Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mark Rohr fired

The League City, Texas City Council gave Mark Rohr the heave ho Monday night voting 5-3 during a closed session to fire the former Joplin city manager.

As I have said from the start, this was and has been about retaliation," city manager Mark Rohr said in a statement released by the city after the meeting.

"My concern was to uphold the charter and to see that council's own rules are observed to ensure the smooth operation of the city government. It was the right thing to do then and it still is the right thing to do."

The vote to fire Rohr came at the request of Mayor Pat Hallisey, after Rohr spearheaded a move to have Hallisey removed from office, providing complaints about sexual harassment of city employees to the city attorney, who passed the along to the city's ethics board, which found the complaints had no merits.

The ethics board voted unanimously that the charges against the mayor had no merit. The decision indicated that Hallisey had not sexually harassed female employees, but that they were uncomfortable about getting into the middle of a feud between Hallisey and Rohr.

Rohr gave the materials to the city attorney after it became clear that Hallisey was not thrilled about the way Rohr was running the city.

After the ethics panel's decision, Hallisey said, "It was all a set-up by the city manager and the city attorney a couple of the council members."

Rohr said he had nothing to do with the ethics complaint, noting that he had only passed it along.

Hallisey said Rohr did not attempt to communicate with him or the City Council.

One source of the problems was Rohr's attempt to become involved in elective politics. In March, Rohr supported Hallisey's opponent in the mayoral election. 

Rohr's firing comes only two years and nine months into his tenure. League City hired him only a month after the Joplin City Council, by a 5-4 vote, ended his nine-year run here.

When he was first hired, Rohr told the Houston Chronicle his record in Joplin would lead to success in League City:

Rohr cited his experience in economic development and propelling the rebuilding of Joplin after the E5 tornado swept through the city in May, 2011, destroying a third of the property and killing 161 people.

Rohr said when he left office 92 percent of the homes had been rebuilt or were in the process of being rebuilt, and 90 percent of the businesses were back on track. In addition, he said the city still had $190 million in aid to spend.

"League City may not have a natural disaster - hopefully - but it will be in a better position by having me to manage it," Rohr said. "I can be a manager under difficult circumstances and manage well. You can't imagine the disarray and anxiety in circumstances when a third of your city is destroyed. If you can handle that, you can handle any circumstance that comes your way."

Rohr came to national attention for his leadership in Joplin following the May 22, 2011 tornado, but his time here, just like at his previous city manager jobs, came to an end following battles with elected officials who did not agree with his method of operation.

Rohr's downfall in Joplin came after his successful attempt to convince Joplin Globe Editor Carol Stark to fight his battle with City Councilman Bill Scearce, who was critical of Rohr. 

It was easy to understand why Rohr had no qualms about going after Scearce. He employed the same tactics he had used to remove another Joplin elected official who stood in his way, former Mayor Jon Tupper, even using the Globe to his advantage.

The September 13, 2015 Turner Report explored the similarities between the approach used by Rohr and the Globe in dealing with Tupper and Scearce. The post was written during a time when preparation was taking place for a hearing against former City Councilman Mike Woolston:

Tupper was voted off the City Council by a 7-1 margin after the council found that he had violated the City Charter by attempting to have Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Calvin and others who worked for Calvin fired.

The Globe's coverage of the two council members differs in every way except one- the role played by former City Manager Mark Rohr.

The newspaper was willing to spend thousands in 2014 in a court battle to have the Loraine Report revealed to the public and then did everything to discredit it, concentrating on its cost and on the idea that Loraine went out of his way to go after Rohr, who was fired the day the council received the report.

And though there were many allegations, in sworn statements from respected Joplin citizens, about Woolston, those were glossed over, as the Globe concentrated on the portions concerning Rohr

Globe Editor Stark came under criticism in the Loraine Report (something I cannot recall ever seeing mentioned in the newspaper) for her willingness to take information provided to her by Rohr and using it to go after Rohr's enemies, in this case Councilman Bill Scearce.

The Globe ran one lengthy investigative story after another about Scearce's connection to a gambling operation that had been run out of one of his buildings 20 years ago, something that never resulted in any charges or even any mention of charges against Scearce, but then ignored allegations of far more substance against Woolston. The attacks on Scearce came after Rohr became convinced that Scearce was the ringleader of an attempt to fire him that failed by one vote in August 2013.

A check of the Globe's reporting on the Tupper case shows that the same dynamic was in play. Tupper had threatened to have Rohr fired and suddenly Stark and Woodin were using the full force of the newspaper's power against Tupper.

From the June 18, 2008, Globe:

City Manager Mark Rohr has submitted a written statement corroborating that Councilman Jon Tupper said he would try to take Rohr's job if director Jerry Calvin and two other parks department employees were not forced out of their jobs. Rohr's statement now might have made him the target of an ouster effort by Tupper and two other council members.
At that point, Rohr's written statement had not been made public. Later in the article, Woodin explained how the newspaper had obtained the statement:
Rohr's written statement, in the Tupper investigation, was obtained by the Globe as the result of an open records request. It appears to back up allegations revealed in e-mails of city employees obtained by an earlier open records request. Those allegations stated that Tupper threatened to go after Rohr's job if Rohr did not get rid of Calvin and two other parks department employees.
From all appearances, Rohr spoon fed information to Stark and Woodin, and his role in that case was covered by Sunshine Law requests.

Even more revealing was an article published exactly one month earlier, May 18, 2008, which was apparently not written by Woodin. The byline reads "From Staff Reports." Usually, that byline is attached to news releases, which the only thing any staff member contributed was typing. In this case, it appears the byline may have been used to prevent any indication that a Globe editor, most likely Stark, was involved in the writing.

From the article:

The Joplin City Council will be asked at its regular meeting tonight to once again consider disciplinary action against fellow council member Jon Tupper.
Tupper faces two cases of alleged wrongdoing.
One case involves some city employees. City administrators have not made public any details surrounding that case except to say that some employees made allegations against Tupper to the city's Human Resources Department. The department director referred the case to the city manager. He and Mayor Gary Shaw forwarded the case to the city attorney, Brian Head, who on Friday said he should not discuss the case except to say that it likely would come before the council tonight and that details of the investigation would become public then.
The day after the Globe reported the probe, Tupper filed an unsigned request with city administrators seeking hundreds of page of city documents, most of them related to the Parks and Recreation Department and city sports venues. Tupper also asked for some time sheets and expense sheets of several city department heads and supervisors, and a few rank-and-file employees in the parks and tourism departments. The Globe has filed an open records request for Tupper's request and for any documents turned over to Tupper. A copy of Tupper's request was received by the Globe on Friday by mail.
It was sent anonymously.
Knowing what we know from the Scearce situation, it does not seem to be any stretch of the imagination to say Rohr provided the Globe with its information, and with detailed instructions on what documents to seek.

The Globe's actions in the Tupper case may easily have kept Rohr from being fired only four years into his time in Joplin. 

Ironically, in a 2004 article, Globe reporter Andy Ostmeyer provided a background investigation of Rohr's time in previous cities that featured indications that Rohr had run into the same problems time after time leading to his dismissals in each of those communities.


Anonymous said...

Not just a bully, but a dumb bully, he's bad at judging the strength of his hand. The direct ouster gambit worked with Tupper, who was also a thug (no change from when he was in elementary school) and guilty of offenses worthy of removal. But it didn't with Scearce because the latter wasn't guilty and the inevitable blowback got him fired, and didn't work in League City because the charges were trumped up and he received just retribution. There he twice failed to carry out Ralph Waldo Emerson's maxim that "When you strike at a king, you must kill him.".

I wonder if any cities will be dumb enough to hire him, especially since I doubt he'll have a smooth talker like Wallace vouching for him, and the local paper(s) weren't on his side.

Anonymous said...

A couple of observations

Was League City smarter than Joplin because they hired him? Or because it only took two years, nine months to see through his crap vs. the nine years it took Joplin to wise up?

Does he show up back in Joplin again? His wife and kids are here after all. I still do not think he should have been allowed to be in such a position following the domestic abuse.

Is anyone really surprised this happened? If there is anything to come from this, it is don't mess with Texas. They don't tolerate this kind of crap down there. I'm still shocked League City did not do its due diligence to conduct more research on the guy. He's a walking time bomb just waiting to go off.

Anonymous said...

After using the excuse, "The good old boy" network has fired Rohr for the third time, it is obvious that Rohr is not in any way, shape, or form "a good old boy". He seems to have the same psychological defects found in our President-elect. He didn't save Joplin residents from the tornado, they saved themselves in spite of Rohr's efforts. Scearce and Rosenberg spanked him like a spoiled child, and would have done the same to Mike Woolston, had he had the courage to face the ethics hearing.

Stark and Beatty were enablers and accomplices of Rohr, Speck, Huff, and Walkace-Bajjali. The citizens of Joplin owe the Globe the award it most deserves and has earned, the Raspberry Award. Pfffftttt! It's a shame that Ostmeyer and Kennedy are lumped in with the likes of Stark, Beatty, and Woodin, but if you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

Anonymous said...

who cares?

Anonymous said...

Tupper was also deeply involved in real estate grab/scam involving properties surrounding Joe Becker stadium, if my memory serves.

Anonymous said...

Real leaders are not bullies. Rohr enjoyed punishment and the people working around him saw it every day. Nothing was too petty for him to go after someone and now he is finally exposed but there were warnings before we hired him. His management style was described as that of Attila the Hun in Piqua before we hired him.

Anonymous said...

2006 article prior to him starting as Joplin City Manager. It would seem a trend started long ago with his leadership style. Perhaps communities need to do A LOT more research before considering him a viable option.

Anonymous said...

Not only that, but doubtless the Russians had something to do with Rohr being detected, hacked, etc, Anonymous 6:51. Why it had nothing to do with the fact that both Hillary and Rohr simply wore out their welcome.

You and Turner need to move to some blue state where us locals won't vote for Trump.

Steve Holmes said...



Bub, this has nothing to do with Hillary (just as I want nothing to do with Hillary). You can try to drag national politics into a local matter, but that dog don't hunt. There are only five liberals around here. They are required to wear tracking collars so we know where they are at all times. I imagine the Huff and Rohr battles featured conservative vs. conservative. Hillary is not here, and to my knowledge, never has been, but if you're so worried about her, sleep with the nightlight on.

Anonymous said...

Let me encourage Mr. Rohr to apply to the cities of Cicero, IL or Newark, NJ. He may do well in that environment and if not, well, at least no other small cities will suffer from his "management."