FERGUSON • Ferguson has filled two high-profile vacancies created by an extremely critical Department of Justice report: city manager and municipal judge.
At a meeting Tuesday, the City Council hired Ed Beasley as interim city manager and Donald McCullin, a former St. Louis City Circuit Court judge, as municipal court judge.
Ed Beasley managed Glendale, Ariz., a town with a population of 226,000 residents northwest of Phoenix, from 2002 to 2012.
He left a year before an external audit of the city was published that found Beasley and his employees had purposely misled the City Council about the soaring expenses associated with an early retirement program that was created to help solve a budget shortfall.
The 2013 audit also faulted Beasley, 57, for payments to two high-level executives, stating that the payments were not in the “best interest” of the city. Beasley, the audit said, allowed a human resources director to work remotely after she moved to Mississippi, paying her a compensation package of $140,000.
Beasley also allowed former Assistant City Manager Art Lynch to cash out of the early retirement program even though he had missed the deadline, the audit said. The day after the assistant city manager retired, Glendale hired him as a consultant, paying him $930,000 over a three-year period. Both those moves cost the city about $500,000, according the audit.
“Ed Beasley has serious problems,” resident Nick Kasoff told the council. “I just believe that somebody who is tainted in such a serious way is the wrong person to lead the city of Ferguson.”
Mayor James Knowles III said that the council was well aware of the audit, but he believed it was mostly politically motivated.
“Anytime you go be a city manager in a community, we realize that there is going to be critics,” Knowles said. “Reviewing the events of what happened in Glendale, reviewing the issues related, reviewing what was really a very long and excellent career, we felt that Mr. Beasley was an excellent choice for the city.”
After the meeting, Beasley posed with the City Council and briefly answered questions. “I know the audit is on some folks’ minds,” Beasley said. “That occurred after I had left the city. I have worked for 27 years in the profession, 17 years for the city, never had a bad review.”
Beasley will be the fourth city manager of Ferguson, a city of about 21,000 residents, since March — when the Justice Department published a report that described a pattern of abuses by the city’s police department and municipal court.
In the aftermath of the report, longtime city manager John Shaw resigned, as did Police Chief Thomas Jackson.
Ferguson then promoted Assistant City Manager Pam Hylton, but a month later, Hylton announced she had taken an assistant city manager job in Richmond Heights. Last month, the Ferguson City Council named Public Works Director Matt Unrein acting city manager.
Beasley was hired for a term of up to six months. The total cost of his contract, including salary and a stipend for housing, is $84,500.
The city’s selection of McCullin, 74, as municipal court judge was considerably less controversial, but could also be brief.
Missouri law limits the age of municipal judges to 75. McCullin may have about 10 months on the job. He will earn $450 per court session.
McCullin will replace Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer, who resigned March 9 in the aftermath of the Justice Department report that depicted his court as a revenue generator for the city and the police department as a collection agency.
The Missouri Supreme Court then appointed Judge Roy L. Richter of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, to oversee Ferguson’s court caseload.
The late Gov. Mel Carnahan appointed McCullin as a circuit judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit in September 1999. His primary duties were civil and criminal trials. McCullin retired in April 2011.
He worked as director of compliance for Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. for the 11 years preceding his judgeship, according to a 1999 Post-Dispatch profile of him. He ensured the company obeyed anti-discrimination laws and handled discrimination complaints.
McCullin currently serves as a hearing officer for the St. Louis City Parking Commission and the Civil Service Commission.
McCullin said he understood that appearing in court was never a pleasant experience, “but I can promise you will be treated fairly and you will be treated with respect.”