Sharon Carpenter knows how to squeeze an elected city job for all it's worth. After 37 years heading St. Louis' Office of Recorder of Deeds, she was forced to resign last summer when city prosecutors discovered she had hired a great-nephew as an intern — a violation of the laws barring public officials from nepotism. But Carpenter refused to go quietly. In the very next election, she beat the interim recorder by a landslide, reclaiming her place in St. Louis City Hall in January. The grumbles started soon after. Because Carpenter technically "retired" when she was booted from office, she now pulls in a monthly pension of $4,200 in addition to her roughly $100,000 salary as recorder of deeds. She further rankled critics in May by asking the city to buy her a new car, but the resulting outcry forced her to withdraw the request. All in all, Carpenter is the best example of how a toxic culture of patronage and entitlement still thrives at city hall. Sigh.