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Fiscal mismanagement in East Boogie

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Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 3:35 pm, Tue Jun 14, 2011.

$300K/year scheme exposed

By James Ingram For the St. Louis American

Remember Mr. Haney? He was the creaky-voiced, slick-talking, scam artist who always seemed to pull a fast one on Mr. Douglas on the TV show Green Acres.

Well, if you thought that Mr. Haney was slick, then consider one Frederick Scott of ACI Capital Group. He’s the 25-year-old financial guru who has captivated the attention of ESL Mayor Alvin Parks Jr.

You’d think that Scott would be elated that ESL leadership recently granted him the exclusive rights to negotiate riverfront development for the city, but no.

When you’ve got a sucker, er … I mean, a client like Mayor Parks, you don’t just let him off the hook that easily.

Now Mr. Scott wants ESL to hire him as its “fiscal manager” for the measly sum of $300,000 per year, over the next three years, for a total of $900,000. What a bargain!

In exchange for his meager compensation, Scott proposes to produce a $30 million “capital infusion” into the City’s general fund.

When the proposal was exposed by the Belleville News-Democrat, Parks’ reply – “It’s unfortunate that somebody provided that information to you. That was supposed to be confidential information” – didn’t make the ESL mayor look any less gullible.

In fact, it makes Parks seem desperate and less than business-savvy. A rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true then that’s generally the case.

What’s next? How about appearing on Let’s Make a Deal? I’m sure that Wayne Brady can beat Mr. Scott’s deal. Or maybe you can just gamble the City away down at the Casino Queen. I’m sure they’ll save room at the crap tables for a man of your superior judgment.

All jokes aside, Scott’s proposal would be fine if his proposed salary were tied to his ability to produce results. Instead, Scott sounds as if he’s concocted a “pigeon drop” scheme for dumb politicians.

Where was the scrutiny of the deal? For example, why would ESL need a mayor, city manager AND a fiscal manager? Sounds like a duplication of efforts. But, then, that’s a job for KTVI’s Elliot Davis.

And, even with a mayor and city manager, ESL STILL lacks an approved budget for 2010. Nor does it have a three-year financial plan, as required by State statute and the ESL Financial Advisory Authority, (FAA) which oversees city spending until at least 2013.

To exacerbate matters, the FAA was recently in the news for lacking the financial resources to perform its duties.

For Mayor Parks and ESL city leadership to secretly consider such outlandish and exotic schemes, when it can’t even produce a budget on time, is absurd.

But I’ve got an idea. As Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) said in the movie Lean on Me, if you’re going to allow the city to be ripped off, why don’t you “do it expeditiously.” Maybe I can hook you up with Bernie Madoff’s prison address.

Email: jtingram_1960@yahoo.com.

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