Saturday, March 11, 2017
An open letter to Chad Elliot of KZRG- Help!
I am writing to ask you to consider taking a step to help the taxpayers of the Joplin R-8 School District.
Over the past couple of years, while your print competitor, the Joplin Globe, avoided the issues that were troubling the school district, KZRG stepped forward and provided a great service to its listeners.
When former Superintendent C. J. Huff provided misleading information about inspections on the new Joplin High School, it was you and KZRG that took him to task and forced him to admit he had not been truthful when he said the building had not failed a safety inspection.
During the 2015 Board of Education race, your questioning of the candidates on Morning News Watch opened the listeners' minds to some of the problems that were facing the district and helped guide the way to a board of education that was more receptive to the needs of parents, students, and taxpayers and willing to make the moves to "clean the swamp" that had been growing since Dr. Jim Simpson left the district.
While I am fully aware of your busy schedule, I was hoping you and KZRG might consider sponsoring a public forum for the five Board of Education candidates.
For the past few years, this has been done by the Globe. The Globe is holding a forum once again this year, but it has decided that the public is not welcome.
Board candidates have been told that the forum will take place in the Globe's office and each candidate is allowed to bring two people.
The Globe reportedly plans to video the forum and make it available on its website. Over the past few years, the forum has been held in conjunction with Missouri Southern State University and has been broadcast live over the university's television station, posted on YouTube, and for the past two years has been open to the public.
While I am sure this year's Globe forum will have some value to taxpayers, I do not trust the Globe to provide a forum that is based on the needs of the taxpayers, or even the newspaper's readers.
Considering the coverage the newspaper has given both education and to the City of Joplin over the past few years, I fully expect that what we will hear are the questions that provide the answers wanted by those who formerly were connected with the Joplin Progress Committee, many of whom seem to be calling the shots for the current Joplin 2022.
Chad, I have complete faith that you, Joe Lancello, and whoever else you would have involved in such a forum would not only ask questions based on knowledge of what is happening in our community, but you also will take the time to find out from listeners what they want to know from those who would serve on their board of education.
If a public forum is not possible, please consider having an extended Morning News Watch and offering a 7 to 9 a.m. forum with the candidates, allowing listeners to call in.
Though few have attended the public forums in person, the public should be afforded every opportunity to do so.
Over the past two years, the district has made tremendous strides in opening its decision-making process to the public. We cannot allow the Joplin Globe to return us to the days when an unelected elite made the decisions for the rest of us because they think we cannot be allowed to make them for ourselves.
Thank you for your time and consideration, Chad.