Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Council Hires Lawyer to Study Official's Remark

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Council Hires Lawyer to Study Official's Remark

Article excerpt

The Maryland Heights City Council has hired a lawyer to find out whether the city should oust a police commissioner who is alleged to have made a sexist remark.

The lawyer, Mark Neill, will get $100 an hour to preside over a hearing and decide whether Mayor Mike O'Brien should remove Denis Reinhart, a police commissioner, two years before Reinhart's term expires. No date has been set for the hearing.

Last month, O'Brien asked Reinhart to resign over statements the commissioner supposedly had made at a meeting last month. Reinhart refused.

Afterward, another commissioner, Robert Lynch, said the real issue is more than a question of words - it was an attempt by O'Brien to dismantle the police board.

"Ridiculous," said O'Brien. "It's an attempt to keep the city out of a lawsuit down the road."

Some city officials claim that Reinhart suggested that female applicants to the police department should arrive for their interviews before the commission in the nude. That remark shocked an independent consultant from Chicago who was present at the meeting and later wrote a letter to the mayor.

Reinhart refused to comment on the allegation. So did Commission Chairman Daniel Esarey, who said he will testify at the hearing as to what he heard.

Gloria Davis, a new commissioner and the only woman commissioner, said she heard Reinhart use the word "nude," but she said that Reinhart's comment was that he didn't care what women applicants wore - even if they came nude.

"I wasn't offended," Davis said.

Neither was Lynch, a friend of Reinhart's, who claims he didn't hear the remark at all.

But O'Brien is concerned.

"If we have someone who's making remarks against women, and we know about it, and we continue to let him make hiring decisions, what do we do down the road if a woman sues the city for unfair hiring practices?" O'Brien said.

Lynch doesn't think liability is the issue. He says he is.

Former Mayor John T. Saffa Jr. appointed Lynch and Reinhart to the commission. O'Brien replaced another Saffa appointee, Thomas Wilsdon, when his term expired earlier this month.

According to Lynch, Councilman Dick Goldberg - a vocal foe of Saffa's - and O'Brien asked Lynch to pressure other commissioners to lower the hiring standards for police officers so that the city could hire more minorities. …

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