Thursday, February 10, 2011

Support Local Control By Signing Up for Group Headed By Anti-LGBT Former Legislator?

Let me reiterate that I 100% support the citizens of St. Louis City having control over the police department. Excellent pieces in the St. Louis American, including a column by Jamala Rogers, who's been working on this issue for years, successfully make the case that even people who have suspicions about collaborations with Rex Sinquefield should support the passage of the bill. I think everyone should contact their state senators and tell them to support the bill, and I've been very disappointed in Maria Chapelle-Nadal for holding out on this issue, even if I agree with her reasons for distrusting Rex Sinquefield.

I'll further add that I don't think the argument that this is a nothing more than an opportunity for the city to raid police pensions is a good one. The pensions seem reasonably protected in the proposed legislation, and the reality is that cities across the state and country have been in control of their own police departments for a long time: that's just how the system should work in a representative democracy.

However, I still have some pretty major concerns with how the campaign is being conducted by certain members of the St. Louis political establishment. As pointed out earlier, several local politicians had been directing people to sign up for a local control lobby day without informing people that they were signing up through Rex Sinquefield's group, which could presumably be used to push destructive right-wing ideas like the mega sales tax. In fact, with the exception of State Representative Jamilah Nasheed, many of these local officials whom I asked directly refused to commit to fight the mega sales tax. Martin Casas, when asked point blank on my facebook wall, said that he didn't have a position on the mega sales tax issue, a remarkable statement for someone running as a Democrat for Jeanette Mott Oxford's seat:
(to see why the mega sales tax is such an obviously horrible idea for anyone remotely progressive, and even too extreme for many Republicans, see here and here and here)

Casas is now back with a new article on the issue for Vital Voice. He argues that local control is an LGBT issue, since the city of St. Louis is more LGBT-friendly than the state of Missouri. However, at the bottom of his post, he asks people to "sign the petition for a safer Missouri:"

The petition page it goes to is pretty clear that it is signing people up for the Rex Sinquefield bankrolled group, United For Missouri:

And, as aficionados of this blog or FiredUp Missouri will know, the executive director of United For Missouri is Carl Bearden, who moved there after he was done working for the Koch Brothers' astroturf Americans for Prosperity group in Missouri.

Why is this important? Because Bearden had a long record of anti-LGBT activity when he was a Republican leader in the Missouri House of Representatives.

  • Bearden voted to ban the existence of gay/straight student alliances in Missouri.
  • He was a co-sponsor of HB885 in 2004, which would "Prohibit public institutions or any entity receiving state funds from adopting discrimination policies that exceed state and federal protections against discrimination."
  • He voted in favor of placing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Missouri on the 2004 ballot.

  • In other words, Bearden's record was nothing more than the most cynical of Republican strategies of bashing the LGBT community to score political points with social conservatives in Missouri.

    Like I said, I'm in favor of local control and I even understand why Democrats might want to work with conservative allies to get it. However, are we really supposed to believe that Mayor Slay or the Young Democrats of St. Louis can't simply make their own petition and email list rather than gathering signatures for a leader of anti-LGBT activities of the legislature a few years ago? Couldn't Slay's group use some of the Civic Progress money they're funneling to cronies (some of whom worked for Rex on the other end of the earnings tax initiative) to get one of their buddies to do two hours of work to make their own petition site? And Casas is running for office: shouldn't he be building his own email list? I think it's ridiculous that the community of Vital Voice is being asked to support Bearden's organization, when other clear alternatives could be available.

    I highly encourage people to contact their Missouri State Senator and tell that Senator that they support local control. I would also recommend contacting Maria Chapelle-Nadal and respectfully telling her that you think it's important that people have oversight of their own police department. And if you don't mind being on Sinquefield and Bearden's email list, by all means sign that petition as well, now that you know what you're getting yourself into.

    Update: If you're interested in working to support local control, I'd recommend signing up with CAPCR, a group that has been working on this issue for a long time, well before any of Rex's money got involved:

    No comments:

    Post a Comment