MOPR Notes: Complying with emailed republishing permission from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 7/03, click on http://stltoday.com for their website. Also, their article below is copyrighted 1996 St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Record Number 9612090173; & has been republished here in its entirety, unedited, including byline & dateline.
12/9/96 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Newspaper Article, zone west.
LEVEE COUNSEL TO KEEP JOB - FOR NOW - DESPITE RULING OF IMPROPER HIRING
Author: By Pauline Masson, Special to The Post-Dispatch
The special counsel to the Valley Park Levee Commission will keep his post for now, even though the circuit court has ruled that the Board of Aldermen did not have the authority to hire him without the mayor's approval.
Last summer, six aldermen sued Mayor Joseph Harrington and two other aldermen after the mayor vetoed the appointment of special counsel Eric Martin, then refused to accept a measure overriding the veto.
Both sides hired lawyers and took the matter to court. The litigation for both parties cost the city $7,500.
Circuit Court Judge Daniel O'Toole ruled that the mayor of a fourth-class city such as Valley Park must approve a special counsel. He said the "attempted appointment" of Martin was invalid.
In spite of the ruling in his favor, Harrington told board members in a letter that Martin was in the midst of several important land acquisitions and that it would be "foolish and fiscally irresponsible to stop those efforts."
In addition to negotiating land purchases, the special counsel coordinates with the Corps of Engineers and assures compliance with terms of the grant. Harrington said paperwork must be completed this month so construction on the third phase of the levee work can begin in spring.
The levee project is expected to be completed by 2000.
Harrington said the dispute between him and the six board members was not about Martin personally but was a matter of "legal principle. They would not accept my opinion or our city attorney's opinion that their actions were improper."
Martin is the former city attorney for Valley Park.
In other business, aldermen rejected a plan to build an office-warehouse on the north side of Vance Road in a residential neighborhood.
Developer Mike Lawless said the building would house his company, Lawless Homes, and other small businesses. But neighbors said the project was industrial and argued that it did not comply with Valley Park's comprehensive plan.