Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Part 4; A Reply to Alderman Antonio French No. 000094

Alderperson Antonio French has replied to my last post, which I deeply respect.  He writes on Twitter:


I have no recollection of every meeting Alderperson French and have never spoken with him in person, so let me begin by saying what I understand him to be saying, after which I will comment briefly.

First, he says that even the Board does not know the facts. For starters, he says the Board does not know how many people are current NGA employees or what taxes they collectively pay to the City.

Second, he says the Board does not know how the composition of NGA's work force might change contemporaneous with the move. (No one would have expectations that long term estimates are at hand).

Third, he thinks this is an example of the "government" picking winners and losers.

Fourth, he says this is just a gamble for current residents.

If Alderperson French would step back to looking at this situation with some altitude and perspective I believe he would come to see that he has made a massive indictment of the governance of the City of Saint Louis, both its Mayor and Board.

The City and the rest of the Saint Louis Region finds itself in a situation almost like the prisoners' dilemma, a part of game theory familiar to every economist. In a prisoner's dilemma the opportunity to reward others is removed and without that opportunity the prisoners will not cooperate when rational individuals would.

With regard to the NGA, because only the City of Saint Louis has an earnings tax, it is in a position to reward other parts of the Region if they would cooperate in directing the NGA to the City of Saint Louis.

Viewed through this lens, it is plain the NGA situation has reached a head because Mayor Slay lacks the skills and ability to have negotiated rewards and arrived at a Regional agreement on location of NGA in the City. Had the Mayor done his job he would have a regional agreement in hand on the site location and there would be no uncertainty.

Second, Mr. French also indicts the Board's competency by noting that it has failed to assure itself that the City provides it with the information needed for it to accurately evaluate the choices and options before it. In the case of the earnings tax, returns are filed with the City that identify the employer and place of employment. His lack of information is his own fault.

Last, Life presents many many occasions where government picks between winners and losers. There will likely be many losers if the City of St. Louis loses the earnings taxes paid by NGA's employees. So, if, as Editor Messenger charges, Alderperson French has been about sabotaging Bill 263, he is picking winners and losers. In this particular case the losers will be people not provided City services if earning tax collections drop. These could be some of the same people who may be displaced by condemnation for the new NGA site for who knows tomorrow.