Stenger defends the Charter, but he ignores it in Trakas’ court case


To the editor:

In the July 12 article on St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s appearance before the Tesson Ferry Democratic Club, Mr. Stenger is quoted as claiming that his administration is trying to do good things for the community, yet is met with obstruction.

His observation that one of the most important parts of public service is to “figure out how to get around that obstruction” is telling.

It is no secret that one of his greatest obstructions is the County Council itself, and his solution for “getting around” the council includes ignoring the privileges granted to the council in the county Charter, a document he referred to in a previous interview as the county’s constitution.

Because he is an attorney, Mr. Stenger should be held to a higher standard in matters concerning the provisions of the St. Louis County Charter.  One of those provisions, Section 2.070, stipulates that the County Council shall be the judge of qualifications of its members.

When St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch took the allegation that 6th District County Councilman Ernie Trakas violated Section 2.170 of the county Charter directly to a special prosecutor, neither Mr. Stenger nor County Counselor Peter Krane defended the council’s right and duty, as provided in Section 2.070 of the county Charter, to sit in judgment of Mr. Trakas and determine whether the facts behind the allegation rose to the level of a charter violation.

Instead, the issue was taken out of the council’s hands and placed in a St. Charles County court.  Mr. McCulloch circumvented the council, and no one in the administration took issue with his failure to uphold the charter provisions nor for his depriving the council of their charter-authorized duty to judge Mr. Trakas.   

Why is Mr. Stenger vocal in his criticism of Mr. Trakas for the alleged violation of Section 2.170 but silent on Mr. McCulloch’s failure to uphold the provisions of Section 2.070?

The explanation is simple: The former serves the purpose of ridding Mr. Stenger of an obstacle, the latter would jeopardize that course of action.

Mr. Stenger’s selective enforcement of the county Charter leaves little doubt that his political agenda supersedes the interests of the county residents he was elected to serve.

Martha Duchild