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Season’s final meeting of aldermen leaves some ideas high and dry

CITY HALL – With the end of the 2020-2021 session of the Board of Aldermen, a dozen ideas that didn’t go anywhere finally died.

Aldermen introduced 11 bills and one resolution that wound up on the “informal calendar,” because they needed more work. But the introducer never got around to fixing the bills, and they stayed there. Without a vote up or down, time ran out when the gavel went down on Monday’s final meeting.

One of those bills, introduced by Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and 21st Ward Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, called for an election allowing the mayor to negotiate the long-term lease of St. Louis-Lambert International Airport. The carrot for the city would be at least $1.7 billion, including at least $1 billion for safety, neighborhood development, streets and other extras; but a final vote never came.

The board passed a bill calling for an election on whether to keep the number of aldermen at 28, rather than go through the scheduled drop to 14. But Mayor Lyda Krewson vetoed it and sent it back to an informal aldermanic calendar. A two-thirds vote was required to overrule, and the bill was never taken out of that calendar to overrule.

One other bill that died on the informal calendar would have set aside $2 million for a Justice for St. Louis Families Fund to provide cash reward for tips leading to the arrest of anyone for murder.

Also, the board passed resolutions acknowledging the work of four departing aldermen: Tammika Hubbard of the Fifth Ward, Vicky Grass of the 12th Ward, Beth Murphy of the 13th Ward and Joseph Roddy of the 17th Ward.

One bill the board did pass on Monday prohibits employers and labor organizations from advertising that individuals of a certain age, race, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability cannot be employed or have membership. 

That same bill prohibits landlords from declining rental applicants because they are victims of domestic, dating or sexual violence, or stalking. Landlords cannot construe such violence as a violation or cause for termination of a lease.

Another bill given final approval by the board on Monday eases up regulations on asbestos, in part to deal with complaints by Black contractors.

In another matter, the nomination of an official of a controversial halfway house to the Forest Park Advisory Board brought strong criticism at Monday’s final meeting of the Board of Aldermen.

Before Mayor Lyda Krewson’s nomination of the official, C. Anthony Airington, came to a vote, action was deferred so the board could look into the issue more closely. Airington is associate director of Dismas House, whose program has come under sharp criticism in investigative articles by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

Leading the criticism was First Ward Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, whose concerns included high crime around the halfway house and allegations of financial impropriety. The facility is in her ward, near Sherman Park.

“How can you look out for Forest Park when you can’t look out for the park that your business sits next to?” Tyus asked.

Airington did not return calls to his office.

Tyus expressed concern that Krewson made so many appointments so close to the end of her term. But 25th Ward Alderman Shane Cohn, who chairs the aldermanic Parks and Environment Committee, said city Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Greg Hayes had planned to introduce them late in 2020 but had gotten sidetracked by matters including COVID-19 and unrelated issues. 

Airington was one of 10 nominees by Krewson to the advisory board whom the board discussed on Monday, the last day before Mayor-elect Tishaura Jones is set to be sworn in. 

Aldermen approved the names of every nominee but Airington. Those approved are Gwen Moore, Alvin Willis, Joann Williams, Dennice Kowelman, Emily Andrews, Jacob Banton, Ann Liberman, Gary Krosch and May Brown Reay.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com 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 www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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