Citizens here disrespected, disenfranchised by council

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

South county residents aren’t getting any respect from members of the County Council.

And they’re pretty much disenfranchised as well because they’re certainly not receiving any representation from Kevin O’Leary, D-Oakville, who “represents” the 6th District on the council. As we noted last week, O’Leary has done a great job of breaking just about every campaign promise he made to voters here.

For years, the County Council has made it clear that it could care less what south county residents think.

But in the past, members of the council at least tried to present the appearance that they did.

All pretense of that vanished at last week’s council meeting, which drew a huge contingent of south county residents concerned about a 232-unit apartment complex proposed at Tesson Ferry and Bauer roads.

Twenty-eight people signed up to speak, including more than 20 south county residents.

Vice Chairman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, chaired the Aug. 16 meeting in the absence of Chairman Mike O’Mara, D-Florissant. At the outset of the public-comment period, Page made the unprecedented announcement that he would limit speakers to one minute of comments rather than the typical three minutes and limit all comments to 30 minutes, as allowed by a section of county code that has never been previously enforced.

Really — one minute? After you provide your name and address, you might have 30 seconds remaining — if you’re lucky. South county residents should be glad that 60 people didn’t sign up to speak, or maybe Page would have limited comments to 30 seconds.

Page did his darndest to ensure speakers kept to the one-minute limit, ably assisted by the council’s administrative director, Genevieve Frank.

Frank gleefully reminded Page as speakers neared the one-minute limit, almost as if she reveled in cutting off citizens’ comments.

But we can’t just blame Page, as the other members of the council present sat silently like bumps on a log as the vice chairman ran roughshod over south county residents.

Residents addressing the council just wanted elected officials to hear their concerns. Instead, they were disrespected and disenfranchised.

Green Park founder Fred Hoehn hit the nail on the head when he wrote in a letter to the editor last week: “You can continue to go cry like a baby to the county, but they are not listening.”