The unbelievable dishonesty, audacity and disrespect the Amarillo Globe-News has in this story for this community and its readership boggles the mind. Really.
First, Downtown Amarillo Inc. didn’t “vet” Wallace Bajjali. Melissa Dailey and Les Simpson came to the City Council in November 2010 to jam Wallace Bajjali down the city’s throat. If it hadn’t been for the former Amarillo Independent and Greg Rohloff and Gina Haschke, the city would have “bit” on the Wallace Bajjali bait then and there. Instead the city backed off and got the Dallas law firm to look at the Wallace Bajjali record. No one has publicly acknowledged that fact and they probably won’t. It’s the height of dishonesty for city councilors to tell these half-truths and for the AGN to regurgitate those excuses uncritically.
Second, the article implies no one at the AGN has read the Strasberger Price law firm report. I did. It was a long time ago, but the bottom-line of the report was that developers get sued all the time, Wallace Bajjali seems no different so protect yourself. Fact is, it wasn’t a vetting as much as a cautionary tale — protect yourself fully.
Third, city manager Atkinson’s remark about the 2008 real estate market is a misdirection and disinformation. We’re talking 2010-2011; the real estate bubble nationally popped in 2008-2009.
Fourth, no one quoted in this story, including the city councilors, are being honest about other things. For example, NewCrest was already in Amarillo, having developed the Fisk Building into the Courtyard by Marriott (despite Dailey’s attempts to sabotage the deal way back when). Why didn’t the City Council ask NewCrest at the get-go? In fact, if what councilors and the mayor are saying now (We can go forward without a master developer.), why did we need one in the first place?
I could go on longer — forever like some other posters here (right, OTFB?) but I’ve got other things to do.
Contracting with Wallace Bajjali isn’t this City Council’s only problem. The Commerce Building deal, the coziness with the former mayor’s husband and other operational issues are evident now. If the AGN had done its job as a real newspaper without a conflict of interest instead of bringing its self-righteous indignation to the party after the implosion, we could be more charitable. As an old eighth grade teacher used to say, “A word to the wise is sufficient.”