According to a story posted by the Lake Sun Leader, The Lake Ozark Board of Aldermen are being asked to approve an ordinance at Tuesday’s regular meeting that would retain Regional Strategies, LLC to “assist the City’s economic development team and further explore potential interest with local developers, regional developers and national developers and help to facilitate communication between these developers and local stakeholders in the furtherance of the City’s economic growth and development.”
Here is their story:
The proposed ordinance also states that Regional Strategies, LLC would be paid $4,900 for its services. City Code Section 140.070 Formal Contract Procedure states that contractual services are required to go to bid only when the estimated cost exceeds $5,000. Because the offer of services was $100 less than the City Code requirement, Regional Strategies was able to avoid the city’s bid process.
Jeff Aboussie, described by St. Louis Public Radio in 2014 as “one of the most influential organized labor leaders in Missouri,” is president of Regional Strategies, LLC. The STLPR story went on to say Aboussie’s “role is largely to work with (Missouri) legislators to pass or sink bills deemed hostile to organized labor.”
The ordinance was initially presented to the board at its March 22 meeting. City Administrator David Mitchem described it as the “next step in advancing large scale development.” However, then-Alderman Dennis Klautzer stated he felt that retaining the services of Regional Strategies LLC would be a direct violation of a non-disclosure agreement aldermen were required to sign before they could learn about a development project being proposed for the city. He also said he was not willing to sign a contract that would release confidential information to an agent when he would be stepping down from the board and would no longer have any control over the agent’s actions.
Klautzer then made a motion to table the matter and discuss it at a work session. Alderman Matt Wright seconded the motion, which was approved unanimously. Although a work session was held Thursday, April 21, the matter was not discussed. Instead, it is being brought back to the board’s April 26 meeting.
After the meeting March meeting, more than one alderman said they had learned of Aboussie’s past and planned to share the information with the newly elected aldermen.
According to the engagement agreement included in the ordinance, Regional Strategies, LLC, agrees to complete the following tasks:
1. Initiate discussions between the property owners at Highway HH and Bagnell Dam Blvd. and developers to facilitate interest and the timely development of the property, to include hotel, recreation, convention venue, and retail. Provide the City with weekly status updates.
2. Initiate discussions between Lakeshore Holdings, LLC and qualified developers, to advance joint venture opportunities, to include hotel, recreation, convention venue, retail and casino. Provide the City with weekly status updates.
3. Initiate discussions between Gary Prewitt and qualified developers, to advance joint venture opportunities, to include hotel, recreation, convention venue, retail and casino. Provide the City with weekly status updates.
4. Initiate discussions between Naomi Campbell Trust and qualified developers, to advance joint venture opportunities, to include hotel, recreation, convention venue, retail and casino. Provide the City with weekly status updates.
5. Initiate discussions between Mark McLaren (old quarry on Hwy 54) and qualified developers, to advance joint venture opportunities, to include hotel, recreation, convention venue, retail and casino. Provide the City with weekly status updates.
6. Initiate discussions between Matt Schrimpf, his clients and qualified developers, to include hotel, recreation, convention venue, retail and casino. Provide the City with weekly status updates.
7. Monitor all casino related legislation progressing through the Missouri General Assembly and provide status updates to the City of Lake Ozark on a weekly basis.
8. Engage in general discussions to encourage development that results in the City of Lake
Ozark becoming a year-round destination.
9. Provide an end of ninety day written status report to the City that addresses item 1 through 6 above.
If approved by aldermen, the ordinance will go into effect immediately after its adoption.
The City of Lake Ozark currently has a community economic developer in Harrison Fry who was hired in that role and as assistant city administrator about two years ago.
A Google search found several that Aboussie:
● Has served since 2016 as president of Regional Strategies LLC
● Served on the advisory board of FLY 314, a non-profit overseeing the failed push to lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport to a private company
● Served from 2008 to 2011 as international representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers
● Served from 2015 to 2017 as Saint Louis Airport commissioner, appointed by Saint Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, who pleaded guilty in May 2019 to federal corruption charges
● Served from 2009 to 2016 as executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council
● Is a 35-year member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 513
● Served under Mayor Francis Slay on the Saint Louis Diversity Board for Inclusion and Workforce Development
● Is past president of the Pride Labor/Management Committee
● Served as an executive board of the Missouri ALF-CIO and as Vice President of the Saint Louis Labor Council
● Pleaded guilty in 1985 in U.S. District Court to four counts of mail fraud in a scheme to defraud an insurance company by reporting a house burglary that never occurred. And according to an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, “In intercepted conversations, Jeffrey Aboussie, who is associated with a Kansas City, Missouri organized crime family, offered to aid the Leisure group in locating James A. Michaels, III by contacting the Denver and Chicago organized crime families… Michaels was ultimately indicted for the car bombing of Paul Leisure.” (See https://law.resource.org/pub/