Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Losing Candidate for Board Assails Members' Censure

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Losing Candidate for Board Assails Members' Censure

Article excerpt

An unsuccessful candidate for the Fort Zumwalt School Board has criticized board members for turning against one of their own.

Joe Schaefer, who lost his third bid for the School Board in April, said the School Board members acted improperly for censuring Doyle Stokes at a meeting April 6. Schaefer said the board appeared to be attacking anyone who disagreed with its decisions.

Stokes had filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission. Other board members said Stokes should have discussed concerns with them first. Members also called for his resignation.

A censure carries no penalty, and Stokes did not resign.

"If you are going to censure Mr. Stokes for speaking his mind for what he thinks is right, then I think every one of you should be censured for what you did at the last meeting," Schaefer said.

Schaefer addressed board members at a meeting Monday. Stokes' complaint concerned a decision by the board to contract with a firm partially owned by another board member to build a new middle school. The ethics complaint became a news story and was reprinted in campaign material for Robert Fisher, who was elected to the board.

Stokes had also spoken against the district's decision to ask voters in February to waive a tax rollback.

Ron Entwistle, the board member targeted in the ethics complaint, said the board's action was justified because Stokes had threatened his professional reputation. Entwistle said he had sought a legal opinion from the district's lawyer before his firm ever bid and that he did not participate in discussions or voting on a contract.

The board awarded a $7.3 million contract in July to HBD Contractors of St. Louis for construction of the middle school. HBD was the lowest complete bid. Entwistle owns 4 percent of stock in the company.

Entwistle said Stokes had acted maliciously. The complaint and publicity will hurt the district's chances of seeking a tax increase needed to hire teachers, he said. …

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