Fragmentation Kicks Soccer Out of Bounds

Almost everyone in St. Louis would have liked to gain an MLS team, including city folks who voted against funding the stadium. Yet, our 'unique' and fragmented regional structures prevented St. Louis from scoring.

As Kavanaugh, told the Riverfront Times, "I think the political structure that we have here in St. Louis can be counter-productive to getting big things done like this. There’s different agendas and different initiatives. If they were working as one team, then maybe we would have moved it forward." 

Dave Peacock echoed those sentiments when discussing how costly it would have been to run a campaign in the county, "Voters would ask how the county benefits financially if it’s located in the city. It’s a heavy lift, given that we’re not going to reunify the county and the city in a day.”

County Executive Steve Stenger slightly pushed back, "It is one of those things where, as the steward of St. Louis county taxpayer dollars, it was not something we offer up, it is something we’d need to be requested for. We were not asked to participate. This wasn’t the type of conversation where there was even any type of hint that we wouldn’t, that we were against the proposal. In fact, I am supportive. I think it is a great idea."

St. Louis City and County divorced in 1876 because City residents did not want to pay for the expensive infrastructure of the (at the time) rural county. The vote to divorce initially failed; yet, in typical St. Louis political fashion, claims of fraud were brought and a judge's recount flipped the results. Quickly, regional residents realized their disastrous mistake and first attempted to correct their blunder in 1926...and then in 1932...and then in 1962 and 1987.

mud-soccer.jpgEach time proponents failed to work together as one team. The tradition of territorial politics gradually built a dynasty, while regional socioeconomic health slipped further down the rankings.

Ironically, the City and County still go back and forth, fighting over what they are willing or not willing to team-up for. By pitting themselves against in each other in a local game of petty power, St. Louis loses out to its national competitors: Nashville (unified 1963), Indianapolis (unified 1970), and Louisville (unified 2003).

As much as the City gets dumped on for making poor financial choices, its residents opted for fiscal responsibility by sending a clear message to the rest of the region, 'we have other more important priorities like public health, public safety, and infrastructure.'

Our region with its 684 elected officials--which is more than the United States Congress--keeps its head buried in the sand as its leaders seek to protect their turf and attract big box retail stores away from each other.

By drawing boundaries for 2 counties, 90 municipalities, 57 police departments, 43 fire protection districts, 81 municipal courts, and 573 taxing districts, we lose sight of the fact that we're all on one team. When we kick our teammates in the mud, we kick opportunity out of bounds.

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  • commented 2017-04-12 12:36:38 -0500
    The first sentence of this post posits a fundamental contradiction. “Almost everyone in St. Louis would have liked to gain an MLS team, including city folks who voted against funding the stadium.” If this were true, those who voted against Prop 2 wouldn’t have voted against it.

    North St. Louis doesn’t care if St. Louis ever gets an MLS team, and with good reason. Until those reasons are addressed, fragmentation is the least of the region’s problems.

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