☕Happy Friday!

Thanks to everyone who responded to last week’s email to request a speaker. We were able to schedule each request, but can accommodate many more.

So, if you’re a member of a club, organization, or company that would benefit from learning more about Better Together and the efforts of the City-County Governance Task Force, be sure to let us know.

And as always, we love hearing your thoughts on local governance in STL, so send your comments, suggestions, and questions to bettertogether@bettertogetherstl.com.

Editorial: County crime map is incomplete because jurisdictions prefer darkness 

Last week, we discussed the Post-Dispatch’s newly launched crime tracker for St. Louis County and detailed how our region’s fragmented structure of governance was a hurdle to its development.

This week, the Post-Dispatch editorial board weighed in:

  • “Local departments have refused, stalled or outright failed to provide the data they are required by law to collect.”
  • “many jurisdictions simply can’t, or won’t, share their data.”

BE IN THE KNOW: “Those jurisdictions are denying their own residents the ability to see where crime is occurring and make informed judgments about whether police and elected officials are doing their jobs.”

  • “Too many suburban officials are quick to ridicule St. Louis city’s crime rate while boasting that suburban life is safer, or to argue that consolidation with St. Louis is out of the question…”
  • “Yet they won’t provide detailed crime data to show what’s happening on their own streets.”

WHY THIS MATTERS: You can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s broken. The sheer number of police departments (57 in total) – not just municipalities – is unique to St. Louis. The resulting fragmentation leaves residents unable to obtain important information, hold their government accountable, and be assured of safety within their town. The lack of shared data also means the St. Louis region can’t employ all available tools and strategies to fight crime in the smartest ways.

  • “That leaves Pagedale and Des Peres residents to guess why their respective total reported crime is up more than 40 percent from the same six-month period last year…”
  • “Too bad if you want to know whether violent crime has occurred just down the block. Your government apparently doesn’t want you to know.

Editorial: Confronting municipal court abuse, this time in Normandy

  • “the city implemented ‘a deliberate policy … to fill the city’s coffers by extorting money from thousands of poor, disproportionately African-American people…’”
  • “‘a coldly calculating system that began with aggressively ‘over-policing’ African-American neighborhoods…”’

(Post-Dispatch) “Among abuses exposed after the Ferguson unrest of 2014 was a network of local governments that sustained themselves on the backs of the poor, minorities and others who were systemically squeezed by exponentially increasing financial penalties…”

  • “In a sad reminder of how much is left to do, one of those municipalities, Normandy, was sued last week for the alleged ensnaring of drivers in abusive traffic cases and then jailing them for no other reason than their inability to pay their fines.”

BE IN THE KNOW: “Normandy is among 13 cities initially sued together… on allegations they wereeffectively operating debtors’ prisons, using the St. Ann jail to hold people who couldn’t pay fines.”

  • “A judge in that case ruled that the suit against St. Ann could proceed, but the other cities would have to be sued individually…” Normandy is the first.

Flashback… In 2015, Senate Bill 5 was passed and limited urban and suburban municipalities in Missouri to generating just 12.5% of their revenue from tickets and other fines (down from 30%).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Between opposition to municipal court reform and fighting minimum standards for police departments, we have seen time and again that municipalities in St. Louis County are either incapable or unwilling to impose reform on themselves.

In case you missed these

Letter to the Editor: Municipal fines are way too high STL American

Florissant mayor caught using city property won’t face punishment Post-Dispatch

Valley Park to put online sales tax before voters Post-Dispatch

Ferguson police receive first training on 2016 consent decree Post-Dispatch

Be sure to send your thoughts to bettertogether@bettertogetherstl.com.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.