I am amazed sometimes by how elected officials can personalize the problems in which they find themselves.
After an investigation concluded Joplin Mayor Jon Tupper unintentionally violated the city's code of ethics in connection with his son's purchase of a prime piece of city property, Tupper made the statement, "I owe one person an apology, and that is my son."
The mayor could not be more wrong. He blew a golden opportunity to apologize to the people who were really harmed by his lack of discretion...the people of Joplin. After the meeting, the mayor refused to talk to the people who serve as the stand-ins for his constituents, the media, giving the impression that it was their fault they made such a big deal out of what he obviously considered to be nothing.
I doubt if the mayor sees anything wrong in what he did, something which he has in common with many elected officials. We do not elect officials to use insider knowledge for the benefit of themselves and their loved ones. As the article in the Tuesday Joplin Globe notes:
The motion to issue a reprimand to Tupper was made by Councilman Jim West after the issuance of a report from an investigator Howard Wright, a former attorney for the city of Springfield, into the mayor's action in connection with the purchase of a home by his son, Josh Tupper, at 310 S. Comingo Ave. in June 2006.
The property is near a home at 303 S. High Ave., which city officials voted to purchase for a Joe Becker Stadium project. The property on Comingo Avenue is also contained within one of five potential areas that the BLR Group, a consulting firm, suggested be acquired for a future renovation and expansion of the stadium. That information has been public since January.
The article goes on to say:
Wright's report states that Jon Tupper on June 4, 2006, met with his son and advised him to purchase the property at Comingo, citing its price and condition. Prior to that day, the Tuppers had also viewed the property, and Jon Tupper had discussed the possible purchase of property at 303 S. High Ave., according to Wright's report.
Joshua Tupper then made an offer on the Comingo Avenue house during business hours on June 5, 2006. The City Council voted that night to pursue the property at 303 S. High Ave. while meeting in closed session. The City Council, including Tupper, then formally voted to acquire the property at its July 3, 2006, meeting.
Joplin Daily's Michelle Pippin did an excellent job of pinning down council members for their confusing actions in regard to a possible censure of Tupper.
The mayor's comments that he would not give up his obligations as a parent to be an elected official were so far off the mark to be ludicrous. He can make his apologies to his son on his own time. When he is serving as mayor of Joplin and as an elected city council member, the people of this city are the ones he should have addressed. As with many politicians who are caught making mistakes, both intentionally and unintentionally, Tupper tried to make it appear as if he were the victim.
All Jon Tupper had to say was, "I made a mistake. I apologize to the people of Joplin. I will not do it again."
Unfortunately for him and for the city, he wasn't man enough to do that.