KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com Target 8 Target 8 en-us Copyright 2019, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Thu, 17 Oct 2019 HH:10:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ 144 25 Target 8 Fact Check: Violence in Columbia https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-violence-in-columbia/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-violence-in-columbia/ Target 8 Mon, 30 Sep 2019 11:41:43 AM Ethan Stein, KOMU 8 Reporter Target 8 Fact Check: Violence in Columbia

COLUMBIA - James D. Hickman, 23, was pronounced dead at University Hospital after a shooting near McBaine Aveneue last Wednesday.

His death, the 10th homicide in Columbia this year was the most ever for the city according to data that dates back to 2001.  It was also the fifth homicide in September. Those numbers can grow, if another shooting death is ruled a homicide. But overall violent crime is trending down in Columbia. 

Using data from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, violent crime is on pace to see its second decrease in two years. Violent crime, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol is defined as the frequency of murder, rape (including attempted), robbery, and aggravated assault.  

Missouri law requires all law enforcement agencies report crime data to the Department of Public Safety, which then forwards it to the FBI. The FBI uses this information for the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, also called the UCR.

The UCR is a database with crime statistics for over 18,000 law enforcement agencies including federal, state, city, local, colleges and universities. The purpose is to generate reliable information for use in law enforcement administration and management, according the FBI's website.

Criminologists, sociologists and other social sciences professionals also use this data for different types of research. 


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TARGET 8: Number of accessible parking violations vary across mid-Missouri https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-accessible-parking-violations-vary-across-mid-missouri/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-accessible-parking-violations-vary-across-mid-missouri/ Target 8 Sun, 4 Aug 2019 3:56:02 PM Lindsey Wilkerson, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Number of accessible parking violations vary across mid-Missouri

MID-MISSOURI - Finding the perfect parking spot can be a hassle, but it can be even more difficult if you need to use an accessible parking space.

A 2018 report from the Accessible Parking Coalition showed 69 percent of people with disabilities surveyed had difficulties finding accessible parking in their communities.

In mid-Missouri, many people with disabilities face the same struggle, sometimes because drivers are illegally parking in those spaces.

KOMU 8 requested accessible parking violations reaching back to 2017 in more than 10 jurisdictions. The numbers ranged between municipalities, and in some places, the amount of data available was surprisingly thin.

The Numbers:

Records requested from each location start in January 2017 and extend to July 2019. The population counts are from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 estimates.

Columbia:

Columbia is the largest city contacted for this story, holding about 123,180 people in its limits. The municipal court reported 120 violations during the time requested.

Per capita, Columbia has about 9.7 violations per 10,000 people.

Steven Sapp, the city's director of community relations, said due to "the structure of the records, established by higher courts," it would take considerable time and money to find the locations where each of the violations take place all of the records are held separately.

MU Campus in Columbia:

The MU campus in Columbia had 30,870 students enrolled at the start of the Fall 2018 semester and 29,866 for Fall 2017 according to enrollment data from the university.

The MU Custodian of Records released a list of 375 accessible parking violations from 2017 to 2019. The MU campus had the most amount of violations from all of the places that gave KOMU 8 records.

Estimating that the MU campus has around 30,000 students on average, the amount of violations is about 125 violations per 10,000 students.

Jefferson City:

Jefferson City is home to roughly 43,838 people. The municipal court provided 34 instances where people illegally parked in accessible parking spaces.

Per capita, this would mean there are about 7.3 accessible parking violations per 10,000 people in Jefferson City.

Most of the violations were on East High Street. Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams said that area is part of the historic downtown district.

"It could be as simple as people wanting to shop in that area and not paying attention to the marked handicap special permit areas, or it could just simply be a fact that they are in too big of a hurry or want to get close to the locations," he said.

Sedalia:

Sedalia's population is estimated to be about 21,718. The Sedalia Police Department provided records for eight violations. This would equate to 3.7 violations per 10,000 people.

Most of the violations were at the Walmart on West Broadway Boulevard.

Sedalia Police Commander Adam Hendricks said the police department will get calls from businesses, like Walmart, about people illegally parked in their accessible spaces.

"We’re mainly reactive to - like if you look at our stats - a lot of the calls are from Walmart. And it is either Walmart management calling us, or someone with disabilities calling, wanting us to do something about someone parked in a spot that is designated for their disability," he said.

Marshall:

Marshall has about 12,934 residents. The municipal court provided a list of 14 violations. This would be about 10.8 violations per 10,000 people. Most of the violations were in the Walmart parking lot or at Marshall High School.

Fulton:

Fulton is about the same size as Marshall, since it is estimated to have about 12,635 residents. However, Fulton's police department only had record of five violations. This would mean there are about 4 violations per 10,000 people.

Fulton Police Lt. Bill Ladwig said he believes that the number of violations has gone down over the years.

"We respond to every citizen complaint about disabled parking," he said. "Fortunately, over time and throughout the last few years, our tickets have decreased because we’ve tried to educate the public."

Mexico:

Mexico also provided records; it has a population around 11,527. Mexico's municipal court only saw three violations, which would be about 2.6 violations per 10,000 people.

Mexico was the only city that could not provide exact locations for each violation. The city clerk said the violations were all from the "downtown business district."

Osage Beach:

One of the smaller cities KOMU 8 reached out to was Osage Beach, right on the Lake of the Ozarks.

While Osage Beach only has about 4,570 residents, it had 11 violations on record.

Its number is comparable to Sedalia's and Marshall's, which have almost three to four times the number of residents.

However, the area provides hotels, restaurants, and entertainment for tourists in the summer months, which could raise the number of violations.

Moberly:

KOMU 8 also reached out to Moberly for records on this issue. The city clerk said very few parking violations are issued during the year and said it was "impossible to find out how many" were accessible parking violations. She noted no parking violations have been issued since August 2018.

The Problem:

However, there is a lot of background that feeds into those numbers, and they cannot be taken just at face-value.

Firstly, regardless of the numbers, people who have disabilities and need to use accessible parking spots say parking is an issue they face regularly.

The Accessible Parking Coalition reported in 2018 that 80 percent of people with disabilities surveyed believed drivers fraudulently parking in accessible spaces was a "widespread" problem.

Payton Smith lives in Mexico and has used a wheelchair for three and a half years.

After a car accident, he lost mobility below his shoulders. He said he deals with issues with accessible parking frequently.

"Before my accident, I never - I never really thought about how much of a pain that would be for someone in a wheelchair," he said.

To travel, Smith has a driver that takes him place to place in an accessible van. The van has a ramp that lets down, which allows Smith to use his wheelchair get in and out of the vehicle.

Smith, as well as other people who use wheelchairs, need eight feet to get in and out of their vans. Accessible parking spots with hash marks next to them are critical for this.

"A lot of times the van parking spots are the only ones you can find with the hash marks to let your ramp or your lift down," he said.

But sometimes, even those spots are not accessible for people who use wheelchairs. If drivers disregard the hash marks and park too close to an accessible van, people who use wheelchairs cannot access their vehicle.

Smith said he often takes extra measures to prevent this from happening.

“A lot of times instead of trying to - or just hoping - nobody parks next to me, I’ll just go ahead and park away from the door,” he said.

Mark Ohrenberg, who lives in Columbia and also uses a wheelchair, said he faces the same issue.

"It happens on a more regular basis. You know, when I’m going to shopping malls like at Target or the Columbia Mall," he said.

Ohrenberg works in the community services division at Services for Independent Living, a non-profit focused on helping people with disabilities gain independence.

He said while working with community members who have disabilities, he has heard concerns about parking accessibility.

"Unless you live it everyday, it's hard to really know the need," he said.

Ohrenberg said this issue impacts everyone in the community.

"You might be thinking, ‘I don’t have a disability at this moment,’ but maybe a year from now, a month from now, you have one, and that’s where you need that," he said.

Both Smith and Ohrenberg said the end goal should not just be officers handing out more tickets; it is educating the public about the issue.

"More than like trying to get people in trouble or get people tickets, or anything like that, we just try to raise awareness to educate people so we can hopefully start to see less and less of those things," Smith said.

From Citizen Complaint to Municipal Court:

All of the police departments contacted by KOMU 8 said they respond to every citizen complaint regarding someone illegally parked in an accessible space.

The City of Columbia even has a place on its website where citizen complaints can be filed online for disabled parking violations.

However, the number of citizen complaints is often much higher than the amount of people actually fined for their actions. For example, in Fulton between 2017 to 2019, the police department responded to 107 complaints; however, only five people were actually fined through the municipal court.

Finding the issue of this problem is hard to trace exactly. After a complaint is called in to the police department, it is often up to the officer's discretion if that person is actually ticketed.

Several police departments that spoke with KOMU 8 said violators are sometimes not ticketed and just asked to move their vehicle in an effort to educate drivers about the importance of leaving those spaces open.

Fulton Police Lt. Bill Ladwig said his department puts education first before immediately ticketing the violator.

"If somebody’s around the vehicle or in the vehicle, again, we’re going to try to educate them," he said.

Jefferson City Police Lt. David Williams echoed the same idea.

"They see that patrol vehicle pull up, and they see those lights come on, they’ll come out and they’ll try to talk to the officer and explain the situation," he said. "Sometimes it’s as simple as the person forgot to hang their placard up."

Sedalia Police Commander Adam Hendricks said officers look at each violation on a case-by-case basis, especially after speaking to the violator.

"It’s kind of like parenting. If you think you’ve made some progress talking with your 'child', then you may not ticket and maybe they saw what your point was," he said.

Just because a driver is ticketed for the violation, however, does not always mean they would have to pay a fine. For example, it is possible for cases brought before the municipal court to be thrown out by the judge without cause.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) released a best practices document in August 2018 titled, "Persons with Disabilities Placards and License Plates: Best Practices Guide in Deterring and Detecting Fraud and Misuse."

One of the AAMVA's suggestions in that report was for judges and local court systems.

"When penalties are significantly reduced or charges summarily dismissed, law enforcement will stop allocating the resources to disability parking enforcement." the AAMVA argued. "The outreach message should share why violators need to be held accountable in court."

One Solution:

Some people, businesses and organizations believe education might reduce the amount of people who illegally park in accessible spaces.

The AAMVA's best practices document suggested that education should not just be aimed at the general public, but also Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees, law enforcement, health care providers, and the judiciary. 

In an effort to reduce the number of violations, one app called "Parking Mobility" was developed in Texas and is now used worldwide.

The app allows the public to report a citation concerning accessible parking abuse directly through the app. That citation can be sent to local police departments, which then review the citation and decide whether or not to ticket the violator.

Mack Marsh, the project director of Parking Mobility, said the app was originally created to just collect data on how often people illegally parked in accessible spaces.

He said 143 people in Missouri have downloaded the app. The majority of the violations reported were in St. Louis and Kansas City "with the rest scattered throughout the state."

Payton Smith is one of the people in Missouri using Parking Mobility. He said he uses it to help other people in the disability community know about places with frequent violations.

Smith added, by reporting accessible parking abuse through the app, it notifies people in the community about the problem and raises awareness.


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TARGET 8: Flood victims question assessors' qualifications https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-flood-victims-question-assessors-qualifications/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-flood-victims-question-assessors-qualifications/ Target 8 Wed, 7 Aug 2019 9:54:41 PM Austin Walker, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Flood victims question assessors' qualifications

BRUNSWICK - After receiving damage assessment letters in the mail, Brunswick flood victims have one question: are the people assessing their homes qualified?

Wayne Jones, the former Mayor of Brunswick and flood victim, said he thinks the estimate is inaccurate.

"There is no way that 6 inches of water can produce 100 percent damage," Jones said.

Brunswick residents began receiving the letters July 1. Each letter contained an estimate of how much damage each home received from flood waters. The letters gave home owners two options: raise the home above the flood plain, including filling in the basement, or level the structure.

The letter is attributed to the Brunswick Floodplain Ordinance of 2012. The ordinance states if residents do not abide by the the ordinance, they could face a $500 fine per day.

One of the assessors, Tina Reichart, has limited-to-no home inspection background. Reichart is the owner of Sycamore Valley Farm Bed and Breakfast.

Marissa Robinson, a flood victim, said she thinks they should have training in the field.

"I don't think it's right," Robinson said. "How do they know what to look for if they have never done it."

Tina Reichart said she went through a half day training with FEMA.

"The training taught us what damage to look for," Reichart said. "We learned everything from wiring to cabinets and wall damage."

KOMU 8 reached out to a home inspector to see if the assessments were accurate. Melony Spradling, who has over 20 years of experience assessing homes, said it takes way more than half a day of training.

Spradling said professional inspectors will go on the roof, into the attic, open up the electrical panel and look for any issues. 

"I would say you need a inspector who actually know detailed information in order to help them," Spradling said. "You need someone who knows the specific information to say 'no, you're in good shape.'"

Spradling said FEMA's process could create inaccurate assessments. 

In KOMU 8's original report, we incorrectly identified two of the three assessors in the story. Bill Jackson and Michelle Sanders were not assessors, as previously reported. We regret the error. 


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TARGET 8: Director's office at state agency scrutinized for spending concerns https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-director-s-office-at-state-agency-scrutinized-for-spending-concerns/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-director-s-office-at-state-agency-scrutinized-for-spending-concerns/ Target 8 Wed, 8 May 2019 1:09:59 PM Jacob Cavaiani, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Director's office at state agency scrutinized for spending concerns

JEFFERSON CITY – Travel spending, frequent use of a travel agency and high mileage on a vehicle all came under scrutiny during a review of the Missouri Department of Safety Director’s Office, according to documents obtained by KOMU 8 News.

In late November, Gov. Mike Parson asked State Auditor Nicole Galloway to audit the director’s office, after the initial review by the Office of Administration.

That review “raised concerns that warranted a more in-depth examination of past public safety administration practices,” Department of Public Safety Director Sandra Karsten said in a November news release.

Gov. Mike Parson put Karsten into the position, which was previously held by Drew Juden, who was appointed by then-Gov. Eric Greitens. When Karsten took the job, the governor's office said, she requested an initial review of the department director's office.

“Anytime a department director raises concerns about questionable use of taxpayer dollars, we take them very seriously– that’s why under these circumstances we have requested a state audit,” Parson said in the release.

Karsten, at the time, said the last audit of the director’s office was completed nearly five years ago.

In the initial review, staff made comments next to 34 transactions about whether spending at hotels was higher than the federal Continental United States, or CONUS, rate. (A map of those hotels is below.)

At least six of the comments noted what the CONUS rate was and how it was higher than what was spent. 

Two of the transactions with staff comments came from fall of 2016, before Juden was in his position.

One was a $631.08 payment to the Palomar San Diego. Staff wrote it was “higher than CONUS rate of $162.”

Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, served as the director of the Department of Public Safety from spring 2015 until January 2017. He said he was not sure who stayed at the hotel.

Roberts said he never exceeded the CONUS rate.

“We were pretty careful about that. We usually got the rates in advance, and if it was excessive, we said ‘no,’” he said.

The rest of the questioned transactions come from Juden’s tenure.

They include $646.27 and $854.89 spent at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, expenditures “higher than CONUS rate $106,” the documents said.

Juden declined to comment.

The Office of Administration travel portal webpage says state employees should use the federal CONUS rates “as a guideline for costs.”

“Lodging that exceeds the CONUS rate must be documented as necessary and approved by the agency,” the page reads.

The CONUS rate varies by location and date.

The director's office is budgeted to have 73 employees this fiscal year, spokesman Mike O’Connell said. The names of people who used the cards is redacted from the documents.

The documents only show the final amount paid; they do not include itemized descriptions of the bills. The documents do not indicate if meals or other expenses were included in the transactions.

Lael Keiser, the director of MU’s Truman School of Public Affairs, said there would be concerns if there is no justification about exceeding the CONUS rate.

“If you search for a hotel, and especially if it’s around the area of where you need to be, and there just isn’t any that are there, it’s perfectly justifiable to exceed the CONUS rate,” she said. “It’s the lack of a justification that would be a problem."

Keiser said it is not alarming on its face if people are exceeding the CONUS rate and an auditor would want to see if going over it is justified.

“But it’s not something that would raise alarm bells unless there wasn’t a process in place to make sure it was justified,” she said.

In an email to the staff conducting the initial review, Karsten commented on vehicle mileage. 

“The mileage reports that we sent on Monday were very interesting," Karsten said in the email. "The (redacted) vehicle had excessive miles driven from June 2017 until July 2018. There were others that were driven considerable miles as well.”

On a page nearly full of transactions to a travel agency, staff wrote “need to review why a travel agency is used so frequently” in a comment.

Keiser, the director of the Truman school, said the findings need to be reviewed.

“But just because it needs to be reviewed, it doesn’t mean that it’s setting off red flags at this point,” she said.  

Curtis Kalin, a spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste, said the findings in the initial review warrant an investigation.

“Every taxpayer dollar is sacred, and it should be treated that way,” Kalin said. “And public officials need to respect taxpayers by first just respecting their money." 

The audit Parson requested is ongoing. Galloway spokeswoman Steph Deidrick estimated the report would be released this summer.

(Note: Transactions from these hotels include comments from staff about the CONUS rate or duplicate payments.)


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Target 8: Numerous sex offenders live near Columbia day care centers https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-numerous-sex-offenders-live-near-columbia-day-care-centers/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-numerous-sex-offenders-live-near-columbia-day-care-centers/ Target 8 Mon, 22 Apr 2019 1:31:31 PM Kara Strickland, KOMU 8 Reporter Target 8: Numerous sex offenders live near Columbia day care centers

COLUMBIA - Target 8 discovered more than 16 sex offenders living at Columbia's Welcome Inn, which an online map shows could be within 1,000 feet of an at-home day care.

Kids Club House is the in-home day care in Columbia. A Missouri State Highway Patrol interactive map search showed 17 sex offenders live within a 1,000 feet circle when Target 8 searched using the day care's address. 

The map shows 16 of them are at The Welcome Inn at 1612 N. Providence Road.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department disputes the map because the motel is set back from the road, making the distance more than 1,000 feet. An MSHP spokesperson defers to the sheriff's department. He also clarified the map is a service to the public and an approximation. A CPD officer told KOMU 8 the property line starts at a private drive. Target 8 measured the distance from the day care to the property line and it was 872 feet.

According to Missouri law, “Certain sexual offenders may not reside within 1,000 feet of any public or private school up to the 12th grade or childcare facility which is in existence at the time of the offender establishing his or her residency.”

A neighbor who lives up the street from Kids Club House said the numbers came as a shock.

“I was just flabbergasted when you said 16 or 17 just in that one hotel,” Kimmy Argotsinger said.

The sex offender registry is a public resource on the Missouri State Highway Patrol's website. Anyone can put an address or name into the database and find sex offenders living or working within their chosen radius.

The Boone County Sheriff's Office website said its list in available in electronic publically viewable form through the use of the highway patrol's Sex Offender Registry.

Lt. Collin Stosberg, with the patrol's Public Information & Education Division, said the Boone County Sheriff would be in charge of using the information provided.

“The registering official of the county or city not within a county is responsible for registering sex offenders, verifying the information contained in their statements and determining if an offender is non-compliant,” he said in an email.

KOMU 8 News reached out to the Boone County Sheriff’s Department on April 15. Deputy Tony Perkins said the department didn't want to look at the data or comment on the matter.

The Target 8 team called the deputy again on April 22. He said he did not believe the addresses provided were within 1,000 feet of each other and wanted to look at them again. 

"That's why I contacted highway patrol a couple of months ago with a similar call I got a couple of months ago," Perkins said. 

KOMU 8 reached back out to the highway patrol for confirmation whether the map is accurate. Stosberg said the map is approximate and referred KOMU 8 to the map's disclaimer. 

“These records are updated daily in an effort to assure that the information on the website is complete and accurate; however, the Patrol makes no representation, express or implied, that the information contained on the web site is accurate," the disclaimer states. 

KOMU 8 showed neighbors photos of the 17 offenders registered near the daycare. Three of them recognized the same man, who they said, they have seen in the area.

Perkins said right now, the sheriff's department checks addresses in the system to make sure sexual offenders are compliant within the law when they  register for the first time.

Neighbors said they are worried the department isn't doing its job.

"I realize that the police are very, very busy, but it’s like with certain [things], you have to just prioritize," Argotsinger said. "This kind of thing needs someone or a couple of people that are just on it, you know, making sure they're registered, they're where they're supposed to be, doing what they say." 

Amanda Kryger, who lives near Kids Club House, said that's a no brainer.

"That's just, like, duh," she said. "We should go get them and tell them 'You can't live here anymore. You've got to go.'" 

Kids Club House is not the only daycare center within 1,000 feet of where sex offenders live, work or go to school in Columbia. This interactive map offers details on the location of offenders near 18 daycare centers.

The owner of Kids Club House said she cannot comment on the situation. She said, when she has spoken up,, she has received backlash, such as people breaking into her home.

The daycare has been open for nearly a decade. Argotsinger said she feels for the owner, the children and the parents.

“That woman started her daycare, and I can imagine when the parents, if they haven’t already looked into it, they’re going to be like ‘do we pull our child?’” she said. “She’ll be doing everything she can to keep those children safe, but it’s just like, it’s a numbers game again.”

KOMU 8 News reached out to the Welcome Inn for comment and an employee said the hotel is a private property and cannot give out any information about who stays there. The owners of the hotel did not respond to multiple emails.

When the Target 8 team went to the property, a manager threatened a lawsuit and called Columbia police. 

“That motel just is not, it’s just not a good place.” Kryger said.


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TARGET 8: Critics question treatment of animals at local shelter https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-critics-question-treatment-of-animals-at-local-shelter/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-critics-question-treatment-of-animals-at-local-shelter/ Target 8 Wed, 17 Apr 2019 12:40:44 PM Alex Arger, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Critics question treatment of animals at local shelter

NEW BLOOMFIELD - Complaints, inspections and social media outcry surround Callaway Hills Animal Shelter.

This KOMU 8 Target 8 investigation focused on the experiences of those who have volunteered or tried to adopt from Callaway Hills.

Sandy Hempe decided to volunteer at Callaway Hills after her dog passed away.

"I just needed something to do with dogs," Hempe said. "I had heard about them, the area's only no-kill shelter at the time. I couldn't volunteer with a shelter that put dogs down."

Hempe said she did a little bit of everything at the shelter. After volunteering for nine years, she said it eventually became her life.

After a while, she said she started noticing red flags.

"Most of the dogs spent all their time in cages," Hempe said. "They didn't want a volunteer program, they didn't want a foster program, so most of the dogs just lived in pens the whole time. They rarely got walked, there were only a couple of volunteers, the paid staff were actually not allowed to walk dogs."

Hempe became concerned the animals were getting no enrichment. She said the dogs were getting kennel crazy and unadoptable, so she brought up her concerns to the manager at the time.

She said she was told to never come back.

"I said some things that I felt needed to be said," Hempe said. "The animals were getting more and more unadoptable because they weren't getting any attention, no enrichment, no grooming. That basically it was just becoming a place to warehouse dogs and that they needed to let them go."

KOMU previously spoke to owner, Lenore "Tony" Weldon, after a protest happened outside her shelter. Protestors claimed the animals were not taken care of properly during the winter's frigid weather, but Weldon said they did the best they could.

"We took care of it by extra straw, there are tarps, the main thing was the wind chill that was so damaging but we can honestly say no dogs suffered here, and we had no problems," Weldon said.

As for conditions, Weldon said the shelter works to always be up to standard.

"We know the regulations, and we pretty much have a good handle on them," Weldon said. "We try to comply with them, and when we're not in compliance, we get in compliance."

However, public complaints to the Department of Agriculture prompted investigations. Those investigations lead to more frequent, unannounced visits.

Some details from complaints to the department include:

"Animals are not provided proper pest preventatives, the owners almost refuse to adopt these poor pets out and keep them in horrible conditions. It seems to be almost a hoarding situation... THE ANIMALS NEED HELP!!!!!!"

"I went there to look at the facility. It reeked of feces. No bedding seen in any kennel... Some of the dogs showed fear and frustration of humans... I had NO IDEA how horrible they were living."

"I could see fleas crawling on all the cats. When I asked about flea treatment, I was told that several of the cats were semi-feral so since they couldn't treat them all it was a waste of time to treat any of them."

"Chewed wood, sharp/jagged metal on the enclosures, green moss/mold growing on the wood, very large food bowls heaping with food... dogs on nothing but gravel in 90+ degree heat."

In the investigations that followed these complaints, some claims were substantiated like chewed surfaces not adequately cleaned, growth in water bowls, rodent droppings in food storage areas, lack of an effective flea program and in June of 2017, there was no veterinary care program available to review.

The Department of Agriculture checks on the substantiated claims with inspections. Most recently, the inspection listed 34 adult cats and 56 adult dogs at Callaway Hills. Main problems the shelter continuously faces is having improper identification cards attached to enclosures and not having animals up to date on vaccinations.

As for the amount of dogs in the shelter, Weldon said the problem is the amount of dogs dumped at the shelter, and they have no where else to take them.

"The yards where the dogs are housed now were meant to be exercise yards for dogs that were in kennels to be turned out during the day, but we ran out of housing and dogs are constantly dumped on us."

However, many people think this issue is also because the shelter rarely adopts out its animals.

"There were so many problems with them letting people adopt out animals," Hempe said. "We'd have these applications of people with good vet references, nice people wanting to give an animal a good home, and they'd be turned down over and over and over again."

Hempe said she processed most of the applications when she volunteered there. She said applicants had to list where they lived, where they intended to keep the dog, if they had a fenced in yard and more. She said applicants had to have veterinary and personal references, too.

She said it was an automatic no if the person did not have a fenced in yard or if they had never owned a pet before.

"Not having a dog doesn't mean you can't walk a dog on a leash," Hempe said. "And as for first time pet owners, it's good that they want to adopt a pet, and it's good that they want to get one from a shelter rather than buy one somewhere. I did not understand the reasoning there."

One person who was turned away is Arin Vanloo. Vanloo has been a groomer for 21 years and has eight dogs of her own, while fostering others.

She tried to adopt a dog named Payton in 2017, but Payton is still at Callaway Hills.

"I had all the qualifications I needed I felt, but they just don't want to give them up," Vanloo said. "They just don't want to turn them lose for some reason, and we don't know why."

Weldon said many people take it personally when they're turned away, but she said they shouldn't.

"Often, its just their living circumstances is not appropriate for a dog we know is likely to bolt out the door," Weldon said. "Were just trying to do the best for the dogs, and the thing we don't want is to adopt a dog out and then they have to get rid of it."

However, Lisa Reiber disagrees.

Reiber took her dog to Callaway Hills while going through a divorce. She thought he could do better in a different home, but she almost immediately regretted it.

"I went back there and I begged them to let me have him back, and they wouldn't, they said I had to fill out another application and wait," Reiber said. "So I filled out an application and I waited and they never called me so I kept calling them. They never returned my calls, they refused to talk to me."

She said after waiting too long, she went to the shelter on Christmas Eve 2017. She said it was cold, he was shivering and his gate was unlocked.

"I took him. And I took him home. And well they called the police and I was arrested, and they took Jack away from me and it ripped my soul out because I let him down. I gave him hope that he was going to have a life," Reiber said.

After not seeing Jack for more than a year, she decided to go back to Callaway Hills. Staff would not let her see him because the shelter is now open by appointment only, but she went to his cage and petted him anyway.

Staff asked Reiber to leave and wouldn't let her make an appointment to see him.

"I just want him to come home. He looks terrible," Reiber said.

Reiber said she'll never stop fighting to adopt Jack out of Callaway Hills.

Vanloo said she hopes the animals can get out of their cages and get into homes as soon as possible.

Hempe, Vanloo and Reiber said they don't want the shelter shut down; they just want more action to be taken to give the animals good homes and living conditions.

"They can feed them and maybe give them a pat on the head daily but thats not a life," Vanloo said. "Just because they are a no kill shelter doesnt mean that it should be no life."


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TARGET 8: Osage Beach aldermen vote down new fireworks bill https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-osage-beach-aldermen-vote-down-new-fireworks-bill/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-osage-beach-aldermen-vote-down-new-fireworks-bill/ Target 8 Sun, 14 Apr 2019 5:51:45 PM Daniel Perreault, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Osage Beach aldermen vote down new fireworks bill

OSAGE BEACH - The Osage Beach Board of Alderman denied the passage of a new bill Thursday night that would have allowed the purchase and use of fireworks for a three-week period around the Fourth of July.

Ahead of the vote, some residents were worried emergency response times might suffer as a result, while some city representatives were open to it.

“As I talked to folks who had been here quite a long time, no one was quite sure why fireworks were banned,” Osage Beach Ward 3 Alderman Richard Ross said. “We should have the discussion then if we are not sure why and people felt they did not see a reason why we should not have fireworks.”

Ross was one of two alderman who voted for the ordinance, before it ultimately failed 4-2. 

Despite being illegal in the city, Osage Beach Police Chief Todd Davis said the department responds to between 20, and 30 fireworks calls each year.

“Currently, we are responding to them anyway,” Davis said. “when we do go tell people it is against the law to shoot off the fireworks inside the city limits, they’re like, ‘Oh, we didn’t know.’”

Davis said officers have generally given out a warning for the first offense and then issue tickets the next time. Since 2014, Davis said the department has given out four tickets for fireworks violations.

KOMU 8 News obtained video from June 2017 showing a member of the Board of Aldermen, Ward 1 Alderman Greg Massey shooting fireworks off his dock. In a phone interview, Massey confirmed it was him in the video, but said it was one of his friends who actually shot off the fireworks.

Massey said they shot two fireworks off of his dock, but immediately stopped after one of them malfunctioned. He said the event made him realize it is not safe to shoot fireworks off of a dock.

"I'll be the first to tell you it is not safe," Massey told KOMU 8 News. "There will never be another firework shot off my dock."

Neighbors told KOMU 8 News they called the police on Massey that night for shooting off fireworks. Massey said police did come to his house that night and gave him a warning. Osage Beach Police Lt. Michael O’Day told KOMU 8 News there was no police report filed. Many neighbors who were concerned about the new ordinance pointed to the video of Alderman Massey as what worried them about the ordinance.

They worry legalizing fireworks could create an increased strain on the emergency services.

At the Board of Alderman meeting on April 4th, Osage County Fire Protection District Chief Jeffrey Dorhauer said the district was consulted about the new ordinance and offered recommendations based on what has worked for other cities.

“I went to the Osage Beach Fire Protection District which covers Osage Beach and ask if there was any concerns on their part based on how we wrote the ordinance,” Ross said. “They had some recommendations for how to word it so they could enforce it and make sure if we assume that the Osage Beach Fire Protection District is the right person to monitor and enforce this, that they could do it effectively.”

Chief Davis said he too was consulted about the bill and believes his department can handle it.

“We may get a few more with it being legal inside the city, we may have more instances of the calls coming in, but we are staffed to handle it,” he said. “I feel our staff can handle it.”

Davis said his biggest concern about the new ordinance is the likelihood of property damage from fireworks. “They are not a big nascence for us, what would be more concerning is them landing on people’s houses, catching somebody else’s property on fire,” Davis said. “We do get some noise complaints, but it is not any more overwhelming that some of the other calls that we get.”

The ordinance makes it illegal to damage someone else’s property, but some residents told KOMU 8 News it is inevitable with houses being built close together.

The ordinance specifically prohibits the use of fireworks within 300 feet of certain buildings such as churches and schools.

“Residential area, there are no restrictions,” Ross said. “Gas stations, firework stands, there are some buildings that you can’t be as close to.”

It also would ban shooting fireworks off the deck or roof of a house or condo.

Another common criticism of the ordinance is how it deviates from the policies currently in place in surrounding cities. Lake Ozark and Sunrise Beach both ban the use and sale of fireworks within the city entirely. Eldon and Linn Creek allow the sale use of fireworks for two days each year, July 3 and 4. The proposed Osage Beach ordinance would legalize the sale and use of fireworks for three weeks, from June 20 to July 10.

“The reason for that was to accommodate guests who come down here for one to two weeks during the Fourth of July season and give them the ability to enjoy fireworks around the Fourth of July with their families and still work well within their vacation schedules,” Ross said.

As the Osage Beach Board of Aldermen move forward with the fireworks ordinance, there still have some questions to answer relating to the enforcement of the law. Chief Davis said he had an ongoing discussion with Osage Beach Mayor John Olivarri on the topic.

“The shooting out of hours and everything would fall underneath the police department,” Davis said. “As far as the sales to minors because our ordinance has 18 years of age, that would also fall underneath the police department because we are going to be the ones that see that.”

The Board of Aldermen is expected to discuss the fireworks ordinance again at their next meeting on Thursday, April 18.


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TARGET 8 FACT CHECK: Columbia Mayor Treece hits the airwaves https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-columbia-mayor-treece-hits-the-airwaves/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-columbia-mayor-treece-hits-the-airwaves/ Target 8 Wed, 20 Mar 2019 5:44:37 PM Ethan Stein, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 FACT CHECK: Columbia Mayor Treece hits the airwaves

COLUMBIA - Columbia’s mayoral race has moved to television as the municipal election on April 2 moves closer.

Mayor Brian Treece has created two different ads for television. Treece discusses his accomplishments as mayor citing seven different articles in the 30-second ad called “Honor.” KOMU 8 took a deeper dive into the claims made in the incumbent's first ad.

Claim: “I led the fight to prevent politicians from raising your taxes. We’ve added new police officers to keep out community safe.”

Treece did vote against raising property taxes in August 2018, according to city council meeting minutes. However, the city’s property tax rate is one of the lowest in the state, when compared to other cities, and hasn’t been raised in more than 15 years.

Former city manager Mike Matthes wanted to raise the property tax two percent in 2018.  The city wanted to spend additional revenue on departments and projects across the city.  

One project against which Treece voted was a new fire station in southwest Columbia.  The new station would have cut response times for emergency calls. The fire department has been asking for a tenth station since 2013.   

The proposed tax increase would cost seven dollars for those with a $150,000 home, according to past KOMU 8 reporting.

The city is planning on building a new fire station after purchasing land near Scott Boulevard and Route KK this month.

The Columbia Police Department has added officers, however it has a net loss of officers over the past five years.  

The department has added 42 officers over the last five years. However, 68 police officers left over the same time period.

52 of 68 Police Officers resigned, the other 16 retired.

The 30-second ad discusses the building of a new police substation in northeast Columbia. However, that substation was made possible because of a donation from the Columbia Insurance Group.

Violent crime has both increased and decreased under Treece, depending on the year examined.

According to the Columbia Police Department, violent crime is defined as criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Verdict: We find this claim needs context

Claim: “A 1,000 new jobs.”

Treece’s claim comes from a story published by the Columbia Daily Tribune in October 2018. The article uses a report from two University of Missouri researchers called "On the Columbia Economy: A Comparison across Missouri and across Companies."

The report calls Columbia “the brightest spot within Missouri’s metro areas with a strong performing economy since 2000.” The researchers attribute employment growth to Columbia’s four largest employers: the University of Missouri, University Hospitals and Clinics, Columbia Public Schools and Veterans United Home Loans.

According to the report, nearly half of new payroll employees in Columbia were added by those four largest employers. The report also said Veterans United Home Loans accounts for roughly one in every five of the new payroll employees added each year.

Verdict: We find this claim needs context

Claim: “And made an open, honest, transparent government the hallmark of our city.”

Treece did make data more accessible through a citizen transparency portal. The portal costs $25,000 each year.

The citizen transparency portal acts as an open checkbook for the city. The portal has detailed reports of all financial records including expenditures, revenues, vendor payments and payroll details.

The portal currently has all of the financial data from the 2017, 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

Treece has also asked for an independent city audit multiple times.

Verdict: We find this claim true


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TARGET 8: Following the money in the Columbia mayoral race https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-following-the-money-in-the-columbia-mayoral-race/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-following-the-money-in-the-columbia-mayoral-race/ Target 8 Thu, 14 Mar 2019 10:27:24 AM Abby Dodge, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Following the money in the Columbia mayoral race

COLUMBIA – Incumbent Mayor Brian Treece and his opponent Chris Kelly have been squaring off over money in advance of the April 2 election.

KOMU took a deep dive into the finances of both campaigns, finding stark differences.

HOW FUNDRAISING MEASURES UP

In a Tuesday interview, Kelley said, “I don’t have anywhere near as much money as he has, but I have a whole lot more Boone County people.” 

Kelly’s financial report shows there are two donations from outside of Missouri. James Haines Jr. donated $1,000 from Lawrence, KS.  

“Jim Hayes is my friend of 45 years who I canoe with,” Kelly said.

The second out-of-state donation is from Robin Rotman. Originally Kelly did not know who Rotman was, but later called KOMU and said her $100 donation came from her bank in Lake Bluff, IL. She now lives in Boone County.  

Based on each campaign’s filings with the Missouri Ethic Commission, 40 days before the general election, Treece’s campaign reported it had raised $51,840 and Kelly reported $19,060.

The average donation for the Kelly campaign was $186.86, while the median donation was $100. For Treece, the average donation was higher, at $476.67, but the median donation was the same as Kelly's at $100.

Kelly said the extra money raised by Treece is being used, in part, to sling mud.

“When you have that kind of big money, it doesn’t contribute to public understanding or coming to know the positions of the candidates,” Kelly said. “It only contributes to effectively smear.”

Treece said the amount of money he received proves his impact on Columbia thus far.

“I think it’s an outpouring of support,” Treece said. “I think it supports the broad base of support I’ve received based on my accomplishments over the last three years.”

Treece's fundraising so far is on track with with the first time he ran for mayor.

“I’m proud of the campaign I’ve run and the amount of support I’ve received. Sometimes that takes financial support, sometimes that’s in the form of volunteers,” he said.

RETURNING MONEY

Kelly’s original filing stated he raised $20,010, but he had to delete a $950 in-kind contribution from Columbia Marketing Group. His amended report, submitted Tuesday evening, says the $950 will be marked as a monetary expenditure in the next report.

“At worst, we made a $950 technical violation, as compared to the acceptance of tens of thousands of dollars in PAC checks,” Kelly said.

The mistake was brought to the attention of the Missouri Ethics Commission by the treasurer of “Treece for Mayor,” Chuck Graham.

In a previous KOMU story, Graham said Kelly is in the wrong.  

"One of two things is true. Either he knew it was an illegal contribution and took it, or he was ignorant of the law and ignorance of the law is no excuse, especially for a judge," Graham said.

“The contribution from Columbia Marketing Group conceals the actual source of the contribution,” the complaint said.

When KOMU brought Kelly’s attention to that specific line in the complaint, he responded saying it was “silly.”

“Because it says right on it who it’s from,” Kelly said.

Columbia Marketing Group is not register with the Secretary of State’s office. 

The Missouri Ethics Commission will not comment on whether there is or is not an investigation.

TREECE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH PAC’S  

When KOMU sat down with Kelly Tuesday he pointed to Treece’s finances.

Of the 108 donations Treece reported, 18 came from PAC’s or other organizations. Eight of those came from local Teamsters groups throughout the state.

The largest donation Treece received is from the CHIPP Political Account. It donated $10,000 in December of last year.

Carpenters Help in the Political Process is registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission as a political action committee. The group was established in 1900.

According to CHIPP’s most recent 2019 January quarterly report it made more than $1.8 million in contributions during that quarter.

CHIPP’s pubic relations and marketing director said what it donated to Treece is "comparable" to how much its given to other mayoral campaigns.

Treece also accepted money from CHIPP in 2016, taking $10,000 from the PAC.

When we asked Treece if taking donations from PAC’s is contradictory to his campaign slogan “open, honest and transparent,” Treece said, “Not at all.”

“That’s the campaign finance law that we have now, that required corporations to contribute to a PAC to support political candidates,” he said.

The only out-of-state donation to Treece’s campaign was $1,000, which came from John Ashford in Alexandria, Virginia. Ashford is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of The Hawthorne Group. 

The group describes itself as an international public affairs and public relations firm. Ashford’s biography said the Kansas City Star once called him a “political kingmaker”.

But Treece said Ashford's support has nothing to do with that. He said he grew up in the same town as Ashford.


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TARGET 8: Transportation Development Districts tax stores without regulation https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-transportation-development-districts-tax-stores-without-regulation/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-transportation-development-districts-tax-stores-without-regulation/ Target 8 Wed, 12 Dec 2018 8:38:53 PM Jared Austin, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Transportation Development Districts tax stores without regulation

COLUMBIA - While most people are familiar with sales taxes and city taxes, they may not know they are paying additional money to cover roads and infrastructure.

It's called a Transportation Development District, or TDD, tax.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway did an audit on these taxes a couple of years ago.

"What we found was really concerning," she said. 

Galloway said her biggest concern is that the tax puts all of the taxing power in the hands of property owners. 

Those property owners can tax shopping centers without public knowledge of the TDD.

"To fund a private parking lot or a private development that is already in existence, and people are paying sales tax to fund that for the property owner or developer, that's where people get mad," she said. 

According to the state auditor's report, Galloway found taxpayers are on the hook for $971 million for Transportation Development Districts in Missouri.

Only 60 percent of the TDD's released financial disclosure forms.

Galloway said, "Even a billion dollars is a low estimate. There were several that did not have that information, but there are outstanding project costs to be repaid in sales tax that voters did not approve."

The current TDD law says, for the tax to be collected, the district must include no fewer than 50 voters.

Property owners and developers are finding ways to collect the tax without following the law, Galloway said.

The law also says, if the district has zero voters, the property owner can sign a petition to start collected the tax. 

What most property owners are doing is drawing the district lines to include zero voters in the district. This allows them to sign the petition to collect the tax.

"Voters are typically not voting on these sales tax. They can just be charged and sometimes in perpetuity. Many times citizens have no idea they are paying these sales tax," Galloway said. 

Transportation Development Districts are also having trouble with borders and where property owners can charge the tax.

"Our report found that 42 percent of TDD's are collecting and remitting incorrect sales tax cause there's not defined borders," she said. 

The TDD tax has a maximum of a 1 percent tax on a total transaction within the district boundaries. 

Galloway's audit in 2017 reported all districts in Missouri have at least one business that violated the law by not notifying customers of a sales tax change and 58 percent did not include a single business. 

According to Galloway, property owners are able to get away with this tax without regulation. 

Galloway's evaluation of TDD's in Missouri said the tax does not include adequate safeguards to protect the public when the TDD is used as an economic tool.

Galloway also reported the tax is levied long after projects are done and property owners can receive a large amount of taxpayer money after the TDD debt is paid off. 

There are numerous TDD's in Missouri, including 13 in Columbia, 13 in Kansas City and 12 in St. Louis, with three more in Jefferson City.

Numerous property owners are involved in TDD's with the most notable being Stan Kroenke, who owns the Rams, formerly of St. Louis.

Kroenke holds stake in four of the 13 TDD's in Columbia. The four TDD's collected 76 percent of all TDD tax in Columbia in 2017,with the highest in Columbia and the 8th highest in the state on Conley Road. 

The Conley Road TDD collected almost $2.5 million in 2017. The money helped fund the construction project connecting Conley Road to Business Loop 70.

The Kroenke Group also paid for the Columbia Country Club's reconstruction as the Conley Road construction project cut into the golf course. 

The Kroenke Group started collecting the TDD tax in 2005 and is still collecting the tax although the project is completed. 

Galloway is looking for property owners to be more clear about TDD's in specific areas.

"These are political subdivisions. These are public bodies with public boards. There should be more accountability and transparency around these specified taxing districts," she said.

A new law was passed regarding TDD's in the last legislative session. It created  fine against property owners who don't disclose their financial request documents. 

Galloway said she wants more action taken with TDD laws this spring in the legislative session. 


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TARGET 8: Documents say teacher enticed minor using Snapchat https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-documents-say-teacher-enticed-minor-using-snapchat/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-documents-say-teacher-enticed-minor-using-snapchat/ Target 8 Thu, 13 Dec 2018 9:13:46 PM Monica Harkins, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Documents say teacher enticed minor using Snapchat

FULTON - As the digital age advances, connecting with friends on social media is easy, but the caveat is that there are more outlets for sex offenders to reach minors.

In Fulton, court documents said Teneil Stevenson enticed a student via Snapchat at Fulton Middle School. He coached track and taught at the school during the 2017-2018 school year. He was the student's track coach.

According to the probable cause statement, Stevenson began with casual messages focusing on the student's track performance during the spring of 2018.

The report states that, later that semester, Stevenson sent the student a photo of himself fully clothed, that appeared to be taken in Fulton Middle School. He circled his groin in the photo and included a caption on the photo referencing his groin, the statement said. 

One Snapchat feature that makes the application unique is its disappearing photos and messages. That makes it difficult to get hard evidence in an enticement of a minor case.

However, message recipients can elect to take a snapshot of the picture or message, which could later be used in a case.

KOMU 8 News attempted to reach Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson about whether the student had snapshots of the incidents reported. KOMU 8 News called Wilson three times, but he never responded.

Boone County Sheriff's Department Cyber Crime detective Tracy Perkins said it's better if there are snapshots, but law enforcement can still work with companies like Snapchat to secure data from their backlogs.

"But if we don't know about the incident when it does happen, then time is in essence and that information is more likely going to be wiped away from the server," Perkins said. "So, it's kind of a double-edged sword."

In Stevenson's case, court documents show the Snapchat messages to the student became more suggestive and sexual in nature in the summer of 2018.

Meanwhile, Stevenson switched jobs from Fulton Middle School to Southern Boone High School to coach football for the 2018-2019 school year. At the same time, the student graduated from middle school to high school.

The probable cause statement said the student didn't report the enticement until Aug. 31 when Stevenson messaged them saying he hoped to see them at the Fulton versus Southern Boone High School football game.

Perkins said Missouri law has not caught up with digital media, as far as enticement of a minor charges go. 

"We're actually pretty far behind when it comes to law regulations in regards to certain types of crimes," he said.

In the case of enticement of a minor, the law only protects minors under the age of 15 enticed by a person over the age of 21. So, there is what Perkins calls a gray area.

Perkins said she wishes her advice to parents could be to leave phones out of the question all together, but she said she knows that's unrealistic in 2018. 

Instead, parents need to educate their child on the realities of social media, she said, even about less serious offenses, like cyber-bullying.

"Transfer that information back over to the child and let them know that there's laws that says you can't do this, you can't do that," Perkins said. 

She encouraged parents to create an open space so the child feels safe to report it if a crime does take place. 

Stevenson was placed on administrative leave from Southern Boone High School on Sept. 4 2018.

On Oct. 16, he pleaded not guilty. He formally resigned from the school a week later. 

His trial was set for Feb. 20 in Boone County.


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TARGET 8: Residents of mobile home park don't know if their water is clean https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-residents-of-mobile-home-park-don-t-know-if-their-water-is-clean/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-residents-of-mobile-home-park-don-t-know-if-their-water-is-clean/ Target 8 Thu, 13 Dec 2018 2:07:04 PM Johannah Grenaway, KOMU 8 News TARGET 8: Residents of mobile home park don't know if their water is clean

PETTIS COUNTY - Tom Belsha has lived on Crestview Drive for twenty years. He has been questioning the quality of his water for 10.

"I don't drink it. I only drink bottled water and I boil water that I'm going to cook with," he said. 

Records show Crestview Mobile Home Park has a record of not testing its water system. Belsha said, for all he knows, he could be drinking garbage.

"It should be called Trash View Drive, not Crestview Drive," he said.

The park is privately-owned and a self-contained water system. Therefore, the Department of Natural Resources has no way to force it to test its water. All the department can do is continue to encourage management, help with financial assistance if needed and reach out to the attorney general for enforcement. 

The Safe Water Drinking Act. It requires monitoring once a month and maximum contaminant levels.

According to data from the Department of Natural Resources, Crestview Mobile Home Park has only tested twice this year. Both of those times, the sample was only collected because staff from the the department went to the site. Responsibility for testing lies on the property management.

Todd Eichholz, environmental specialist with the department, said every water system in Missouri tests monthly for bacteria to determine if the water is safe or not, but Crestview has struggled to sample its water.

"It's basically related to the technical and financial capability of that water system, so they have been in perpetual non-compliance and, you know, there has been some formal encouragement action to try to get them into compliance," he said.

Eichholz said trained officials simply take a sample of 100 milliliters from the tap and send it into a lab for results, which come in about a week. 

Crestview would have to hire such an official, who would drop off and pick a kit at The Pettis County Health Department. County records match the Department of Natural Resource's, showing the last time Crestview sampled its water was in June. 

Vickie Shackles, who is listed as Crestview's administrative contact on department data, said she tests the water regularly and has the records to prove it.

However, when asked to share her documentation and comment, she declined. Belsha said he is not surprised. 

"See, that tells you about how honest they are right there. That's why I don't believe them," Belsha said. "I don't believe anything anybody says out here unless they can prove it."

He shared documents, dating back to 2009, showing he has reached out to the prosecuting attorney, the sheriff, the Department of Natural Recourses and then-Attorney General Chris Koster.

Documentation from Koster's office said it wanted to work with the property and implored it to legally become a part of a home owner's association. However, Crestview still is not a legal member of an HOA and remains a chronic monitoring violator in 2018.

Current Attorney General Josh Hawley's office did not respond to inquires about Crestview.

The Department of Natural Resources can't do much more than notify the attorney general, but Eichholz said Missouri water is clean for the most part. 

"From the standpoint of how often a sample is positive for E Coli and such, it's very rare. So we have very safe water," Eichholz said. "But, at the same time, we do have to prove it. Perpetual non-compliance is not an option."

Belsha said he is concerned about not knowing if or when the water is safe to drink and wonders if it has made people sick. He said he doubts there will be change.

"I just gave up on it," he said. "I don't care anymore. I'm surprised to see you, somebody that cares."


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Target 8: Missouri phone users wage unceasing battle with telemarketers https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-missouri-phone-users-wage-unceasing-battle-with-telemarketers/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-missouri-phone-users-wage-unceasing-battle-with-telemarketers/ Target 8 Fri, 7 Dec 2018 2:43:49 PM David Estrada, KOMU 8 Reporter Target 8: Missouri phone users wage unceasing battle with telemarketers

HALLSVILLE – Records from the Missouri Attorney General's Office show Missourians requested 40,403 telephone numbers be added to the state 'No-Call' list, between Sept. 20, 2017 and Sept. 20, 2018.

In the same time frame, phone users in the state submitted 49,776 complaints claiming that a telemarketer had violated the No-Call list law.

The No-Call list is a compilation of residential and cell phone numbers of Missourians who have indicated they don't want to be called by telemarketers. 

As long as someone keeps the same phone number, their registration in the state No-Call list never expires. 

Also, there is no cost for people to register on the list. After someone completes the registration, it could take up to three months before telemarketers add the number to their own no-call lists. 

Jeff Asbury, who owns Murphy's Motor Service in Hallsville, is one of the people who filed complaints against telemarketers.

"They just call any time during the day," he said. "They might call once a day, they might call three times in the same day, they may not call until next week, they may call back three times again in the same day, you never know."

Asbury said his problem with telemarketing calls has been going on for a couple of years, but it wasn't until April when he started to keep a log of those unwanted calls.

"I've sent letters to the Attorney General's Office, they reply back, 'we'll look at it.' I've heard nothing from them," he said. "And these people, they just keep calling."

Depending on which law is violated, "a telemarketer faces a civil penalty up to either $1,000 or $5,000 for each knowing violation," according to the state attorney general's website.

Consumer law professor Amy Schmitz said both federal and state no-call lists could help people reduce the number of telemarketing calls they receive but not stop all of them.

"Legitimate telemarketers actually do abide by those lists," she said. "What you're talking about are scammers who are not legitimate telemarketers, who don't care about those lists and aren't even going to look at it. It's very difficult because they feel as so they're untouchable."

Missouri law allows certain telemarketers to continue calling consumers on the No-Call list. According to the state attorney general’s website. Those exceptions include:

  • Telemarketers who have a current business relationship with those consumers
  • Telemarketers that consumers have expressly invited or permitted to call
  • Certain non-profit groups if the person calling is a member of the group
  • People calling on a referral or working from their homes, or people licensed for a trade of profession who are setting or attempting to set an appointment

Schmitz said, another challenge to stop telemarketing calls is that some of those come from abroad.

"How do you establish jurisdiction and go after somebody in another country," she said. "That's incredibly difficult for prosecutors."

Earlier this year, the Senate Commerce Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings on robocalls and caller ID spoofing.

Based on those hearings, the National Law Review reported that from the more than three billion robocalls placed in March, nationwide, "about a quarter of these calls are scam calls."

Michelle Gleba, regional director of Columbia's Better Business Bureau, said it could be hard for people to identify scammers because many of them appear to be legitimate charities, businesses and organizations.

"Our best advice is to not answer a phone line if you don't recognize the number," she said.

Asbury said that may not be something business owners could actually do.

"When I call a business and I call the phone number listed and they don't answer, you kind of question why aren't they there at nine o'clock in the morning, they should be open for business," he said.

Robocalls advancing with technology

Schmitz said telemarketers are using technology to make it more difficult for users to differentiate robocalls from real phone calls. 

"A lot of the information is spoofed, so when you look at your phone it would look as though it's coming from a local number, but in fact that's completely spoofed and it's not truly where the number's coming from," she said.

Schmitz said cellphones make it harder for people to screen out the calls they decide to answer.

"For example, many of your friends here in Columbia, Missouri, may have numbers from all over the country, so it's very difficult to decipher when a phone call is from someone that you don’t know," she said.

Schmitz said, in some cases, robocallers might even spoof someone's own number, making it look like if you were calling yourself.

Asbury said, "They look like local calls. If I don't answer, it may be a potential customer that I am not attending to, so it’s kind of a catch-22."

Gleba said she doesn't answer phone calls when she doesn't recognize the numbers, even when they have the same area code and prefix of her own number.

"Nine times out of 10 a message is not left, so that tells me it probably was a scam call," she said. "If it was a legitimate call then usually I'd get a message."

Telemarketing calls taking a toll on consumers

Asbury said he mainly receives calls from people trying to get him to update his Google listing.

"It's a nuisance, they call and especially when I'm trying to talk to a customer or I’m trying to work and they interrupt that and it's very frustrating," he said.

The robotic, telemarketing calls could even result in higher phone bills for consumers.

"If you are somebody who actually pays for incoming calls and that adds to the amount of calls on your list it affects your bill," Schmitz said. "Next, what if this is a scammer that's actually adding charges to your telephone bill (under the auspices that you supposedly had agreed to it), something called 'cramming.' This is another very significant impact on a consumer."

What can phone users do?

Asbury said he has tried different things to stop receiving unwanted telemarketing calls.

"I have pressed two, I have pressed seven to be removed, whatever they say, I've done that," he said. "Even if you go through the process and listen to them and physically speak to a live person and asked to be removed it still doesn't. I still keep getting these calls."

Experts say pressing any button during the phone call and just even answering the call could turn against you in the battle with telemarketing calls.

"How do you know that that's real", Schmitz said. "What if you press two and what that really means is that you just agreed to have some cell service that you don't want?"

Gleba said, "Simply by answering the phone call that alerts the scammer that you have an active line, so that opens you up to future phone calls. It also puts you on a list that scammers sell to other scammers alerting them that this is an active line."

Schmitz recommends consumers not to give away their phone number when they enter raffles or sweepstakes.

She also said there are certain subscription-based smartphone apps designed to identify and reduced the number of robocalls. Some of those are Truecaller, RoboKiller and Nomorobo.

The TRACED, or Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence, Act is a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress that would update the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

"Nothing would happen in this year, but it's possible that that would provide for greater resources for enforcement specifically and fines up to $10,000 if those perpetrators are caught," Schmitz said.

The TRACED Act would also "require call authentication and blocking technologies, and establish an interagency working group to explore further ways to prosecute robocallers who intentionally violate the law," according to the National Law Review.

But Schmitz said the battle against robotic, calls from telemarketers may not be over, no matter what new methods service providers employ.

"The minute they establish something using one technology, the scammers would find a new one," she said.


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TARGET 8: Columbia looks for new transmission line project plans, again https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-columbia-looks-for-new-transmission-line-project-plans-again/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-columbia-looks-for-new-transmission-line-project-plans-again/ Target 8 Sun, 25 Nov 2018 4:21:25 PM Evan Dodson, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Columbia looks for new transmission line project plans, again

COLUMBIA – After years of research, spending millions of dollars and even a public vote, the city of Columbia is no longer looking into previous plans to expand the electricity supply for the city's south and southwest sides.

The problem

The issue boils down to the fact that more people have moved to Columbia’s south side over the years, and within the last decade, the city found the current available electric resources aren’t meeting the area's growing needs.

John Conway is a retired professional engineer. He’s followed this project since it was first introduced in 2007. He said this is an issue that needs attention sooner, rather than later.

“It needs to get fixed now. It’s been planned out, it’s been engineered,” he said.  

Conway said the city has eight substations, which distribute electricity. Transmission lines run around Columbia to connect the substations and distribute electricity. He said aging substations add to the issue, too. He also said neglecting to fix the problem now could lead to possible black outs and even transmission explosions, which could be costly.

"If it's significant, then it might be days or weeks before we're able to restore power,” he said.

Conway said there are several doctors’ offices and assisted living facilities on the south side of Columbia, which require consistent power, 24 hours a day.

Previously studied plans to solve the problem

The city has looked at and invested in several plans to fix the electricity resource issues. One of these plans, called Option A, included building a new substation on the south side of town. Conway said this substation would have relieved the electric load from the current substations. A map of Option A shows the new substation connecting to other substations with new transmission lines.

City council voted to go further with Option A in July 2013 and residents voted to pay for the project in April 2015. But later in 2015, people living near the site of this new substation raised concerns, and were afraid the transmission lines and substation would decrease property values in the area. Residents also argued the new structures could be dangerous for the nearby elementary school, Mill Creek Elementary. A petition was started to stop the project, and the city council voted 4-3 to delay moving forward with Option A in January 2016.

Millions spent on previous plans

However, at that point, the city had already spent more than $7 million dollars on the land, research and equipment for Option A, which was no longer pursued. A report shows $2 million dollars of this was lost.

But Fifth Ward City Councilman Matt Pitzer said the rest of that money didn’t go to waste.

"The costs are either recoverable, or the equipment is being uses elsewhere," he said. 

Later in 2016, another plan was proposed to city council by Mayor Brian Treece, known as Option E. This option would have connected the city’s substations to the Ameren transmission lines that run across the state, as well as connect substations from the northeast side of town to the southwest side with new transmission lines.

After receiving the cost estimates from a records request for Option A and Option E, KOMU 8 News found that Option E would have cost about $10 million more dollars than the previous plan, Option A. 

Pitzer and Treece told KOMU 8 News Columbia Water and Light determined the city’s growth hasn’t met expectations, and the demand for electric resources isn’t as high as once thought.

Pitzer said the city is no longer pursing Options A or E.

"There's really no need to move forward with any of the options at this time," he said. 

Ryan Williams, the assistant director of Columbia Water and Light, said it's true the city's growth hasn't met expectations, but he said Options A and E aren't "completely off the table."

"Part of that is true, yes, the load has not grown to a point to require the transmission lines. Staff has never claimed that either of those projects are, you know, dead, if you will," he said. 

No future plans, as of now

Both Pitzer and Treece told KOMU 8 News the city appointed an Integrated Electric Resource and Master Plan Task Force to look into future options to fix the electric resource issues for the south and southwest sides of the city.

KOMU 8 News reached out to the chair of this task force, Rachel Hassani, and she said the task force does not currently have a plan to specifically address the issue. She said the task force is starting from scratch. The group will instead look at ways to improve electric needs for the entire city, and it’s not focusing on one section of Columbia at this time.

“We as a task force are gonna look at every capacity need that we have in the area, which would include all areas of the service territory,” she said.

Hassani said the task force will look into consulting firms for the city’s electricity needs starting in early 2019.

Is the city being transparent? 

Retired energy lawyer, Sarah Read, said the city isn’t being transparent with residents about the status on this project, and she said it comes down to city leadership. 

“I think the public deserves a much more open, straightforward and honest dialogue than what it’s been getting,” she said. “Honestly, transparency and accountability are all very important for the public trust in government and without trust, it is very difficult to solve and move through very complicated issues, like how do we meet our infrastructure needs.”

And Conway said the city isn’t providing voters with enough information.

“The voters need to be updated as to what progress is being made, and what options are being pursued,” he said.

But Pitzer said transparency isn't an issue. 

"I think we've been pretty transparent with the acknowledgment that this new planning process will replace, you know, all of the previous planning that has been done," he said. "We'll update and move forward from there."

Read said the city needs to address this issue now. She said this process has gone on too long.

“As a taxpayer, it’s frustrating to know that we have spent millions of dollars as a city and we’re no closer to insuring our electric service reliability than we were.”

She also said it all comes down to having enough electricity for her city.

“I am definitely concerned about loss of power. A loss of power, especially in the middle of the summer, could be quite costly to both individuals and businesses,” she said.

 


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TARGET 8: Urgent cares disguised as emergency rooms https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-urgent-cares-disguised-as-emergency-rooms/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-urgent-cares-disguised-as-emergency-rooms/ Target 8 Wed, 14 Nov 2018 1:16:26 PM Mercedes Mackay, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Urgent cares disguised as emergency rooms

COLUMBIA - People expect fast service, convenient location and easy access when they enter the doors of an Urgent Care. They don't expect a bill doubled in price.

KOMU 8 News received a bill from a patient of Mizzou Urgent Care where the numbers aren't lining up. 

A healthcare expert said urgent cares billing patients as if they went to an emergency room is not uncommon across the country. 

Brian's story

Brian Russell went to Mizzou Urgent Care on September 6. 

"I was diagnosed with having sinusitis," he said. 

Russell said the doctor prescribed him with a Z-Pak, antibiotics and an inhaler. 

"It was a very short visit. It wasn't really anything out of the ordinary," he said. 

A couple months later Russell received his bill from Mizzou Urgent Care.

"The total balance I have due is $165 whereas on my insurance card for an Urgent Care visit it's $75," he said. 

When the bill was sent to Russell's insurance company it was categorized under, "Medical Emergency Room."

"This is for all intensive purposes an urgent care. It says its an urgent care, there's signage all over the place when you walk in," he said. 

Russell went back and forth between his insurance company and the employees at Mizzou Urgent Care. 

"It was an unfortunate series of conversations that I had because quite literally the first conversation that I had, the individual I spoke with actually told me I had to take it with my insurance company and it had nothing to do with them," he said. 

Russell's insurance company told him it was how Mizzou Urgent Care was billing him. He then reached back out to Mizzou Urgent Care.

"That's when I started getting the runaround of, 'yeah we'll look into it.' You love that kind of response, it's the minimum expectation I would have hoped for," he said. 

It has now been two months and Russell still has a bill doubled in price. 

"It's frustrating because I know that it's not just me," he said. 

A lawyer says MU Health's billing is problematic

Mike Campbell is a Columbia lawyer and said he has had many clients who have expressed issues with incorrect billing. 

"There is an issue, I think, with the university billing process, yes," he said. 

Campbell said one of the major issues is the lack of easy access to MU's billing services. 

"They have these layers to make it really difficult to get in contact with someone inside the university's billing office," he said. 

Campbell said it needs to be fixed. 

"We are a community, we are a small community and University of Missouri is one of the largest employers of this community and you would think they would take an active step in ensuring that the people who come and receive their services are taken care of," he said. 

It is not just Mizzou Urgent Care

Dr. Eric Bricker is the Chief Medical Officer of Compass Professional Health Services and said he sees this all the time. 

"It happens all over the country. As you can imagine it's not by accident. It was a specific strategy to increase the income of the urgent care center," he said.

Compass Health Services helps patients navigate the healthcare system and it has members in all 50 states.  

"We have people contacting us all day, every day about the exact same thing," Bricker said. 

Bricker said this billing is tricky, common and legal. He said he has seen urgent care visits turn into a bill worth thousands of dollars. 

Bricker said they can do this in one of two ways:

  1. The urgent care will be affiliated with a hospital. It will bill through the hospital tax ID, which is like a license plate number for hospitals.
  2. The urgent care could be associated with an emergency room but could be an out-of-network urgent care, which costs more.

Bricker gives two options of what to do as consumers:

  1. Check with your insurance company before you're sick to see how they bill urgent care visits. Also, many insurance companies have an online list of in-network urgent care centers. 
  2. If you don't have time to do this before you walk in the door, ask an urgent care worker how they bill. Make sure to take their name and use that information just in case the billing doesn't match up. 

"I would say anytime you're receiving healthcare it should be assumed that your bill is going to be messed up until proven otherwise," Bricker said. 

KOMU 8 News reached out to Mizzou Urgent Care for a week talking to a spokesperson every work day asking if they would do an on interview with us about their billing. 

Mizzou Urgent Care responded by email initially when we asked about this type of billing and said, "When patients are seen at Urgent Care, their bills might have emergency services listed under the services provided, indicating the visit was urgent in nature. We understand this may be confusing to patients. MU Health Care currently is reviewing the way Urgent Care services are listed on patients' bills and exploring ways to minimize confusion."

After more days of back and forth, Mizzou Urgent Care sent KOMU 8 News an email stating what they initially said was false.

"As a rule, a patient visiting Urgent Care would not be billed for an Emergency Room visit. Furthermore, bills issued by MU Health Care for Urgent Care visits do not have wording related to emergency service and/or emergency room on the bill," they said.

Mizzou Urgent Care refused an on-camera interview. 

 


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TARGET 8 FACT CHECK: Ad attacks Hawley's job performance https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-ad-attacks-hawley-s-job-performance/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-ad-attacks-hawley-s-job-performance/ Target 8 Mon, 5 Nov 2018 5:54:53 PM Ian Nickens, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 FACT CHECK: Ad attacks Hawley's job performance

COLUMBIA - Ads have already gone after the Republican Senate candidate's views on healthcare coverage for pre-existing conditions and his political ambitions, and now one is going after his job performance as Missouri Attorney General, among other things.

Who made this ad?

The Senate Majority political action committee made this ad. Its goal is to win senate races for democrats. KOMU 8 has checked some of its work already.

Claim: Josh Hawley started his career at a lobbying firm in D.C. that represents big insurance companies.

Previous reporting shows Hawley did, in fact, used to work for a firm called Hogan Lovells, which has lobbied for companies like Aflac and USAA. His prior experience can be found on his LinkedIn page.
Verdict: True.
Claim: Hawley is backed by 18 million dollars in secret dark money.
KOMU 8 has already fact checked this one, too. Senate Majority clearly likes to hit the same notes in its ads. KOMU 8 has found the $18 million figure comes from two PACs: the Senate Leadership Fund and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Those PACs are not inherently dark money groups. They could become dark money groups, but then again so could the Senate Majority PAC.
Verdict: This claim is misleading and needs context.
Claim: Hawley flies on a lobbyist's plane.
The Senate Majority PAC got this information from Politico, which pulled up some public records and found Hawley did, in fact, fly on a lobbyist's plane. That money and the plane came from Travis and Kelly Brown.
The plane is registered to the Browns' mailing address. A quick look at the Missouri Ethics Commission's records shows Brown is a registered lobbyist.
Verdict: True.
Claim: The New York Times says Hawley's term as the Missouri Attorney General has been mismanaged and chaotic.
This description comes from an article in the New York Times. The article does say both of those things, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
This report says Hawley's office has been slow in investigations and some of Hawley's staff question if the A.G. put in 40 -hour work weeks. Hawley responded to the article the next day on a Springfield TV station, refuting the report and saying his office has been aggressive in its work.
Verdict: True.
Overall verdict: Mostly true.
The news sources it cited has the facts right, but claiming a connection to dark money is too vague; and difficult to prove.


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TARGET 8 Fact Check: Ad says McCaskill works across the aisle https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-ad-says-mccaskill-works-across-the-aisle/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-ad-says-mccaskill-works-across-the-aisle/ Target 8 Thu, 1 Nov 2018 3:39:39 PM Eric Graves TARGET 8 Fact Check: Ad says McCaskill works across the aisle

COLUMBIA - Senator Claire McCaskill has long claimed she is not a party line Democrat.

The senator says she can cross the aisle to compromise and does not always vote with her party.

Claim: Senator McCaskill is not a party line democrat.

Recently, in a radio ad the senator approved, two men call out Democrats, but say McCaskill works to cross party lines.

"And Claire's not afraid to stand up against her own party. Yup, and Claire's not one of those crazy Democrats. She works right in the middle and finds compromise," the ad said.

In an October debate in St. Louis, McCaskill and her Republican opponent Josh Hawley went back and forth on how often the senator votes.

"The fifth most likely senator to break with my party. That's because I look at every issue on its merits and not on a party line," said McCaskill.

Result: We find this claim needs context.

An article in a Washington, D.C. paper called Roll Call says McCaskill is the fourth most likely Democrat to side with President Trump.

But, ProPublica says McCaskill ranks eighth in terms of most likely democrats to vote against the party.
The same ProPublica ranking said McCaskill voted against her party 16.9 percent of the time, while the average senate democrat voted against the party 10 percent of the time.
Claim: McCaskill votes with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer 90% of the time.
At the same St. Louis debate, Hawley responded to McCaskill's bipartisan claim.
"Despite voting with Chuck Schumer 90% of the time, however. So apparently Chuck Schumer must be on that list," Hawley said.
McCaskill fired back with her own claim.
"And President Trump 50% of the time," she said.
Result: We find this claim needs context.
Both of these numbers are inflated.
ProPublica said McCaskill and Schumer agree 80 percent of the time and not 90 percent, like Hawley said.
On top of that, the blog FiveThirtyEight tracks lawmakers Trump score, how often someone votes in line with Trump's position.
McCaskill's Trump score is about 45 percent and not 50 percent like she said.


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TARGET 8 Fact Check: Ad claims McDowell got evicted from Springfield home https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-ad-claims-mcdowell-got-evicted-from-springfield-home/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-ad-claims-mcdowell-got-evicted-from-springfield-home/ Target 8 Mon, 29 Oct 2018 11:40:25 AM Emma Claybrook, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 Fact Check: Ad claims McDowell got evicted from Springfield home

COLUMBIA - A new attack ad paid for by incumbent state auditor, Nicole Galloway, claims her opponent, Saundra McDowell, is unfit to hold the position because of her track record with finances. The Galloway campaign pulled information for the ad from public records detailing several lawsuits against McDowell. 

Claim: Saundra McDowell has been sued seven times. 

This claim stems from several lawsuits in which McDowell and her husband did not pay for a number of things, ranging from furniture to rent to utilities. 

The couple either refused to pay or failed to pay the fees they promised. 

Result: We find this claim to be true.

KOMU 8 News found McDowell was sued six times in Missouri and once in Kansas.

According to public records obtained on Missouri Case Net, a judge dismissed one of the lawsuits, but found McDowell needed to pay in the six others. 

Claim: McDowell was evicted from her home in Springfield. 

On December 16, 2014, the McDowells entered into a lease with a landlord in Florida.

They agreed to pay $3,600 a month in rent on a home located at 5118 South Chelsea Avenue in Springfield. 

Rent payments were late for May and June of 2015. 

Result: We find this claim to be true. 

On July 8, 2015 the McDowells were evicted from their home. 

The final judgement said in part, "...Judgement is entered in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendants for immediate possession of the property described in the Petition: 5118 South Chelsea Avenue, Springfield, Greene County, Missouri, for which execution shall issue." 

According to a Google Maps search of the address, the photo of the home in the ad is the same home the McDowells lived in.

Claim: McDowell has so much debt, the state of Missouri is garnishing her wages.

Garnishing wages means the court orders your employer to withold part of your paycheck to send directly to the person you owe. 

Result: We find this claim to be true. 

In the case D&B Legal Services, Inc. vs. McDowell & McDowell LLC, McDowell had to pay Karen Nations more than $1,000 in fees for breaching a contract with Nations's company. 

According to Case Net, McDowell's wages were garnished starting in July of 2015. The last garnishment reported in the docket entries was from May 10, 2018. 

Claim: McDowell "can't even balance her household checkbook, much less stand guard over billions in state expenditures". 

The ad quotes a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial opinion article that slams McDowell and the Republican Party's nomination. 

Result: We find this claim needs context and is misleading.

The editorial does say what the ad quotes, "McDowell, 38, a lawyer and military veteran, can’t seem to balance her household checkbook, much less stand guard over billions of dollars in state expenditures." 

KOMU 8 News finds this misleading because the article is an opinion piece not a news article. 

Claim: Galloway found over $300 million in government waste resulting in 37 criminal counts during her time as auditor. 

These claims come from the official 2017 State Auditor's report and numbers reported on the official Missouri State Auditor's website. 

According to the Galloway campaign, these numbers are compiled by auditors and executive staff in the auditor's office. 

Result: We find these claims to be true. 

According to data provided by the State Auditor's office, since her time in office, Galloway has uncovered $345,714,523 in waste, fraud and mismanagement of funds.

Some of the biggest numbers from audits include cases from the city of Joplin, the Missouri Department of Higher Education and the Putnum County Memorial Hospital. 

The 2017 State Auditor's report cites 30 criminal counts because of Galloway's audits. Additional data from the State Auditor's office details these counts, including seven more from 2018. 

The charges range from stealing to forgery to violations of ethics rules. 

KOMU 8 News reached out to both McDowell and Galloway's campaigns. 

A spokesperson for McDowell emailed a statement right before air time on Monday. The statement denied the ad's claims and touted a plan that would track every dollar the government spends. 

Galloway press contact Grace Haun responded saying quote, "I'll let the ad speak for itself." 

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the McDowell campaign's response to the fact check of the ad.)


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TARGET 8 Fact Check: Ad questions Hawley's loyalties https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-ad-questions-hawley-s-loyalties/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-ad-questions-hawley-s-loyalties/ Target 8 Wed, 24 Oct 2018 2:53:39 PM Blake Sammann, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 Fact Check: Ad questions Hawley's loyalties

COLUMBIA - Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley continues to face attacks for his stance on the Affordable Care Act.

An ad by the Senate Majority PAC paints Hawley as complicit with insurance companies in trying to take away coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The PAC supports Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Who is responsible for the ad?

The Senate Majority Pac is a Democratic Super PAC with the sole stated goal of building a Democratic majority in the Senate.

Its YouTube page shows the group has put out a number of attack ads, many of them targeting Republicans for their stance on the ACA.

According to Open Secrets, SMP has spent more than $14 million on ads both attacking Hawley and supporting McCaskill.

Claim 1: Hawley worked as a lawyer for a corporate lobbying firm that represented insurance companies.

According to his LinkedIn page, Hawley worked for the law firm Hogan Lovells from 2008-2011 as an appellate litigator. 

Hogan Lovells receives millions of dollar each year to lobby for a number of different companies in a variety of industries.

For its lobbying efforts, Hogan Lovells got $10 million in 2016, $11.5 million in 2017 and just over $10 million so far this year.

Among the companies Hogan Lovells lobbies for are the insurance firms AFLAC, USAA, Zurich Financial Services and Lloyds of London.   

Verdict: We find this claim to be true.

Claim 2: Hawley is benefiting from $18 million of dark money.

The $18 million dollar figure is most likely coming from donations from two Republican organizations, the Senate Leadership Fund Super PAC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee PAC.

While this money does come from outside the state of Missouri, that doesn't mean it's dark money. 

According to Open Secrets, dark money comes from organizations who don't disclose the identity of their donors. Dark money groups are most likely to be political non-profits.

The SLF and the NRSC are both political action committees and are required to disclose their donors. But if they accept unlimited contributions from dark money groups, they become dark money groups themselves.

KOMU 8 News has no evidence that either the SLF or NRSC are accepting money from dark money groups.

It is important to note that the SMP, the group responsible for the ad, is on the same page as the SLF AND NRSC, and runs the same risk of becoming a dark money group.

Verdict: We find this claim to be misleading and needing context.

Claim 3: Hawley filed a lawsuit that would allow insurance companies to deny health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.

We have already gone over this claim in an earlier Fact Check. Hawley's name is on a lawsuit filed in Texas that tried to get the ACA thrown out on the grounds of constitutionality. 

Verdict: We find this claim to be true.

FINAL VERDICT: We find this ad to be mostly true but needing context.

It's important to note the difference between dark money and outside money.

Both candidates are benefiting from millions of dollars from outside the state. A KOMU 8 News report found nearly 70 percent of the funds both candidates raised came from outside the state of Missouri.

How much of that money is coming from dark money groups is unclear.

A statement from the Hawley campaign said he has repeatedly voiced his support for protecting people with pre-existing conditions and attacked McCaskill for supporting a single payer healthcare system.

The McCaskill campaign had not responded by the time of publication.


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TARGET 8 Fact Check: NRA claims Supreme Court could destroy right to self-defense https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-nra-claims-supreme-court-could-destroy-right-to-self-defense/ https://www.komu.com/news/target-8-fact-check-nra-claims-supreme-court-could-destroy-right-to-self-defense/ Target 8 Thu, 18 Oct 2018 9:54:12 AM Ian Nickens, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8 Fact Check: NRA claims Supreme Court could destroy right to self-defense

COLUMBIA – The National Rifle Association is backing Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley while claiming Senator Claire McCaskill will take away Americans' "right to self-defense" if she is re-elected. In addition, the NRA is claiming the Supreme Court is on the edge of destroying it, too.

Who made this ad?

The National Rifle Association is a well-known lobbying group that promotes the interests of gun manufacturers and staunchly supports the right to bear arms. This ad is made by the NRA's Political Victory Fund, a political action committee. It donates money and runs ad campaigns for candidates the NRA feels will support Second Amendment rights.

Claim: The Supreme Court is divided.

The Supreme Court is divided only in the sense that some of the justices lean left and others lean right. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan all tend to vote liberally.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh all tend to vote conservatively.

The differences in judicial philosophy primarily come from how each justice interprets the Constitution. Some interpret it as written, others interpret it with more flexibility, using the principles presented by the document instead of words alone.

Many Supreme Court cases are narrowly decided; usually with a 5-4 vote.

Chief Justice Roberts recently spoke at the University of Minnesota Law School and insisted the Supreme Court serves the public without regard to political ideologies.

However, the records in cases like Trump v. Hawaii (the legality of Trump's immigration ban), Obergefell v. Hodges (the legality of gay marriage), and National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (the legality of the Affordable Care Act) say otherwise, because they were passed along party lines with one swing vote.

Verdict: True. The Supreme Court has voted along party lines for many big cases over the past decade, and each justice has been nominated by a president who holds the same political ideals. 

Claim: Our right to self-defense hangs in the balance.

When the NRA says "the right to self-defense," it probably means "the right to own guns." The last big Supreme Court case involving firearms was District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008.

In that case, the Supreme Court decided by a vote of 5-4 that the Second Amendment allows individuals to bear firearms, even without connection to a militia or other lawful purposes.

Yes, those votes were along party lines.

While the issue of gun regulation and even the need for the Second Amendment have been frequently questioned after mass shootings like the ones in Las Vegas and Parkland, the Supreme Court has not heard another big case involving guns since 2008.

The Supreme Court has also never revisited a previous decision.

Verdict: Needs context. It's possible another case involving gun rights could come through the court, and the justices may vote along party lines, but there is not an impending case that would "take away our right to self-defense."

Claim: Claire McCaskill sided all four times with the liberal left on Supreme Court justices, against our right to self-defense.

McCaskill has voted with the Democrats on the past four Supreme Court justices. She voted yes on Sotomayor and Kagan, and no on Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

As stated above, the second part of that claim needs context.

However, McCaskill herself has voted in favor of tightening gun restrictions and against loosening them on many occasions.

According to NPR, she's voted along party lines for the last five major pieces of gun legislation.

Verdict: Mostly true. The NRA is correct about McCaskill's voting record, but voting for Supreme Court justices does not mean voting against a "right to self-defense."

As a final note, a CBS poll finds a majority of Missourians think America needs stronger gun control (51%), followed by people who think gun regulations should stay as they are (38%).

Final Verdict: This ad is half true. The NRA gets all of its solid facts about voting records correct, but is incredibly vague about how the Supreme Court would destroy "the right to self-defense," leaving people to fill in the gaps as they see fit.


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