Unified Democratic Township Organization

The Unified Democratic Township Organization is endorsing Mark Mantovani as the Democratic candidate for St. Louis County executive in the August 7 primary election. Left to right: Democratic Committeemen Tony Weaver Jr., St. Ferdinand Township; Tony Weaver Sr., Spanish Lake Township; Mike Person, Ferguson Township; Unified Democratic Township member Theda Wilson; Committeeman James Cotter, University Township; Mantovani; St. Louis County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, also Ferguson Township Committeewoman; and state Rep. Alan Gray.

Democratic candidate for St. Louis County executive Mark Mantovani is raking in endorsements from Democratic area township organizations. Two days ago, Mantovani’s campaign reported endorsements from the Ferguson Township Democratic Club and the University Township Democratic Club.

Last week, the Unified Democratic Township Organization (formerly known as Unity PAC), under the leadership of St. Louis County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray (D-4th District), announced its endorsement of Mantovani in the August 7 Democratic primary election against incumbent Steve Stenger. Joining Gray in making the endorsement were Democratic Committeemen Tony Weaver Sr., Spanish Lake Township; James Cotter, University Township; Tony Weaver Jr., St. Ferdinand Township; and Mike Person, Ferguson Township. Also endorsing Mantovani were Chavon Weaver, St Ferdinand Township, and state Representatives Alan Gray (D-75) and Jay Mosley (D-68). The announcement took place at the Mantovani for STL North County campaign office located at 4103 Seven Hills Dr. in Florissant.

The endorsement cited Mantovani’s commitment to establishing a working partnership with the members of the St. Louis County Council – where Stenger faces a disapproving majority and often skips council meetings – and North County leaders. Members expressed concerns over incumbent Stenger’s confrontational leadership style, as well as his handling of the Northwest Plaza lease and the current request for a U.S. Attorney investigation into the matter.

“We are confident that he will work well with Council members and that he will put the citizens of St. Louis County ahead of his own personal agenda,” said Gray said of Mantovani. “The current administration has shown a lack of interest in the welfare of the 4th District. The county executive has to work with people to get things done and that requires a real partnership, not a dictator.”

The latest endorsements indicate Democratic townships across the region are abandoning Stenger and joining Mantovani, who has been endorsed by the Fannie Lou Hamer Democratic Coalition of St. Louis County, the Hadley Township Democrats, the Midland Township Democratic Club, the Normandy Township Democratic Club and the University Township Democratic Club.

“People are tired of the status quo and tired of the divisiveness, neglect and corruption taking place under the current county executive,” Mantovani said.

Mantovani told The American that communities in the area are lagging behind, relative to other communities across the nation, and priority should be given to communities with the most need for resources.

“Regional growth, both from a population and economic standpoint, is a major factor that must be addressed,” Mantovani said. “Other key issues include the fiscal health of the county, along with increased crime, MetroLink safety, economic disparity, uniting our county and healing our racial divide. The only way St. Louis County can be better is for us to work as a team with all of the council members and communities.”

 

McCulloch chickens out

 

Last week the EYE asked whether St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch would play nicely with the Players Coalition – a national organization of current and former NFL players focusing on police-community relations, criminal justice reform, and economic advancement – and Wesley Bell, a Ferguson councilman and former Velda City municipal judge running against McCulloch in the August 7 Democratic primary. The answer is no. He did not accept the Players Coalition’ invitation to debate Bell on June 20, moderated by Chris Long, former Rams and current Philadelphia Eagles star. A coalition of activist groups – including ACLU and Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty – is sponsoring another forum for the county prosecutor candidates at SLU Law School on Tuesday, June 26.  Organizer Staci Pratt told the EYE that McCulloch has ignored all of their requests to participate to date. That balking chicken sound you hear is Bob McCulloch afraid to face his challenger in front of the voters.

 

Finally ‘progressive’ on pot

We extolled Kim Gardner’s virtues as a “progressive” when aggressively endorsing her for St. Louis circuit attorney and have been wondering ever since when she was going to manage her office as promised. Sent for you yesterday, and here you come today. On Tuesday, June 10, select media outlets (that did not, mysteriously, include the only newspaper that endorsed her, this one) were informed that Gardner had directed her staff to dismiss marijuana cases involving less than 100 grams and with no other aggravating circumstances. Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green has been pushing to enact this sort of measure, and attorney Blake Strode, executive director of ArchCity Defenders, called out Gardner for continuing to prosecute low-level pot cases in this newspaper. Green, Strode and Gardner’s many recent public embarrassments while bungling two prosecutions of then-Gov. Eric Greitens all get an assist in changing the policy. By the way, 100 grams is like three and a half ounces. That’s a lot of pot to be caught with and skate without prosecution.

Chicken Hawk Hawley

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is selectively hawkish on public transparency. He became the laughingstock of investigators statewide for his handling of Greitens’ use while in the governor’s office of the Confide app that deletes text messages automatically. Hawley took Greitens’ word that he had the executive privilege to withheld testimony – and took everyone else on Greitens’ staff at their words, no matter how ridiculous, including one staffer who said he only used Confide to sends texts to … himself. In his greatest leap of investigative prowess, Hawley said that he was unable to examine any of the messages sent by Greitens and staff using Confide because they had been … deleted.

Greitens was governor of the entire state, responsible to more than 6.1 million people, paid a salary by the people of more than $133,000, not to mention who knows how much dark money by who knows whom.

Now Hawley is playing chicken hawk against the City of Bel Ridge, population 2,686, because its public officials are not transparent to the public. Hawley has filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County against Bel Ridge alleging Sunshine Law violations. It’s over a matter where the mayor of Bel Ridge allegedly had her salary raised – from $50 a week to about $850 a week – in a closed meeting. Greitens’ public salary was more than $2,500 a week.

“Governmental transparency is a key tenet of democracy,” Hawley said. “My office has made fighting for transparency a priority.” Sit down and shut up, Chicken Hawk Hawley.

Hypocrisy over LG

Mike Parson inherited the gubernatorial mantle from the disgraced Greitens and appointed former Republican state senator Mike Kehoe to succeed him as lieutenant governor. The Missouri Constitution has no provisions for replacing an LG, so Parson’s move is up to dispute and it is under dispute. The Missouri Democratic Party has filed suit in Cole County circuit court to give Missouri citizens the opportunity to elect Parson’s replacement instead. The suit was filed with lead plaintiff Darrell Cope, a World War II veteran, and longtime voter from Hartville.  

“As a state senator, Mike Parson voted to hold an election in this exact situation,” said Missouri Democratic Party Chair Stephen Webber. “It’s disappointing that Parson is willing to abandon his beliefs to grab more power for his political buddies.” Ironically, as the Dems noted, Kehoe also voted against the new governor being empowered to appoint his successor as LG after taking power from a governor who leaves office mid-term. Hypocrisy is so cool.

Draining the Missouri swamp

Now that the sinister mystery of Greitens is gone from Missouri government, it’s time to drain the Show-Me State’s political swamp – or so hope a Democratic auditor and Republican senator. State Auditor Nicole Galloway and state Senator Bob Dixon (R-Springfield) are calling on Dixon’s colleagues in the General Assembly to pass a bill that would enact greater penalties in public corruption cases and allow increased partnerships between the state auditor and prosecutors and law enforcement. Greitens vetoed a larger bill that included the provision allowing for increased partnerships to fight public corruption in 2017. This year, a version of the measure was approved in both the House and Senate, but ultimately was blocked by the lobbying efforts of county officials and died in the House in the final days of session. 

"Twice we have seen this public corruption legislation stopped in its tracks — first by a veto and then by the efforts of county officials to protect their own self interests,” Galloway said. “Next year, the legislature needs to step up and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to combat fraud and seek justice for taxpayers." 

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