Home » Politics/Policy » Recent Articles:

Inauguration of Lyda Krewson as St. Louis’ Next Mayor, Upcoming Board of Aldermen Meetings

April 14, 2017 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Inauguration of Lyda Krewson as St. Louis’ Next Mayor, Upcoming Board of Aldermen Meetings

Next week aldermen, new members & those re-elected, will be sworn-in. Their official swearing in takes place in a conference room off their chambers, followed by a ceremonial swearing in during the first meeting of the new legislative session. Following all will proceed to the rotunda (though it is rectangular) for the inauguration of their board colleague as mayor. This will take place Tuesday April 18th.

The 3rd inauguration of Francis Slay on April 21, 2009.

I may attend Krewson’s inaugural, so I can hear her speech in full.  The 2009 inaugural began at noon.

From a prior Board of Aldermen calendar:


In theory the first meeting of the new Board of Aldermen should be Friday April 28th. As I did last year, on Friday’s I’ll post a list of new board bills being introduced.

— Steve Patterson




Opinion: Neoliberalism at City Hall Will Continue to Fail St. Louis

April 12, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Neoliberalism at City Hall Will Continue to Fail St. Louis
This dawn photograph of the Lambert Main Terminal was taken in June 1956, less than 4 months after its opening. Photograph by Ralph D’Oench, Missouri Historical Society Collections

Anyone who has lived in St. Louis during an election knows Democrats win in this city, but not all Democrats are the same. Outgoing mayor Francis Slay is in the group with Bill & Hilary Clinton, Claire McCaskill, Jay Nixon, etc. — a neoliberal:

Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. It takes from the basic principles of neoclassical economics, suggesting that governments must limit subsidies, make reforms to tax law in order to expand the tax base, reduce deficit spending, limit protectionism, and open markets up to trade. It also seeks to abolish fixed exchange rates, back deregulation, permit private property, and privatize businesses run by the state.

Liberalism, in economics, refers to a freeing of the economy by eliminating regulations and barriers that restrict what actors can do. Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development. (Investopedia)


From an economic context, neoliberalism is essentially a modern version of lassez-faire policy. Neoliberals advocate for free and unfettered trade, removing restrictions on capital moving across borders, and cutting government budgets through austerity measures. They argue that free markets and so-called “frictionless capitalism” is the best engine available to create growth and lift people out of poverty. (Fortune: Even the IMF Now Admits Neoliberalism Has Failed)

You can read the International Monetary Fund paper here.

In the municipal context neoliberalism often means privatizing public services.  In Slay’s 16 years as mayor he’s pushed for private charter schools, in 2013 Slay backed a plan that would have led to the privatization of our water system:

City Hall, led by Mayor Francis Slay, had said a $250,000 consulting contract with Veolia Water North America was necessary to help reduce costs and keep water rates down for city residents. But the process was colored by heated protests of the company’s environmental and business practices, with some residents worried the company would try to seize the city’s water and reduce its quality.

Slay’s staff on Tuesday told the aldermanic Ways and Means committee that the company had dropped itself from consideration for the contract. (Post-Dispatch: Veolia Water drops proposal to consult St. Louis water division)

In his last month in office Slay set up a study to privatize our airport.

A majority of readers in the non-scientific Sunday Poll are opposed to privatizing Lambert.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis should privatize our airport by leasing it to a private firm.

  • Strongly agree 3 [8.33%]
  • Agree 4 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat agree 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat disagree 4 [11.11%]
  • Disagree 5 [13.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 15 [41.67%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.78%]

Hopefully mayor-elect Lyda Krewson will reject neoliberal policies that have failed St. Louis, Missouri, and the nation for years.  Voters who blindly back neoliberal Democrats might not be aware of policy alternatives from the left.

— Steve Patterson



Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Privatize The Airport?

April 9, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should St. Louis Privatize The Airport?
Please vote below

Last month outgoing St. Louis mayor, Francis Slay, suggested a change in management of the city-owned airport:

Mayor Slay says he started eyeing the idea of a public-private partnership for Lambert last year.

He says one positive is a potential influx of hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used for things like public safety or MetroLink.

Right now, most revenue generated at Lambert must stay there.

Wednesday, Mayor Slay signed a preliminary application with the federal government to start the process.  Legal and financial firms will study whether privatizing is best for St. Louis. (KMOV)

So this is the subject of today’s poll:

The poll will remain open until 8pm.

— Steve Patterson


Large Turnout For Tuesday’s General Election

April 7, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy, Public Transit, Taxes Comments Off on Large Turnout For Tuesday’s General Election

Tuesday’s general election had the highest turnout of any April general in the City of St. Louis for the last decade!

Voter turnout was twice as high for this city general election than four years ago, the last time the mayor’s race was on the ballot. Voter turnout was 30 percent, or about 59,000 voters, while in 2013 turnout was 12.5 percent of voters. (Post-Dispatch)

Must have been the propositions on the ballot because the races for Mayor, Comptroller and half the Board of Aldermen, weren’t competitive at all — the Democratic nominee won by wide margins in every race. Nobody should be surprised.

Signs & campaign workers outside Central Library on Tuesday.

St. Louis continues wasting money every two years by holding a partisan primary followed a month later by the general election. This gives the illusion that different political parties matter in St. Louis. They don’t.

Proponents of nonpartisan ballots suggest that:

  • Political parties are irrelevant to providing services.
  • Cooperation between elected officials belonging to different parties is more likely.

Proponents for partisan elections argue that:

  • The absence of party labels confuses voters; a voter who must choose from among a group of candidates whom she knows nothing about will have no meaningful basis in casting a ballot.
  • In the absence of a party ballot, voters will turn to whatever cue is available, which often turns out to be the ethnicity of a candidate’s name.
  • Non-partisanship tends to produce elected officials more representative of the upper socioeconomic strata than of the general populace and aggravates the class bias in voting turnout, because in true non-partisan systems there are no organizations of local party workers to bring lower-class citizens to the polls on election day. (League of Cities)

If voters only look to see who the ward committee endorsed in the primary or for the “D” in general it explains a lot about the state of St. Louis. We need educated voters who know the issues and candidates!



A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article XV of the City Charter repealing Sections 4 and 5 and enacting in lieu thereof four new sections, Sections 4, 4a, 4b and 5, the purpose of which is to abolish the Office of Recorder of Deeds and consolidate the functions of that office with that of the Assessor, and place any realized cost savings in a special fund known as “the police body-worn camera fund” dedicated to the purchase and use of police body-worn cameras by the city Metropolitan Police Department subject to appropriation from the fund by the Board of Aldermen for the express purpose of the fund (the full text of which is available at all polling places).


A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article II of the City Charter repealing Sections 1, 2 and 3 and enacting in lieu thereof four new Sections 1, 1(a), 2 and 3, the purpose of which is to move the Primary Municipal Election date from March to August and the General Municipal Election date from April to November in even-numbered years, commencing in 2020 and continuing every two years thereafter, and providing for a transition to accomplish those changes (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

PROPOSITION 2 (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall the use tax paid by businesses on out-of-state purchases and derived from the one half of one percent increased use tax, which corresponds to approval and levy of an Economic Development Sales Tax in the City of St. Louis, be used for the purposes of minority job training and business development programs, and a portion of construction costs, but not construction cost overruns, of a multipurpose stadium for soccer, local amateur sports, concerts and community events? A use tax is the equivalent of a sales tax on purchases from out-of-state sellers by in-state buyers and on certain taxable business transactions for which a sales tax is not levied. No taxpayer is subject to a sales tax and a use tax on the same transaction. The City shall be required to make available to the public an audited comprehensive financial report detailing the management and use of the portion of the funds each year.

PROPOSITION NS BOND ISSUE ORDINANCE (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

A proposition submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis a proposed Ordinance authorizing and directing the issuance of general obligation bonds of The City of St. Louis, Missouri, not to exceed $40,000,000 principal amount in aggregate (of which no more than $6,000,000 in principal amount shall be issued annually) for the purpose of stabilizing, as limited by the Ordinance, residential properties owned by public entities, as described in the Ordinance, and authorizing the execution of an agreement relating to the expenditure of the sale proceeds of such bonds (the full text of which is available at all polling places).



Shall Section 4 of Article XVIII of the Charter of the City of St. Louis be amended to add paragraph (f), which provides for the enactment of an ordinance establishing a residents’ preference to residents of the City of St. Louis upon successfully passing a civil service examination for civil service positions with the City?

Section 4. Ordinances to be enacted – The mayor and aldermen shall provide, by ordinance: (f) City Residents’ Preference. For a preference to be granted to residents of the City of St. Louis who successfully pass an examination for a civil service position.

PROPOSITION 1 (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall the City of St. Louis impose a sales tax at a rate of one half of one percent for economic development purposes including (1) North/South Metrolink, (2) neighborhood revitalization, (3) workforce development; (4) public safety, and (5) to upgrade the city’s infrastructure, with annual public audits?

Old buildings will continue to deteriorate, the big hole in the urban fabric will remain West of Union Station. But as early as 2026 an 8-mile light rail North-South line will be running.

Francis Slay has been mayor for 16 of my nearly 27 years in St. Louis — hopefully Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson will be able to move the city in a positive direction.

— Steve Patterson


Most Won’t Vote Tomorrow

April 3, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Most Won’t Vote Tomorrow

If you’re like me, you vote in every election. Unfortunately, not everyone is a regular voter.

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

With an open seat for mayor, the partisan primary last month had better turnout than 4 years earlier — though still dismal at just 28.6%. Last November the turnout was 69,43% — low compared to other areas in the region. Typically general elections get more voters than partisan primaries, many local governments are non-partisan so there is no primary,

St. Louis is backwards — the primary is the election.  Yes, sometimes an independent will defeat an disliked Democratic nominee  — Independent Scott Ogilvie defeating Democrat Tom Bauer in 2011.

Here is the voter turnout for the last decade, bold numbers are those less than 10%:

A few things stand out to  me: elections to fill open seats attract more voters. Mayoral & presidential elections attract more voters than years without. In local municipal elections, the primary general has higher turnout than the election. Turnout in St. Louis is embarrassingly low.

— Steve Patterson