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City of Joplin's evidence against former councilman comes to lig - KOAM TV 7

City of Joplin's evidence against former councilman comes to light

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Documents obtained from the City of Joplin, through the Sunshine Law, show what evidence city council members would have looked at during former City Councilman Mike Woolston's censorship hearing.  The hearing was to determine if Woolston was guilty of conflict of interest, and then if Woolston should be ousted from City council.

The censorship hearing was scheduled for this past Monday night.  But before the hearing got underway, Woolston resigned from City council.  

The packet of evidence, or exhibits, includes excerpts of the state auditor's report on the City of Joplin (page 1 of the exhibits).  The audit said Woolston's involvement with Wallace Bajjali appeared, at the very least, to show conflict of interest.  

Evidence also included parts of the "Loraine report," (page 102 of the exhibits) done by a private investigator who was hired by the City of Joplin to look into allegations towards City council members.  Several Joplin residents told Tom Loraine that Woolston asked them to sell their properties for what would have been Wallace Bajjali projects, before Wallace Bajjali's projects were made public.

Woolston told Loraine, "...I do not work for Wallace Bajjali.  I have never been involved in a transaction where Wallace Bajjali was a buyer or a seller." (page 163 of the exhibits)

The City included in its packet of evidence, "Councilman Woolston has admitted to receiving at least one commission, and has admitted that his firm at the time, Pro 100, received multiple commissions.  (page 384 of the exhibits)

The City also provided a definition of conflict of interest from the City's charter, which reads, "A councilmember shall not have a financial interest, direct or indirect, in any contract with the City..." (page 175 of the exhibits)

In a letter from then City Attorney Brian Head to then City Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean, dated April of 2013, Head said it did not appear Woolston violated the City's charter, because Woolston took commission of a land sale from a private developer.  The private developer intended to develop the land himself.

But Head also warned, Woolston "Has an indirect relationship with Wallace Bajjali that must be disclosed" during City council votes. (page 252)

The City also says Woolston did not disclose or abstain from voting on a TIF redevelopment plan.  The City says Woolston and the TIF developer are co-owners in a realty company.  Additionally, the City says Woolston interfered in City business by using his position as councilman to influence the City's planning and zoning department.

Joplin City Attorney Peter Edwards had no comment for our story today.  Mayor Mike Seibert says he hasn't seen these documents, and therefore would not comment on our story.

Mike Woolston says he will issue a statement next week, after his resignation is formally accepted by City Council.  Mayor Sherbert says Woolston's resignation has only been informally accepted.

The exhibit packet, more than 400 pages, can be viewed here. Click here for an e-mail from a city councilman to Joplin's city attorney, questioning Woolston's partnership with Wallace Bajjali.

**Please be patient with the exhibit packet while it opens.**

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