Saturday, January 31, 2015

They buried it for three years and now the Globe wants to report on Wallace-Bajjali?

As I read the comments given by Joplin Mayor Michael Seibert, City Manager Sam Anselm, and others about how they had no idea there was anything wrong with Wallace-Bajjali, I marvel that no one is trying to pin them down on this.

How could they not know?

In the top story in today's Joplin Globe, Seibert says he was unaware that Wallace-Bajjali had any such legal obligation as the $1.5 million that was due on December 31.

"I was not aware of other commitments of Wallace-Bajjali other than those we were working on within the city of Joplin," Seibert said.

Anselm told the Globe he knew about the lawsuit, but he did not know the details.

They should have known, but there is no way the Joplin Globe can hold their feet to the fire.

The Globe has been fully aware of the checkered history of Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners and has hidden all but a small portion of it from its readership to placate the well-heeled, non-elected people who have been pulling the strings on the public part of the city of Joplin's recovery from the tornado.

Those people, whose names were unfamiliar to most of us three years ago, were the ones who were insistent on bringing in a master developer when there was a serious question about whether such a position was necessary. They were the ones who insisted on projects being done in parts of town that were not even in the path of the May 22, 2011 tornado.

The only media to sound a warning on Wallace-Bajjali was the Turner Report, as I noted the SEC fraud investigation into the firm, the fines against David Wallace and Costa Bajjali and the $1.2 million they were ordered to repay investors. That was on March 31, 2012- almost three years ago.

That warning was sounded before the Joplin City Council voted to enter into a contract with the Texas company. The Turner Report has continued to write about the master developer since that time.

The Globe limited its coverage of Wallace-Bajjali to a brief mention of the SEC problems and the reassurance of then City Manager Mark Rohr that he had personally checked into Wallace and Bajjali and the problems could be blamed on partners who had taken advantage of them.

That was the extent of the Globe's reporting on the problems of Wallace-Bajjali, with a few brief exceptions, but all of the exceptions had to do with things that were happening in Joplin.

Area readers who were interested in the background of the city's master developer had to do their research in the Amarillo publications or on this blog.

That certainly makes it difficult for the Joplin Globe as Wallace-Bajjali's glorified Ponzi scheme falls apart and leaves Joplin in a  precarious situation.

How can a newspaper fail its readership for three years and then suddenly attempt to appear to be a government watchdog?

It can't.

When Bruce Speck was finally ousted as Missouri Southern State University president in 2013 the Globe editorialized that something like the Speck reign must never happen again. This came after the Globe stopped reporting on what was happening at the university and even gave Speck tips on how to manage the media.

When Wallace-Bajjali skipped town, the Globe editorialized that we are better off without the firm, with the implication that we must never let this happen again.

I can't wait to see what the Globe Editorial Board says after the upcoming state audits of the city and the Joplin R-8 School District are released.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Billy Long raises $4,720 in five-week period, spends $5,307 on meals

Only the last five weeks of 2014 are covered in the campaign disclosure report filed by Seventh District Congressman Billy Long today with the Federal Election Commission, but that was enough time for Long to use contributors' cash to pay for at least $5,307.51 in meals.

That total was more than the $4,720 Long received in contributions during that same period, according to the report.

The report listed 14 meals, 13 of them coming in December, with the biggest amounts being $3,000 at the Prime Rib in Washington, D. C. on December 9 and $1,901.01 at the Flame in Sprngfield on December 22.

The "at least" in the first paragraph is thrown in because Long also reported making a $17,527.08 expenditure to ELAN Financial Services for a credit card payment on New Year's Eve, with no breakdown on how the money was spent.

During the five-week period, the fiscal conservative spent $196,120.85, according to the report.

Long has $563,064.56 in his campaign account.

Schweich opens election fundraising with $375,000 in two days

State Auditor Thomas Schweich, who officially announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor Wednesday, raised slightly more than $375,000 in oversized contributions during the first two days, according to 48-hour filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

His contributors included former U. S. Senator John Danforth, long a supporter of Schweich, and some of the top GOP contributors.

Schweich's primary opponent, former Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway, has been almost entirely funded by retired billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has contributed more than $1 million to her campaign.

The expected Democratic candidate is Attorney General Chris Koster.

Those contributing to the Schweich campaign:

Rodger Riney, St. Louis $10,000
David Grossman, St. Louis $10,000
Sam Fox, St. Louis, $37,500
Marilyn Fox, St. Louis $37,500
Larry Peterson, Springfield 5,001
Peter Herschend, Branson $25,000
Fredna Mahaffey, Springfield $5,001
William Darr, Springfield $5,001
Penn Enterprises, Springfield $5,001
Integrity Home Care, Springfield $5,001
George Walker III, St. Louis $5,010
Joe DeLong III, Jefferson City $5,100
H. E. Whitener, Fair Grove $5,100
Patrick Finneran, Newman, Georgia, $5,100
Schmitt LLC, O'Fallon, Illinois $5,100
Donn Sorenson, Clayton $6,000
John Qualy, St. Louis, $7,500
William Maritz, LaDue $7,500
Jerry Sumners, Aurora, $10,000
Friends of Thomas Long, Battlefield $10,000
Mark Eggert, St. Louis $10,000
John Danforth, LaDue $10,000
Roger Miller, St. Louis $15,000
Barnett Helzberg Jr., Kansas City $20,000
Rosalie O'Reilly Wooten, Springfield $25,000
Jesse Bodine, LaDue $25,000
Steven Trulaske, St. Louis $50,000
Kevin Childress, Kansas City $5,001
Peter Goldschmidt, Jefferson City, $5,100

Miller man indicted for shooting at airplane

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Miller, Mo., man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for shooting at an airplane.

David Leroy Dickenson, 38, of Miller, was charged in an indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., on Jan. 20, 2015. That indictment was unsealed and made public following Dickenson’s arrest and initial court appearance. Dickenson remains in federal custody pending the court’s ruling on a detention motion.

The federal indictment alleges that Dickenson attempted to set fire to, damage, destroy, disable and wreck a 1997 S2R 510 Thrush aircraft on Dec. 3, 2014. Dickenson allegedly shot a firearm at an aircraft engaged in crop dusting then attempted to dispose of the firearm to prevent its discovery by law enforcement.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the FBI.

Court-appointed receiver files lawsuit against Wallace-Bajjali

The court-appointed receiver in the BizRadio case  in which Wallace-Bajjali and their partners fleeced investors out of millions filed a lawsuit Thursday in U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas seeking the $1.2 million the firm promised to repay the investors.

As noted in the Turner Report Thursday, both Wallace and Bajjali resigned from their company, plus several other related companies after the receiver, Thomas E. Taylor III, demanded payment in full.

As part of the original agreement after the Securities and Exchange Commission came down hard on Wallace-Bajjali in 2012, Wallace and Bajjali each had to pay $60,000 fines and they were required to repay the investors by December 31, 2014.

Wallace-Bajjali kept putting off deadlines, saying that the money would soon be coming in from their work in Joplin and Amarillo, but almost nothing was repaid to the investors and the receiver acknowledged in a July court document that he was not expecting Wallace-Bajjali to meet the December 14 deadline.

The details on the money the receiver is seeking and the efforts that were made to get Wallace-Bajjali to pay up can be seen in last night's Turner Report post.

Agenda posted for Monday Joplin City Council meeting

February 2, 2015
6:00 P.M., Council Chambers

1.Call To Order
Pledge of Allegiance

2. Roll Call

3. Presentations

4.Finalization Of Consent Agenda

5.Reports And Communications

1.Disability Insurance For Non-Public Safety Employees


6. Citizen Requests And Petitions

1. Request To Address Council
Request to address council from Jimmer Pinjuv, 2167 Annielse, regarding the city of Joplin’s direction in the aftermath of mater developer leaving town. A way to a brighter future.

McCaskill highest ranking Democrat on Investigations subcommittee

(From Sen. Claire McCaskill)

Confronting waste and abuse and strengthening accountability in government are Missouri values.

That fight dates back in part to 1941, when the U.S. military was struggling with war-profiteering. Missouri's Harry Truman fought back, launching the "Truman Committee," one of the most effective oversight efforts ever implemented by the U.S. government, saving billions of dollars. Today, the Truman Committee exists as the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations - considered the Senate's most powerful body for investigations.

Holding Harry Truman's old Senate seat, I've fought hard to keep his legacy alive. I've never shied away from a fight, either in the courtroom or the hearing room. And now, I'm excited to have a new opportunity to strengthen Americans' confidence in their government, by protecting your tax dollars and rooting out misconduct.

Last week, I was honored to be named the highest-ranking Democrat on the old Truman Committee.
I'm no stranger to the fight for a more transparent and accountable government. During my first term, I waged a successful six-year battle to rein in wasteful wartime contracting practices in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ultimately passed into law the most expansive reforms to wartime contracting since World War II. The legislation grew out of my campaign promise to continue Truman's legacy of guarding taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse of power.

Now, as ranking member on this powerful subcommittee, I'll have the unique opportunity to help shape the agenda and lead the investigations of a panel with broad and oft-used subpoena power as I work with Chairman, Republican Senator Rob Portman, to achieve our shared goals. It's a legacy of Harry Truman's I'm honored to continue.

Billy Long introduces bills to inform taxpayers, promote pro-life principles

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

The 114th Congress continues to pick up momentum, and we are forging ahead on new legislation. I want to share with you two important bills I have introduced – one to protect and inform taxpayers, and another to promote pro-life principles for adoptions.

In an era of strained budgets and increased spending, it is important to hold the president and the Executive Branch accountable on how Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars are spent. That is why I have introduced the Taxpayer Transparency Act (H.R. 310). My bill simply extends similar requirements already imposed on the Legislative Branch to the Executive Branch. This bill requires Executive agencies to disclose that their advertisements and certain communications are paid for at taxpayer expense in mediums including printed mailers, brochures, television and radio advertisements, billboards, and e-mail. I am optimistic this common sense piece of legislation can successfully move through both chambers and land on the president’s desk.

I also introduced the Adoption Promotion Act (H.R. 311), as I continue fighting to protect the unborn and give children opportunities for a happy, fulfilling childhood within a loving, caring family through adoption. The bill would ensure that all women accessing family planning services with Title X funding are given pregnancy options counseling, including professional adoption counseling. The Adoption Promotion Act would also allow collection of data on the effectiveness of pregnancy options counseling and adoption counseling to make sure women are receiving the most effective counseling possible for their child.

I am optimistic and looking forward to seeing where the legislation heads as I work with my House colleagues on these two measures. The legislative measures I am championing are about shining a light on how taxpayer dollars are spent and helping children find loving families through adoption.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Exclusive- Wallace and Bajjali resigned to avoid paying $1.2 million to cheated investors

Joplin master developer David Wallace resigned from his company Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners almost immediately after receiving a letter from a court-appointed receiver saying action was going to be taken to force the company to pay the $1.2 million it had promised the SEC it would pay cheated investors.

Wallace and his partner, Costa Bajjali, had made the final payments on their personal $60,000 fines from the SEC just three days before the City of Joplin hired Wallace-Bajjali as its master developer.

After buying time by taking care of their personal obligations, Wallace and Bajjali did almost nothing to repay investors. As of earlier this month, the duo still owed $1,174,058.20

The entire $1.2 million was supposed to be repaid by December 31, 2012, but Wallace kept pushing the deadline back, all the way to December 31, 2014, by feeding court-appointed receiver Thomas Taylor III a series of stories about the money Wallace-Bajjali was going to make on its projects in Joplin and Amarillo and the millions the firm would make when it went public.

When the December 31 deadline passed, Taylor sent letters to Wallace and Bajjali January 5 letting them know that the game was over and action was going to be taken against them and they had only 10 business days to repay the debt in full.

By the end of those 10 days, Wallace and Bajjali had both resigned from all of the companies that owed the money, in what appears to be an effort to avoid paying what they owe.

The following letter was sent to both Wallace and Bajjali:

Reference is made to certain replacement promissory notes payable to the order of Thomas L. Taylor III, as Receiver for Kaleta Capital Management, LP, a Texas Limited Partnership as detailed below:

- Replacement Promissory Note dated as of May 6, 2006: 

-Laffer Frishberg Wallace Economic Opportunity Fund, L.P. in the amount of $25,000.00 plus accrued interest to date hereof in the amount of $6,743.15; 

-Replacement Promissory Note dated as of August 12, 2008: Laffer Frishberg Wallace Economic Opportunity Fund, L.P. in the amount of $250,000.00 plus accrued interest to date hereof in the amount of $119,383.56; 

-Replacement Senior Secured Promissory Note dated as of March 26, 2009: West Houston WB Realty Fund, LP in the amount of $360,176.35 plus accrued interest to date hereof in the amount of $101,599.33; 

-Replacement Promissory Note dated as of April 7, 2009: West Houston WB Realty Fund, LP in the amount of $20,000.00 plus accrued interest to date hereof in the amount of $7,769.32; 

-Replacement Senior Secured Promissory Note dated as of March 30, 2009 in the amount of $215,000 plus accrued interest to date hereof in the amount of $60,388.49. 

Copies of the above-referenced Promissory Notes are enclosed. 

Pursuant to the terms of the referenced notes, each was due and payable on December 31, 2014. Demand for payment in full of the principal and accrued interest was made on January 5, 2014. The Makers of the Notes have failed to make payment and are now in default. On November, 26, 2013, you executed a Guaranty as to each of the above-referenced notes. A copy of each Guaranty is enclosed. Pursuant to the terms of the Guarantys executed by you related to each of the referenced notes, demand is hereby made for payment in full of the principal amount plus accrued interest, due within ten business days of the date of this demand.

Earlier today, a federal court judge ordered a report on the status of the repayment. Judge Nancy F. Atlas of U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ordered Taylor to have the report ready by Feb. 13. Any disputes of that report must be filed by Feb. 20.

Joplin Mayor: Now i"m dissatisfied with Wallace-Bajjali

Earlier today, a Turner Report post noted that as recently as July 30, Joplin Mayor Michael Seibert was defending Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners, saying that common ordinary folk (like this writer and the readers of this blog) couldn't understand what a master developer does.

Apparently, the fallout from Wallace-Bajjali's departure has changed the mayor's tune.

In an interview today with KGNC-AM in Amarillo, Seibert made it clear that he was not pleased with the former master developer:

"We spend about $1.7 million in payments backed to Wallace-Bajjali for many types of services over a 2 and a half year period," Seibert said.

He said they were already dissatisfied with the firm.

"We weren't pleased with the level of projects that they'd been able to bring forward. We had projects that we were really proud of that they were involved in and don't like what they did."

He says they have several projects in motion and will continue moving forward to rebuild Joplin.

Now let me see if I understand this. The mayor, and from the sound of what he is saying, the city council, was displeased with Wallace-Bajjali. Now when did this displeasure start? Was it after July 30 when he gave his interview to the Amarillo television station explaining why Wallace-Bajjali was doing a good job and we didn't understand how this master development business works or was it before and Seibert was shading the truth during the July interview?

The tweet that C. J. Huff doesn't want you to see

Put on a brave face, little pilgrim.

You can keep saying something over and over, but that doesn't make it the truth.

As I have noted earlier, Superintendent C. J. Huff has continually told the Joplin R-8 Board of Education that everything was going to be okay with the state audit.

Of course, that was before the exit meeting with representatives from the state auditor's office Tuesday night. I haven't heard what Huff is telling the board now, but this is what he told everyone on his Twitter account Wednesday.

You can click on the photo to enlarge it, but if you don't want to go to the trouble, it reads, "Great Board meeting last night. Thank you to the MO State Auditor's team for their closed session presentation to the board. Very helpful."

For some reason, though, C. J. Huff did not want this tweet to be seen by Turner Report readers since he blocked my Twitter account.

Now why would he not want me to know that everything well and that the audit was wonderful?

Joplin mayor on Wallace-Bajjali: People don't understand how master developers work

Less than one month after the Turner Report, using federal court documents, showed that David Wallace of Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners had failed to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars to investors and was using fees from the city of Joplin to keep his company afloat, Mayor Michael Seibert staunchly defended the firm in an interview with an Amarillo television station.

At the same time, Seibert took a shot at those who were skeptical that the city's master developer was ever going to accomplish anything, indicating that those people were not as knowledgeable as the mayor about how development projects work.

From the July 30 report from Amarillo's ABC affiliate:

The mayor of Joplin told us that his relationship with Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners is strong, and that most people are unaware of the amount of work that goes into a project even before breaking ground.

“The vast majority of people don’t understand that the bulk of the effort and time is put into a project prior to the project coming out of the ground,” said Mike Seibert, the mayor of Joplin. “People unfortunately judge the speed of a project based on when it breaks ground, and that means development gets cast in a negative light.”

Not all elected Joplin officials felt the same way. In the same interview, Councilman Ben Rosenberg was skeptical about Wallace-Bajjali.:

“He’s always looking for a co-developer and Wallace-Bajjali never seems to develop anything on their own, they always have a co-developer,” said Rosenberg.

Exclusive: Federal judge orders report on Wallace-Bajjali

Earlier today, a federal court judge ordered a report on the status of the repayment of millions of dollars investors were cheated out of by Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners and others who were involved in a scam that forced the Securities and Exchange Commission to crack down on them in 2012.

Judge Nancy F. Atlas of U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ordered court-appointed receiver Thomas L. Taylor III to have the report ready by Feb. 13. Any disputes of that report must be filed by Feb. 20.

The order was issued one day after Judge Allen received a copy of a letter from investor Diane Collings of Houston to Taylor relating the recent developments with Wallace-Bajjali.

I am writing to make sure you are aware of important changes in the Wallace-Bajjali organization and to request an update on the receivership.

The Wallace-Bajjali organization appears to be falling apart. In November of last year, we were made aware of Costa Bajjali's intention to leave that organization. A few days later, David Wallace did his best to put a good spin on that situation and assured the investors there was no need for concern. It appears that the situation has degraded.

Today, we received another letter from Costa Bajjali notifying investors that David Wallace has also resigned as manager and employee of Wallace-Bajjali organization. This leaves all of the Wallace-Bajjali Funds, the Holding Company, and all related properties without any active management.

These events will no doubt impact Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners' ability to honor their obligations to the receivership and to their investors.

Were you aware of this instability in the Wallace-Bajjali organization? Did the Wallace-Bajjali organization make any substantial payments to the receivership last year. If not, would you consider those payments in jeopardy?

The SEC fined Wallace and Bajjali $60,000 apiece and ordered them to repay $1.2 million, with $450,000 of that to come directly from Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners and the remaining amount of various funds connected to the two.

Court documents do not make it clear if the remainder of the money has been paid. The records include sworn promises from David Wallace that the funds would be, but no record if they were.

The $450,000 could not be paid until his Joplin and Amarillo projects were well underway, Wallace, said. Given an original deadline of December 31, 2012, to repay the investors, Wallace was able to get that date pushed back to December 31, 2014.

Wallace and Bajjali completed paying their $60,000 fines three days before the City of Joplin hired the firm.

With all of the problems surrounding the former Joplin master developers, it is unlikely the payments to the investors were ever made, but Taylor's report should clear up any doubts.

Wallace's sworn statements, which were revealed in earlier Turner Report posts, made it clear that the former Sugar Land, Texas mayor was skating on the edge during the whole time he was in Joplin.

(From the June 25, 2014, Turner Report)
Expense reimbursements from the City of Joplin and short term line of credit advances are the only things keeping the city's master developer Wallace-Bajjalli Development Partners in a positive cash position.

That assessment of the company's financial situation comes from a sworn statement filed by CEO David Wallace as he explained the reasons why Wallace-Bajjali was not yet able to pay a $450,000 settlement the company reached with a court-appointed receiver to pay back investors who were scammed in a real estate scheme that ended up costing both Wallace and his partner, Costa Bajjali, $60,000 in fines from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The statement was filed October 24, 2013, in a Texas federal court as Wallace tried successfully to convince the court that he needed more time to pay the company's obligation.

Court files also included a document from the receiver indicating that while he believed Wallace, going along with the extension was about the only chance the investors ever had of seeing the settlement money. The court extended the due date to December 31, 2014.

The settlement was originally supposed to be paid by December 31, 2012, according to court records. It even included a stipulation that Wallace-Bajjali would only have to pay $300,000 if it paid early.

It quickly became apparent that was not going to happen.

In an April 5, 2012, sworn statement, Wallace expressed doubt that his company was even going to land the Joplin job.

"There is no assurance that WBDP will ultimately be selected by the City of Joplin. Indeed, WBDP, development partners and the City Council involved in the selection process have expressed concerns over the negative press coverage and blog environment resulting from groundless accusations and lawsuits against WBDP." Those lawsuits, he noted, included one by disgruntled investors who were not happy with the settlement agreement.

After the City of Joplin selected the Texas company as its master developer, Wallace, in the October 2013 statement, reassured the court that everything was heading in the right direction.

He wrote of Phase One projects, "valued at approximately $112 million (that) have been formally approved by the Joplin Recovery Commission, the necessary land has been acquired, and the projects are expected to break ground in early 2014."

Those projects included the independent senior living facility, a senior assisted living center, two loft-over-retail shopping centers, one at 20th and Main and one at 26th and Main, and the Joplin Public Library/movie theater.

'"WBDP expects to earn approximately $5 million in development from these projects in 2014.

But the Joplin project was not the only source of revenue that Wallace-Bajjali would produce during 2014, Wallace said, indicating that work was progressing on an initial public offering of Wallace-Bajjali stock.

"WBDP has been working diligently towards its goal of becoming a public company," Wallace wrote. "In June 2013, David Wallace, Costa Bajjali and members of the WBDP management team met with Mr. Andrew Hall, managing director of new listings for NASDAQ."

That meeting not only concerned what the company would have to do to get listed on the exchange, but also if the listing could be derailed by the problems with the SEC. They were assured there would be no problems.

Encouraged by this meeting, Wallace said, the company hired a financial advisory firm, TriPoint Capital Advisers in September 2013 "to assist in IPO readiness activities." TriPoint initiated an audit of Wallace-Bajjali, which was scheduled to be completed in spring 2014.

"Notwithstanding the audit," Wallace said, "TriPoint notes that the most important factor
in a successful IPO is the performance of the underlying business, in this case, the success of the Joplin and Amarillo projects. To that end, it is expected that the Joplin and Amarillo projects must be solidly underway, with vertical construction and monthly revenues flowing to WDBP before completion of the offering."

This would put the IPO at mid-2014 or beyond, Wallace said.

The IPO would help WBDP resolve a portion of the settlement, he added. "Once the IPO closes, the equity and debt holders will receive shares."

That timetable for the IPO was dependent on construction being underway in Joplin and Amarillo, something Wallace said would commence in March 2014. "Assuming that vertical construction in those cities commences," he added, the cash would be flowing.

"The development fees anticipated from Joplin and Amarillo are the most significant sources of funds for WBDP in 2014, totaling an estimated $5,019,990 (in Joplin) and $591,666 (in Amarillo)."

Even with the money coming in, Wallace said, it would take months before anything could be put toward the settlement since the company's line of credit "was directly tied to Joplin" and had to be used on Joplin projects.

No money would be available for the settlement until "the fourth quarter of 2014."

Stanley on Wallace-Bajjali departure: Things are not that bleak

Ryan Stanley, who was not on the Joplin City Council when former master developer Wallace-Bajjali was hired, offers some positive thoughts in this interview with KSN:

Stanley says the future of Joplin is bright and that he is very proud of the work being done on the new Mercy Hospital and the new Joplin High School. He says he feels confident in the projects the city is working on. He wants to make sure we can find a way to get them completed on their own.

"It's easy to look back and say, 'should never of hired Wallace Bajjali.' I think, if we can go back and make that decision over again, we probably would not have hired them. We certainly would've signed the agreement," said Stanley.

Stanley says despite this, he feels good about the future.

"I feel confident in our position. I wouldn't have chosen it, but I don't think we aren't as bleak or frustrated as maybe people think we are," said Stanley.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Schweich to run for governor, vows to clean up corruption

(From Tom Schweich)

This afternoon I had the honor to join my friends, family, and supporters to announce that I am a candidate for Governor of Missouri. My administration will be about leadership. My administration will be about realizing our full potential as a state, and healing our wounds.

Most of all, my administration will be about cleaning up the rampant corruption in Jefferson City.

Since I became your State Auditor I have worked tirelessly to expose public officials, government departments and agencies stealing, wasting, and misusing your taxpayer money. My office has helped uncover over 30 corrupt government officials embezzling millions of your taxpayer dollars, and has identified tens of millions of dollars in waste and abuse in state and local government. However, it’s time to take the next step.

As a state, we are facing some very serious challenges. We need stronger leadership and more honest government. We need fairer economic policies, and we need to improve our struggling schools. Twice now you have put your trust in me to lead the state as Missouri’s official taxpayer watchdog. Now I am asking that you stand beside me as we fight to make Missouri government more accountable and transparent by putting a true anti-corruption expert in the governor’s mansion.

As we embark on this journey together I encourage you to explore my new website and learn more about me, my positions, and connect with us on social media to discover how our grassroots movement is fighting to make Missouri’s government more accountable to all six million of it’s citizens.

Lobbyists pay for telecommunications dinner/hearing at country club

Students escape injury as gunfire hits KC school bus

Graves: Obama's State of the Union recycled failed policies

(From Sixth District Congressman Sam Graves)

Ahead of last November’s election, President Obama stated that “these [Obama’s] policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.” On this, I agree with him. His policies were on the ballot, and millions of men and women throughout the country went to their polling places to pull the lever in opposition to bigger government, more spending, and unconstitutional executive orders.

This year, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union Address. Like many Americans, I was hopeful that the President would outline a vision for our country that reflected the will of those we are here to represent. Unfortunately, he once again showed that he plans to ignore the message sent by the American people last November, pushing ahead with his big government agenda.

The American people sent us here to forge a new direction in finding solutions to the problems facing our nation – not to recycle the failed policies of the last six years.

While it is clear that President Obama did not hear this message, the House of Representatives did. In the opening weeks of the new Congress, the House has passed common sense legislation to promote economic growth, address rising energy costs, remove job-killing regulations found in Obamacare, and reverse the President’s executive order on amnesty.

Common sense solutions are needed to ease the squeeze on middle class Missourians and I am confident that with a new Congress that is exactly what we will have. While his State of the Union speech has left doubt, I am hopeful that President Obama will join with us in promoting bold, new solutions on behalf of the people of north Missouri and across America.

Joplin Globe editorial: We're better off without Wallace-Bajjali

We can all rest easier now.

The Joplin Globe Editorial Board says we're better off without Wallace-Bajjali.

The spirit of Joplin will prevail and it won't be long before we forget the con artist that Councilman Bill Scearce so accurately describes as "a snake oil salesman."

While council members, including Scearce and Ben Rosenberg, were early skeptics about the former Sugar Land mayor's ability to attract $894 million in development to this tornado-ravaged city, the Joplin Globe donned its cheerleading outfit, shook its pom-pons, and brought out the heavy artillery for anyone who dared question this company, which was recommended by a citizens advisory team that sometimes seemed more intent on pushing a vision of Joplin its well-heeled leaders had sought for years than in easing the day-to-day recovery of the thousands who were affected by the events of May 22, 2011.

If the Globe ever investigated Wallace-Bajjali its results never made its pages. The sole extent of its mention of the SEC fine against Wallace and Costa Bajjali made it appear that the two were innocent victims of an unscrupulous businessman, when the SEC documents and information that has been filed in lawsuits in both state and federal courts makes it clear that Wallace-Bajjali was violating SEC regulations and pushing a highly questionable investment scheme.

And not once did the Globe ever mention David Wallace's involvement in at least seven bankruptcies.

Not once did the Globe ever mention that as part of the SEC settlement with Wallace-Bajjali, it was required to repay its investors $450,000 by December 31, 2012. They were unable to do it. The deadline kept being pushed back until it was finally set at December 31, 2014. The investors who put their faith in Wallace-Bajjali years ago to this date have received the same amount of money the city of Joplin has received- not one penny.

None of this was reported in the pages of the area's newspaper of record. All we ever heard from the Joplin Globe was a Rohr of approval for Wallace-Bajjali.

And now the Globe is editorializing, without a single mention of its role in propping up Wallace-Bajjali.

Probably more troubling than the money spent is the waste of momentum and the waste of time that Joplin will never be able to get back. The loss of public confidence is also a concern.

If there is anyone who should know about the loss of public confidence, it is the Joplin Globe.

Scearce on Houston TV: David Wallace is a snake oil salesman

In the accompanying report from Fox 26 in Houston, Joplin City Councilman Bill Scearce offers an opinion he has undoubtedly had for qutie a while about former master developer David Wallace of Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners.

"I would characterize David Wallace as a snake oil salesman," Scearce said. After two and a half years, he added, "not one space of dirt has been turned."

The video features unsuccessful attempts by reporter Katie McCall to reach Wallace at his Sugar Land office (she was tossed out by security) and at his home (someone, not Wallace, is there, but won't open the door).

Joplin man sentenced for meth conspiracy, firearms

(From the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri)

Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Joplin, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of methamphetamine in Jasper County, Mo., and for illegally possessing firearms.

Jose DeLeon Cazares, 29, of Joplin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool to 22 years in federal prison without parole.

On Aug. 5, 2014, Cazares pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine from July 16, 2012, to June 14, 2013, and to possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Law enforcement authorities noticed a significant increase in the availability of methamphetamine in the Joplin area beginning in June 2012. A confidential source stated there was a drug-trafficking organization in Joplin that was importing very pure methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States, then transporting it by automobile to Joplin.

Cazares admitted that he was the local leader of the drug-trafficking organization. Starting in July 2012, federal and local agents conducted numerous undercover buys with various co-defendants in this conspiracy.

A cooperator told law enforcement investigators that he traded stolen firearms and other stolen items to Cazares in return for methamphetamine. He stated that he had traded 10-to-12 firearms to Cazares between September 2012 and July 2013. Cazares gave him between one to one-and-a-half grams of methamphetamine per firearm. Cazares then took the firearms to Mexico. He also traded stolen flat-screen TV's, power tools and computer items (like laptops and Ipads) to Cazares for methamphetamine.

On June 14, 2013, members of the Joplin Police Department SWAT team and members of various federal agencies entered Cazares’s home. They found a box of Winchester 20-gauge 2-3/4-inch rifled slug hollow point ammunition in the bedroom. Cazares was under state charges at the time and prohibited from receiving and possessing ammunition. Officers also found a drug ledger in the living room on the television stand, and multiple Moneygram receipts in his vehicle.

His mother and father, Gerardo Hernandez Cazares, Sr., 53, and Leticia Cazares, 53, as well as his brothers, Gerardo Cazares Jr., 30, and Eric Eziquel Cazares, 32, all of Joplin, are among the co-defendants who have pleaded guilty in this case.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Jasper County Drug Task Force, the Joplin, Mo., Police Department and the Miami, Okla., Police Department.

Allegations of C. J. Huff deception, Mike Johnson sexual harassment on tap at Feb. 17 trial

C. J. Huff is not listed as a defendant, but tactics used by the Joplin R-8 Superintendent to protect his current director of building projects Mike Johnson are likely to be include in testimony of former custodial supervisor George Morris' wrongful firing and retaliation lawsuit against Johnson and the school district.

The case was filed in 2010 and has been often delayed, but a letter entered into Jasper County Circuit Court files today indicates district attorneys are readying themselves for trial.

In the letter, the district's attorney, Karl Blanchard, asks for one hour before the trial for motions, suggested jury instructions and "miscellaneous pre-trial matters."

The case will be heard before Judge David Dally

The following description of the case comes from the February 27, 2014, Turner Report:

Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff is nothing if not a man of action.

When his custodial supervisor told him that he was being sexually harassed by Building, Grounds, and Transportation Director Mike Johnson, Huff said he was deeply concerned.

"Has he said anything about the principals?" Huff asked.

George Morris was worried. This meeting, which took place September 9, 2008, was not Morris' idea. He felt uncomfortable talking about his immediate supervisor.

After a pause, Morris said, "Yes. "I heard Mike Johnson say that he would like to bend Marilyn Alley (former Stapleton Elementary principal) over his desk" That was one of many times Johnson had talked about Mrs. Alley, he added.

Since he had already talked about the sexual harassment, Morris, feeling there was nothing left to lose told Huff about improper ordering and storage procedures that Mike Johnson had ordered him to do.

As the meeting ended, Huff reassured Morris, "This information will be kept confidential. There won't be any retaliation."

Less than two months later, George Morris was fired.

The information about Morris' meeting with C. J. Huff is included in a wrongful discharge lawsuit filed in 2010 in Jasper County Circuit Court. The case was originally set for trial in 2012, but was delayed when district officials claimed they had lost all of their records in the May 22, 2011, Joplin Tornado.

According to the petition, the meeting came at the request of Huff and former Assistant Superintendent Doug Domer. Morris was asked if there had ever been any problems between him and Johnson.

Morris said he did not feel comfortable talking about Johnson, since Huff and Domer were Johnson's bosses.

"He's going to know this came from me. I am the only one who knows about these things," Morris said. Morris also said that despite his never having had a bad evaluation that he thought what he was going to say would get him fired.

"Has he ever said anything to you that offended you concerning sexual preference?" Huff asked.

Morris said Johnson had made such remarks on more than one occasion. One such occasion was on September 9, 2008, just three days earlier, and was made in front of a witness, Gayle Bigley, according to the lawsuit. "Mike Johnson said something about my beard and Gayle said that he thought I kept it because the girls liked it. Mike Johnson responded with he thought I kept it because the guys liked it. I told him he was sick."

Morris told Huff that in August 2007, "while submitting a vacation request, Mike Johnson made a comment about Plaintiff going to see his son in Hawaii.. Mike Johnson told Plaintiff, 'Yeah, sure. We all know that you are president of the Gay Society; there is no need to lie about it."

Morris told Huff of yet another time when Johnson had made disparaging remarks. Morris was preparing to go trout fishing and prepared a vacation form. According to the lawsuit, Johnson said, "Yeah, right. We know that you're really heading up the gay convention; you aren't fooling anyone. We are all familiar with Brokeback Mountain."

At that point, Morris said, he told Johnson he found the comments to be offensive.

After that, Morris said he was worried about retaliation.

"There won't be any retaliation," Huff said, then asked him about the principals.

The lawsuit indicates that Morris believes Huff told Johnson about the meeting because within a week Johnson "became cold and distant."

On October 24, 2008, Johnson called Morris into his office to do his evaluation- nine months late. It was the first time Morris had ever received a poor evaluation.

Three days later he was fired "and not given a reason for his discharge."

The lawsuit charges Johnson and the Joplin R-8 School District with retaliation and wrongful discharge "for reporting sexual harassment and improper food ordering and storage procedures.

Morris is asking for a jury trial, damages, costs and punitive damages due to "defendants' evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others."

Morris' lawsuit is one of three that have been filed within a three-year period alleging wrongdoing on Mike Johnson's part. The district has paid settlements in the other two, including $276,000 in a lawsuit filed by Urban Metropolitan, which accused Johnson of racial discrimination.

Another lawsuit, filed by James Tucker, a 26-year veteran of the school district who was fired was detailed in the January 18, 2014, Turner Report.

Tucker was president of the Joplin Education Support Personnel, the chapter of Missouri NEA for support staff and as part of his responsibility in that position, according to the lawsuit, he sent letters to "Defendant Huff registering complaints brought to him by members of the union that Defendant Johnson had threatened them and otherwise acted inappropriately towards them in the course of his role as their supervisor."

Those letters were the beginning of the end of Tucker's employment with the R-8 School District, according to the lawsuit.

These letters played a direct role in Defendants’ decision to terminate Plaintiff from employment and his termination constituted retaliation for raising the issue of Defendant Johnson’s inappropriate behavior in addition to his other advocacy on behalf of the Union.

Plaintiff attended a meeting with another Union member and Defendant Johnson in which the Union member registered complaints with Defendant Johnson about another employee.

At the meeting, Defendant Johnson told Plaintiff and the other Union member that he could fabricate facts about them and have them terminated from employment if they did not cease their advocacy. The other Union member was in fact terminated from employment shortly thereafter.

On May 3, 2010, Tucker received a letter from the district telling him he was being laid off due to "significant financial restraints."

Since according to the district's agreement with the union, Tucker should have been eligible for any job that came up because of his considerable seniority, he continued to serve as union president, until C. J. Huff put an end to that, according to the lawsuit.

After Plaintiff was terminated from employment on June 3, 2010, he still served as Union President until August 5, 2010, and it was expected by Union members that Plaintiff would still perform his duties as Union President and negotiate on the Union members’ behalf.

When Plaintiff attempted to attend a meet and confer session on behalf of the Union with representatives of the Defendant School District at which the Administrative Guidelines were to be renegotiated, he was told by Defendant Huff to leave the meeting because he was no longer an employee and could no longer serve as a representative on the Union’s behalf.

Defendant Huff terminated Plaintiff’s employment and asked Plaintiff to leave the meeting because he knew that he would not be able to force his agenda upon the Union if Plaintiff was present.

Plaintiff’s termination from employment constituted retaliation for Union advocacy and other activities which he had a right to engage in under the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The individual Defendants engaged in a concerted pattern of intimidation as part of a School District policy and custom designed to intimidate Union leaders and other Union members so that they would cease advocating for their interests and to destroy the efficacy of the Union itself. This policy culminated in the termination from employment of Union leaders who refused to bend to the will of the School District. 

Tucker sued the school district because of its denial of due process. After he was laid off, Tucker filed grievances, but was never allowed to have a hearing.

The Administrative Guidelines defined the procedures by which employees could file grievances and appeal decisions made by their supervisors concerning their grievances.

After learning that he would be laid off from employment and after he learned that he would not be allowed to replace employees with less seniority than him as is required by the Administrative Guidelines, Plaintiff filed multiple grievances against the School District pursuant to the Administrative Guidelines in May and June of 2010.

On June 25, 2010, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendant Huff stating that because Plaintiff was no longer an employee of the School District, he had no recourse to file grievances under the Administrative Guidelines and therefore denied Plaintiff the opportunity to defend his rights using the process described in and required by the Administrative Guidelines.

T-shirts commemorate Wallace-Bajjali's departure from Joplin

I don't know who came up with this idea, but one of the commenters pointed this site out. Apparently, this t-shirt is just the thing for those of you looking for something casual to wear the upcoming announcements of the results of the state audits of the City of Joplin and the Joplin R-8 School District.

More time needed for mental evaluation of accused Planned Parenthood, Mosque arsonist

Doctors at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles were given more time to complete their psychiatric evaluation of the man charged with setting two fires at the Joplni Planned Parenthood office on October 3 and 4, 2013.

U. S. District Court Judge David P.Rush on Tuesday granted an extension until March 3, and ordered that the complete report be filed by March 24. Originally, the deadline had been the end of December.

The judge asked the following things be determined:

-The defendant's history and present symptoms

-description of the psychiatric, psychological, and medical tests that were employed and their results

-the examiner's findings

-the examiner's opinion as whether the defendant was insane at the time of the offense charged and if he will be "able to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his actions."

Stout admitted to law enforcement officers that he was involved, not only in the Planned Parenthood fires, but also that he was responsible for the arson fire that destroyed the Islamic Society Mosque of Joplin. At this point, no charges have been filed in that case.

The revelation about the mosque fires was first made public in a motion to hold Stout without bond filed October 21, 2013, in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

After being advised of his Miranda rights, Stout confessed to attempting to set fire to the Planned Parenthood facility on October 3 and 4, 2013. He also confessed to setting fires at the Islamic Society of Joplin’s building on July 4, 2012 and on August 7, 2012. The building was completely destroyed in the August 7, 2012 blaze.

Mike Loyd: I had not been looking for another job; Joplin came to me

Mike Loyd, who rejected an offer to become Joplin High School's head football coach Tuesday, told the Grove Sun he had not applied for the position and that Joplin had contacted him.

Loyd said he had not been seeking other positions at the time of the Joplin offer, and that it was difficult to consider leaving Grove, in part because of his players' hard work, commitment and growth within the football program.

Joplin extended the offer to Loyd, a 1974 Memorial High School graduate, who held the JHS coaching position for two years in the 1990s, late last week. Loyd told the Grove newspaper he had asked for the weekend to think about it.

Loyd called to decline the offer just before the R-8 Board of Education met. An announcement of his hiring had been scheduled to take place during the meeting.

Rohr to KODE: Joplin has developed a reputation for being completely dysfunctional

KODE has posted Jennifer Penate's complete interview with Mark Rohr online and it includes Rohr's story of how Wallace-Bajjali came to be in Joplin, along with his assessment that the reputation of Joplin has changed from being considered a model of recovery from a disaster to "being completely dysfunctional."

Rohr also gives a detailed explanation of the money Wallace-Bajjali received from the city of Joplin.

Shawn McGrew: Keep your mouth shut and don't talk to the Turner Report

Joplin R-8 Board members need to keep their mouth shut and don't talk to the Turner Report, the newest member, Shawn McGrew, said during a soliloquy at the end of Tuesday night's board meeting.

Though he did not mention this blog by name, the object of McGrew's wrath was clearly a Turner Report post last week which revealed that the board had voted 5-2 to extend Superintendent C. J. Huff's contract through 2018.

The report noted that the vote was 5-2 with McGrew, Board President Anne Sharp, Randy Steele, Lynda Banwart, and Mike Landis voting for the extension and Debbie Fort and Jim Kimbrough casting the dissenting votes.

Citing administration sources, it also noted that the extension was pushed by Sharp, despite the fact that the board had no idea of what the conclusions of the state audit were going to be, other than Huff telling them continually that everything is okay.

"None of that information should have gone out," McGrew said. "That could have only come from one of us.

"We are not giving a clear, consistent message."

While it is important that the board engage in "a health dialogue" during its open and closed sessions, McGrew said, "when the vote is made, we all have to support that decision."

McGrew, who was appointed four months ago to take the place of Dawn Sticklen, who resigned after transferring her daughter to Webb City High School, is not running in the April election.

Huff: JHS Performing Arts Center on target for March 1 opening

It looks like Joplin High School fine arts students will be able to abandon the Memorial Middle School building in time for R-8 Administration to move in.

Superintendent C. J. Huff told the R-8 Board of Education last night that the performing arts center for the new high school is "on target" to open March 1.

"We're excited about cutting a ribbon for the new performing arts center," Huff said.

The first production in the new facility, the JHS Spring Play, is scheduled to open April 15.

Mark Rohr: This doesn't sound like the David Wallace I knew

In this interview with KOAM, former Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr says the David Wallace who abandoned Joplin is not the David Wallace he knew.

Once again, Rohr takes a shot at the Joplin City Council members who fired him, saying that some of Wallace-Bajjali's projects could have been successful if there had not been opposition from within the council.

C. J. Huff: Wallace-Bajjali left school district in bad shape

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting began last night with a presentation by Superintendent C. J. Huff about the damage the departure of Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners is going to do since David Wallace did not live up to his promise to pay $13 million to the district, part of the agreement that was reached to end district opposition to the super TIF zone.

In the accompanying report by KOAM's Lisa Olliges, Huff talks about the possibility of a lawsuit, though in last night's meeting, it sounded as if the school district and the city will work together on whatever action is taken.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mark Rohr: Wallace-Bajjali failed because council was out to get them

KODE's Jennifer Penate landed a scoop today, interviewing former Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr about the departure of Wallace-Bajjali from the city.

Rohr has not mellowed any since taking the city manager position in League City, Texas.
From the KODE report:

If my memory serves me correctly, former council member Raney, Jane Cage, I think Mr. Anderson, maybe Mr. O'Brien and some others actually took a field trip to Texas to see in person some of those projects," said Mark Rohr, Former Joplin City Manager.

Rohr adds once all contracts were signed, things didn't go so smoothly.

"I've told others this and stand behind it 110%, there were city officials while I was there that were actively working against the projects proceeding. Once again, there were city officials that represented that city that were working behind the scenes to prevent the projects from proceeding," said Rohr.

City of Amarillo severs ties with Wallace-Bajjali

The city of Amarillo is following the same approach was Joplin when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of Wallace-Bajjali Develpment Partners.

From the report of News Channel 10 in Amarillo:

The LGC (Local Government Corporation) board voted unanimously Tuesday to terminate all existing contracts with the company. "We will send a written notice of default, and we will treat the contracts as no longer binding on the Local Government Corporation, and we will proceed with the projects as if they do not exist," explained Brown.

Brown said the LGC was no stranger to the company's struggles. "I think everyone has been aware that things have been rocky with Wallace Bajjali for the last several years. Just like we have friends who's marriages are sometimes rocky, we knew they had issues amongst themselves, but our projects were going forward and the team of professionals that were going to work on those, we were confident they could get the job done."

According to Brown, the job will still get done. City staff will take over the duties of Wallace Bajjali as construction manager so they can start building the parking garage as soon as possible. If all goes as planned, construction will start this July.

Hartzler votes to combat human trafficking

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) and the U.S. House have passed a package of bills aimed at preventing, increasing awareness of, and protecting victims of the crime of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is nothing more than modern-day slavery,” Hartzler said. “It is a heinous crime and more needs to be done to stop it worldwide and here in the United States. Many overlook the fact that this crime is not confined to foreign countries and that many cases are right here in our own backyards. In fact, it is estimated that child sex trafficking is a $32 billion dollar industry worldwide and a $9.8 billion industry here in the U.S. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world, putting over 293,000 young Americans at risk of becoming trafficking victims each year.”

“I am proud to have co-sponsored a number of the measures in this package,” Hartzler added. “These bills, along with the others, will help to bring this terrible crime to light, uproot traffickers, and ensure that trafficking victims are treated as victims, not like criminals. This is a good step towards eliminating trafficking, but much more needs to be done."

Watch the Joplin R-8 Board of Education live

At last minute, Mike Loyd rejects Joplin High School coaching offer

A new football coach may be hired at Joplin High School, but it is not going to be former JHS Coach and 1974 Memorial graduate Mike Loyd.

R-8 Administration had anticipated naming Loyd, who reportedly was torn between returning to his home town and staying at Grove where he became coach in the fall of 2014, but Loyd turned down the offer only a few minutes before the Joplin R-8 Board of Education began its closed session meeting with auditors.

Loyd's hiring was supposed to take place during the closed session with an announcement being made in the open session under an item listed as "employment."

Carol Stark's list of things the Joplin Globe thinks are important

I recently came across a top secret Joplin Globe memo which listed things that Editor Carol Stark thinks are important and should receive major coverage and things that are not important and do not need to be covered:


Joplin City Councilman Ben Rosenberg's dog

Criminals who had Joplin City Councilman Bill Scearce as a landlord 20 years ago

Six-and-a-half-mile ribbons

Anything involving columnist Mike Pound's family

Sticky notes

Six-month-old minor traffic citations

$40,000 extra for investigator Tom Loraine's report

Joplin Progress Committee formed to do great things for Joplin

C. J. Huff brings Bright Futures to the world.

Keeping anything secret from the Joplin Globe


Wallace-Bajjali involved in at least seven bankruptcies, multiple lawsuits, and has no completed projects to its credit

Joplin R-8 Board of Education approves $8 million in "might-as-well' spending

The $1.7 million that investigator Tom Loraine's $40,000 extra should have saved the city.

Joplin Progress Committee attempting to buy local elections and push costly programs that benefit a few

Joplin R-8 Board approves $5 to $12 million in projects to be covered by FEMA money, but not yet approved by FEMA

C. J. Huff tells world how he singlehandedly saved Joplin from the tornado, poverty, and parents who did not care whether their children graduated.

Anything negative about Mark Rohr or C. J. Huff.

Mike Loyd expected to be named Joplin High School football coach tonight

(UPDATE- Just before tonight's board meeting, Mike Loyd turned down the offer.)

Grove High School Football Coach Mike Loyd is expected to leave after one year at that position to take the head coaching job at Joplin High School.

The official hiring is scheduled to be announced tonight at the Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting.

If the announcement goes as scheduled, this won't be the first go-round as JHS Coach for Loyd, a 1974 graduate of Memorial High School, who played quarterback in the NFL for six years, including a stint with the old St. Louis Cardinals.

Loyd coached at Joplin High School in the 1990s, then went on to a five-year run at Northeastern Oklahoma (NEO) where he compiled a 44-7 record, including a national championship in 1991.

Mike Woolston and the Wallace-Bajjali land grab scheme

The role of Councilman Mike Woolston in the development of the Joplin Tornado was something that concerned Melodee Colbert-Kean when she was mayor (and most likely still does today).

The mayor asked then City Attorney Brian Head to check into Woolston's dealings with real estate sales in the 20th and Connecticut area. She had reason to worry. Her fellow council member Ben Rosenberg had attended a meeting of the Parr Hill neighborhood group where Woolston was accused of everything from using his influence to force property sales to cashing in on insider information.

At that point, Head, while concerned, did not see anything that Woolston was doing that was illegal. The councilman insisted, and no record has ever been shown otherwise, that he received only one commission from the sale of real estate and during council meetings he was abstaining from all votes having to do with that area.

Brian Head later told investigator Tom Loraine that he might not have given Woolston a pass had he been privy to information he later came across. "At the time this (his opinion) was written," Head said, "I did not know there was any conflict."

To put it simply, Wallace-Bajjali was working with Joplin developer Charlie Kuehn to buy land in that area. Woolston was helping Kuehn buy the property, but he was not working directly with Wallace-Bajjali. Woolston was not taking commission for any of the property and not voting on anything concerning it, but all indications from Woolston's own testimony in the Loraine Report is that Kuehn wanted to make sure Woolston was making money, so he increased his involvement in Kuehn's other local projects.

Loraine suspected, and it appears state auditors are checking to see if it is true, that Kuehn bought the property for Wallace-Bajjali, which then sold it at a marked-up rate to the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation. The increased amount also increased Wallace-Bajjali's finder's fee even though essentially the company had done nothing and turned out be nothing but profit for Wallace-Bajjali since the company abandoned Joplin having only paid for one piece of property, the Coca-Cola Building.

With a deadline looming, Loraine wanted to know who was making a profit and how much. Kuehn might know, but he cut his interview with Loraine short, refusing to answer questions. David Wallace refused to meet with Loraine, though he says he just couldn't make it on any days that Loraine had available. City Manager Mark Rohr would not provide Loraine with what he needed. Brian Head had never been involved in much of the city's dealings with Wallace-Bajjali.

That left Mike Woolston.

"I don't think I'm going to be very helpful because I wouldn't be privy to any of the Wallace-Bajjali workings, because I wasn't involved in any of that," Woolston told Tom Loraine. The fees from the property sales for Wallace-Bajjali at that point amounted to $417,900.

Woolston says he and Kuehn talked with Brian Head, though Woolston is never specific about what exactly he asked the city attorney. "Essentially, we just talked about what we were going to be doing and I just wanted to protect myself in terms of the conflict of interest. I got his input, his perspective on it, and I don't remember his exact words, but something to the effect that we would just have to be careful in how we went forward to make sure that I didn't do something to cross the line ethically.

"I attempted to keep myself out of hot water. I don't think that anyone who does their homework can think there's an appearance of impropriety."

Woolston says his business arrangement with Kuehn began a couple of months after the tornado when he was still serving as mayor. The only piece of property on which he made a commission did not involve a conflict of interest because it happened before there was talk of the library-theater complex, he said.

Other property sales did not involve conflicts of interest, he said, because the plan on what to do with the property "hadn't been formalized in writing."

At one point, Woolston said, he was working for Kuehn to buy property to be used for a loft-over-retail project. He knew that "there was the possibility it may be in partnership with the Wallace-Bajjali folks, but again I didn't know of any formalized written agreement."

His only motive in not accepting commissions and doing his work for no money, Woolston said, was that he wanted to help rebuild the city. "We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape to a large degree what a community looks like 10 or 15 ot 50 years and I wanted to have a part in that."

Anyone who would see anything unethical in that is just ignorant, Woolston indicated. "An uninformed person who didn't pay a great deal of attention to details might think there was something underhanded going on.

"I have taken very careful steps to ensure that I don't cross the line ethically."

Loraine challenged Woolston about the "appearance of impropriety," including the idea that a city councilman and former mayor was working to make property deals in the area of town that had been hit by the tornado or by Woolston checking with the Zoning Board about matters of interest to Kuehn.

While Woolston acknowledged that someone might think something was wrong, he indicated that in his dealings with the Zoning Board he always let them know he was talking to them as "a private citizen" and not as a member of the Joplin City Council.

"I'm sure that we as council members get treated a little differently than any other private citizen who would go in and make essentially the same request." he acknowledged when pressed by Loraine.

Woolston also talked about the importance of ethical behavior.

"The public needs to have confidence that there's nothing underhanded going on at the Council level."

Scearce on KZRG: Wallace, Mark Rohr responsible for Wallace-Bajjali contract

The deck was stacked against the city of Joplin from the start.

During an interview moments ago on KZRG, City Councilman Bill Scearce said the city's contract with Wallace-Bajjali was created by David Wallace and former City Manager Mark Rohr and was entirely written by Wallace's attorney.

"It was brought to us as a take it or leave it contract."

At the time, Scearce noted, much pressure was being put on the council by the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team, a group of business people put together primarily by Rohr and Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian.

Scearce, who expressed reservations about the contract, said he had been hopeful everything would work out, "We wanted this to be successful. It they had been, this city would be better," but he added, "I've been critical of David Wallace and his non-performance for quite a while."

Video- Amarillo TV coverage of Wallace-Bajjali shutdown

The city of Joplin wasn't the only city affected by the sudden implision of Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners. This video features Amarillo television coverage of what happened in Joplin and what it will mean for Amarillo where Wallace-Bajjali was involved with the development of the downtown area.

Jake Zimmerman to run for attorney general

(From Jake Zimmerman)

Pledging to fight for fairness and equal treatment for all Missourians, Jake Zimmerman today announced that he will officially enter the race for Missouri Attorney General. As Missouri’s top law enforcement official, Zimmerman said he would draw on his experience as a former prosecutor, lawmaker, and the current St. Louis County Assessor to advocate for crime victims, consumers and taxpayers.

“Everyone has a right to fairness, regardless of whether you’re a millionaire or a single mom who is just trying to make ends meet,” Zimmerman said. “Whether it’s prosecuting corporations that are cheating their customers, or cracking down on casinos and developers who are trying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, I’ve dedicated my career to fighting to make sure people are treated equally under the law. It’s a fight I want to continue as Missouri’s Attorney General.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

City of Amarillo official statement on Wallace-Bajjali shutdown

The city of Joplin is not the only one that is being affected by the sudden collapse of Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners.

The following news release was issued by the City of Amarillo, Texas, where Wallace-Bajjali had been the master developer of a downtown project, backed its way out of most of it and was still supposed to be building a $14 million parking garage with city money.

Based on the developments regarding Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, LP vacating their offices in Joplin, MO., and related information gained throughout the day, the Amarillo Local Government Corporation (LGC) is in contact with its legal counsel to determine a proper response. The LGC anticipates meeting as early possible to address these concerns.

In the meantime, the LGC wishes to confirm that the contract related to the development of the Convention Center Hotel is with Newcrest Image and construction will proceed as scheduled. The recently approved contracts on the Convention Center Parking Garage allow for the continuation of the construction of the garage so that it will be open in time to support the hotel.

The construction and prompt completion of the Multi-Purpose Event Venue (MPEV) – commonly referred to as the ballpark – remains a priority for the LGC. The Amarillo LGC remains committed to all three projects and looks forward to their successful conclusion.

City of Joplin Official Statement on Wallace-Bajjali exit

(From City of Joplin)

Today the City received an email from Costa Bajjali that confirmed his resignation from Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, LP, as of January 23, 2015. Also included in the correspondence was a copy of David Wallace’s resignation letter, dated January 7, 2015, from this same firm. Prior to receiving these notices, the City was unaware of either representative’s actions, other than third party information it had received last week about the Joplin offices of Wallace Bajjali being closed.

As a result of this information, the City is reviewing its options regarding the contractual agreement the Joplin City Council entered into with WBDP on July 2, 2012.
In the past two and a half years, the City has paid Wallace Bajjali approximately $1.68 million for work performed. This includes:

• $1 million, which represents a 50% reimbursement of the actual costs ($2 million) spent by the master developer for their work in the community;

• $475,000 fees for land purchases (this cost will be reimbursed when the property is sold to WB)

• Some $200,000 has been paid for work performed in the revenue and cost benefit analysis of the TIF formation (tax increment financing), and legal fees for tax credits that the firm helped in acquiring.

On January 16, 2015, City Manager Sam Anselm notified Wallace Bajjali that their insurance had lapsed, and they had 30 days to cure this default, as stated in the master predevelopment agreement. The City has not received a response from WBDP on this matter.
Although the status of the master development firm is uncertain, City officials remain confident in the continued efforts of rebuilding and development of Joplin.

“The new library project is on track,” said Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert. “The City Council will vote on the contracts for the architectural and engineering firms at our next meeting. I would expect to have a groundbreaking event in the near future.” Currently the library is limited to 35,000 square feet, does not meet ADA compliance, and is landlocked from any expansion at its current location in the 300 block of South Main Street, which prevents any future growth of services.

City staff is also seeking direction from the Economic Development Administration to utilize a portion of the EDA $20 million stimulus grant for infrastructure needs of an adjoining retail development in that area. This could include publicly-owned items such as sidewalks, streetlights, or stormwater work for the area.

A request for proposal (RFP) for a senior citizens housing complex will also be released in upcoming weeks.

“This is an unfortunate occurrence with the master developer, and we will keep the public informed as we learn more about the outcomes of the firm’s partners’ resignations,” said Seibert. “In the meantime, the City does have several projects in motion, with great staff in place. We will continue moving forward in order to rebuild Joplin and keep our commitment to our citizens in making this city better than it was prior to the tornado.”

Joplin man sentenced to seven years for shooting death of Granby woman

Windell Daniels, 31, Joplin, was sentenced to seven years in prison today for the shooting death of Kelly Jean Crawford, 24, Granby, in July 2013.

Daniels pleaded guilty November 24 in Jasper County Circuit Court to involuntary manslaughter and Judge Gayle Crane ordered a presentence investigation.

Daniels was initially cited for second degree assault and armed criminal action after the shooting, which took place at a home on County Road 10 in the eastern part of Jasper County. The charges were upgraded after Ms. Crawford’s death.