Former St. Louis Mayor Sues Metro; Is Quite Okay About It

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Freeman Bosley Jr. -
Freeman Bosley Jr.
Just hung up the phone with Freeman Bosley Jr., St. Louis' 43rd mayor (1993-1997).

As you may have read, Bosley, now an attorney in private practice, filed suit yesterday against Bi-State (a.k.a. Metro) claiming that the transit agency failed to meet its minority participation goals during the building of MetroLink's Shrewsbury extension -- a construction project, btw, that was completed nearly four years ago.

Bosley's suit -- filed on behalf of NAACP and the minority participation watchdog MOKAN -- asks for $15 million in damages and another $55 million in damages sought in a 2003 federal suit filed against Metro.

Beyond the sheer dollar amounts involved, Bosley's suit struck me as curious for a number of reasons:

1. Are we to believe it's just a coincidence that the suit was filed now -- two weeks after voters approved a multi-million dollar sales tax hike for the cash-strapped Metro?
2. Being a former mayor of St. Louis, doesn't Bosley have any reservations of suing the region's public transit agency that's a sacred cow to most elected leaders -- including current Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley?

3. Given MOKAN's somewhat dubious reputation, with its past director Eddie Hasan pleading guilty in 2008 to committing tax fraud through the organization, why would Bosley want to team-up with such an organization? 

Here's Bosley's response to those questions:

1. Yes. It is coincidence. "What brought this up is MOKAN is going over the minority participation for the new Mississippi River Bridge. Yaphett El-Amin (MOKAN's current director) found documents on a lawsuit that was filed in federal court back in 2003 when Metro wasn't fulfilling its 20 percent obligation on hiring minority-owned contractors. Instead of going to court over the issue, the two sides -- MOKAN and Metro -- drafted a memo of understanding in which the transit agency said it would meet the the goals of having a 20 percent minority participation rate for the the rest of the project. That obligation was not met. Ms. El-Amin presented me with this document, and it looks to me like a breach of contract on the part of Metro. ... I was discussing this issue with Ms. El-Amin two months before the Metro tax passed."

2. Not really. "(Former County Executive) Buzz Westfall and myself helped pass tax increases for Metro, and I would call on current leadership to demand the Metro do the right thing here. I know that neither Buzz or myself would have supported Metro if we knew that these contracts were not going to be obligated."

3. MOKAN's past is not an issue. "As I understand it, the former leadership of MOKAN was making efforts to follow-up with Metro on this issue and those efforts were not getting anywhere."

Bonus question: Who would get this money if the case is settled or a St. Louis jury rules in your clients' favor?

"I would ask the judge to draft a remedy, such as a fund that could be made to help create more minority-owned businesses."

View a copy of the lawsuit -- including an attachment of the 2003 memo of understanding -- on the next page.

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