Sansone out, Dave Spence in, at St. Louis County Police Board [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 23--CLAYTON --Gregory Sansone, whose company's work on the St. Louis County crime lab is under an FBI investigation, is resigning from the county police board and being replaced by former GOP gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence.
County Executive Charlie A. Dooley announced the development Thursday, along with his nomination of the Rev. Freddy J. Clark, founder of the Shalom Church in St. Louis County, to replace police board Vice Chairman Floyd Warmann, who resigned abruptly Aug. 1.
Dooley asked the County Council to ratify Spence and Clark at a meeting Tuesday.
Sansone's letter, dated Wednesday, said he must resign because Dooley proposed last week that the council prohibit elected and appointed officials from holding subcontracts on county projects. He was appointed by Dooley in 2007 and has been chairman since 2009.
"As a subcontractor, and in the spirit of this new public policy, I believe that I should no longer serve on the police board," he wrote.
The county charter already stipulates that political appointees cannot benefit "in any manner whatsoever" from county projects.
Earlier this month, county Police Chief Tim Fitch asked the FBI to inquire about the propriety of having SM Mechanical, a heating and air-conditioning firm co-owned by Sansone, do about 40 percent of the $9.1 million construction of a new crime lab in Clayton.
The county was served with a federal subpoena Friday, requesting hundreds of records related to the crime lab project. The document indicates that a grand jury will meet on the subject Sept. 4.
Dooley and County Counselor Patricia Redington have insisted there is nothing wrong with the arrangement because SM Mechanical was hired by the general contractor, ICS Construction, not the county.
The general construction contract is with the county, not the police board.
Sansone has said that he did nothing wrong. In his resignation letter, he said his company was low bidder among subcontractors, and saved the taxpayers about $200,000.
Warmann cited an unspecified conflict in his resignation three weeks ago and has not been linked to the FBI investigation.
However, Fitch took the precaution of locking Warmann out of restricted areas of police headquarters after U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan went out of his way to tell Fitch in advance that Warmann would be resigning the next day.
Warmann had been on the board since 2004.
The four-year terms of Sansone and the other three members have expired, but they serve until Dooley appoints -- and the county council ratifies -- a replacement.
Council member Greg Quinn said Thursday he believes Dooley replaced two police board members years ago to orchestrate removal of former Police Chief Jerry Lee, who had publicly clashed with Dooley over officers' pay.
"I really believe we should move cautiously, especially since Mr. Dooley attempted to oust Chief Fitch's predecessor," Quinn said. "Chief Fitch has acted as a whistle blower. I don't want to be part of an effort to remove a police chief who had the courage to do his job."
Fitch has been outspoken before, warning that use of speed cameras by some small municipalities amounted to a cash-grab and suggesting that voters should be asked whether to ban them. Dooley balked, saying, "I'm hesitant about the legality of interjecting the county into these affairs."
Clark did not return a call seeking comment Thursday, but told reporters at a press conference that he was "pleased" to be nominated.
Spence said he volunteered for the post and has an "open mind" about Fitch.
"I'm not going in with any agenda whatsoever," Spence said. "And my impression of Mr. Dooley is that he's been a straight shooter. He told me, 'You'll never get a call from me asking you to do anything, I just want you to do a great job and make sound decisions.'"
Spence said, "I think we can learn from what's happened in the past and move on What's in the past is in the past."
Political diversity is required on the board. Spence is a Republican, of course, and Clark a Democrat. Sansone was listed as an independent and Warmann as a Democrat.
The other members of the board are John Saracino and Roland Corvington, both independents, and Raymond Wagner, a Republican.
Fitch was not invited to Wednesday's press conference and learned of the appointments in a memo. "If they are approved by the council, I look forward to welcoming them to the county police family," the chief said.
Last year, Spence spent $6 million of his own money on a campaign to unseat Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, but lost by 12 percentage points.
He filed a defamation suit against Nixon over a campaign ad alleging that Spence profited from the federal bank bailout. Spence voluntarily dismissed the suit in January.
Before entering that race, Spence presided over a plastics empire called Alpha Packaging, which he and other owners sold in 2010 for a reported $260 million.
In his campaign, Spence, of Ladue, touted his experience as a businessman, saying he wanted "to make Missouri the most business-friendly place on the planet." He also argued for Missouri becoming a right-to-work state.
Spence, 55, and his wife Suzie have four children
FREDDY J. CLARK
In 1993, Clark founded Shalom, a Baptist church with campuses in Florissant and Berkeley.
More recently, he has become known for his community involvement to curb violence among young African American men and to improve struggling schools in north St. Louis County.
In 2008, Clark helped coordinate a march through crime-riddled areas of north St. Louis city in an effort to reach young men who don't attend church.
Last month, he organized an event attended by more than 1,000 people to discuss the problems created by the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens school districts.
A St. Louis native, Clark earned a bachelor's degree in Religion and Philosophy from Bishop College in Dallas, and a master's and doctorate from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, according to Shalom's website.
Clark, who turns 55 on Friday, and his wife, Cheryl, have three adult children.
Stephen Deere of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
(c)2013 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]