Saturday, February 06, 2016

Winners and losers in tonight's Republican presidential debate

So much for momentum.

Marco Rubio came into tonight's Republican presidential debate on the heels of a much better than expected showing in the Iowa caucuses with a chance to push for a strong second place finish or perhaps even an upset in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

Chris Christie tore him apart.

It should have come as no surprise to Rubio that the New Jersey governor would be on the attack since he labeled Rubio as the "boy in the bubble" earlier this week. Christie ripped into Rubio about sticking with his prepared lines and for some reason, Rubio not only continued to do so, but repeated the same prepared lines a couple of times.

For the rest of the debate, though Rubio improved as it went along, all of his careful preparation was turned against him as those watching him could easily imagine that he had scripted everything that he said.

Meanwhile, the candidate who continues to lead in the polls, Donald Trump had one of his better debates, but the shine appears to be off Trump as a candidate. His incessant whining about Ted Cruz cheating during the Iowa caucuses did him no good and his loss in Iowa took away what he has touted as his best quality- his record as a winner.

Ted Cruz was a non-factor in tonight's debate and he does not appear to be  headed toward a strong showing in New Hampshire. At the same time, he did nothing to damage himself in upcoming states where his brand of conservatism.

Tonight belonged to the governors. Not only did Chris Christie shine, but Jeb Bush had his second strong debate in a row and seems to be far more comfortable on stage and less flustered by Trump than he has been in past debates.

The revelation from tonight;s debate was the performance of Ohio Gov. John Kasich. For the first time, Kasich not only received considerable talking time, but he made the most of it. He clearly delineated the difference between himself and the other candidates, and at the same time, on Ronald Reagan's 105th birthday, Kasich displayed the pleasant demeanor that Reagan was known for.

WINNERS

John Kasich- Kasich sounded a note that did not come from any other candidate when he talked about the need to improve life for the developmentally disabled, the poor, minorities- in other words, those who are usually not mentioned in Republican debates- were reminiscent of the first President Bush's "thousand points of light" and President George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism." Whether this plays anywhere else is a question, but it could do well in New Hampshire.

Jeb Bush- With two straight strong debate performances, this Bush is the candidate he needed to be from the beginning. With three candidates at the top of the polls who appear to be quite easy targets for attack (Trump, Cruz, and Rubio), even a fourth place finish in New Hampshire should be enough to keep Bush, who has plenty of money, in the race. Bush also scored points against Trump by attacking him on his position on eminent domain and Trump's attempts to use eminent domain to take away a 74-year-old women's property to benefit one of his casinos.

Chris Christie- Christie has never had a bad debate and he did not disappoint tonight. I do not expect Christie to do well Tuesday, but if he does, tonight will have helped him. If not, at least he provided a lesson to Marco Rubio, which should lead to the Florida senator's improvement in future debates.

Carly Fiorina- It seems inexplicable that Ben Carson keeps being in these debates, when we could have used a dose of Fiorina's combativeness tonight. Fiorina will be able to use her exclusion to continue to draw attention and perhaps do well enough Tuesday night to at least put her on the radar of the other candidates for a Cabinet post.

LOSERS

Education- As far as I can remember, no questions on education have been asked in any of the debates and the only mention of it is an occasional anti-Common Core statement in the Republican debates.

Donald Trump- Trump may win Tuesday night, and the odds are in his favor, but his star has certainly diminished over the past week. He did not perform well tonight, though the pundits are saying he did not hurt himself. Just take a look at his past week. He lost in Iowa, primarily because he foolishly dropped out of the Fox debate, he whined about Ted Cruz stealing the caucuses away from him, he canceled a rally in New Hampshire because of the weather, and tonight he continued to display the same boorish behavior that has been accepted until now, but only because Trump was supposed to be a winner. He may win New Hampshire and may win it big, but even if he does, he is not going to have an easy path to the nomination.

Ted Cruz- Where Jeb Bush has had two strong debates in a row, Cruz' record is the exact opposite. The only positive for him is that he was not as bad tonight as he was in the last debate. With Jeff Roe in charge of his campaign, don't be surprised if we don't start hearing about more shady tactics being used by the Cruz campaign. Why wouldn't Roe take what has worked for him in Missouri to the national level?

Ben Carson- I can see why some people support Trump and why some support Cruz or Rubio, or just about anyone else on stage, but I fail to understand how Ben Carson remains on the stage. He seems to be a nice man and a gifted doctor, but he is out of his element here and that becomes more obvious with each debate.

Marco Rubio- Tonight's terrible performance should be a turning point for Marco Rubio. Either he is going to learn from tonight or it will mark the beginning of the end. I am expecting the former.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Billy Long: if Ryan sticks to his guns, we'll vote on a lot of amendments

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

“Regular order” is a catch phrase you hear bantered about a lot in Washington these days. Speaker Boehner was heavily criticized for not sticking with regular order. Newly minted Speaker Paul Ryan has made a pledge to follow regular order. Regular order is simply Congress’ deliberative rules, precedents, and customs that advance policy. Most importantly though, it is still very much a part of Congress’ everyday operation.

Constitutionally, Congress adheres to Article I’s guidelines calling for a House of Representatives and Senate who each must approve of legislation before it’s sent to the Executive Branch. Under that framework, the House and Senate each have about 20 standing full committees divided into areas of national interest, which are then broken down into subcommittees to focus more specifically on topics within those full committees.

Just like all other members and their respective committee assignments, I work to introduce, examine, and pass legislation in the House Committee on Energy & Commerce to be considered and voted on by all 435 representatives. Once those bills are headed toward the full House for consideration, the House Committee on Rules works with the committees where it originated and weighs a litany of factors – national need, how timely, Congress’ overall support, etc. – to determine the number of amendments and amount of discussion that will encircle it.

Whether it’s in public debate or one-on-one discussion, this overall process allows each member to have their constituents’ concerns heard. On rare occasions, however, regular order has been ignored to cut members out of a discussion, or when a seldom-used tactic is used by House Leadership to decide the fate of legislation. This happened with the passage of Obamacare, when leadership forced it through committee and used unprecedented cross-chamber amendments to block meaningful discussion. No matter when this happens, it’s wrong.

On the other hand, however, misused assertions of ignoring regular order sometimes surface in an attempt to change policy by amendment in a way that hadn’t already been deliberated on, without the claimant being publicly labeled a cause of gridlock.

Just one example where folks have seen this is during the annual appropriations process, where 12 funding packages cue debate on the most basic operations of the U.S. government – defense, transportation, and agricultural policies to name a few. Frankly, all 435 of us could argue over each of these until the end of time, but these complex and massively important bills require Congress to compromise in a timely fashion.

Historically speaking and otherwise, there’s nothing ‘irregular’ about limiting amendments for haste on appropriations packages or bills like it. That’s why the House Rules Committee carefully prioritizes debate on the most prudent amendments. Barring anomalies, the ensuing result frames constructive debate. In reality, a handful of members – or even a lone one – deceptively claiming that regular order was neglected through this process because they didn’t get their way only perpetuates gridlock at Americans’ expense.

In the final analysis, no member gets their way on every vote. Thankfully, however, the “regular order” of our system is still rooted in democratically constructed policies. On each of these, I’ll continue to fight for what’s in the best interest of my constituents. If Speaker Ryan sticks to his guns on regular order, expect to turn on CSPAN on those nights you can’t sleep and see us voting on amendment after amendment in the middle of the night this year.

Empire District Electric CEO dodges questions on possible sale

Empire District Electric Company CEO Brad Beecher dodged questions on a possible sale of the company during the quarterly earnings call this morning.

Asked if there was to be a transaction or no transaction, Beecher answered, "I appreciate the fact that you have to ask, but I have no update on that topic today."

Another questioner asked how the possible sale, referred to by Empire District officials as "exploring strategic alternatives," had come about, Beecher said he would have to give the same answer he gave to the earlier question.

(Transcript information is provided by Seeking Alpha.)




JHS Principal: Changes planned to cut morning, after-school congestion

(From Joplin High School Principal Kerry Sachetta)

We have heard from many of you that you have experienced congestion during student pick up and drop off at JHS/FTC. 

We are reviewing a variety of long-term solutions. Beginning Monday, February 8, the exits at Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center will be right turn only. 

Our hope is that this temporary solution improves the flow of traffic in and out of the high school. We will have staff available next week to help direct cars as they exit the school to help with this transition. 

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. If you have questions or concerns, please call the high school at 417-625-5230.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Humphreys family buys The Candy House, expansion possible

(News release)

Debra and David Humphreys (TAMKO’s CEO) have signed a letter of intent to purchase the assets of The Candy House from owners Terry and Pat Hicklin with a goal of continuing and perhaps even expanding the Candy House business.

"We are truly honored to have the opportunity to continue the tradition of The Candy
House, which has been a part of the Joplin community experience for decades,” David Humphreys said.

“Like TAMKO, The Candy House will continue to be family-owned and operated here in Joplin. My memories include the excitement as a kid getting candy with my grandmother and then as an adult with my own kids on special occasions,” Humphreys said. “Kids of all ages have grown up with the treats from The Candy House and we look forward to continuing that kind of fun.”

“The Hicklins have done a wonderful job growing the Candy House name and business not only in Joplin but in the four-state area. We look forward to adding our efforts for continued growth and hope to add additional jobs as we consider expansion of The Candy House operations.” Business will continue with minimal disruption at the downtown Joplin location.

About The Candy House

The Candy House has been providing quality chocolates to its loyal customers since 1970. Since humble beginnings in historic Redings Mill near Route 66, a tradition was started and perfected. Only the finest ingredients go into Candy House products. The quality will bring you back to a sweeter and simpler time. Today, the factory and candy store in located in downtown Joplin, MO at 5th & Kentucky where folks can come by for a tour and delicious samples.

Sullivan Republican: Our college students need guns

(From Sen Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan)

The Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, the right to self-defense, and the right to obtain a concealed carry permit after fulfilling proper training requirements are all very important liberties to me. I am a lifelong champion of the Second Amendment and the core right of citizens to defend themselves. That is why I paid close attention as two bills dealing with concealed carry on college campuses were heard recently in the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure, and Public Safety Committee, in which I serve.

Currently, state law bans concealed weapons on our college campuses and these bills would repeal that aspect of state law. Senate Bill 731 and Senate Bill 589 are the bills in question. Testimony was lengthy and often passionate with many Second Amendment advocates arguing in favor of the legislation and many academics from across the state arguing against them.

During testimony about this legislation, it was pointed out repeatedly that mass shooters can kill many people in the time it takes for police to arrive. Some statistics show, on average, it takes just over 12 minutes for law enforcement to respond to an active shooter situation. Statistics from mass shootings show a person is killed nearly every 17 seconds. To me, it makes sense that law-abiding citizens with proper training can save lives in an emergency situation like this.

Testimony also raised legitimate concerns over securing firearms in crowded and small dormitory rooms. As these bills move through the legislative process, I will be open to fair compromises, but I will hold steady in my belief that law-abiding students and staff that can safely secure their firearms have a right to concealed carry on campuses.

Current law in Missouri allows 19 year olds to get a concealed carry permit, which means many college-aged Missourians can obtain a concealed carry permit. College staff are typically all of age to obtain a concealed carry permit. It is important to note that these permits require hours of training. Background checks are completed, training is completed, and the permit is issued by the local sheriff’s department.

Criminals carry guns with no permit and no training. Mass shootings happen in gun-free zones and I believe that leaving our campuses as gun-free zones actually puts our students at risk. Criminals do not follow the law, stating a place is a gun-free zone means nothing to them.

I have visited with college students and staff that want concealed carry on their campuses so that campuses will no longer be a soft target. I believe the Senate bills 731 and 589 are both good pieces of legislation, which make our state and our students safer

Amarillo cuts final ties to Wallace Bajjali

The Amarillo Globe-News is reporting that the city of Amarillo has cut its final ties to former Joplin master developing firm Wallace Bajjali.

The (Local Government Corporation) board voted unanimously Wednesday to resolve a lawsuit it filed concerning $177,500 it had set aside in an account to pay for work Wallace Bajjali Development Partners had done to get the downtown parking garage going.

The LGC had filed a lawsuit in state district court that ended up in federal court asking a judge to decide whether that money was owed to Wallace Bajjali or a creditor, New Prime — a trucking company that had loaned Wallace Bajjali $4.5 million for its development efforts in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo. LGC deposited the $177,500 in the court’s account to await this settlement.

The settlement reached Wednesday ends LGC’s lawsuit and takes it out of the conflict between Wallace Bajjali and its creditor New Prime.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Agenda posted for Joplin City Council work session

JOPLIN CITY COUNCIL

JOPLIN CITY HALL
5th FLOOR COUNCIL CHAMBERS
602 S. MAIN
 JOPLIN MISSOURI
February 8, 2016 5:45 P.M.

WORK SESSION
                                                                                   
Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Joplin, Missouri, will hold a work session beginning at 5:45 p.m. on Monday, February 8, 2016 Joplin City Hall, in the 5th Floor Council Chambers, 602 S. Main to hear the following topics below.


AGENDA


1.      JHAP Update

2.      Change order policy

3.      Building permit process

4.      Any other business

5.      Adjourn     

Matthew Stewart named new Joplin Police chief

(From the City of Joplin)

City Manager Sam Anselm is pleased to announce that Joplin’s Assistant Chief of Police Matthew Stewart will be promoted to the position of chief of police beginning March 2, 2016. Current Police Chief Jason Burns recently announced his retirement after 20 years of service to the community. March 1, 2016 will be his last day with the City.

Stewart started his police career with the City of Joplin in 2000 as a police officer. During his tenure, he has moved up through the ranks of the department, holding numerous command staff positions and leadership roles. Most recently as assistant chief, he has been responsible for the daily operations of the department as well as the budget for the Police Department. From 2011 to 2014, Stewart held the rank of captain and served as commander for the Special Enforcement Bureau and later served as the commander for the Support Services Bureau. Prior to these positions, he was a police sergeant from 2006 to 2011, and worked as a patrol sergeant. Also during this time, he served as the training sergeant for one year; the internal affairs sergeant for two years; and the investigations sergeant for two years. Throughout this time, Stewart was a SWAT team member, and later served as the SWAT team leader. From 2003 to 2006, as police corporal he served in patrol and was a member of the SWAT team worked as the FTO Supervisor.

“Throughout his career, Stewart has exemplified solid leadership and customer service skills necessary for a top law enforcement official,” said Anselm. “He brings a great deal of experience to the position and will continue to uphold the department’s mission in serving and protecting the public.”

Stewart is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) National Academy Session #256 and has received numerous certifications in law enforcement services and criminal justice. He holds a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Missouri Southern State University and Southeast Missouri State University. He received his Bachelor and Associates degrees from MSSU. He is a member of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and FBI National Academy Associates. He has served as a Fundraiser Chairman with United Way and was on the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Joplin Steering Committee.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Trash talk takes center stage at Joplin City Council meeting

Trash rates for Joplin residents will decrease as of April 1, but it will be as a result of dealing with the same company that has had the city's contract for the past decade.

The City Council voted Monday night to reject Waste Corporation of Missouri's bid and return the contract to Republic. City officials had recommended the Waste Corporation of Missouri's bid, but the council rejected that recommendation after discovering the company had sent two separate bids to the city.

Under the deal with Republic, trash rates for Joplin residents will be reduced from $12.50 a month to $11.18.