County Council continues to make baffling decisions

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Once again, we’re baffled by the actions of the County Council.

Since the new County Council was seated in January, many of the council’s bizarre and erratic actions haven’t gone unnoticed by the public or press.

And just last week we saw another example of this, as council members deadlocked 3-3 on a proposal to change the County Council’s Tuesday meeting time to 6:30 p.m. from the current 6 p.m.

Our initial reaction was: Who could be opposed to changing the meeting time in an effort to make council meetings more accessible to residents?

But 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas of Oakville, a Republican, aligned himself with two Democrats — 1st District Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, and 4th District Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, D-Black Jack — in voting against the proposal by 7th District Councilman Mark Harder, R-Ballwin. Apparently it’s true that politics makes strange bedfellows.

Besides Harder, voting in favor of changing the meeting time to 6:30 p.m. were 4th District Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger, R-Huntleigh, and 5th District Councilman Pat Dolan, D-Richmond Heights.

Because council Chairman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, was absent, Harder’s proposal died because of the 3-3 deadlock, which cannot be broken without bringing the issue back for another vote.

Like we said, it’s baffling that a proposal to make council meetings more accessible to the public would meet resistance. Even more puzzling is that when Trakas was seeking the 6th District council seat last fall, he supported the council’s 2001 change to evening meetings and advocated changing the council’s meeting time — not to 6:30 p.m., but 7 p.m.

“I agree with the move to evening meetings. The start time should be changed to 7 p.m. This change will foster greater attendance and engagement by county residents at council meetings,” he wrote in response to a Call election questionnaire.

A number of south county residents have been urging the council for years to have a later starting time for its meetings. When seeking office, Trakas pledged to be responsive to the desires of his constituents.

Given that, Trakas’ vote against a later starting time for council meetings — something his constituents have requested for years — simply doesn’t make any sense.