Friday, August 01, 2014

C. J. Huff: Tornado-affected Joplin students will be "blown away" by new high school

In an interview with the Joplin Regional Business Journal, R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff said students will be "blown away" by the new Joplin High School.

Apparently, the reporter who wrote the article also noted that unfortunate choice of words since "blown away' was set off in quotation marks.

"On the first day, I just hope our kids feel the love and support of our city, state, and nation, which made that new school possible," Huff told the Journal.

The interview was featured in the publication's July 21 issue.

(Note: As it turns out, I did not need to use my sources at 32nd and Duquesne to find out about the Huff Administration's contacts with the White House in an effort to bring President Barack Obama to Joplin for the ribbon-cutting in October. In the same article, Huff told the Journal he was in touch with the White House.)

Federal judge accepts Joplin man's guilty plea on tornado fraud charge

A federal judge accepted a Joplin man's guilty plea today on tornado fraud charges.

Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date for Fred Lewis Pickett Jr., 34, who entered his guilty plea July 16 in Springfield.

Pickett's crime was spelled out in a July 16 news release from the Department of Justice:

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Joplin, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today for fraudulently receiving federal disaster benefits following the tornado that struck the city of Joplin on May 22, 2011, killing 158 people and causing more than $2.9 billion in damage.

Fred Lewis Pickett, Jr., 34, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of disaster fraud.

By pleading guilty today, Pickett admitted that he fraudulently received disaster benefits by claiming that he relocated from one primary residence to another primary residence in Joplin because of damage from the tornado. To substantiate his claim of relocation, Pickett submitted several leases and rent receipts bearing the signature of his purported landlord, Dustin Showalter, 36, of Joplin.

On the basis of Pickett’s representations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized four rental assistance payments totaling $5,147. However, Pickett’s claim was false. Pickett did not relocate and Showalter was not his landlord. In fact, Showalter had been banned from the residence, which had been occupied by Showalter’s mother before she was relocated to a nursing home. Pickett and Showalter fabricated the documents Pickett used to substantiate his claim.

Showalter has pleaded guilty, in a separate case, to one count of disaster fraud. Showalter admitted that he committed disaster fraud by making false statements to FEMA in an application for disaster benefits. Showalter fraudulently received disaster benefits by claiming to have lived at a residence in Joplin at the time of the May 22, 2011, tornado, when in fact he did not live at that residence. On the basis of his application to FEMA, Showalter received $938 to which he was not entitled.

Under federal statutes, Pickett and Showalter are each subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Joplin, Mo., Police Department.

C. J. Huff to Barack Obama: Please come to our ribbon cutting

If Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff has his way, a six-and-a-half-mile ribbon won't be the only big ticket item on tap for the October 3 ribbon cutting celebration and grand opening for the new Joplin High School/Franklin Technical Center.

The Turner Report has confirmed that the Huff Administration has been in touch with the White House and is attempting to get the president to make a follow-up trip to his appearance at the 2012 Joplin High School graduation held at Missouri Southern State University.

(In the accompanying video, C. J. Huff announces to staff that President Obama will speak at the 2012 Graduation ceremony.)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

C. J. Huff's new blog tells "truth' about six-and-a-half-mile ribbon

C. J. Huff has gone into the blogging business and being the helpful person I am, since this latest public relations effort is being funded, as have all the rest of them, by our taxpayer money, going to help spread the word.

In the first blog published earlier tonight, the Joplin R-8 superintendent gives the lowdown on the six-and-a-half-mile ribbon. He does seem to contradict what his board president said a few days ago, but here goes:

Real or Rumor?

I am starting a new weekly blog called Real of Rumor. Each week, I will address a question that I have been asked about or a rumor that I have heard regarding Joplin Schools. Several months ago, we created a web page with this title to solicit feedback from the community. In all honesty, we didn't promote it well and have received few questions through the email address we provided on that page. The email link is below, and I encourage you to submit your questions. I will address some of them in this blog post, and we will do our best to answer all questions on the Real or Rumor web page.

Email your questions to

Today's topic: The ribbon

We are in the process of planning several events surrounding the opening of the new high school and technical school. You can click here to view a calendar of events. One of the events we have planned is a ribbon-cutting ceremony at JHS/FTC during our October 3 grand-opening event. 

Here are the facts:
  • The event is scheduled for October 3 (we just finalized the date and a time has yet to be set - we are still in the early planning stage of this event).
  • The ribbon cutting was never planned for the first day of school.
  • We are hosting the official grand-opening event and ribbon cutting after the start of school to allow our students and staff an opportunity to settle in to their new building. We did this for Irving Elementary, Soaring Heights Elementary, and East Middle School as well. The first day of school for all schools in the district is August 25.
  • We are hoping to break a world record for the longest ribbon used in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Students helped with the research on how to host such an event, and they will be recognized at the ceremony.
  • The ribbon will be six-and-a-half miles long and will be looped around the JHS/FTC campus.
  • The ribbon cost approximately $11,500, and the cost will be covered by sponsorships. We have secured some of these sponsorships already. The sponsors will also be recognized at the event. We seek out sponsors for many of our events to help keep costs down. 
  • Bright Futures Joplin is not paying for the ribbon and never was paying for the ribbon. The plan has always been to secure sponsors for the ribbon.
  • Bright Futures Councils from our schools will be invited to participate in the event.
  • The community will also be invited to participate in the event and will be able to keep a portion of the ribbon as a souvenir. We also plan to make pieces of the ribbon available for purchase to those who do not wish to participate but want a memento from the event. Details will be shared on our website as plans are finalized.
Why the ribbon? We want to celebrate! The opening of this school is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for our students, staff, parents, and community. It symbolizes the end of a long, difficult journey and the beginning of a new era for Joplin Schools. It is a big deal to many, many people who have made sacrifices for the last three years to get to this point - students, staff members, parents, and others. It took thousands of volunteers from across the world and the support of our entire community to make this school happen. We wanted to create an event that would allow our entire community to participate if they choose. 

You are invited to join us on October 3 to be a part of this moment in Joplin's history. We hope you'll come and celebrate recovery, resilience, and the future of Joplin Schools.

A call for help: Help C. J. Huff make it through the night

If only Sammi Smith had sung "Take the six-and-a-half mile ribbon from my hair," at the beginning, this song would have been perfect.

Annie Sharp to KOAM: I would rather err on the side of spending too much

During an interview just aired on KOAM, Joplin R-8 Board of Education President Annie Sharp said the following:

-The construction project is four percent over budget.

-To repay the long-term financing, the district will have to spend $600,000 annually from the capital outlay fund- the fund which takes care of problems that occur at all of the district's buildings.

-"I would rather err on the side of giving our community more than they need

CFO Paul Barr said another revenue stream will be needed. So far, the only suggestion anyone has made has been selling naming rights.

KOAM TV 7 Joplin and Pittsburg

SW Missouri Democrats offer rides to the polls

(From Southwest Missouri Democrats)

Southwest Missouri Democrats will offer rides to the polls on Tuesday August 5, 2014 for the Primary Election. We want to encourage everyone to vote. Lack of transportation should never keep voters from the polls.

Voters in any party should feel free to call for a ride. We will not ask about the voters party affiliation. We would also welcome volunteers from any party to help us with this effort. We have reached out to the local Republicans to see if they would like to join the effort.

In Jasper County for a ride contact: Krista Stark at or 417-437-8443 and Michael Jarrett at or (417)597-3327. In Newton Country for a ride contact: Jenna Booth 501-206-4426 or John Booth at 501-365-6292.

We will have volunteers standing by to answer the phone and to drive folks to their polling location. We want to encourage ALL eligible voters to turn out and vote!

Billy Long: We must sue the president to defend the Constitution

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

U.S. Rep. Billy Long issued the following statement after voting for a resolution authorizing the House to take legal action against the administration due to its failure to enforce the president's health-care law as written:

"Justice, fairness, and equality require our laws be upheld consistently for all people no matter their political views, economic condition, nationality, or other superficial difference. Unfortunately, the president's conduct has not lived up to this standard. His IRS has targeted groups for harassment and denial of services based on their political orientation. Our nation's borders have been left open to millions of illegal immigrants because the president disagrees with our current immigration laws.

"The president and his administration have failed to enforce key components of his own signature achievement, the national health care law, and continue to act outside of the scope of the law to implement it because the law as written is unworkable. The lawsuit by the House of Representatives would seek to compel the president to enforce this train wreck of a law as written, not as the president wishes it had been written.

"The House is taking action to defend the Constitution. We are supposed to have three equal branches of government, but the Executive Branch has grown too strong and no longer feels it needs to listen to the Legislative Branch.

Joplin Globe columnist: C. J. Huff is a good man who is being demeaned and slandered

Blogger and frequent Joplin Globe guest columnist Anson Burlingame closed out the comments on his latest post on Joplin education today with a spirited defense of C. J. Huff and the Joplin R-8 Board of Education.

According to Burlingame, if anyone agrees with the things I have written in the Turner Report, it is just politics and he also seems to think that I have some kind of hypnotic sway over the readers of this blog and that they will parrot everything I say.

Those who agree with the way C. J. Huff has run the school district are, of course, reasonable people who understand that ordinary people do not comprehend the complicated world of school administration.

One thing that Anson Burlingame is never going to understand is that there is a big difference between a blog that completely relies on one man's opinion (and I am not referring to the Turner Report) and a blog that offers opinion, but has backed it up time after time with documents, with research, and with information from reliable sources.

Even the rest of the Joplin media, with the notable exception of the Joplin Globe is fully aware of the accuracy of Turner Report posts on the Joplin R-8 School District. I an also hearing that even at the Joplin Globe there are a number of people, including veteran reporters, who would love to investigate the problems in the school district, but know that is not going to happen with Michael Beatty as publisher and Carol Stark as editor. The same reporters are also exasperated at the lack of investigation into the City of Joplin's master developer Wallace-Bajjali.

The local TV media is starting to pick apart the Huff Administration little by little, and is allowing Huff to reveal himself with his own words. For example, KOAM's recent report on the six-and-a-half mile ribbon.

Here is Anson Burlingame's take:

OK, I took the Turner tiger by the tail two years ago when I decided against him, after careful thought and attention to some details in his case. But my views on even Turner’s situation was not an attempt to demean the man personally. It was the emerging support he began receiving for his personal vendetta (in my view) against CJ Huff and well meaning citizens on the BOE that was my target, a political target if you will.

Simply said, I would ignore Randy Turner completely. But he has assembled a small “political mass” to his “standards” and I disagree rather strongly with that agenda and the views on how he would improve education by firing a bunch of people. So I write in opposition to that political group of people, and catch hell when I do so which is fine for them to cuss me out, etc. if that is their inclination. (Recall the “Burlingame is an asshole” blog, which was subsequently taken down as only a mild example).
(Note: I don't know what Burlingame is referring to, but that is not a word that I use.)

Debate over how to improve public education is a cacophny to say the least, all sorts of views being expressed and nothing getting done of substance, and my list goes on. Somehow firm and correct leadership is sadly need in our public schools and I see a few good people struggling hard to perform that task. But again and again they are demeaned, almost slandered and the arguments just get louder and louder with little progress being made in areas that count, like graduating good students, ready to become good citizens in a modern society, each and every graduate if you will.

I wonder how Anson Burlingame will react when the state auditor's report is issued. It is either going to be to his liking, or it will "demean and slander" C. J. Huff.

McCaskill introduces Campus Accountability and Safety Act