Alderman wants to bring back State of the City addresses

A presidential State of the Union Address always is a great made-for-television spectacle. Sometimes, it also provides insight into what a president wants to do.

Now, 21st Ward Alderman John Collins-Muhammad wants to bring something similar back to St. Louis, with a State of the City address by Mayor Lyda Krewson.

Muhammad introduced a resolution at Friday’s meeting of the Board of Aldermen calling on Krewson “to personally appear before the Board of Aldermen and verbally report on the current conditions of the City of Saint Louis.”

That resolution said Krewson should “provide policy proposals judged necessary and expedient to address mayoral priorities for the 2019-2020 legislative year in a ‘State of the City Address.’”

The resolution said the address in the aldermanic chamber should be delivered no later than July 5, 2019. It was referred to the Legislative Committee for consideration.

Former Mayor Francis Slay gave state of the city addresses for a while. Longtime city public information officer Catherine Smentkowski, recalls seeing Mayors as far back as Vincent Schoemehl give addresses.

Muhammad said his resolution “is requesting and calling upon the mayor to come deliver a state of the city address on the condition of the city of St. Louis and all of the issues and concerns that plague our city. The Board of Aldermen is asking for a message from the mayor to talk about what exactly is going on with our city and the steps moving forward toward progression.”

Major cities elsewhere have the addresses, Muhammad said. “As a legislative body, we need to understand the mayor’s initiatives, her plans moving forward.”

But Stephen Conway, Krewson’s chief of staff, said the mayor already provides the board plenty of information without an address.

Conway recalled that Slay’s addresses were more political statements. “They mayor makes herself available to the media every three weeks, at a minimum,” he said. “She is very accessible, but she is not trying to do any grandstanding.”

Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed was ambivalent about the idea.

“Years ago, Slay used to come over and do an annual state of the city address, and they just kind of fell off. I don’t think it helps or hurts,” Reed said.

“It’s just an address, and we didn’t really get a chance to ask at the time of Mayor Slay any questions. So, It’s one of those things that would help inform them more, but there will be other people who say that’s just one sided,” Reed said.

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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