Saturday, December 22, 2007

EDITORIAL _ County Executive Steve Ehlmann

Rumblings have come from some on the St. Charles City Council members that they are tired of hearing and reading they are the Mayor’s city council. Apparently, the councilmen are so afraid of friends of the mayor claiming they are “micro-managing” the city, they are allowing the administration do whatever, spend whatever, hire whomever the mayor wants.

The council needs to go back and read their civics books and find out their real role in city government. They would find out oversight is a requirement of the job. This oversight might make them think they are “micro managing” but they really are not. This council believes they are part of the administration, not legislative, and haven’t looked at anything with an eye to protect the taxpayers’ money. Now, I would like to say they aren’t with the Mayor on everything, yet, they have voted her way each and every time. So why wouldn’t the rest of us believe they are the mayor’s lap dogs? A free thinker in this group has yet to come forward. This council needs a Bill Conroy or Mark Brown type to ask the thought provoking questions.
This city council can’t continue sticking their heads in the sand leaving all the important decisions up to the mayor. They need to get involved, ask questions and dig into details. Something they are currently not doing. This is not a job they volunteered to do. They are getting a nice salary and yet some of them do not even show up for the meetings.

The previous city council created council committees such as public works, auditing, law enforcement, streets, traffic, etc. to hold hearings and make recommendations to the council as a whole. The current council and the mayor have now made a point to do away with the city council committees and start citizen committees. The city council and York both told us citizen input is what they want. They want to hear what the residents think. 

But, evidently, that is not happening. Recently the city staff and the Landmarks committee voiced their opinion on an additional sign for Ameristar that would go on the west side of the building facing Interstate 70. The lighted sign would be 35 feet by 55 feet (1925 square feet) on which the message could be rotated. The mayor and the council went against the staff and citizen committees and approved the Ameristar sign.

The real reason they want the citizen committees goes back to the defeated former councilman and defeated candidate for other offices, Richard Baum. Baum especially liked the citizen committees so he could hide behind them when it suited his argument. Now this council and mayor are employing this tactic and every citizen on these committees should wake up and see that their opinions are not important unless they suit the wishes of the mayor and council.
If this city council would be doing the job of oversight and accountability they were elected to do the mayor would not have fired Brent Schultz, the former assistant city administrator (who worked for the city for over 30 years) and hired three new people to do what he was doing. You allowed the Mayor to balloon the administrative budget and that’s your legacy to date.  
I think the fact that the council members are all scared to speak out demonstrates the level York plays politics. York is not a statesmen, she is a bully politician that hurts those who speak against her. The city needs to be investigated by the same group that caught former St. Peters Mayor Shawn Brown. 
York gets $60,000 in taxpayer money a year to run the city and now we have to pay newly hired city administrator Michael Spurgeon from Miami, Oklahoma $124,000 plus benefits, plus $1,000 a month for a furnished apartment, plus auto expenses to run the city. York hired Dave Gipson to work as a liaison between the Mayor, council and residents because she does not want to deal with them and is paying him over $50,000 and benefits.

A lot of people voted for York because they believed she was supposed to know what to do? She lied to everybody about being the CEO and having the smarts to run the city. Where are the fiscal conservatives?

The numbers above don’t include the fact that the City now has a City Attorney, Assistant Attorney and has hired a special counsel to handle all of the employee complaints filed since the Mayor has taken charge; and special counsel to handle the federal subpoena for city records and the Express Scripts and Sellenschuetter lawsuits.

Never have so many employees been overlooked for promotion, moved without cause or dismissed. Of course, you don’t hear much of this because it takes place in closed session. This is to hide the hundreds of thousands you will spend on York’s vindictive politics.