The cemetery consultant who was hired in June 2012 to audit the city records has stopped working on the project, according to City Administrator Harold Selby.
The consultant does not plan to charge the city for his work, Selby said.
In June 2012, Brian May, whose family owns St. Louis Funeral and Cremation, was hired as a consultant to conduct an audit of the city cemetery records, similar to the state audit conducted in 2011.
At the time, Mayor Herb Adams said that no stone should be left unturned in allowing May to have access to city records. He also said he was confident that once May’s work was completed, the city would be exonerated as it had been in the state audit of financial records.
Selby reported at the Dec. 3 board of aldermen meeting that May had looked at some records and had been seen in the city cemetery. But Selby said he was unsure where the survey stood.
At the board’s Dec. 18 meeting Selby said May had stopped working on the project and did not plan to charge the city anything.
“He looked at the records, both Alan’s and the city’s, and thought they were all good records compared to other places he’s been,” Selby said.
“What he (the consultant) thinks happened here, happened in lots of places back in the 1940s and 1930s,” he said. “Some of the stuff Jeff (Palmore) is talking about is in 1900. Back then when a person purchased a gravesite, sometimes they didn’t have the money, so the sexton bought the gravesite and when it was paid off they would generate the deed.”
May spoke briefly with The Missourian by phone Dec. 19, following Selby’s announcement. May said he would be glad to do a sit-down interview on the topic, but because of the broad scope of the issue he was reluctant to offer comments via the telephone.
Jeff Palmore, who owns and operates Bell Funeral Home, spoke at the Dec. 18 meeting, repeating his request for someone in the city to sit down with him.
Palmore said he could show officials many of the errors that are evident in the current records and on cemetery tomb stones. He said City Clerk Kim Barfield and Adams had signed a deed to a fictitious person that was dated 2001.
“The mayor (today) was not the mayor in 2001 and the city clerk (today) was not city clerk in 2001,” Palmore said.
Adams flared when Palmore attempted to question Barfield directly about the deed, instructing Barfield not to answer.
“This is not a court room and you are not Perry Mason,” Adams told Palmore.
Palmore continued to speak, making reference to a stone with the name Dora Kemper.
“Whoever you paid to do the research of the cemetery could not have missed that stone,” Palmore said.
Alderman Ed Gass said the city should at least look at Palmore’s claims.
“It sounds like Jeff knows how to fix this problem,” Gass said. “I would like to see Jeff write up the solution and bring it to us.”
“You are the expert,” Gass told Palmore. “You write it up so we can understand it and get it to the clerk before the next meeting.”
Adams said the mayor, not the city clerk, makes the agenda and he cautioned Gass that he (Adams) would not review any of Palmore’s writing, making reference to the litigation between Palmore and the city.
The mayor said he considered the records created by Nettie Painter, which the aldermen had accepted, as the official cemetery records.
“When Nettie put together the map she laid it out in front of the board and explained it to the board. There were good reasons why I asked the board to accept the map and make it part of the records,” Adams said. “That record you accepted that night is the same as any deed.”
Palmore said inaccurate records are not the same as a deed and are not valid. He said he would not stop questioning the city until the cemetery records were corrected.
“I will not be satisfied until I win because I know I’m right,” Palmore said.