by Michael R. Allen
The two candidates for president of the Board of Aldermen have reported campaign contributions related to the “Blairmont” effort.
According to his 40 day before the primary election filing, Jim Shrewsbury received $750.00 from Eagle Realty Company on November 10, which represents the Blairmont family of companies. In fairness, Eagle Realty Company does appraisal work for the St. Louis Development Corporation and the Land Reutilization Authority and may have other cause to make this donation.
In his report, Lewis Reed shows that he raised in one day an astounding $4,000 in contributions from companies related to developer Paul J. McKee, Jr. including one of the Blairmont holding companies. On December 7, 2006 the following companies connected to McKee donated $1000 each: Create, LLC; Havenwood, LLC; Boardwalk Corporate Centre LLC; and Allston Alliance, LC. Allston Alliance LC is one of the Blairmont holding companies, owning the Cass Avenue Schnucks site; its registered agent is John Steffen, head of the Pyramid Companies. (On Reed’s report, Allston Alliance lists a return address of 906 Olive Street, Suite 600, same as the Pyramid Companies.) While Steffen’s role is unclear, McKee reported a 30% ownership stake in Allston Alliance LC. Also in fairness, McKee is chairman of BJC Healthcare that is seeking to renegotiate its lease of part of Forest Park. Shrewsbury opposes that renegotiation.
While these contributions may not amount to influence, they should be noted. The silence by public officials and candidates on the “Blairmont” project is notable. The private control of an entire ward’s future should be of utmost concern to all elected officials, since such control ultimately threatens the role of government to shape development to be responsible both to city residents and to existing law.