Friday, July 31, 2015

Reception planned for Dr. Norm Ridder

(From Joplin Schools)


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Representative pleads guilty to DWI charge, blames Nixon

Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, pleaded guilty today in Boone County Circuit Court to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated.

Hinson said the plea was the best option he had out of three presented to him by Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Todd Richardson.

He blamed Gov. Nixon's administration and publicity from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for his guilty plea.

From the Columbia Tribune:

He waived formal arraignment and pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge filed Wednesday. Sodergren accepted the deal struck between Hinson’s attorney and Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson to pay a fine of $500 plus court costs.

“He gave me basically three options, and that was the best of the three evils,” Hinson said of Richardson. He did not say what the other possible charges being discussed were.

“The other options were worse,” Hinson said. “You had people from the administration that was pushing for the worse options.”

The accident came to light July 20 when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained a copy of the accident report. “Once that came out, there was a whole lot of pressure put on to do something,” Hinson said.

Joplin man bound over for trial on murder charge

Stephen Thompson, 56, Joplin, waived his preliminary hearing today and was bound over for trial on charges of first degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action and domestic assault, in connection with the June 10 killing of a woman who lived at his home and the shooting of his wife.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 9 a.m. August 24.

The crime was described in this Joplin Police Department news release:

On June 10, 2015, at 1227 the Joplin Police Department responded to a report of shots fired at 4223 West 26th Place. An adult male suspect submitted to officers upon their arrival. He was arrested without incident. Officers ascertained that the crime scene includes 4215 W. 26th Place as well as 4223 West 26th Place. An adult female victim was found deceased and another adult female victim was transported by ambulance to Freeman Hospital.

Stephen R. Thompson has been formally charged with the following; Murder 1st Degree, Armed Criminal Action (two counts), and Domestic Assault - 1st Degree- with Serious Physical Injury. Thompson’s bond amount is $1,000,000.00.

Victim #1 is identified as Carissa L. Girard, 38, 4215 West 26th Place. Carissa was found to be deceased upon the arrival of officers.

Victim #2 is identified as Kristina S. Thompson, 38, 4215 West 26th Place. Kristina was transported by ambulance to Freeman Hospital and continues to receive medical treatment.

Hearing for legislative aide charged with choking woman rescheduled

A case review hearing for a former Joplin man charged with domestic assault, originally scheduled for Wednesday, has been rescheduled to August 28 in Boone County Circuit Court.

Kolton M. Babb, 22, who has been suspended from his job as the legislative aide to Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, is free on $10,000 cash bond after being charged with felony domestic assault after allegedly placing a rag soaked with chemicals in a woman's mouth and choking her until she passed out

Babb, who now lives in Columbia, formerly lived in Joplin and attended College Heights Christian School and Missouri Southern State University.

Hearing set for former Webb City teacher on sex charge

A possible plea hearing for former Webb City High School vocal music teacher Carrie Njoroge is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

The hearing has been postponed on three occasions. If Njoroge does not enter a guilty plea, motions will be heard and the case will proceed toward an October 5 trial date.

Njoroge is represented by Springfield attorney Dee Wampler.

The probable cause statement says Njoroge is being charged with an after-hours sex act with an 18-year-old high school student that allegedly took place Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in her office at the school.

Trial date set for lawsuit against. C. J. Huff, Eggleston

When Norm Ridder was introduced as Joplin R-8 interim superintendent last week, it was made clear that the $50,000 consulting fee that was part of his predecessor's severance package would not have C. J. Huff offering any sage advice to Ridder.

Huff was being kept on retainer, so to speak, to be able to offer information regarding the lawsuits that he and his administrative team have brought to the district (including some, I am hearing, that have yet to be filed).

A September 16, 2016 trial date has been scheduled in federal court in Springfield for one of those lawsuits, filed by Jane Doe on behalf of her children following a May 8 North Middle School field trip to Victory Ministries.

The jury trial is expected to last four days. A pre-trial conference is scheduled for September 1, 2016, and the deadline for any settlement is September 12, 2016.

The lawsuit claims the older child was "exposed to defendants' promotion and endorsement of religion" and "felt coerced by the school to participate in religious activity and has been made to feel like an outsider and unwelcome in the school district." The younger child will be a student at North, the lawsuit says, and the parent does not want any further such activity to be sponsored by the district.

The situation that brought about the lawsuit was explained as follows:

On or about May 8, 2015, a class field trip of students from North Middle was taken, during regular school hours, to a facility owned and operated by a Christian ministry. The facility in question is known as Victory Ministries and Sports Complex, and is located in Joplin, Missouri.

Victory Ministries and Sports Complex (hereinafter “Victory”) is a Christian facility that operates for three stated purposes that are expressed on its web site: “Exalt Jesus,” and “Expand the Kingdom of God,” and “Equip the Body of Christ.”

The same web page states Victory’s goals, which include: “Keep Jesus central in everything we do,” and “Have God-honoring entertainment,” and other religious goals. Christian imagery is prominent at the Victory facility. Most, if not all signs that include the “Victory” name at the facility utilize a Christian cross as the “t” in the word “Victory.”

A large banner that exalts Jesus is visible at the Victory gym. The banner, which states “Jesus is worthy of it all!” is placed high on the wall of the gym, above approximately ten other banners, many of which also contain religious messages. One banner, for example, reads “ Worship” whereas another states: “Hope. The confident expectation that what God has promised is true.”

Prior to the field trip, permission slips were sent home to parents for the school field trip to Victory. Doechild I was given a permission slip for Plaintiff Jane Doe to sign. The permission slip for parents to sign in order to allow students to attend the field trip expressly stated that parents understand that their children may be invited to Bible studies and local churches while at Victory. The same permission slip, in paragraph number 6, required parents to allow their child to participate in “worship services, Bible studies or any other activities that may pertain to the Christian faith.”
On May 5, 2015, an email was sent by American Humanist Association (“AHA”), a Washington, D.C. nonprofit organization, to Defendants Huff and Eggleston warning them that a North Middle School parent had raised concerns about the planned field trip and pointing out that the trip would violate the Establishment Clause. That same day, Defendant Huff responded to AHA’s email with an email of his own denying that the trip violated the Establishment Clause but admitting that the permission slip was inappropriately worded.

Also that same day, in response to Defendant Huff’s email, the AHA sent a second email to Defendants, drawing specific attention to the religious nature of the Victory operation and warning that the field trip would result in litigation.

Defendants did not respond to said email, and in fact, the trip was conducted on or about May 8. Doechild I did not participate in the field trip, which was conducted during an ordinary school day. Plaintiff Jane Doe, faced with the choice of an unconstitutional field trip or no school for her child for the day, kept Doechild I out of school. As such, Doechild I was denied a full day of academics due to Defendants’ actions. If Doechild I had participated in the field trip, Doechild I would have been exposed to Christian messages that directly contradict the religious beliefs of Plaintiff Jane Doe and Doechild I.

The field trip has given the impression to a reasonable observer that the public school endorses Christianity. Doechild I was put in the position of having to choose to attend a religious school-sponsored event or forgo participation entirely. Public school resources, including paid personnel time and other resources, which were paid for by tax monies, were expended in planning and conducting the field trip to Victory.


The lawsuit asks for a permanent injunction against any further trips to Victory Sports Complex or any other religious-based venues, a judgment that Huff and Eggleston have violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and damages and punitive damages against Huff and Eggleston for violating the children's constitutional rights.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs are Arthur Benson & Associates of Kansas City.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Joplin Globe misses the point with R-8 Board meeting coverage

You certainly cannot argue with the placement of the Joplin R-8 Board of Education coverage in today's Joplin Globe print edition.

The article was planted firmly in the upper right hand corner of page one, the place studies show is the destination the eye first settles on when it looks at a newspaper.

The placement was right, but continuing the practice the Globe has followed with its coverage the past few years of both the Joplin R-8 School District and the City of Joplin, the newspaper missed the story.

Certainly, the decision to proceed with the early childhood center was an important story, but to those who attended the meeting in person or followed Jet HD's coverage on YouTube, the district website, or the Turner Report, the big news that came out of Tuesday night's meeting was Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder's assessment of the district following his first week on the job.

Ridder described the system as "sick," said it would take more work to get it into shape than he had anticipated, and talked about a district that needed to take a focused approach and instead of heading in all different directions.

"Everybody's working hard, but not smart," Ridder said.

It was a firm indictment of the mess Ridder's predecessor C. J. Huff  made of the district, both with his concentration on Bright Futures and gimmicks to increase the graduation rate and his inexplicable decision to surround himself with people who were not qualified to hold the positions they were holding.

Ridder said he would be talking with teachers, students, and taxpayers and coming to the board with a one-page, focused strategic plan.

This is what the Joplin Globe said about Ridder's statement:

Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder, in his first Joplin board meeting, said he has been studying the board and the school district since his arrival on July 20, and he will report back with his analysis and findings by October 1. He said that after the first of the year, perhaps by March, he will present a one-page strategic plan for the district that will be "really focused."

No mention of any of Ridder's on-the-money comments about the disarray that he has inherited.

And who can blame the Globe for not reporting on it? The area's newspaper of record has not been reporting on any of the problems in the school district for years, why should it start now?

It has to be embarrassing for Globe reporters to have to leave out important parts of the story because they do not fit in with the narrative the newspaper has been feeding its readers.

From everything I am hearing, R-8 teachers were ecstatic to hear Ridder say that he thinks the same things they have been thinking, but dared not say, for the past few years.

No, a functioning board, which finally got rid of the poison that had infected this district for the past seven years, is not the story the Globe has been pushing. A board that is discussing issues and making decisions in a professional manner without the prima donna antics of C. J. Huff, does not fit in with the Globe's warped version of reality.

It makes it hard to offer solid coverage, when the truth is at odds with the story the Globe has been selling this community ever since the tornado.

The newspaper faces a crisis sometime in the next few weeks when the Missouri State Auditor's office releases its report on the City of Joplin. How will the Globe be able to sell itself as a community watchdog when it had the story about Councilman Mike Woolston's property dealings in the tornado area and never printed a word?

I certainly would not want to be in the situation that faces Editor Carol Stark.

When the story of these times in Joplin is written, it will be a toss up on whether the biggest con artists were Wallace and Bajjali or the Joplin Globe.




State representative/school board member charged with DWI

A 1:30 p.m. Thursday arraignment is scheduled in Cole County Circuit Court for Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, on a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated.

The alleged drunk driving incident took place February 2, but only recently came to light when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote about it in its July 20 edition:

The Post-Dispatch obtained the Feb. 2 police report from the Department of Public Safety under the Sunshine Law.

The night of the accident, Hinson said he was leaving the Missouri House parking garage when his car slid into what he thought was the curb.

"The roads were freezing and slick," he said. Hinson added that he had one alcoholic beverage that night with dinner.

Later, he realized his bumper must have hit the bumper of a parked vehicle, he said. He waited until the next morning to report it to Capitol Police.

"I figured it was no big deal" to wait until morning, he said. "I figured I'd get my car taken care of and then let them know what happened."

Hinson, who is serving his third term in the House and is also serving his third term on the St. Clair Board of Education,

Suicide victim's mother files lawsuit against Carthage Police Department

The mother of a city jail inmate who committed suicide filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Carthage Police Department, the City of Carthage, Police Chief Greg Dagnan, and six officers.

In the lawsuit, which was filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Patricia Roderique claims that the police department did not provide "adequate and proper treatment" for her son Charles Roderique's medical and psychiatric conditions and acted "with deliberate indifference."

Because of that indifference, the petition says, "Mr. Roderique experienced extensive pain and suffering and died a horrible and painful death."

The officers named in the lawsuit are Stacy Mitchell, Ben Vogt, Roy Eppard, Jordan Macy, Jeffrey Pinnell and an unidentified John Doe.

The events surrounding Charles Roderique's death were spelled out in the petition:

On August 3, 2013, at approximately 2:36 p.m., in full view of a video surveillance camera, Decedent twisted a bedsheet into a rope and sat on the lower bunk in his cell holding the sheet. 

Decedent then became visibly and obviously upset, began crying, and bowed his head in prayer before eventually securing one end of the bed sheet to the top bunk and putting the other end of the bedsheet around his neck. 

After removing and retying the bedsheet around his neck several times, the Defendant ultimately set his full weight on the noose after which point his body convulsed and continued to convulse until at least 2:56 p.m.

Although the incident was displayed on the video monitors as it unfolded, Defendant Mitchell willfully and recklessly failed to perform her ministerial duty to monitor Decedent by looking at the video monitor and/or took no action to alert others of Decedent’s behavior and obvious and imminent risk of serious physical harm or death or to otherwise intervene to assist Decedent.

At or around 2:54 p.m., Defendant Mitchell left her post in the dispatch area and went on a break, leaving Defendant Vogt to act as her replacement. While covering for Defendant Mitchell, Defendant Vogt failed to perform his ministerial duty of watching the display monitor, and instead sat talking with Defendant Macy, who was eating his lunch in the dispatch area. 

At or after 3:11 p.m., Defendant Mitchell returned to the dispatch area and viewed the monitor which showed Decedent hanging in his cell, after which point Defendant Mitchell advised Defendants Eppard and Macy as to Decedent’s condition. 

At or after approximately 3:11 p.m., an officer or other jail employee whose identity cannot be presently determined, opened the door to Decedent’s cell and looked inside the cell. The officer made no attempt to ascertain Decedent’s condition, render aid to Decedent, or untie the sheet around Decedent’s neck, but instead left without entering the cell. Thereafter, Defendants Eppard and Macy entered Decedent’s jail cell and saw Decedent suspended from the top bunk with the sheet around his neck. 

Defendants Eppard and Macy made no attempt to ascertain Decedent’s condition, render aid to Decedent, or untie the sheet around Decedent’s neck, but instead simply left the jail cell. The foregoing acts of Defendants delayed and interfered with the timely provision of aid to Decedent. Decedent was allowed to remain hanging in his cell until two firefighters eventually arrived, ordered that the sheet be cut, and began applying CPR to the Decedent. 

Decedent was transported to Mercy McCune Brooks Hospital with a pulse. He was stabilized and survived going in and out of a stable condition, before ultimately dying on August 5, 2015 at Freeman Hospital. It was later discovered that Decedent had only tied the sheet in a “half-knot” that could have been easily removed by the officers.

The two-count suit alleges wrongful death and negligence and asks for general and punitive damages. Roderique is requesting a jury trial. She is represented by attorney Jose M. Bautista of Bautista Allen in Kansas City.

Charles Roderique, 26, Joplin, was being held in the Carthage Jail on charges of driving while intoxicated, careless and imprudent driving, driving while suspended, and a Joplin warrant for failure to appear.

In the August 6, 2013 Carthage Press, Dagnan made the following statement concerning Roderique's death:

Obviously it's very upsetting when something like this happens in our jail. In each incident, we fully investigated the causes, reasons and if anything can be done differently, and in both these cases we had to chalk it up to sometimes these things happen. After each incident we've modified and changed our procedures a little bit to take every possible precaution.

Pineville man sentenced to 30 years on child porn charge

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

A Pineville, Mo., man who is a registered sex offender was sentenced in federal court today for producing child pornography.

Jeremy Wayne Law, 31, of Pineville, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 30 years in federal prison without parole.

On March 25, 2015, Law pleaded guilty to attempting to use a minor to produce child pornography. Law, who has three previous sex convictions, is a registered sex offender.

Law admitted that he communicated via text messages with a 16-year-old female, identified as “T.C.,” who resided in New York. Investigators found pornographic images and videos of T.C. on Law’s computer. Law also admitted that he had twice engaged in sexual intercourse with T.C. in a vehicle and that he had sent her an image of his genitalia.

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 Northwest Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the McDonald County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Hamburg, N.Y., Police Department.

Ten Springfield residents indicted in meth conspiracy

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

Ten Springfield, Mo., area residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a now 29-defendant conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Greene, Polk, Christian, Jasper, Laclede and Webster counties.

Kenneth A. Hoffman, 45, David L. Miller, Jr., 39, Jeffrey L. Hatch, 46, Gregory L. “Pops” Jones, 50, David A. Floyd, 40, Jeffrey M. Gardner, 33, Corey A. Stienbarger, 26, and Brandon W. Malen, 25, all of Springfield, Heather L. Courtois, 31, of Republic, Mo., and Brandon A. House, 32, of Ash Grove, Mo., were charged in a 66-count second superseding indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. This second superseding indictment replaces an April 2, 2015, federal indictment and adds these 10 defendants to the 19 defendants previously charged as well as additional charges.

Kenneth R. Friend, 44, Anthony J. Van Pelt, 36, Anthony M. Massoni, 41, Melody W. Carpenter, 32, Bonnie L. Amodio, 29, Donette C. Davis, 41, Justin D. Owens, 28, and Neil L. Manning, 47, all of Springfield; Kenna M. Harmon, 36, of Republic, Mo.; Anthony A. Hatfield, 31, of Nixa, Mo.; Joseph R. Allen, 41, of Half Way, Mo.; Tiffany A. Brawley, 26, of Phillipsburg, Mo.; Carlos Tapia, 40, of Lee’s Summit, Mo.; Eric M. McClanahan, 35, of Kansas City, Kan.; Cheryl D. Paluczak, 48, of St. Charles, Mo.; Nelson Olmeda, also known as “Diego,” 25, of Rosenberg, Texas; Robert A. Edson, 32, of Richmond, Texas; Robert Canales, 32, of Houston, Texas; and Clayton J. Mendes, 34, address unknown, were charged in the previous indictment. McClanahan and Carpenter have pleaded guilty and are therefore omitted from the second superseding indictment returned today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Winners and losers from tonight's Board of Education meeting

A few winners and losers from tonight's Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting:

WINNERS

Flies- Despite Board President Jeff Koch and Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder's efforts at making the Olympic Synchronized SWAT team, no flies were injured during the making of this meeting. (There was a lot of buzz surrounding the meeting)

Norm Ridder- The folks at Mehlville where Norm Ridder was interim superintendent last year praised Ridder for telling the truth without sugarcoating it. That quality was on display tonight as he quickly and succinctly related some of the problems he had seen during his first week in charge. After seven years of celebrations, half-truths, and occasional baldfaced lies (to use one of former Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr's favorite expressions), hearing the plain truth spoken was refreshing.

Debbie Fort- When Ridder said that part of the problems with the system were due to the tornado, but that it was not a major factor, it reminded me of Fort's comment during the 2014 board forum, when she said she was sick of blaming everything on the tornado. We have all been sick of that and it looks like we may start putting the tornado in our past instead of continually wallowing in it. (Perhaps I shouldn't have written that since Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud is all about the tornado and John Hacker and I are working on a book for next year and the five-year anniversary.)

Teachers- Judging from Ridder's statements tonight, it appears teachers' needs will be considered instead of those of the never-ending stream of executive directors and learning/teaching coaches and their high-priced, con artist consultants. Another refreshing change.

Board of Education- The board had a smooth, professional meeting. People may not agree with everything the board decided, but the people's business was no longer relegated to being a sideshow.

Randy Turner- During a break in the meeting, Ridder introduced himself to KZRG's Joe Lancello and me. When he heard my name, he did not even reach for a cross.

Viewers on JET HD, YouTube, and the Turner Report- After the recent four and a half hour board meetings, from the time the official meeting started until its conclusion was 53 minutes. Ridder kept his promise of keeping meetings to 90 minutes or less.

Taxpayers- Ridder promised transparency and one of the first things he is going to do is to have all salaries posted on the district website. That's a good first step.

LOSERS

C. J. Huff- As a result of his severance agreement with the district, board members cannot say anything bad about the former superintendent (fortunately, I am willing to step into the breach), but if you take Norm Ridder's assessment of the district's problems as gospel, Huff's single-minded, self-centered, narcissistic time in charge, especially after he was anointed as the "hero" of the Joplin Tornado, has left this district in a mess, one that Ridder noted "is going to take longer than I initially thought" to get back into shape.

Tina Smith- That must have been some salary committee she and board member Lynda Banwart were on since we discovered tonight that there is no salary schedule for administrators. That makes me wonder other things. How did the committee decide if administrators were making above market value. Did they call other school districts to find out what their executive directors are making? And how about those teaching/learning coaches? Did they call the CIA to find out how much they are paid? (Or is it top secret?) The one I want to know is who they called to find out how much the market will bear for highly unqualified chief operations officers. I wonder if they were in touch with area school districts to check on how much to pay events coordinators or Bright Futures directors.

Day Care Operators- The district's decision to move full speed ahead on building an early childhood center is going to result in considerable damage to Joplin's day care operators.

Mike Landis and Randy Steele- Who needs them?
***
Find out what the Joplin Globe has not been telling you about the Joplin R-8 School District and the City of Joplin. Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado, is available locally at Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage. The book is also available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.com.

Norm Ridder after first week: This system is sick

After one week in charge of the Joplin R-8 School District, Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder is already seeing that the problems are far worse than he had originally anticipated.

In a brief statement at the beginning of tonight's R-8 Board of Education meeting, Ridder confirmed what critics of the C. J. Huff regime and the former Board of Education have been saying for the past few years.

"Your system needs a lot of work," Ridder said, "lots of it.

"The system is sick."

In eight short days at the helm, Ridder has discovered that he cannot find reliable data within the school district. The data from one department does not match with the date from another department. "The only data that is solid is DESE's (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education data. I guarantee you we'll get that straightened out quickly."

The district is riddled with far too many initiatives and is heading off in all different directions, Ridder noted. The interim superintendent will be talking with people in all departments, including teachers, classified staff, and the public.

Ridder promised to have a thorough analysis by October 1 and a plan that will be put into effect after the first of the year and it will not be one of those thousand page volumes that sit on the shelf gathering dust.

"I'll come to you with a one-page strategic plan for this district. It's going to be really focused.

"You have way too many things going on."

The focus of the plan, Ridder said, will be to support teachers in their jobs and students with taking charge of their learning. "The system needs to support the teachers in a very strong way."

Ridder closed the statement by noting, "It's going to take longer than I initially thought."
***
The book that started the process that led to Norm Ridder being hired as interim superintendent is available in paperback locally at Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin, and at Pat's Books in Carthage. It is also available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.com.

Watch the Joplin Board of Education meeting live tonight

The first Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting with Interim Superintendent Dr. Norm Ridder is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. today. You can watch it live on this post.

Doesn't anybody want to talk to the Joplin Globe?

For the dwindling number who continue to read the Joplin Globe, one thing that continues to amuse is the Globe's increasing lack of success at getting people to talk to its reporters, especially when it comes to articles dealing with the Joplin R-8 School District or with Joplin city government.

The newspaper's problems were on display again in an article  about Joplin businessman Jon Buck's decision to withdraw from the legal actions against the R-8 Board of Education.

Buck didn't talk to them, which led to this fascinating paragraph from reporter Emily Younker:

Buck told the Globe by telephone on Monday morning that he was unable to talk at that time but suggested an interview after lunch; attempts to reach him later in the day were unsuccessful.

The lawyer for Buck and the two other plaintiffs in the case, Joshua Bard and Jamie Johnson, also refused to comment.

Last week, the Globe made a big deal out of R-8 Board member Debbie Fort's not returning calls or giving the newspaper quotes. It happened about a dozen times, the reporter (or more likely the editor who forced the reporter to add that tidbit of information) said.

It appears that the only people who are talking to the Globe are those who are aligned with the side the Globe has been supporting, both in its editorials and in its news articles.

My book, Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, details the Globe's efforts to fight former City Manager Mark Rohr's battles for him, leading the charge against Councilman Bill Scearce with allegations concerning a bookie operation from two decades earlier. When investigator Tom Loraine cleared Scearce and found considerable evidence against Councilman Mike Woolston concerning the sale of property in the tornado area, the Globe soft pedaled both findings, as well as Loraine's recommendation to get rid of master developer Wallace-Bajjali immediately.

The Globe's attacks on those who voted to fire Mark Rohr continued, including a page one story, seven months after the incident occurred, detailing Councilman Ben Rosenberg's traffic stop for driving with his poodle on his lap, which is also detailed in my book.

Is it going to be any wonder when the state audit of the City of Joplin is released and those who receive most of their news from the Globe are completely stunned by the level of corruption that has occurred in this city?

Now many of the city's elected officials are steering clear of answering questions for Globe reporters.

I totally understand where the people who are refusing to comment are coming from. Two years ago, prior to my hearing, I received a phone call from Emily Younker, asking me to comment on my situation.

I told her I was not going to give any comments, but since I had written a considerable amount about my situation on this blog, I told her to feel free to use anything I had written.

In the next day's Globe, there were no attempts to use even one word from the Turner Report. "Turner refused to comment."

I can't really feel too bad about the Globe's predicament. If the Globe had been doing its job these past few years, the Turner Report would never have been able to take hold in this area.

Thank you, Carol Stark!
***
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Lawrence, Herrera leave KSN for larger markets

KSN reporters Felicia Lawrence and Haden Herrera, fixtures as weekend anchors and weekday reporters over the past couple of years, are moving on to larger markets.

The announcements were made during KSN's 10 p.m. newscast.

Lawrence will be a weekend morning anchor in Charlotte, North Carolina, while Herrera will do weekend sports in Eugene, Oregon.

“I moved to Joplin, MO two years ago to pursue a dream. I didn’t know anyone, I’d never been here before, and I was extremely wet behind the ears as a journalist,” Lawrence wrote on her facebook page. “As I close out this LONG, emotional day, my heart overflows with gratitude. I’ve worked HARD AND I HAVE WON. I did it. I’m unapologetic about it and I will relish in this moment with complete joy and pleasure as I rejoice in my accomplishments. Tonight, I stand fully present in my moment of glory.”

Herrera wrote, “Tonight is the end of my time in the Four States. I’m headed to Eugene, Oregon where I’ll continue to be a weekend sports anchor. Thanks to everyone for watching and coming to up me at games to chat, I enjoyed it all!”

Excessive heat warning for Joplin area until 9 p.m.

(From the National Weather Service)

EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING FOR ALL OF SOUTHEASTERN KANSAS AND THE
MISSOURI OZARKS...

KSZ073-097-101-MOZ055>058-066>071-077>083-088>098-101>106-290200-
/O.CON.KSGF.EH.W.0004.000000T0000Z-150729T0200Z/
BOURBON-CRAWFORD-CHEROKEE-BENTON-MORGAN-MILLER-MARIES-VERNON-
ST. CLAIR-HICKORY-CAMDEN-PULASKI-PHELPS-BARTON-CEDAR-POLK-DALLAS-
LACLEDE-TEXAS-DENT-JASPER-DADE-GREENE-WEBSTER-WRIGHT-NEWTON-
LAWRENCE-CHRISTIAN-DOUGLAS-HOWELL-SHANNON-MCDONALD-BARRY-STONE-
TANEY-OZARK-OREGON-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...FORT SCOTT...PITTSBURG...
BAXTER SPRINGS...COLUMBUS...WARSAW...COLE CAMP...VERSAILLES...
ELDON...LAKE OZARK...VIENNA...NEVADA...APPLETON CITY...OSCEOLA...
HERMITAGE...OSAGE BEACH...CAMDENTON...FORT LEONARD WOOD...
WAYNESVILLE...ROLLA...LAMAR...EL DORADO SPRINGS...STOCKTON...
BOLIVAR...BUFFALO...LEBANON...HOUSTON...CABOOL...SALEM...JOPLIN...
CARTHAGE...GREENFIELD...SPRINGFIELD...MARSHFIELD...ROGERSVILLE...
MOUNTAIN GROVE...MANSFIELD...NEOSHO...AURORA...MOUNT VERNON...
NIXA...OZARK...AVA...WEST PLAINS...WINONA...EMINENCE...ANDERSON...
PINEVILLE...MONETT...CASSVILLE...KIMBERLING CITY...GALENA...
BRANSON...FORSYTH...GAINESVILLE...THEODOSIA...THAYER...ALTON
555 AM CDT TUE JUL 28 2015

...EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CDT THIS
EVENING...

* TIMING AND AREAS AFFECTED...THE EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING IS IN
  EFFECT FOR ALL OF SOUTHEASTERN KANSAS AND THE MISSOURI OZARKS
  THROUGH THIS EVENING.

* TEMPERATURE...HIGH TEMPERATURES IN THE MIDDLE 90S AND HEAT
  INDICES BETWEEN 100 AND 110 DEGREES ARE AGAIN EXPECTED TODAY FOR
  MUCH OF THE AREA.

* IMPACTS...THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
  WILL RESULT IN AN INCREASED POTENTIAL FOR HEAT RELATED
  ILLNESSES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING MEANS THAT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF
DANGEROUSLY HOT TEMPERATURES WILL OCCUR. THE COMBINATION OF HOT
TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS
SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE LIKELY.

TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. WHEN
POSSIBLE...RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY MORNING OR
EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT
STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTING CLOTHING WHEN
POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.

TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK...THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND
HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS
IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY
HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE
IS AN EMERGENCY...CALL 9 1 1.

Cynthia Davis: Purpose of same-sex marriage is to drain Social Security

(From former Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O'Fallon, now an internet talk show host)

Back when the government was functioning to protect our property and to define who belonged to whom, I was supportive of government's record keeping. Now that the US Supreme Court is trying to turn marriage into something unknown and murky, the only point left is to use this as a registry to dole out benefits to anyone who claims to be in a relationship.

Anyone who is on Facebook knows that there is a relationship status that can change as frequently as one wants to find other close friends. I saw a post that said, after changing your relationship status more than three times, it needs to default to "It's Complicated".

I was doing research on the Social Security Administration's website and found this:

Important Information for Same-Sex Couples

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states. As a result, more same-sex couples will be recognized as married for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits or eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.

We are working with the Department of Justice to analyze the decision and provide instructions for processing claims. We will update this website as new information becomes available.
If you are a spouse, divorced spouse, or surviving spouse of a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal same-sex relationship

We encourage you to apply right away for benefits. If you disagree with our decision about your entitlement to benefits, eligibility for benefits, or payment amount, you should appeal.


So there you have it. The purpose of changing the definition of marriage was intended to drain the Social Security fund more quickly. When we allow people who are not actually married to receive marital benefits, the end result is that people will "get married" based upon what kind of monetary bonus is available.

It works the other way as well. When people discover they can extract more money from being in a divorced status, they divorce.

This is fraud. Yet, you can't blame the people for being smart. The blame lies squarely at the feet of the Congress who are charged with the duty of controlling their own created bureaucracies.

How could anyone ever think fornication is promotable or merits financial reward? If the Supreme Court jurists, who are supposed to be legally brilliant, are that blind, what can we expect out of our normal citizens?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Joplin City Manager provides weekly update

(From City Manager Sam Anselm)

Good afternoon, everyone. Please see below for a list of this week’s happenings. As usual, let me know if you have any questions.

Key Meetings 

-Monday, Interim Director Scott Garrie and I met with Cookie Estrada from the Joplin Family Y to touch base on some of their plans and initiatives, and to get an update on what we have going on.

-On Monday afternoon, Director Haase and I met with representatives from the Redings Mill Fire District to discuss recent payments to the district. We will be working with Newton County officials to make sure that land transactions are recorded in the tax books in a timely fashion to allow us to remit payment to the district around the first of each calendar year.

-On Tuesday the Infrastructure Team (Deloitte and city staff tasked with overseeing the CDBG-DR infrastructure projects) met with the JET group to review their list of projects in the recovery area. All three engineering firms have submitted their projects for prioritization by staff, and we have scheduled a meeting for the week of August 3rd to finalize the list for inclusion with a future action plan.

-On Wednesday morning I met with Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder so we could make introductions and help his transition to Joplin go as smoothly as possible. We discussed the early childhood center project, as well as other projects in the works that affect the school district.

-Following my meeting with Dr. Ridder, I met with Brad Belk to discuss a variety of topics related to the museum.

-On Wednesday afternoon I had a meeting with Sharon Beshore and Clifford Wert to discuss the status of Memorial Hall and to get an update on where the Connect2Culture group stands with regard to their architectural plans for the facility. Now that we have booked two events at Memorial Hall they were somewhat concerned about the availability of the venue for their desired purposes, but I believe there’s time and room to utilize the facility until a long term plan can be developed, and if there’s an opportunity to bring multiple groups together for the shared purpose of growing our arts, culture and entertainment footprint in Joplin, that is something that should be explored.

-I followed that meeting by attending the Connect2Culture board meeting later in the afternoon, where I expressed the same opinion. Ultimately what happens to Memorial Hall will be up to the city council to decide, but there seems to be some positive energy and discussion taking place within the community, so I’m excited to see where that momentum takes us.

-Yesterday (Thursday) Mayor Seibert, PIO Lynn Onstot and I met with representatives from Catholic Charities of Southwest Missouri to get an update on where they stand with efforts and initiatives in Joplin, and to discuss an exciting grant opportunity they have that will benefit area residents. CCSOMO will be putting out a press release with additional details, so I do not want to steal any of their thunder, but the meeting served as a reminder that work still continues regarding our recovery from 2011.

-Earlier this morning, (Friday) I met with Councilman Stanley, Mayor Seibert, City Attorney Edwards and a local developer to discuss an affordable multi-family housing project that would utilize the MHDC’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. You may recall that in 2011 Joplin was the recipient of most of the LIHTC program funding to assist with our housing recovery efforts post-tornado, and this developer wanted to visit with us to share details of the project. Next week, I will have our planning staff review the information for a response to the developer as he applies for the funding. Miscellaneous

-As indicated last week, the RFP for the affordable senior housing development is online on our website (link: http://joplinmo.org/bids.aspx?bidID=254). We have reached out to several interested developers, and an ad will also run in this weekend’s edition of the Globe. Responses will be due to the city on November 24th to allow plenty of time for potential respondents to conduct a housing study, prepare materials, and ask questions of staff. Speaking for them, we are certainly excited to finally be at this stage.

-To give you an update on online payments…they account for about 33% of all payments made through our courts system. As for utility bills, monthly totals hover around the 2,000 mark, which represents about 10% of all payments made on a monthly basis, give or take.

-I was notified earlier today that Greentown Joplin is transitioning out of Joplin after four years of assistance and support to our community. I have attached their final report for your review, but please join me in wishing Catherine Hart and her colleagues a heart-felt thank you for their efforts.

-On a similar note, I’m attaching a copy of the letter that Mayor Seibert sent to Staff Sergeant Brendan Brustad, who you will recall ran 161 miles in remembrance of those we lost as a result of May 22, 2011. In the Pipeline

-Just a reminder that staff and I will be at the Joplin Schools board meeting on Tuesday night to provide information and answer any questions from the board or staff about the project.

Graves: It is time to make English our official language

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

America is a collection of people from different races, religions, and backgrounds – that is part of what makes this country great. But a common language is what brings all of us together to form a community.

A provision in Obamacare forces every call center in the U.S. to offer services in 150 different languages. There are no requirements to track the costs of these services, however, so no one really knows how much the federal government spends each year hiring translators and printing documents in multiple languages.

Last week, I introduced the Cost of Services and Translations (COST) Act in the House of Representatives. My bill will require all federal agencies to report the amount they spend operating in languages other than English. It will strengthen the case to make English the official language of the U.S., and it will hold the federal government accountable for how it is spending taxpayer dollars.

More than 90 percent of countries in the world have an official language, while public opinion has consistently shown that a majority of Americans favor making English the official language of the U.S. It is time that we take that step.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Joplin R-8 voters foot the bill to honor Huff, quitters

One of them quit after receiving a golden parachute following years of bad behavior.

Two others quit to force the selection of three board members to go to the Jasper County Commission. (Though one of them claimed he had been threatened, but has yet to produce any evidence of those threats.)

One only served six months.

Another one was tossed out by the voters, who preferred someone who said he would not be able to serve because he had taken another position of head of the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

Joplin R-8 taxpayers paid $114 to the Trophy House for plaques honoring former Superintendent C. J. Huff and former board members Mike Landis, Randy Steele, Shawn McGrew, Annie Sharp, and Jim Kimbrough. The bill is among those scheduled to be approved by the R-8 Board of Education when it meets 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Memorial Administration Building.

The plaques were presented June 25 at a reception.

No other bills for the reception are included on this month's list, so in all likelihood, more costs for the reception will be featured on next month's list.

Some other interesting bills this month:

-$206.20 to Bothwell-The Saxton Group for a meal for the Board of Education meeting

-$443,742.87  to P1 Group, which is suing the district for $7 million to cover costs incurred due to the push to get Joplin High School open in time for the 2014-2015 school year.

-$41,666.66 and $11,187.50 for rent to KIR Joplin LP and Northpark Mall for rent for the mall high school building while it is being restored to its former condition.

-$19,716.42 to Palmer Mediation for attempting to work out an agreement between the school district and P1 Group

-$46,674.42 to Polsinelli PC, which is representing the district in the P1 lawsuit.

-$4,915.47 to Missouri Southern State University for the rental of the Leggett & Platt Center Center for the Joplin High School Graduation.

-$499,040.80 to Apple Computers to lease MAC laptops for Joplin High School students.
***
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Ridder to update R-8 Board on first week on the job

Newly hired Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder will be introduced and provide an update on his first week at the job when the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meets 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Memorial Administration Building.

A major item on the agenda will be the decision on whether to pursue the Early Childhood Center project. A positive vote is expected, but the City of Joplin needs the vote in order to go ahead with its share of the funding.

Meeting Agenda

A. Call to Order

1. Roll Call

B. Pledge of Allegiance

C. Approval of Agenda - Action

D. Reports

1. Board President's Report

a. Introduction - Dr. Norman F. Ridder, Interim Superintendent

b. Board Committee Updates

1. Finance Committee - Jeff Koch, Debbie Fort and Ron Gatz

2. Policy Committee - Lynda Banwart and Jennifer Martucci

3. Facilities Committee - Sallie Beard and Gary Nodler

4. Communications Committee - Jeff Koch and Jennifer Martucci

2. Superintendent's Report

a. First Week

E. Public Comments Regarding Agenda Items

F. Consent Agenda - Action

1. Approve Minutes - Action

2. Personnel Recommendations - Action

3. Policy Update - First Reading - Action

a. Policy KG - Community Use of District Facilities

4. Policy Updates - Second Reading - Action

a. Policy GBCA - Staff Conflict of Interest

b. Policy GBCBC - Staff Absences & Tardiness

c. Policy GCBDA - Professional Staff Short-Term Leaves

d. Policy GCPD - Suspension of Professional Staff members

e. Policy GCPE - Termination of Professional Staff Members

f. Policy GCPF - Renewal of Professional Staff Members

g. Policy GDPD - Non-renewal, Suspension & Termination of Support Staff Members

h. Policy IGBCB - Programs for Migrant Students

i. Policy DJF - Purchasing

5. Redundant Wireless Controller - Action

6. Annual Peopleware Agreement Renewal for Infinite Campus - Action

7. 54 Dell Laptop Computers - Action

8. SchoolWires Centricity Website Hosting Renewal - Action

9. Words Their Way Developmental Workbooks K-5 - Action

10. JHS/FTC Construction Items - Action

a. Change Management #273 - Bid Package #61 - General Trades

b. Change Management #336 - Bid Package #72 - Roofing

c. Change Management #352 - Bid Package #93 - Ceramic Tile

11. Dishwasher Chemical Bid - Action

12. Bread Bid - Action

13. Food and Supply Bid - Action

14. Dairy Bid - Action

15. Copy Paper Bid - Action

16. Soft Drink Vending Services - Action

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

18. Financial Statements - Info.

G. Regular Agenda

1. Early Childhood Center Project Affirmation - Action

2. Accounts Payable - Action

3. Selection of Financial Advisor - Action

H. Discussion Items

I. Closed Session RSMO.610.021 (1) Legal actions, (3) Personnel and (15) Records relating to municipal hotlines.
J. Adjourn

Excessive heat warning for Joplin area today

(From the National Weather Service)

KSZ073-097-101-MOZ066-077-088-093-262100-
/O.CON.KSGF.EH.W.0003.150726T1700Z-150727T0200Z/
BOURBON-CRAWFORD-CHEROKEE-VERNON-BARTON-JASPER-NEWTON-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...FORT SCOTT...PITTSBURG...
BAXTER SPRINGS...COLUMBUS...NEVADA...LAMAR...JOPLIN...CARTHAGE...
NEOSHO
352 AM CDT SUN JUL 26 2015

...EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO
9 PM CDT THIS EVENING...

* TIMING AND AREAS AFFECTED...THE EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING WILL BE
  IN EFFECT TODAY FROM NOON UNTIL 9 PM.

* TEMPERATURE...HEAT INDICES WILL RANGE FROM 104 TO 110 DEGREES...MAKING
  SEVERAL DAYS THAT HEAT INDEX VALUES HAVE BEEN AT OR ABOVE 105
  DEGREES.

* IMPACTS...THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL
  RESULT IN AN INCREASED POTENTIAL FOR HEAT RELATED ILLNESSES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING MEANS THAT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF
DANGEROUSLY HOT TEMPERATURES WILL OCCUR. THE COMBINATION OF HOT
TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS
SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE LIKELY.

TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK...THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND
HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS
IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY HEAT
SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE IS AN
EMERGENCY...CALL 9 1 1.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reactions to obscene vandalism at Cunningham Park

Those going to Cunningham Park in Joplin  Friday morning were greeted with considerable vandalism, including spray paintings depicting male and female genitalia. This report from KOAM News features reactions to the vandalism.







KOAM TV 7

Excessive heat warning for Joplin area continues Sunday

(From the National Weather Service)

KSZ073-097-101-MOZ066-077-088-093-260815-
/O.NEW.KSGF.EH.W.0003.150726T1700Z-150727T0200Z/
/O.CON.KSGF.EH.W.0002.000000T0000Z-150726T0200Z/
BOURBON-CRAWFORD-CHEROKEE-VERNON-BARTON-JASPER-NEWTON-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...FORT SCOTT...PITTSBURG...
BAXTER SPRINGS...COLUMBUS...NEVADA...LAMAR...JOPLIN...CARTHAGE...
NEOSHO
308 PM CDT SAT JUL 25 2015

...EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CDT THIS
EVENING...
...EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 9 PM CDT
SUNDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SPRINGFIELD HAS ISSUED AN
EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 9 PM CDT
SUNDAY.

* SHORT TERM TRENDS...TEMPERATURES AT MID AFTERNOON WERE IN THE
  MID 90S...WITH HEAT INDICES APPROACHING 105 DEGREES. TEMPERATURES
  ARE EXPECTED TO WARM A FEW MORE DEGREES...WITH HEAT INDICES
  AROUND 110 BY LATE AFTERNOON.

* TIMING AND AREAS AFFECTED...UNTIL 9 PM SATURDAY FOR ALL OF
  SOUTHEAST KANSAS AND FAR WESTERN MISSOURI. THE EXCESSIVE HEAT
  WARNING WILL BE IN EFFECT AGAIN ON SUNDAY FROM NOON UNTIL 9 PM.

* TEMPERATURE...HEAT INDICES WILL EXCEED 110 DEGREES ON SATURDAY.
  HEAT INDEX VALUES SUNDAY WILL BE IN THE 103 TO 106
  DEGREE...MAKING SEVERAL DAYS THAT HEAT INDEX VALUES HAVE BEEN
  AT OR ABOVE 105 DEGREES.

* IMPACTS...THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
  WILL RESULT IN AN INCREASED POTENTIAL FOR HEAT RELATED
  ILLNESSES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING MEANS THAT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF
DANGEROUSLY HOT TEMPERATURES WILL OCCUR. THE COMBINATION OF HOT
TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS
SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE LIKELY.

TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK...THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND
HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS
IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY
HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE
IS AN EMERGENCY...CALL 9 1 1.

Levota resigns after second intern documents sexual harassment

After the first intern alleged that he had sexually harassed her, Sen. Paul Levota, D-Independence, insisted he was completely innocent since the girl no longer had the phone with the text messages he had supposedly sent her.

No such claims of innocence were forthcoming after a second intern accused Levota of sexual harassment,. This one had documentation.

Hartzler: Dodd-Frank has made it tougher to get a mortgage

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

After the financial collapse in 2008, in an effort to rein in the power of banks considered “too big to fail,” Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill, applying new regulations to the financial sector. Five years after its implementation, however, Dodd-Frank continues to do the opposite of what it proposed, consolidating financial assets and power in Wall Street at the expense of those on Main Street.

One of the primary reasons for Dodd-Frank’s failure is the faulty premise that financial deregulation caused the crisis. The cause was the poor quality of regulations, not the quantity. Dodd-Frank compounded the problem, imposing a host of new regulations without differentiating a trans-national global bank from your local credit union.

Not accounting for the fact that a local credit unions’ needs may differ from, say, Goldman Sachs’, Dodd-Frank turned “too big to fail” into “too small to succeed.” To that point, facing an additional $1 million in Dodd-Frank regulatory burdens, the owners of Shelter Financial Bank in Columbia decided it was too costly for the bank to run profitably. In September 2012, Shelter Financial closed its doors.

Dodd-Frank has resulted in a loss of a valuable source of business capital. It has made it tougher for low- and moderate-income Americans to secure a mortgage to buy a home. It has even curtailed or eliminated some bank services, such as free checking, that we used to take for granted. Further, this policy is still forcing smaller banks across the nation to either close or merge with larger banks—exacerbating the problem by forcing more money into bigger banks.

Small banks are closely tied to communities, serving their neighbors and friends with whom they have formed a local bond. Many of your friends and neighbors may rely on these institutions for everything from everyday banking to large loans to start a small business. These are valuable institutions, and they are under attack from big-government policies like Dodd-Frank.

Alongside my colleagues in Congress, I am working to remove the detrimental effects of Dodd-Frank and ease the burden on small banks and credit unions who can best meet the needs of the people and local communities they serve.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Heat index between 102 and 109 Saturday for Joplin area

(From the National Weather Service)

AFTER A VERY HOT DAY ON FRIDAY...TEMPERATURES WILL AGAIN WARM
INTO THE 90S ON SATURDAY. WITH HUMIDITY REMAINING VERY HIGH...
HEAT INDICES WILL RANGE FROM 102 TO 109 DEGREES ACROSS THE REGION
ON SATURDAY.

THE HOT AND HUMID WEATHER WILL CONTINUE INTO NEXT WEEK...AND THE
HEAT ADVISORY MAY NEED TO EVENTUALLY BE EXTENDED INTO NEXT WEEK
FOR PORTIONS OF THE AREA.

KSZ073-097-101-MOZ055>058-066>071-077>083-088>098-101-103>106-
251530-
/O.CON.KSGF.HT.Y.0004.150725T1700Z-150726T0200Z/
BOURBON-CRAWFORD-CHEROKEE-BENTON-MORGAN-MILLER-MARIES-VERNON-
ST. CLAIR-HICKORY-CAMDEN-PULASKI-PHELPS-BARTON-CEDAR-POLK-DALLAS-
LACLEDE-TEXAS-DENT-JASPER-DADE-GREENE-WEBSTER-WRIGHT-NEWTON-
LAWRENCE-CHRISTIAN-DOUGLAS-HOWELL-SHANNON-MCDONALD-STONE-TANEY-
OZARK-OREGON-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...FORT SCOTT...PITTSBURG...
BAXTER SPRINGS...COLUMBUS...WARSAW...COLE CAMP...VERSAILLES...
ELDON...LAKE OZARK...VIENNA...NEVADA...APPLETON CITY...OSCEOLA...
HERMITAGE...OSAGE BEACH...CAMDENTON...FORT LEONARD WOOD...
WAYNESVILLE...ROLLA...LAMAR...EL DORADO SPRINGS...STOCKTON...
BOLIVAR...BUFFALO...LEBANON...HOUSTON...CABOOL...SALEM...JOPLIN...
CARTHAGE...GREENFIELD...SPRINGFIELD...MARSHFIELD...ROGERSVILLE...
MOUNTAIN GROVE...MANSFIELD...NEOSHO...AURORA...MOUNT VERNON...
NIXA...OZARK...AVA...WEST PLAINS...WINONA...EMINENCE...ANDERSON...
PINEVILLE...KIMBERLING CITY...GALENA...BRANSON...FORSYTH...
GAINESVILLE...THEODOSIA...THAYER...ALTON
1026 PM CDT FRI JUL 24 2015

...HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 9 PM CDT
SATURDAY...

* TIMING AND AREAS AFFECTED...FROM NOON UNTIL 9 PM SATURDAY FOR
  ALL OF SOUTHEASTERN KANSAS AND THE MISSOURI OZARKS.

* TEMPERATURE...TEMPERATURES SATURDAY AFTERNOON WILL BE IN THE MID
  TO UPPER 90S. HEAT INDICES WILL RANGE FROM 103 TO 109.

* IMPACTS...THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
  WILL RESULT IN AN INCREASED POTENTIAL FOR HEAT RELATED
  ILLNESSES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS
EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE
POSSIBLE.

Billy Long: Dodd-Frank places families under government's heavy hand

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

July 21 marked the fifth anniversary of the notorious “Dodd-Frank” Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which took aim at Wall Street firms and banks’ actions leading to the financial collapse in 2008 with the intention of preventing it from ever happening again. Unfortunately, this law went well beyond its target and has hit Main Street especially hard.

Five years later, unintended consequences roll on. Regulations have created a bigger hassle for prospective homebuyers to secure a mortgage and close on a home, made it harder for entrepreneurs to access capital to get their start, more difficult for small businesses to secure resources to grow, and have led to a faster demise of small, community banks.

To date, overall Dodd-Frank compliance costs are estimated to be $24 billion and 61 million hours, with many more rules to be written, as the law set more than 400 mandated regulations in motion. These costs have been passed along to consumers in a variety of ways such aschecking account fees, which now average customers about $118 per year. Worse, some in the Seventh District have told me regulations, such as fair lending reporting requirements, have created hesitation to lend out of fear of lawsuits for noncompliance.

The hundreds of new rules have put a squeeze on smaller banks’ ability to lend. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reported a comparatively greater share of small banks’ resources is used to comply with and report on federal regulations. Some institutions, such as the Central Bank of the Ozarks, have had to hire full time staff positions to comply, which further increases the cost of business. As the costs have mounted, the rate ofcommunity bank consolidation over the past five years has doubled, and one community bank or credit union has closed or consolidated per day. This takes away the local, trusted institutions and leaves fewer options for Americans to go for banking and financial services.

According to a Harvard Study, small and community banks make 77 percent of the country’s agricultural loans, more than half of all small business loans and have the most success in real estate lending compared to larger financial institutions. Leaders from banks across the Ozarks have told me the burden of regulatory compliance and applying for mortgages have discouraged home buying and have made the ability to close on a home in less than 30 days a thing of the past.

Dodd-Frank’s biggest tragedy is the ripple effect it has on American families, businesses and the overall economy. In the end, this does not “protect” consumers, but rather places American families and businesses under the federal government’s heavy hand. The high-cost regulations do nothing but regulate the continuity of Wall Street actions and keep them at bay while suppressing the entire system. I have voted on legislation to ease the rules’ weight on the economy, such as the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act. I am committed to continuing the fight against these over-burdensome regulations and ending the ill-effects on consumers and the economy.

Joplin man struck by Kansas City Southern train

(From the Joplin Police Department)

Update #1 

Male identified: The male struck by the train has been identified as Daniel R. Sopata, 52 years of age from Joplin.

He is still currently being treated by Mercy Hospital.

Immediate Release 

The Joplin Police Department is currently investigating an incident where a male was struck by a train on the KCS railroad tracks.

The incident occurred on North Main, around 9:20 am just North of Union Station Depot. The male was transported by METS to an area hospital with serious injuries. The investigation is ongoing and more information will be released as it becomes available.

Bicyclist fleeing from Joplin Police hit by car on 7th Street

(From the Joplin Police Department)

Update #1 Suspect Identified: 

The male fleeing on the bicycle has been identified as David W. Amerson, 35, Joplin.

He is currently still being treated for injuries sustained from the crash. The roadway is now open.

 Original News Release

The Joplin Police Department is investigating a bicycle verses motor vehicle crash in the area of 7 th Street and Porter.

The pedestrian was attempting to flee from Joplin Police Officers on a bicycle, as the bicycle was crossing 7th Street, he was struck by a motor vehicle which was traveling westbound on 7th Street.

As a result of this investigation 7th Street has been temporarily closed while officers are investigating this incident. The roadway will be opened as soon as possible. Name of the bicyclist is not being released at this time. He did have felony and misdemeanor warrants for his arrest. He was also found to be in possession of a stolen firearm and what is expected to be a controlled substance.

Board to approve $13,000 in expenses for Bright Futures Golf Tournament

You have to spend money to make money. Everyone has heard that old saying.

If that is the case, Joplin Bright Futures must have made a lot of money from the fifth annual Joplin Bright Futures Kimble Anders Celebrity Golf Classic held June 26 at the Eagle Creek Golf Course.

Bills submitted to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education for its approval at its Tuesday, July 28, meeting show $13,492.98, including $1,500 to three-time pro-bowl fullback for the Kansas City Chiefs Kimble Anders, who has been the face of the golf tournament since it was first held in October 2010.

The expenses:

-$1,500 for Kimble Anders appearance fee

-$224 for signs from Sign Designs

-$3,793.95 to Downstream Casino for a dinner held the evening before the tournament

-$6,105 to the Eagle Creek Golf Course

-$340 to Dugout

$1,100 to Bright Futures director Melissa Winston, which appears to be a reimbursement for prizes

-$400 to Bothwell-The Saxton Group for a golf tournament lunch

However much money was raised from the golf tournament and other fundraising efforts, as well as donations, it appears that Bright Futures Joplin has evolved from meeting student needs by supplying shoes, clothing, and basic supplies, to something much, much more.

This month's bills, though Bright Futures is not mentioned, includes three unusual appropriations for "student need."

-A $500 payment to Empire District Electric Company

--$300 to Hull Plumbing

-$714 to Brown Property

Is Bright Futures now paying for rent and utilities for needy families? And if so, who makes the decisions on which families receive this type of assistance?
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Kelley legislative aide suspended after being charged with choking woman

Former Joplin resident Kolton Babb has been suspended from his job as legislative assistant to Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, after being arrested Wednesday on a domestic assault charge after he allegedly choked a 20-year-old Columbia woman.

Babb is free on a $10,000 cash bond.

From the Columbia Tribune report:

Andrew Popplewell, attorney for Kolton Babb, supplied the following statement: "Mr. Babb denies the allegations in the probable cause statement. Furthermore, it is his intent to plead not guilty in this matter at the appropriate juncture in the judicial proceedings. Due to the pending nature of the criminal case, Mr. Babb cannot comment further."

Representative Kelley commented on the seriousness of the allegations.

In a statement, Kelley said. "These are very troubling allegations that need to be fully investigated by law enforcement. Kolton has maintained his innocence in conversations with me, but this is now a matter four our legal system to resolve so that justice is served," He went on to say, "I hope that Kolton has been honest with me and that he will be able to prove his innocence, but if he is guilty of these violent actions, he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law."


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When Joplin East Middle School students and teachers were put in a warehouse on the outskirts of the school district following the May 22, 2011, tornado, they felt like they had been forgotten by Joplin R-8 Administration. Scars from the Tornado ensures that their stories of the tornado and of how they turned that warehouse into a school will never be forgotten. Scars is available in paperback and e-book formats at Amazon. com and is available in paperback form locally at Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage.


R-8 spends nearly $3,000 to send four officials to Visible Learning Conference

When Joplin R-8 Director of Curriculum, Learning, and Assessment Sarah Stevens helped fired consultants Paul Bloomberg and Barb Pitchford of Core Collaborative put on a workshop on how successful their program was here, the school district was well represented.

The workshop was held at the annual Visible Learning Conference in San Antonio, Texas, and Stevens was joined by Executive Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Doshier, Executive Director of Secondary Education Jason Cravens, and Executive Director of Special Services Mark Barlass, according to expense reimbursements scheduled to be approved by the R-8 Board of Education when it meets Tuesday night.

The expense reimbursements were $115 apiece, but the district officials were booked into the Visible Learning Conference months ago, long before new board of education members Jeff Koch, Jennifer Martucci, and Gary Nodler and holdover Debbie Fort sent Core Collaborative and its $100,000+ annual price tag packing.

The bills approved at the February Board of Education meeting show $2,396 was approved for the conference.

The conference may not be the last we hear of Core Collaborative. Despite the board rejecting Core Collaborative twice, Stevens recently e-mailed teachers asking for them to share what they have learned through the consulting firm.

Even if the district is truly finished with Core Collaborative, Bloomberg's influence will live on, primarily through the $300,000 testing regimen he recommended to Stevens and the executive directors and which the Board of Education approved.

It is also likely that the district will continue to buy educational materials from Corwin Press, a company that employs Bloomberg as a consultant and which sponsored the Visible Learning Conference.
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Find out the behind-the-scenes story of the rise and fall of former Superintendent C. J. Huff, former City Manager Mark Rohr, and former master developer David Wallace, as well as the lowdown on the events and actions that have led to an FBI investigation of Joplin City Councilman Mike Woolston in Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado, available in paperback and e-book formats.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kelley believes assistant innocent on charges of choking woman

Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, told John Hacker of the Carthage Press earlier this evening that he believes his legislative assistant, Kolton Babb, is innocent of assaulting a woman by choking her. The assault charges were filed in Boone County Circuit Court.

“He's told me he didn't do anything,” Kelly said. “We live under a legal system that says a person is innocent until proven guilty. Based on my conversations with Kolton, I believe he's an innocent man who has been charged with a crime. I believe he will be vindicated and he works for me until a court says otherwise.”

Babb, who is originally from Jasper County, contacted The Press after we spoke to Kelley, but he said he would have to decline comment Thursday evening.

Babb is free on $10,000 cash bond.