Hundreds of concerned East St. Louis citizens gathered Tuesday for an "Emergency Town Hall Meeting" called by Mayor Alvin Parks Jr.
to discuss the recent FBI raid of Parks' office and pending investigation and the controversy regarding the hours of the city's late-night bars and clubs.
Just after the meeting kicked off -- before his constituents started laying into Parks for everything from allegations of corruption to their city's lack of a blues festival--the embattled mayor did his best to put a little positive spin on the whole FBI situation.
If you haven't already heard, FBI agents exercised a search warrant
for the mayor's office March 26 and carted away documents related to their investigation of "unlawful solicitation of money regarding liquor licenses." Mayor Parks also doubles as the city's liquor commissioner. He said yesterday that his deputy liquor commissioner Walter Hill
, has been placed on administrative leave
in the wake of the investigation.
Somewhat unbelievably, Parks tried his best to convince the crowd that the FBI ransacking his office was really actually kind of a good thing. It was a ballsy performance that would have impressed the the spin doctor himself, Karl Rove.
The silver-tongued Parks offered three reasons to support his argument. His words:
might be asking, what positive can come out of this kind of a
situation? There are several positives. The first of which, if you'll
recall, for those of you who are familiar with the Life More Abundantly
Plan for East St. Louis (Parks' campaign platform), point number two in
our plan calls for restoring credibility and ensuring that integrity is a part of everything we do as a city government. That is what we're seeking to do. In this case, it happened to come partially as a result of an investigation.
Of course, no one ever wants their office raided, no one ever wants an
embarrassing situation, but the positive outcome is increased integrity
in our city government."
"The second silver lining is establishing a relationship with people who are interested in law enforcement in this community being strengthened."
"A third plus is developing and recruiting resources regarding law enforcement efforts in this city. People interested in helping us get more manpower on the street. The people from the U.S. Attorney's office are very interested is helping expand law enforcement in this community. The positive outcome is that we're having conversations with them that we may not have otherwise have had. So there are silver linings to this situation."
Judging from the comments that came when Parks opened up the mic to the public, the mayor's sales pitch wasn't exactly successful: One woman responded that "We're grown-ups. We don't want to be treated like children," and another proclaimed that, "We need to stand-up and find ourselves some new politicians."
Maybe Karl Rove wouldn't have been so proud after all.