A New St. Louis Gov't- Metro City

A catch-all forum for urban discussion. If it doesn't fit elsewhere, post here.
First unread post1082 posts
An interesting write-up in Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/artic ... an-decline
Chesterfield Mayor Bob Nations sat down with Tim McKernon on his podcast to talk about his views on the merger. If you care to listen the 36-minute interview can be found here.

-RBB
Nextstl.com - A New St. Louis

https://nextstl.com/2019/02/a-new-st-louis/
Thanks RBB, I'll check that out. McKernan usually has really good interviews.

Free Dotem!
I have said this along my inner circle since reading more into the plan...

I think this is going to be a major ***** if it does happen. You have people, police and others who used to live in the City but now live in the County because they didn't like the city. They'll most likely move to one of the other surrounding counties. In addition to this, you have people who hate the City because of its liberal tendencies. They'll leave to one of the surrounding counties. And for those who don't leave, you'll have strong tribalism throughout the county and constant bitching between people in the former city limits and the former county limits. It's going to be a mess no matter what way it is done.

Finally, people in the county are all up in arms about this because this proposal is coming at a time when St. Louis City is having a hard time getting funds together to pay off debt, fix bridges and have adequate service. They view this as a bailout. In the City, you have people here who are going to not be happy because Steve Stenger will become Mayor for a while before they have a say. They'll basically have a mayor they didn't vote for. I think a way to solve this is to elect a transitional mayor the following April (April 2021).

I love this city, I love this region, but the complaining and problems that are going to come out of this are going to make us look crazier than having 89 municipalities in the area.

As for the state voting on this issue, the opposition will run advertisements calling this the new Chicago. I'm conservative, but I know that to be horseshit because our representation in Jefferson City ain't going to change at all. We will still have the same amount of State Representatives and Senators. so for the opposition to run ads stating this will be Chicago is a scare tactic. Further, ads will most likely be run that target KC, Springfield and other growing cities saying St. Louis will take your businesses and people. It's going to be a mess and it will be dirty.

Finally, I support Jamilah Nasheed's proposal to make St. Louis City and County vote in favor by 60% in each so the people here have a say. If it fails in the county, it fails overall. This should be our decision ultimately, and as I said two pages ago, I would prefer the for and against the campaign to be done locally so people outstate are left in the dark.

I commented this on NextSTL.
^ Is uprooting your entire life out of kneejerk reaction really that feasible for most people? Hasn't the County been ran by Democrats the last like, 60 years?

It's not like the City is being "bailed out" and then forcing all of its leadership upon the County, which is another thing I keep hearing from the opposition. I do agree there should be a proper mayoral election, though, and the vote on the proposal should be city/county, not state.

The proposal needs work, but there's no doubt that a combined city and county would be beneficial, especially if no one is willing to bite the bullet for the real collaboration this region needs to be competitive.

My final point on this entire merger as a City resident, is that, I'm willing to bite the bullet and bring on Stenger if it means a better region for all of us. Who knows if it will result in tangible, positive results for everyone. But we've been doing the same thing for the last 140 years, and, unsurprisingly, failing. Do something new.
bwcrow1s wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:42 am
The proposal needs work, but there's no doubt that a combined city and county would be beneficial,
This is the "do something...anything!" attitude that I perceive from BT-plan proponents that I find arrogant. Not singling you out. But when reading opinions from here to stltoday to the Post-Dispatch mailbag, almost every single one can be summed up with some form of, "The details don't work out, but [somehow] the plan will be better." It always ends with a "there's no doubt about it" when, in fact, there is a lot of well-founded doubt.

If there is "no doubt" that a consolidated city-county is more efficient, then show it. BT initially tried but failed, and pulled back all their original numbers (they're no longer on the website) because they simply didn't work out. There were no savings from their consolidation plan, only vague promises of efficiencies, and a few basic concepts that are good ideas, but do not require the albatross of a consolidation to achieve.
Metro city starts with ~12,000 employees. If they cost $75k each to employee and about 5% retire, die, quit for whatever reason each year and thy are redundant, that's $45M the first yrar, $90M the 2nd etc until you get to a staffing level that can get the job done. Now will thr Meyro Council and mayor use that to hire more cops, hire people to do other thing, boost salaries, work on infrastructure backlog, cut taxes, hard to say.
I'm becoming more of an advocate of the initial vote being between city/county only. The perception of the state vote is that it's an end-around to avoid the potential no vote from the county. It hasn't been well-received. I think BT can score some credibility points if they back off the state vote and continue to tweak their model in an effort to gain some more wide-spread support. Certain elements in the region won't like it regardless of what changes are made, but that shouldn't mean the proposal is written in stone as far as the implementation.

If they go the state route and it passes, it will be a rocky transition b/c large chunks of the county and city will be kicking and screaming.

One secondary benefit of local vote is that we don't have to listen to St. Charles/Franklin County people weigh-in. They can quietly acknowledge that their Counties exist only because they can lean on the STL City/County for all the regional amenities/jobs with no skin in the game at all.

If it ultimately fails, I would be interested to see how the city's re-entry into the county as another municipality would look. It's entirely possible that incremental changes towards an inevitable merger is a more feasible way to go than the nuclear route.
This is the "do something...anything!" attitude that I perceive from BT-plan proponents that I find arrogant. Not singling you out. But when reading opinions from here to stltoday to the Post-Dispatch mailbag, almost every single one can be summed up with some form of, "The details don't work out, but [somehow] the plan will be better." It always ends with a "there's no doubt about it" when, in fact, there is a lot of well-founded doubt.

If there is "no doubt" that a consolidated city-county is more efficient, then show it. BT initially tried but failed, and pulled back all their original numbers (they're no longer on the website) because they simply didn't work out. There were no savings from their consolidation plan, only vague promises of efficiencies, and a few basic concepts that are good ideas, but do not require the albatross of a consolidation to achieve.
Thank you, bprop. This do something just for the sake of doing something is alarming and dangerous. Everyone seems to be drinking the kool-aid without doing any independent research of their own. If City and County residents on this forum are already blindly agreeing with this just think how the rest of the state will view this. The numbers need to work, otherwise it's an unnecessary game we're playing with a lot of people's livelihoods. I wish people would stop and think how they would feel if a state ballot initiative was being proposed for their place of business. How dangerous is that? Those people in the state have no idea how your place of business is run, and yet they get to decide on its fate. It's ludicrous.
^ Outstate voter here (in Kansas City) and while it may be easy to say all of us that live outside STL are ignorant and couldn't possibly know anything about what's going on in St. Louis, you'd be wrong. There are plenty of St. Louis expats like myself who are sick and tired of watching the dysfunction from afar. It's embarrassing. St. Louis' poverty, crime, policing and racial issues, (in addition to a litany of other problems) are not just a drag on you, but ALL of us in Missouri.

BT's plan needs refining, without question. It should be a city/county vote but to create the type of government proposed requires a constitutional amendment since that type of structure does not exist under current Missouri law. I can assure you, those of us in Kansas City also have no interest in St. Louis being able to amend the state constitution at will either. I'd also be OK with waiting to see what a Board of Freeholders plan could come up with. The problem, I have absolutely no faith that St. Louis County (and to an extent city) folks would do what needs to be done. They've failed to do so five times in the past and lo and behold STL still swirls the drain. St. Louis is nearly 50% of Missouri's economy, Missouri goes as St. Louis goes...and St. Louis is going nowhere.

I'm not drinking any kool-aid. I lived in St. Louis for 20 years and it'll be 12 in KC this year...other cities do it better. Do that independent research and go to one of the four town halls BT is planning for the upcoming weeks and detail why their plan won't work, and what will. Because if the opposition's alternative is voting this down (and we all know this will be refined before we actually head to the ballot box) and doing nothing, then yes, it's time for Missouri to have say.

And to reply to a few other comments I've seen here...enough with the fearmongering about this mass exodus that isn't likely to happen. The vast majority of people are not going to put their house on the market, yank their kids out of schools and screw up their commute out of anger. Most people, especially outside West County, don't have the ability to just pick up their lives and leave. It's not cheap. Just because you talked to some friends and family that threaten to move doesn't mean they actually will when push comes to shove. Without any polling those claims are anecdotal at best and outright ridiculous at their worst. I also don't understand the fear from Conservatives, St. Louis County hasn't had a Republican executive since 1991 and hasn't voted majority in favor of a Republican POTUS since 1988.

I can't wait to move back to St. Louis, my corporate office is there and I've put in for a transfer. I just don't want to come back to the mess I left almost 12 years ago. My company, by the way, like most others large companies in town, support this. We can't recruit talent in St. Louis for sh*t.
^ with all due respect, and generally as a fan of KC, your current town's "core" is just as, if not more, f'd up than ours. You don't even have a fully accredited KCPS. Just sayin.
Great Post by "The Mayor". Totally agree.
I agree with bprop and Forever_Lou. I really am surprised at the number of comments I've seen around on articles and such toting the "we MUST do something...anything!" argument. Although I have my disagreements with Megan Green, I think the letter she submitted to BT really highlighted some great points that require attention. Megan's point that is most relevant to this discussion is that the divide has been going on for a 143 years. Why is BT rushing to get this on the ballot? Will the region and state completely collapse if we hold off for another year or two and really make sure that we have the best plan that we possibly can?

I'm sure the fear would be that the extra time would allow for planning and negotiations to grind to a halt in the midst of squabbling.... But is there not also a risk that we get stuck with a hastily pushed through plan that does not work as intended and ends up doing irreversible damage to our region?
This wouldn't be voted upon until Nov 2020, 21 months from now. This is not being rushed.
Please forgive my ignorance, as I am not as knowledgeable as I would like to be regarding initiative petitions, but aren't the petitions final when they are submitted to the secretary of state for signature collection? Can submitted petitions to the SOS be altered whenever or do they have to be resubmitted and the process of signature collection started all over again?
You'd have to start over with sig gathering because they only signed for the language presented to them, I figure. That's why they go thru all this before sig gathering. The time it may bt why BT is in a hurry to get it into the SoS. Seems to me a couple months of feedback on the plan would be reasonable, but since the sigs are due early May 2020 the window to gathers sigs may be too short for comfort.
I find most of the hand wringing over this all being a scheme for Democrats to take over the County to be a bit hysterical considering that I believe that has already happened through electoral trends over the last several decades. Adding the City is not going to materially change the likelihood of a Republican winning the race for County Executive (in fact they could probably, as part of the merger, make the new Metro offices nonpartisan). The concerns about black representation are also sort of peculiar in that the County has had a black executive more recently than the 50% black City has had a black mayor. It's also weird to see the black members of the board of aldermen incensed about this when the current pro-incumbent gerrymander of the board is also essentially a racial gerrymander limiting the number of black seats.
STLrainbow wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:06 pm
^ with all due respect, and generally as a fan of KC, your current town's "core" is just as, if not more, f'd up than ours. You don't even have a fully accredited KCPS. Just sayin.
Not offended at all, I hate Kansas City. Can't wait to leave. I'm not sure I'd say the core here is in as bad of shape though, KC also doesn't have near as much core. But it is growing, as is it's economy, and it's finances are far more stable. KCPS had their best year in sometime this past year, if they can maintain the scores over the next year the state has said full accreditation will be granted.

But that's all beside my original point. Most American cities (especially in this region) suffer from these types of issues or have in the recent past. But none of them seem to struggle anywhere near as much as St. Louis does in dealing with them. Baltimore does but...oh wait.
Thanks quincunx! :D

That's how I was thinking the process went but I wasn't quite sure.

Seeing as BT refiled their petition yesterday to the SOS, I suppose they must be quite confident in the proposal as it stands. I mean, why would they submit the petition for approval to circulate if they weren't fairly confident in it?

Not to say they can't and won't refile again at a later date... But I imagine people would grow tired over signing a petition multiple times over a period of several months.
I am very happy to see this plan moving forward and hope folks vote for it. While not ideal, it does make significantprogress on a number of issues and we should not throw away the chance to accomplish those things (sales tax regionalization, creation of a better resources metro pd, reduction in duplicative local services).

No doubt there will be operational challenges. For example, the BT concept seems to rely on the idea that a metro muni will fewer short sighted decisions about TIF or engage in a less parochial process in approving development decisions. As most major American cities show, that is not the case. I am also disappointed that street maintenance and local transportation weren’t added into the functions of the metro city. That is an area ripe for greater efficiency, mostly in contracting.

In the long run, it seems like this is a plan that will:
1. Better align revenues to their service area. A metro gov primarily funded by sales taxes will mean that regional services are paid for by regional revenues. Though note that this is a double edged sword. A metro gov funded by sales taxes will prioritize new sales tax generating uses over other things.
2. Result in a better distribution of police resources (I.e. police resources targeted to high crime areas and not wasting tax payer funds on supped up squad cars for Frontenac to bust drunk drivers/ high school kids drinking).
3. Result in further consolidations. Without sales taxes, municipal divisions will need to get revenue via property taxes. And if voters won’t approve those, the municipal divisions will need to either contract with the metro gov to provide those services or merge with an adjacent municipal division.


Finally, no where does it say where this metro gov would be housed. I think it ideal to put those offices in downtown St. Louis and then sell off the empty county facilities in Clayton for private development.
jmedwick wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:15 am
Finally, no where does it say where this metro gov would be housed. I think it ideal to put those offices in downtown St. Louis and then sell off the empty county facilities in Clayton for private development.
The plan stipulates that the seat of government be located in the former city.
https://twitter.com/rlippmann/status/10 ... 2655897600
Public works would be under the metro gov't
It'll be base downtown. They say it's because clayton doesn't have enough capacity.

https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/cu ... d#stream/0
Nextstl- The Strategy to Defeat the Merger

https://nextstl.com/2019/02/the-strateg ... he-merger/
The Mayor wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:04 pm
STLrainbow wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 3:06 pm
^ with all due respect, and generally as a fan of KC, your current town's "core" is just as, if not more, f'd up than ours. You don't even have a fully accredited KCPS. Just sayin.
Not offended at all, I hate Kansas City. Can't wait to leave. I'm not sure I'd say the core here is in as bad of shape though, KC also doesn't have near as much core. But it is growing, as is it's economy, and it's finances are far more stable. KCPS had their best year in sometime this past year, if they can maintain the scores over the next year the state has said full accreditation will be granted.

But that's all beside my original point. Most American cities (especially in this region) suffer from these types of issues or have in the recent past. But none of them seem to struggle anywhere near as much as St. Louis does in dealing with them. Baltimore does but...oh wait.
I disagree with you almost entirely. I just don't see how you can say a city that has a core with things like higher poverty, lower education attainment for adults, far less density, and similar violent crime rates, despite having more city financial resources, is dealing with these kinds of challenges better than big, bad, ole St. Louis. Same goes for supposed model Indy and lots of other of our peers. (Indy btw is particularly bad given what should be immense comparative advantages like a more diverse economy with its state capital and no inter-state drags.)