Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Amid War in St. Louis County Government, Council Members Sue Stenger

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Amid War in St. Louis County Government, Council Members Sue Stenger

Article excerpt

CLAYTON * Four members of the St. Louis County Council sued County Executive Steve Stenger and two other county officials on Monday, claiming they had stymied oversight by blocking the county auditor from hiring a staff.

Staffing in the auditor's office has been only one battleground in a county government war this year touching almost every issue.

The council hired Mark Tucker, a friend of Council Chairman Sam Page, in February on a 4-3 vote, with Page's strong backing. Stenger criticized Tucker from the beginning, saying he lacks the requisite accounting experience for the job. Stenger is a CPA.

The county charter requires the auditor to have at least five years of accounting experience, although it doesn't say anything about a degree or license. Tucker, who has a bachelor's degree in business administration, previously worked as a legislative policy adviser for the state Office of Administration, as a lobbyist, and as an account manager for a medical equipment firm, according to a LinkedIn profile.

Last month, Stenger called for the council to fire Tucker because he has a $91,000 personal federal tax lien; the county executive has refused to spend money on auditing staff as long as Tucker is in charge.

When members of the council threatened to sue, Stenger said he would try to block the expenditure of money on an outside lawyer.

The council has taken no action on Stenger's demand for Tucker's removal, and several members have vowed to stand by the man they hired to be the county's chief fiscal watchdog.

So far in his tenure, Tucker has not produced an audit report. This month, he issued a three-page "investigative assessment" of MetroLink that was thin on scope and specifics. Stenger derided the document as unprofessional and a waste of taxpayer money.

Reached by a reporter on Monday, Tucker declined to comment.

Stenger said in an emailed statement that the suit was "wasting St. Louis County taxpayer money."

He said Tucker wasn't qualified and that his work paled in comparison to previous auditors who produced eight to 10 audits per year. …

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