St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley wants to add to local property owners' tax burdens to enliven the livelihood of county employees, and he's not afraid to threaten layoffs if he does not get his way:
St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley said Friday that he wanted to increase property taxes, a move he said would offset a drop in revenue while providing a raise for county employees.
Dooley said that without a tax increase, he would be forced to lay off county employees next year.
Is this the same Charlie Dooley who only months ago added politically connected people to the county payroll in jobs?
Despite a hiring freeze on most of St. Louis County government, four more people with backgrounds in Democratic politics have recently gotten jobs there.
Three were hired by the new county assessor, Jake Zimmerman, a Democrat. The fourth, hired by the St. Louis County Economic Council, had been a field director in Zimmerman's campaign last spring.
The latest payroll additions come within months of the county's hiring of several other people with strong Democratic connections, including the previously reported hiring of County Executive Charlie Dooley's former campaign spokeswoman as well as the son of Dooley's campaign treasurer and manager.
Is this the same Charlie Dooley who gave a generous severance deal to get a current merit employee out of a job so he could get one of his people in?
St. Louis County is paying $50,000 in severance pay and benefits to an economic development official who was replaced by a former campaign worker for County Executive Charlie A. Dooley.
Nancy Schnoebelen, 48, had been the St. Louis County Economic Council's vice president of marketing and communications for about four years. She left the job in January. Her annual salary was $89,000.
As was reported last month, she was succeeded by Katy Jamboretz, who was the campaign spokeswoman for Dooley when he ran for re-election in November. Jamboretz is one of several former Dooley campaign workers who have since gone on the county payroll.
One wonders if Mr. Dooley remembers the St. Louis County property taxpayer revolt that led to the creation of the elected office of Assessor. Perhaps he thinks that the people who mobilized in that effort will miss the current property tax increase proposal. One also wonders why rank-and-file county employees would vote for an executive who puts people he knows into cush jobs and then threatens to lay them off if he cannot raise taxes to give them a raise. Are they that blinded by the possibility of a raise in a tight revenue environment? One, and by "one" I mean "I" this time, can never really understand the calculations and machinations of politicians and government; one can only speculate, at length, on the Internet as one makes sense of it all.
(Full disclosure: One is a property owner in St. Louis County whose property is assessed at a price one could not sell said property for; one's wife was once, briefly, an employee of the St. Louis County government.)