South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Most Misguided Quotes of 2011 selected by Call

2011 certainly was a year of change in south county, but one constant was the misguided comments by would-be politicians and elected officials.

As in past years, we had no shortage of candidates for inclusion in the annual Most Misguided Quotes of the Year column in which we chronicle the most misguided, misinformed and misleading statements of the year. So without further ado, we offer the Most Misguided Quotes of 2011.

Though Michael Klund didn’t have much to say to the public during his campaign against incumbent Aaron Hilmer for a seat on the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors, he may have set a new record for having the most number of misguided quotes in the shortest period of time.

Klund did not attend a candidate forum scheduled for March 24, citing a family emergency, and declined a request to appear April 4 on Charlie Brennan’s radio show on KMOX.

Hilmer did appear and fielded questions from Brennan and listeners.

In response to a Call questionnaire, Klund contended the fire district’s reserves had been “depleted” in building new firehouses.

“… The reserves have been depleted in the building of these firehouses and the old ones were functioning well anyway …,” he stated.

But the reserves are not depleted, according to the district’s 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which states the general fund had an unreserved fund balance of roughly $15.5 million or 129 percent of general fund expenditures while the ambulance fund had an unreserved fund balance of more than $7 million or 150 percent of ambulance fund expenditures.

Klund also contended ambulance billing, which had been approved in 2002 by a previous board, was “double taxation.”

“Put a stop to ambulance billing — that’s double taxation,” his campaign literature stated.

To eliminate ambulance billing, Hilmer later said the Board of Directors would have to ask voters to approve a tax-rate increase of roughly 10 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Klund told the Call he was pleased with his campaign, saying it was based on “facts.”

“I’m really happy with my campaign. I believe I ran facts on everything I stated in my literature and stuff and it can all be verified …,” he said.

Voters weren’t buying what Klund was selling, but the nearly $100,000 supporters contributed to his campaign certainly had an impact as Hilmer narrowly retained his seat.

That’s a good thing, too, given that after the election, Klund said, “I hope that the new board looks at the issues I brought up like ambulance billing, that they readdress that and make sure people don’t get billed.”

Perhaps Klund can cough up the $2.4 million in revenue the district’s 2012 budget projects ambulance billing will generate this year.

Then we have Mehlville Board of Education member Tom Diehl, who in early February blamed “sloppy paperwork” for the Committee to Restore the Pride’s post-election finance report missing the filing deadline by more than two months.

The committee had advocated passage of an 88-cent tax-rate increase proposal for Mehlville that voters defeated in the Nov. 2, 2010, election.

The delay prompted someone to file two complaints against the committee with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The complaints, dated Feb. 1, contended the Committee to Restore the Pride had violated state law by failing to file post-election and January quarterly campaign finance reports with the ethics commission.

“It’s just a matter of sloppy paperwork,” Diehl said.

But by the time Diehl organized the “sloppy paperwork,” a retired Mehlville educator was on the hook for a fine from the ethics commission.

In a Sept. 14 consent order, the commission fined the committee and former Treasurer Jack Jordan a total of $2,000.

The commission’s order stated if the respondents pay $200 of the fine, it will stay the remainder of the fee for two years.

The respondents will not have to pay the rest of the fine if they do not violate campaign finance laws during the two-year period, according to the consent order.

Diehl, the committee’s current treasurer, told the Call in February that Jordan “agreed to serve as treasurer in name because of his name recognition. None of us have any intention of dumping anything on Jack’s lap because that wasn’t his role.”

But Jordan, a retired Mehlville principal whom the school board recognized by naming the Mehlville Senior High School stadium in his honor, was on the hook for the fine — essentially hung out to dry by Diehl.

So it’s no wonder that Jordan opted to pay the fine himself to put an end to the matter.

“Jack wrote the check himself. He just wanted to get the thing settled and done,” Diehl told the Call. “We had offered to pay it, but he chose to do it himself.”

After Democratic County Executive Charlie Dooley backed off his proposal to roll up the county’s property tax rate by 2.3 cents in early September, he told the County Council some things he said “were misspoken, and I do want to apologize for that.”

“In my zeal to get some things done that I think were important, I think I didn’t do a very good job in communicating to the council and that’s something that has to be corrected,” Dooley said. “That’s something I need to do a better job of …”

Dooley apparently neglected to heed his own advice when presenting to the council his recommended 2012 county budget that called for the closing of 23 county parks, eliminating 175 jobs and not plowing streets of snow in unincorporated areas when accumulations are 2 inches or less, among other things.

A nearly unanimous council led by then-Chairman Steve Stenger, a Democrat from Affton, opposed Dooley’s proposed budget and Dooley ultimately announced a compromise in which all of the county’s parks will remain open “at a reduced rate.”

The proposal to not plow streets of snow in unincorporated areas when accumulations were 2 inches or less also was rescinded.

And last, we have what may be the final appearance of former Crestwood Mayor Roy Robinson in this annual column.

During a heated discussion at the April 12 Board of Aldermen meeting, Robinson told former Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder, “You’re finished. Sit down, and if you don’t, I’ll have you sit down.”

In telling Nieder he was “finished,” Robinson could have been talking about his own dashed reelection hopes, as he had been soundly trounced a week earlier by Jeff Schlink in the April 5 mayoral election.

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