Major-league scouts come to independent games. Each June, the draft brings a new flood of players into the system. That means a flood of guys already there have to go, sometimes before they've been given a good look. Yes, it's true that most of the independent players have seen better days, but it does happen that independent players get a second chance in affiliated ball.