The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 16, 2014

Joplin city attorney takes job in Lee’s Summit

JOPLIN, Mo. — City Attorney Brian Head will leave his Joplin post next month for a job in Lee’s Summit in suburban Kansas City.

Head submitted a letter of resignation Wednesday morning to Mayor Mike Seibert and the City Council. The council is his employer.

In the letter, Head said: “I have very much enjoyed my time in Joplin, and have appreciated the professional growth that serving as city attorney has given me, however, I find that my path lies in another city closer to my family.” Head grew up in Milan, about 150 miles northeast of Lee’s Summit.

The city of Lee’s Summit announced his hiring in a news release posted on its website.

“With 17 years of municipal experience and significant accomplishments in disaster response, economic development and human resources, the city of Lee’s Summit is proud to announce the selection of Brian W. Head as the organization’s new city attorney,” the news release reads.

Head’s last day here will be May 16. He is to start the job at Lee’s Summit on June 4, where he replaces Teresa Williams, who resigned Nov. 30. Head  had applied for the job in December, he said. Lee’s Summit has about twice the population of Joplin.

Head has been city attorney since August 2001. “I have very much enjoyed my years in Joplin and I will miss my amazing friends and the folks that I consider family here in Joplin,” Head wrote. “We accomplished much during my tenure including moving City Hall to the Newman Building, purchase and construction of the athletic complex, a new and improved airport terminal and the amazing cleanup and rebuilding that occurred after the tornado.”

Lee’s Summit cites Head’s “extensive experience in disaster response, economic development, infrastructure improvements, human resources and corporate governance.

“Many of these dynamic skills were utilized extensively during the weeks and months following the EF-5 tornado that devastated the close-knit community of Joplin in 2011,” the Lee’s Summit release said. “Among his initial duties was providing knowledge about federal and state regulations to ensure cleanup efforts could proceed without delays and were respectful to citizens.

“He also negotiated two extensive agreements related to the tornado area for the city regarding economic development projects and land acquisitions that could result in nearly $800 million in new development in the city at full build-out.”

Head played a prominent role in the recent City Council investigation that resulted in a public controversy over the Feb. 4  firing of Mark Rohr as city manager. The investigation’s cost also came in at $82,000, almost double the $45,000 the council had authorized.

In regard to the contract negotiations with the city’s master developer, Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, and the $800 million in proposed projects, Head testified in the investigation that he was left out of initial talks on structuring projects.

The special investigator recommended options that included that the city stop or put on hold its work with Wallace Bajjali or closely scrutinize the work of the master developer with the city’s land-buying bank, the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. The investigator, citing Head’s testimony, perceived it as having been set up contrary to state law.

Wallace Bajjali said the investigator’s report had 19 errors and that Head’s testimony contributed to a number of those.

Head said he spoke in error when he testified that he was not involved in early agreements with Wallace Bajjali but stood behind his criticism in the investigation of the structuring and the uses of the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to buy property for the master development projects.

Credits

JOPLIN CITY ATTORNEY Brian Head is credited with helping the city move from a fully insured health care plan to a self-insured plan, negotiating the purchase of the Newman Building to become City Hall and negotiating the terms for the city’s conversion to a franchised trash hauler system.

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