The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

April 2, 2014

Our View: Don’t delay disclosure

Joplin City Council incumbents and newcomers alike were in accord Monday night at a candidate forum when asked about turmoil within the council and City Hall and its effect on the growth of Joplin.

Virtually all of the candidates answered that they wanted to move Joplin forward, although most said they knew there were issues that had to be faced.

The Joplin City Council could help the healing when it votes on whether to appeal a circuit court’s order to turn over documents from a taxpayer-funded investigation that so far have been kept secret from the public.

Jasper County Judge David Mouton on Monday said he would issue a writ sought by The Joplin Globe and its parent company, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., ordering public disclosure of a report the city has withheld regarding the former City Manager Mark Rohr along with its exhibits and testimony.

The judge was direct when he said: “I am not convinced that the records requested (by the Globe) fall within any exception under the Sunshine Law. And it’s not just the case law. The Sunshine Law says itself that the exceptions are to be narrowly construed, and I don’t find that these records fall within any exception.”

If the council votes to appeal the judge’s decision, it kicks the turmoil on down the road, but it certainly doesn’t clear the air or provide transparency.

If council members are serious about wanting to get back on track, then they need to rip the cover off the festering wound and apply some much needed sunshine.

Listen to the law, listen to the public. Release the documents.

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