TOWER GROVE SOUTH — As her audience munched, imbibed and listened, Ward 15 Alderman Megan Ellyia Green explained her vision for a progressive St. Louis.
“City government as a whole is kind of a rudderless ship,” said Green, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Board of Aldermen president.
“We need a leader at the president level who is actually a visionary,” Green told an audience at The Royale Food & Spirits, 3132 South Kingshighway Blvd. “Change doesn’t happen when we are comfortable.”
In her appearance on Feb. 6, Green responded to questions by Darian Wigfall and Liz Kramer of the Royale Political Wire podcast.
The podcast will feature live interviews of major candidates for Board of Aldermen president before the March 5 primary. State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed’s interview will air at 8 p.m. Feb. 20. Current Board of Aldermen president, Lewis Reed, will speak at 8 p.m. Feb. 27.
During a question-and-answer session, Green said she supported a city-county merger, but not what has been proposed. She also said there was a lot of public mistrust of Rex Sinquefield, a major supporter of the merger effort.
In addition, the proposal keeps regional segmentation in place, Green said.
Green criticized the current practice of detaining non-violent offenders at the Medium Security Institution, for failure to make cash bail. “The Workhouse stands as a debtor’s prison.”
Eliminating cash bail would substantially reduce Workhouse population and make closing it a possibility. The few violent offenders in the Workhouse could be kept in the St. Louis Justice Center, where there is space.
The city could use the $16 million a year it would save by closing the Workhouse on addressing related issues, such as mental illness and housing needs, she connected.
Green also said new Board of Aldermen president will probably cast the deciding vote on privatizing the Lambert International Airport.
Money issues such as airport privatization go through the city of St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which consists of the mayor, comptroller and president of the Board of Aldermen.
Green said she is generally opposed to privatization. “The interest being served is no longer the public interest,” she said.
Also, as a member of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the president has heavy authority over the city budget.
Green said the president of the Board of Aldermen holds an especially important position because he or she heads the legislative branch as an executive.
If members or the chair of a committee oppose a bill the president wants passed, as when the Transportation and Commerce Committee voted down a measure requiring a public vote on privatizing the St. Louis Lambert International Airport, the president should send the bill to a more-favorable committee, she said.
The same goes for committee members, Green said. “I would assign people in a way that makes sure that a legislative agenda moves,” she said. “We need to do more understanding of agendas of members of the Board of Aldermen.”
She also mentioned needing legislative researchers to provide reports to aldermen.
Some of the money used for public safety should be redirected to purposes like social work to help potential criminals work through their problems to avoid breaking the law, Green said. By using this tactic, the murder rate Richmond, Va. reduced its murder rate by more than 60 percent.
To improve streets and bring down accidents all over the city, St. Louis should have a comprehensive traffic plan, Green said, rather than different ones for each ward.
There also is a need for a new comprehensive city plan, Green said, as the last one was issued in 1947.