Wednesday, June 22, 2016

No. 103 Piecemeal is not how one does Regionalism

We should all raise our guard when mere pundit starts claiming to have impacted the process but in the case of Tony Messenger we are all already on notice.

Today, in the Post, Messenger falsely charges Executive Stenger "Stands in the Way" of Regionalism but is it Tony Messenger who stands in the way, for to Messenger Regionalism is but a highway to Downtown:

Denver is the model for Regionalism, which will never ever happen in Saint Louis.

First—Regionalism must be lead by the Business Community, for only that Community has the capacity to punish wayward politicians. Any careful observer of the St. Louis Business Community will note it has no appetite for Regionalism but instead it wants to play one jurisdiction off against another. Moreover, from the number of "silos" (e.g., Edward Jones, Wells Fargo, Monsanto, MasterCard, and Centene's fortress approach to its Clayton office) one may fairly infer firms in St. Louis don't want their employees walking out the front doors and networking with others, defeating the entire purpose of a City.

In Denver, the Business Community realized it had a long run interest in Regionalism and it drove the process of negotiating a Regional Agreement, enforceable against the recalcitrant.
Denver's turnaround began with a regional agreement, signed in January 1987, which laid out the region's shared economic principles. The mayors of Denver and surrounding areas still gather once a month to meet on economic plans. And, even though the original regional agreement remains voluntary, people stick to the core ideas. "It's an approach to regionalism that's about creating a culture instead of a legal structure," Clark adds. "People want to behave at the highest level of ethics, provided the guy next door does, too."
Politico recently updated the Denver story.
Economic development consultant Tom Clark arrived in town in the middle of the crisis. “We lost what little corporate leadership we had: They were running district offices and they just left town,” he recalls. “The head of the Denver Post left to run the L.A. Times. What we had left was the merchant class, those who depended on the area economy for a living.”
“After three years of finger-pointing trying to figure out who the hell screwed this up so we can drag them into the city square and tie them up and spit on them, people realized it didn’t matter; we had to move forward,” Clark, now CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., says. “They looked around and they said: ‘This place has been boom and bust for as long as we can remember. The Gold rush. The silver boom. The three-legged stool economy of Coors, carbon and the Cold War, where the only one that was stable was Coors. We’re sick of this.’ So we got serious about diversity in the economy.”
The result was a great pact organized by the metropolitan chamber of commerce. All the cities and towns in the nine-county region agreed not to poach jobs and businesses from one another, but rather to work together within Clark’s economic development corporation to attract opportunities to the region or push for major collective investments like a proper transit system or a new airport to replace the aging Stapleton Airport. “The idea was that as we work together, everyone will get their fair share in the long run and collectively we’ll all gain by making the pie bigger,” Schroeppel notes. 
“No more moving around the chairs in the Titanic,” Clark recalls. “And the ethics were: If you steal from someone else, you’re out of the family forever.”
Second—Regionalism requires written agreement but we all know the Board of Aldermen of the City of Saint Louis are never, ever going to cede their political power to a written regional agreement. Aldermanic Courtesy is too strong a political force.

In addition, we have too many Uber Liberals like Tony Messenger who see Regionalism as a one way highway to Downtown and who will falsely charge that anyone who objects to whatever is politically expedient at the moment to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen is being anti-Regional.

Mayor Slay's actions were stealing from everyone else. Rail is obsolete technology, yet the Mayor wants to spend billions (condemnation lawyers, construction firms, and trade unions will benefit), but not the public. The City could never pay for the North South connector so it wants money from the County, treating County taxpayers as but a gaggle of geese, but County taxpayers will reap little if any benefit from the line.

Executive Stenger is right to ask, wouldn't County residents better benefit from being connected to the Airport, Clayton, and several institutions or higher education?


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

No. 102. Spare us from the mendacity of Tony Messenger Regionalism

Every Saint Louis County resident and taxpayer owes County Executive Steve Stenger multiple thanks for saying, "No," to the proposed North South Metro Link extension for three reasons.

1. The extension is the wrong one. Metro Link, if it needs any extension at all, needs is what is named the Metro North Corridor connecting North County with Clayton, the Airport, and especially connecting Flo Valley with our core educational institutions: Washington University, UMSL, and Saint Louis University. This route would also connect North County with our principal heath care organizations and technology space.

2. The extension is obsolete technology. The future of public transportation is driverless buses, which are already being deployed. Spending $2.2 billions (current dollars) would be a waste as would further planning and studying. Do we plan or study horse drawn carts and wagons, today?

3. The devil is in the details. If one takes the time to actually read through the now out of dated North Side Report (published in 2008, using 2005/05 data) you will find that the Report concludes the project will not benefit Northside for the reason that no "Transit-oriented development, or TOD" can take place because of zoning and land use restrictions.

At page 32 of the Report:

Simplified, for TOD to take place, the local alderman of the City of St. Louis Board of Alderman will have to agree, given that all zoning and land use in the City of Saint Louis is controlled by Aldermanic courtesy.

On Twitter, Tony Messenger has attacked Executive Stenger for being anti-regional but a recent Tweet from Messenger marks him as anti-region, attacking Centene for building in Clayton.

Summary. This is but the latest chapter in the book entitled, "City Schemes to Fleece County Taxpayers."  If the City is interested in Regionalism, take the first steps: abolish the City Board of Alderman, reduce the powers of the Board of Estimate, and end Aldermanic courtesy control over zoning and land use planning.


No. 101 Inadequate funding of the MU system is causing Missouri's slow growth

Ronald Harstad, J. Rhoads Foster professor in the economics of regulated industry at MU, and Joseph Haslag, professor and Kenneth Lay chair in economics and director, Economic & Policy Analysis Research Center and MU, has completed a report that compares the growth path of Missouri’s economy with and without UM System research and development and without the enhanced skills that increase graduates’ lifetime earnings.

“For decades, we have shared the value of the UM System, our campuses and research to the state of Missouri. This report solidifies those claims,” UM System Interim President Michael Middleton said. “To be able to use current numbers to support our value statements reinforces the significant return on investment of a University of Missouri education and research for our state.”
Harstad and Haslag outlined several key findings that illustrate how the university is integral to the state’s economy:
  • Missouri’s economic growth rate is 25 percent higher due to the UM System’s research and development efforts.
  • Aggregate income would decline if the UM System stopped educating students.
    • Over a generation, the more educated workforce in Missouri is worth $252.7 billion in extra real gross domestic product.
  • At the current level, state appropriations account for more than 30 percent of UM System expenditures.
    • Continuing at current funding levels, in the next 25 years, a return on Missouri’s investment in the UM System will result in $238.4 billion in real gross domestic product.
    • One dollar spent on the UM System from the state equals $38.43 of goods and services; $1.46 in extra general revenue funds.
The full report can be found at:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

No. 000078 Missouri Legislature's Treatment of St. Louis NFL effort is outrageous and other random thoughts

The following needs to be said about the #STLNFL Stadium, recalling that I am not in the pro-stadium camp.

Alderman Krewson is a refreshing breath of common sense

Foremost, this is about the sunk costs we have in the Edward Jones Dome. Alderman Lyda Krewson makes this point in her excellent FB post. The City faces a continuing obligation to fund the Edward Jones Dome and is looking for the best plan to do that, first

Alderman Krewson also cogently observes there is no means or method to convert stadium dollars into any other project or effort, writing:
I do agree with opponents that we have many many other needs that deserve priority and dollars. Voting down the stadium will not produce any funds to address those issues though. It is not as if the State, NFL and Owner are going to give us the 900 mil to spend on police, poverty, schools etc. If we vote it down, we will still have those issues, plus the payments on the Dome, a 'loss', and fewer jobs.

Senators like Ryan Silvey and Rob Schaaf have been outrageous in their comments and in their treatment of Saint Louis

Here are recent comments of Senators Silvey and Schaaf:

The statements are misleading for they imply the Saint Louis Region has the power to decide to build a stadium but it doesn't. There is no regional government in Saint Louis with authority over either renovating the Edward Jones Dome or building a new #STLNFL stadium. The Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority (RSA) was not created by Saint Louis Region voters and its members have not been selected by Saint Louis Region voters. Rather, the Missouri legislature created the Authority in 1988, refusing to permit direct public participation in its affairs.

Members of the Authority are appointed by the County Executive, the Mayor, and the Governor, serving at the pleasure of their respective appointer.

From the outset residents of St. Charles, Jefferson, and Washington, and Franklin County have been free riding on the regional convention and sports complex. They pay no taxes but may attend all of the events hosted in the Complex. This gives hotels and motels in all four counties a substantial competitive advantage over hotels and motels in either the County or City and is a substantial disincentive to expansion and improvement of the complex.

Worse, the hotel and motel tax is capped at 3.5%. It is tapped out as a source of additional funding for a new stadium.

Last, Silvey and Schaaf consistently misrepresent power of the Authority to build new facilities or improve existing facilities.

For starters, the Authority "is given the right and power to own, operate, develop or improve" "convention centers, sports stadiums, field houses, indoor and outdoor convention, recreational, and entertainment facilities and centers, playing fields, parking facilities and other suitable concessions, and all things incidental or necessary to a complex suitable for all types of convention, entertainment and meeting activities and for all types of sports and recreation, either professional or amateur, commercial or private"

Yes, the original enabling legislation permits building of multiple stadiums or other facilities!

Last, the legislation creating the Authority does not remove for the General Assembly its authority over appropriations. But, not one has suggested otherwise.
Update: The NFL and the Rams have now announced that the Rams have been given approval to move to Los Angeles.

If Jay Nixon were a leader, he would be proposing legislation to fix the RSA, making it into a functional regional organization with the power to do its job. The Edward Jones Dome and Convention center are important regional assets in need of care, attention and nurturing for the competition between cities only intensifies every day. The property were the new stadium was proposed still needs attention.