Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dueling St. Louis County Port Authorities to Have Their Day in Court

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dueling St. Louis County Port Authorities to Have Their Day in Court

Article excerpt

CLAYTON - Which St. Louis County Port Authority is the true port authority -- the one appointed by County Executive Steve Stenger or the one appointed by his rivals on the County Council?

It's been an open question since Nov. 7, when Stenger and the council each made appointments to their own versions of a port authority.

An answer may come soon. Stenger's port authority filed this week a lawsuit in St. Louis County asking the court to "eliminate the crippling uncertainty" and decide which board is valid.

The dispute has gridlocked important port business, including the award of grants, consideration of easement requests and the purchase and sale of real estate, the lawsuit says.

Controversy over the county's port authority has also bled into the halls of St. Louis government. The city's port authority could have a role in financing a Major League Soccer stadium if aldermen agree to expand the city's port authority from just the river banks to the entire city, just as the county's port has jurisdiction countywide.

But the effort to expand the city port authority's powers has stalled at the Board of Aldermen -- in part because of concern about the political tug of war over the county's port.

The County Council has derided the county port authority for most of the past year as a political arm of Stenger's campaign. The council attempted to hold ethics hearings in the wake of Post-Dispatch stories showing how the authority has awarded contracts to Stenger's political donors, but the authority did not cooperate.

The council passed in June an ordinance prohibiting port board members form serving on expired terms, in effect forcing six authority members off the board. The council gave itself in September the right to make its own appointments to the board, a power that had been Stenger's. …

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