Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis County Executive Disavows Group Examining a Possible City- County Merger

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis County Executive Disavows Group Examining a Possible City- County Merger

Article excerpt

CLAYTON * A fact-finding group organized to analyze a possible city-county merger no longer lists St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger as an ex officio, or nonvoting, member of its board of directors.

Better Together struck Stenger's name from its website early Tuesday, erasing a board position the county executive said he hadn't known existed until Monday evening.

"What kind of group makes you a member, let alone a director, without bothering to tell you?" Stenger asked of a post he unknowingly inherited when he succeeded former County Executive Charlie Dooley in January.

Better Together Executive Director Nancy Rice said the organization did reach out to Stenger.

"The beginning of a new administration can be chaotic, and we understand how our outreach to the county executive's office may have not reached him," Rice said in a statement. "A packet including a 'Welcome Letter,' board meeting dates and other information related to the board was sent to Mr. Stenger in January, and then his representatives did attend two (of three) board meetings this year."

Stenger acknowledged that representatives of his office did attend Better Together board sessions, but strictly as observers.

Formed in late 2013, Better Together selected Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay as ex officio members of a board that includes a number of civic, business and community leaders.

Slay and Dooley played prominent roles at the function where Better Together announced it was embarking on a yearlong analysis, driven by data and community input, of factors connected to a possible consolidation of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Critics immediately assailed the group for promoting a pro- merger agenda, an assertion dismissed by Better Together officials.

Unrest in Ferguson persuaded Better Together to switch its focus to regional police tactics from public health, duplication of services and other issues that might affect a merger.

Stenger adopted a wait-and-see attitude on consolidation during the Democratic primary campaign that unseated Dooley and his subsequent general election victory over former state Rep. …

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