Smelterville

Crystal City forges one hell of a deal.

On Wednesday, August 29, 2007, French wrote to Kennedy: "I spoke with Mr. [Peter] VanCleve [Bradley's attorney with St. Louis-based Bryan Cave] yesterday, and told him I would forward to him an e-mail the price for the sale of PPG. This information will be pertinent in the sale of the Hug's Farm site."

In another e-mail unearthed by C4, Bob French attempts to downplay a PPG executive's concerns about the public outcry from the smelter. "Mr. Kerr was on the St. Louis news and in the local paper with what amounts to — my personal opinion — the ramblings of a desperate man," wrote French to PPG's Dick Marks on September 1, 2007. "The meeting on [September 5] will help to alleviate most of the rumors that have most people stirred up. Our strategy is to have the developer (American born and raised) reveal just enough to put the concerned citizens' minds at rest."

When Thomas concluded her half-hour presentation, a thunderous applause from the audience prompted Schilly to pound his gavel and demand order. "This is not a meeting to shut down the smelter," warned Schilly. "This is a public meeting of the city council to conduct city business."

But not everyone on the council felt that way. Minutes after Schilly's admonition, councilwoman Pam Portell made a motion to delay the closing of the PPG property deal for six months. "I'm nervous about this and concerned we made a rush to judgment," she said. "There's a lot that has surfaced. I'm uncomfortable with some of these e-mails. Obviously, there are a lot of citizens who aren't happy about this either."

The meeting ended with the majority of council members voting along with Portell to delay the closing from December 2007 to mid-2008. But the council would soon reverse course following a five-hour, closed-door meeting with developer Jim Kennedy. At its next public meeting on October 22, the council voted to keep the original closing date on the sale of the property. And, in response to Tom Kerr, the council approved a second motion prohibiting the city from considering any other proposals for the PPG property.

"Are you really surprised?" asks a bemused Tom Kerr. "They've alleged from the beginning that I'm the only one against the smelter. They don't care that there are hundreds of other people who don't want this deal. It's good old boy politics. Who is going to stop them?"

Lately, several C4 members question whether the "good old boy" network extends all the way to Jefferson City. "We've been in contact with the attorney general's office from the beginning, and at times we thought they were going to act," says C4's Jill Thomas. "Are they too busy? Or do they not want to get involved because Attorney General Jay Nixon's old law firm is assisting the city in the purchase of the PPG property? I think that's a very relevant question."

The small-town politics don't end there. In December, C4 tried to get a judge in Jefferson County to issue a temporary restraining order against the city that would block the sale of the PPG property. Mayor Schilly's wife works for the Jefferson County Circuit Court, and several judges recused themselves from hearing the plea right away. Now the C4 group is asking the court to assign a judge from outside Jefferson County to hear their lawsuit.

But it's not just the courts that are tied to Crystal City. In September Jill Thomas says several C4 members witnessed Mayor Schilly and other city officials shredding papers in city hall that they believe were related to the smelter deal. When they called the attorney general's office to report the incident, Thomas says they were told to call the Jefferson County sheriff. But Sheriff Oliver "Glenn" Boyer (who is married to Schilly's sister) refused to get involved or send any of his officers to investigate.

"Yes, the mayor is my brother-in-law, and I told them it would be a conflict of interest for me to get involved," concedes Boyer. "But I'm the one who then told them to call the attorney general's office, not vice-versa. That's them bending the truth on that one."

Jim Kennedy wears his dark-brown hair parted boyishly across his forehead Rod Blagojevich style and favors a uniform of khaki shirts and blue jeans. A graduate of Kirkwood High School, Kennedy jokes that his wild behavior as a teenager had him on the "five-year plan." "I was completely out of control," says Kennedy, who would later find discipline in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

"When I got back from the military I went to Meramec [Community College] and then Washington University, and from there a Fulbright scholarship for graduate school," explains the 43-year-old Kennedy. After college Kennedy spent more than a decade working as a securities analyst for his father's Kennedy Capital Management, a Creve Coeur-based financial firm that specializes in managing pensions and foundations for clients such as Washington University and the 3M Company.

In 2000 Kennedy left the family business and purchased a hunting retreat in Bourbon, Missouri, an hour's drive southwest of St. Louis. A year later, Kennedy bought the nearby Pea Ridge iron-ore mine in Sullivan out of bankruptcy. The mine, Kennedy says, is the largest and highest-grade magnetic ore deposit in North America.

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