Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Ferguson's Flip-Flop and the Struggle to Regain Credibility

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Ferguson's Flip-Flop and the Struggle to Regain Credibility

Article excerpt

To its well-deserved embarrassment, the Ferguson City Council reversed itself Tuesday and decided to accept a Justice Department consent decree requiring the city to overhaul its police department. That's the same agreement the council effectively rejected six weeks ago, prompting the Obama administration's wrath and leaving members of the public scratching their heads about the council's convoluted thought process.

The council now wants voters to approve sales and property tax increases to cover additional costs for higher police salaries and better training. Before voters say yes, they should demand answers about the closed-door deliberations that contributed to this chaotic result and undermined public trust.

The original vote on Feb. 9 attached conditions to the consent decree that were clearly unacceptable to the Justice Department. The vote was based on wildly inflated estimates of what the agreement would cost to upgrade police salaries and training, as stipulated in the consent decree. The council's bid to amend an accord already agreed to by its lawyers prompted Attorney General Loretta Lynch to sue.

The city's operating budget is $14.5 million, and it's already confronting a $2.8 million deficit. Ferguson's finance director, Jeffrey Blume, asserted that the consent decree would cost the city as much as $3.7 million in the first year alone.

His estimate was way off. Revised projections put the cost at less than half Blume's original figures. …

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