Politics & Government

Prenzler alleges vote to hire Bi-State Development CEO was improper

State Rep. Jay Hoffman discusses appointments to MESD board, director

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, discusses legislation to prevent the director of the Metro-East Sanitary District from having a long-term contract, and would take away an appointment from Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, a Republican.
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State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, discusses legislation to prevent the director of the Metro-East Sanitary District from having a long-term contract, and would take away an appointment from Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler, a Republican.

Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler alleged Tuesday that Bi-State Development President and CEO Taulby Roach was improperly hired by the board of commissioners.

“The vote was in executive session and they went against their own policies,” Prenzler said in a news release.

Roach did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Prenzler said Bi-State rules require that when taking action, a majority of the Missouri members and a majority of the Illinois members present needed to vote in favor of the hiring.

Illinois and Missouri each have five seats on the Bi-State board.

Prenzler said only four of Illinois commissioners were present during a vote in November, including the two Madison County Commissioners, Derrick Cox and Justin Zimmerman. Cox and Zimmerman did not vote to hire Roach, denying him the majority from the Illinois side, according to Prenzler.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Cox confirmed the allegations.

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Taulby Roach, Bi-State Development CEO Provided

According to the Post-Dispatch, Cox said Roach was presented to the board as the person to hire, and that some board members “knew the votes were not there” at that November meeting.

When board members were presented with the meeting minutes a couple of months later, Cox said they reflected Zimmerman voting for Roach. The board voted to change the minutes back to the real vote tally, the Post-Dispatch reported.

In an email Tuesday evening, Bi-State Spokeswoman Patti Beck said all ten members of the Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners then met in December and voted unanimously to offer Roach the job.

The December meeting took place via phone conference, according to open session minutes posted on the Bi-State Development website.

“Any prior discussions, consensus or votes that may have occurred regarding candidates for the position of Bi-State Development President and CEO were preliminary to the hiring decision made by the Board on December 13, 2018,” Beck said in an email.

Bi-State is the agency that overlaps Illinois and Missouri and oversees the Metro Public Transportation system, MetroBus and MetroLink, as well as the St. Louis Regional Freightway, Gateway Arch Riverfront, St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, and the Bi-State Development Research Institute.

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Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler. BND file photo

Prenzler’s accusation comes as legislation sits on Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk to change the make up of the Illinois members of the Bi-State Board.

Of the five Illinois seats, three are currently members appointed by Democratic St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern. The other two members were appointed by Prenzler, a Republican.

Under current state law, St. Clair and Madison County alternate each year on who makes an appointment to the board for a five-year term.

The legislation calls for taking a Bi-State Board appointment from Madison County and giving it St. Clair County, so that there would be four people from St. Clair County and just one from Madison County.

The legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea. Hoffman has said he pushed the legislation because St. Clair County has MetroLink and MetroBus, neither of which operate in Madison County.

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