Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MSSU student Hartwell applies for Joplin City Council post

(From Rylee Hartwell)

Rylee Hartwell is a young man who is guided by the principles that have made America a beacon of light in a dark world; democracy, morality, and faith. Of Democracy, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The government closest to the people serves the people best.”

Of morality and faith, George Washington said in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”

Keeping this guiding principles in mind, Rylee Hartwell hopes to represent his community and wholly represent the concerns of Joplin citizens by seeking an appointment to the City Council. As a native of Joplin and close observer of the community, Hartwell's vision for the city is closely aligned with patrons in the community. Also, considering recent problems plaguing the city Hartwell believes the people of Joplin are searching for a person of integrity who supports progress based on timeless community values.

Mr. Hartwell supports the following:

* Increased financial transparency and accountability

* Extend City Council outreach to individual neighborhoods and to do a “listening campaign” of patrons concerns and compliments

* Mindfully creating long term capacity for the city, coupled with innovative economic development in both the public and private sectors

Hartwell is a student at Missouri Southern State University, and is working towards his Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education. He plans to teach social sciences after graduation and to work towards his goal of becoming a Public Schools Superintendent.

Hartwell became particularly involved in the Joplin community after the May 22, 2011 tornado with hopes to rebuild a better city for his hometown. Hartwell founded and authored his own blog about Joplin Schools, and has written freelance for the Joplin Globe, Joplin Regional Business Journal, The Carthage Press, and served as the Executive Editor-in-Chief of the Spyglass.

In 2015, he received the “All Missouri Writer” the highest distinction given by the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association for his in-depth investigative coverage of the newly rebuilt Joplin High School and Joplin Schools administration.

Additionally, in March 2015, he moderated the Joplin Schools Board of Education candidates debate on behalf of The Joplin Globe and Missouri Southern State University. In addition, he was awarded the Joplin High School Social Sciences Department Outstanding Senior.

Currently, he is the Vice-President of Circle K (a Kiwanis sponsored service organization) and is a member of the Joplin Kiwanis Apple Committee, Kappa Alpha Order/Delta Pi Chapter, Missouri Southern State University Student Senate, and Catholics on Campus.

He has been active in the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to promote Joplin High School, and was elected to be the class speaker for the JACC’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Today program.

In addition to his various interests, Hartwell works as an Executive Personal Assistant to the owner at Snodgrass Collision Center and Snodgrass Farms. In his spare time he enjoys fishing, volunteering, and spending time with his nieces and nephews.

Hartwell can be contacted at his home, 2815 New Hampshire, or by phone at 825-3258.

State auditor announces Cyber Aware Audits of Missouri schools

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today announced the start of her cybersecurity audit initiative in Missouri schools. The Cyber Aware School Audits will focus on identifying practices that improve the security of information schools have on students and their families.

"For every parent who has provided health records to the school nurse, authorized bank debits for a lunch plan or exchanged emails with a teacher about concerns in the classroom, there are real consequences to having that information released to individuals who might seek to profit from or exploit it," Galloway said. "Parents deserve to know their children's schools have taken precautions to keep their children's personal information secure."

According to the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, in the past 10 years, more than 250 K-12 schools across the United States experienced a data breach event. Students and families affected by these incidents are at a higher risk for unauthorized access of account information, financial abuse and identity theft. In cases where social security numbers are exposed, they are five times as likely to become the victim of identity theft.

The audits will focus on the effectiveness of existing cybersecurity safeguards. Audits will review the school district's ability to detect a cybersecurity breach and the planned response for a breach, student personal information accessibility and protection, technology use policies, and student and staff privacy and security awareness training.

The following districts were selected for the first round of Cyber Aware School Audits, with additional districts to be named in 2016.

Boonville School District, Cooper County

Cape Girardeau School District, Cape Girardeau County

Orchard Farm School District, St. Charles County

Park Hill School District, Platte County

Waynesville School District, Pulaski County

"Technological advances in today's schools have simplified and streamlined processes for educators, administrators, students and parents, but these benefits also carry an increased risk of vulnerability," Galloway said. "Missouri schools must be proactive in the effort to secure student data, and Missouri students must be equipped with the information they need to protect themselves online and in our increasingly connected environment."

Since taking office Auditor Galloway has made cybersecurity a priority across all components of government, including Missouri schools. The Cyber Aware School Audits are part of an ongoing emphasis on data protection practices and keeping Missourians' information secure. The office is also currently auditing the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Missouri Student Information System (MOSIS) and the Office of the State Courts Administrator- Justice Information System (JIS).

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing protections against cyber incidents.

Hartzler: Why I voted against funding the government

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) today voted against using a continuing resolution to fund the government.

“Congress needs to do the work the people sent us here to do,” Hartzler said, “and simply kicking the can down the road is not acceptable. Passing a continuing resolution, even for only a short period, does not advance our conservative values and puts the country at risk, making deeper cuts to our already-besieged national defense budget. According to General Martin Dempsey, we are already funding our military at the ‘lower ragged edge’ of our ability to execute our military strategy. Under this continuing resolution, our military would see funding even further below that ragged edge.”

“Republicans in the House and Senate both have been working diligently to pass annual appropriations bills—the way we should,” Hartzler continued. “However, Senate Democrats’ “Filibuster Summer” has halted all progress towards making sure our government is funded in normal order, and jeopardizes our nation’s future. We must be the voice of the people here in Congress, and the people have spoken. We should be working to advance the conservative principles championed by those who sent us here; this continuing resolution does not do that.”

The Continuing Resolution passed by a vote of 277 to 151.

Brunner releases new video; announcement set for October 5

(From Missourians for John Brunner)

Missourians for John Brunner today released the campaign’s third web video leading up to the official campaign kickoff on Monday, October 5th, 2015.

“We can’t keep electing the same type of people and expect different results. I’m not a political opportunist, and I’m not a career politician. I’m a Marine, Manufacturer, Missionary and Missourian who is ready to accomplish the mission and get the job done for the citizens of Missouri, not what's right for a political career," John Brunner said.

Twelfth defendant pleads guilty in tax fraud scheme

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

A Springfield, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to her role in a fraudulent tax return preparation scheme that claimed nearly $340,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds.

Lisa Lorre DeHaven, 34, of Springfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to making a false and fraudulent income tax return.

Co-defendant Cherie Christine Dupuis, 43, of Springfield, pleaded guilty on July 21, 2015, to leading the fraudulent tax return preparation conspiracy. Dupuis admitted that she and co-conspirators defrauded the government by filing false claims for income tax refunds from February 2009 to March 2012. In the false and fraudulent federal income tax returns they prepared and filed, conspirators claimed refunds from the IRS totaling approximately $340,630, of which approximately $336,839 was false. Over the course of the scheme, the total actual tax loss to the IRS was $284,169.

Dupuis admitted that she filed fraudulent federal income tax returns in her own name and for at least 19 other individuals. Dupuis would usually split the fraudulent refunds with her co-conspirators. The total amount of the false claims Dupuis personally prepared and/or filed was approximately $298,708, with approximately $256,281 being paid on these false claims and a loss to the government of approximately $213,711.

For the 2009 and 2010 tax years, DeHaven knowingly aided and abetted Dupuis, and was aided and abetted by Dupuis, in the filing of a false federal income tax return with the IRS, claiming a tax refund to which DeHaven knew she was not entitled. DeHaven provided her personal information to Dupuis, which Dupuis then used to file false income tax returns.

DeHaven admitted that she filed false federal income tax return for the 2009 and 2010 tax years that falsely listed wages that had not been earned and federal income tax withholdings that had not been withheld. As a result, DeHaven fraudulently received a total of $19,791 in fraudulent income tax refunds. DeHaven gave Dupuis approximately half of the proceeds each year.

DeHaven is among a dozen defendants who have pleaded guilty. In addition to Dupuis, co-defendants Claudia Dorsey, 33, Amanda Leigh Boyd, 33, Johnny L. Cooper, 28, and Jeannie Marie Rhodes, 34, both of Springfield, Shawna Marie Hughey, 37, of Joplin, Mo., formerly of Springfield, Heather Nicole Drennen, 32, of Cameron, Mo., formerly of Springfield, William J. Coonce, 29, of Otterville, Mo., Jeannette R. Dunn, 48, of Huntsville, Ark., formerly of Springfield, Asia Michelle Couchman, 26, of Oak Grove, Mo., and Delbert L. Allen, 37, of Pleasant Hope, Mo., formerly of Springfield, have also pleaded guilty.

Under federal statutes, DeHaven is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.

Liberal man pleads guilty to child pornography charge

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

aALiberal, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.
 Timothy Curless, 53, of Liberal, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet between Nov. 4, 2012 and April 19, 2013.
 Curless originally pleaded guilty on Sept. 18, 2013, but later withdrew his guilty plea when he learned that his prior Kansas conviction for two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child would increase his mandatory minimum prison sentence from five years to 15 years. Curless pleaded guilty to the same offense today.
According to court documents, a law enforcement officer was conducting an undercover investigation into the distribution of child pornography by suspect(s) using file-sharing software. On two separate occasions the officer downloaded images of child pornography from Curless’s computer. Among those images were children who have not reached puberty and a child as young as three years of age. When officers executed a search warrant they learned that Curless had been using his neighbor’s wi-fi network in order to access the Internet.
Under federal statutes, Curless is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 40 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force.

Joplin man indicted on child porn charge

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

A Joplin, Mo., man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for receiving child pornography over the Internet.

Tanner Miller, 22, of Joplin, was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo.

Today’s indictment alleges that Miller received child pornography over the Internet between Oct. 1, 2012, and June 11, 2015.

U. S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this indictment is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force.

Bright Futures USA Chairman: We're paying C. J. Huff $30,000 for six months

After coming in for an increasing amount of criticism over the hiring of former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff as a consultant, Bright Futures USA has decided to explain what it does and why it has deserved to have $400,000 of taxpayer money appropriated for it by the Missouri Legislature over the past three years.

The long explanation would seem to indicate that the organization is still reeling from the departures of Webb City and East Newton and the near departure of Neosho.

In a blog post published on the Bright Futures USA website September 24, Board Chairman Steve Patterson, director of missions for the Spring River Baptist Association, explains why it is so important for the not-for-profit to continue to receive Missouri tax money to pay for salaries and for BFUSA to expand into other states:

When Bright Futures began in 2010, we started as a way to address the dismal graduation rate in Joplin, Missouri. It soon became apparent that many of the problems could be traced back to poverty related issues and lack of community engagement with the students. Within three years the graduation rate went from 74% to 85% and community engagement was 10 times what it was before. Early success caught the attention of surrounding communities. We explained our framework and helped them pilot a program in their communities. As the needs grew for community support in yet more communities, Bright Futures USA was born.

The purpose of Bright Futures USA was to support the work of all of the Bright Futures communities NOT to directly engage students or address needs. That is the job of each local affiliate community. Therefore, any funds raised for Bright Futures USA is and has been used to accomplish the following purposes:

· Promote and educate people about the Bright Futures Framework in an effort to add to our network of affiliate communities

· Provide training and structure to new affiliate communities so they are able to create self-sustaining local programs

· Provide personalized marketing packages for each individual community

· Support affiliate communities as they utilize and navigate ever-changing social media channels for the purpose of meeting any student’s basic needs

· Plan and host a National Community Engagement Conference yearly

· Foster an environment of open communication with all affiliate communities through email, website, and newsletters

· Facilitate networking opportunities for affiliate communities which provide settings to share best practices

These services are not free and personnel drive it all. People are all we have. When there are concerns about the fact that we are not meeting students needs with the money raised by Bright Futures USA, it is important to understand that was not the purpose of those funds. We are indeed working hard to raise funds in order to keep moving forward so that we can ultimately impact more communities who are able to directly serve children. We do not want to compete for funds in your local community. With that in mind, our board entered into a contractual agreement with Dr. CJ Huff for four things: grant writing, national corporate fundraising, recruiting new affiliate communities, and training. A grant writer alone, with the experience level and knowledge base needed of our organization, was in the $80,000 a year range. We have contracted with Dr. Huff for all four things for $30,000 for a six month time period, renewable if it proves beneficial. He is currently in between jobs, doesn’t have to earn a full salary, has a heart for the work of this organization, and he is the originator of Bright Futures. The Board of Directors carefully considered the skills and connections that Dr. Huff could bring to the table, coupled with the aforementioned circumstances, and agreed that it seemed like a good time to take advantage of his brief time of availability.

The exciting thing to me is to see communities become engaged with their school children. A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to travel to Poplar Bluff, Missouri to speak at their kickoff breakfast. That community is knocking it out of the park.

Last week I had the joy of attending the kickoff breakfast in Miami, Oklahoma where I was invited to speak. That is my wife’s hometown and her Grandmother and her Father had both retired as teachers from that system. Megan and Heather (co-chairs) are doing an outstanding job. Kim (our Executive Director) will likely highlight some of the initiatives they have rolled out in the near future. Suffice it to say, the creativeness and innovation which is shared across our network is sheer corporate genius.

Being a part of the Bright Futures family is exciting and from my perspective very rewarding. You see I grew up in the home of two teachers. I remember times when we would do without some things we wanted because some other student was in greater need. Teachers are an amazing group and I want to bring whole communities to their aid. Everyone loves kids and Bright Futures is the Difference Maker for tens of thousands now in seven states. YOU make the difference! We simply stand back and applaud your efforts. The staff and Board of Directors of Bright Futures USA stand ready to help you fulfill your mission to connect needs with resources where you live.

Every child needs a Champion. I’m thankful to champion the needs of children. We are your support team but YOU MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Clinton Blizzard captured

Murder suspect Clinton Blizzard was captured moments ago in the area of 7th and Summit.

The Joplin Police Department posted the following message on its Facebook page:

Suspect is in custody. Thank you to everyone that assisted.

Law enforcement agencies conducting the manhunt included the Joplin Police Department, Jasper County Sheriff's Department, Duenweg Police Department, Duquesne Police Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Joplin Police conducting manhunt for Clinton Blizzard

(From the Joplin Police Department)

Joplin Police and area law enforcement are checking a wooded area east of Duquesne and south of 7th for homicide suspect Clinton Blizzard. 

He was last seen wearing a gray shirt and jeans. If you see this suspect please call your local law enforcement. Blizzard is the homicide suspect from the Lawrence County homicide.

(From the September 28 Turner Report)

An arrest warrant has been issued and bond set at $1 million for a former Carthage and Diamond resident charged with first degree murder in connection with a shooting death Saturday in Wentworth

Clinton Ross Blizzard, 26, is no stranger to southwest Missouri law enforcement. Online court records show that an October 7 pre-trial conference is scheduled in Newton County Circuit Court for Blizzard on felony charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and trafficking in drugs for crimes that allegedly took place July 1.

On the following day, the Highway Patrol arrested Blizzard in Jasper County on misdemeanor charges of driving while revoked and not having any insurance.

The latest charge against Blizzard is detailed in the probable cause warrant, written by Det. Sgt. Chris Berry of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department:

On September 26, 2015, deputy arrived at 14322 Lawrence 1010, Sarcoxie, Lawrence County, Missouri, with a white male who was deceased laying in the yard.

Nathaniel "Steven" Higgins DOB 6-24-1980, was ID as the person who was deceased in the yard.

An interview with Gary Dodson who saw a person known as "Bat Boy" Clinton on the southwest side of the residence located at 14322 Lawrence 1010, Wentworth, Lawrence County Missouri displaying a dark color handgun in an angry and threatening manner toward Steven Higgins as he was leaving in a red car.

Gary Dodson observed Clinton go back into the home and Gary walked in the front yard observing Clinton come out the front door of the residence with the handgun in his hand, walk over to Steven, who was standing in the yard and shoot him two times and go back into the home.

Gary Dodson observed Clinton walk back out of the residence with a backpack, take his shirt off and tell them that he was not dead and "here, use this for the blood" and left the residence southbound on FR 1010.

Lawrence County Coroner pronounced Nathaniel "Steve" Higgins deceased from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Interview was conducted on scene with witness who ID Clinton as Clinton Ross who had been in the Newton County Jail.

The investigation concludes that Clinton Ross is Clinton Ross Blizzard W/M DOB 01/19/1989.

Joplin police searching for murder suspect at 7th and Duquesne area

The Joplin Police Department is asking those who are in the area of 7th and Duquesne to stay indoors.

The police are searching for a murder suspect in that area.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Reiboldt: Should taxpayers have to foot the bill for billionaire's stadium?

(From Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho)

Periodically I like to revisit previously-discussed topics and follow their movement on the legal or political track. Today, I want to share some of the latest information about the much talked-about new St. Louis Rams stadium.

As you may remember, the current facility used by the St. Louis Rams football team is the Jones Dome, a structure the Rams team moved into in 1995 (though the Jones Dome name wasn’t attached to it until 2002, when the Edward Jones company purchased the naming rights to it for $2.65 million annually). In 1995 there were thirty-year bonds issued to pay for the new stadium, with the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County each paying $6 million per year for thirty years and the state of Missouri funding $12 million a year over a thirty-year period. When the Rams organization moved to St. Louis in 1995, they signed a thirty-year lease to play in the Dome, but the terms of the agreement allowed the team to move after the 2014 season if the Dome was not rated as a first-tiered NFL facility. That facility is today considered to be not only less that first-tiered, it is considered to be a poor NFL stadium.

While the Jones Dome structure is owned by the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, it was built with tax dollars and is still dependent on public monies. In efforts to improve the stadium and bring it up to the team’s desired standard, the Stadium Authority offered a $124 million improvement plan—including a larger scoreboard and better seating—with the Rams picking up approximately half the cost. The team countered with a proposal for upgrades at an estimated cost of $700 million, an amount that includes their plan for a new retractable roof. Following arbitration, a decision favoring the Rams was reached that allowed the team to break their lease following the 2014 season. They could either move or remain in St. Louis on a year-by-year contract.

Though Los Angeles wants the Rams team to move there, Governor Nixon wants to keep in it St. Louis, either by building a new stadium at a cost that could possibly reach $1 billion or by making renovations at a cost of approximately $700 million. It will be 2025 before all the bonds are paid off on the existing structure and legislators are very reluctant to forge ahead with approving such an expensive project when the Jones Dome is still usable.

The Rams’ owner, billionaire Stan Kroenke of Wal-Mart fame, wants a new stadium; yet it appears he wants Missouri’s taxpayers to foot the bill, or at least a multi-million dollar chunk of it. Though Missouri statute clearly states that “certain revenue projects to be funded by revenue bonds shall be approved by the General Assembly,” there seems to be some problem with that now, as the governor is moving ahead on his own without the approval of the General Assembly or the voters, stating that he doesn’t need it.

Within the last year, Governor Jay Nixon has been in the news in regard to the subject of the propose new sports stadium in St. Louis. In February, he announced that utility and railroad companies— Ameren Corp and Terminal Railroad Association— agreed to move their power lines and rail tracks to allow for construction on a new stadium. Earlier this summer, six lawmakers filed suit against Nixon, saying he did not have the legal authority to extend portions of the bonds on the existing stadium to help finance a new stadium, one that could possibly be built on riverfront property in St. Louis, and one whose construction plans appear to be moving ahead without legislative approval. Apparently the governor and the NFL have been in contact regarding this plan (completely going around the legislature), but Nixon doesn’t seem to be worried that perhaps he is overstepping his authority. To help support his stand, he is arguing the new stadium would be of benefit to a section of the St. Louis Riverfront area that is in great need of rehab; he also talks about the boon of new jobs and the much needed revenue this would bring to the area.

No one can argue that a new stadium wouldn’t be nice, or that areas of the St. Louis Riverfront wouldn’t benefit from a new facelift, or that the revenue brought in from the project’s jobs won’t be appreciated. What can logically be argued, however, are questions about its constitutionality, its legality, and the apparent lack of financial accountability to Missouri’s taxpayers. If our state’s financial resources were unlimited, there might not be much backlash to the governor’s actions. Unfortunately, we are not “rolling in dough,” and though a new stadium would indeed be nice, can it be upheld as necessary? Do we allow any elected official to proclaim by his or her actions that they aren’t obligated to follow our state’s legislative process? And do Missouri’s taxpayers need to be held accountable for a very expensive structure to house a billionaire’s football team?

Graves: Cutting wasteful programs is a no-brainer

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

A lot of hard decisions will have to be made to get our nation's debt under control, but cutting duplicative and wasteful programs within the federal budget should be a no-brainer.

Every year the Government Accountability Office (GAO) puts out a report identifying billions of dollars' worth of waste in the federal budget, and every year these suggestions go ignored. That is simply unacceptable.

Last week, I introduced the Improving All Government Efficiency Act in the House. My bill will force federal agencies to implement suggestions for waste reduction identified in GAO’s reports. Each agency that chooses to ignore them will face an automatic 1% budget cut every year.

To read GAO's reports, please visit

Joplin city manager provides weekly update

(City Manager Sam Anselm provided the following report to the Joplin City Council Friday.)

Good afternoon, everyone. Please see below for this week’s update.

Key Meetings 

-On Monday, Chief Furgerson and I met to discuss the ISO report, a copy of which is attached for your review. I’m happy to report that our ISO rating remained a 3, which is good for our residents’ insurance rates. We have begun discussions about what steps can be taken to raise our ISO rating to a 2, which would have additional savings for residents resulting in lower insurance rates, but the key driver of improving our rating will be the opening of our Public Safety Training Center, which will allow our firefighters to have “live fire” training exercises. According to Chief Furgerson, that training needs to take place for about a year before we can include it for a possible rating increase.

-On Tuesday, I attended the quarterly meeting of the Circles Big View team. One of the items they discussed was working with the Circles participants on how to address the city council. The group would like to invite some of you to a future meeting to discuss this, as well as discuss how they can get involved in various boards and commissions. As a date for that meeting is finalized, I will send out a notice for any of you to join us.

-On Wednesday morning, I attended the kick-off meeting of the Health Focus Team, which consists of several representatives of local non-profit agencies that have come together to discuss the One Joplin non-profit collaborative effort. You will recall that I serve on the steering team for this endeavor. This week was the kick-off of the three focus areas – health, human services, and poverty/homelessness. Focus team members for each of the three areas are going through team training and development and beginning discussions on how to work together as a non-profit community to affect change.

-To round out the day on Wednesday, I met with the infrastructure team to discuss the integration of FEMA-funded improvement projects to coincide with the CDBG-DR funded projects in the recovery area. FEMA has approved $3 million towards repairs of infrastructure, but to utilize these funds we will need to ask for an extension. Future meeting with HUD/FEMA reps to discuss our plan and timeline for approval.

-On Thursday morning, Neighborhood Services Supervisor Stephen Grindle and I attended the #loveyourcity meeting. An update on this weekend’s Great Day of Service was provided, along with a discussion of other events happening within the community over the next few weeks. As part of the Great Day of Service, a group of volunteers will be working downtown on a number of projects, including sprucing up the flower beds around various parking lots, sweeping up broken glass, etc. There are approximately 20 groups that will be serving in and around the Joplin area this year.

-After that meeting, I had a discussion with Callie Hudson from DJA to give an update on the downtown parking idea. Depending on the process that is used to fill the vacant council seat, if there is a work session that is called to discuss that, I would like to add downtown parking as an item to that work session agenda so we can discuss this as a group. If no work session is held, I would look to have a discussion during the second regular meeting in October.

-On Thursday afternoon, met with neighborhood services staff to talk about ideas and ways to promote the work happening in that division, including an increased presence on our website, ways to get better utilization of the Tool Lending Library, etc.

-Later that afternoon, Director Bolander, Assistant Director Robyn, Director Allgood and I had a conference call with EDA to talk about the closeout of the disaster recovery grant we held in conjunction with the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council. A new staff member at the EDA was brought in to close out the grant, and she had some questions about the recent finding in the audit pertaining to the disaster recovery coordinator position. We will be resending the information they need to close out the grant. There are no other concerns on their end.


-The 2015/16 adopted budget was sent to the printer this week. Again, I’d like to thank you for your time during the budget work sessions. Regarding the priority based budgeting process, I reached out to Jon and Chris earlier this week to discuss next steps. Since they have donated the financial health diagnostic tool, we will continue to work with the CPBB to complete that component of the program, and once the contract is finally approved and signed, we will be working on beginning the program inventories. I anticipate having a call with them in the next couple of weeks to lay out a timeline and process for implementation.

-As I mentioned last week, the Main Street CID was rescheduled and held earlier this week. I’m including the notes from Finance Director Haase, who serves as the ex-officio on the board, for a recap of the meeting: “The South Main CID held their first meeting on September 23, 2015. Three of the five board members were present. The board took action on four resolutions. The first resolution was to elect the officers, adopt the by-laws and designate the custodian of records. The chairman will be Rodney Spriggs, the Vice-Chair will be Steve Wilcox, the Secretary/Treasurer will be Ken Caviness, the Assistant Secretary will be Sherry Spriggs, the Assistant Treasurer will be Deanna Caviness and the Executive Director will be Darrell Gross. The board then passed resolution 2015-02 which sets the election of the additional sales tax for December 8, 2015. If it passes, it will be effective on April 1, 2016. The only affected business at this time is the antique store. Next, the board passed resolution 2015-03, which adopted the budget for the 2015 fiscal year. The budget is zero. The CID fiscal year is the same as the city fiscal year. Last, the board passed resolution 2015-04, which approved the cooperative agreement. The next meeting will be after the CID sales tax election.”

-FD Cancer Awareness month – from Chief Furgerson  “October is cancer awareness month and we typically wear pink shirts in recognition of that month. This year the crews will be wearing black shirts with pink letters and logos. These shirts are being purchased by the firefighters themselves. This has been done the past several years and I wanted you to be aware in case you were asked. I will also be sending an order form tomorrow out all city employees in case any of them wish to purchase the shirts as all proceeds go to a cancer fund the union has established. The shirts will be available in black or pink.”

-This week, the first reimbursement request flagged in the audit report was sent to state for CDBG reimbursement. $2.6 million for the city’s expenditures towards debris removal and demolition. Proceeds will go back to the Transportation Sales Tax fund.

 In the Pipeline

-On October 9th, the Fire Department and the Employee United Way Committee are hosting the first Ham & Bean Feed since prior to 2011. You are invited to attend the event, which will be held at Memorial Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $5 per person, and we will have silent auction items available as well. We will send out a flyer for the event that you are welcome to pass along to others. The committee has issued a call for volunteers to help, so if you think that’s something you may be interested in, please contact me and I can get you additional information.

State audit follow-up: School district is improving

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released a follow-up report to the St. Joseph School District audit, which earned a "poor" rating in February 2015. The follow-up report, which does not include an overall rating, highlights the steps the district has taken to implement audit recommendations.

"St. Joseph School District officials have used the audit process to improve operations and transparency across the district," Galloway said. "Although additional work is necessary, the district has made clear improvements over the past six months and I expect the community will continue to hold the district accountable as it moves forward."

For follow-up reporting purposes, audit findings are prioritized and selected recommendations are evaluated and ranked as implemented, in progress, partially implemented or not implemented.

In the St. Joseph School District follow-up report, 22 out of 40 recommendations were selected for evaluation. At the time of the follow-up review, 10 recommendations were implemented and 12 recommendations were in progress.

The district has made progress toward implementing recommendations to increase transparency and oversight of district compensation, appropriate personal use of district vehicles, and accuracy of vacation leave and pay.

The district has successfully implemented findings related to Missouri Sunshine Law compliance; computer data backup and recovery systems; summer school attendance reporting; board approval for contracts and large purchases; supervision and review of payroll and timesheet activities; and bond proceed and expenditure accounting.

The follow-up review for St. Joseph School District was primarily conducted in June 2015. The information in the report is deemed accurate through that time. A link to the complete follow-up report is available here.

Turner Report exclusive: Follow up on woman, 5 children living in storage shed

In this exclusive Turner Report video, it is revealed that the mother and her five small children are still living in a storage shed in eastern Newton County.

Voices recorded near the end indicate that some of the children will soon be given away. The video also features one of the children having a close encounter with a large dog.

Felony charges filed against Neosho man in hit-and-run case

Felony leaving the scene of an accident charges were filed today against Oren Rea Rinehart, 61, Neosho, in connection with the September 12 hit-and-run death of Matthew Stevens, Neosho.

The Neosho Police Department questioned Rinehart last week in the office of Neosho attorney Charles Ross Rhoades.

"Based on this interview," according to a news release, "Neosho Police have seized a 2001 Ford Escape with extensive front end damage believed to be the vehicle involved in the accident. (The car is shown in the accompanying photo.)

The crime was detailed in an earlier Police Department news release:

At 1:13 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, Neosho officers were dispatched to the area of Highway 59 and Malcom Mosby Drive in reference to a male lying in the middle of the highway. When officers arrived they located a Matthew Brooks Stevens (pictured), age 19, lying in the roadway, and he appeared to have been struck by a vehicle. The suspect vehicle had fled the scene. Paramedics arrived on scene and confirmed Mr. Stevens was dead on arrival.

On September 14 an autopsy was performed on Mr. Stevens at Cox South in Springfield, MO. Results indicated Mr. Stevens had obtained injuries resulting from being hit by a vehicle from behind.

(Note: The Stevens family asked that the photo of the suspect vehicle be circulated in case anyone else has any information about the death.)

Former Carthage/Diamond resident sought on first degree murder charge

An arrest warrant has been issued and bond set at $1 million for a former Carthage and Diamond resident charged with first degree murder in connection with a shooting death Saturday in Wentworth

Clinton Ross Blizzard, 26, is no stranger to southwest Missouri law enforcement. Online court records show that an October 7 pre-trial conference is scheduled in Newton County Circuit Court for Blizzard on felony charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and trafficking in drugs for crimes that allegedly took place July 1.

On the following day, the Highway Patrol arrested Blizzard in Jasper County on misdemeanor charges of driving while revoked and not having any insurance.

The latest charge against Blizzard is detailed in the probable cause warrant, written by Det. Sgt. Chris Berry of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department:

On September 26, 2015, deputy arrived at 14322 Lawrence 1010, Sarcoxie, Lawrence County, Missouri, with a white male who was deceased laying in the yard.

Nathaniel "Steven" Higgins DOB 6-24-1980, was ID as the person who was deceased in the yard.

An interview with Gary Dodson who saw a person known as "Bat Boy" Clinton on the southwest side of the residence located at 14322 Lawrence 1010, Wentworth, Lawrence County Missouri displaying a dark color handgun in an angry and threatening manner toward Steven Higgins as he was leaving in a red car.

Gary Dodson observed Clinton go back into the home and Gary walked in the front yard observing Clinton come out the front door of the residence with the handgun in his hand, walk over to Steven, who was standing in the yard and shoot him two times and go back into the home.

Gary Dodson observed Clinton walk back out of the residence with a backpack, take his shirt off and tell them that he was not dead and "here, use this for the blood" and left the residence southbound on FR 1010.

Lawrence County Coroner pronounced Nathaniel "Steve" Higgins deceased from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Interview was conducted on scene with witness who ID Clinton as Clinton Ross who had been in the Newton County Jail.

The investigation concludes that Clinton Ross is Clinton Ross Blizzard W/M DOB 01/19/1989.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Brunner to make run for governor official October 5

(From the John Brunner campaign committee)

You know me as a manufacturer and CEO, a Marine, a lifelong constitutional conservative, and for my charitable and mission work. It is time to put my lifetime of experiences into action and get Missouri back on the right track. After prayerful consideration, and at the urging from Republicans in every corner of Missouri to bring proven conservative leadership to public office, I am prepared to move forward as a candidate for office in 2016. Missouri will not be reformed and restored to greatness from within by a lifelong politician. We the people of Missouri have a right to a government that is as good and decent as the people it serves.

Now more than ever we need someone to do what is right for the citizens of Missouri, not what's right for a political career. On Monday, October 5th, I will make clear my intentions. We will release the news first to friends, supporters, and Republican activists via text message, prior to releasing the announcement to media. To be the first to hear from me on October 5th, please text "John" to 33733.

Governor candidate Greitens to be in Joplin Monday

(From the Eric Greitens campaign)

Former Navy SEAL and conservative outsider, Eric Greitens, officially announced his entrance into the Republican primary for Missouri Governor Saturday. Greitens launched what he called a mission to move Missouri forward.

Greitens’ message was clear at the announcement rally with hundreds of supporters in attendance. He’s a conservative, he’s a political outsider, he’s a proven leader, and he’s the only person in the Governor’s race that is tough enough to take on the career politicians and corrupt political insiders who currently control Jefferson City.

Greitens said, “I’m running for Governor because we need a political outsider to move Missouri forward. Like you, I’m tired of the career politicians and lobbyists who are ruining our state. I know that, together, we can do better. I look forward to a spirited campaign across Missouri, and I hope to earn your vote.”

Greitens is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment. He believes in low taxes and smaller, less intrusive government. Greitens said his biggest priority as governor is creating more private sector paychecks and bigger private sector paychecks. And pledged to reform Jefferson City by banning gifts for lobbyists, closing the revolving door between the legislature and lobbyists, and subjecting all statewide elected officials to term limits.

Greitens’ announcement in St. Louis kicked off his Mission to Move Missouri Forward Statewide Tour that will take him to every corner of Missouri next week. The full tour schedule is listed below for planning purposes:

Joplin Tour Stop
8:00AM on Monday, September 28th
Granny Shaffer's
2728 N. Range Line Road
Joplin, MO 64801

Springfield Tour Stop
7:00PM on Monday, September 28th
Historic Firehouse No. 2
101 E. Commercial Street
Springfield, MO 65803

Cape Girardeau County Tour Stop
1:00PM on Tuesday, September 29th
Kimbeland CC 2175 E. Jackson Boulevard
Jackson, MO 63755

Washington Tour Stop
9:00AM on Wednesday, September 30th
Rennick Riverfront Park
1 Elbert Drive
Washington, MO 63090

Lee's Summit Tour Stop
2:00PM on Wednesday, September 30th
Chili's Grill and Bar
1688 NW Chipman Road
Lee's Summit, MO 64801

Columbia Tour Stop
6:00PM on Thursday, October 1st
University of Missouri Memorial Student Union
Stotler Lounge
518 Hitt Street
Columbia, MO 65201

Kirksville Tour Stop
10:00AM on Friday, October 2nd
Steve’s Garden Deli
117 W. Washington Street
Kirksville, MO 63501

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Media Watch: Globe, KOAM, KZRG take different approaches to Joplin News

As the five-year anniversary of the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado approaches, it is easy to see that a movement is already underway to cash in once again on the idea that the city of Joplin is a model that other cities which suffer natural disasters should follow.

Much of the thinking behind that idea is on the money. Joplin residents showed a resilience and self-reliance that earned the admiration of the nation and the world. It was also a positive story in that people came by the thousands to this city to do whatever they could do to help in the recovery.

The rebuilding of Joplin, at least as it has been done by those in the private sector, has been nothing short of remarkable.

These are stories that need to be told.

It is the other part of the story, the public part of the recovery, that was made into a mythology, filled with larger than life characters- a Mark Rohr talking about "the miracle of the human spirit," a C. J. Huff saying that school will start on time, a Mike Woolston saying that no tornado was going to kick Joplin's ass. As one by one the heroes of the Joplin Tornado have fallen, brought down in each case through their sense of their own infallibility and their inability to recognize when they have crossed legal and ethical boundaries, those who backed them in their post-tornado misadventures, an unelected group of self-appointed community leaders whose names can be found on the rosters of the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team and the late, unlamented Joplin Progress Committee, have executed a coverup, a whitewashing of history to make it appear that every bad thing that happened in Joplin came courtesy of a Texas conman named David Wallace, who apparently materialized out of nowhere since everyone denies having anything to do with Wallace Bajjali.

The whitewash includes the smearing of the name and reputation of a solid investigator named Thomas Loraine who did the city of Joplin a service that would have been a bargain at double the price. Loraine's report proved conclusively that Mike Woolston had at least crossed ethical boundaries and most likely, legal ones as well. The conduct of Mark Rohr was also brought into question by Loraine, with much of it having to do with the former city manager's relationship with Wallace Bajjali.

Councilman Gary Shaw offered the latest example of the way the powers-that-be in this city have labeled the recently-completed state audit. It's just "an opinion," he said, continuing by saying that Loraine's report was "an opinion" and that people who said Woolston was using his position as a councilman and the "tornado mayor" to benefit himself and his business partner were just offering more opinions.

The cover up has been made possible by the area's newspaper of record, the Joplin Globe. It also criticized the Loraine Report and the audit and for the most part soft-pedaled the worst information that was included.

The Globe used its editorials and its guest columnist Anson Burlingame  to defy logic and make it seem that the unelected elite in Joplin had nothing to do with any of the city's problems.

The Globe has sacrificed all credibility on the altar of "moving forward." We are told it does no good to dwell in the past. We must look forward and by doing so, follow the same people who promised us the yellow brick road and then failed to pave Main Street.

Thankfully, as I point out from time to time, the Joplin Globe is not the only source of news for this city and over the past few months we have seen the problems this city and the Joplin R-8 School District face examined with skeptical, but not cynical, eyes.

A prime example of that has been the solid investigative reporting from KOAM's Jordan Aubey, whose interview with Woolston this week made for riveting television. Aubey used he same tactic that Tom Loraine used so effectively with Woolston. Ask him the questions and give Woolston enough rope to hang himself.

Aubey has done the best reporting on the Woolston situation, just as he did on Wallace Bajjali's departure from Joplin.

KOAM has also done excellent reporting on the Bright Futures USA story, leading the pack with its coverage.

Hanging right in there with KOAM has been KZRG. While the Joplin Globe has not printed one word about Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder's statement that Joplin teachers have been in a "climate of fear," KZRG's Joe Lancello led with the statement.

Lancello and KZRG have also been on top of the Bright Futures USA story.

Anyone who listened to Chad Elliot and Sarah Novotny grill Mayor Michael Seibert on Morning News Watch the day after the Woolston vote was announced heard public service broadcasting at its finest. They went after him on the Sunshine Law violations and the statement clearing Woolston of any wrongdoing. In other words, they asked the questions the public wanted asked and while the answers may not have been to our liking, the mayor was at least forced to go on the record.

Elliott and Novotny also asked the questions that needed to be asked of Bright Furures USA board member Mark Quinn when they interviewed him Monday.

The idea that the kind of reporting that has been done by KOAM, KZRG, and the Turner Report damages Joplin is ridiculous. The idea that the public has the right to know what is going on with its tax money (and despite its not-for-profit status, Bright Futures USA is primarily supported by tax money) is not a radical one.

Open government does not damage a community. Attempts by the Joplin Globe and some of the city's unelected elite to hide or sugarcoat the truth only increase the probability that we will have more such scandals in the future.


With everything that has been going on with Joplin city government and with the Joplin R-8 School District, it should be easy for an enterprising newspaper to rack up awards for investigative reporting, and coverage of government.

The Joplin Globe received 14 awards in the recent Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest- and not one of them came through its coverage of the events that have been taking place in the city and the school district.

The Globe had one first place award, which went to veteran reporters Debby Woodin and Susan Redden for Best Reporting Based on a Public Notice. Perhaps that one was based on a city of Joplin, or school district story. I don't know for sure. I had never heard of this award.

Other awards included the following
-Honorable mention- Best Front Page
-Honorable mention- Jim Henry, Best Sports Columnist
-Honorable mention- Emily Younker, Best Feature Story
-Second place- Wally Kennedy, Best Business Story
-Second place- Andra Stefanoni, Best Story About the Outdoors
-Second place- Emily Younker, Best Story About Rural Life and Agriculture
-Third place- Laurie Sisk, Best Sports Feature Photograph
-Third place- Wally Kennedy, Best Coverage of Rural Life and Agriculture
-Andy Ostmeyer, Community Service
-Third place- Carol Stark, Best Columnist
-Third place, Andra Stefanoni, Best News or Feature Obituary
-Third place- Andra Stefanoni, Best Story About History
-Third place- Joplin Globe, General Excellence

Congratulations to Monett Times and Cassville Democrat Publisher Jacob Brower, a Missouri Southern State University graduate, whose newspapers dominated in the small daily and weekly categories in the Missouri Press Association contest.

The Cassville Democrat won the Gold Cup and The Monett Times won General Excellence at the Missouri Press Association’s annual convention Saturday.

The newspapers combined to win 64 honors, with The Times winning 35 and the Democrat winning 29. 

The Gold Cup is awarded to the small weekly newspaper that scores the most cumulative points in individual categories. Full print editions of The Monett Times were judged by out-of-state journalists against other Missouri small dailies, leading to the General Excellence honor.

Jacob Brower, a 2004 Missouri Southern alumnus, is the publisher of both newspapers, owned by Cape Girardeau-based Rust Communications. 

The Times earned eight first-place awards, 11 second-place honors, 10 third-place awards and six honorable mentions. The Democrat had six first-place awards, seven second-place honors, 12 third-place awards and three honorable mentions.

This is believed to be the first time in either newspaper’s history that the Times or Democrat have won the Gold Cup or General Excellence.

The Monett Times’ first place awards:
• Best feature photo, Melonie Roberts
• Best coverage of government, Roberts and Kyle Troutman
• Best story about the outdoors, Murray Bishoff
• Best news or feature obituary, Roberts
• Best story about rural life or agriculture, Roberts
• Best front page
• Best overall design

Cassville Democrat first place awards:
• Best serious columnist - Troutman
• Best investigative reporting - Troutman
• Best story about the outdoors - Troutman
• Best sports feature story - Jared Lankford
• Best feature photo - Troutman
• Best photo package - Troutman

The Monett Times’ second-place awards:
• Sports feature photograph, Troutman
• Columnist - humorous, Bishoff
• Investigative reporting, Bishoff
• Sports feature story, Lankford
• Story about education, Bishoff
• News or feature obituary, Bishoff
• Reporting based on a public notice, Bishoff
• Feature story, Bishoff
• Sports columnist, Lankford
• Story about history, Bishoff
• Local business coverage

Cassville Democrat second-place awards:
• Coverage of government, Troutman
• Sports feature photograph, Troutman
• Headline writing
• Opinion pages
• Investigative reporting, Troutman
• Story about the outdoors, Troutman
• Story about education

The Monett Times third-place awards:
• Feature photo, Roberts
• Investigative reporting, Bishoff
• Coverage of government, Bishoff
• Serious columnist, Bishoff
• News or feature obituary, Bishoff
• Story about rural life or agriculture, Roberts
• Feature story, Roberts
• Headline writing
• Military story, Bishoff
• Page design

Cassville Democrat third-place awards:
• Information graphic, Brower
• Business story
• Coverage of government, Troutman
• Website
• Investigative reporting, Troutman
• News story, Troutman
• Story about the outdoors
• Coverage of rural life or agriculture
• Reporting based on a public notice
• Sports pages
• Page design, Christopher Vore
• Overall design

The Monett Times’ honorable mention awards:
• News story, Bishoff
• Investigative reporting, Roberts and Lankford
• Story about religion, Bishoff
• Opinion pages
• Military story, Roberts
• Story about history, Bishoff

Cassville Democrat honorable mention awards:
• Sports feature photograph, Lankford
• Story about history
• Story about rural life or agriculture

Another journalist with local connections who fared quite well in the MPA Contest was Jefferson City News Tribute and California Democrat reporter Michelle Brooks, a Lockwood High School graduate, whose first reporting job was covering Lockwood sports for me at the Carthage Press when she was in high school. Over the past two decades, she has developed a reputation as one of the state's best feature writers.

I tried numerous times during my last few years in newspapers to lure her to Carthage after her early successes at newspapers in Monroe City and Kennett, but it never worked out

Brooks earned two first place awards, for Best Story About History and Best Story About Religion, as well as a third place  for best news or feature series for her work at the weekly California newspaper.

At the News Tribune, she received third place honors for best feature story and best news feature or series, and an honorable mention for community service.


MSSU graduate and former Neosho Daily News sports editor Cody Thorn, who now holds that same post with the St. Joseph News Press, received third place for best sports news story or feature. Thorn is a Carl Junction native.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Schaefer: I said we would get MU out of abortion business and we did

(From the campaign committee of Attorney General candidate Kurt Schafer, R-Columbia)

Scoring a major victory for the innocent unborn as well as defenders of life throughout Missouri, State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) announced today that the University of Missouri notified him that they will withdraw the physician privileges that made possible the licensure of the Columbia Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

“From day one when we learned of this scandal, I vowed that we would ‘get MU out of the abortion business,’” Schaefer said. “Thanks to the persistence of our investigation and the public pressure applied by many defenders of life, we achieved that outcome and many unborn lives will hopefully be saved as a result.”

It was learned through investigations conducted by the Senate Committee on the Sanctity of Life, which Schaefer chairs, and concurrent House committee proceedings that state officials relied upon the privileges granted by the University to the abortion doctor in licensing the clinic, creating a potential violation of state statutes banning the use of taxpayer funds to promote abortion services.

“Through the course of our investigation, startling facts came to light, our committee dug deeper, and the public made their voices heard,” Schaefer noted. “This joyous outcome is proof positive that these committee investigations matter and the result will have eternal significance.”

Senator Schaefer stressed that though the University-related issues have now been addressed, the Committee on the Sanctity of Life’s investigation will continue and that many unanswered questions relating to Planned Parenthood facilities in St. Louis and Columbia remain.

Americans for Prosperity targets.St. Charles Democrat in new ad

Expect this to be the first of many advertisements paid for by the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity group against those who voted to uphold Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of so-called right-to-work legislation.

The target in the ad is Rep. Kathie Conway, D-St. Charles.

Reportedly, Republicans who joined the Democrats to uphold the veto will also be targeted. The following news release is from Americans for Prosperity Missouri.

Beginning on Monday, September 28, 2015 Missourians who live in the St. Louis area can expect to see new TV ads calling on Rep. Conway to support Right-to-Work. The spot points out the fact that Representative Conway did not represent her district and instead voted for special interests by protecting union bosses. The TV ad buy will be supported with radio, print and digital advertising, as well as mailers sent to her constituents.

St. Louis Democrat offers rundown of veto session

(From Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis)

As you can imagine, we had lots of drama leading up to last week's session, particularly the effort to override the Governor's veto on Right to Work, HB116. I voted NO on every veto override attempt.

Different from regular session, a total of House 109 votes & 23 Senate votes (2/3 majority) were necessary to override any governor vetoes.

Most of us were curious to the tenor of new Speaker Todd Richardson. Would he recognize Democrats to speak? Would he allow debate of every representative at the mike? How would he handle potential outbursts? Would he set a different tone from that of former disgraced speaker John Diehl?

The House gallery on all three sides were completely filled with working men and women from all over the state - anxious for the HB116 vote, knowing that their own labor jobs in Missouri were at stake. I will never forget the gallery erupting in thunderous applause and cheering after the two hour long debate when the majority party failed in their attempt to restrict worker's rights. See a full list of Veto Actions below.

BREAKING NEWS LAST NIGHT:  The Planned Parenthood "Witch Hunt" at full throttle
The University of Missouri Health Care System announced they were discontinuing normal hospital physician's privileges, targetting Columbia's only abortion provider.  This is against federal law and will be challenged in court.
Bucking under pressure from GOP State Sen. Kurt Schaefer's attacks, Chief Medical Officer Stevan Whitt said in response: 
“It is time to just get better and get rid of crummy doctors, get rid of doctors who are not going to take us into the future."
GOP Rep. TJ Berry of the KC area) voted present).  One DEM voted FOR the override, Rep. Courtney Curtis (D-Berkeley)
 However, we are being warned by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and other GOP leaders that retaliation is imminent for every GOP member who voted with labor.  We fully expect this will remain a huge issue in the 2016 state elections and possibly back next session.
HB 799 sought to authorize court fees or expand existing fees in certain judicial circuits to raise money for local capital projects. Our courts exist to administer justice, not to generate revenue that should instead come from local taxes approved by local voters.
By allowing a maximum of 20 weeks of unemployment benefits, Missouri in recent years has been just one of eight states that cap maximum benefits at less than 20 weeks. Thanks to Republicans, Missouri benefits are about to be slashed to as low as 13 weeks. Maybe.
Because the governor vetoed the unemployment bill (HB 150) prior to last five days of the regular legislative session, under the constitution any veto override attempt likely should have taken place during regular session.
While the House voted to override within the constitutional window for doing so in May, the Senate took no action at that time. Although the Senate overrode the veto last week on a straight party-line vote, the validity of that action is highly suspect.
Since the General Assembly has never attempted a veto override that procedurally straddles two legislative sessions – mostly because it previously hadn’t been considered to be allowed – the Missouri Supreme Court has never ruled on the matter.  However, it likely will soon get its chance as a lawsuit is expected to be filed in the coming weeks.
Democrats Keith English (Florissant), Alan Green (Florissant) and Ben Harris (Hillsboro) voted YES with the majority.  Republican Jeff Pogue (Salem) voted NO with the Democrats. 
SB 224 excludes certain Missouri children from receiving community college scholarships under the A+ Schools program, even though they have otherwise earned it. Excluded students are those who were born in another country but brought to Missouri as children through no action or choice of their own, yet have been granted legal status through presidential executive order.
SB 224 punishes innocent students who have done nothing wrong. We should reward all Missouri students for their academic achievements. This legislation is motivated by pure meanness and anti-immigrant hysteria and serves no legitimate public policy purpose. 
6 Democrats voted YES, 8 Republicans voted NO. Democrat Alan Green (Florissant) voted present.
The override of HB 878 grants the powers typically reserved for law enforcement officers to make arrests, conduct searches and seize property to licensed private corporate security officers.
Unlike local police and county sheriffs and their deputies, whose authority is limited by their jurisdictions, these private corporate security officers will have the authority to exercise their new powers anywhere in the state without limitation. HB 878 essentially allows companies to create their own private police forces with all the power of traditional law enforcement officers but none of the accountability. 
At a time when many Missourians are concerned with constitutional abuses by traditional law enforcement agencies, granting massive police powers to employees of private companies with virtually no oversight could make a bad problem far worse.
The override of HB 722 strips Missouri cities of local control and substitutes the wishes of Republican majority to those of local voters and elected officials.Missouri’s municipalities are vastly different in terms of population, demographics, geography and countless other categories. Imposing one-size fits all rules on all Missouri cities ignores the reality of these differences.
HB 722 is an unwarranted state intrusion into local affairs and hamstrings the ability of local voters and elected officials to respond to local needs.
HOUSE VOTED 110-46 (3 GOP voted NO); SENATE VOTED 28-4
The override of SB 20 will provide special tax breaks to commercial laundries and cost state an local governments a combined $4 million in lost tax revenue. The bill overrules 25 years of Missouri Supreme Court decisions holding commercial laundries aren’t manufacturers and, therefore, aren’t entitled to tax exemptions granted to manufacturers on the purchase of raw materials, machinery and energy used in the production process.
With the state struggling to fund basic services, the legislature shouldn’t provide special interest tax breaks that yield no economic benefit for the state.
Allows additional medical professionals authority to sign death certificates with blanket civil immunity.
Provides insurance companies cover to not disclose details of their refund policies.
Allows out of state trust companies more favorable rules than in-state ones.
Bill contained drafting errors referencing non-existent federal law.
Allows lenders to charge Missourians more in fees.