- Associated Press - Saturday, April 5, 2014

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Joplin’s former city manager did not get along with some other city leaders before he was fired in February, according to a recently released special investigator’s report.

Joplin city administrators on Friday released supporting documents and full copies of the 31-page report by special investigator Thomas Loraine, an Osage Beach attorney.

The city council had authorized the investigation into city council members Bill Scearce and Mike Woolston, but at some point the special report focused on former City Manager Mark Rohr, The Joplin Globe reported (https://bit.ly/1gZNGcG ). The city previously released part of the report about the two councilmen but withheld sections concerning Rohr. The Joplin Globe and its parent company, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., sought the report’s release after Rohr was fired as city manager on Feb. 4.

In February, the council went into closed session to hear the report, then reconvened in open session and voted 5-4 to fire Rohr.

The report said Rohr tried to use divisions in the city council to his benefit.

“It became evident to this investigator from the testimony fairly quickly that the council was divided into two camps, and that City Manager Rohr manipulated this problem and encouraged the state of division in the council,” the report said.

Rohr denied the allegations in Loraine’s report.

“I didn’t ‘manipulate and encourage’ this divide,” Rohr wrote in an email to the Globe. “It made my job and my life much more difficult. I did not create it. … It was created by the majority bloc meeting and plotting and implementing the installation of the mayor in early 2012.”

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Rohr on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Loraine’s report also said there was a rift between City Attorney Brian Head and Rohr that impeded city work. Head told the council he was being excluded from contract talks early on with the Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, the firm that became the city’s contracted master developer after the May 2011 tornado. Head also said Rohr did not know how to work with the city’s licensed professionals.

Rohr said he and other department heads saw Head as “an impediment” who did not get his work done.

“I constantly received complaints from other department heads about him not doing work they needed,” Rohr said.

Former director of public works, David Hertzberg, who was demoted last year as the result of a discovery that uncollected department fees amounted to $150,000, also told the investigator Rohr did not want constructive criticism.

Rohr said Hertzberg was not well-equipped to be a department manager.

“It is hard to tell which is more flawed, the Loraine report or the process the city followed” in conducting the investigation, Rohr said.


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

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