Arch City Chronicle

people. politics. st. louis.

Charter Reform

November 15, 2006

Charter Reform is back?

Forwarded email:

Dear fellow stakeholders, A strategy to pursue
> incremental charter change was proposed in May 2005, when about 45 of
> us met at the History Museum. Though no vote was taken, the response
> was favorable then, and in subsequent conversations with those not
> present. In February 2006, we sent a follow-up e-mail asking if you
> were willing to invest some additional time in talking / working with
> supportive officeholders and other citizens in order to achieve
> incremental change. Some of you committed to talking with elected
> officials.We need to get together, share the results of our
> conversations, and discuss whether we should, and if so, how to, pursue
> incremental charter change in the future.We are suggesting getting
> together at: Talaynas at 310 DeBaliviere, on Wednesday, November 29, at
> 6:30 p.m. to discuss the above and related matters.Please e-mail or
> call if you will attend, so we will have an idea of how many will be
> there, so we can make arrangements for setting up the room. For those
> who wish to eat or snack, they will take orders during our meeting.
> Please also e-mail or call if you are interested in participating, but
> that date doesn't work for you, so we can let you know what was
> discussed & decided.Update: In the 2005-2006 session, the aldermen
> approved five charter changes to be presented to voters. They are
> described on this web page:
>[email protected]/boabills.htm[1] One, to
> make it more difficult to recall aldermen, was on the April 2006
> ballot. It received a simple majority, 52.5%, but did not get the
> super majority (60%) to change the charter. The other four charter
> changes, which will not substantially change city government processes,
> were on the November ballot. Three of them, though defeated in 2002,
> were approved by the voters ... 'if at first you don't succeed ...'.
> Note: One of them, proposition 2, excepting the Mayor's staff from
> civil service, was an Advance St. Louis "Personnel Policies
> Recommendation" in May 2004.With these mixed results, some aldermen may
> be more willing to consider working with us on future change
> efforts.The other incremental charter change information has also been
> moved to a different ISP site and is at:
>[email protected]/stlcharterchange.htm[2]We
> look forward to seeing and talking with you on November 29, or hearing
> from you if you cannot make that meeting.Anna Crosslin Michelle Duffy
> Kay Gabbert Tullia Hamilton Brian Murphy Daniel Schesch (314/726-1891)

Posted by at 09:32 AM | Link & Discuss (6 comments)

April 27, 2006

Political Eye

says that Civic Progress is asking for an audit of city efficiency.

Posted by at 01:53 PM | Link & Discuss (2 comments)

February 20, 2006

Charter Reform Analysis

Via StL Rising, some SLU profs weigh in.

Posted by at 02:09 PM | Link & Discuss (12 comments)

September 21, 2005

Wagman finds Hannasch

Scoop of the day!

Posted by at 04:02 PM | Link & Discuss (8 comments)

May 26, 2005

Stakeholder Reunion

Notes from an observer at last night's Advance St. Louis stakeholder reunion meeting:

A health number of stakeholders showed up, about forty. But the carefully orchestrated racial parity had melted away with only four or five members of the group being African American.

Bob Archibald introduced the discussion. Question: Should this group keep going or disband?

In attendance were aldermen Gregali, Florida, Krewson and Kirner. Gregali gave a "you'd better include us or else" speech. (Nevermind that the BOA has done jackshit on this issue).

Former mayors Bosley and Conway offer their support for any further efforts, but announced they were bowing out of any leadership role.

The consensus was that the original effort tried to do too much too fast and that they needed to look at smaller more manageable steps. Some folks indicated that after months and month of meeting they were burnt out.

But they agreed to meet again, with the idea of perhaps revisiting some of the proposals to see what could be an easy first step.

Posted by at 05:30 AM | Link & Discuss (8 comments)

December 17, 2004

More analysis on what went wrong

Charter Amendment analysis by a stakeholder.

Posted by at 09:56 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

November 17, 2004

Another reason for charter reform

Parking Fines = $30
Additional Penalties = $130
We have your car and we can charge you whatever we want = $180

Total cash outlay before Noon = $340

Posted by at 01:17 PM | Link & Discuss (8 comments)

October 29, 2004

Yes for Home Rule campaign finance disclosure

About the same. Latest filing shows contributions of $120,000 from the Civic Progress PAC, plus an additional $150,000 from Anheuser Busch, $50,000 from Emerson Electric, $50,000 from RCGA and $25,000 from Regional Business Council.

Expenditures were largely voter contact: $528,656 going to Thompson Communications for media buys; a little radio (KTRS); a little print (American, Evening Whirl); and $77,400 to Tim Person and Associates for mail and lit drops.

Posted by at 11:06 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

October 28, 2004

American endorses charter amendments

Amendments are appropriate response to city's economic crisis, the American says.

Meanwhile the Political Eye takes on Vickers, Bauer, McNary and Bush.

Posted by at 11:31 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

October 19, 2004

New charter reform website

Yes for Home Rule

Posted by at 11:48 AM | Link & Discuss (1 comment)

October 14, 2004

Daly: Slay OK

Despite opposing the charter amendments that Slay is backing, Greg FX Daly calls himself a "Slay guy." Daly says that the charter battle will create no permanent riff between the mayor and the county office-holders, like Daly, who share his southwest city base.

Daly is giving a fundraiser for Slay on November 16.

Posted by at 03:12 PM | Link & Discuss (1 comment)

Text from the Sheriff's Website

Before it was deleted, here is what it said:

Reasons why charter reform is bad for the City of St. Louis

Certain special interest groups, calling themselves "Advance St. Louis", have
spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy signatures to place on the ballot
in the City four amendments to the City Charter. They now want City voters to
vote in favor of these amendments. The end result of these four proposals is
that by controlling one person - the Mayor - the business elite can control the
City of St. Louis. This package is more aptly termed "the one guy to buy"

Discussed below are reasons why the "Advance St. Louis" proposal is bad for the City of St. Louis.

1. The "reforms" will result in an incredibly powerful Mayor with virtually no
checks and balances.

The proposed reforms will give the Mayor:
- control of a greatly weakened civil service,
- complete fiscal control of the City,
- unilateral control over all City contracts, and
- control over selection of bank depositories.

This is power that former Mayors only dreamed of having. This power will
completely stifle legitimate debate over City issues and lead to total decision-
making logjams. In the hands of a bad Mayor, this level of power will spell
complete disaster for the City. The power should be kept in the hands of the

2. The "reform" will lead to a loss of control by neighborhoods over local land
use decisions.

One reason St. Louis has endured as a very livable city is that citizens and
neighborhood groups are close to their Alderperson. This closeness has resulted
in the Alderpersons and neighborhood groups working together to stop harmful
land uses (i.e. unwanted bars, 3:00 a.m. liquor licenses, pawn shops, big box
stores, drive throughs, homeless shelters, drug rehab centers, halfway houses
for inmates, check cashing agencies, etc.)

A cornerstone of the so-called reforms is increasing the number of citizens
that an alderman will represent. Currently each Alderperson represents
approximately 12, 435 citizens. If the proposed Charter amendments are
approved, this will rise to 23,212 citizens per Alderperson. The result will be
distant elected officials making critical decisions. The people and the
neighborhood groups will not be as important.

For purposes of comparison, in Clayton each council person represents only
2,656 residents; in Richmond Heights 1,200 residents; in Creve Coeur 2,063
residents; in Maplewood 1,538 residents; in Olivette 1,860 residents.

3. The "reforms" will gut protections currently in the City Charter which
protect City employees from politically driven chicanery.

Since its inception in the early 1940s, the St. Louis Civil Service system has
protected City employees from politically motivated abuses. As a result, the
City has avoided major scandals among its civil servants. These civil servants
protect the citizens from having tax records, including earning tax records,
disclosed to the prying eyes of politicians; from having building inspectors
close their eyes to code violations of politically protected building owners;
from pressuring health inspectors to close their eyes to unsanitary conditions;
from pressuring tax assessor's to go easy on their friends; and from pressuring
City attorneys to go easy on politically connected defendants.

The "reforms" will remove most of the provisions protecting City employees from the City Charter, allowing the now-shrunken Board of Aldermen, the Mayor, and his handpicked civil service commission, to totally change the system with no way for the citizens to stop them.

4. The "reforms" will reduce diversity in elected officials.

Besides eliminating 13 Alderpersons, the "reforms" mean the people would no
longer elect eight citywide elected officials (President of the Board of
Aldermen, Collector of Revenue, License Collector, Treasurer, Circuit Clerk,
Sheriff, Public Administrator, and Recorder of Deeds). One of only two citywide
elected African-American officials, the City Treasurer, will be removed from
office as of January 1, 2005, and the only other African-American elected
official will have her powers greatly diminished.

5. The "reforms" will result in runaway spending.

Although under financial stress for years, the City of St. Louis has managed to
avoid the fiscal bankruptcy which has hit New York City, Philadelphia,
Cleveland, and East St. Louis. A reason for this is the existence of checks and
balances which provided an independent Board of Estimate and Apportionment, an independent Comptroller, and the City Charter prohibition on the Board of
Aldermen to increase the amount of money proposed to be spent on a particular budget item.

The "reforms" will remove all checks and balances - concentrating all power
into the hands of the Mayor and unleashing the Alderperson to pursue whatever
spending whims they wish.

In a city with a delicate fiscal position, these so-called reforms could easily
spell financial disaster.

6. The "reforms" will magnify the role of money in the City of St. Louis'
political campaigns.

In the current structure, it is possible for a neighborhood leader with limited
access and money to run a successful campaign for Alderperson. The Advance St. Louis proposals will end that.

In the greatly enlarged districts, a great deal of money will be needed by a
candidate to get their information in front of the voters.

Where will that money come from? From the business elite and developers who are supportive of these changes.


The entire package of Advance St. Louis proposals must be defeated. They are
bad for City residents, bad for City employees, and bad for the City. They do
nothing but dilute the power of the average citizen and increase the power of
the business elite and their handpicked politicians. Do not let them have
only "one guy to buy". Protect your rights. Vote NO on all four charter reform

Posted by at 12:59 PM | Link & Discuss (7 comments)

October 11, 2004

In case you were wondering where the Sheriff stood

On the charter amendments, that is.

UPDATE: Well, it's gone. I guess someone decided it wasn't a good idea.

I'm back in town, btw, so there should be more updates this week.

Posted by at 07:28 PM | Link & Discuss (2 comments)

September 28, 2004

Charter Reform debate tomorrow night

Comptroller Darlene Green will participate in a panel discussion on city charter amendments A,B,C,D Wed., Sept. 29, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the New City School auditorium at 5209 Waterman Blvd. in St. Louis.
Joining Comptroller Green against the amendments is William Kuehling and stakeholder Kathy Doerr. On the pro side is former mayor Jim Conway, former comptroller Virvus Jones and stakeholder Anna Crosslin.
This panel discussion is an excellent opportunity for the public and the media to hear both sides of the charter reform debate.

Who: Comptroller Darlene Green, former mayor Jim Conway, former comptroller Virvus Jones and other panel members.

What: Panel Discussion on Charter Amendments A,B,C,D

When: Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.

Where: New City School Auditorium
5209 Waterman Blvd.
St. Louis, MO

Posted by at 05:49 PM | Link & Discuss (4 comments)

Daly opposes all charter amendments

Greg FX Daly kindly called yesterday to make clear that he is opposed to all (A,B,C,D) charter amendments.

We reported in our last issue a rumor making the rounds that he would join the mayor in supporting A,B,and C. Wrong. He's against them all.

Posted by at 10:26 AM | Link & Discuss (12 comments)

September 23, 2004

St. Louis American start series next week

St. Louis American will begin five-part series on charter reform amendments next week.

Posted by at 12:54 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

September 16, 2004

The rest of the Yes for Home Rule campaign team

Yes for Home Rule Campaign team -- Nancy Rice, campaign manager. Claude Brown, Louis Hamilton, Virvus Jones, Tim Person.

Posted by at 10:37 PM | Link & Discuss (1 comment)

Policy Forum: Home Rule, The Citizens Speak

September 21
Policy Forum: Home Rule, The Citizens Speak

TOPIC: The reasons for St. Louis City Charter Reforms

TIME: September 21, 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM.

LOCATION: FOCUS St. Louis, 1910 Pine St., Ste. 200

NOTES: Hear from a panel of citizens who participated in the process of deciding how the City of St. Louis' charter will be redesigned. Free and open to the public. For more information, contact Nikki Weinstein at 314-622-1250 x102 or [email protected].

Posted by at 03:22 PM | Link & Discuss (3 comments)

Callow joins charter reform effort

Richard Callow has joined the Yes for Home Rule campaign as spokesperson.

Posted by at 09:15 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

September 01, 2004

Citizens for Home Rule 990

Interested in seeing the 2003 form 990 for Citizens for Home Rule to get some idea who is paying and who is being paid for the charter reform effort? We are. But we have just been told that they've filed an extension. Their 990 (2003) is now scheduled to be filed by mid-November (after the election, that is) 2004.

Posted by at 12:31 PM | Link & Discuss (5 comments)

July 15, 2004

Blurry lines disappearing?

The line between education and advocacy was always a little blurry to me. Citizens for Home Rule made it complicated with their many incarnations - Yes for Amendment One, Empower St. Louis. Maybe I'm not smart enough to understand, but I guess the idea is that the Stakeholders who agreed that these proposals are good, would now go out and explain them without advocating for them?


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Meeting Request - Please Reply
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2004 14:48:01 -0500
From: "Wendy Spilker"
CC: "Alva Smith" , "Christina Reid"

Dear Stakeholder:

Thank you very much for your continued willingness to volunteer your
time and energy to remain active in the effort to improve the structure
of St. Louis City government.

Over the past several weeks, many of you have been asked to speak on the
Stakeholder Recommendations, the four ballot measures, and the Advance
Saint Louis process itself. Many of you have also shared your interest
in joining the outreach team in neighborhood and community-based
speaking. Some of you are already being asked to speak to the ballot
measures informally, and have commented that you have varying levels of
comfort with doing so.

In the very near future, Ms. Christina Reid, coordinator of education
and outreach for Citizens for Home Rule and Alva Smith, whom you already
know, will be holding meetings to help prepare you for presenting
information and/or discussing issues in the community. Over the next
several months, Christina will be helping all of us keep up with the
many requests we are getting to speak about the process and the ballot

We are in the process of scheduling these short sessions based upon your
availability. Please reply to this email to indicate when you would be
available to participate. We will contact you again in the next week
with the final arrangements, based on the number of people who can
attend. We would like to have two sessions, and you may participate in

Dates for orientation sessions are the morning of Wednesday evening,
July 28th and Saturday, July 31st If you are interested in
participating, but are not available at either time, please let us know,
so that we can make alternate arrangements.

Many thanks,

Wendy N. Spilker
(314) 342-4089
[email protected]

Posted by at 10:23 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

May 27, 2004

Charter Reform Petitions

We've posted the Chater Reform Petitions down on the left. They are exactly as the Citizens for Home Rule folks sent them to us.

Board of Alderman Amendment

Finance Ordinance

Civil Service Amendment

City Office Reorganization

Posted by at 11:18 AM | Link & Discuss (1 comment)

May 09, 2004

This is the battle to watch for the next six months

this is what I'm talking about.

Also, we've been debating - on and off - whether the Arch City Chronicle should make endorsements. Endorsements on issues maybe and not people? Endorsements for everything? For somethings?

What do you think? Should we endorse? Would our endorsement carry any weight with you?

Posted by at 01:11 AM | Link & Discuss (5 comments)

April 26, 2004

Unintended Consequences

Board President Jim Shrewsbury wrote this to be distributed to the Stakeholder Assembly as they considered proposing changes to the Board of Aldermen and the way the Board President was chosen. I believe it was not ever distributed to them.

Aldermanic President
Citizen-Elected vs. Chosen by Aldermen
Unintended Consequences:

The architects of City government envisioned a system consisting of three “top” elected officials; the mayor, comptroller and aldermanic president. The rationale was that these three City officials would comprise the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Since the Board of E & A is where monies would be allocated for neighborhoods and programs throughout the entire city, all three officials, therefore, needed to be elected at large and serve as representatives of no one particular constituency but rather speak for all the citizens of St. Louis with city-wide interests at heart.

Debate among the Stakeholders is questioning the effectiveness of having an Estimate Board and thinking has now shifted closer to a system where the Board of Aldermen and an elected auditor would serve as watchdogs on City spending. As a result, some Stakeholders no longer see the need for a citizen-elected aldermanic president and prefer the Board of Aldermen to select its own president.

Loss of City-Wide Vision
With or without a Board of E & A, the aldermanic president still serves on a number of boards and commissions addressing regional issues (the TIF Commission and the East-West Gateway Coordinating Council being two of them.) An aldermanic president who is accountable to his/her constituents from one particular ward of the city is likely to lose that “broad view” on the issues. What’s important to residents of North St. Louis, for example, may not weigh heavily on the president’s mind if he/she is concerned about running for re-election in a particular South St. Louis ward.

Minority Representation
At the start of this current session, African-Americans held 12 aldermanic seats and whites held 16. African-Americans have never held a majority of seats at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. The last round of redistricting resulted in moving a strong African-American ward from North City to South City and many fear future redistricting will continue this trend. The selection of an aldermanic president by his/her peers (whether it’s 28 of them or 13 of them) basically becomes a “popularity contest.” The cliquish nature of politics combined with a majority of “white wards” seems to ensure that African-American aldermen will face an uphill battle before ever getting selected to serve as president.

Aldermanic Rules
Current law dictates the qualifications, length of term and duties of the aldermanic president. When the voters elect an aldermanic president they know that he/she will serve a four-year term, will meet certain criteria and will perform certain duties. The Board of Aldermen, however, operates from its own set of rules. The Rules of the Board of Aldermen are not dictated by any laws and voters do not have to approve changes to the Rules. Once the position of aldermanic president is taken out of the hands of the voters and put into the hands of the aldermen, the Rules will dictate who gets selected and who does not. Those rules can be changed at any time as long as any group of aldermen can muster enough support to make changes. This sets up a system where the Rules can be easily manipulated to favor one particular alderman over another. (The Board could change the Rules, for example, to say that only aldermen who drive a Chevrolet can serve as president.) It is not hard to imagine more realistic examples where the Rules are changed to ensure that only certain aldermen meet the qualifications to serve as president.

Line of Succession
Should the mayor need to vacate office, the aldermanic president is the City official designated to succeed. An aldermen-selected president creates a scenario where the new mayor of St. Louis would be someone who is in office based solely on the votes of one particular ward. St. Louis County is an example of where this has happened. Following the death of their county executive, the County’s 1st District councilman became county executive even though the majority of County residents never voted for him and may not even be aware of his positions on County-wide issues.

E & A vs. No E & A

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment was created as a check on the fiscal power of the mayor. Some Stakeholders prefer elimination of E & A in favor of increased oversight at the Board of Aldermen and an elected auditor. With a smaller Board of Aldermen, the mayor will need approval from a relatively small number of officials. For example, if a handful of aldermen happen to be political allies of the mayor, the Board of Aldermen becomes less of a “check on power” and more of a mere formality rubber stamping the mayor’s expenditures. The elected auditor becomes a “reactionary” position; investigating spending habits only after the fact whereas the Board of E & A serves a “proactive” role; researching and scrutinizing the spending before it happens. Throughout the Advance Saint Louis process, no examples have been cited where E & A blocked any major initiatives. Examples can be given, however, where the presence of an Estimate Board forced developers back to the table to negotiate a better and fairer deal for the City.

Posted by at 07:29 AM | Link & Discuss (1 comment)

April 19, 2004

Draft Charter

This find comes to us via a post by "Emma" over at Greg Freeman's Front Porch at stltoday.

Draft Recommendations, dated 4/16/04.

Posted by at 10:59 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

April 12, 2004

Advance St. Louis Emerging Draft

The Stakeholders are trying to wrap up their deliberations within the next month to meet the timeline set for a November ballot proposal.

Here is the draft of emerging consensus recommendations.

Here and here are some supplemental materials.

Posted by at 12:07 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments)

March 27, 2004

Updates to Charter Reform Memberlist

Reports from the Charter Reform Front
by Will Winter

Updates to Memberlist - January 6, 2004

Continue reading "Updates to Charter Reform Memberlist"
Posted by at 10:08 PM | Link & Discuss (1 comment)