Wednesday, December 31, 2014
2014: The Joplin Globe's year of shame in review
It is the same practice that most newspapers and media outlets follow during the last week of each year and gives the readers and viewers the opportunity to remember the stories that made the year so memorable.
Unfortunately, the Joplin Globe's list is more notable for the stories it does not include.
When it comes to coverage of the City of Joplin and the Joplin R-8 School District, the highlights were limited to the firing of City Manager Mark Rohr and the openings of new schools, accompanied, of course, by various and sundry ribbon cuttings.
City of Joplin
The Globe reminds readers of its court battle to obtain the Loraine Report, but fails to mention the important parts of that report that it did its best to play down and for the most part completely hide from its readers.
The newspaper continued to push the fiction that Mark Rohr's firing came out of the blue and was a matter entirely separate from what Tom Loraine was supposed to be investigating, when, in fact, it was the investigation into City Councilman Mike Woolston's dealings with master developer Wallace-Bajjali that led directly to Rohr.
The parts of the report that made it abundantly clear why Rohr was included in the report were never mentioned in the pages of the newspaper.The items were posted online, but only a few hundred people read the complete report. They assumed that since the Globe went to so much trouble and expense to get the contents of the Loraine Report opened to the public that it might actually dig into the report and tell its readers what the report was all about.
One of the main events in the year-end review was the April City Council election, in which council members Jack Golden and Trisha Raney, both of whom voted to fire Rohr, were defeated in their bids for re-election.
What was not mentioned is that the Globe spent weeks stirring up a local frenzy over the firing of Rohr and failed to publicize the parts of the Loraine Report that made it clear why the connections between Rohr, Woolston (who was re-elected by a wide margin) and Wallace-Bajjali are dangerous for the city.
Joplin R-8 School District
If you read the Joplin Globe's year-end review you might think that the only big news that happened in the district this year was the opening of four new schools. Undoubtedly, those were major events.
The new $121.5 million Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center opened after the Labor Day holiday. Congested traffic proved to be the biggest glitch on the first days as hundreds of students and parents tried to figure out where to go.
I am curious as to how anyone can believe C. J. Huff any more when he tells us how much something cost.
I searched the May listings for a mention of CFO Paul Barr's statement that the district had added $8.5 million in "might-as-well" spending, spending that the Huff Administration and the R-8 Board of Education okayed because they "might as well" go ahead and do it so they wouldn't have to do it later. There were no mentions of that, which is not surprising since the Globe never used those words nor even mentioned the extra spending in its coverage.
That eventually led to revelations that the district had another $8 to $12 million of that kind of spending and the news that the district had to borrow $45 million, none of which is mentioned in today's review.
Today's review does include a mention of the infamous "six-and-a-half-mile" ribbon, which was used for the grand opening of the new Joplin High School.
What wasn't mentioned- the nearly $100,000 the district is paying to replace seats in the new JHS gymnasium which were the wrong color, money that was not even included in the $45 million it borrowed. It was just more "might-as-well" spending.
Finally, one of the biggest election stories of 2014, one which played a huge role in events for the remainder of the year, was totally ignored.
While the Globe made a big deal of the defeat of City Council candidates who had voted to fire Mark Rohr, no mention was made of the election of Debbie Fort to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education, an election which has directly led to one discovery after another of how the C. J. Huff Administration and its enablers on the Board of Education have thrown away millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
Dr. Fort's election was accompanied by the defeat of Board President Jeff Flowers, which was also left unmentioned in today's review.
State audits of City, School District
Probably the most incredible omission from today's Joplin Globe review- there was absolutely no mention of the state audits of the City of Joplin and the Joplin R-8 School District.
These were not only major stories in 2014, but they should prove to be among the biggest stories of 2015, as well.
The biggest stories of 2014 were left unmentioned in today's Joplin Globe.
Of course, it is difficult to review those stories, when you never wrote about them in the first place.