Pavlack: Ellisville's Next Mayor Needs Experience

Charles Pavlack, a member of Ellisville's Planning & Zoning Committee, makes an endorsement of City Council Member Michelle Murray for mayor.

Editor's Note: The following letter was submitted by Charles Pavlack, a member of Ellisville's Planning & Zoning Committee and a former Ellisville City Council member.

As someone who has been involved in Ellisville municipal government for almost a decade, it was disappointing to me, but not particularly surprising, to see the light turnout at the this past Tuesday evening. With the ongoing gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing that's been going on over the TIF/Wal-Mart issue, I had hoped that more of those who have spoken out on that matter would have shown a little more interest in finding out more about the candidates. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

Let's be perfectly clear on one thing:  The final vote on the will likely be taken on Wednesday, April 4, the day after the election. This means that regardless of the results of the election, the vote will be taken by the current council, not by the winners of the election. So, other than in the abstract, the election on Tuesday is not about Wal-Mart. It's about who offers the vision, the experience, and the skills to lead Ellisville for the next 3 years.

There are . Two are current City Council members, each finishing up the second year of their second 3-year term. Two are political novices. One experienced candidate and one novice have expressed support for the TIF, with the other two candidates opposing it.

To that end, I am supporting Michelle (Shelly) Murray in her campaign for mayor, despite the fact that she and I were on opposite sides of the TIF debate.  In my opinion, Shelly's experience both on the Council and as a marketing executive, positions her best to continue Ellisville on the track that the current administration has set it upon. Adam Paul has cast Shelly's TIF position as that of a "sacrificial lamb", voting against what she truly believes for political posturing, but I can say with assurance based on numerous conversations with her (conversations that I guarantee Mr. Paul has never had with her) that this could not be further from the truth.  Mayor Pirrello will tell you, and numerous people can verify, that Shelly was never one of the 5 people that the Mayor counted as "yes" votes.  Mr. Paul says that at one point Shelly tried to explain to him what a bond was, and he took offense at that.  And at that point in time, Shelly might have been leaning toward a "yes" vote.  But a depiction of her as always having been a "yes" vote does a disservice to her, and minimizes the fact that Shelly listened to her constituents and revised her opinion based on feedback.

One of the things I respect about Shelly is her conviction, and her open-mindedness.  It is this ability to evaluate and re-evaluate positions that makes Shelly so effective a representative of—and voice for—her constituents.  Shelly recognizes the good things that the current Council has achieved, but has new ideas to diversify and expand Ellisville's business community within the context of the current comprehensive plan and direction that has been supported by voters repeatedly over the last several elections.

Dawn Anglin, who joined the Council at the same time Shelly did, is, in my opinion, almost as good a choice as Shelly.  She has been involved in a variety of other organizations and initiatives in Ellisville and its surroundings.  I'll be honest and say that I haven't worked as closely with Dawn as I have with Shelly (Shelly and I represented District 3 at the same time), but with a couple of slight disagreements (which are natural in the course of city government), I respect her efforts and her energy.  In fact, my main concern about Dawn's candidacy is that she and Shelly might split votes, allowing a less qualified candidate to become mayor.

Robert Srote comes to the mayor's race with no municipal experience governing but with a wealth of academic knowledge.  He is an architect and the author of a book tracing the legislation at the heart of the recent recession.  He has been respectful and reasonable in his public discourse and has offered details of what he hopes to achieve if elected.  My main concerns about Mr. Srote are his lack of experience in governance, and the fact that, when put on the spot at the forum, he voiced support for continuing the county's sales tax redistribution methods.  If voters find the need to embrace a "throw the bums out" mentality, Mr. Srote would be the way to go.  I sincerely hope that if he is unsuccessful in his mayoral campaign, Mr. Srote will consider "getting his feet wet" in Ellisville government via a position on one of our boards or commissions.  He has suggested an Economic Development Commission, which Ellisville already has, though not perhaps in the form of what he's suggesting.  Perhaps he would be a great choice to head up some new/revised commission of this sort.

Which brings us to Adam Paul.  People who know me will tell you that I normally go out of my way to avoid conflict, until I'm at the end of my rope (as with my comments to the county representatives at the TIF Commission meeting).  I thought of not commenting on Mr. Paul's candidacy, under the "Thumper" rule ("If you can't say anything nice..."), but eventually decided that the future of the city I love and have served for so long is too important for me to be politely demure.

So let me state this as bluntly as possible:  The thought of Adam Paul as mayor of Ellisville frightens me.  In the extreme.  Mr. Paul has oodles and oodles of youthful enthusiasm, and I believe that he believes his views are what's best for Ellisville.  There.  I said something nice.  The problem is, Mr. Paul has been unable to coalesce what he wants to do for Ellisville beyond a bunch of generic platitudes and a "No Wal-Mart" campaign.  And make no mistake, as much as Mr. Paul protests that he didn't want to make his campaign about Wal-Mart, no one held a gun to his head and make him put "No Wal-Mart" on every one of the signs he has planted around the city, often on private property without permission, in violation of the law.

Mr. Paul has engaged in the worst style of politics in his campaign, posting repeatedly on the Patch with incorrect information and misleading interpretations of data. He has shown a lack of respect for his opponents, both those running against him and those who dare question what he posts online.  He has been irresponsible in postings, and immature in his attitude ("I know the answer, but I like to see the lawyers squirm").  He has repeatedly displayed a lack of understanding of what exactly the city is responsible for, and what the City can do.  (He praised the removal of the old McDonald's building, but asked why "we" didn't do it sooner, ignoring (or ignorant of) the fact that the building was on private property.)  And, in the last days of the campaign, he has removed all of his comments from The Patch and placed them on his campaign web site, where his inaccuracies cannot be corrected nor his false equivalencies pointed out.  For example, the pages of the 2012 Ballwin budget that Mr. Paul repeatedly directs people to do not prove that Ellisville will be responsible for shortfalls in the TIF, as Mr. Paul has claimed repeatedly, even after he's been corrected by more than one legal authority; it proves that Ballwin made a spectacularly bad deal as part of its TIF agreement, a bad deal that Ellisville will not be repeating.

Mr. Paul's performance at the candidates' forum inspired even less confidence.  He continually circled back around to Wal-Mart (even when the question started with the phrase "Other than Wal-Mart..."), giving him the appearance of a one-note candidate.  His answers on questions were inconsistent with each other; at one point he spoke about tightening the Ellisville budget in light of the decrease in revenue we've been experiencing, then in answer to another question he supported we should pull out of the Great Streets Initiative and handle infrastructure upgrades ourselves.  This is on its face ridiculous, as the money which is paying for these infrastructure upgrades is coming from a federal grant that was granted to the Great Streets project, and he gives no indication of how he'd pay for them if we're doing it "ourselves" (along with the fact that MoDOT, one of our Great Streets partners, controls Manchester Road, and "we" can't really do a whole lot on it without their approval).  At another point, he speculated on turning the corner of Manchester and Kiefer Creek into a park, saying it would be nice to have a centralized park at the heart of our city.  This, of course, neglected the facts that that intersection is arguably our most valuable piece of commercial real estate and we were sitting in a large park int he heart of the city.  He also wistfully suggested that we could return to the good old days when (his supporter) Ed O'Reilly was mayor of Ellisville, either not knowing or not caring that the behaviors of Mr. O'Reilly's administration were the reason that the people of Ellisville felt they needed more controls over its elected officials and adopted a city manager/charter form of government.

Mr. Paul warns that if we elect Shelly Murray or Dawn Anglin, it will be "business as usual".  But think about it.  Other than the TIF issue, what has been controversial about the current administration?  Property taxes haven't been raised since before anyone who's in city government was on the Council.  (Clark Compton may have been, but they haven't been raised during his current tenure).  A new aquatic center replaced a dangerous old pool.  A new Public Works facility was built after the project languished for nearly a decade.  And in the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, no services have been cut.  And Mr. Paul considers this a bad thing?

And really, do we want a mayor whose campaign web site is redirected from the URL ellisvilleisdying.com?  The image on his campaign web site is of a desolate, abandoned K-Mart in another city.  Really?  This is the bold vision for the future?  Mr. Paul can't give concrete examples of what he would do if elected mayor.  He can only talk in vague generalities and hope to scare the residents into supporting him. 

I could go on, but it already feels like I'm piling on.

Let me reiterate:  The TIF issue will be resolved prior to the new Council being impaneled.  Even if it somehow isn't, the votes do not exist to prevent it.  You can do the math with the new Council as easily as with the current Council, and the simple fact of the matter is that even assuming that Michelle Murray or Adam Paul is elected mayor, it would simply change the mayor's vote from a "yes" to a "no" and one of the District One votes from a "no" to a "yes".  So Wal-Mart and TIF are off the table.  Ellisville needs a new mayor who will draw on experience and concrete suggestions for how Ellisville should move forward. 

Ellisville needs Shelly Murray.

JustRob April 02, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Charles, I agree with most of you analysis of the candidates and wish you had left it at that. Turning what could have been a great piece into campaign fodder is a waste of your talent.
Charles Pavlack April 02, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Thanks, Rob, but the problem is that just leaving it at analysis doesn't get to the issue. The voters have to know exactly what they're getting into, and I felt that I needed to point out specifically what I was talking about. One of my problems with Adam is that he makes broad statements without backing them up. I didn't want to do that. And we're getting too close to the election to leave any doubt as to what a disaster it would be for voters to make the wrong choice.
Charles Pavlack April 02, 2012 at 01:30 PM
And if anyone still has doubts, I'll be glad to take his latest (3/29) "daily update" from his web site and show exactly how he either doesn't understand the process or is willfully misrepresenting it.
Robert Srote April 02, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Mr. Pavlack, Thank you for your comments. I am confident that Ellisville voters’ will make the right decision tomorrow at the polls. Just to clarify, I do not consider (nor do I wish the public to perceive) my candidacy a “throw the bums out” crusade. To the contrary, if elected, since both Shelly and Dawn’s terms do not expire until 2013, I consider my candidacy a way to offer Ellisville residents a fresh perspective regarding city governance while Shelly and Dawn fulfill their remaining 12 month commitments as council members. I intend to work hand-in-hand with the current city council and believe Shelly and Dawn have done a commendable job during their tenure especially considering the economic environment they have had to work within. In addition, while I believe Adam is not the right person for the job, I do believe it is commendable that he is passionate enough about our community to consider serving it in a public capacity. Again, I am confident that the citizens of Ellisville will make the right decision regarding who is best qualified to lead our city.
Charles Pavlack April 02, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I was not trying to put words in your mouth, Robert, nor characterize your campaign. I was simply saying that if someone is inclined to vote that way, you're a preferable option to Adam. And yes, I too cheer his enthusiasm and passion. There just needs to be more accuracy in what he's saying.
Jimmy C April 02, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Mr. Pavlick, you are a disgrace to our City. You were the head of the TIF commission for Walmart, assigned to that role by Perrellow, and part of Perrello's regime. You are everything that is wrong with our town. You voted FOR the Walmart TIF after listening to every public person besides one almost in tears because of it. I was there. You, the Mayor, and Murray (she was pro TIF, I talked to her in person, too. Are you going to call me a liar?) plans to split Mr. Paul's support is unprofessional. Why would you support Murray when she is AGAINST TIF and you are PRO TIF? PAUL must have a ton of support and you are desperately trying to water that down. I am embarrassed for you.
Charles Pavlack April 02, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I support Shelly because I know that there's more to the future of Ellisville than the TIF, and as I said, I think she is the best person to lead the city forward. I'm not going to call you a liar. Shelly was in favor of the TIF at one point, and due to her conversations with constituents, she changed her opinion. You and Mr. Paul characterize that as political calculation. I've known Shelly for a number of years, and can tell you that it isn't. She'll vote her conscience regardless of the political cost. She received feedback from her constituents and changed her stance. And it's interesting that you didn't (can't?) refute anything I said in my evaluation of your candidate. You just attacked me instead.
Jimmy C April 02, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Well, I just checked his website and it is www.newellisville.com, read the top url line. I cant understand how or why YOU, a represented of ellisville planning and zoning committee would write such poor comments in regards to ALL candidates that want to represent our city. You are attacking Mr. Paul and Mr. Srote for one reason, because it breaks up your clan. Because they are not corrupt like all of you and will listen to the people. This is only negativity to your cause. I think it is even legal for a committee member, city employee, or elected official to endorse or persuade votes for a candidate running for office. When I was involved in a campaign previously, they made it clear that is was grounds for suspension and against the law via our charter. You may want to read that.
Michael Rhodes April 02, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Mr. Srote: Taking your quote here "I do believe it is commendable that he is passionate enough about our community to consider serving it in a public capacity." I would change that only to say it is commendable of all of you to even be willing to serve. Good luck to all of you Tuesday.
Michael Rhodes April 02, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Curious why Mr. Paul is running his campaign based on something he will end up not having a say in. I would be more interested in what his plans are for Ellisville for the future (with or with out the Sansone TIF).
Michael Rhodes April 02, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Jimmy, I think you mis read the comment. he said it links to his campaign site. I just tried www.ellisvilleisdying.com and it does redirect to www.newellisville.com.
Charles Pavlack April 02, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Mr. Rhodes is correct. I very carefully said that that address redirected to his web site. I'm in IT. I know the difference. In fact, the only reason I knew the other address was because Mr. Paul himself posted it here on the Patch. I did not attack Mr. Srote. Since he is active on this board, if he feels that I attacked him, he can certainly say so, and I will apologize. I have been nothing but polite to you in both of my responses, and you have misspelled my name (which I didn't point out before), called me a disgrace, and now you're calling me corrupt and accusing me of breaking the law and/or violating the charter. I'm assuming you're referring to Charter Section 12.2. I would quote it here, but it would put me over the size limit for a comment. Basically, it says that no employee can solicit contributions or take part in a campaign. I am not a city employee. It further says that no member of a board or commission can use "official authority or official influence" to influence the results of an election, or to try to make an employee contribute to a campaign. Again, I haven't done this; I did not identify my position with the city, only said that I've been involved. The intro that identifies my city positions was inserted by the Patch editors, not by me. I have not attempted to use "official authority" in any way. Please, if you have concrete things you want me to address, bring them forward. But I'm not going to respond any more to name calling.
Charles Pavlack April 02, 2012 at 05:49 PM
And Mr. Rhodes, if you're going to be at the Council meeting on Wednesday, please introduce yourself. I've got a lot of respect for your posts here on the Patch and would like to put a face to the name.
Jimmy C April 02, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Charles, I am one of your fellow residents and live in your neighborhood. What you need to do focus on is putting the whopper down, cutting your tall grass, and stop taking in stray dogs in from every county pound. Yes, you are everything that is wrong with our town..
Jimmy C April 02, 2012 at 09:04 PM
3 dogs is the ordinance! Yes, I said it. Cut your grass, too Pavlack
Michael Rhodes April 02, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Insulting and off topic. This post says more about you than it does Mr. Pavlack.
Christy Sullivan April 03, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Mr. Pavlack, I was at the candidate forum and Adam Paul nailed every issue to a tee as far as I am concerned. I am still not sure what you mean be this. He was clearly the strongest candidate and I wasn't already set on going in who I was going to vote for going into it. He was really good. Contrary to your belief, I wish more people heard the man speak.
Charles Pavlack April 03, 2012 at 03:43 AM
We agree, Ms Sullivan. I wish more people had heard him speak as well. We just disagree on what effect that would have had. And thank you for coming to the forum. We need more people to attend meetings, regardless of which side of the issue they're on.
John April 03, 2012 at 09:51 AM
I try to visit here every weekday. I may miss a day or two. But I did not see any announcement about the mayor forum. I just looked back in the archives under elections and Ellisville and didn’t see anything. I looked at the neighborhood/Ellisville section in STLtoday. Nope nothing there. I was at the last city council meeting. Didn’t hear any announcement about a mayor forum. It is not on the city of Ellisville site “News and Announcements”. So I ask, where and when was this posted? Charles, maybe more people like me were unaware of this and that was why the turnout was lite. As for the vote on the tif. I am surprised that something this big is not held over to after the election. After all, the new mayor and city council will have to wrestle with this. And why, with the large turnout at the last city council meeting, is the next meeting being held at city hall. This should be held at Bluebird Park where there is more room. John
Charles Pavlack April 03, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Outstanding questions, John. I was disappointed that there wasn't more coverage as well. Ellisville didn't have it on their web site (at least not obviously), and I didn't find anything here on the Patch either. I found out about it only in conversation with a couple of candidates. As to the scheduling of the vote on the TIF, I can argue it both ways (playing devil's advocate). As I noted above, it doesn't appear that it will make much of a difference; either way it's counted, it appears to be a 5-2 vote in favor of the TIF. I know a vote isn't counted until it's cast, but that's the way it looks. So even if Mr. Paul is elected and the vote is pushed off, it doesn't look like the votes exist to deny the request. Of course, that's a discussion for another article. :) With regard to where the meeting will be held, that's a question for the city. I haven't heard anything about the meeting being relocated, and there may be some legalities about moving it at this point (with regard to public posting of the meeting and such). And let me make something entirely clear: My piece above is an endorsement. It's what I think is the best for the city. But regardless of who's elected, I intend to make the same offer: To do whatever I can to help the newly elected mayor and council to make Ellisville the best place to live that it can be. I would call on everyone else to do the same. Please everyone, make time to get out and vote today.
Charles Pavlack April 04, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Congratulations, Mr. Paul.


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