Tishaura O. Jones

Tishaura O. Jones greets supporters after her win in the mayorial race on Tuesday, April 7, 2021 in St. Louis, Missouri.

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During the last week, rumors have swirled that now-ousted alderman Brandon Bosley may file a lawsuit to challenge his election loss.  But for now, we’re going to learn more about the woman who defeated Bosley and the fellow aldermanic incumbent James Page — real estate agent Ebony Washington.

Washington is the granddaughter of former state representative Penny Hubbard and she is the niece of former alderwoman Tammika Hubbard. Most folks didn’t seem to know that she was a Hubbard, or had dismissed that very important relationship as mere political gossip, but if we may quote Lizzo here -- “all the rumors are true.” 

While Washington doesn’t carry the Hubbard last name, the apple apparently has not fallen far from the tree. 

For example, the classic Hubbard political family’s practice of collecting absentee ballots for elderly and disabled voters continues, although likely in violation of state election laws. Not too long ago, former state representative Bruce Franks successfully demonstrated in court that the Hubbard family had engaged in enough “voting irregularity” to overturn Penny Hubbard’s election win. To quote an article from this paper nearly seven years ago, “the Hubbards have a track record of winning hugely lopsided absentee-voter-majority victories. Ruth Ehresman lost to Hubbard in the 2012 primary for the same seat and raised the same issues brought in Franks’ suit. Among many irregularities, a polling place in the district is in Carr Square Village, where Rodney Hubbard Sr., Penny’s husband, is executive director of the Carr Square Tenant Corp.”

Washington - a candidate, who without her family’s powerful last name, challenging three incumbents - nevertheless managed to collect 40% of the absentee ballots in her four-way race. Voters with family members residing at senior centers have already reported members of Hubbard’s team inside of buildings, collecting signed absentee ballots. The “Fifth Ward Democratic Organization” has Washington’s aunt, former alderwoman Hubbard, listed as an officer and committeewoman for the “ward organization.” Even though the organization has printed and mailed out literature supporting Washington, none of those expenditures have been disclosed to the state and public. 

How Washington came to get on the ballot on behalf of her family seems to be an even bigger mystery. Less than a year ago, the Carr Square Tenant Association - owned & operated by her grandfather Rodney Hubbard, Sr. - filed a lawsuit to evict Washington for non-payment of rent for five months. This address is the same one where Washington was served two restraining orders by the father of her child and his wife. Public court records reveal that Washington agreed to the orders of protection - in place until the end of this month - after allegations of stalking and domestic violence. This is also the same address used by Washington for a $20,832 Paycheck Protection loan that was later forgiven. 

But, we’ve also heard that Washington may not even live at this address and that she may not meet residency requirements to be an alderperson. Voter registration records show that until a few weeks ago, Washington used a Kirkwood address.

With the details that are starting to surface about Washington and her campaign, Bosley may actually have a shot at a redo. But at an absolute minimum, Washington owes voters some answers and accountability.


The Republican state legislature’s assault on St. Louis has very likely met a legal demise, after the Missouri Supreme Court issued a decision last week on an oft-forgotten clause in the state constitution:

Article VI, Section 22, which says, “No law shall be enacted creating or fixing the powers, duties or compensation of any municipal office or employment, for any city framing or adopting its own charter under this or any previous constitution, and all such offices or employments heretofore created shall cease at the end of the terms of any present incumbents.”

Put in simpler terms, the state legislature can’t pass a law that directs or otherwise controls any municipal office or employee. And last week, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld that provision in a lawsuit originally filed by former alderman Jeffrey Boyd. Perhaps ironically, Boyd’s litigation resulted in one of the most favorable legal outcomes for St. Louis City yet, and the timing of this legal decision couldn’t be more important in terms of local policing.

Readers may remember a few weeks ago, where the St. Louis Police Officers Association announced that it had reached an agreement on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with the City of St. Louis. Per the terms of the new “CBA,” the police union agreed (among other things) to categorize SLMPD officers as “civil service” employees, legally designating police officers as municipal employees. Nearly every city employee is considered to be a “civil service” employee, with a few exceptions in the offices of “county” offices like the Recorder of Deeds and Circuit Attorney.

Under this court-affirmed provision of the Missouri Constitution, the state legislature cannot create or fix powers, duties, or compensation for SLMPD. In other words, the St. Louis police union has agreed, through this CBA, to effectively end the state legislature’s power grab to regain control of the department. After all, the state can’t pass a law that dictates what municipal employees can or cannot do.

Without a doubt, this attempt to usurp power is part of a larger, racist push in retaliation against St. Louis’ Black elected officials who have overseen an overall decrease in crime while demanding greater accountability for police officers. How dare we show the world that a demilitarized, community-centered police department can be both responsible and impactful.

Making matters worse for the short-sighted Republicans fighting to return to the Civil War-era law is the glaring violation of the Hancock Amendment, which prohibits the state legislature from passing laws that force municipal governments to take on new duties or programs without the state providing funding to do so. GOP members in the Missouri House have even tried to push a salary increase for officers in the event of local control, but must have forgotten to add a line or two about how the state would pay for those raises.

In short, Missouri is legally required to put its literal money - state tax dollars - where Republicans’ mouths are, and if Missouri does want control of SLMPD to score political points, this political stunt will cost taxpayers dearly and will still fail.


Our biggest hope is, now that there is a CBA negotiated and state efforts to take over SLMPD are legally quashed, the police will return to doing their jobs and responding to the needs of the public.

We’ve had the sneaking suspicion that SLMPD officers have been engaged in a low-key “wildcat strike” since former mayor Lyda Krewson allowed the previous CBA to lapse and Mayor Jones assumed office. Some public employees, like police officers, are prohibited by law from striking, so from time-to-time, officers have been known to silently slow down work without being officially sanctioned by the police union. The “blue flu.” Since the Minneapolis police caused the suffocating death of George Floyd, cities across the country have been navigating police “pullbacks,” which include actions as small as covering up names and numbers on badges to more aggressive behaviors like over-policing crimes of poverty and simply not responding to calls for emergencies. 

St. Louis is far from being the only city in the U.S. where our police department - though mostly staffed and paid better than most other city employees - has decided to punish the people over petty politics. Serving and protecting whom? 

This suspicion has been supported by several victims in recent years, like the driver of an SUV that recently was struck by a Chevy Impala, pushed through the guard rail, and off of the Grand Avenue bridge onto Forest Park Parkway below. Courtney McKinley, a 19-year-old who lost his brother and three of their friends in the accident, had specifically asked to speak to a reporter from his hospital bed because, as he described, the police and first responders took too long to arrive and remove other victims trapped in the car. When police did arrive, McKinley’s mother, Shanta Lucius, said that the officers were more concerned with the legally registered guns in the vehicle than helping the victims.

There was also the case of SLMPD officers straight-upfailing to call a judge about three teenagers arrested for their alleged involvement in a shooting at City Foundry, breaking longstanding procedure. SLMPD made national headlines last month, when Ring doorbell footage went viral on TikTok and showed a white woman terrorizing and harassing a Mexican-American family in South City.  Despite multiple calls to police, SLMPD had dropped the ball in protecting this family until the racist spectacle became a national embarrassment. Let us also not forget the “carjacking” reported by two SLMPD officers a year ago, after they claimed a North City resident pointed a gun at them and tried to steal their vehicle. Security footage didn’t support those allegations, and police refused to produce video footage from dashcams and body cameras. We still don’t know the truth of what happened. 

Whatever SLMPD has been doing, they have made a strong case for an improved, centralized first responder system overhaul, as championed by Mayor Jones. Having a unified 911 center, like the new Public Safety Answering Point, that sends the appropriate first responder means a lower burden on law enforcement and less waste of public funds, whether that responder is a mental health professional, a firefighter, emergency medical services, or police. Dispatching a professional who is trained to encounter and de-escalate a person in crisis means that there will be fewer incidents of police misconduct. The Cops and Clinicians program saved the city $2.6 million in its first eight months. Being able to prioritize emergency over non-emergency calls means that resources will be allocated to the places that need policing and public safety practices that reduce crime without victimizing Black neighborhoods and residents in the process. 

In any case, a central 911 center also further complicates the state’s ability to regain control over SLMPD, as dispatchers would be municipal, “civil service”, employees who cannot be directed or burdened by state law.

We’ve certainly thrown enough money at the status quo of policing in St. Louis, and we look forward to seeing improved public safety that results from working smarter, not harder

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