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Nov 05 2015

I attended a meeting of the City Council of the City of Chesterfield, Missouri, last night. The subject of the meeting was a motion of censure by Council against Mayor Bob Nation. For those of you who read this and do not have background information on the mayor’s conduct that brought things to this stage, I commend you to read the charges, which were the result of an independent investigation about allegations regarding the mayor’s conduct.

It was all initiated by a city employee who was subjected to an expletive-laden rant against her superior by the mayor who had come into her office and shut the door behind him. She felt threatened and stood up for herself as did another employee who was likewise harassed by the mayor and filed charges with the City. In the course of the investigation, a history of abusive behavior and bullying was revealed.

So, to cut to the chase, last night was the culmination of these events which led to a 7-0 vote in favor of the motion to censure by the Council. After the vote, citizens were given the opportunity to speak.

The mayor and his supporters tried to make the case that this was all a vendetta against the mayor because he was a fiscal conservative. His actions were portrayed as just “salty language” and no big deal. The crowd in attendance included many who support the mayor. When people spoke in his favor, they received a hearty round of applause. When people like me spoke about his behavior being unacceptable, him being a bully, him trying to intimidate others, his long history of these outbursts and conduct, we were greeted by boos as was the vote by Council. For me, this just underscored the lack of civility the mayor has exhibited toward others, toward city employees, and towards our citizens.

Here is what I said at the meeting:

President Pro-Tem Fults, Members of Council, City Attorney O’Rourke, Mayor Nation, fellow citizens:

  • The people on the dais know me, but for the record:
  • My wife and I have been citizens of Chesterfield since its incorporation;
  • In 2007, I was honored as the city’s Citizen of the Year;
  • I have served on committees and commissions since the city was born;
  • and I served two terms and for four years was chair of the Planning Commission.
  • It grieves me to be here tonight. I have had good personal relationships with the mayor, but I am not going to parse words.
  • This isn’t about politics, it’s about ongoing unacceptable behavior.
  • This isn’t about foul language, it’s about abuse of power.
  • This isn’t about an angry outburst, it’s about bullying.
  • This isn’t about speaking your mind, it’s about intimidation.
  • This isn’t just about now, it’s about a long history of actions.
  • This isn’t just about the mayor, it’s about the city and its citizens.
  • So, I am sad for the city, its citizens, its employees. And sad for the mayor.
  • But, at this point, if you were a city employee, how would you feel if you interacted with the mayor?
  • If you were an elected official from another city in St. L. or St. C County, how would you feel about our city and its mayor in general or in meetings that included him?
  • Same if you are a businessperson here.
  • If the mayor has a sense of decency and cares for our city, he will put his ego aside and resign.
  • Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

And my “I am not going to parse my words” in the above was aimed at opposing attorney who was disrespectful of the independent counsel, of the city’s attorney, of members of the City Council. He was condescending. Did he make points with the red meat he flung out to the mayor’s supporters? Sure. Was he trying to throw sand, blow smoke, get around the basic issues? Yep.

The mayor’s supporters dwelled on what a good mayor he’s been for the city and the things he’s fought for as well as excusing his well-documented and ongoing unacceptable conduct as a minor thing … you know, people curse in the workplace, no big deal. Some even tried to shift the blame for the outbursts to another city employee … not the mayor’s fault, he was frustrated.

People like me concentrated on his conduct. I have had personal experiences with him. He tries to bully. He tries to intimidate. He is a retired airline captain. As such, I think when he told his crew to “jump,” bet they were already in the air and only wanted to know “how high, sir?” This is not acceptable for a mayor.

While the mayor acknowledges his language and has apologized for it, he and his supporters have never acknowledged his rude, bullying, intimidating behavior not only in the incidents reported in the investigation, but a history of this conduct. I believe this is the third time Council has had to take action against the mayor, only this time it was public.

If I were a city employee or a member of Council, I’d make sure to have a recording device with me at all times I was with the mayor and never meet with him alone. It’s a sad state of affairs for our city. We shall see how those who want us to just “move forward” will be rewarded.

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