Sullivan, Stenger at odds over provision of Charter

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Democrats come and go in county leadership positions.

But one constant over the years is how thin their skins are when it comes to criticism.

Years ago, if anyone had the temerity to step up and criticize thenCounty Executive George R. “Buzz” Westfall during the County Council’s public forum, they could expect to get an earful from Democratic council members, particularly Charlie Dooley and the late Jim O’Mara.

It used to be quite a sight to behold when Democratic councilmen would verbally browbeat constituents they disagreed with — and, on occasion, actually call them liars.

Sad to say that not much has changed over the years, as county Democratic leaders apparently are just as thin-skinned today, if last week’s County Council meeting is any indication.

During the council’s March 1 public forum, University City resident Tom Sullivan voiced a variety of concerns, and noted that County Executive Steve Stenger did not attend the previous week’s meeting — the second meeting he has missed this year. Sullivan contended the county Charter mandates the county executive’s attendance at council meetings. After Sullivan finished his remarks, County Council Chairman Mike O’Mara, D-Florissant — son of the

late Jim O’Mara — asked Sullivan if he had attended the previous week’s meeting, and Sullivan said he had.

“Because I did address that County Executive Stenger, on behalf of this county, was at a town-hall meeting addressing the heroin epidemic. I don’t know if you heard that or not.”

Stenger said, “And I’ll add to it. The Charter does not mandate that I be at weekly meetings — it just simply doesn’t. So you may want to read the Charter.”

Sullivan replied that he has read the Charter, which states the county executive “shall” attend council meetings.

Stenger said, “… It actually permits me to be here. It’s the council’s meeting.”

Some things never change, and for county Democrats, apparently no slight is too small. As for Stenger’s contention his attendance at council meetings isn’t mandated by the

county Charter, decide for yourself.

Section 3.050 of the county Charter states, “In addition to other powers and duties herein provided, the county executive shall … attend regular meetings of the council and participate in its discussions without vote, and attend such other meetings as the council may require …”