We recently had to issue thinly veiled threats of a civil rights lawsuit against Mayor Lyda Krewson to get her to restore our editors and reporters to media lists to receive public information from her office and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Now we turn our attention to another source of official silence: aldermanic President Lewis Reed.
Reed and his chief of staff Tom Shepard stopped answering questions from our newsroom immediately after his victory in the March 5 Democratic Primary. On March 5, after Reed’s victory was declared, our reporter Rebecca Rivas texted Shepard asking for Lewis’ comment on his victory.
Reed’s response about his victory to the majority-black readership of this newspaper: silence.
On March 8, three days after the election – and following a campaign where Reed and Shepard were very available for comment to our newspaper – Rivas asked Shepard about the Close the Workhouse event held at the Deaconess Foundation the previous night, where cash bail and pre-trial detention were discussed. “I'd like to talk with Lewis or you about some of the ideas that were discussed.” She included a link to the archive of a live stream, in case no one from their office was present.
Reed’s response about closing the Workhouse, cash bail and pre-trial detention to our readers: silence.
On April 17, Rivas asked for a response to St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green being stunned when Krewson and Reed blocked a vote on refunding St. Louis Lambert International Airport bonds issued in 2009 that will save taxpayers in excess of $20 million.
Reed’s response to our readers about blocking the refunding of the airport bonds: silence.
In the same April 17 email, she asked for a comment about the concern expressed by aldermen who didn't have the documents they needed to vote on the rules for the board.
Reed’s response to our readers about bungling the rules process: silence.
On August 27, Rivas wrote to Shepard, “I sent you a text yesterday and wanted to follow up in case email is better for you these days. I wanted to talk with you or Lewis about Cure Violence coming to town.”
Reed’s response to our readers about Cure Violence: silence.
On September 23, Rivas asked about a board bill that Reed had filed to fund Cure Violence. “Could I speak with Reed about the bill?” she asked.
Reed’s response to our readers about funding Cure Violence: silence.
On October 8, our managing editor asked Reed and Shepard to comment on an open letter from a coalition of community groups condemning St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards for making incriminating public statements about youth and teens who had been killed in St. Louis. These groups called “on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to make clear where they stand by censuring director Edwards and affirming the value of life for our community’s children.”
Reed’s response to our readers about Edwards demonizing dead children and teens: silence.
On November 1, Rivas asked about the resolution passed the day before at the Board of Estimate & Apportionment, where Reed has one of three votes (along with Krewson and Green), regarding the convention center expansion. “I'd like to get a comment from President Reed. In your opinion, what is the significance of the resolution?” she asked.
Reed’s response to our readers about the convention center expansion: silence.
In that same message on November 1, she noted that Green and the mayor’s chief of staff both said the next step in moving the bond financing forward is to schedule a meeting with the St. Louis Municipal Finance Corporation, which Shepard serves as president. “Tom, as president of the corp., how quickly do you see a meeting being scheduled to review the finance agreement?” she asked. “How likely is it to be approved?”
Reed’s chief of staff’s response to our readers about scheduling a meeting to move forward the convention center expansion: silence.
Interestingly, when Reed was campaigning for reelection and asking for our readers’ votes, he and Shepard were very responsive. A couple of weeks before the election, Shepard asked if he could respond to activist Umar Lee’s claim that Reed had expressed Islamophobia towards one of his opponents, Jamilah Nasheed. We published Shepard’s rebuttal as a commentary. “Those who have dealt with religious persecution and/or racial discrimination, as well as those who have helped with the cause, should be insulted by Lee’s malicious stretch of the truth,” Shepard wrote and we published.
Reed was given space in the paper for commentaries in a rotating cycle that also featured Nasheed and a third candidate, Megan Ellyria Green. He and Shepard were asked by Rivas to comment on many issues that emerged in the campaign, and their responses were included in our reporting throughout the campaign.
So if Reed and Shepard want to claim that they stopped answering our questions because we would not give them a fair hearing or fairly report their side of the story, we can provide a tremendous amount of evidence to the contrary.
It is true that we strongly endorsed Nasheed and argued that Reed was a status quo candidate. And it also is true that Reed’s actions since winning the election have proven our assessment of him to be accurate. He has sided with Krewson, the status quo mayoral candidate, on countless crucial issues – in fact, the very same issues about which he was silent when asked: closing the Workhouse, privatizing the airport, stalling the convention center expansion and funding Cure Violence. He even sided with Krewson on the critical matter of whether or not our readers deserve public information from their offices or answers to our questions.
Our readers might ask themselves and Reed: what is he hiding from? Why won’t he answer our – your – questions?