They Take the Heat

Week of January 2, 2002

They Take the Heat
Wake up, Olivette politicians! I have known Harold Cash for 25 years, and he has always been a good firefighter and a man of principle [D.J. Wilson, "In the Line of Fire," Dec. 26].

Let the Olivette city manager and City Council members go into a burning structure and see if they can take the heat. Let them hear the anguished cries of persons trapped in an auto accident. Let them spend their day taking care of the sick and the people who have died and, in between, answer numerous fire calls. Let them spend 24 hours a day at their office. Let them have most meals interrupted. Let them not be able to see their kids' school plays or Little League games because they work a different schedule than most people. I could go on forever, but the whole country has embraced firefighters, police officers, paramedics and EMTs since Sept. 11.

Wake up, Olivette politicians: These are the people who are there for you.
Ron Olshwanger
St. Louis

No Poster Boy
Who trained this guy? After reading Geri L. Dreiling's "Lead Into Gold" [Dec. 12], I have to wonder why the Galleria doesn't hire someone to protect customers from security! An NRA poster boy Scott Barthelmass is not. (Was William Burroughs ever the range instructor at the St. Louis County police academy?)
Brian Gilliland
St. Louis

They Deserve Better
Settling for second best: Thanks to D.J. Wilson for alerting us to the possibility of cutbacks at KMOX (1120 AM) news ["News Clipped," Dec. 19]. It makes me sad to think that the area's best electronic news source may soon settle for second best.

KMOX's on-the-street staff includes some of the most savvy, knowledgeable journalists this town has ever seen. They deserve better.
David Clohessy
St. Louis

Many MisSTEPs
If it doesn't act, the board should be replaced: As a former high-ranking employee of STEP Inc., I've read your article [Geri L. Dreiling, "Ms. Step," Nov. 14], the board's response to it ["Letters," Dec. 5] and Richard Hughes' rebuttal ["Letters," Dec. 19] with great dismay. The board's feeble reply and Hughes' letter demonstrate the board's lack of commitment to enforce STEP's personnel policy.

Joining the board in 1996, Hughes quickly rose to become president, as well as chairman of the personnel committee. Later that year, three staff members applied for the then-open executive director's position. Of the three, only Merline Anderson did not have a master's degree. The former executive director credited me with turning a deficit operation into a surplus in one year, and the other candidate was highly recognized in her social-services field by her peers. Anderson's track record as a grant writer and fundraiser was not impressive. Yet the board interviewed Anderson, while the other candidate and I received letters from Hughes stating we did not qualify to be interviewed for the position. Anderson was hired; the other candidate and I eventually lost our jobs.

Anderson and Georgie Donahue, director of community resources, resorted to undermining tactics to dismiss those who were not part of their clique. Employees filing grievance appeals to Hughes in accordance with the personnel policy about Anderson, Donahue and Leslie Hamilton's gross misconduct were ignored by Hughes and his board of directors. It is no surprise that STEP got slapped with a $400,000 judgment for ignoring such appeals.

Anderson and Donahue's misdeeds included cutting the pay rate of an employee while the employee was on leave and telling another employee she was being terminated because her job had been eliminated and then, four hours later, moving another employee into the very same job. In January 1997, Anderson took a company-paid six-day trip to Hawaii to attend a one-day conference. To cover up her poor record-keeping from a pending audit, Donahue suggested to other STEP employees that a sexual-harassment complaint be filed against the outside auditor.

For past and present board members, including Hughes, to act so piously now is a joke. The board did not enforce the personnel policy. Clearly the policy warrants the expulsion of Anderson and Donahue. If the present board will not remove these women, it is time this board was removed by the appropriate government authorities.
Gerald L. Goerger
St. Louis

From the Lou
Who are they, and why are they so good? I just wanted to thank Byron Kerman for the heads-up on the Steely Dan tribute performed by the band Groove Thang at Blueberry Hill ["Night & Day," Dec. 12]. Fortunately, my friends and I got there early to get good seats, because it was packed. As someone who has seen Steely Dan twice, I can say that these cats know their stuff. If I closed my eyes, you couldn't have told me I wasn't listening to the real thing. That is, until I opened my eyes and noticed that the lead singer was younger and better-looking than Donald Fagen and the guitarist, with his long black hair, couldn't possibly be Walter Becker. Who is Groove Thang, and why haven't I heard of them before? I can't believe they are from St. Louis.
April Moore
St. Louis

George Who?
I was stunned: I know you like to keep the local angle on your music coverage, and I applaud you for it, but George Harrison dies and you don't even acknowledge it? I was stunned -- not even one word.
C.T. McDonald
via the Internet

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