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Only a few hours have passed since Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced that a grand jury had found no probable cause to charge Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

As dawn breaks in Ferguson, Missouri, some businesses have been burned to the ground, others left with smashed windows and stripped of merchandise. The evidence of the mishandling of the grand jury announcement is there for the world to see.

As is the evidence of the impotence of Gov. Jay Nixon.

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In case you hadn't heard, we had a tornado in Joplin May 22, 2011.

It was the most horrific disaster to ever strike this city and it left a lasting impact even on those of us who were not directly affected.

The citizens of Joplin did not slink away and call it quits. Though some left, houses have been rebuilt, businesses reopened, and this city deservedly earned a reputation for its never-give-up attitude in the face of the worst destruction imaginable.

I am sure to some this will sound hypocritical coming from someone who has published three books on the Joplin Tornado, but enough already!

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Last year, during my 14th year as a classroom teacher, I made a little over $37,000. The campaign contributors for my Congressman in Missouri's seventh district, Republican Billy Long, may pay that much for his meals.

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Considering everything that has happened to me over the past three months- losing my teaching job and being smeared in a public hearing by public school administrators, I would guess no one would blame me if I happened to be bitter toward public schools.

I am not. I am as big an advocate of public schools as I have ever been. Public schools are not perfect and they have many flaws, but when I look at the so-called “reforms” that have been proposed by people like Michelle Rhee and her misnamed StudentsFirst organization and in my home state of Missouri- retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield and his bought-and-paid-for think tank, the Show-Me Institute, it is obvious that the preservation of public schools in some recognizable form is vital.

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The system works.

That I write these words may surprise those who are aware that my employer of the last 10 years, the Joplin R-8 Board of Education, voted 7-0 to terminate my contract earlier this month.

The decision did not surprise me. I was fully aware that teachers rarely survive termination hearings. This hearing, not permanent employment, is the only thing that tenure offers, despite the protestations of the so-called “reformers,” who insist it is keeping thousands of bad teachers in the classrooms.

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For the past three weeks, while my students have continued attending my classes and dealing with a substitute teacher, I have been sitting at home waiting for the hearing which may end my teaching career in Joplin, Missouri.

And it all started with this Daily Kos diary.

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At numerous points in a definitive proxy statement filed March 22 by Gannett, it was mentioned that CEO Gracia Martore had voluntarily given up 10 percent of her salary, opting to take one for the team and receive only $900,000 instead of $1 million.

The sacrifice, however, was just a drop in the bucket since the SEC filing indicates Ms. Martore's pay package amounted to more than $8.4 million.

And while she has been at the helm during a time when thousands have lost their jobs due to her decisions and all Gannett employees have had to take one or two weeks of unpaid furloughs per year, if Ms. Martore ever loses her job because of a change in ownership, she will receive a termination package totaling more than $46 million.

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An audit released today shows that special interests are footing the bill for booze, food, and parties for the Missouri Senate and the expenditures do not show up in the disclosure forms of any senator.

You won't find Senate leaders challenging Auditor Tom Schweich's findings- they claim they are saving the taxpayers money by having lobbyists take care of their party needs.

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The students who have sat in my classrooms for the past two years have not looked any different from those in previous years.

The comments they make have not changed in any respect from those I have heard from students through the past 14 years.

But these students are different from any I have taught before.

Any of them who lived in Joplin on May 22, 2011, were deeply affected by the tornado that cut a swath through the city that day, killing 161 and destroying one-third of the city, including East Middle School, the school that had been their home.

For the past two years, these teenagers have attended school in a warehouse in an industrial park on the outskirts of the school district, directly across from a frequently aromatic dog food factory.

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More than a decade ago, when I was teaching creative writing at Diamond Missouri Middle School, I came across an egregious example of cheating and it led to the accusation that I was a racist.

The eighth grade students in the trailer where I taught were taking an essay examination and I was circulating around the room checking on their progress. In the very back of the room, I noticed that two students, a white boy and a black girl, had exactly the same answers to a question, something which is extremely difficult to do on an essay test.

I quietly pulled the white boy aside and said, "You copied your answer off (the girl)."

I had tried to be as quiet as possible so no one could hear me, but the boy was having none of it. "I did not cheat," he shouted. "You're racist!"

I picked up his paper and read aloud what he had written. "Growing up as a black girl in Joplin..."

He quickly gave up the protest and he received a zero on his paper.

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For the most part, you won't see the wining and dining of Missouri GOP leaders by ALEC special interests spelled out in lobbying documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The operation is much more sophisticated than that.

The expenses, and there are plenty, are buried in finance documents filed with the Commission.

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Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 04:55 PM PST

Mister Speaker, you are a joke

by rturner229

Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones, battling back from the ridicule he received after telling St. Louis reporter Charles Jaco that a "very personal constituent" talked him into signing on to Orly Taitz' birther lawsuit against President Obama, send out a fundraising message earlier this week trying to capitalize on how the elite liberal media is picking on him.

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