Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mark Rohr to Houston Chronicle: We vetted Wallace-Bajjali thoroughly

At first, it seemed amazing that so many people fell for former Joplin master developer David Wallace's slick sales spiel.

It could be as simple as P. T. Barnum's old saying, "There's a sucker born every minute."

But in a thoroughly researched report in today's Houston Chronicle, former City Manager Mark Rohr, now the city manager of League City, Texas, says the company was completely investigated before he and the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART) recommended its hiring.

Mayor Mike Seibert also thought the hiring of Wallace-Bajjali would be great for Joplin.

Wallace showed up in Joplin with plans for a re-imagined city: It could soon be home to a minor league baseball stadium - a common thread among his renovation proposals - and a new hotel, a medical school and a nursing home, even a vast commercial development with a movie theater. In all there would be 17 different projects, Joplin's Mayor Seibert said.

"We thought we'd made a great decision," Seibert said of the city's choice to hire Wallace Bajjali.

Their partnership had been one of six companies to submit a redevelopment proposal to Joplin's Citizens Advisory Recovery Team, a group responsible for guiding the city through its rebuilding. Four of these groups were interviewed, but the advisory team only presented one to City Council for approval: Wallace Bajjali.

Mark Rohr, then Joplin's city manager, said he knew of Wallace Bajjali's history but didn't think at the time it should knock the firm out of the running. Lawsuits and even bankruptcies are not uncommon in the world of development and construction.

"Everything was vetted on the front end, thoroughly," Rohr said.

Not everyone was fooled by the former Sugar Land, Texas, mayor. Also, from the Houston Chronicle article:

And so, on April 2, 2012, Joplin's City Council voted 8-0 to move forward with contract negotiations with Wallace Bajjali. Just one councilman, Benjamin Rosenberg, abstained.

Rosenberg said he was always suspicious of Wallace Bajjali and had raised concerns in the 2012 meeting about lack of information on the company.

"He reminded me a lot of an aluminum siding salesman who just got off a Greyhound bus and was going to sell all he could and then get back on the bus and leave," Rosenberg said of Wallace.


Anonymous said...

I love the name "Citizens" Advisory Recovery Team. There are only a handful of self- selected "citizens" on this team. There was no process for a democratically elected representative group of "citizens." So how does a small special interest group weild so much power? Simple. They co-opt legitimate groups of duly elected political types who are easily manipulated by the powerful elite appealing to their vanity and desire to be part of that elite.

Since. CART really only includes the "First Citizens," we should change the name to

Anonymous said...

Vetted means how much graft will you pay to get the contract. Thats the Joplin way.

Anonymous said...

Never thought Benji and I would think alike but we had the same doubts about WB.

Noone said...

What in the world made this idiot think they could get anything done? Name a successful project other than his $88,000 pool, that he has done. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

You know their creedo..

"A taxpayer and his money shall soon be parted."

Anonymous said...

What Turner readers fail to understand is that Rohr used the most reliable and sophisticated vetting process known to man. He asked Anson to look into the man' s soul. Couple that with the good omen revealed in the entrails of a sacrificial pigeon, and you have irrefutable proof of the unimpeachable character of these wrongly maligned servants of the public good.

Really...what more do you people want?

Anonymous said...

CART was the first mistake made. Much of the rest of the debacle flows from there. Didn't it stand for the Cage And Rohr Together?

Anonymous said...

Can't Allow Responsible Thought.

Anonymous said...

CART members include CJ Huff and Nancy Good. I'm sure there's a reason why he wants her on the Board. Let's see to it that they are both shut down. This group, plus the school board, plus JPAC, all need to be dispersed. They also are on the boards of Bright Futures and Bright Futures USA. None of this is because they are altruistic at heart.

Anonymous said...

Talk about your organizational inbreeding.

Anonymous said...

This is the most well crafted comment ever. You win the Internet today.