Monday, September 14, 2015
The following joint statement frpm Woolston and the City Council was just released:
Michael Woolston is an elected member of the City Council of Joplin, Missouri, and previously served the council as Mayor following the May 2011 tornado. At various times since then, there have been allegations that Mr. Woolston has had conflicts of interest regarding matters before the council that were not handled appropriately or as required under the law and the city charter and code. Most recently, the report of the State Auditor again raised these alleged conflict issues, and in response to the City Council agreed to take appropriate action to address the issues.
The action that the City Council took was to pass a motion seeking to sanction Mr. Woolston, including possible removal from the council, for alleged violations of the City Charter and the Code of Ordinances, and this action was followed by the commencement of a formal proceeding filed by the City Attorney.
Mr. Woolston has consistently denied that existence of any illegal conflicts of interest, and maintains that he made all appropriate disclosures and took appropriate actions to address situations that might give the appearance of a conflict. Mr. Woolston has also objected to the process being used by the City Council in which the council is both the moving party and the decision-maker on the issues raised in its petition.
The City Council and Mr. Woolston have now agreed to resolve all of these issues without further proceedings or expense to either side. Mr. Woolston has agreed to resign from the City Council in order to minimize any further turmoil to the Joplin community. The parties have agreed on this joint statement to reassure the public that the issues have been addressed fully and fairly.
The parties have determined that Mr. Woolston did not benefit financially on any real estate transactions between the City or the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation and Four State Homes or other sellers, and that Mr. Woolston was not involved in the purchase of properties by the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation. The parties have further determined that Mr. Woolston did not use inappropriately any non-public information or the prestige of his office to benefit himself or any of his business associates or affiliates. Mr. Woolston was not and is not involved with the Wallace Bajjali development firm. Mr. Woolston was not and is not involved as an officer or an owner with the Hope Valley or South Main TIF projects.
The parties have agreed that Mr. Woolston could have done more to make transparent his relationships with these other business entities and endeavors and that this added transparency might have helped avoid an appearance of conflicts of interest. Mr. Woolston regrets that these appearances have persisted and apologizes for the perceived lack of transparency.
This agreement will be effectively immediately.