Mehlville Local 1889 attorney dishes it out, but just can’t take it

By MIKE ANTHONY

Over the past few years, we’ve grown used to the outrageous statements made by attorney John Goffstein, who represents Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Since his appearance shortly after the election of reform candidates Aaron Hilmer and Bonnie Stegman to the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors in April 2005, Mr. Goffstein never has been at a loss for words. Within months, he and then-Local 1889 President Chris Francis co-authored a letter to this newspaper accusing Mr. Hilmer and Mrs. Stegman of “acting in violation of the Missouri Constitution.”

During a meeting of the MFPD Board of Directors in March 2006, Mr. Goffstein was thumping his chest and calling for a grand jury investigation into the administration of the district’s pension plan. That investigation — to the best of our knowledge — has yet to be initiated.

And then there’s the lawsuits Mr. Goffstein has filed against the board on behalf of Local 1889. Though we believe he has achieved little success in the courtroom for Local 1889, Mr. Goffstein remains undeterred as evidenced by his latest pronouncement that the Mehlville Fire Protection District administration is “corrupt.”

Though he was short on specifics, we must admit that we were just a tad surprised to see a member of one governing body — Mr. Goffstein serves on the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Board of Trustees — attack another governmental body.

But unlike the current MFPD Board of Directors, Mr. Goffstein was not elected to the MSD Board of Trustees. Instead, he was appointed by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. We can just begin to imagine the letter to the editor we would receive from MSD spokesman Lance LeComb if someone — anyone — called the MSD administration “corrupt.”

Mr. Goffstein certainly isn’t receptive to criticism from the public. He certainly didn’t like it last year when the MSD board’s compliance with the state’s Open Meetings and Records Law was questioned.

“… I can assure you we have never been in any public meetings on an executive-session basis where we’ve done anything other than talk about those agendas. Any allegations to the contrary are reckless, irresponsible, slanderous and libelous. And anybody that’s got anything to say about it, go file a lawsuit or keep your mouth shut.”

Since he’s already done the former, perhaps Mr. Goffstein should follow the latter half of his own advice.