For more than three years, Ed L. Golterman has kept a steady drumbeat going for the reopening of Kiel Opera House, shuttered since 1991. A prolific gadfly, Golterman spits out a steady stream of e-mails to media types and local officials -- Mayor Francis Slay and Deputy Mayor Barb Geisman are current regulars on Golterman's spam list. According to Golterman, an obsequious city government somehow allowed Kiel Center Partners, the blueblood saviors of the St. Louis Blues, to slide by their pledge to refurbish and reopen the historic downtown auditorium. He's pointed a finger of blame at the folks at Grand Center, who he believes oppose Kiel's reopening in order to protect the Fox Theatre. Also tainted in Golterman's eyes are billionaires Bill and Nancy Laurie, who picked up Kiel and the new adjoining hockey arena with the purchase of the Blues in 1999. Golterman's even set his sights on the St. Louis Cardinals ownership, joining in an aborted ballot effort to scuttle city subsidies for the new stadium. Golterman's missives may be cranky, but his magnificent obsession is in tune with St. Louis' long tradition of public gadflies. Golterman, who doesn't shy from name-calling, has an uncanny ability to alienate people: In 1999, he quit the very group he founded, Kiel for Performing Arts Inc., accusing it of losing "will and courage." Golterman has an admittedly personal stake in his crusade. His grandfather, Guy Golterman, was a contracts lawyer involved in building the Muny and the Kiel. Golterman has written the draft of a book on Kiel's history; he's researched campaign contributions to public officials involved in the Kiel saga; he's staged public protests, such as walking to Columbia to demand a face-to-face with Bill Laurie. Even Golterman concedes he's a "pain in the ass," but he's also right.
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