Council nixes appointment of Bob Baer to police panel

Police chief announces plans to retire, effective in February

By Mike Anthony

The County Council rejected one of County Executive Charlie Dooley’s nominees to the Board of Police Commissioners last week, due to concerns over his “close relationship” with Dooley’s campaign treasurer, John Temporiti.

The appointment of independent T.R. Carr, a professor and administrator at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and a former Hazelwood mayor, was unanimously approved by the County Council during its Dec. 10 meeting.

However, the council rejected the appointment of Sunset Hills resident Bob Baer, a Republican, to the Board of Police Commissioners. Baer served 25 years as president and chief executive officer of UniGroup, the parent company of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit.

In addition, Baer served as president and CEO of the Metro transit agency.

Voting in favor of Baer’s nomination were County Council Chairman Kathleen Burkett, D-Overland, and 1st District Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City.

Opposed was 7th District Councilman Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin. Abstaining were 6th District Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton; 3rd District Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Town and Country; 4th District Councilman Mike O’Mara, D-Florissant; and 5th District Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights.

In voting “no,” Quinn said he was concerned about the “close relationship” Baer has with Temporiti, Dooley’s longtime campaign treasurer.

“… Mr. Temporiti has already been reported to be meddling in Police Board matters after the FBI was requested by the county police chief (Tim Fitch) to conduct a probe of the contract awarded to a Police Board member,” he said. “He reportedly contacted a Police Board member and asked him to resign. He said he had concerns about the county police chief. I think the Police Board is designed to be an independent board that runs the Police Department. I think Mr. Baer’s ties to the Dooley administration and particularly to Mr. Temporiti could jeopardize the independence of the Police Board …”

After the council’s unanimous vote to approve Carr’s nomination, Dooley addressed Quinn, saying, “… He (Quinn) indicated that because one’s a friend of Charlie Dooley, that disqualified him. That’s insulting to me … Mr. Quinn, you’ve been on this council for more than 20 years. You have the least knowledge of how this board functions. It is at the pleasure of the county executive. You choose just to vote them up or vote them down, that’s your prerogative. But to say someone because they know me, they’re unfit. That is untrue …”

Dooley said, “… I’ve never been involved in any decision-making policy in the Police Department, and I think you know that. Now why you said that statement you did, I do not know, but everything you said, for what you implied, is truly untrue …”

Quinn said, “… I’ll tell you …”

Dooley interjected, “No, you can’t tell me anything, councilman, because you just told an untruth with the statements you said — because a person’s a friend of Charlie Dooley, he doesn’t qualify.”

Quinn said, “I think we have a particular …”

Dooley interjected, “You don’t think at all.”

Carr’s appointment gives the Police Board three members — enough to conduct business for the first time in months.

On Friday, Fitch announced he will retire as county police chief in February.

In a statement, Fitch wrote, “It’s been said that the best time to leave is when you still love what you are doing. That’s how I can describe my entire career. Retiring from this position was not an easy decision. However, I’ve been given an incredible opportunity to start my own public safety consulting group …”