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St. Louis County police board nominee backs out

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CLAYTON • The board that oversees the St. Louis County Police Department tumbled into further turmoil Friday when a nominee for a vacancy withdrew his name from consideration.

The Rev. Freddy Clark informed County Executive Charlie A. Dooley of his decision by telephone Friday morning.

Clark was one of two county residents Dooley nominated two weeks ago to fill police board positions left open by the resignations of former chairman Gregory Sansone and former vice chairman Floyd Warmann.

The nomination of the second nominee, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence, of Ladue, still stands.

Dooley said Clark cited commitments to his congregation — Shalom Church in Florissant — in requesting that the nomination be pulled back.

The county executive, however, blamed the decision on the County Council for ending a committee meeting last week without asking Spence and Clark a single interview question. The council must ratify Dooley’s appointments.

“That is totally disrespectful and unacceptable,” Dooley said in a County Building interview Friday afternoon. “It is an embarrassment to this county. Do they think (Spence and Clark) had nothing better to do than play political games with the county council? Because that’s what it was.”

Neither Clark nor several members of the council could be reached for comment.

Council members said this week that they would await the completion of background checks before acting on the nominations.

The county executive and council are also squaring off on legislation which, if enacted at the next week’s council meeting, would require police board nominees to undergo credit checks. The process already includes criminal, financial and tax screenings.

Clark’s withdrawal is the latest development in a situation that has drawn the attention of the FBI.

Sansone resigned in late August, after questions were raised about his co-ownership of SM Mechanical. The heating and air-conditioning firm received a subcontract worth about 40 percent of a $9.1 million job to build a new county police crime lab. The lab is scheduled to open next month.

Warmann handed in his resignation earlier in August for undisclosed reasons.

The FBI was asked to examine the circumstances by Police Chief Tim Fitch. Federal authorities issued subpoenas to county officials, seeking paperwork connected to the Sansone contract and other police board affairs.

Dooley said he has not met with federal investigators.

Nor, the county executive added, is he concerned that the Sansone inquiry might reach into his office.

“It has nothing to do with me because I don’t get involved in contracts,” he said. “Never have, never will.”

Sansone has denied any wrongdoing. Dooley and other county officials have insisted that Sansone did not violate a conflict-of-interest provision in the county charter because his company was hired by the general contractor — not the county directly.

The Clark withdrawal again leaves Dooley with two police board spots to fill.

Raymond Wagner, who succeeded Sansone as chairman, announced last week that he will step down from the five-member board in late September.

Wagner, the husband of Republican U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner and an executive with Enterprise Holdings, said he could not devote an appropriate amount of time to the board’s demands.

Dooley claimed Friday to be unfazed about finding two additional nominees to present to the council for their approval.

“There’s a million people in this county,” he said. “We’ll get someone, believe me.”

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