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A while back, in one of his many posts here arguing against Slay’s re-election, our good friend ashriver cited the Saint Louis American’s Political Eye as a credible source. When questioned on the reliability of the Political Eye, ashriver defended it as one of reputation. If they consistently passed along unsubstantiated gossip, then the P.E. would get a bad reputation as an untrustworthy source of information. Setting aside that many purveyors of false information and innuendo find their way onto every network and every editorial page in the country, I’ll present an example of why ashriver and others shouldn’t be so quick to accept the word of the Political Eye as the gospel truth.

Ever since Denise Watson-Wesley Coleman surprised the St. Louis political establishment by filing for the St. Louis mayor’s race, Slay’s critics have suspected that Coleman filed at the urging of Slay or his allies. In other words, she is supposedly a stalking horse, a false candidate in the race only to peel off confused voters who couldn’t remember whether they wanted to vote for Denise Coleman or Maida Coleman. Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Maida Coleman, who had been long rumored to be interested in the race, finally announced her intention to run in the last week before the filing deadline, only to opt for an independent run after Denise Coleman’s surprise filing.

Currently, Slay’s critics are casting about for proof that Denise Coleman is a stalking horse, without much success. A couple of weeks ago, the Political Eye’s evidence was that a Slay statement prepared in advance referred to “Ms. Coleman” rather than to “Maida Coleman”. Pretty lame stuff. The latest weak attempt refers to Denise’s website:

“The big red flag for me is that Denise Watson-Wesley Coleman had a professionally done campaign website operating just a few days after she claims she had a revelation to run. It would seem it was worked on before she was inspired and had to cost a couple of thousand dollars. She has apparently filed no Statement of Committee Organization, and one is required 20 days after the first contribution comes in and they reach $500. So who did the site, what did it cost and when was it done? If she claims a friend or relative did it, it would still be considered an in-kind contribution and put her over the $500 mark. It will also have to be reported on her first report,” this person writes.

Well, a casual glance at Denise’s website showed me the opposite of what that “astute city observer” claims. If it was a “two thousand dollar” website prepared well in advance, it probably would look more like Irene Smith’s website, which is clean and well-designed, rather than cluttered with a couple of typos like Denise’s. I tend to believe Denise’s campaign finance report, which shows that it was begun the day after Denise filed for office. And I tend to believe Denise and some of her closest supporters, who told me more than a month before the filing deadline that Denise was mulling  a run against Slay. Her team cut their teeth in the local organizing effort for Obama, who also inspired Denise to shoot for the seemingly impossible. Perhaps she’s naive, and perhaps she’s a longshot, but she definitely isn’t a stalking horse.

Personally, I’m agnostic on Slay. My own neighborhood has improved over the last eight years, and is finally beginning to perform closer to its potential. It’s safer and more businesses have moved in, and it even retains a diverse mix of people of different races and income levels. I don’t know if Slay can personally take credit, but he hasn’t gotten in the way, either. I also understand that not every neighborhood has had the same results as mine during Slay’s two terms, so I’m open to critiques on what he has done wrong and how someone else might do better.

But what turns me off as a swing voter is this bullshit insider baseball criticism of an idealistic candidate and of Slay. Nobody cares about it except the people who already see Slay as someone behind every problem in the city, and they’re already on your side. Give me something tangible and you might persuade me to take you seriously again.