Monday, February 22, 2016

Huff, Landis attempting to regain control of Joplin R-8 Board

 C. J. Huff is reportedly spending more time working on Joplin R-8 School District business than he did when he actually had a job here.

Some of those from Huff's administrative team have continued to keep him informed of everything that is going on under Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder, occasionally meeting with Huff and/or former R-8 board member Mike Landis in public and in private.

Huff and Landis have also reportedly been vetting R-8 Board candidates.

And word has been received at the Turner Report, that Huff, using surrogates, since he and the board members are not allowed to say bad things about each other as part of the terms in his buyout agreement, intends to attack current board member and April candidate Jennifer Martucci with the same "snob" attacks and hints that she is a racist that failed miserably when he posted them on Facebook before last year's election. (Huff has removed those remarks from his Facebook page.)

Huff's old supporters from the now-disbanded Joplin Progress Committee continue to back his play. Connect2Culture, a group headed by former Committee leader Clifford Wert, a retired banker, has also been checking out board candidates. Huff is a board member of Connect2Culture.

Bright Futures Joplin, which appears on the verge of being eased out of the school district, has also been questioning candidates.

Another leader of JPC, Jerrod Hogan, is reportedly involved in directing the campaign of one of the board candidates. (More information about that will be provided in the near future.)

With four candidates to be elected, Huff would need to win three seats to regain control of the board, with those three joining incumbent Lynda Banwart to provide the majority.

Winning two seats would leave the board in a deadlock. It is not clear at this point if some candidates might not lean toward either side.

Even if Huff is successful, it is not clear what his endgame is. Does he hold out hopes that the board will come to him as the perfect replacement for Ridder or choose some Huff puppet who will bring back Bright Futures in the way Huff envisioned it and keep the rest of his pet programs and people?

It could also be an attempt for Huff to get back at the women board members, Martucci and Debbie Fort, who paved the way for his departure. His personal attacks on Martucci on his Facebook and against both Martucci and Fort during board meetings had people wondering whether Huff had become unhinged during the spring months of 2015.

Huff was playing games with the construction of the board of education even before his "retirement" took effect. Huff and Landis did their best to prevent newly-elected board member Jeff Koch from being sworn in.

After that unsuccessful effort, Huff and Landis were involved in a plot to make sure that the Jasper County Commission, not the locally elected board of education, would appoint the replacement for former Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts, who was elected, but was unable to serve after being appointed Missouri Director of Public Safety.

Though R-8 voters sent the message loud and clear when they elected Roberts knowing full well he would not be able to serve, to make sure incumbent Board President Anne Sharp was not re-elected, Landis and Randy Steele made sure the people who had been chosen by the board to make a difference- Fort, Koch, and Martucci, would not be able to get a fourth vote by resigning and making sure the Commission would choose the replacements.

The plan was revealed in e-mail messages between Huff, Landis, and Jasper County Associate Commissioner Darieus Adams, which were discovered by the Turner Report as a result of a Snnshine Law request. The following was printed in the June 20 Turner Report:

In a June 3 e-mail from Landis to (Presiding Commissioner John)Bartosh and (Prosecuting Attorney Dean) Dankelson, the former board member writes, "We voted in April to accept Lane Roberts' resignation from the Joplin BOE. Thanks, Michael D. Landis." From that e-mail, it appears that Landis had sent Dankelson word that he, Randy Steele, and Roberts had resigned and that he wanted the County Commission to appoint replacements and that the prosecuting attorney had questions about Roberts' resignation.

Dankleson responded the following day in a message that is headed "Subject: Document May 28, 2015," and was sent to Bartosh, as well as Landis:

Would you be able to provide an affidavit to the commission confirming your intent to resign from the Joplin School Board effective May 28 and that you have no intent to withdraw that resignation? I am assuming from this e-mail you have no intent to withdraw it.

Since the Sunshine Law request pertained only to documents received or sent by the three county commissioners, it did not include Landis' original e-mail to Dankelson.

That same day, the Commission received petitions containing 65 signatures asking it to appoint new board members, with the signers including Landis, board member Lynda Banwart, and numerous contributors to the Joplin Progress Committee.

As noted in the June 15 Turner Report, Landis contacted Commissioner Darieus Adams on May 27, the night before he submitted his resignation:

Documents obtained through a Sunshine Law request to the Commission show that on May 27, one day after Randy Steele resigned, Superintendent C. J. Huff, obviously aware that Landis was planning on resigning as well, called the Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA) to find out what was necessary to get the Jasper County Commission to appoint replacement board members.

Susan Goldammer, senior director, employment and labor relations for the MSBA, e-mailed the information to Huff, "Any vacancy occurring in the board shall be filled by the remaining members of the board, except that if there are more than two vacancies at any one time, the county commission, upon receiving written notice of the vacancies shall fill the vacancies by appointment."

Goldammer was unaware that anything was in the works.

"As you can see, it takes three or more vacancies for the county commission to get involved. That has only happened once since I have been at MSBA. The Board will need to fill these two," she said, referring to Randy Steele and Lane Roberts.

Huff forwarded Goldammer's e-mail to Landis at 12:36 p.m. May 27. At 9:38 p.m., Landis forwarded the e-mail to Commissioner Darieus Adams.

Landis resigned the next day, setting the stage for the Commissioners to appoint Gary Nodler, Ron Gatz, and Sallie Beard.

From all appearances, C. J. Huff has never stopped meddling in Joplin R-8 business since he "retired." He has continued to show up at important district events, including last week's announcement of funding for the early childhood center. He is often accompanied by Landis.

And while Huff has not attended R-8 Board meetings, Landis has been at nearly every regular board meeting since his resignation.

Sources have told the Turner Report that Huff still cannot bring himself to acknowledge that he has done anything wrong, either in his management of the school district or in his public dealings with Fort and Martucci.

He also has indicated he does not understand why people continue to believe the horrible things that have been written about him in the Turner Report, since everyone knows the author of this blog is just a "disgruntled former employee."

That description would seem to more accurately describe Huff.


Anonymous said...

Just tell us who Huff and Landis support and we will campaign against them. Huff was "fired" for a reason and Landis "quit" for a reason. Neither of these reasons included helping our students do better!

Anonymous said...

What's that old saying about a bad penny?

Anonymous said...

From watching BOE meetings during the Huff administration and after, I'm pleased with what is taking place now. While there may be spirited discussions, I see none of the childish, nasty, name calling behavior that occurred while Huff was there. The district appears to be moving forward in a positive manner. As for using, she's a racist and a snob, tactic against Mrs. Martucci it's laughable, since those throwing that political bomb are the most "snobbish" people in Joplin. For their professional behavior and work this year, I will continue to support Fort, Koch and Martucci.

Anonymous said...

Strong women intimidate weak men...desperate people do desperate things and Huff and Landis are both little desperate men who are self-serving and mean-spirited. Jennifer Martucci and Debbie Fort have more integrity, class and ethics than they will ever have. Reducing it to name calling is childish and that is the only way they know how to operate. People need to call Huff and Landis out for what they really are and not allow them to have any input into the education of the children in Joplin. The children deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen to 7:59 and 9:27. Couldn't have said it better myself!! Go Away Huff and Landis!!

Anonymous said...

Would someone please get Huff a job beyond a 5-hour radius of Joplin? And would someone please blow the whistle on Commect2Cult for overt political activities?

Anonymous said...

This has to be the most delusional post yet. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

An awful lot of what Turner has reported on appears to have been born out by what has happened over time. "most delusional post yet" implies a history of being disconnected with reality, yet circumstances have suggested Turner was more tapped into it than others. Either that, or he is the secret puppet master pulling the strings of Joplin, which is fairly impressive for a delusional blogger.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully all the costs of the P1 lawsuit are known before the election. That way the taxpayers can decide whether they want some more of the same.

Are there other disputed bill waiting to turn into lawsuits? How about other construction problems likely to turn into lawsuits? Do all the seat colors match yet?

Anonymous said...

I forgot.

How has this been working out for R-8?

"An e-mail sent by Huff to P1 says that the Board of Education discussed P1's request for more money during a closed session in July 2014. If Huff was telling the truth about that discussion, that would indicate that the board acted illegally, since at that time there was no litigation involving P1 and the school district, and other documents indicate the district did not consult a lawyer until September, rhus the request should have been discussed in open session."

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to just disappear and someone needs to join the lollipop guild!

Anonymous said...

Fall into a sink hole in those schools that they so mishandled. That would be justice served to liars and thieves.

Anonymous said...

5:03 ask who Huff and Landis were supporting to try to get on the board so would could campaign against. I would like to know that also. One thing I didn't realize was the close relationship Huff has with Dean Dankleson. Well that is one we can campaign against since he is running for judgeship and he is a sneaky prosecuting attorney now.

Anonymous said...

Huff, Landis, the Commissioners and Dankleson mentioned in the same blog? Now, you are on to something! All dirty politics, all the time. Please don't vote Dankleson in as a judge.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Evil and mini me at it again.