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City treasurer candidate sues incumbent over no-bid contracts

(photo courtesy of Fred Wessels)
Ald. Fred Wessels, a candidate for city treasurer, has sued incumbent Larry Williams over an allegedly illegal contract to manage parking meters in St. Louis.

Calling him a "rogue public official who needs to be reined in by the courts," south St. Louis city alderman Fred Wessels has filed suit against treasurer Larry Williams, accusing him of illegally implementing a contract to manage the city's 10,000 parking meters.

In the lawsuit filed today, Wessels says Williams violated the city's charter and ordinances by entering into a no-bid contract with Duncan Solutions, a Milwaukee-based company, and by not having Comptroller Darlene Green sign the contract before it was executed.

(A spokesman for Green says the comptroller has never seen a copy of the contract).

"This is just one example of the treasurer ignoring city ordinances and city charter," Wessels said. "He's done with with financial services, with engineering, with auditing, with all sorts of professional service contracts."

The Duncan Solutions contract, which was signed in April 2009, is also the subject of a legal challenge by former employees of the treasurer's office. In January, the judge in that case, Joan Moriarty, dismissed Williams' motion for summary judgment.

"And contained in her opinion, I believe, is really the groundwork to overturn this contract," Wessels said.

Though he's a candidate for treasurer (Williams hasn't said one way or the other if he'll run for re-election), Wessels says there's nothing political about the suit.

"I think it's up to the court to determine whether or not my lawsuit is valid or not, number one. Number 2, this is a taxpayer's lawsuit," Wessels said. "The money to hire an attorney is coming out of my pocket - not the city's and not my campaign contributors."

Williams would not comment on Wessels' suit.

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