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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

St. Louis City Treasurer's Office One Big Family, 43 of 200 Employees Related

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 4:24 PM

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News quiz time! Who's the man in the photograph?

A. Don Vito Corleone.
B.
Paul Leisure.
C. Donnie Brasco.
D. Larry Williams, St. Louis City treasurer.

Why it's none other than St. Louis' longtime treasurer, Larry Williams!

Last month city voters elected Williams to his seventh term as city treasurer -- a job he's held since 1981. (The year we presume hope this photo was taken.) 

So what's the key to Williams' political longevity?

Williams would probably say it's his fiscal shrewdness and superb management skills. Critics could just as easily point to the St. Louis City's charter, which mandates that the treasurer (and other administrative positions) be elected into office.

Under that system the treasurer doesn't answer to the mayor or any other city official. He's accountable only to voters, who rarely have any clue about the people they elect to these administrative positions such as treasurer, license collector and circuit clerk.

But now a state audit of City Hall is casting light on Williams and several other of these obscure, elected bureaucrats. Yesterday State Auditor Susan Montee released a report on the treasurer's office. Among other things, Montee's office found that of the approximately 200 people working in the treasurer's department, 43 are related to each other. (Can anyone say "patronage jobs"?) In one instance Montee's auditors found that a supervisor in the treasurer's office even signed the bi-weekly timesheet of a related employee.

The audit report didn't mention how -- or if -- any of the treasurer employees are related to Larry Williams. But if there's a Larry Jr. running around out there, he'd be wise to consider replacing his father as treasurer. He certainly has the name recognition with city voters to take over for dad.

-- Chad Garrison

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