Last week we examined why municipal court abuses and policing for profit occur in the St. Louis region. The underlying reason is that many towns lack sustainable tax and consumer bases and have low property values. Simply put, they are too small to succeed. To make up for revenue gaps they turn to predatory practices in order to sustain themselves. Now we will examine why these towns are so small in the first place.Read more
We’re experiencing another hot summer day, which made me think of how people used to cope with the summer heat before air-conditioning. We complain about how hot it is going from our air-conditioned car into our air-conditioned house but my parents didn’t even have air-conditioning growing up. Without air-conditioning I’d have a hard time sleeping at night. My mom told me that outdoor movie theaters and sleeping in screened porches were popular before air-conditioning too.Read more
Saint Louis is strong because of its rich culture and shared history. Saint Louis is the home of the blues (and not just the hockey team either!), the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, and home to any number of national and international figures. We have Imo’s, Ted Drewes, Saint Louis Bread Company, and gooey butter cake. We have two world-class professional sports teams. We have one of the best start-up scenes in the nation. The region is home to some of the best institutions of higher learning in the world, bar none. There is so much that people in the Saint Louis region have in common with one another and that makes us strong – and yet, as a region we are geographically isolated from one another. We live in silos, separate from one another. We come together to share our rich history and culture, to enjoy the things that make us great, but when we drive home we go back into our isolation.Read more
Alexander Hamilton, the man on the ten dollar bill, shut down the arguments against unification 229 years ago. While these statements apply on the large scale (a federal government and its state governments) the truths underpinning each statement apply just as much to the smaller relationships between county governments and the municipalities within them.Read more
The municipal borders of St. Louis have not only dragged down our economy but also perpetuated a tense and ugly history of inequity. Below are excerpts from the University of Iowa Professor Colin Gordon's Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City.Read more
We're tallying the misbehavior of local municipalities in St. Louis County. Fragmentation weakens the strength of cities and creates a distorted incentive environment that can lead to abusive practices. Such a culture erodes local confidence in government, deepens inequity, and chases off business. A new structure could perform better oversight. Imagine if we had more accessible open databases.Read more
Not as long ago as we think, divided regions stood pitted against one another. Outside influences sought to play them off of each other for personal gain. The feeble central government was stripped of any ability to corral these fickle localities—each with their own idiosyncrasies and identity.
Common sense standards regarding general safety and economic regulation had little effect. Many levied taxes against each other in order to steal business. Northern and Southern groups had their own culture, as did those in the East and West.
Before going further, am I talking about the municipalities of St. Louis County or the thirteen states under the Articles of Confederation?Read more
Taxpayer money falls through 91 municipal cracks in St. Louis. The City and County spend $601.60 per capita more than Indianapolis-Marion County and $714.95 more than Louisville-Jefferson County—regions that have gone through successful City-County mergers.Read more
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~ Mark Twain
Human instinct separates people into in-groups and out-groups. We categorize by the degree we perceive others as a friend or foe. In modern times, politics clearly model this type of behavior. Political parties (and the fractures within them) have become a form of cultural unity. Yet, this unity arises from a resistance to what people fear rather than what they support. Politics has devolved into a zero-sum game in which people are told if the party they identify with loses, then their belief system—which is the basis of identity—will wither away.Read more
Where’d you go to high school? I went to Marquette, my mom went to Normandy, and my dad went to Parkway West. That means I’m from Chesterfield, my mom is from Wellston, and my dad is from Ballwin. Yet, in reality my family is from St. Louis. These municipalities exist as glorified neighborhoods.Read more