The Mayor’s Choice

Economic Development Board nominee faces assault charge, financial problems


Several weeks ago, Mayor Jones disavowed a handshake agreement with council member Toni Burrow, to appoint a prominent local businessman to the Economic Development Board. Instead, she appointed Melanie Randels. We have learned that Randels is facing assault charges in Ferguson municipal court. The case arose from an incident which occurred last July, in the parking lot of the BP at Florissant and Woodstock. A short video, which was provided to us by the victim, appears to shows Randels shouting that she “slapped the shit” out of the victim, and spit on her. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for September 28.

According to victim Marne Madison, Randels approached her in 2019 to be mentored in developing a medical marijuana business. Madison is president of the Missouri chapter of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, a Florida based organization which provides training and advocates for diversity in the industry. According to Madison, Randels later did a broadcast on Real STL News, accusing her of stealing her intellectual property. Madison also claims that Randels has filed for an order of protection against her twice, both of which were dismissed when Randels failed to appear at a hearing.

In addition to the assault, Randels has an extensive history of financial and legal problems. Most significantly, Randels was a tenant in a home at 7594 Blanding in Ferguson, which is owned by Beyond Housing, a non-profit agency which provides subsidized housing, including employment, budget, and credit counseling for tenants. Court records show that Beyond Housing filed for eviction against Randels ten times between 2014 and 2019. Randels vacated the home after it was rendered uninhabitable by a fire on February 15, 2021. Fire department reports indicate that the fire started in the kitchen, with cause undetermined.

While the home has been vacant and uninhabitable since February, state voter registration records as of August 17, 2021, indicate that her voter registration remains at the vacant home. Although there have been two elections since the fire, we have not yet determined whether Randels has voted from the vacant home.

The most recent eviction case, in late 2019, shows an unsatisfied judgment of nearly $4,000. There are several other collection cases with unsatisfied judgments. Older debts incurred by Randels may have been discharged in her bankruptcy, which she filed in 2011. The bankruptcy filing lists more than $80,000 in debt, with about $45,000 in student loans. At the time, she was employed in a clerical position at Express Scripts.

Randels also has three unresolved traffic tickets from the city of Normandy. Court records indicate that she was speeding in a school zone, ran a stop sign, and did not have insurance. The alleged offenses took place in early 2018, with a court date in April. Randels failed to appear, and has missed multiple rescheduled court dates since then, with the most recent one in March 2021.

Randels’ business is The Canna Education Collective. The business was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in October 2020. The organization’s purpose, according to their website:

We aim to educate, cultivate, and activate the next generation of community and industry leaders. By serving as a collective resource hub that increases access to equitable, agricultural, horticultural, and cannabis industry resources through education and social justice missions.

The organization’s office is in a strip mall in Dellwood. When a friend visited a few weeks ago, what appeared to be a marijuana grow was visible from the front of the office. Since they are not licensed as a commercial grower, we can only presume that they are cultivating under the caregiver provision of the medical marijuana law. Upon review of current statute and regulation, and after consulting with an attorney who helped draft the current medical marijuana law, it appears that if the proper licenses have been obtained, cultivation of small amounts in a commercial facility is permitted under that provision. However, it does not appear that the room is secured as the law requires.