Adding to the intrigue surrounding the contract is Rex Sinquefield's ties to both Slay and Temporiti. Sinquefield's political-action committee is Slay's top donor, haven already given the campaign $100,000. Sinquefield has also dropped big cash with Temporiti, $92,500 in consulting fees over the course of the past election season. Just last week Temporiti officially registered as a lobbyist for Sinquefield's political firm Pelopidas and Veolia Water North America.

At the conclusion of the forum Slay moves toward the door, shaking hands along the way. A "Dump Veolia" activist tries to hand him a flier about the tram lines and buses in Palestine. Slay declines politely.

"I've seen your material," he says. "I get it. I get it."

Mayor Slay and his challenger, Lewis Reed (far right), discussed Veolia during a January mayoral debate.
Theo R. Welling
Mayor Slay and his challenger, Lewis Reed (far right), discussed Veolia during a January mayoral debate.

At the door, Riverfront Times asks about the rumor that Curt Skouby was directed by the mayor's office to vote for Veolia.

"That is absolutely not true," he says. "I've heard more misinformation and more ridiculous accusations on this issue than I have on a whole heck of a lot of other ones since I've been mayor."

He bristles at the idea that Temporiti gave Veolia an advantage and says this is just an attempt to discredit him ahead of the election.

"I don't represent Veolia. I don't represent any special interest. I represent the people of St. Louis," he says. "I'm interested in three things: quality water, a good department that's well run and for a price that is affordable for the people of St. Louis. That's all I'm interested in."

Finally, Riverfront Times asks about the private meeting with Temporiti after the Veolia presentation — a meeting Temporiti claimed had nothing to do with Veolia.

"There's a lot of misinformation he's trying to dispel, and that's what we talked about," says Slay. "We talked about the fact that, you know, about what kind of information is out there and, you know, how do we address it and what's going on. That's all."


The future of the contract is still unknown. Lewis Reed's office has taken steps toward a public forum — which will invite all activist groups to participate as well as Veolia — but the time frame is still fluid. Eddie Roth is also meeting with all the interested parties.

"My instructions are to take all the time we need to make people feel satisfied," says Roth. "We'll come back in a very public way with what I'm able to find out."

It is all but certain that any kind of investigation or final determination will not be ready in time for the next scheduled Board of Estimate and Apportionment meeting on February 20. That means the next opportunity to take up the contract will come after the mayoral election.

Should Reed pull off the underdog upset and stick to his campaign promises, Veolia's prospects are down the drain. But with Green the deciding vote on the E&A Board, even a Slay win doesn't secure the company's fortunes.

In the deluge of ambition and politics, it's hard to parse out what's truly at stake — the water, the utility, the mayorship or the more abstract moral standing of the city.

"Our responsibilities aren't to litigate or adjudicate some sort of broader political issues," says Roth. "I'm glad people are interested in turning on the tap and getting clean, delicious, cold water at an affordable price. That's what we're all after."

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7 comments
scott19674
scott19674 topcommenter

Good story. That's what the hell I'm talking about. Strong work.

opaart52
opaart52

As a water division employee we hear all the rumors. Most of us are hard working and take pride in our jobs. The public would be surprised at how few of us there are on the streets doing the actual work.And when the mayor came to "explain" what this all meant I don't think there was one worker who believed him .Why management doesn't ask us how to improve the division is beyond me!

klogansmith
klogansmith

What do we do? Here's my list.

1. We demand that the Board of E&A Dump Veolia Feb. 20th at its meeting (2 p.m City Hall Room 200). Show up. The Board of E&A is Darlene Green, Lewis Reed, Francis Slay.

2. We demand an open and transparent process going forward. STL cannot afford any more scandals about public money going for private gain. And we cannot trust our water to just anyone.

3. We convene a citizens stakeholder group to review the problems in the water system (they are substantial). The group must include businesses, institutions, and residents and must not be selected among the usual list of political friends of the Mayor.

There is nothing more important to our future than our water. It is worth the time, and investment.
Are you in?

kennthnrmn
kennthnrmn

Why aren't the residents a part of this. Why is it a few people have all control over  turning our water that is rightfully called (Saint Louis Water Division)?  Something this big should come to a vote by the people.  And this company is from another country with offices in AMERICA.  I say this all the time ,but this country is being sold out to other countries and fat cats like Mckee and the northside deal ,right up under our noses, and the people say nothing. Darlene Green and Lewis Reed  can stop this, but i don't know about Reed as Mayor and definatly notSlay  and  Mathews is out of the question.  SO WHAT DO WE DO.

bill
bill

@opaart52 Why must management "ask" for how to make improvements!  Get off your duff, make improvements and rise to the top of the management chain!

opaart52
opaart52

@bill   You either do not work for the city or know anyone who does. We are tolod that we are paid to do not think. I try to do more than I am required to do however when I see all the waste and stupidity coming from on "high", we all become very discouraged that there is anything that can be done!

 
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