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Missouri Legislature continues its WAR on St. Louis | Political Eye


State Senator Nick Schroer, Leonard Taylor on death row

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The annual legislative assault in Jefferson City against St. Louis, its favorite target along with Kansas City, has begun. The GOP-dominated Missouri Legislature has already introduced a bill to disenfranchise voters in our city. We’re specifically calling out House Bill 301, sponsored by Joplin State Representative Lane Roberts, which directly names and targets only St. Louis City and our democratically-elected circuit attorney, Kimberly Gardner.

St. Louisans in all zip codes already cannot democratically elect our judges, thanks to the so-called “Nonpartisan Court Plan.” Every judge in St. Louis City and County is appointed by the governor, which prevents primary elections that could otherwise challenge some of the corrupt judges and create voter accountability. And now, the state legislature wants to take away the powers given to our elected prosecutor. 

Have we mentioned yet that the Missouri state house is also trying to take away local control of our police department to reinstate state control? Of course, this pathetic intrusive attempt comes from Republican St. Charles state senator Nick Schroer, whose white male fragility would not last one night in the city. But also, it’s unsurprisingly short-sighted support from the “Ethical Society” of Police, formerly recognized as the “common sense group,” now woefully, the police union has recently aligned itself with the miscreant St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA). Reportedly the new Police Chief Robert Tracy and the outgoing interim Public Safety Director Dan Isom opposed the move insisting that the most important needed change is strong leadership.

Not only is this legislative policy rooted in “anti-blackness,” but creates further a situation where the infamous “Hancock Amendment,” would have to be amended, as Missouri law prohibits the state legislature from forcing unfunded mandates onto cities. The state legislature may be forgetting that, by moving SLMPD under its control, Missouri becomes responsible for our policing costs – the good and the bad, including multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuits.


In the meantime, local police apologist Jane Dueker has been re-hired as lobbyist for SLPOA.  Dueker had most recently resigned her post as police union mouthpiece to run and lose not just one but three campaigns against incumbent County Executive Sam Page, including her own. Is anyone taking bets on when Dueker brings back noted racist Jeff Roorda to run SLPOA again?

As Dueker returns, we say goodbye to Dr. Dan Isom, who will step down as interim public safety director in mid-February. Current St. Louis Fire Department’s Deputy Fire Chief Charles Coyle will step into the vacant role while the city launches a nationwide search for a new public safety leader.

In St. Louis County, the clock is literally ticking for Leonard “Raheem” Taylor, a Black man on Missouri’s death row for the murder of Angela Rowe and her three children in Jennings. Taylor has maintained his innocence from the beginning, supported by an airtight alibi and a lack of physical evidence tying him to the murders. Evidence shows that Taylor was out of the state at the time of the murder and many witnesses saw the family after Taylor left. We can attribute Taylor’s sentence to  police and prosecutorial misconduct, as another conviction was obtained under the “Shadow of Death” – former prosecutor Bob McCulloch.

County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell has once again found himself in a difficult situation. Taylor is scheduled for execution on February 7. Despite significant evidence indicating Taylor’s innocence, Bell’s office has yet to file any pleadings to question the integrity of Taylor’s conviction.


Earlier this week, St. Louis somberly acknowledged what would have been the 50th anniversary of former landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, which allowed pregnant women to terminate pregnancies through the second trimester. Roe was overturned last June under another Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Whole Women’s Health. The anniversary marked the increased urgency of electing pro-choice candidates to the Board of Aldermen to introduce and support critical legislation like the Reproductive Justice Equity Fund, which was sponsored by Alderwoman Shameem Clark-Hubbard

For two straight years, St. Louis voters loudly and overwhelmingly chose proudly pro-choice leaders like Mayor Tishaura O. Jones and Board President Megan Green. Current alderpersons Anne Schweitzer, Mike Gras, Tina Pihl, Bret Narayan, and Shane Cohn have been reliable votes for pro-choice legislation and are running for re-election. Younger candidates running in aldermanic races have leaned into a message of reproductive justice and bodily autonomy. Second Ward candidate Katie Bellis frequently serves as an escort for patients to the Granite City clinic where they are frequently harassed by white men screaming out-of-context Bible verses as they walk inside. SLPS Board of Education member and Seventh Ward aldermanic candidate Alisha Sonnier is a board member for Pro Choice Missouri and emceed the organization’s annual gala last September. Fourteenth Ward candidate and currently state Representative Rasheen Aldridge has staunchly supported pro-choice and reproductive justice legislation in the Missouri House. In 2023, there is very little room for anti-choice candidates and politicos in St. Louis who do not believe that adult women are capable of making their own healthcare choices. 

But St. Louis’ leadership in the fight for personal autonomy does not end with elected officials – a group of 13 clergy members announced last week that they are filing a civil rights lawsuit against the State of Missouri for violation of the separation of church and state.

The preamble of the law alone makes a compelling case for the faith leaders’ lawsuit, stating, “In recognition that Almighty God is the author of life…” reflecting a Christian belief. Legislative testimony from bill sponsors cited Christo-fascist ideologies and extremist beliefs that are not rooted in any religious text. The lawsuit, in turn, suggests that these “conservative Christian” talking points violate the religious and moral beliefs of others. 

In other words, St. Louis and Kansas City clergy have argued that Missouri legislators are forcing their religious beliefs onto them, their congregations, and millions of others living in the state.

Finally, we bring news of a David-versus-Goliath-level victory: community triumphing over deep-pocket developers. Last week, Alderwoman Cara Spencer announced – for some reason – that a proposed expansion of Kairos Academy in the Marine Villa neighborhood had fallen through. Kairos Academy is the charter school system founded by Teach for America alum Jack Krewson, son of former mayor Lyda Krewson

Why the alderwoman announced the fate of a private project is beyond our understanding. However, it does make us wonder about the extent of Spencer’s personal involvement, considering her full-time employment as Senior Vice President of Community and Economic Development at Saint Louis Bank, one of the potential lenders identified by Kairos at a December community meeting for development of the project. Typically, an alderperson does not become this involved in a private construction project. Clearly, Spencer has gone above and beyond for Kairos Academy – more so than for most of her other business “constituents” and certainly more than her actual voters.

Even more curious, however, was Spencer’s complete flip-flop from fully supporting the charter school construction project – even going so far as to go behind constituents’ backs to scout potential locations – to walking past her past behavior and portraying herself as always aligned with the community. In real time, the EYE saw Spencer change her entire position on this project, perhaps in an effort to save face in a hotly-contested race with community activist Shedrick “Nato Caliph” Kelley. Spencer deserves an Academy Award for her slick pivot on this issue.

Neighbors complained that they had been completely in the dark about Kairos’ plans to develop the nearly two-acre campus until they were contacted by developer Urban Improvement Conglomerate (UCI) to purchase their homes. Spencer and Kairos claimed, however, that the community had been made aware through every step of the process. That turned out to be completely untrue.

When questioned directly about violating the Board of Aldermen’s moratorium on opening up new schools, Kairos leadership doubled down on their curious argument that the proposed six-block charter school campus was not an “expansion,” it wasn’t “opening a new school” — Kairos was “just adding” new grades to its school. The Post-Dispatch reported that Kairos added only nine new students in the last year, calling into question the need for any massive expansion.

Ultimately, it was union opposition that shut the project down, with the Teamsters union, Brewers and Maltsters Benevolent Association declining to sell a critical piece of real estate to Kairos and UIC. Leadership at American Federation of Teachers Local 420 had sent a letter to the Teamsters, citing the closure of SLPS schools and the “fantasy-land numbers created out of thin air” by Kairos.

Ultimately, Kairos’ math simply didn’t add up. 

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