The more you pay attention to State Auditor Claire McCaskill, the more you like the actions of her office. This week McCaskill's office agreed to investigate the St. Louis Election Board's finances, which are at best, miserable. In short, she wants to know why $350,000 in cell phone bills have gone unpaid for two years. We deserve the answer.
By just about any definition, the St. Louis Election Board has been a lesson in mismanagement. Following last year's August elections, it came to light that a number of cell phones issued to the Election Board had apparently been stolen or lost. In all, as many as 40 cell phones were identified for misappropriate usage.
Of course you'll remember it was the Election Board that made headlines in November 2000 when chaos erupted on election day after countless voters were turned away at the polls because of missing voter information. A federal lawsuit following that election put the blame squarely on the election officials who then agreed to clean their house. Apparently that process remains on-going.
In fact, only a frantic phone call from Mayor Francis Slay restored service to the cell phones during the November elections because of the unpaid bills.
Recently the Election Board was cited by the Attorney General's office for violations in Missouri's Sunshine Law.
Now Slay has asked McCaskill to investigate the usage of an additional $500,000 above budget funding that the Election Board spent during the November elections.
In short, St. Louis officials have their hands full. If it reminds you of the Chicago horror stories of the past then you're not alone.
And finally, just so everyone understands. Though it's the city of St. Louis that funds the workings of the Election Board, it's Gov. Bob Holden's office that has responsibility to oversee its operations. Add that to Holden's list of accomplishments!