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.

centralletter

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

Lewis Reed Fails To Lead, Again

city-hall3Under the Charter of the City of St. Louis, initiative petitions and their signatures go to the Board of Elections for verification of signatures. If signatures are sufficient, the issue has another stop before going on the ballot. A Charter Amendment by initiative petition must be sent to the Board of Aldermen and aldermen have 60 days to act on it.

The Board of Aldermen can put its seal of approval on it or not. If not, it goes back to the Board of Elections and on to the ballot anyway. The process allows our elected representatives to vet initiative ballot issues but not change them. It’s an opportunity to point out flaws or give praise.

On August 2nd, Primary Election Day, St. Louis City voters were asked at the polls to sign an initiative petition for funding of police body cams. It turned out to be a scam by Billionaire Rex Sinquefield and State Senator/mayoral candidate Jamilah Nasheed relating to the Recorder of Deeds Office, and a poorly written one at that.

So many people wanted to remove their signatures that I contacted the Board of Elections about how they would do it. Unfortunately, the Board of Elections did not produce the necessary affidavit until the day before the affidavits were due.

In September, Rex Sinquefield’s agents began collecting signatures for an initiative petition to change dates of some elections and reduce turnout for city charter ballot issues and school board elections. Fewer people voting would make Sinquefield better positioned to finally get rid of the earnings tax, bankrupt us into disincorporation, force us into annexation by the County, and elect his own anti-public education school board.

On September 9th, the Board of Aldermen Agenda noted that aldermen had received the proposed Charter Amendment on the Recorder’s Office from the Board of Elections. There was never any such notice for the Charter Amendment to change election dates, but it is known that it has sufficient signatures and was sent to Board of Aldermen.

On October 10th, Board of Aldermen President/mayoral candidate Lewis Reed introduced Board Bill 164 for the Charter Amendment on the Recorder’s Office. It was assigned to the Ways & Means Committee. No board bill was ever filed for the Charter Amendment to change election dates.

You would think that President Reed would want a thorough vetting by the Board of Aldermen of these two Rex Sinquefield proposals. You would think that he would jump at the opportunity to hold public hearings, expose these two ballot issues, lay out the case against the ballot issues as a first step toward educating voters and defeating Sinquefield. But he did not. He let the clock run out.

And what of the reformers on the Board of Aldermen? What of 28th Ward Alderwoman/mayoral candidate Lyda Krewson, 8th Ward Alderman Steve Conway (who chairs the Ways and Means Committee that Reed’s bill was assigned), and 24th Ward Alderman Scott Ogilvie? What of the aldermen who talked about reducing the number of aldermen as the first step toward professional policy maker aldermen? This was an opportunity to debate policy, an opportunity to be statesmen. They chose instead to give Rex Sinquefield a pass.

Why don’t Board President Lewis Reed and aldermen, including the three running for mayor, and the odd numbered ward aldermen up for re-election this year, want to go on record voting against these horrible proposals?

Whether or not they support Rex Sinquefield is something that should be asked all candidates for mayor and all candidates for aldermen this year. Media, debate moderators, ward organization surveys, all need to ask where the candidates stand on these two ballot issues.

What are President Reed and his aldermen colleagues hiding? Are they all jockeying for Rex Sinquefield money now?

Disclosure: I am a City employee who works at the Recorder of Deeds Office. I am an archivist who perform records conservation and preservation services, not a manager. I speak only for myself here as the 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman and do not represent the Recorder or City of St. Louis. I have not discussed this matter with the Recorder. I had my job for nearly 20 years before I was elected a committeewoman, did not become committeewoman because of my job, did not get my job because I am a committeewoman. I have scheduled vacations days for all election days. I did not write this on taxpayer time. I wrote it myself. I have an ongoing beef with Rex Sinquefield’s attempts to legally buy elections. His main goal for St. Louis is to force it to re-enter St. Louis County as a means to eliminate the city’s earnings tax. I have endorsed Tishaura Jones for Mayor.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

 

UPDATED, AGAIN: BOA President Files Lame Meeting Notices Legislation

UPDATED to include response by Board President on his failure to provide transparency on his own meeting notices.

Tonight should have been a good night for Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed. Tonight should have been when I and others had to suck it up and say, “Bravo, Sir, Bravo. Thank you. Well done.”

Should. Have. Been.

Over the past year, day after day, I have laid out the damning evidence of the City of St. Louis’s crappy job at transparency with regard to meeting notices and materials.

Most public meetings are not posted to the City’s online calendar.

onlinetifagenda
onlinemore

Some meeting notices are only posted in hard copy form near elevators at City Hall.
onlineea2

onlinegreatrivers

Sometimes meeting notices are posted less than 24 hours before the meeting.
onlinetiming

Some meeting notices that are not posted to the City’s online calendar are instead posted on the agency’s webpages. Sometimes this is a link on the “Board Meeting Materials” page, sometimes elsewhere. There is no consistency. You can spend a lot of time hunting for the information only to find the link is bad.

In cases where a meeting notice is posted somewhere on the City’s website, it often will not include an agenda. Most meeting notices with agendas do not include exhibits/attachments.

It’s a wet hot mess. It’s 2016 and the City of St. Louis has no central online location for citizens to find information on public meetings and hearings in a timely manner so as to make their voices heard before a decision is made.

onlinemayor

And Board President Lewis Reed blew it. This week he filed Board Bill 152. It does not require posting of meeting notices in a central online location. There is no identification of who is responsible for the posting or the penalty for failure to do so. It only requires 24 hours notice. It does not require an electronic time/date stamp on the posting (which actually was once done on City website but disappeared). It does not require posting exhibits and attachments mentioned in agendas.

bb152

It’s lame and it needs to be called out for what it is, a piss poor mayoral campaign gimmick. Lewis Reed does not provide Board of Aldermen agendas with the BOA Calendar Notices. He’s a hypocrite. He could have been providing that information by simple link iNall these years. Lewis Reed doesn’t need passage of a board bill to put his own house in order with regard to transparency.

fullboard

All City departments, agencies, boards, commissions, special districts, political subdivisions funded by City tax dollars should be required to have a designated public records officer to handle Sunshine records requests and post meeting or hearing information where applicable. In the case of appointed boards and commissions this will likely be the secretary. The City’s Register might be the designee for offices that she publicizes hearings for in the City Journal.

The public records officer should be responsible for posting online meeting and hearing notices with agendas, exhibits, and attachments, at a minimum by  9 am the Friday of the week prior to the meeting or hearing. Public notices required by city, state, or federal law to be posted as more advance notice should comply with those requirements.

These notices of meetings and hearings should be posted to a central location on the City’s website or some other location with link on City’s home page.

These notices should have an electronic time and date stamp that cannot be tampered with.

These notices should include a link to the last approved Meeting Minutes of the entity, where applicable. Meeting Minutes and Materials should be archived online in perpetuity as well as microfilmed or digital copy made.

Blighting reports should also be available online and linked when cited on agendas.

Penalty for failure to comply and enforcement should be included in the ordinance.

Let’s get that done. Let’s get a central online clearinghouse for public meeting information. But let’s not pass a board bill that basically says it’s OK to stick a meeting notice anywhere on the City website and call that progress.

Let’s get some real transparency going. And, then, if someone wants to get all fancy with subscription email notices, figure out how to do that by subject matter, zip code, etc., so that subscribers are not getting hundreds of meeting and hearing notices every day when all they want to know is when there is a liquor hearing affecting their zip code, when their special taxing district meets, or what is on the agenda for the Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee.

This weekend, in response to criticism of his poorly drafted bill and failure to provide transparency at the Board of Aldermen, Board President Lewis Reed blocked my Committeewoman Twitter account.

LewisReedBlocked.JPG

 

blocked

Board President Reed does not want to hear us but it does not stop us from speaking truth to power. Please contact your alderman and ask them to amend Board Bill 152 to include real transparency on public meetings and hearings, including posting all meeting and hearing notices and agendas in one online location and providing accountability if that is not done.

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

Updated: Rex Sinquefield’s Bankrupt St. Louis Petition

wakeupamericaRex Sinquefield is loading up the Spring ballots with charter amendments. This is the third initiative petition- with paid signature collectors- in a row.

In addition to the Police Body Cam Scam amendment and the Low Turnout on Local Ballot Issues & School Board Elections amendment, his operatives are now working on the Bankrupt St. Louis amendment, a proposal to provide tax credits for payment of earnings taxes and exempting anyone making under $50,000 from the earnings tax. 

rex1

I recognize one of the sponsoring petitioners on this petition- Larry Stendebach. He is the tech guru for Pelopidas, the PR/lobbying firm making a mint off of Sinquefield.

rex2

Stendebach is also part of Rex Sinquefield’s dizzying array of Political Action Committees. He is Deputy Treasurer of Great St. Louis, based in Jefferson City, of course

larry2

Great St. Louis is entirely funded by Rex Sinquefield, from his personal check and closing out the account of his Vote No on the E-Tax  PAC, same address as Great St. Louis. Most of the Great St. Louis money has gone to the losing Primary campaigns of Republican candidates for Governor and Attorney General, Catherine Hanaway and Kurt Schaefer.

larry5

larry4

 

Closer to home, on August 18th, Stendebach and Martin Casas filed papers with the Missouri Ethics Commission to create yet another Rex PAC- STL Votes!- to support an unnamed ballot issue. Casas manages social media for Better Together, another Rex Sinquefield project. Casas is also one of the sponsoring petitioners for Rex’s initiative to reduce turnout on local ballot issues and school board elections. I would imagine the new PAC is for that.

larry1
So, when a signature gatherer tells you that the Bankrupt St. Louis petition has nothing to do with Rex Sinquefield, feel free to take up some of his or her time and provide the facts.

It appears the signature gatherers started Friday at the 78th District Re-Vote polling places and then hit the many special events this weekend around the City.

St. Louis City voters just reauthorized the earnings tax last Spring with 72% of the vote.

Here’s the process for these City charter amendment initiative petitions.

1) Upon acquiring sufficient signatures plus some, petitions are delivered to Board of Elections.

2) Board of Elections verifies signatures. If enough signatures…

3) Board of Elections notifies Board of Aldermen that an initiative petition is ready for ballot.

4) Board of Aldermen has 60 Days to consider- including holding hearings- and adopt the proposed amendment as is- no changes. If it adopts amendment, and mayor signs, it becomes law without public vote. If it does not adopt proposed amendment, or if mayor does not sign, or his veto is not overriden…

5) Board of Elections places issue on ballot.

6) Charter Amendment passes if it gets 60% of the vote.

This is no way to have a serious discussion about the earnings tax and how to replace the earnings tax. This is a punitive measure by Rex Sinquefield. His operatives are throwing everything at the wall in hopes something sticks. He has unlimited resources to pay signature gatherers a consultants. The initiative petition process was never intended to be a means for the wealthy to buy their way on to the ballot. It was never intended to be a business.

Photo Credits: 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green

— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Bill Filing…

This was the ballot language for a proposed $25 Million Bond Issue that I found posted on the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen’s Board Bills webpage last week.

Prop 1 Before

But the ballot language changed because this is the version now online.
Prop 1 After

It would seem that the wrong version was initially posted online.

I’m pleased to see the list of what the bond issue would be spent on trimmed down. I’d like to see it amended into a bond issue only for the Fire Department. They need it and it’s easier to pass a bond issue earmarked for one thing rather than multiple things. That’s how the bond issues in 1998 got passed. One for Fire Department. One for Police Department. One for nuisance property demolition.

Too many beneficiaries in a single bond issue lead voters to doubt what the money will be spent on. That’s what happened with the failed bond issue last August.

The Bond Issue will be heard in Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday, January 13th. For more information see the post on 7th Ward Independent Democrats Blog.

Our Aldermen Are Robbing Us

The St. Louis City Board of Aldermen is stealing our right to vote on Stadium Funding.

Now, you might be thinking, oh, for crying out loud, let’s not rehash the initiative petition ordinance thrown out by an unelected judge. I’m not writing about that. Everything has been said. Over and over and over again.

I am writing about something different.

Little known to most St. Louis City residents, our City Charter provides us with  a mechanism to overturn ordinances adopted by the Board of Aldermen and signed by Mayor Slay.

Article VI, St. Louis City Charter:

The people shall have power, at their option, to approve or reject at the polls any ordinance (except it be an emergency measure as defined in section 20 of article IV), such power being known as the referendum and to be invoked and exercised as herein provided.

The Charter goes on to describe how voters have 30 days, after the Mayor signs a law, to collect petition signatures- equal to at least 2% of all voters registered at the last mayoral election- to place the law on the ballot.  With a little more than 4,000 voters signing petitions, we could force an election on Stadium Funding.

But Alderman are denying us our referendum right on this issue, and nearly every other issue, by adding what’s called an Emergency Clause to the Stadium Corporate Welfare Bill.

Board Bill 219, Section Eleven. The Board of Aldermen hereby finds and determines that this Ordinance constitutes an “emergency measure” pursuant to Article IV, Section 20 of the City Charter, because this Ordinance provides in part for public works and improvements, and as such, this Ordinance shall take effect immediately upon its approval by the Mayor as provided in 21 Article IV, Section 20 of the City Charter.

And the City Charter prevents voters from petitioning to overturn an ordinance that has an Emergency Clause.

What constitutes an Emergency?

Article IV, Section 20, St. Louis City Charter. Emergency ordinance defined. An emergency measure is any ordinance necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, or providing for public work or improvements of any kind or repairs thereof, or establishing a benefit or taxing district or a sewer district, or a joint sewer district, and declared to be an emergency measure; any ordinance calling or providing for any election or vote by or submission to the people, any ordinance making an appropriation for the payment of principal or interest of the public debt, or for current expenses of the city government; any general appropriation ordinance; or any ordinance fixing any tax rate; but no ordinance granting, enlarging or affecting any franchise or amending or repealing any ordinance adopted by the people under the initiative shall be an emergency measure.

Context is important. In April 1926, when voters adopted the Referendum provision, they also adopted a plan to merge the City and County into one large municipality (which County voters rejected). The Right to Referendum was City voters way of staying in control. They did exempt “public peace, health or safety” ordinances, but they certainly never imagined it would be used on other than rare occasions. Why give yourself a right and then ensure you never get to use it?

In 1927, voters amended the Referendum provision to include “public works and improvements.” In 1927, public works and improvements meant the 20 bond issues adopted in 1923, money being used to build Civil Courts Building, Soldiers Memorial, Kiel Opera House, public waterworks, pave residential streets, creating many new parks and public spaces- improvements of benefit to the general public. It was never intended to mean subsidizing a billionaire.

In the case of the Stadium Funding Bill, the emergency has to do with “providing for public works or improvements.” If true, this bill will result in public works or improvements regardless of action by the National Football League. But it won’t. It is contingent on a private entity buying into the plan.

An emergency is something that is happening or will happen, not something that may happen.

If the Rams move, there are no public works or improvements from this ordinance. It is, therefore, not an emergency.

6 pm Tuesday BOA Hearing on Corporate Welfare for New Stadium

Make Your Voice Heard!
Testify @ The Hearing. Contact Your Alderman. Contact BOA President Lewis Reed.

6 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2015
St. Louis City Board of Aldermen
Ways & Means Committee
@ O’Fallon Park Recreation Center, 3434 West Florissant

Public Hearing on Board Bill 219

More Information