Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hartzler wants Koster to sue Obama over bathroom mandate

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), co-chair of the House Values Action team, joined the House Missouri Republican delegation in sending a letter, led by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, renewing her call to file a lawsuit against the Obama Administration for its unilateral and unconstitutional transgender bathroom guidance.

“Our students deserve to be represented against such egregious violations and misinterpretations of the law,” Hartzler said. “Missourians elected the Attorney General to protect them against this very type of overreach. Although the AG is urging the Supreme Court to hear a similar case, Missouri should also be party to the Texas-led, 11-state lawsuit which directly challenges this intrusive guidance.”

The letter follows a response from Koster to Hartzler’s initial letter, in which he agrees “President Obama was wrong to dictate national policy so quickly and unilaterally.” Rep. Hartzler and Smith’s letters urge the Attorney General to join the 11 states that have already filed suit against the administration in order to “reduce federal overreach into decisions best left for states and local school districts.”

This week’s letter was led by Rep. Jason Smith and signed by Reps. Graves, Hartzler, Long, Luetkemeyer, and Wagner. A copy of the letter can be found here.

Agenda posted for July 5 Joplin City Council meeting

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers
Call To Order
Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America
Roll Call
Finalization Of Consent Agenda
Reports And Communications
Citizen Requests And Petitions
Request To Address Council
Angela Comstock, 1521 S. Highview, request to address Council concerning to gate the alley and block 16th street to stop the run around traffic from Rangeline in our neighborhood.
Public Hearings
AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District C-0 and District R-1 and including in District C-3 property as described below and located at 1530 South Range Line Road, 2929 East 16th Street, 2925 East 16th Street, and 2921 East 16th Street in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE providing for the vacation of a 20-foot wide public utility easement located at 2030 Connecticut Avenue in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
AN ORDINANCE providing for the vacation of a 20-foot wide public utility easement located at 2030 Connecticut Avenue in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.
Consent Agenda
Minutes Of The June 20, 2016 City Council Meeting
A RESOLUTION adopting and approving all aspects pertaining to the City of Joplin, in the Jasper / Newton County Bi-County Hazard Mitigation Plan.
A RESOLUTION adopting and approving all aspects pertaining to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant FY2016 Local Solicitation in the amount of $35,091.00.
Documents: RS2016-013.PDF
Ordinances - Emergency
AN ORDINANCE authorizing and approving the settlement of a claim for property damage asserted by the property owner, Helen Stewart, against the City of Joplin, said payment being in settlement of all claims arising out of property damages to rental property at 210 S. Mineral that occurred on or about January 8, 2016; authorizing the Director of Finance to pay out the total sum of Five Thousand, Nine Hundred Dollars ($5,900.00) to Helen Stewart and Affordable Drywall from Account No. 515-7501-500-5305 of the Insurance Fund; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving and authorizing payment into the Circuit Court of Jasper County, Missouri, the amount of the jury award in the case styled City of Joplin v. Randal and Shelly Kraft, Case No. 14AO-CC00088, from the Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund, Account No. 145-4565-520-8105, Project No. TG-0522, to satisfy the jury award in the case related to the acquisition of property generally located at 20th Street & Wisconsin, for the 20th Street Overpass Project, in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving the contract with Rosetta Construction, LLC, in the amount of Four Million, Seven Hundred Eighty-Three Thousand, Forty-Two and 30/100 ($4,783,042.30) for the Sanitary Sewer Renovation Phase 2 project in the City of Joplin, Missouri; providing how the cost shall be made and levied; and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City of Joplin to enter into an Agreement with Bates and Associates, Inc. in the amount of Four Hundred Seventy Five Thousand dollars ($475,000.00) to provide funding for the design and construction management of the Joplin Senior Citizen’s Center, authorizing the City Manager to execute said Agreement for the City, and containing an emergency clause.
AN ORDINANCE approving the Real Estate Contract by and between the City of Joplin, Missouri, a Municipal Corporation, and The Salvation Army, an Illinois Corporation, for the sale of approximately 6,000 square feet of land at 726 Kentucky; and authorizing the City Manager to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin; and containing an emergency clause.
Ordinances - First Reading
AN ORDINANCE amending Chapter 2, Administration, Section 2-50, Code of Ethics. In general, creating a new Section 2-50(n) of the Joplin City Code.
AN ORDINANCE repealing Section 58-66, Sale of Fireworks, Article II, Fire Prevention Code, of Chapter 58, Fire Prevention and Protection, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Joplin and enacting in lieu thereof a new Section 58-66, Sale of Fireworks, Article II, Fire Prevention Code, of Chapter 58, Fire Prevention and Protection, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Joplin to implement certain fee changes; and setting a date when this Ordinance shall become effective.
Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading
Unfinished Business
New Business
Waiver Of Building Permit Fee And Future Building Projects Request By Joplin R-8
Joplin R-8 is asking for a waiver of the building permit fee for the Early Childhood building project and future building projects. 
Vote to go into closed session, which shall pertain to leasing, purchasing or sale of real estate by a public governmental body where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration therefore as set forth in Section 610.021 (2) RSMo, as amended, 2015. This meeting, record, and vote to be closed to the extent provided by law. The City Council shall adjourn at the end of the session. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

R-8 support personnel delay grievance, working with Ridder to correct problems

Teachers are not the only employees who were pushed out of the Joplin R-8 system thanks to the previous administration.

Joplin Education Support Personnel members detailed their problems to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education Tuesday night. Initially, the group had planned to file a grievance, but that action has been delayed following a meeting between group leaders and Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder with further meetings planned for the near future.

The problems, which have left the district 15 or 16 bus drivers short as the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year approaches and have reduced wages and extra work opportunities, are detailed by speakers Sheri Virgin, Charlie DeVaughn, Dave Foley, and Charles Virgin during the public comment period of the meeting and can be found at approximately one hour and 40 minutes into the meeting in the accompanying video.
(Photo- Dave Foley and Charlie DeVaughn)

Sentencing date set for father of murdered Carthage two-year-old

A 9 a.m. August 22 sentencing date has been set for Albert Steven O'Connor, 28, Carthage, who pleaded guilty Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court to a felony charge of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the August 29, 2015, death of his two-year-old daughter Emalata Hoeft.

The next hearing for O'Connor's girlfriend, Tearra Diane Olson, 21, who is charged with second degree murder and abuse or neglect of a child, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, September 2, before Judge David Mouton.

Olson told police she slammed the child's head against a hard surface three times, resulting in the child's death.

Olson was living with the child's father, Albert
Steven O'Conner. She told police that Emalata Hoeft was crying and out of frustration she hit the child's head against the hard surface.

Olson and O'Conner left the girl at home, locked in her room with a sippy cup, while he worked at Butterball and she worked at Flex-O-Lators, according to the affidavit.

R-8 Board rejects airfare for P. R. junket

 The Joplin R-8 Board of Education did not approve the bill for airfare for Communications Director Kelli Price and her assistant Whitney Warren to attend the National School Public Relations Association seminar in Chicago July 17-20.

The item was removed from the bill list that had been provided to board members. It was listed under U.S. Bank, indicating that the item had already been paid by credit card.

CFO Paul Barr said "Administration approves removal of prepaid airfare of $656.40 bill list that's for July NSPRA conference."

This was the second month in a row that an item had been removed from the bill list. Last month, it was $218 for former R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff to travel to the Polsinelli law office in Kansas City to prepare for the P1 lawsuit.

Board members noted that Huff was already being paid a $50,000 "consulting" fee for his help in the lawsuits.

The board was told Tuesday night that Huff repaid the money.

Whether that will happen with the airfare for the NSPRA seminar remains to be seen.

Price and Warren were two of the employees who received hefty raises during the final days of the Huff Administration.

Price was given a new title of Communications Director and saw her salary increase from $48,053 to $63,000.

Warren, who was hired as an "events coordinator" became a "communications specialist" and received an increase from $38,475 to $42,000 a year.

More information about the NSPRA seminar, which will include a pre-seminar presentation from Huff and Bright Futures USA Executive Director Kim Vann, can be found at this link.

Kerry Sachetta named Joplin R-8 assistant superintendent

Kerry Sachetta, Joplin High School principal since 2002, has been promoted to assistant superintendent.

The announcement was made in the following news release issued moments ago by the Joplin R-8 School District:

Joplin Schools announced today that Dr. Kerry Sachetta has been named the new assistant superintendent of operations for the district, and Brandon Webb has been named human resources director. Both positions begin July 1, 2016.

As the assistant superintendent of operations, Dr. Sachetta will oversee the operational departments of the district including facilities, food service, transportation, technology, and safety. He will also oversee athletics and other responsibilities as needed. Dr. Sachetta currently serves as principal for Joplin High School. He has held that position for 14 years. Dr. Sachetta has 23 years of experience in education and has served as a teacher, coach, principal and university instructor. Prior to becoming an educator, he served as a sales manager for a distribution company for 12 years.

“Dr. Sachetta’s experience as an educator and building leader and his early experience outside of education make him an ideal candidate for this operations leadership position,” said Dr. Ridder, Joplin Schools interim superintendent. “Dr. Sachetta has worked closely with the operations departments throughout his tenure at Joplin High School. As we continue our efforts to become more efficient and effective, I look forward to his focused work in these areas to support our classrooms and continuously improve our district.”

Dr. Sachetta received a bachelor’s degree in social science education from Pittsburg State University, Kansas. He also received his master’s and specialist degrees in educational leadership from PSU. He earned a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Saint Louis University. In 2009, the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals named Dr. Sachetta the Missouri State High School Principal of the Year. Currently he serves as president of the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals, and he is a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Southwest Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals, Phi Delta Kappa, Learning Forward, and the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. He also serves on the Missouri AdvancED State Council and serves as a lead evaluator for school accreditation.

Brandon Webb has been named human resources director for the district. Webb currently serves as an attorney for Webb Law Firm in Edmond, Oklahoma. In addition to his legal experience, he has an extensive background in education and human resources. Over the last 19 years, he has served as staff attorney for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, associate general counsel for the Oklahoma Education Association and spent six years as president of Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Oklahoma.

“We are excited for Mr. Webb to join our district,” said Dr. Ridder. “Joplin Schools is one of the largest employers in the region with 1,200 employees. Recruiting, developing and retaining high quality staff is a key focus of our strategic plan. Mr. Webb’s experience directing an education institution and its staff and his legal background in education and employment law provide the depth of knowledge and experience needed to lead and continuously improve human resources for our school district.”

Webb received his juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, Norman, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Greenfield man pleads guilty to attempting to entice teens to have sex

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

A Greenfield, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to attempting to entice two teenage victims to engage in illicit sexual activity.

Christopher L. Johnson, 37, of Greenfield, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to both counts of a Sept. 30, 2015, federal indictment.

According to today’s plea agreement, Johnson engaged in text messages and Facebook messages that were sexual in nature with two victims, both under the age of 17, identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2. Johnson admitted to engaging in sexual contact with Jane Doe 1 at his residence.

Under federal statutes, Johnson is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. 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 Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI and the Dade County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Joplin Little League president pleads guilty to stealing $50,000

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

The former president of the Joplin South Little League has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing approximately $50,000 from the Joplin, Mo., organization.

Diane L. Heikkila, 41, of Joplin, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush on Monday, June 27, 2016, to a federal information that charges her with wire fraud.

By pleading guilty, Heikkila admitted that she engaged in a scheme to defraud and embezzle approximately $50,000 from the Joplin South Little League from September 2010 through January 2014.

Heikkila, while president, used the organization’s bank debit/credit card to make numerous purchases for personal gain. Heikkila often received “cash back” from the point-of-sale purchases when utilizing the debit/credit card. There were 217 incidents identified where “cash back” from point-of-sale transactions took place, with a total of $17,360 received as “cash back,” but these monies were never returned to the organization.

Heikkila also used the organization’s debit/credit card at ATMs to receive cash unrelated to the expenses of the Joplin South Little League. For example, on June 10, 2013, Heikkila fraudulently used the Joplin South Little League’s debit/credit card to conduct a $503 ATM withdrawal ($500 with a $3 fee) at Downstream Casino in Quapaw, Okla.

Heikkila also wrote and cashed checks to herself from the Joplin South Little League and often made cash withdrawals from the Joplin South Little League bank account.

The treasurer for the Joplin South Little League began reviewing account statements for the organization and in early 2014 discovered suspicious transactions taking place at retail stores, ATMs and casinos. The concerns were brought to the attention of the executive board for the Joplin South Little League and after a review Heikkila was removed from her position in March 2014.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Heikkila must pay a money judgment in the amount of $50,000.

Under federal statutes, Heikkila is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. 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 Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the FBI.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Board approves Algebra I textbooks, eliminates tests for K-1

It wasn't a complete sweep, but Tuesday night's Joplin R-8 Board of Education featured more signs that the school district is rebounding from the dark days of the C. J. Huff Administration.

Among the most positive signs:

-The board approved Algebra I textbooks for the high school. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a return to more textbooks in the classroom. The decision by the Huff Administration and the previous board of education to place all of its bets on computers has shortchanged Joplin students.

-At the request of kindergarten and first grade teachers, those classes will no longer be given the NWEA standardized tests. That was a big change from a year ago when the district agreed to spend approximately $300,000 over a three-year period for the tests, which are given three times a year. While the NWEA covers the elementary, middle school, and high school grades that were previously covered by McGraw-Hill's Acuity tests, Executive Director of Elementary Instruction Jennifer Doshier touted NWEA because its testing also includes kindergarten through second grade, which were not tested by Acuity. This year, Doshier changed her tune, explaining that the tests for the younger students were DEVELOPMENTALLY INAPPROPRIATE (the capital letters are taken directly from the power point presentation by Doshier)

-You couldn't convince Angie Besendorfer or C. J. Huff, but the distractions of bright sunlight pouring through the Joplin High School windows have caused problems since the school opened. The board agreed to spend $41,008 to tint the windows.

Not all of the signs were positive, however. Though, kindergartners and first graders will be excluded from NWEA tests, they are still going to be given to students in the other grades, on the idea, also being pushed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, that we have to have more and more data. Dosshier, two principals, and two teachers, sang the praises of NWEA, in a scene reminiscent of a few months ago when Doshier, former Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens, and other true believers talked (and talked and talked) about how wonderful the Core Collaborative consulting group was. If there are any teachers or principals who have serious reservations about NWEA, they are obviously not going to be the ones chosen to make the presentations. Instead, Joplin will follow the example of schools across the country that are sacrificing instructional time on the altar of testing and data.

In other action, the board:

-Learned that security fencing will be placed around modular classrooms at Columbia, Jefferson, and Kelsey Norman elementary schools.

-Approved the bid for demolition of a parking lot at Irving Elementary.

Cedar Rapids firm to head Joplin R-8 superintendent search

Ray and Associates will conduct the search for a new superintendent for the Joplin R-8 School District.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa company was selected following its presentation and presentations from McPherson and Jacobsen, LLC, Omaha, Nebraska, and BWP and Associates, Libertyville, Illinois.

Ray and Associates CEO and founder Gary Ray promised big involvement from the Joplin community in the process and said his company averages 70 applicants per position.

Board members were impressed by a vetting process that included interviews not only with the candidate's references, but also with school personnel, board members, and community members at schools where the candidate has worked.

The company has never had a failed search (in which no one was hired) and had a solid record for having the board selections stay in their new positions for several years.

Ray stressed that his company wanted to make sure to find a new superintendent who would fit the profile of what the board and the Joplin community wanted.

"You only want to do this one time while you'r eon the board," he said, "and you want to do it right."

Among the success stories touted by Ray and his team were the recent placement of a superintendent for the Kansas City school district, as well as Ladue, Lee's Summit, and Rogers, Arkansas.

In 2007, Ray and Associates conducted the search for the Lindbergh School District that ended with the board hiring Joplin R-8 Superintendent Jim Simpson, who still holds that position nine years later.

Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live at 6 p.m.

Graves: Gun control won't stop radical Islamic terrorism

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

More gun control is not going to stop radical Islamic terrorism.

Absolutely no one who loves this country and values human life wants to see what happened in Orlando last week happen ever again. It was terrible and tragic and disgusting. Our prayers are with everyone affected by the attack, especially the families of the victims.

The terrorist attack in Orlando was everything we associate with radical, hateful groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

But more gun control isn’t going to stop this evil. And new laws that impact the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans are not going to end radical Islamic terrorism.

We need to find new ways to weaken groups like ISIS. We have to cut off their finances and stop them from coming into this country. And we must do more to prevent people from being radicalized by foreign terrorist organizations.

But the spectacle that took place in the nation’s capital last week would do none of those things.

The so-called “No Fly, No Buy” bill would not have prevented Omar Mateen from doing what he did in Orlando. He was not on the No-Fly List when he purchased the firearms he used in the attack, and every single person “sitting in” at the U.S. Capitol knew that.

Anti-gun liberals treat every crisis or national tragedy as an opportunity to push their agenda on the American people. This is no different. And no scare tactic will make me support the unconstitutional gun laws they want us to live under.

Radical Islamic terrorism is the root of the problem we’re facing. Everyone in the federal government has to do a better job of finding ways to contain and destroy the groups that promote this evil. But nothing anti-gun liberals are proposing would stop it. And they know that.

Monday, June 27, 2016

John Q. Hammons Resorts and Hotels files for bankruptcy

Joplin city manager provides weekly update

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

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

Key Meetings

-On Monday, I had separate meetings with council member Brown and council member Stanley to talk about the assistant city manager position, budget, etc.

-On Tuesday, I met with Dr. Ridder, Dr. Marble, and Rob O’Brian to gain their perspectives on where our community sits today, the current and upcoming challenges our organizations may face, as well as the opportunities we can focus on to grow our community together and with the help of others. It was a fruitful conversation, and we will be looking to have more of them in the future with the idea of bringing the chief appointed and elected officials of each organization together to discuss issues. As that idea develops, I will keep you posted, but it’s a model that Dr. Ridder has seen be successful in other communities where he has served, and I’ve always been an advocate of getting more people together to talk about community issues and projects for the benefit of our city.

-On Wednesday, I attended the monthly Downtown Joplin board meeting in the place of Brian Kelly, who previously served as the staff liaison to that board, but is on temporary reassignment to HR to work on a few projects.

-Later afternoon the Sales Tax Task Force met to review/finalize the informational materials pertaining to the upcoming ballot issue in August, asking voters whether or not to continue the collection of sales tax on titled equipment.

-On Thursday, I met with Councilman Stinnett to talk about the ACM position, budget, etc.

-Earlier today, staff from public works, parks, and planning met with representatives from Downtown Joplin to talk about ways to incorporate more place-making ideas into our future projects. It was a great conversation that only further demonstrated that we all want our city to be the best it can be, while allowing room for different opinions on what that looks like and how to make progress. There are some potential opportunities, if construction bids come in favorably, to incorporate some ideas into the plans for 20th and Main Streets, but also in other areas of town as plans get developed and projects move forward. I believe there are also opportunities to partner with other organizations and private businesses to advance the cause, so that “the city” isn’t always the one to shoulder the burden of meeting everyone’s expectations, and solely at taxpayer expense.


-Earlier this week I had a conversation with our finance director on ways to get the council more involved in the budget process this year. One idea Leslie came up with, is to fill the gap between when we provide a copy of the proposed budget to you in August, and when we have the final budget work sessions in September, by having a few mini-sessions to provide information, answer questions, etc. If that is something you are interested in, please let me know and I can look at proposed dates. Likewise, if you have other suggestions, we are willing to explore them too.

-Attached to this week’s update is the most recent report provided by public works.

In the Pipeline 

-At our next regular meeting, you can expect an ordinance establishing the position of Firefighter Trainee that I referenced in a previous update.

-You can also expect an ordinance updating the fees for Memorial Hall.

Hartzler: Supreme Court abortion ruling is a tragedy

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), co-chair of the House Values Action Team, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision on the Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt case which involves a Texas law to provide equal protection for the health and safety of women in abortion clinics:

“This is a tragedy. With this decision, the court has put women in harm’s way, allowing abortion clinics to continue operating in dangerous conditions. Ensuring women’s safety when they are going in for surgery of any kind is not an undue burden, it is common sense. I am deeply disappointed in this decision.”

ACLU director: SCOTUS ruling should stop Missouri legislature's abortion game

(From ACLU of Missouri)

Jeffrey Mittman, Executive Director of ACLU of Missouri, issued the following statement in response to the US Supreme Court Issuing a Victory for Women in Abortion Access Case:

The Missouri legislature has repeatedly enacted abortion regulations that have no medical benefit for patients—all under the guise of purporting to protect women’s health. Today’s Supreme Court decision means that courts will no longer play along with the legislature’s disingenuous game of pretending to help women by erecting unnecessary barriers to abortion care. It should mark the end of Missouri’s campaign to impose unnecessary and burdensome regulations on abortion providers for the purpose of making abortion care more difficult to obtain.

Hartzler disappointed in Boeing aircraft sale to Iran

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hzrtzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, released the following statement on reports of the Boeing Company’s negotiations to sell aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Iran:

“I am very disappointed that Boeing, a great name in American manufacturing, has decided to conduct negotiations with a known state sponsor of terrorism. It is no secret that Iran supports the likes of Hezbollah, Hamas, the Islamic jihad, and threatens Israel, our ally in the Middle East. And despite President Obama’s nuclear “agreement,” Iran still acts out by conducting ballistic missile tests, launching rockets near U.S. ships, and detaining U.S. Sailors without reason.

While I remain a strong supporter of Boeing's defense contributions to our military readiness, this particular sale is a misguided pursuit and should be reconsidered.”

Boeing announced this week that it has signed a Memorandum of Agreement to sell aircraft to Iran, in what would be one of the Islamic Republic’s biggest deals with a U.S. manufacturer since trade sanctions on Tehran were eased.

St. Louis Democrat: Today monumental for women, gun violence prevention

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

In case you haven't heard yet, today was MONUMENTAL - both for women's reproductive choices and gun violence prevention.

The U. S. Supreme Court released their ruling in Whole Women'sHealth v. Hellerstedt, reaffirming women's right to abortion access.

By a 5-3 decision, Texas can no longer institute TRAP laws (targeted regulation of abortion providers) with burdensome & medically unnecessary clinic and physican regulations, causing many clinics to simply close. The justices ruled that these obstacles are a burden in women seeking their constitutionally protected access to abortion care - regardless of a woman's zip code

This ruling contesting Texas HB2, which was signed into law 3 years ago, is the biggest win for abortion rights advocates in 25 years - those of us who care about protecting women's legal right to reproductive care without interference.

Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (affectionately known as "Notorious RBG") said this in her concurring opinion:

The Supreme Court also ruled 6-2 upholding a federal law restricting guns from domestic violence abusers

The court ruled that domestic abusers DO NOT have a right to keep and bear arms if they were convicted of misdemeanor domestic-violence offenses. Violating the law, named after the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, carries a federal feloncy charge with a 10 year maximum sentence.

This is a big win for domestic violence advocacy groups. Women are shot and killed at high rates by their abusers every year which counts for many of the mass shootings across the country (often involving additional family members). Sadly, Missouri does not have a companion state law but I will continue to file legislation prohibiting abusers & felons from owning firearms in Missouri.


Governor Nixon did what we asked - vetoed SB656 which includes Permit-less CCW and "Stand Your Ground" provisions today.

This morning Governor Nixon announced his veto of SB656 at the Missouri Police Chiefs Association annual conference. His official veto statement included:

“As Governor, I have signed bills to expand the rights of law-abiding Missourians to carry concealed and am always willing to consider ways to further improve our CCW process. But I cannot support the extreme step of throwing out that process entirely, eliminating sensible protections like background checks and training requirements, and taking away the ability of sheriffs to protect their communities.”

The Governor’s concerns echo those voiced by law enforcement agencies, including the Missouri Police Chiefs Association (MPCA), representing 600 members statewide, and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 6,400 law enforcement officers across the state. St. Louis and Kansas City mayors, prosecutors and police chiefs also asked that he vetoed. St. Louis and Kansas City mayors, prosecutors and police chiefs also asked that he veto the bill.

Governor Nixon's full Veto Letter HERE.

So, What's Next for SB656?

Veto Session is Wednesday, September 14th. 109 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate are necessary to override a Governor's veto.

SB656 passed the House by 113-36 - 4 Democrats Ira Anders (Independence),Ben Harris (Hillsboro), Rory Rowland (Independence) and Stephen Webber(Columbia) voted yes with the GOP.

SB656 passed the Senate strictly by party line: 24 GOP voting yes and 8 Dem voting no.

By our math, we need 5 Representatives OR 2 Senators to change their votes. With the NRA's purchase of the Missouri Republican Party - along with a few Democrats, getting any to alter their vote in an election year will be HUGE.

Superintendent search firms to make presentations to Joplin R-8 Board

Superintendent search firms will make their presentations to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education during its 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting.

The meeting will be a preceded by a closed session at 5:30 p.m.

Meeting Agenda

A. Call to Order

1. Roll Call

B. Pledge of Allegiance

C. Approval of Agenda - Action

D. Superintendent Search Firm Interviews - Action (Dr. Ridder)

1. BWP and Associates - 6:05

2. McPherson and Jacobson, L.L.C. - 6:30

3. Ray and Associates, Inc. - 6:55

E. Reports

1. Board President's Report

a. Celebrations - Info. (Jeff Koch)

b. BOE Policy Committee Update - Info. (L. Banwart & J. Martucci)

c. BOE Data Analysis Committee Update - Info. (J. Koch, S. Dermott & L. Musser)

d. BOE Finance, Salary, and Benefits Committee - Info. (Dr. Fort & J. Martucci)

e. BOE Safety Committee - Info. (Dr. Fort & C. Sloan)

2. Superintendent's Data Report

a. FEMA Update - Info. (Paul Barr)

b. Health and Dental Care Insurance Reports - Info. (Paul Barr)

c. Health Plan TPA - Info. (Paul Barr)

d. Employee Health Committee Follow-up Report - Info. (Paul Barr)

e. Financial Statements - Info. (Paul Barr)

F. Public Comments Regarding Agenda Items *

G. Consent Agenda - Action

1. Approve Minutes - Action (Pat Waldo)

2. Personnel Recommendations - Action (Dr. Ridder)

H. Regular Agenda

1. Accounts Payable - Action (Paul Barr)

2. Budget Adjustments - Action (Paul Barr)

3. Budget 2016-17 - Action (Paul Barr)

4. Fund Transfer Authority - Action (Paul Barr)

5. Student Supply Bid - Action (Paul Barr)

6. Staff Evaluation Software Renewal (TalentEd Perform) - Action (Dr. Ridder)

7. Annual Peopleware Renewal for Infinite Campus - Action (Eric Pitcher)

8. Weidenhammer Alio Maintenance Renewal - Action (Eric Pitcher)

9. Local Tax Effort (LTE) Billbacks - Action (Mark Barlass)

10. Appointment of BOE Treasurer and Secretary 2016-17 - Action (Dr. Ridder)

11. Policy Update First Reading - Action (Dr. Ridder)

a. Policy IGAEB: Teaching About Human Sexuality

b. Policy JECA: Admission of Students

c. Policy JECC: Assignment of Students to Grade Levels/Classes

12. NWEA Measure of Academic Progress Interim Assessment - Action (Dr. Ridder)

13. enVision Math Materials for 2016-17 - Action (Dr. Ridder)

14. Algebra I Textbook Adoption for JHS - Action (Dr. Ridder)

15. Window Tinting of Classrooms at Joplin High School - Action (Dr. Ridder)

16. Security Fencing Around Modular Classrooms at Columbia, Jefferson and Kelsey Norman - Action (Dr. Ridder)

17. Approve Bid for the Demolition of Parking Lots at Irving Elementary - Action (Dr. Ridder)

18. Approve Bid for Trash Can Liners - Action (Dr. Ridder)

19. Approve Bid for Toilet Paper - Action (Dr. Ridder)

20. Marketing Services for FTC Adult Programs - Action (Dr. Ridder)

21. iMac Computers for FTC's Computer Information Program FY 17 DESE Enhancement Grant Funding - Action (Dr. Ridder)

22. Plus/Delta - Info. (Dr. Ridder)

a. Plus: What did we do well

b. Delta: Opportunities for Improvement

I. BOE Announcements

J. Adjourn

Nixon vetoes gun bill

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

Gov. Jay Nixon today vetoed Senate Bill 656, which would have eliminated the current requirements that individuals must obtain training, education, a background check and a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm in Missouri. The bill would have allowed individuals, including those from other states, to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they have been denied a permit because their background check revealed criminal offenses or caused the sheriff to believe they posed a danger.

“Here in Missouri, responsible gun ownership and support for the Second Amendment are strongly held values. These values are part of who we are, and a tradition we pass from generation to generation,” said Gov. Nixon. “As Governor, I have signed bills to expand the rights of law-abiding Missourians to carry concealed and am always willing to consider ways to further improve our CCW process. But I cannot support the extreme step of throwing out that process entirely, eliminating sensible protections like background checks and training requirements, and taking away the ability of sheriffs to protect their communities.”

Since 2003, Missouri law has set forth a process for obtaining a concealed carry permit. This well-established process requires classroom and range training, as well as a background check and review by the sheriff, before an applicant can obtain a concealed carry permit.

Under this well-established process, sheriffs have also appropriately rejected many individuals’ applications and those decisions have been upheld by courts on appeal.

In his veto message, Gov. Nixon provided examples of individuals who could automatically carry a concealed weapon under this law who cannot do so today, including individuals who have pled guilty to a felony and received a suspended imposition of sentence; individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor assault; and individuals with two or more misdemeanor drug possession convictions.

“I cannot support a system that would ignore a determination by the chief law enforcement officer of a county that an individual is a danger to the community and should not be authorized to carry a concealed firearm,” said the Governor in his veto message. “Allowing currently prohibited individuals to automatically be able to carry concealed would make Missouri less safe.”

The Governor’s concerns echo those voiced by law enforcement agencies, including theMissouri Police Chiefs Association (MPCA), representing 600 members statewide, and the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 6,400 law enforcement officers across the state.

In a letter to the Governor, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Ahlbrand wrote, “Make no mistake, we are staunch supporters of the Second Amendment. We feel, however, that the enactment of SB 656, specifically the allowance of giving anyone not currently prohibited from possessing a firearms, the ability to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, will cost not only citizen lives but will also be extremely dangerous to law enforcement officers.”

“The Missouri Police Chiefs Association is concerned for the safety of citizens and officers, through the loss of the balance that has existed in Missouri relating to the carrying of concealed weapons for the past several years, and the language in SB 656 that will even allow those persons convicted of crimes to use a verdict that includes a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) to legally carry a concealed weapon,” said MPCA President Chief Paul Williams. “During a time that balanced approaches and solutions are needed more than ever to face increasing challenges, there is no need to create an imbalance, and potentially decrease the safety of citizens and police officers alike, through such a profound change in Missouri’s concealed carry law, which has served this state well over the past several years.”

The Governor’s veto letter is available here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Links provided to this week's top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

In this week's most visited Turner Report, I apologized for writing a post about former Joplin R-8 Chief Operations Officer Tina Smith and using a picture of Margaret Hamilton in her famous 1939 role as the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz.

Surprisingly, the post I was apologizing for only finished in the number three spot. Otherwise, top Turner Report posts,with only two exceptions were about Joplin R-8 topics.

The top Inside Joplin post was published today and concerned the death of a Joplin woman in a motorcycle accident and the arrest of the driver of that motorcycle on DWI and felony manslaughter charges. Not only did the post receive the most traffic of any post on this week on Inside Joplin, but at this writing it is already received more traffic than any Inside Joplin post since the blog began in November 2013.

The Turner Report

1. Turner Report apologizes for Tina Smith post

2. Huff, R-8 officials received numerous warnings Victory Ministries lawsuit would be filed

3. Goodbye Tina Smith- and good riddance

4. Eggleston: No parents complained to me about field trip

5. Joplin R-8 spending thousands to send employees on PR junket

6. Joplin City Audit followup- The cover up continues

7. Latest nonsense: No one will want Joplin superintendent job

8. Arraignment set for man accused of taking photos in Wal-Mart dressing room

9. Joplin R-8 officials on field trip: We didn't do anything wrong

10. Joplin R-8 Board to discuss policy that warns about sexting between friends

Inside Joplin

1. Joplin woman killed, motorcyclist cited for DWI, manslaughter

2. Joplin, Diamond men charged with burglary, robbery, felonious restraint

3. Three motorcyclists injured in four-vehicle crash near Carthage

4. Joplin Police Department Weekend Arrests

5. Decomposing body found in Nixa Wendy's parking lot

6. Carthage teen, 5-year-old injured following tire blowout

7. Barton County Dissolutions of Marriage Petition

8. JPD seeking information on road rage incident on I-44

9. Highway Patrol DWI Arrests June 25-26

10. Driver arrested for DWI, airlifted to Freeman after scooter accident

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Carolyn Mitchell

2. Sunny Keith

3. Sam Miller

4. Ruth Eldridge

5. Sharon Fretwell

6. Sue Wardlow

7. Vera Scribner

8. Richard Ogle

9. Nicole Shaner

10. Donna Evans

Report examines Greitens ties to PAC attacking Brunner

KMBC report fact checks Hanaway claims

When Catherine Hanaway's ads have aired recently, I have been irritated by her claim, the same claim made by nearly everyone who is running for office, that they are fed up with career politicians.

Wasn't this woman Speaker of the House in Missouri and didn't she run unsuccessfully for higher office?

In the accompanying video, KMBC investigative reporter Mike Mahoney brings up that Hanaway statement, as well as fact checking some of the other things she has been claiming.

It seems odd in a race that includes two candidates, John Brunner and Eric Greitens, who have never served in public office that Hanaway is trying to claim the outsider mantle.

It will really be strange if the fourth major GOP candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, decides to make that claim.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Latest nonsense: No one will want Joplin superintendent job

Any time anyone has the audacity to stand up to the powers that be, there will be people claiming that all of the controversy will have a detrimental effect on the community.

An anonymous comment on the Turner Report earlier this week made that point:

As horrible as Joplin people treat their superintendent, it'll be a miracle to find someone decent who'd want to come here.

I could argue that the superintendent in question deserved the treatment he received and brought it on himself, but considering that the controversy surrounding Huff only came during his last two years and there was no controversy surrounding his predecessor, it is hard to argue that Joplin makes a habit of mistreating superintendents.

The same kind of nonsense was being spouted by Joplin R-8 Board of Education member Lynda Banwart in an article in Friday's Joplin Globe:

I think whoever is coming in here is coming into a difficult situation. Anybody who is going to Google Joplin is going to pull up some very different things.

The idea that the controversy that surrounded former Superintendent C. J. Huff is going to make it hard to find someone willing to come to Joplin is ridiculous.

Joplin has become a challenge, a school district that could be a launching pad for a successful administrative career or a crowning achievement to cap off a long career in education.

This should ensure that we have some top-flight candidates.

It will not be too hard for a solid superintendent to make a favorable impact on this city. All we have to do is look at him or her and say "It's not C. J. Huff." This is not just the way I look at things from my obviously biased viewpoint. I have had businesspeople and educators, both in and out of Joplin, who have said that the bar has been set so low by C. J. Huff that anyone who keeps their hands out of the till and does not commit an ax murder will be a success.

The controversies of the Huff era should not concern his eventual replacement. The new superintendent will face problems, but they won't come because of a divided community.

Financial Problems

By the time, the new superintendent goes to work, it should be clear that the R-8 School District has severe financial problems.

Already, district officials are preparing, though they have not said so publicly, to have to make a seven-figure payout by the time the suit and countersuit with the P1 Group is settled. While it is doubtful, the firm will get the more than $6 million it is seeking, the district could easily end up paying as much half of that amount or even more.

Another problem is the "errors and omissions' that the district has submitted to FEMA for reimbursement for the building projects. Errors are one thing, but the "omissions" are primarily things the Huff Administration decided to add without consulting FEMA and now wants to have reimbursed. Turner Report readers will remember CFO Paul Barr's statement at a board meeting of the district's $8 million dollars in "might-as-well" spending for items that included lighting for all practice fields at the new high school, extra tennis courts, artificial turf for all fields, and a new track. While that $8 million is memorable because of Barr's noting that they decided they "might as well" buy those things, the same kind of thinking was used at all of the new buildings. Reportedly, some of these errors and omissions have already been rejected by SEMA and district officials are trying to get FEMA to overrule the state agency. Whichever way it works, taxpayers will end up getting soaked.

The new superintendent will likely still be dealing with the remnants of the Huff Administration including two people who are paid more than $100,000 (total, not separately) to provide public relations and community outreach. In other school districts where dollars are scarce, the top administrators are the ones who handle the public relations, while everyone who works for the school is responsible for community outreach. One of the last moves Huff made was to give his newly-titled communications director a raise of $15,000, at the same time that classified personnel received no pay increase and teachers received a small one.

And there are still some top officials  here who were hired during Huff's tenure and act as if nothing has changed.

Those people may be gone by the time the 2017-2018 school year arrives but don't count on it.

A lack of veteran teachers

The new superintendent is also going to have to deal with an inexperienced teaching corps since more than half of the district's teachers left during the last four years Huff was here. Even with Huff gone, the migration has continued. Part of that is due to the delay that occurred when Banwart worked with Huff and former board member Mike Landis to reject the will of the people and have the Jasper County Commission appoint three board members to replace Landis and Steele, who quit when things did not go their way, and Lane Roberts, who was elected even though district patrons knew full well he could not serve so the district could get rid of Board President Anne Sharp.

More than half of the district's teachers have been here less than five years. More veteran teachers may well hit the road before the new superintendent arrives.

C. J. Huff won't leave Joplin

Perhaps the situation will change by July 1, 2017, but one problem that has faced Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder is that C. J. Huff and the Panera Mafia still think they are running Joplin Schools and considering that some of the people who meet regularly with Huff are still making decisions for the school district, they may have good reason to believe that.

R-8 taxpayers will continue to pay Huff's salary through the end of calendar year 2016, so maybe he will finally depart in 2017, but there is a good chance Huff's presence will serve as an irritant to his successor, as it has to the interim superintendent.

Concluding thoughts

Without a doubt, the person selected by the Board of Education will have no easy task awaiting, but do we really want a top administrator who wants to come in and coast and collect a paycheck?

Thanks to the PR job C. J. Huff, at the taxpayers' expense, did, and his continuing "we will have school" speaking tour, it will appear to those outside of Joplin that the new superintendent will have big shoes to fill.

In Joplin, we know better and any applicants who do more than a cursory job of researching the school will find out that being superintendent here is a job well worth taking. The people of Joplin will welcome anyone who comes in and puts the needs of the students and the taxpayers above his or her own.