The Crestwood Board of Aldermen ventured last week into what the city attorney termed “uncharted territory” by turning down the mayor’s appointment to his former board seat.
Aldermen voted 4-3 to deny Mayor Jeff Schlink’s appointment of former Crestwood police Lt. Doug Mosby to the Ward 2 board seat Schlink vacated when he was elected mayor.
Opposed to Mosby’s appointment were Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan, Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel and Ward 4 Aldermen Deborah Beezley and John Foote.
Now, per the Crestwood Charter, the board must nominate and by a majority vote appoint someone to fill the vacancy.
“That is something that the Board of Aldermen will have to do expeditiously,” said City Attorney Rob Golterman, who previously noted that as far as a mayoral aldermanic appointment being denied, “We’ve never gotten to that before.”
The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at the Government Center, 1 Detjen Drive.
Mosby was Schlink’s top choice out of four Ward 2 residents who expressed an interest in filling the board seat. Mosby served with the Crestwood Police Department from 1993 until 2006 and currently is managing director at Hubb Systems LLC in Chesterfield.
Aldermen asked a handful of questions last week of Mosby, who attended the May 24 board meeting with his wife, before voting down the appointment. Schlink was absent last week due to a previously scheduled business trip.
Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach asked Mosby if, having been a city police lieutenant, he harbored “any animosity towards any of the city employees” that would affect his decisions as a board member.
“I do not,” Mosby said.
Wallach asked Mosby about his position on the use of economic development tools, such as community improvement districts.
Mosby said, “… I believe each issue that comes before the board is very specific and needs to be treated as such. Being in the business world for the last five years, I am very fiscally responsible, and I think that’s something the city needs to be and to maintain. Again, there are many options for business. I consider myself to be very pro-business. I’m also very pro-employee. I think we owe a lot to our employees and we should do what needs to be done to keep good employees. However, I think we need to — because of the economic situation that we’re in globally and as a city and as individuals — we need to take a better look and a sharper look at how we spend our money. And that would be the city’s money.”
Beezley asked Mosby what his stance would be if Crestwood Court’s owners, as part of the mall’s potential redevelopment, sought a CID or tax-increment financing from the city.
“What are your thoughts relative to the future progression of that mall and making that a positive venture in our community?” Beezley asked.
Mosby said, “Well as you said, I think it has to be a positive venture, without knowing specifically what they would request. But I think we need to do what we can to have that property developed — not at any cost but very intelligently and something that is going to generate some tax revenue. I don’t think it’s ever going to be what it was, but I really feel that we need to do what we can to get that property back up to speed and snuff with the city. Again, specifically, I’m at a loss because I don’t know what they’d bring to the table.”
Duncan, who as board president presided over the May 24 meeting as acting mayor in Schlink’s absence, asked Mosby about the nature and clientele of his employer. Mosby said Hubb Systems LLC manufactures “mobile digital computers, mobile digital video” and software, and that its primary customers are “local, state and federal governments.”
“So … we (Crestwood) would potentially be a customer for the product that Hubb Systems LLC sells?” Duncan asked.
“Yes you are, and you have been,” Mosby said.
Duncan said, “So that might perhaps be a conflict of interest on some contracts … ?”
“Yes, that would be the only issue,” Mosby said.
Pickel asked Mosby for his opinion about ongoing discussions between the city and Pulaski Bank over a new redevelopment agreement for the Sappington Square retail center on Watson Road.
Aldermen have debated at length since last fall over whether to continue a CID and 1-percent sales tax on purchases made at the property. The board voted 4-3 May 10 — with Wallach and Ward 3 Aldermen Paul Duchild and Jerry Miguel opposed — to approve the first reading of an ordinance approving a new agreement but last week tabled the second reading until an unspecified future meeting. Voting in favor of Pickel’s motion to table the bill were Duncan, Wallach, Pickel, Beezley and Foote.
“Can you share with us your thoughts about that entire process?” Pickel asked Mosby, in reference to Sappington Square discussions.
“I think my overall impression is I’m not comfortable with what is being offered up at this time …,” Mosby replied. “I don’t have all the information. There were so many things that were discussed in board meetings and testimony that I’m just not privy to. But my first thought and my gut feeling is I would not be in favor of it as it stands right now.”
Before the vote on the board appointment, Beezley said she had concerns with naming Mosby to the board on “principle” and “possible precedent setting.”
“I guess as I kind of look at the recommendation for this particular alderman, if I remove all factors — I don’t know you, Mr. Mosby. It was the mayor’s selection, I don’t know the individual,” Beezley said. “So if I remove the individual, if I remove it from the mayor’s selection, I guess it becomes a little bit of an issue relative for me on principle and really precedent setting in looking at a candidate of this nature and in looking at your resume.
“And to bring an individual I guess back from rank-and-file or management that has been a former employee of the city, and I think if we look at any individual where this would happen — Mr. Mosby, you just happen to be there, OK? — and you return them in a role as an oversight body, it’s a concern for me particularly when we have staff or management that are still present here in this facility who either reported to an individual or who worked alongside that individual.
“And I know it’s very difficult many times to separate the past,” Beezley continued, “but if I look at it straight, no individuals, just as a straight principle and possible precedent setting, I do have a concern relative to this.”
Foote after the board meeting indicated that he shared Beezley’s concerns.
“I think the appointment of an ex-employee carries a lot of, shall we say questionable situations,” Foote told the Call, adding that had Mosby “decided to run and be elected by the residents, that would be absolutely fine. But I kind of wonder about just the baggage that one might carry, and having been in management for a number of years, I would’ve been hesitant to do such a thing … I have nothing against him personally. He seemed to be a fine man.”
Pickel said he “wasn’t totally comfortable” with Mosby’s responses to the board’s questions about economic development, an issue the alderman said is important to him and his Ward 2 constituents.
Duncan declined to comment about her vote against Mosby’s appointment.
Schlink told the Call the board’s decision was “disheartening” and Mosby “would’ve made a very, very good Ward 2 alderman.”
Regarding board members’ concern about appointing a former Crestwood employee to the board while some of his co-workers still work for the city, Schlink said, “I think it’s more of an excuse not to select him. I think that was a bunch of baloney, in my opinion. If anything he brought a very, very good perspective to city budgets and city management … Most issues that are personnel related wouldn’t be escalated to the Board of Aldermen. They’re handled by department heads. There’s no concrete example where his past dealings with the city would’ve created some sort of problem, but people created the perception that that would be there, and I was disappointed that was what happened …
“In the end, by me recommending Mr. Mosby, I picked the least controversial person with the most amount of experience and it was an easy, easy ‘yes’ and in the end that’s not what happened. It was disheartening.”
Schlink said he has an idea whom some aldermen will recommend to fill his former board seat but declined to identify the candidate beyond saying the individual has an “architectural background.”
“I think that the decision has already been made, even before Mr. Mosby’s nomination,” Schlink contended. “I had two aldermen call with a recommendation for a particular person, and they both recommended the exact same person. I’m not one to believe that that was a coincidence … The person I believe they’re going to recommend — and I’d rather not say who it is — that person never, never, never told me they were interested in being nominated … To me that’s not the right person for the job.”