McGee says he did not handpick any of the candidates who ran for aldermanic office and denies allegations that he influences how members votes — not even his own wife.

"I don't make the decision," he says. "I bring the evidence there."

None of the African-American members of the Vinita Park Board of Aldermen consented to interview requests from Riverfront Times.

JaCola Williams believes she was fired for airing Vinita Park’s dirty laundry.
Jennifer Silverberg
JaCola Williams believes she was fired for airing Vinita Park’s dirty laundry.
Vinita Park’s mayor, James McGee.
www.vinitapark.org
Vinita Park’s mayor, James McGee.

Alderman Rich Redel, one of the town's two white elected officials, says he supports the mayor and the termination decisions the board has voted on. He compares the upheaval to a U.S. president assembling a new cabinet upon taking office.

"I think the mayor had an agenda," he allows. "Some people think — and I probably would agree — that maybe he's going about it too fast."

Adds Redel: "I think he's on the right direction."

McGee says efforts to discredit him are motivated by his race. After community members criticized some of his early spending decisions ($500 for the golf cart; cash to pay neighborhood youths to hand out newsletters), McGee paid back the city in an effort to quiet his critics.

"They couldn't get me on money, so what else could they go after? Women," he scoffs.

Alderman Brian Gremaud — the son of McGee's most vocal critic, Verna Gremaud — says that misuse of public funds is his "main concern" and that annual audits have turned up nothing amiss. Gremaud, who describes himself as the "lame duck" on the board, says the biggest issue remains the city's police department.

Says Gremaud: "He's almost obsessed with that department."

McGee, who retired from Pagedale's police force with the rank of lieutenant, says the fact that he has already cycled through two African American chiefs in Vinita Park proves he's no racist. (His first choice for public-works director, an African American, is also gone.)

"I treat everybody fair, I give everybody an opportunity," he says. "Matter of fact, I go over and beyond the call of duty, because I done been there. You don't want anybody else to go through it."

Although he declines to elaborate on the termination of Chief Moore, he shares with Riverfront Times a memo he wrote to Moore accusing him of favoritism.

McGee recently made a case to the board for terminating Vinita Park's acting chief of police, Laird Bowers. The board placed Bowers on probation instead. Soon afterward, Bowers filed paperwork with the Missouri State Highway Patrol alleging that McGee asked him to erase an arrest report for vandalism as a favor to a resident. Bowers believes McGee should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice.

One by one, McGee shows Riverfront Times internal memos detailing how Bowers has failed to live up to his expectations. One says restrooms in the parks should have been locked by officers but were not; another time he faults Bowers for failing to write tickets for residents leaving their trash cans out. McGee laughs incredulously at a request for time off that Bowers filled out and approved for himself.

"Still, I'm the villain," the mayor mutters.

McGee says he has interviewed a couple of potential replacements for Bowers. One of the candidates for the job, he tells Riverfront Times, is white.

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11 comments
tdxi
tdxi

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.

lesliepatterson6
lesliepatterson6

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.

lesliepatterson6
lesliepatterson6

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

lynnol
lynnol

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.

dsn9
dsn9

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 .

shaneclasby
shaneclasby

as a resident of Vinita Park, I thank you for this article

irockstl
irockstl

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!

shaneclasby
shaneclasby

also, there will be a public meeting at the VP city hall on monday at 6:30 pm. I, personally, can't wait to hear the garbage McGee has to spout off

 
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