Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Locally-Preferred Alternative

Good thing that I didn't bet money, because I would have lost. The Take Back St. Louis initiative indeed was enjoined, but on different grounds than what I'd bet that the grounds would be. I'd bet that the threshold issue of whether a citizen initiative to amend the City Charter was allowed by the Missouri Constitution would go against Take Back St. Louis. Well, unbeknownst to me because I didn't do my research, citizen-initiated Charter changes already have been enacted, and nobody at the time ever challenged their constitutionality. The Court wasn't going to overturn a bunch of Charter articles on which everybody's relied for decades as valid. The Court instead invalidated the Take Back St. Louis initiative because, on its face, the initiative would have contravened Missouri TIF statutes. State statutes trump municipal charter articles and ordinances. 

It's too bad that there won't be a Take Back St. Louis vote on April 8, because it would've been fun. It would've been fun, and it would've allowed some good people to develop their electoral campaigning skills. It would've been interesting to see how opponents of the initiative would have campaigned against it. Ah, well.

Anyway ...

On the same day that Take Back St. Louis was swatted-down before there could be a campaign and a vote, PotBoA Lewis Reed and 24th Ward Alderman Scott Ogilvie each soft-launched a campaign to build the "Locally-Preferred Alternative" North-South MetroLink Line. Unlike the "Original" South Line, the "Locally-Preferred Alternative" North-South Line would include a station at Jefferson & CHEROKEE. (Click the pics to embiggen them.)
"Original" South Line

"Locally-Preferred Alternative" North-South

On the same day of Reed's and Ogilivie's soft-launches, there was this from Ogilvie with regard to building the "Locally-Preferred Alternative" North-South Line: 
The funny thing is that there already is such a "citizen group." Well, it's a PAC.

It's a PAC called Civic League of Saint Louis. Its mission includes "to organize a constituency for progressive endeavors [and] support and empower visionary candidates." CHEROKEE real estate developer Jason Deem is the PAC's treasurer. It makes sense why both Reed and Ogilvie decided upon the "Locally-Preferred Alternative" North-South Line. The "Locally-Preferred Alternative" line would have a station at CHEROKEE whereas the "Original" would not.

And "visionary candidates" require "support."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Can the Charter of the City of St. Louis be amended by citizen initiative?

The Charter of the City of St. Louis says "Yes."

Article V, Section 1 of the City Charter:
The people shall have power, at their option to propose ordinances, including ordinances proposing amendments to this charter, and to adopt the same at the polls, with the same effect as if adopted by the board of aldermen and approved by the mayor, such power being known as the initiative.
However, the attorneys representing those opposed to the Take Back St. Louis initiative, which if enacted would amend the City Charter, say "No." They point to an article in the Missouri Constitution that they argue precludes amending the City Charter through citizen initiative.

Article VI, Section 32(a) of the Missouri Constitution:
The charter of the city of St. Louis now existing, or as hereafter amended or revised, may be amended or revised for city or county purposes from time to time by proposals therefor submitted by the lawmaking body of the city to the qualified voters thereof, at a general or special election held at least sixty days after the publication of such proposals, and accepted by three-fifths of the qualified electors voting for or against each of said amendments or revisions so submitted.
So, the anti-Take Back St. Louis attorneys are claiming that the Missouri Constitution allows proposed City Charter amendments to originate only from the Board of Aldermen. They argue, therefore, that a citizen initiative to amend the City Charter violates the Missouri Constitution.

This is a powerful argument, because, in deciding whether to agree or disagree with it, the Bench need not delve into the thicket of conflicting policy claims. The Bench merely needs to decide whether an article of the Missouri Constitution precludes a certain process, namely citizen initiatives to amend the City Charter.

My bet is that if the Bench grants the injunction, it will be on such grounds that, as the anti-Take Back St. Louis attorneys claim, "to the extent Charter, Art. V, §1 allows Charter amendment proposals to arise from the initiative petition process; it conflicts with Mo. Const. Art. VI, §32(a) and is unconstitutional."