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Golfers Still Teed Off About Loss of Range Lights

Several U City residents complained to the City Council at Monday's meeting about the City Manager's decision to shut down the lights.

Nearly 200 people have signed a petition asking that the lights at the and kept on until at least 9:00pm.

A University City resident submitted the 196 signatures to councilmembers at Monday's meeting. He said keeping the driving range lights off is an embarrassment to the whole community.

The lights were reportedly disabled in January after some residents near the range complained they were too bright. In May, City Manager Lehman Walker made the decision to permanently shut off the lights. The action riled some residents, who were unhappy that Walker made the decision with little community input. Even a committee of driving range neighbors and golf enthusiast formed at Walker's behest to look at the lighting complaints did not recommend eliminating the lights altogether.

Meanwhile, William Field, a vocal critic of the driving range praised the city manager's decision to turn off the lights. "It's inconceivable to think that anyone could believe that stadium lighting located adjacent to a residential neighborhood is appropriate."

Following Monday's council meeting, Walker told U City Patch that the fate of the driving range lights is under review. He said the City has hired a landscape architect that is looking into the lighting issue.

"He will be providing us (University City) with some recommendations dealing with the driving range, which will include screening and how we should address the whole issue of lights." Walker said he anticipates getting the recommendations in the next month or two.

"And then I'll make a decision with respect to the lights," said Walker. "Any decision at this time would be premature," he said.

Jennifer H. Smorodin September 27, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Wouldn't a reasonable compromise, while the architects are doing their research, be to turn them on only on certain nights of the week?
Myra Lopez September 27, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Patch has deleted the comment by Mr. John Clark after complaints that they were personal in nature concerning Mr. Walker.
Stanford Carp September 28, 2011 at 12:37 AM
The landscape architect was going to have his plan in 4 weeks. Then Mr. Walker asked him for additional plans for the golf course that had nothing to do with the range. This has caused a delay and now the Mayor and Mr. Walker will have their way with their stall stall stall. This I know to be true for I have been on the golf driving range committee from the start.
Billy Frank Thornton September 28, 2011 at 08:39 AM
Obviously the City Manager is bowing to the desire of the neighborhood...those who reside along Groby/Old Bohomme and adjacent area. A noble stance that should be admired.
Cindy September 29, 2011 at 01:44 PM
The Park Grant Commission has informed the city that the lights must be turned back on or the city must refund the $39,000 granted for the installation of the lights. The city currently has a deficit budget due to the new firehouse costs that the Mr. Walker "forgot" to include. It seems to make fiscal sense to turn the lights back on.
Kim September 29, 2011 at 04:16 PM
What about my comment and others in support of Mr. Clark? Where did they go? They were not inappropriate in the least.
Kim September 29, 2011 at 04:18 PM
And I'll say it again: John Clark was right - Lehman Walker's "premature decision statement" was a bunch of hooey.
Kim September 29, 2011 at 04:51 PM
Wow. Just to be clear: any criticism of the policies or public statements of University City City Manager Lehman Walker, a city official whose salary is paid by us taxpayers, will be considered a personal attack and he will take legal action to have it removed. I think that speaks volumes about our city manager, and our city govenrmnet as well. I would be very interested to hear what Mayor Shelley Welsch, who ran on a platform of transparency and proclaimed her hand-picked city manager to be "the best in the nation" has to say about this. Her website still states her belief that "we need a new type of leadership that includes all voices and viewpoints" So, does that only apply to voice and viewpoints that the city manager agrees with? Apparently so.
Kim September 29, 2011 at 05:08 PM
And one more thing. If Lehman Walker stands behind his policies, statements, and actions, why not simply take a moment to defend his positions here in the Patch comments rather than shut everyone down? Surely he believes healthy debate is good for democracy. Why waste time dealing with AOL legal when he could engage and enlighten the citizens he represents and who pay his salary? It could be like an ongoing town hall meeting.
Cindy September 29, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Let's not forget how City Manager Lehman Walker openly criticized and campaigned against his former boss, the former city manager when he was employed by U. City as Director of Development. I know this because as a candidate for city council Mr. Walker called me and shared his negative viewpoints of the former city manager. There are also the "Emails from Evanston" to consider. The series of emails between Mr. Walker (while he was in the employ of the city of Evanston) and the city clerk, sitting council members and Mayor Welsch provide some additional insight and can be viewed at https://sites.google.com/site/ucitycitizenemailsfromevanston/. For example, an excerpt from the 3/15/10 email from Walker to Lynn Ricci reads, "Hopefully after the election the new Council and new Mayor will terminate Ms. Feier for just cause in April. University City deserves a professional City Manager and does not have one at present." The new mayor and council did fire Ms. Feier (forced her resignation to be exact) but U. City didn't get a "professional City Manager" in her place. On that same day, only eight minutes later Walker forwards his email to Ricci to mayoral candidate Shelley Welsch. It reads, "Have you seen this from Julie Feier to Lynn Ricci: It is insubordination and should be added to the list of actions to justify termination for just cause. Lehman" Apparently, Lehman Walker can dish it out, but can't take it himself. Maybe he is in the wrong line of business.
Cindy September 29, 2011 at 05:55 PM
"Wow! So, it is our city manager, Mr. Lehman Walker himself that is attempting to limit free speech among his constituents - just as he silenced Nancy MacCartney with his letters to Wash U and Parkview Gardens. As Kim mentioned, where is the "transparent government" Mayor Welsch promised when she was elected and hand-picked Mr. Walker for the city manager position?"
George Lenard September 29, 2011 at 06:07 PM
It sounds like Myra, not Mr. Walker, was the one who contacted AOL legal. She has a responsibility to avoid defamatory publication, as I suspect Patch could have exposure for allowing it even if it was others' words ("republication"). Claims of defamation are thrown about quite readily, though it is very hard to prove legally. I believe some people in the community have accused me of that, including recently. I consider that part of the give and take of politics, and a lesson to be more cautious in my choice of words. Opinion should be expressed as such, not as fact, and then (in my inexpert opinion) it will be unlikely to meet the standard for defamation. Of course, civility and avoidance of name calling and needlessly offensive wording is best. I agree that Mr. Walker might do better to stick with the facts and policies rather than complain about the personal nature of comments (which I did not see); but that is his choice. I am amazed this golf course issue still simmers. I thought it was settled several years ago, when the lights were installed. It seems now the same few opponents get another bite at the apple under a new administration. So it goes; there could be other decisions some of us would want reviewed and revised by a new administration. I think there are many more important things to worry about. But then I don't golf, nor do I live in that neighborhood.
Sebastian Serra September 29, 2011 at 06:10 PM
I understand the dilemma Myra and AOL are in, but there has to be some latitude in the comments section. All you have to do is go to CNN's website, and see that the guidelines there are not followed completely either. I think we might need a little more local press on how Mr. Walker's feelings got hurt. Seems there is a good story waiting to be told here. I don't have many connections locally in the news business (and I doubt CNN, the AP, or Reuters would be interested in this, but maybe KSDK or the Post would be interested....besides, that will give the PR Firm something to do since we have them on retainer.
George Lenard September 29, 2011 at 07:09 PM
I would not fault Patch and Myra for wanted to keep the comments here to a caliber more like those on the New York Times and less like those on the average news site or blog, which allow anonymous (actually pseudonymous) comments that are often defamatory, vitriolic, simpleminded, racist, and more. Other forums are available, including the Facebook U City on the Record page, where most of these Patch stories get posted. I agree with Cindy that taking it as well as dishing it out means a public official should stay above the fray when things get too personal, keeping the focus on his/her official policies and actions and the reasons for them, not the name calling etc. (not dishing it out in a personal way is a good idea too). Tell people how and why they are wrong on the merits and ignore the fact they choose to express themselves with strong language that may be considered a personal attack. For example, one could get into a big argument about Cindy's statement that he is not a "professional City Manager" -- but what good would that do? Let's get on with the business of the City, and stay focused on the merits of the issues, not the personalities.
Cindy September 29, 2011 at 07:16 PM
To clarify the "professional City Manager" statement... Mr. Walker had no experience as a city manager, yet the Mayor said Mr. Walker was the best choice for city manager in the nation.
George Lenard September 29, 2011 at 07:22 PM
A verifiable fact, Cindy!
John Clark September 29, 2011 at 08:50 PM
I still don't understand how my comments relating the fact that Mr. Walker has been accused of lying by citizens of University City in public forums can be considered defamatory. Argue your point, Mr. Walker, instead of hiding behind the skirts of a giant corporation that knows nothing about what's going on in U. City. Mr. Walker was accused by citizen Lisa Hummel of lying to her in the public commentary session of a city council meeting, and was accused of lying (according to the Patch) in a resignation letter by Nancy MacCartney. I'm not saying he's a liar, I'm merely pointing out that some citizens have said so. This is simple, verifiable public fact, and if the Patch is interested in keeping my attention, you cannot allow yourself to be bullied into hiding facts. I've taught gov't for over a decade, and have a strong interest in libel laws. Any speech that doesn't create an immediate public danger or divulge national secrets, and is TRUE, is protected under the First Amendment to our Constitution. Seems like a good standard to me; I hope the Patch can start honoring it.
Gregory Pace September 29, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Julie Feier did not resign, she was terminated via resolution 2010-5: http://apps.ucitymo.org/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=32706&dbid=0 which was signed on April 13th by Joseph Adams. A unanimous vote to accept the resolution was made in Executive Session the previous evening. If Ms. Feier had resigned she would not have received a severance per her contract (which she did receive). Note that this action was taken before the new council was sworn in. It should also be noted that a vote to terminate by Ricci/Wagner/Glickert was consistent with their previous vote of no confidence in the City Manager. The other council members voted to terminate a City Manager that they publicly supported. A cynic might conclude that their votes were to insure that Ms. Feier got a severance package to which she would not otherwise be entitled. And a final note, Ms. Feier was at her desk at her new job at Western State College of Colorado shortly after the resolution was signed. Again, a cynic might conclude that (in a very tough job environment) Ms. Feier had the Colorado job lined up before the resolution was struck and that she was leaving whether terminated or not.
Cindy September 29, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Agreed. And a cynic might also conclude that based on the "Emails from Evanston," Walker, Pumm, Welsch, Ricci, Glickert, and Kraft were on a mission to fire Ms. Feirer and replace her with Mr. Walker himself.
George Lenard September 29, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Interesting. Publicly stating that a public figure lied would be actionable defamation, if false and either known by the speaker to be false or stated with reckless disregard to whether it was true or false (New York Times v. Sullivan). So potential defamation is "in the picture." I doubt either Lisa or Nancy spoke with this state of mind, and it is certainly possible in any event that the statements are true -- that he in fact lied (I'm not accusing personally, just stating it is hypothetically possible). That would mean no defamation. But what about Patch republishing those allegations of Mr. Walker lying as triple hearsay via John's comment (The Patch says that John Clark says that Lisa and Nancy said that Mr. Walker lied)?
George Lenard September 29, 2011 at 09:20 PM
[continued] Is the Patch covered (not liable) because it is absolutely positively true that the statements were made by John, Cindy, and Nancy -- even if the statements may have been false? Or is the Patch protected from liability even if it just knows it is true that John repeated the statements? May it be found in reckless disregard of truth or falsity if it fails to investigate the actual facts regarding Mr. Walker's alleged lies before republishing? I don't claim to know the answers, but it's easy to say that in the interest of public discourse and free speech the Patch should err on the side of publication. Easy to say unless you happen to be advising them legally, in which case you would give conservative advice and steer clear of republishing allegations that could be considered defamatory (in the classic sense of statements of fact, not opinion, that are damaging to community reputation). I think it is always wiser to avoid saying someone lied or was dishonest or fraudulent, and instead to simply point out inconsistencies that support this conclusion (but might also support the conclusion they changed their mind, misspoke, were quoted out of context, etc.), leaving the reader free to conclude they lied.
George Lenard September 29, 2011 at 09:28 PM
I was responding to John, not Gregory or Cindy, who jumped in while I was writing. Consistent with my comments, I like Gregory's "A cynic might conclude," following a statement of demonstrable facts. Based on my observation of many employment terminations and resignations from the safe distance of employment counsel, the cynics view is plausible, but not terribly disturbing to me either. More typically, terminations are reframed as resignations, but the opposite can certainly happen as suggested. The termination/resignation, and the hiring of Mr. Walker, seem part and parcel of the transition to a new administration that should be old news -- water over the dam, but for some reason seems to continue to aggravate what appears to be a small but vocal minority. Ultimately the test will be performance and the judge will be the voters.

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