FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) _ Ferguson has hired its third city manager since a scathing Justice Department report in March forced a City Hall shake-up and called into question the legal system in the St. Louis suburb where a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown.
The Ferguson City Council on Tuesday night signed on Ed Beasley as interim city manager for a term of up to six months to oversee the 21,000-resident city. It also hired former St. Louis Circuit Judge Donald McCullin, 74, as its municipal judge. Beasley’s contract, including salary and a housing stipend, totals $84,500, while McCullin will earn $450 per court session.
Beasley, 57, managed the 226,000-resident Phoenix suburb of Glendale for a decade until 2012, a year before an audit accused him and his employees of deceiving Glendale’s governing board about soaring expenses tied to an early retirement program initially created to help solve a budget shortfall. The audit also faulted Beasley for payments to two high-level executives.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III said the council was aware of the audit, but he believed it was mostly politically motivated.
“Reviewing the events of what happened in Glendale, reviewing the issues related, reviewing what was really a very long and excellent career, we felt that Mr. Beasley was an excellent choice for the city,” Knowles said.
The city’s municipal judge and city manager were among several city employees who resigned after a U.S. Justice Department report cited racial bias and profiling in the city’s policing and in a profit-driven municipal court system that frequently targeted Blacks.
The first interim city manager left for a job in another St. Louis suburb. The city then named Public Works Director Matt Unrein acting city manager while it searched for a replacement.
The Justice Department report followed the August death of Brown, a Black, unarmed 18-year-old, who was shot by white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s death touched off sometimes violent protests and led to a national “Black Lives Matter” movement seeking changes in how police deal with minorities.
A county grand jury and the Justice Department cleared Wilson, who later resigned.