Allegations Fly in City Aldermanic Race

The candidates for alderman in north St. Louis' 21st Ward are getting in some last-minute jabs prior to next Tuesday's primary election.

click to enlarge Antonio French -
Antonio French
Last week alderwoman Bennice Jones-King sent out an e-mail to local media drawing attention to challenger Antonio French. Jones-King notes that French lives in a home at 4524 Athlone that is three years behind in its real-estate taxes. The home was owned by French's deceased grandmother and is in arrears with the city to the tune of $2,337.

French admits that he lives in the house, but says the home is now owned by his great aunt. "I do not own the house and am in no way responsible for paying taxes on it," says French. (French's wife owns a home across the street on Athlone, though the coulpe does not live in that domicile.)

Besides, says French, Bennice Jones-King's mother, Cizerne Ford, also owes the city money for real-estate taxes. According to the Collector of Revenue, Ford owes $1,040 in back taxes for her home at 4485 Penrose.

French has also produced a pamphlet titled "State of Corruption in the 21st Ward" in which he brings up other allegations, including an 8-year-old investigation in which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development looked into the way alderwoman Jones-King distributed community block grant money in the ward. Much of that money had gone to an organization run by her mother, Cizerene Ford.

In response to French's pamphlet Jones-King spokeswoman, Leata Price-Land, today sent RFT an e-mail leveling more charges at the challenger. As the spokeswoman points out, it seems that French has had a few run ins with the Missouri Ethics Commission.

The state agency has brought suit against French on at least three separate occasions, and court records indicate that French has yet to pay the state $8,420 for a judgment he lost last August.

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