The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 5, 2014

Mark Rohr claims firing was result of employee complaints

JOPLIN, Mo. — Former Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said this afternoon that his firing was related to complaints by disgruntled city employees or former employees.

He also said that the council’s termination of him Tuesday night went beyond the scope of the investigation that the council authorized.

“I wasn’t even the target of the investigation but the manner in which the investigator conducted the investigation strayed very far from the charge,” given by the City Council, Rohr said by telephone.

The vote Tuesday night to fire Rohr was a split of 5-4.

Rohr said much of the testimony in the council probe against him came from employees or former employees who complained about his handling of personnel issues, particularly last summer’s investigation of the public works department.

Several public works employees and the former chief of the city’s building inspection division, Steve Cope, attended the Tuesday night meeting.

Rohr said those personnel complaints came into the council probe through a hotline the investigator set up on a telephone.

“What it amounted to was a complaint line and that wasn’t even the charge the council provided to the investigator,” he said.  

Rohr said the council authorized an investigation into three subjects: Councilman Bill Scearce, Councilman Mike Woolston, and how a note that Rohr had written came into Scearce’s possession.

Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean has not yet returned a telephone call from the Globe seeking an explanation for the firing. However, she issued a statement through the city’s public information officer saying the reasons are part of Rohr’s personnel record, which are not public.

Rohr announced last summer that there would be a probe of the public works department after a computer software audit of the department indicated that there were about $150,000 in uncollected or undeposited building code and inspection fees. There also was an incident in which a city garage worker was arrested for stealing supplies.

A subsequent police investigation concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing in regard to the uncollected fees.

City staff determined there were problems with the process used to collect the fees and that some unprocessed payments were found on the desk of a supervisor.

Cope was disciplined and David Hertzberg was reassigned from public works director to another position in the department.

 

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