The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

March 10, 2014

Jim Williams, guest columnist: Through it all, not one person is saying why

JOPLIN, Mo. — This is where the story begins. Once upon a time, the Joplin City Council fired City Manager Mark Rohr and never said why.

I’m not writing this to praise or condemn the council’s decision.

Having not read Rohr’s job description, I’ll refrain from commenting on his job performance in accordance with his generous salary and benefits.

I found it interesting to read some of the negative remarks about our city council members firing Rohr.

The bottom line is they hired him and have the authority to fire him.

Too often, people rush to judgment without knowing the rest of the story.

It remindes me of the Salem witch trials and the Spanish Inquisition.

Personally, I prefer to wait for the dust to settle so I can draw my own conclusion.

Those opposing the council’s verdict should abide by the political system.

Some were crying for a recall of the council.

What a dumb proposal.

This would be costly to the city. Besides, they’ll have a chance to vote for their choice of candidates in the upcoming April election.

Writers in the opinion section of The Joplin Globe often praise Rohr as a hero for resurrecting Joplin in the midst of the terrible tornado of May 2011.

To call him a hero is a stretch of the imagination.

Working in the blackness of the night, the real heroes were the courageous firemen, police, gas and electrical employees, medical personnel, and citizens digging through rubble to save lives.

These rescuers’ lives were at risk from broken gas lines, live electrical lines and falling debris.

I can’t comprehend why so many laud Rohr as the one who restored our town to normalcy.

None of these letters acknowledge the thousands of people, churches, schools and others who so freely gave their money, time and labor — without being asked — to help clean up the aftermath of the storm. Many traveled thousands of miles to get here.

They also provided free food and refreshment to cleanup crews.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, churches, Red Cross, Salvation Army, charitable organizations and businesses provided monetary assistance, food, housing, clothing, furniture, supplies and moral support for those left homeless.

One wrote the loss of Mark Rohr will set Joplin back 10 years.

The writer failed to explain how.

No one is indispensable, nor is one man an island.

I’ve never seen Rohr’s “I have a dream” checklist. Unquestionably, some of his wishes have come true. However, no one has itemized what they were; they’ve only generalized in broad terms.

Basically, the writer goes on to state: “Let’s get rid of the old men and let the young dogs in.”

Apparently, the reader isn’t a history buff, otherwise he’d know some of our greatest leaders were elderly.

I’m only too happy to name a few as follows: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, etc.

Being unbiased, I’ve always voted for the one I believed most qualified, not based on age. I’m fully aware some of our city fathers wanted Joplin to remain a small town and didn’t encourage large companies to locate in Joplin. Well, a lot of things have changed for the better since way back yonder. Since the writer remembers those good old days, I guess this makes him an old man.

There are those who believe Rohr is responsible for rebuilding Joplin in the wake of the 2011 tornado.

However, I’m not so easily fooled.

It was the efforts of previous property owners, national chains, outside investors and local businessmen who restored the confidence in our community.

Millions of dollars in industrial development bonds are available for the city’s development.

Thus far, city officials have pretty much remained silent on the disbursement of these funds, let alone providing the public with the details of projects in process.

I see no evidence where the residents of Joplin have any say in what capital projects they’d like to see completed. Currently, millions of dollars are available for community development.

As a professional and concerned citizen, my biggest worry is the internal controls and procedures to safeguard our assets from embezzlement, misuse of project expenditures, fraud, favoritism and whether we are getting the maximum benefit from moneys spent.

The good news is that Rohr has been offered the position of city manager in League City, Texas. Based on a telephone call to the city hall of League City by The Joplin Globe, it was learned that in the last five years, there was a turnover of three city managers there. When asked why, they said this information wasn’t available. Sounds like Joplin and the League City councils have a lot in common.

Jim Williams lives in Joplin.

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