July 30, 2014 - Some Crestwood residents alleged last week that former City Clerk Tina Flowers was forced to resign over a hostile work environment.
During a period for public comment at the July 22 Board of Aldermen meeting, several residents lamented Flowers’ resignation, while some alleged that city officials, including Mayor Gregg Roby, City Administrator Mark Sime, City Attorney Lisa Stump and Ward 4 Alderman Michael Vincent, had targeted Flowers in an effort to force her to resign.
Resident Don Clark told Roby, “... I know for a fact — this is a fact — that you, the city administrator, (the) lawyer and Vincent all wanted Tina Flowers out. And you put so much heat on her till she had to resign. This is corrupt.”
Roby said, “I don’t know where you’re getting your information, Mr. Clark.”
Clark replied, “... I got my information right from the horse’s mouth.”
Roby said, “Well, we’re not going to comment on that. Any other comments, sir? You have a question or comment?”
Clark had no further comment.
As first reported by the Call, Flowers resigned her position, effective Friday, July 25. Flowers, who had served as city clerk since January 2007, submitted her resignation July 14, according to an email Sime sent to aldermen.
Flowers was unavailable for comment before the Call’s press time.
At last week’s meeting, another resident, Ron Hering, called for Sime to “pack his bags and go away.”
“... There’s something stinks bad up here in this City Hall,” he said, adding that he and his neighbors get together and discuss city affairs. “We remind ourselves, if you all remember, of a city administrator that we had a number of years ago that put us in hock, big time — big time because he had the ear of the mayor and the board, and we almost had a city jail that we didn’t need.
“We had to have a bond issue or a proposition to get us out of hock. That took us how many years — six, seven years? There’s something wrong here, and I think it would behoove our city if you would just kind of pack your bags and go away. Thank you.”
Resident David Brophy said he is “very concerned about what’s happening in this city.”
Citing last year’s departure of a department head, he said, “... Apparently he did not feel that the working environment here was conducive to his staying, and that he was under threat of losing his job and had to fight through the Civil Service Board to protect his job and his reputation. Now we have another situation. Once again, not only through the newspapers but from other places, I am aware of what I would term a hostile environment toward a city employee.”
Regarding Flowers, Brophy said, “This city employee has served this city faithfully and done an outstanding job for years. This city employee was kind and courteous to the residents and did everything she could to help the residents on a friendly basis. The fact of the matter is, is that for some reason she was forced — and I believe forced — into giving her resignation before she was fired …”
Brophy said he hoped that Flowers would be able to talk to the press about her departure.
“... I know from various sources that she was under pressure and in fear of (losing) her job ...,” he added.
Longtime resident and former Ward 2 Alderman Robert Deutschmann asked what the city gained “by the loss of our previous city clerk?”
Roby noted that Flowers resigned the post.
“... It was a letter of resignation from her. She was not released from the service of the city. So we can’t control when people leave the city of Crestwood. It happens all the time. It’s happened for years ...,” he said, citing Jim Eckrich, who last served the city as director of public services, and former City Clerk Kimberly Cottle.
“... We’ve been doing some calculations of our pay scale, as it relates to other communities around us, and I’ll tell you what, it’s not a very bright picture. So what I can tell you is we’re working currently on a new pay plan,” the mayor said, adding that the pay plan will be presented to the board before the budget process begins.
“... Once that is completed, I am going to be asking this board to find revenues, to find whatever method they can to put that pay plan in operation ...”
Former Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel said, “... Seems to be a lot of negative vibes out here tonight. As a former alderman, I think that I try to follow city news and happenings pretty closely and it seems that there’s a lot of perceived facts that people have knowledge of that I’m not aware of with regard to the Tina Flowers situation ... As recorded by the Call, she hasn’t made any statements, so I just wonder where these facts come from, and I think it would be in the best interest of the city if everybody just took a breath, sat down and when the information comes out, then we can all take a look at it and make up our own minds.”
The Call recently reported that former Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel, who joined other aldermen in voting 7-0 to hire Sime in January 2013, outlined a series of decisions made by Sime that have caused Miguel to lose confidence in the city administrator.
Pickel noted he served two terms on the board with Miguel.
“... By my recollection, the city had four city administrators during Mr. Miguel’s tenure, and that doesn’t include people who served in an interim role,” he said. “It’s my recollection again that Mr. Miguel initially supported all these individuals and in most cases, he later changed his mind. And I think his sentiments are shared by other members of the board and as some of the comments made tonight by people in the public, and, of course, their sentiments are shared and published by the Call. As a side note, it seems like the same group had issues with our previous city attorney (Rob Golterman), and, of course, they made life difficult for him with a lot of berating and he chose to resign for his own reasons.
“And now there seems to be a similar effort underway with our current city administrator. So it seems to me that these individuals can’t work with anybody, and I think the negativity has been a problem for a long time, and I think as long as it continues, it’s going to continue to stall our progress and damage our reputation in the region ...,” said Pickel, who contributed to Roby’s mayoral campaign.
Public works director appointed
In a separate matter, the Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 to approve Sime’s appointment of James Gillam as director of public works. Ward 3 Alderman Paul Duchild and board President Mike Tsichlis of Ward 4 abstained. Ward 2 Alderman Mary Stadter was absent.
Gillam worked for the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District from May 1986 until he retired in July 2012. He replaces Michael Pratt, who resigned, effective May 2.