Contractor Denies City Favoritism Aldermanic Panel Reviews Way Contracts Are Awarded

Article excerpt

Missouri Political Correspondent Tony Thompson said Tuesday that his company got the East Terminal construction contract at Lambert Field because "we blew away the competition," not because of political favoritism.

Thompson, president of Kwame Building Group, testified at City Hall before a special aldermanic panel investigating procedures for awarding St. Louis city contracts.

Alderman Fred Wessels Jr., D-13th Ward, chairman of the committee, said he hoped to produce a recommendation Friday. He said he was aiming for restrictions on campaign contributions during contract negotiations, and a city charter change limiting emergency contracts that are let without advertising for bidders. Thompson acknowledged that he had made campaign contributions to Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. and that he is a friend of Robert Henry Jr., president of the Board of Public Service, and Tim Person, former executive assistant to Bosley. Henry is the city's top contract officer. Bosley forced Person to resign because Person did not disclose that his wife had done some work for Kwame and Sverdrup. Person and Henry helped select the two firms, along with Parsons Corp., to manage the westward expansion at Lambert Field. Thompson also acknowledged that he belongs to a politically active family. His mother is Betty Thompson, a prominent Democratic party leader and University City councilwoman. Thompson said his firm had won its city contracts on merit and experience and because of "the value I try to bring to any partnership." He distributed to the committee a Kwame company newsletter, which said the business "has been dragged through the mud by the media with false accusations of improprieties and unethical behavior." The newsletter said that "in spite of this obvious witch hunt against St. Louis' first black mayoral administration, this controversy has pulled the black community closer together." Thompson focused on the hiring of Dana Person, Tim Person's wife, by Kwame as a subcontractor for three months in 1995. …