Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Globe continues to avoid the truth about Joplin's tornado recovery

Joplin's recovery from the May 22, 2011 tornado has been truly remarkable.

Within months of the worst tornado to hit the United States in six decades, we already had the return of businesses that had been destroyed, we had people who were rebuilding or who were ready to rebuild homes and we had a volunteer network both from here and from all over the U. S. who were helping restore a city that had been devastated.

Close to seven years later, though we still have areas of Joplin that are nowhere near what they were prior to May 22, 2011, Joplin's successful return cannot be denied.

But what was with the orgy of self-congratulation that took up most of page one of the Sunday Joplin Globe?

The story was headlined "Better than Before," with the subhead "Joplin's disaster recovery a model, consultant says." In addition to its prominence on page one, the jump filled half of page 8A.

An accompanying graph featured a list of the successes of the rebuilding project

I will be the first to tell you that there have been many successes, but how in the world can the Globe, which is supposed to be the area's newspaper of record run an article that appears to all purposes to be a review of everything that has taken place since May 22, 2011, and you ignore the major blunders that took place during the recovery process and whitewash the fact that much of the recovery took place despite regrettable actions taken by public officials in the months and years following the tornado.

Someone needs to write a book about this.

Actually, someone did write a book about it. My 2015 book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado, provided the first look at the major mistakes that were made and which to this day have for the most part been ignored by the Globe.

Sunday's article read like a victory lab for some of the same people, the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART), Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian and Mayor Michael Seibert, whose questionable decisions were explored in Silver Lining and a few months after the publication of my book were highly criticized in a document that seems to have been pushed aside to never be mentioned again- the Missouri state audit.

It won't be long before people question whether Wallace Bajjali ever existed.

Just the summary page of the state audit provides enough information to question the premise of Sunday's Globe article.

It notes problems with the selection of a master planner and the failure of that master planner Wallace Bajjali to ever come up with a master plan. 

The audit points out how the city became involved in a land flipping scheme in which Councilman Mike Woolston played a key role and how the city's Finance Department failed to apply for recovery funds on a timely basis.

Those things are just for starters.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out the successes, and there have been many of them, that Joplin has had during the tornado recovery process, but when we ignore the missteps that took place and make it appear that every step taken by city leaders had the imprint of divine guidance we are whitewashing history and increasing the chances that if disaster ever befalls this city again, we will repeat the same mistakes our leaders made following May 22.


Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon and can be purchased at the links below. The book can be purchased locally at Always Buying Books, Changing Hands Book Shoppe and the Book Guy in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure they wanted to put out a "Randy Turner" version of things that tell how terrible the recovery was. I can't believe they didn't want to run with that.

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing

the Globe article was about the consultant's opinion and it was noticable that the City's missteps were purposely not included

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the over spending on the HS to "force Fema's hand". Model... maybe.. maybe a model of how strong and united the town became, but not a model of oversight and rebuilding, and definitely not a model for funds appropriations.

Anonymous said...

How long before your first book comes out about the Jayda Kyle death?