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Non-residents obtain 66% of signatures on petition for state audit

About 66 percent of the signatures on a petition calling for a state audit of Crestwood's finances were collected by non-residents, according to a Call analysis of the petition.

The Call analysis also revealed that roughly half of the signatures on the petition were collected by members of a family who have been at odds with city officials over the potential redevelopment of a shopping center they own.

Four members of the the Boegeman family, who own the Creston Center at the southeast corner of Watson and Grant roads, collected about 580 signatures on the petition calling for a state audit.

Ken Boegeman, Ken Boegeman Jr., Timothy Boegeman and Harry M. Boegeman Jr. — collected about 580 signatures, while Kelley J. Isherwood, chairman of the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance, collected nearly 170 signatures.

Neither the Boegemans nor Isherwood are Crestwood residents. While only registered voters who reside in Crestwood could sign the petition calling for a state audit, non-residents are permitted under state law to collect signatures for such a petition.

Collectively, the Boegemans and Isherwood obtained 750 signatures, more than the 739 signatures that were were required to trigger a state audit of Crestwood's finances. Though 1,129 signatures were collected, the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners disqualified 109 signatures, leaving a total of 1,020 valid signatures.

The 750 signatures gathered by the Boegemans and Isherwood total roughly 66 percent of the 1,129 signatures collected, according to the Call analysis of the petition.

Of the Boegemans, Ken Boegeman collected the most signatures — 343 — followed by Ken Boegeman Jr., who collected 136 signatures. Harry Boegeman Jr. collected 60 signatures and Timothy Boegeman collected 44 signatures.

Isherwood collected 167 signatures.

Of the residents collecting signatures for the petition, Jesus J. Miguel, also known as Jerry Miguel, obtained the most — 71.

Miguel is seeking election to the Board of Aldermen in the April 6 election, challenging incumbent Ward 3 Alderman Bernadine "Bernie'' Alexander.

Roger Anderson, the resident who has identified himself as the "chief petitioner'' for the state audit, collected a total of 20 signatures. The Call reported last year that Anderson told the Board of Aldermen Jan. 28, 2003, that a state audit was needed of the city's finances.

Among other residents who collected signatures for the petition calling for a state audit were: Carl Spinner, Kay Cowles, Cynthia Tench, John Foote and Richard LaMonica.

Two representatives of the Missouri Auditor's Office appeared before the Crestwood Board of Aldermen last month, saying the state audit would be completed within six months and would cost Crestwood taxpayers $16,000 to $24,000.

Debbie Lewis and Carl Zilch of the Missouri Auditor's Office said the state audit of the city's finances primarily will focus on fiscal 2003, which ended June 30.

Members of the Boegeman family have been at odds with city officials since early 2002 when a request for proposals was issued to redevelop 18.79 acres comprised of two parcels at Watson and Grant roads.

The larger of the two parcels contains Value City and is owned by Joe Grasso, while the smaller parcel contains the Creston Center and is owned by the Boegeman family.

Members of the Boegeman family repeatedly have told aldermen they will not sell their property and have vowed to fight any efforts to acquire their property through eminent domain.

Two representatives of the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance — Isherwood and attorney Mary Schultz — began voicing concerns to the Board of Aldermen last July about a proposal submitted by Mills Properties to redevelop the site at Watson and Grant Roads.

Schultz also represents the Boegeman family's Crest Development Co., which owns the Creston Center. The Boegeman family is in the final stages of spending $150,000 to $200,000 to renovate the Creston Center. At the time the board approved the renovation plans late last year, aldermen warned members of the Boegeman family they were taking a risk in proceeding because the Creston Center is situated in a proposed redevelopment area.

The Board of Aldermen voted last fall to place a moratorium on aggressive redevelopment, withdrawing the request for proposals to redevelop the corner of Watson and Grant roads and conducting a series of interactive seminars for residents and business owners about redevelopment.

In October, the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance launched its petition drive for a state audit of Crestwood's finance.

The Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance "is a citizen-based organization concerned about the path that Crestwood's appointed officials are choosing,'' according to a flier the group has distributed to solicit members. But Isherwood on several occasions has declined to provide the Call with a membership list for the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance.

An Oakville resident, Isherwood has registered the business name of the Crestwood Smart Growth Alliance with the Missouri Secretary of State's Office, according to his Registration of a Fictitious Name with the state.

Under the name of "owners, individual or business entity,'' Isherwood is the only person listed.

The address of the alliance, according to the filing, is Private Mail Box No. 166-9051 Watson Road, Crestwood, Mo. 63126.

Isherwood has said he is being compensated for his work with the organization.

"I'm getting compensated — not really much ... I'm compensated, but we're talking at a much-reduced rate,'' he told the Call last fall.

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