Lewis Reed v. Francis Slay: Did the Mayor Attack his Opponent by Reducing Wife's Hours?

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Political motives prompted the office of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay to reduce the hours of Mary Entrup, a housing court judge who just so happens to be the wife of Aldermanic President Lewis Reed -- who is running for mayor. So says Lewis Reed, who, in a chat with Daily RFT, slammed the mayor's office for prioritizing a political agenda over smart decision-making.

In response, Slay's office is refuting the allegations, saying that it was purely a financial decision -- and that it's Reed who is playing politics just to make a splash in the race.

"It shows an abuse of power," Reed tells us. "This administration has shown a lack of ability to separate their politics from the office."

As was first reported last week, Entrup, a part-time municipal court judge and Reed's wife, has publicly alleged that the mayor's office ordered her hours to be cut to around four a week once it was clear her husband would be running for mayor. Prior to that, she was working twelve to fifteen hours a week.

Eventually, she resigned.

click to enlarge Lewis Reed, left, at the MLK Parade on Monday. - Sam Levin
Sam Levin
Lewis Reed, left, at the MLK Parade on Monday.

"They use their office to promote their politics, plain and simple," Reed tells us in a chat after the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday. "And as a taxpayer, I don't appreciate my taxpayer dollars being used that way. So what they've done in this case is, they went over and they continued to try and cut her hours. The presiding judge at the time would not cut her hours.... It's just politics."

He continues, "She resigned. There was nothing left to do."

Reed adds, "At the end of the day, though, the citizens of the City of St. Louis, we end up losing when we have people in power that are using taxpayer money to promote political positions."

But Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff, says that this was simply a budget decision tied to rising pension costs.

"We are just minding our own business -- trying to save taxpayer money...[and] balance our budget," he tells us.

Rainford explains that Entrup was a provisional judge and that due to financial burdens, the city realized it had to reduce the hours of these employees and have the full-time judges pick up more slack.

And Rainford also has a theory for why the mayoral hopeful is speaking out about this.

"I guess Mr. Reed thinks the best defense is good offense," says Rainford, arguing that Reed's main problem in this race is that he has generally been aligned with Slay on most issues. "Now he...is trying to distance himself from the mayor. That, to me, is likely why he asked his wife to resign...because he's running against the mayor."

Rainford adds, "He creates this artificial dustup as a way to try and distance himself."

Noting that Reed's wife made the announcement -- accusing Slay of playing politics --through the campaign, Rainford adds, "I guess he doesn't see the irony in that."

But Reed insists that the move can only be motivated by campaign politics.

"There's no other [explanation]. The day he began to believe I was running for office...[his office]...sent a note over to the presiding judge and said cut the hours of Mary Entrup."

More from our Politics archive: "[VIDEO] Mayor Francis Slay Releases First 2013 Campaign Spot"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at [email protected].

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