Bird challenges Dolan for 5th District County Council seat

By Staff Report

A Crestwood Republican is seeking to unseat 5th District County Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights, in next Tuesday’s election.

Jennifer Bird, who serves as the Gravois Township Republican committeewoman, is challenging Dolan, who was elected to the council four years ago.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, Bird said, “I oppose a city-county merger. I will work to prevent the county from taking on city debt or obligations. Whether the city simply re-enters the county as another municipality or there is a full merger, this is little more than a bailout of the decades-long fiscally irresponsible city government.”

Dolan did not respond to a Call questionnaire.

Bird, 46, 9244 Laurel Hill Drive, Crestwood, is employed in sales with Kendall Mechanical and an administrative assistant with Group Benefits. She is the parent of a young family in the Lindbergh School District.

Bird, a founding member of Common Sense for St. Louis, said she is seeking election to the County Council “to safeguard public dollars and property rights, end corruption and prevent new taxes.”

Bird gave the following responses to a Call questionnaire:

Bird said, “No. The Oakville HUD (Housing and Urban Development) project epitomizes the county’s lack of interest in the concerns, wants and needs of the people. To that end, the county chose the St. Louis Countian to bury public notice of the proposed site rather than local and mainstream publications such as the Call, Times or Post-Dispatch. More important than term of service should be the special financial interests in matters that come before them. If the system is rigged, the people will always lose — and foot the bill.”

Bird said, “Yes, but a better approach would be to move the meeting to meet at 7 p.m. The council works for citizens and so should be available when working citizens are available, after work.”

Bird said, “Absolutely. That this practice is not already prohibited is disturbing, given it is a clear-cut example of a conflict of interest and fosters a pay-to-play system.”

Bird said, “No, it is a choice and competition eliminating monopoly. Rather than strong-arm tactics used to advance an illegal agenda that has now cost county residents millions, it should have been put to a vote of the people. And the council was complicit. No challenges nor any legislation to stop the trash district monopoly were made.”

Bird said “Yes. Response was quick and professional. Ferguson was shown they are not ‘alone’ in the county despite the actions of many outside agitators doing their best to incite violence and create more of a problem. Gov. (Jay) Nixon, on the other hand, was too quick to call for ‘vigorous prosecution,’ which appears to presume guilt and desire revenge, all, of course, without due process of the law.”

Bird said, “I think county Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is a decent, trustworthy and respectable man. I do however, see an opportunity in this instance to ease any tensions among citizens, police and the county prosecutor. It is well known that local prosecutors work closely with police officers in order to ensure trial convictions. This presents a very real conflict of interest when an officer is charged with a crime. A prosecutor is responsible for determining which information is presented to a grand jury, which will later decide whether or not the officer will stand trial as well as what potential charges they will face.

“Given the potential conflict of interest of McCulloch’s working with police officers, it may be best for him to step aside in this case to allow someone from outside of St. Louis County manage this investigation and all recommendations made to the grand jury regarding charges.”

Bird said, “ No, a taxpayer bailout from the county to the city does not address the city’s problems and would exacerbate county problems. Furthermore, a merger or re-entry would be much like signing a blank mortgage, with the costs to be filled in later.

“The county is not without its financial and house-keeping issues and the city has been fraught with these problems on a larger scale and for decades. I am opposed to the county taking on city debts and/or obligations. In short, combining — diluting — problems is no way to solve them. The city needs to get its financial house in order before they look to the county as a partner. A partnership implies that a mutually beneficial relationship would exist, that both city and county would have something to gain and something to give by entering into such an arrangement. Until that case can be made, I recommend large-scale audits to determine where best to trim the now more than $1 billion city budget.”

Bird said, “In light of the many and recent scandals, I’m disappointed the council has not already addressed this. All contractors and vendors should have to submit a financial disclosure along with their quotes and bids for goods and services to the county before approval or award of contracts. As a candidate, I had to submit such a form to ensure my position, if won, would not present a conflict of interest and/or risk favors given or received as a result of my position. Contractors and suppliers should not be treated any differently.

Bird said,. “No. Input from community residents was not accepted or received. To review, the Prop L Library tax increase was sold to the voters by way of emotional ploys and complaints that the library had not received an increase in taxes in years. The campaign implied the library was suffering as a result and further implied they were losing revenues when in fact the opposite was true, given that real estate values had risen significantly and so did those tax revenues.

“It was true they hadn’t received an increase in the tax percentage, but the revenues increased regardless. In the end, the Board of Directors did as it pleased and our tax dollars were diverted into pockets with a sweetheart real-estate deal. Lastly, all county executive-appointed boards need to be accountable to the council and citizens to ensure proper behavior and safeguarding of taxpayer dollars.”

Bird said, “No. Elected officials should always strive to conduct public business involving public dollars and making public regulations in a public fashion. Period. It is understandable that some issues, personnel or litigation, for example, may need closed session meetings for discretion but generally speaking, meetings and their results should be made public.

“Elected officials who try to hide behind the Sunshine Law demonstrate arrogant contempt for the people they are supposed to be serving. And in the day of the internet, why aren’t these things posted for viewing without a human response to a human request? It would be interesting to see who would oppose such a bill were I to win and introduce it.”