Saturday, March 19, 2016
How the Joplin Globe continues to fail us on Joplin R-8 coverage
During the C. J. Huff era, the Globe never offered any editorials, or in most cares any decent reporting, on a number of worthy school-related subjects, including the following:
-Eight million dollars in "might-as-well" spending. The Globe never even mentioned CFO Paul Barr's comment in its coverage.
-A rush to get the school building open on time in August 2014 that cost the taxpayers millions
-Huff's failure to tell the public that former tech employee Ronny Justin Myers, the man the Huff Administration had placed in charge of the new laptops for Joplin High School students, had pornographic photos of 10 JHS girls on his laptop when Myers was arrested on a sex charge. After the Turner Report broke that story, using court documents, it took months for the Globe to acknowledge it in its pages, and even then, it was only because the information was included in a press release from the Department of Justice.
-Spending $100,000 to replace bleachers in the new high school because they were the wrong color
-The disgraceful behavior of Huff toward Martucci during the 2015 board election and toward Fort and Martucci during some of his final board meetings.
-The promotion of employees who were not qualified into top positions in the school district. The Globe never editorialized about this even after it was mentioned prominently in the state audit.In fact, the Globe over the past two years has done its best to marginalize any investigations into its sacred cows, attacking the two state audits and the Loraine Report.
The Globe not only failed to editorialize about these unwarranted promotions, but also had the nerve to praise Huff after he announced his "retirement" for the quality of people he brought into his administration.
Since the election of Koch and Martucci, the Globe began a never-seen-before seen microanalysis of board meetings, being highly critical of early mistakes that were made regarding closed meetings, while failing to acknowledge that nearly everything else was far more transparent and open to the public than anything that took place during the Huff era.
The Globe failed its readers again when it neglected to dig into the machinations that brought the Jasper County Commission into selecting replacements for board members Mike Landis, Randy Steele, and Lane Roberts.after they resigned.While the board criticized the attempts by Koch< Martucci, and Fort to name a replacement, the Globe praised the "principled" opposition of Lynda Banwart, which seemed more like obstructionism to anyone who was paying attention.
When a Turner Report Sunshine Law request revealed e-mails showing that Huff and Landis had engineered the Commission's entry into the selection process and brought in Commissioner Darieus Adams before Landis resigned, the Globe never printed a word.
When Missouri Ethics Commission financial disclosure documents showed Adams and Banwart were old friends who had contributed thousands to each other's campaigns, the Globe did not detect even a whiff of unethical behavior.
What has been even more obvious over the past few months has been the newspaper's downplaying of any of the accomplishments of Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder and the school board that hired him.
It has also neglected to mention any of the items that have been brought up that have been critical of the Huff Administration.
For instance, the Globe continues to leave out any mentions of the problem of more than half of the district's faculty leaving during the last few years of the Huff Administration. Instead, we have a question at the candidate forum Thursday night about how to identify and get rid of bad teachers. You would think a newspaper that professes to be the public's watchdog would be more interested in how to retain excellent teachers.
Both Ridder and the public have identified the lack of discipline in Joplin Schools as a major problem. You couldn't tell it by reading the Joplin Globe. Despite Ridder having prominently mentioned it at numerous board meetings, the Globe has not seen fit to address the problem on its pages.
The Globe makes a big deal about transparency, but it has failed to note the single most significant accomplishment in that regard- the change in how the board uses the consent agenda.
In the past, the Huff Administration placed millions of dollars worth of decisions (including the $100,000 bleachers) in the consent agenda, meaning that the topics would pass by consent and not be discussed during the open meeting. At times, there were nearly two dozen consent agenda items. Now there are rarely more than two or three and one of those is the approval of the previous meeting's minutes.
Jennifer Martucci noted the efforts that had been made in reforming the consent agenda during the candidate forum. Naturally, not one word about her comment was featured in either of the stories the Globe has published about the forum.
The Globe has failed to recognize the changes that have swept over the Joplin R-8 School District over the past several months and when it has noted them, it says little about them, primarily because the newspaper was missing in action over the years that the problems were created. Consider the following:
-The reassignments of Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens and East Middle School Principal Bud Sexson
-The elimination of teaching/learning coaches
-The decision to eliminate a high-priced, unnecessary consulting firm
-The decision to allow Bright Futures to become more or less an independent entity, likely on its way to oblivion, or at the least to a more reasonable relationship with the school district.
-A five-year strategic plan that includes a major emphasis on improved discipline, teacher buy-in, and keeping teachers from fleeing the district, goals that were never sought during the Huff era.
At times, it seems like Globe Editor Carol Stark is channeling her inner Jack Nicholson and telling us, "You can't handle the truth."
Or maybe it has been so long since the Globe has tried reporting the truth, it has forgotten what it looks like.
A message to readers: It costs money to continue to provide an alternative news source for the Joplin area. Since launching Inside Joplin and Inside Joplin Obituaries to join the Turner Report in November 2013< I have lived up to my promise to continue adding more news and commentary on Joplin and the surrounding area, much of which you cannot receive from any other source. In increasing that coverage, I have put more and more money into paying for Sunshine Law requests, federal court documents, and subscriptions that are necessary to keep me on top of the things that are going on. Please consider taking out a subscription to the Turner Report/Inside Joplin or making a contribution for any amount through the PayPal buttons below. Those of you who prefer not to use PayPal or a credit card, can send a check to 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G. Joplin, MO 64801. Thanks for your consideration.