Messenger: An Old School vs. New School battle over St. Louis regional unity

When it comes to talking about bringing unity to the St. Louis region, Pat Kelly and Jake Hollander are reading from different verses of the same song.

Kelly, executive director of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis, represents an organization whose very existence is at the root of regional dysfunction. There are 90 municipalities in St. Louis County, and the biggest city in the region, St. Louis, is its own county, with separate government entities often in conflict with each other.

But the Municipal League did something last month it had never before done. It passed a proposal calling for the city of St. Louis to re-enter St. Louis County and become its 91st municipality. That effort stops far short of the city-county merger some advocate but could significantly improve efforts to strengthen the region politically and economically.

“Simply stated, the City and the County need each other, particularly, to revitalize economic development. The artificial barrier that we have been struggling with for decades has inhibited our ability to generate new economic growth and needs to be corrected,” the league wrote in a proposal its membership passed.

The league suggested it was uniquely positioned to lead re-entry discussions, and it said such talks shouldn’t lead to a city-county merger or municipal consolidation.

This is where Hollander comes in.

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