Letters, guest columns and social media comments continue to provide reader commentary on the Feb. 4 firing of Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr, as well as the results of a council-ordered investigation.
Rohr had been the city manager for nine years. He received a national award last year as a public official of the year for leading Joplin’s tornado recovery efforts.
The council’s charge to Tom Loraine, an attorney from Osage Beach, was to address questions about the relationship of Councilman Bill Scearce to a gambling bookmaker who had rented an office from him; about how Scearce obtained a memo from Rohr’s desk without his permission; and about whether Councilman Mike Woolston had engaged in improper property dealings. The probe’s report to the council stated that the investigator believed that Scearce had been cleared of any misconduct.
The investigation report to the council was 27 pages, and 10 pages were said to involve complaints about Rohr. Those pages were removed from public copies of the report, with Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean saying it constituted a personnel record that was exempt from disclosure under Missouri’s open records law.
Rohr was asked by the Globe last week to disclose those pages, and so far he has not at the advice of his attorney.
The total report, including the Rohr portion, is one of the records sought by the Globe in a request for the city to release records pursuant to state open records law. On Friday, the Globe received a portion of the records requested but not the full report and still no details on Rohr.
The sooner, the better
For the past two weeks, the supercilious antics of our Joplin City Council has drawn much attention and discussion among the residents of Joplin.
The general consensus from people with whom I have had discussions is that the actions were both recreant and nefarious.
As a member of the council that hired Mark, I have never been disappointed in our choice of candidates for the post. He, in my opinion, has never dodged his responsibilities and in following our initial instruction of restoring downtown, the results are evident.
His leadership after the tornado is an example of his strength of purpose, and he has been recognized nationally for our achievements.
As for the “fabulous five” who are responsible for this debacle, I’m not sure that they measure up as a group in comparison to what Mark has accomplished.
This insidious action deserves recall consideration and the sooner, the better.
Word of the day
Bravo to Anson Burlingame on his guest column (Globe, Feb. 6).
“Outraged” is the word of the day for me and the residents of Joplin.
Until our City Council steps forward with a detailed explanation of it they fired Mark Rohr, I and the vast majority endorse Mr. Burlingame’s suggestion for a recall vote.
Mark Rohr certainly deserves better treatment than being blind-sided by a City Council that lost all sight and meaning of who they are and who they represent. It is time for a big change in Joplin city government.
Although Joplin is not in Latin America, where this term is usually applied, when thinking of the gang of five on the Joplin City Council, “banana republic” comes to mind — a failed state with a dishonest government.
We suffered a tragedy almost beyond comprehension. Yet Joplin’s transformation can best be described metaphorically as the phoenix in Egyptian mythology, which arose renewed from its ashes.
So why is that? How are we different than other communities that have suffered such loss? The answer is simple: We had Mark Rohr.
It is my opinion (and I believe the opinion of most) that we have come to this crossroad because of the power grab by the five City Council members. And tragically, it is not in Joplin’s best interest. The gang of five is supposed to represent us. Yet they are so arrogant that they feel no accountability to us — even to release the documents upon which they base their actions. Among other items, “personnel issue” is undoubtedly a smokescreen for them to do what they choose without accountability to Joplin residents.
The “investigation” is yet another example of their arrogance. It is obvious to all of us who have watched the gang of five operate that they “loaded” the investigation with their own objectives — straying far from the agreed upon items of the investigation — and then used that to fire Mark Rohr.
Yet another smoke screen is the “investigation” report findings about the city’s master developer. David Wallace of Wallace Bajjali Development Partners on Feb. 10 gave the Joplin City Council an update of the progress made and then stated that the “investigation” was full of inaccuracies and often times was even slanderous. Wallace provided his own complete documentation to prove it. This report is available to everyone on request.
Previously, in a guest column to The Joplin Globe, I referred to this bunch as the Keystone Kops. I was wrong. The Keystone Kops were incompetent but harmless. The gang of five is not harmless.
So, I ask, where do we go from here?
Let’s prove to them that their arrogance and actions will not be rewarded. There’s an election in April.
Two of the five are up for election. If they lose those seats, the gang has lost its majority. So, please, let’s vote them out, and the new City Council can rehire Mark Rohr — if he’ll have us.
Half a story
Todd Patterson’s letter (Globe, Feb. 14) suggesting Mark Rohr as a “director of recovery” is a nice attempt to keep him here and doing the same outstanding job he has done all along, but it also leaves him in the position of reporting to the same cabal as before.
Unless council members are recalled or resign, Rohr would be subject to the same reprehensible treachery we have witnessed for the past several months. Beyond that, he should not have to change his chosen profession because of self-serving motives of others.
Rohr was given a list of goals and guidelines after the council’s first attempt to fire him, and since that time met some of those goals, was working on the rest and received a salary increase. If I were Rohr, that would make me believe I was doing my job well and correctly.
Anson Burlingame’s letter (Globe, Feb. 14) mirrored my thoughts exactly with respect to Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean’s speech about the tornado recovery. She took credit for the work of the man whom she had voted to fire. I guess that kind of political ambition knows no bounds.
And the longer this goes on, the more we find out. As revealed in the Globe (Feb. 14), we now know that City Attorney Brian Head was one of the witnesses to the investigator he hired, along with a former councilman, who virtually everyone knows didn’t like Mr. Rohr, and a disgruntled former employee who was disciplined for his job performance.
I think the list of witnesses and their testimony should be revealed to the public. I wouldn’t be surprised if that list didn’t match a list of disciplined or released employees. It should also be noted and taken into account that all of their testimony, now held up as “evidence,” is based solely on their words and accusations. Rohr was never given the opportunity to respond to their statements. How do you come to a “conclusion” with only half the story?
The answer is you don’t.