U City alderman curses citizen
By ED FINKELSTEIN
University City – An effort last week by three concerned aldermen to bring some sanity to the inexcusable suspension of six Fire Fighter Local 2665 members for exercising their free speech rights was unsuccessful as the mayor and three alderman aligned with her political faction voted to indefinitely table five resolutions trying to resolve the problem. Their action, in reality, killed the effort.
“It’s very sad what’s happening in our community,” said Alderman Terry Crow who told the jammed packed city council meeting that in effect, tabling the motions was a “no vote. You should at least have the courage to take a public stand with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote on the resolutions,” he admonished the council members and the mayor.
In the resolutions, reinstatement of the six was called for, as was a clarification of the right of city employees to support candidates in conformance with state law.
However, one resolution called for an investigation into the city manager’s use of the city’s mailed newsletter just before the last election to promote four incumbent aldermen for re-election, a clear violation of state law prohibiting the use of public funds for political purposes.
All five resolutions were supported by Crow and Aldermen Paulette Carr and Byron Price but defeated by Mayor Shelley Welsch and her cabal: Aldermen Stephen Kraft, Michael Glickert and Arthur Sharpe.
There were plenty of sparks at last week’s meeting:
• Alderman Stephen Craft told a citizen expressing an opinion about the suspensions. “You’re an asshole.” The exchange was caught on cell phone camera. Even the city clerk and city manager appeared shocked.
• Crow announced that (need name), one of the suspended fire fighters had since resigned to take a job with a county department, where he will receive a $20,000 pay increase. “We are simply a training ground for other county departments, and this situation only makes matters worse,” Crow said.
• It was revealed that the city is spending $10,000 a week in overtime while the fire fighters are on suspension to provide protection for residents in the already undermanned department.
• The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) pledged legal and financial assistance to Local 2665 should the fire fighters local decide to take legal action, as a ruling could set local and national precedent.
A new fund raising Poker Run to support the families of the six fire fighters was announced last week. The run will be held Saturday, June 28, beginning at the fire fighters union hall at 1155 McManemy in St. St. Peters.
For information, call Tom Wright at 314-210-4629.
The U. City Six Firefighter Fund, established by a concerned U. City resident, is continuing to collect donations toward its goal of raising $75,000 to support the firefighters and their families during the suspension. To date, $9,875, or 13 percent of the goal, has been reached.
To make a donation, visit: http://www.crowdrise.com/ucityfirefighters/fundraiser.