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Quarter of Board of Aldermen Have Not Filed Required Campaign Reports

A full 25% of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen have not filed required campaign finance reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission, as of 10:45am today. I double checked the seven that have not filed and the Missouri Ethics Commission does not show any reports received but not yet scanned. The reports were due October 15th which translates to October 16th since the 15th was on a Sunday.

The following are the aldermen that have not filed the required reports, all are Democrats (that is a joke, btw, since we only have one Republican elected to office in the City of St. Louis):

•Charles Quincy Troupe — 1st Ward
•April Ford-Griffin — 5th Ward
•Lewis Reed — 6th Ward (Reed has two committees at this point – one for alderman and one for president of the board, neither committee has filed the required reports)
•Jennifer Florida — 15th Ward
•Terry Kennedy — 18th Ward (Kennedy is up for re-election in 2007)
•Frank Williamson — 26th Ward (Wiliamson is up for re-election in 2007)
•Lyda Krewson — 28th Ward (Krewson is up for re-election in 2007)

More to follow in the next week, after I’ve had a chance to download and review all the reports that have been filed up to that point.

Related prior post: July 27 — A detailed look at Campaign Finance Reports.

UPDATE 10/18/06 @ Noon:

Ald. Lyda Krewson emailed me to indicate they mailed their reports on 10/13. Krewson also indicated she talked with the folks in Jeff City that said they just received some mail this morning postmarked 10/10 & 10/111 (and presumably Krewson’s dated 10/13?). This is somewhat different than Publiceye’s assertion that the Missouri Ethics Commission is behind on opening mail. I’m much more likely to believe that the US Postal Service is slow. Krewson indicates she will send future reports via FedEx to avoid this anxiety over timeliness.

Electronic filing is an option that aldermen should consider. I will check back to the state site throughout the afternoon to see if new reports for these seven have been received today. Part of the problem we have, as the public, is knowing if a report was postmarked on time or not. If the Missouri Ethics is backed up they will indicate a report has been received but not yet scanned — and here they will indicate the postmark. Most often I find they go right to being a scanned report with only the date it was received by the office and the date scanned — the same day. So, all seven reports may arrive today and be scanned today but because of their reporting system I will be unable to distinguish, online, between those that were mailed on or before the 14th and those that may have been mailed or send via overnight after the deadline.

UPDATE 10/18/06 @ 2pm:

The Missouri Ethics Commission does not show any changes for the above seven. The potential existed for them to have received a report but not yet scanned it into their system for public consumption but none of these where so marked.

UPDATE 10/18/06 @ 8:55pm:

At 4pm this afternoon two reports were indicated as having been received but not yet scanned: one was for Ald. Lyda Krewson and the other for Ald. Lewis Reed’s committee running for the President of the Board of Aldermen. Both show as being postmarked on Monday, October 16, 2006. Per the Missouri Ethics Commission, these are technically late. At 8:15pm I check all seven again just to see if any additional changes had been made after 4pm. The other five remain unchanged but now the two reports, one from Krewson and one from Reed, are scanned and available for review. At the moment both are still showing in the received but not yet scanned section as well along with the postmark date of 10/16/06 (I have saved both pages as PDF files and may post if necessary).

The Missouri Ethics Commission website does not yet show a report for the aldermanic committee for Lewis Reed which remains an active and open account. It should probably be converted to a debt account, if possible. Ald. Krewson’s report is of course quite orderly and includes a cover letter dated 10/12/2006. This date would collaborate her contention that it was mailed the following day, on the 13th which would make it a timely filing. Still the Missouri Ethics Commission says it was not postmarked until the 16th, making it a late filing.

We’ve got a couple of issues at play here. First, some aldermen are habitually late, sometimes 2-3 weeks. That is quite a different issue than mailing it at a slow post office or even on the actual due date rather than prior to the due date as required. Habitually late and rarely late is the separator here. Krewson is consistently ontime, at least back through 2004. Reed, on the other hand, is either on time or really really late.

But the big issue is the information the Missouri Ethics Commission provides, or more accurately, doesn’t provide. Once a report is filed we know the date is was received and the date it was scanned. Almost always these are the same date. What is missing is the piece of information that determines whether a filed report is timely or not — the postmark date. How is it this information is not part of their reporting? If you agree this is relevant information that should be part of the public record online and thus not requiring a phone call to verify the postmark date, please email the Missouri Ethics Commission at helpdesk@mec.mo.gov.

One final thing, just an observation. While it may be a coincidence that Krewson held her big fundraiser on October 2nd I think the date was no accident. A week earlier and the activity would have been required on the report just submitted. But, no regular quarterly report is due in January so her next report is the 40 day before election report, not due until January 25, 2007 (that would be with a postmark of 1/24/07 if you are doing the math). Either way, this is after filing closes if anyone is considering challenging her they do so not really knowing how much money she raised a couple of weeks ago. Come January 1st contribution limits get tossed the window so someone that gave the maximum of $325 can come back and give considerably more prior to the election. Very smart that Lyda is.

UPDATE 10/20/06 @ 10:15am:

As of yesterday afternoon after 5pm only one change was noted. The Missouri Ethics Commission received the quarterly report from the campaign for Jennifer Florida. However, it was noted as having a bad [unreadable] postmark.

This leaves the following as not yet having submitted reports: Ald. Lewis Reed’s aldermanic campaign committee, Ald Troupe, Ald. Ford-Griffin, Ald. Kennedy, and Ald. Williamson. Five out of twenty-eight, or just under 18%. Reed is now officially running for the President of the Board of Aldermen in 2007. Also in 2007, Ald. Kennedy and Ald. Williamson are up for re-election. I’m guessing they won’t file their intent to seek office again after the deadline.


What happened to the new McDonald’s?

After months of controversy over McDonald’s moving from its current location at the NW corner of Grand and Chippewa to the SE corner of Grand & Winnebego we’ve seen no evidence of anything moving forward. Not that I want the drive-thru moved adjacent to the homes in the Gravois Park neighborhood, but we were all given the impression that time was of the essence.

It has been nearly 3 months since the city’s Board of Adjustment denied an appeal by residents to prevent the McDonald’s from being built. Pyramid Construction was supposed to do a land swap with McDonald’s but a quick check of records for 3708 S. Grand indicates Pyramid Construction is still the property owner. The same records also indicate building permit application #358646 to construction the restaurant remains open, the permit has not yet been issued. With all the administrative hurdles jumped I just can’t imagine why three months would pass without construction starting.

It would appear that someone involved in the deal isn’t going forward. The parties are Pyramid Construction, McDonald’s corporate, the franchise operator and deal maker Ald. Jennifer Florida.

If the deal has gone south now is our chance to work as a community to envision what this street could look like. If you go back to my post from a couple of weeks ago using Photoshop to show incremental changes we can hopefully do a similar treatment for South Grand. If McDonald’s is staying where they are and the empty site at Winnebego is to remain empty or get another plan we need to bring everyone together to work on good solutions that are a fit for the community.


Update on Recall Efforts in the City of St. Louis

With all the election stuff of late it has been easy to ignore the various recalls that are going on in the City of St. Louis, a lot of angry voters out there displeased with their aldermen. The issue is not political infighting but development practices.

Freeman Bosley Sr., 3rd Ward:

Via Antonio French on PubDef: The recall is on hold pending an August 21, 2006 court hearing. It seems the recallers are challenging the legal authority of the Board of Elections to allow the subject of the recall, in this case Freeman Bosley Sr., to obtain affidavits from people to have their names removed from the recall petition. If the judge rules in their favor they will have sufficient numbers to place the recall on the ballot. This could be huge with widespread implications for other recalls.

Bosley has been a destructive element in his ward, choosing to unnecessarily raze many buildings and ruin street patterns. New construction has been decidedly suburban in character. Frankly he just seems too out of touch with what a city should be. He seems hell bent on destroying everything that makes the ward interesting, all in the name of progress. He has had his 17 years in the spotlight, time for some fresh urban-minded thinking.

Joseph Roddy, 17th Ward:

Roddy, who’s father was alderman for many years, inherited this ward. While Roddy can brag about the millions (billions?) of dollars of investment within the ward what he cannot do is argue that it has bettered the ward from an urban & livability perspective. BJC parking garages are costly but do not improve the area.

It looks like recallroddy.com was registered in May 2006 but no active website exists.

Jennifer Florida, 15th Ward:

Back in 2001 I really liked Florida, she was very involved in saving the South Side National Bank and she wasn’t about to let politics and ‘development as usual’ allow the building to be razed for a Walgreen’s. I was very impressed and worked to help get her elected. Today I feel betrayed. Did I misjudge her or did she change? Perhaps some of both.

In talking to several of those with the Florida recall effort it sounds like they are all re-energized following the elections on Tuesdays. Volunteers worked the polls in the 15th Ward to collect signatures. Many voters were eager to sign the petition although others were not so willing with her standing nearby. With more elections in November, March and April it looks like the volunteers are determined to stick with the recall as long as it takes. When the new McDonald’s begins to rise on Grand and we see the shuttered old McDonald’s this might attract some new interest. When she tries to push through the senior housing with little public input on the site plan, land use, and such the voters may finally get fed up.

Despite what the political machine may be saying, I am not “behind” these recalls. Do I support the recall of Florida, Roddy and Bosley? Oh yeah! But I am not orchestrating these efforts. I know many of the people running the recall against Florida and have offered them my opinion on things when asked. I am hosting recallflorida.com on server space that I have but I am not creating or posting any content — that is entirely up to those doing the recall. To those working to recall Bosley and Roddy I will make the same offer to you — free blog & email hosting.

I’m also willing to talk to potential candidates for aldermen in the city’s even numbered wards, the 14 seats that are up for re-election in March 2007. This doesn’t mean I will support just anyone challenging an incumbent. On a personal level I like a number of the current aldermen but I question the urban understanding of all of them. Who knows, I might actually support an incumbent or two. I will offer an “in-kind contribution” of web & email hosting to those I chose to support. Democracy is best served when we have more than a single choice of candidates.

– Steve


Florida Backing Gambaro in 4th District

“Progressive” Alderwoman Jennifer Florida was overheard strategizing with Laura Slay and Ald. Gregali about getting conservative Derio Gambero elected in the Missouri Senate’s 4th District over rivals Amber Boykins, Yaphett El Amin, Kenneth Jones and Jeff Smith. I’m told Laura Slay is a paid consultant on the Gambaro campaign. Apparently the trio was complaining about the Smith campaign attacking Gambaro on a mailing piece comparing him to George W. Bush.

The 15th is one of the more progressive wards in the city so it is a surprise to me that Florida would be supporting Gambaro over any of the other candidates in the race. The ward has two Democratic organizations, the closed organization where the committee persons endorse a candidate have selected Amber Boykins while the open 15th ward group voted to endorse Jeff Smith.

To my knowledge Florida has not publicly endorsed Gambaro but it seems everyone at Chris’ Pancakes got the message.

– Steve


The Twisted Logic of Ald. Florida

The West End Word had a recent article on recalls in the city. One part, about 15th Ward Alderwoman Jennifer Florida, caught my attention:

Florida called the recall effort against her a “terrible distraction,” but said that the effort against her has not affected the way she does her job, other than to force her to spend a bit more money producing newsletters and progress reports to explain her position.

Oh my, she must now communicate with her constituents!!! Oh the humanity. How dare folks “force” her to explain her position. Of course, her position in theory should be based on the feelings of the community. Did she think she could just get elected, not communicate anything, and not have any issues arise?

“There’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there, and I have to address that,” she said. “I’m trying to learn how to explain what I can and cannot do.”

The recall effort against Florida has been based on her support of a plan to move a McDonald’s franchise down the street from an existing location. Florida’s opponents say the move would be illegal, as the zoning for the new location does not allow a drive-thru, which is included in the design.

Florida said that the new location is commercially zoned, adding that there’s not a whole lot she could do to stop the move. “I think they thought I had more power than I actually have,” she said. “It’s just a small group of people who aren’t accepting [the move]. It’s like they’re trying to punish me for not getting exactly what they want.

I think someone needs to look in the mirror before talking about misinformation. Florida continues to downplay her role in the McDonald’s fiasco. After receiving substantial financial contributions from the officers of an entity seeking to profit in the deal, Florida took on an active role of making the project a reality. Her support, nearly to the point of being official spokesperson, did help influence the various boards that granted variances allowing the project to move forward. Had she remained neutral or opposed the drive-thru it most likely would not be happening now.

“I was always told recalls are about malfeasance in office or negligence. The reason why it’s in the charter is to cover corruption [in city politics]. But now it’s about not agreeing with an alderman’s position on an issue.”

I think if an alderman engages in criminal behavior we are not going to go through the recall process to remove them. Most often when a politician is caught with his/her hand in the candy jar or some other offense they typically resign amid charges of wrong doing. The recall process is in the charter to allow citizens to remove an elected representative when that person is no longer representing their interests. I believe that to be the case here and in a number of other recent recall efforts (Bauer, Roddy, & Bosley).

Florida said she suspects the recent rash of recalls stems from the citizens’ frustrations with federal and state politics. Because average citizens have little control over national issues, they instead vent their frustrations on local politicians, she said. “If you’re upset about the war in Iraq, you’re not going to recall President Bush,” she said. “Instead, you go after the people you have more control over.”

Florida can’t really be serious with this line of thinking, can she? She is suggesting that to be actively involved in local civic politics, including disagreeing with elected officials, is simply because we cannot impact issues on a state or federal level. Oh please! What a distorted view of the citizens of St. Louis! If we are not involved we are apathetic. If we are involved but disagree we are simply frustrated with others. How convenient for Ms. Florida to be so dismissive of everyone except those that agree with her. Open dialog about issues is the only way we will progress as a city but our elected officials don’t want dialog. They want status quo.

– Steve