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Is St. Louis County Executive Sam Page violating county charter by continuing to work as a doctor?

Charter says the executive 'Shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office'

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page is still working as a doctor at Mercy Hospital – a move some say could be a violation of the county’s charter.

Page is an anesthesiologist and still practices at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur, 5 On Your Side has learned. He works for Western Anesthesiology
Associates, Inc., which provides anesthesiology services at the hospital.

The county charter states that the county executive, “Shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office.”

Page's spokesman Doug Moore did not make Page available for an interview, but sent a statement arguing Page’s work at the hospital is “not a violation” of the county’s charter.

“Dr. Page’s work as a physician happens during his private time and being a physician helps inform his decisions in response to this pandemic. Dr. Page works the occasional shift to maintain his medical license and credentialing so that he can go on a mission trip once a year. His last mission trip was January 2020, to the Dominican Republic.”

Moore said Page works one weekend shift a month and sometimes a four-hour shift in the evenings less than once a week.

"No hospital work occurs during county hours," Moore wrote.

But, the work is still a violation of the county charter, according to Republican St. Louis County Councilman Tim Fitch.

“I see no wiggle room, it says his entire time must be devoted to the duties of the office and it sounds to me like he needs to make a decision: Do you want to work as an anesthesiologist, or do you want to be the county executive, take your pick,” Fitch said.

What this means for Page’s future is unclear.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell could issue what's known as an in quo warranto. It was done in an unrelated case involving allegations of a charter violation about two years ago.

In a statement, however, Bell wrote: "It's intriguing how often these types of 'allegations' seem to arise shortly before elections. Our office has received no complaints and has no comments, aside from urging all citizens to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3."  

Bell's predecessor got involved in two cases involving allegations of charter violations.

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger accused County Councilman Ernie Trakas of violating the charter in 2018 after learning Trakas was working as an attorney for some school districts. The county charter at the time forbid council members from working for other governmental agencies.

Stenger asked then St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch to investigate whether Trakas was violating the charter, which would require him to vacate his seat for such an offense. Trakas argued he was not violating the charter because the school districts hired him on a contract basis.

McCulloch claimed he had a conflict of interest in the case, and asked St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar to investigate.

Lohmar determined it was a violation, but a judge ruled that it did not violate the county charter after voters opted to amend the charter and allow council members to perform work for other governmental agencies on a contractual basis.

But the voters did not extend the same right to the county executive. 

Page makes $140,000 year as the county executive. Council members make $20,000. 

When Fitch was the police chief, he accused the county police board chairman of violating the county’s charter by owning an HVAC company that got a nearly $4 million contract from former County Executive Charlie Dooley for a new crime lab.

In that case, McCulloch referred Fitch to the county’s attorney – who Fitch argued had a conflict because she worked for the county executive.

The chairman of the board resigned, but McCulloch declined to prosecute.


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