Dave Drebes at the Arch City Chronicle caught something interesting. James Long, the retired policeman challenging Joe Keaveny in the Democratic primary for the 4th Senate District, answered on a questionnaire that he would like to raise the earnings tax by 50% to cover city employee pensions. St. Louis services are partially funded by a city income tax, the earnings tax, for all city residents and anyone who works in the city. Long draws a pension himself, and is primarily in the race to oppose local control of the police department, which Keaveny supports and pushed to pass this session.
Somebody ought to check Long for Sinquefield donations. I can see the anti-earnings tax fliers now – City senator is trying to raise your taxes by 50%!! Don’t you want to have a say about that?
While I’m on the subject of James Long, I have to share an amusing anecdote from the other night. Long attended my ward’s candidate forum in an attempt to earn the ward organization’s endorsement. (I live in St. Louis’ 17th Ward.) He seemed to be doing well enough in the beginning, working the room before the forum and addressing every other issue but the one he’s in the race for.
But a questioner asked the candidates for state representative what they thought of local control of the police department. In case you were unaware, the pro-Confederacy state government took away local control of the pro-Union St. Louis police department in the 1860s, and the department’s budget and oversight is still largely set at the state level.
In any case, Long, feeling confident towards the end of the forum, jumped in to answer a question not even directed to him. He gave a long discourse on how no better plan had been set up, nobody can point to any current problems with the system, and so on. And then he capped it off by using a fun little talking point that local control opponents use, “I’d rather not have 28 people trying to run the St. Louis Police Department,” a clear reference to St. Louis’ 28 aldermen.
Which prompted Alderman Joe Roddy, who until this point was sitting quietly in the back of the room, to stand up and rail against a system in which the St. Louis Police Department has 163 bosses in the Missouri House alone, and he hates the fact that a state representative from Rolla has more say over the city police budget than someone like himself who is elected by and accountable to the people of St. Louis. Roddy is not given to public flashes of anger – he’s actually an introvert – and Long more or less ended his chance at the ward’s endorsement by skipping merrily thought the minefield right off the marked path and jumping with both feet directly on a mine.