St. Louis County Council Wants Partnership Board to Testify

By on January 3, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  The St. Louis County Council wants three members of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership Board to testify about the organization in a hearing this month, signaling that its inquiry into the county’s economic development operations is heating up.

Partnership Chairman Karlos Ramirez said Wednesday that he planned to testify at the council ethics committee hearing on Jan. 15. Board member Kathy Osborn and the attorney for the Partnership, Chuck Hatfield, did not respond to requests for comment. Board member Ed James could not be reached.

Meanwhile, the Partnership board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday at their Clayton offices to review the budget and hold a closed session to discuss, among other things, personnel matters. The Partnership two weeks ago held a closed meeting for the same reasons.

Partnership CEO Sheila Sweeney, who made $500,000 in total compensation in fiscal 2017, may be preparing to leave the organization following a tenure marked by high staff turnover, low employee morale, controversial contracts and questions about political influence from St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, the Post-Dispatch reported last week.

The council’s ethics committee chair, Ernie Trakas, R-south St. Louis County, said Hatfield had refused to make Partnership staff available to the committee until late last month. Hatfield, a partner at law firm Stinson Leonard Street, was hired to represent the Partnership and St. Louis County Port Authority when the council launched its investigation in July.

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