The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Friday, July 10, 2009 Volume XVIII, Number 15

did ya know?

Did Ya Know?... The Jasper County Youth Fair is taking place at Carthage’s Municipal Park until July 18th. For more information, go to

Did Ya Know?... Jam Session Saturday, doors open @ 4:00 p.m., music starts @ 5:00 p.m. All acoustic instruments welcome! Salem Country Church, Red Oak II, Carthage MO., 417-237-0885.

today's laugh

Would you please move your cars?

It had been snowing for hours when an announcement came over the intercom: "Will the students who are parked on University Drive please move their cars so that we may begin plowing." Twenty minutes later there was another announcement: "Will the nine hundred students who went to move fourteen cars return to class."

New person in prison

A new man is brought into Prison Cell 102. Already there is a long-time resident who looks 100 years old. The new man looks at the old-timer inquiringly. The old-timer says, "Look at me. I’m old and worn out. You’d never believe that I used to live the life of Riley. I wintered on the Riviera, had a boat, four fine cars, the most beautiful women, and I ate in all the best restaurants of France." The new man asked, "What happened?" The old man said, "One day Riley reported his credit cards missing!"

A Chronological Record of Events as they have Transpired in the City and County since our last Issue.


Carthage Woodmen Went off in Style for the Log Rolling.

The Carthage Woodmen camp No. 3340 went of in style this morning to attend the log rolling at Joplin. They assembled on the square at 8:45 and headed by the Light Guard band and a banner bearer, they marched around the square and to the Frisco depot to take the 9:05 train. There were 18 full-fledged "foresters" in line, uniformed in blue blouses, grey caps, white duck trousers and each carrying bran new "kant kutter ax. John Gray was head (s) man and bore the huge chopping ax usually carried in fairy pictures by the executioner.

Following the "foresters" marched a train of brush burners and chip pilers attired in straw hats, checked jackets and just any old pair of pants.

  Today's Feature

Probable Cause.

On July 8, 2009, a Statement of Probable Cause was filed against two suspects by Detective Kevin S. Mitchell concerning a burglary/murder that occured in Carthage on October 11, 2008. The facts supporting this belief are as follows:

"On 10/11/08, Darren Winans and Matthew Laurin, after planning to do so, went to 160 N. Black Powder Lane, in the county of Jasper, state of Missouri, with the intent to commit a burglary. While there, and inside the residence, Winans and Laurin proceeded to murder both Robert [70] & Ellen [71] Sheldon by stabbing them multiple times with a knife. Laurin admitted to this during a subsequent interview."

Winans, 21, and Laurin, 19, both waived formal arraignment and entered pleas of not guilty via video in Judge Richard Copeland’s court on July 9. Public attorneys are representing both defendents.

Both men are being charged with two counts of murder, two counts of armed criminal action and one count of 1st degree burglary.

The next hearing is scheduled for 9:05 a.m. on Wednesday, July 22.

GAO Slams Flimsy Auditing Rules for Stimulus Dollars.

by Christopher Flavelle, ProPublica

Fresh on the heels of last week’s dreadful unemployment numbers which raised new questions about whether the stimulus package is working, the Government Accountability Office released a series of reports about how effectively states and municipalities are using the stimulus money. One issue the GAO sounds the alarm on: weak auditing rules.

In notably blunt language, the GAO states that the federal audit reporting deadline, which instructs agencies to begin audits of their stimulus spending no more than nine months after the end of the fiscal year, "is too late to provide audit results in time for the audited entity to take action on deficiencies noted in Recovery Act programs. Moreover, current guidance does not achieve the level of accountability needed to effectively respond to Recovery Act risks."

Translation: In the GAO’s opinion, the system for making sure that stimulus dollars are spent properly simply isn’t up to snuff. The report goes on to note that state auditors—whose job is to make sure that public dollars are appropriately spent—don’t have the funding to exercise their own responsibilities under the stimulus bill, something that ProPublica wrote about back in May.

The GAO reported that "significant questions have been raised about the reliability of the data on," which is mandated by law to track financial information about who gets federal funds. The GAO points out that because the numbers on the site come from those receiving funds, the quality of their data can’t easily be verified. (Of course, as ProPublica has reported before, verifying numbers associated with the stimulus package is never easy.)

This report is a red flag for the Office of Management and Budget, which has responsibility for fixing that process. The GAO notes that it warned the OMB in April that the state-level audit process for stimulus money wasn’t good enough. (ProPublica highlighted the report.) While the OMB took steps to respond to the criticisms, the GAO notes: "These actions do not sufficiently address the risks."

The OMB responded to reports from the GAO by noting that it has "already taken and is planning actions" to address the shortcomings with its auditing process. For example, according to the report, the OMB said that it plans to issue additional stimulus auditing guidelines later this month. The GAO retorted that the OMB has "not yet completed critical guidance in these areas."

Testimony of Richard Parkus

Commercial Real Estate: Do Rising Defaults Pose a Systemic Threat?

Before the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress

July 9, 2009, Washington, DC

"The commercial real estate sector is currently under greater stress than at any time since the crash of the early 1990s. In fact, I believe that the severity of the current downturn is likely to exceed, possibly by a large magnitude, that of the early 1990s. The problems are two-fold. First, the extraordinarily severe economic recession has resulted in vacancy increases and rent declines that are already of a similar magnitude to what occurred in the previous episode. This has pushed default rates to levels approaching those of the 1990s. The second problem, one that is potentially even more serious, is that for those loans that do make it to maturity, a very large percentage, perhaps in excess of 65%, may not qualify for refinancing under the dramatically tighter new underwriting standards, particularly in view of the fact that commercial real estate prices on stabilized properties have declined by 35-45% or more from their peak in 2007, and almost surely have further to go."

"On the whole, I expect that total losses in CMBS will be approximately 9-12% of the outstanding CMBS loan universe, or about $65-$90 billion. For the 2005-2007 vintage loans, my estimate of total losses is somewhat higher, about 12-15%. For the 2007 vintage alone, I expect in excess of 20% losses. This compares with approximately 10% total losses for the worst performing vintage -- the 1986 vintage -- in the early 1990s.

"In order to manage through this extremely stressful process, it is critical that commercial real estate financing markets begin functioning again with some degree of normalcy. By this I mean that loans which qualify for refinancing must be able to obtain financing. At the moment, this is not the case. Commercial real estate financing markets are effectively closed, at least for loans in excess of $25-$35MM. Smaller loans on properties that are performing well have continued to have some degree of success refinancing, mainly with regional banks. However, we believe that this source will continue to deteriorate as problem loans mount in bank portfolios.

"Within the larger commercial real estate finance sector CMBS has roughly a 25-30% market share, while banks have about 50% market share, life insurance companies about 10% and pension funds about 10%. One common misconception, in my view, is that commercial real estate problems started in CMBS and somehow migrated to banks and other sectors. In fact, I believe that banks will, once again, prove to be the epicenter of commercial real estate loan problems.

"When looking at "commercial real estate" exposure in banks, one must distinguish between three categories of loans: construction and land development loans, core commercial real estate loans, and multifamily loans. In aggregate, banks have exposure to about $550 billion in construction loans, $1.1 trillion of core commercial real estate loans and $150 billion of multifamily loans. By far the most problematic of these are the construction loans, which contain high proportions of both loans to home builders and condo construction loans. Moreover, exposure to construction loans rises rapidly as one moves from large money center banks to smaller regional and local banks—the four largest US banks have an average exposure of less than 2% of total assets, while the 31-100 largest banks have an average exposure of about 12%. Given that prices are down 40-45% on stabilized commercial properties, they must be down vastly more than this on newly completed or only partially completed properties. I expect that loss severities on defaulted construction loans could approach 80-90% in many cases. 90+ day delinquency rates are currently in the 12% range for construction loans in bank portfolios, but are somewhat higher for construction loans in regional bank portfolios. In fact, I am perplexed by the fact that construction loan delinquency rates are only 12% at this point. However, I believe that this can be explained by the fact that they are typically structured with interest reserves which are sufficient to cover interest payments until the expected completion of the project. Thus, construction loan delinquency rates are currently artificially low due to interest reserves, but will likely rise dramatically within the coming 6-12 months. In my view, losses on construction loans are likely to be in excess of 25%, possibly well in excess, which would imply losses of at least $140 billion. This, of course, would be disproportionately borne by regional and local banks.

"In terms of core commercial real estate, the story is much the same, at least qualitatively. Again exposures are much higher for regional and local banks than for the largest money center banks. The four largest banks have an average exposure of 3-4% to commercial real estate loans, while smaller regional banks have an average exposure of 15-20%. I also believe that core commercial real estate loans in bank portfolios are likely to be riskier than those in fixed rate CMBS. There are two main reasons for this view: First, bank loans tend to have fairly short terms, typically 3-5 years, while fixed-rate CMBS loans have much longer terms, typically 7-10 years. As a result, a much higher percentage of bank loans will have been made at the peak of the market and will come up for refinancing at the bottom of the market, the 2010-2012 period, when they are least likely to qualify. Second, bank loans tend to be used to finance transitional properties, while fixed-rate CMBS loans typically finance stabilized properties. Loans on transitional properties are generally riskier than loans on stabilized properties, particularly in a economic downturn.

"The view that core commercial real estate loans in bank portfolios are likely to underperform those in CMBS is supported by the fact that delinquency rates for bank loans have for many years far exceeded those of CMBS loans. As of the end of Q1 2009, the delinquency rate on bank commercial real estate loans was approximately two and a half times that on CMBS loans.

"In terms of specific loss estimates, it is reasonable to assume that loss rates on core commercial real estate loans in bank portfolios will be at least as large as those of the 2005-2007 vintage CMBS loans—which I expect will be in the 12-15% range. This would imply losses of at least $120-$150 billion on banks’ core commercial real estate loan portfolios.

"The problems facing commercial real estate are severe and will likely take many years to resolve. There are no easy solutions. However, there are measures that can be taken that will help mitigate the pain and disruption of this process. By far the most important of these are steps that promote the recovery of commercial real estate financing markets. In my view, these should focus on reviving the public securitization market. I expect that over the coming decade the amount of capital from traditional sources (e.g., banks, insurance companies, pension funds) committed to financing commercial real estate will decline significantly. It is absolutely critical that a revitalized CMBS market be able to step in and fill the void. The CMBS market worked effectively and efficiently for well over a decade and, with the right changes, is capable of playing a vital role again in the future."

Just Jake Talkin'

I’ve mentioned a novelty they used ta have when I was a kid, "whacky-placks" before, but on occasion they still jog my memory from time to time.

They were somethin’ like tradin’ cards, came with gum in the pack, but they had witty sayin’s on them. Most were a twist on old familiars. Some of my favorites:

"Better never than late."

"Time wounds all heels."

"In God we trust, all others cash."

"We never make mistrakes."

"Yesterday I couldn’t even spell salesmun, now I are one."

"I didn’t say you were rich, I said you had piles."

"It’s better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick."

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’

  Weekly Columns

Journey Along the Wellness Path

by Leesa I. Robinson, N.H.P.

Taking time to walk a different path other than the day-in-day-out race of life can help refuel the mind, body, and spirit. People are often deeply changed as they spend time on walking trails of various types; connecting to nature and our Creator. I find especially intriguing the creative walking paths of ancient origin called labyrinths. At first glance, this unique path might appear to be a maze. However, you can not get lost in a labyrinth. It has one path that leads to the center and back out.

The labyrinth is a sacred space, so to speak, to gather your thoughts, pray for courage, or to put the mind forward into being empowered to make important life changes. Some simply walk the labyrinth for fun. The basic idea is to quiet the mind and walk to the middle of the labyrinth letting go of things that are in the way of health, or progress in various areas of life. It is often seen as a symbolic ritual and has been called a "body prayer" by some. Once the middle of the path has been reached the same path is followed back out, hopefully with a sense of empowerment to make appropriate life changes.

Found in various places around the world, labyrinths are made of a variety of materials such as rock, sand, some are mowed into fields, or even painted on concrete. I encourage you to think of creative ways you can bring these ancient concepts into your life to fuel your mind, body and soul!


ART NOTES from Hyde House

by Sally Armstrong, Director of artCentral

An elegant and exciting new group of artwork awaits the visitors and guests Friday night as we open our newest exhibition here at Hyde House. New photography by Joplin artist Bill Perry will be presented in a show entitled "Evolution"— 17 new images taken just this spring, and a group of new multi-media pieces by Rebecca Perry of Webb City in her show entitled "Components Make the Whole". Bill Perry is just coming off another show in the Regional Gallery at SPIVA Center for the Arts in Joplin, but these are all new photographs done in his signature black and white style that is so distinctive to him. He says, "I have always been fascinated with the layers that cover us— not only physical layers, but more importantly, the layers of emotions we feel upon viewing an object or person. In experimenting with light and the layers of tissue I use to print my work, I have found that the feelings evoked by the images change drastically as layers are added or taken away." His sister Rebecca, a fine artist in her own right with a distinctive style, has created a new group of small sculptures and interesting contemporary jewelry pieces. We sold out of her jewelry at her last showing, and these are just as impressive. Her statement:

"I enjoy the challenges of trial and error and like to think of my art as a foray into experimentation. I’m intrigued by the mystery of the medium that I’m working with, that being polymer clay that has become my right hand! Some of the items that were used in creating this show include coffee cans, corrugated sheet metal, light bulbs, twigs, rocks, bird seed, scrap metal, bamboo skewers, pepper and ashes. The creative process is a magical undertaking and great therapy, and I find it a unique way of communicating through self-expression." Finally, we are pleased to include metal sculpture work of Aston Stovern, daughter of Rebecca Perry, and a fine artist as well. Several of Aston’s larger pieces will be displayed outside, and she told me: "Growing up in an artistic family has helped to stimulate my imagination and creativity. Since I can remember I have had a strong artisan urge, the fundamental desire to make something with one’s own hands. I find metal to be my true art form, and my ability to overcome the many challenges of working with metal gives me a feeling of strength, both physically and mentally."

These three fine artists have produced a wonderful display that is not to be missed, and we look forward to seeing you all Friday night at 6:00 at Hyde House Gallery. This exhibition will remain on display until July 26th, and we are open Fridays and weekends noon to five. I am still taking registrations for kid’s artCamp which begins July 27th. If you are needing the camp registration materials, they can be found at the Public Library, the Civil War Museum, the Deli, Powers Museum, and on the porch at our gallery. There is still availability in most classes.

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