Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Felony fraud, tax charges filed against JB's Piano Bar owner

A Missouri Department of Revenue investigation into tax and bank records of Joplin businessman Jon Buck has resulted in the filing of 10 felony counts of filing false sales tax returns and 10 felony counts of failure to pay sales tax due.

The 20 felonies were committed with the intent of defrauding the state of Missouri, according to the probable cause statement.

A 1:30 p.m. Monday, June 5, arraignment is scheduled for Buck, 35, before Judge John Nicholas in Jasper County Circuit Court Division 4 in Carthage.

The probable cause statement, written by is printed below:

INVESTIGATIVE FACTS 

1. I am currently assigned to an investigation of Jon Thomas Buck (hereinafter referred to as Buck) and JB's Piano Bar LLC (hereinafter referred to as JBS Piano Bar).

 2. Buck of JB's Piano Bar, filed Articles of Organization for a Limited Liability Company with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office on September 6, 2010, and received Charter Number #LC1083302. 

According to the Missouri Secretary of State's Office, the company is still active as of the time this probable cause statement was written. 

3. The Missouri Department of Revenue Integrated Tax System (MITS) files shows that on or about October 16, 2010, Buck, member/owner of JB's Piano Bar, applied for a sales tax license and was assigned Missouri Tax Identification Number 20933789 (sales tax license).

4. JBsPiano Bar is a retail establishment which serves food and alcohol and offers various forms, of entertainment. The Missouri Department of Revenue Individual Income Tax System (MINITS) files show that Buck filed federal and state of Missouri income tax returns, for tax years 2014 and 2015. 

For the tax year 2014, Buck completed a federal 1040 Schedule C form for JB’s Piano Bar. According to Buck's federal income tax return, Buck reported that JB's Piano Bar had two hundred eighty seven thousand three hundred thirty seven dollars ($287,337.00) in gross sales. For the tax year 2015, Buck completed a federal 1040 Schedule C form for JB's Piano Bar. 

According to Buck's federal income tax return, Buck reported that JB's Piano Bar had four hundred twenty two thousand eight hundred forty seven dollars ($422,847.00) in gross sales. In reviewing sales tax returns filed quarterly for JB's Piano Bar between the quarterly periods ending December 31, 2013 through March 31, 2016, I discovered discrepancies when comparing them to federal income tax returns filed by Buck. 

In June 2016, I issued subpoenas to Mid-Missouri Bank-and Southwest Missouri bank requesting financial documents pertaining to Buck and his associated businesses including, JB's Piano Bar. 

During my analysis, I located a small-business checking account (Acct #4004) held at Mid-Missouri bank for JB's Piano Bar. Buck was listed as an authorized signer on the account. This account was opened in September 2013. When reviewing the monthly statements, I observed numerous deposits from Heartland Payment Systems, a credit card processing company. 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending December 31, 2013, I discovered forty four thousand seven hundred sixty four dollars and Sixty-nine cents ($44,764.69) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported twenty thousand four hundred fifty seven dollars and twenty-two cents ($20,457.22) in taxable sales, a difference of twenty four thousand three hundred seven dollars and forty-seven cents ($24,307.47). 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending March 31, 2014, I discovered fifty five thousand five hundred forty four dollars and eighty-three cents I ($55,544.83) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported sixteen thousand eight hundred thirty three dollars and ninety-four cents ($16,833.94) in taxable sales, a difference of thirty eight thousand seven hundred ten dollars and eighty-nine cents ($38,710.89).

For the quarterly sales tax period ending June 30, 2014, I discovered forty one thousand five hundred ten dollars and eighty-eight cents ($41,510.88) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported sixteen thousand five hundred twenty two dollars and twenty one cents ($16,522.21). in taxable sales, a difference of twenty four thousand nine hundred eighty eight dollars and sixty-seven cents ($24,988.67). 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending September 30, 2014, I discovered thirty one thousand seven hundred fifty one dollars and forty-seven cents ($31,751.47) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported twelve thousand eight hundred seventy four dollars and fifty-three cents ($12,874.53) in taxable sales, a difference of eighteen thousand eight hundred seventy six dollars and ninety-four cents ($18,876.94). 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending December 31, 2014, I discovered thirty three thousand three hundred eighty three dollars and fifty-two cents ($33,383.52) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported twenty thousand one hundred eighty six dollars and fifty-two cents ($20,186.52) in taxable sales, a difference of thirteen thousand one hundred ninety seven dollars ($13,197.00). 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending March 31, 2015, I discovered sixty one thousand three hundred dollars and fifty-six cents ($61,300.56) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported twenty one thousand seven hundred eighty five dollars ($21,785.00) in taxable sales, a difference of thirty nine thousand five hundred fifteen dollars and fifty-six cents ($39,515.56). 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending June 30, 2015, I discovered one hundred sixteen thousand three hundred ninety five dollars ($116,395.00) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported twenty four thousand one hundred ninety two dollars and thirty nine cents ($24,192.39) in taxable sales, a difference of ninety two thousand two hundred two dollars and Sixty-one cents ($92,202.61). 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending September 30, 2015, I discovered one hundred seven thousand one hundred fifty five dollars ($107,155.00) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported fifteen thousand seven hundred sixty two dollars and thirty-three cents ($15,762.33) in taxable sales, a difference of ninety one thousand three hundred ninety two dollars and sixty-seven cents ($91,392.67).

For the quarterly sales tax period ending December 31, 2015, l discovered seventy six thousand one hundred ninety one dollars and forty-seven cents ($76,191.47) in taxable sales. According to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported eighteen thousand eight hundred seventy five and fifty-three cents ($18,875.53) in taxable sales, a difference of fifty seven thousand three hundred fifteen dollars and ninety-four cents ($57,315.94). 

For the quarterly sales tax period ending March 31, 2016, I discovered seventy eight thousand one hundred forty nine dollars and ninety-five cents ($78,149.95) in taxable sales. According-to the quarterly sales tax return filed by Buck, he reported nineteen thousand four hundred fifty six dollars ($19,456.00) in taxable sales, a difference of fifty eight thousand six hundred ninety three dollars and ninety-five cents ($58,693.95). 

On July 12, 2016, I attempted to contact Buck had JB's Piano Bar, but the business was closed. I left a message with an employee of another business Buck owned and requested that Buck contact me. A short time later, l received a phone call from Buck. I briefly explained to Buck that there are inconsistencies in his income tax returns and sales tax returns filed for JB’S Piano Bar. l asked Buck what credit card processing company he used for JBsPiano Bar and he stated Heartland Payment Systems. 

Buck stated he would review his business records and contact me back. On July 14, 2016, I received another call from Buck. During this phone interview, we discussed the inconsistencies with the taxable sales reported on his quarterly sales tax returns and the gross sales reported on his income tax returns. I asked Buck if he had lowered the amount of taxable sales on his sales tax returns in order to pay less sales tax. Buck stated, "I have done that once or twice. I’m going to be real honest; I'm not going to lie to you."

Buck has willfully, with intent, defrauded the state of Missouri, by falsifying ten (10) quarterly sales tax returns for the quarterly periods ending December 31, 2013 through March 31, 2016 and failed. to pay sales tax owed to the state of Missouri for ten (10) quarterly sales tax periods ending ’ December 31, 2013 through March 31, 2016.

The probable cause statement ends with an assessment of how much money Buck allegedly failed to pay the state in sales tax:

As a result of the criminal acts that Buck committed, the state of Missouri has incurred a loss in the amount of seventy eight thousand five hundred ninety five dollars and twenty-eight cents ($78, 595.28). This total includes a calculation of sales tax due based off previous sales tax returns filed, analysis of bank records, interest, penalties for failure to file/pay quarterly sales tax and fraud penalties for quarterly sales tax periods ending December 31, 2013 through March 31, 2016.

State audit report finds disorganized records, missing money in Ferguson Municipal Court

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released an audit of the Ferguson Municipal Court in St. Louis County. The audit found a court in disarray with disorganized case files, including some housed in an unsecured storage garage. This caused water and mold damage to many of the court records. Uncooperative and at times combative court and city personnel caused multiple delays that prevented audit staff from gaining access to the files necessary to complete their review. The audit also found $26,000 in illegal fees charged to citizens.

"Considering the lack of cooperation my staff experienced in their official roles as representatives of my office, I can only imagine how average citizens are treated when they are trying to get information about their cases or resolution on serious issues," Auditor Galloway said.

The audit found court records stored in several locations within the city, including a storage garage, the joint police and court building, and city hall. Documents were housed in areas that were not secure and there was no process in place to track the location of the records. Many of the records included personal information that should be protected, such as social security numbers, birthdays, and driver license numbers.

Records storage issues caused multiple problems during the course of the audit, as city and court personnel claimed the files could not be accessed or that documents were too damaged by mold and water to read. During this time no effort was made to move the files to a different location in order to prevent further damage. After months of negotiations, the State Auditor's Office was forced to take the unprecedented step of hiring a mold remediation company to recover and preserve available records in order to complete the audit. Some of the requested files were never recovered, presumably because they were lost or misplaced. This made it difficult to account for all fines, fees and costs submitted to the court.

"My forensic audit team was able to piece together partial records and receipts to indicate that at least $1400 in cash was missing, but the careless way these records were kept may prevent us from ever knowing the total amount," Auditor Galloway said.

Physical storage concerns were compounded by an equally disorganized electronic case management system. The computer system did not include necessary safeguards to prevent inappropriate adjustments or to ensure only authorized staff could access court records.

The audit also identified $26,000 in illegal fees paid by citizens over the course of a year, including a $15 letter fee and a $50 warrant recall fee. The court also charged a $75 non-prosecution fee against anyone who made an initial report, but then did not go forward with charges.

The Ferguson Municipal Court received an overall performance rating of poor, the lowest rating available. Due to the low rating, the State Auditor's Office will return later this year to conduct a follow-up review. A complete copy of the report is available online here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Former EN superintendent announces retirement, fails to show at board meeting

Former East Newton superintendent Jim Hinson, who suddenly announced his retirement as superintendent of the Shawnee Mission School District last week, failed to show at tonight's SMSD Board of Education meeting.

Board members would not give reporters any reason for Hinson's absence. Hinson, a Carthage native, who at one time served as a principal in the Carthage R-9 School District, is also a former superintendent at Greenfield.

The report is from Kansas City's 41 Action News.

Ed Emery: Prescription drug bill is unreasonable search and seizure

(From Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar)

A few weeks ago the Senate passed a version of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), Senate Bill 74 and sent it to the House of Representatives. That bill appears to have been deliberately sidetracked while the House version, House Bill 90 - in my opinion a more invasive and unconstitutional version - was perfected by the Senate last Thursday and is currently in conference to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions. I have opposed and voted against both bills but favor the Senate version because it is far less susceptible to abuse or unlawful access.

House Bill 90 and 68 (a single bill with two numbers) creates an unconstitutional database that by the collection of personal data, violates the fundamental right of Missourians to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as stated in Article I, Section 15 of the Missouri Constitution. I believe it also violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that the citizens of this state shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures. In order for the state to search any place or seize any person or thing, there must be probable cause for the issuance of a warrant. This bill, however, allows the seizing of personal information of every citizen who has been dispensed certain prescribed controlled substances without any probable cause or the issuance of a warrant.

The citizens of this state have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their prescription records and the PDMP is, in essence, a form of surveillance that violates this expectation of privacy. The state should not collect this private information without any basis that a crime has been committed. It flies in the face of the fundamental precepts of state and federal constitutional protections. These precepts are designed to protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures where there is no probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

Additionally, available data confirms that state PDMPs do not effectively reduce the number of opioid overdose fatalities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the number of state PDMPs increased from 16 to 49 between 2000 and 2015, prescription drug-related deaths during that same period grew from 7,885 to 29,728. Further, Missouri is the only state without PDMP, which, if such programs were successful, would suggest that Missouri would have the highest number of drug deaths per capita. However, Missouri actually ranks 22nd, meaning that 21 states with PDMPs have higher rates of prescription drug deaths than Missouri with none. Clearly, there is no favorable correlation to support implementing a PDMP in Missouri. One possible reason for the growing numbers of prescription drug-related deaths in states with a PDMP may be the predictable shift from opioids to the least-cost alternative, heroin, which is even more deadly.

Finally, it has been consistently reported that a reasonable estimate of the doctor-shopping portion of opioid abuse is roughly three percent. If Missouri demands full PDMP participation by doctors (100 percent), the maximum impact possible would be 3 percent, which cannot justify the overreach of government and the invasion of privacy created by House Bills 90 and 68. States that do not mandate doctor participation, are seeing far less than full participation which means those states may be impacting less than one percent of the doctor-shopping problem.

In summary, the proposed legislation creating the PDMP is an unconstitutional and unreasonable search and seizure of our personal prescription records and the establishment of PDMPs in other states has not stemmed the tide of opioid abuse sufficient to justify the search and seizure of our prescription records. Shouldn’t we be asking the question – what justifies this clear growth of the power and reach of government? Each of us can hold to our own opinion, but we cannot have our own version of the facts.

Focus on Schools with Brad Douglas: Moss, Ridder interviewed

New Jet HD General Manager Brad Douglas opens his new series, Focus on Schools, with an interview with Superintendent Melinda Moss and Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder.

In the interview Ridder says the transition from him to Moss "is going to be very seamless" and Moss talks about her background and what she has seen since she arrived.

Moss says, "Joplin is set to explode and I mean that in a positive way," she says, referring to changes that began with Ridder.

Severe thunderstorm warning issued for Joplin area

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
National Weather Service Springfield MO
1216 AM CDT WED APR 26 2017

The National Weather Service in Springfield has issued a

* Severe Thunderstorm Warning for...
  Southeastern Cherokee County in southeastern Kansas...
  Northwestern Newton County in southwestern Missouri...
  Jasper County in southwestern Missouri...

* Until 100 AM CDT

* At 1216 AM CDT, a severe thunderstorm was located near Carl
  Junction, or 8 miles northwest of Joplin, moving east at 50 mph.

  HAZARD...60 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail.

  SOURCE...Radar indicated.

  IMPACT...Hail damage to vehicles is expected. Expect wind damage
           to roofs, siding, and trees.

* Locations impacted include...
  Joplin...                         Carthage...
  Webb City...                      Carl Junction...
  Baxter Springs...                 Galena...
  Oronogo...                        Carterville...
  Duquesne...                       Duenweg...
  Diamond...                        Loma Linda...
  Airport Drive...                  Leawood...
  Lowell...                         Silver Creek...
  Alba...                           Purcell...
  Shoal Creek Drive...              Saginaw...

This includes Interstate 44 between mile markers 0 and 22.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a
building.

Torrential rainfall is occurring with this storm, and may lead to

Severe thunderstorm warning issued for Newton, McDonald counties

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
National Weather Service Springfield MO
1218 AM CDT WED APR 26 2017

The National Weather Service in Springfield has issued a

* Severe Thunderstorm Warning for...
  Southern Newton County in southwestern Missouri...
  McDonald County in southwestern Missouri...

* Until 100 AM CDT

* At 1218 AM CDT, a severe thunderstorm was located near Grove, or 10
  miles northeast of Jay, moving east at 60 mph.

  HAZARD...60 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail.

  SOURCE...Radar indicated.

  IMPACT...Hail damage to vehicles is expected. Expect wind damage
           to roofs, siding, and trees.

* Locations impacted include...
  Neosho...                         Big Sugar Creek State Park...
  Anderson...                       Noel...
  Dodge...                          Goodman...
  South West City...                Pineville...
  Lanagan...                        Fairview...
  Newtonia...                       Stella...
  Cayuga...                         Stark City...
  Tiff City...                      Powell...
  Rocky Comfort...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

For your protection move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a
building.

Intense thunderstorm lines can produce brief tornadoes and widespread
significant wind damage. Although a tornado is not immediately
likely, it is best to move to an interior room on the lowest floor of
a building. This storm may cause serious injury and significant
property damage.

Torrential rainfall is occurring with this storm, and may lead to
flash flooding. Do not drive your vehicle through flooded roadways.

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Joplin area

(From the National Weather Service)

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WS 159
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
555 PM CDT TUE APR 25 2017

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 159 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 200 AM CDT
FOR THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS

MOC011-013-037-097-119-145-217-260700-
/O.NEW.KWNS.SV.A.0159.170425T2255Z-170426T0700Z/

MO
.    MISSOURI COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BARTON               BATES               CASS
JASPER               MCDONALD            NEWTON
VERNON

Greitens appoints Kansas City judge to Missouri Supreme Court

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Governor Eric Greitens has appointed Judge W. Brent Powell, of Kansas City, to serve as the next judge on the Supreme Court of Missouri.

“The Missouri Supreme Court serves an essential role in maintaining our system of justice, upholding the rule of law, and protecting the Missouri Constitution,” said Governor Greitens. “Appointing a Missouri Supreme Court Judge is an important duty, and it is one I take seriously. I am pleased to name Judge Brent Powell to our state’s highest court.”

Judge Powell has been a Circuit Judge in Jackson County since 2008. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Powell served seven years as a federal prosecutor for the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri, and before that, as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Platte County Prosecutor’s Office. As a federal prosecutor, Judge Powell was Chief of the General Crimes Unit and the Executive Assistant United States Attorney. He tried more than forty jury trials before being named to the Jackson County Circuit Court by Governor Blunt.

Judge Powell’s docket on the trial bench includes hundreds of significant criminal and civil cases. He currently serves on the Missouri Supreme Court Committee on Procedures in Criminal Cases, the Missouri Advisory Sentencing Commission, the Missouri Supreme Court Committee on Access to Family Courts, and the Missouri Supreme Court Trial Judge Education Committee. In addition to his service within the court system, Judge Powell regularly instructs lawyers as the Lead Master of the Ross T. Roberts Trial Academy of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.

Judge Powell received his law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law and his undergraduate degree in political science from William Jewell College.

“In his years on the bench, Judge Brent Powell has established himself as an outstanding jurist,” Governor Greitens said. “He has received high marks for being humble, fair-minded, and of the highest integrity. I am confident Judge Powell will be committed to strengthening and improving our court system and guarding the rule of law as a judge on our state’s highest court.”

Governor Greitens selected Judge Powell from a panel of three nominees put forward by the Missouri Appellate Judicial Commission. The position became vacant due to the death of the Honorable Richard Teitelman.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Graves: It is important to me to be a voice for agriculture

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

In the coming days, one of the last of the President's 15 Cabinet Secretaries will be confirmed by the Senate. Sonny Perdue, who was raised by farmers and was Georgia’s Governor from 2003-2011, will then become the 31st Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture is one of the few sectors in which America has a trade surplus with other nations. It’s even more important to North Missouri - where the economies of so many of our rural communities are driven by farming.

That’s why it’s so important to me - as one of the handful of farmers in Congress - to be a voice for agriculture in Washington, D.C.

A host of factors are constantly at work against farmers and the agriculture industry. Aside from the huge costs of starting out, which prevent young Americans from getting into farming in the first place, we’re also price takers on both sides - on all of our inputs and all of our outputs. When you add in the uncertainty of relying on Mother Nature, it makes our industry that much more volatile and that much more difficult.

But America’s farmers feed the world. That’s why we need to continue working to get young people farming, supporting groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau and FFA that do a great job promoting agriculture.

Last week I spent time traveling around North Missouri, speaking with people in our communities and visiting some of the businesses that employ them. One of those events was an agriculture town hall at the Kirksville farm campus of Truman State University. I got to talk with people from across northeast Missouri about the problems facing the Ag industry, as well as a host of other issues.

A recent Mizzou study on agriculture trends showed us that financial pressures on the U.S. farm sector continue to deter America’s youth from entering the business of feeding the world. That's a huge problem.

Over the next few months, the House Agriculture Committee and every farmer in Congress - myself included - will begin crafting the next Farm Bill. In it, we must emphasize partnerships with the private sector that can train and attract a new generation of American farmer. Because a future without farms is simply not an option.

Joplin R-8 Board accepts 15 resignations, including Doshier and North teacher facing kidnapping, rape charges

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education accepted 15 resignations and one retirement last week.

The retirement was from longtime athletic director Jeff Starkweather.

The list of resignations included Executive Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction Jennifer Doshier and North Middle School reading teacher Amanda Schweitzer.

Schweitzer has been on administrative leave following a Joplin Police Department investigation into her allegedly sending nude photos of herself to three students.


The investigation led to a charge of statutory rape in Jasper County and charges of kidnapping, statutory rape, and statutory sodomy in Newton County.

Others whose resignations were accepted included Candice Brown, Tabatha Culbertson, Rebecca Jakaitis, Chelsea Mayfield, Martha Mayberry, Katlyn Miller, Darleen Moore, Spencer Paul, Stephanie Prather, Morgan Stancil, Jamie Sutton, Cody VanVactor, and Jessica Whiteley.

The board hired seven certified personnel- Katie Bozarth, Katherine Johnson, Alexis Leonhart, Victoria Overton, Brendan Schneider, Kristi Schwab, and Cassandra Williams.

Jason Weaver named principal at Jefferson Elementary

During a closed session Tuesday, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education hired Jason Weaver, currently assistant principal at East Middle School, to be the new principal at Jefferson Elementary.

Weaver has held the assistant position at East for the past four years. Prior to that, he taught social studies at South and East middle schools.

Weaver replaces Chris Mitchell, who became South Middle School principal, replacing Steve Gilbreth, who was promoted to assistant superintendent.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Man threatening to bring semi-automatic rifle to Mercy, Tawnya Bach, Debbie Fort top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

The arrest of a Joplin man for threatening to bring a semi-automatic rifle to Mercy Hospital and shoot people received more visitors than any other Inside Joplin post this week, while a pair of completely different stories topped the charts on the Turner Report.

I have learned over the years that my attempts at humor can be polarizing and it wasn't any different this week when I noticed a play on words on the KOAM noon news involving attempts to legalize marijuana. I wrote about it, tongue completely in cheek. While it did not receive many negative comments on the blog, my Facebook page featured comments from a reader who claimed I was damaging Tawyna Bach's career. I enjoy watching Ms. Bach and Michael Hayslip on the noon news and I am sure they will do just fine.

The other post that received heavy enough traffic to reach the top of the list was my tribute to former Joplin R-8 Board of Education member Debbie Fort, who has many supporters, but also has one or two people who have made a habit of submitting venomous comments every time her name is mentioned.

The lists of top posts is featured below, including links:


The Turner Report

1. Tawnya Bach and the KOAM "drug scandal"

2. Thank you, Debbie Fort

3. Dispute in election of president, vice president highlights first meeting of new Joplin R-8 Board

4. Federal complaint charges Ron Richard with fraud

5. Billy Long: No town hall meetings in seven years, four trips to Vegas in three months

6. Neosho businessman wants more time to prepare for sentencing on child porn charge

7. Joplin man pleads guilty to federal firearms charge

8. My 2013 interrogation, rape victim's story, accused child molester top Turner Report/Inside Joplin posts

9. Last member of Huff Administration team, Jennifer Doshier, resigns

10. Lawsuit response: Joplin officer had to shoot man four times at Oxford Apartments

Inside Joplin

1. Joplin man arrested for threatening to bring semi-automatic rifle to Mercy Hospital, shoot people

2. Amber Alert issued for Oklahoma children, may be with meth-using mom

3. Golden City man arrested after Barton County, Lamar execute search warrant

4. Joplin Police searching for missing man

5. Joplin Police Department Weekend Arrests

6. Joplin man crashes into rock bluff near Branson

7. Jasper County Dissolutions of Marriage

8. Jasper County Marriage Licenses

9. Newton County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

10. Two DWI arrests made during sobriety checkpoint at Fountain and 43

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Bill Pierce

2. Dr. Jack Rhoads

3. John Bryan

4. Diane Carpenter

5. Cody Quinn

6. Harlan Snow

7. Gary Ledford

8. Sherry Boman

9. Carl Swartz

10. George Erwin

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Last member of Huff Administration team, Jennifer Doshier, resigns

The last remaining person of the group C. J. Huff brought into upper administration in the Joplin R-8 School District no longer works in the district, according to an update posted on her Facebook page Friday.

Jennifer Doshier, who had been serving as executive director of curriculum, assessment, and instruction,  told her Facebook followers, "Today, I said goodbye to a place and people who have been a part of my life for the past 19 years....Joplin Schools.

"I have accepted another position and am excited about my new journey in education which begins this Monday, April 24th."

Only two other people who served on the Huff upper administrative team remain in the district. One of those, CFO Paul Barr, was serving in that position before Huff arrived in 2008. The other, former Executive Director of Secondary Education Jason Cravens, now serves as principal at East Middle School.

In the past three years, Huff and other members of his administrative team, including Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer, buildings project manager Mike Johnson, curriculum, assessment and instruction director Sarah Stevens, chief operating officer and human resources director Tina Smith, executive director of student services Mark Barlass, communications director Kelli Price, director of early childhood education Amanda Boyer, and director of special services Lisa Orem, departed, with some resigning to take other jobs, some "retiring" and others being pushed out the door.

Doshier's departure comes as no surprise. When a list of administrators hired for the 2017-2018 school year was released recently, Doshier's name was not included. Since Doshier has 19 years in the district, including enough as a classroom teacher to qualify for tenure, the district was required to offer her a teaching position. That would have been a pay cut of approximately $60,000 a year for Doshier, who was making $100,580 a year as recently as the 2015-2016 school year.

Before being promoted to upper administration, Doshier served as principal at McKinley Elementary, where her primary notoriety came from what became called the "McKinley Massacre" when a group of younger teachers and a veteran teacher shared serious problems in Doshier's building with Besendorfer. The younger teachers did not have their contracts renewed while the veteran teacher, who had tenure, was transferred to another position.

After that shaky year as principal, Huff and Besendorfer rewarded Doshier by promoting her to upper administration and replaced her at McKinley with Terri Hart, who was not even certified as a principal and who did not receive her certification until she had already been at the job for a semester.

Doshier became executive director of elementary education, advocating for costly consultants and admitting at an R-8 Board of Education meeting that she had no idea if the computers that the district was buying for its students were actually helping them with their education.

Billy Long: I will work to address veterans' needs

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Just because we can never repay the debt we owe to our veterans and their family doesn’t mean we shouldn't try. This point was driven home to me once again on April 19 as I presented a Congressional Record during a luncheon held at College of the Ozarks to honor Missouri Gold Star Families. Gold Star families are families that have lost an immediate family member in the line of duty.

A mother of five at my table lost her husband at the hands of an Afghan soldier whom he was training and tragically had grown to trust. She proudly told me four of their five Children are currently serving in the U. S. Military and when their dad was killed each of them had an option to leave the military, but none left.

One of my top priorities this legislative session is making sure that our veterans and their families are taken care of and receive the respect they deserve. So far in the 115th Congress the House of Representatives has passed several bills that will help ensure that outcome.

The first is the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act, which passed the House and Senate and was recently signed into law by President Trump. This legislation permanently extends the Veterans Choice Program, which was established in 2014, to allow veterans who are unable to receive care from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities to continue to go to non-VA facilities for their health care needs.

When the VA waitlist scandal came to light in 2014 I was infuriated. Our veterans, some of which died waiting for care, should not have to deal with bureaucratic red tape to get basic care. This bill holds VA employees accountable for their actions by giving the VA Secretary more authority to remove employees for misconduct.

The Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which passed the House, ensures that the men and women who have risked their lives for our country are not denied the same rights they defend and fight for us to have. Under the existing VA policy, veterans with appointed fiduciaries to manage their benefits are automatically labeled mentally incompetent and denied their second amendment rights. This bill makes sure veterans are given due process by requiring a judicial authority to make such an important determination instead of a VA bureaucrat.

Addressing veterans’ issues is a top priority, but it is also important to recognize the sacrifices their loved ones make. Though it’s vital that our veterans get the care and respect they deserve, it’s easy to forget the family members that are also impacted by their heroic actions. A new memorial was unveiled during the Gold Star luncheon at College of the Ozarks. It is the first-ever in Missouri to honor Gold Star Families.

I will continue to meet with veterans and their families to address their needs. Whether that is through legislation or working with a governmental agency, I am ready to work on their behalf. After everything they and their families have done, it is the least I can do.

Billy Long- No town hall meetings in seven years, four trips to Vegas in three months

Seventh District Congressman Billy Long has not held even one town hall meeting since beginning his first term in January 2011, but he found time to go to Las Vegas at least four times in the first three months of 2017.

Long's quarterly campaign disclosure report, filed April 15 with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) shows the congressman reporting $660.42 in lodging at Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino January 11, $427.98 for a meal at the Four Queens Hotel and Casino February 6, $189.34 for lodging at the Wynn Las Vegas March 6, and two separate transactions, $1,325.42 for lodging at Wynn Las Vegas on March 28 and $901.98 for lodging at Wynn Las Vegas March 29.

Long's $117,265.72 in expenditures for the first quarter included 57 meals totaling $17,316.07.

Long received $151,366 in contributions, including $7,000 from lobbyists and $20,000 from insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical PACs.

Sen. Roy Blunt's Rely on Your Beliefs leadership PAC gave Long $10,000, while Koch Industries provided $1,000 and Hunton & Williams, a lobbying firm that represents Koch Industries, provided him with another $2,000.

Other special interest PACs contributing to Long include the following:

-Anthem $2,500
-Express Scripts $2,500
-Sunovian Pharamaceuticals $5,000
-CBS $2,500
-Professional Insurance Agents $1,000
-Bayer Corporation $1,500
-Exxon Mobil $4,000
-21st Century Fox $2,500

Friday, April 21, 2017

Neosho businessman's sentencing on child porn charge delayed

U. S. District Court Judge Beth Phillips canceled the sentencing hearing for Neosho businessman Blake Altman, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, May 4, in Springfield.

No date has been set for the hearing.

Altman's attorney, Dee Wampler, asked for a delay of 45 to 60 days to give him time to "accumulate documents" and scheduled expert witnesses.

Altman pleaded guilty January 4 in federal court in Springfield, admitting that he received and distributed child pornography between August 14, 2014, and October 1, 2014.

From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri's news release:

Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Altman’s residence after he was identified in an undercover investigation into the distribution of child pornography via peer-to-peer file-sharing software. Undercover officers downloaded images and videos of child pornography from Altman’s computer. Officers seized Altman’s laptop computer, which contained images and videos of child pornography.

Under federal statutes, Altman is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 20 years in federal prison without parole.

Joplin man pleads guilty to federal firearms charge

Beau Rickman, 39, Joplin, pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge this week in U. S. District Court in Springfield.

A pre-sentencing investigation was ordered for Rickman, who pleaded guilty to illegal transport of firearms as a part of plea bargain arrangement.

Rickman will continue to remain behind bars without bond as he awaits sentencing.

In March, the judge ordered Rickman held without bond, after the assistant U. S. Attorney presented a list of reasons to hold him.

Among the reasons :

- Joplin Police officers found a loaded gun in a car Rickman was driving. Rickman admitted the gun belonged to him.

- Rickman admitted to using methamphetamine every day.

- Rickman "has an extensive criminal history, including a conviction for murder.

- "The evidence against (Rickman) is overwhelming.

The federal grand jury indictment against Rickman stemmed from a December 30 traffic stop by Joplin Police Officer Adam Brannin.

The arrest is described in an affidavit included in the federal case file:

On December 30, 2016, Officer Adam Brannin conducted a traffic stop of a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu for failing to display a front license plate. The rear license plate of the car was registered to Rickman and Kerissa Wynn for a 2013 Dodge vehicle.

As Officer Brannin initiated the traffic stop, the driver appeared to be concealing something. Officer Brannin identified the driver as Rickman. Officer Brannin was familiar with Rickman, as he had recently encountered him in relation to suspicious activity related to narcotics. A female passenger, who appeared to be intoxicated, was in the front seat, and later identified as Kiley M. Carpenter.

Officer Brannin advised Rickman of the reason for the stop. Rickman appeared very nervous and Officer Branning observed Rickman's hands visibly shaking. Officer Brannon observed what appeared to be an empty black nylon holster between the driver's seat and the center console.

Rickman stated that Carpenter was intoxicated and he had just met her at a bar. Predicated upon the presence of the empty holster, Rickman was asked to exit the vehicle. Officer Brannin then frisked Rickman to ensure that he was not armed. No weapons were located on Rickman's person.

Officer Brannin explained that he was a K9 handler and asked if Rickman had anything illegal in his vehicle. Rickman responded that he did not have anything illegal in the vehicle. Rickman denied Officer Brannin's request for consent to search the vehicle. Officer Brannin then removed Rickman from the vehicle.

Officer Brannon retrieved his K9 Belgon to perform a sniff on the exterior of the vehicle. Belgon indicated to the presence of narcotics on both the front passenger and driver's doors. Belgon was allowed inside the vehicle where he showed a strong change in behavior on or around the driver's seat. Belgon was removed from the vehicle and Officer Brannin conducted a search of the vehicle, locating a black handgun under the driver's seat.

Officer Brannin, knowing Rickman was a convicted felon, left the vehicle and approached Rickman. Rickman commented that he was about to get sick and quickly stood up. Rickman was placed in handcuffs as it appeared he was going to flee. Rickman was placed in a patrol car and was not asked any questions.

Officer Gauss, acting as Officer Brannin's backup, attempted to identify the female passenger (Carpenter, who refused to identify herself. Carpenter was detained and was found to be holding and concealing a glass smoking pipe in her hand, commonly used for smoking methamphetamine. Carpenter was later identified and confirmed to have two confirmed arrest warrants.

Officer Brannin retrieved the black handgun and identified it to be a BERSA, Model Thunder 9 Pro, 9 mm pistol, SND96611. The pistol contained a magazine loaded with nine rounds of 9 mm ammunition. A black nylon belt clip holster was found beside the driver's seat and console, and a black nylon handgun zipper case was found beside the driver's seat and door. A black and grey backpack with a black nylon holster attached to the side was located in the back seat of the vehicle.

Located inside the backpack was male clothing and a black digital scale with a white residue. Officers located a black shoulder holster and a black pocket holster in the trunk of the vehicle.

Officers searched a woman's pink handbag located on the front passenger's side of the vehicle and located Carpenter's driver's license and a green plastic bag inside. The green plastic bag contained one green pill and a yellow plastic bag containing a crystal substance.

A black case from inside the handbag contained two clear plastic bags one containing two rounds of .380 caliber ammunition, the other containing four rounds of .25 caliber ammunition The crystal substance from the yellow plastic bag and the smoking pipe from Carpenter both tested field positive for methamphetamine.

Rickman was transported to jail where Officer Brannin interviewed Rickman after advising him of his Miranda rights. Rickman stated he had been using methamphetamine for over two months and was using methamphetamine daily. Rickman admitted that the firearm under the seat belonged to him. Ricman stated that he had purchased it in Joplin a week prior from two males in Galena, Kansas.

Your affiant researched Rickman 's criminal history I confirmed that Rickman was convicted of second degree murder in Kansas.

It was also determined that Rickman's gun had not been manufactured in Missouri.


A weapons charge was initially filed against Rickman in Newton County Circuit Court. Court records also indicate he is awaiting trial in Jasper County for driving while intoxicated, and for two felony burglary charges, both of which resulted from an arrest by the Carl Junction Police Department.

Lawsuit response- Joplin officer had to shoot man four times at Oxford Apartments

In a response filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the attorney for Joplin police officer Seth Lugenbell and the City of Joplin denied Jeffrey Hill's claim that Lugenbell shot him four times for no reason at the Oxford Apartments November 30, 2015.

"(The shooting) was caused and contributed to by (Hill's) attempt to strike Lugenbell with his motor vehicle," the response, written by attorney Karl Blanchard said.

The response also denied allegations that Lugenbell shouted, "Stop right there or I'll shoot," then immediately began shooting and indicated that if the case moves to trial Lugenbell's defense will contend that Lugenbell was performing his duty, was protecting himself since Hill was allegedly driving directly at him and Lugenbell is protected by both sovereign and official immunity.


Hill, who was charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer and driving while intoxicated, is scheduled to go to trial May 22 in McDonald County Circuit Court, where the case is being heard on a change of venue from Newton County.

More information about Hill's lawsuit and the original Joplin Police Department news releases from that day can be found at this link.

Flood warning issued for Barton, Crawford counties

The National Weather Service in Springfield has issued a

* Flood Warning for...
  Crawford County in southeastern Kansas...
  Barton County in southwestern Missouri...

* Until 1015 PM CDT Friday

* At 1016 AM CDT, Doppler radar indicated heavy rain that will cause
  flooding. Up to two inches of rain has already fallen. Additional
  moderate rainfall was moving in from the west, which will likely
  create more widespread flooding.

* Creeks, streams, and low water crossings will be especially
  susceptible to the dangers of flooding.
  Locations in the warning include...
  Pittsburg...                      Prairie State Park...
  Lamar...                          Frontenac...
  Girard...                         Arma...
  Golden City...                    Liberal...
  Cherokee...                       Mulberry...
  Chicopee...                       Mccune...
  Nashville...                      Mindenmines...
  Franklin...                       Arcadia...
  Walnut...                         Lamar Heights...
  Hepler...                         Irwin...

This warning includes but is not limited to the following low water
crossings...
Route K at Dry Wood Creek east of Arcadia...
Highway 126 at The Spring River 3 miles north of Jasper...
Route C at Horse Creek east of Milford...
and Route M south of Highway 160.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. All
interested parties should take necessary precautions immediately.

Flash flood warning issued for Newton, McDonald counties

The National Weather Service in Springfield has issued a

* Flash Flood Warning for...
  Newton County in southwestern Missouri...
  McDonald County in southwestern Missouri...
  Barry County in southwestern Missouri...

* Until 915 PM CDT Friday

* At 915 AM CDT, Doppler radar indicated heavy rain across the warned
  area. Up to three inches of rain has already fallen. Flash
  flooding is already occurring. Additional moderate to heavy rain
  is moving in from the west, and will create widespread flash
  flooding across far southwest Missouri.

* Creeks, streams, and low water crossings will be especially
  susceptible to the dangers of flash flooding.
  Locations in the warning include...
  Southern Joplin...                Neosho...
  Roaring River State Park...       Big Sugar Creek State Park...
  Monett...                         Cassville...
  Seneca...                         Granby...
  Anderson...                       Noel...
  Duquesne...                       Dodge...
  Shell Knob...                     Goodman...
  Purdy...                          South West City...
  Diamond...                        Seligman...
  Pineville...                      Exeter...

This warning includes but is not limited to the following low water
crossings...
Highway 43 at Buffalo Creek west of Anderson...
Business Highway 60 just north of Neosho...
Route Y at Flat Creek just northeast of Cassville...
Route C just south of Mcdowell...
and Highway 39 at Flat Creek south of Jenkins.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

In hilly terrain there are hundreds of low water crossings which are
potentially dangerous in heavy rain. Do not attempt to cross flooded
roads. Find an alternate route.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Court filing notes decision does not prevent Joplin schools from going to Victory Ministries

For the past few weeks, the comment section of the Joplin Globe Facebook page has been rilled with readers lamenting the liberal, Godless federal judge Douglas Harpool for ruling that the Joplin School District could no longer attend field trips or activities at religious places like Victory Ministries and Sports Complex.

And you can't blame them for being under that impression.

After all, that was the Globe's article on the Victory Ministries' lawsuit win over the Joplin R-8 School District said.

Readers all over the country learned the same thing from Associated Press articles barictsed on the Globe article.

The only problem is Harpool never made any such ruling.

The school district can still take field trips to Victory such as the one that brought the lawsuit. Harpool put some restrictions on the field trips, but they can be held.

He had already made that clear in his original decision when he noted there would have been no problem with going to Victory or another religious setting for a "social activity."

And while it is almost certain that is what the North Middle School field trips were, it was actions taken by district officials that ended up opening the door for the lawsuit. North sent the students home with permission slips that not only allowed Victory personnel to promote religion, but also permitted Victory to use photos of the students to promote the facility.

When the lawyer for the American Humanist Association contacted Superintendent C. J. Huff, he acknowledged there were problems with the permission slips and said the district would do better the next year, adding that, of course, everyone wanted to do what was right for the kids.

Even after Victory officials gave their OK to send out revised permission slips that removed the religious references, Huff simply decided not to send those slips home.

Harpool criticized Huff's decisions in his rulings, but he never shut the door on field trips to Victory.

So even though the decision was technically a win for Jane Doe and the Ameican Humanit Association and has been promoted heavily as such, as attorney Tyler Strodton noted in a document filed Thursday in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, it was really not the clearcut win it appeared to be at first glance.

Strodton, an attorney with the Joplin firm of Blanchard, Roberts, Mitchell, and Carter, pointed out that out in his arguments against the fees claimed by Jane Doe's attorneys:

Plaintiff’s Complaint and Proposed Judgment sought an injunction wholly prohibiting Defendants from attending Victory. However, the relief actually awarded to Plaintiff fell far short. Instead, Defendants were enjoined from attending Victory under three enumerated conditions in the Court’s Judgment. Many of those conditions are ones that were not actually at issue in this case, e.g., there was no evidence that students were subjected to sermons.

Defendants did not—and would not—dispute that it would be improper to engage in the enumerated conditions. Defendants never claimed a desire to allow students to appear in religious promotions or to send out the release with the problematic language in the future. Instead, Defendants merely argued that the facts and circumstances of the trip to Victory had not violated those conditions. The injunctive relief actually granted Plaintiff falls far short of that sought in her Complaint and supports a reduction to the proposed fee award.

Strodton also argued that the rates claimed by the four attorneys, $375 an hour, $425 an hour, $500 an hour, and $315 an hour, for a total of $211,281.45, were "excessive in light of the customary charges for similar work throughout the State, let alone for civil rights litigation in southwest Missouri."

He also noted that some billing appeared "redundant" and that more hour were claimed for some activities than were necessary.

The attorney payment is the sole remaining area to be determined by Harpool. The plaintiffs, Jane Doe and her children, received $1 apiece.

The complete text of Harpool's order can be found in the March 16 Turner Report.

St. Louis Democrat: Another gun bill may be on the way

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

Think we need to allow guns in:
  • day care centers
  • bars
  • casinos
  • polling places
  • churches, synagogues, mosques
  • hospitals
  • airports ticket counters prior to TSA
  • on buses and other public transportation
  • stadiums and sports arenas?
Rep. Jered Taylor (R-Nixa ) thinks so with his HB650 which has one more ceremonial committee vote before coming to the House floor, possibly this week.  This is the furthest gun bill which still has time to make it to the Governor's desk by May 12th.

Last week Missouri pediatricians flooded the Capitol to talk about healthcare, vaccines and gun violence prevention.  These are the doctors we depend on to save our kids lives when shot (they reminded me the ones they can't save usually proceed directly to the morgue).  They are also adamantly AGAINST allowing more access to guns ---particularly in day care centers and hospitals.

Hartzler welcomes EPA chief Pruitt to Missouri

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

CLIFTON HILL, Mo.—Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) on Thursday welcomed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to the Thomas Hill Energy Center in Clifton Hill, Mo.

“It was a pleasure and an honor to welcome Mr. Pruitt to Missouri and tour the Thomas Hill Co-op, with him to see firsthand the facilities that supply electricity for so many Missourians” Hartzler said. “It was refreshing to hear the head of the EPA talk about prioritizing both the environment and job growth. As he said, 'It's a false choice to force our country to choose between the two.' I look forward to working with him to keep electricity affordable for Missourian's under the new paradigm of shared leadership between federal state, and local entities.”

Department of Revenue turns documents over to state auditor

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

One day after Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a subpoena, the Department of Revenue has delivered a stack of documents to the State Auditor's Office.

"After weeks of my staff requesting the information and after taking the unprecedented step of issuing a subpoena, my office has received the Department of Revenue's response. I am hopeful that in the future the issuance of a subpoena will not be necessary for my office to do its job protecting taxpayers," Auditor Galloway said.

The office is currently reviewing the documents, which are the first the office has received since starting an audit to determine whether Missourians' tax returns are being paid on time. During the 2016 tax season the Department of Revenue provided updates to the public with information on the dollar amounts and number of returns paid out and still pending.

The subpoena was issued more than six weeks after Auditor Galloway first requested the information as part of an audit to ensure Missourians receive their tax refunds within the time period required by law. This action marks the first time Auditor Galloway has had to issue a subpoena to any government agency or department to obtain information.

The purpose of the audit is to ensure Missourians receive the money they are owed under a law requiring taxpayers receive their tax refunds within 45 days or be paid interest. The audit covers current and prior tax years.



Individuals who believe they have had their money withheld beyond the 45-day limit may contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline by calling 800-347-8597, by emailing moaudit@auditor.mo.gov, or by using the new online submission form at auditor.mo.gov/hotline.

Tawnya Bach and the KOAM News "drug scandal"

Don't worry, Tawnya Bach fans.

KOAM's noon newscast anchor isn't going to be fired, suspended, or even reprimanded.

That being said, I just loved it when she told viewers moments ago the latest news about marijuana.

"The number of people wanting to see marijuana legalized is at an all-time high."

Sorry, I love puns, even when they are not intended.

And if it was intended, even better.

Federal complaint charges Ron Richard with fraud

(From the Campaign for Accountabilty)

WASHINGTON – Wednesday, government watchdog group Campaign for Accountability (CfA) filed a complaint with Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tom Larson requesting an investigation into whether Missouri State Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard violated federal law by accepting a $100,000 campaign contribution in return for legislative assistance.

Read the complaint here.

Richard accepted the contribution from TAMKO Building Products CEO and President David Humphrey, just six days after introducing legislation that could derail a class action lawsuit that could cost the company millions of dollars.

CfA Executive Director Dan Stevens stated, “Sen. Richard can’t expect anyone to believe it’s a coincidence that he introduced a bill that could save TAMKO millions and received $100,000 from the company’s CEO just a few days later. This situation begs for a grand jury investigation; it’s a crime for elected officials to accept benefits in exchange for official action.”

In 2014, TAMKO was sued for allegedly selling defective roofing shingles that wore out well before their 30-year warranty. In response to the class-action lawsuit, the company argued the plaintiffs could not sue because the shingles’ packaging states that warranty complaints must be settled through arbitration. After losing initially, TAMKO appealed, but the court ruled against the company, allowing the case to move forward. The company now is waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its case.

On December 7, 2016, Sen. Richard received a campaign contribution of $100,000. Six days earlier, he had introduced SB 5, a bill that would drastically cut back on the consumer protections in the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MPA). If enacted, the legislation likely would undercut the lawsuit against TAMKO. The senator also had received an additional $100,000 from Humphrey six months earlier.

The federal Travel Act prohibits using the mail or interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity. Among other things, “unlawful activity” includes bribery in violation of state law. Missouri state law prohibits a public servant from soliciting, accepting or agreeing to accept any direct or indirect benefit in return for an official action. In addition, the federal Honest Services Fraud statute prohibits elected officials from depriving their constituents and the government the right of honest service, free of bribery and corruption.

Stevens continued, “Missouri residents are on the brink of losing a strong consumer protection law because a businessman who has gotten rich by engaging in exactly the sorts of practices prohibited by the law can now pay off a state senator to get the law killed. It is this sort of cynical pay-to-play activity that undermines Americans’ faith in government.”

Campaign for Accountability is a nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Flood watch issued for Joplin area through Saturday

Flood Watch
National Weather Service Springfield MO
355 PM CDT Wed Apr 19 2017

KSZ097-101-MOZ077-088>090-093>095-101>104-202100-
/O.NEW.KSGF.FA.A.0001.170421T0600Z-170422T1200Z/
/00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.OO/
Crawford-Cherokee-Barton-Jasper-Dade-Greene-Newton-Lawrence-
Christian-McDonald-Barry-Stone-Taney-
Including the cities of Chicopee, Lone Oak, Pittsburg,
Baxter Springs, Lowell, Riverton, Columbus, Neutral, Sherwin,
Stippville, Kenoma, Lamar, Joplin, Carthage, Greenfield,
Lockwood, Meinert, Springfield, Neosho, Aurora, Mount Vernon,
Marionville, Nixa, Christian Center, Ozark, Selmore, Anderson,
Noel, Goodman, South West City, Pineville, Rocky Comfort, Monett,
Madry, Cassville, Kimberling City, Crane, Elsey, Indian Point,
Silver Dollar City, Branson, Hollister, Kirbyville,
Edgewater Beach, Forsyth, Ozark Beach, and Powersite
355 PM CDT Wed Apr 19 2017

...FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE THURSDAY NIGHT THROUGH
SATURDAY MORNING...

The National Weather Service in Springfield has issued a

* Flood Watch for portions of southeast Kansas and southwest
  Missouri, including the following areas, in southeast Kansas,
  Cherokee and Crawford. In southwest Missouri, Barry, Barton,
  Christian, Dade, Greene, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton,
  Stone, and Taney.

* From late Thursday night through Saturday morning

* Periods of showers and thunderstorms producing heavy rainfall
  will develop late Thursday night and continue through Friday and
  Friday night. Rain will gradually taper off Saturday. Storm
  total rainfall amounts will likely range from two to four inches
  with locally higher amounts up to five inches possible.

* This excessive rainfall will lead to the potential of flash
  flooding especially on small streams and low water crossings.
  Flooding may also materialize on main stem rivers including the
  Elk, James and Spring river basins.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Flood Watch means there is a potential for flooding based on
current forecasts.

You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible
Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be
prepared to take action should flooding develop.

McCaskill: Tell Congress to pass legislation to end campus sexual assault

(From Sen. Claire McCaskill)

As a mother, I know that campus sexual assault is every parent’s nightmare. But when I talk about this issue as a senator, I still hear way too many voices asking, “Is this really a big deal?”
Well, when about one in five young women is dragged into that nightmare and sexually assaulted during her college years, I say yes. This is a very, very big deal.
That’s why this month I reintroduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act alongside a bipartisan coalition of senators. We need due process for victims. We need transparency. And with so many students at risk, we can’t waste any more time.
Will you stand with me and add your name to urge Congress to pass this important bill to protect our students from sexual assault?
Everyone, no matter their party lines, understands that something’s wrong when so many of our students are either the victims of or live in fear of sexual assault. And it violates every measure of common sense that our colleges and universities aren’t responding.
So I’m proud of this united effort to make schools more accountable for student safety. We’ve got the momentum, but I need your help to get it across the finish line.
Will you stand with me and tell Congress to pass legislation to end campus sexual assault? Add your name here.
Thanks for speaking out to protect students.

Greitens fundraising letter: I have accomplished a lot in 100 days; give me money

(The following fundraising e-mail was sent today by Gov. Eric Gteitens' campaign)

Today marks 100 days since I took the oath of office to serve the people of Missouri. 

In that short period of time, together we have:

  • Improved our business climate & companies are coming and staying in Missouri. Companies like Smith & Wesson, Microsoft, AutoAlert, Code Koalas, Onshore Outsourcing, and many more have announced that they are investing in our state because we've created a business-friendly climate.
  • Fought to keep "abortion sanctuary cities" out of Missouri. As Governor, I will always protect life and defend people of faith who protect the unborn.
  • Protected Missouri farms. We strengthened the penalties for illegal herbicide use that has devastated many farms across our state.
  • Worked to provide high-speed Internet for rural schools.
  • Banned lobbyist gifts. Executive branch employees can no longer accept gifts from lobbyists.
  • Made Missouri the 28th Right-to-Work State. We signed legislation that gives Missouri workers more freedom and opportunity – and leads to more jobs!
  • Signed a law to prevent crooked trial lawyers from using fake experts. Trial lawyers will no longer be able to put fake "experts" on the witness stand who peddle junk science. This will cut down on the number of frivolous lawsuits.
  • Formed a cabinet of experienced outsiders who are working to make your government more efficient.
  • Stopped politicians from raising their own pay!
  • Stood for your Religious Freedoms.
  • Showed the Nation our heart and how we can all come together after the horrific vandalism of the Jewish cemetery.
We've accomplished so much in the first 100 days, but there's still much left to be done. We must continue fighting together to bring more jobs, higher pay, safer streets, and better schools to all Missourians. 

But I can't continue to make conservative changes in Missouri without you. The liberals have noticed the reforms we have made – and they will do whatever they can to stop us. 

Friend, that's why I need your help. Can I count on your support? $10, $25 $50, $100 or more today will send a clear message to the DC and Jefferson City Insiders that we have a strong team of supporters! 

I am fighting for you. I know we can complete the mission to bring meaningful, conservative change to our state if you join me today and continue to accomplish as much as we did in the first 100 days. Friend, can I continue to count on you for the next 100 days? 

Thank you for all your support. 

Thank you, Debbie Fort

When C. J. Huff was sent packing from the Joplin R-8 School District, the Joplin Globe, which had enabled Huff through his entire tenure, wrote an editorial praising all of the good people that Huff brought into the district.

There will be no similar Globe editorial praising the contributions of Debbie Fort, who left the Joplin R-8 Board of Education, head standing high, after serving the patrons of the district in a far more substantial and positive way than Huff.

Fort was the one who led the battle to clean up the mess created by Huff and those "good people" the Globe had praised.

As Fort took a seat in the audience Tuesday night, only one member of the Huff top administrative team was still in place, CFO Paul Barr, the only one who had been there when Huff arrived.

Fort, the former principal at Irving Elementary, had already contributed enough to the school district when she retired from that position after an eventful final few years that included having to move to the old Washington building after Irving was destroyed in the May 22, 2011 tornado.

From the inside, Fort had seen the disease that the C. J. Huff/Angie Besendorfer regime had spread throughout a district that before Huff's arrival had achieved Accreditation with Distinction four years in a row.

Her teachers were having one new initiative after another thrown at them by upper administration. Teachers, including teachers in tested areas, were being pulled out of class dozens of times during the school year to attend seminars and conferences. Weeks were being set aside to take practice standardized tests to prepare for the package of practice standardized tests the district had purchased to practice for the state standardized tests at the end of the school year.

A school district that had been building a reputation for educational excellence had, in the course of a few short years, turned into a playground for oversized egos and endless busywork meetings with no discernible results.

And while all of this was going on, Debbie Fort noted alarming trends that were being kept from the public- teachers were leaving the district in droves and money was being spent like it was going out of style.

The R-8 Board of Education had become a rubber stamp in the C. J. Huff cult of personality, basking in the reflected glory of the self-proclaimed hero of the Joplin Tornado. Fort decided to do something about it and there was nothing she could do about it as long as she was on the inside. She retired as a building administrator and began preparing a campaign for Board of Education.

Fort's first step into the spotlight came at the October 22, 2013 board meeting during the public comment period when she asked that professional and support staff employees who retire be allowed to donate unused sick pay to a pool to be used for employees with catastrophic illnesses.

"It would be better if (the retiring employees) could be paid for those days, but with our budget constraints, with our reserves being down to 14 percent and I have heard somewhere they are going down to eight to 11 percent, that may not be possible."

It was the first time anyone had spoken at an R-8 board meeting about the district's dangerously low reserves brought on by a combination of tornado recovery costs and massive overspending.

Fort launched a successful grass roots campaign for school board and was one of two newcomers, along with Lynda Banwart, elected to bring change. While Banwart quickly fell into lock step with the board holdovers including Mike Landis, Anne Sharp, and Randy Steele, Fort began asking questions at board meetings and pushing for answers, something that clearly irritated Huff and some of her fellow board members.

When Paul Barr made his infamous explanation on "might-as-well spending," Fort cast the lone vote against that $8 million in frills for the new high school.

A board which had historically only recorded 7-0 votes found itself having more that went 6-1 and as board member Jim Kimbrough began voting with Fort, it was often 5-2.

R-8 taxpayers were supportive of Fort's efforts and as the next two elections took place, the last remnants of Huff's rubber stamp board were gone as was Huff. Changes took place in the district. No longer were hundreds of thousands being spent on outside consultants and steps were taken to return decisions on teachers' professional development to the building level.

Bright Futures became a component of the district rather than the focal point upon which everything in the district operated and connections with Bright Futures USA were severed.

Norm Ridder, an interim superintendent with considerable experience, was brought in to serve as a bridge until the right person could be brought in to take over.

Not all problems were solved, of course, and there were hurdles and defeats along the way. 

While Huff "retired," Fort's vote against gifting him with an exorbitant severance package that paid him full salary for another year and a half, gave him an extra $50,000 in "consulting fees" to help prepare for lawsuits he caused, and paid for him to attend a National School Public Relations Association event where he was a speaker, was unsuccessful.

Teachers have continued to flee the district and despite the removal of the top layer of the Huff Administration, many building level administrators who were steeped in the Huff-Besendorfer philosophy are still in place and there is still a culture of fear in some areas of the district.

There are always problems in any school district.

Fort started a successful movement to take back the schools and was joined in her battle by others who ran for board seats and by the public, which supported her battle, voted for her and for other reform candidates  and then attended board meetings or watched them on television or online to make sure the board members were doing what they had been elected to do.

That movement requires active participation by voters and board candidates who are willing to devote their time to service,

Debbie Fort has provided that service and deserves the gratitude of every taxpayer in Joplin R-8 for causing a seismic shift for the better in the school district. Thanks to Debbie and those who supported her, though the road back is a long one, the journey is well underway.

Thank you, Debbie Fort!