•Mayor Admits to making unilateral decision



Just days after Shelley Welsch was installed as mayor she called a meeting with Gloria Nickerson to ask for her resignation from her newly appointed board position on the Economic Development Retail Sales Tax Board.  While in the mayor's office, and under duress, Nickerson agreed.  The following day, however, after Nickerson had time to think about the situation, she wrote the Mayor and email (attached below) and rescinded her offer.  The mayor responded that she was sorry that she had changed her mind about providing a resignation letter (attached below).

On August 4, 2010, just two days after Lehman Walker showed up for his new job as City Manager of University City, he called Ms. Nickerson and told her that he wanted to discuss her appointment and resignation... and told her that it was on the list of things to do from the Mayor.

Feeling pressured and harassed by the Mayor and Administration - as no Board member should ever be! - Ms. Nickerson sought legal advice and her attorney wrote to Mayor Welsch (attached below) requesting that the mayor cease and desist from her attempts to force Ms. Nickerson to resign - or if the mayor really felt this was a violation of the Sunshine Law to bring it to the St. Louis County court where it belonged.

Mr. Walker (at the direction of the mayor?) apparently sought at least one legal opinion from John Mulligan the City Attorney regarding the violation of the Sunshine Law.  Unfortunately, that opinion has not been revealed, but the substance of it is covered in the letter from the City Clerk (attached below):
"The City Attorney has review[ed] your status on the Economic Development retail Sales Tax Board and concluded your appointment was in violation with the Sunshine Law."

There are really two issues here:  The first being that the mayor was making an nomination to a position that was already occupied.  She cannot do that.  The second and more important issue is that the mayor cannot act without the consent of council, and she failed to inform at least 3 of the council members that she was removing a board member that they had approved less than a year ago.  It was unclear whether she had informed the remaining 3 council members of her decision, but Council member Ricci seemed supportive and approving of the removal of Nickerson when she addressed this issue from the dais at the Council Meeting on February 14, 2011.

In UniversityCityPatch story of February 14th discussion of the dismissal of Nickerson from the Economic Development Retail Sales Tax Board (link), the mayor is quoted as saying,
"The City Attorney gave us an opinion that it was an illegal appointment and I took the action that I felt was necessary," said Mayor Welsch.
The Charter (link) does not grant Mayor Welsch - or any mayor for that matter - the power to act unilaterally:
Article II, Section 2. Form of government.
The municipal government provided by this Chapter shall be known as a "Council manager government". Pursuant to the provisions of this Charter and subject only to the limitations imposed hereby and by the constitution of Missouri, all powers of the city shall be vested in an elective council, hereinafter referred to as "the council," which shall enact local legislation, adopt budgets, determine policies and appoint the city manager, who shall execute the laws and administer the government of the city.

The charter states the council, vested with all powers of the city, is comprised of 7 members, not 6 members and a mayor:

Article II, Section 5. Generally.
The council shall consist of seven members, each of whom shall be elected for a term of four years. Two councilmembers shall be elected by the qualified voters of each of the three wards of the city, and one who shall be the mayor shall be elected by the qualified voters of the city at large.

Article II, section 8.  Mayor as presiding officer; mayor generally.
The councilmember elected at large shall preside at all meetings of the council, and shall have the Title of mayor. He shall be recognized as the head of the city government for all ceremonial purposes, and by the governor for purposes of military law, but shall have no administrative duties. During the absence of the mayor or his inability to act for any reason, the council shall choose one of its members as chairman pro tempore, who shall perform the duties of the mayor.

No place in the charter is the Mayor granted the authority to make a decision without bringing it to council for consent or authority to act.  Her  unilateral behavior regarding the dismissal of any Board or Commission member is in violation of the charter - and any actions taken could be considered invalid.  This matter of the dismissal of Gloria Nickerson should still be brought to council for a vote.

Mayor Welsch has publicly acknowledged that she usurped the powers/responsibilities of the council to make the decision regarding Ms. Nickerson's position on the Economic Development Retail Sales Tax Board.  What is most disturbing is that this mayor appears to be imposing a de facto alteration in the form of our government... she may not change the charter without a vote of the citizens.

Paulette Carr, Gannon Ave.    
February 15, 2011    


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UCityCitizen.org • Paulette Carr, Ward 2 Councilmember, City of University City
• University City, Missouri 63130 •
Paulette Carr,
Feb 15, 2011, 10:06 PM
Paulette Carr,
Feb 15, 2011, 10:06 PM
Paulette Carr,
Feb 15, 2011, 10:08 PM
Paulette Carr,
Feb 15, 2011, 10:17 PM