- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Joplin, the Missouri city devastated by a tornado in 2011, wasted a lot of taxpayers’ money in the rush to rebuild, including doling out sweetheart contracts to politically connected firms that never did any work or that ended up bilking taxpayers, and hiding their decisions behind closed doors, breaking sunshine laws, a state auditor concluded Tuesday.

Nicole R. Galloway, the auditor, said the city deserved the worst rating possible of “poor” for how it managed recovery spending. She has referred some of the problems to prosecutors for potential charges.

In one egregious case the auditor hinted at corruption, saying the process to select the master developer for recovery may have been rigged, and appeared to be written for one company to win. That company had been paid about $1.5 million as of January, or nearly four years after the tornado, yet “no redevelopment had occurred.”

More than 160 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured by the May 22, 2011, tornado that tore through the town, leveling thousands of homes and destroying schools and a hospital. The disaster drew intense national attention and President Obama spoke at the memorial service and visited a year later in 2012 to deliver the commencement address at Joplin High School.

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