Thursday, October 27, 2016

Arkansas Hillary Clinton supporters to be in Joplin Friday

(From Southwest Missouri Democrats)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Republican sheriffs endorse Democratic attorney general candidate

(From Teresa Hensley campaign)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The petition detailed Tritthart's version of events:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live

Monday, October 24, 2016

Davis: Vast majority of public officials are good people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Louis Democrat offers suggestions on ballot proposals

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

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

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

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

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



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



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



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

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



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



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

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



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

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




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

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

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

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

See you on Election Day,

Two administrators out in Joplin R-8 shakeup

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

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

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

Boyer also came to the district in 2011.

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

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

Reiboldt discusses state tobacco tax proposals

(From Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Seneca)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State audit followup shows improvement in Goodman fire district

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway has released a follow-up review of the Goodman Area Fire Protection District in McDonald County. An audit of the district was released December 2015, after being requested by citizens through the petition process. Today's report follows up on those initial findings and focuses on key concerns identified in the initial audit, including conflicts of interest and questionable financial activity. The results show improvement in district operations, although several of the areas reviewed still need additional work.

"I'm pleased to see board members are working toward improvements in operations and accountability," Auditor Galloway said. "The fire fighters of the Goodman Area Fire Protection District volunteer to risk their lives to protect others, and they should be supported by a governing board that operates efficiently, transparently, and in accordance with the law."

The board has implemented a new purchasing policy to prevent conflicts of interest that occur when public dollars are spent on services or equipment purchased from a member of the board or affiliated company. The new policy also prohibits board members from using district debit cards for cash advances or to make personal purchases, although the policy does not address concerns related to personal purchases made using the district's eBay account, a practice that makes it difficult to ensure funds are spent appropriately at all times.

The district also improved processes for keeping records of property and equipment owned by the fire protection district. The previous report found the district had not maintained adequate records of land, buildings, vehicles, and other equipment. It also raised concerns with district property being stored on the board president's personal property. Because the board president also operates a backhoe and excavating company, this made it difficult to track which pieces of equipment were owned by the board president and which belonged to the district. Although equipment is still stored on the board president's personal property, the board has completed an inventory list of all district equipment and has entered into a storage contract with the board president. The contract includes a list of the district-owned equipment being stored on the board president's property.

The board has hired a secretary to assist with accounting issues, and has made improvements to financial processes, although concerns related to missing information in the district's annual budget documents had not been addressed.

The 2015 report gave the Godman Area Fire Protection District Board an overall performance rating of poor, and led to misdemeanor charges filed against the board president by the McDonald County Prosecuting Attorney. Those charges are still pending.

A complete copy of the follow-up report on the Goodman Area Fire Protection District is online here.

Graves: Fair Tax needed in U. S.

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

In the middle of October, annual Tax Day is about the last thing on most people’s minds.

But every time we bring home a paycheck and look at the pay stub, we’re reminded of just how much U.S. tax policy impacts our bottom line.

Everyone in this country knows that our tax code is time consuming, confusing, and burdensome. But small business owners and their employees feel the brunt of this confusion the most. It doesn’t have to be tax day for them to be reminded of that. As a farmer, I can’t even begin to count the hours my family has spent on compliance. I wish we had that time back to work on the farm and expand our business.

Last week marked 30 years since the last comprehensive tax reform was passed into law. It's been way too long, and it's something we have to start prioritizing as a country.

To give entrepreneurs time to run their businesses and create jobs – instead of complying with the tax code – we need a simplified system that’s easy for everyone to understand. I am a supporter of various policies and proposals that would do just that. Specifically, this Congress I am a cosponsor of the Fair Tax Act.

The Fair Tax would eliminate the IRS and our tax code as we know it, replacing it with a simple and straightforward national consumption tax.

In the House of Representatives, we also created a task force to deal exclusively with tax reform. We will focus on making the tax code simpler, fairer, and flatter, while adding pro-growth reforms and removing the incentive for businesses to shift jobs overseas.

Throughout my time in office, I’ve pushed to lower taxes on American individuals, small businesses and families. If we want real economic growth in this county, I’ve always believed that allowing Americans to keep more of their own money – and spend it how they prefer – is the best way to do that. I will continue to fight to make that happen.