Pevely Phone Part III

31 Oct

The Leader offers a bit of clarification of the amount of money the city has forked out for the mayor’s wife’s cell phone over the years. This is based partly on the claims of Mayor John Knobloch, as he has not provided detailed bills for the 12 years in question. He claims that his wife’s line cost $10/month from 2001 to September 2012, when the cost of the second line went up to $30. According to this math, the total cost to the city for the extra line was $1,800. This, however, does not include taxes and fees, which are several dollars per bill. To make an estimate, I would add an extra $350 to the total that Knobloch owes the city. This is assuming that Knobloch is correct; I think his numbers have to be checked.

The only proper response here from Knobloch would be to get out his checkbook and apologize. However, he went so far as to dig out board of alderman minutes from 2001 to show, basically, that the city didn’t say anything about not paying for his wife’s phone. He also calls this a “political witch hunt” by alderman Steve Markus, who wants to “be the mayor.” In addition, Knobloch says he will pay back the money “if required to do so.”

Now, I’m no fan of Markus, but he is right here. It is completely wrong for Knobloch to have allowed the city to pay for his wife’s phone. Any attempt to justify it should be laughed at and rejected. He can’t reasonably claim ignorance, or hide behind the city’s inability to find out about this for 12 years. It is quite clear that past management of the city (by administrators and clerks) was incompetent, in a number of areas besides this, but the buck stops with the mayor. What other improper conduct is he ignoring? Perhaps resignation is in order.

He shouldn’t wait to find out if he legally has to pay back the money, he should just do it. And he should stop questioning the motives of his accusers. He is in the wrong here; it’s Elected Official 101 – don’t spend public money on personal items/services for you or your family.

While the KMOV report credits the state audit for uncovering this, city clerk Stephanie Haas says in the Leader that the question came up when she and new city administrator Terry Thomas started their jobs and began “tightening up policies and procedures.” I tend to credit  the audit.

Going forward, the mayor says he will pay his own phone bill.

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