Tag Archives: byrnes mill

Different Rules for Byrnes Mill?

3 Feb

A check of the Jefferson County assessor’s website reveals that Byrnes Mill mayor Susan Gibson, who is up for re-election, paid her personal property tax (PPT) bill on January 22 of this year (click to enlarge).

Byrnes Mill mayor Susan Gibson's personal property tax account for 2012.

Byrnes Mill mayor Susan Gibson’s personal property tax account for 2012.

January 15 was the filing deadline for candidates for the April 2 election. Therefore, Gibson was in arrears on her PPT at the deadline. Shaun Missey of Arnold, JR Graham of Pevely, and Ron Woehrle of the North Jefferson County Ambulance District (NJCAD) were removed from their respective ballots for this offense. But Gibson is still on the ballot. It needs to be noted that the same city attorney, Bob Sweeney, serves Arnold, Byrnes Mill, and the NJCAD. So why the different treatment for Gibson?

As I have noted previously, Sweeney’s opinion in 2011 was that the law requiring candidates to be current on their property taxes did not apply to municipalities or special districts. In 2011, two of his cronies (Crisler and Moritz) ran for Arnold City Council while in arrears, and were not removed from the ballot. Sweeney apparently changed his mind this year, when Missey and Woehrle just coincidentally don’t share his views on governance. It is my not-a-lawyer opinion that he was correct in 2011, and thus wrong this time around.

Now, January 22 was the day that ballot submissions were due from these various entities to Wes Wagner, the county clerk. I wonder if Sweeney et. al will claim, if this discrepancy ever piques the interest of the media, that she paid her bill before close of business on the 22nd, therefore she was allowed to stay on the ballot. If that is their argument, then I think it will be safe to assume that a little bird told Gibson to get thee to the collector’s office by 5 pm.

In the letter Arnold City Clerk Diane Waller sent to Missey, dated January 18, she said “you are not eligible to be a candidate.” That doesn’t seem to leave any possibility of a post-January 15 reprieve. Missey stated on Facebook that she told him the same thing, January 15 is a drop-dead deadline.

Sweeney might also claim that it was the Byrnes Mill clerk’s failure that kept Gibson on the ballot. He claimed in the January 31 Leader that he “had nothing to do with the investigation [to check Arnold candidates’ eligibility].” He could also say he had nothing to do with the Byrnes Mill clerk’s lack of investigation. I think these were and will be lies. Sweeney instructed Waller in the 2011 memo that it was not her duty to investigate candidates’ tax status. I highly, highly doubt she would adopt a whole new modus operandi without consulting Sweeney. I also doubt she would take a bathroom break without consulting Sweeney, but that’s another story.

If anyone cares to pursue this, I think this could be the smoking gun that blows up this whole racket. Of course, the 2011 memo should serve the same purpose.

Note: On February 1, Gibson’s taxes were listed as unpaid on the county website. I talked to someone at the collector’s office that afternoon, and the official there told me that Gibson’s payment was posted January 22, and that the website was not up to date (for her and for other accounts). They must have updated this record after they talked to me, as it is now current. Perhaps it is simple to update the website when you have the record open in front of you.


Chickens Continue to Spread

21 Jan

Byrnes Mill has joined the ranks of county municipalities allowing backyard chickens, according to the December 27 Leader. The city joins Festus and De Soto as cities to have recently made this change. Byrnes Mill’s ordinance is pretty good, in that it is light on restrictions. Residents with less than an acre of land can raise five birds, while there is no limit for larger properties. Coops or pens must be used, and must be 20 feet from the plot boundary and in the backyard. A chicken permit costs $25 per year for three years, then becomes permanent, barring any complaints. This is much better than Festus’ stringent rules. I commend the Byrnes Mill council for this.

Law Enforcement Cesspool in Byrnes Mill

14 Nov

All kinds of wrongdoing is coming to light in Byrnes Mill. About a month ago, Police Chief Ed Locke was fired (not even allowed to resign). No reason was given. The city denied a lot of possibilities, though:

City officials would not say why he was relieved of his duties but said there was no money missing, and that his departure had nothing to do with the arrest of the then-mayor of Valley Park in June for driving while intoxicated or with any local Jefferson County elections.

Locke says he was preparing to resign for another job, and that the city fired him to save money on severance. All he got for a severance package was $3,925 for unused vacation – good on the city for not giving him more than that.

At the time, “County Councilman Don Bickowski … said he had no inside knowledge about Locke’s ouster but said ‘in this area, in Jefferson County, there’s a lot of politics — a lot of good ole boy politics.'”

Well, now another Byrnes Mill officer is in trouble – Locke’s kid, Ed Locke Jr. In April 2011, he plead guilty to a misdemeanor of hiring an unlicensed officer when he was chief of some podunk St. Louis County town (many of which are known for crappy police departments). The plea deal included probation and a two-year ban on full-time employment as a law enforcement officer. Well, he has been violating that last part day after day – thanks to the fact that his dad hired him. He worked regular and overtime hours until his probation was revoked in July, and possibly even after that. On October 1, the state attorney general began looking into revoking his license to serve as a police officer.

The same day that complaint was filed, Locke Sr. was fired, although the city administrator said the firing “had nothing to do with his son’s employment.” Just a coincidence, I guess. Junior was fired by the city three days later.

The Post-Dispatch article notes that Byrnes Mill  has a “reputation for strict enforcement of traffic laws.” In other words, the police force is used primarily as a revenue stream for the city, issuing lots of tickets to motorists in order to bring in big bucks.

A potential ray of light emerges from all this fraud:

He said the city is considering hiring the Jefferson County sheriff’s office to handle policing Byrnes Mill. The sheriff’s office does not have any contracts to police municipalities — a practice common in other counties — but is open to the idea, said Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer.

“If they’d like us to provide policing services, we’d certainly be able to negotiate something,” Boyer said.

Anytime we can get rid of a small town ticket-factory police force, and replace it with professionals, is a good day. It is not certain, though, if Byrnes Mill will pursue this option:

And while Perney said the city is open to the idea of contracting for police services, the search is on for a chief.

Applications to become the new chief at Byrnes Mill are due Nov. 21.

“We do like having our own police force,” Perney said.

The article doesn’t say whether nor not Perney was rubbing his fingers together in the international sign for moolah when he made that last statement.

P.S. Bulletinman was on the case in Byrnes Mill in June 2010.

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