Joplin City Council members probably will not appreciate the irony, but they have been behind closed doors for nearly four and a half hours as this is being written- reviewing a report that was ordered to bring the truth about two city councilmen into the open.
Investigator Tom Loraine's report, commissioned by the City Council in November, was designed to uncover the truth about Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce's connection with a convicted gambler who was a tenant of his at one point, and whether City Councilman and former Mayor Mike Woolston, a real estate broker, bought land in the tornado-damaged area of the city knowing he could resell it to Wallace-Bajjali, the city's master developers, and make a tidy profit.
What reason was used to justify the closed session I do not know- the agenda for the meeting is not posted at the city website- but it can't be personnel. Elected officials do not fall under that category.
The council authorized paying Loraine, an Osage Beach lawyer, $45,000 for the investigation.
Now the first thing that has been done is to take the investigation behind closed doors and make us wonder just what, if anything, could be a good enough reason to keep Joplin residents from knowing whether they have two crooks, or one, or maybe none, sitting on the City Council.
Taking this investigation out of sight of the public, even for one minute, was not a wise decision on the part of the city council no matter what information was included in the report.
If the council members legally went behind closed doors, and it is most likely either they did or the city attorney told them they did, it was an unwise move. They should always remember that the Sunshine Law never states that you have to meet behind closed doors in certain situations. It says you "may."
In this post-tornado era, in which we have seen millions of dollars coming into the city of Joplin, it is more important than ever that our leaders conduct city business in full view of the public.
Our elected officials should take the lead.
They certainly blew it tonight.