Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rice-Peebles Lives with Echoes of Whistle-Blowing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rice-Peebles Lives with Echoes of Whistle-Blowing

Article excerpt

EVELYN RICE-PEEBLES looked relaxed Wednesday in her office at the southwestern edge of Forest Park.

A corner of her office was filled with plants and balloons from well-wishers. Pieces of African and other art graced the walls, and she was clearly comfortable in the office that she'd vacated last August.

Back in her job as St. Louis recreation commissioner since last week, she acknowledged that the results of being a whistle-blower had taken a toll on her. Rice-Peebles blew the whistle on the city's Midnite Basketball program last year. She was fired, along with three top managers, after $130,000 was discovered missing from the program. Rice-Peebles was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, but the three managers along with a girlfriend were charged with 21 counts of felony theft in connection with the missing money. Mike Jones, chief of staff to Mayor Clarence Harmon, said last week that the city agreed to reinstate Rice-Peebles because she had done nothing criminal. "She should be justly reinstated to her original position," he said. Rice-Peebles said she went through several stages after learning that then- Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. had decided to fire her last year. "Initially, I was shocked," said the two-decade city employee. "I couldn't believe it was happening to me. Then I was angry and bitter. Then, as reality set in, I was hurt." And she was embarrassed. Rice-Peebles stayed in the house for a while, fearful of being recognized and humiliated. "My reputation is everything," she said. "And here it was being smeared. "The incident caused my father to wonder for just a brief moment, and that hurt," she said. "My father's opinion of me means more to me than anyone else's other than my husband's." But Rice-Peebles said her father asked her only once if she were being truthful. She told him that she was, and he supported her from then on. One day, as she was crying about her situation, her 3-year-old son came to her and said, "Mommy, don't cry. I'll be good." "That struck me," Rice-Peebles said. "I knew then that I needed to be happy, to be more positive. I began to realize that while I had lost my job, I hadn't lost my family, I hadn't lost my health, I hadn't lost my God. …

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