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Attorney says Joplin officials should release to the public item - KOAM TV 7

Attorney says Joplin officials should release to the public itemized bill from investigator

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Joplin's city council meets tonight to discuss an investigator's bill that went over what the council approved.  The investigator looked at alleged misconduct surrounding two city council members and former city manager Mark Rohr.

Council members say they've heard the investigator's bill is now $82,000, well over the $45,000 cap the council implemented.  

Kim Seavy, like other taxpayers in Joplin, paid for this investigation at city hall.

"We are the city, and these are public expenditures.  We, the taxpaying citizens, ought to be entitled to see what we're being billed for," says Seavy.

But the itemized bill from the investigator remains confidential, only available to city council members.  The city's attorney says the itemized bill is privileged attorney/client information.

"We've been told one scope of work, and yet the product seems to be unrelated to that scope of work, primarily.  I'd like to know when that scope of work was changed, and by whom?  Under what authority?  And I'd also like to know who authorized the additional expenditures," says Seavy.

"I would like to have an idea of what all was done, yes," says Jim Fleischaker.

Fleischaker speaks as both a Joplin resident and an attorney.

"There could be confidential matters, such as the fact that this attorney interviewed a particular witness.  The bill might very well reveal the name of that witness," says Fleischaker.

Fleischaker says the city's attorney, Brian Head, could black out confidential information in the itemized bill and release it to the public.

"You could still show that he spent so much time talking to witnesses, or maybe consulting on the phone with Mr. Head, or whoever, and so forth.  Anything that would not necessarily have to be kept confidential," says Fleischaker.

Seavy says it's one thing for the itemized bill not being public.  Some city council members, though, have said the investigator's report is useless and tax dollars were wasted.

"I want to know why.  And if I don't get those answers, the next step is recalls, or impeachment," says Seavy.

Fleischaker was not involved with the city's investigation.

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