The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

June 3, 2013

Our View: The divide deepens

— Joplin’s mayor is no stranger to the fact that there is a rift in the City Council. When Melodee Colbert-Kean was elected mayor in April of 2012, it was by a 5-4 split that she won the seat over former mayor Mike Woolston.

Upon accepting the role of mayor, head of the city’s leadership, she lightly admonished the council with this remark:

“I am extremely thankful for those who voted for me. ... Hopefully we can get past the perceived differences on the council.”

“I just hope we can come together,” she said of the two factions that had developed on the panel.

More than a year later, the divide on the City Council goes well beyond the description of “perceived.” Sometimes the acrimony is so thick that council meeting attendees can barely see the issue.

Council members Benjamin Rosenberg, Bill Scearce, Jack Golden and Trish Raney supported Colbert-Kean in that 2012 mayoral election, while Mike Siebert, Morris Glaze and Gary Shaw supported Woolston.

And with the exception of Shaw, the “sides” on the council have been chosen.

This appeared evident during the past week as members of the council discussed who they would appoint to the Joplin Redevelopment Corp., also known as the 353 Commission. This is a commission that serves as the land bank to make property purchases for Joplin’s tornado redevelopment projects assembled by the city’s contracted master developer, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners.

With more than a dozen excellent people to choose from, the council approached the appointments by “choosing sides,” leaving us and the residents of Joplin in the dark about the possibility that there were personal agendas at play here.

Disagreement can be good and desirable, but only if the disagreement represents the constituents the council members represent.

Personalities should not be allowed to come to the table. Yet the divide becomes more evident with each and every council meeting.

Colbert-Kean has less than a year left before there’s another election for mayor. We would encourage her to closely examine the rift on the council in hopes that she can lead this governmental body out of its rut.

Joplin deserves to be represented by individuals — not voting blocs.

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