The Mornin' Mail is published every weekday except major holidays
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 Volume XVIII, Number 91

did ya know?

Did Ya Know?.... Magic Moments Riding Therapy, a not-for-profit organization, is in need of volunteers to work with our special riders on Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 and/or Thursday afternoons at 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 pm. Training is provided. Horse experience is helpful but not required, and volunteers need to be at least 14 years of age. For more information, please call us at 417 325-4490.

today's laugh

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman,

"Where’s the self-help section?"

She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all?"

Would a fly without wings be called a walk?

If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

One nice thing about egotists: they don’t talk about other people.

Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have a "S" in it?

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

Is there another word for synonym?

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

Robbery and a Shooting.

Wednesday night S. Jiles of Claflin Kansas, was robbed of $20 by a pickpocket on the Frisco depot platform. He had a railroad ticket to Witchita in his pocket with the money, but the thief missed it.

Yesterday afternoon a Mrs. Gibbs was shot in the back of the hand with a 22-calibre rifle by Mrs. Mary Parks. They both occupy rooms in the same house. Mrs. Parks had visitors, and Mrs. Gibbs couldn’t resist the temptation to eavesdrop at her neighbor’s door. Mrs. Parks caught her at this and with deliberate aim she fired a bullet into Mrs. Gibb’s hand. The wound was not a very serious one. Since then the women have made up and are apparently on good terms.

  Today's Feature

Southwest Missouri Veterans to Share their Story

JEFFERSON CITY – Senator Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, announced that the Missouri Veteran Stories project will be scheduling interviews in Joplin. The state project honors Missouri veterans by capturing their stories on DVD to be preserved for future generations. Veterans’ interviews are being scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3 at VFW Post 534 located at 110 E. Veterans Way in Joplin.

"Recording and preserving these stories gives future Missourians the opportunity to learn about this country’s history first-hand," said Sen. Nodler. "At the same time, we are honoring our local veterans and valuing their experiences during their service. I am encouraging veterans in our area to participate and share their stories."

The Missouri Veteran Stories project is open to all men and women currently residing in Missouri who have served in any branch of the U.S. military. Five- to seven-minute fully edited stories will be produced using interviews and conversations with each veteran. These stories will become part of the permanent Missouri Veteran Stories archive. The archive is available through and through touch-screen consoles in the State Capitol.

To set an appointment for Nov. 3 or to nominate a veteran, log on to or call 1-800-905-1536 for more information. For those interested in participating, interviews will be conducted in half-hour intervals throughout the day.


Stimulus Contracts Go to Companies Under Criminal Investigation

by Michael Grabell, ProPublica

A version of this story was co-published with USA Today.

The Department of Defense awarded nearly $30 million in stimulus contracts to six companies while they were under federal criminal investigation on suspicion of defrauding the government.

According to Air Force documents, the companies claimed to be small, minority-owned businesses, which allowed them to gain special preference in bidding for government contracts. But investigators found that they were all part of a larger minority-owned enterprise in Southern California, making them ineligible for the contracts.

The Air Force and the Army awarded the companies 112 stimulus projects at U.S. military bases, federal contracting records show. It wasn’t until Sept. 23 – more than a year after the criminal investigation started – that the Air Force suspended the firms from receiving new government contracts.

Federal rules allow agencies to terminate contracts when it’s in the government’s interest. But neither military branch plans to terminate the stimulus contracts awarded to the suspended companies as long as they are performing satisfactorily, said Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ann Stefanek and Army spokesman Maj. Jimmie Cummings.

According to the Air Force, the companies were controlled by Craig Jackson, an African-American businessman whose firm, Sanders Engineering, has won awards from the Small Business Administration.

Jackson did not return calls seeking comment. But an attorney for his firm, Tony Franco, said the company would "vigorously contest" the suspension. He said Jackson has been praised as "someone who has helped small businesses and we believe the facts will bear out that he continues doing so."

Allegations about one of the firms, APM LLC, became public a year ago, when an SBA audit led to the firm’s suspension from the small-business program and prompted the Defense Department’s criminal probe. That such a warning could go unheeded exposes a gap in the government’s contracting process, said Scott Amey, general counsel for the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, which tracks contractor misconduct.

"The big problem I have – was there any disclosure of the contractors’ missteps prior to them receiving the stimulus money?" said Amey, when told of the suspended companies. "That’s the type of information you would hope government officials would have in front of them when making responsibility determinations."

Stefanek said the projects were awarded independently by contracting officers at military bases who wouldn’t have spotted problems unless the contractors were suspended or debarred. The Air Force didn’t suspend the firms until Sept. 23 because it wasn’t officially notified by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, which is conducting the investigation, until late August.

Gary Comerford, spokesman for the investigative service, said a criminal investigation isn’t enough to suspend a firm "because there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty."

Records show that on Sept. 24, a day after the Air Force suspensions, Scott Air Force Base in Illinois awarded two more projects worth $423,000 to APM. Stefanek said the contracting officer at Scott didn’t notice the suspension and that the awards have been rescinded.

To spend the stimulus money quickly, many of the projects to improve military facilities were added to existing contracts. Although those contracts had been competitively bid in the past, none of the new stimulus work the companies received was open to competition.

In addition to APM, based in Yorba Linda, Calif., the suspended contractors that won stimulus projects include 1CI Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md.; All Cities Enterprises of Ontario, Calif; Cherokee Chainlink and Construction of Hemet, Calif.; Chung and Associates of Anaheim, Calif.; and Coleman Construction in Los Angeles.

John Brewer, president of Cherokee Chainlink, said Jackson had no control over his company.

"I’m just a client," Brewer said. "His company does my accounting. He doesn’t run my company and never has." Brewer called the contracting suspension unfair, saying federal officials "just threw out a big net and grabbed everybody up."

Managers of the other firms did not return calls or declined to comment.

The suspensions are temporary pending completion of the DOD criminal investigation, and none of the companies has been charged with a crime.

The stimulus projects assigned to the suspended companies include repairing hangars and installing energy-efficient windows at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland; replacing fencing and renovating the dining hall at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio; renovating a child-development center in Fort Knox, Ky.; repairing the airfield electrical system at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia; and stabilizing a landslide area in Colorado Springs, Colo.

$700 million in contested contracts

Small businesses and minority contracting have gained new attention under the $787 billion economic stimulus. Noting the role of small businesses in creating jobs, the White House directed agencies to take advantage of small-business set-asides even if they conflict with another stimulus goal, open competition.

So far, small businesses have won 26 percent of the $16 billion in federal stimulus contracts, and minority contractors have won 15 percent, contract data shows. Most of the minority contracting money has gone to firms owned by Native Americans. African-American-owned firms received 2 percent of contracts and Hispanic firms 3 percent.

The allegations against Jackson involve the SBA 8(a) program, which was created to help small businesses owned by African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans win government contracts by providing several years of mentoring, training and financial assistance. Such firms can also get a leg up with contracts that only small, minority-owned companies can bid on.

According to the Air Force, Jackson established various small businesses owned by friends and family – but in reality managed and controlled by him or his companies.

After winning contracts set aside for small, minority businesses, the companies diverted a significant portion of their earnings back to Jackson or one of his companies, the Air Force said.

Jackson and his family conspired to hide the connections between the businesses by making false statements and falsifying records, the suspension order alleged.

Over the years, 19 companies controlled by Jackson – including the six that won stimulus contracts – "received more than $700 million in government contracts to which they may not have been legally entitled," according to the order.

In 2008 the SBA’s internal watchdog audited one of those firms—APM—after concerns arose that some businesses owned by Alaska Native Corporations might be serving as conduits for larger firms.

APM is owned by Cape Fox Corporation, formed under a 1970s federal law to create business opportunities for Alaska natives who had long subsisted on hunting and fishing. Such Alaska Native Corporations have used contract preferences to expand into tourism, logging and reconstruction in Iraq.

Although the workers are not usually Alaskan natives, a portion of the companies’ earnings goes to shareholders in remote Alaskan villages. Shareholders of Cape Fox are Tlingit natives in Saxman, Alaska – a village of 370 people outside Ketchikan, on the southern tip of Alaska.

Cape Fox was among five owners of APM when APM was accepted into the small business program in 2003, according to the SBA audit. Jackson, identified in the audit as "Mr. A," negotiated a management services agreement between APM and Sanders Engineering in exchange for 2.75 percent of APM’s contract billings.

Jackson bought out the four other APM owners, and his brother replaced him as manager in December 2004, the audit says. Jackson then sold his interest to Cape Fox in January 2005, but the relationship didn’t end: The native corporation entered into multiple agreements that entitled other firms owned by Jackson up to 7.5 percent of APM’s billings, plus 45 percent of APM’s future net income.

Because Sanders Engineering also graduated from the SBA program, Jackson is prohibited from owning more than 20 percent of any other company in the program.

In a formal response Friday to the suspension, Sanders Engineering attorney Franco said the Air Force had misunderstood SBA rules. He said the SBA has always known of the relationships and encouraged Sanders Engineering to share its administrative expertise with other small businesses.

Once an SBA success story

The scrutiny of Jackson and Sanders Engineering marks a turnabout from 2001, when Jackson was named second runner-up for SBA’s minority small business graduate of the year. That same year, he also won the Entrepreneurial Success Award for the region.

The SBA news release on the award said he transformed Sanders Engineering from a company of five employees and annual revenues of $300,000 into one with 200 employees and $36 million in revenue. Jackson won recognition for mentoring other small businesses in accounting and human resources.

Robert McDonald, executive director of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, described Jackson as a hero to other black entrepreneurs, not only for his success, but for his generosity.

On the wall of McDonald’s office hangs a photograph of himself with Jackson and civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who came for an inspirational visit at Jackson’s behest.

"That’s the kind of individual I know," McDonald said.

According to a 2001 profile in The Orange County Register, Sanders Engineering was at the time the largest African-American-owned mechanical contractor in the United States. The article noted Jackson’s careful selection process and hands-on approach to mentoring minority-owned firms.

"If they don’t want to grow, they’re not a candidate for our program," Jackson told the Register. "It’s like a marriage; we want the relationship to be seamless so clients can’t tell where [the protégé] ends and we begin."

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which is charged with stimulus oversight, regularly reviews contracts for waste, fraud and abuse.

"We are aware of these issues and have taken the appropriate action," said Ed Pound, the board’s spokesman. "We have no further comment except to say that debarred or suspended companies are a primary focus of our efforts."

Adam Hughes, director of federal fiscal policy for OMB Watch, a nonprofit that has been monitoring the stimulus, said canceling the contracts now could backfire.

"The problem with that," he said, "is that it may end up costing the government more money."

Just Jake Talkin'

If your gettin’ in the mood for some leaf rakin’, the City is goin’ to run it’s leaf vacuum again this fall.

The process is to rake your leafs out to the curb, not in the gutter, but next to the curb. Give the Engineerin’ Department a call and they will work ya into the schedule.

The idea is to have some type of idea where to send the crew and not have ‘em just wanderin’ the streets lookin’ for somethin’ to pick up.

The number for the Engineerin’ Department is 237-7010.

‘Course the reason I’m thinkin’ along these lines is my yard is just about full, with more lookin’ ready to fall. My usual decision ‘bout whether to bag or burn just got a lot easier. And those who have trouble with all the smoke in the air can breath easier.

This is some fact, but mostly,

Just Jake Talkin’.

Sponsored by Carthage Printing Weekly Columns

To Your Good Health

By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: This past week, our 29-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Our family is devastated. We thought this was a juvenile illness. What is the long-term prognosis for this disease? Should pregnancy be avoided? She was hoping to start a family. -- B.N.

ANSWER: Type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes because it often strikes at young ages, but it doesn’t do so exclusively. The name change reflects that fact. It also was called insulin-requiring diabetes because almost all type 1 diabetics must inject insulin for blood sugar control.

The long-term prognosis for diabetes is good if the person can keep blood sugar controlled. Diabetes has many complications -- kidney disease, heart disease, artery disease, nerve disturbance and eye problems -- but good control of blood sugar can usually keep these complications to a minimum. Most people with type 1 diabetes lead the kind of lives they wish to lead, and most can be as active as they desire. Nowadays, people with diabetes check their blood sugar routinely and frequently adjust their insulin dose accordingly. New varieties of insulin make it easier to keep blood sugar within norms.

Your daughter can have children unless her doctor has told her otherwise. It’s very important for a potential diabetic mother to maintain near-normal blood sugars at the time of conception and throughout pregnancy to prevent any disturbances in the growth and development of the embryo and fetus. These goals are usually achievable.

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