We have discussed a lot of the issues surrounding local control of the St Louis Police Department. People from all over the state have responded in support of returning control of the St Louis Police Department back to the citizens of St Louis.
People around the state understand the injustice of being responsible for paying the bills but having virtually no say in the operations of the department even if opponents don’t. We see the usual game being played out by the opponents of local control throw everything you can up against the wall and see what sticks.
Pension in danger – oops its not, the bill protects pensions
Corrupt city government – oops more evidence of recent corruption in police board controlled towing scandal than city
Ok, didn’t really mean corruption, meant political manipulation – once again prime example found on police board.
Lacking any fundamental basis for opposing local control other than the state is allowed to take it way, they resort to emotional appeals. It apparently comes down to a very simple argument as stated by one opponent of local control, “I believe local control is a bad idea”. Millions of Missourians will certainly be surprised to find that their local control is bad. Its a very scary premise.
Now to be fair, I’m sure he was talking about St Louis PD but where does “bad” local control stop? Does it stop before it gets to your police department, your school or your local parks? Who gets to make the decision where it stops and how much is bad?
The issue of local control is easily understood in every other corner of the state. Statewide voters gave an overwhelming vote of support for local control by approving Proposition A – Let Voters Decide with over a 68% margin. Economic arguments were made for Proposition A but it was the local control issue that carried the day.
The St Louis Police Department issue is obviously a local control issue. However, folks statewide need to understand that state control of the St Louis Police Department is already costing them direct tax dollars and the exposure to costing a lot more is very real!
The Missouri Supreme Court has repeatedly found that the St Louis Board of Police Commissioners is a state agency. As a state agency, state taxpayers are required to support the decisions of the agency by paying to defend i,t and they are responsible for contributing money to the State Legal Expense Fund (SLEF) to pay out judgments against the Board and Police Department. State ex rel. Sayad v Zych 642 S.W.2d 907 and many decisions afterward have made it clear: State taxpayers are responsible for the actions.
In fact, every year state taxpayers pay $1 million into the SLEF for contingent claims against the Board and PD. This has been going on for the past several years. In these tough budgetary times, that’s $1 million not available for education or other statewide purposes. The bad news is that these payments to the SLEF do not end the liability state taxpayers could incur.
You have probably been reading and seeing on TV the tough times that have settled on cities and states around the country. The talk of bankruptcy of cities and federal authorization to allow states to go bankrupt abound. If, as the opponents of local control claim, the city’s aim is to grab the pension money — although the ability to do so has been demonstrated to be false by legal experts — it would go to reason that those opponents think the city is in financial trouble.
If it is true as the opponents suggest that city is in financial trouble, then the potential for bankruptcy or default on the city’s payments to the police retirement system (PRS) would also be real. If this were to occur — and with various Supreme Court cases that place the state as a responsible party for the police department — then state taxpayers would also be responsible for the city’s portion of the PRS payments in the event of default.
Those who use the emotional appeal to those that oppose a city/county merger of St Louis City and County won’t be telling these good folks that they would get the pleasure of paying for a bill for which they exercise no control. This would result in the antithesis for those opposing a city/county merger I’m sure the taxpaying citizens of St Louis City would welcome all of us to the club!
Opponents of local control will undoubtedly howl and wail that this is an unlikely occurrence or that the state has never paid out any huge judgments. They will claim this is simply an emotional appeal. They can say all that, but it doesn’t change the facts.
The fact is the state has already been making contingency payments and the court cases are clear; the Board of Police Commissioners and St Louis Police Department are agencies of the state. The potential exposure to more and bigger payouts is very real. We just don’t know the probability of occurrence, yet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts the odds of being struck by lightening at 1:750,000. Those odds seem to favor most of us but I’m still not going to stand outside in a storm!
Does your representative and senator support keeping the continued expense of $1 million per year to the SLEF and your potential future exposure? You can tell them you support returning local control and the incumbent responsibilities to the city of St Louis by clicking here.
State taxpayers can be relieved of the current and future liabilities very quickly and simply. The legislature can vote to undo 150 years of injustice to the taxpaying citizens of St Louis and return local control of their police department and the police officers can keep their pensions untouched.