Committee wants yet more changes to freeholders slate

Committee wants yet more changes to freeholders slate

CITY HALL – To overcome a committee’s failure to approve Mayor Lyda Krewson’s list of nine potential members of the Board of Freeholders, some aldermen want to remove the names of Antonio French and Eddie Roth from that list.

Fourth Ward Alderman Samuel Moore, who chairs the Board of Aldermen’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, made the request in a letter to Krewson on Thursday. In meetings on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, that committee declined to take action on approving Krewson’s list.

In the letter, Moore said Gilberto Pinela should replace Eddie Roth. Pinela, a south side resident who is Hispanic and openly gay, would represent those groups. 

The Intergovernmental Affairs Committee meet to review and discuss the following: Discussion Appointments to the Board of Freeholders. Photo by Tyrone Z. McCants / for MetroSTL.com
The letter said French, who publishes The SouthSider, The NorthSider and the MetroSTL.com website, would be one of two 21st Ward residents on the freeholders board. Dropping him and adding First Ward resident Barbara Martin would add more geographic balance and would increase the number of women to four from three, Moore wrote.

The Board of Freeholders was established after a recent petition under the terms of the state constitution. It will discuss ways to increase city-county cooperation, potentially including a vote on a merger. 

The St. Louis County Council has approved nine nominees by County Executive Sam Page, and Gov. Mike Parson has appointed one member. But since Krewson submitted a list of nominees for nine city freeholders in late September, the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee has declined to act.

On Thursday and Friday, the committee’s vice chair, First Ward Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, insisted that the committee hold a vote to take the matter off the table. Each time, it didn’t get the required two-thirds vote.

“We are pretty close to an agreement, but the majority of the committee does not agree,” Tyus said.

Moore said the letter was a consensus of his committee and some aldermen. He said he personally would like to see French as a freeholder.

“It might take some litigation to unravel this train wreck,” Moore said. “There’s got to be some technicality to get us past this hurdle.”

More said he had drawn up more than 15 different lists, and none had been accepted. After that, “The mayor got tired of the wishy-washy and decided not to accept a lot of anything.”

Photo by Tyrone Z. McCants / for MetroSTL.com
In an email sent Thursday, Jacob Long, director of communications for the mayor, said the ball was in the committee’s court. He noted that committee members had a list of four new names that the mayor had recently named at their request.

The Intergovernmental Affairs Committee balked at the original nominations by Krewson because there weren’t enough from the north side. While four of them are black, only one lives north of Page Boulevard. That original nominee from north of Page is Abdul-Kaba Abdullah, and the three who live south of Page are Earl E. Nance Jr., LaShana M. Lewis and Taunia Allen Manson.

The mayor replaced her four black nominees with four other black nominees, three of whom live north of Page.  

The three new African-American nominees who live north of Page are French, Dwinderlin Evans and JoAnn Williams. The one new nominee who lives south of Page is Jon-Pierre Mitchom.

“We’re trying to work diligently to get a slate to the full board that can be passed so we can move forward with that process,” 24th Ward Alderman Bret Narayan said.

Board President Lewis Reed said he hoped that there could be a break. 

“When you’re dealing with something that’s as high-stakes as this, where you’re putting together a group where you have to represent all different corners of the city and all different views, it can take a minute to get there,” Reed said. “What we’re happy about is that there’s active discussions now going on.”

Narayan said he thought one concern of those who favor removing French was a potential conflict produced by his role as publisher of The NorthSider, The SouthSider and MetroSTL.com.

French responded to that concern in a statement Friday night, saying: “I see no conflict at all in my capacity as the publisher of community newspapers — in fact, just the opposite. I think transparency and openness should be encouraged as the Board of Freeholders does its work. I certainly will advocate for that at every opportunity.”

 

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