In a previous diary, I mentioned the great work that other local bloggers had done in exposing how Paul McKee was buying up properties around St. Louis and letting them deteriorate. Of the city’s (and the mayor’s) role in this problem, I wrote:
In fact, the city itself allows its properties to deteriorate and drive down the property values in areas McKee is buying in. McKee has thus far not been required to provide any explanation for his plan for development and the city has shown no interest in enforcing the numerous code violations.
In response to this, one commentor said:
Paul McKee’s properties were ransacked by Brickrustlers and were left to fall apart. I highly doubt that the mayor engineered this. Were only Mckee’s properties ransacked or perhaps these brick rustlers are equal opportunity criminals. Do I think Paul McKee is a bad neighbor and an unethical landholder? Yes. Is it fair to say the Mayor is part of some secret conspiracy? No, not with out proof which no one has, nor does anyone have a believable case for collaboration.
The largest property owner in the city of St. Louis is the CITY OF ST. LOUIS. The city does not maintain or repair vacant buildings, it would be nice if it did, but I challenge anyone to find the funding for it, or pay for security on all these properties to stop illegal brick rustling.
The implication of these claims is clearly that Slay is not really responsible for what Paul McKee does in the neighborhood, even if McKee is buying up occupied buildings and then letting them deteriorate.
However, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s election guide (click on Slay’s name for the direct link), Francis Slay lists this as a reason to vote for him:
We have forced landlords to fix up thousands of problem properties, making our neighborhoods more livable.
In other words, Slay agrees that he is responsible for forcing landlords to clean up problem properties. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be taking credit for doing so. But since he is responsible, and since the city has clearly failed its duty to protect residents of the 5th and 19th wards, one can no longer let Slay off the hook for “not having any influence over this.” Of course, all such claims have been pretty dubious, considering that Slay clearly inserted himself into the public school system and had a very close relationship with former police chief Joe Mokwa. Everything negative that’s happened in the last 8 years is continuously claimed to “not have anything to do with Slay,” forcing me to run around and find links for rather obvious points, while everything positive is attributed to Slay with absolutely no evidential support.