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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Candidate For MFPD Board Withdraws, Now Backing Hilmer's Re-election Effort

Klund, Hilmer now are vying for seat on fire district board.

Executive Editor - Call Newspapers

February 23, 2011 - A candidate for the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors announced Saturday he has withdrawn from the race and will support incumbent Aaron Hilmer, who is seeking election April 5 to a second six-year term.

R.L. Praprotnik told the Call that the only reason he filed for the board seat is because he feared Hilmer was not going to seek re-election.

Praprotnik filed the afternoon of Jan. 18, the last day of filing. Hilmer filed for re-election later that afternoon, just minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline.

Praprotnik's name will remain on the ballot, however, as absentee voting for the April election was to begin Tuesday.

With Praprotnik's withdrawal, the race for the fire board seat will pit Hilmer against Michael Klund.

A fourth candidate, former Mehlville firefighter Keith Floyd of Oakville, no longer is on the April 5 ballot. Floyd obtained a court order earlier this month that removed his name from the ballot.

"... Due to the fact that I didn't know that Aaron was running and I wanted to make sure that the board doesn't change back to the union ownership, that's what I was concerned about and that's why I started to run,'' Praprotnik told the Call. "But I didn't know that Aaron was running and consequently I think I would like to drop out and support Aaron because I think they (current board members) have done a tremendous job on this board and they can continue in their endeavors.''

Hilmer, who serves as board chairman, first was elected to the board in April 2005 with Bonnie Stegman after campaigning on a reform platform, vowing to eliminate fiscal waste while improving services. Ed Ryan, who shares the same reform philosophy as Hilmer and Stegman, was elected to the board in 2007.

Klund, Praprotnik and Hilmer spoke to members of the Tesson Ferry Republican Club on Feb. 10. At that meeting, the candidates addressed club members in ballot order and then responded to questions, including whether they believe the fire district is better off today than six years ago.

Praprotnik told GOP members, "I personally think we are ... I think we owe a great deal of credit to Aaron and to Bonnie for their work on this board and I think it's a great thing.''

Klund said, "I for one, do not. I believe it started out very well and now I believe it's in a shamble.''

Hilmer said, "Yeah, we've got the best services in St. Louis County, we've got the newest equipment and we have the lowest tax rate. What's there not to like about it?''

In response to a question about whether they have or will accept campaign contributions from the firefighters' union, Klund said he would while both Praprotnik and Hilmer said they would not.

Praprotnik told the Call he was greatly concerned about Klund's comments at the Tesson Ferry Republican Club meeting.

Of Klund's comment that the district is "in a shamble,'' he said, "I just totally disagree with that. This district is not in shambles. It is far better now than it was years ago when it was controlled by the union because this present board has done a tremendous job basically in reducing taxes and getting things back in control of the taxpayer ... I think that Aaron and Bonnie and Ed are a good team and Aaron needs to be re-elected in order to make sure that this district is in the hands of the taxpayer and not the union ...''

Praprotnik also believes it is a conflict of interest for a fire board candidate or member to accept campaign contributions from the firefighters' union.

"... You can't serve two masters,'' he said. "You're either a representative of the taxpayers or you are a representative of the union and if a union representative is on that board, they're going to represent the union and not the taxpayer. And that in my opinion is a conflict of interest.''

A 1968 graduate of Washington University, Praprotnik is president of R.L. Praprotnik & Associates, an architectural firm he has operated for 33 years. In the 1990s, he said he performed a variety of work for the fire district.

"... We were fortunate enough to do work for the district,'' Praprotnik said, noting that work included the renovation of the No. 3 firehouse.

"What I did on 3 House was go out and hire a contractor to deliver some plastic laminate cabinets and the district thought that that was not a union shop. Therefore, the cabinets were not acceptable and (district officials) fired me,'' he said, adding he was "upset'' over being fired because as an independent architect, he was looking out for the best interests of district taxpayers.

Hilmer told the Call he was "humbled'' to receive Praprotnik's endorsement.

"I'm humbled that Bob would want to run to continue what I started six years ago,'' he said. "What's amazing is how the things I have done over the past six years would inspire others to rise up and want to continue them ...

"Bob echoes what I hear over and over from many residents — that they are so pleased with the low tax rate and improvements we've made and don't want to see the district to go back to what it was.''

Praprotnik reiterated that he did not know Hilmer was going to file for re-election.

"If I had known, I probably would never have put my name in,'' he said, noting he agrees with the direction the district is moving. "I couldn't see that going backwards in this district. We need to go forward ... ''

Although Praprotnik's name will remain on the ballot, he will be supporting Hilmer "with all my heart because that is a good board and I hope it continues for a lifetime.''

Friday, February 18, 2011

Don't Worry, Tom Diehl is on The Job!

Diehl says he's working to file Restore the Pride group's finance report

Staff Reporter - Call Newspapers

February 16, 2011 - The Mehlville Board of Education president said last week he is working to get necessary finance reports filed on behalf of the campaign committee for the school district's Proposition C.

Board President Tom Diehl blamed "sloppy paperwork" for the Committee to Restore the Pride's post-election finance report missing the filing deadline by more than two months.

The delay prompted someone to file two complaints against the committee with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The complaints, dated Feb. 1, contend the Committee to Restore the Pride has violated state law by failing to file post-election and January quarterly campaign finance reports with the MEC.

"I'm just trying to get a hold of everything I need so I can fill out the reports," Diehl told the Call.

Restore the Pride campaigned last fall for Prop C, a proposed 88-cent tax-rate increase for districtwide improvements that voters defeated in the Nov. 2 election.

Under state law, campaign committees must file a report no later than 30 days after an election detailing all financial activity for the period ending 25 days after the election. They also must file finance reports no later than 15 days after the close of each calendar quarter.

The deadline for campaign committees to file a post-Nov. 2 election finance report was Dec. 2.

Quarterly reports were due Jan. 15.

Jack Jordan, who is listed as the committee's treasurer on its reports thus far, said recently he is not handling the group's finances. Diehl said Jordan was asked to be the committee's treasurer in name only.

"Jack agreed to serve as treasurer in name because of his name recognition," Diehl said. "None of us have any intention of dumping anything on Jack's lap because that wasn't his role."

The initial plan was to use a continuing committee — Friends of the Mehlville School District — to raise funds for the Prop C campaign, but that changed when new state ethics laws took effect, Diehl said.

Senate Bill 844, which became effective Aug. 28, redefined all continuing committees as political action committees, or PACs. It also prohibits PACs from receiving contributions from other PACs and campaign committees.

"We had a situation where the state law changed and ... we couldn't use that account," Diehl said. "So we had to go through the rigmarole of setting up a separate account for Prop C."

He added, "Other people had said: 'Well we'll find somebody to do the paperwork' and that was never found. What I'm going to do is just pick up the ball and take care of the paperwork and file what needs to be filed."

The Senate bill also increased late filing fees to $50 per day, not to exceed $3,000, for all campaign finance reports.

But Diehl said he got the impression from MEC representatives at a seminar last fall that the organization would help committees comply with state ethics guidelines and isn't "out to hang people out to dry."

"It's just a matter of sloppy paperwork," he said.

The Committee to Restore the Pride's previous finance report, a pre-election report received Oct. 28 by the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners, stated the committee had raised $26,980 and spent $2,775 toward the Prop C campaign as of Oct. 21 and had $24,205 cash on hand.

State law prohibits ethics commission officials from commenting on investigations or confirming whether they have received complaints.

Copies of the two ethics complaints against the Committee to Restore the Pride — with the name of the filer redacted — were provided to the Call by Ken Meyer of the Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association, the group that opposed and campaigned against Prop C.

Meyer said the complaints weren't prepared by the organization, but the group endorses the move because it believes in fiscal responsibility.

But Diehl told the Call, "My question is: Why does the MCTA care? They won."

Mr. Diehl, we care  because YOU SHOULD HAVE!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Dog Ate Tom Diehl's Homework

Now we have heard it all!

Mehlville School District chairman Tom Diehl has "misplaced the paperwork" for the Restore the Pride committee's post-election finance report. It would have been more believable if Diehl said "the dog ate my homework". Even more troubling is the fact that the "Pride" committee's treasurer, Jack Jordan, turned all of his political campaign committee's to district superintendent Terry Noble and BOE chairman Tom Diehl.

Mr. Noble has no business involving himself in the political machinations of the "Restore the Pride" committee's operations. But the deeper question is, did Jack Jordan visit Mr. Noble on Mehlville School District property to deliver the campaign documents? Did Jordan walk into Noble's office and hand-off these records? Did Noble then summon Tom Diehl to pick them up at the district office? Or, did Noble deliver the reports to Diehl's home and charge the district for milage?  Perhaps another ethics complaint is in order to initiate an investigation by the Missouri Ethics Commission.

In light of Terry Noble and Tom Diehl's handing of the political campaign to shove Proposition C down our throats and their inability to comply with state law, we think that resignations should be forthcoming from both officials. What is sad is that Jack Jordan and Jeff Clobes will be responsible for coming up with $4000 (or more) in fines for not doing their jobs as campaign committee treasurers. Jordan, Clobes, Diehl and Noble all have one thing in common. None of them are leaders in any sense of the word.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

MFPD Pension Plan Liability Would Now Total $17.8 Million if Plan Remained Unchanged

Fire district launches website about pension reform efforts.


February 09, 2011 - The Mehlville Fire Protection District's employee pension plan would have an unfunded accrued liability of nearly $18 million today if it had remained a defined-benefit plan.

If the pension plan had not been changed to a defined-contribution plan, the unfunded accrued liability would total $17,813,578, according to a projection performed by Milliman, an actuarial firm. The pension plan would have a funded ratio of 67 percent today if it had not been changed, according to the projection.

Milliman's projection covers the period from Jan. 1, 2007, to Jan. 1, 2011, and was performed at the request of Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer, who wanted to know "where the defined-benefit plan would be today if we hadn't changed it.''

"... I think the numbers speak for themselves,'' he told the Call. "I certainly can't add anything to the numbers. They've almost tripled from where it was.''

On Jan. 1, 2007, the unfunded accrued liability totaled $6,595,794 and the plan's funded ratio was 85 percent, according to Milliman's projection. Over the four-year period, the unfunded accrued liability increased by roughly $11.3 million — "almost 300 percent,'' Hilmer said, adding, "At that point, your options of solutions aren't very big then. They're draconian. People are going to have their benefits cut and there's going to be tax increases. We avoided both.''

If the plan had not been changed, the shortfall "would have been the public's responsibility or at some point the district would say: We just can't make our payments. We can't afford to give you your retirement check any more. And that's something we didn't want to happen. You see, when we made our change anyone who was already retired was guaranteed to continue to get that check. We only changed benefits for people currently working there,'' he said.

Hochschild, Bloom and Co. found in its 2008 comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, of the fire district that the pension plan's unfunded actuarial accrued liability totaled $449,885 on Jan. 1, 2009.

The plan's funded ratio was 98.5 percent, according to the report. A valuation was not performed in the district's 2009 CAFR.

Hilmer and board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman were elected in April 2005 after campaigning on a reform platform, vowing to eliminate fiscal waste while improving services. The biggest reform by far, according to Hilmer, was changing the pension plan to a defined-contribution plan.

"I would say the pension reform is the largest because we couldn't have done things like ask people to vote on a tax decrease if we wouldn't have structurally fixed the district, and the pension was the largest structural fix we did. It was systemic. The problem was systemic,'' he said.

Voters in April 2009 approved Proposition 1 and Proposition 2, which reduced the district's tax-rate ceiling by a total of 40 cents and resulted in the district not being able to collect more than $10 million in tax revenue annually.

The board voted on March 16, 2006, to adopt an amendment and two resolutions changing the district's pension plan from a defined-benefit plan to a defined-contribution plan. Within days of the vote, Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters filed a lawsuit seeking to prohibit the board from changing the plan.

In August 2007, a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge dismissed the lawsuit filed against the board by Local 1889. The union appealed that decision, but the lower-court ruling was upheld by the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals in December 2008. Two weeks later, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve a settlement agreement with Local 1889, ending the nearly 3-year-old legal dispute over changes to the district's pension plan.

The Mehlville Fire Protection District is the first and only government entity nationwide to terminate a defined-benefit pension plan and replace it with a defined-contribution plan, according to Hilmer.

That's why the district has spent $1,800 to launch, a website that offers a timeline with news articles, editorials, court rulings and other documentation about how the pension reform was accomplished, he said.

"... Not only can the residents actually see what happened over four years of fixing it, but if there are other governments out there and there obviously is a plethora of them who need to fix it, they can look at our road map the residents of south county created,'' Hilmer said. "... When Bonnie and I got there, the pension plan was creating what I have coined 'Mehlville millionaires' on the taxpayers' dime. At the time, they told us this pension plan has been in place since the 1960s, it cannot be changed. Well, we changed it and the union attorney told Bonnie: 'See you in court.' And Bonnie replied: 'What's new?' And because we went for it, we've been able to cut the pension tax levy in half and we're the leader in the nation in public pension reform.

"... On the website are all the court decisions, so people can even actually look and see the legal arguments that were brought up — the arguments these public-sector unions draw up like implied contract or you're breaking the contract clause of the United States Constitution,'' he said. "Well, they brought all those things up and they failed on them. So this is a template not just from news articles but through actual court decisions and that's what other entities will need when they make this change. They can point to those court decisions.''

Under Mehlville's defined-contribution plan, the district contributes from 8 percent to 11 percent of an employee's total compensation to the plan based on years of service.

"When you talk about a pension plan to a lot of workers today, they look at you with a befuddled look and they say: What's a pension that your employer gives you?'' Hilmer said. "We're still giving them (employees) a pension head and shoulders above the majority of the residents of south county. There is absolutely no reason why public employees should have pension plans more generous than the public who's forced to provide them. And that's what it really came down to and I think we made the pension scales fair and balanced.

"... I certainly do feel vindicated when you look at these numbers, especially when you consider what Bonnie and I had to endure as far as the lawsuits and the threats, and we were just community volunteers trying to fix something. It really shocked me how we were treated. But we fixed it and the results speak for themselves. And I think this is even more prescient today, considering the headlines today. All you read about is pension crises throughout the country, sinking government budgets, causing cutbacks, causing layoffs and we were out here in early '06 saying we have to fix something,'' the board chairman said.

Hilmer Says He's Looking Out for Mehlville Fire District Taxpayers

September 1, 2010

With his feet propped up on the massive oak table, Aaron Hilmer looks relaxed in the board room of the Mehlville Fire Protection District.

In the five years he's been chairman of the board, he pushed a ballot issue to lower taxes, and the district has added new fire houses, trucks and ambulances.

That's made him popular with some taxpayers, but his critics, like Local 1889 of the firefighters union, have questioned his methods and motives. They've filed 25 different lawsuits, employment and ethical complaints against the board.

Dennis Skelton, a former official with the Teamsters union, is one of the people who sued to try to stop the tax vote. He ran for the board in 2007 and alleges that Hilmer has surrounded himself with cronies who have painted a rosy picture of district finances.

"They've been spending like drunken sailors, they've spent down the reserves, and they've been put in a situation where they'll have to raise taxes again," he said. Not true, said Hilmer. The fire district is in good financial shape and has $12 million in reserve.

Other allegations by Skelton that the district engaged in a questionable land purchase have been investigated by the FBI and were found to be legal.

As for claims that Hilmer is anti-firefighter and anti-union, Hilmer said his father and grandfather were union members and that he considers firefighting a noble profession.

Recently, Hilmer rankled his opponents again after publishing a salary and benefit comparison for several neighboring fire agencies in the district newsletter. Firefighters described it as "vicious character attacks," but Hilmer said it was simply public information.

"Most people following the news probably don't understand why I would want to do this," Hilmer said. "People try to rip apart your background, your family."

What drove Hilmer to challenge fire district operations were the taxpayers, who he says were being ripped off.

Hilmer, 35, grew up a few miles from Mehlville's headquarters, in a three-bedroom brick ranch home where his parents and twin brother Adam, who is severely handicapped, still live. Hilmer is the oldest — by four minutes — and he has a younger sister, Kathleen.

His family has strong roots in the Lutheran religion; his great-grandfather was a minister, and Hilmer was educated at Lutheran South High School. After he graduated, he worked with his father, who owned a plumbing company, while he tried to figure out what he wanted to do.

Just before Hilmer turned 18, his dad had surgery to remove a brain tumor and suffered a stroke that left him permanently incapacitated. His mom, a nurse, became caregiver for his brother and dad, so Hilmer had to support his family. When he delved into his dad's business, he discovered it was flooded in debt.

"I went from hanging out with my friends to dealing with things like IRS levies, bill-paying and just trying to work," he said. The plumbing company folded, so Hilmer developed his own business, laying sewer lines.

In 1996, he started investing in the stock market, working in the sewer line business during the day, and staying up well past midnight trading options, commodities and bonds.

By the time he was 27, he was a multimillionaire. He married his girlfriend, Christine, and closed his sewer company. He contemplated going into the seminary.

Hilmer turned to philanthropy, donating more than $800,000 to Concordia Seminary, AM radio station KFUO and other faith-based groups. He installed lockers in an elementary school and volunteered his time at Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard, which offers soup to the homeless.

The Rev. David Marth, pastor at Trinity, said, "I think if people really got to know Aaron, they would see a humble, caring man, who's extremely compassionate."

In 2003, Hilmer's stocks plummeted, and he lost most of his money. He lived off what he had left and wasn't sure what he'd do next, until August, when he read a story in the Post-Dispatch that outlined questionable practices in metro area fire protection districts.

At the time, the Mehlville district had a 33-cent tax increase on the ballot, so Hilmer tried to stop it. He made up a flier asking people to vote no, then spent $800 getting copies. He walked around the district for four weeks handing them out.

"I walked until my feet were bleeding," he said.

The tax increase passed overwhelmingly anyway, but after Hilmer attended a public forum on fire district consolidation a month later, he decided to run for office.

Two seats were open on the three-member board, so he asked Bonnie Stegman to join him on a reform platform. Stegman agreed, and the two were elected to office in April 2005.

Hilmer and Stegman made sweeping reforms. They changed the structure of the firefighters' pension plan, a move that cut taxpayer costs in half. They required firefighters to shoulder more health-care costs.

Hilmer's critics no longer pack district meetings, and he's back at work in the sewer business. He said he doesn't know what he'll be doing 10 years from now, but next year he will seek another term on the fire board.

This time he said he's better prepared to answer campaign questions like one a firefighter posed five years ago. He wanted to know what Hilmer knew about firefighting.

"I'd say I don't know anything about firefighting, but I think I've proven that I know how to run a fire district," he said.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ethics Complaints Filed Against Restore the Pride Group

Diehl misplaced paperwork, he says in e-mail sent to Call.

Staff Reporter - Call Newspapers

February 09, 2011 - Two complaints reportedly have been filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission against the committee that campaigned for the Mehlville School District's recent ballot measure.

The complaints, dated Feb. 1, contend the Committee to Restore the Pride has violated state law by failing to file post-election and January quarterly campaign finance reports with the MEC.

The Committee to Restore the Pride campaigned last fall for Proposition C, a proposed 88-cent tax-rate increase for districtwide improvements that voters defeated in the Nov. 2 election.

Under state law, committees must file a report no later than 30 days after an election detailing all financial activity for the period ending 25 days after the election.

They must also file finance reports no later than 15 days after the close of each calendar quarter.

The deadline for campaign committees to file a post-Nov. 2 election finance report was Dec. 2.

Quarterly reports were due Jan. 15.

Jack Jordan, the Committee to Restore the Pride's treasurer, told the Call Dec. 23 the group's post-election report was "almost finished."

However, he said last week others have been handling the committee's finances.

"I haven't had anything to do with this, and I don't know what's going on," Jordan said. "Everything that I have ever gotten I have turned over to (Mehlville Superintendent) Terry Noble and (Mehlville Board of Education President) Tom Diehl."

Noble said he is only a point of contact for Jordan and has forwarded all committee-related correspondence to Diehl.

In an e-mail Monday, Diehl said he "had misplaced the paperwork" for the Restore the Pride committee's post-election finance report.

He indicated that report would be completed this week.

Diehl did not respond to a request for further comment before press time.

State law prohibits ethics commission officials from commenting on investigations or confirming whether they have received complaints.

Copies of the two ethics complaints against the Committee to Restore the Pride — with the name of the filer redacted — were provided to the Call last week by Ken Meyer of the Mehlville Community Taxpayers Association, the group that opposed and campaigned against Prop C.

Meyer said the complaints weren't prepared by the organization. However, the group endorses the move, he said.

"We filed all our necessary documentation and did so on time," Meyer told the Call. "And I would think that organization — Restore the Pride — would do the same thing ...

"They need to follow the law."

Meyer said the MCTA believes in fiscal responsibility, "and that starts with how funds are raised, where they come from and how they're being spent."

The St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners said Monday the Committee to Restore the Pride hadn't filed anything since October.

In a pre-election report submitted Oct. 28, the committee stated it had raised $26,980 and spent $2,775 toward the Prop C campaign as of Oct. 21 and had $24,205 cash on hand.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Ethics Complaint Filed Against the Restore the Pride Committee

Another ethics complaint has been filled against Jack Jordan and Jeff Clobes' "Committee to Restore the Pride" according to Ken Meyer of the MCTA. This committee campaigned for the passage of Mehlville School District's Proposition C which was defeated by a landslide vote last November. "One of our associates followed up his first complaint filled on February 1st with a second complaint filed on Saturday (Feb. 5). 

The second complaint alleges that the "Pride Committee" failed to file their January 15th quarterly campaign finance disclosure report in violation of Missouri law. Missouri Revised Statute 130.046. 1. mandates that "The disclosure reports required by section 130.041 for all committees shall be filed at the following times and for the following periods....(3) Not later than the fifteenth day following the close of each calendar quarter". The "Pride Committee" has also neglected to file their 30-day after election which was due on December 2, 2010. 

The MCTA's Ken Meyer stated  "I believe that since taxpayer dollars were involved in the informational phase of this campaign, the "Restore the Pride Committee" should be called to account for their slipshod behavior in the management of their record keeping" Meyer stated. "The "Pride Committee" was supported by current school board members, the superintendent, the administrative staff, many teachers, unions, district vendors and local construction firms. It seems to me that the contributors themselves should be leaning on Mr. Jordan and Co. to file the proper paperwork so their reputations are protected" he said. "If they are trying to teach our children the proper way to conduct themselves they should set an example" Meyer concluded.

Proposition C was doomed from the beginning. It NEVER had a chance of passage due to the overwhelming opposition of the taxpayers. The "Committee to Restore the Pride" is again arrogantly thumbing their nose at the citizens of the Mehlville School District with their refusal to comply with Missouri law. Perhaps the Democratic gadfly chairman of the Board of Education should exert some pressure on the "Pride" guys to file their reports since he was the chief author of the district's November 2 political armageddon .

We hope that "Pride" still has some funds available to pay the fines which will be levied against them by the Missouri Ethics Committee. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Restore the Pride Committee Prompts Ethics Complaint

The campaign committee that raised vast sums of cash to cram Mehlville School District's Proposition C down our throats has failed to follow election Missouri law. The "Committee to Restore the Pride" has refused to file their campaign disclosure that was due 30 days after the November 2, 2010 election.

Missouri Revised Statute 130.046. 1. decrees "The disclosure reports required by section 130.041 for all committees shall be filed at the following times and for the following periods: (2) Not later than the thirtieth day after an election for a period closing on the twenty-fifth day after the election, if the committee has made any contribution or expenditure either in support of or opposition to any candidate or ballot measure; except that, a successful candidate who takes office prior to the twenty-fifth day after the election shall have complied with the report requirement of this subdivision if a disclosure report is filed by such candidate and any candidate committee under the candidate's control before such candidate takes office, and such report shall be for the period closing on the day before taking office".

Well, it has been over TWO MONTHS since this disclosure should have been filed. Our question is, why haven't the enlightened progressives who wanted to confiscate a very large amount of our hard-earned money explained to the citizens how they spent THEIRS. If county executive candidates Charlie Dooley and Bill Corrigan can file their 30-day after election reports - that included millions of dollars and thousands of donors - on time, what's the deal with Jack Jordan and Jeff Clobes' "Pride" committee?

During the Prop C campaign, virtually every construction-related company in South County was solicited (some call it a "shakedown") by minions of the "Pride" committee. These businessmen (and women) were told that they had the potential "to make big bucks from Mehlville School District" if C passed. That did not happen. Proposition C went down in flames in a landslide NO vote. But the "Pride" committee reaped tens of thousands of dollars that they do not want to disclose. WHY?

An associate of the MCTA personally filed a complaint this week with the Missouri Ethics Commission to force the "Pride" folks to disclose to the public how much they raised and who contributed. It is a shame that "Pride" did not obey the law in the first place. The MCTA had no problem filing our disclosure on time, so we think our opponents should have done the same thing. But, they didn't.

The next time that Mehlville School District and their boosters want to raise our taxes, we should keep in mind the ethical and legal problems of their "Committee to Restore the Pride". It certainly nothing to be "Proud" of.