ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – “The Angry 18” is what one alderman is calling the group of aldermen who signed a letter to the mayor, urging her to scrap a deal that would let billionaire political donor Rex Sinquefield play a role in deciding whether the city should lease its airport.
Alderman Scott Ogilvie says Sinquefield is already too much involved in too much in the city.
“We’re setting ourselves up to fail, even if there’s a good offer on the table,” Ogilvie said. “We’re not going to be able to recognize a good offer because nobody trusts Rex.”
Sinquefield has been involved in the past in efforts to do away with the city’s earnings tax and efforts to unify St. Louis city and county governments.
Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, who also signed the letter, says the process has been too secretive.
“I think the people’s business should be done in the open for the people,” Tyus said. “So the privatization is a problem, but the secrecy is even a worse problem for me.”
Aldermanic President Lewis Reed did not sign the letter, but he says he does have some qualms, and want the process to be “fair, open and balanced.”
“So it doesn’t have the appearance that the fix is in,” Reed said.
Asked if the agreement with the Sinquefield-linked consultant should be torn up, Reed says they’re investigating whether that’s legally possible.
Mayor Lyda Krewson has seen the letter, but is not planning to void the contract with the Sinquefield firm.
“Rex Sinquefield and I don’t really have a relationship other than through the Chess Club,” she said. “He’s not one of my contributors.”
Krewson says if the airport doesn’t get privatized, Sinquefield doesn’t recoup any of his money.
“The decision is not his, the decision is not the advisor team’s,” Krewson said. “The folks that would be making the decisions about this are: The Board of Aldermen, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment — which is the comptroller, the president of the Board of Aldermen and me — the airlines, and the FAA.”
Krewson says doing business in a different way is hard for all of us, because change is hard.