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Aldermen vote down measure banning lobbyists on the floor

The full Board of Aldermen is expected to take up the stadium funding plan next Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo
Lobbyists will be allowed on the floor of the Board of Aldermen for the foreseeable future, after a measure to ban them failed in committee.

Do not fear, lobbyists — your place on the floor of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is safe for the foreseeable future.

The city's rules committee on Wednesday voted down a piece of legislation sponsored by Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15th Ward, that would have banished lobbyists to the hall, the galleries, or the side rooms at City Hall. Just one committee member, Alderman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, voted yes.

Criticism of the measure was at times unusually personal, and the specter of the now-defunct plan to fund a new National Football League stadium hung over the entire debate.

"I think this is a mistake to support this," said Alderman Joe Roddy, D-17th Ward. "I think this issue is adequately addressed in the rules."

He said he viewed the attempted ban as nothing more than legislative one-upmanship, and that he was frustrated with Green's "holier-than-thou" attitude.

"This is just someone trying to resurrect their reputation when they failed to show up to a committee hearing to tell their side of the story after they accused everyone else of being unethical," Roddy said. "The cornerstone of ethics is personal integrity, and clearly, at least in my mind, the comments regarding the football stadium were not honest."

Alderwoman Megan Green, the sponsor of the St. Louis ordinance, said lawmakers in special session are spending "taxpayer money to do essentially nothing."
Credit Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo
Alderman Megan-Ellyia Green, D-15th Ward.

Green drew widespread attention and condemnation last December when she frequently accused aldermen of unethical behavior during the debate over the new NFL stadium, despite investigations that found no wrong-doing. She then refused to show up to a Personnel Committee hearing on her allegations, though she did apologize on the floor to Alderman Sam Moore, D-4th Ward.

Alderman Joe Vollmer, D-10th Ward, also called the ban a waste of time and something that was better handled through a rule change, though he was much less personal in his remarks.

"I’ve had no one even contact me ever about this. All they care about is getting their trash picked up, their trees trimmed, their potholes fixed — all the things that are important," he said.

Green said she was simply trying to bring St. Louis's ethics laws in line with the rest of the nation.

"And that is no disrespect to anyone who has been here for a long time. I think sometimes those of us who are newer, we see things or have had different experiences that those who have been here for a long time," she said.

Alderman Marlene Davis, D-19th Ward, the chair of the rules committee, has promised to take a look at the rules when members return from summer break. A second committee is already looking at the city's ethics laws.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.