Saturday, January 24, 2015
Thoughts on Wallace-Bajjali skipping town
I did, but this is not a matter of the Turner Report being right about the wisdom of entering into a multi-million dollar deal with a master developer with a history of fraud, failed projects, and serial bankruptcies.
I said it but so did everyone else with half a brain in the city of Joplin.
David Wallace sold Wallace-Bajjali Development Partners as a company that would bring in the same kind of public-private partnerships for Joplin that it has in other cities, such as Waco, Amarillo, and Sugar Land, Texas, where Wallace was once the mayor.
And he has, Wallace-Bajjali has provided Joplin with exactly the same kind of services he provided to those cities , a string of failures, disappointments, and dreams that will never come true.
And now, surprise of surprise, with state auditors issuing subpoenas and with deadlines to buy property looming, the Joplin Globe reports today that the local Wallace-Bajjali office has closed its doors. Globe reporters were unable to contact anyone from Wallace-Bajjali, either here or in Texas
The $794 million in projects that David Wallace promised Joplin, some of which were ideas that were attempted (and failed) earlier, has been virtually abandoned, just like the firm's Joplin office.
Joplin shouldn't have needed state auditors to determine that all was not right in the land of Wallace-Bajjali. SEC records, civil cases, bankruptcy documents, all of those things are public and were available to the Joplin City Council, the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team, and the Joplin Globe.
Even after the city entered into its unholy alliance with the master developer, it had ample evidence, submitted by Thomas Loraine, a man with considerable experience and an impeccable reputation, that nothing good was going to come from the city's involvement with Wallace-Bajjali.
Loraine strongly recommended that the city cuts its ties to its master developer immediately. That never happened.
Instead, we heard a lot of whining about how we spent $80,000 for a report that was supposed to cost $40,000.
The Loraine Report would have been the bargain of the century if its recommendations had been followed.
Unfortunately, since those days and weeks following the May 22, 2011, tornado when everyone talked about the resilience of Joplin and the magnificent job done by its leaders under the most trying of circumstances, many of our leaders have been led astray by visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads and opportunities to push personal pet projects and claim they are doing what the public wants.
What has happened with the City of Joplin and with the Joplin R-8 School District is that we have allowed elected officials and unelected administrators to team with a group of prominent, well-heeled local citizens to create what they call a "bigger, better Joplin."
There is nothing wrong with wanting Joplin to be bigger and better; that is something we all want- and we were headed in that direction long before the Joplin City Council entered into its devil's bargain with Wallace-Bajjali.
Find out how to receive a sneak preview of the first 50 pages of my new book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: How Greed and Corruption Destroyed the Joplin Tornado Recovery at this link.