Will Trucking Company be Joplin's new Master Developer?

KOAM has done some excellent reporting on the fallout from the Wallace-Bajjali scandal and the contract between the City, Wallace-Bajjali, and Prime, Inc of Springfield, here, here, and here. A FOIA  report filed by KOAM adds detail to their reporting and the 22 pages of internal city e-mails help give us some clarity about what has been discussed in the aftermath of the scandal. Here are some observations.

  • Uncertainty exists among city employees about what Joplin may or may not be on the hook for to Prime of Springfield.
  • A meeting between City officials and Prime on Wed. Feb. 18th.
  • There is an ongoing effort to satisfy Prime, despite statements by Anselm and Seibert that suggest Joplin owes Prime nothing.
  • Peter Edwards, the City Attorney expected to receive a proposal from Prime, presumably regarding how the contract can be satisfied.
  • The City is still open to moving forward with a partnership with other master developers, and are not opposed to Prime stepping in to get the work done.
  • Charlie Kuehn still wants to get in on the Joplin development money, despite being integrally tied to Wallace-Bajjali, but he needs a new partner.
  • Mark Rohr demanded to be the the representative for the City and JRC in the contracts and is not viewed favorably by City staff.

We probably should give Sam Anselm some credit for keeping the lines of communication open and not reverting to a simplistic "with us or against us" attitude characteristic of his predecessor in a bad situation. We should also give Brian Head some credit for his loyalty to the City, expertise, and his ethics for not lambasting Rohr or the Council publicly. Clearly, however, much dysfunction exists in the wake of Rohr and the Wallace-Bajjali scandal. We, as a city, need to slow down and ask some important questions.

  • What is the purpose of our city government?
  • What checks and balances exist to prevent corruption and backdoor deals?
  • What role does the council fulfill?
  • Are the Council members being manipulated or are they manipulating the system?
  • What conflicts of interest exist in those elected to serve the public?
  • Is the city budget appropriate? Do the citizens of Joplin fully benefit from the tax money they entrust to the city?
  • Does Joplin really need a master developer?
  • Do those who were closely affiliated with Wallace-Bajjali loose credibility?
  • How did we get duped so badly?
  • Why was Mike Woolston re-elected?
  • Why is Joplin so dysfunctional?
  • What is the vision for joplin?
  • Who decides that vision? A developer? The council? The City Manager? The People?

The Tornado generated a deluge of goodwill toward the City, its employees, management, and the coucil, but these recent scandals are betrayals of the public trust and until we can identify and eliminate the causes of these unfortunate, but preventable events, we should press pause on all redevelopment expenditures and processes.

Follow the saga here, and here.

Image Credit: https://flic.kr/p/5bfN9K

Lief Eric Malone's picture
Lief Eric Malone

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Will Trucking Company be Joplin's new Master Developer?