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Take Back St. Louis: City Slams Activists' Ballot Initiative, Says It Will Badly Damage Economy

tbsl-march-1.jpg
Courtesy of MORE
Take Back St. Louis coalition marching yesterday.
Activists behind an initiative called "Take Back St. Louis" say they are working to limit corporate influence on the city and promote sustainable development. Yesterday the coalition, spearheaded by Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), delivered more than 36,000 signatures to the city as part of a ballot-initiative petition to ban tax breaks for certain corporations.

City officials, however, say the group could devastate the economy and even hinder the delivery of the most basic public services with this effort. And they are coming down strong with their criticisms.

"This is very broad, very poorly conceived and very badly written," Maggie Crane, spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay, tells Daily RFT. "It could do real damage to the city's economy and it could cause a lot of chaos and uncertainty."

See also:
- Take Back St. Louis Ballot Initiative: Activists Target Peabody Energy's Tax Breaks
- Peabody Holds Meeting in Wyoming: Trying to Escape St. Louis Protest?
- Tea Partiers Hold Flash Mob Outside Peabody Energy St. Louis

One thing is clear: The activists behind the measure and the city of St. Louis have drastically different interpretations of the written language of the proposal.

According to MORE and its allies, the "Take Back St. Louis" initiative -- a proposed amendment to the city charter that voters would have to directly approve on the ballot -- would block St. Louis from granting a wide range of financial incentives to corporations that are considered "unsustainable energy producers."

tbsl-boe.jpg
Courtesy of MORE
Take Back St. Louis at the city election board yesterday.

One of the main targets of this measure is Peabody Energy, the corporation headquartered in St. Louis which has received a variety of tax breaks from the city (and has been a central target of MORE protests for quite some time).

The activists hope that the measure will be placed on the ballot in March for voters to consider.

Meanwhile, the city is pushing back with harsh critiques, arguing that the various definitions in the initiative are so broad that they could apply to a wide range of businesses in St. Louis -- and even city departments directly.

"At minimum, it will create uncertainty and litigation," Crane says. "At worst, it will damage the city's economy, drive jobs out of the city and hurt the delivery of vital public services."

take-back-stl.jpg
via takebackstlouis.com

As written, part of the prohibited city incentives include "any monetary or non-monetary benefit related to any public fund or program...[and] any monetary or non-monetary benefit related to any bond, loan, or similar financial arrangement..."

And the "unsustainable energy producers" that would be banned from those incentives are defined as any "entity or organization...that engages primarily in the mining or extraction of any of the following: fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear and radioactive materials, or other energy sources that are non-renewable." Entities that do $1 million worth of business or more with these corporations would also be banned from incentives.

That means, Crane says, the city could potentially be blocked from funding its own departments as well as companies that simply spend more than $1 million a year on electric costs.

"What would stop these companies from saying, 'If you can't help us, we'll just go to the county.' That doesn't help the environment," Crane says.

peabody-protest-file.jpg
via Facebook

Reasonable incentives for a company like Peabody are "important to us," she adds. "Because that's jobs for our residents. That's jobs for our economy. We don't want those jobs going elsewhere."

The reality is, the city can only do so much, given the current constraints of alternative energy nationally and globally, she says. "No one has come up with a perfect, clean system to fuel an entire city and until we have better alternatives, this just isn't at all practical."

Continue for response from MORE and commentary from a lawyer opposing the measure.


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10 comments
PayItForward
PayItForward

@Steve Mincer In the future I bet they ride their bikes, walk or take the bus thanks to the complete street initiative that will be able to be enacted thanks to this ballot measure.  Whats wrong with a better world?

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

jeri...these people "marched" downtown yesterday...do you think they drove their cars down there or walked? because i sure hope a bunch of climate change / green energy nuts didn't use fossil fuels or electricity ( created by burning coal ) to get to their protest. they're losers looking for attention.

Jeri Michelle Reuter
Jeri Michelle Reuter

Gosh you really get around, don't you? Spreading the message of superiority and bitterness, one RFT story at a time....

dford69
dford69

can we ship these idiot morons to Detroit ? That city is already devastated financially.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

and everyone knows the best way to bring jobs to a city is to make it as hard as possible by pushing some nutty liberal green economy agenda. these people are crackpots.

Couch Pig
Couch Pig

the mighty Economy... its good for some, very few but some... slay has nice suits very nice suits

Wil Grundon
Wil Grundon

Because as everyone knows, the best way to grow the economy is to let corporations and banks run the entire country like it's their personal ATM. That NEVER backfires. Ever.

Frankie Z Cammarata
Frankie Z Cammarata

I read that whole article to figure out what I already knew..... City Hall is full of shit! I honestly dont think its the Zoo funding that has them up in arms..... What a bunch of tools, & if you believe their bullshit, youre a fkn sheep

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

"they are working to limit corporate influence on the city and promote sustainable development"...how many coexist bumper stickers do you think they have on their cars?

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