A St. Louis County Commissioner recently took employees to task for skipping local vendors and using Amazon to purchase necessities; the move was condemned by a local union official and some of the members of the board.

According to news reports, 6th District Commissioner Keith Nelson (from Virginia) sent an email to just under 2,000 county employees saying:

"My question is simple why in the **** are we using amazon. If people are having difficulty finding things locally please contact my office I would be happy to get our area chambers involved, they pay taxes here."

While Nelson didn't actually type the word in question - using asterisks instead, the intent was evident to those on the receiving end.  Dennis Frazier - the current President of AFSCME Local 66 said: “The disrespectful comments were taken very hard by many employees … and seen as dismissive".

At the most-recent meeting of the St. Louis County Board, various other board members took Nelson to task for his email.  For his part, Nelson defended his actions - saying that his intent was to bolster the promotion of local businesses first.

According to an article by the Duluth News Tribune, St. Louis County spent "roughly $147,000 on Amazon purchases last year — a relatively minuscule 0.05 percent of the county’s $271 million in operating expenses".  Current practice for county employees is to try to source necessary purchases from local vendors first before turning to big-box retailers and online sources like Amazon.