Joplin Council delays approval of contract between the city and the chamber

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JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin City Council held their second night of budget discussions. Three items to talk about, one of those, was the city’s contract with the chamber of commerce for economic development.

Council was needing to vote to approve the $252,000 contract between the city and the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s a contract dating back more than 25 years, which has the chamber provide economic development and marketing services to the city.

However, council did not pass the contract, in a 5 to 4 vote, pushing it to the first October meeting of the council. Councilors Phil Stinnett, Gary Shaw, and Mayor Ryan Stanley voiced concerns about comments made by Chamber President Toby Teeter. Phil Stinnett says “I believe that if the chamber board had any desire to reign Mr. Teeter in in any way shape or form they would have already done it.”

Teeter had made comments in a video conference call that has circulated on Facebook from earlier this year, where he made comments painting Joplin in a negative light, expressing that if you’re not like those who live here, you won’t stay, and that Joplin is one of the last places in the United States that’s largely segregated.

Stinnett says he believes the contract is with the chamber, not with Toby Teeter, and the council needs to meet with the chamber board, before moving forward. “We wouldn’t enter into a contract with an organization, I don’t believe, that was going around saying some of the things that Mr. Teeter has said about the community and the citizens of the community.”

Mayor Ryan Stanley attended the meeting electronically, and told council why he couldn’t vote to approve the contract Wednesday night. “I will be very open and honest, there have been things that have been said and things that Toby has done that have ruffled my feathers, not to where I was…as much frustrated in what was said but maybe in how it was said.”

Stanley says teeter has done a good job. “I think when it comes to economic development, I think Toby is doing a fine job, when it comes to him fulfilling his contract with the city, I think he’s doing a fine job.”

But he added there’s room for improvement in how teeter handles his position. Teeter left the meeting before we were able to get an interview with him for the story.