"What Do You Want From Him, Blood?"
The treasurer for Creve Coeur Cares campaign committee and his wife spoke out at City Council Monday night.
Stan Edelstein, chairman of Creve Coeur's Finance Commission and Treasurer of the campaign committee behind a sales tax increase approved by voters last month, made his first extensive public comments about the firestorm surrounding questions about his work for that committee Monday night, saying ethics questions directed at him the past few weeks amounted to premeditated character assassination.
Edelstein was thrust into the spotlight when some council members learned that Creve Coeur Cares, the pro-sales tax campaign committee which pushed for the increase to hold off fees for city trash collection, received an in-kind donation from Allied Waste, the city's contractor for trash collection. That donation of postage was not reflected in the committee's campaign finance disclosures with the Missouri Ethics Commission until an amended filing Nov. 24.
Edelstein spoke in his own defense at Monday's City Council meeting, saying he did not know of the Allied Waste donation until he received council inquiries via email. Edelstein ultimately filed an amended report with the state after he said he learned Nov. 22 that Mayor Harold Dielmann was aware of the Allied Waste contribution covering postage for a mass mailer donated by the trash firm. Edelstein described the public outcry over the issue, which also included some members of the public calling for his resignation from the City Finance Commission, "a staged attack upon my personal honesty and integrity." His wife Susan would later come to her husband's defense. "What do you want from him, blood?" she said
Edelstein was also supported at the meeting by State Representative Jill Schupp, (D-Creve Coeur) who said she didn't believe there was any deliberate attempt by anyone to withhold information, but that the episode is not a good example to show people who step forward to help the community. "For him to feel as if his hard work for the city of Creve Coeur was sort of being lost in him being characterized as somebody who was trying to hide the involvement of Allied Waste in the process I thought was unconscionable," she said.
While several council members said the public may never know who specifically solicited Allied Waste for support, Mayor Dielmann did suggest Monday he had knowledge that Mark's Quick Printing, the company which provided printing services for campaign signs and the mailer in question, would approach the trash firm for support, and that he didn't tell Edelstein about it. When Creve Coeur Patch asked the mayor why he didn't share that information with Edelstein, Dielmann said he thought Edelstein was already aware of it. Representatives from Mark's Quick Printing and Allied Waste have declined several requests for interviews regarding the issue.
Ward Four Council Members Jeanne Rhoades and Laura Bryant have been outspoken in their concerns about how the campaign reports were filed. Rhoades said it was unfortunate that "valid concerns about city business" were interpreted as a personal attack on Edelstein, and that Edelstein had been left to "shoulder the spotlight of the controversy" by whoever had arranged for the donation. While nothing about the donations themselves are necessarily illegal Rhoades said Monday night that the city needs to explore policy changes to clarify the roles elected and appointed officials, as well as city vendors, should play in city elections.