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.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Everyone should read (or re-read) the Loraine Investigative Report on the City Council and Wallace Bajali. Here is a link:

Hard to miss where the fingers point: Woolston and WB in particular as well as Rohr.

If the Globe hadn't been so enamored of Rohr, maybe they would have followed up on the very clear conflicts of interests for Woolston and Gary Shaw. And maybe the Council would have exercised proper oversight of City Manager Rohr had the Globe not been such an unquestioning Rohr supporter and cheerleader.
Truly poor journalism. Naive at best.
Truly poor city government. Stupid at best. Corrupt at worst.

Anonymous said...

You are right, Randy Turner. The Globe should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of investigative journalism but I doubt they will be. They don't want to do their job, plain and simple. They are afraid of upsetting the big-wigs, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Wanna know what Joplin's problem(s) is? LEADERSHIP! Just not elected council members but city staff too. This community has become a place where ignorant and criminal minds flock to for city employment. Some city officials want to claim ignorance while other city officials act in criminal ways. ALL of these people should be held accountable. Who should hold them accountable??? The people of the community. These criminals rely upon and thrive in a community of a bunch of non-doers. Complacent citizens who do not stand up against them and demand accountability. Run their butts out of town. Period! I guess you really get all kinds of people on the council who mostly just want their 15 seconds of fame in a small pathetic town nowadays. What is it now, they get paid a meal a week for their service? There's a problem, you get what you pay for! Joplin neeeds an enema!

Anonymous said...

An oversight commitee/council/board that does not enforce governance and accountability over its agent/ceo/manager/superintendentt would never happen in Joplin. If it did, we would be informed in a timely manner by local media/newspaper/tv/radio. If the media somehow missed the vast amounts of documented evidence and eyewitness testimony, they would quickly pick up on the rising level of popular discontent reported on by mad bloggers, who among other things, are disgruntled ex-employees of these local institutions.

Surely the paradigm of advertising local businesses being the defacto employers of the local media would not discourage them from reporting facts that could prove unflattering to some who occupy positions in the power structures of this city.

Anonymous said...

And yet, when one prominent Joplin businessman stands up to the establishment and takes on the task of trying to hold local government account with an audit, what happens? He is attacked in the media. His motives are questioned; his politics become suspect.
That's what happens when you take on authority - no matter who you are. Not so easy

Anonymous said...

@8:39 Excellent point.

Anonymous said...

I'll second that 11:51 AM. 8:39 AM is right on! My family and I are so sick of it that we are making strategic plans to leave Joplin.

Anonymous said...

It's not that our city leaders are inherently corrupt as much as that they are mediocre. This is the struggle of management - you need people in those roles but there are more roles than there are qualified individuals, and the individuals who pursue those positions with the most fervor tend to be the ones with the biggest ego rather than the greatest skill. It's a variation on that whole thing where people who are smart enough are also more likely to exhibit self-doubt; it goes with the territory. Conversely, those who are less intelligent are also less likely to doubt themselves, because they aren't smart enough to perceive the areas where they are lacking. Similarly, people who learn and grow are also those who are comfortable with accepting criticism, those who become the most defensive in response to criticism remain stagnant.

Dusty Roads said...

6:59 I think you just described Woolston.