Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

University City Residents Blast Divisive Council

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

University City Residents Blast Divisive Council

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY CITY * After weeks of escalating conflict at City Hall, a frustrated and impassioned crowd of more than 200 people packed council chambers for more than two hours Monday night to chastise city officials for proposals some said would "silence voices" of residents and the minority faction on the council.

Some accused the city officials of acting like preschoolers. Others said the officials were eroding basic principles of democracy, including free speech. Many in the crowd held bright green signs saying "Let Every Voice Be Heard."

The audience shouted loud boos at city officials, and some speakers got standing ovations.

Two council members who make up the minority Paulette Carr and Terry Crow had sent out email blasts that included links to online videos and, with supporters' help, leafleted neighborhoods to rouse the public to come to the special meeting of the council. They were apparently successful, with the crowd filling the chambers and a hallway outside.

Crow and Carr said they felt the council majority and mayor were trying to silence their opinions and right to introduce legislation. They also urged citizens to protest for their own right to speak.

Mayor Shelley Welsch said in an interview that she felt the dispute was tied to a political agenda, including Carr's and Crow's efforts to support firefighters who are in a dispute with the city.

At the meeting, the council backed off for now, and possibly indefinitely, a proposal that would eliminate a public comment period near the beginning of council meetings and only keep one public comment period at the end. Currently, there are two.

Councilmen Rod Jennings and Arthur Sharpe said at the meeting they would not push the proposal at the meeting after Councilman Michael Glickert and the mayor asked them not to proceed.

Equally contentious was a proposal that would give the two council members in the minority faction on the council no authority to introduce legislation. …

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