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Lawsuit seeks to invalidate city contract with Tishaura Jones campaign donor

The lawsuit filed seeks to invalidate a controversial, multimillion-dollar contract
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — A lawsuit filed last month seeks to invalidate a controversial, multimillion-dollar contract awarded by St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones.

The "taxpayer enforcement action," from attorney Elkin Kistner of Clayton law firm Bick & Kistner and plaintiff Jesse Irwin, argues that a contract Jones entered in July with Sheila Hudson's Hudson and Associates, to manage meter maintenance and parking enforcement, should be declared "null and void" by the court because it wasn't enacted properly. The litigation, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, seeks temporary, preliminary and permanent orders and injunctions preventing the city and Hudson and Associates from taking further action related to the contract. Judge Joan Moriarty is presiding.

Felice McClendon, a spokeswoman for Jones, said the work was competitively bid, and that it's worth $119,000 a month, down from $370,000 a month under the previous vendor. Jones has herself defended the deal, saying the new contract would save the Parking Division more than $500,000 a year after full implementation.

A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson declined to comment. St. Louis-based Hudson and Associates didn't respond to a message seeking comment. The city of St. Louis and Hudson and Associates are listed as defendants in the case.

The suit argues that the contract, reported as worth $7 million over three years, should have been subject to the city's professional services ordinance. That would require it to be approved and recommended by a five-member committee, with only two members from the agency seeking the contract, according to the suit, which alleges that didn't happen in the case of Hudson and Associates.

It also alleges that Jones didn't disclose that Hudson and Associates "had made a substantial contribution to her campaign" for city treasurer, also required by the ordinance. 

And the awarding of the contract didn't comply with Board of Public Service rules, including "the prerequisite of full and fair competitive bidding," the suit says. The board is responsible for public works and other improvements in the city.

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