ST. LOUIS—The Board of Aldermen met Friday morning in a session which, outside of being conducted virtually because of COVID, was largely business as usual despite a trio of federal indictments involving Board President Lewis Reed and Alderman Jeffrey Boyd.
But a few hours after it ended, the political ramifications from Thursday’s indictments started to stir, as Boyd’s attorney confirmed to Spectrum News that Boyd would resign, effective Friday.
All three men entered not guilty pleas Thursday and were released. Late Thursday, Reed confirmed that he would continue to take part in meetings, but that Alderman Joe Vollmer would lead them.
Demonstrators calling for Reed and Boyd to resign placed a sign at the entrance to the Board Chambers and listened to the start of the meeting as it played on YouTube.
On the other side of the doors, a handful of members logged into the meeting from their desks inside the Chamber.
Boyd participated in the meeting, and the only real reference to the federal investigation came when Boyd, who chairs the Board’s Housing and Urban Development and Zoning Committee, tried to move a resolution on a tax abatement project, unrelated to the indictments.
Alderman Christine Ingrassia asked that the resolution be sent back to committee.
“I certainly understand what some of my colleagues are trying to do...but this would be an unjust move, because this company has done nothing wrong,” Boyd said.
The resolution was ultimately placed on the informal calendar.
“I was actually disappointed to see President Reed on the meeting, to see Alderman Boyd on the meeting, particularly dealing with tax incentive issues that are the subject of the indictment so I think that their presence on the meeting makes it really difficult for us to say that we’re dealing with this with this situation in a way that’s acceptable to the public,” Alderwoman Annie Rice said. “This is about the people of St. Louis and I think that folks are making their wishes known about how they want us to proceed here and it’s up to us to try to build back trust in those of that are still here and trying to do the good work.”
After the meeting and before Boyd’s resignation, Alderwoman Megan Green said the Board would need to discuss the status of Boyd’s work as a committee chair. While she said it would be up to the public to decide whether resignations were in order, Green said she hoped process reforms would be a legacy of the federal investigation.
“Our tax incentive system is opaque. It does not lend itself to transparency at the moment and if we’re really going to learn anything from this moment, it has to be that we reform these systems and we make them into something that the public can truly trust,” Green said.
While Reed has stepped aside from his role presiding over Board meetings, he has not said if he will remain on the board of Estimate and Apportionment, the three-member panel which also includes Mayor Tishaura Jones and Comptroller Darlene Green. The board approves all city real estate purchases, appropriations, and the city budget and is scheduled to meet next on June 15.
A Reed spokesperson has not responded to questions about his status. In a new statement Friday, Green said “The charges against President Lewis Reed are serious and allege a breach of public trust. As a member of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, President Reed needs to take this time of Federal scrutiny and do what is in the best interest of the people he represents.”
A spokesman for Mayor Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.