Reardon: St. Louis Needs To Address The Real Problem – Crime

Mark Reardon, @MarkReardonKMOX

I’m getting a little tired of hearing about how there needs to be more “regional cooperation” this week in the wake of the defeat of Prop 2 which would have shifted $60m in city taxpayer money to build a soccer stadium and attract an MLS franchise to St. Louis. That proposal didn’t suffer defeat because of some mythical lack of regional cooperation, it lost because it was pretty much DOA.

The supporters thought they would be able to somehow magically turn around the feeling of most voters that subsidizing billionaires was the way to help turn St. Louis around. Many of the same players both in and out of government thought the NFL would force a billionaire owner of a franchise who wanted to move his team to LA to somehow stay put—because it “just wasn’t fair”! Oh—and taxpayers footed the bill for $16M just to draw up that plan which WAS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

We’re 0 for 2. Two failed projects in a row and it’s not the fault of St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County or Madison County, IL. For St. Louis County’s part, they weren’t even in on the negations for this proposal. But the solution should be to hand a tax bill to residents to help a bunch of rich dudes? Did anyone propose naming rights? PSL’s? OR—and this one is super crazy—having the ownership group which is worth billions take out the bonds themselves before coming to the taxpayer trough?

Here’s what I was told repeatedly on Twitter this week:
“The soccer plan was never the only path to moving the city in the right direction but it would have been a great start.”

“No one said MLS was the answer to everything. It was part of a bigger plan.”

“Anytime u can bring thousands of people to an area to spend money .. should b considered a good thing”

I think having an MLS franchise in St. Louis would have been cool, and I don’t really even like soccer. But that’s not the point. Saying that a lack of regional cooperation is holding the entire area back from economic growth and opportunity is not confronting the real problem.

Everyone knows the real problem—it’s crime.

You know what St. Louis and the powers that be are good at? I mean really good. Throwing up distractions like silly minimum wage hikes, complaining about how Jefferson City doesn’t do enough for St. Louis, and raising the transgender flag at City Hall. Meantime people are being gunned down on a regular basis—not only in typical crime-ridden north city neighborhoods—but right downtown and across from and near Busch Stadium. In his last two months in office, Mayor Slay wants to talk about expanding Metrolink when we haven’t begun to seriously address the carnage in the city? That’s insanity.

Maybe fix crime first. Come up with a plan to pay the cops more, attract well-qualified candidates and then retain those officers. Then we can talk about how soccer will save our region! Oh, and by the way, the passage of Prop P in St. Louis County just made it tougher to do all that because those officers will be compensated far better.

Here’s another bold idea for the new Mayor of St. Louis Lyda Krewson…why not take the money from the 1/2 cent sales tax that was just approved and make plans to shut down Metrolink instead of expanding it. Oh, there goes that crazy right-wing radio guy again talking nonsense right? Yeah, I’m the crazy one instead of Mayor Slay and others who think that prioritizing an expansion of Metrolink that will cost upwards of THREE BILLION dollars is a better solution. How many vouchers for Uber can we buy for the next 50-100 years for $3.5B?? At the very least why not use that sales tax money to make the lines safer. Shouldn’t that be a priority? Cameras on platforms, more security and even facial recognition technology. I’m pretty sure St. Louis County Executive Stenger and County Police Chief Belmar have made some of those recommendations.

I’m by nature a glass half empty guy, but let’s try to move past this nonsense and turn it into a positive. There’s a really good opportunity here for some BIG thinking. Governor Greiten’s, Mayor Krewson, County Executive’s Stenger, Ehlmann, Waller etc. should get together and come out with a bold plan for the “region.” No more blue ribbon panels or commissions who get together and “study” these issues for months and issue reports that cost the taxpayers millions more.

You want to make regional leadership happen? Get rid of the one governmental entity that is always the problem. The City of St. Louis shouldn’t become another
municipality in St. Louis County. Let’s get rid of City government and let the County take over. Use Nashville as an example – Nashville has had a consolidated city-county government which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system. Nashville is governed by a mayor, vice-mayor, and 40-member Metropolitan Council. Get rid of St. Louis City government and many of the 90 plus other municipalities0, some of which most people have never even heard of, and truly consolidate the region.

Or maybe instead we should put a proposal together for a WNBA franchise.

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