Many of county executive’s actions not matching campaign promises

To the editor:

County Executive Steve Stenger promised change when running for St. Louis County’s top job. He also promised increased transparency and accountability. Yet many of his actions since taking office have not matched the promises.

One of the first things Stenger did was appoint retired St. Louis Parks Director Gary Bess as St. Louis County Director of Parks and Recreation. While Bess was city parks director, nearly $500,000 was embezzled by park department employees. Yet Stenger severely criticized Charlie Dooley for the embezzlement that went on in the county Department of Health.

Another appointment was Peter Krane as county counselor. Krane had essentially been unemployed since last summer. At the Jan. 6 meeting where he was confirmed by the County Council, when he was only on the job a few days, Krane told the council he needed two more employees in his department. The council members went along, but it seems they were misled.

As it turned out, the two lawyer positions were patronage jobs and Stenger no doubt wanted the appointments, but no one will say for sure. So much for transparency and accountability. One lawyer hired was a law clerk in Stenger’s law firm who only passed the Missouri Bar exam last July.

Even worse than that was one of Stenger’s $130,000-a-year assistants, former County Councilman Jeff Wagener, making a “request” to a member of the Mehlville school board that he withdraw his name for consideration as the Democratic nominee to run for Stenger’s former council seat. He was told the county executive favored Kevin O’Leary, so he withdrew.

Interfering in a nomination process to influence the outcome is completely improper.

If all this weren’t enough, Stenger recently appointed Craig Concannon, one of his biggest campaign contributors, as a county municipal judge. Concannon contributed $21,001 to the county executive’s campaign. The appointment makes it appear as if judgeships are for sale — kind of how they do things in Illinois.

It’s doubtful the change that County Executive Stenger is bringing to county government is what St. Louis County residents were expecting.