Reed pushes for breakthrough on freeholders board

Reed pushes for breakthrough on freeholders board

CITY HALL – Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed plans to spend the week turning up the heat to get a resolution to the stalled effort to name nine city representatives to the Board of Freeholders.

“I am going to be doing everything in my power to get this thing closed by next Friday,” Reed told reporters after last week’s Board of Aldermen meeting. After all members are seated, the board is to study the future of the city-county relationship, and could submit a ballot question to voters on a potential merger.

Mayor Lyda Krewson nominated nine freeholders from the city in September. But the Board of Aldermen hasn’t been able to vote on them because their names were held in its Public Safety Committee. African-American aldermen had said there weren’t enough members from north of Delmar Boulevard, while others said there wasn’t enough representation from other groups, such as LGBTQIA+ people and ethnic minorities.

The St. Louis County Council has approved a list of nine freeholders nominated by County Executive Sam Page, and Gov. Mike Parson appointed someone.

Reed said Page had done a good job of avoiding differences by meeting with county council members ahead of time. But he wouldn’t point fingers.

“In my role right now, I’m trying to get people together,” Reed said. “It would be out of bounds for me to blame.”

Jacob Long, Krewson’s director of communications, said it was encouraging to hear of Reed’s efforts.

“We have twice put forward a slate of nominees, including four individuals who were specifically requested by aldermen, and have been waiting weeks for the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to call a hearing so they can be considered. Hopefully that happens soon,” Long said.

In a separate matter involving the Board of Aldermen, 23rd Ward Alderman Joseph Vaccaro introduced a resolution asking the city to work in good faith with the New Life Evangelistic Center to remedy code violations at the center’s former headquarters at 1411 Locust St. Those remedies could enable New Life to open its building as a day shelter for the homeless, the resolution said.

The city closed the building as an overnight shelter in 2017 because of a number of code violations. That has had a serious negative impact on the homeless, the resolution said. 

“[T]he measures that must be taken to address the violations preventing New Life Evangelistic Center from reopening as an overnight shelter, including obtaining the city’s approval of architectural plans, are daunting,” the resolution said. 

But, the resolution said, it’s more attainable for the center to make improvements that would enable it to open in the daytime. 

The Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee, which Vaccaro chairs, will consider the resolution.

Also, the Board of Aldermen gave initial approval on Friday to a bill prohibiting hiring personnel for all city departments from asking applicants about their salary history. Proponents say this could prevent potential city workers from getting locked into a job that pays too little. That especially applies to the poor, they say.

Sixth Ward Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia is the sponsor.

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