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Mayor Writes Letter of Reprimand to Councilmember Over His Behavior

University City Mayor Shelley Welsch has written a letter of reprimand to Councilman Byron Price over his behavior at a recent City Council meeting.

has sent Councilman Byron Price a letter reprimanding him for his behavior at a recent council meeting.

The letter states, "Councilmember Price, I am writing to express my grave concerns about your bullying and disorderly behavior at the meeting of the City Council on Monday, February 14."

The mayor said the Council will not tolerate Price's behavior. She said Price's behavior put the City and himself  "at risk for a defamation lawsuit."

Price took aim at City Manager Lehman Walker. "I don't trust him as far as I can throw him," said Price, referring to the city manager. The two men differ over the City's financial picture. Price adamantly objects to Walker's belief that the City is in dire financial straits. Walker said when you spend more money than you take in and your only option is to use your reserve fund "I consider you to be in dire financial straits." 

University City has several million dollars in its General Fund Reserves, but Walker said that money can only help in the short term.  He said the City ultimately needs to balance its budget, not eat away at its reserves, which he said will eventually run out. 

Some of Mayor Welsch's accusation's against Price are as follows:

  • Refused to accede to the mayor's ruling that he was Out of Order.
  • Defamed City Manager Lehman Walker.
  • Spoke in a" bullying fashion" to other members of the Council.
  • Verbally attacked Councilmember Stephen Kraft on three separate occasions.
  • Verbally attacked the mayor and her office.
  • Became physically menacing to Councilmembers by rising from his seat and shaking his index finger in their faces.
  • Impugned the reputation of the other members of Council by stating that they had contravened the Sunshine Law.
  • Repeated information to the audience that he knew to be inaccurate, thereby misinforming  residents.

 Mayor Welsch ends the letter by stating she is considering recommending to the City Council that it pass a resolution of reprimand for "your disorderly conduct on February, 14."

She warned that if the resolution is passed and if Price's conduct continues "I will recommend we proceed with further disciplinary action for disorderly conduct."

University City Patch reached out to Councilman Price and is awaiting his response to the mayor's letter.

Holston Black Jr. February 22, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I feel when confronted with concerns which will adversely hurt your constituents an elected official has to address this in the only forum that his position affords him. Where else can he voice his concerns except in and open council meeting. If he were to e-mail,use face book, put it in newspaper or placard the city that would be seen as worse. Roberts Rules of Order affords elected representatives with very few ways of addressing their constituents concerns and open meeting is considered the best.
Sebastian Serra February 23, 2011 at 03:34 AM
Probably not the best approach in IMHO, however, where was Mayor Welch's letter to Ricci when she accessed computer files and sent staff social security numbers outside the secured network? I asked Mayor Welch about this, and she told me I should contact Ricci myself to find out why she did it. Seems to me that is a much more egregious offence than what Price did. But I guess since Ricci sent out emails bashing Welsch's mayoral opponent for being gay, she owes her one, and can let it slide.
Nora February 23, 2011 at 04:18 AM
It does appear as if city council members are judged for their style, not their substance. I've witnessed similarly disrespectful behavior toward other council members and city residents from council members who received no such reprimands. In all of this I'm concerned that my two reps will be marginalized by cliques between the mayor and other council members. In reference to the above comment, I'm astounded that Welsch would suggest that city residents should be responsible for investigating inappropriate behavior by city council members.
Cindy February 23, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Residents have questioned a number of concerning issues from Ricci accessing the city's HR files for her personal perusal, to the hiring process of the city manager, to the mayor's unilateral decision to remove a resident from the tax board. And instead of answers, the mayor responds with silence. As a first ward resident I appreciate Mr. Price speaking out on his areas of concern. He is representing the concerns of many residents, not just the third ward. It is concerning to see Mr. Kraft lean over to the city manager and tell him not to respond when another council member asks Mr. Walker a question. It is also concerning to see the city clerk correct a council member's vote in open session. How could the clerk possibly know how the council member intended to vote unless she had priviledged information? Perhaps council agenda topics are being discussed without the full council. Residents should be concerned. It is becoming more and more obvious that the council majority and the city manager are not operating with the transparency they promised. It seems the mayor wants to silence Mr. Price because of his message, not for his actions. Mr. Price might have been passionate in his delivery, but he was not menacing or threatening to the mayor, the council, or the city manager. He simply said some things that needed to be said. Listen for yourself. An audio file of the meeting can be downloaded at http://ucitycitizen.org/home.
Myra Lopez February 23, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Cindy thanks for adding the audio link to the City Council meeting in question.
Cindy February 23, 2011 at 08:35 PM
It seems this topic has stuck a cord in Mr. Kraft as he has once again cut and paste a segment of an online comment (this time from my comment above) and placed it on his web site of comments that he keeps seperate from his public facing site. (https://sites.google.com/site/kraftucitycouncil/web-comments). Kraft attempts to refute my statement by quoting statements Mr. Price made in the council meeting. Saying you don't trust somebody is not threatening. According to his first ammendment right, Mr. Price was simply expressing his opinion. Mr. Kraft also found it acceptable to post the mayor's letter to Councilman Price on his public facing web site (https://sites.google.com/site/kraftcitycouncil/letter-to-councilmember-price-2-17-11) even though the envelopes containing the letter delivered to council members were stamped confidential. And, while the argument can be made that the letter has already appeared in the Patch, does anybody care to venture a guess as to who provided the Patch with the letter? I wonder if this comment will make Mr. Kraft's collection of comments?
Holston Black Jr. February 23, 2011 at 11:50 PM
I made the comment recently that we seem to have children playing politics, U. City's challenges are too large for these games that are being played. Citizens livelihoods are being threatened because the powerful aren't being affected. It's alright it seems to layoff those at the bottom of the pay scale while the powerful take trips to mayoral meetings on our dollars, and try and remove citizens who have been duly sworn in. Attorneys disagree on the interpretation of law as do the courts so why take action on the opinion of one. When I read the sunshine law there is room for contingencies. I may not be an attorney but why can I not be right or at least let the courts decide. Again we will have to spend money on an issue that shouldn't have been started in the first place, " but it's only money"!!!!!!!
Gloria Nickerson February 28, 2011 at 09:33 PM
I am still waiting for my Public as well as Written apology from Mayor Welsch for removing me from the ED Commision. This part of U. City history began in April 2010.
3rd Ward Rogue March 01, 2011 at 07:37 AM
Laying people off at the bottom of the pay scale according to seniority happens to be the proper way to approach this according to union rules. The Mayor is payed once a month around $400. Here is an example of how legal fees cost residents money: http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-regional/12809430-1.html Mr Price claims that seniors and children need this tax money, yet his decisions on council cost each AT&T customer in U. City. Check out the Special Municipal Charge on your AT&T bill $1.99 each month. U. City customers have to pay back $875,000 in legal fees because Mr Price and others voted to take the payment for the legal fees for Atty Mulligan and Korein Tillery and apply it to their constituents' phone bills-----including seniors and children! Councilmember Ricci was the only one who voted against charging residents for these legal fees.
3rd Ward Rogue March 01, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Council--with the exception of Ms Ricci, voted to enter into agreement with AT&T that allows them to charge you an extra $2 each month for the next 4 years on your phone bill. They also authorized the City Atty. Mr. Mulligan to ask the court to prevent U. City residnts from challenging the settlement. I happen to know quite a bit about this because I was one of the 5 challengers that tried to prevent the attorneys from taking so much money away from city residents. The attorneys received 16 million out of the settlement and the city only received $880,000--and council, minus Ms Ricci, decided you have to pay the $880K. If you don't believe me, the terms of the settlement were revealed on July 20th 2009, do a sunshine request. There are so many conflicts of interest going on in govt. at any given point in time, we don't have room to discuss them here. Other conflicts in this case were that the City's Atty Mulligan also works for Korein-Tillery the law firm that paid him to sue AT&T, and that the former Mayor Adams was the swing vote that decided the oiginal challengers could no longer challenge the atty. fees in further cases, AT&T just happened to donate thousands of dollars to his Distict 14 State Senate campaign.
3rd Ward Rogue March 01, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Reducing Attorneys fees=more revenue. I am not for turning tax revenue away, but I am against council members agreeing with AT&T that residents should return the revenue originally taken from them illegally and pay it through their AT&T bill. Residents are basically re-paying for what was illegally taken from them to begin with. I am not a Ricci supporter and I'm not really proud of any of our Councilmembers, but they do have a difficult job. I am proud of citizens who remain involved in the process and support decisions made that benefit all of us, not just government workers and government programs that cost lots of money and benefit very few at a time when 8% of U City residents are unemployed, this is not the greatest good for the greatest number of people. I have no problem with council members speaking passionately and do not really agree with the Mayor or Councilmember Ricci on this one; though I was not there to witness it. What I am against is spending reserve money to save government jobs or to jump-start programs. I agree with Mr Walker and the majority of Council; the fire pumper benefits all residents and Wilson buyout money was promised on a federal level and local level by previous officials. While some federal money failed to arrive via Rep. Lacy Clay or Sen. Claire McCaskill, we are obligated to help residents devastated by poor city planning.

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