South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Citizens critical of Sime don’t have all the facts, officials say

Roby defends Crestwood administrator: ‘I have found a man who has integrity’

Crestwood residents clamoring for the removal of City Administrator Mark Sime simply don’t have all the facts, according to Mayor Gregg Roby and Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood.

In recent months, Sime has come under fire from some residents, including former Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel and former Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder. In June, Miguel, who joined other aldermen in voting 7-0 to hire Sime in January 2013, cited a series of decisions made by Sime, a retired Air Force colonel, that have caused Miguel to lose confidence in the city administrator.

Following City Clerk Tina Flowers’ resignation in July, some residents publicly alleged that city officials, including Roby, Sime, City Attorney Lisa Stump and Ward 4 Alderman Michael Vincent, had targeted Flowers in an effort to force her to resign.

At the Aug. 12 Board of Aldermen meeting, Roby defended Sime, saying, “… In the time since I’ve been elected and I have worked with Mr. Sime, I have found a man who has integrity. I have found a man who is dedicated to his job. I have found a man who doesn’t know what hours, work hours, mean because he’s here till all hours …

“So the man puts in his time. He doesn’t complain. He does his job and he has always — every single time that I or any manager, department head in this city, has approached him and said, ‘Can I talk to you?’ his door is open. He is there to discuss whatever you want to discuss.”

Citing Sime’s military background, Roby said, “… When you supervise people in the field and you tell them to do something, you expect them to do it. And maybe that’s carried over a little bit into this public realm that we currently have here at Crestwood … When you go to work for the man, he gives you a job and he expects you to do that job — no ifs, ands or buts about it. And that’s what I would expect …”

At the Aug. 26 Board of Aldermen meeting, Timothy Randick, a city resident who recently resigned from the Public Works Department, referenced Roby’s remarks about Sime’s military background, saying he “would caution (against) that line of thinking,” adding that employees “did not enlist into the city of Crestwood. They were hired as employees. There were job descriptions. They are civil service employees that have rules and regulations which they are governed by, and to just have a blanket attitude that whatever somebody says, goes, is in my opinion, the wrong approach to have toward the employees.

“It’s not fair — it’s not fair to ask a $30,000-a-year secretary to do a $90,000-a-year employee’s job. That’s why we have job descriptions. That’s why we are intended to have a personnel director to make sure that those duties are carried out by the proper people and that’s why we have civil service rules to protect them. There was also the statement made to a resident — I believe that you yourself, Mr. Mayor, challenged that resident to come and speak to you …”

Roby interjected, “I sure did.”

Randick continued, “… to hear both sides. I’m here tonight to also challenge you and the rest of the board members to hear both sides because I believe there are many of you that have not. So there are numerous things that your city administrator has done that I believe you are not aware of or you’re choosing to ignore, which include violating civil service rules, purchasing policy, city code, Charter and numerous other unfavorable characteristics …

“So what I would like for you to do as aldermen and elected officials, do your due diligence, and as the mayor recommended, go and hear both sides …”

Miguel also addressed the board Aug. 26, beginning his remarks with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln: “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

“Power is a two-step process. It’s a never-ending process — accumulation and preservation. It goes from one to the other, until it’s lost. The residents of this small city have given each of you elected officials a degree of power. You have the power to hire and fire the city administrator.

“In turn, you have given the city administrator a great deal of power. He can fire any employee in this municipality. The question for the mayor and the board is: Has this city administrator used the power given him wisely or has he abused the power given to him?” he asked.

Reviewing some of the “major events” since Sime was hired, Miguel cited the firing of a city employee, that employee’s reinstatement by the Civil Service Board and the same employee’s “ultimate decision that returning to work under the current city administrator would not work,” and Sime’s efforts to outsource the city’s financial operations, which was “to me, a power play — an attempt to consolidate the positions of CEO (chief operating officer) and CFO (chief financial officer).”

In addition, Miguel cited Sime’s effort to reclassify the city clerk’s position as an unclassified position — a change that appears to violate the city’s Charter.

“I viewed this action as laying the groundwork for her (Flowers’) dismissal … and in July of this year, the city clerk resigned, fearing retaliation,” he said. “I ask the Board of Aldermen to review the events of the past year and a half. It’s a daunting task, but I think it’s … necessary, and I feel it’s a responsibility of your position, along with the power that comes with it …”

Trueblood and Roby took exception to Miguel’s remarks.

“… The only comment I would make is we have reviewed much information, if not all that’s been presented to us tonight, and the question then becomes: If the board does not agree with the synopsis or the outcome or the conclusion that you want us to agree, Mr. Miguel, what are we supposed to do then?” Trueblood asked. “You’re assuming we haven’t reviewed this, and I think that’s an assumption you might be on thin ice in making.

“So please, don’t take it incorrectly, Jerry, but we have reviewed these things and we just don’t agree with your position on it. Thank you. And Tim, if you want to put it in writing for us, we’ll be glad … to read it, but I don’t want to spend the rest of this night having this conversation going on, but the assumption is this board’s not doing its due diligence in supervising the staff we are supposed to supervise, and it’s just becoming rather offensive to me …”

Roby said, “Yeah, this subject has been a sore point in this community for a number of months and I, too, am tired of it. And I, too, am tired of the accusations that are made by some individuals who do not have all of the information.

“They’re not privy to the personal information that this Board of Aldermen is privy to, and so I do take exception to some of the comments that are made. But out of respect to you, Mr. Miguel, I gave you the opportunity to stand here and speak your piece. But there’s actually more to it than meets the eye, and I hope that the citizens that are here that are listening to these negative comments will also understand that there are two sides to every story …”

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