Advertisements

The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Archive for the category “st louis county”

Wesley Bell. St. Louis County Circuit Attorney

Mr Bell won a surprising election to become Circuit Attorney. The public wanted a change relative to prosecution and policing relative to the racial problems coming out of Ferguson

So far Mr Bell has a rocky start. He is firing three prosecutors, one of whom prosecuted the Michael Brown case. Is this retribution? He is recommending lessening the prosecution of unpaid child support. He is hiring a controversial prosecutor who was a divisive figure for Kim Gardner, Circuit Attorney in St Louis. On the positive side he is ending cash bail for non violent crime. (This may not be a change). Stay tuned!

Advertisements

St.Louis County Economic Development Council

This has been one of my favorite topics, one that unfortunately I have been correct about. Sheila Sweeney who made the ridiculous salary of $500,000 a year.(I could have run the organization into the ground for a lot less), resigned under pressure last week.

As I have previously written, the agency involved itself in many shady if not illegal transactions tied to friends of County Executive Stenger. Furthermore, the staff is bloated and the salaries of these individuals is quite high, with many making in the six figures.

I hope the county now gets a handle on the situation and that criminal proceedings occur. A bigger question is what do these Economic Development Agencies accomplish for the money spent on them? Written by Paul Dribin

Economic Development Agencies in the St. Louis Region

The Business Journal published an important but superficial article this week on the plethora of development agencies in the St. Louis area, the large amount of dollars they spend, and the poor results they achieve. Sounds like a recipe for madness, but we go on our merry way. I give the Economic Development Council of St. Charles County some high marks, but that is the only agency I would give that mark to. The St. Louis County group is especially suspect. In the end, development agencies don’t bring business, overall government policies and the desire of business owners is what matters. Written by Paul Dribin

Dysfunctional County Government

Is this dysfunctional or what. County Executive Steve Stenger an the County Council have each appointed a different board to the Port Authority. This authority is a cash cow and the two sides will battle it out in court. I don’t know the right answer, but this is ridiculous. Written by Paul Dribin

Loop Trolley: Update, the Good, Bad, Ugly and Beautiful

The trolley situation is still a mess. KWMU had a story which documented the large number of businesses which have gone out of business, at least partly due to the trolley construction. Also, The Riverfront Times published an article about the fact that the automatic ticket machines for the trolley are in before the trolley itself and these machines do not make change. An individual who needed change would need to send in the receipt through the mail and wait for change from the Trolley Association by mail. Overall, the whole thing still seems like a fiasco. One piece of good news, the Loop Business Association has hired Rachelle L’Ecuyer as Executive Director. She is top notch and has done a great job as Economic Development Director in Maplewood. I wonder how long it will take her to clash with Joe Edwards. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis Convention Center

The powers that be including the mayor and county executive are announcing a plan to expand the convention center. I have mixed feelings. There is no question the convention center is too small and out of date. On the other hand, I am not sure how much difference is makes in the overall scheme of things. Improving the convention center is a must, just don’t expect miracles from it. Written by Paul Dribin

Decline in Support for Public Transit

Ridership on public transit declined about 3.2% nationally. In St. Louis, Metro ridership declined 32%. Crime has increased significantly. The powers that be want to increase metrolink. Why? The technology is obsolete and the demand is not there. Written by Paul Dribin

St. Louis Housing Summit

Today, 9/21, I attended a housing summit here in St. Louis at Christ Church Cathedral downtown. The idea of the summit was to start to build a coalition to develop more affordable housing in St. Louis and end homelessness. There were approximately 300 people in attendance including some homeless people. The speakers were good, enthusiasm high. Let’s hope for the best. Written by Paul Dribin

Metrolink Safety

One of the biggest problems affecting Metrolink safety is that police in the various jurisdictions along the routes have radios with different frequencies. The county taxpayers had approved a small sales tax increase to address this issue. The money is there but the issue remains unresolved. Why? Written by Paul Dribin

Message to Stenger

An excellent column by Tony Messenger in the Post offering some suggestions for County Executive Stenger as he will begin another term with both the Council and Prosecuting Attorney lined up against him. If Stenger operated at all honestly his job would be easy. Written by Paul Dribin.

com


Facebook


Twitter




Email


Print

Save

Two years ago, Sam Page asked me for a favor.

We had been talking for a couple of weeks about his work behind the scenes to help St. Louis County create a prescription drug monitoring program to fight the opioid epidemic. As a physician and state lawmaker, Page had worked extensively on the issue, but he was stymied by another physician-lawmaker, Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, who consistently protected Missouri’s status as the only state in the nation without such a program.

So Page, the chairman of the St. Louis County Council, with the help of the medical community and full support of his then-ally, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, helped set St. Louis County up to operate its own program, which has turned into a de facto state monitoring program, with more than half of the state’s population now covered by it.

I planned to break the news ahead of Stenger’s planned announcement, and Page asked me not to. The county executive wanted the headline, Page said, and he wanted him to have it.

So I waited. Stenger got his headline.

And it probably contributed to his win Tuesday, narrowly holding on to his seat by defeating challenger Mark Mantovani by around 1,000 votes. The election hasn’t been certified yet as there are still ballots being tallied. Stenger will face Republican Paul Berry, III, and Libertarian Nick Kasoff in November, but neither are expected to be well-funded candidates. So unless Mantovani or the election board find any voting oddities, Stenger wins.

By winning, though, the county executive may have actually lost. And the opioid issue is a perfect example of why.

A politician who doesn’t care about credit builds coalitions.

Stenger picks fights.

He and Page would soon be at odds over everything, mostly because the County Council chairman started to discover that Stenger was deceiving the council — on a plan to bump up Prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s pension, on a proposal to sell part of Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, on a bridge to nowhere, and on a scheme to move millions of dollars in county office leases to property owned by the county executive’s top donor.

Page asked questions and got shut out.

The pattern played out in county offices, too, as department head after department head quit or was forced out after they asked questions or stood up for good public policy.

In winning, Stenger said voters sent a message:

“Today’s victory shows that voters believe we are moving St. Louis County in the right direction,” he said Tuesday night.

Pause

Current Time

0:00

/

Duration Time

0:00

Stream Type

LIVE

Loaded: 0%

Progress: 0%

0:00

Fullscreen

Seen another way, voters left Stenger all alone on an island.

Challenger Lisa Clancy defeated Councilman Pat Dolan, Stenger’s last reliable ally on a council that now questions his every move. Voters approved at least one proposition meant to shift some balance of power away from Stenger and to the council, as a check to his power.

And voters overwhelmingly defeated McCulloch, perhaps Stenger’s most important supporter, who had used his office to go after Councilman Ernie Trakas when he questioned the county executive, and had refused to investigate Stenger when council investigations raised serious questions about the improper influence of donors or Sunshine Law violations.

Wesley Bell, who will become the new prosecuting attorney, might be more receptive to investigating the office of the county executive. So Stenger’s next four years, if he lasts that long, might be more uncomfortable than the first.

It didn’t have to be this way. And it still doesn’t.

If Stenger wants to leverage his narrow victory into a real opportunity for success, a path forward exists.

He could call Attorney General Josh Hawley tomorrow and commit to no more Sunshine Law violations and find a way to make that lawsuit go away.

He could accept the council’s decision to force new appointments to the Port Authority and stop trying to use that body as his personal piggy bank to help select donors.

He could commit to working on consensus with the council when it comes to developing policy priorities and awarding contracts and making appointments to boards.

He could follow Mantovani’s lead and commit to not accepting donations from companies seeking contracts with the county.

And he could actually start showing up at council meetings and rebuilding relationships with the body that voters expect him to work with to manage taxpayer dollars wisely.

This path forward is not unknown to Stenger. It’s the same one he suggested for the nephew of a major donor in the fall of 2015 when he wrote a letter to a federal judge and asked for leniency in sentencing for a convicted drug dealer:

“(He) understands and accepts full responsibility for his actions,” Stenger wrote at the time, “but also is aware that he must disassociate himself from those who would participate in illegal activity. He has made every effort to move forward in a positive way.”

Strong words. Stenger could take them to heart. Or not.


Facebook


Twitter




Email


Print

Save

Messenger: Last-minute dark money from Sinquefield seeks to fool St. Louis County voters

Obscure fire committee appears again to help county executive consolidate power.

Post Navigation