Monday, October 31, 2016

Springfield businessman: Proposal will leave homeless, indigent, mentally ill roaming streets of Joplin

A critic of a plan to ship Springfield municipal prisoners to the Joplin City Jail accused the Springfield City Council of hiding some major problems.

"We're not being honest with the people of Joplin," businessman Tim Havens (pictured) said during a public hearing on the emergency measure, which the council approved unanimously Monday night.

The prisoners will come to Joplin, but they may not be returning to Springfield, Havens said. "Our agreement should spell out that there is no ride home. Tell it like it is. There is no ride home.

"This will leave the homeless, the indigent, possibly the mentally ill people on the streets of Joplin.

"Is this moral? Do we not have concern for Joplin people?"

Havens' suggestion of raising the $50 a day per prisoner to $75 to cover the cost of a bus ticket back to Springfield was harshly criticized by Councilman Craig Hosmer.

"I'd rather spend our money on low income people that haven't violated the law in the city of Springfield rather than paying for transportation services for people who habitually violate the law, don't come to court, don't show up when they're supposed to and then we're expected to take them to jail and bring them back home."

Havens said he had talked to four Joplin City Council members, none of whom had heard of the jail proposal.

In presenting the proposal to the council, Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams indicated Joplin would receive a higher grade of prisoners, noting that they would be mostly people who had failed to appear for court dates.

Springfield does not have a municipal jail and has not been allowed to use the Greene County Jail since April 2015. 

The deal with Joplin is not a cure all of Springfield's ills, Williams said. "This absolutely does not solve our problem. The city had been sending about 25 prisoners a day to Miller and Taney counties, but has far more prisoners than that and has been forced to release many on their own recognizance.

The City of Joplin is scheduled to take up the proposal, which sets a maximum of $100,000, during its Monday, November 7, meeting.

(The portion of the City Council meeting devoted to the Joplin proposal begins at about the 34 minute mark.)

"Banned in Joplin" Book Tour starts Saturday, November 12 at Always Buying Books

The first stop on the "Banned in Joplin Book Tour," is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, November 12, at Always Buying Books, 5357 N. Main, Joplin.

Other stops will be announced later.

The signing will feature the 10th anniversary "Banned in Joplin" edition of my horror/mystery novel Devil's Messenger.

The "Banned in Joplin" tag on the
book and the tour are because of the book's removal from the shelves of Joplin schools, where it had been in the libraries for seven years before former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff filed charges against me, claiming I had assigned the book to students (I hadn't), the book had strong sexual content (it barely borders on PG) and it has violence (He had me there. After all it is a murder mystery and a horror story.)

Some of the other books featured at the signing will include my 2015 non-fiction title Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, which reveals how Joplin City and R-8 officials' bungling and deceit cost taxpayers millions after the tornado, my novel No Child Left Alive, which details one year at a dysfunctional high school in a school district led by a narcissistic superintendent and an assistant superintendent who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, the earlier Joplin Tornado books, and the non-fiction .Let Teachers Teach.

Hope to see you at Always Buying Books.

More Joplin R-8 superintendent interviews set for Tuesday

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will continue interviewing superintendent candidates when it meets in closed session 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Memorial Education Building.

The closed session will also include discussion of "legal actions involving the district," according to the agenda.

The board is scheduled to hire the new superintendent by the first week of December.

Federal court judge officially dismisses Joplin R-8 lawsuit

By this time tomorrow night, the Joplin R-8 School District will have $2.5 million less in its reserve account.

That's the amount the district will pay the P1 Group to settle the lawsuit brought on by former superintendent's mad rush, ultimately unsuccessful, to get Joplin High School open on time in August 2014.

U. S. District Court Judge Greg Kays officially dismissed the case today.


What the Joplin Globe failed to tell its readers about the R-8 lawsuit settlement

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Links provided to top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts for October

The Joplin Globe charges an arm and a leg for obituaries, taking advantage of people during their time of grief and Turner Report readers do not like it.

Brenda Schmid's well-written post following the death of her mother was the runaway top post for October on the Turner Report with the Globe's surprising endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president coming in second.

Links to October's top posts are provided below:

The Turner Report

1. Brenda Schmid; What the Joplin Globe charges for obituaries is obscene

2. Joplin Globe endorses Hillary Clinton

3. Life, 30 years for Joplin man, girlfriend accused of killing her husband, dumping him in well

4. Ed Emery: Public education responsible for homosexuality, socialism

5. Two administrators out in Joplin R-8 shakeup

6. Dankelson accepts $5,000 from family of man awaiting felony charges

7. Much touted raise for Joplin city employees will barely cover insurance increase

8. Dankelson reduced, dropped charges against members of family that gave him $5,000

9. Former Webb City superintendent named to Joplin R-8 post

10. Insurance hike for Joplin city employees far worse than Turner Report originally reported

Inside Joplin

1. JPD traffic stop nets handgun, meth

2. Joplin woman wins $4 million in Missouri lottery

3. MSSU student found unconscious in residence hall, dies at local hospital

4. Do you know these people? Carthage Police need information

5. JPD needs help identifying credit card theft suspects

6. Joplin Police seeks help identifying Northpark Mall burglary suspect

7. Joplin man arrested, victim in critical condition after falling from second floor balcony

8. Joplin Police seeking to identify three people in fraud investigation

9. Former Joplin Police Officer Don Stone dead at 52

10. Carthage Police: Can you identify this woman?

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Lawrence Wormington

2. James Ellison

3. Dalton Heseman

4. Lee Henson

5. Travis Schiernbeck

6. Angie Wosel

7. Chris Beaver

8. Jeremy Knight

9. Charles Burt

10. Alan Reinke

Links provided for top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts this week

After a few weeks when the Joplin R-8 School District was not featured prominently, it surged back this week with the removal of Executive Director of Special Services Mark Barlass and the $2.5 million settlement of the P1 lawsuit leading the way.

The top Inside Joplin post this week, about a Joplin Police Department stop that resulted in the discovery of a handgun and methamphetamines, with more than 21,000 individual visitors, was also the most visited post of all time for the blog.

This week's top posts:

Turner Report

1. Life, 30 years for Joplin man, girlfriend who killed her husband and dropped him in well

2. Two administrators out in Joplin R-8 shakeup

3. Dankelson reduced, dropped charges against members of family that gave him $5,000

4. What the Joplin Globe failed to mention about the R-8 lawsuit settlement

5. Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live

6. R-8 agreement with Barless, insurance through December, won't oppose unemployment

7. Reader's message to Joplin R-8 parents: Demand change

8. Springfield prisoners to be housed in Joplin City Jail, city to receive $100,000

9. Joplin School District has to pay P1 Group $2.5 million by Tuesday

10. Lawsuit accusing Joplin police officer of punching woman, fondling her breasts, is dropped

Inside Joplin

1. JPD traffic stop nets handgun, meth

2. Do you know these people? Carthage Police need information

3. Joplin Police seek help identifying Northpark Mall burglary suspect

4. Six-year-old injured as Joplin man crashes into three parked cars

5. Large quantity of meth seized in Jasper

6. Joplin Police Department Arrests October 25-26

7. Joplin Police Department Arrests October 26-27

8. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

9. Do you know this man? Carthage Police asks for help

10. Do you know this man? Carthage Police want to know who he is

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Angie Wosel

2. Matthew Fisher

3. Tom Jones

4. Carolyn Brewer

5. Penny Moorehouse-Coates

6. Mary Walters

7. Paul Ritchhart

8. Mary Jennings

9. Joseph McNally

10. Steve Sell

Draining the swamp: Why I support the current Joplin R-8 Board of Education

I would be lying if I said I did not hold considerable resentment about the severance packages that have been provided for some Joplin R-8 officials as the current Board of Education continues to work on what Donald Trump has referred to as "draining the swamp."

The most recent example of this came this week with the forced resignation of Executive Director of Student Services Mark Barlass. As the Turner Report noted Friday, Barlass received more than six thousand dollars in vacation pay, will have the district pay for his health insurance through the end of the calendar year, and will receive a neutral reference from the district when it is called by prospective employers. The district will also not challenge any attempt by Barlass to receive unemployment insurance.

When the job performances of Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens and East Middle School Principal Bud Sexson were considered to be so problematic that they had to be removed from their positions with more than a semester left in the school year, they were given busy work to do for several months, while collecting their full salaries and benefits. I am sure they, too, will receive at least a neutral reference.

The crown jewel of separation agreements, of course, was provided to former Superintendent C. J. Huff.

Huff, who "retired" June 30, 2015, is still receiving his full $175,000 annual salary through December 31 of this year, 18 months after his "retirement" date, giving him $260,000 for not doing anything for the taxpayers. He also received a $50,000 consulting fee, which R-8 officials acknowledged was strictly for helping the district with the lawsuits that came about as a result of his incompetence and the incompetence of the people he hired and promoted to positions far beyond their skill levels.

The most grating part of Huff's deal is that he was able to write his own glowing letter of reference, as I revealed in the June 1, 2015 Turner Report. The letter even included a reference to Joplin as an "unengaged, apathetic community," until Huff came along and rescued us and enlightened us. The letter also referred to the "personal sacrifices" Huff had made.

In essence, Huff wrote his own letter of recommendation and the board signed off on it to prevent him from continuing to inflict his own brand of narcissistic excess on the district.

The letter reads as follows:

To whom it may concern,

I am honored to have this opportunity to write this letter of recommendation on behalf of the Joplin Schools Board of Education for Dr. C. J. Huff. I have known Dr. Huff since his arrival in Joplin in July of 2008.

When Dr. Huff was hired as the superintendent of schools by the Board of Education, he was hired to tackle several challenges the District had yet to overcome. The primary issues included an unacceptable graduation rate that hovered between 72 and 75 percent and an unengaged, apathetic community that was not intimately involved in the life of our schools. Within a few short years, Dr. Huff successfully tackled both challenges through the development of a comprehensive dropout prevention program resulting in graduates rates exceeding 86 percent, as well as a nationally recognized community engagement framework known as Bright Futures that has been replicated by 35 communities in seven states across the country.

Unfortunately on May 22, 2011, Dr. Huff was suddenly thrust into the national spotlight as a part of the recovery effort following the most costly tornado in our nation's history. On that day, Joplin Schools lost seven students, one staff member, and six school buildings. Four other school buildings sustained damage. Over the course of 87 days, Dr. Huff led his team and the community through an amazing recovery effort resulting in the scheduled opening of school on August 17, 2011.

Through that incredibly challenging time, his focus on what was best for our children, our families, our teachers, and our community did not waiver (sic). His commitment to the rebuilding effort and the personal sacrifices he has made to see our school community through this unimaginable disaster has resulted in state of the art school facilities for our children, but more importantly, 21st Century academic programming that has been recognized as a model of innovation for the state and national level, as well.

It is without hesitation Joplin Schools Board of Education recommends Dr. C. J. Huff for a position in your organization. He has consistently demonstrated he is a capable leader and a man of commitment, character, and integrity.

As I noted at the beginning of this post, I resent the deals these people who have damaged the district and whose negative influence will be felt for years to come have brokered with the board of education.

As others who have commented on the Turner Report, both following the Huff "retirement" and the Barlass resignation have noted, these people have been given far more consideration than they showed to the hundreds of people they ushered out of the school system.

C. J. Huff and the people who worked for him took delight in continuing to cause problems for employees and former employees. Over the past three and a half years I have come across one story after another of the Huff team going out of its way to harass former employees, some of whom left on their own, by calling prospective employers and warning them about the job applicants.

While they worked in what essentially was a country club atmosphere for most of the seven years of Huff's tenure, traveling the country on the taxpayer dime and using district credit cards like their own personal possessions, they spent a considerable amount of their time targeting people,who dared to criticize, and in some cases, even to ask questions, about actions they had taken.

The most egregious example was the McKinley Massacre, where a veteran teacher, attempting to improve the atmosphere at her school, took a group of non-tenured teachers to Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer looking for a solution to problems with the principal.

Besendorfer assured them their concerns would be addressed and they certainly were. None of the teachers' contracts were renewed and the veteran teacher barely held on to her job, but was forced to transfer to another school. Perhaps the only thing that saved her job was that the district was already going through a messy situation involving another tenured teacher and did not want to have a second termination hearing.

I was that other tenured teacher.

By the time the McKinley situation was finished, only a handful of teachers were left in the building who had been there the previous year.

The principal whose actions had caused all of the problems, Jennifer Doshier, a pet of the Huff-Besendorfer Administration, was rewarded with a job in upper administration as executive director of elementary education. Today, she is the director of curriculum, teaching, and assessment for the district.

For her replacement, the district transferred curriculum director Terri Hart, who made no secret of needing to have a principal's job to use as a steppingstone to future employment as a superintendent. The only problem- she was not qualified to be a principal.

Hart did not receive her principal certification until December 2013, when she had already been on the job for months.

Hart resigned that position in February 2016, another case of the current board excising some of the
cancer that Huff and Besendorfer inflicted upon R-8 taxpayers.

Whether Hart received some kind of sweetheart deal in order to hasten her departure, I do not know. All I know is that all of these people, even those who left in public disgrace, like Huff and Barlass, received far more consideration than I did and for that, I am resentful.

In June 2013, I was fired following a 10-hour termination hearing.

I dislike having to go through the entire case again, but it is necessary to provide some background to show why, though I am angered by these deals with Huff, Barlass, and others, I completely support the current Board of Education in making those deals.

This is what happened to me and what has happened since my firing:

-On April 8, 2013, I was removed from my classroom and escorted out of East Middle School, where I was an English teacher, by a police officer, in front of my students and fellow teachers just as the final bell had rung for the day. This took place following a four-and-a-half-minute "interrogation," which I recorded.

-On the advice of NEA, I was fully prepared to resign and was actively seeking jobs with other area school districts. Two of those districts had already checked my references and had received positive recommendations from former administrators who had worked with me.

-The Huff Administration leaked confidential information from their "investigation"  and from my personal file to the Joplin Globe, which allowed the Globe to write about my book No Child Left Alive in its article about my situation. There was no other reason for the newspaper to write about the book or what it referred to as its graphic sexual content. After that article, any chance of me being hired by the area school districts was gone and I was forced to go through a public hearing.

-The first charges against me were that I assigned my book to my students on my website Room 210 Discussion, a website that had not been used for school purposes for three years and one that I had never told my students about. I was also accused of using student work for my own profit with the March 2013 publication of Scars from the Tornado. Against my attorney's advice, I refuted those charges on the Turner Report, including posting a YouTube video featuring the audio content of my secretly recorded interrogation.I also posted photos of the parental permission slips I had received for Scars.

-The district filed different allegations against me, saying I did not receive permission for publishing Scars, that I had exposed my students to No Child Left Alive, primarily by promoting it on all of my websites, including Room 210 Discussion, and I had also exposed them to another book they termed pornographic Devil's Messenger, a book that is decidedly not pornographic (neither is No Child Left Alive) and at that point had been on the shelves at the East Middle School and Joplin High School libraries for seven years with no complaints.

-During her investigation, though there were never any allegations of me doing anything improper with students, HR Director Tina Smith, the same one responsible for the four-and-a-half minute interrogation, asked students numerous questions about whether I had ever said anything inappropriate or touched them, doing her best to plant doubts in their heads and lessen their support of me.

-During the termination hearing, Smith testified that when she interviewed female students, she detected "evidence of grooming," because they were all "protective" of me. She admitted they had never found one student who read No Child Left Alive, but that did not matter, both she and C. J. Huff testified, because I had "dangled" it in front of them by promoting it on my public websites. Huff, in tears, testified that he would never want his teenage daughter to have someone like me as a teacher, said it did not matter that I was a good teacher, and asked the board how they could take a chance on not firing me and have something horrible happen in the future. He added that he could not sleep at night if I remained in the district.

-Sexson testified that I had never told him about Scars from the Tornado, even though the president and treasurer of the PTO both testified that he had talked glowingly about the project to them a full 10 months before he says he heard of it for the first time.Though Huff tried to make it appear that I was profiting from student work, one of my fellow teachers testified about a plan I had for using the proceeds from the book to help students who had to face similar circumstances as the East Middle School students did after the tornado. Sadly, because of what happened that plan never came to fruition.

-None of the seven board members said anything to protest the allegations that Smith, Huff, and others made that were not related to the charges and for which they did not have any evidence. Board President Jeff Flowers noted the objection and allowed the slander to continue.

-Eventually, I was fired for three reasons- 1. I had promoted a book that even the board's decision said I had every right to publish on websites that I owned, including Room 210 Discussion, I had violated school policy by recording my interrogation (even though it was not against school policy until early 2014, months after I was gone) and I had published Scars without permission from administration. I did not lose my teaching license and the final decision, perhaps anticipating a lawsuit, made it clear that I had not done anything immoral.

-When I was terminated, all I received was my pay through the remainder of my contract, which I had already earned, since it was a nine-month contract with the payments spread out over 12 months. I received no additional time for insurance. Unlike Barlass, I not only did not have extra time to turn in all district-owned materials, I was required to do so two months before my firing.

-When I applied for unemployment insurance, I was rejected because Tina Smith said I had released confidential student information, something I had not done.

-I have yet to be interviewed for even one of the more than two dozen teaching positions I have applied for. I have heard from sources at some of the schools that the same line about releasing confidential student information had been told to them. I was also told that Huff and others who were in his administration continued to tell prospective employers that I had provided pornographic materials to 150 students (the approximate number I had in my classes). Huff went public with that in August 2014 when he told teachers at every school during what he termed "The Whirlwind Tour," that I had provided the pornographic material to the students. In some of those schools, he did not mention me by name, though he made it clear who he was talking about. The teachers at at least three of the schools heard him use my name making the same allegation.

Why didn't I sue after my firing?

That question has been asked by my critics and my supporters for the past three years. After the decision, I had only a couple of weeks to file an appeal. I was informed by NEA that it would not represent me in the appeal, primarily because the appeals are generally a foregone conclusion. They do not look for evidence, but whether the hearing was conducted according to law and it was. I contacted some lawyers and could find no one to represent me. So I decided not to appeal and lawyers I contacted since that time would not take the case because I did not appeal.

One local attorney, however, did agree to take my case, saying I had a strong First Amendment action since I had clearly been fired because of what I had written. Months went by and except for an occasional e-mail response, I did not hear from the lawyer. By the time I finally came to the conclusion, he did not plan to do anything, he had stopped responding to my e-mails. If I had been billed for any of this, I would have written about it earlier.

I have been told ACLU would take my case. No, it won't. I was rejected with a form letter carrying the signature of someone who has been a Turner Report follower for years. I suppose it was nothing personal.

With those avenues closed to me, I decided to use the skills I have and inform the Joplin community about what was going on in the R-8 School District and see if I could effect change by keeping the taxpayers/voters informed.

My story makes me uniquely qualified to offer this piece of advice- Lay off the current school board about what it is doing to clean up the mess created by its predecessors and by C. J. Huff and Angie Besendorfer.

Yes, I resent the going-away packages that Huff, Barlass, and others have received, but I don't see that the board had much choice.

Consider that the previous board with Mike Landis, Anne Sharp, and Randy Steele, made a conscious decision to add another year to Huff's contract, which already had two to go, even though an election was coming up in which voters had a chance to determine Huff;s future. The decision also come a short time before the release of a state audit, which was highly critical of Huff;s performance, an audit the board members fully knew was about to be released.

If there is anyone who doesn't believe Huff would have torn up this school district and all of the kids he claims to love in a heartbeat before going quietly into the gentle night, they don't know Huff at all. The board made a decision that many have criticized, but it was far more productive to get Huff out of R-8 and begin to clean up the mess The board had only two other options- wait for his contract to expire and see how many more millions he could cost and how many more teachers he could drive away or go through a long, drawn-out lawsuit that may have ended up costing as much in legal fees as the P1 Group lawsuit Huff brought upon the district.

The same thing applies to the other Huff Administration members who have been shown the door. Huff surrounded himself with the people who were not likely to do the honorable thing and leave quietly. Even when they are caught with their pants down, they have to receive an incentive to resign.

The draining of the swamp is not yet complete and those who are expecting to see test results immediately improve are not being realistic and more likely, have an agenda against the current board members.

It took C. J. Huff seven years to bring the school district to a place where it faces deep financial challenges, has driven away more than half of its experienced teachers, and infected the entire system with people who reached their current positions because of their ability to kiss up, backstab, or both.

And don't forget that the process of fixing these wrongs was delayed another year because Mike Landis, C. J. Huff, Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson, and the Jasper County Commission conspired to take away the vote of the elected board and appointed three people who slowed the progress, and for the most part, went along with what the remnants of the Huff Administration wanted to do.

I haven't agreed with everything the current school board has done. Many changes are left to be made and not enough has been done to reassure teachers and the community that anything is going to be different.

One reason for that is that the board members who were elected to change things cannot very well go around bragging that they are draining the swamp.

So let me do that for them.

The district is already immeasurably better because it is no longer contaminated by the likes of C. J. Huff, Mark Barlass, Terri Hart, Bud Sexson, Sarah Stevens, and others.

If it had not been for the fact that Huff left a poison pill parting shot at the board by providing contracts that will require another year for some of the remaining few of Huff's top administrators to be eliminated, the process would be even further along. This board, however, unlike Huff, would prefer not to involve the district in any more lawsuits than are absolutely necessary.

Even when those people are gone, the board and the new superintendent face the task of changing an administrative culture that was fostered by Huff and Besendorfer. Many of the principals and assistant principals who remain survived and thrived under C. J. Huff, because they were willing to do whatever they needed to do to advance and profit from the system. Until those people are gone or have changed their ways, we will continue to see teachers leaving the R-8 System.

Restoring the district to the successes it was having before C. J. Huff arrived is no easy task.

Fortunately, if we remain patient, we have elected the people who can do the job.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Springfield prisoners to be housed in Joplin City Jail, city to receive $100,000

Springfield City Council will vote on an ordinance Monday night that would transfer city prisoners to the Joplin Municipal Jail.

KSPR reports the City of Joplin will receive $100,000 to take care of Springfield's overflow of prisoners.

The Springfield city jail has been overcrowded for years, a problem that became worse in April 2015 when Greene County stopped accepting municipal prisoners.

The text of the ordinance is printed below:

AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING the City Manager, or his designee, to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Joplin, Missouri, for use of the Joplin Jail for housing City inmates and declaring an emergency.

WHEREAS, the City is in need of a detention facility to house the City's municipal prisoners; and WHEREAS, the city of Joplin, Missouri, has offered to work with the City to house certain municipal prisoners of the City in the Joplin Jail during the term of a contract between the parties.


Section 1 –The City Manager, or his designee, is hereby authorized to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Joplin, Missouri; said agreement to be in substantially the form as that document attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference as "Exhibit A."

Section 2 –The City Council hereby finds and declares that an emergency exists in that this Ordinance relates to the preservation of the public health, safety, and morals pursuant to Sections 2.12(1) of the City Charter in that the housing of municipal prisoners in a detention facility is crucial to the effective enforcement of City Ordinance violations. Therefore, this Ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after passage.

What the Joplin Globe failed to mention about the R-8 lawsuit settlement

When a school district that faces financial challenges has to make a wire transfer of $2.5 million by Tuesday to settle a lawsuit with a contractor, it is page one news and that is exactly where the area's newspaper of record, the Joplin Globe, put it this morning.

While the Globe article detailed the basics of the lawsuit, there were a number of things that were left out and gave readers an inaccurate perception of what the lawsuit was all about.

There is no mention of the money having to be paid by Tuesday and no mention that the money will have to be taken out of the district's reserve fund.

But the explanation of the lawsuit is where the Globe article completely misleads the readers.

Consider this passage:

But beginning in May 2014, the company began submitting claims seeking additional compensation, alleging that it was entitled to an additional $7,078,464 to cover increased construction costs and what it called "labor inefficiencies," according to documents.

The Globe fails to explain why the P1 Group began submitting those claims.

One name was never mentioned in the Globe article, that of former R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff. The Globe has access to the court documents, yet it did not consider it important that all of the money the P1 Group says the district owed it came as a result of Huff's insistence that Joplin High School open on time.

The documentation for the lawsuit included e-mails between Huff and P1 that make it clear Huff was aware there would be added overtime, supervision, and extra shifts necessary for what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to get the building open by the scheduled start time.

The Turner Report, unlike the Globe, shared those e-mails with readers.

The Globe seems to be indulging in one of its favorite hobbies, revisionist history. In an editorial shortly after C. J. Huff "retired," the Globe Editorial Board praised him for bringing so many good people into the district.

Since Huff's retirement and the voters' removal (and voluntary departures) of the board members who enabled Huff, the current board has worked hard to remove these "good people" and repair the damage they did to the district and to students and taxpayers.

The $2.5 million payment to the P1 Group, expensive though it is, is making the best out of another bad situation that Huff and his "good people" got us into.

People who get their news from the Joplin Globe will never know that.

The Joplin state audit and why we shouldn't take Dean Dankelson's word about anything

The recent Turner Report revelations that Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson accepted $5,000 in campaign contributions more than a month after the primary election connected to the family business of a man currently awaiting felony drug and weapon charges in Jasper County Circuit Court have opened the door to examining others actions taken, or not taken, by Dankelson in recent months.

Dankelson told the Joplin Globe he had no knowledge about the contributions and that his campaign was responsible for seeking them and using the money to pay off an advertising bill from Choice Marketing.

Even after being made aware of the contributions, Dankelson elected not to do the honorable, ethical thing and return the money, after all, he would have had dipped into his own pockets since his campaign account only has a few dollars left in it.

He did take the correct step in stepping away from the case so it can be handled by an outside prosecutor.

What becomes crystal clear after Dankelson acknowledged that his campaign sought the money is that someone who works for him appears to have believed correctly that the best way to get money so Dankelson can pay off a campaign debt is to seek out people with money who have a family member awaiting trial (and another family member who did not have charges pressed against him, despite the recommendation of the Jasper County Sheriff's Office).

Reader's message to Joplin R-8 parents: Demand change

(Note: A few moments ago, I received this comment on one of Friday night's posts about the resignation of Joplin R-8 Executive Director of Student Services Mark Barlass.)

This is a district that takes care of its own at the expense of any one who thinks differently, or conflicts with the initiative du jour, or tells a truth that they don't want to hear...ultimately, this good old boy system costs the kids an enormous price.

They may not send people packing as some have experienced, but they will twist words and marginalize the teacher in question until they have no value anymore or until they are so beat down that they can't continue. 

Ask yourself, parents: how many experienced, veteran teachers do your children have? There are a few, but not many. 

\How many "instructional leaders" are former coaches who have brown nosed their way up the pay scale, but know next to nothing about curriculum or pedagogy. Almost every secondary administrator, with very few exceptions. 

How many times a month is your child's teacher(s) out of the classroom for a "training" or planning session or other admin backed program? Ask them. It's unreal. No amount of improvement through new initiatives can make up for the lost instructional time. 

How many days a year do your children waste with NWEA testing, which does NOTHING to benefit students? 

Parents, pay attention. THIS is why Joplin Schools has the test scores that they have. This is why Joplin Schools can't retain people who know better. It has nothing to do with the students themselves, the demographics of the area, the low pay, or even, at this point, CJ. Huff, as Randy Turner would have you believe. 

The problems in the district are firmly rooted in an interest in maintaining an image, and more importantly, upholding status quo. I have never posted on this site before and probably will never again. I have tried to go through proper channels to express this, but am not heard. My heart breaks for Joplin Schools. 

Parents, if you see these things, demand that they be changed! Your kids deserve so much better than what they are getting.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Koch: $2.5 million P1 settlement will come out of reserves

A wire transfer of $2.5 million has to be made from the Joplin R-8 School District to the P1 Group by Tuesday, November 1, and that money will come from the district's reserves.

R-8 Board President Jeff Koch confirmed to the Turner Report moments ago that the money, the payment of which will end the nearly two-year-old lawsuit, will be taken out of the reserve fund, which CFO Paul Barr said earlier this year was up to 25 percent after falling to around 10 percent during the C. J. Huff Administration.

Barr's assessment of the district reserve fund also includes counting on reimbursement from FEMA and SEMA for building projects, though millions of dollars in "errors and omissions" have yet to be approved by the government agencies.

Previous posts

Joplin School District has to pay P1 Group $2.5 million by Tuesday

Joplin R-8 School District reaches settlement with P1 Group

R-8 agreement with Barlass- insurance through December, won't oppose unemployment

The good news- former Joplin R-8 Executive Director of Student Services Mark Barlass, whose resignation was accepted during a closed session of the Board of Education Tuesday night, did not receive a C. J. Huff-type deal.

Barlass will not be paid long into the future. In fact, according to the agreement, which the Turner Report obtained through a Sunshine Law request, he is no longer being paid a cent. Wednesday was his final day.

He won't be receiving any "consulting" fees like Huff.

What he will receive, according to the separation agreement, is paid health insurance (the portion of the insurance the district pays) through the end of the year and the assurance that the district will not oppose Barlass if he files for unemployment insurance.

And any prospective employer who calls the district will receive a neutral response, indicating that Barlass was, indeed, at one time paid by Joplin R-8 taxpayers.

Barlass will also receive $6,806.16 reimbursement for unused vacation days.

Barlass has to return all district property, including keys and materials, by a week from today.

Previous Posts

Two administrators out in Joplin R-8 shakeup

Minutes indicate Joplin R-8 reaches settlement agreement with Barlass

Joplin School District has to pay P1 Group $2.5 million by Tuesday

As part of a settlement announced earlier today, the Joplin R-8 School District will have to pay its former electrical contractor on the Joplin High School project $2.5 million by Tuesday, November 1.

Each side in the lawsuit, which was initially filed in 2015, will handle its own court costs, attorney fees, expert witness fees, and expenses.

At this point, the district has paid at least $1,070,723.07

The wording of the agreement is printed below:


 This Settlement and Release Agreement (“Agreement”) is entered into effective as of September 27, 2016, by and among Joplin Schools, P1 Group, Inc. (“P1 Group”) and Universal Construction Company, Inc. (“UCC”) (collectively referred to as the “Parties”):

Blunt mini-ad links Kander with Obamacare

Attorney general candidates views on issues featured in KC news video

Three Joplin R-8 superintendent candidates interviewed

Three candidates for Joplin R-8 Board of Education were interviewed today during an all-day session in the Memorial Education Building.

More interviews are scheduled for Tuesday.

The board is on a path to have the new superintendent announced by the first week of December.

Minutes indicate Joplin R-8 reaches "separation agreement" with Mark Barlass

They're breaking up that old gang of C. J.'s.

Director of Buildings and Grounds Mike Johnson retired.

Chief Operations Officer Tina Smith resigned.

Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens was reassigned and later resigned.

East Middle School Principal Bud Sexson was reassigned and later resigned.

McKinley Elementary Principal Terri Hart resigned.

And, of course, C. J. Huff himself, retired, though he is still being paid through the end of this calendar year.

The latest to join the parade was Executive Director Mark Barlass, whose resignation was accepted by the Board of Education during a closed session Tuesday.

According to the minutes, which were posted this afternoon, the board unanimously accepted Barlass' resignation, which came as a result of an ultimatum to resign or be fired. After that vote, the board unanimously voted to "approve the separation agreement between Joplin Schools and Mark Barlass."
 At this point, no action has been taken on the resignation of Director of Early Childhood Education Amanda Boyer, but multiple sources have indicated to the Turner Report that the details of her departure are still being worked out.

Related post

R-8 agreement with Barlass- insurance through December, won't oppose unemployment

Two administrators out in Joplin R-8 shakeup

Joplin R-8 School District reaches settlement with P1 Group

The Joplin R-8 School District has reached a settlement with the P1 Group, the Lenexa, Kansas, based electrical contractor that worked on the Joplin High School project.

The district's director of communications Kelli Price released the following statement less than an hour ago:

During the September 27, 2016 Board of Education closed session meeting, the board approved an agreement between Joplin Schools, P1 Group, Inc. and Universal Construction Company. 

The agreement contains a confidentiality clause at the request of the parties to the case and settles the pending legal dispute relating to compensation for P1 Group’s work performed during the construction of the new Joplin High School/Franklin Technology Center. 

Pursuant to the Missouri Sunshine Law, the settlement agreement will be available upon final disposition of the matter upon written request made in compliance with Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

The district initially filed the lawsuit after learning that P1 was readying a lawsuit in an effort to collect $6.5 million the company said the district owed due to unsuccessful efforts by former Superintendent C. J. Huff to get the building open in time in August 2014.

In the lawsuit, the district claimed the P1 Group had done a poor job, even though it continued to employ the firm all the way through the construction of the auditorium.

P1 filed a countersuit in April 2015and included in the documents filed with the countersuit were letters and e-mails that showed P1 warned Superintendent C. J. Huff and Universal Construction that delays in construction plus the push to make sure Joplin High School opened in August 2014 were going to cost plenty, including overtime, but the response was always full speed ahead.

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, thus the request should have been discussed in open session.

But the extra costs seem to have all been caused by the push to open the high school in August 2014, according to the countersuit:

Completion of P1 Group’s work on the Project was materially delayed as a result of actions by Joplin Schools, UCC, Corner Greer and/or other contractors, consultants or professionals hired by Joplin Schools.Joplin Schools was aware of the delays on the Project.

Because of the unavailability of other facilities for the students beginning in the fall of 2014, Joplin Schools could not extend the schedule for the Project to account for the delays. As a result of the delays, P1 Group’s work on the Project was accelerated as it had to perform its work in a compressed time frame.

Beginning in November 2013, P1 Group began working overtime on the Project at the direction of UCC in order to help reduce the impact of the delays on the Project attributable to persons other than P1 Group. P1 Group continued to work overtime at UCC’s direction until the new school opened.

Following two meetings with Joplin Schools in June, the company received a message from C. J. Huff, according to the countersuit:

On July 3, 2014, Joplin Schools’ Superintendent, Dr. CJ Huff sent an email to P1 Group advising that he had met with the Joplin School Board’s Facilities Committee and that he had talked with the individual members of the Facilities Committee. (Note: The committee consisted of Mike Landis and Jim Kimbrough.)

Dr. Huff reported that they were “comfortable” taking P1 Group’s request for compensation related to the directed acceleration to the School Board at the July 2014 meeting. On behalf of Joplin Schools, Dr. Huff requested P1 Group to provide a “not to exceed” number for the acceleration impacts through Project completion.

On July 11, 2014, in response to Dr. Huff’s email, P1 Group sent a letter to Joplin Schools, with a copy to UCC and Corner Greer, requesting a change order in the amount of $2,912,000 to cover the anticipated costs related to the delays and acceleration on the Project.

On July 22, 2014, Dr. Huff, on behalf of Joplin Schools, sent an email to P1 Group advising that he was presenting P1 Group’s request for compensation to the Board that evening and anticipated questions from the Board. Dr. Huff also advised that he appreciated P1 Group’s commitment to helping Joplin Schools achieve its goals.

On July 26, 2014, Dr. Huff, on behalf of Joplin Schools, sent an email to P1 Group advising that, as expected, the Board had a number of questions regarding P1 Group’s claim. Dr. Huff explained: “Due to the size of the billing, I think they just want to be comfortable that they can justify the expense when asked by patrons and the media.”

None of the documents filed in the suit and countersuit, except for the district's original petition made any mention of any problems with the P1 Group's work.

To date, the district has paid its law firm, Polsinelli, PC, Kansas City, at least $1,070,723.07, including $582,587.74 in the last four months.

Huff, who "retired" in 2015, is still being paid his superintendent's salary through the end of December and received a $50,000 payment for "consulting," which is strictly to cover his help in preparing for the lawsuit he caused in the first place.

Tornado safe rooms approved for Carthage, Purdy schools

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

During a visit to Carthage Middle School Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon announced he has authorized the State Emergency Management Agency to proceed with a proposal to build a tornado safe room capable of protecting 2,079 students, staff and residents in the Carthage R-9 School District. The Governor has also authorized SEMA to proceed with a proposal to build a tornado safe room capable of protecting 974 students, staff and residents at the Purdy R-2 School District campus in Barry County.

“Making sure we do all we can to protect and advance the lives of Missouri’s children have been among the driving forces throughout my time in office,” Gov. Nixon said. “In an area of our state where tornadoes have left an inordinate amount of destruction, these school safe room projects will help secure our most precious resource.”

According to the Carthage R-9 district’s plans, the safe room space would also be used as a gymnasium. The Governor’s announcement came in a school-wide assembly at Carthage Middle School.

Purdy’s safe room space would also be a standalone building that would be utilized as a performing arts center/multi-purpose facility.

Community safe rooms are specially designed and engineered structures built to withstand 250 mile per hour winds, often utilizing 14-inch precast concrete and steel-reinforced doors. Walls and roof sections are capable of withstanding impacts from windborne debris that can act as missiles.

Missouri currently has 195 completed safe rooms across the state. Since Gov. Nixon took office, he has approved or Missouri has moved forward with 191 community safe room projects, 126 of which are in schools, utilizing Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation grant funds. In all, the completed projects and those being designed and constructed in the state would be capable of protecting more than 215,000 Missourians.

The FEMA program provides 75 percent of funding for pre-approved safe room projects that meet all design and construction standards. Local grant recipients pay the remaining 25 percent of safe room costs.

The federal share of the Carthage project announced today is approximately $2.6 million. The federal share of the Purdy project announced today is approximately $1.3 million. Local applicants still must meet all federal program requirements.

Ted Cruz, Roy Blunt to hold rally at Missouri Southern

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will campaign with Roy Blunt during a get-out-the-vote rally Wednesday, November 2, 7 p.m. at Missouri Southern State University.

The lineup for the rally will be the same as for an earlier one scheduled in Springfield, which is described in the news release below from  the Roy Blunt campaign site:

Join Roy Blunt and Senator Ted Cruz for a GOTV Rally at 5:00 PM on November 2nd at National Safety Compliance Inc. in Springfield! Senator Cruz will rally voters and discuss the importance of this Election and path to victory on November 8th. Doors open at 4:30 PM and event begins 5:00 PM. You don't want to miss it!

Other speakers include:
Candidate for Missouri Governor Eric Greitens
Candidate for Missouri Lt. Governor Mike Parson
Candidate for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley
Candidate for Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft
Candidate for Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt
U.S. Rep. Billy Long (MO-07)
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft

Each guest is required to RSVP for Roy Blunt events, including all adults over age 10. Each attendee must complete registration separately. Actual event start times are subject to change. If you have any questions contact your local Friends of Roy Blunt campaign office or email

Greitens joined by wife and kids in latest ad

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Arkansas Hillary Clinton supporters to be in Joplin Friday

(From Southwest Missouri Democrats)

The Arkansas Travelers, a group of Hillary Clinton friends and supporters with knowledge and longstanding, personal relationships with Hillary, are launching a Missouri tour from Thursday, October 27th to Sunday, October 30th. The group will gather in the Springfield area and travel throughout Southwest Missouri, where they will participate in phone banks, rallies, door-to-door to meet local residents answering their questions and sharing why Hillary Clinton has the heart and mind to best lead our nation. The Arkansas Travelers work in Missouri will include stops in Springfield, Marshfield, Joplin, Mt. Vernon and Neosho among others. Hillary for Missouri is working hard to earn the support of every voter ahead of the November 8thGeneral Election.

This group of Arkansas Travelers is comprised of 29 friends of Hillary Clinton from all walks of life, including former Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Ron Oliver, former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays, former Arkansas State Senators and Representatives, physicians, farmers, business leaders, and group leader Sheila Galbraith Bronfman.

The Arkansas Travelers have over 500 volunteers who have signed up to travel on behalf of their friend Hillary at their own expense. Groups vary depending on who can get off work or leave their family for various trips.

Schedule for SWMO Democrats Arkansas Travelers for Hillary Events Friday, October 28, 2016.

Address of Mt. Vernon HQ on Square is 202 Hickory, Mt. Vernon, MO 65712

Address of Joplin Headquarters is 106 S. Main, Joplin, MO 64801

Address of JB's Downtown is 110 S. Main, Joplin, MO 64801 it is 4 doors down from HQ on S. Main.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Republican sheriffs endorse Democratic attorney general candidate

(From Teresa Hensley campaign)

Former Cass County Prosecutor and candidate for Missouri Attorney General Teresa Hensley today released endorsements from area Republican Sheriffs.

"Violent criminals don't care about your political persuasion, and neither does the law. As Attorney General, Teresa Hensley won't play politics," said Clay County Sheriff Paul Vescovo, III (R). "She has a proven record of keeping citizens safe. Teresa Hensley is clearly the candidate I will be supporting."

"As Platte County Sheriff, I have made the safety of our children a priority. In the digital age that is more difficult to do. I am impressed with the work Teresa Hensley has done as Cass County Prosecutor to keep our children safe," said Platte County Sheriff Mark S. Owen (R). Teresa has my endorsement."

"Teresa Hensley was a county prosecutor known for fighting for victims' rights," said Cass County Sheriff Dwight Diehl (R). "She'll be an outstanding Attorney General."

"I am honored to have received the endorsement of these Republican sheriffs," said Hensley. "The fact that they are Republicans underscores what I've been saying all along: when it comes to enforcing the law and keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe, there's no room for politics. We need an Attorney General who understands what the job means. It means putting the law first. That's what I've always done, and will continue to do, for Missouri families."

Teresa Hensley has been endorsed by the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police in her campaign for Attorney General. She also received the 2010 Missouri Attorney General's Justice Award for Domestic Violence Prevention, the 2015 Lawyers Media Award for Public Service, and was selected by the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys to serve as Chair of the Missouri DWI and Traffic Safety Best Practices Committee. Hensley was a member of the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board, and a former board member of Hope Haven.

Lawsuit accusing Joplin police officer of punching woman, fondling her breasts is dismissed

A lawsuit accusing a Joplin Police officer with punching a woman and fondling her breasts while arresting her at Mercy Hospital was dismissed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Andrew Protzman, the Kansas City attorney representing Cassie Tritthart, Miami, Oklahoma, filed the dismissal, which is without prejudice, meaning the suit can be reinstated at a later date. Each side will pay for its legal fees.

Earlier, Protzman had attempted to withdraw as Tritthart's attorney, but the judge did not allow him to do so until representation for Tritthart could be found.

Tritthart accused Officer Seth Lugenbell of committing assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, violating her right to due process, using excessive force, and unreasonable search and seizure.

The City of Joplin was listed as a co-defendant for "negligent supervision and training" of Lugenbell.

The petition detailed Tritthart's version of events:

On or about January 31, 2016, Plaintiff visited Freeman Hospital West located at 1102 W. 32nd St., Joplin, MO 64804 (“Freeman Hospital”) with complaints of heart issues.

At Freeman Hospital, Plaintiff was given medication, and released. Plaintiff began to feel nauseous, and thought she may faint, and decided to seek a second medical opinion regarding her heart complaints.

Upon leaving, Plaintiff accidentally knocked over a few items in the waiting room at Freeman Hospital. On information and belief, Freeman Hospital nurse Steven Mitchell called the Joplin Police Department to report someone allegedly “vandalizing” the waiting room. Plaintiff’s mother drove Plaintiff to Mercy Hospital located at 100 Mercy Way, Joplin, MO 64804 to obtain a second medical opinion regarding her heart complaints.

At Mercy Hospital, Plaintiff began to change clothes in a private examination room at which time Defendant Lugenbell, without warning, barged into the private examination room while Plaintiff was undressing, and began to question Plaintiff.

Plaintiff asked Defendant Legenbell why he was in her private examination room, and told Defendant Lugenbell that she would not speak without first consulting an attorney. Next, without warning, Defendant Lugenbell grabbed Ms. Tritthart by her left arm and threw her into the hallway, causing her face to slam violently into the floor.

Defendant Lugenbell proceeded to punch and kick Plaintiff while she was on the ground, both before and after handcuffing her.

After handcuffing Plaintiff, Defendant Lungenbell fondled Plaintiff’s breasts, causing her bra to raise up around her neck, where it remained during the entirety of her booking and subsequent holding at the Joplin City Jail, until she was released.

Plaintiff was arrested and charged with (1) vandalism, (2) assault on a law enforcement officer, (3) resisting arrest, and (4) failure to comply with a request for information.

Those charges are no longer listed on Newton County online court records.

The lawsuit was initially filed June 29 in Newton County Circuit Court and was removed to federal court at the request of attorney Karl Blanchard representing the City of Joplin and Lugenbell.

Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live

Monday, October 24, 2016

Davis: Vast majority of public officials are good people

(From Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City)

As the state moves closer to Election Day and campaign season is in full swing, the negativity continues to ramp up and the public’s perception of candidates and elected officials oftentimes becomes more jaded. When you add in some of the recent stories about inappropriate behavior of a few people in and around the political process, it’s easy to understand why some citizens have a negative view of government and government officials.

It’s at a time like this when the importance of voting must be stressed, and it is imperative that citizens be active and informed about the candidates they may elect to office. The people truly do have the power to decide who will represent them in the halls of government, and it is a power that should never be taken for granted. That is why it is important not only to vote, but also to be informed and to make educated votes for the candidates who will fight for the best interests of the people.

It’s equally important to note the vast majority of the men and women who seek out and obtain public office are conscientious citizens who are involved in politics for the right reasons. This fact often gets lost amid the mudslinging and negative news articles that dominate the spotlight during election season, but the truth is the vast majority of folks in politics are good people who are trying to help their communities and constituents.

It cannot be denied there are a few bad apples from time to time whose inappropriate actions can cause all political figures to be viewed in a negative light. These individuals abuse their power and the trust placed in them by the people who elected them to serve, and in doing so they tarnish the reputation of all public servants. However, the truth is these individuals are in the minority and not at all representative of the average elected official.

In Missouri, the State Capitol is filled with hardworking men and women who are more than just elected officials. Just like the citizens they represent, these individuals are loving spouses and parents, successful professionals, business owners, farmers, and community activists. In a nutshell, they are representative of the diverse population of Missouri, but they have the common goal and interest of doing what is best for the state and the willingness to put in the long hours of work to accomplish this goal.

With all of the negative ads and stories that run during campaign season, this is a fact that can be hard to see, but it is important to remember there are good people working hard to do good things for the State of Missouri. On November 8 the people of Missouri will again have the opportunity to elect the folks they think will do the best job in office.

St. Louis Democrat offers suggestions on ballot proposals

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

As the senior Democrat & ranking member on the House Elections Committee, I cannot urge you enough to use the power of your vote.

I spend hours during session making sure our election statutes are fair for every voter in every zip code and every candidate for every type of election. With an entire chapter of statutes to constantly review and federal mandates to follow, there are always new situations that we can't forsee and then must address each year.

I try hard to do my job well. Please fulfill your responsbility as a citizen and exercise your right of suffrage. Good government requires voters to be engaged. We will know if you voted, not how but if you took the time to show up. Think of the first time voters in this election - those who are 18 years old and those who are new citizens. They TREASURE their vote and I hope you will as well.

I say repeatedly with numerous partisan legislative districts - both Democratic and Republican - many policies are essentially decided for the next two years on Election Day. Be your own lobbyist -----VOTE.



Amendment 1 would reauthorize for an additional 10 years (first authorized in 1984) an existing one-tenth-cent statewide sales and use tax for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The tax generates roughly $90 million a year, with half the revenue constitutionally dedicated for soil and water conservation programs and the other half for the operation and maintenance of state parks and historical sites.



Amendment 2 would add extensive new provisions to the Missouri Constitution reinstituting campaign contribution limits and establishing detailed regulations governing campaign finance in general. Under Amendment 2, individual donors would be constitutionally prohibited from giving a candidate for statewide office, state senate, state representative or judicial office more than $2,600 per election. Individual donors also would be barred from giving more than $25,000 per election to the same political party. However it restricts labor donations and allows unlimited corporate donations.



Amendment 3 is the first of two measures to increase state tobacco taxes that will appear on the fall ballot. If ratified, it would impose an additional tax of 60 cents per pack, phased in over several years, on all cigarette brands, while immediately levying an additional wholesale fee of 67 cents per pack on certain discount brands.

This exceptionally detailed and misleading initiative is opposed by major, credible organizations: The American Heart Association, American Lung Association in Missouri, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Tobacco-Free Missouri, Missouri National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Local 420, Missouri Retired Teachers Association and Public School Personnel, and Missouri Association of Rural Education, Missouri Cures and NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis and the Stowers Institute of Medical Research in Kansas City. It contains unnecessary harmful language regarding abortion services and stem cell research as well as weaken the ban against public money funding private religious schools.



Amendment 4 would constitutionally prohibit the state and local governments from charging sales or use taxes for services that weren’t already subject to such taxes as of Jan. 1, 2015. Missouri’s existing statewide sales tax of 4.225 percent is levied on most goods, but services are largely exempt. The amendment is a preemptive strike against efforts to eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a higher and more broad-based sales tax, a proposal supporters disingenuously refer to as the “fair tax.” It would block future taxes on new industries, such as cannibis.



Amendment 6 would grant the Missouri General Assembly the constitutional authority to enact legislation requiring voters to show a government-issued photo identification card in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

This is the latest move in a decade-long effort by Republican lawmakers to impose a photo voter identification requirement in Missouri, which in turn has been part of a national GOP campaign to enact strict photo voter ID laws in Republican-controlled states as a means of suppressing the Democratic vote. College students, low-income people, the disabled and the very elderly are the people most likely to be without state-issued photo ID. All of these demographics trend Democratic as voters, which is why Republicans all over the nation have pushed voter photo ID proposals for years. Voter photo ID is being presented as a solution where no problem exists. If passed with a simple majority, it would make it more difficult for some of our most vulnerable and transient citizens to vote.



Proposition A is the second to two measures to increase state tobacco taxes that will appear on the fall ballot. If approved, Proposition A would change state law to impose an additional tax on cigarettes of 23 cents per pack, phased in over several years, and immediately add another tax of 5 percent of the wholesale price on other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and cigars.

The new taxes would generate an estimated $95 million to $103 million a year in additional revenue and purports to earmark the money for transportation infrastructure. Under the Missouri Constitution and state Supreme Court precedent, however, statutory earmarks of state revenue are unenforceable. As a result, the General Assembly would retain the constitutional authority to ignore the earmark and appropriate the money for other purposes, if it so chose. I BELIEVE THAT FUEL, NOT CIGARETTE TAXES SHOULD FUND TRANSPORTATION/HIGHWAY/BRIDGE COSTS.




Missouri registered voters can view their polling HERE. If you can't vote in person on Election Day (polls will be open 6AM TO 7PM), then please vote absentee.

St. Louis County Board of Elections SATELLITE OFFICE - 3232 Laclede Station Road (south of Manchester in the Deer Creek Shopping Complex) - weekdays 8am to 4:30pm through November 4th and Saturdays - October 29th & November 5th, 9am to 1pm. If you wish to apply for an Absentee ballot by mail - Click this link. It must be received at the St. Louis County Board of Elections by 5pm Wednesday November 2nd.

HAVE QUESTIONS about VOTING? Contact me or my legislative office (573.751.0100) and we will help.

I can't urge you enough...PLEASE use your VOTE.

See you on Election Day,

Two administrators out in Joplin R-8 shakeup

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education is expected to accept the resignations of Executive Director of Student Services Mark Barlass and Early Childhood Director Amanda Boyer when it meets in closed session 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Memorial Education Building.

Sources close to Administration tell the Turner Report that the two had been given the option of resigning or being fired, though details on what brought out about the ultimatum are sketchy.

Barlass was originally hired by former Superintendent C. J. Huff, when it turned out the person Huff had placed in charge of special education, Lisa Orem, not only was not certified in special education, but had let her
administrator's license lapse. Orem retained her position at more than $100,000 a year, but Barlass was brought in at a slightly higher annual salary. Together, both of them did a job that had previously been done by one person who made $98,000 a year.

Boyer also came to the district in 2011.

With the departure of Barlass, the recent resignation of former Chief Operations Officer Tina Smith, the reassignment and subsequent resignation of Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens, and the retirement of Buildings Project Manager Mike Johnson, the only remaining links to the upper administration of Huff's days are CFO Paul Barr, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Jennifer Doshier, Communications Director Kelli Price, and former Executive Director of Secondary Instruction, now East Middle School Principal Jason Cravens.

The district still has a number of people who were promoted to top positions in the district or administrative positions as building principals or assistant principals through the positions of teaching/learning coaches, jobs that for the most part served as spies for the Huff Administration.

Reiboldt discusses state tobacco tax proposals

(From Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Seneca)

The focus of my Capitol Report this week is Constitutional Amendment 3 and Proposition A. Separately, both are seeking to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax, but each is in conflict with the other.

Currently, Missouri has a 17-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes, the lowest in the nation. The national average for state tax is $1.65 per pack, with an additional $1.01 for federal excise tax. Perhaps this is the reason why there have been efforts to increase the tax in order to create more money for state government. At this time, money received from the 17 cent tax on a pack of twenty cigarettes is deposited into three different funds: the State School Money Fund receives 9 cents per pack; the Health Initiative Fund receives 4 cents per pack; the Fair Share Fund also receives 4 cents per pack.

Constitutional Amendment 3 is a proposal that will amend the Missouri Constitution to yearly increase taxes on cigarettes through 2020, at which time the tax increase will total 60 cents per pack. The amendment also creates a fee to be paid by cigarette wholesalers of 67 cents per pack on certain products. Furthermore, it provides that the funds generated by these taxes and fees will be deposited into a newly established Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund.

Proposition A would change Missouri law to increase cigarette taxes in 2017, 2019, and 2021 for an additional tax increase totaling 23 cents per pack of twenty cigarettes. The proposition would also increase the tax paid on other tobacco products by 5% of the manufacturer’s invoice price. Proposition A further provides that the funds generated by these taxes shall be used exclusively to fund transportation infrastructure projects.

What is unusual about both of these proposals is that they are being largely financed by cigarette manufacturers. Mega corporation Reynolds American Incorporated has given upward to $3 million in support of Amendment 3—titled “Raise Your Hand for Kids”—while Proposition A is funded primarily by the smaller tobacco manufacturers and retailers. This has resulted in a renewal of “open warfare” between these two groups: big tobacco vs little tobacco. Not only has each side written a huge check, they have hired professional political operatives and lobbyists to push their proposals.

In 1998, the Tobacco Settlement Agreement, in which large tobacco companies agreed to make settlement payments to 46 states, resulted in years of lawsuits by states in efforts to offset the Medicaid costs attributed to smoking. Manufacturers didn’t participate in the settlement, because they didn’t exist then or they were small and didn’t have the marketplace advantage that larger companies did. Smaller tobacco companies enjoyed a loophole that existed in the 1998 settlement agreement. Those that concentrated their sales in a few states, rather than nationally, were able to get back their escrow payments, while still complying with the law. Missouri is the only state who has not fixed this loophole and, because of that, the door is open for Constitutional Amendment 3 and Proposition A. Future litigation relating to this settlement is unclear, but if Amendment 3 passes, I predict we will see multiple court cases.

The campaign behind both of the competing tobacco increase measures pits the large tobacco companies supporting Constitutional Amendment 3 against smaller tobacco companies who put Proposition A on the ballot via petition initiatives. Large tobacco companies are attempting to get back at the smaller companies by trying to close the loophole that allowed the smaller companies not to make payments in the 46 state settlement of 1998.

The tobacco industry and its companies are much different than other corporations. They are willing to accept minor compromises and setbacks in the short run in order to protect their future interests. As one person stated: ”They always play the long game.” Their goal is to keep users hooked on their products.

Opponents of the two proposals include the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and Tobacco-Free Missouri, plus all major education groups in the state, as well as a bi-partisan group of 112 state legislators who have signed on in opposition to both Amendment 3 and Proposition A. Personally, I signed on early in opposition to both, because there is more to these proposals than meets the eye.

Constitutional Amendment 3 and Proposition A are very dangerous schemes that contain numerous complicated issues and add other troubling provisions in the initiatives, such as an attempt to include the terms “abortion” and “abortion services” to be placed in Missouri’s Constitution (for the very first time). Consequently, it is much more than just a tobacco tax increase. These proposals are extremely alarming to those of us who have studied them in depth.

Now some may ask the question, “What happens if both of these measures are approved?” In Missouri, if there are two conflicting ballot measures that are approved, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other. However, this only applies when two constitutional amendments are in competition to each other. If a constitutional amendment competes with a proposed state statute, such as what we have this cycle, the amendment will take precedence over the proposed statute, no matter the vote count. The bottom line is that voters must be aware of what they are voting on.

Even though Missouri voters rejected tobacco tax increases in 2001, 2006, and 2012, it looks like the tobacco fight isn’t over. In the tobacco world today, the struggle is heating up again between the big guys and the little guys. The battle continues.