2 more former Bellefontaine Neighbors alderpersons sue city over unpaid wages; city facing four lawsuits

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Two more former Bellefontaine Neighbors alderpersons are now suing the city for unpaid wages.

Tuesday, former Alderman James Carroll and former Alderwoman Barbara West filed lawsuits in small claims court in St. Louis County for unpaid wages relating to duties as alderperson for the city.

According to court documents, Carroll is suing for $2,625 and West is suing for $4,400. They join former Alderwomen Dr. Miranda Avant-Elliot and Theresa Reed who filed suit earlier this year.

City code states that alderpersons are paid $375 a month. Between the four lawsuits, the former alderpersons are asking for roughly $10,000 total.

“There was no response. No attempt trying to settle or rectify the situation,” Carroll told News 4. “It would just be financially prudent to just go ahead and settle it. I tried to get it resolved internally. I mean--I don’t want to come to the media. I don’t want to complain to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, Wesley Bell’s office.”

Mayor Tommie Pierson told News 4 the alderpersons aren’t being paid because they boycotted meetings by skipping them.

“He would not allow us to make changes to the agenda,” West said. “After a while, it’s like why bother to go.”

“In my view, they owe the city money,” Pierson said. “There’s no ordinance that says I have to pay them. They made sure that I had no quorum, and it costs the city money. It costs us in reputation.”

Pierson hired Randall Cahill as the lawyer representing the city in the lawsuits involving Avant-Elliot and Reed. The mayor confirmed Cahill is being paid a retainer of $5,000 plus $300 an hour for his services. Campaign finance records also show Cahill contributed to Pierson’s election campaign. Pierson stood by his decision in an interview with News 4, citing he wants to prevent future politicians from boycotting meetings.

“I don’t want to set that precedent,” he added.

Carroll also took these complaints to the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office while in office.

County Prosecutor Wesley Bell’s office sent News 4 the following statement:

“We previously found no criminal charges to bring against alderpersons in Bellefontaine Neighbors for not attending meetings, and we find no criminal charges to bring regarding whether or not the city continues to pay these alderpersons. As for the current dispute over payment, civil court would appear to be the proper venue.”

According to Mayor Pierson, the first two lawsuits filed by Avant-Elliot and Reed will take place in St. Louis County Court on November 30. News 4 is still waiting to confirm when Carroll’s and West’s court appearances will be.