Thursday, January 08, 2015

Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: How Greed and Corruption Destroyed the Joplin Tornado Recovery

In the first two years after the Joplin Tornado, I wrote or co-wrote three books about the event.

Over the past several months, I have been researching a fourth, one in which I will take a decidedly different approach than I did with the first three.

In 5:41, Spirit of Hope, and Scars from the Tornado, I split the text between first-person stories, essays, some old fashioned reporting, and historical documents.

And while the fourth book would not be written were it not for the tornado, it is not a collection of first-person accounts or description of the event that forever changed Joplin, Missouri, though there are elements of both.

The book, which has the working title, Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud and the subtitle How Greed and Corruption Destroyed the Joplin Tornado Recovery, details how the Joplin story, which began as a tale of resilience and as former City Manager Mark Rohr termed it "the miracle of the human spirit," soon turned into a debacle in which elected and non-elected officials placed their own hopes and dreams ahead of the people of this city and squandered millions of dollars in taxpayer money in the process.

As difficult as it has been for me, considering the circumstances that led to my departure from teaching, I went into this project with as much of an open mind as possible, determined not to have any preconceived notions (though I had many suspicions) of what my research would uncover.

That turned out to be the right approach. Some of the things I had believed for a long time turned out to be wrong.

For months, I have been poring over government documents, court cases, newspaper and magazine articles, e-mails, press releases and videos to paint as accurate a portrait as possible of the events that have occurred in the past three and a half years.

There have also been many interviews in the process as I attempted to pin down points that were important in our understanding of how a recovery that seemed to be well on its way could have gone so far astray.

The book focuses on several people whose names are familiar to Joplin residents, including people involved with the city government, the school district, Missouri Southern State University, and even a person or two from Texas.

What I discovered during the course of my research is that there were many things that I had never known, many things I had forgotten, many things I was able to confirm, but most of all, this will finally put all of the information into one book.

To prevent myself from going into the hole any more than necessary in paying for the design of the book and its conversion into both paperback and e-book formats, I am offering a subscription special.

Those who take a $30 one-year subscription to the Turner Report will get an advance look at the first 50 pages of the book (in e-book format) at least one month before the rest of the reading public. Anyone who already has a $30 subscription will receive it automatically. The "Donate" button will also accompany this post and for anyone who contributes $50 or more, I will send a signed copy of the book in paperback format once it is published. (The book will cost $20 retail.)

Those who already have $30 subscription and want a copy of the book reserved can donate at least $20.

The 50-page preview will be available around the middle of February, while the target date for the complete book is mid-to-late March.

As always, those who prefer not to spend money online can mail their subscription or contribution money to 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin MO 64801.

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Anonymous said...


Randy said...

Thanks for spotting that. It took a while, but I believe I have finally corrected the problem.

Anonymous said...

This book will open a lot of eyes, people. Every dime is worth it, and ten times over. Write faster, Mr. Turner. The truth must be told.