Where Credit Is Due . . . Bearden Disputes Luetkenhaus Role in Alarm Agency Bill
Ralph Dummit Of the St. Charles Post, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Carl Bearden, chairman of the St. Charles County Council, says that state Rep. William J. Luetkenhaus, D-Josephville, is falsely claiming credit for making changes that improve the popularity of a bill in the Legislature and is proclaiming himself to be "the champion of the people."
In a letter to Luetkenhaus this week, Bearden said, "The facts just don't support that image."
Luetkenhaus disagrees. He has won wide support for sponsoring a bill intended to settle a long-standing dispute between the County Council and the county Dispatch and Alarm Agency.
The bill gained additional support after Luetkenhaus amended it to require a vote of the people to choose the leadership of the dispatch agency. Voters in next April's election would choose one person from each of the county's seven council districts to serve on a newly-established Central Fire and Emergency Services Board with authority to operate and spend money for dispatching services.
Bearden contends that only at the urging of him and two other council members did Luetkenhaus amend the bill to earn wider acceptance of the measure.
In his letter to Luetkenhaus, Bearden said that the change requiring a vote of the people had been spawned by him and Councilmen Harold Kohrs, R-4th District, and John Hanneke, D-5th District.
But Luetkenhaus on Wednesday denied Bearden's claim of credit for the change and said that he had decided to include that requirement in his bill before he met or talked with the council members.
Bearden said that earlier changes to the bill made by Luetkenhaus had accommodated special interests by denying all the voters a chance to choose the dispatch agency's board. Bearden described the special interests as representatives of the county's fire protection and ambulance districts who in the past - and largely in the present - have made up most of the 11-member dispatch agency board.
As to representing special interests, Luetkenhaus says that he represents only the interests and safety of people in the 12th District and elsewhere in St. Charles County. Luetkenhaus' district consists of the north-central part of St. Charles County but extends into a part of Lincoln County.
Bearden contends that the agency's board is not representative of all the voters in the county and is, therefore, not accountable to the taxpayers. …