Monday, April 11, 2011

Discussions of Merged City/County Services Taking Place Behind Closed Doors

I could have sworn that Mayor Slay and his advisors were saying that they wanted to plan the city's future along with "the people." Mayor Slay:
Over the spring and coming summer months, I plan to continue the conversations with City voters that began in the successful campaign for passage of Proposition E. And I will ask other city officials to join the discussion and to work with me on a systematic review of government - what we do, why we do it, and how much it costs.
And his Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford:
And the key here is the voters. The voters in the City and the County are going to have a say in how much they want us doing business together and I think they've got to be part of the conversation and be brought in to the conversation.
Yet, KMOX reports that meetings have been taking place behind closed doors, and that not even Aldermanic President Lewis Reed knew about them:
A top St. official says there needs to be some legal ‘sunlight’ cast on the continuing merger talks between St. Louis City and County, which have been taking place out of public view.

Aldermanic President Lewis Reed says he was shocked to learn in earlier news reports that city and county officials have been meeting to talk about dovetailing economic development, construction codes and healthcare. “I am not in the loop at all on any of this,” Reed said. “I found out in the news paper like everyone else.”
Reed requested that he and the comptroller be brought into the conversations "as a bare minimum:"
Reed says the Mayor’s office alone should not be at the table in the merger talks. He wants his office and the comptroller in on any future negotiations. “At minimum today, or as soon as possible, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment should get an update on what is going on,” Reed said. “And that would be the bare minimum.”
Rainford responded to the story on Twitter as follows:

But this seems to miss the point. I don't think peopler were criticizing the idea of meeting behind closed doors to plan a merger because what they really wanted was for the officials to meet behind closed doors and declare that there wouldn't be a merger. The point is that this should be a transparent and open process where citizens are given an opportunity to help shape the discussions rather than a group of suits meeting behind closed doors before bringing "The Answers" out on stone tablets to be voted on.


  1. Why is it, that sunshine law violations are a regular and continuing and reoccurring in the St. Louis Metro area?

    It seems like every year some local government body or another is sued for Open Meeting / Sunshine Law violations and they always lose badly in court. Yet, even in the light of this mountain of precedent, local politicians, sworn to uphold and govern by the law, continue to act as if they are better than the law and the people the law is designed to protect.

    Is the route cause arrogance, incompetence, stupidity, or (most likely) a mix of the three?

  2. What sticks in my craw is that the Democratic Party’ is ineffectual & generally blamed for the City’s decline and failure to serve its people. With access to resources & know how, most people are quite capable of defining & leading productive lives. Some decent & well intentioned policy makers (like plantation owners) come up with mediocre ideas they decide to impose top down; their track record speaks for itself (Colin Gordon, “Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City” ). GOOD INTENTIONS DON’T GUARANTEE GOOD OUTCOMES. We ‘get’ why STL’s potential leaders from the Joshua Generation shun participating in local Democratic politics or move to greener, less resistant pastures. I have the utmost respect for those who enter it to serve their community (vs. ambition and/or ego).

  3. Beware of merger/consilidations! Visit Indianapolis and see the dismal results. No services for taxpayers and lots of tax dollars to corporations, sports teams, and supposed "not-for-profits".