Editorial: North County Mayors Worried about Court Reform Doth Protest Too Much; Our View; 24:1 Initiative Cities Have an Opportunity to Lead Region toward Unity

By Board, the | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 13, 2015 | Go to article overview

Editorial: North County Mayors Worried about Court Reform Doth Protest Too Much; Our View; 24:1 Initiative Cities Have an Opportunity to Lead Region toward Unity


Board, the, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Long before Ferguson became a hashtag, there was a group of 24 municipalities in north St. Louis County that had decided to work together to address "the serious challenges facing residents and communities within the geographic boundaries of the Normandy School District."

That wording comes from the website of the 24:1 Initiative, a program started by the nonprofit Beyond Housing to help those cities most of them majority African-American deal with fundamental issues of poverty each of them faces.

It's a good project that probably hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. It has tried to build a sense of community in an area seemingly left behind by taxpayers and the state. The municipalities were smart to sign on.

But the very existence of the 24:1 Initiative, and the reasons behind it, undermine the arguments being made by some of those cities' mayors as the greater St. Louis community talks about municipal consolidation in a very serious way. If consolidation is a bad idea, why are they working together?

On the opposite page, Cool Valley Mayor Viola Murphy writes on behalf of 21 of the 24 cities. She writes that the mayors believe efforts to force consolidation or eradication of many municipal courts are politically motivated. The efforts are supported by Attorney General Chris Koster, Auditor Tom Schweich and some members of the Missouri Legislature.

The mayors, Ms. Murphy writes, weren't consulted. Some of them consider themselves under "attack" by politicians who are "posturing."

To be fair, Mr. Koster, a Democrat, and Mr. Schweich, a Republican, have their eyes on the governor's mansion. Both know a thing or two about posturing. But to suggest that court reforms should slow down because some politicians didn't kiss the rings of 24 mayors (or at least 21 of them), underscores why reform is necessary.

Nearly all forms of government in St. Louis County are inefficient precisely because there are 90 municipalities (roughly 89 too many) in an urban area that would be better served by one police force instead of 58, one muny court instead of 81.

Change is hard when every fiefdom wants to protect its jobs, its way of doing things, its political structure. That spirit was behind the formation of the 24:1 Initiative in the first place. Which is why we encourage the mayors of those 24 cities to lead the consolidation movement, rather than set themselves up as potential obstructionists.

Chris Krehmeyer, the president and CEO of Beyond Housing, told the Post-Dispatch's Stephen Deere last week that the cities were working on their own plan to consolidate municipal courts in the region, rather than have somebody else's plan foisted upon them. …

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