Roby breaks tie vote to appoint campaign contributor to Economic Development Commission

Milford will bring ‘credibility’ to commission, mayor says

By Mike Anthony

Crestwood Mayor Gregg Roby broke a 4-4 aldermanic tie last week to name one of his campaign contributors to the city’s Economic Development Commission.

After voting unanimously May 27 to approve Roby’s appointments of Julie Wright to the Park Board and Greg Zipfel to the Planning and Zoning Commission, aldermen deadlocked on the mayor’s appointment of Anne Milford to the Economic Development Commission.

Aldermen voting to approve Milford’s appointment were Richard Breeding and Darryl Wallach, both of Ward 1; Mary Stadter of Ward 2; and Michael Vincent of Ward 4. Aldermen opposed were Tim Trueblood of Ward 2; Paul Duchild and Bill Boston, both of Ward 3; and board President Mike Tsichlis of Ward 4.

“… I’ll break the tie and (Anne) Milford will be on the Economic Development Commission …,” said Roby, who was elected mayor April 8.

Milford, who contributed $100 to Roby’s campaign, manages a Facebook page, Let’s Grow Crestwood, that helped promote Roby’s campaign for mayor.

Roby said he was appointing Milford “because of her extensive background with many of the organizations in St. Louis — Great Rivers Greenway, Trailnet, many of the urban-development-type companies who she’s intimately been involved with, and therefore I feel she brings a good amount of credibility and experience to this board …”

Duchild asked Roby if Milford donated to his mayoral campaign.

Roby replied, “… I think she did.”

Duchild said, “Yeah, I think she did, too — about a hundred dollars, maybe?”

Roby said, “Oh, maybe, maybe that much.”

Duchild said, “Which is fine. I mean, that’s the process. The only comment I’d like to say about Ms. Milford is I appreciate her involvement in the community and her passion. She definitely has passion for the community, for the city of Crestwood.

“She has appeared before the board, has been quite critical in the past. I have taken some of her comments as insults to the board, insults to the members of the community who have spoken … I don’t know that that represents the city very well on economic development or any other board, for that matter. I’m going to choose to vote ‘no’ for Ms. Milford …”

Stadter said, “I will definitely agree that Ms. Milford can definitely be opinionated, and she’s definitely spoken her mind here on a number of occasions — and not always in a favorable manner to some of the folks on the board. But that said, too, that kind of passion on a board like this that we’re trying to get up and moving, and if she wants to put that energy behind helping Crestwood, I think I would be in favor of her working along those lines for us …”

Tsichlis said, “I would agree with the prior comments that Ms. Milford is a woman of passion … I do share some concerns about a certain, I guess, attitude that can be taken when making public comments. I refer this to I believe it was my second or third meeting as a member of this board, where some of us were accused by Ms. Milford — and I’d be happy to look at the record on this and go back and look at the audio or hear the audio — as hating Centrum.

“And I recall I responded to that because I was very taken aback by that — that someone in the public would make such a presumptuous comment about board members and what positions they may or may not hold. But to make such a presumptuous comment, particularly of newer aldermen, was really — it was really inappropriate. And I’ll also be voting ‘no’.”

Regarding his appointments, Roby said, “… I am looking at all appointments to all boards in an attempt to create more professionalism on the boards. By that, I mean to create boards that have people on them who understand the topics that they’re discussing.

“I think that benefits not only the city, but I think it also benefits the Board of Aldermen because when you get a recommendation from a board, the people who are making those recommendations do anticipate that you’re going to put some credence in their comments and in their recommendations.

“And when that information comes from folks that do have that professional background, I just think it benefits the whole city. And I would agree, there have been a lot of people, there have been a lot of times that I’ve been very vocal at this podium, and I didn’t happen to particularly agree with everything that this board did.

“Whether I was right or wrong, it doesn’t really make any difference. The bottom line is we all are entitled to our opinions. The minute we tell people they can no longer step to this podium and voice their mind, we’re in the wrong business …”

Tsichlis later said, “… Of course, Mayor, nobody would ever want to preclude anyone from coming up and speaking their mind, either way, on any issue. We heard a lot of that, certainly since I’ve been here as an alderman, where things have gotten very heated and the drama has been high.

“But what we’re asking for, I think, in a public committee is somebody who can serve and bring a sense of consensus-seeking to those committees, and not division. We’ve had enough of division, Mayor. I think you would agree.”

Roby said, “… I agree.”

Tsichlis continued, “And I think what we need to do is seek out people to serve in those committees, and, of course, it’s not always an easy thing to do. Not everyone wants to step up. But if they do and they choose to step up, the appropriate conversation should be made with them on how they plan to operate on the committee as a member, and hopefully as a, again, as a consensus-building member and not as a divisive member.”

Roby said, “I appreciate that …”

Breeding said, “… I’ve known Anne Milford for quite a while, and if you remember, her passion was really about the mall and the — I don’t know, I guess really the inaction of the board or really the action of the board. And she loves Crestwood.

“It’s a heated topic and still is, will be and when you step up to make that leadership involvement, you know, we’re all adults here and take it professionally, not personally. So I’ll be voting in favor of her.”