They say if you lay down with dogs, you shouldn't be surprised if you wake up with fleas. I've never been a huge fan of the expression, but I think the basic idea is clear. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from right-wing millionaire Rex Sinquefield over the years, and though politicians love to say that such donations don't change their judgment, it's a little difficult to believe as an outside observer.
Sinquefield was behind a recent ballot initiative to put a question on the November ballot that could remove the earnings tax used by St. Louis and Kansas City to generate crucial income for city services. Now the particular ballot initiative under question actually puts the issue up for a vote in the cities every five years, but the basic outcome would be to put the public sector in a constant state of insecurity. It also would prevent other growing cities in Missouri from ever implementing an earnings tax, even if they needed it to keep up with their growth.
It is widely acknowledged that St. Louis Mayor Slay has been much less outspoken in opposing the earnings tax vote than his counterpart in Kansas City, Mayor Funkhouser. In fact, this past week, Slay seemed to suggest that the November election should be conceded and claimed that Sinquefield, "assured me [Slay] that he will not support a campaign in the City of St. Louis until the City and the region have found a viable alternative." However, it later became clear that there were no such assurances as Singuefield said he's still deciding whether to push for a St. Louis vote in April 2011, the earliest possible election.
Neither Mayor Slay nor anyone else should be surprised to find out that Sinquefield didn't spend $7 million dollars on the ballot initiative just to lay back and "play nice" in future elections. Rex is using his millions of dollars to push his political ideology on the rest of the state, just like he has been for a long time. I would say (and I know many agree) that our Democratic politicians should not accept any money from obvious right-wing ideologues like Sinquefield. But at the very least, our city officials need to respond forcefully and with no hesitation to proposals that would gut the city budget, and not act surprised when ideologues do the same things they've always done.