Friday, June 30, 2017

Cleaver: Republican health care bill is a massive tax cut for the rich

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

I was very pleased the Senate decided to delay the vote on health care repeal but the fight is not over. We must remember what is at stake and continue to fight this immoral piece of legislation. This bill was never publicly debated and it should have been by both parties.

Medicaid provides coverage for 1 in 5 Americans. It is a federal backstop to provide healthcare to pregnant women, to more than 1/3 of our nations’ children and to almost 60 percent of all nursing home residents. Proponents of this bill are talking about ending health insurance coverage for millions of people.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that in 10 years, 49 million people would be without insurance which would devastate, particularly, rural Americans.

Let us not mince words. If this bill becomes law, children will lose health care and nursing homes and hospitals will close. It is no secret that rural hospitals already serve older, poorer and sicker populations. More people will turn to rural hospitals to get care if they lose their insurance. Rural hospitals are already struggling to stay in business and this bill will force them to cut back, or worse, close.

Perhaps the most troubling part of this bill is the section on state waivers. By allowing waivers of Essential Health Benefits (EHBs), the bill removes protections for those with pre-existing conditions placing them in a “high-risk” pool with higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

This bill isn’t a bill for our most vulnerable, instead it is a massive tax cut for the rich. Health plans will, without a doubt, cost more and cover less. The uninsured rate will almost double in people who earn about $24,000 annually, and it will be even larger for older Americans. This is why we cannot allow this bill to go forward. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to work together on this issue to establish affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Greitens signs budget bills, refuses to sign minimum wage legislation

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Today, Governor Eric Greitens signed several bills and announced his intentions on the standard statewide minimum wage bill.

The Governor has signed House Bills 1-13, 17, and 18, the budget bills passed by the legislature to fund Missouri government for the next year.

For the first time in a decade, the Foundation Formula is fully funded. Under Governor Greitens' administration, funding for K-12 education has increased by more than $133 million.

This budget includes $6 million for the Governor's rural school broadband program. It increases funding by over $12 million for Early Childhood Special Education, over $10 million to keep children out of dangerous and abusive situations, and over $12 million to combat the opioid crisis.

Due to lower than expected tax receipts from 2016 and rising healthcare costs, the Governor is restricting more than $250 million to keep a balanced budget. Those restrictions are detailed here:

“We were sent here to make tough decisions. That's what we're doing. Politicians were trying to spend money we don't have. So we're left with two choices: raise taxes or cut spending. I will not raise your taxes,” said Governor Eric Greitens.

Governor Greitens vetoed HCB3. The bill asks the Commissioner of Administration to drain $35.4 million from various state funds into General Revenue to be used as a one-time gimmick to pay for other state programs. Funds at risk of being cut by the bill included initiatives to prevent child abuse and neglect (Children’s Trust Fund), assistance to workers injured on the job (Workers Compensation Fund and Second Injury Fund), and training to police officers (Highway Patrol Academy Fund) and firefighters (Fire Education Fund).

This gimmick was pushed through in the middle of the night with no public hearing. It exempted funds for tattoo artists (Tattoo Fund), interior designers (Interior Designer Council Fund), embalmers (Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors’ Fund), acupuncturists (Acupuncturist Fund), massage therapists (Massage Therapy Fund), and realtors (Real Estate Commission Fund) from the sweep.

“This bill would put funds for abused children, injured workers, and first responders in jeopardy, but protect funding for tattoo artists, interior designers, and realtors. Politicians cherry-picked their desired funds to protect, while the most vulnerable Missourians were left holding the bag.

I put money in the budget to protect the most vulnerable Missourians. The House did their job. The Senate failed. This was a clearly unconstitutional, last-minute budget gimmick. I won't sign an unconstitutional, one-time, fake fix to a real problem,” said Governor Greitens.

The Governor also signed SB 139, a bill to protect the MORx program. The program helps low-income Missourians pay for their prescription drugs. The entire MORx program was scheduled to expire in August 2017. Governor Greitens extended the MORx program until at least 2022 for more than 182,000 Missourians.

Governor Greitens signed several tort reform bills, SB 88, HB 452, and SB43. SB 88 gives veterinarians the same malpractice coverage as doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals. HB 452 says that, with certain exceptions, no health care provider shall be liable for the negligence of another entity or person who is not an employee of the health care provider. SB 43 brings standards for lawsuits in Missouri in line with 38 other states and the federal government.

Governor Greitens added, “Tort reform is important. We need to prevent trial lawyers from killing good jobs.”

SB 43 requires the use of the “motivating factor” standard for employment discrimination cases. The “motivating factor” standard is used by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) in analyzing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). It is also the standard of proof relied on by federal courts analyzing claims under Title VII, the ADA, and other federal discrimination statutes.

“I've met with passionate advocates on both sides of SB 43. I respect all of them. I've listened to every side. I believe we need to bring Missouri’s standards in line with 38 other states and the federal government,” said Governor Greitens.

The Governor also announced his view of the bill passed by the legislature to create a standard statewide minimum wage, HB 1194 and HB 1193. Governor Greitens will not sign the minimum wage bill. It will go into law automatically on August 28th without his signature.

“I ran for governor to bring more jobs to Missouri. Our state needs more private sector paychecks and bigger private sector paychecks. Politicians in St. Louis passed a bill that fails on both counts: it will kill jobs, and despite what you hear from liberals, it will take money out of people's pockets.

This isn’t an easy issue. Too many Missourians struggle to get by. They work hard. They want to get ahead. They need leaders who have their back — and I do.

The St. Louis politicians who did this claim it will help people. It'll hurt them. This increase in the minimum wage might read pretty on paper, but it doesn't work in practice. Government imposes an arbitrary wage, and small businesses either have to cut people’s hours or let them go. They tried this in Seattle. The minimum wage went up, and the results are heartbreaking: the average worker in the city lost $125 a month. That's $1,500 a year because jobs were lost and hours were cut. Liberals say these laws help people. They don't. They hurt them.

Politicians in the legislature could've come up with a timely solution to this problem. Instead, they dragged their feet for months. Now, because of their failures, we have different wages across the state. It's created uncertainty for small businesses. And it all could have been avoided if the politicians had done their job on time.

I disapprove of the way politicians handled this. That's why I won't be signing my name to their bill.

What I support—and what I will continue to deliver—are results: policies that will raise the take-home pay and opportunities of all Missourians. That's how Missouri will grow, and that's what should have happened here,” said Governor Greitens.

Billy Long: Telephone Consumer Protection Act must be modernized

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

In 1991 Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA sought to protect consumers from unwanted robocalls and faxes. However, the law does not stop unwanted robocalls and faxes. Instead, it harms consumers and hinders U.S. companies from providing important information their customers need and want via calls and texts.

When the TCPA was passed in the early 90s, only 7.5 million people in the U.S. had a wireless telephone. Compare that to 2015 when 377 million people in the U.S. had wireless telephones. As technology continues to change, so does the way people communicate. That’s why modernizing the TCPA is critical.

Congress included three ways this law can be enforced to protect individuals against robocalls and unwanted faxes. First, a state attorney general can bring a civil lawsuit for damages. Second, the Federal Communications Commission, the agency in charge of interpreting and enforcing the law, can fine individuals and companies with monetary penalties. Finally, individuals have the right to bring a lawsuit. Under the TCPA Individuals can either seek $500 per violation or actual financial loss, depending on which is greater.

Each year 37 million telephone numbers are recycled. The Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform released a report saying that cell phone numbers can be reassigned without notifying anyone, including the companies that were at one point given consent to contact that number. This means that a U.S. company that continues to call a reassigned number without knowing can be sued.

Last September the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on the importance of modernizing the TCPA. I heard from one witness that she no longer sends out health-related reminder calls to her patients regarding vital information because of the risk of litigation due to telephone numbers being reassigned.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is not the only committee working towards modernizing the TCPA, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice recently held a hearing on lawsuit abuse of the TCPA. Litigation of the TCPA has significantly increased over the years. Between 2010 and 2016 there was a 1,372 percent increase in case filings, which highlights the importance of reexamining the intentions of the law.

Consumers and U.S. companies have taken the hit for far too long and it’s my job as Congressman to ensure that consumers and businesses are treated fairly. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I will continue working with my colleagues to make this a reality.

Joplin men sentenced for Pinnacle Bank robbery

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

Two Joplin, Mo., men were sentenced in federal court today for the attempted armed robbery of Pinnacle Bank in Joplin.

Sean LaDue, 30, and Jimmy Eisenhour, 37, both of Joplin, were sentenced in separate appearances before U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough. LaDue was sentenced to 15 years 10 months in federal prison without parole. Eisenhour was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison without parole.

LaDue and Eisenhour both pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in the
robbery of Pinnacle Bank, 1316 E. 32nd Street, Joplin, on Nov. 14, 2016. They each also pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

Eisenhour and LaDue entered the bank at approximately 3:50 p.m. and announced, “This is a robbery, get down!” Eisenhour jumped behind the bank counter while LaDue, who was armed with a .22-caliber handgun, stayed near the front of the bank. The sole customer of the bank struggled with LaDue in an attempt to disarm him. During the struggle, LaDue fired multiple shots. Both robbers then fled from the bank without taking any money.

Police officers located and arrested both Eisenhour and LaDue two days later, on Nov. 16, 2016.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James J. Kelleher and Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the Joplin, Mo., Police Department and the FBI

Joplin R-8 Board hires 19 teachers, seven classified workers, accepts three resignations

The hiring of former Webb City R-7 Superintendent Ron Lankford as interim chief financial officer and Ashley Jones as HR director were noted during Tuesday's regular Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting, but those two were far from the only ones who were hired.

During closed session, in addition to Lankford and Jones, the board hired 19 teachers and seven classified workers.

Teachers hired were:

Miranda Ash, Douglas Barto, Elisabeth Carroll, Brenda Durbin, Dora Eastin, Jennifer Eckhardt, Stacy Flora, Amie Harrison, Vivian Hays, William Holland, Jeanette Hulette, Michael Juergens, Misty Meads, Rebecca Miller, Ashley Ohlman, Micah Patterson, Katie Schmidt, Preston Sharp, and Caitlan Smith.

The new classified employees are:
Lauren Becker, Elizabeth DiLoreto, Emily Dunlap, Onyeka Etuonu, Hannah Helms, Casi McCallister, and Tracy Simpkins. 

The board also accepted the resignations of longtime East Middle School librarian Bonnie Turner, Joplin High School speech and debate coach Robert Stackhouse, and coach Drew Schulte.

Joplin R-8 board approves payment of $150,000+ in attorney fees for Victory Ministries lawsuit

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education will not fight the payment of legal fees to the lawyers who represented Jane Doe in her First Amendment lawsuit over the May 2015 field trip to Victory Ministries and Sports Complex.

During a closed session Tuesday night, the Board voted unanimously to pay $159,911.45, with $103,976.45 going to the American Humanist Association and $46,935 to Benson and Associates.

U. S. District Court Judge Douglas Harpool ordered the payments after trimming down Jane Doe's attorney initial request for $211,000.

The decision brings an end to a lawsuit that never should have happened.

Doe filed the lawsuit on behalf of her children after North Middle School took a MAP celebration field trip to Victory Ministries. Doe's attorneys said it was a violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

While Harpool's ruling was a win for Jane Doe, the judge did not have a problem of field trips to religious venues as long as their purpose is not religious. In this case, however, the permission slips sent home with students came from Victory Ministries and not from North Middle School and authorized Victory employees to proselytize students and allowed Victory to use the students photos in promotional materials.

Former Superintendent C. J. Huff was warned by an attorney for the American Humanist Association that legal actiou would be taken, but did not take the threat seriously, despite the organization's reputation for filing lawsuits. Huff admitted the permission slip was poorly done and said it would be done better the next year.

Victory officials offered to send a different permission slip, but Huff chose not to do so:

From Judge Harpool's decision:

The) Court also considered that the Defendants had every opportunity to avoid this lawsuit. Defendants were put on notice far in advance of this litigation of the issues raised by Plaintiffs, but failed to proactively address or eliminate the problem with the consent and waiver form. The Court finds it unfortunate that in this case the taxpayers’ dollars will be used to pay for the Defendants’ failure to identify and correct this legal issue without the cost and expense of litigation.
Doe asked for only $1.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A strong argument in favor of public schools

This man never attended one.

St. Louis Democrat writes about Gov. Greitens and the bizarre, never-ending special session

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


Like something out of a bizarre science fiction movie or from one of those other far-right red states, Governor Greitens has the legislature tied up in his 2nd Special Extraordinary Session of the summer, this one called specifically for "Abortion".

Estimated to cost you the taxpayer $20,000 per day, I'm sure you're pleased to know that so far we are in Day TEN with no end in sight.  

Gov. Greitens's special extraordinary session call HERE instructs us to address the same reproductive bills that did not make it to his desk in the 4.5 months of the regular 2017 session.  Remember - the legislature is controlled by a GOP super majority, the same party as the Governor.  

Fiscal conservativism???  Particularly after we cut so many programs in the 2018 fiscal year budget affecting the elderly, disabled, higher education?

On top of that, today the Governor vetoed HCR 19, which would have partially financed the construction of an Arts Conservatory in downtown Kansas City on the UMKC campus.  With already $48 million in private funding raised for its construction and heavily supported by the Kansas City business and academic community, HCR 19 passed the House by a vote of 117-39 and the Senate by a vote of 28-4.

His first sentence of his HCR19 Veto Letter that he initially posted on Facebook:

 “Politicians are addicted to spending your money."

Isn't this blatant hypocrisy? Inept governance? What would you call it? 



I am proud to call myself a Reform Jew. Governor Greitens campaigned on his faith and in February when he spoke at the Chased Shel Emeth Cemetary after the devasting desecration, he mentioned his strong connection to Reform Judaism.

With his extreme expensive unnecessary Special Session on Abortion, I could no longer remain quiet.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Jewish Light published my op-ed recently.  An excerpt:



1.  June 27, 2016 - U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling of Whole Women's Health v Hellerstedt, by a vote of 5-3. struck down targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP laws).  They said:
 "Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution."

2.  February, 2017 - St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay signed into law anordinance prohibiting discrimination of pregnancy and reproductive health decisions in employment and housing.  The ordinance carved out exemptions for religious organizations and entities.  I sponsored a similar bill the past two sessions (HB376 in 2017).

3.  April, 2017 - U.S. District Court Judge Sachs granted a preliminary injunction against Missouri's TRAP laws requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges and requiring health clinics to have hospital-grade facilities (as ruled in Whole Women's Health v Hellerstedt). 

4.  May 13, 2017 - Regular Legislative Session concluded.  No anti-abortion bill passed to the Governor's desk, including any bill attempting to repeal the city ordinance.

5.  May 25, 2017 - Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) was upset that his abortion bill did not pass (St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed HERE)  and demanded the governor take immediate action.

6.  June 12, 2017 - Governor Greitens calls a 2nd Special Extraordinary Session, this one specifically to address Judge Sachs ruling and the St. Louis ordinance. I filed three bills giving women more access to reproductive health care.  I can dream, right? DAY ONE

7.  June 13, 2017 - A Senate committee heard several bills in a 5.5 hour hearing  on abortion. DAY TWO

8.  June 13, 2017 - Rep. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove) posts a Facebook video of himself slaughtering a live chicken, relating it to the special session.  The story went national - Washington Post HERE.

9. June 14, 2017 - The House had a 7 hour nonstop hearing in my Children & Families Committee of several House bills with in a standing-room-only hearing room of those in opposition (only several pro-life lobbyists spoke in favor). Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City) said his bill was a "legislative response to the Supreme Court ruling and injunction."  

Greitens signs four bills into law

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Governor Eric Greitens has signed four more bills into law.

SB 8, sponsored by Senator Brian Munzlinger, decreases government regulations for Missouri loggers and log haulers by giving them the freedom to haul additional forest products outside the 100-mile restriction. This bill also allows Missouri farmers to drive on state highways at night with properly lighted machinery during harvest season.

SB 222, sponsored by Senator Jeanie Riddle, improves public safety for utility workers by expanding Missouri’s Slow Down/Move Over law to include utility vehicles. Senator Riddle’s bill also allows for additional superior lighting on utility vehicles that will keep workers safe on the jobsite.

SB 225, sponsored by Senator Dave Schatz, closes a loophole in Missouri’s DUI laws and honors veterans by allowing those who have received the Distinguished Service Cross commendation to park at public colleges for free.

SB 240, also sponsored by Senator Schatz, establishes statewide licensing for electrical contractors in order to promote competition and fairness. This bill maintains strict and high standards to ensure safety and preserve local building code enforcement.

Kansas City Democrat: Legislature unlikely to override Greitens veto on KC arts funding

(From Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City)

Rejecting a top priority of Kansas City business and civic leaders, Gov. Eric Greitens on June 28 vetoed bipartisan legislation that sought to authorize the sale of $48 million in bonds to help finance construction of a downtown arts campus for the University of Missouri Kansas City. Greitens' veto of HCR 19 was his first since taking office in January.

The long-sought downtown arts campus is slated to cost $96 million, with $48 million in private donations already secured to cover half its cost. The state bonds would have paid for the other half. UMKC officials will now attempt to raise more private donations to cover what would have been the state's contribution. However, that could delay the project indefinitely.

Supporters of the downtown arts campus said it would help revitalize downtown Kansas City and provide a strong economic stimulus for the city. HCR 19 enjoyed widespread support in both chambers, passing 117-39 in the House of Representatives and 28-4 in the Senate. In a statement, Greitens, a Republican, called it "wrong" to use public money for the project, notwithstanding the fact that it would be a public facility at a public university.

Lawmakers could attempt to override the action when they convene for their annual veto session on Sept. 13 but that is considered unlikely. Although the measure passed by veto-proof margins, many Republican lawmakers who originally voted for it might be reluctant to override a governor of their own political party.

Agenda posted for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

Monday, July 3, 2017
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers

Call To Order

Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America

Roll Call




Finalization Of Consent Agenda


Reports And Communications


Citizen Requests And Petitions


Public Hearings


Public Hearing Procedures



AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and including in District R-1-PD property as described below and located Southwest Corner of South Even Avenue and West 26th Place in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.


AN ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 2004-256, passed by the Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, November 15, 2004, by removing from District R-1 and including in District R-2 property as described below and located 1516 E. 19th Street in the City of Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri.

Consent Agenda


June 19, 2017 City Council Meeting Minutes

  1. CC MINS 6-19-.PDF



Ordinances - Emergency



AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City of Joplin to enter into a Lease Agreement with the Joplin Public Library Board of Trustees for the purpose of leasing the land and improvements thereon located at 1901 East 20th Street to the Joplin Public Library Board of Trustees for the operation of the Joplin Public Library; authorizing the City Manager to execute said Agreement by and on behalf of the City of Joplin, Missouri; and containing an emergency clause.


AN ORDINANCE approving a Purchase Order to be issued to Microsoft Corporation to cover the annual support payment for the Public Safety and Financial software and related systems as budgeted in the Annual Budget of the City of Joplin for the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 as adopted by Ordinance No. 2016-177 on October 17, 2016; and containing an emergency clause.


AN ORDINANCE authorizing the City of Joplin to enter into an agreement with Asbell Excavating and Trucking for the Wildwood Ranch Business Park Sewer Infrastructure Project for the not to exceed price of One Million Four Hundred Eighty Nine Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy Three and 25/100 ($1,489,973.25); authorizing the City Manager or his designee to execute the same by and on behalf of the City of Joplin; and containing an emergency clause.



AN ORDINANCE     approving an amendment to the Work Authorization with Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., Inc. in the not to exceed amount of Nine Thousand Nine Hundred Eighty and no/100 Dollars ($9,980.00) for Professional Engineering Consulting Services for NPDES Permit Renewal Support and containing an emergency clause.

Ordinances - First Reading



AN ORDINANCE requesting to review the Final Plat of the Maryland Crossing in the City of
Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. 


AN ORDINANCE approving position changes to the Salary Administration Plan for the City of Joplin.

Ordinances - Second Reading And Third Reading


Unfinished Business


New Business


City Council Travel Requests


News From The Public Information Officer, Lynn Onstot

Governments, non-profits have 13 days to apply for FEMA flooding assistance

(From SEMA)

Local governments and nonprofit agencies in 46 Missouri counties affected by historic flooding now have 13 more days to prepare their requests for federal assistance with repairs to public infrastructure and emergency response costs.

In response to a request from the State Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended the Public Assistance application deadline from July 1 to July 14. Through June 28, more than 190 county and local governments, school, sewer and road districts, and nonprofit agencies have filed Requests for Public Assistance, a requirement to receive FEMA assistance. Potential applicants should note that the Requests for Public Assistance must first be received by SEMA, processed, and then submitted to FEMA by the July 14 deadline, and plan accordingly.

The Missouri counties included in the federal Public Assistance disaster declaration are: Barry, Barton, Bollinger, Butler, Camden, Carter, Cedar, Christian, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Dent, Douglas, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Howell, Iron, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Maries, McDonald, Miller, Morgan, Newton, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Perry, Phelps, Pike, Pulaski, Ralls, Reynolds, Ripley, Shannon, St. Louis, Stone, Taney, Texas, Washington, Wayne, Webster, and Wright.

SEMA conducted 13 federal applicant briefings from June 19-23 across the disaster area to explain the recently updated federal Public Assistance program and application process. Potential applicants with questions should call SEMA’s Public Assistance Program at (573) 526-9234 as soon as possible because there will not be another application extension.

SEMA encourages public officials and community leaders to share information about the necessity of filing a Request for Public Assistance in time to meet the July 14 deadline with all potential applicants to ensure they have the opportunity to submit a request for FEMA Public Assistance.

Additional information about the Public Assistance program is available on the SEMA website here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hartzler: Military should spend billions on weapons, not a penny on transgenders

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler made the following statement after the House Armed Services Committee markup of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Hartzler offered an amendment for discussion repealing the policy instituted during the Obama Administration which allows transgender individuals to serve and be recruited in the military. Following debate Hartzler withdrew the amendment to give the DoD an opportunity to address this problem internally, reserving the right to proceed with this effort on the House floor in July.

“The Obama transgender policy, which was implemented without input from Members of Congress, is ill-conceived and contrary to our goals of increasing troop readiness and investing defense dollars into addressing budget shortfalls of the past,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “By recruiting and allowing transgender individuals to serve in our military we are subjecting taxpayers to high medical costs including up to $130,000 per transition surgery, lifetime hormone treatments, and additional surgeries to address the high percentage of individuals who experience complications,” added Hartzler. She noted surgeries alone could cost $1.35 billion over the next 10 years. For perspective, examples of other things the DoD could spend $1.35 billion on include 13 F-35's, 14 Super Hornet F-18’s, 2 B-21 long-range strike bombers, 8 KC-46's, all A-10 wing replacements or increased end strength of our troops.

“This policy is costly and a threat to our readiness. The deployability of individuals going through the sex transition process is highly problematic, requiring 210 to 238 work days where a soldier is non-deployable after surgery. This recovery time equates to 1.4 million manpower days where transgender personnel cannot deploy and fight our nation’s wars, therefore relying on an already stressed force to pick up the burden. It makes no sense to purposely recruit individuals who cannot serve. Transgendered individuals undergoing treatment are not eligible for special duties like flying status, personnel reliability program, and jobs requiring certain Security Clearances.”

“This is also an issue of fairness. Currently we refuse entrance into our armed forces for lesser physical issues, such as flat feet, bunions, asthma, and sleep walking. I had a constituent denied entrance into the JAG program because she had a bunion, yet accession standards are set to be modified to allow transgendered individuals into a military where they will be unable to fully serve. This is a senseless and highly unfair double standard.”

“Military service is a privilege — not a right — predicated on the singular goal of fighting and winning our nation’s wars. All decisions on personnel and funding should be made with this in mind. High entry and retention standards are required because failure in the job costs lives. Last year's transgender decision is costly in dollars and short on common sense.”

A thank you to Turner Report/Inside Joplin readers

I certainly have a lot to be thankful for and one of the things at the top of the list is you, readers of the Turner Report and Inside Joplin.

Both of those blogs are now averaging more than six thousand readers per day and that is because of you.

Thanks to those of you who have subscribed or sent contributions and to those who have helped spread the word by liking and sharing posts and through word of mouth. I was fairly desperate when I decided to go to a model similar to NPR or public television and sell subscriptions to something that people can access for free. Thanks to those of you who have encouraged me through your support, whether it be financially or by telling others about the news, information, and commentary that are available on the blogs.

Thanks also to those of you who went to Amazon for the free and reduced price e-book downloads of my books last week. More than 200 books are on the computers or devices of readers.

I have been asked by some when my next book is coming out. I am currently working on three- a followup to Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud, a followup to Let Teachers Teach and the long-delayed Joplin Tornado book that I wrote about last year, but was delayed due to that pesky triple bypass surgery and because I had some information I wanted to add to it. I will have further announcements about the book projects in the near future.

Let me close by thanking you once again for your support, which has made an experiment in alternative journalism a success.

Federal grand jury indicts Joplin man on child pornography charge

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

A Joplin man was indicted by a federal grand jury today for producing child pornography.

Richard James York, 26, of Joplin, was charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo.

Today’s indictment alleges that York used a nine-year-old minor (identified as Jane Doe) to produce child pornography from March 1, 2017, to March 16, 2017. York is also charged with one count of receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.

Larson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crime Task Force and the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.

Hartzler legislation to combat human trafficking clears Judiciary Committee

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act (H.R. 2480), legislation offered by Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler to combat the spread of human trafficking, passed the House Judiciary Committee today. Committee approval of HR 2480 moves the bill closer to full consideration on the House floor in July.

“Sex trafficking crimes are a rising epidemic in America, but our federal grant system has not kept pace with the seriousness of this issue. We must empower our police in fighting this nationwide epidemic. When the law enforcement community says there is an opportunity to rescue sex slavery victims — which sadly includes children — then there is no excuse for ignoring it. This legislation provides us an opportunity to rescue countless lives from the sex trafficking industry and move one step closer to ending this evil forever,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who has been a staunch advocate of increasing tools for law enforcement to combat trafficking. Last month Hartzler met at the White House with the Department of Justice, State Department officials, and Ivanka Trump, who is assisting the president on this issue, to discuss ways to more aggressively combat the rising tide of sex trafficking crimes both in the United States and abroad. 

Specifically HR 2480 expands the ability of the Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants Program (Byrne JAG) to enable law enforcement agencies to compete for federal funding, specifically to develop and carry out programs that fight sex trafficking demand. Demand reduction programs pose police officers as women engaged in street-level prostitution to capture buyers seeking to exploit these victims. The average support team consists of about six officers for each decoy. Police may also post decoy advertisements online, and set up reverse stings at a hotel or apartment. All of these strategies drain precious law enforcement budgets.

“Every life matters and has inherent worth, and we must do all we can to fight human trafficking. The Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act ensures that state and local law enforcement officials have access to additional tools needed to fight this heinous crime in their communities. I thank Congresswoman Hartzler for her work to fight human trafficking and look forward to her bill being voted on by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks,” said Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.


· More than 20 million people are affected by trafficking each year.

· The International Labour Organization reports that three out of every 1,000 people are "trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived."

· Missouri ranks 17th in cases reported in 2016.

· It’s estimated that there are over 20 million people enslaved around the world but that few of them are ever identified as human trafficking victims.

· In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 26,727 calls, and 7,572 human trafficking case reported.

Greitens: I'm a conservative outsider; watch me veto a bill supporting the arts

(From Gov. Eric Greitens)

Governor Eric Greitens vetoed a bill today that would have asked Missouri taxpayers to pay for a new building for dancers and art students in Kansas City. The bill passed the Missouri Senate 28-4 and passed the House 117-39.

In a statement first posted to his Facebook page, the Governor said:

“Politicians are addicted to spending your money.

This year, they passed a bill that would put taxpayers on the hook for over $75 million to build and run a conservatory for dancers and art students. I'm vetoing the bill, and I'm ready to fight them on this.

They had no plan for who would pay the bills—about $55 million in state debt and interest and $20 million in operating costs. Worse, this spending was hidden in the budget at $1 because politicians were “borrowing” the money. That’s like saying something is “free,” because it's on a credit card. You know who would have to pay that bill? You. Missouri families. I think that's wrong.

I'm a conservative outsider. And I told you that I'd act as a budget hawk and protect your money. And that's what we're doing. We've told leaders across government to do more with less tax money, and to get better results.

Here's the really good news: I have urged the leaders of Missouri's universities to think and act different, to prioritize, and to make tough decisions to take Missouri in a new direction. And they are taking a stand. Today, the President and the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri System announced that they don't want any additional taxpayer money to pay for a conservatory. Instead, they’ve committed to develop a detailed plan to pay for it by making tough budget decisions and using private funds along with strong leaders in the Kansas City community. That’s how it should be.

I think a lot of the good people in Jefferson City agree with me. In the rush of the legislative session, some were not aware of the potential hidden costs of this project. Still, you’ll hear a few politicians threaten to override my veto. That’s their decision to make. I am proud to veto this bill, and glad that we have university and community leaders who are working to take Missouri in a new direction. With my veto today, we are changing the way business is done in Missouri.”

Remembering Larry Dixon

It was a high school science teacher's  nightmare.

Larry Dixon was working with a group of students on the latest class project and a persistent young man was not willing to wait his turn.

"Mr. Dixon, I need your help," the sandy-haired young man said, tapping him on the shoulder.

"Hold on a second, Travis," I'm busy helping J. J.," Mr. Dixon, at the time a veteran of two decades in the classroom, told the young man.

Only a few seconds passed before Travis said, "I really need help, Mr. Dixon."

"I'm really helping J. J."

After a brief interlude, Travis approached Mr. Dixon from behind, leaned over and spoke quietly. "O. K. then, I'm now placing one drop of hydrochloric acid on your neck."

It was a sight the student Mr. Dixon was helping, J. J. Huckin, has never forgotten, though nearly a quarter of a century has passed.

"(Travis) used a medicine dropper to squeeze some water on (Mr. Dixon's) neck and he sprung up like a cat five feet into the air and yelled like a wild banshee."

At that moment, Huckin watched a wave of anger cross Mr. Dixon's face.

Travis, cowering in the corner, cried, "It's only water. It's only water, I swear!

Huckin remembered thinking that he and his classmates would have loved it if their teacher had flushed Travis' head down the toilet and told him it was only water, but as quickly as the anger had hit Mr. Dixon, it was gone.

Travis was spared.

But it added to the legend of a teacher whose presence brightened the hallways of Lockwood High School for 35 years, a teacher whose influence led to a school nestled in a community of less than 1,000 to have far more than its share of doctors, scientists, and science teachers, all of whom give credit to Larry Dixon for the influence he has had on their lives.

Many of those students shared their stories with their favorite teacher during the last few weeks of Mr. Dixon's life as a man who had been such a vital part of the everyday fabric of Lockwood, not only as a classroom teacher, but as a member of the library and park boards, a scorekeeper at the high school volleyball matches, and the architect of the most attractive gardens in the community (foregoing Miracle-Gro and mixing his own fertilizer), deteriorated rapidly due to multiple inoperable brain tumors that eventually ended his life one week ago.

It wasn't just the doctors and scientists who flourished in Mr. Dixon's classes. The tall, broad-shouldered teddy bear of a man had a way of connecting science with students' everyday lives.

Some of that was done through tales from Mr. Dixon's earlier job at Eagle Picher in Joplin where he worked as a power systems engineer, helping develop batteries for the space shuttle and missile battery systems for the Department of Defense and stories from his time serving his country in Vietnam. His hands on projects, ranging from bug collections to throwing a bucket of dry ice down the hallway, provided memories that remain as clear as if they had happened yesterday.

Mr. Dixon and his wife, Melinda, who was a teacher and counselor at Lockwood High School for nearly four decades, helped put the school on the map long before its string of state basketball titles in the '90s, with their championship scholar bowl teams.

Starting with a set of buzzers that Mr. Dixon built from scratch, the Dixons fielded high school academic teams that blew away the competition for year after year long before the Missouri High School Activities Association sanctioned scholar bowl as a competition and then made numerous trips to the Final Four after the state began holding the tournaments.

The team's success was such that even during the height of the Lockwood basketball frenzy of the '90s, Coach Dennis Cornish paid his respect to the level of achievement the scholars had brought to the school, by giving his team's top scorer, 6-6 center J. J. Huckin, permission to attend the scholar bowl meets instead of practice and working with the Dixons to create a schedule that would allow Huckin to practice for both teams.

Though his former students paid their last tributes to Larry Dixon during the final weeks of his life, many of them shared their memories two years earlier when the Dixons were named grand marshals of the annual Lockwood September Days Parade.

A former student and later a fellow Lockwood teacher, Amy Schnelle, collected letters and testimonials from other former students and colleagues in a scrapbook, which was presented to the Dixons following the parade.

It was a labor of love for Schnelle.

"When I was in high school I dreaded taking science classes because I knew how hard he was so it wasn't until after high school that I really appreciated all that he had taught me," Schnelle said. "When I came back to Lockwood four years later as a teacher, he was one of the first to congratulate me and offer any help so there were times I had to ask him some science-related questions from my first graders."
During the awards ceremony that included the presentation of scrapbook, the Dixons also heard personal testimonials from former students. The experience had a powerful impact on Larry Dixon, which he shared a few days later on his Facebook page:

To hear from so many former students concerning our influence on their lives was incredible to me. I had always assumed that our influence might reach to their sophomore year of college but that we would then fade from most of their memories. 

To find that we have apparently had that much impact on so many lives was unexpected and scary. I am proud of all of the success that our former students have achieved and dared to hope that we had some small effect. This was unexpected. We have just been given a huge bonus in "coin of the heart". We will treasure it for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Carthage man sentenced to 17 years on statutory sodomy charges

A Carthage pedophile who was recently arrested for trying to lure children into his van with candy was sentenced today to 17 years in prison for first degree statutory sodomy by Circuit Court Judge David Mouton.

Mark Christopher Kenendy, 43, was also sentenced to seven years for second degree statutory sodomy. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Kennedy was awaiting sentencing June 6 when the Carthage Police Department
arrested him on attempted kidnapping and enticement of a child charges.

Kennedy's criminal background was explored in the June 8 Turner Report:

On 6/6/2017 at about 1127 hours, Mark Kennedy contacted (names redacted) while playing in a children's pool in the front yard of (home on 100 block of Elk). Mark was driving by in his van and stopped in front of the house. He called the children over to his van while offering them candy to entice them over. A parent overheard the children and stopped the children from going over there.

Even after being told not to go to the van, Mark continued to try to entice the children. When the male resident of the house walked outside, Mark left the area.

He was soon contacted by Officer Greenstreet. With consent, Officer Greenstreet searched the vehicle and did not locate candy that was offered to the children.
Kennedy's Alford plea stems from an incident that occurred with a 10-year-old Carthage girl. From the probable cause affidavit:

On 11/26/2014, it was reported that at 1923 Wynwood Street, Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri on 11/2/2014 Mark Christopher Kennedy had deviate sexual intercourse with a 10-year-old female. Kennedy placed his fingers inside (the girl's) vagina, as well as touched her breast and buttocks while she slept on a couch in her residence.

When this happened, (the girl) said she was "shocked" and "scared". This happened on more than one occasion over a one-week period. Kennedy was a next door neighbor and landlord of the apartment (the girl) and her family resided in. Kennedy had been allowed access to the residence via unlocked front entry door to awake (the girl's) mother and mother's boyfriend for work in the early morning hours. Upon entering the residence, Kennedy would sexually touch (the girl) prior to waking the rest of the family.

Kennedy admitted to having access to the residence via unlocked front entry door. Kennedy admitted to being in the residence and observing (the girl) asleep on the couch.

Two computers were located in Kennedy's residence. Upon a consent search on 11/26/2014, the web browser history of the computer showed internet addresses for what appeared to be child pornography websites.

After Kennedy's arrest on the 2014 charge, police discovered an earlier instance in which Kennedy allegedly molested another underage female at his rental property, as well as other locations and he was charged once again with statutory sodomy.

From the probable cause affidavit:

On 8/3/2015, (a girl) and (her mother) made a report to the Carthage Police of statutory sodomy that occurred approximately four years ago at 1923 Wynwood, Carthage, 1111 W. Central, Carthage, and an unknown address near Clinton Street, Carthage. (The girl) was eight years old at the time. The assailant was Mark Kennedy, who was the landlord and neighbor of (the girl) and her family. (The girl) described several incidents that happened to her.

One occurred at McDonald's in his truck, when he allegedly pulled her pants down and looked at her vagina.

Another incident, according to the affidavit, took place in Kennedy's apartment. (The girl) fell asleep and awakened to Kennedy pulling her pants down and licking her.

The affidavit describes two other incidents, including one in which Kennedy had the girl touch his penis.

Initially, bond was set at $1 million cash only, but Judge Gayle Crane revoked Kennedy's bond during a hearing today in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Ron Lankford to replace Barr as Joplin R-8 chief financial officer

Former Webb City R-7 Superintendent Ron Lankford, who has been serving as interim HR director for the Joplin R-8 School District received a promotion tonight.

Lankford will replace the retiring Paul Barr as chief financial officer for one year.

The veteran educator told those attending tonight's R-8 Board of Education meeting that he had come to appreciate the district during the past few months.

"You have great leadership, buildings, you're got great teachers in the classroom. This district is positioned to start moving forward after a long trial. You have gone through a lot."

Lankford said the new position is "kind of exciting," but he emphasized that it is "one year and done."

Superintendent Melinda Moss introduced Lankford's replacement as HR director, Ashley Jones.

Tonight marked the last board meeting for Barr and Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder.

Watch Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live tonight

Newsmakers program: Interview with Joplin City Manager Sam Anselm

Elementary principal at Christian school principal pleads guilty to child pornography charge

(From the Department of Justice)

Jeffrey Richard Goss, 56, of Tulsa, pled guilty to Accessing with Intent to View Child Pornography, announced Loretta F. Radford, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma. United States District Court Judge Claire V. Eagan will sentence Goss on September 28, 2017.

According to documents filed in the case, on November 12, 2015, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents conducted an undercover operation in an internet chatroom. While in the chatroom, HSI agents observed Goss and other individuals watching child pornography that was being streamed. Some of the children in the videos were under the age of 12.

Goss, an elementary principal at Christian Education Alliance in Tulsa admitted he accessed the internet chatroom on November 12, 2015, and viewed child pornography. Goss faces a maximum sentence of twenty years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and at least five years of supervised release up to life following a sentence of imprisonment.

This case was investigated by HSI, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tulsa Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Neal C. Hong.

State audit of Vernon County Ambulance District begins

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has announced her office has begun an audit of the Vernon County Ambulance District in southwest Missouri. Residents of the district requested the audit through the petition process.

In May, the former director and the former bookkeeper of the Vernon County Ambulance District were indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzling more than $260,000 from the district between January 2013 and October 2015.

"Even after fraud and abuse has been identified, an audit can identify processes and procedures that need oversight in order to protect taxpayer dollars in the future," Auditor Galloway said. "I encourage anyone with information that might be helpful to contact my Whistleblower Hotline."

The petition audit required 863 signatures from registered voters within the district. Individuals who would like to provide information for consideration in this or any audit may contact the State Auditor's Whistleblower Hotline at or by calling 800-347-8597. Concerns may also be submitted anonymously online at