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Joplin city council member worries taxpayer money was wasted thr - KOAM TV 7

Joplin city council member worries taxpayer money was wasted through investigation

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Joplin Councilman Mike Woolston arranged a media conference today at city hall.  He agrees with other council members, like Gary Shaw, who say results from a recent investigation call into question the investigator himself.

Tom Loraine, a private investigator, was recommended by Joplin's attorney and approved by city council in November of last year.

"Based on his experience.  His investigative experience.  His experience as assistant U.S. attorney, his fee structure.  Several factors," says Councilman Mike Woolston.

Woolston, one of two councilmen initially targeted in the investigation, says the investigation was necessary for the people of Joplin, but adds choosing Loraine was a mistake.

"In hindsight, I guess we could have made a better choice," says Woolston.

The investigator's bill is $67,000.  According to city council members, that's 49% higher than what city council set forth in a contract with the private investigator.

"I'm fearful we just wasted a lot of money for nothing," says Woolston.

There were allegations Woolston, a realtor, was unethically profiting off land meant to be sold to the city's master redeveloper, Wallace Bajjali.

"That I should not work with anybody that is purchasing property that could later have some government money put into the project.  My feeling is, that's going to be pretty difficult, because virtually any developer, if there's some CDBG money available to put in some new sidewalks or some new infrastructure, anything like that, that's government money," says Woolston.

Woolston says he did nothing illegal or unethical.  He's demanding transcripts of interviews done by the investigator, but is already calling the investigator's report useless.

"I found one instance there was a direct conflict between the witness testimony and the investigator's conclusion," says Woolston.

Woolston says he wants the truth known by the public, and that many Joplin residents no longer have trust and confidence in those at city hall.  But he believes questions the investigator was hired to look into remain unanswered, and might not ever be answered.

Tom Loraine, the private investigator, has not returned our numerous calls over the last several days.
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