REARDON: The St. Louis County Council Situation Is Ridiculous

Mark Reardon (@MarkReardonKMOX)

Just when I thought nobody could outdo the dysfunction in St. Louis city government, along comes a bunch of incompetents on the St. Louis County Council to try to steal away some of their spotlight.

Four members of the council led by Council Chairman Sam Page are suing St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. The reason they’re doing it is stunning—Stenger and other members of the council, including Mark Harder, think the hiring of County Auditor Mark Tucker is more than a bit problematic. KMOV investigative reporter Lauren Trager did a great piece on this several weeks ago explaining the kerfuffle.

In early September, Stenger wrote a letter to Page saying he wanted Tucker to be fired, using Trager’s reporting as part of his argument and the situation is really a no-brainer:

  • The County Charter specifically says the County Auditor must have five years of experience in accounting—he doesn’t.
  • Tucker has a federal tax lien of $91,296 so the guy hired to be a “watchdog” of St. Louis County government doesn’t pay his own taxes.

I mean, $91k isn’t exactly a slight oversight is it?

All of that aside, at least Tucker is doing his job and performing audits… well, NOPE. He hasn’t produced one audit so far. Zip…zero…nada.

He did issue a three-page “investigative assessment” of MetroLink. Big deal—I could have put that together and I have NO experience in accounting. Apparently neither does Tucker.

This whole situation is ridiculous. Hiring Tucker in the first place is indefensible. He doesn’t meet the requirements, often doesn’t show up for work (according to Trager’s report) and hasn’t done the one thing that is clearly listed in his job description—AUDITS!! But wait a minute, Mark Tucker is black so this must be about race, right? Read what the “St. Louis American” wrote about this controversy slamming Trager’s top-notch investigative reporting:

“It seems like her only sources are shady, white politicians who have an axe to grind against newly elected or appointed black folks. And in this case, her sources for her recent “investigative story” about the St. Louis County Auditor Mark Tucker, who just might be the only black county auditor in the state ‒ and maybe ever – were Stenger and County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Enough said.”

Race card pulled. Of course….enough said.

So now we’re left with members of the County Council basically suing themselves. Their target is Stenger, but let’s face it, the lawsuit really pits taxpayers in St. Louis County against taxpayers in St. Louis County. Now that I live in St. Louis County, I’m essentially helping foot the bill for this nonsense.

If Mark Tucker is getting a raw deal then he should stand up for himself. The only comments that I’ve seen from him were in the aforementioned “St. Louis American” hit job. He’s a buddy of Sam Page and that’s the reason he got the job.

It has nothing to do with qualifications. This is not unique to politics, of course, but when taxpayers are getting gorged because of a mess in the department that is supposed to be a watchdog over taxpayers’ money, there’s something dramatically wrong.

Here’s what would be great—what if someone came up with the idea of merging the dysfunctional St. Louis City government with the dysfunctional St. Louis County government? That would be awesome for the entire region.

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