Tag Archives: port

Kasten Port Snort Continues; Wieland Weighs In

26 Feb

As I wrote about recently, county councilman/school board member/city administrator Jim Kasten was denied reappointment to the county Port Authority board in December over concerns that serving multiple entities as he does constitutes a conflict of interest. The idea is that situations may arise where the interests of one body are not aligned with those of another. This issue came up again at the January 23 county council meeting, but more on that later.

State senator Paul Wieland introduced a bill on February 21 that directly addresses this issue – SB449. Here is the summary of the bill:

This act specifies that no member of a board of port authority commissioners shall be an employee or independent contractor of a city or county.

Kasten is the city administrator for Herculaneum, and as such this bill would prevent him from being appointed to the JeffCo Port board. Here’s what Wieland said in his weekly newsletter:

“Growing and expanding Missouri Ports are one of my highest priorities. Having had the opportunities to visit ports across our state and nation, I am convinced that limiting the conflict of interest of policies [sic] insiders and bureaucrats will allow Port Authority Boards to make decisions and react to market conditions quicker. The fastest growing and most efficient ports are ones without these conflicts,” said Senator Wieland. “I was impressed by the acumen of our county council that they too recently voted down a nomination to our Jefferson county port authority because they recognized the conflict by having a city administrator reappointed to the board.”

If SB 449 were to become law, it would remove the temptation for future county executives to attempt to appoint any career bureaucrats.

I don’t suspect this bill will go anywhere this session, but it sends a message. Not only one in support of the county council, but in rebuke of county executive Ken Waller, who nominated Kasten for reappointment and continues to support him.

Port Vote Discussed

Several individuals, including some family members, spoke in favor of Kasten being reappointed at the January 23 meeting. A few regular critics of Pevely government showed up to support the council’s decision to not reappoint, as did lawyer Stan Schnaare, who has been involved in several politically-connected legal actions in the county and ran for judge as a Republican in 2012.

Kasten himself also spoke. According to the meeting minutes, “he explained his anger at the December 27th meeting stemmed from sadness and fear, that his feelings were hurt that not one Councilmember called to confer about the appointment and he is now fearful there is no relationship with the people he serves with on the Council.” He stated his desire to stay on the port authority. However, it sounds like this question will not be reopened for consideration.

Waller also mentioned his disapproval for how the vote was handled, and presumably he means how Kasten was not informed beforehand. The council has done this type of thing a few times in the past, and while I agree with them on the principle of this issue, I also agree that council members probably shouldn’t blindside nominees when they are voting against their appointment or reappointment to a board position.


Nixon Withholds Port Cash

31 Mar

UPDATE: Port money has been released, 4/3/15.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is once again withholding allocated money from the Jefferson County Port, to the tune of $500,000. Nixon did this in 2013, as well, and I theorized that it was to pressure local representatives to vote not to override his veto of a tax cut bill.

This time, there appears to be no specific rhyme or reason for withholding the port money. This is part of the $480 million or so that Nixon is withholding over concerns about a balanced budget. One would think, perhaps, that Nixon would cut his home county a little slack, but I guess not.

Seven JeffCo legislators signed a letter from Rep. Becky Ruth to the governor on this topic:

This week, I drafted a letter to Governor Nixon requesting that he release the funds being withheld for our ports. Seven legislators from Jefferson County signed the letter and I personally hand delivered it to the Governor’s office. As you are aware, Jefferson County has made progress in the development of the Jefferson County Port in Herculaneum, but it is only a beginning and will take more funds to fully complete this project. We hope that the Governor will see that this is a vital economic development project that affects not just Herculaneum, but will affect our entire county and state. The amount of jobs and economic growth that the Jefferson County Port will bring is substantial and impactful. The development of our ports will further position our state to compete on a global level in terms of industry and agriculture.

In addition, all seven members of the Jefferson County Council signed a letter to the governor:

From the Jefferson Countian

From the Jefferson Countian

Will these letters help? Will Nixon show some love to the county he once represented in the state Senate? The money may come out eventually, but I doubt he will do us any favors.

HB253 and Nixon’s Port Ploy

12 Aug

Two JeffCo legislators, Elaine Gannon (R – 115) and Jeff Roorda (D – 113) are at the center of the move to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of the tax cut bill, HB 253, that the legislature passed this session. Gannon was one of three Republicans to vote against it, and Roorda was one of three Democrats to vote for it. Both of their votes are up in the air right now as the veto session approaches (it begins September 11).

One major legislative accomplishment of local interest this session was the allocation of $421,667 for a Jefferson County port. This allocation passed despite ‘no’ votes from all JeffCo Dems (they didn’t like the 8-month Dept. of Revenue funding that was part of the same bill). Now, though, this money is on hold. Nixon froze $400 million of spending for the (bogus, IMO) reason that the tax cut, if it becomes law, will drain state coffers. This is despite the fact that the tax cut would be phased in in a manner dependent on state revenues. Included in this $400 million is the money for the JeffCo port.

One has to wonder if this particular funding item was frozen in order to encourage Gannon and Roorda to vote no on the tax override. This move would allow them to say, “I voted against the tax cut to save the port money,” which might be a powerful argument. It would be interesting to see if spending that is important to Reps. Hodges and Schieffer (the other two Dems to vote for the cut) or Reps. Hampton and Fowler (the other two GOPers to vote no) was included in the freeze.

One must ask though, why has Nixon been so cavalier about issues important to his home county? He vetoed the bill protecting Doe Run from excessive liability and allow it to build a new facility. He was also criticized for his lack of response to flooding this spring in his home town of De Soto. It would seem that the potential benefits of having a governor from our county have not been realized.

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