Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Full speed ahead- Has anyone learned anything from the Wallace-Bajjali fiasco?

Two speakers stood before the Joplin City Council Monday night during the public comment portion of the agenda and addressed the city's situation in the wake of the Wallace-Bajjali departure.

The first, Wildwood Acres developer Jimmer Pinjuv, asked for the roads to be widened and for sewer service to 700 acres he owns so that the area can be used to attract industry.

Industry seemed to have been all but forgotten during the initial $894 million worth of projects David Wallace sold to the City Council following Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART) meetings. The emphasis was on retail and service businesses and the bizarre (a theater over a library).

The second speaker, Joplin resident Dan McCreary, added a different thought to the public discourse. "I lost my home on May 22, 2011, like so many others, but not once did I hear anyone say we need a restaurant or a strip mall or a movie theater above a library."

Can anyone think of anyone who was saying those things were needed in the days, weeks, and even months after the tornado?

The well-intentioned folks from the CART held multiple meetings, made a big show of pinning all of the ideas on the wall so people could see just how much public input they had received, then proceeded to provide a laundry list of ideas they had been working on since long before the tornado (with some additional flourishes from the master developer).

Public input is not easy to come by in any situation. While businessmen, bankers, CEOs, and highly-paid administrators for public and quasi-public organizations have the time and the incentive to involve themselves heavily in "dream sessions," such as the ones held by CART and by the Joplin R-8 School District, most people who do not work in such comfortable circumstances have a hard enough time just dealing with the difficulties of day-to-day life,

That makes it more difficult to learn what it is the public really wants. It takes people actually taking the time to seek out those people and that is not done by checking the pulse of those who are attending the latest Chamber of Commerce meeting.

With all of the controversy that has surrounded the implosion of Wallace-Bajjali, there seems to be a rush to get projects underway. And while some of these projects will no doubt benefit the community, no one seems to be willing to reflect on what has happened and it could lead the city and the school district into even more problems.

McCreary requested that the city wait until the state audit results are in before moving forward. No one seemed to be paying any attention.

Wallace-Bajjali is gone, but the people who are responsible for hiring the master developer are almost all still in place, both on the City Council and in the non-elected private organizations, including CART, that have been setting the agenda for the community in this multi-million dollar recovery effort.

The city's newspaper of record, the Joplin Globe, also seems to be taking little, if any, time for reflection.

In its coverage of Monday night's council meeting, the Globe relegated Jimmer Pinjuv's request to an inside page of the newspaper.

As for Dan McCreary's suggestion that the city wait for the audit results and his comments that he had not heard one person saying Joplin needed strip malls or restaurants that would cannibalize existing businesses, the Globe also had a place for it.

Unfortunately for readers wanting to be informed, it was not in the pages of the newspaper.

Any suggestion that the city's power brokers may have acted in haste and may have made dangerously unsound decisions is not going to wind up in the pages of the Joplin Globe.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its sad to see this community in shambles because of two slick oil salesmen who took the money and ran off. As far as I can tell, Wallace is at it again. Now he's an investment banker. I wonder who he'll scam next. I'm sure Bajjali will do the same thing. That is all they know. They have a history of failed businesses on other peoples money. They continue to live good in nice two story houses and nice vehicles, lavish wedding, exotic vacations. The only way to stop the TWO is to convict them of criminal crimes. Civil lawsuits will not do it. Only criminal.

Anonymous said...

The city council and power brokers are like a meth addict except they cost us a lot more. The 25,000,000 government grant money has already been approved, according to the city, for a library. I have seen no documentation that shows the grant money being approved for specifically a library and nothing else. At any rate, the drug has been made available, and we all know an addict never turns down free fixes. It is incomprehensible to me that a library, needed or not, would cost 25,000,000 dollars. Who creates these figures? Some outfit shows up at a meeting and works up 25,000,000 price tag and the city just says, as long as we get our drug, who cares. The cost of the new Salvation Army thrift store is 2.8 million and looks like it will be pretty nice. The cost of a new 90,000 square foot supercenter is 5 or 6 million tops. Okay, the library needs more electric outlets for all those that have no access to a computer can use there's. That shouldn't add 18,000,000 to the cost. I would like to know if the grant money is a general recovery grant intended for public use needs, or is specifically for a library. Why couldn't we have gotten a much smaller grant to upgrade the sewer system in place of tripling the rates. Oh, I forgot, severe drug addicts don't consider consequences.

Anonymous said...

The issue that is being ignored by the Globe and the City Council is exactly what The Turner Reprot has highlighted here: the failure of the City Council. The City Council signed up with Wallace Bajali. (Yes I know that Rohr pushed it but the Council passed it without any thought nad without and real inquiry.) And even after firing Rohr (who as it turned out failed to get the City Attorney involved in the contract oversight), the Council still pushed ahead with Wallace/Bajali.

The only "public" outcry (with flames fanned by the Globe) was to seek to punish those council members who voted to fire Rohr.
Woolston -- who as it turns out took part in brining Wallace/Bajali to Joplin and then enagaged in unethical self-dealing on real estate for development with WB is.....reelected? Now that is something. Says alot about the power of the Globe and Gary Shaw to deflect the real issues for a personal defense of Rohr.

When will the council or the Joplin community learn?
The Council needs to stop this senseless spending. They are out of control.
Woolston and Shaw should resign.

Anonymous said...

We need real industry & businesses with sustainable good paying jobs to come to Joplin not the "Field of Dreams" that we may have trouble supporting.

http://fbindependent.com/wallacebajjalis-waco-project-files-for-bankruptcy-p6253-1.htm#puzzle,1051,1423065279154

After reading some of Wallace-Bajjali’s past project failures maybe the City should take some time to revaluate all of this from its beginning. Instead of let’s bury it fast as we can by full speed ahead. Going ahead with the ideas they got from someone like David Wallace?? I guess they paid enough for those ideas so why not use them right? Or does one mistake lead to another?

Is build it & they will come a good strategy or get a signed commitment & we will build it a better strategy.

I think an audit would be prudent at this point.

Anonymous said...

We need real industry & businesses with sustainable good paying jobs to come to Joplin not the "Field of Dreams" that we may have trouble supporting.

http://fbindependent.com/wallacebajjalis-waco-project-files-for-bankruptcy-p6253-1.htm#puzzle,1051,1423065279154

After reading some of Wallace-Bajjali’s past project failures maybe the City should take some time to revaluate all of this from its beginning. Instead of let’s bury it fast as we can by full speed ahead. Going ahead with the ideas they got from someone like David Wallace?? I guess they paid enough for those ideas so why not use them right? Or does one mistake lead to another?

Is build it & they will come a good strategy or get a signed commitment & we will build it a better strategy.

I think an audit would be prudent at this point.

Anonymous said...

They never had a PLANNER, just a developer. I know time was a delicate factor because people needed places to live and they had the realistic fear that they would leave if it didn't happen fast enough...but a true plan would have meant that you could have let local companies handle the actual developing part. This situation should be a lesson to all cities across America.

Anonymous said...

my husband and I watched the city council meeting where Dan McCreary spoke. We applauded him. The true colors of the City of Joplin's "leaders" have been less than adequate to say the least. Sadly this is nothing new. Like Dan we too lost everything but the clothes on our back and our lives. We tried to no avail to fight city hall on numerous issues over the last 3 years. This area has great potential. Unfortunately I have lost all hope of it ever changing. In ten years when retirement greets us we look forward to leaving and not looking back. Unless a miracle happens Joplin will not change. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Rather than blaming Wallace-Bajjali on these woes, I suggest we look at their possible role as middlemen to help enable a number of things; as our host points out: "The well-intentioned folks from the CART held multiple meetings, made a big show of pinning all of the ideas on the wall so people could see just how much public input they had received, then proceeded to provide a laundry list of ideas they had been working on since long before the tornado (with some additional flourishes from the master developer)."

It's this business as usual, before the tornado, and now after Wallace-Bajjali has gone poof, that's the real problem. "Business" with Other People's Money, and a lot more of it due to the tornado.

Randy, it is perhaps time you start putting "recovery" in scare quotes, since it looks like the city is past doing anything that can be legitimately called recovery? Or will some of the TIF money actually be used to fill in some of the still too numerous empty plots of land in the touchdown zone?

Anonymous said...

Anyone under 45 with any education, skills, and professional experience would be better off leaving Joplin. There are simply no opportunities there for young professionals, and the few that are around pay very very low wages. I'm glad we left. We're thriving in an actual city, where the cost of living is barely above Joplin's and the salaries are higher. Joplin is never going to be anything other than a sad hick town full of Republicans and losers and low-paying retail and food service jobs. The tornado didn't cause that, but now it's too late for the town to come back from it. We will never come back, and I wish we had never lived there.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am glad to see the back of WB, but I have to disagree with people saying Joplin's recovery is "in shambles" or delayed in any way. Drive down Rangeline, look at all the houses in the tornado zone, or the businesses on Main, from Dude's to the new Mercy Hospital. All these were done by Joplin residents and business people. The only thing in chaos is the long list of unnecessary crap promised by WB and CART--anyone else remember the "fiesta plaza" supposedly going in on 20th?? Joplin in recovering just fine--and things can only get better now that the snake-oil Ponzi scheme is done. If only they'd taken a few CART members to Texas with them.

Anonymous said...

Hey, this post would really piss me off if it weren't true.

Anonymous said...

And yet, 2:31, here you are, posting your swill on a Joplin blog.

You must miss the place.

Unless, that is, you're full of sh*t.

Anonymous said...

alas, but we try for our children. Some of us are stuck here and will try to make it better despite the negative people who are not involved

Anonymous said...

Even if 2:31 isn't completely full of BS (an anonymous blog poster desperately trying to explain how much better they are than everyone else -- a big IF there), good riddance.

Always happy to pass the trash to someone else.