Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Council Stumbles through Process of Naming New St. Louis County Watchdog

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Council Stumbles through Process of Naming New St. Louis County Watchdog

Article excerpt

CLAYTON * It began earlier this year with a series of closed-door St. Louis County Council meetings culminating in an agreement to part ways with the longtime county auditor.

Then the intrigue began.

The ink on the auditor's severance package had yet to dry in mid-January when Council Chairman Sam Page, a former Democratic state representative, began introducing a Jefferson City health care lobbyist to council members and staff as the next director of the office that monitors county spending.

The introduction of an heir apparent struck some as odd given that the decision to hire an auditor requires a majority council vote.

Council members moreover privately bristled that Page never afforded an opportunity to vet a candidate they claim did not meet a stipulation in the county charter that requires a new county auditor to bring a minimum of five years of accounting experience to the job.

The candidate's rsum and a LinkedIn page were shared with the Post-Dispatch.

Page was displeased to learn the credentials of the lobbyist had been leaked to the media.

"It is unfair to criticize an applicant for public office," he told a reporter. "It's not professional, it's unbecoming."

The council in early February derailed Page's front-runner by seeking an opinion on the absence of a vote from County Counselor Peter Krane.

Citing the charter, Krane ruled on the side of transparency and threw open the door for each council member to place the name of a prospective candidate in the applicant pool.

The hiring and supervision of the auditor falls on the council; the county administrative branch does not have a role in the selection of an auditor or operations of the office.

Page concurs with Krane's decision. The legal opinion ultimately landed five rsums in council mailboxes.

"We're following the ordinance and trying to go in a direction that allows everyone to participate in a decision and to resolve differences without being disagreeable," Page said.

Because personnel decisions are made behind closed doors, there is no word whether discussions about a new auditor have been amicable.

But this much is clear: The $87,000-a-year position remains empty nearly two months after the departure of the former department head. …

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