We are doing a series on Proposition A which returns local control of the St Louis City Police Department to the citizens of St Louis City. The series primarily focuses on the facts of the proposition. Yesterday we addressed the issue of smaller government. Today, we take a look at the question of pensions.
As previously mentioned in Proposition A Is Jeffersonian Principles In Action! I used to be an opponent of Local Control. The primary reason was that I, like many others, believe that the City of St Louis should be encouraged to clean up their act and withholding Local Control of their Police Department was one way to do that. I was wrong!
The state should never be in the position of withholding control of a local function such as a police department for political purposes. For example, the Pendergast corruption in Kansas City was the reason the Police Department there was taken over by the state. Good reason. Civil War era politics was the reason the St Louis Police Department was taken over. Now it’s for other political reasons that the St Louis Police Department is not under City control.
However, one of the legitimate concerns that was always raised during the discussion of local control was protection of the Police Pension System. The state manages and controls the system while the City of St Louis funds it. That will not change with the passage of Proposition A. While I believe the pension system is archaic, it is a promise that was made and should be kept.
This was the primary reason that the St Louis Police Officers’ Association (SLPOA) used to oppose local control in the past. In fact, when the local control bill, House Bill 71, was passed by the House by a 109-46 margin, it contained significant pension protections against the fear of City abuse. Proposition A continued these protections and even made some improvements.
Listen to pension expert Jim Deustch testify regarding the pension issue here.
He is very thorough in explaining the issue and why the City of St Louis cannot change the existing pension plans for the police department. Not only can they not change the existing pension plan, they won’t even control it. It is in a trust not controlled by the city. Proposition A contains the same and even stronger language than House Bill 71 or Senate Bill 23.
You will hear from the opponents about how the City is taking over the Fire Fighter Pension fund and making changes. While I have not tracked all of that issue from what I read and see that is true. What is also true is that
the same thing cannot happen to the police pension as outlined above.
Proposition A is about returning control of the police department they pay for but have no control over to the taxpayers and voters of St Louis City. You and I would be outraged if the state were to come in and take control of our local law enforcement agencies. We should be outraged that the state maintains control of the St Louis Police Department! It’s inefficient, it’s unaccountable to the people the City and it’s just plain wrong!
The Civil War has been over for almost a 150 years. It’s time to return the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department back to the citizens of St Louis! Vote YES on Proposition A!