Once again, the administration of St. Louis County government has found itself on the “hot seat” for the hiring of Stacy Bailey, the new Collector of Revenue, who has not paid her personal property taxes since 2008 and declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2011. The Bailey’s jointly owe $2,253 in back personal property taxes, more than $85,000 in unpaid student loans, as well as retail credit card debt in excess of $15,000 to stores such as Best Buy, Ultimate Electronics, and J.C. Penney.
This time, it’s Eugene Leung, the
Director of Revenue, who is being lambasted by citizens, as well as by county
officials for this hiring blunder. However, Leung defends his position of
hiring Bailey as the most qualified of the 155 applicants for the $78,000 a
year job, but he admits that he should have also checked to see if she had paid
her personal property taxes while checking to verify that Bailey and her
husband had paid their real estate taxes.
It's hard to believe that Bailey was the most qualified of the 155 applicants for the job. This may have been the case searching the 155, but there are thousands of well qualified people in the St. Louis area who would love to have this job and who are well qualified.
Mike Jones, co-Chief Operating Officer
(COO) of St. Louis County and Senior Policy Advisor to County Executive,
Charlie Dooley, defends the hiring of Bailey. Jones said, “I can tell you
categorically — and I’m a guy who gets paid to know stuff like this — that she
does not have any ‘juice’,” which equates to Bailey not having any political
connections. And, Jones promised that there will be sweeping changes to
the county’s hiring process with regard to background checks of future hires by
stating that “this will be a system-wide overhaul.”
These "sweeping changes" promised are too little, too late. Somebody's not doing their job here and it's not the people being hired, it's the people doing the hiring.
the hiring of Bailey include the majority of the St. Louis County Council, as
well as St. Louis County Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch.
District councilman, Steve Stenger (D – South County) said, “She wasn’t hired
to be the dogcatcher, but the chief tax collector. Any hiring process for
that job should at least have included the requirement that applicants pay
(R – Ballwin) added that Bailey’s hiring represented a double-standard for the
county by noting that the council had, at Leung’s request, enacted legislation
this year that denies all permits and licenses to anyone whose personal
property taxes are not paid up to date. Quinn said, “If you think about
it, to a large extent this is a matter of fairness. An ordinary citizen
can’t get a permit or license if they haven’t paid their taxes. On the
other hand, the county gives the job for overseeing that entire process to
someone who hasn’t paid their personal property taxes.”
As of this
past Friday, County Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch and County Council Chair, Mike
O’Mara, joined in the fray to the hiring decision and both have called for the
firing of Bailey. McCulloch said that Bailey's hiring has hurt the
county's reputation. “This damages the integrity of the county and,
because I'm a part of county government, it affects me.” "If whoever
hired Bailey doesn't have the sense to remove her, I hope she'll have the
decency to resign.” And, O'Mara concurred. “The administration should
give Bailey the option: Step down or be terminated.” O’Mara also
criticized the process by which Bailey was hired. He said, “There should
have been a better background check on her. After all, when members of
the council want to appoint someone to a board or commission, among the
requirements are that they have paid their personal property taxes.”
(D- University City), also joined fellow council members O’Mara, Stenger, and
Quinn, as well as prosecutor McCulloch in calling for Bailey’s resignation.
On the other side, council members, Hazel Erby (D – University City) and Kelly
Burkett (D – Overland) support the retention of Bailey. Council member,
Colleen Wasinger (R – Town & Country) and County Executive Charlie Dooley
could not be reached for comment.
The hiring of Bailey is not the first time that
that county has found itself immersed in questionable hiring practices.
Earlier this year, Dean Burns, resigned his $127,000 a year job on the St.
Louis Economic Council when it was brought to light that he had been ousted
from the same job many years ago after pleading guilty to diverting money from
HUD rent deposits to his own company.
And, last year, county executive
Dooley came under fire for the hiring of Mike Temporiti (son of
Dooley’s campaign treasurer) for the newly created position of Abatement
Compliance Officer at $70,000 a year. And, Dooley also received flack for
Temporiti’s daughter-in-law getting a $30,000 a year part-time job to check in
at park ranger stations once a week.