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Monday, July 24, 2017

Mayor's Dinner With Bob Costas Was a Dead End, Krewson Says

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 6:20 AM

click to enlarge Bob Costas .... agricultural pitchman? - PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/PEABODY AWARDS
  • Bob Costas .... agricultural pitchman?
Ah, the glamorous life of a big-city mayor! One day you're sitting through a four-hour crime prevention summit; the next, you're having dinner with ... Bob Costas?

That's a little snapshot from the calendar of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's first two months in office, from mid-April to June 24, which included enough boring ceremonial crap (an investiture ceremony for a city judge; a "hat luncheon" in Forest Park; even a school awards ceremony) to scare the most earnest political science major away from public service. Krewson's schedule included confabs about public safety, more than a few meetings devoted to airport privatization and even a 99th birthday party for the mother of city Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly.

And then, yeah, there was dinner with Costas — Monday, May 15 at the unsexy hour of 6 p.m. at 801 Chophouse in Clayton.

There is no mystery to the dinner. Koran Addo, the mayor's spokesman, tells us, "He was introducing her to someone who had an agriculture business that he wanted to pitch on the city." Sounds promising, but no: "Nothing came of it," Addo says. Well, there you have it.

The RFT obtained Krewson's official calendar from an Arlington, Virginia, non-profit called America Rising. The group routinely puts in Sunshine Law requests for such calendars, says Vice President Allan Blutstein. "We generally keep tabs on Democratic mayors (typically of larger cities and capitals) because they often interact with other state or federal elected officials of note — and, of course they may eventually seek higher offices themselves," he says.

In this case, the group was seeking info about Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri). The request, however, was for naught; there's not a single mention of the senator anywhere in Mayor Krewson's official calendar.

Other local luminaries did make appearances. Former mayor Francis Slay met with Krewson just once — a one-hour meeting on May 31 with John McDonald and John Cella, two vice presidents at Southern Real Estate & Financial Co.

Governor Eric Greitens, who was elected not long before Mayor Krewson and is a former constituent (his home in the Central West End is now for sale), also appears once on the mayor's calendar. The two met for an hour on June 19 to discuss "public safety," the apparent precursor to Greitens' July 10 plan to aid the city with its crime problem.

The schedule shows zero meetings with City Treasurer Tishaura Jones (whom Krewson narrowly bested in the Democratic primary) or City Comptroller Darlene Green. Someone who did rate a meeting? Former mayor Vince Schoemehl, with whom Krewson breakfasted on Saturday, June 17. They also had a scheduled a phone call on May 9.

Schoemehl is a commissioner of the Bi-State Development Agency, which runs the Metro public transportation system — a role that may explain his place on the mayor's schedule. The agency has been grappling with a crime problem on MetroLink and bureaucratic infighting surrounding who should be responsible for stopping it. Not surprisingly, Krewson's calendar also shows two meetings with Metro CEO John Nations.

The new mayor also made time for two meetings with the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which has been agitating for a raise (and, despite endorsing Krewson, running ads on Facebook criticizing her). Both of those meetings took place in May — May 23 and May 31. Krewson also met with First District officers and attended numerous meetings related to choosing a new chief.

As for the airport, it too found a place on the new mayor's schedule. Two meetings were scheduled for "P3," the idea of a public-private partnership for St. Louis' airport. A third — an unusually long meeting, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 3 — was listed only as "meeting with airport consultants."

The mayor's schedule did not show any meetings with Rex Sinquefield or his lobbyist Travis Brown, who were behind former Mayor Slay's push to consider privatization.

Meetings with members of the Board of Aldermen were relatively few — the exception being the newly elected alderwoman in Krewson's former ward, Heather Navarro. In her first two months in office, the mayor attended no less than two fundraisers for Navarro — energy that paid off with a big victory on June 11.

As for Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen? He shows up on the official calendar just once — a meeting on May 31 noted only as "Lewis Reed and Todd Weaver."

Weaver is president of Legacy Building Group, the design-build firm that recently moved from south city to Maryland Heights, putting it within the orbit of one of its big clients, World Wide Technology. World Wide Technology's co-founder, Dave Steward, was far and away Reed's biggest donor in his mayoral run.

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