Itemized bill from investigator released to Joplin city council - KOAM TV 7

Itemized bill from investigator released to Joplin city council members

A few months ago, a private investigator was hired by Joplin's city council to investigate allegations of misconduct.  The investigation is over, but the investigator's bill to the city keeps increasing above what city council set forth.

Last week, Councilman Mike Woolston called the investigator's results worthless.  Today, Councilman Bill Scearce offered more credibility to the investigator.

"He obviously did his work," says Scearce.

But you're going to have to take Scearce's word for it, because an itemized bill from the investigator is confidential.

"Because it came from the attorney, and it's privileged information between attorney and client."

We asked Scearce what was confidential in the itemized list.

"I don't know, I was just told.  I'm not an attorney, I was just told it was privileged information between an attorney and client."

Scearce says the city's attorney told him it was confidential.

The private investigator has given another bill to the city, and it's well over the $45,000 city council approved.  Scearce says he's heard the bill is now $82,000.  Many residents say details of this bill need to be made public, since public funds are what's at stake.

"It's very important.  If it's a matter of public record, then the public has a right to know about it," says one resident.

"Being a concerned citizen, we have a right to know what's going on," says another Joplin resident.

Details of the investigator's report itself remain confidential.  Besides looking into allegations involving two city council members, the investigator also analyzed a complaint from Scearce that former city manager Mark Rohr wrongfully shared confidential information about Scearce to a local newspaper.  

Scearce says he knew before the investigation ended that Rohr was being investigated more than others.

"It was obvious that the investigation had moved beyond Woolston and I, just by the people that were being interviewed," says Scearce.

During a closed city council meeting to go over the investigator's results, Mark Rohr was fired.

We asked Scearce if that was the reason why Rohr was fired.

"Not the total reason," says Scearce.

Scearce says most of the investigator's resources were devoted towards investigating Rohr.  The councilman says now, council as a whole must decide if they want to pay the investigator's full bill.

Scearce adds, "The question is, was he authorized to do the work?"

City council will meet next week to further discuss what to do with the investigator's bill.  According to the city's finance director, the city has already paid close to $29,000 for costs directly from the private investigator.

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