Proposition A, on the St. Louis ballot April 4, appears to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing and has garnered a strong “Vote NO” recommendation from a number of labor groups and the city’s Democratic Central Committee.
The proposition, a change to the city charter, is promoted as creating enough money to fund body cameras for St. Louis police by merging the Recorder of Deeds’ office with the Assessor’s office. This has been likened to a public relations whitewash hiding the true intent of the ballot issue, to eliminate a valuable research and storage facility for critical St. Louis records for the past 250 years, the function of the Recorder of Deeds.
In opposition are the the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, St. Louis Police Officers Association, Fire Fighters Local 73 and the St. Louis City Labor Club.
To make the point about the fiscal insanity of this issue, a flyer noted that body cameras for the entire St. Louis Police Department would cost approximately $2.2 million. However, a provision of the Missouri Constitution notes layoffs due to a consolidation of services requires all impacted employees to be employed elsewhere in the city government.
Since 88 percent of the Recorder of Deeds’ $2.8 million budget is for staff that will be relocated in city government, that leaves only $52,000 to fund a $2.2 million camera cost.
Notes attorney Dan Emerson, Emerson Law, “There won’t be any savings, let alone enough to fund the police body camera initiative.”
Added Aldermanic President Louis Reed after a public hearing on the issue before the city’s Ways and Means Committee, “Today’s public hearing made clear that the overall cost for body cameras for our officers would not in any significant manner be provided by the elimination of the Recorder of Deeds’ office.”
PROVIDES VALUE FOR RESIDENTS
“The basic functions of that office are essential and necessary…in fact, if we lose vital statistics as a service we provide, the city could actually lose money,” Reed stressed.
A look at the Recorders’ website clearly points out the value that office has for city government and residents. It’s responsible for records that cover adoptions, the city’s history, births, business and non-profit groups, campaign finance and elections, home school declarations, cemeteries, deaths, and all land records to include copies of deeds, liens, subdivision plats and history.
“Losing this vital resource for our community would be a disaster,” said 23rd Ward Alderman Joe Vaccaro. “The way Proposition A is being promoted makes it clearly a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”
The measure needs a 60 percent margin to pass.
Labor supporting city’s Prop 1, 2; county’s Prop P(olice) for ‘YES’ votes
While urging city residents to vote “NO” on Proposition A, there are two other propositions in the City of St. Louis that have received Labor’s support and city residents are encouraged to vote “YES” on:
- Prop 1 is a half-cent sales tax is expected to raise $20 million – half to provide the local match for a new north-south MetroLink line, the other half for anti-crime measures, neighborhood revitalization and infrastructure improvements throughout the city.
- Prop 2 is a small sales tax on businesses that make out-of-state purchases. Citizens will NOT pay this tax. This money will be used for the city’s cost share of building a new soccer stadium towards which private investors will pony up $250 million. For Prop 2 to be implemented, Prop 1 must pass.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY
There is also an important issue in St. Louis County – Proposition P(olice) — that Labor is supporting and urges a “YES” vote on.
Proposition P is a one-half of one percent sales tax expected to raise $80 million annually earmarked exclusively for public safety and law enforcement needs both in the county ($46 million) and its municipalities based on population ($34 million).
This will be used to hire more police, a second officer in patrol cars, needed salary boosts (county officers have not seen raises since 2007), expanded officer training, body cameras for all officers, dashboard cameras in all police cars and development of a computerized crime reporting system.