County Board member upset with colleague's comment about East St. Louis

News-DemocratNovember 26, 2013 

BND

One member of the St. Clair County Board says another member of the board went too far when he used language that called the people of East St. Louis "stupid."

Roy Mosley Jr., a member of the St. Clair County Board and the East St. Louis Public Works Director, said County Board member Frank Heiligenstein upset him when he said "you can't fix stupid" during a discussion Monday about the East St. Louis Board of Elections.

Mosley, a Democrat, said when Heiligenstein, D-Freeburg, made his comments, it startled him so he asked Heiligenstein whether he was calling the people of East St. Louis stupid. That's when Heiligenstein repeated "You can't fix stupid."

Mosley, in talking about Heiligenstein's comments, said: "That's despicable and very disrespectful. I am sure his constituents will be embarrassed by his comments."

When Heiligenstein was told that Mosley took his comments to mean that he was calling the people of East St. Louis stupid and asked whether he meant it that way, "yeah, in a way," Heiligenstein said. "The thought was that it is stupid for them to continue to keep voting to keep the East St. Louis Board of Elections. It's a waste of money and the money they spend, which is several thousand dollars, to operate it could be put into their budget and used for other things."

Heiligenstein said he met with East St. Louis City Council members 10 years ago and went through with them the things they could do to save money.

"It cost them several hundred thousand dollars that they can use in their budget to do other things. The St. Clair County clerk could save them all of that money," Heiligenstein said.

Heiligenstein said he is a consultant for more than 200 municipalities and counties in the state.

"I cover the southern two-thirds of the state. I review things like this. Sometimes I really wonder who is running and guiding the ship," Heiligenstein said.

Mosley said he feels Heiligenstein owes the citizens of St. Clair County and East St. Louis an apology for his comments.

East St. Louis voters have twice voted to keep the city's Board of Elections.

Mayor Alvin L. Parks Jr. said: "First of all, $391,000 goes to the Board of Elections. Second, It is very important to note that the East St.. Louis Board of Elections has been around since about 1880. The citizens have made it abundantly clear that they do not want to reduce the sovereignty of the city and do not want to give up institutions that are positive and long-standing in the community.

"As it relates to him saying you can't fix stupid and basically calling the citizens of East St. Louis stupid, I am so glad that we have County Board members there who can clarify the intelligence of the citizens of East St. Louis," said Parks, who noted numerous East St. Louis residents have earned doctoral degrees.

"Furthermore, with regards to being stupid, just because we have a difference of opinion from this County Board member doesn't mean we're stupid. He is not from East St. Louis. He does not live in East St. Louis, so he has no perspective, no idea of how we feel about the sovereignty of the city and holding onto what we have," Parks said.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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