Friday, December 05, 2014

The truth about Wallace-Bajjali and public-private partnerships

Since Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners first hit Joplin after the May 22, 2011, tornado, one phrase that has been bandied about over and over has been "public-private partnerships."

It has become increasingly obvious that the partnerships is between public (taxpayers') money and private companies and individuals who want to get their hands on public money.

Wallace-Bajjali and its local partner, developer Charlie Kuehn, have made it clear that the Towne Center project at 20th and Connecticut will not go forward as planned unless another $4 million in taxpayer money is kicked in.

Kuehn told the Joplin City Council Monday night that without that $4 million, the Towne Center, which is supposed to be an upscale collection of eateries, office buildings, and retail stories to go along with a "boutique" theater will just be another strip center.

So far, nothing that has come through Wallace-Bajjali has shown any indication that heaping helpings of private funding is coming to Joplin.

On the contrary, every time public money has not been forthcoming, our master developer has whined about it or has pulled away from the project.

The latest such project has been the senior citizen housing, which Wallace-Bajjali has said is a desperate need since the tornado. When a state grant did not come through, the Texas firm dropped out of the project.

The U. S. Postal Serive did not like the idea of using the Coca-Cola Building as a new post office. In face, it had already rejected the idea when Wallace-Bajjali first presented it to the Joplin City Council. The only way for that to go through was for the developers to push the plan on elected officials and get them to exert pressure on the Postal Service.

It did not happen.

When the Missouri Housing Development Commission rejected a proposal for $1.47 million in tax credits, David Wallace of Wallace-Bajjali told the Joplin Globe he would have to find another use for the property, the same thing he said when plans for the Coca-Cola Building fell through.

The public-private partnerships that the smooth-talking David Wallace sold to the Joplin City Council and to the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART), have been a failure.

And now we are hearing the same thing being sold to the Council and the Joplin R-8 Board of Education when it comes to proposals from Connect2Culture for expansion of the Joplin High School Performing Arts Center and for renovations of Memorial Hall.

With Wallace-Bajjali and its partners, the private part of the equation seems to be aiming toward padding the bank accounts.

With Connect2Culture, we are seeing a group (with much of its leadership identical to those in CART and the Joplin Progress Committee) that wants to remake Joplin in its own vision.

And, as you might expect, it is the taxpayers who are expected to line Wallace-Bajjali's pockets and pay to make Joplin a cultural wonderland.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

aren;t the dummies at 602 main paying 90,000 a month to the jennings family for the grass growing at 20th conn,