Elected officials, hopefuls absent at groundbreaking

“Call the Tune” by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Elected officials and political candidates love attending groundbreaking ceremonies.

In fact, it’s difficult to keep them away because they view them as a media opportunity to promote themselves and something positive for the community. More often than not, it’s an opportunity for them to take credit for something they had little or nothing to do with, especially if there’s an upcoming election.

But what if you had a groundbreaking ceremony and no politicians came? That’s pretty much what happened last week when St. Louis County Library officials broke ground for the new $16 million Grant’s View Library Branch at Gravois Road and Musick Avenue that will replace the Tesson Ferry Branch Library.

While plenty of library and construction company officials were present, no elected officials or candidates were on hand.

Nor were many residents present either, despite Library Director Kristen Sorth’s assertion in a news release that, “Staff and patrons have been eagerly awaiting the new south county branch, and they won’t be disappointed …”

With the Nov. 4 election fast approaching, the Sept. 25 groundbreaking ceremony would have been a perfect opportunity for candidates to receive some media attention, but they apparently avoided the ceremony like the plague.

Why? Well, certainly it’s no secret that many south county elected officials and residents are extremely unhappy with library officials’ decision to construct the new library at Gravois and Musick and then shutter the Tesson Ferry Branch.

While 6th District County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, and Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, may not agree on much as they vie for the county executive’s seat in the Nov. 4 election, both are critical of how library officials have handled the relocation of the Tesson Ferry Library.

Neither was present at the groundbreaking — nor was current County Executive Charlie Dooley, who appointed all five members of the library board and believes the library board “acted in the best interests of citizens in coming up with a plan to have new and improved library facilities for both south and north county.”

Really? We can only conclude that Dooley, who was soundly defeated in the August primary by Stenger, is as out of touch with south county residents as library officials are.