Proposed St. Louis City – County merger: Better together?

The “Better Together” plan for the re-consolidation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County is being released, and the initiative drive is about to begin. These are my thoughts about it. (There are ten points, but they are not inscribed on two tablets.)

  1.  I definitely support some kind of merger or consolidation of St. Louis City and County. I don’t need to be convinced that something must be done. I understand that many people like their local governments and are worried about losing that connection, but at the minimum, the city and county must somehow be brought together.
  2.  I am open to ideas on the best way to do this— form of government(s), taxation and financing, timetable, etc.— I will consider all options. I don’t have any preconceived notions.
  3.  I am determined to ignore County residents saying they don’t want any part of the city and its crime, bad schools, etc. I will also look beyond City residents worried that this is all just a power grab. And I am happy to pay no attention to government officials who are just protecting their own fiefdoms. (I do understand that many in the black community are concerned that any kind of consolidation will weaken their political clout, but I don’t think that is automatically true.
  4. I am not going to be swayed by “We’re stuck in 1904 (or 1876) and we must move forward” kind of slick PR slogans. I know we must do something. What is the best way to do it?
  5.   I am not going to be swayed by arguments along the lines of “we have to do something now and this is the proposal that’s out there so it is this or nothing.” We are talking about taking steps that will have a huge impact on the region for the next century or two. As frustrating as the current situation is, I’m not going to vote for a bad plan just for the sake of doing something. I’d rather wait and do it right.
  6.  I will not support anything that opens the door to privatization of government services.
  7.  I will not support any plans, proposals, or campaigns that in any way limit full public disclosure of discussions, information, decisions, etc.
  8.  I am not convinced that this is something the whole state must vote on—at least not before city and county residents come to an agreement.
  9.   Nothing against the five people who developed the plan, but there is already one strike against this because there was no public discussion of the plan before it was released and presented to the public. (I know they had hearings and public sessions, but the plan was developed behind closed doors.) The Better Together campaign has gotten off on the wrong foot.
  10.   The fact that Rex Sinquefield is investing massive amounts of money in this means the proposal already has two strikes. Sin-Q has proven that he does not care about the well-being of our region’s residents. He only cares about protecting his own wealth and forcing his libertarian philosophy on everyone. It is very tempting to oppose the plan on this basis alone. His involvement puts a very negative cover over this whole thing.

So— the Better Together plan has two strikes against it. It has a lot of work to do to not strike out. And in the mean time, I am open to competing ideas.

What do you think?