Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Krewson's Lament on Integrity Obscures Serious Issues with Airport Process

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Krewson's Lament on Integrity Obscures Serious Issues with Airport Process

Article excerpt

Mayor Lyda Krewson is hacked off.

Amid the slew of criticism over the process by which the city is allowing one powerful political donor Rex Sinquefield tremendous control over the potential privatization of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Krewson isn't happy about being dragged into the fray.

"When your integrity is questioned, it really hacks you off," she told Post-Dispatch editors and reporters in a meeting recently. "I have never taken a dime from Rex Sinquefield To insinuate that I have a conflict of interest in this case is not right."

On one hand, it's easy to feel Krewson's pain.

She didn't start this fight.

It was former Mayor Francis Slay, who, weeks before he ended the longest tenure of any mayor in St. Louis history, secretly flew to Washington on the tab of his top donor Sinquefield and started the ball rolling on a potential privatization plan. It was Slay who first agreed to allow Sinquefield, through one of his nonprofits, Grow Missouri, to fund and direct the initial steps.

Last week, as Krewson was on her "woe is me" tour, Slay, too, joined the fray.

"A great deal has been written and said about the effort being undertaken to explore the possibility of improving St. Louis Lambert International Airport, and generating a much-needed infusion of money to invest in our city through the federal government's airport privatization program," Slay wrote in an op-ed on the Post-Dispatch editorial page. "Unfortunately, much of it is ill-informed."

In his entire piece, Slay never told his readers who or what was ill-informed.

Like Krewson bemoaning the alleged questioning of her integrity, it was a classic "straw man" argument.

In fact, most critics of the privatization process to date a majority of the Board of Aldermen, a state senator, a privatization think tank, me have focused on the lack of transparency and the rampant conflicts of interest or appearances of conflict between Sinquefield and the city.

Besides the fact that the retired investor who aims to get rid of the city earnings tax was Slay's biggest donor, and that two of his political empire's employees Nancy Rice and Ed Rhode helped run Krewson's campaign, there are many others:

* There is former Slay chief of staff Jeff Rainford, who started talking about airport privatization while in the mayor's office, then worked on the issue as a private consultant, and now is a lobbyist for a company that intends to bid on the privatization contract. Meanwhile, he's also on the Better Together board, which is another of Sinquefield's plethora of nonprofits.

* There is Mary Ellen Ponder, the Slay chief of staff who followed Rainford, who left the mayor's office to work for Travis Brown, the lobbyist who founded Pelopidas, the company that employs Rice and Rhode and oversees Sinquefield's network of nonprofits. …

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