Late October in even years is the time of big promises and big hyperbole. However, most of the things that actually affect the lives of Missourians are not done through tweets, slick television ads, or 10 point plans.
Candidly, it’s not the favorite thing for those in rural Missouri to admit, but the numbers plainly show that the economic engine of the state is in St. Louis, more accurately, St. Louis County. It’s also not the favorite thing for those in urban Missouri to talk about, but the biggest thing holding back the growth of St. Louis is generally accepted to be the issue of crime.
Lately, there has been a focus on the St. Louis MetroLink’s light rail system as part of a larger discussion of the issue of crime. Those who criticize the Bi-State board that oversees the MetroLink seem to conveniently overlook the fact that there are multiple board positions that Missouri Governors have been negligent in filling.
The way this works is that the Governor of Missouri appoints the Missouri members of the Bi-State board typically from a list of panelists submitted by the Mayor of St. Louis and the St. Louis County Executive. Twice last year they submitted names to the Governor along with letters citing several problems with leaving the expired board seats unfilled.
Frankly, there are age-old reasons for those in out-state Missouri to think those in St. Louis are arrogant and dismissive of them. By the same token, there are the same age-old reasons for St. Louisians to suspect that governors only think of St. Louis for fundraisers and press conferences.
Governor Parson has done all he can in the opening months of his administration to change these perceptions by frequently visiting both major cities in the state and opening lines of communication that haven’t been operating as they should for decades.
Upon taking office, Governor Parson did appoint one member, Rose Windmiller, and she was confirmed by the Senate during the special session. However, all four Missouri members there serving on expired terms. Their terms expired between three and seven years ago.
That’s just negligence on the part of past Missouri governors. We saw the pitfalls of this last year with the way the Missouri Board of Education was manipulated.
Every Governor of this century has acknowledged the problem of crime in Missouri’s cities. The earlier governor responded to the problem by having the Highway Patrol police the interstates for a few weeks. This Governor has been one of adult serious solutions to real problems.
Moreover, the timing will never be better than right now to fill these positions. The current CEO, John Nations, is leaving, a long-anticipated MetroLink security study will be completed in December, and, currently, the St. Louis County Council is withholding millions in funding for MetroLink security.
It may not get a lot of Facebook likes or retweets, but filling these board seats and providing Bi-State a full board serving in unexpired terms possessing the confidence of regional and statewide leaders gives them the best chance to address the serious challenges the Metro currently faces.
It’s the type of serious and adult response that has been an early hallmark of this administration and the type of steady responsible leadership from Jefferson City that instead of being combative with the leaders of St. Louis is actually collaborative in nature and gives the St. Louis region the chance to take on the complex issue of crime in the same way that the Governor has taken on our state’s larger transportation issues.