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

Sunset Hills aldermen continue discussion about committee nomination process

Board worried about some of appointees’ attendance

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen postponed an ordinance related to committee nominations July 12. 

The ordinance allows the mayor and aldermen to nominate members to city committees — currently only the mayor has that authority. It applies to all committees besides parks and planning.

The ordinance was requested at a past meeting by aldermen who felt Mayor Pat Fribis’ nominations to committees were unfair or allowed people with poor attendance to continue to serve.

“There are certain members of commissions who have been members for eight or nine years and these are some of the same individuals who are missing many meetings. Are we to assume as aldermen that because the mayor was reelected all of her choices should be confirmed regardless of ordinance or attendance?” Ward 4 Alderman Fred Daues said. “Should residents currently serving on boards be removed because it appears they supported the wrong candidate?”

Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong, who was in favor of the city’s current “checks and balances” at the last meeting, suggested the city look into a three-person panel to handle nominations. The panel would consist of the mayor, board president and the committee chair or city administrator.

Fribis said she would have no problem discussing any proposals with any aldermen, but explained that she would most likely not support nominations for people who did not support her for mayor.

“Normally the mayor takes the agenda the residents have chosen because they elected that mayor,” Fribis said. “In a meeting with (Daues) on Sunday, you gave me some recommendations that the board would like. Those are all recommendations of people that did not support me in my mayoral race, they supported my opponent. Why is that giving more power to someone that did not win?”

Daues said it was true that most people Fribis has removed did not support her, but at the time they had “exemplary” attendance records. 

Ward 3 Alderman Cathy Friedmann and Wong were in support of a motion that directed staff to “strictly adhere to our appointment procedure” — this would include tracking of attendance and a 60-day notice for appointments.

“In hindsight, I think some of the politics would have been mitigated had we followed that, because a lot of these appointments would have been made pre-election,” Wong said.

The motion passed 8-0.

The discussion also focused on attendance requirements for all committees moving forward. Wong was in favor of a simple majority attendance for each person, whether that be in-person, Zoom or phone. Daues was opposed to a simple majority, instead supporting a two-thirds attendance record which he said was not “unreasonable.”

Most aldermen were fine with the two-thirds attendance record, but City Engineer Bryson Baker said staff would need some time to research the ordinance and find any potential issues.

“What happens if they don’t meet the two-thirds and what’s the timeframe? Are they automatically removed once that happens or is that over a year?” Baker asked.

A potential solution was to make attendance records over the course of a calendar year, meaning if a person was appointed in July, their attendance wouldn’t be subject to the ordinance until January of the next year. 

The board voted to look at the attendance ordinance in a future meeting and to postpone the nomination bill in anticipation of establishing a nomination committee.

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