ST. LOUIS—Mayor Tishaura Jones on Wednesday called last week’s indictments on federal bribery charges that led to the resignations of Aldermanic Board President Lewis Reed and Vice President Jeffrey Boyd “the tip of the iceberg”, and said she thinks “there are more criminal indictments to come.”
Jones met with reporters briefly Wednesday morning and gave a prepared statement where she reaffirmed her earlier condemnation of the alleged pay-to-play allegations over tax abatements tied to Reed, Boyd and former alderman John Collins-Muhammad, who resigned several weeks ago. Boyd resigned Friday and Reed did so Tuesday, after nearly a dozen members of the board called for him to step down.
“If proven to be true, the self-dealing and corruption outlined in these indictments is completely unacceptable, illustrating how little these three individuals thought of their colleagues, of the people they were elected to serve, and of our entire city. The pay to play allegations in the indictment speak for themselves. What we can’t measure are businesses, grocery stores, and homes that never came to St. Louis, particularly North St. Louis, because of issues like these.”
Jones did clarify that the abatement sought in the scheme alleged by federal prosecutors was not ultimately granted by the city’s Land Reutilization Authority, meaning the developer is still on the hook for current and future taxes.
The Mayor said she had been in touch with Acting Board President Joe Vollmer about how to move forward between now and November, when voters will elect a new Board President to serve until next spring’s elections. She praised his pledge of trying to restore integrity.
Vollmer told Spectrum News late Tuesday that he will not run in the November special election, citing the inability to serve in that role and as the owner of his pub, Milo’s Bocce Garden, and do them both justice.
“I have too much respect for the city and for the other offices to try and say that I can do both jobs for a four-year term, I cannot. I’m doing this because it is my duty,” he said.
Vollmer, 63, has been on the Board of Aldermen since 2003. He acknowledged that he and Jones “are not on the same page a lot,” with the Mayor being in the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
The work ahead, he said, should focus on finding common ground.
"Trying to find that thing that joins people together to try and help the people who need it, not trying to help a cause, not trying to help a belief, but trying to see people’s needs and trying to work with the people who are in office and help that occur, no matter what you think or what you do, remembering that the people who elect you are the people who live in the city are the most important thing in the world,” Vollmer said.
Jones said her office is working on ethics legislation “the city can implement to help guarantee that elected leaders work for the people who elected them, not special interests and insiders.” Jones’ media relations team only allowed for three questions, so it is unclear if that reform includes revoking the longstanding role of “aldermanic courtesy” in each ward’s development decisions.
Vollmer used the words “radical changes” and “overhaul” when describing what will come because of the indictments.
“There are many many good elected officials and unfortunately when things like this happen it puts sour grapes on every elected official but there are many good people out there doing many good things and I look foreward to trying to restore faith in any way possible,” he said.
“It’s a tough job.”