When: 6 pm Tonight, Wednesday, May 11
Who: Richard Bose, Vice President, aka St. Louis Strong
What: Community Forum with St. Louis Strong or Unite St. Louis, depending on your source
Where: 1034 S. Brentwood #1700, University Tower, Richmond Heights, MO
How: By RSVP to St. Louis Strong
I have some thoughts about reforming local government but, first, a few more details about tonight’s meeting and the Rex Sinquefield factor.
The event is hosted by Better Together St. Louis, a Rex Sinquefield project dedicated to reforming local government and free market solutions.
Rex Sinquefield is the Ozarks-based billionaire dumping millions of dollars in campaign contributions and initiative petitions across Missouri, our version of the Koch Brothers.
There is no “Better Together St. Louis” in the Missouri Secretary of State’s entity database. There is a Better Together fictitious name registration. It is owned by Missouri Council for a Better Economy, one of Rex Sinquefield’s nonprofits. MCBE was formed to help get rid of the City’s earnings tax.
Better Together is not a nonprofit but has a Board of Directors for show. Among these MCBE doing business as Better Together directors are Mayor Francis G. Slay, Jeff Rainford, Mayor Slay’s former chief of staff, and former Ambassador George Hebert Walker III, who chaired one of the last government reform groups, Citizens for Home Rule.
The address for tonight’s event is also the address for Pelopidas, the image management and lobbying firm doing Rex Sinquefield’s bidding.
It’s also the address for Joe Wilson, a Better Together employee and Deputy Treasurer for Great St. Louis, the latest PAC created by Rex Sinquefield. On March 28 of this year, Vote No on the E-Tax, Sinquefield’s unsuccessful PAC to eliminate the earnings tax in St. Louis and Kansas City, moved $668,337.43 – all its remaining funds- to the newly created Great St. Louis PAC.
The main address for Great St. Louis PAC is 308 E High #301, Jefferson City, the State Capitol office for St. Louis based Blitz, Bardgett & Deutsch. BB&D is Rex Sinquefield’s legal counsel on ballot issues and represented the St. Louis Stadium Authority against the public’s right to vote on stadium funding.
And that brings us to the part where tonight should be considered the launch of Sinquefield’s campaign to reform local government by force in order to achieve his most important goal- eliminating the City’s earnings tax. I call this plan- RexGov™.
Richard Bose, tonight’s presenter at the Better Together event, and Jake Hollander, his partner in St. Louis Strong, a nonprofit without members, sincerely believe they are not beholding to Rex Sinquefield.
But… Why hold your first event on Sinquefield’s turf? Why not hold a meeting in the usual community engagement space- a library, a school, a church hall? Why require an RSVP? Why didn’t you invite neighborhood associations and neighborhood business associations? Why didn’t you invite aldermen and state legislators? Why did you schedule this for the last days of the legislative session when so many involved in the activist community are so busy? Why didn’t you invite members of the Democratic Party and Republican Party Central Committees?
Why? I sincerely believe this is a bad case of inexperience with government reform movements in St. Louis and a lack of grassroots organizing skills. I also believe it makes them the perfect cover for RexGov™.
Let’s recall the Civic Progress funded Advance St. Louis debacle for charter reform. Citizens for Home Rule and Advance St. Louis leadership sucked up to Metropolis, the then media savvy young people’s organization. They believed by participating in the “Stakeholder” process that they were taking on the status quo and would bring great change to St. Louis. It is hard to believe now but people actually fell for an anti-status quo movement founded by ex-mayors. In the end, young and old alike who participated in the citizen engagement process found out that Civic Progress and its political allies had a set agenda not to be deviated from and the ballot issues were defeated.
The difference between the CHR and Advance St. Louis effort and today, unfortunately, is that Rex Sinquefield has unlimited money and doesn’t plan on leaving change up to local voters. He’s going to statewide voters to get what he wants. Great St. Louis is the funding mechanism for a constitutional amendment to establish RexGov™.
Sinquefield’s main goal will be to get rid of the City’s earnings tax. His options include:
1) Forcing City re-entry into the County as unincorporated territory- the end of the City of St. Louis- a consolidation plan that still leaves current/most County municipalities as is;
2) Forced re-entry that brings the City into the County without its current Charter, meaning we no longer qualify as a constitutional charter city, so we no longer qualify to have an earnings tax. There have already been versions of this filed in the Missouri General Assembly over the past few years.
I’m sure there are other just as horrible options.
Personally, I would like to see ALL of St. Louis County and St. Louis City consolidate into one City and County of St. Louis. Short of that, I say we should get our own house in order. We should write into our charter all of our services- county offices, development agencies, etc.; get rid of Board of Estimate and Apportionment and replace it with a real budget process; save a ton of money by moving March and April local elections to August and November State elections, and much more.
But I fear we are never going to improve our situation because of Rex Sinquefield. Today’s various citizen reform groups working on “consolidation, “merger,” “unity,” all have something in common. They are dependent on information funded by Rex Sinquefield and seem not interested in asking hard questions, like how much will these changes cost and what specific changes will actually occur? It’s all mostly buzz words, talking points, numbers salad, and emotional appeal.
I have had some great conversations recently with small business owners who support City re-entry in County 110%. When I ask them what changes it will specifically bring and what it will cost, when we get past the magic wand of re-entry, then they are in agreement that answers are needed and perhaps re-entry is not what they thought it would be. These are conversations that need to happen all over the City and County and State of Missouri. These are conversations that need to happen in neutral spaces convenient to citizens. These are conversations that need to happen without requiring an RSVP. These are the conversations that might stop RexGov™ lead to real reforms that benefit all of us and not just a billionaire’s ego.
— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman