More Intrigue in Arnold

14 Oct

I wrote last week about the latest drama in Arnold, in which councilwoman Doris Borgelt revealed that an attempt had been made in a closed council session to oust a council member (Patch article with lively comment section here). Courtesy of this week’s Leader (Arnold version only), we find out what this is all about. City Parks and Recreation Director Susie Boone has filed a complaint of harassment with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights against councilman Ken Moss. She says this harassment has been occurring since Moss’ sister was fired from the Parks and Recreation Department in September 2010. The harassment reportedly includes criticizing her work and bad-mouthing her to others. Moss denies these allegations and says there are “political shenanigans going on right now from the mayor,” Ron Counts.

At the closed council session in question, on September 20, Boone’s allegations were brought before the council (see Borgelt’s version of events here; see the long post from Oct. 11). Boone herself appeared at the session, but Moss was excused from the room. At this point, Counts, city attorney Bob Sweeney, and city administrator Bob Shockey went into a room with Moss and pressed him to resign. Borgelt states that the adverse effects on Moss’ business, family, and reputation were brought up, and one can assume that these same subjects were broached in the private chat. Moss, to his credit, pushed back and refused to quit. Back in the meeting, Sweeney says he told the council they could censure or impeach Moss. Borgelt says Counts insisted on impeachment. The council took no action. The city has hired a St. Louis firm to investigate Boone’s accusations.

Sweeney stated that Boone was willing to drop the matter if Moss stopped the harassment and publicly apologized. Moss refused, and the complaint was filed. Looking at the HR Commission’s web site, in order to file a complaint, the harassment must be discriminatory. In other words, it must be based on race, gender, etc. Retaliation is one of the options, and I can only assume these are the grounds the complaint is based on. No sexual harassment seems to be implied in this case. [Ed.: See more on this in the comments.]

It is clear, from Sweeney’s own words, that he wanted to keep this whole issue under wraps. He didn’t want the city to “get a black eye over this.” As such, him and Counts were perfectly willing to subvert the democratic process by removing Moss from the council behind closed doors with no public input. The citizens of the 4th ward elected Moss, and any move against him needs to be made in public. This is why Borgelt was correct to bring this up at the subsequent council meeting and remove the veil of secrecy. As Matt Hay suggested in his comment to my previous post on this subject, a case like this can only make one assume that shenanigans are indeed afoot, considering the standard operating procedures in Arnold.

This brings us to the council votes that took place at that October 4 meeting. As Borgelt urged, five council members voted against going into another closed session: Borgelt, Hohmeier, Moss, Kownacki, and Lang. These are not individuals that often find themselves on the same side of non-unanimous votes. This would seem to suggest that, like Borgelt (and Moss), the other council members are skeptical of these allegations, or at least of the behind-closed-doors nature of the action against Moss. The vote against Counts’ choice for a seat on the Planning Commission, by the same 5-3 tally, suggests either that the issues are related or that the five were making a protest vote against Counts.

A question one might ask is, why is this coming out now? Moss was just re-elected in April with no opposition. One would think that, if Moss was so boorish, Counts and friends could have at least recruited a candidate to challenge Moss. I guess Boone would tell us that an incident at the Arnold 9/11 commemoration, in which Moss reportedly used foul language to criticize her to a city employee, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Those who are more conspiratorially-minded (not without reason) say that Moss is standing in the way of some grand scheme. Council members Bill Moritz (who reiterated in a letter to the editor his belief that Borgelt can be sued for blowing the lid on this), Paul Freese, and Phil Amato are apparently in favor of ousting Moss, and they would surely be in favor of any grand scheme. That would leave them one vote short on an eight-member council; replacing Moss with an ally would give them a tie vote that Counts would break in their favor.

Once again, stay tuned. I suspect a resolution to this dispute will be soon in coming.

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7 Responses to “More Intrigue in Arnold”

  1. Doris Borgelt October 15, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Dear Mr. Penknife,
    Retaliation and assertion of a hostile work environment must also fall under one of the seven categories. of discrimination, a personality conflict does not suffice.
    Doris

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  2. jcpenknife October 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    I see from looking at the MCHR site again that “retaliation” is specifically retaliation against someone for filing a discrimination complaint (http://labor.mo.gov/mohumanrights/Discrimination/other.asp). That being the case, it is harder to see how this accusation falls under the MCHR’s purview, unless Boone is alleging the harassment was gender-based (or maybe age-based, since she is 60 years old).

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  3. Anonymous October 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    Actually, if memory serves, it was the city attorney that mentioned; A. Her age and that she only has to hang on a few years until reitirement, and B. The male dominated work conditions she has to endure.

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  4. wrongonred October 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    We all know this has as much merit as the “Ethics Complaint” Mr. Sweeney filed against Jerel Poor after Sweeney was dismissed from his service to the City. In Sweeney’s media tirade, organized by American Traffic Solutions Media Consultant (and fmr Slay Publicist) Ed Rhode, in conjunction with Bill Moritz, and Randy Crisler, it was glossed over by the media that the complaint was filed after Sweeney was dismissed, and therefore could not have been the reason for his dismissal (unless he told Jerel he was filing, but given they do not speak, I find that unlikely), nor did anyone else voting for Sweeney’s removal know anything about it as far as I am aware.

    Perhaps Sweeney still thinks that is the case in his deluded mind, but it had much more to do with his 3600 some public hours billed to Public Entities in 2009 and the over $200k/year bill he stuck the City with. Chesterfield pays their attorney about $80k and is 3x larger, and has 3x the ongoing commercial and residential development.

    Sweeney is quite literally a pox upon our City and the Citizens of Arnold would do well to send him packing alone with most of the current City Administration. It needs a real flushing.

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