Now that the flood waters of the Mighty Mississippi and the miracle run of the Blues no longer command the role of lead stories, we are back on normal ground where crime, murder and shootings are the lead stories.
Did we need a break or distraction? Yes, but in the last month our region has been hit by a storm of corruption, allegations of cronyism, racism in the police department, prisoners dying, public funds being used to enrich the lives of a few who are close to the mayor and the indicted former county executive, in addition to our more retail crimes. Our leaders are ghosts when it comes to taking responsibility.
We need quantum changes across the board that involve total regime change. St. Louis is shrinking, we are losing population and leadership has shown no ability to offer a passionate view for our future. Neither the mayor nor police leadership seem to be able to grapple with entrenched racism within the police department. And I am tired of hearing about sensitivity training. This requires common sense, simple management and a redline between right and wrong. All City of St. Louis employees are required to sign a code of conduct that governs how all employees act, on and off the job.
The same is true with prisoners dying in St. Louis County. Why are they reacting to this problem as opposed to having policies and people in place that make sure these tragedies never happen? This lack of governance, accountability, control and leadership would not be acceptable in anyone’s household or business.
St. Louis leads the nation in murder, but we must also rank just as high with cronyism and corruption. Virtually every person indicted in the crime spree in St. Louis County has close ties to the administration in St. Louis city. The leadership of both administrations share political consultants and insiders. And unfortunately, the people pay the cost for poor leadership and corruption. And yet, there are no cries for independent investigations.
Being tough on crime hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We can and must be smarter.
First and foremost, we need and must have visionary leadership and the capacity for honesty and openness. Transparency is not a negotiable item. No more insider deals, like privatization efforts at the airport or the Better Together fiasco. We need leaders who trust the voters because the voters voted for them. Mayor Krewson said that local voters could not be trusted to vote on the airport deal or the Better Together plan. Yet she is going to ask these very same voters to vote for and re-elect her. People who steal at the upper levels of our government must be treated the same as those caught for street theft. And we must have a sensible plan for our region that seeks to lift all of our challenged areas, because when we are strong as a region, we grow.
I still have a lot to learn and a lot of living ahead of me. But I have seen and experienced more than most at age 25. I have been a victim of crime, and I have worked with others in efforts to reduce crime and stabilize our communities. I have also been a victim of bad police behavior, but have also personally seen kindness and compassion in some officers.
I do not want to grow up in a city that is dying because its leaders were incapable of leading. I want our city to be vibrant and strong and exciting. I also want people who sit at the proverbial leadership tables to be truly diverse (no more hand-picked patsies who do what they are told) because differences make us stronger. We can make this happen, but not with the current crew. They have proven that.
Rasheen Aldridge was elected in 2016 as the youngest African-American Democratic committeeman in St. Louis history from the 5th Ward and currently chairs the 78 District Legislative Committee.