Propaganda Purported by the St Louis American Newspaper Holds St. Louis back
Dear St. Louis American Newspaper Editor,
After reading the editorial in your newspaper dated July 6, 2017 and titled: “Political payback still holds St. Louis back” I am disheartened (in my opinion) in how this paper consistently creates narratives with bias, false information and slander.
These are facts:
I competed in two citywide elections one in which Ms. Tishaura Jones was a candidate. One was in 2012, Ms. Jones won. She ran a phenomenal campaign for Treasurer. She ran with the promise of working with both local and state elected officials to move the parking division within City government. That was in 2012 in which there has been no such meeting(s) to have that discussion since becoming Treasurer. I then campaigned for License Collector in 2014 and lost to Mavis Thompson by 419 (.75%) votes. I congratulated both ladies, and moved on.
I competed with Ms. Jones along with six other Democratic candidates in the 2017 Mayoral Race. We were both losers in this race. Some continue to focus on my 1439 votes as if I alone was a spoiler for Ms. Jones in the election. Why aren’t the other candidates labeled as spoilers? Ms. Jones and I along with five other candidates were losers in the Mayoral Race 2017. I congratulated Ms. Lyda Krewson, and moved on.
On April 18, 2017, I became one of five members appointed to the Parking Commission directed by the State of Missouri. The other four other members are the Director of Streets, Comptroller, Treasurer and Director of Parking Operations appointed by the Treasurer. As Parking Commissioner, I have discovered inconsistencies in how the department is managed. By all reasonable professional account, the Treasurer has traveled excessively on the public dollars. It amounts to an average of one trip per month. The overwhelming majority of these trips have nothing to do with parking; therefore I made a motion to modify the budget to reduce travel by 75%. I am only one vote. The motion passed 3 to 2 with the Treasurer always having two votes on a motion. To criticize elected officials for doing what they are elected to do, is ludicrous. As a matter of fact, there is no discretionary funding within the Parking Commission’s Budget, except for the state’s authorization of an extra $16,000 to the Treasurer to act as the Parking Supervisor. Due to the lack of transparency in the Parking Division, the commission has no idea if the Treasurer receives the additional compensation or not. However, we can only assume she does. Travel is not discretionary funding; it is part of the overall budget of the Parking Commission, not to be confused with the Treasurer’s budget which is within the General Revenue Budget a.k.a. Board Bill Number 1 (BB1). Within BB1 is a provision that no elected official, which includes the Treasurer, shall take more than three trips per year, unless approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. (Which is made up of three members: Mayor, Comptroller and President of Board of Alderman.) Reducing the amount of travel is merely a good business practice.
The commission has also found in just a few short months that contracts have been award illegally. There have been travel reimbursements for trips outside the scope of parking like attendance to: Democratic National Convention, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation events, Planned Parenthood event, The New Deal event, and numerous others. There are a least two instances where resolutions authorizing contracts were signed off on without actually having a meeting in violation of Missouri Sunshine Laws. Monies have been spent that were not appropriated in amounts up to $2M dollars on one expenditure. Monies’ have been re-appropriated in an unauthorized manner without the approval of the Parking Commission.
Monthly meetings have become extinct. There were only five meetings held by the Parking Commission, at the discretion of the Treasurer during the year 2016. There have been only two meetings this year in 2017. The State law requires that the Commission member be given monthly financial reports. There has not been a financial report given to Commissioners for at least two years surely longer until I got one a couple of weeks ago and found out monies are moved around without authorization. The Commission Members have a fiduciary responsibility to provide checks and balances to minimize the threat of corruption and provide good policy. The Commission is being fiscally responsible. I also Chair the Street, Lighting and Refuse Committee and I am only one of eight votes as a member. As a member of the Board of Alderman, I am only one of 29 votes; therefore I cannot on my own make any policy changes.
The Parking Division does deserves more oversight, and it is not personal, it is strictly business. It’s about good government policy, transparency and accountability which I thought the Treasurer supports.
You have ascribed a statement to me that was patently false claiming I am trying to “rein in” the Treasurer is baseless, without facts and slanderous. It’s not political payback that holds St. Louis back, its news bias like your publication that seeks to manipulate the conscience of your readership with baseless “soap opera” misinformation. It is my hope that your newspaper becomes more objective and factual; however; I do understand that as an advocacy paper it’s hard to support that kind of journalism.