Saturday, April 30, 2016

Empire District Electric stockholders to vote on merger June 16

The selling will continue during the annual meeting May 2, but the actual shareholder vote to approve Joplin-based Empire District Electric Company's sale to the Canadian Algonguin company will take place during a special meeting June 16, according to company officials.

The following statement was given by Empire CEO Bradley Beecher during the quarterly earnings hearing Friday:

Shareholder approval is also required for the transaction. We have set May 2, 2016, as the record date for determining eligibility to vote on their agreement and planned merger. We expect to hold a Special Shareholders Meeting on June 16, 2016, to conduct the vote. A final proxy and voting instructions will be mailed to shareholders next week.

Last week, we began joint meetings at the senior management level to initiate the transition and integration planning process. As we work to fulfill the conditions to close the merger we remain focused on business as usual at Empire.

Engler: SJR 39 was unnecessary, likely unconstitutional

(From Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington)

In the final weeks of session, we are hearing a lot of Senate bills on the House floor and few of our own House bills are moving. Sponsors are hoping their amendments can survive joint Senate/House conference committees. We are also busy in committees hearing House bills that members want heard even though they won’t pass this year.

The biggest thing that happened this week was the hearing and committee vote on Senate Resolution 39; the so-called “Religious Freedom” bill. This legislation did not pass out of committee. If passed it would have put this issue on the ballot and I think the voters would have eventually voted it down. It passed the Senate, also known as the “deliberative body” in less than two weeks after being introduced.

Thirteen years ago my former colleague and I put into statute these same protections. Since then, no one in the state of Missouri has lost a lawsuit and no minister has ever been forced to perform a same sex marriage.

SJR39 was poorly written and possibly unconstitutional, and the only reason to pass the bill was to boost our religious base. Many people don’t realize that Missouri is one of the few states where you can legally fire someone if they are gay. I would question anyone that doesn’t think that this is strong enough discrimination policy. I believe that this issue would have been viewed by most as just hate.

I don’t think that was the supporters’ intent, but the result would have been a “summer of hate” with millions of dollars spent by nearly every large corporation in the state that have already come out strongly against the bill. Missouri would have been the focus and laughingstock of the national press again. After Ferguson and the recent issues at the Mizzou campus, this would have been devastating. Even if the vote were successful it would've only achieved the result of putting in the constitution what are largely protections that are in our statutes already

Speaker outlines new, unnecessary gun laws approved by House

(From a portion of Speaker of the House Todd Richardson's weekly newsletter)

The House gave approval to two pieces of legislation to bolster the gun rights of law-abiding citizens this week. 

House Bill 2057, sponsored by Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, would ensure that concealed carry permit applicants cannot be charged a fee in excess of $100 and prohibits additional fees that may be charged including any fee for fingerprinting or criminal background checks. 

House Bill 1468, sponsored by Rep. Eric Burlison, would allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit. Referred to as constitutional carry, the bill would allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. 

This brings Missouri statute in line with the constitutional change made by Missouri citizens in 2014 that allows the right to permit-less carry. 

Both pieces of legislation now move over to the Senate for further consideration.

Missouri's 52 GOP delegates- 37 Trump, 15 Cruz

(From the Missouri Republican Party)

Missouri Republican Party has released the unofficial results of the Congressional District Conventions, which took place today to select delegates to the Republican National Convention and nominate presidential electors.

Based on the results of Missouri’s presidential preference primary on March 15, the delegates selected in Congressional Districts 1, 2, 3, 6, and 8 are bound to Donald Trump, and the delegates selected in Congressional Districts 4, 5, and 7 are bound to Ted Cruz.

The results are unofficial until the State GOP receives certification from each convention, a process which may take several days to complete.

Please note: 25 additional national delegates will be selected at the State Convention in May. The State Chairman, National Committeeman, and National Committeewoman will also serve as delegates. In total, Missouri has 52 national delegates—37 bound to Donald Trump and 15 bound to Ted Cruz.

Friday, April 29, 2016

My open heart surgery and a few announcements

You do not get to recover if you never entered the battle.

That is one of the old chestnuts I have unearthed as I try to achieve some normalcy in the aftermath of my latest battle with health issues.

Those who have read my Facebook page have known that on the early morning of Monday, April 17, approximately 2:30 p.m., I checked myself into the Freeman Emergency Room, not knowing I was in the process of having a heart attack.

Truth be told, it may have been a second one. I had a similar pain for a short time the previous evening. It went away quickly, but after a year that has seen me go undergo four stents, I decided I would go to the emergency room at the next hint of chest discomfort.

A quick procedure was done to implant a balloon which would stay in while my body was being drained of a blood thinner I had taken following the stents. The balloon stayed in for the next week, leaving me on my back in the Freeman ICU.

The procedure, a triple heart bypass, was conducted during a five-hour period the evening of Friday, April 21. I was told it was a success and now the hard part would begin- doing the necessary work to bring myself back to regular, ordinary life, as it is.

I did my best during this past week to do what I was told, not complain, and work toward being released as soon as possible. The hard-working people at Freeman have done so much for me over the past year, that I will never find a way to repay them.

The last thing they needed was some 60-year-old whiner, realizing that his life had taken a change for the worse and dragging everyone down into the mud with him. I won't say that I did not complain, but if I did, I quickly apologized for it and tried to do better the next time.

When it was time for four a.m. x-rays, three-times-a-day physical therapy, or having to take a dozen pills at a time when I was on a restricted liquid diet. (I have a hard time swallowing pills without plenty of water). I went along with it.

Finally, on Thursday, my last physical therapy session, took me into an area of the hospital where I could walk up and down stairs. I went up the stairs once and back down, but it was a big thrill when I was told, "You're ready."

Thursday night and Friday, I moved into my new home for the next month or so, though it is a home with which I am familiar, having lived there from 1956 through 1977. My parents, in their 80s, are stuck with me until I am freed from doctors' restrictions on my driving and traveling.

With the help of Freeman Home Health, we are not having to do this alone. Miracles truly have taken place in medicine over the past few decades.

Of course, my parents are stuck with someone who has a beard that should make people wonder if the rumors of Merle Haggard's death were not exaggerated.

As the hours passed, I put off writing this post. I was not sure what I wanted to say. During a brief period of this enforced separation from blogging, I read some of the comments that had been left on the blog and on my Facebook pages.

One woman as much as said that she hoped I had another heart attack and died. Others who were upset about posts I had written earlier, had similar comments, most referring to me as an unfeeling person who writes whatever he wants to do just to damage people's lives.

I would say the people who feel inspired to share such comments on social media are the ones who do not care about damaging lives.

I don't plan on dwelling on what those people say. I prefer to think about and humbly say thank you to all of you who have given me your prayers, your kind wishes, and your thoughts about the work I do.

I don't plan on overdoing it, but the Turner Report, Inside Joplin, Inside Joplin Obituaries, and whatever other blogs I am working on, will continue, I will keep writing books, and I am hoping to have a couple of surprises to announce in the near future.

Thanks again to the best support staff a recovering open heart surgery patient could ever ask for.

Seven Joplin R-8 teachers resign, one retires,

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education accepted seven faculty resignations and one retirement during the April 15, closed session.

Those resigning:

Christina Patterson
Julain Pock
Heather Shull
Shelby Sullivan
Mary Baum
Tobin Schultz
Edward Trumbell


Kristi McGowan

In other action, the board approved the hiring of building principals Christopher Bozarth, Shalley Lundien and Brian Olivera.

The board also hired the following certified personnel:

Jennifer Hancock, 
Rachael Sachs 
Elizabeth Shannon
Shelly Tarter 
Kasondra Turley.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Anatomy of a merger: SEC document details Empire District Electric sale

A preliminary proxy statement filed by Empire District Electric Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission March 30 details the decision to offer the Joplin-based company for sale, the steps that were taken to arrange for bids, the bidding process, and how Canadian company Algonquin eventually became the successful suitor.

The information, though it makes for mind-numbing reading in some places, includes how Empire District Electric reacted when its sale plans were leaked to the media, the late entrance of an alternate bidder, the departure of other bidders who initially showed interest, and just about everything except why the company's management and board of directors thought a sale/merger was necessary.

The Board and management of Empire regularly review and assess Empire's long-term business plan and strategic alternatives available to enhance shareholder value, including potential business combination transactions.
On October 29, 2015, the Board held a meeting that was also attended by certain members of senior management, representatives of Moelis and a representative of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP , which we refer to as Cahill, Empire's outside legal counsel. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

C. J. Huff to go beyond bake sales at Missouri PTA Convention

Former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff will present two sessions a week from today, Saturday, April 23, at the Missouri PTA Convention in Columbia.

The sessions are described below. The second one, a panel discussion, will feature the current head of Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA), a member of the board for Bright Futures USA that hired Huff as a paid consultant.

Beyond Bake Sales …A Framework for Higher Levels of Parent/Community/School Engagement
Presenter:  Dr. C.J. Huff, Retired, Superintendent, Joplin Schools
Are you ready for a new approach to support your schools? You shouldn’t have to do it alone. In this motivational session, attendees will learn specific strategies on how to more fully engage their school community to better serve children and teachers.   Dr. Huff is an educator that has 20 years of experience of working in public schools and recently retired from the Joplin School district where he served as superintendent since 2008.  

Building a Winning Team – a panel discussionPresenters:  Dr. C.J. Huff, Retired, Superintendent, Joplin Schools; Melissa Randol, ESQ., Executive Director Missouri School Boards’ Association; Jennifer Case, Vice-President, Blue Springs R-IV School District Board of Education; Lori Prussman, Missouri PTA Treasurer and School Board Member, St. Joseph School District
Description:  What is the best way to approach my principal?  Is it ok to ask for a meeting with the superintendent?  Should PTA be represented at school board meetings?  How much should/can PTA be involved in the decision making for the district?  Often PTA leaders are unsure about how to work with their district’s different levels of governance.  Bring your questions and join  Dr. C. J. Huff, Melissa Randol, Jennifer Casey and Lori Prussman in a lively panel discussion.  Let’s share ideas about building good working relationships that benefit our children, parents, staff and community.

After the PTA Convention, Huff's next public appearance seems to be his presentations as part of panel discussions during events during the five-year anniversary of the Joplin Tornado observance.

Parents upset about R-8 attorney's romance with superintendent

The controversy surrounding the romantic relationship between the $400,000 a year superintendent of the Lee's Summit School District and the school district's attorney continues.

An angry group of parents attended the Board of Education meeting this week demanding that the district sever its relationship with the Guin Mondorf law firm because of Superintendent David McGehee's romance with attorney Shellie Guin.

Guin Mondorf has worked for the Joplin R-8 School District on two recent high profile cases. During the summer of 2015, the firm represented the district against a lawsuit filed by three Joplin residents seeking to overturn the Jasper County Commission's appointment of Sallie Beard, Ron Gatz, and Gary Nodler to the Board of Education.

In May 2013, Guin served as the prosecutor in my termination hearing.

The Lee's Summit board intends to retain Guin Mondorf. The district spent $13,000 to hire two outside law firms to conduct an investigation into whether there was a problem. Unbelievably, the investigators said there was no problem since the school district was using other lawyers in the firm to conduct its business and not Guin.

Of course, Guin being a name partner in the firm would still be profiting from the school district's business.

The board voted 4-3 to keep Guin Mondorf.

(KZRG photo of Guin taken at my hearing May 23, 2013)


Billy Long speaks out on House floor against internet regulation