Sunday, April 25, 2010

Response from Mariano V. Favazza Candidate for Clerk of Circuit Court

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed, for this position?

The key role is to manage and administer the office. Management of the office requires a variety of skills and knowledge.

As the leader of the office you have to be able to see the whole picture, listen to your managers, supervisors, line staff, the judges and general public, and then decide how to proceed. For me it starts with a single goal, fast accurate service, accomplished at the least possible expense. In my years of service I have relied on my knowledge of the law, and more importantly, my ability to solve problems. My ability to question why and how we do things has helped dramatically improve service and reduce costs, with 30 fewer employees than when I took office.

2. What experience / attributes do you have that qualify you for this position?

I have successfully served as Circuit Clerk since 1999. I have practiced law, and owned and operated a business, and managed other businesses. I have extensive management skills developed through years of successfully administering the Circuit Clerk’s office and other businesses. Good management skills include the ability to listen to ideas, and the ability to utilize the talents of many for the single goal of making the operation better. I have those skills.

3. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponent(s) (if applicable)?

My record as Circuit Clerk demonstrates the reason why I am the best person to serve the people as Circuit Clerk. Besides dramatically improving service, I have slashed the budget saving St. Louis taxpayers millions, which have been spent on services that more directly benefit them and their neighborhoods.

4. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office? (please be specific)

The Circuit Clerk’s authority to hire, fire and assign deputy clerks was transferred by an administrative order made by a committee of judges. The committee, in violation of Missouri’s Constitution and a specific statute (see below), transferred the “appointing authority” to the Presiding Judge.

That decision leaves the Circuit Clerk personally liable for the office’s operation, but with NO authority over the deputy clerks. As such, the Circuit Clerk has no authority to discipline a deputy clerk who fails to issue an arrest warrant, allowing a defendant to be free on the streets.

The decision has the practical effect of making your elected Circuit Clerk a “judge-appointed Circuit Clerk,” and invalidates the will of the people of St. Louis who voted to keep the right to elect the Circuit Clerk.

This decision is consistent with the judges’ long sought goal to appoint the Circuit Clerk. For years they tried to pass legislation or get voter approval to change the law. For example, in 2009, years after voters decided to keep the right to vote for Circuit Clerk, local judges tried to pass a law to get the power to appoint the Circuit Clerk effective January 1, 2011. I successfully worked to defeat that bill.

Missouri Constitution
Article V
Section 27
August 28, 2009
10. a. 2. Upon the expiration of the terms of office of the clerk of the circuit court for criminal causes of the city of St. Louis, and the term of the clerk of the St. Louis court of criminal correction, the offices of such clerks shall cease to exist and thereafter the clerk of the circuit court of the city of St. Louis shall have the powers and perform the duties and functions of such clerks and shall serve all divisions of the circuit court, except the courts presided over by an associate circuit judge, the judge of the probate division of the circuit court and by municipal judges. (my emphasis added)
10.1.4 There shall continue to be an office of circuit clerk in each county of the circuit, until otherwise changed by law.

Missouri Revised Statutes
Chapter 483
Clerks of Courts of Record and Court Records
Section 483.245
August 28, 2009
Deputy circuit clerks, appointment, removal, assignment of duties - compensation, how determined and paid.
1. The provisions of this section shall become effective on July 1, 1981.
2. The circuit clerk, or person exercising the authority of the circuit clerk pursuant to county charter, shall appoint all deputy circuit clerks, including deputy circuit clerks serving in courtrooms, and shall prescribe and assign the duties of such deputy circuit clerks. The circuit clerk may remove from office any deputy circuit clerk whom he appoints. All division clerks, as defined in section 483.241, shall be appointed by the judge of the division such clerks serve, and such judge may remove from office any division clerk whom he appoints. (my emphasis added)

5. What plans do you have for addressing these issues? (please be specific)

To fulfill my oath to uphold our Constitution and laws, and to protect St. Louisans’ voting rights I filed a lawsuit, naming the committee as the respondent. A trial court issued a decision that each side has appealed. The appeal remains pending.

6. What particular strengths would help you defeat other party opponents (if applicable) in the November general election?

There is no November opposition for this office.


Anonymous said...

Saying there is no "November" opponent is a true but misleading statement. There is an opponent in the August 4th election. Does Mr. Favazza want us to overlook the primary?

Jan said...

The question (#6) that Mr. Favazza was answering with that response was specifically referring to the November election. Since there will be no other parties on the November ballot for this position, he was correct in that the question is not applicable to this race.