By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Brett Koshkin
By RFT Staff
By Lindsay Toler
By Riverfront Times
By Danny Wicentowski
By Pete Kotz
When attorney Kevin Dolley saw the letter, he was particularly interested in one line:
"Me and my mom went to city hall to talk to the mayor...recorded whole meeting...[he]said how he got all the white people out."
The recording to which the letter refers is scratchy and muffled, but McGee's voice comes through clearly. He seems agitated, though the context of the conversation is unclear.
McGee: The former mayor didn't give a heck about our kids. How many you saw up here working up here when she was up here?
Unidentified male voice: None.
McGee: Negroes was scared to come up here, and I'm going to tell the truth. They was scared to come up here. You didn't see 'em up here. Now I got in, they think they can run over me, but bullshit. They ain't going to run over me....
Now repaired streets getting [inaudible].... You know, making sure our streets are safe, making sure the city is beautiful, but all I get is complaints. Complaints, complaints, complaints. And I'm getting pretty damn tired of it. That's why I don't have time for mess.
Unidentified male voice: I told Virginia, I say, "Virginia...."
McGee: You know Virginia didn't do shit.... How many black people that was in here contracting 'fore she got here? Not one. All white. All white police department. Then when I get rid of they ass — Well, they got rid of they self. I didn't get rid of them. "Oh, he fired all the veterans so he can have some niggers up here." I'm going to say it right: house niggers.
Dolley subpoenaed Williams, who supplied him with the recording.
This past January the city settled with Atchison, Haywood, Aites, Luu and Peck. Although the settlement is sealed and the officers signed a nondisclosure agreement, it's common knowledge around Vinita Park that the figure was near $700,000. Riverfront Times was able to see a copy of a check made out to the officers from the city's insurance carrier, in the amount of $726,000.
"I feel like I've been vindicated," says Aites.
Weeks after the settlement, the board of aldermen voted to fire JaCola Williams, citing her poor attendance record. At the hearing — which she secretly recorded — Alderman Rich Redel scolded her for telling outsiders about her time in Vinita Park's city hall.
"No one should be privy to what you know in here," he can be heard admonishing her. "I know they say loose lips sink ships, and there's a reason for that. Certain people shouldn't know certain things. That's what we're here for. We're here to protect the City of Vinita Park. Then make sure no funny business goes on."
Sometimes when James McGee is talking about his first term as mayor, it sounds as though he's describing a war. Seated behind his immense, cluttered desk in city hall, he produces a stack of mail in a large zip-lock bag.
"This is the kind of stuff you get," he says. "Threatening letters."
Asked whether the threats are directed at his reputation or his person, McGee opens another desk drawer.
"That's why I carry this," he says, pulling out a silver 9mm pistol. "They say if they see me, you know, they're going to shoot me, and stuff like that. But that doesn't bother me. I been in Vietnam."
In Vinita Park McGee had to go to war immediately after the 2010 election: He was accused of stealing it.
A large number of the ballots that gave McGee his 90-vote margin of victory (319 to 229) were cast absentee. Former alderwoman Verna Gremaud wrote a letter of complaint to the St. Louis County Board of Elections, stating that she had witnessed people who'd voted early absentee working the polls on behalf of McGee. County police opened an investigation. (A St. Louis County Police spokesman says the inquiry was closed in June 2010 with no finding of wrongdoing and that the case file is sealed to the public.)
"They even picketed me. That ain't nothing new," McGee says, pulling out a sheaf of photos of white protesters carrying "Mayor Unfair" signs. "Just like the first black president, you got to go through a lot of stuff."
McGee cites numerous accomplishments — repairing the residential streets, constructing a municipal basketball court and a tennis court. He successfully lobbied a new FedEx facility to move to town, and his work with the nonprofit Beyond Housing has garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in home-improvement grants for residents. He has plans to outfit Vinita Park's tiny city hall with solar panels, which he hopes will cut down on energy costs over the next two decades.
Citing the confidential settlement, McGee won't comment on the police officers' discrimination lawsuit, nor will he discuss the suits that are pending. He denies ever endeavoring to share a hotel room with Williams or questioning her about her sexuality.
"All we were telling her is what she do reflect on the city," he says. "I guess with young people, you try to sort of guide them and teach them. Give them advice. It wasn't no scolding or nothing."
So where are the ACLU? and the other do-gooders who would be swinging from the trees if it was all the black officers hat were fired? I guess in Osama's America white do NOT have civil rights.
As being that little girls mom and watching the things he done to her just to keep her job is horrible and the harrassment i went through after this came out because what people dont know is that it has been out in the opening for over a year and Vinita Park has been hiding it we have recorded this man on several occassions and we went to record him on something else and just so happen he started going on and on avoiding what we where talking about and went off onto to racial sayings and it doesnt matter if you are black,white,purple,blue he had no right to do what he did and its way more to this then what you are reading on here he has done worst and i pray for him because my daughter is mentally damaged after this all she wanted to do is work and take care of her son she didnt want to sleep with him and he kept forcing his self on her and when he seen it was working he started questioning her sexuality,really? His wife knows she sent text messages out to some people saying how they have to get rid of JaCola because if it gets out Mayor will be out and that means they will be out and how if another white person get in the city will go down I mean its so much to this that it will piss alot of people off the things this man has done is sad and people actually fear him but I didnt he kept telling me i need to let her grow up she is not my baby anymore I told him anybody that survived inside of me for 9months will always belong to me and be my baby. And to see a innocent girl that didnt want any problems and just wanted to work go through what she did is a pitiful shame. I can recall him kissing her on her forehead and she came home and wouldnt stop scrubbing her face, how she would cry and beg me to go talk to him, how she had to type letters for him firing the white people a month before he actually fired them, and trying to convince her that white people are no good and how the did blacks back in the days now we are talking a century ago and he just trying to get blacks on the same page. The man is really sick in the head.
This is so sad the Mayor needs to be out of office i know some people out there and they are scared of him because if you dont bide by his rules he puts your head on the chopping block and he has a mental problem what Mayor shows off a gun and says if someone pop at him i can only imagine what else comes out his mouth
I have to agree with dsn9 about retaining police officers that have been well trained. I live in Vinita Park and I am white. I inherited a house there two years ago and did not even see the Mayor 'till last summer when he drove past on his golf cart while I was doing yard work after two weeks of heavy rain. I went inside for a bit and when I came back outside, there was a ticket on my door for the grass. He saw me working in the yard.
What annoys me is that Mr. Mayor propositioned a young woman working at a city job. This is a big no-no in my book. I wonder what his wife thinks of that. Seems the Mayor may be trying to build up the community but is falling short. All I ever hear about is Normandy Schools being so wonderful. I wouldn't send my dog there let alone my kids. I have to drive mine to Maryland Heights to attend parochial school as my community falls short in that department. I have not had issues with police officers, but do strongly question the dismissal of so many that were doing a good job in the first place.
This Mayor did not think pass his ?? nose. Does he realize how
fortunate the City was to have officers that have stayed with Vinita Park for a long time.
I'm talking anywhere from five to almost twenty years, small municipalities usually see a big turnover of officers in their police departments, plus usually get officers that other cities have gotten rid of because they don't meet the standards, Kind of the bottom of the barrel type of cop.
The City of Vinita Park sent many of these dismissed officers to various schools over the years to make sure Vinita Park had the best of the best. So again, this Mayor and board totally disregarded the amount of money the city has paid out over the years to send their police officers to different schools.
These schools are not free, add the pay for the officer attending the school and the officer covering the first officer's shift.
I could go on and on about wasted money but the most important problem Vinita Park has, is electing people to a board of aldermen, who actually don't have a background in running a City, never went to a Municipal League Meeting to learn about the position they where elected for or know Roberts Rules of Order, who come in and take well educated, State of Missouri Certified in Law Enforcement Officers and fired them, causing these men to not have medical insurance for themselves and their family. The hardship financially on these men and their families, dismiss them because of the color of their skin.
I would like to see each person that voted for dismissal of these officers sued individually . In my opinion I take issue with the Mayor comparing himself to President Obama, unless one of his parents and his grandparents are Caucasian .
Just as nothing should be "all white" nothing should be "all black" either. Missouri needs to stop with the racial crap. It's old and has gotten this state nowhere. Diversity and education is the way to a better state. McGee sounds like he means well, just going about it the wrong way. Then again, St. Louis politicians are rather sneaky!