Former Joplin City Council member: I would have resigned anyway - KOAM TV 7

Former Joplin City Council member: I would have resigned anyways


Former Joplin City Councilman Mike Woolston speaks to the public his defense for the first time since resigning from city council.

Woolston, a realtor, said a tight personal budget, brought on by attorney fees, prevented him from carrying his defense to a city council censure hearing for him.  So he resigned before that hearing was to happen.

Some members of city council allege Woolston was guilty of conflict of interest.

Why were you included in land transactions that were to be for master redeveloper Wallace Bajjali?

Woolston says," I initially got involved prior to the tornado.  The Jennings family, who are the local McDonald's franchisees, had an office very near the corner of 20th and Connecticut.  When the tornado blew their office away, they had a desire to acquire a larger footprint of property so that they could rebuild their offices and potentially some retail space for investment.  There was a property at 1925 Connecticut that was on the market, listed with the local real estate company, that was the first one they acquired.  I did take a commission on that one.  But that was prior to any discussion of the library being there (or mention of Wallace Bajjali).  Once there began some discussion of a library being over in that area, in all honesty, I didn't know how that was going to play out.  But I thought if the library is going to be there, there's probably going to be some city involvement and it would be better if I didn't accept a commission on any of those subsequent transactions."

City's contention that Woolston did not abstain from voting, or disclose his business relationship with the developer, on an ordinance approving a TIF redevelopment plan and agreement involving Kevin Steele (Hope Valley TIF project)

Woolston says, "Kevin Steele is my partner in New Horizons Realty.  However, he has had, and had prior to our partnership, his own development company, Steele Development.  Steele Development is who is working on the Hope Valley project.  In anticipation of that project coming up to council, the Joplin Globe checked with Chris Williams, who is the city's own TIF expert, and has been for some years.  The Globe asked him about my potential conflict of interest, and he indicated that I had no conflict of interest.  Based on his comments in the Globe, on May 15 of 2014, I felt like I could vote on that issue."

Some people wonder why you didn't avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest

Woolston says, "I mean, I have a right to make a living.  I've got to do something.  And if you start saying I can't be involved in those projects, that somebody with a real estate license shouldn't be serving on city council, well it comes a question of where do you stop?  If a real estate agent cannot serve, then how do you allow an appraiser to serve?  How do you allow bankers, who make those loans, to serve?"

Woolston says he planned on eventually resigning because of his growing realty business that, only then, may have generated conflict of interest.  Much more of our interview can be found within this story's associated video.

The City of Joplin is now accepting resumes from people wanting to fill Woolston's seat.


Powered by Frankly

KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas
Send tips, ideas and press releases to: tips@koamtv.com
Send newsroom questions or comments to: comments@koamtv.com
Phone: (417) 624-0233 or (620) 231-0400
Web comments or questions: webmaster@koamtv.com
Newsroom Fax: (417) 624-3158

Powered by Frankly, Inc. All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KOAM. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.