Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the red state

Monday, August 24, 2015

The more we know, the worse it gets

The Joplin, Mo.-based Turner Report posted two items of note Monday, both giving us more insight
into the post-tornado debacle with Wallace Bajjali.

As I noted, the parallels between Joplin and Amarillo are uncanny. Even more to the point, however, are the behaviors of the Joplin city manager and some of its council members.

In a most important post, Turner calls attention to Amarillo's city attorney report, who used the then-Strasberger Law Firm (now Strasberger & Price) findings and other sources, to determine whether the city should use Wallace Bajjali. The Amarillo City Council ignored warnings from the Independent and the law firm to engage Wallace Bajjali. And, in reading Turner’s posting, Joplin officials were made aware of the Amarillo’s information and ignored the risks as well.

Other findings, including the state audit, indicate certain people in Joplin ignored the warnings for reasons other than denial. Some, including a Joplin city councilor and former city manager, have been implicated in “insider” dealings that might turn out to be illegal — perhaps criminal — activity. That activity may not turn out to be criminal, but it’s suspicious enough for the Missouri auditor to refer findings to a prosecutor.

To even imply that such a thing could happen in Amarillo will prompt screams from former elected officials and those associated with them. Those protests would include asking why some little outsider (after all, I’ve only been here since 2003) would have the unmitigated gall to question their integrity. I experienced such a reaction from Laura Street in 2006 when I questioned her about the then-City Commission sneaking $1.8 million to make up a private funding shortfall for the Globe-News Center. But in this case, I am no longer willing to give these people the benefit of the doubt. I have come to believe a preponderance of evidence points to insider dealing, aided and abetted by knowledge of the moral bankruptcy of David Wallace and Costa Bajjali.

Then, the lateston the David Wallace bankruptcy here indicates to me the Wallace Bajjali deal was a scam from the start. And the rubes on the then-City Commission fell for it. Or, again, were they really rubes?

If the FBI and grand jury find nothing and the current City Council fails to conduct a Sec. 19 investigation, we may never know. Such a pall over a fine city like Amarillo would be a shame.