Jefferson County execs eyeing possible conflict of interest involving new port


by Staff

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 6:00 PM

( -- Jefferson County just opened its brand new port in Herculaneum, which is overseen by a port authority.

But a new member of the board owns a company that does business at the port.

News 4 asked Wednesday if county officials believe it’s a conflict of interest for a board member to be making decisions that could bring his company more business.

The answer presently was no, but someday it could be.

“I stand behind the appointment,” said Jefferson County Executive Ken Waller. “I think it was the right appointment.”

Waller recently made two appointments to the Jefferson County Port Authority who were unanimously approved by the county council.

One of those board members is David Brown, a business owner with years of experience in river commerce who Waller hopes will help take the county’s new port to the next level.

“It’s really starting to take shape and it’s really starting to move forward,” Waller said. We are really excited about our proximity to the St. Louis area and along the river.”

Brown is the owner of a river terminal along the Mississippi River in Hartford Illinois and the owner of a talk and a towboat company in Jefferson County called Cold Central Contracting and Marine. That company is already making money at the port; it is doing work with a private company which is helping to develop the port.

“As long as he recuses himself if votes come up for contracts or those types of things come up,” Waller said, “I believe he will be fine.”

Waller said it’s not unusual for government boards to have members who work in the industries they oversee in order to get the experience and expertise needed. And potential conflicts will be dealt with as they come up.

Brown was unavailable for an interview as he was out of town on vacation.

He specifically stated on his application for the board position that he had been approached to do business with the port in the past.