Westfall, Builders Invest in New Bank Councilman Raises Possibility of Conflict

By Mark Schlinkmann Regional Political Correspondent | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 13, 1996 | Go to article overview

Westfall, Builders Invest in New Bank Councilman Raises Possibility of Conflict


Mark Schlinkmann Regional Political Correspondent, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


St. Louis County Executive George R. "Buzz" Westfall and a top aide, Lawrence Mooney, are joining executives of four home-building firms and others to help finance a bank proposed for Chesterfield.

The building firms - McBride and Son, the Jones Co., Mayer Homes, and Fischer and Frichtel Inc. - periodically have sought rezonings from county government over the years. They are among 115 investors who have put up $5.5 million for the proposed Founders Bank.

The Westfall-home builder tie was criticized Monday by County Councilman Kurt Odenwald, R-Shrewsbury. Odenwald pointed out that Westfall, a Democrat, must sign or veto any rezoning bills approved by the council for the county's unincorporated areas. And Westfall appoints the county Planning Commission, which also scrutinizes rezonings.

Odenwald said the situation, while legal, "raises an area of concern that we really don't need to be addressing . . . given the focus on county government's relationship with developers that has been in the public eye."

Activists in the movement to form the new city of Wildwood complained last year that Westfall's administration and the council's Democratic majority had been too lenient on developers who make campaign donations. Westfall and council members repeatedly denied the accusation.

Westfall, who is paying $25,000 for 250 shares in the new bank, could not be reached for comment on his bank investment Monday. But Mooney, who is investing $50,000, said it was "ridiculous" and "an incredible stretch" to question the situation.

For one thing, Mooney said, there are dozens of other investors in the bank in addition to Westfall, the home builders and him. The amounts connected to the four builders add up to $650,000 - less than 12 percent of the total. Moreover, Mooney said that he and Westfall would not be on the bank's policy-making board. …

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