Face the Facts: PR Alone Won’t Save St. Louis

We love St. Louis and for many reasons. It puts smiles on our faces when we read 66 Reasons to love St. Louis. However, there is a difference between ‘being in love’ and ‘loving.’ One is passive and the other active. Turning love into a verb acknowledges that love is work. We endeavor to recognize and harmonize the imperfections of our beloved and of our own. Healthy admiration sees the whole picture, making an effort to curb mutual shortcomings.

Idolization leads to getting crushed in a heartbreak. Making excuses, shirking blame, overlooking slights, and ignoring criticism sets the stage for disaster. To 'truly love' something means pursuing the truth.

And here’s the truth:
  • $2 billion of public tax dollars have been diverted to developers as subsidies for private developments through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in the past 20 years.
    • The combined population of the City and County decreased by 45,615 from 2000 to 2012.
    • The City’s population declined by 63% from 1950's peak of 857,000.
  • In 2012 the region had a 7.7% unemployment rate, which was 285th in Country and a full percent below the state and country.
  • St. Louis families of four pay more than $7,600 per year for government services.
    • St. Louis City and County spend $601.60 per capita more than Indianapolis-Marion County and $714.95 more than Louisville-Jefferson County.
      • Both of those regions have gone through successful City-County mergers.
  • A Harvard and UC-Berkeley study placed the St. Louis area among the ten worst big U.S. cities for income mobility.
  • St. Louis City and County residents spend an estimated $1,187 (total exceeding $1.5 billion) on crime per year.
  • It costs $113.64 on average to obtain sunshine law information on how tax dollars are used at a municipal level.
  • Of the 90 municipalities in St. Louis County, 48 have fewer than 5,000 residents—23 have fewer than 1,000.
    • 43 of the County’s municipalities occupy less than 1 square mile.
  • In 2013 the City and County collected $61,152,087 in fines and fees—the state total was $132,032,351.63.
  • St. Louis region accounts for 46% of all fines and fees collected statewide while being home to only 22% of Missourians.
  • Out of the County’s 81 Municipal courts, 73 brought in more revenue than required to operate.
    • The average municipal court costs $223,149 to operate but brings in an average of $711,506.
    • 20/21 municipalities north of Olive Blvd. and within I-270 boundary derive 20% of their general budget from fines and fees.
  • The County and City likely compete against each other for public health grants.
  • Not until the 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Jones v. Mayer were the region's discriminatory housing covenants ruled unconstitutional.
  • Missouri schools have the highest rate of suspension of black elementary school students.
  • In 2014 black drivers were 75% more likely than white drivers to be pulled over.
  • St. Louis ranks fifth among the most segregated cities in America.

 

After Ferguson a desire to return to an idealized normalcy permeated St. Louis; yet, above is the norm. If we as a region stay on our current trajectory, these numbers will get worse, our population will fade, and the region will slowly die.

Unless...we accept that fragmentation has put the region’s autopilot into a slow descent. The first step is honesty: PR alone will not save St. Louis. The next step is to start courageously putting the pieces of our divided region back together. Union of the City and the County begins that process.

St. Louis Strong is creating various policy proposals and ballot initiatives that will strengthen the region through unity. We cannot do this without your help and support. Sign our petition, join our volunteer list, submit a blog or policy proposalcontribute, or just spread the word so we can help the region we love change its factual reality.

“Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.” ~ Plato, from The Symposium

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