Exclusive: Valley Park Mayor Returns To Work, As Pressures Mount
VALLEY PARK (KMOX) - Mayor Nathan Grellner swiped the city’s credit card at a Sauget strip club and a neighborhood restaurant at times when he was supposed to be leading his town’s board of aldermen.
“It’s like having Charlie Sheen for mayor,” alderwoman Rita Collins told KMOX.
Grellner attended his first such meeting in six months on Monday and apologized for his “inappropriate behavior,” including his absences, the charges, and his June 5 arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. During that encounter, a Byrnes Mill police officer alleged that Grellner spit on him.
“I can only attribute this to the high levels of stress that I’m facing in my life at the present time,” he said in a letter.
A vote of “no confidence” was taken on Grellner by aldermen at their June 18 meeting as a result of his continued truancy and also after the revelation that he had charged thousands of dollars of purchases, including a washer and dryer, to the city’s credit card.
“I was not in the right state of mind to differentiate between my personal credit card and the City Credit Card,” he wrote. “Steps were immediately taken to reimburse the City before a formal billing was ever rendered.”
Listen / excerpt from a Michael Calhoun report
He initially vowed to veto a decision by aldermen to conduct a forensic audit into his handling of city finances, but had a change of heart by Monday night.
He also defended his use of the card at places like Taco Bell and McDonald’s, saying that he used a lunch out as a reward for city employees he felt were doing a good job. He did not specifically address the strip club charges and he told alderwoman Rita Collins to “grow up” when she pressed him.
His reimbursement for the strip club came earlier Monday. Grellner was visibly agitated by the alderwoman’s comparisons of his timing to that of a thief only giving back the goods after being caught.
The receipt for the “Penthouse Club” on March 20th shows that Grellner was served by a woman named Emily, spent $34.00, including tip, and cashed out at 3:35 a.m.
The mayor said that “not one of those charges” was for alcohol.
“He was supposed to be here!” one woman yelled, followed by a man yelling, “He was at a strip club!”
Collins held up a photocopy of the strip club receipt during the meeting, but asked the mayor if she could look at the actual, original receipt because explanations for expenses are supposed to be written on the back of them.
After the board adjourned, though, Grellner and the City Clerk sequestered themselves in his office. Collins and alderwoman Betty Halker were upset by their refusal to come out and refusal to show them the paperwork, even as police officers proceeded to clear and lock the building.
Watch / Residents and aldermen wait outside Mayor’s office
After emerging from his office, he walked around the back of the City Hall building, accompanied by a police officer, got in his pick-up truck and drove away.
KMOX tried to speak with him as he was leaving, but Grellner only said that he had “no comment.” KMOX’s Michael Calhoun responded: “Don’t you think you should answer some questions?” Grellner repeated: “No comment.”
Listen / Grellner says he “isn’t running or hiding from anything”
Back in February, however, Grellner didn’t hesitate in offering his thoughts on the drunken driving arrest of his colleague, alderman Aaron Levinson, telling KMOX that he thought the incident was “rather embarrassing.”
And with KSDK-TV at the time, Grellner added of those who sign up for public office, “you are put on a shelf and you gotta lead by example and our city has had nothing but positive press for the last two years and we definitely don’t need this negativity.”
But on the matter of his own decisions and actions, Grellner is defiant and maintains he has no intention of resigning.