Sunday, February 01, 2015

CART leaders tried to derail Wallace-Bajjali investigation

Are you as tired as I am of people saying we need to bring in an independent investigator to look into the problems in the city of Joplin and the Joplin R-8 School District?

At this point, we have had two independent investigations of the city of Joplin and every effort has been made to undercut both of them.

When the people of Joplin petitioned for and received a state audit of the city, we immediately started hearing about how much money David Humphreys had contributed to State Auditor Tom Schweich. 

Now attempts are being made to undercut the state audit results by claiming it is all political because Schweich is running for governor.

When Osage Beach attorney Thomas Loraine was hired to look into the activities of city council members Bill Scearce and Mike Woolston, when it became obvious that the investigation was turning in an unwanted direction, the attacks against Loraine began.

He was out to get Mark Rohr. He was a buddy of former City Attorney Brian Head. He did not know what he was doing.

That seems funny, since reading the transcripts of his interviews, it is clear he knew exactly what he was doing. The man a former Assistant U. S. Attorney. This was nothing new for him.

And as hard as it is to believe after reading the Loraine Report, and the accompanying interviews there are still some misguided people who believe the report was all about former City Manager Mark Rohr.

Loraine's report suggested immediately getting rid of Wallace-Bajjali and getting Mike Woolston under control.

With considerable help from the Joplin Globe, which made a big deal out of fighting for the public's right to know and then deciding that the public didn't need to know much about anything except Rohr's firing, the powerful group that has led the city and the school district down the primrose path has managed to keep the eyes of the media diverted.

Consider the people who Loraine attempted to interview who turned him down- David Wallace (who insists they just couldn't agree on a meeting date), Joplin Globe Editor Carol Stark, and Joplin developer Charles Kuehn (who started an interview with Loraine, but left when it became obvious that Loraine was seeking answers).

Without subpoena power, Loraine still managed to make it clear that something unsavory was happening in this city. It was a great job of investigating. It was accepted, paid for, then for the most part, completely ignored.

Once it was apparent that Tom Loraine was digging deep enough to uncover some of the corruption that has surrounded the Joplin Tornado recovery, the attacks against his report started- even before it had been issued.

If the unelected powers that be in the city of Joplin had their way, the Loraine investigation would never have happened in the first place.

In her interview with Tom Loraine, Melodee Colbert-Kean, mayor at the time, detailed an incident of subtle intimidation she received from two leading members of the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART) , who are also the leaders of the Joplin Progress Committee, who did not want the investigation to take place. I first wrote about this meeting in the April 5, 2014 Turner Report.

That meeting was held around the end of October or the first of November with former U. S. Bank President Clifford Wert and Rebuild Joplin Chairman Jerrod Hogan. "At first, all I knew it was Jerrod Hogan," the mayor said. "I didn't know it would be Clifford, also. until he got there. And they asked me what I should be as a mayor and leader- everybody throws that one out.

"On Mr. Scearce (City Councilman Bill Scearce) what the issue was and why are we wasting the city's money with this investigation when Mr. Scearce should just do the right thing.And I was like- what are you talking about? What's your think of the right thing." Their insinuation was that Scearce, whose connection or lack of connection with a bookie operation taking place in a building he owned, was one of the topics to be investigated, should resign.

According to Ms. Colbert-Keen, Wert said, "I want to be able to trust my city leaders."

What the mayor did not know at that point was that Clifford Wert is not a resident of the city of Joplin. He lives in Webb City.

What is hard to understand is why Wert and Hogan would find it so important for Scearce to resign to stop an investigation. Is it possible that it was actually the investigation of City Councilman Mike Woolston that they wanted stopped- an investigation that quickly led to dealings with Rohr and Wallace-Bajjali?

In retrospect, that meeting takes on a far more sinister appearance. Perhaps next month when the City of Joplin's audit is released, we will finally have a true understanding of why the power brokers in this city (and we are not just talking about Clifford Wert and Jerrod Hogan) have tried so hard to derail any investigation of how tornado recovery money was spent and why they are doing their best to make it appear that anyone who is investigating is doing it for political reasons.

Who knows? We may even find out what the Joplin Globe has to hide.


Anonymous said...

And maybe the audit will paint a roadmap for Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankleson to follow to its logical conclusion: Woolston, Shaw, Wallace (and his local henchmen Bruce Anderson and David Box), Charlie Kuehne, and ...Rohr.
Wert, Hogan, Cage and the rest were likley just do-gooding dupes.
But it's time for this mess to be brought into direct sunlight.
Thank you Randy for being the "newpaper of record" in Joplin. The other one won't step up.

Anonymous said...

"Who knows? We may even find out what the Joplin Globe has to hide"

Well.... what of the rumor that they were going to sell their building to Wallace as part of the downtown redevelopment>? Is that true? That would be a bit of a conflict if they didn't investigate WB in order to get the deal done.

Anonymous said...

These people--the Globe, council, CART and whoever else is like them--are worse than WB, the looters and all the other scammers who came in to take advantage of the tornado aftermath. You can include the school board, Huff and Besendorfer and Co. in that. You've stolen from and hurt the very people you are supposed to serve and help. I truly want to see you all feeling embarassed. I wonder if and when you will realize what horrid things you have done. It will be way too long before we will recover from the effects of all this corruption and greed.

Anonymous said...

Funny story...everyone who works inside of these organizations knew for sure that no matter what the outcome of the Audits were, you'd be quit to call scandal. There's no winning.