CLAYTON, Mo – The St. Louis County Council has seen a divide amongst themselves on issues such as who should serve as County Auditor, and a host of issues with the County Executive currently over repairing bridges that have finally boiled over into a calculated slow down of county business.
County Executive Steve Stenger fired back at the effort to withhold county improvement projects telling the Clayton Times, “When I was on the county council, no matter what kind of rancor Charlie and I had, we still moved forward. The business of the county came first. There’s a separation of powers in our county government. The legislative branch is an equal branch of government. However, the council put business first, and frankly, Charlie put business first. In the situation we are currently in, the council has basically slowed things down.”
Chairman of the County Council Sam Page has led the effort to slow county business until he accomplishes reform of the current process that he calls corrupt and heavily influenced by campaign contributions.
“It’s more important for county business to be above-board than to be quick,” Page told the Clayton Times.
As of now, it appears he has a coalition of Democrats in Councilwoman Hazel Irby and Councilwoman Rochelle Walton-Gray, as well as Republican Ernie Trakas as part of the slow down effort. Page has chosen to utilize county council committees to intensely scrutinize county contracts, and is holding hearings most afternoons all week to question county department heads about expenditures.
Tuesday’s hearing was over the County Health Department’s purchasing of prescription drugs. The contract has been approved in the past, but the council has been making inquiries about the process, seeing that the proposed provider is a contributor to Stenger. Some councilmen have suggested other alternatives, including local company Express Scripts. This underscores the complexity and even potential hypocrisy of the debate as Express Scripts has also contributed to County Council members.
The projects that were stalled at the June 6th County Council meeting were:
- A petition to vacate excess right of way of Conway Road; Petitioner: Bonhomme Presbyterian Church, Inc. located in the seventh council district.
- A contract with the Missouri State Department of Mental Health in support of a project entitled “Missouri’s State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis”, stating the DPH will receive payment up to $150,000 per year to hire a full-time public health coordinator.
- An amendment to ordinance No. 26,433 to extend the term of the contract with LDI Integrated Pharmacy Services for an additional two years through August 2019 at an amount not to exceed $3,500,000 per year.
- An amendment to ordinance No. 26,651 to extend the term of the contract with Diamond Drugs, Inc. for an additional two years through August 2019 at an amount not to exceed $900,000 per year to provide pharmacy services for inmates at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center.
- An amendment to ordinance No. 26,528 to allow St. Louis County to enter into contracts for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program with twenty-eight (28) counties that have established Public Health Centers.
- A supplemental appropriation in the amount of $207,365.84 for the reimbursement of fourteen total losses of police department vehicles.
- The acceptance and appropriation of funds in the amount of $88,331 from the 2018 Missouri Crime Lab Upgrade Program Funds, as indicated, stating these funds will be used to continue funding for the salary and benefits of a Forensic Scientist and the purchase of a microscope for the Chemistry Unit.
- Entering into a contract with FoodCorp, LLC for the operation of the concession stand at St. Vincent Community Center.
- Entering into a contract with K.L.D. Enterprises, Inc. (K.L.D.) for the operation of the concession stand at Fountain Lake Softball Center in Bella Fontaine Park.
- Entering into a contract with SBC Contracting, Inc. in the amount of $512,000 for two New Tot playgrounds at Upper Buder Park and Bee Tree Park, as well as reconstruction of existing playgrounds at Bohrer Park and Creve Coeur Park.
- Legislation to authorize installation of stop control signs at the intersection of Joplin Avenue and Velma Avenue, stating the stop controls are necessary due to visibility restrictions
- An amendment to a contract with Mitchell and Hugeback Architects, Inc., for the construction of a standardized general aviation facility for the clearance of international passengers and crews.
The list contains small items from the vacating of a right of way to a church all the way to the implementation of the county’s prescription drug monitoring program.
“They’re not slowing down policy proposals of mine. They are slowing down things that matter to all St. Louis Countians”, Stenger said. “We are talking about improvement to parks. We’re talking about bridge projects.”