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MSD minutes should reflect what transpired at meeting

October 09, 2013 - We were more than a little taken aback when reading the draft minutes of the Sept. 12 meeting of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District Board of Trustees.

The draft minutes state, "Mrs. Joan Jacobson addressed the board, distributed and read her statement to the Board of Trustees of her complaint about the storm sewer under her property and her neighbor's property."

Well, that's not exactly what happened at the board's Sept. 12 meeting. Mrs. Jacobson, a Webster Groves resident, was not allowed to finish reading her statement last month.

Instead, as the Call reported Sept. 19, Mrs. Jacobson was attempting to finish reading her letter to the board when Chairman James Buford had security remove her from the room.

When Mrs. Jacobson refused to stop reading her letter after a second request by Buford, he called for security, after she had been speaking for nine minutes.

"I refuse to yield the floor — I have a page-and-a-half to read," she said. "I'm a member of the public, and I have the right ... You're making it longer by not letting me finish."

We called for Buford's resignation for his appalling behavior, but noted that was unlikely given that he's only accountable to one person and one person only — St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the man who appointed him to the MSD board in 2006.

As we wrote Sept. 19, the Call's Gloria Lloyd wanted to speak to Buford about his actions, but he declined a personal interview request and deferred to MSD Manager of Public Information Lance LeComb as his spokesman.

Quite frankly, people who accept an appointment to serve on a public panel such as the MSD Board of Trustees should be willing to be interviewed by the press to discuss their actions. Hiding behind a PR person can only be construed as cowardly.

But you cannot contact any of the MSD trustees directly as all correspondence to them is directed to an MSD employee — just another example of trustees' lack of accountability.

The Board of Trustees will consider approval of the Sept. 12 minutes when it meets today — Oct. 10. We encourage the board to amend the minutes so they contain an accurate account of the treatment Mrs. Jacobson received from Buford.

Because approved minutes are the official record of board meetings, we hope trustees have the integrity to ensure they accurately reflect what transpired with Mrs. Jacobson.

Tags: Opinions Column

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