Censure called ‘theater of the absurd; mayor did same thing without repercussions
University City – Described as “the theater of the absurd,” the effort to punish Fire Fighters Local 2665 by trying to oust one of the union’s ardent supporters, Councilman Terry Crow, has failed.
Instead of pursuing the failed effort to remove Crow from office with false accusations that he passed allegedly confidential information to the union, the city council by a 4-3 vote at its Jan. 11 meeting passed a resolution censuring Crow. It has no legal impact on his aldermanic position but was a last ditch effort to embarrass him, failing to remove him as a councilman.
Indirectly this is yet another effort to crucify the fire fighters union, a struggle that has been going on for several years after the fire fighters failed in 2014 to elect a candidate opposing Mayor Shelley Welsch and a councilman.
See previous stories:
- University City threatens six fire fighters’ jobs
- Suspension of five U City fire fighters threatens public safety in already undermanned department
- U City residents heatedly protest fire fighter suspensions
- University City rejects Fire Fighter resolution effort
- U City board recommends reinstating suspended fire fighters
Since then, the city suspended several fire fighters for political actions the city deemed inappropriate and within the last two months, hired a private company to provide the emergency response functions the fire fighters normally provide. Crow and one other councilperson, Paula Carr, have consistently said the fire fighters acted within the law in the mayoral election provide all emergency services to University City residents. Crow’s outspoken opposition to the mayor’s desire to destroy the union has earned him the ire of the mayor and her four councilmen aptly named by a resident as the mayor’s “cabal.”
Interestingly enough, the censure petition said nothing of the alleged passing of confidential information that has been the crux of the council’s original attempt to oust Crow.
Instead, it accuses him of taking an action “that was not impartial,” whatever that is supposed to mean.
One of the councilmen who originally supported the ouster effort – Stephen Craft – urged the council to drop the whole issue. Ignored by the council cabal controlled by the mayor that he originally was a part of, he voted against the censure motion. With a 3-3 tie, Mayor Welsch cast the deciding vote for the censure.
Speaking before the Jan. 11 meeting, city resident and Crow’s attorney Gerry Greiman at times called the council’s efforts led by Mayor Shelly Welsch “reminiscent of the tactics of Joseph McCarthy,” “Kafkaesque,” “theater of the absurd” and an “unfounded crusade against Mr. Crow.”
Originally at issue is a memo to Crow from the city attorney outlining the Missouri law regarding public employees campaigning in uniform. Crow sent the memo to the fire fighters union who has had a running fight with the city over their right of free speech to support a candidate against Welsch and another councilman in the 2014 elections.
It’s the same memo Mayor Welsch has admitted sending to several people and a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch without similar repercussions.
The allegations against Crow “have now shown to be utterly false…there was nothing confidential about the email or the information contained in it,” Greiman said.
To make his point, Greiman brought out testimony from a Civic Service Board meeting in May 2014 in which the city’s own attorney admitted the information was not privileged.
“I’m considering my options as to what response I want to make against those who attempted to smear my reputation and embarrass me,” Crow told the Labor Tribune.
More than 150 people packed this latest council meeting, as they have others, in support of Crow. 30-year resident Linda Locke called the effort a “baseless censure of one of our city’s most trusted public officials, Terry Crow.”
She called into question why Crow was being censured and not the mayor who did the same thing?
Resident Joan Bray, a former state representative and senator and 34-year resident, said, “The amazing irony is that Ms. Welsch and her city clerk have actually done the things they’re accusing Terry Crow of – at least four times!!
“But the distinction she draws between herself and Terry Crow is that she does them unintentionally. Really? Repeatedly? Are we supposed to be okay with stupid mistakes from the mayor? Repeatedly?”
She added: “Evidently they (the council cabal) are of the ilk to make up a charge and then assume that if they repeat the lie people will believe it.”
The drama that’s making University City the laughing stock of the metro area may yet have other chapters. Stay tuned.