Saturday, February 09, 2008

RAMBLING WITH The Editor Tony Brockmeyer

The Mayor’s right hand man, in this case woman, is under fire by the St. Charles City Council. Karen McDermott, Finance Director, is the target of tirades over the finances and procurement processes in the City. Allan Williams hired McDermott during his first stay in St. Charles in the early 90’s. She has been a bone of contention by city councils for years. McDermott is considered by many as an obstructionist in city hall. Her staff has lived in fear for years and none have been empowered to take any initiative. McDermott has ruled with an iron fist around the tax money unless it was for something the Mayor or Allan Williams determined worthy. The fact is the city council and City Administrator Michael Spurgeon hasn’t a chance to unseat her. She knows where all the dead bodies are buried. She knows the scheme to pay Glennon Jamboritz for his efforts in the recall of two previous council members. She knows the truth about the Mayor using the tax coffers as her own spending account.
In the past the council had a finance and audit committee that tried to reel in her power. Mayor York and her administration rebuked those efforts. The council uncovered the fact that McDermott hadn’t paid the cleaner’s bill for cleaning police uniforms. The committee identified the fact that McDermott hadn’t paid for the fuel for the police cars and one weekend some of our finest had to pay for gas using other methods because the city’s credit had been shut off. McDermott held up payment to the parks board, and held up the police getting winter coats. Keep in mind all these expenditures had been approved by the council.
McDermott had an employee that stole from the city and was never prosecuted and the city council would have never found out if someone on the inside hadn’t told them. Each year she has paraded into the city council chambers with the Mayor praising her for an accounting award she receives. The dirty little secret there is the award is bought and paid for by the taxpayers of St. Charles. McDermott doesn’t have a problem paying her membership or for her awards but when it comes to the needs of the employees she says NO!!!
At the meeting on Tuesday evening the council was working to get credit cards for employees to help streamline work. The previous council asked for the same thing, who got credit cards? The Mayor, City Administrator and the city clerk. If you really want to see why McDermott won’t be replaced, ask to see the Mayor’s Credit Card Bill. Even the state audit called Mayor York out on her spending $400 on a dinner at a downtown St. Louis restaurant. One of the guests at one of her high priced dinners was the previous Mayor of St. Peters, Shawn Brown, who is now confined to a federal detention facility. Maybe they were trading secrets and the room was too loud and Shawn misunderstood what she told him.
 Each city council has complained yet nothing ever changes. The city budget is impossible for an average resident to read and understand. The money is hidden in line items that disappear from public view, yet, McDermott knows where the money is. I used to watch and listen to York and McDermott say they found the money. Yes, they should be able to find it, they hid it in the first place.
Good luck to council in their adventure to control the finance director. If they are able to do anything in the next two years, replacing her would be a job well done.

Residents visiting Ameristar Casino over the weekend told us of an apparent celebration being hosted by developer Michael Sellenschuetter. According to our sources, it was attended by Mayor York, Council President Kneemiller and Councilman Mike Weller, among others. Wonder what they were celebrating? Perhaps the $1 million offer to settle Sellenschuetters lawsuit against the city. In executive session Tuesday evening the vote was 6 for and 4 against making an offer of settlement.

It also appears there is movement afoot to replace Councilman Bob Kneemiller as Council President.