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City of Joplin releases City Manager - KOAM TV 7

City of Joplin releases City Manager; Mayor says the city will move forward; Master Developer stands by its work and progress made

Updated February 5, 2014 at 5:43 PM: 

 Mark Rohr speaks out after Joplin City Council votes him out as City Manager. The Council made the decision in a special meeting last night. It was a meeting that started to discuss the actions of two other council members, but ended in the firing of Mark Rohr after nine years in office. And Rohr says he's left scratching his head and wondering what is next. 

 

"It can be a little disillusioning working like I did to improve Joplin, I'm the one who told the truth, and I'm sitting at home right now," Rohr said.
 
After nine years with City of Joplin, Mark Rohr was voted out of his position as Joplin's City Manager by a five to four vote late Tuesday night. The move came after the city made a similar vote back in August, that time Rohr was able to stay thanks to a single vote.

"They gave me things they wanted me to work on and I've been doing that, so I've been scratching my head thinking ok I'm doing what you're asking me to do, so now what," Rohr said.
 
The City of Joplin won't give a specific reason as to why the council voted to release Rohr, saying it is a "personnel matter" and that the city will continue city business as usual. 

"Well somebody had to do it, and I guess I did it," said Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg.
 
Rosenberg is the City Councilman who motioned to vote to oust Rohr out of office.
 
"I actually like Mark, but for the good of the city, I felt it was time for mark to move on."
 
Rosenberg wouldn't go any farther. A 26 page report released at the meeting Tuesday night mostly focused on questioned actions of two other council members, but did note Rohr's relationship with Wallace Bajalii, the city's Master Developers. Rohr says the relationship there is nothing, but professional. 

"There's nothing wrong with my relationship with Wallace Bajalii, there's nothing inappropriate," Rohr said. 

And while the majority of City Council voted to fire Rohr, there were four city council members who voted for him to stay, and Gary Shaw was one of them.

"As far as Mr. Rohr is concerned I think he's been a real blessing to our community," Shaw said.
 
For now the City Council has appointed Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm as the Interim, until a new City Manager can be hired. And as for Rohr, he says he is proud of what he has done in his time as Joplin's City Manger.

"I just think there are some peculiar circumstances into how this all unfolded and I hope some people keeping digging, the press and others, to find out the real story and who was doing what, who was influencing what and how we got to this point," Rohr said.

Rohr's contract states he can be let go with or without cause. Rohr tells us he is planning on looking into legal action, but does not know what that will look like at this point.

It should be noted there are 10 pages of the investigators report that have been withheld at Rohr's request.  

Councilman Gary Shaw's response to the firing of Mark Rohr:
"I don't understand that actions of the Joplin City Council last evening and I certainly don't agree with their decision to dismiss Mr. Rohr. I have found Mr. Rohr to be a quality City Manager who has helped us achieve many of our goals as a city. His leadership after the tornado was nothing short of magnificent. Under his guidance Joplin was headed in the right direction both in economic development and in service to our citizens. I pray that we can take what he helped us begin and lead Joplin to the levels of success I feel we need and our citizens deserve.

As Donald Trump once said, 'Sometimes by losing a battle we find a new way to win the war.' The battle to keep Mr. Rohr as our City Manager was lost last evening; as a council and as citizens we need to look for ways to win the war. 

I believe that the citizens of Joplin and the Four-States owe Mr. Rohr a tremendous 'Thank You' for all he has done for our community." 

Updated February 5, 2014 at 4:30 PM:  NEWS RELEASE FROM DAVID WALLACE OF WALLACE BAJJALI DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS

Since August, 2012, Wallace Bajjali has been working with the City of Joplin and the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation (JRC) to help the community and its citizens recover and rebuild from the devastating tornado that struck on May 22, 2011. Significant progress has been made in working with a wide variety of stakeholders, the city council, the mayor, and other community leaders. We are proud of our ongoing role in helping Joplin get back on its feet.

While we aren't aware of all of the issues that led to the investigations of two city council members, Wallace Bajjali stands by its work and the significant progress we've made. Since we are mentioned in the investigative report issued by Mr. Loraine, we will be thoroughly reviewing it and responding in detail at a later time, as appropriate. What is apparent based on our initial and brief review is that there are several inaccuracies with misinformation regarding Wallace Bajjali. It's clear, for example, that Mr. Loraine, does not have an understanding or isn't aware of the nature of the agreements that Wallace Bajjali has with the City and the JRC, which are standard for these types of redevelopment.

When the City issued its Request for Proposals to find a master developer, multiple parties responded, and we were one of them. After a very public, thorough, and transparent process, we were honored and excited to be chosen as the master developer. Since being chosen, we've been committed to doing everything we can to move this community forward by redeveloping the parts of the city impacted by the tragedy of 2011. That has not changed and it will not change. Our top priority remains to see the redevelopment through and help make Joplin an even more attractive and successful city for its citizens.

David Wallace, CEO

# # #

 

Updated February 5, 2014 at 11:35 AM:  NEWS RELEASE FROM THE CITY OF JOPLIN

Mayor states City is moving forward

Following the Joplin City Council's termination of City Manager Mark Rohr at the Special Council Meeting held February 4, Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean reassures the citizens that the City is moving forward and work will continue as usual.

"This was a personnel matter, and we cannot comment on the termination because it is confidential," said Kean. "Business at the City will proceed as usual. I and the other members of the Council have full confidence in the City staff as they remain diligent to the business and projects we have before us."

The City Council appointed Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm to serve as Interim City Manager during this time.

# # #

 

Reported February 5, 2014 at 3:58 AM by Cailey Dougherty:  The Joplin City Council approves by a 5-4 vote the termination of City Manager Mark Rohr.

The council held a special meeting Tuesday night to review the findings of an investigative report regarding ethical concerns surrounding councilmen Bill Scearce and Mike Woolston.

Closed session began at 5:45 p.m. and lasted for five hours with open session beginning around 11:00 p.m.

Investigator Tom Loraine went over the 26 page report which said there was no evidence of wrongdoing or a breach of ethical standards on Scearce's end.

However, the investigation did encourage Woolston to resign as a council member.

After the review of the investigation, Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg made the motion to terminate City Manager Mark Rohr from his office which was seconded by Scearce. The measure was approved by a 5-4 vote.

A measure was then given to appoint City Attorney Brian Head as interim City Manager, but the measure did not pass.  

Rohr says the fact a measure to appoint Head was immediately taken, along with a well-prepared resolution from Rosenberg, gives the impression Rosenberg had been aware of the investigation findings before everyone else. 

"Councilman Rosenberg, who made the motion, contacted another city council member the week before last and told him that there would be things brought up in the investigation with respect to the City Manager and to keep an open mind," Rohr said.  "How did he know that? This was supposed to be the first time that the city council found out about the investigation."

Woolston agrees with Rohr the entire investigation seems slanted, and he does not plan to resign.

Rohr says he will be looking into what legal options he has available at this point. 

 

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