The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 19, 2014

Former Joplin city manager a finalist for Texas job

JOPLIN, Mo. — Mark Rohr is one of four finalists for the job of city manager at League City, Texas.

Rohr, who was fired as Joplin city manager during a controversial City Council meeting earlier this month, and the other finalists will be interviewed by the City Council in League City from Friday through Sunday, according to Kristi Wyatt, director of communications for League City.

Rohr’s late-night firing on Feb. 4 at the conclusion of an investigation that was intended to focus on two City Council members has produced a flurry of public opinion, with a number of residents speaking out against the council’s action.

Two residents appeared before the City Council on Tuesday night to question the motives and performance of some members of the council and the mayor in the wake of Rohr’s ouster.

Rohr was fired “without cause,” and the city has declined to release a portion of the investigation report pertaining to him, saying it is a personnel record.

Rohr, asked when he applied for the League City job, said, “I was aggressively recruited for the position but only expressed interest after I realized the process of the City Council investigation had been corrupted.” He would not say when he applied other than it was after he was told by “people on the street” and some City Council members that the focus of the probe had shifted to him. He would not give a time frame of when that took place.

Rohr said he would not leave Joplin if he did not have to work for the current council makeup. He said he has to pursue a job because he has six children to support.

“I still have an interest in completing the work to build back bigger and better than before the storm,” he said, referring to the May 2011 tornado. “I have every confidence in citizens of Joplin that they will clean up the mess at City Hall in April by voting out two of the gang of five” who voted to fire him. Those council members are Bill Scearce, who was to have been investigated in connection with an FBI gambling probe, as well as Benjamin Rosenberg, Jack Golden, Trisha Raney and Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean.

Raney is seeking re-election to a general council seat in the April 8 election, and Golden, who currently holds a seat as a general councilman, has filed to run against Zone 4 incumbent Mike Seibert. Seibert voted against firing Rohr.

Rosenberg has said he decided during the Feb. 4 meeting to ask for Rohr’s removal and told the attorney representing the City Council at that meeting of his decision. He said the attorney gave him a resolution that called for Rohr’s termination and told him to read it.

Rohr said at that meeting that the resolution had been prepared in advance of the meeting, and that that was evidence that the probe had strayed from its council-assigned purposes.

The other finalists for the League City job are Jack Hamlett, former city manager of Rosenberg, Texas; Michael Morrison, who is interim city manager at Irving, Texas; and Mark Yearwood, who has been assistant city manager of Lubbock, Texas, for 21 years.

League City has a population of about 90,000 residents. It is in the Houston area, about 40 miles from Sugar Land, Texas, where Joplin’s master development firm for tornado redevelopment projects, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, is based.

League City has had three city managers in three years. The Globe’s efforts to reach Mayor Timothy Paulissen on Wednesday to ask him why the town has had that many managers in such a short time were unsuccessful.

Search firm

A SEARCH FIRM, Strategic Government Resources of Keller, Texas, was hired to identify candidates for the League City job. The company representative in charge of that search was out of the office Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

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