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POST-DISPATCH: How much he’s paid for his outside work isn’t the ‘proper concern’ of the St. Louis County Council, Page says

How much he’s paid for his outside work isn’t the ‘proper concern’ of the St. Louis County Council, Page says

CLAYTON — Responding to a demand from the St. Louis County Council’s Ethics Committee for a detailed schedule of his side job as an anesthesiologist, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page sent a letter Friday saying his occasional hospital shifts are scheduled during his free time and he never has canceled or missed “a meeting, conference, or phone call” because of the work.

In the letter to Councilman Mark Harder, the committee chairman, Page said he works one weekend per month and an “occasional” four-hour shift from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

“Like many medical doctors who are in elected office, it is important to me to maintain licensing, certification and credentialing,” Page wrote. “This requires continued medical activities in my free time, including a minimum presence taking care of patients who are sick and need help.”

The vote last week by the ethics committee to formally investigate Page’s medical work demanded a detailed schedule. The committee also has asked him to disclose any compensation he received for the work. Page, in his letter, said his personal finances and activities on his own time “are not your proper concern.”

“I do not expect you to be satisfied with my answers, but the residents of St. Louis County will likely be,” Page wrote.

After television news reports on Oct. 21 revealed Page was working part time as an anesthesiologist at Mercy Hospital, Harder, R-7th District, and Councilman Tim Fitch, R-3rd District, accused Page of violating the county charter, citing a provision that “the county executive’s entire time shall be devoted to the duties of the office.”

Harder and Page
St. Louis County Councilman Mark Harder, R-7th District (left), and County Executive Sam Page.

A day before the Nov. 3 election, Harder and Fitch called for the county counselor’s office to investigate the allegations, introducing a nonbinding resolution before holding it on the council agenda, where it has remained since.

Page’s office has called the inquiry “political theater,” and the county executive sharpened his critique of Harder in the letter.

“Mark, I understand your decision to spend your time criticizing my personal life, given the Trump-inspired state of rancor and divisiveness around public service and politics in our community and our country,” Page wrote. “The politics of personal attacks and personal destruction have been front and center during the past four years — and you know that a Trumper is not going to win a countywide election here without them.”

Harder told the Post-Dispatch on Friday that the council was “just trying to do our job” in enforcing the charter and said Page “didn’t have to go there” with the Trump comments.

Harder said he has heard that Page might be working during some business hours, though he declined to reveal the source of that information. He said that’s why the committee wanted a detailed work schedule.

“I’m somewhat disappointed in his response,” Harder said. “We could have cleared up a lot of things and he missed the opportunity to do that.”

The ethics committee also voted last week to demand budget information about whether any of the $173 million the county received last year under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act went to Mercy Health or Western Anesthesiology Associates. Page is a member of Western Anesthesiology Associates, which practices at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur.

In another letter included in the council packet, Page’s chief policy officer, Cora Faith Walker, said no CARES Act funds had been disbursed to either entity.

“For your future reference,” she wrote, “St. Louis County’s financial information may be found at the St. Louis County Open Finance Portal, located at the following link:”

P.O. Box 410091
Saint Louis, MO 63141
Paid for by Page for Missouri, Sue Felling, Treasurer

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