by Joseph Johnson, staff writer/opinion editor
Joplin, MO-Some facts are clear; at some point the Joplin city council hired attorney Thomas Loraine to conduct an ethics investigation in regards to a past association between city Councilman Bill Scearce and a man who ended up being convicted last year for bookmaking. In addition, Loraine was also charged with digging up information on city Councilman Mike Woolston in connection with the brokering of property sales at locations that now have been purchased for city redevelopment. The city council authorized $45,000 plus expenses to pay Loraine for his work.
What is unclear is how and why the investigation expanded into what ultimately became the firing of City Manager Mark Rohr. The city council voted 5-4 to fire Rohr on the very same day that they received Loraine’s report. That’s some fast action. Also unclear is how the investigator’s bill ended up costing the tax payers over $81,000.
Although Mark and I did not see eye to eye on his failure to follow through on promised plans to assist Joplin’s homeless community; that is not the point. The arrogance that drips from the Joplin City Council chambers is shocking. But what is even more shocking is that this behavior surprises anyone at all. Various forms of corruption have plagued the city council for decades. To be fair, Joplin has been blessed to have many past and present council members who have put the citizens above their personal interests and agendas. In the present “scandal” facing the council, Gary Shaw seems to be the only one who is trying to get answers for the citizens who desire full disclosure.
The standard answer coming from the ruling elite is that employee/personnel matters are not open to discussion. The way I see it, if an individual works for the city, then you and I employee them. Following that logic, becoming forthright in the disclosure of what really happened in the matter of Mark Rohr’s firing should not be an issue.