Our valued county leaders

April 13, 2014 

Our ongoing effort to tell taxpayers what they are paying their public employees yielded some interesting results this past week when St. Clair County’s 2013 payroll was published.

The top earner still was State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly at $164,502. His salary is set by state law, so there’s little to say about that.

No. 3 was MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Director Tim Cantwell at $127,973. That does not include the $13,000-plus bonus he got in January.

Cantwell is often a target thanks to the ongoing deficit at MidAmerica, which is projected at $1.4 million this year. He is the face associated with floral cooler give-aways, Chinese cargo schemes and passenger flight dreams.

The reality is that he appears to work very hard for his money. The losing plays are being called by the county coaches on the sidelines.

MidAmerica’s runway and tower helped save Scott Air Force Base from closing and brought us major commands and the Air National Guard refueling tankers. That was reason enough to spend the money — a decade ago.

The question is what now? Why subsidize it at $1.4 million a year with no realistic end game?

The other question raised by the payroll was No. 2 on the list, Intergovernmental Grants Department Director Debra Moore who was paid $138,733 last year. If you want to question pay for performance, Moore is a great place to start along with why it takes 65 employees to shuffle money from one government unit to another.

Moore’s administration has:

• Spawned state and federal probes of her department for possibly discriminating against disabled residents.

• Exposed the county to liability for possibly retaliating against three workers who blew the whistle to the feds.

• Spent $1.1 million sending unemployed residents to private schools that cost four times what local community colleges charge for job training.

• Lost $721,000 in workforce training grants, and in the process of firing that department’s workers spawned 13 complaints of age and race discrimination.

• Gave a 19-year-old access to the payroll system, leading to a $3,000 theft.

Moore took over the grants department shortly after its employees were caught stealing energy assistance grants for themselves, friends and family members. We hoped for reform.

We paid, and will continue paying, for what we got.

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