Mayoral Candidate Signed Lucrative Deal with Red-Light Camera Company


  • denisewatsonwesley/
St. Louis American columnist Political Eye had an interesting story last week about Denise Watson-Wesley Coleman and her ties to Mayor Francis Slay and red-light camera firm American Traffic Solutions (ATS).

As you may recall, the relatively unknown Watson-Wesley Coleman announced her candidacy for mayor in January -- on the very same day that former state senator Maida Coleman had announced that she too would file to run for mayor in the Democratic primary.

Watson-Wesley Coleman's entry in the race prompted Maida Coleman to run as an Independent. It also prompted Maida Coleman to accuse Mayor Slay of encouraging Watson-Wesley Coleman to run for mayor as a way to confuse voters and break up the African-American vote. (Slay and Watson-Wesley Coleman have denied the allegations and maintain that they have little knowledge of each other.)

Now comes news through Political Eye that Watson-Wesley Coleman and Francis Slay have at least one thing in common: Both are fans of the city's red-light camera program.
In 2006, I reported how Slay's office and political operative Joyce Aboussie greased the skids to award the city's red-light camera contract to ATS. That initial contract was later thrown out following my report, but eight months later the city re-bid the program and again awarded the contract to ATS.

Political Eye has obtained that second contract approved and signed by Slay and other city officials. It shows that Watson-Wesley Coleman, who once served as legal counsel for the Board of Aldermen, was chosen as part of the contract to do $160,000 worth of legal work for the camera program. (Click here to view a copy of the contract, and scroll to Page 18.) 

Asks the Political Eye:
"Isn't it interesting, though, that she has this lucrative contract with a City vendor, yet two days after she filed for mayor, Watson-Wesley (Coleman) claimed she had never heard of [Slay political consultant] Richard Callow or a number of Slay operatives, including [lobbyist] Louis Hamilton, Bradley Ketcher and even Jeff Rainford, who was chief-of-staff during her seven-month stint at the Board of Aldermen?"

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.