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Joplin Mayor Pro Tem accuses City Manager of bully tactics - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Mayor Pro Tem accuses City Manager of bully tactics; City Manager releases response

Updated:
Updated September 20, 2013 at 5:21 PM CST:

Another chapter in the feud between two Joplin city officials, as the Mayor Pro Tem calls the City Manager a bully in a Press Conference. The Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce alleged that City Manager Mark Rohr wrongly shared information on an FBI investigation to a member of the media.

"Didn't you hear me, don't you understand English?"
 
This was Joplin's Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce at a Press Conference he called Friday morning, in which he alleged Joplin's City Manager Mark Rohr wrongly revealed information about an FBI investigation to a newspaper editor. Scearce claims the information was passed along by Rohr in an attempt to discredit Scearce's political career because of his connection to the case.
 
"This is a continuation of his bullying, and intimidation tactics, that are apart of Mr. Rohr's management style," Scearce said.
 
Scearce recently voted to oust Rohr from his position as City Manager last month, and said Rohr is retaliating against him. However Scearce would not answer questions, or offer proof to back up the allegations. 

"I have received information from people and that information is held in confidence, because they have asked it to be," Scearce said. 

City Manager Mark Rohr refused an on camera interview but said in a statement: 

"The local paper is working on an article that I was asked to comment on. I do believe this played a role in the recent attempt Mr. Scearce led regarding my employment with the city. He has stated to many that he wants to be mayor. He will not be able to do so if I tell all that I know regarding these circumstances."

City Councilman Gary Shaw says Scearce is not acting on behalf of the City or City Council in this case. And says if he told anyone of his plans to release the information at a press conference, the City Council didn't make the cut. 

"I was surprised, I had no knowledge that it was going to take place, or any indication that it might," Shaw said.

Councilman Shaw wouldn't comment specifically on the allegations, but he says anything that takes away attention from the Council and puts it on an individual is distracting.

"The center of attention gets off of what we're doing for the city, and on to ourselves individually, it creates a little bit of a challenge. It's a problem, and I think it's better for that not to happen."
 
Shaw says it's easy to misunderstand things that are done or said when feelings are involved and thinks that line of thinking might apply here. 

"It is my belief that Mr. Rohr is trying to deflect attention from the real issue which is his management style and my criticism of it," said Scearce. 

See below for the full statements from both Bill Scearce and Mark Rohr.   



Updated September 20, 2013 at 3:10 PM CST:  In response to Bill Scearce's statement released earlier today, Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr has released the following statement:

"I would agree with Mr. Scearce's comments about  an effort to attempt to deflect attention from the real issue, but I would suggest that he is the one attempting to create the distraction. A review of today's local paper would call attention to a tag line or teaser on page 10A about an article scheduled to appear in Sunday's paper. This is the real issue at hand and what Mr. Scearce is attempting to get out in front of, by the scheduling and holding of his press conference.  This matter is about him and his past business dealings and not about me, which is where he is trying to shift it.

He is right about the meeting that was held in my office in March. During that meeting, Mr. Scearce was venting his displeasure to the police chief about  the chief telling me about Scearce's involvement in a felony investigation. This investigation had been going on for approximately 5 years and was not as distant as Mr. Scearce would have you believe. I had conveyed that information to the city's past three mayors, in the event that Mr. Scearce's name would surface in a way that would prove embarrassing to the City of Joplin. The chief had received permission to do so, from the FBI, and according to him even I was not told of all the details surrounding Mr. Scearce's involvement in circumstances regarding the investigation.

I have had conversations with the local paper's editor regarding the story slated for Sunday's paper (as I believe all of the council members have). It is my understanding the article has been in the works for some time and that a public records' request for the FBI files regarding the investigation is approximately one year old. At one point, we played tag in returning phone calls and there may have been a note on my desk with her phone number on it. I have been known to take notes on these sheets and may have written down the name of one of Mr. Scearce's past  associates on that note. That name was already on the record (and in the paper), as the disposition of the case regarding illegal bookmaking was in the public domain, since  the case had been adjudicated. The real question on this matter is how did Mr. Scearce get a note that was on my desk? The offices at City Hall are locked up when we go home at night.

Mr. Scearce, in his statement, goes on to claim that I am attempting to use a decades- old FBI investigation to discredit him. First of all, it is not a decades-old FBI investigation, as he would have you believe, but is much more recent. Secondly, I am not mounting any campaign against him. The local paper is working on an article that I was asked to comment on. I do believe this played a role in the recent attempt Mr. Scearce led regarding my employment with the city. He has stated to many that he wants to be mayor. He will not be able to do so if I tell all that I know regarding these circumstances.   Additionally, having a strong personality sitting in the city manager's chair, would prevent him from imposing his version of  the good-old-boy network system of government that has held Joplin back in the past.

In his statement, Mr. Scearce claims to be a fair and honest person. The citizens of Joplin will have the opportunity to decide if that claim holds up when the article appears in the local paper on Sunday and even more so when the FBI's records are released."

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Posted September 20, 2013 at 2:13 PM CST: Joplin's Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce called a Press Conference this morning at City Hall to accuse the City Manager of being a bully - that statement is posted below.  Tonight on KOAM and Fox 14, we'll here from a former mayor who was on the council during the initial investigation, and says the situation is becoming a distraction.

Joplin City Councilman Bill Scearce read the following statement at a news conference on Friday morning:

"Mr. Rohr is attempting to use this decades old FBI investigation to discredit me politically following my recent statements, and vote to ask for his resignation.  This is a continuation of the bullying and intimidation tactics that are a part of Mr. Rohr's management style.

On Monday I received a call from Carol Start and she indicated that Mr. Rohr had told her the reason I voted to ask for his resignation was that I was mad about the meetings.  I totally deny the allegation; the answer is an unqualified NO.  I shared with her some of my reasons for asking his resignation, none of which were in the final document presented to Mr. Rohr and placed in his personnel file.  She can print them if she desires.

People that know me, know that I am a fair and honest person.  Those that do not know me, I invite you to get to know me and you will find that I have those qualities.

It is my belief that Mr. Rohr is tying to deflect attention from the real issue, which is his management style and my criticism of it.

In 1991, I opened a temporary employment service at 1201 E 15th Street, over 22 years ago.  From 1991-1995 I rented a small building on the lot to a gentlemen who in 2012 plead guilty to bookmaking between the years of 2007 to 2011.  During the FBI investigation of his bookmaking operation, I was visited by and fully cooperated with agents of the FBI.

In March, I became aware of three meetings which involved former and present Mayor's, the police chief and city manager concerning the bookmaking operation.  I asked the city manager to meet and have the police chief present to discuss why he shared information with non-law enforcement people about a FBI investigation.  We met and explained why.  I was not happy, but was satisfied with his explanation.

On August 14, I received a call from the individual to whom I had rented the building.  He informed me that Carol Stark, editor of the Joplin Globe, had called him and asked if I knew he was a bookmaker when I rented to him.  He said he told her 'no' when she asked him twice.

I have in my possession a note that appears to be Mark Rohr's handwriting, that has Carol Stark's name on it, that has Carol Stark's number on it, the name of the individual convicted of bookmaking, a reference to the FBI, and includes of the crime was contacted by the Joplin Globe.

It appears to me that Mr. Rohr had a conversation concerning these facts with Carol Stark.  I believe it was improper for Mr. Rohr to discuss an FBI investigation with someone outside of law enforcement."

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