[UPDATE] Vinita Park Bees: The Back Story

mcgee james.jpg
vinitapark.org
James McGee: Appearing busy as a bee.
Update Tuesday: The Vinita Park city council voted 4-1 last night to have the beehive removed from the community garden. The bees must be gone in a week.

Original story from Monday...

You may have heard today about the bee controversy over in Vinita Park.

The Post-Dispatch has a front-page article about how folks in the tiny suburb just north of University City are "buzzing" about the topic. KMOV Channel 4 has a follow-up airing today.

At issues is a beehive recently installed at a community garden on city property. The woman who put the hive there, 78-year-old Verna Gremaud, says she hopes the bees will pollinate the plants in the garden she helps maintain. Vinita Park's mayor, James McGee, frets that the someone might get stung and the city would be at fault. He wants the hive removed. 

The City Council is to vote on the issue tonight. Here, though, is the back story that's not being reported. It's not about bees. It's a tale about politics. I know because I'm related to Gremaud. She's my mother-in-law and I hear the story quite often. Yes, I'm biased, but here's how it goes. 

The story dates back to last April (2009) when McGee ran for mayor defeating Virginia Bira, who'd served as Vinita Park's mayor for 31 years. Bira and Gremaud, btw, are close friends.

McGee beat Bira by a count of 319 votes to 222. But here's the deal: Of the 548 votes cast in that election, 150 came from absentee ballots -- an unusual number for a tiny municipal election. And most all of those absentee votes went to McGee. So many absentee ballots were cast that the St. Louis County Police Department launched an investigation into the election.

In the end McGee was never charged with any wrongdoing, though the person who notarized the lion's share of his absentee ballots lost her notary over the issue. Ever since that investigation, McGee has been doing everything he can to harass Gremaud, who's not afraid to challenge the mayor. The episodes are many -- and petty -- and include McGee threatening to call the FBI on Gremaud.

To date, though, McGee has never managed to land a sting. That may change tonight.

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12 comments
GETTINGOUT
GETTINGOUT

Well it will soon be Wellston or Pagedale.  Thank God my kids graduate soon and I get the HELL out of here.  Thanks MR. Mayor for bringing a city to the ground.

Details444
Details444

the racism continues. after that meeting he fired the chief who has served that city for 25 years and the public works director both who are white. he replaced the chief with Greg Moore. a man  that has been fired as chief from Pagedale,went to Northwoods left there for Moline Acres got fired from there. The current Chief of Northwoods will tell you he left that department a mess when he left and took him sometime to clean it up. Moore also like telling everyone he is an ex FBI agent when he was nothing Moore than a clerk. May I say also he is black. Mcgee is doing the city an injustice by firing the good chief and hiring this man. Mcgee also had Moore suspend the Lt who is white and has caused the department to be down five men. He is going to have Moore hire two more officers one that was washed from the process for cheating on the physical becuase he claims the board want a woman. She is a north county muni hopper but that is what Mcgee wants.  May I also add she is black. I see a trend here whites out blacks in speaks of racism to me. if this was reversed sharpton would be marching on the city as we speak. he wants to turn that city into a Wellston and in a year it will be done. i feel sorry for Gremaud and all of the other good residents of that city that will be stuck there as it goes down hill fast. someone needs to get into looking into all of this and do something about this man.

Carol Asmith05
Carol Asmith05

Is this another power play by the mayor? Why was the chief of police fired and the mayor's friend hired without a background check or drug test????The people of Vinta Park need to wake up since per the mayor this is his town and he is going to run it his way. Can you say "CORRUPTION".

Schnieder76
Schnieder76

I'm not commenting that they seem bias or racist in their decisions at all. I am pointing out a fact only. 4 African American Members Voted to remove the Beehive, One Caucasion Board Member Abstained and Another voted to keep it. Verna is Caucasion. Wednesday the 4 African American Members of the Board will vote to hire 2 African Americans after the City fired the Police Chief and Publics Work Manager sometime after the same meeting.Time will tell if that is a fact or not. A board or people can hire and fire who they choose, I do not object to that power. I would cry foul however when 'everything' they seem to hinge on surrounds getting "whitey". That would be racist.

Anon
Anon

 Meanwhile in Vinita Park, corrupt police busting drug dealers only to protect the turf of drug dealers that pay them off. 

your mom's mom
your mom's mom

Here's a better question: Why is a tiny community of barely 2,000 people allowed to have a mayor?  This is a great illustration of why St. Louis County needs to merge and reduce the number of piddly municipalities under their wing.  When the hot topic of your community is whether to keep a bee hive, time to dissolve.

Harold
Harold

McGee and the four board members have also fired at least two or three caucasion good police officers, plus the public works director and police chief.  Now this is sad. The quality of training the replacement people have can never equal the employees who where fired.

Isn't it sad that these people get elected and start chopping down the moral of the employees who are left.  I wonder if any of this board even knows how to conduct a meeting or the first thing about Roberts Rule of Order. Men with good training, good clean records, productive and a value to the city, and these five people who probably couldn't pass a civic test have all this power to ruin a family by taking the husbands job away, how heartless and ignorant.

I wish I where a lawyer because I'd be contacting these fired people and bringing law suits against these five people and the city.

I think the residents of VP should go to a meeting and demand to know why thesesix  people lost their jobs and see just how much better qualified  the new employees are. Didn't the new police chif work for Pagedale and several other  small cities in  St. Louis County?

Rbkhartz
Rbkhartz

It's easy to blog  slanderous comments about a Respectable Police Department and maintain your own anonymity,  Shame on you.  If you were  remotely respectible and you believe what you are saying is true, you would come forward and back your allogation. 

Debbie
Debbie

 @ Rbkhartz, loved your comment, even before I realized who you were.  Grew up in Vinita Park (parents are still there) & absolutely loved it.  It was a wonderful community where everyone knew each other & looked out for each other.  Today, it's all about POWER.  We have never had any issues w/ the police dept. or ANYONE for that matter. There were a few bad apples, but not the MAJORITY.  The previous mayor respected EVERYONE & knew her job.  I miss the closeness of the Vinita Park that I knew. 

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