Recorder of Deeds: St. Louis Voters Ignore Scandals, Elect Sharon Carpenter

Steve Truesdell
Neither scandal or troubling audits could keep Sharon Carpenter from retaking the St. Louis Recorder of Deeds office.
Shrugging off the nepotism scandal that forced her resignation last summer as St. Louis' recorder of deeds, Sharon Carpenter steamrolled her way back into office yesterday, reclaiming her old job with 61 percent of the vote.

Carpenter was appointed as the city's recorder in 1980, won her first election in 1982, and remained a fixture of the St. Louis' Democratic political and power base for more than three decades. But in July, evidence that she'd violated the state's nepotism statute -- she had hired a great-nephew as a summer intern -- forced her to resign the remainder of the term, but that was as far as her punishment went. She vowed to return.

"What I know is that I know how to record deeds," she told Riverfront Times last month, echoing her campaign's focus on her years of experience and name recognition. "I know how to serve citizens, and I know how to build a staff that is the best in all city government."

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Nixon Announces Task Force to Keep Rams in St. Louis

Categories: Politics, Sports

D Herholz via Flickr
Governor Nixon is fuzzy on specifics when it comes to the Rams' future in St. Louis.
Governor Jay Nixon is asking two St. Louis business leaders to find a solution that will keep an NFL team in St. Louis before the Rams decide in January whether it'll weaken its ties to the Edward Jones Dome.

"Make no mistake about it -- St. Louis is an NFL city," Nixon said. "The economic impact of having an NFL team in St. Louis extends long beyond Sunday afternoon and sends a clear signal that this city is a worldwide player."

Nixon dodged questions about specifics, such as how much it'll cost to keep the team here, even as rumors spread that Rams owner Stan Kroenke and the NFL are already committed to moving the team to Los Angeles. When asked whether he'd be open to building the Rams an outdoor stadium north of Lumiere Place and south of the Stan Musial Bridge, he repeated that he's not yet advocating for any one solution.

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Stenger Narrowly Wins County Executive, Ferguson Protesters Interrupt Victory Speech

Categories: Politics

Organization for Black Struggle
Montague Simmons, chair of the Organization for Black Struggle, is detained from County Executive-elect Steve Stenger's victory party.
"Stenger, Stenger, Stenger!"

The chants from supporters of Democrat Steve Stenger started as a celebration. After a night of trailing opponent Rick Stream, the first Republican to have a strong showing in a St. Louis County leadership election in decades, Stenger eeked out a victory in the race for county executive by a minuscule margin of fewer than 2,000 votes.

But the celebratory chanting at Stenger's Clayton victory party became louder and more forceful when supporters realized Ferguson protesters had infiltrated the event, shouting slogans of their own, such as "Free speech" and "Fight back," and singing, "Whose side are you on," the labor movement chorus from the 1930s.

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Governor Nixon Tweets Butt Crack Photo to Get Out the Vote

Categories: Politics

Screenshot of Gov. Nixon's tweet
That's Governor Jay Nixon voting on the left. And on the right...
It's Election Day! Are you voting? Because Governor Jay Nixon sure is.

This is the Show-Me State after all, so Nixon tweeted proof that he fulfilled his electoral duties this morning, saying: "Voting in #JCMO this morning. Make sure to cast your ballot and make your voice heard. #Election2014"

But we're guessing he (or whoever tweets for him) didn't look closely enough at the photo before publishing.

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Sharon Carpenter Misspent $130,000+ from Recorder of Deeds Office: Audit

Categories: News, Politics

Sharon Carpenter is hoping St. Louisans reelects her to Recorder of Deeds on November 4.
Former Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter misspent $130,274.08 of city funds between July, 1 2010 and and June 30, 2014, according to a draft version of an audit conducted by the St. Louis Comptroller's Office.

The expenses included reimbursements to employees for restaurant, travel and hotel bills during conventions, as well as picking up the tab at meetings with vendors. According to the audit, which was acquired by Daily RFT through a Sunshine Request, Carpenter payed for those items by tapping the Technology and Archival Account, a fund whose usage is restricted under state statute to "record storage, microfilming, and preservation, including anything necessarily thereto."

Notably, the draft of the audit makes no mention of the nepotism allegations that led to Carpenter's resignation in July, or the fact that Carpenter -- who was first appointed to recorder in 1980 -- withdrew roughly $12,000 from the Technology and Archival Account to pay her great-nephew's intern salary and parking costs.

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Recorder of Deeds Whistle Blower: Campaigns are Failing St. Louis Voters

Categories: News, Politics

Steve Truesdell
After 34 years heading the Recorder of Deeds Office, Sharon Carpenter was an untouchable power broker and pillar of St. Louis' old guard politicians. Now she wants her old job back.
It's that time again -- campaign season has peaked and democracy lovers everywhere are prepping their voting muscles for tomorrow's election.

Yet while national pundits fret over which party will control Congress, the election in St. Louis has it's own wild drama, centered on a little-known office that, until recently, never made headlines -- the Recorder of Deeds. Sharon Carpenter, a Democrat, headed the office since 1980, but she resigned in July after admitting she'd violated Missouri's nepotism statute by hiring her great nephew. Now she's campaigning to get her job back.

Carpenter's downfall was arguably engineered by Marie Ceselski, a nearly 20-year employee in the Recorder of Deeds office and an unapologetic whistle blower. It was Ceselski who first leaked evidence of Carpenter's shenanigans to political opponents, official auditors and the media. Since Carpenter's resignation, Ceselski, a 7th Ward Committeewoman, has continued to air Carpenter's dirty laundry on her blog, The Great State of St. Louis.

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Why Write-In Candidate Zaki Baruti Says He's Already Won St. Louis County Executive Race

Categories: Ferguson, Politics

Lindsay Toler
Zaki Baruti, write in candidate for St. Louis county executive.
The last time St. Louis County voters went to the ballot boxes, during the primary election in August, few knew the name Michael Brown. Ferguson was just a suburb. Candidates exchanged jabs on budgets, women's issues and the seemingly-impossible task of city-county unification.

Then August 9 came. Brown's life ended, extinguished by six gunshots, and the ensuing unrest demanded the county's focus on police use of force, racial profiling and a splintered municipal courts system.

Nowhere is Ferguson's effect on the electoral landscape more obvious than in the race for county executive. Winning was practically a guarantee for Democratic nominee Steve Stenger until the man who helped him win the primary, Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, became a lightning rod for black voters who want him off the case against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Now, things aren't so certain.

"If I'd only had a crystal ball," says Zaki Baruti, of University City, wistfully. "If my name was on the ballot, I believe I'd be a shoo-in."

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Billboard for Jeff Mizanskey, Man Serving Life for Pot, Placed Near Governor's Mansion

Categories: Drugs, Politics

Show-Me Cannabis
Jeff Mizanskey has been in prison for nearly 21 years.

Governor Jay Nixon is the only person in the world who has the authority to release Jeff Mizanskey from prison. And activists want to make sure he's reminded of that every time he leaves his house.

The marijuana reform group Show-Me Cannabis recently purchased billboard space less than two miles away from the governor's mansion. The billboard urges people to call Nixon directly and ask for the release of Mizanskey, who is 21 years into a life-without-parole sentence for marijuana-only charges.

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Sunset Hills Mayor Won't Resign, City Considers Impeachment After Car-Bike Collision

Categories: Bikes, Politics

Tom Carlson
Mayor Mark Furrer's Mercedes parked outside Sunset Hills City Hall.
Things just keep getting worse for Sunset Hills mayor Mark Furrer.

After Furrer was accused of intentionally hitting a cyclist with his car, the board of aldermen voted 6-1 Tuesday night to hire an attorney to start the impeachment process. By the same margin, the board also approved a vote of no confidence in Furrer.

"So much for the presumption of innocence," he told the board, according to Call Newspapers.

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Figures Showing Huge Jump in Ferguson Voter Registration are Very Inaccurate

Categories: Ferguson, Politics

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for HEALSTL5.JPG
Lindsay Toler

In a statement released early this afternoon, Senator Rita Heard Days, Democratic director of the St. Louis County Election Board, admitted that her office released wildly inflated figures in response to press inquiries about how many new voters have registered from Ferguson.

Less than a week ago, Days' office reported that 3,287 brand new voters registered in Ferguson after the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 9. The figures seemed to show an energized voter base and the promise of political change in Ferguson -- the current mayor James Knowles was elected with only 1,324 votes back in April.

But according to her latest release, Days' office is now putting that figure much, much lower -- it seems only 128 new voters have registered in Ferguson.

"Turns out that was an incorrect report that we were using," she told Daily RFT.

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