Central Committee Should Support Treasurer Jones Against Takeover By Board of Aldermen

I have written St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee requesting the Committee seek a veto from Mayor Krewson on Board Bill 92 to reduce authority of City Treasurer Tishaura Jones and to support any lawsuit by the Treasurer to strike down the legislation.

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The Votes by Aldermen are not available on the BOA website yet.

As mentioned in the email, Central Committee previously opposed elimination of Recorder of Deeds and state legislation to reduce authority of our elected Sheriff.

Consistency dictates if Central Committee will defend two elected county offices against takeovers, it should do the same for a third county office, and all county offices.

Board Bill 92 is sponsored by 22nd Ward Alderman, and perennial citywide candidate, Jeffrey Boyd, who came in 5th of 7 candidates for mayor in March of this year. He received only 1,439 votes. Jones came in 2nd with 16,374, only 888 votes separating her and winner 28th Ward Alderwoman Lyda Krewson.

Boyd came in 3rd of 4 candidates in the August 2012 Treasurer election in which Jones won her first term.

In August 2014, Boyd ran and lost to Mavis Thompson for City License Collector.

Perennial Candidate, that’s Jeffrey Boyd. Sore Loser.

Suggested reads…

6/22/2-17 St. Louis American: Using reserve funds is only a quick fix

7/6/2017 St. Louis American: Political payback still holds St. Louis back

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

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My Email Tonight To Central Committee On 28th Ward Candidates

Dear Central Committee Colleagues: Yesterday on St. Louis Public Radio, we found out Missouri Senate Pro Tem Ron Richard (R-Joplin) would carry the ball for Rex Inc.’s anti-St. Louis Agenda, including selling off St. Louis Lambert International Airport and forced re-entry of St. Louis City into St. Louis County.

Rex Inc. is negotiating privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport with no input from aldermen or public. The pro-privatization website by Rex Inc. appears to be saying this is the greatest thing ever and nearly a done deal.

We need to know who are our friends at every level of government, who we can depend on to stand with us against Rex Inc. That includes the Board of Aldermen.

We have an opportunity to vet 28th Ward Alderman candidates and find out where they stand on issues, including Rex Inc. related issues. We should take it. I am asking, again, that St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee invite all candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for 28th Ward Alderman to our Thursday meeting to answer our questions.


One candidate will get the nod from Central Committee and one or more rejected candidates will file as Independents. By vetting each of the candidates now and making this information known to the public, we would be providing a public service– information on citywide/regional issues that likely might not even come up within 28th Ward-only forums.

We should find out where each of the 28th Ward Alderman candidates stands on, as examples,…
1) Forced re-entry of City into County
2) Privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport
3) Privatization of City Refuse services
4) Privatization of City Water Department
5) Re-Vote on Ward Reduction
6) Maintaining our County elected offices as elected

I understand this is hard for many of you, breaking with tradition, the idea that we not merely nominate the chosen alderman candidate of the ward’s committeeman and committeewoman. But this is an opportunity to find out where candidates (plural) stand on issues important to our future as a party, a City, and a region. I think that is our responsibility here, not rubber stamping a nominee.

Also, I have consolidated the Rex ballot issues information to a new Say No To Rex blog and Twitter account @SayNoToRex to keep track of Rex-related news.

Marie Ceselski
7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman
313-630-7599

Central Committee Revisionist History

As a follow up to You Should Go To Saturday’s Closed STL City Democratic Party Meeting, some members of Central Committee and I have very different recollections of how Central Committee has done its business.

My recollection is that I brought Sam Cummings to one of my first Central Committee meetings. Then Central Committee Chair Mattie Moore told us that he could not attend the meeting because our meetings were closed.

My recollection of Central Committee is that we once had a website (via NationBuilder) and Central Committee meeting notices were never posted on that site.

My recollection of Central Committee is that there was a meeting at Humphrey’s, the meeting where we discussed whether or not everyone supported efforts to bring a Democratic National Convention to St. Louis (which it turned out not everyone did), and at that meeting I was berated for bringing up the subject of open meetings. I was told, repeatedly, that meetings had always been closed and that all county committees operated this way, which I knew was incorrect.

I have been fighting for open meetings ever since.

We have also been told by party leaders over and over again not to reveal meeting information or Central Committee business on social media.

 
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That today’s meeting time and location were publicized by not just myself but others as well appears to have hit a nerve with some on Central Committee.

I also have a different recollection on the filling of committee vacancies. Committee vacancies are not solely decided by the remaining committeeperson. Under the law, Central Committee members elect someone to fill a vacancy. The remaining committeeperson nominates and then Central Committee members vote on the nomination. By tradition, the nomination is always accepted, or has been as long s I can recall.

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I have not been to a Central Committee meeting in quite some time. I don’t attend because I am deaf, the result of flu complications in the winter of 2013. I do pretty good with one on one conversations where I can read lips. In a group setting, however, I need someone to come with me to clue me in on what is going on, and take notes in case I want to follow up on something. But, we have had, until perhaps today, closed meetings. I am not special, I just have a hearing impairment. If meetings are closed, meetings are closed for all non-committee members and we should not pick and choose who gets to bring someone and who doesn’t. A committeeperson’s challenger in August should have just as much right to attend Central Committee meetings as someone I bring to be my ears. And when I am certain that the meetings are open, then I will start going to the meetings again.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

STL City Democratic Party Needs Open Meetings

365px-DemocratslogoOver the next months you may hear from some St. Louis City candidates for Democratic Party Committeewoman and Committeeman about opening up St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee meetings to the public, providing greater transparency on political party business, and making an effort to encourage more participation in party activities and elections.

Presently, to attend a Central Committee meeting, you must be an elected member of Central Committee or the invited guest of…, well…, I am unclear on exactly who is authorized to do the inviting. The rules are not written down and there are a number of opinions.

I have argued for open meetings since  I was elected the 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman four years ago.

Other county Central Committees have open meetings. I know they often have county Democratic Party clubs that they meet in concert with, usually monthly, and there’s often an inexpensive meal or snacks, and a keynote speaker. When needed, before or after the open event, the elected township committeewomen and committeemen meet briefly to conduct internal business. I know these open meetings take place because I have been to some. It provides transparency and encourages participation. I favor that format for St. Louis City Democrats.

And so does Alison Dreith, candidate for 6th Ward Democratic Committeewoman. Alison was Moderator at last week’s 6th & 7th Wards Circuit Attorney and Sheriff Candidates Forum. Alison told the audience that she had attended neighboring county Central Committee meetings- open meetings- and wanted that for St. Louis City. I have heard other candidates for committeewoman and committeeman voice their support as well.

Central Committee and County Democratic Club websites or Facebook pages provide information on open meetings for County Democratic organizations in 36 Missouri counties: Bates CountyBoone CountyCaldwell County, Callaway CountyCape Girardeau County, Cass County, Christian County, Clay County, Cole County, Cooper CountyFranklin County, Greene County, Howard County, Howell County, Jackson County, Jasper County, Jefferson County, Lafayette County, Lincoln County, Linn County, Miller County, Moniteau County, Morgan County, Newton CountyPhelps CountyPlatte County, Pulaski County, Randolph County, Ray County, St. Charles County, St. Francois County, St. Louis CountyScott County, Shelby CountyVernon CountyWayne Counties.

Online newspaper articles or online calendars provide information on open meetings for County Democratic organizations in another 15 counties: Cedar County, Dade County, Dallas County, Douglas County, Madison County, Maries County, Pettis County, Pike County, Polk County, Saline County, Stoddard County, Stone County, Washington County, Webster County, and Wright Counties.

I did not perform an exhaustive search and would not be surprised that I missed some.

Most counties in Missouri are small, under 25,000 population, and most of them do not appear to have Democratic Party Central Committees with an online presence. But neither does the St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee. There is a committee working on it. A committee.

According to longtime party leaders, St. Louis Democratic City Central Committee meets only in closed session because: 1) No county Central Committees in Missouri have open meetings; 2) This is the way it has always been done; and 3) Republicans might attend and hear our secrets.

Reason #1 is a myth. In fact, I have not found a single Central Committee in Missouri that only meets in closed session. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. Saying it’s rare.

Reason #2 is just plain sad.

Reason #3 is laughable. Even in the most Republican of counties in Missouri, Democrats meet at the steak house or courthouse in open session. And the Republican Party barely has a pulse in St. Louis City, in large part the State and National GOP’s doing. The Republican agenda is anti everything so many of us in St. Louis City hold dear.

The real reason Central Committee continues to meet only in closed session is there aren’t enough committeewoman and committeeman votes to dump the arcane policy/rule/tradition. That could change this August 2nd. I hope so.

A presidential election with so much candidate-driven volunteer energy is a great opportunity to add hands and hearts to the Democratic Party. Opening up Central Committee meetings will invite both participation and transparency. We need both.

And Now A Few Words About The Rights Of Recorder Employees

There seems to be confusion among some elected officials, including Democratic City Central Committeepersons, regarding the rights of Recorder of Deeds employees.

Recorder of Deeds employees who are whistleblowers have the right to sue if we are retaliated against. We can sue for retaliation against reporting wrongdoing and violations of law or public policy. We can sue for retaliation against refusal to perform an illegal act or act contrary to public policy.

Recorder of Deeds employees are not at-will employees. We can be fired for cause and only cause. Sharon Carpenter is not coming back to power and punishing everyone who did not remain “loyal” to her. She can try, but she won’t win. And it will be very costly for her.

Recorder employees cannot be fired for our politics. Not yet anyway.

There are court cases that speak to this right of ours to have a political life of our own and not be political indentured servants.

In the 1976 Elrod v. Burns case, Democrat Richard Elrod was elected Cook County Sheriff (Illinois), replacing a Republican. Employees were told they had to switch parties or would be fired. Employees were fired and they sued. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that firing non-policymaking employees solely because of their politics was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The result of this case is that non-civil service public employees may be hired for their politics but may not be fired for their politics.

In the 1980 Branti v. Finkel case, Democrat Peter Branti Jr. was appointed Public Defender by the Rockland County Legislature (New York), replacing a Republican. Two Assistant Public Defenders, Republicans, believed they were about to be fired because of their political affiliations and brought suit for an injunction against dismissal. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, again, that firing non-policymaking employees because of their politics was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The Court also said it would be acceptable to fire a policy-making employee for his political beliefs only if those beliefs interfered with discharge of duties.

In the 1983 Barnes v. Bosley case, Democrat Freeman Bosley Jr. was elected St. Louis City Circuit Court Clerk, defeating Democrat Joseph P. Roddy in the primary. Three Court Clerk employees were fired by Bosley and they brought suit for dismissal because of their political affiliations. The U.S District Court Eastern District ruled that two of the dismissed employees had been fired in violation of their First Amendment rights, while a third had indeed been in a policy making or confidential position for which there was no First Amendment protection.

manualpoliticalRecorder employees cannot be fired just because a new Recorder takes office.

Recorder employees do not have to donate to any candidate or ward organization.

Recorder employees do not have to work the polls Tuesday.

Recorder employees have political rights. In fact, it’s in our Recorder of Deeds Personnel Manual as amended by Recorder Jennifer Florida.

Sharon Carpenter is not going to come back and restore the patronage system to the human chattel institution it was under her tenure. She can try, but she can’t win. And it will be very costly for her.

– Marie Ceselski

 

Ward Organizations Should Make No Endorsement For Recorder of Deeds

Thursday, October 30, 2014, the Comptroller’s Audit Team met with St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida and provided a draft of their report regarding the spending of public monies by former Recorder Sharon Quigley Carpenter. The report will not be formally issued, and the Recorder able to formally make a response, until after Tuesday’s Election.

Florida requested the audit sometime before August 15. Comptroller Darlene Green supports the election of Carpenter. But I know for a fact that the auditor has been camped out in the Recorder’s Office most of this time and was still collecting information until very recently. The damning audit’s release after the election is not intrigue. I love a good political conspiracy but this isn’t one.

I had nothing to do with the audit and have not seen the draft. But all of us know, or should know by now, what it says: Sharon Quigley Carpenter Misspent Public Funds, Hundreds of Dollars of Public Funds.

Ed McFowland is not a liar. Jennifer Florida is not a liar. I am not a liar. Everyone who has spoken to, and will speak to, government auditors, government investigators, and government attorneys, about the misdeeds of Carpenter, is not a liar. There are legal implications to what we have said and what we will say. Our testimony is the same under oath or without taking an oath.

Tuesday’s Recorder Election does not make the fiduciary negligence and legal issues relating to Carpenter’s tenure as Recorder go away. Regardless of the winner, this will get worse. The process has just started.

Democratic Party Committeemen and Committeewoman still have an opportunity to be on the right side of history regarding Carpenter.

I am not suggesting that ward sample ballots carry an endorsement for a candidate other than the Democrat nominee. While 24th Ward Democratic Committeewoman Terri Powers has supported Independent candidate, now Independent Alderman, Scott Ogilvie, including raising money for him, as party officials, we should not support anyone other than Democratic Party nominees.

I am suggesting that No Endorsement is an appropriate action.  Already printed and picked up sample ballots containing Carpenter’s name can have lines drawn through it with markers before Election Day. There’s plenty of time.

Not supporting a Democrat is different from supporting an Independent, Republican, or other party’s candidate. As a party, we have to permit ourselves the opportunity to distance ourselves from a nominee, as did the Missouri GOP with Al Hanson in 2002, and the Illinois Democratic Party in 1986 because of Lyndon LaRouche Cult primary wins.

My own ward organization had a choice between endorsing Carpenter and No Endorsement. There was also argument in favor of endorsing Jennifer Florida, which I spoke against, and we had the discussion about being a party organization instead of generic PAC. In the end, our members voted for No Endorsement. I respectfully urge my Democratic Party colleagues to do the same.

– Marie Ceselski