The nine undersigned aldermen and alderwomen released this statement.
The Rex Sinquefield-funded ballot initiative to force a charter change and immediate long-term lease of St. Louis-Lambert International Airport has moved with lightning speed to force this issue onto the November 3 ballot. Fortunately, they’ve hit a hard landing.
Under the Missouri Constitution and St. Louis City Charter and confirmed on July 13 via an opinion from St. Louis City Counselor Julian Bush, the initiative does not pass the legal muster set out under state and local laws and is therefore not allowable. Aldermen have been told repeatedly that airport privatization is coming to the November ballot, whether we like it or not, and Board Bill 71 was introduced fallaciously as our only alternative to allow aldermen and our residents a say in the process.
On June 24 President Lewis Reed introduced Board Bill 71 to the Ways and Means Committee and testified that the bill was a critical defense against the ballot initiative, stating, “A lot of people may be asking why do we need to look at this and why is it important to look at this. Well, first and foremost, there is a ballot initiative that is being done by an independent organization, and that ballot initiative, they currently have turned in twice the number of signatures that they need to have it be put on the ballot. So, we have a simple decision, but also a very immediate decision, to be made here at the Board of Aldermen.”
Board Bill 71 has language closely mirroring the petition initiative that has been rushed through the board. Aldermen have been told that we must pass Board Bill 71 because the signatures are in and, one way or another, airport privatization is going to be on the November ballot. We now know that petition is invalid.
We do not need to be held hostage by a billionaire who wants to recoup the $44 million he spent on airport privatization exploration. It is not the Board of Aldermen’s job to ensure Rex Sinquefield gets reimbursed.
The strong-arming of our legislative body into rushing a privatization charter amendment with huge flaws in oversight, transparency, and timing is outrageous. Now that we have confirmation this initiative petition is invalid, Board Bill 71 should be held immediately.
We are calling on President Lewis Reed to put the brakes on Board Bill 71. Serious doubt has been cast upon the legality of the ballot initiative and therefore the necessity of the board bill. Aldermen cannot continue in good conscience to allege we’re representing the best interests of our constituents if we rush this to the ballot.
There is no reason now to put a privatization scheme in the middle of an economic downturn that would leave St Louis at a significant loss. There is absolutely no reason that the Board of Aldermen should capriciously expedite a charter amendment of this magnitude. President Reed, please halt Board Bill 71.
We are in proud partnership with STL Not For Sale, AFT Local 420, APWU Gateway District Local 8, A. Phillip Randolph Institute (APRI), Coalition of Black Trade Unions (CB, Communication Workers of America Local 6300, Communication Workers of America Local 6355, Organization for Black Struggle, SEIU MO/KS State Council, and UNITE HERE.
Signed: Alderwoman Ingrassia, Alderwoman Rice, Alderman Guenther, Alderwoman Martin, Alderwoman Green, Alderwoman Spencer, Alderman Narayan, Alderman Cohn, and Alderwoman Navarro.